Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

June 2021
S M T W T F S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Special Report

Hundreds of FBI, DEA and ICE Agents Fall Victim to Ponzi Scheme

thief

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — FBI agents are supposed to unearth scams, not become victims of them. This time is different.

Some 300 retired and current federal agents — representing the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — collectively invested tens of millions of dollars of retirement money in what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme allegedly run by a Florida man who committed suicide last month, an attorney in the case said.

The FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission are now investigating and trying to recover funds.

“There are definitely [agents] who have lost their life savings,” Fort Lauderdale attorney Michael Goldberg, who is representing the victims, told AOL News.

The reaction of the agents? “Pretty much what you expect,” Goldberg said. “Shock and anger.”

Behind it all, authorities said, was a self-described retirement investment adviser named Kenneth Wayne McLeod, 48. For years McLeod served as a trusted adviser to federal agents around the country, making free financial projections for retirement and in some cases offering high-yield returns of 8 to 10 percent on certain investments, according to an SEC filing in the case.

On June 22, McLeod was found dead in Jacksonville, Fla., of a gunshot wound.

His Florida-based companies, Federal Employee Benefits Group Inc. and F&S Asset Management Group Inc., appear to have been shut down and all assets frozen, authorities said. Calls to both numbers went unanswered this afternoon and the voice mails were full.

McLeod allegedly mentioned to prospective clients the names of many federal agents he knew, including straitlaced FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, according to the website Gang Land News, which reported on the story today.

“[McLeod] would tell people that Bob Mueller was a friend of his,” a retired FBI agent told Gang Land News. “The guy was a real charmer. He would say that he and Bob were best of friends and that Bob and his wife used to stay at his place all the time. The worst thing about this is that this creep scammed hard-working GS-13s and GS-14s [federal employees].”

Mueller did in fact rent vacation properties in Amelia Island, Fla., for several years, Gang Land News reported. But Michael Kortan, the chief FBI spokesman, said in a statement that even if McLeod had owned one of those properties, Mueller had no idea who he was renting from.

“The director had no personal or professional relationship with Mr. McLeod, nor did he engage in any financial dealings of any kind with him,” Kortan stated.

According to the SEC, McLeod for years put on retirement seminars that federal agencies paid as much as $15,000 for. He offered some investments with such companies as Fidelity, which the FBI said appeared to be safe. But others investments appeared to be fraudulent.

In many instances, he offered high returns — 8 to 10 percent — through bonds.

“The security of the government bonds was a key element of McLeod’s deception but he never purchased any bonds,” the SEC said in a statement on June 25. “Instead, he used the investors’ retirement savings to conduct a Ponzi scheme, to pay himself and to pay for lavish entertainment, including annual trips to the Super Bowl for himself and 40 friends.”

FBI special agent Jeff Westcott of the Jacksonville, Fla., office, which is investigating the matter, told AOL News that McLeod had “an air of credibility.”

The irony and embarrassment of the case are clear to many agents around the country. And at the SEC, the unusual set of circumstances is not lost on officials.

Glenn Gordon, SEC associate regional director for the Miami Regional Office, said, “I am not aware personally of another case where this was the target audience.”

Will Spike TV Spike Reality Show “DEA”?

deashow2By Matt Castello
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — NBC weatherman Al Roker predicts the weather, but his production company, which produces  the reality TV show “DEA”,  has been reluctant to predict whether there will be a third season for the program featured on Spike TV.

By most accounts, the forecast for a third season looks doubtful.

The show, which helped boost the profile of the agency and interest from prospective recruits, last aired on March 31,  2009, more than a year ago.  Both seasons featured agents in gritty, high-crime cities; the first year in Detroit, the second in Newark.

Debra Fazio, a spokeswoman for Spike TV, told ticklethewire.com “no decision has been made yet about a 3rd season.” And Tom Chiodo, a spokesman for Al Roker Entertainment Inc., the producer of the show, echoed similar sentiments, saying he was uncertain as well.

The show, which  followed DEA agents and task force members around as they busted down doors, made arrests and gathered info from informants, played to mixed reviews inside and outside the agency. On the upside, it gave the DEA, which is too often overshadowed by the FBI,  a higher profile and helped boost recruiting.

