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Tag: Detroit

Witness in “Underwear Bomber” Trial Says He Heard Someone Yell: “Hey Dude, Your Pants Are on Fire!”

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — If it hadn’t have been so potentially deadly and scary, Nigerian terrorism suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s Christmas day Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit in 2009 might have made a good Saturday Night Live skit.

Witness Michael Zantow, who was flying to Wisconsin to visit his ailing mom from his job in the Middle East as a U.S. Air Force contractor, testified Tuesday in U.S. District Court in downtown Detroit that he was sitting one row behind Abdulmutallab  (aka The Underwear Bomber) when the action started, The Detroit News reported.

Zantow testified that he noticed Abdulmutallab cover himself with a blanket minutes before hearing a loud pop, the News reported.

Zantow said seconds passed before a man sitting next to Abdulmutallab yelled: “Hey dude, your pants are on fire!”

He also testified, according to the News: “His underwear resembled something I hadn’t seen before. It was bulky, it reminded me of my son’s Pull-Ups. I assumed it was adult Pampers.”

The bomb never detonated and Abdulmutallab was arrested and quickly dubbed the “Underwear Bomber.”

Earlier in trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel told jurors in opening statements that Addulmutallab thought by trying to blow up the plane “he would end up in heaven because he would be a martyr.”

“He wanted jihad, and he sought it out and he found it,” Tukel told jurors.

Abdulmutallab, who is representing himself, but has an attorney assisting in his defense, was originally expected to give an opening statement. Then he handed the job off to his attorney Anthony Chambers, who decided to forgo any opening statement, the News reported.

Abdulmutallab appeared to figure he had nothing to lose by going to trial since the feds had offered him no deal considering they figured they had a smoking gun — or in his case, smoking underwear.

The trial is expected to last about a month.

To read more click here.

 

Fundraiser for Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Pleads Guilty

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Another person close to former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has fallen.

Longtime fundraiser for the “hip hop mayor” Emma Bell  pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit to tax evasion, admitting that she received more than half a million dollars from various campaign fundraisers and never reported the money to the IRS, federal authorities said. Bell has agreed to cooperate with the feds for a lower sentence.

Bell described the last year of her life as hell, according to the Detroit Free Press. “After all of this time, I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s a lot of pressure on you,” she said of her guilt plea.

The statutory maximum sentence Bell is facing runs up to ten years in prison or a fine of $500,000, or both, but, because of her cooperation, prosecutors are recommending the sentence be lowered to 18 months, according to an FBI press release.

The guilty plea is more bad news for Kilpatrick, who faces a host of public corruption charges in federal court.

Last month, Derrick Miller, 41, a Kilpatrick confidante who worked as the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, pleaded guilty to corruption and tax charges and agreed to cooperate and testify for the feds against Kilpatrick.

 

Management Shakeup Expected at ATF


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

With acting ATF Director B. Todd Jones in place, and the new fiscal year beginning, rumors are swirling about that ATF is soon expected to make a lot of changes in top management, which will result in a serious round of musical chairs.

One rumor circulating within ATF is that Thomas E. Brandon, who had just recently moved from Detroit to Phoenix to help clean up the mess in wake of the disastrous Operation Fast and Furious, will be headed to Washington to take on a senior leadership role.

Agents around the country have told tickethewire.com that Brandon has the respect of fellow agents.

The changes come in wake of the controversy over Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged Arizona firearms dealers to sell to questionable straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of some weapons, and some surfaced at crimes scenes on both sides of the border.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)  and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.)  have  been investigating the fall out from  Operation Fast and Furious and have been raising questions about ATF’s leadership.

In the midst of their probe,  ATF acting director Ken Melson stepped down to head over to a post at the Justice Department. In stepped Jones, who has kept his post as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.

The White House had nominated Andrew Traver, head of the ATF’s Chicago office, to become the new director. But his confirmation process got stalled, and the NRA put up a strong fight against him.

At this point, it appears Traver’s nomination will simply die out for lack of momentum. And it’s not likely that the Obama administration will spend its political capital trying to get any director confirmed before the election in November 2012.

Rumors have been circulating that the Justice Department wants to fold ATF into the FBI, but a federal source said that won’t happen.

The Examiner.com reported last week that there were rumors of  “a possible big shake up” at ATF,   but gave no specifics.

 

Paul Lindsay; Ex-Detroit FBI Agent and Prolific Author of 7 Novels Dead at 68

Paul Lindsay/simon & schuster photo

 By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Paul Lindsay, the hard-digging FBI agent who became a prolific author, and wrote seven novels — the last two of which were N.Y. Times best sellers — died peacefully Thursday night at a Boston hospital of pneumonia with his family by his side. He was 68.

The ex-Marine, who friends kidded was a cop trapped in an agent’s suit, was known for his dogged pursuit of criminals, his sharp wit and sometimes a lack of patience for management.

Lindsay graduated from MacMurray College in 1968 and served a tour of duty in Vietnam as a Marine Corps infantry officer, according to his website. In the Marine Corps, he was a Company Platoon Commander who was awarded two Purple Hearts and the Silver for bravery, according to the family.

He later joined the FBI and worked in the Detroit office for 20 years. He lived in Rye, N.H.

He authored his first book at the tail end of his FBI career, which stirred controversy in the FBI because it was a thinly veiled novel that took shots at some folks in the agency.

