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Tag: Detroit

Column: Just Following Orders — No Laughing Matter For Ex-Detroit Mayor’s Co-Defendant

Victor Mercado

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Back in 9th grade I remember a teacher yelling me and a classmate as we laughed uncontrollably. We were watching a movie about a 1960s psychological experiment at Yale on peoples’ willingness to obey authority.

It was called the Milgram Experiment. A male volunteer was assigned to be a teacher. A middle-aged decoy, who sat in another room, was the “learner” or student. The teacher asked questions through an intercom, and each time the learner gave a wrong answer, the teacher delivered an electric shock. The voltage increased with each incorrect answer. The learner really wasn’t getting a shock, but the volunteer didn’t know that.

Before long, the learner shouted “ouch” after each shock (it was actually a recording) and complained about a heart condition. Some of the volunteers refused to continue, even after a facilitator ordered them to. But others, albeit hesitant, kept delivering shock after shock as directed. They felt pressure from the facilitator. They were just following orders.

I’m reminded of that film as the corruption trial starts Friday for ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.  Four people are standing trial, including Victor Mercado, the former water department boss, who claims that he felt pressure from the Mayor, and was just following orders. Besides Kilpatrick and Mercado, co-defendants include contractor Bobby Ferguson and Kilpatrick’s dad Bernard Kilpatrick.

The feds charged that Mercado, 61, helped delay or cancel city contracts, at the behest of the mayor, so contractors would be forced to give Kilpatrick’s friend Bobby Ferguson a piece of the action or kickbacks. Ferguson then allegedly spread the love to the mayor and his father.

To read full column click here.

FBI Stays Busy in Metro Detroit, Targeting Suburban Warren

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 As jury selection continues in  the corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, FBI agents are investigating suburban Warren city government over a trash hauling contract, the Detroit News reports.

The FBI is focusing on Deputy Public Service Director Gus Ghanam  (pictured here) and the purchase of garbage trucks, according to the Detroit News.

A subpoena targeted records of Detroit Renewable Energy, which was involved in taking the city’s trash to an incinerator, the News reported.

The FBI has been busy in metro Detroit, heading investigations at Detroit City Hall and school districts in Highland Park and Pontiac.

Fed Judge in Detroit Mayor Trial Trying to Trample on Press Rights

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — U.S. District Court Judge Nancy G. Edmunds, who is overseeing the corruption trial of ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in downtown Detroit has a reputation for being a first-rate judge.

But Edmunds is attracting attention because she appears to be unusually concerned with what the media can report during jury selection in the Kilpatrick case. Her actions have prompted Herschel Fink, a noted First Amendment attorney, to write her a letter on behalf of the Free Press that raises concerns about possible violations of the First Amendment.

In what is an extraordinary case, Edmunds issued an extraordinary court order before jury selection. It’s one I had not seen before in federal court.

The order goes like this:

“The media is not permitted to blog about jury selection or otherwise provide any detail that may enable a prospective juror to be identified.”

To read more click here.

 

Prolific Retired-ATF Official Bernie La Forest Cranks Out His Third Novel

Bernie La Forest/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
 
Ex-ATF official Bernie La Forest is at it again.

The prolific La Forest has just knocked out his third mystery novel, “A Matter of Lex Talionis,” the story of a Lt. Andre de Avilés, who heads the Detroit Police Department’s Intel Squad.

Described as a forty-somethin’, ‘balls-to-the-wall” detective known for fighting organized crimes, the lieutenant gets tied up in a probe involving a bombing in Detroit’s Mexican Town that appears to be an act of terrorism.

He joins up with ATF and eventually some retired associates.

La Forest headed up ATF offices in Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Phoenix, and was a former Detroit cop. He retired from ATF in 1998.

I asked La Forest a few questions about his writing.

Here’s how he responded:

What kind of discipline does it take to write three books? Do you write everyday at a certain time?

