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Tag: Michigan

James A. Tarasca Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Detroit Field Office

Special Agent in Charge James A. Tarasca

By Steve Neavling

James A. Tarasca, who was serving as deputy assistant director in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters, has been named special agent in charge of the Detroit Field Office, the bureau announced.

Tarasca’s career with the FBI began in 1999, when he was assigned to the Orlando Resident Agency of the Tampa Field Office in Florida to investigate white-collar crime. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he began investigating counterterrorism throughout Central Florida. He also served as a firearms instructor and a member of the Tampa SWAT team. 

In 2003, Tarasca joined the Hostage Rescue Team, based at Quantico, Va. In addition to participating in numerous domestic operations, he was deployed internationally, including to Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008, he became supervisory special agent and team leader. 

In 2011, Tarasca transferred to the Philadelphia Field Office, where he served on the Violent Crimes Task Force. In 2013, he became supervisory special agent of the task force before returning to Afghanistan in 2016 to work counterterrorism and kidnapping matters. 

In 2017, Tarasca was named assistant special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division of the New York Field Office and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. 

In 2018, Tarasca was promoted to section chief in the International Operations Division, where he oversaw FBI operations in Europe and Eurasia and the Global Readiness Unit. In 2019, he returned to the New York Field Office, serving as special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division and JTTF. 

In 2021, he was named deputy assistant director of operations in the Counterterrorism Division at headquarters in 2021. 

Tarasca received the FBI Director’s Award for Excellence in Leadership, two FBI Shields of Bravery, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery. He has a bachelor’s degree in management from Eastern University and was a Pennsylvania state trooper before joining the FBI.  

Robert Danley Named Chief Patrol Agent of CBP’s Detroit Sector

Chief Patrol Agent Robert Danley

By Steve Neavling

Robert B. Danley has been named the new chief patrol agent of CBP’s Detroit Sector.

Danley succeeds Douglas Harrison, who retired after leading the sector for five years. 

Danley’s career with CBP began in 2001, when he entered the U.S. Border Patrol Academy. His first assignment was at Brackettville Station in the Del Rio Scgtor in Texas. 

Since then, Danley has held a variety of leadership positions on the northern and southern borders, the Border Patrol Academy and USBP headquarters. His positions included patrol agent in charge, associate chief and acting deputy chief. 

He’s earned numerous distinctions during his career. He’s a two-time recipient of the CBP Commissioner’s Award for Mission Integration and Partner and Stakeholder Engagement. He also received the Secretary, Department of Homeland Security Meritorious Service Silver Medal for Leadership for his creation of migrant pathways in 2020. 

Danley graduated from northern Arizona University with a bachelor’s of science in justice studies. 

The Detroit Sector has five Border Patrol stations along 863 miles of the border with Canada and encompasses Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. 

No, FBI Did Not Entrap Suspects in Michigan Governor Kidnapping Plot, Judge Rules

The original six suspects accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer.

By Steve Neavling

A judge on Tuesday rejected claims by three men accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that they were entrapped by the FBI. 

Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson declined to dismiss the case, saying the FBI probe did not “escalate” the alleged plot, The Detroit News reports .

“I just cannot, in reviewing this matter, (see) that the government … somehow pressured any one of these individuals to participate in anything, or to get in line with this way of thinking,” Wilson said, referring to their conservative, pro-militia ideology. “That was the very reason that we got the confidential informant in the very beginning was as soon as he had joined the group and learned that they were talking about harming police officers and potentially politicians that he contacted the FBI because of his concern out of what potentially could happen.”

The three defendants, Paul Bellar, 23; Joseph Morrison, 27; and his father-in-law Pete Musico, 44, are set for a trial on Sept. 12.

They are charged with providing material support to terrorism, felony firearm possession, and gang membership. 

They claimed an FBI informant induced them to hatch the plot. 

Two co-defendants, who pleaded guilty to the plot, have agreed to help prosecutors.

Feds Raid Michigan Home of High Ranking Homeland Security Investigations Official

Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Vance Callender

By Steve Neavling

Federal agents have raided the Michigan home of a high-ranking Homeland Security official who is under investigation for alleged misconduct. 

The raid occurred Friday at the Royal Oak home of Vance Callender, 49, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations’ Detroit office, The Detroit Free Press reports.

The office overseas investigation in Michigan and Ohio. 

A neighbor said plainclothes agents removed a briefcase and manila envelope. 

“Special Agent-in-Charge Callender is a highly decorated federal law enforcement official whose security and reputation are our top priority. That said, some rumors about him online are incorrect. To the extent, Mr. Callender is required to enforce or defend his rights, he is prepared to do so,” Callender’s lawyer, Nick Oberheiden, said in statement.

