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Tag: Detroit

‘Underwear Bomber’ Not Entitled to New Lawyer, Govt. Says

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “underwear bomber” who tried to ignite a bomb in his underwear on a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day in 2009, wants a new — preferably Muslim stand-by lawyer — for his upcoming sentencing on Jan. 19, the Detroit Free Press reports. Fed prosecutors are opposed.

“Because defendant represents himself, he has no right to standby counsel, let alone standby counsel of his choice,” federal prosecutors wrote in court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, according to the Free Press. They say he isn’t entitled to one, and granting his demand would delay the hearing which numerous passengers on the Detroit flight have planned to attend and speak at.

Abdulmutallab requested a new lawyer recently for his upcoming January 19 sentencing.

To read more click here.

 

 

Ex-FBI Agent Weighs in on Detroit Case Where 4 Women Found Dead in Car Trunks

2 Ex-UAW Officials Get Prison Time for Extorting General Motors

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — So much for above the board negotiations.

Two ex-United Auto Workers officials were sentenced to prison Tuesday in federal court in Detroit for conspiring to extort General Motors during a strike in 1997 at the Pontiac Truck Plant.

Donny Douglas, 70, of Holly, Mich., a former UAW International Servicing Representative was sentenced to 18 months in prison and and Jay Campbell, 70, of Davisburg, Mich., a former UAW Local 594 Chairman, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison. They were convicted in 2006.

Authorities said the two were convicted of conspiring to commit extortion by threatening to extend the 1997 strike at the Pontiac Truck Plant by UAW Local 594 unless General Motors hired two unqualified, non-UAW members who were family members or friends of the defendants as skilled tradesmen.

Authorities said that GM, concerned about the continued financial loss of a strike, hired Campbell’s son and a former UAW Local 594 President’s son-in-law as journeymen even though neither man was a member of the UAW, worked for General Motors, or was qualified for the position.

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.

Feds Allege that Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Took $10,000 Bribe in Restaurant

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — At this point it would be hard to tarnish the reputation of ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

But the feds heaped on some more serious allegations to his already pending public corruption charges.

The Detroit News reports that new court filings in fed court in Detroit allege that Kilpatrick took a $10,000 kickback in a restaurant bathroom and tried forcing a business to take in his father as a minority partner.

The allegations were included in an updated racketeering conspiracy indictment against Kilpatrick and three others.

The News reports that the allegation appears to rely on some information from the mayor’s ex-aide and good buddy Derrick Miller, who pleaded guilty in September and has been cooperating.

One allegation is that Miller hand-delivered Kilpatrick a $10,000 kickback inside a Detroit restaurant bathroom in fall 2007.

The News reported that the cash came from a developer who was seeking a loan from city pension funds for Asian Village, the defunct restaurant development.

The News reported that another new allegation was that “Kilpatrick allegedly tried to strong-arm a company in 2002 that wanted to open a House of Blues restaurant at Ford Field.

“During negotiations, according to the indictment, a city development official pressured a company official to hire the mayor’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, as minority partner. The firm, identified as ‘Company F’ in the indictment, said no. So Kilpatrick withdrew the city’s support, according to the indictment.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

Mich. Fire Chief Pleads Not Guilty in FBI Probe

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It’s tough to come by a buck in Metro-Detroit these days.

Still, Jeffrey Hawkins, a 46-year-old former fire chief for Pontiac, Mich.–a city at the northern end of Detroit’s metropolitan area–maintains that he did not ignore fire violations in exchange for cash.

Hawkins plead not guilty on Tuesday after turning himself in following an FBI investigation into an alleged shakedown he had with a local bar.

The bar owner told the FBI that Hawkins offered not to report the violations in exchange for $1,000. Hawkins allegedly took $500 from the owner in August of 2009 and another $500 from an undercover FBI agent in April of 2010.

To read more click here.

Artist Offers Whole Life’s Details to FBI, Public

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

When Hasan M. Elahi landed in Detroit, Mich., and walked into the country on June 19, 2002, a customs official asked that Elahi follow him to an Immigration and Naturalization Services office at the airport.