I do not prepare an outline or chapter guide. However, I do spend a few months rolling potential plots around in my head. The first day that I begin writing is the most difficult. But, once I type the first paragraph . . . it’s off to the races. As you probably know, my novels are based loosely on a series format. I do not have one single hero or heroine, but rather, I lean on what I always believed. Most large law enforcement agencies . . . federal state or local . . . have many characters working on complex investigations. There may be one or two “case writers” or “lead detective or special agent,” but many more are involved in the day-to-day operation. For example, these are just a few tasks that might break the case wide open: Forensics, intelligence gathering, informants, surveillance, undercover, investigators on multi-agency task forces, timing of arrests or raids, etc. So in the end, on many investigations there are usually many heroes or heroines. Which in the end, allows an author using my style and POV . . . to spread the credit around instead of picking one standout.

The bottom line, while working in two DPD precincts and being an original member of the expanded TMU . . . followed by my thirteen moves around the country with ATF, I have come in contact with hundreds of cops, deputies, troopers, and specialized investigators. Stories are not a problem . . . the well is deep and the water is constantly refreshed by memories of partners, friends and associates who toiled on The Job.

How long did it take you to write this one?

I get up around 6 a.m. every day and take the mountain bike into the desert behind our place. After four or five miles on the dirt trails on the backside of the McDowell Mountains, sometimes more, I clean up, watch the news, check out Stratfor.com, WSJ, AZCentral.com for local news, and the Detroit News and the Freep for hometown “stuff.” Then I station my self next to a twenty-four cup coffee urn with a free flowing spigot . . . around Ten o’clock. Then I begin—after opening pages in Wikipedia, Google Maps and others that will provide definitions or descriptive material . . . and, most importantly Dictionary/Thesaurus.com. I began writing A Matter of Lex Talionis on October 6th of last year. I finished in May of 2012. Review and editing took us . . . my two editors and me, another three months . . . including the galley which contains errors caused by the printing setup at the publisher.

Here’s a hint, almost every street, highway, business address, and location mentioned, e.g., surveillance routes . . . is viewed by me on Google street image program . . . in every country where the trucks have uploaded images. I usually wrap up a session around 4:00 p.m., although, sometimes I will continue until dark. There are occasions where I may spend two or three hours working an one or two pages . . . or, start moving sections back toward the beginning or further into the story. That can be a dangerous proposition if I’m not careful . . . lots of copies of what is, what was, what might be, and what looks best.

Does  it get easier or harder?

It gets easier with every book, and hopefully, a much improved product.

To find out more about the book click here. 

Ex-Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick Must Be Frustrated Seeing Prospective Black Jurors Bounced


Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT –– Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick must have been frustrated on Thursday as he sat at the defense table in federal court in downtown Detroit during jury selection for his public corruption trial.

Kilpatrick complained recently that there weren’t enough prospective black jurors in the jury pool. Lawyers will tell you race can matter, particularly in a town like Detroit.

So imagine what he was thinking when only two of the 15 prospective jurors questioned in court by the defense, prosecution and judge, were black — and both wanted nothing to do with serving on the jury.

Both prospective jurors were woman who appeared to be in their late 20s or early 30s. The first woman said she didn’t feel she should judge anyone. The second woman said she had a job with a catering company and serving on the juror would create a hardship when it came to making a living. She also said she had been exposed to media reports about the case. The judge dismissed both from the trial.

In all, the court kept 11 in the jury pool and dismissed the rest. Of the 11, 10 were white males and females and one was a minority, possibly of South Asian origin. Additionally, a woman who never even appeared in court was also dismissed for hardship reasons.

To read the full story click here.

Prolific Retired-ATF Official Bernie La Forest Cranks Out His Third Novel

Bernie La Forest/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
Ex-ATF official Bernie La Forest is at it again.

The prolific La Forest has just knocked out his third mystery novel, “A Matter of Lex Talionis,” the story of a Lt. Andre de Avilés, who heads the Detroit Police Department’s Intel Squad.

Described as a forty-somethin’, ‘balls-to-the-wall” detective known for fighting organized crimes, the lieutenant gets tied up in a probe involving a bombing in Detroit’s Mexican Town that appears to be an act of terrorism.

He joins up with ATF and eventually some retired associates.

La Forest headed up ATF offices in Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Phoenix, and was a former Detroit cop. He retired from ATF in 1998.

I asked La Forest a few questions about his writing.

Here’s how he responded:

What kind of discipline does it take to write three books? Do you write everyday at a certain time?

