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Tag: Detroit

Marcia Cooke, Florida’s First Female Federal Judge, Dies at 68

By Allan Lengel

Marcia G. Cooke, a former federal magistrate judge in Detroit who eventually became a federal judge in Miami, and handled high profile cases including the infamous “dirty bomber,” died Friday in Detroit after battling health issues in the past year. She was 68.

U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke

Cooke, a staunch Democrat, was appointed to the bench in Miami in 2004 by President George W. Bush and was confirmed by the Senate 96-0. She was the first Black female federal judge in Florida.

Cooke had inoperable cancer, and then last year underwent surgery in Florida for a pulmonary embolism after a trip to Australia, according to friends. She made a miraculous recovery from the surgery, but fell ill during a Christmas trip to Detroit, a town she never lost touch with, returning often for the holidays to see relatives and friends. She stepped down after her illness made it too challenging to remain on the bench.

Cooke was well regarded on the bench by prosecutors and defense attorneys in both Detroit and Miami. She was seen as a fair, smart, unpretentious judge with a good sense of humor, who never forgot her Detroit roots.

“She was an incredibly lovely, sweet, funny and strong person,” said Detroit criminal Defense attorney Robert Morgan.

Detroit criminal defense attorney Sanford Plotkin, who knew Cooke well recalled her “infectious laugh that sometimes I can still hear in my head to this day that brings a big smile to my face. She could humanize the federal courthouse, which federal benches sorely lack. They could use more Marcia Cooke’s.”  

Cooke graduated from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in 1975 and went on to obtain a law degree from Wayne State University two years later.

She soon became a staff attorney for Neighborhood Legal Services in Michigan and in 1979 became deputy public defender of the Legal Aid and Defender Association in Michigan.

From 1980 to 1983, Cooke worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Detroit and then went to work briefly in private practice. From 1984 to 1992, she worked as a federal magistrate judge in Detroit.

In 1992, she went to work for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami as director of professional development and training and later became executive assistant U.S. Attorney.

She served as chief inspector general for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. After that, in 2002, she worked for two years as an assistant county attorney in Miami-Dade County. In 2004, she became a federal judge in Miami.

One of her first nationally-known cases in Miami involved Jose Padilla, aka the “dirty bomber,” who was initially held in military custody. He was eventually given a civilian trial before Cooke.

He was convicted by a Miami jury of plotting to release a radiological bomb in the U.S. and initially sentenced by Cooke in 2007 to 17 years. The 11th Circuit Court later ruled that the sentenced should have been harsher due to certain factors, and Cooke added four more years.

The Miami Herald reports:

If Padilla thought he had no legal rights in military custody, he quickly learned that federal court before Judge Cooke was a far different place. She immediately ordered the government not to shackle Padilla or the other two defendants during their court appearances on terrorism conspiracy charges. She ordered federal prosecutors to turn over final — not rough — translations of surveillance transcripts and other critical evidence to lawyers for Padilla and his co-defendants. She ordered the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to provide a bigger conference room for those attorneys to meet with their clients, who were in solitary confinement at the Miami Federal Detention Center, to prepare for trial.

Cooke always loved to talk to friends in Detroit to stay abreast of the goings-on in the community.

Metro Detroiter Missy Handler, a close friend of Cooke’s for many years, said:

“I had the privilege of knowing Marcia as a friend for over 30 years. She was so smart and well accomplished but at the same time, down to earth. She had the best sense of humor and a laugh that I’ll never forget. When I think of Marcia, I will always smile and be proud to have called her my friend.”

Close friend, attorney Ron Siegel of Metro Detroit, was heartbroken Friday. He and his wife Caryn Satovsky-Siegel, were very close with Cooke, who was their son Reid’s godmother.

“I am just devastated beyond words over the loss of my dear friend of 40 years (and Reid’s Godmother) Judge Marcia Cooke,” Siegel posted on Facebook Friday night. “After battling cancer and other illnesses over the last year, and making a valiant effort to go to Baltimore to, as she vowed, “dance with my Godson at his wedding,” she lost her battle with that goddamn dreaded disease, and I am so grateful that I got to spend time with her yesterday to tell her that I love her and to feel her squeeze my hand to let me know that she knew I was with her. I hope God has plans for her, because he’ll never get anyone better.”

FBI Finds No Signs of Jimmy Hoffa Under New Jersey Bridge

James R. Hoffa

By Steve Neavling

Once again, a search for the missing Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa uncovered no evidence of his whereabouts. 

In the latest search, the FBI searched land under a New Jersey bridge, the Pulaski Skyway, the bureau said Thursday.

