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Tag: Justice Department

Grand Jury Decision in Ferguson Won’t Stop Justice Department Investigation

By Steve Neavling
www.ticklethewire.com

Chaos erupted in pockets of Ferguson Monday night after a grand jury decided not to charge a white police officer who shot an unarmed black teenager.

So what’s next? The Justice Department is investigating whether Officer Darren Wilson violated the civil rights of Michael Brown. But don’t expect him to be charged, the Washington Post reports.

The Justice Department also will be examining the policing practices in what likely will lead to wholesale reforms, the Los Angeles Times reported. Investigators will be reviewing excessive force cases and arrest reports in search of a pattern of violating residents’ rights.

Reforms are more common than charges, the LA Times wrote.

Although civil rights investigations tend to drag on, Attorney General Eric Holder said he hopes to wrap up the probe by the time he leaves office, possibly as early as February.

Debt Collectors Accused of Impersonating Federal Authorities to Get People to Pay Up

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Employees of a debt collection company in Georgia are accused of impersonating FBI, Justice Department and local police officials to get thousands of people to pay up, the Guardian reports.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the employees of Williams, Scott and Associates illegally collected debts from 6,000 people and are now facing criminal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The employees face up to 20 years in prison.

After buying the debt for a few cents on the dollar, the company began collecting the money from 6,000 people after saying they were investigators. The employees collected $4.1 million this year, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

“After years of threatening false arrest, these defendants are the ones who now find themselves in handcuffs,”  said US attorney for the southern district of New York Preet Bharara in a statement.

Were Police in Ferguson Heavy-Handed During Response to Protests? Justice Department Investigates

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has launched a review of the police response to 16 days of Ferguson protests in wake of the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen, CNN reports.

The review will examine the handling of crowd control, protesters and the media.

The task will be undertaken by a 12-person team that will include Justice Department officials and current and former police chiefs.

The assessment started last week.

Attorney General Eric Holder has criticized the police response, which has been widely considered heavy-handed.

The review comes as law enforcement braces for the outcome of the grand jury that will decide whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.

Justice Department Concerned About Amount of Fraud in Military

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department isn’t exactly having trouble finding fraud in the military, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Take Fabian Barrera, who made $181,000 by claiming he recruited 119 people into the military. Barrera, who was sentenced to at least three years in prison lat month, never referred any of the recruits.

With multiple conflicts worldwide, the military has a lot of money that is being questionably spent, the Justice Department has found. Cases include bribery and steering contracts to select businesses.

“The schemes we see really run the gamut from relatively small bribes paid to somebody in Afghanistan to hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of contracts being steered in the direction of a favored company who’s paying bribes,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in an interview.

Over the past few months, four retired and one active-duty Army National Guard officials have been charged in connection with bribery and kickback schemes.

Justice Department Quietly Collecting Data from Cell Phone Users on Mass Scale

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has been collecting data from cell phone users on a mass scale for the past seven years by using electronic devices to mimic cellular towers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The U.S. Marshals Service reportedly flew Cessna planes with technology capable of simulating cell phone towers.

The planes have flown out of at least five metropolitan airports but have a “flying range covering most of the U.S. population.”

By collecting data this way, the Justice Department doesn’t have to get records from cell phone companies.

Secret Service Blasted for Problems That Allowed Fence Jumper to access White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The man who jumped over a White House fence and burst into the White House in September managed to avoid security because of a litany of problems with the Secret Service, CNN reports.

A Homeland Security report found numerous failures that allowed Omar Gonzalez to so easily access the White House. The problems involved lack of training, disorganization and miscommunication.

After Gonzalez jumped over the fence, the radio and alarm systems weren’t working as planned. The canine handler responded too late because he was talking on his personal cell phone.

The canine officer “gave Gonzalez the required verbal warning about the canine, caught a glimpse of Gonzalez heading toward the bushes, and gave his canine the command to apprehend Gonzalez,” the review said.

“The canine, however, did not have enough time to lock onto Gonzalez and may not have seen Gonzalez at all,” it said.

The incident drew harsh criticism of the agency.

“A combination of technical missteps, lack of radio discipline, improper use of equipment and aging infrastructure,” as well as an improper setting on the Secret Service’s radio system, contributed to those problems, it said.

Other Stories of Interest


Defendants in Dog Fighting Ring Get One of Nation’s Longest Sentences for Actions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Defendants in one of the largest dog fighting busts in U.S. history received some of the stiffest prison sentences ever issued for a dog-fighting ring, the Washington Times reports.

The Alabama dog fighting ring involved more than 350 dogs.

“These dogs lived in deplorable conditions that constituted extraordinary cruelty,” said George Beck Jr., U.S. Attorney for the middle district of Alabama. “They were made to fight and if they lost, they were killed.”

The defendants received sentences ranging from six to eight months.

“This is truly a landmark case for the animal welfare community,” said Tim Rickey, vice president of Field Investigations and Response for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The defendants also were found to be in possession of large amounts of drugs and illegal weapons.

Law Firm: Alabama Prison System Rife with Abuse, Should be Investigated by DOJ

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Widespread corruption, misconduct and abusive behavior were found in Alabama’s prison system following a six-month investigation by a nonprofit law firm.

Now the firm, the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative, is urging the Justice Department to conduct a formal investigation, the Montgomery Advertiser reports.

Alleging extreme violence, security problems and a culture of fear at the prisons, the firm filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Corrections last month.

EJI Director Bryan Stevenson said the problems are widespread and won’t change until the Justice Department gets involved.

“It’s not adequate to say we don’t have the money to do better,” Stevenson said. “A lot of these problems reflect cultural problems, leadership problems and management problems that don’t directly relate to the budget.”