I do not prepare an outline or chapter guide. However, I do spend a few months rolling potential plots around in my head. The first day that I begin writing is the most difficult. But, once I type the first paragraph . . . it’s off to the races. As you probably know, my novels are based loosely on a series format. I do not have one single hero or heroine, but rather, I lean on what I always believed. Most large law enforcement agencies . . . federal state or local . . . have many characters working on complex investigations. There may be one or two “case writers” or “lead detective or special agent,” but many more are involved in the day-to-day operation. For example, these are just a few tasks that might break the case wide open: Forensics, intelligence gathering, informants, surveillance, undercover, investigators on multi-agency task forces, timing of arrests or raids, etc. So in the end, on many investigations there are usually many heroes or heroines. Which in the end, allows an author using my style and POV . . . to spread the credit around instead of picking one standout.

The bottom line, while working in two DPD precincts and being an original member of the expanded TMU . . . followed by my thirteen moves around the country with ATF, I have come in contact with hundreds of cops, deputies, troopers, and specialized investigators. Stories are not a problem . . . the well is deep and the water is constantly refreshed by memories of partners, friends and associates who toiled on The Job.

How long did it take you to write this one?

I get up around 6 a.m. every day and take the mountain bike into the desert behind our place. After four or five miles on the dirt trails on the backside of the McDowell Mountains, sometimes more, I clean up, watch the news, check out Stratfor.com, WSJ, AZCentral.com for local news, and the Detroit News and the Freep for hometown “stuff.” Then I station my self next to a twenty-four cup coffee urn with a free flowing spigot . . . around Ten o’clock. Then I begin—after opening pages in Wikipedia, Google Maps and others that will provide definitions or descriptive material . . . and, most importantly Dictionary/Thesaurus.com. I began writing A Matter of Lex Talionis on October 6th of last year. I finished in May of 2012. Review and editing took us . . . my two editors and me, another three months . . . including the galley which contains errors caused by the printing setup at the publisher.

Here’s a hint, almost every street, highway, business address, and location mentioned, e.g., surveillance routes . . . is viewed by me on Google street image program . . . in every country where the trucks have uploaded images. I usually wrap up a session around 4:00 p.m., although, sometimes I will continue until dark. There are occasions where I may spend two or three hours working an one or two pages . . . or, start moving sections back toward the beginning or further into the story. That can be a dangerous proposition if I’m not careful . . . lots of copies of what is, what was, what might be, and what looks best.

Does  it get easier or harder?

It gets easier with every book, and hopefully, a much improved product.

To find out more about the book click here. 

 

A Warm Detroit Welcome: U-Haul Van with Secret Service Equipment Stolen and Later Recovered

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — The Secret Service probably wished this little embarrassment remained a secret.

Thieves made off over the weekend with a U-Haul truck parked  in downtown Detroit that contained equipment for the U.S. Secret Service, which was planning a protection detail for Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke Sunday in downtown  after the Labor Day Parade, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The truck was recovered Sunday along with at least some of the equipment. None of it was reportedly guns.

Media reports stated that the thieves used the van to move furniture.

To read more click here. 

 

Stories of Other Interest

 

 

From Accused Terrorist To U.S. Citizen: Ali-Haimoud’s Painful Journey

Farouk Ali-Haimoud

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — He was accused of being part of terrorist cell in Detroit in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He spent about 15 months in the Wayne County Jail, often in isolation. He was occasionally strip searched.

And then, he was acquitted of all charges.

Now, after the trial, the jailing, the humiliation and the close encounter with spending his life in prison, Farouk Ali-Haimoud has a new American experience:

He has become a U.S. citizen.

“I went through a lot to get that citizenship,” he said, talking on a recent Sunday afternoon at an Arabic bakery on West Warren Avenue in Dearborn. “Those were hard times, not just hard times for me, but for my family. They accused me of one of the worst crimes on the planet.”

About nine months ago, Ali-Haimoud, 32, got word from immigration authorities — just like millions of immigrants before him — that he was a U.S. citizen.

But his journey from Algeria to Detroit to U.S. citizenship, was anything but typical.

To read the whole story click here.