Read more »

Women Fed Agents Making Inroads Heading Up Field Offices; Some Say More Needs to be Done

woman_inrods

Far left block: FBI top row: l-r Amy Hess-Memphis, Valerie Parlave-Little Rock, Janice K. Fedarcyk-Philadelphia, Elizabeth Fries-Louisville; FBI Middle Row: l-r Amy Pickett-N.Y., Stephanie Douglas-San Francisco, Laura M. Laughlin-Seattle; FBI Bottom Row: l-r Charlene B. Thornton-Honolulu, Daphne Hearn-L.A., Carol K.O. Lee-Albuquerque, Kimberly K. Mertz-New Haven; Far Right Block: ATF Top Row: l-r Virginia O’Brien-Tampa, Theresa Stoop-Baltimore; DEA Bottom Row: l-r Elizabeth W. Kempshall-Phoenix, Ava A. Cooper-Davis-Washington D.C.

By Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON –  In 1966, soul singer James Brown belted out his hit “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”  Well, 46 years later,  in the world of federal law enforcement,  men still far out number women,  but  woman have made some notable inroads.

At tickelthewire.com, we decided to examine  the progress by taking a snapshot of a key area of management — Special Agents in Charge (SAC)  of a field offices at three key Justice Department law enforcement agencies — the FBI, DEA and ATF.

A review of each field office shows that  women fared best at the FBI where they held 9 of 56 SAC  posts as heads of the field offices.  At the DEA,   2 of 21 offices were headed up by woman, and at  ATF 2 of 25. Additionally at the FBI, two women hold SAC positions –  one in  Los Angeles and one in New York –  but they do not head up those offices. Those offices are so big that they are headed up by an Assistant Director in charge, who supervises multiple SACs.

Some think the federal agencies need to try harder.

“I think federal agencies need to do more outreach and target women, this job is a really good match,” says Margaret Moore, who became the first female SAC for ATF in 1993, who retired from agency and is now executive director of WIFLE (Women in Federal Law Enforcement), which works to achieve gender equity in federal law enforcement.

” Women are good communicators; they’re good at analyzing and multi-tasking. It’s about connecting the dots and not kicking down the doors,” said Moore.

UPDATE: June 25: Denise Fedarcyk, the SAC for the Philly FBI, has been named to head up the New York office. Her title will change from SAC to assistant director in charge.  She is the first female to head up that office.

Read more »

Author: We Must Stop Glamourizing Mobsters

William Donati is an English professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) and author of the just-released book: “Lucky Luciano: The Rise and Fall of a Mob Boss”

lucky lucianoBy William Donati
For ticklethewire.com

LAS VEGAS –– Hollywood was criticized in the thirties for films like Public Enemy and Little Caesar: Gangsters were portrayed too sympathetically complained citizens.

In modern times, we have the Godfather, Goodfellas, Scarface, and the Sopranos offered as popular entertainment. Motion pictures reflect cultural values. The recent film Dillinger was criticized for its moral ambiguity. The cops are just as rotten as the crooks. Is that true?

Do citizens believe that? If so, society is in deep trouble.

Of course, the real heroes are the police and prosecutors. Film audiences do not feel the actual pain criminals inflict as killers, extortionists, thieves, and drug dealers.

When I was writing my book about the Lucky Luciano case, a literary agent said it was too “law and order,” as if I had transgressed by portraying Special Prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey as a hero. But he was indeed an American hero. Yet, in the film Hoodlum (1997), a screenwriter falsely depicted Dewey as corrupt – an absolute lie.

I examined over 40,000 archival documents to investigate the Luciano case, and I can assure readers that Dewey was defamed.

In Las Vegas, where I live, Mayor Goodman’s unfinished Mob Museum will open next year. The official name will be the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement.

Alright, let’s hope it is a fine presentation. However, just announced is the Las Vegas Mob Experience where family members will tell what their gangster kinfolks “were really like” – the human side of Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. According to press reports, it will be an interactive experience where visitors might even be “made” or “wacked.” Gee, will they sell junior Mafioso badges?

lucky luciano and bookFederal prosecutors should visit high schools and clearly state: “I represent you. I represent the People. Let me explain my job.” Let students see your faces and understand that prosecutors are the ones who defend citizens’ rights and freedoms.

