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Tag: Los Angeles

Eric Birnbaum Heads West to Become an SAC in FBI’s Los Angeles Division

Eric Birnbaum

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Eric S. Birnbaum, who served as chief inspector of the Inspection Division at headquarters, has been named special agent in charge of the Administrative Division in the Los Angeles office of the FBI.

Birnbaum  joined the FBI 1988 and was first posted in the Washington Field Office, where he focused on white collar and violent crime.

In 1992, he was promoted to firearms examiner in the FBI Laboratory and managed an initiative that used a computer imaging technology to link evidence from serial shooting crimes, according to an FBI press release.

In 1997, he was assigned assistant inspector in the Inspection Division and audited FBI operations nationwide.

Two years later, it was off to the San Diego Division to supervise a White Collar Crime Squad that focused on health care fraud, governmental fraud and environmental crime matters.

In 2003, he headed north to the San Francisco Division where he served as assistant special agent in charge for the intelligence, criminal and SWAT programs.

In 2007, he was promoted to deputy assistant director of the FBI Laboratory.

Two years later, Birnbaum returned to the Inspection Division as one of eight inspectors who lead teams that worked on  treamlining the FBI’s operations. He was named chief inspector in 2012.

Birnbaum has a doctorate in physical chemistry from Stanford University.

 

ATF’s Scott Sweetow Heads North to Minnesota

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Scott Sweetow, head of the Atlanta ATF Division, is moving on to the Midwest to head up the St. Paul Division, which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Sweetow, who began his career with ATF in 1990 in Los Angeles, spent several years assigned in the Arson and Explosives group, and served as a Certified Explosives Specialist. His duties included being part of ATF’s elite National Response Team, which investigated such high-profile crimes as the Oklahoma City bombing and the Centennial Olympic Park bombings.

He also spent several years working criminal intelligence matters, including a weapons case targeting the “The Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman’s one time driver and bodyguard, Hikmat Alharahshah.

Specifically, in 1999, Sweetow became a supervisory special agent in the Phoenix Field Division, serving in operations and as violent crime enforcement group supervisor.

In 2003, he went to ATF headquarters where he served in the Policy Development and Evaluation branch, eventually becoming its chief. In July of that year, he became the first ATF agent to “deploy operationally to Iraq”, assisting the Defense Intelligence Agency as part of the Iraq Survey Group.

In 2004, Sweetow was promoted to a deputy division chief and later chief in the Arson, Explosives and International Training Division in ATF’s Training and Professional Development directorate. He remained there until December 2006.

While division chief, Sweetow was instrumental in establishing ATF’s $50 million National Center for Explosives Training and Research at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

In January 2007, Sweetow became an Assistant Special Agent in Charge in the Atlanta Field Division and later went on to become the SAC in Atlanta.

He has a bachelor’s degree in Russian and Soviet Area Studies and a masters in Strategic Intelligence. He is a graduate of Harvard University’s Senior Executives in National and International Security program and the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar.

In 2009, Scott he published an article in “Homeland Security Today” entitled “After Mumbai: Facing the Flames” which dealt with the use of fire as an asymmetric warfare tool by terrorists.

 

Bill Lewis Tapped to Head up the FBI’s Los Angeles Office

 

Bill Lewis/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Bill L. Lewis, a former legal attache for the FBI in Baghdad, has been named assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division.

Lewis most recently served as deputy assistant director in the Human Resources Division at FBI Headquarters.

He began his career in 1988 in the Omaha division and three years later he went to Atlanta where he investigated domestic terrorism and drugs.

He was promoted to supervisory special agent in September 1997 and had the responsibilities of managing the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing investigation. At some point, he supervised the hunt for fugitive Eric Rudolph.

In November 1999, Lewis went to FBI headquarters as a supervisory special agent in the Violent Crimes/Fugitive Unit in the Criminal Investigative Division.

In August 2004, he was named assistant special agent in charge of the Mobile Division.

From April to October 2008, he was the Counterterrorism Division’s on-scene commander in Iraq, and from January 2009 to January 2010, he served as legal attaché for the FBI in Baghdad.

In February 2010, Mr. Lewis was promoted to special agent in charge of the Criminal Division in Los Angeles.

 

Father and Son Plead Guilty in International Rhino Horn Smuggling Ring

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Peddling rhino horns is big business. It’s also illegal.

The LA Times reports a father and son who were masterminds of an international rhinoceros horn smuggling ring pleaded guilty in a Los Angeles federal court Friday to illegal wildlife trafficking, money laundering and tax evasion.

The pleas were part of a nationwide crackdown on the trade of the rhino horns to Asia. The Times reports that Vinh Chuong “Jimmy” Kha, 49, and son Felix Kha, 26, have been jailed since their homes and import-export business were raided in February, the paper reported.

