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Feds Want to Give a Break to Close Kwame Kilpatrick Confidante Who Testified Against Him

Featured_bell_11205Emma Bell/DOJ photo
By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Emma Bell, Kwame Kilpatrick’s chief fundraiser who provided helpful testimony against the ex-Detroit mayor in last year’s corruption trial, should get a break in her sentencing Thursday in federal court for income tax evasion, federal prosecutors wrote.

In a sentencing memorandum filed Monday, prosecutors Michael Bullotta and Mark Chutkow wrote  that the judge should grant a downward departure from the recommended sentencing guidelines, saying Bell provided “substantial assistance in the  investigation and prosecution of other criminal activity.”

The guidelines call for Bell, 70, to be sentenced anywhere from 18 to 24 months in prison. The government is recommending to U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds that the guidelines range from 9 to 12 months. Bell could even probation.

In a court filing, prosecutors wrote:

Ms. Bell was paid a commission from the funds she raised– usually between 10-15%.  Kwame Kilpatrick required her to kick back half of the money in cash when her  commission checks reached $5,000 or more.

Ms. Bell dutifully complied with Mr. Kilpatrick’s directive; however, she failed to report her commissions on her federal tax returns. As a result, she owes the Internal Revenue Service restitution in the \amount of $334,236 , which represents the additional tax due and owing from her  unreported income for tax years 2003 through 2008.

Bell was teary eyed when she testified Kilpatrick and said he was like a son.

The filing by prosecutors stated:

From the outset, Ms. Bell was cooperative about her failure to pay taxes on her fund raising commissions. Significantly, Ms. Bell volunteered information about misconduct of which the government was unaware, namely, the fact that Kwame Kilpatrick had demanded she pay him cash commission kickbacks.

Ms. Bell took part in numerous proffers, as well as meetings in preparation for trial, and was extremely forthright.

At trial, Ms. Bell testified at length against Kwame Kilpatrick, something that  was emotionally painful for her because of her close relationship with the Kilpatrick family.

Kwame was sentenced in October to 28 years in prison.  His buddy Bobby Ferguson got 21 years.

Read Court of Appeals Ruling 8-14-15

 

FBI Finds Errors in DNA Database, Raising Questions of its Fallibility in Court Cases

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and New York State authorities have found scores of mistaken DNA profiles in the national database, showing that human error is ever-present, the New York Times reports.

The FBI found about 170 profiles with probable errors, ranging from handwriting mistakes to interpretation errors by lab technicians.

While the findings represent just a tiny fraction of the nearly 13 million profiles, they cast some doubt on evidence that has long been treated as flawless in courts, the Times wrote.

It’s unclear yet what the long-term impact on the findings will be.

Top Secret Documents: NSA Targets Data from Smartphone Apps Like Angry Birds

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just in case a terrorist is passing time playing Angry Birds, the NSA is trying to establish the technology to siphon information from the communication networks on smartphone apps, the Guardian reports, citing top secret documents.

The information is useful because it allows the agency to mine large quantities of cell phone data.

But the surveillance is catching strong criticism from civil liberty groups that say the federal government is using the threat of terrorism as a pretext for collecting troves of personal data.

The documents do not indicate the extent of the collection efforts.

Boston Globe Editorial: FBI’s Designation of Clown Posse Fans As Gang Members is Clownish

By The Boston Globe
Editorial Page

Throughout their two decades on the charts, the hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse’s over-the-top theatrics and often violent lyrics have put off many listeners. The fact that many of their fans — who refer to themselves as Juggalos — show their devotion with clown makeup and elaborate tattoos has further cemented the duo’s status as musical outlaws.

But should they literally be regarded as outlaws? The FBI seems to think so. In 2011, its National Gang Intelligence Center categorized the Juggalos as a gang. It’s a loose designation that causes more confusion than clarity, and raises uncomfortable concerns about judging people by their musical tastes rather than their actions. The FBI should be able to fight crime by face-painted villains without tarnishing all the followers of the group.