A sweeping media campaign should be initiated by law officers to remain atop the pedestal of citizen opinion; a good start would be a statue of Thomas E. Dewey in Times Square.

As Dewey commented concerning Luciano’s deportation in 1946: “I sent him out of the country like the rat he was.”

Thank you. To hell with gangster glamour.

15 Years Later: Brother of Oklahoma Bomber Keeps Distance From Limelight

James Nichols/cbc photo

James Nichols/cbc photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOl News

Fifteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing, James Nichols — whose younger brother Terry was convicted in the case — isn’t really talking, except to say he’s still an organic farmer in Michigan.

“I’m not commenting unless you’ve got a big checkbook,” Nichols told AOL News in a phone interview.

Normally, a 15-year milestone of any event — as opposed to 10 years or 25 years — would pass with little fanfare. But recent events have made this one a little different.

Just a few weeks ago, federal agents busted up a Michigan-based Christian militia known as the Hutaree that was accused of plotting to kill law enforcement officers. The arrests triggered chatter on the Sunday talk shows about militias, the potential dangers some might pose and, perhaps inevitably, the Oklahoma City bombing.

Nichols has no ties to the Hutaree, or to any other militia, for that matter. But 15 years ago he found himself in the thick of something like the Hutaree case — only far, far bigger.

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killed 168 people and sent a shock wave of vulnerability across the nation. Within 90 minutes of the blast, an Oklahoma state trooper stopped a man named Timothy McVeigh for driving his yellow 1977 Mercury Marquis without a license plate, and subsequently arrested him for possession of a 9 mm Glock. McVeigh was quickly linked to the bombing, as was his Army buddy Terry Nichols, who soon surrendered to authorities.

Two days later, an army of FBI and ATF agents raided James Nichols’ farm in Decker, Mich., a small farming community about two hours north of Detroit. Terry Nichols and McVeigh had spent time on the farm, and McVeigh listed it as his home address when he checked into the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Kan., right before the bombing.

During the raid on the Decker farm, FBI agents arrested James Nichols on a material witness warrant and soon charged him with illegally possessing unregistered explosives on his farm.

James Nichols, who would contend the explosive materials were for farm use, was held in prison for about a month before he was released. The charge was eventually dropped, and authorities — certainly not for lack of trying — failed to find any evidence linking him to the Oklahoma City bombing.

Most of the world knows what became of McVeigh and Terry Nichols since that time. Both men were convicted of the crime; McVeigh was executed in 2001 by lethal injection, while Nichols is serving life in a Colorado federal penitentiary.

But these days, at least outside the town of Decker, few know what has become of James Nichols, who turned 56 this month.

His lawyer says he married a few years back. Residents say he’s gone on with life as usual: farming corn and beans, showing up at occasional farm auctions, stopping for a burger and fries at Kayla’s Kafe, a small roadside diner just down the road from his farm.

“He’s always friendly with everybody,” says Kayla Nolan, owner of Kayla’s Kafe. “Nobody ever talks about (the bombing). I don’t think anybody thought he had anything to do with it. He’s a good guy.”

“It’s sort of all blown over,” Decker resident Phil Rockwell says. But he adds, “Nobody really knows if he had a part in it or not. Everybody has got their own opinion. I don’t have any problems. A person is innocent until proven guilty.”

Even in Decker, it seems, some may still wonder about Oklahoma City, even if they don’t talk about it. But James Nichols himself has nothing to say — at least not to the public at large.

Why? Maybe because the last time he did, it turned into a messy ordeal.

In the fall of 2000, filmmaker Michael Moore asked to interview Nichols for a project he was working on, the anti-gun documentary called “Bowling for Columbine.” Nichols agreed, thinking Moore simply wanted to “learn more about the Oklahoma bombing and his brother Terry Nichols’ pending trial,” according to the lawsuit Nichols would later file.

Soon afterward, Moore showed up at the Decker farm and conducted a three-hour interview, according to Nichols’ lawsuit. And Nichols, then not shy about espousing anti-government views, spoke his mind as the camera rolled.

“Them people, law enforcement, if you want to call them that, were here and they were shaking in their shoes, they were physically shaking, scared to death,” Nichols said in the interview, discussing the raid on his farm after the bombing. “Because they thought this was going to be another Waco, because certain people, namely my ex-wife and other people, said I’m a radical, I’m a wild man, I got a gun under every arm, down every leg and every shoe, every corner of the house — ‘You say anything to me, I’ll shoot you.’

