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Tag: New York

Secret Service Arrests New York Man Accused of Threatening to Kill, Kidnap Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling

The Secret Service arrested a Queens man accused of threatening to kidnap and kill then-President Trump if he refused to leave the White House following his failed 2020 election.  

Thomas Welnicki, 72, was charged with making threats against the president in cell phone calls to the Secret Service between July 2020 and last month, The New York Post reports.

“I am going to do anything I can to take out [Trump]. Oh yeah that’s a threat, come and arrest me,” Welnicki allegedly said on a Jan. 4, 2021, voicemail.

“I will do anything I can to take out [Individual-1] and his 12 monkeys,” Welnicki allegedly said in his voicemail. “If I had the opportunity to do it in Manhattan that would be awesome.”

In a call on Nov. 8, Welnicki allegedly called Trump “Hitler” and said “I will do everything I can to make sure [Trump] is dead.”

Magistrate Judge Vera Scanlon ordered a $50,000 bond. 

During the hearing, his attorney Dierdre Von Dornum said Welnicki doesn’t own any weapons and hasn’t left New York City in 15 years. 

“If there were any actual danger here, I am certain that they would have arrested him sooner,” Von Dornum said.

FBI Investigates Letters Sent to Media Outlets from ‘Chinese Zodiac Killer’

A previous letter from the Zodiac Killer, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating letters sent to several news stations in Albany, New York, that claimed to be from the “Chinese Zodiac Killer.”

The Albany Field Office is asking media outlets in the area to contact the bureau if they see similar letters, The Albany Times-Union reports.

The FBI is asking the outlets to keep the letters sealed to preserve any possible DNA evidence.

It’s not yet clear what was on the letters. 

The Zodiac Killer is accused of murdering at least five people around San Francisco in the late 1960s. Decades ago, he sent similar letters to other media outlets, including the Albany Times Union, which did not receive one of the latest letters. 

The letter in 1973 said a woman in Albany would be killed on Aug. 10, 1973. 

“YOU Were WRONG I AM NOT DEAD OR IN THE HOSPITAL I AM ALIVE AND WELL AND IM GOING TO START KILLING AGAIN,” the letter stated. 

One of the Zodiac’s previous victims lived in Albany.  

The FBI said in a statement that there is no threat to the community.

DEA Seizes Largest Amount of Cocaine Destined for New York in More Than a Decade

By Steve Neavling

The DEA seized more than a ton of cocaine that was destined for New York, and three people were indicted for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy. 

It was the largest seizure of cocaine headed to New York in more than a decade, according to DEA Special Agent in Charge Roy Donavan. 

“A multimillion-dollar storm of cocaine was seized before it could wreak havoc in the Northeast,” Donovan said in a statement.  “Over one ton of cocaine was seized, making it the largest cocaine seizure destined for the streets of New York in over a decade.  This seizure signifies a shift in the illegal drug landscape in New York, with cocaine seizures rising more than 150% in the last year.  DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to guard against drug trafficking organizations’ tactics and techniques to smuggle drugs into our country.”

Jorge Aponte-Guzman, 33, Nelson Agramonte-Minaya, 37, and Carlos Maisonet-Lopez, 32, face up to life in prison on charges of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least 5 kilograms of cocaine. 

According to federal prosecutors, the drugs were inside 10 large metal law rollers in a rental van. 

“A seizure of this magnitude underscores the critical importance of working together with our federal and local law enforcement partners in the DEA Westchester Task Force, Westchester County Police Commissioner Thomas A. Gleason said. “The tremendous work and dedication of the DEA and Task Force Investigators has interrupted a major drug distribution operation and prevented approximately one ton of dangerous, illegal narcotics from being distributed on the streets of our area.” 

Read the full indictment here.

Feds Bust New York Town’s Deputy Mayor After Raid Uncovers Assault Weapons, Bogus Federal Badges

Found during the search were bogus badges for the FBI, DEA, Bureau of Prisons, and U.S. Marshals Service. Photo: DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

Federal agents raided the home of a deputy mayor of a New York town and made a shocking discovery: At least 16 unregistered assault weapons, 13 illegal silencers, and a locked box containing “numerous federal badges and credentials” bearing his name and “four FBI patches that could be seen onto a uniform or chest,” according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday.