On Jan. 8, the band, along with four self-proclaimed Juggalos and the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit in federal court contesting the designation. According to the complaint, being erroneously labeled a gang member has led to Juggalos with no criminal records being harassed by the police. Individual plaintiffs describe being subjected to traffic stops due to their tattoos or Insane Clown Posse bumper stickers or shirts.

To read more click here.

Widespread Abuse of Overtime Alleged at Homeland Security Department

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A whopping 95% of employees at the Department of Homeland Security’s offices in Northern Virginia are accused of hiking their pay by 25% through overtime abuse, the Washington Post reports, citing a report from the Office of Special Counsel.

Special Counsel Carolyn N. Lerner said allegations found that CBP employees “improperly claim” overtime “up to two hours a day, every day.”

“We all greatly appreciate the work being done by the men and women at DHS,” subcommittee chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said. “However, the employee actions and misuse of public funds outlined in OSC’s report are unacceptable.”

Pro-Pot Group Calls for Obama to Fire DEA Chief Over Statements About Marijuana

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is so out of step with the nation and President Obama on marijuana that the agency’s chief should be fired, a leading marijuana reform group said.

The Huffington Post reports that the Marijuana Policy Project’s call for resignation comes after DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart spoke out firmly against marijuana legalization last week.

The criticism of legalizing pot appeared to be a response to Obama comparing marijuana’s dangers to alcohol.

“Whether Ms. Leonhart is ignorant of the facts or intentionally disregarding them, she is clearly unfit for her current position,” Dan Riffle, the group’s director of federal policies, said in a statement.

“The DEA administrator’s continued refusal to recognize marijuana’s relative safety compared to alcohol and other drugs flies in the face of the president’s commitment to prioritizing science over ideology and politics,” the statement continued. “She is neglecting the basic obligations of her job and fundamentally undermining her employer’s mission. This would be grounds for termination in the private sector, and the consequences for Ms. Leonhart should be no different.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST


Parker: A Follow Up to My Column On DEA’s Michele Leonhart Criticizing the President About Pot

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. This column is a follow up to one he wrote praising DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart for criticizing President Obama’s remarks about marijuana.

Ross Parker

  
By  Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

In a fascinating coincidence I got two emails on the same day my column was published about the imbroglio over the DEA Administrator’s critical remarks regarding President Obama’s comments on the safety of marijuana. The first was a forward of an email sent out by Dan Riffle, Director of Federal Policies, Marijuana Policies Project, containing a call to arms to “Fire Michele Leonhart” by forwarding a petition to the President.

Riffle wrote:

The DEA has gone rogue. First, an agent describes marijuana regulation in Washington and Colorado as “reckless and irresponsible,” contrary to the president’s assertion that it’s “important for it to go forward.” Now, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart has criticizedPresident Obama for, accurately, saying marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol to the consumer. In fact, the science says marijuana is dramatically safer than alcohol, for both the consumer and society.

It is unacceptable for our nation’s top drug cop to not understand the relative risks of America’s two most popular recreational drugs. That’s why we have started aChange.org petition calling on President Obama to fire Michele Leonhart and replace her with someone who will base decisions on science and evidence instead of politics and ideology.

A few minutes later I received a forwarded email of a medical journal article from LiveScience entitled “Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Affects Baby’s Brain.” The study by neuroscientists showed that THC interfered with the formation of connections between nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher thinking skills and forming memories.

The conclusions were not surprising since several other previous studies had reached similar conclusions.

 

New Head of Jacksonville FBI Office Was Never Discouraged by Gender

Michelle Klimt/FBI photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Michelle Klimt was eating dinner with her dad in the 1970s when he grumbled about women becoming FBI agents, the Florida Times-Union reported.

He was a special agent at the time. 

“And I sat there and said, ‘Hey dad, I can do what you do now.’ He never complained again and was very supportive of me,” Klimt told the Florida Times-Union.

Sure enough, Klimt not only became an agent, she became the first woman to lead the Jacksonville division seven months ago the Times-Union wrote.