“If people find out how they’ve been ripped off and enslaved in this country by the government, by the powers to be,” Nichols went on, “they will revolt with anger, merciless anger. There’ll be blood running in the street. When the government turns too radical, it is your duty to overthrow it.”

“Bowling for Columbine” debuted on Oct. 28, 2002, in Moore’s hometown of Flint, Mich., about 65 miles west of Decker. The film would go on to earn international critical acclaim and the Academy Award for best documentary feature.

But Nichols was none too happy with the finished product. In the film, Moore said McVeigh and the Nichols brothers made practice bombs on the farm “but the feds didn’t have the goods on James, so the charges were dropped.”

After the film’s debut, Nichols’ quiet life in the country was under siege. He was deluged with “hate mail and threatening phone calls,” says his attorney, Stephani Godsey. “It was a terrible ordeal to go through.”

On Oct. 27, 2003, Nichols filed a $100-million-plus lawsuit claiming defamation as a result of comments Moore made about him both in the film and on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” In 2005, however, a U.S. district judge in Detroit dismissed the suit, saying Moore’s statements were “factual and substantially true.” Nichols appealed, but to no avail: He lost in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in 2007.

“Michael Moore tried to portray him as the mastermind behind the bombing,” Godsey says, adding that her client was “really upset.” She says Nichols agreed to the interview because he thought Moore wanted to hear his side of the story, “but it was far from the case.”

Since Nichols didn’t have the resources to keep battling in court, they decided to give up the lawsuit. Still, to this day, she says of the film: “It wasn’t based on the truth.”

As for James Nichols, Godsey says, “I haven’t spoken to him very recently. But he’s doing well and getting on with his life.”

Fed Agents Going Undercover on Social Networks like Facebook

istock illustration

istock illustration

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — A Justice Department document asks the simple question: Why Go Undercover on Facebook, MySpace, etc.?

Then it goes on to explain: “Communicate with suspects/targets” … “gain access to non-public info” … “map social relationships/networks.”

The document, part of a Justice Department PowerPoint presentation, shows how some federal and local law enforcement agents are quietly creating fictitious accounts on social networks like Facebook and MySpace to get dirt on suspected criminals. The presentation recently surfaced in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court.

Some federal and local law enforcement agents are quietly creating fictitious accounts on social networks like Facebook and MySpace to get dirt on suspected criminals

“This is just the way people meet these days — electronically,” James Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the Nashville office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told AOL News. “It wouldn’t be any different than calling someone on the phone, say, in an undercover capacity. If we can meet them on Facebook by creating a fictitious account, that’s great. ”

Even so, the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco filed the lawsuit in December against about a half a dozen federal agencies to create a public dialogue on the matter and make sure agencies have guidelines for agents, according to Marcia Hofmann, a senior staff attorney for the foundation. The Justice Department, Homeland Security, Treasury, the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are included in the suit.

facebook-logo

Some agencies don’t readily appear to have guidelines and some have offered to produce them in coming months to satisfy the demands in the lawsuit, according to Hofmann.

“This on one hand is a very clever use of these tools, but it makes you wonder when enterprising agents come up with these ideas, what is appropriate and what is not,” she said. “I don’t want to speculate as to what they do and they don’t do. I do think there should be a public debate whether it’s ethically sound or not. There should be some transparency.”

Initially, social networks like MySpace, which first surfaced in 2003, and Facebook, which launched in 2004, and Twitter which arrived in 2006, were simply for hip high school and college-aged kids. As social media’s popularity soared, law enforcement began to realize that there was more to these networks than idle gossip and photos of cats, dogs, proms and beer parties.

Now, some federal agents privately talk, almost in amazement, about how much information is available on social networks and how careless criminals are. They say some information can be obtained without even going undercover.

In fact, they say some criminals — and noncriminals as well — fail to select the right security settings to block non-friends from seeing photos and other personal information on sites like Facebook. And besides, anyone can see a person’s friend list without “friending” the person.

twitter4

“It’s not like we have to dig very deep,” said one federal agent who has not created fictitious accounts but knows of others who have. “Facebook is the best. They videotape themselves. They have pictures with guns, posing with gang members. There’s addresses of homes. We tend to go after what’s there.”