Hoffa, one of America’s most powerful labor leaders, has been missing for 47 years. Hoffa was last seen outside of a Michigan restaurant in 1975 and was legally dead in 1982. There have been dozens of searches for his body since then. 

The latest search was prompted by a deathbed statement by a man who says he buried Hoffa’s body in a steel drum. 

Agents scoured for evidence in October and June. 

“Nothing of evidentiary value was discovered during that search,” Special Agent Mara R. Schneider, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, told Deadline Detroit. “While we do not currently anticipate any additional activity at the site, the F.B.I. will continue to pursue any viable lead in our efforts to locate Mr. Hoffa.”

James A. Tarasca Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Detroit Field Office

Special Agent in Charge James A. Tarasca

By Steve Neavling

James A. Tarasca, who was serving as deputy assistant director in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters, has been named special agent in charge of the Detroit Field Office, the bureau announced.

Tarasca’s career with the FBI began in 1999, when he was assigned to the Orlando Resident Agency of the Tampa Field Office in Florida to investigate white-collar crime. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he began investigating counterterrorism throughout Central Florida. He also served as a firearms instructor and a member of the Tampa SWAT team. 

In 2003, Tarasca joined the Hostage Rescue Team, based at Quantico, Va. In addition to participating in numerous domestic operations, he was deployed internationally, including to Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008, he became supervisory special agent and team leader. 

In 2011, Tarasca transferred to the Philadelphia Field Office, where he served on the Violent Crimes Task Force. In 2013, he became supervisory special agent of the task force before returning to Afghanistan in 2016 to work counterterrorism and kidnapping matters. 

In 2017, Tarasca was named assistant special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division of the New York Field Office and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. 

In 2018, Tarasca was promoted to section chief in the International Operations Division, where he oversaw FBI operations in Europe and Eurasia and the Global Readiness Unit. In 2019, he returned to the New York Field Office, serving as special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division and JTTF. 

In 2021, he was named deputy assistant director of operations in the Counterterrorism Division at headquarters in 2021. 

Tarasca received the FBI Director’s Award for Excellence in Leadership, two FBI Shields of Bravery, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery. He has a bachelor’s degree in management from Eastern University and was a Pennsylvania state trooper before joining the FBI.  

Robert Danley Named Chief Patrol Agent of CBP’s Detroit Sector

Chief Patrol Agent Robert Danley

By Steve Neavling

Robert B. Danley has been named the new chief patrol agent of CBP’s Detroit Sector.

Danley succeeds Douglas Harrison, who retired after leading the sector for five years. 

Danley’s career with CBP began in 2001, when he entered the U.S. Border Patrol Academy. His first assignment was at Brackettville Station in the Del Rio Scgtor in Texas. 

Since then, Danley has held a variety of leadership positions on the northern and southern borders, the Border Patrol Academy and USBP headquarters. His positions included patrol agent in charge, associate chief and acting deputy chief. 

He’s earned numerous distinctions during his career. He’s a two-time recipient of the CBP Commissioner’s Award for Mission Integration and Partner and Stakeholder Engagement. He also received the Secretary, Department of Homeland Security Meritorious Service Silver Medal for Leadership for his creation of migrant pathways in 2020. 

Danley graduated from northern Arizona University with a bachelor’s of science in justice studies. 

The Detroit Sector has five Border Patrol stations along 863 miles of the border with Canada and encompasses Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. 

Ex-Detroit City Councilman Sentenced to Prison As Part of Widening FBI Investigation

By Steve Neavling

The FBI’s broadening investigation into corruption in the city of Detroit led to the sentencing Wednesday of a former Detroit City councilman. 

Andre Spivey, 47, was sentenced to two years in prison for accepting more than $35,000 in bribes. 

“It is the mission of the FBI’s Public Corruption Task Force to thoroughly investigate the conduct of elected officials who – like Mr. Spivey – abuse their positions of power and the public’s trust for their own personal gain,” Josh P. Hauxhurst, acting special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, said in a statement. “Today’s sentencing serves as a warning to all public officials who allow greed to triumph over duty, that federal agents will never cease in their relentless pursuit for justice.”

Spivey is among an increasing number of city employees who were arrested as part of “Operation Northern Hook,” an investigation into corruption within Detroit government and the police department related to towing contracts. 

Spivey, who resigned from council on Sept. 29, pleaded guilty to conspiring with an unidentified staff member to commit bribery. Spivey and the staff member collected more than $35,000 in cash bribes from an undercover agent or confidential informant on eight different occasions between 2018 and 2020. 