He went on to write six other books. And just last month it was reported that Millenium Films had acquired the rights to “The Bricklayer”, his best-selling novel penned under the pseudonym Noah Boyd, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Book was written under the pseudonym Noah Boyd

The report also noted that Scottish actor Gerard Butler is supposed to star in the film as a rogue former agent who’s services are needed to battle a criminal group that’s been demanding multi-million dollar ransom payments.

Friends and family  said that Lindsay died due to complications from pneumonia.

He had been diagnosed in 2005 with a blood cancer, leukemia,  that compromised his white blood cell count, the possible result of his exposure to chemical defoliates when he served in the Marines in Vietnam, the family said.

The condition eventually left him with compromised immune system, which made it difficult to fight off infection. The family said he kept his condition secret from everyone but his immediate family and one friend.

“He never wanted anyone to feel sorry for him or treat him differently–he never permitted himself that luxury,” his family wrote in an email to friends.

In part of a memoir the family shared with friends, Lindsay wrote:

“I am dying. A single cell, damaged and then mutated, is now multiplying at a Pandorian rate through my bloodstream. The aberration was triggered, from best guesses, by Agent Orange, the defoliant dumped so generously-18,000,000 gallons or so–on Vietanam to help keep American troops alive. An irony that is life itself.

“For me, it was over forty years ago. The medical term is Chronic Lyphocytic Leukemia, or to those of us on more intimate footing, CLL. The disease has reached stage four, and unfortunately there is neither a cure nor a stage five.

“. . . I have been the recipient of a great deal of luck in my life. But as John Steinbeck wrote in The Pearl, ‘Luck, you see, brings bitter friends’.”

“Recent events have made it apparent that good fortune is nothing more than a temporary statistical anomaly, which given enough time has little choice but to swing in an opposite and equal arc. In my case, leukemia. Given the extraordinary adventure my good luck has provided to my years, I can offer no complaint about the pendulum’s final resting place.”

His family concluded the email by saying: “Our Father will be missed, loved and remembered.”

Funeral services will be held at the Robert K. Gray, Jr. Funeral Home 24 Winnacunnet Road, Hampton, N.H. Saturday morning, Sept. 10 at 10 a.m.

Family and friends are invited to call to the funeral home on Friday 2:00-4:00PM and 7:00-9:00PM.

Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.

In his memory contributions may be directed to: The Wounded Warrior Program

 

Underwear Bomber Wants Change of Venue

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The man known as the “underwear bomber” isn’t going down without a fight — despite the overwhelming evidence against him.

The Detroit News reports that  Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is asking a federal judge to change his trial to another state, saying he can’t get a fair trial in Michigan because the media coverage created an “inflamed commuity atmosphere.”

Attorney Anthony Chambers, who is assisting Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab  with his defense, also asked a judge on Friday to suppress statements made Abdulmutallab when he was in the hospital on painkillers, the Detroit News reported. Trial is set for Oct. 4.

Abdulmutallab, 24, is accused of trying to detonate a bomb in his underwear during a Christmas day flight from Amsterdam to Detroit in 2009.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Airport Screening Machines to Get Less Personal

file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Good news for those who think the Transportation Security Administration has gone too far in its efforts to screen airline passengers.

The Associated Press reports that TSA is installing news technology at some airports that will show a generic outline of s peson’s body instead of showing an image of the naked body.

AP reported that the new technology will be used in 40 airports including Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Miami and Newark.

The news service said TSA will eventually use the technology at other airports as well.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Judges Tosses Ex-Terrorist Suspect’s Suit Against Detroit FBI Agent

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT –An FBI agent is off the hook.

U.S. District Judge Marianne Battani of Detroit on Monday tossed out a lawsuit against FBI agent Michael Thomas, the Associated Press reported. The suit was filed Karim Koubriti, whose terrorism conviction  in Detroit was thrown out after it was ruled that the prosecution withheld crucial evidence from the defense.

The judge on Monday ruled that  Koubriti had failed to prove that the agent had intentionally withheld evidence, AP reported.

Koubriti was after millions of dollars in damage in a suit originally filed against Thomas and former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino. Convertino had been removed from the lawsuit based on a ruling that prosecutors are immune from lawsuits.

The high profile case generated a lot of attention, first because the arrests came shortly after 9/11.  Later, after trial, the case  was mired in controversy after allegations surfaced that the prosecution had withheld information from the defense.

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Rep. Conyer’s Wife Can’t Serve Remaining Prison Term at Home, Judge Rules

Monica Conyers/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Monica Conyers, the divisive ex-Detroit City Council member, and the wife of Rep. John Conyers, isn’t coming home any time soon.

The Detroit News reports that U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn of Detroit denied her request to serve the remainder of her 37-month prison sentence at home. She pleaded guilty in June 2009 to taking at least $6,000 in bribes for her vote on a city sludge hauling contract.

Cohn, who sentenced her last year, wrote in a court order filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit that he lacked jurisdiction to modify her sentence or credit her with time spent free on bond, the Detroit News reported.

“As to defendant’s argument that the Court misapplied the sentencing guidelines, her pending appeal has divested the court of jurisdiction to reconsider its judgment,” Cohn wrote, according to the News.

Judge Avern Cohn/wsu photo

The News reported that the 46-year-old, who is in a West Virginia federal prison, argued that Cohn “failed to consider her age, education, work skills, employment record, family ties and ‘likihood (sic)’she would commit another crime. Plus, her son’s baby sitter is returning to school soon.”