Oberheiden declined to elaborate on the investigation or the “rumors.” 

In a statement, an ICE spokesperson said, “As public servants working for a law enforcement agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes allegations of misconduct very seriously. Any allegations of misconduct are appropriately investigated, and any employee, regardless of rank or seniority, who has committed provable misconduct, will be held accountable.”

The statement added, “Where necessary, ICE works with federal and/or state and local law enforcement who may investigate such allegations. Per agency protocol, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) will also review the allegations.”

Callender has been the head of the Detroit office for about a year. Prior to that, he oversaw investigations in San Antonio. 

Callender’s career in law enforcement began in 1995, when he was a sheriff’s deputy in Victoria County in Texas. 

He became a special agent with the U.S. Customs Service in 2001. 

Callender has a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Texas State University. 

Lead FBI Agent in Investigation of Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Case Pleads No Contest to Assaulting Wife

Ex-FBI Agent Richard Trask. Photo: Instagram

By Steve Neavling

The FBI’s lead agent in the investigation into the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pleaded no contest Monday to a misdemeanor charge of assaulting his wife. 

Richard Trask, 39, who was accused of beating his wife in July, was sentenced to time served and ordered to pay court costs.

Following the hearing, Trask’s attorney Sarissa K. Montague, told The Detroit News “this was a difficult situation for the family” and “we are looking forward to moving forward.”

In September, the FBI fired Trask, who had worked for kthebureau since 2011. 

Judges Dismiss Torture Case Against CBP Officer

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

The case against a CBP officer accused of torturing a Muslim man while he was detained in Michigan has been dismissed. 

A panel of federal judges dismissed the case, which stems from the 2015 detainment of Anas Elhady, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was placed in a freezing holding cell for hours, WXYZ reports.

Elhady, who was born in Yemen and placed on the government’s terrorist watchlist, was returning to metro Detroit, where he lives, from a visit with his family in Canada when he was pulled over by CBP. Elhady said he suffered from hypothermia and was taken to the hospital after his detainment. 

In a lawsuit, Elhady argues he was wrongly placed on the government’s terorist watchlist. 

Cleaning Man Busted Stealing Valuable Information from FBI’s Detroit Field Office

Detroit riverfront. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling

A man hired to help sanitize the FBI’s Detroit Field Office at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has been convicted of stealing valuable information on a violent street gang in the city. 

Anthony Cassani, 22, photographed a chart that detailed the rank and hierarchy of the gang members in March 2020 and then sent the photo to his friends and others using social media account, prosecutors allege, The Detroit News reports.

The chart, which was displayed on an agent’s office cubicle, contained “proprietary information,” including photos of alleged gang members who were under investigation. 

Members of several street gangs ended up with the photos of the chart, “thereby depriving the FBI of the full benefit of its use,” according to a sentencing memo. 

Cassani pleaded guilty to theft of government property less than $1,000 on June 29. 

Federal prosecutors are calling for jail time during his sentencing hearing next week in U.S. District Court. 

“Rather than do the job he was being paid to do, Cassani chose instead to steal proprietary information about a gang investigation and post it on social media,” the sentencing memo reads. “His criminal conduct has earned him a three-month sentence followed by a one-year term of supervised release with the hope that this brief term of imprisonment will promote respect for the law and deter him and others from committing similar offenses.”

Two Detroit Men Convicted of Shooting at ATF Agents in Unmarked Car

By Steve Neavling

Two Detroit men who opened fire on a pair of ATF agents in April 2019 have pleaded guilty.  

Kevin Keshawn Young, aka Gucci, 24, and Aaron Marquis Shooks, aka Boogey, 23, will be sentenced on Dec. 8 on a charge of attempted murder of federal agents, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

Young and Shooks are members of a gang known as OES 187 Head Hunters, according to federal prosecutors. 

On April 15, 2019, federal agents were investigating a shooting in which Shooks and other OES members were allegedly involved. The agents were in an unmarked car, following the gang members when Young exited his vehicle and fired 11 shots at the agents. Young later claimed he thought the agents were rival gang members. 

No one was injured. 

As part of a plea deal, Young faces between 10 and 15 years in prison, and Shooks faces 10-13 years behind bars. 

“Every day our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line and risk personal injury to protect our citizens from senseless violence,” Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin said in a statement. “When officers or agents are assaulted while performing those duties, the perpetrators can expect that every resource of this office will be used to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, and to seek justice.”

Keith Krolczyk, acting special agent in charge of the ATF’s Detroit Field Division, added, “Our special agents and other law enforcement officers risk their personal safety everyday doing their job, protecting the public and enforcing the law, to make our community safe. We are proud of them and their unrelenting professionalism.”