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Tag: Alabama

BINGO! Feds Indict 4 Ala. Lawmakers and 7 Others in Bribery Scheme Involving Gambling Legislation

Sen. Larry Means/gov photo

Sen. Larry Means/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Four Alabama state legislators, three lobbyists, two business owners and one of their employees and an employee of legislature were indicted in a bribery scheme to promote legislation to legalize  electronic bingo machines, the Justice Department announced Monday.

“Today, charges were unsealed against 11 legislators, businessmen, lobbyists and associates who, together, are alleged to have formed a corrupt network whose aim was to buy and sell votes in the Alabama legislature in order to directly benefit the business interests of two defendants, Milton McGregor and Ronald Gilley,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division said in a statement.

Sen. Jim Preuitt/gov photo

Sen. Jim Preuitt/gov photo

“Vote-buying, like the kind alleged in this indictment, corrodes the public’s faith in our democratic institutions and cannot go unpunished.”

The indictment says that Milton E. McGregor, the owner of Alabama’s biggest casino, wanted to pass the legislation.  His casino had 6,000 bingo machines, but was shut down after the governor declared the machines illegal and sent out a task force to enforce that.

Ronald E. Gilley owned a controlling interest in the Country Crossing real estate, entertainment and gambling development in Houston County, Ala., which also sought to offer electronic bingo gambling machines to the public, authorities said.

Authorities said during the 2009 and 2010 Alabama state legislative sessions, McGregor and Gilley and others pushed for pro-gambling legislation that would have helped businesses legally display electronic bingo machines.

To help push through the legislation, they allegedly gave money and gifts state legislators and staff, authorities charged.

The Legislator included: State Senator Larry P. Means, State Senator James E. Preuitt, State Senator Quinton T. Ross Jr. and Senator Harri Anne H. Smith.

Read press release

“Original Civil Rights Photographer” Was FBI Informant

cameraBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The late “original civil rights photographer” Ernest Withers snapped shots of history: the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot; King riding one of the first desegregated buses in Alabama.

But there was a little known side to the man who had a front row seat in the civil rights movement: He was an FBI informant, according to the Tennessee Commercial Appeal.

The paper reported that he marched with King and sat in on some of the civil rights movement’s sensitive strategy meetings.

He died in 2007 at age 85, the paper reported.

Mass. Native Richard DesLauriers To Head Boston FBI

boston-map-istockBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Massachusetts native Richard DesLauriers, who has served as deputy assistant director of Counterintelligence at FBI headquarters, has been tapped to head the agency’s Boston office.  He replaces Warren T. Bamford, who recently retired from the agency.

DesLauriers entered the FBI in 1987 and was first assigned to the Birmingham, Ala. office where he worked violent crime and fugitives.

In 1990, he began working counterintelligence in New York. Five year later, he was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Eurasian Section of the National Security Branch at headquarters.

To read more about him click here.

FBI Defends Itself in Murder Linked to Joran van der Sloot

Joran van der Sloot

Joran van der Sloot

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI on Wednesday defended itself against accusations that it screwed up in the case involving Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the death of a woman in Peru. He has also long been a suspect in the death of Natalee Holloway, the Alabama high school teen who disappeared in Aruba five years ago after being last seen with van der Sloot.

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alabama said in a statement that agents and prosecutors “were working as hard as possible to bring the case to fruition when they learned of the murder.”  Some criticized the FBI, saying it could have arrested van der Sloot before he went to Peru and allegedly murdered a 21-year-old woman.

On June 3, a few days after the murder, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged van der Sloot with wire fraud.  Several weeks before, Van der Sloot had contacted someone close to the Holloway family and asked for $250,000 in exchange for disclosing circumstances surrounding the death of  Natalee Holloway, the FBI said.

Press reports said the FBI set up a sting and an intermediary met on May 10 with van der Sloot in an Aruba hotel and gave him $10,000, according to AOL News. An additional $15,000 was wired to van der Sloot. Some critics say he should have been arrested right there on the spot after taking the money.

Instead, Van der Sloot reportedly used the money to go to Peru and play in a poker tournament, where he met Stephany Flores, 21, a business student.

Read more »

Atty. Gen. Holder to Visit Gulf and Meet With U.S. Attorneys

Atty. Gen. Holder/doj photo

Atty. Gen. Holder/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — With the Obama administration seething over the Gulf oil spill, a criminal probe may be one way to express anger against BP.

The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. will visit the out-control spill in the Gulf on Tuesday and meet with U.S. Attorneys from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi and state law enforcement officials from those areas.

The Los Angeles Times over the weekend reported that a team of federal prosecutors  and investigators are gathering information and exploring the possibility of launching an all out criminal probe into whether BP “skirted federal safety regulations and misled the U.S. government by saying it could quickly clean up an environmental accident.”

Read Washington Post Story

Read LA Times Story

Head of FBI in Mobile, Ala. Is Stepping Down Under a Cloud

FBI Agent Debra Mack
FBI Agent Debra Mack

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Debra Mack, the first African American female  to head the FBI Mobile, Ala., office, is stepping down under a cloud of controversy.

WKRG tv reports that  Mack had been the subject of a two-year internal investigation involving a high ranking local politician.

A source tells ticklethewire.com that FBI agents in the Mobile division were unhappy with her leadership and management style  for a long time. In recent times, the FBI conducted a surprise inspection of the bureau and agents complained to inspectors about Mack.

Eventually, the tv station reports that Mack, a 26-year veteran of the FBI, was offered a choice: Become an FBI agent in Birmingham, which would have been a big demotion, or retire.

Angela Tobon, a spokeswoman for the FBI Mobile office, said Mack announced to staff earlier this week that she was retiring at the end of the month. She had headed up the FBI office since February 2005.

“She just said it was time to retire,” Tobon said. She declined to comment on reports of an internal probe or the FBI inspection.

For the past 60 days, Mack has been working in Washington as a deputy assistant director in the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence, Tobon said.

She said Mack will go on vacation and contemplate her future.

Senate Committee Gives Joyce Vance Thumbs Up for Ala. U.S. Atty. Post

It’s a start, but the administration has a long way to go in filling all the U.S. Attorney spots. Unfortunately, there have been so many distractions since President Obama took office.alabama

MARY ORNDORFF
Birmingham News Washington correspondent
WASHINGTON – Joyce Vance had solid bipartisan support to become the top federal prosecutor in the northern district of Alabama as her nomination sailed through a Senate committee Thursday. The action sets the stage for her to become one of the first new U.S. attorneys to take office under President Barack Obama.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Vance and two nominees from Vermont and New York without debate. The full U.S. Senate could make it final next week.

For Full Story

Alabama U.S. Atty. Deborah Rhodes Latest to Step Down

U.S. Atty. Deborah Rhodes

U.S. Atty. Deborah Rhodes

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
U.S. Attorney Deborah Rhodes of Alabama’s Southern District in Mobile becomes the latest U.S. Attorney to step down.

The Press-Register in Alabama reported that the prosecutor will step down April 17.

Rhodes assumed the position initially on an interim basis in 2005 after U.S. Attorney David York resigned “amid allegations of an improper relationship with an assistant prosecutor”, the paper said.

She became the permanent U.S. Attorney in 2006.

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis and a panel has recommended that federal prosecutor Vicki Davis get the post. A rival panel has recommended former District Attorney Barrown Lankster, the Press-Register reported.

“She’s been a terrific leader for this office…,” Maria Murphy, criminal division chief for the U.S. Attorney’s Office told the paper. “I think we will all be sorry to see her go.”

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