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Tag: Justice Department

Off Color Texts Hurt Justice Department’s Largest Sting Targeting Foreign Bribery

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — In text message after text message, FBI agents and their key informant joked about sex, booty calls, prostitutes, cigars, the Village People, the informant’s wives and an agent’s girlfriend. They even pondered who might play their roles in a movie based on their sting.

When arrests were announced by the Justice Department, the agents and informant basked in positive press. “It’s like an atomic mushroom cloud,” the informant gloated in a text to his FBI handler.

Since reaching court, however, there hasn’t been much to brag about in the Justice Department’s largest investigation of individuals accused of bribing foreign officials.

To read the full story click here.

Muslim Group Wants Justice to Investigate Portland FBI

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Muslim civil rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR),  is none too happy with the Portland FBI.

The Associated Press reports that the group wants the Justice Department to investigate the behavior of the Portland FBI, which has barred two Libyan-Americans from returning to the U.S.

AP reports that the two men — Jamal Tarhuni, 55, of Tigard, Or., and Mustafa Elogbi, 60, of Portland — both traveled at different times to Libya after Moammar Gadhafi was removed from power.

AP reported that Tarhuni delivered humanitarian supplies with the group Medical Teams International and Elogbi visited family.

To read more click here.

 

Taxpayers Dish Out Nearly $1.8 Million to Defend Lawyers in Failed Prosecution of Late Ted Stevens

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens

Brad Heath
USA Today

WASHINGTON – The federal government has spent nearly $1.8 million defending prosecutors from allegations they broke the law in the botched corruption case against former Alaska senator Ted Stevens, Justice Department records show.

The case against Stevens fell apart three years ago when the Justice Department admitted its attorneys had improperly concealed evidence that could have helped his defense. A court-ordered investigation concluded in November that prosecutors had engaged in “significant, widespread, and at times intentional misconduct,” but that they should not face criminal contempt-of-court charges.

Records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the department has paid about $1.6 million since 2009 to private lawyers representing the six prosecutors targeted by that court investigation. It also paid $208,000 to defend three prosecutors from a separate finding that they had committed civil contempt of court.

To read more click here.

Arkansas Men Sentenced in Cross Burning Case

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A group of three southerners had the idea to construct a large wooden cross, bring it to the yard of a local African-America resident of Arkansas, and light the cross on fire before driving away; now the three have been sentenced to 18 months in prison, the FBI announced in a statement on Friday.

Bradley Branscum, 23, and Curtis Coffee, 19, of Batesville, Ark., were sentenced for charges relating to the Aug. 28, 2010 crossburning incident. Tony Branscum, 26 and first cousin to Bradley, was sentenced on Jan. 20.

The African America resident was not injured, according to the FBI, and there was no damage to his home. Still, the defendants had pleaded guilty to interfering with the housing rights of another, says the FBI.

“The defendants acted to instill fear because of the victim’s race,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said. “The Department of Justice remains committed to protecting our communities from such violence and will continue to aggressively prosecute these acts.”

Justice Dept. Takes on Itself in Anthrax Attacks

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Jerry Markon
The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Since it began a decade ago, the federal government’s massive investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks has been plagued by missteps and complications.

Investigators initially focused on the wrong man, then had to pay him a nearly $6 million settlement. In 2008, they accused another man, Bruce E. Ivins, who killed himself before he could go to trial. Now, in the latest twist, the government has argued against itself.

In documents deep in the files of a recently settled Florida lawsuit, Justice Department civil attorneys contradicted their own department’s conclusion that Ivins was unquestionably the anthrax killer. The lawyers said the type of anthrax in Ivins’s lab was “radically different” from the deadly anthrax. They cited several witnesses who said Ivins was innocent, and they suggested that a private laboratory in Ohio could have been involved in the attacks.

To read the full story click here.

First Charges of Shepard/Byrd Act Convicted, Receive Prison Time for Assaulting a Developmentally Disabled Navajo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Two member of the Bloods street gang were sentenced in a US District Court in Santa Fe, N.M., for a hate crime against a developmentally disabled Navajo,  the FBI said in a statement on Wednesday.

Paul Beebe and Jesse Sanford of Farmington, N.M were convicted and sentenced on federal hate crime charges related to the racially motivated assault of a 22-year-old developmentally disabled Navajo, according to the FBI and the Justice Department. Beebe received eight-and-a-half years in prison and three years’ supervised release, while Sanford got five years and three years’ supervised release.

Beebe, and Sanford were indicted by a federal grand jury, along with a third defendant who pleaded guilty and is still awaiting sentencing, in November 2010 on one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Shepard/Byrd Act), says the FBI. The three were the first defendants charged under the Shepard/Byrd law. Both pleaded guilty.

In August of 2011 the two admitted that Beebe has taken the victim to his apartment, covered in racist paraphernalia, and defaced the victim by drawing on him with markers a number of racist symbols once he had fallen asleep. When the victim awoke, gagged with a towel, Beebe branded him with a heated wire hanger, impressing a swastika into his skin. They recorded the event with cell phone cameras.

 

Guilty Verdicts Returned for Mexican Cartel Affiliates

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Things did not go the way Gerardo Castillo-Chavez and Armado Garcia had hoped in Laredo, Texas, on Wednesday.

Both men saw guilty verdicts returned on all charges against them, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced. Castillo-Chavez, a 25-year-old from Tamaulipas, Mexico, was convicted of “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, interstate travel in aid of racketeering (ITAR) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence,” according to the Justice Department.

The guilty verdicts were returned unanimously after a four-day trial and six-hours of deliberation.

A Feb. 17, 2010 indictment charged Castillo-Chavez and 33 other individuals with 47 counts of conspiracy to kidnap and murder U.S. citizens in a foreign country, drug conspiracy, kidnapping conspiracy, firearms conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, use of juveniles to commit a violent crime, accessory after the fact and solicitation as well as substantive money laundering, drug trafficking and ITAR charges, according to the Justice Department. To date, 14 of those charged have been convicted.

Several witnesses in the trial tied Castillo-Chavez to the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, and implicated Castillo-Chavez, also known as “Cachetes,” in a double murder on April 2, 2006, as well as other attempted murders a violent attacks in Mexico.

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Ex-CIA Officer Accused of Leaks Involving Terror Case

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former CIA officer, who helped track down and capture a big terror suspect, was charged Monday with repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities, the Justice Department said.

The charges were filed in fed court in Alexandria, Va., against former CIA agent John Kiriakou.

Kiriakou, 47, of Arlington, Va., was a CIA intelligence officer between 1990 and 2004, serving at headquarters and in various classified overseas assignments.

The government alleged in a four-count criminal complaint that Kiriakou made illegal disclosures about two CIA employees and their involvement in classified operations to two journalists on multiple occasions between 2007 and 2009.

In one instance, Kiriakou allegedly disclosed the name and contact information of an employee, identified in the complaint as “Officer B,” whose participation in an operation to capture and question terrorism subject Abu Zubaydah in 2002 was then classified, authorities said.

Authorities alleged that Kiriakou leaked the information prior to a June 2008 front-page story in The New York Times disclosing Officer B’s alleged role in the Abu Zubaydah operation.

“Safeguarding classified information, including the identities of CIA officers involved in sensitive operations, is critical to keeping our intelligence officers safe and protecting our national security,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement.

Read the press release

Read the NY Times story