As part of the investigation, the FBI also raided the homes and offices of two other council members on Aug. 25. To date, they have not been charged. 

Four current and former Detroit cops were charged with bribery in connection with the investigation. 

“Public corruption undermines the faith of the people in their leaders,” U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison said. “Public officials who take bribes will be punished, and I am determined to take every action to root out corruption within the City of Detroit or anywhere else in this district where we find it.”     

Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Detroit Field Office Timothy Waters Retires

Timothy Waters, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

Timothy Waters, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, has retired, following 21 years with the bureau. 

Waters was appointed to the Detroit office in December 2020 after serving as the deputy assistant director of the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) in Virginia. 

Waters’ career with the FBI began in the Detroit Field Office, where he began investigating white-collar crime in 2000. 

In December, Waters sat down with Deadline Detroit, a sister publication of ticklethewire.com, for a wide-ranging interview.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Waters started working counterterrorism and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan to support military and intelligence community operations in 2005 and 2006.

Waters became a supervisory special agent in 2017 and led a section of Detroit’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. One of his investigations included the attempted bombing of an airplane at Metro Airport in Detroit on Christmas 2009. 

In 2010, Waters became the legal attaché in Islamabad. 

He returned to Detroit in 2011, serving as supervisor of a Joint Terrorism Task Force that focused on al Qaeda and al Qaeda-inspired terrorists.

In 2014, Waters became assistant special agent in charge of administrative matters in Detroit and was reassigned in 2016 as the assistant special agent in charge of Detroit’s National Security Branch, making him responsible for all counterterrorism, cyber, counterintelligence, and weapons of mass destruction investigations in Michigan.

In 2019, Waters began serving as the director of the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, an FBI-led, multi-agency squad in charge of coordinating, integrating, and sharing cyber threat information. 

Earlier this year, he was named deputy assistant director of CIRG, where he helped lead the FBI’s response to critical incidents worldwide.

Before joining the FBI, Waters served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army for eight years. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. He later earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Cleaning Man Busted Stealing Valuable Information from FBI’s Detroit Field Office

Detroit riverfront. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling

A man hired to help sanitize the FBI’s Detroit Field Office at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has been convicted of stealing valuable information on a violent street gang in the city. 

Anthony Cassani, 22, photographed a chart that detailed the rank and hierarchy of the gang members in March 2020 and then sent the photo to his friends and others using social media account, prosecutors allege, The Detroit News reports.

The chart, which was displayed on an agent’s office cubicle, contained “proprietary information,” including photos of alleged gang members who were under investigation. 

Members of several street gangs ended up with the photos of the chart, “thereby depriving the FBI of the full benefit of its use,” according to a sentencing memo. 

Cassani pleaded guilty to theft of government property less than $1,000 on June 29. 

Federal prosecutors are calling for jail time during his sentencing hearing next week in U.S. District Court. 

“Rather than do the job he was being paid to do, Cassani chose instead to steal proprietary information about a gang investigation and post it on social media,” the sentencing memo reads. “His criminal conduct has earned him a three-month sentence followed by a one-year term of supervised release with the hope that this brief term of imprisonment will promote respect for the law and deter him and others from committing similar offenses.”

Two Detroit Men Convicted of Shooting at ATF Agents in Unmarked Car

By Steve Neavling

Two Detroit men who opened fire on a pair of ATF agents in April 2019 have pleaded guilty.  

Kevin Keshawn Young, aka Gucci, 24, and Aaron Marquis Shooks, aka Boogey, 23, will be sentenced on Dec. 8 on a charge of attempted murder of federal agents, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Young and Shooks are members of a gang known as OES 187 Head Hunters, according to federal prosecutors. 

On April 15, 2019, federal agents were investigating a shooting in which Shooks and other OES members were allegedly involved. The agents were in an unmarked car, following the gang members when Young exited his vehicle and fired 11 shots at the agents. Young later claimed he thought the agents were rival gang members. 

No one was injured. 

As part of a plea deal, Young faces between 10 and 15 years in prison, and Shooks faces 10-13 years behind bars. 

“Every day our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line and risk personal injury to protect our citizens from senseless violence,” Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin said in a statement. “When officers or agents are assaulted while performing those duties, the perpetrators can expect that every resource of this office will be used to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, and to seek justice.”

Keith Krolczyk, acting special agent in charge of the ATF’s Detroit Field Division, added, “Our special agents and other law enforcement officers risk their personal safety everyday doing their job, protecting the public and enforcing the law, to make our community safe. We are proud of them and their unrelenting professionalism.”