Another federal agent says he’s amazed how freely some criminals post information on social networks.

“I’m surprised by the recklessness of it,” the agent said. “I would think they would be smarter. That’s why we only catch the stupid ones. ”

Still, even before the recent documents surfaced publicly about fictitious accounts, some federal law enforcement agencies readily admitted to being aware of criminals using the social networks.

On Jan. 27, for example, the Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles issued a press release about the indictment of 20 suspected members of the Riverside Street Gang with ties to the Mexican Mafia. The release noted that the members use “MySpace.com to communicate about gang business, and they use rap music videos and recordings to deliver a message of violence and intimidation.”

myspace-images3

DEA Agent Sarah Pullen of the Los Angeles office said of the probe, “Any time you have visual evidence that is available, it is extremely helpful in conducting an investigation. It would be the same as a piece of mail or a photo; anything that shows evidence of a crime.”

In Washington, federal law enforcement agencies have responded to the issue of agents creating fictitious undercover accounts with carefully worded responses.

“The Department of Justice and our agents follow applicable laws, regulations and internal guidelines for investigations, regardless of whether those investigations occur online or on the street,” Laura Sweeney, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said in a statement to AOL News.

“Just as we’ve done successfully in identifying and prosecuting child predators online, we will continue to use publicly available information individuals post online about their illegal activities, or false statements to law enforcement officials, in our investigations. To do otherwise would be negligence on our part,” Sweeney said.

Paul Bresson, an FBI spokesman, noted, “Simply said, law enforcement needs to be able to constantly adapt to the changing world around them while maintaining its ability to use all lawful and available tools at its disposal to gather potential leads to solve crimes.”

Interestingly, the Internal Revenue Service provided a document in the San Francisco lawsuit that states employee guidelines for the Internet. “You cannot obtain information from websites by registering … fictitious identities,” the document said.

“I think it’s interesting the IRS has drawn the line, and the Justice Department has not,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Hofmann said.

There has been limited public outcry about the prospects of agents creating undercover accounts since the Justice Department document surfaced.

But Hofmann mentioned the La Crosse, Wis., police department, which reportedly created a fake Facebook page using an attractive, blond-haired woman to lure students and find out about underage drinking. The department did not return a call for comment.

The La Crosse Tribune reported in November that Adam Bauer, a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse sophomore, had nearly 400 friends on Facebook and added the attractive woman. Shortly after, police had Facebook photos of him drinking, and he was fined $227.

After his court appearance in November, Bauer told the paper, “I just can’t believe it. I feel like I’m in a science fiction movie, like they are always watching. When does it end?”

FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List Turns 60

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — Mir Aimal Kasi had earned a spot on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list and Brad Garrett, a mild-mannered but dogged FBI agent out of Washington, wanted him badly. Kasi, a Pakistani, had stood outside CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., in 1993 and methodically opened fire, shooting into car windows, killing two CIA employees and wounding three others.

Like most fugitives on the list, Kasi was no easy find. Garrett and others spent four-and-a-half years continent-hopping, tracking endless leads before finding him in a seedy hotel in Pakistan at 4 a.m. Kasi was about to head off to prayer. He was brought back to the U.S., where he was eventually executed by lethal injection by the state of Virginia.

James Earl Ray/fbi photo

James Earl Ray/fbi photo

“It’s probably every agent’s dream to capture a top 10 most wanted fugitive,” Garrett, who retired from the FBI in 2006, told AOL News. “It wasn’t my driving force, of course, but the idea of being able to arrest a top 10 fugitive is really something. If you’re on the top 10 list, you must be a really bad person, a big deal.”

On March 14, the bigger-than-life list, which has included some of the most notorious criminals of our time, from assassin James Earl Ray to serial killer Ted Bundy to terrorist Osama bin Laden, turned 60.

The list has become part of Americana. First seen in post offices and banks, now the Ten Most Wanted photos are more likely to show up on TV shows, billboards and the Internet through Web sites and trendy social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

“We recognize the unique ability of the media to cast a wider net within communities here and abroad,” FBI Director Robert Mueller said in a statement marking the 60th anniversary. “The FBI can send agents to visit a thousand homes to find a witness, but the media can visit a million homes in an instant.”