“It is unconscionable that a species as ancient and majestic as the African Black Rhino has been hunted to the brink of extinction by unscrupulous profiteers,” said U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. in a press release. “The rhino horn smuggling ring dismantled by Operation Crash contributed to the soaring increase in the trade of rhino horns both domestically and internationally and this illegal trade leads directly to increased poaching of the species in the wild. Operation Crash represents a giant step forward in the global fight to save a beautiful species like the Black Rhino from extinction.”

To read more click here.

David Bowdich to Head Counterterrorism Division in LA

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
 
David Bowdich, the special assistant to the associate deputy director at FBI headquarters, is heading out to the field to become special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division in the Los Angeles office.

Bowdich started with the FBI in 1995 and was first assigned to the San Diego Field Office, where he investigated violent crimes and gangs and served as a SWAT team member and sniper.

In 2003, he headed to headquarters to serve in the Safe Streets and Gang Unit.

In late 2005, he returned to San Diego and supervised a multi-agency gang task force that investigated such groups as the Mexican Mafia, Bloods and Crips, and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club using wiretaps and undercover operations.

In 2009, he became assistant special agent in charge of the San Diego Field Office.

He eventually initiated the first FBI hybrid squad in the country to target kidnapping cells operating on both sides of the United States and Mexican border.

He also oversaw the murder investigations of two slain Border Patrol agents.

In 2011, he was chosen to handle the transition of a new FBI Director given that Director Mueller’s 10-year term expired in September 2011. After Director Mueller received a two-year extension, he was named a special assistant to the associate deputy director, the FBI said.

 

April Brooks Named Head of Criminal Division in NY

April Brooks

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

April Brooks, whose career  included investigations into  children-related crimes  and the mysterious death of a Baltimore federal prosecutor Jonathan Luna in 2003, has been named special agent in charge of the Criminal Division in the FBI’s very busy New York Division.

Brooks, special assistant to the executive assistant director of the Human Resources Branch, began her career with the FBI in 1990 in Los Angeles.

In September 2000, she was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Crimes Against Children Unit at FBI Headquarters. In this role, she oversaw the Innocent Images National Initiative as well as child abductions and international parental kidnapping investigations, the FBI said.

In December 2002, she was reassigned to the newly established Cyber Division to continue oversight of the Innocent Images National Initiative.

In 2003, she was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Baltimore Division in September 2003. In January 2004, she was named the supervisor responsible fo the probe into the death of  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathon Luna of Baltimore. District of Maryland. He was in shallow water with several shallow stab wounds in rural Pennsylvania in December 2003. The case was never resolved, but the FBI theorized that the wounds were self-inflicted and he committed suicide.

In August 2007, Brooks was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Intelligence, Counterterrorism, and Special Operations Programs in the Baltimore Division. In January 2008, she was selected to oversee the Intelligence Branch, including the HUMINT, Foreign Language, and Applicant Programs, along with the division’s cross-programmatic capabilities.

In February 2010,  Brooks was promoted into the Senior Executive Service as an inspector in the Inspection Division. In 2012, she was named special assistant to the executive assistant director of the Human Resources Branch.

 

California Councilman Bribed Owner of Marijuana Dispensary

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Santa Fe Springs Councilman accepted $11,500 in bribes from a marijuana dispensary owner who was working as an FBI informant, according to a plea agreement released Thursday, the L.A. Times reports.

In the latest example of corruption in a Los Angeles County town, the case against Councilman Joseph Serrano Sr. alleges he sought monthly payments of up to $1,6000 in exchange for helping the pot shop survive bureaucratic threats.

Court records say Serrano was desperate to make his mortgage payments.

Under the plea agreement, Serrano will plead guilty to one felony count of bribery.

STORIES OF OTHER INTEREST

Ex-ICE Official Sentenced to 2 Years After Lying and Scamming Agency

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former official for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was sentenced Friday in Los Angeles to two years in prison and ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution for obstruction of justice, giving false information to a federal prosecutor and a federal judge in Florida, and devising a scheme to have his wife paid nearly $600,000 even though she did little work for the agency.

Ex-ICE assistant special agent in charge Frank Johnston, 55, of Whittier,Calif., who retired from ICE in August 2009 after 31 years was also ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution.

“Whenever public officials break the law, particularly those persons sworn to serve and protect the public, we must do everything we can to hold them accountable,” said U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr in a statement.

 

Johnston was found guilty in two federal trials. In the first, he was convicted of making false statements that resulted in the delay – lasting nearly a year and a half – of a prison term for a man who received an 18-month sentence in a cigarette-smuggling case.

Johnston told a Justice Department prosecutor and a Florida federal judge that person was providing “ongoing cooperation” in two organized crime investigations being conducted in Los Angeles — when in fact he was not.

In a second trial in February, Johnston was convicted on charges that he and his wife, Taryn Johnston, engaged in a fraud scheme in which Taryn Johnson received approximately $582,000 in salary and benefits from ICE and its predecessor agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, even though she had done virtually no work for the agency and infrequently went to work, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. His wife was convicted and sentenced to 30 days behind bars.