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Tag: Justice Department

AG Garland Releases Statement on 27th Anniversary of Oklahoma City Bombing

Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Photo: DOJ)

By Steve Neavling

On the 27th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland released the following statement:

“Every year on this day, we remember those who were killed when a domestic terrorist bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, taking the lives of 168 people, including 19 children, and seriously injuring hundreds of others.

“And every year on this day, we commemorate the strength of the Oklahoma City community that came together in the face of that loss.

“The Justice Department apprehended, prosecuted, and convicted the men responsible for the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. As we did, we never forgot the victims, in whose memories we worked.

“Twenty-seven years later, the Justice Department remains vigilant in the face of the threat of domestic terrorism. We believe that the time to address threats of violence is before the violence occurs, so we are putting our resources into disrupting terrorist plots. We also remain committed to holding accountable those who perpetrate such attacks, which are aimed at rending the fabric of our democratic society and driving us apart.

“Today, as we remember Oklahoma City, we must stand together against the kind of hatred that leads to tragedies like that one. Today, we are also reminded of the grace and resilience demonstrated by the Oklahoma City community, which refused to allow hate and division to win.”

FBI Arrests NY Lt. Gov. Benjamin on Bribery, Fraud Charges

Former New York Lt. Gov. Brian A. Benjamin. Photo: New York Senate

By Steve Neavling

New York Lt. Gov. Brian A. Benjamin was arrested Tuesday by the FBI on charges of bribery, fraud and falsification of records while he was a state senator.

Benjamin, 45, resigned soon after the Justice Department announced the charges.

Benjamin is accused of receiving thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in exchange for directing a $50,000 state grant to a non-profit controlled by a real estate developer. 

According to the indictment, the developer also raised money for Benjamin’s failed 2021 campaign for New York City’s comptroller. 

“Exploiting one’s official authority by allocating state funds as part of a bribe to procure donations to a political campaign, and engaging in activity to cover up the bribe, is illegal,” FBI New York Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll said in a statement. “As we allege today, Benjamin’s conduct in this scheme directly circumvents those procedures put in place to keep our systems fair.”

The developer was not identified in the indictment. 

AG Garland Tests Positive for COVID-19 After Unmasked Press Conference with FBI Director

Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Photo: DOJ)

By Steve Neavling

Attorney General Merrick Garland has tested positive for COVID-19, the Justice Department announced just hours after he held a news conference with FBI Director Christopher Wray, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and others. 

Garland, 69, was not experiencing symptoms and tested positive after learning he may have been exposed to the virus, the DOJ said, according to ABC News.

“He asked to be tested after learning that he may have been exposed,” the DOJ said in a statement.

Garland, who is vaccinated and boosted, will follow CDC guidelines and work virtually from home while in quarantine. 

Garland tested positive after attending a Gridiron dinner in Washington D.C. on Saturday. Others who attended the event – Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas – have tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

As of Thursday morning, there was no word on Wray, Monaco and others who attended the unmasked press conference Wednesday.

DOJ Expanding Its Jan. 6 Probe Beyond the Riot

Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo via Shutterstock.

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is expanding its investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to include the events before the riot, The Washington Post and New York Times report.

One of those events was the Jan. 6 rally, attended by President Trump, that preceded the attack. 

In the past two months, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas requests for information on the planning and execution of the rally. 

One of the subpoenas is searching for information about people “classified as VIP attendees” of the rally. 

Federal prosecutors are also looking for documents and testimony related to the Trump campaign’s promotion of fake electors in a handful of states, as well as Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results. 

Previously, the investigation focused on the rioters. 

DOJ Reaches $127.5M Settlement with Families of Parkland School Shooting Victims over FBI’s Inaction

Nikolas Cruz via instagram

By Steve Neavling

The federal government has agreed to pay the families of victims of the 2018 Parkland shooting massacre $127.5 million. The families alleged in lawsuits that the FBI failed to act on tips that may have prevented the shooting, the Justice Department said in a statement Wednesday. 

“The settlement does not amount to an admission of fault by the United States,” the DOJ said. 

The shooting occurred on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people and wounded an additional 17. 

The settlement will go to 16 of the 17 families of those killed. One of the families opted not to sue.

The families accused the FBI of negligence for failing to act on tips about Cruz. One came about five weeks before the shooting, when a tipster said Cruz had purchased guns and planned to “slip into a school and start shooting the place up.”

The tip never made its way to the FBI’s South Florida office, and the bureau never contacted Cruz, who had a troubling history of mental and behavioral problems. 

Cruz, who pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder in October 2021, faces a death sentence or life in prison when he is sentenced in April. 

DOJ, Jan. 6 Committee Received Capitol Riot Video Footage from Documentary Crew

Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo via Shutterstock.

By Steve Neavling

Cameras for a documentary film were rolling as the far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were meeting in downtown Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5, the day before the assault the U.S. Capitol, prosecutors said in a memo. 

The congressional committee that is investigating the attack also is in possession of the recording, Politico reports.

Goldcrest Films International , which received rare access to the groups, also provided hours of footage from Jan. 6, including video from inside the Capitol. 

The raw footage could provide key evidence against the extremists, who are facing conspiracy and obstruction charges and other counts related to the riot. 

Meanwhile on Tuesday, former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio was ordered to be detained while he awaits trial on charges connected to the riot. 

14 Months After Jan. 6 Attack, FBI Still Hunting for More than 350 People For Committing Violent Acts

Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo via Shutterstock.

By Steve Neavling

More than 14 months since the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the FBI is still seeking the public’s help in identifying more than 350 people still wanted for committing violent acts during the insurrection. 

Of those, 250 are believed to have assaulted police officers, the Justice Department said Thursday.

The Justice Department also announced that more than 200 people have pleaded guilty so far to charges related to the riot. About 195 have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and 29 have been convicted of felonies. 

Six defendants have been sentenced to prison for terms ranging from 41 months to 63 months. 

Although 14 months have passed, the Justice Department said the investigation is moving at “an unprecedented speed and scale.”

“The Department of Justice’s resolve to hold accountable those who committed crimes on Jan. 6, 2021, has not, and will not, wane,” the department said.

The Justice Department said the FBI is urging the public to help identify the suspects. 

“Citizens from around the country have provided invaluable assistance in identifying individuals in connection with the Jan. 6 attack,” the DOJ said. “The FBI continues to seek the public’s help in identifying more than 350 individuals believed to have committed violent acts on the Capitol grounds, including over 250 who assaulted police officers.”

Jury Delivers First Guilty Verdict Stemming from Jan. 6 Riot

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

The first person to stand trial in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was found guilty on all charges Tuesday. 

A federal jury found Guy Reffitt, an oil field worker from Wylie, Texas, guilty on five counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, making threats to obstruct justice and bringing a firearm to a restricted area.

The maximum penalty for the obstruction count alone is 20 years in prison. 

In a statement, Steven D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, sent a message to the remaining defendants who have not yet pleaded guilty.  

“Rather than take responsibility for his actions at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Reffitt opted to put his family through a painful trial,” D’Antuono said. “Today’s guilty verdict in the first jury trial of a Jan. 6 defendant should serve as a reminder for others who committed crimes at the Capitol that day that these are serious charges and that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will do what it takes to hold them accountable.”

It took the jury just three hours to deliberate. 

The verdict was important for the Justice Department, particularly because of a rarely used obstruction charge that is being challenged by other defendants, The New York Times reports.

Of the more than 750 rioters who have been charged in the riot, more than 200 have pleaded guilty.