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Tag: Corruption

Ex-Hip Hop Mayor’s Presence Felt in Buddy’s Detroit Trial

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Ex-Hip hop Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was nowhere to be seen. He wasn’t on trial. He wasn’t in the gallery.

But his presence Tuesday was undeniable. His good buddy, contractor Bobby Ferguson, went on trial in downtown Detroit in a $12-million bid-rigging case involving a low-income housing project and allegations about money laundering and hidden safes flush with cash.

If it weren’t for Kwame, why else would the U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade have bothered to sit in on the opening statements? Why else would it generate intense press interest? Allegations against an ordinary businessman; who would pay that much attention?

Ferguson is no Bernie Madoff. He’s no Jeff Skilling, the CEO of Enron.

But he is FOK (Friend of Kwame), and in this town that’s big. Plus, it reminds us of the very shady, ugly dealings of the Kilpatrick administration and the lengthy FBI probe into city hall corruption.

To read more click here.

Former Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice “Singing His Heart Out” to DEA on Corruption in Chavez Gov.

Eladio Aponte photo correodelorinoco.gob.ve

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

U.S. officials report a break-through in tackling drug trafficking from South America, according to the Associated Press.

A former Venezuelan Supreme Court justice Eladio Aponte may be seeking permanent refuge in the U.S. for himself and his family in exchange for evidence linking Venezuelan officials to drug trafficking and corruption, and linking Venezuela with Colombian rebel group FARC. His accusations could lead to “tougher U.S. action against purported drug trafficking networks” AP reports.

The former judge fled to the U.S. a month ago after being expelled from the court by the Venezuelan National Assembly for allegedly helping a drug trafficker. It remains to be seen if he’s seeking immunity for his participation in the drug trade, or simply wants protection for his family. If proven, Aponte’s accusations would discredit the anti-U.S. Chavez government and, most likely, illicit its wrath.

To read more click here.

 

FBI Investigating Atlanta’s $3B in Airport Vendor Contracts

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

Accusations are flying in Atlanta that airport concession contracts have been rigged to favor the Mayor’s campaign contributors, reports WSBTV.

The FBI has apparently contacted several of the losing bidders to interview them about the bidding process. One bidder told WSBTV, “I answered their questions that I had a feeling things went on, but I couldn’t provide hard evidence”.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed held a fundraiser just four days before the airport bidding started. $3 Billion in contracts would be awarded, some of them to the Mayor’s key contributors. Mack Wilbourn, a prominent businessman who hosted a fundraiser for Mayor Reed, had also recently hosted President Obama. Wilbourn won upward of $350M in airport contracts.

Atlanta spokeswoman Sonji Jacobs said the city has not been contacted by the FBI, and insists “The procurement process has been fair and transparent and not a single shred of evidence has been produced to substantiate any of the losing bidders’ claims.”

… So far.

To read more click here.

 

Jersey City Politician’s Corruption Charges Dropped, but No Go for Reimbursements

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

You can see why former Jersey City assemblyman Louis Manzo thought he might try his luck once more. But this time the only luck he had was bad luck.

The Jersey Journal reports that Manzo lost his bid for reimbursement of $150k worth of legal fees paid over the course of a drawn-out corruption case. A federal judge threw the case out. Twice.

Battling it out with the U.S. Attorney’s Office since his 2009 arrest, according to the Jersey Journal, Manzo slipped free from the massive corruption and money-laundering probe that put a host of other Hudson County politicos behind bars.

In his ruling, the same judge who threw out Manzo’s second indictment, Judge Jose Linares, ruled that Manzo wouldn’t see a dime in reimbursements because the government case against him “was not groundless or without any legal merit” as Manzo tried to prove in court.

To read more click here.

 

John Edwards Campaign Finance Trial Begins

Shoshanna Utchenik
ticklethewire.com

In like a lion, out like a lamb for former golden boy John Edwards. Even if he beats criminal charges of campaign finance corruption, Edwards will be hard-pressed to ever recover his public image.

The L.A. Times reports that former North Carolina Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards goes to trial on Monday, having plead not-guilty to 6 criminal counts of campaign finance violations. If he loses the case, he faces up to 30 years jail time and $1.5 million in fines, according to the Times.

Edwards’ defense team contends that bills paid by 101-year-old Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, the Virginian banking heiress, and the late Fred Baron, a Texas lawyer, were personal gifts from friends and not campaign contributions.

Used to support and conceal Edwards’ mistress and their child during the 2008 Presidential campaign, the funds were also alleged to have bought a “dream house” for Edwards’ aide Andrew Young, who became embroiled in the scandal by claiming to be the father of Edwards’ love child to divert the press.

“This case is significant both legally and politically,” Kenneth Gross, a Washington ethics lawyer, told the L.A. Times. “This is the first criminal case dealing with an excessive gift, particularly a gift not ever going to a campaign, and spent for purposes seemingly unrelated to a campaign.”

The trial is expected to last 6 weeks.

To read more click here.

 

60 Minutes Report On the Very Crooked Lobbyist Jack Abramoff

http://youtu.be/ejkF447DkJw

FBI Investigating Detroit School Contract

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Funding teen suicide prevention efforts is a laudable act, no doubt. But that all depends, of course, on whether the funding is actually being used for that purpose.

In Detroit, FBI agents are investigating allegations that a fundraiser for Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, who was investigated earlier this year on “pay-to-play” charges, was paid top dollar to host teen suicide prevention forums that never occurred, reports the Detroit News.

For at least two weeks federal agents have been investigating a contract from 2008 to Larry D. Dickerson for hosting 12 school forums for the “Behind Happy Faces Initiative,” as well as other mental health efforts, sources told The Detroit News; but former Commissioner Phil Cavanagh said only two of the forums occurred. Dickerson was paid $70,000 for the forums.

Officials from school districts that were supposed to host the forums said that cannot find any indications the forums occurred, according to the Detroit News.

“With Wayne County and Detroit going bankrupt and emergency managers knocking at the door, how on earth can they afford these kinds of boondoggles?” asked Ralph Kinney, a former Ficano aide.

To read more click here.

Column: Prosecutors May Be Overreaching in Recommending 15-20 Years for Blago

 

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In political corruption cases, how much prison time is enough?

Fed prosecutors in the case of Rod Blagojevich — the world’s most talkative ex-governor — are recommending that he get 15 to 20 years at sentencing, which is set for Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Yes, Blagojevich was a crook with a stupid chip implanted somewhere in that brain of his underneath that helmet-head of hair. But I think a 15 to 20 year sentence is excessive.

What’s the point of piling on?

Blago, who turns 55 on Dec. 10, four days after sentencing, would be 75 by the time he got released from prison if he were to be sentenced to 20 years. If he gets 10 years, he’ll be 65 by the time he goes free.  It’s not as if, when he gets out, the public will be in danger.

A prison term in this case is supposed to provide sufficient punishment and act as a deterrent to other crooked-leaning pols.

I think 10 to 12 years, as a Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Brown suggests, does the trick.

A sentence of 10-12 is enough to discourage some — certainly not all — crooked politicians from committing crimes.

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