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Tag: Justice Department

Justice Dept. Honing in On Crime Issues Involving Native Americans

The Justice Department is stepping up to address problems of a forgotten segment of  America.  This is something long overdue.

native-american-sign1

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Justice Department leaders, responding to pleas from lawmakers and community groups, are training their attention on efforts to reduce crime and substance abuse on land controlled by the nation’s roughly 560 Native American tribes.

Federal law enforcement officials investigate and prosecute the bulk of serious criminal activity in Indian territory. But workers responsible for policing crime on reservations, where domestic violence and drug-fueled offenses have been on the rise, are overwhelmed and “grossly underfunded,” according to a memo submitted by the National Congress of American Indians as part of the presidential transition effort.

Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, the department’s third in command, will appear at a conference hosted by the National Congress of American Indians in Niagara Falls, N.Y., today to address the issues and promise more grant money for youth mentoring, victim assistance and crime prevention.

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Boston Judge Orders Govern. to Pay $6.25 Mil As a Result of FBI’s Ties to Mobster Informants

The embarrassing fallout from the FBI’s shady  relationship with mobster/informants like Whitey Bulger and “Rifleman” Flemmi continues to haunt the agency. Here’s the latest blow.

By Shelley Murphy
Boston Globe Staff
The "Rifleman" Flemmi in 1965

The "Rifleman" Flemmi in 1965

BOSTON — After years of legal maneuverings by Justice Department lawyers and a three-day nonjury trial, a federal judge ordered the government to pay $6.25 million to the widow and children of Richard J. Castucci, a Revere nightclub owner whose slaying was orchestrated by two of the FBI’s most prized informants, James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi.

Last year, a judge found that the FBI was to blame in the 1976 killing.

“I’m just glad it’s over, that’s all,” said Sandra Castucci, 72, shaking as she wiped away tears and was hugged by her children after leaving the courtroom.

The Castuccis’ wrongful death suit was the third case brought on behalf of victims of Bulger and Flemmi to make it to trial, and all have ended with significant judgments against the government.

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Justice Dept. Quietly Transfers Two Integrity Section Prosecutors Tied to Tainted Case Involving Alaska Lawmakers

The Justice Department should be applauded for such action. No action would send a signal that this isn’t a big deal — and it is.

scales-of-justice1

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Justice Department leaders quietly transferred two career prosecutors under fire for their work in Alaska corruption cases out of the department’s public integrity section this week as scrutiny of the troubled unit intensifies, according to two sources.

Prosecutors Nicholas Marsh and Edward Sullivan received notice of their reassignment Thursday, the same day that department officials petitioned an appeals court to release from prison two Alaska legislators convicted of bribery and extortion offenses, said the sources, who requested anonymity to speak about the personnel issue.

The criminal convictions of Peter Kott, former speaker of the state’s House of Representatives, and longtime legislator Victor Kohring will be sent back to a lower court for review. Justice Department officials disclosed late Thursday that they had uncovered evidence-sharing lapses in the cases similar to those that demolished their case against long-serving Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) in April.

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Justice Department Launches Probe into Death of Abortion Doctor

Scott Roeder/sedgwick co jail photo

Scott Roeder/sedgwick co jail photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Atty. in Kansas have launched a federal proble into the murder of  abortion doctor George Tiller, who was killed in church last Sunday.

“The Department of Justice will work tirelessly to determine the full involvement of any and all actors in this horrible crime, and to ensure that anyone who played a role in the offense is prosecuted to the full extent of federal law,” said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division in a prepared statement issued Friday afternoon.

“We will conduct a thorough investigation that will complement and build upon the fine work of the Sedgwick County District Attorney and other state and local law enforcement agencies,” she said.

The Justice Department said it will look at any potentional violatons of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) or other federal statutes.

Scott Roeder, 51, has been charged with one count first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault in death of Dr. Tiller.

Justice Lawyer Held in Contempt in Sen. Stevens Case Says She’s Not to Blame

Judge Emmet Sullivan held lawyers in contempt /court photo
Judge Emmet Sullivan held lawyers in contempt /court photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The fallout from the messy trial of ex-Sen. Ted Stevens won’t be going away any time soon.

The latest: The BLT-The Blog of LegalTimes reports that Patty Stemler, one of the four Justice Dept. attorneys held in contempt for failing to turn documents over to the defense, has filed a motion saying that she had no involvement in the missteps. She wants out of this mess.

Stemler, chief of the Appellate Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, filed the motion Wednesday before D.C. U.S. District Judge James Robertson, BLT reported.

It was U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan who presided over the trial and subsequently found Stemler and three other prosecutors in contempt. Sullivan eventually let one of the prosecutors off the hook after finding he had a minor role in the debacle, BLT reported.

Sullivan also vacated the conviction of Stevens at the request of the Justice Department because of the missteps on the part of prosecutors.

In her Wednesday filing, Stemler said her section helped put together a pleading that accompanied the documents, but it did not play a role in collecting them, BLT reported.

“Ms. Stemler is not aware of any contumacious conduct with regard to these documents,” the motion states. “In any event, she was not part of ‘the team of attorneys responsible for’ the underlying collection, logging, and production of documents.”

Stemler is being represented by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.

Read Patty Stemler’s Motion to Vacate Contempt

Justice Dept. Legal Assistant Indicted in Maryland on Drug Trafficking Charges

doj-logoBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — A Justice Department legal assistant has been charged in Maryland with cocaine trafficking, according to a federal indictment unsealed Friday.

Wilson Lee Garrett,  35, of Waldorf, Md., faces charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine.

According to the the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the two count indictment alleges that from mid-2006 to February 2007 Garrett “conspired to distribute over five kilograms of cocaine.”

If convicted on the various charges, he could face up to life in prison.

Garrett made his initial appearance Friday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. He was detained pending a detention hearing Monday.

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Former Bushees Lobbying to Get Justice Dept. to Bend Ethics Report on Interrogations

justicelogo

Ahhh.  Now this is Washington politics at its best. We’ll see who, if anyone, is willing to bend the ethics in the ethics report.

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Former Bush administration officials are launching a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign to urge Justice Department leaders to soften an ethics report criticizing lawyers who blessed harsh detainee interrogation tactics, according to two sources familiar with the efforts.

In recent days, attorneys for the subjects of the ethics probe have encouraged senior Bush administration appointees to write and phone Justice Department officials, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process is not complete.

A draft report of more than 200 pages, prepared in January before Bush’s departure, recommends disciplinary action by state bar associations, rather than criminal prosecution, against two former department attorneys in the Office of Legal Counsel who might have committed misconduct in preparing and signing the so-called torture memos. State bar associations have the power to suspend a lawyer’s license to practice or impose other penalties.

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Atty. Gen. Holder Assures Federal Judges He’ll Upgrade Professionalism at Justice Dept.

In recent months, federal judges have chastised federal prosecutors around the country including in Washington, Miami and Montana. The newly minted Atty. General Eric Holder Jr. has vowed to address this.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.

Joe Palazzolo
The National Law Journal
WASHINGTON — In his first confab with the nation’s chief federal district judges, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. pledged to raise the bar of professionalism in the U.S. Department of Justice and acknowledged that the current procedure for reviewing complaints against attorneys was too slow and opaque.

Nine chief judges described the April 21 meeting on the condition of anonymity because it was closed to the public. Holder’s words held the promise of reform for the approximately 90 judges who attended the annual meeting at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington as discovery abuses and other prosecutorial misconduct, new and old, have come under increased scrutiny in the aftermath of the Ted Stevens case.

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