That incident initiated a period of “questioning went on for the next six months and ended with a series of polygraph examinations,” Elahi wrote in the New York Times on Sunday, and it “turned my life upside down,” he said.

Elahi, an associate professor and interdisciplinary artist at the University of Maryland,  describes himself as neurotic about record keeping, and in the office at the airport he and the investigator were able to look at his electronic personal assistant and retrace the steps he took on September 12, 2001, he wrote in the Times. Seeming pleased, the interrogator let Elahi go. But Elahi was soon contacted by federal authorities for more questioning.

The level of detailed information he began sharing with the FBI in the months following inspired a project Elahi pursued on his own websites. Elahi was nervous about the FBI’s interest in him and wanted to cooperate in letting them know all of his travel plans and whereabouts. When an interrogator finally cleared him and said for Elahi to let them know if he needed anything, Elahi-not wanting another hassle upon his return-sent agents his plans for traveling outside of the country in the near future, he wrote.

But Elahi piled the information high. “Soon I began to e-mail the F.B.I. I started to send longer e-mails, with pictures, and then with links to Web sites I made. I wrote some clunky code for my phone back in 2003 and turned it into a tracking device … I created a list of every flight I’ve ever been on, since birth. For the more recent flights, I noted the exact flight numbers, recorded in my frequent flier accounts, and also photographs of the meals that I ate on each flight, as well as photos of each knife provided by each airline on each flight.”

On his own websites, which he sent links to federal agents to, he included databases of his personal financial records, his daily habits and whereabouts, pictures he had taken.

Elahi wrote in the Times: “In an era in which everything is archived and tracked, the best way to maintain privacy may be to give it up. Information agencies operate in an industry that values data. Restricted access to information is what makes it valuable. If I cut out the middleman and flood the market with my information, the intelligence the F.B.I. has on me will be of no value.”

Elahi went further. The actions may be more symbolic than anything, he admitted, “but if 300 million people started sending private information to federal agents, the government would need to hire as many as another 300 million people, possibly more, to keep up with the information and we’d have to redesign our entire intelligence system.” He derided the current intelligence system as stuck in a Cold War mentality, and encouraged the many “incredibly intelligent people and very sophisticated computer systems in various agencies in Washington” to move beyond a 20th century mentality and start creating better ways to use and analyze information, rather than endlessly collect it.

Whether the project seems a poignant response to his experience, or just the overly academic philosophizing of an abstract University artist, questions about responding to and dealing with the flood of information federal agents face is something to be pondered. “What I’m doing is no longer just an art project; creating our own archives has become so commonplace that we’re all — or at least hundreds of millions of us — doing it all the time. Whether we know it or not,” Elahi wrote.

 

Atty. Gen. Holder Holds Up Underwear Bomber Case As a Positive Example of Prosecuting Terrorism in Civilian Courts

Eric Holder Jr./ticklethewire.com file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. took the opportunity  following the guilty plea Wednesday morning of  the “Underwear Bomber” to hold the case up as another example of the success the Justice Department has had prosecuting terrorism cases in civilian courts.

“Contrary to what some have claimed, today’s plea removes any doubt that our courts are one of the most effective tools we have to fight terrorism and keep the American people safe,” Holder said in a statement. “Our priority in this case was to ensure that we arrested a man who tried to do us harm, that we collected actionable intelligence from him and that we prosecuted him in a way that was consistent with the rule of law.”

“We will continue to be aggressive in our fight against terrorism and those who target us, and we will let results, not rhetoric, guide our actions.”

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded guilty to all eight counts on Wednesday in the second day of his terrorism trial in downtown Detroit. He was accused of trying to blow up a Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.

The statement comes in wake of sharp criticism from Republicans in the past couple years over the Justice Department’s push to prosecute many of the terrorism cases in the civilian courts.

Some Republicans have argued that the cases should be prosecuted in a military court. They’ve also been critical of the FBI reading Miranda warnings to terrorist suspects.

FBI agents read the underwear bomber his rights after questioning him for a while.