Authorities say the list came about after a reporter for the International News in 1949 told the FBI he was interested in writing a story about the “toughest guys” the FBI was after. The FBI provided the names and descriptions of 10 fugitives — four escaped prisoners, three con men, two murder suspects and a bank robber — and the reporter wrote a story that captured national attention and triggered hundreds of tips.

Osama bin Laden

The FBI figured it was on to something. On March 14, 1950, Director J. Edgar Hoover launched the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program. The first fugitive was Thomas J. Holden, a bank robber who murdered his wife and her two brothers. A little over a year later, he was spotted in Beaverton, Ore., by someone who recognized his photo in the newspaper.

The FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program turns 60 years old  this month

The first fugitive listed by the FBI was killer and bank robber Thomas J. Holden in 1950. He was caught a year later.

Holden was one of 494 fugitives who have made the list in the past six decades. Of those, the FBI says, 463 have been captured or located, and 152 of those were “the direct result of citizen cooperation.” More specifically, two fugitives were captured as a result of the Internet, 27 from television broadcasts, two from radio coverage, three from newspapers, three from magazines and 49 from FBI posters.

Cases that involved tips from a top 10 poster included fugitive Joseph Martin Luther Gardner, a Navy man who was wanted in the 1992 gang rape and murder of a 25-year-old woman in South Carolina. Authorities caught the other suspects, but not Gardner — at least not for a while.

Mir Aimal Kansi/fbi photo

Mir Aimal Kansi/fbi photo

Jeffrey L. Covington, an FBI agent from Philadelphia who retired in 2007 and worked on the Gardner case, recalled that a woman had gone into a convenience store in 1994 in Philadelphia. Later, she returned home to New York and was in a post office when she saw an FBI wanted poster of Gardner.

“She said, ‘Oh my God, that’s the guy in the store,'” Covington recalled. She called authorities, and Covington said he and members of the Philadelphia Fugitive Task Force moved in and made the arrest.

“He was absolutely startled,” Covington said of Gardner. “And then he lied about his name. The usual stuff.”

Over the years, as times changed, so did the composition of the list. At first in the 1950s it consisted of bank robbers, murderers and car thieves. In the 1960s, some fugitives included kidnappers and militants who had destroyed government property. By the 1970s, there were organized crime and terrorist figures and radicals like H. Rap Brown and Angela Davis. And in by the 1990s, sexual predators, drug traffickers and gang members had joined the list.

For the most part, the list has been dominated by males. Only eight fugitives have been woman, with ’60s militant Davis among them.

angela davis

A lot of thought goes into who makes the list, and who doesn’t, according to Rex Tomb, who headed the FBI’s chief fugitive publicity unit in Washington and helped decide who made the list. He retired in 2006.

“Many times a particularly aggressive agent would want us to put their fugitive on the list,” Tomb told AOL News. “In looking at the submission, however, we realized that the case, though very serious, might be either too complicated or uninteresting to potential readers or viewers. Photographs might also be of such quality that we knew the public would be unable to notice key, distinguishing physical traits. The top 10 list is media driven. If certain elements are not present, reporters won’t use it. We had to learn which cases would fly and which wouldn’t.

“There are only 10 slots on the list,” he said. ” If the media won’t cover it, the list is of no help. If it can’t help a case, why put it on the list?”

On nine occasions, the top 10 list has actually had 11 or more fugitives.

“This has occurred when there was not a vacancy on the list and the FBI determined that there was an overriding need that an individual be added to the list,” said FBI spokeswoman Debbie Weierman.

She said some of the 11th fugitives have included Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who was implicated in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassin, James Earl Ray. Ray was one of six people who twice appeared on the list: once when he shot King in 1968 and again in 1977 when he escaped from prison.

Fugitive Donald Eugene Webb holds the record for the longest time on the list — 25 years, 10 months and 27 days — for the murder of Police Chief Gregory Adams in Saxonburg, Pa., in 1980. In 2007, without any real explanation, he was removed from the list even though he remained at large. The FBI now says he no longer fits the criteria, but he remains a fugitive.

Whitey Bulger

Whitey Bulger

The shortest time on the list — two hours — was claimed by bank robber Billie Austin Bryant, who had killed two FBI agents in the late 1960s in Washington. The oldest person to be placed on the list — and who still remains on it — is Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger. He was 69 in August 1999 when he was put on the list.

Today he is 80.

Alive and well? Who knows.

H. Rap Brown

H. Rap Brown

Lawyer in Anthrax Case: “I Never Had a Client Commit Suicide –It’s a Terrible Experience”

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — Just weeks before government scientist Bruce Ivins’ suicide, a grand jury was convening on the third floor of the federal courthouse, near the U.S. Capitol, looking into the 2001 anthrax murders. Things weren’t looking good for Ivins, the only suspect in the case.

It was July 2008. His attorney, Paul F. Kemp, according to court documents reviewed by AOL News, had just filed court papers to become a death-penalty-certified attorney in the case — a little-known fact. And the chief U.S. District judge in Washington, Royce C. Lamberth, had approved the request.

“I thought this was a precaution to take. My job is to anticipate anything,” Kemp said.

He said he had told Ivins the investigation could turn into a death penalty case. “At some point in the near future I felt the government was probably going to the grand jury and would issue an indictment.”

What Kemp — and the government as well — didn’t anticipate was the unthinkable. On July 27, Ivins, 62, loaded up on Tylenol with codeine in a suicide bid. Two days later, he died.

“I was disturbed over it,” Kemp said in an interview this week . “I never had a client commit suicide. It’s a terrible experience. I’m much more distraught for his family.”

With the suicide, so died the chance for the government to prove its case before a jury or for Ivins to prove his innocence. No charges were ever filed in the case, in which letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to five media outlets and two senators. Five people died and 17 others were sickened.

On Feb. 19, the Justice Department officially closed the case and issued a 92-page summary stating why Ivins not only did it, but acted alone. It concluded that his lab notes showed he “could, and did, create spores of the concentration and purity of the mailed spores.”

Kemp, a suburban Washington attorney, said he read the report, but didn’t buy into it. Not at all.

Kemp said Ivins repeatedly denied that he sent the letters or that he developed the deadly anthrax spores. And Kemp cited Ivins’ fellow scientists, who insisted he was incapable of making such a high-grade, dried anthrax with the equipment available at his workplace at the Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Md.

“There’s not one shred of evidence to show he did it,” Kemp said.

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., echoes some of that skepticism. Last week, he called for a congressional investigation into the anthrax probe.

“We don’t know whether the FBI’s assertions about Dr. Ivins’ activities and behavior are accurate,” Holt wrote in a letter to the chairmen of the House Committees on Homeland Security, Judiciary, Intelligence, and Oversight and Government Reform.

Government investigators disagree with the skeptics.

“Suggestions that this is an entirely circumstantial case are not accurate,” said Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman. “We are confident Dr. Ivins acted alone in carrying out this attack. There is the direct physical evidence. The murder weapon was created by Dr. Ivins and solely maintained by Dr. Ivins.

“We wish we had the opportunity to present this case and all the evidence to a jury, but we were not able to, given the circumstances.”

A Justice Department source familiar with the case insisted Ivins was “singularly capable” of producing the deadly product. The person said investigators spent an “extraordinary amount of time” researching who in the science world was capable of producing the high-grade anthrax used in the deadly letters and “Dr. Ivins came up as one of the pre-eminent anthrax researchers.”

Regardless, in his final weeks Ivins had been thinking about the prospect of facing the death penalty. News reports said that during a July 9, 2008, group therapy session, he mentioned that if he faced the death penalty he would go out with a blaze of glory and shoot some of his co-workers.

Kemp acknowledges the government contacted him in the final weeks to say they were concerned about Ivins’ state of mind and well-being.

To many in the public, Ivins’ suicide was viewed as an admission of guilt. But others — particularly some who knew him — saw a man who collapsed under the mighty weight of a government determined to indict him.

Kemp says he still thinks about the suicide and wonders if he couldn’t have conveyed the prospect of a death-penalty case to Ivins more gently. He won’t get into specifics of the conversations with Ivins, citing client-attorney privilege. But he does share this much.

“I question myself. Maybe I was too strong,” he said. “I second-guess a lot the wording I used.”

Read Story on Scientist  Steven Hatfill Breaking Silence