Airmont Deputy Mayor Brian Downey, 47, a Republican, was charged with possession of unregistered firearms and bogus law enforcement badges and ID cards, The Daily Beast reports.

Homeland Security Investigations agents raided the home with a search warrant Thursday. Agents were forced to force up a small locked box in the home after Downey claimed he didn’t have the combination. Inside were numerous federal badges, bearing his name, from the FBI, DEA, Bureau of Prisons, and U.S. Marshals Service. His passport and driver’s license also were found in the box, according to prosecutors. 

Downey also has been charged with state crimes, the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office announced.  

Unregistered assault weapons found in the home of Airmont Deputy Mayor Brian Downey. Photo: DOJ.

Janeen DiGuiseppi Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Albany Field Office

Special FBI Agent Janeen DiGuiseppi

By Steve Neavling

Janeen DiGuiseppi, who was serving as the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Training Division, has been named special agent in charge of the bureau’s Albany Field Office in New York. 

DiGuisepp’s career as an FBI special agent began in 1999, when she was assigned to the Salt Lake City Field Office, investigating violent crimes, drugs and public corruption.

In 2008, DiGuiseppi became assistant legal attaché in Baghdad and supervised the FBI’s Major Crimes Task Force. She returned to Salt Lake City a year later and was assigned to the DEA’s Drug Diversion Task Force.

In 2010, she was promoted to supervisory special agent as the FBI’s biometric lead in Kabul, Afghanistan.

In 2012, DiGuiseppi supervised the civil rights and public corruption programs and the Violent Crimes Against Children/Child Exploitation Task Force at the Memphis Field Office in Tennessee.

In 2014, she became assistant section chief of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters before serving as the chief of staff to the division’s assistant director. 

In 2016, DiGuiseppi was named assistant section chief of the Transnational Organized Crime – Eastern Hemisphere Section, managing domestic and international programs with a focus on organized crime and major theft.

In 2017, DiGuiseppi was named assistant special agent in charge in the Denver Field Office, where she oversaw the intelligence and surveillance programs, the Rocky Mountain Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory, and the Wyoming resident agencies.

In 2019, DiGuiseppi became section chief of the FBI Training Division’s Curriculum Management Section and was promoted to deputy assistant director a year later.

Ms. DiGuiseppi received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida, a master’s degree from Western New England College, and a master’s degree from Florida International University. Before joining the bureau,  DiGuiseppi served as an officer in the United States Air Force

Michael J. Driscoll Named Assistant Director of New York Field Office

Special FBI Agent Michael J. Driscoll.

By Steve Neavling

Michael J. Driscoll, who most recently headed the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Office, has been named assistant director of the New York Field Office. 

Driscoll is no stranger to the New York Field Office, where he began his career as a special agent in 1996, investigating terrorism cases. He helped investigate al Qaeda conspirators involved in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 9/11 attacks. 

Driscoll earned an Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2002 for his work on the al Qaeda cases and the 1998 embassy bombings.

In 2003, Driscoll was transferred to FBI headquarters to serve as the bureau’s representative to the al Qaeda Department of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.

In 2005, Driscoll returned to the New York Field Office, where he headed the squad tasked with extraterritorial investigations in Africa. He also led the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts in the New York Hudson Valley region and was later promoted to the coordinating supervisory special agent for New York’s Counterterrorism Program.

In 2013, Driscoll was named assistant legal attaché for London, where he oversaw the Cyber Program and working closely with U.K. law enforcement and intelligence services. In 2016, he became assistant special agent in charge of Philadelphia’s counterintelligence and cyber programs.

In 2018, he returned to FBI headquarters, serving as the chief of the Violent Crime Section, which leads the FBI’s Crimes Against Children Program, as well as efforts to combat violent crime and gang-related violence.

In 2019, Driscoll was promoted to special agent in charge of New York’s Criminal Division and later began to lead New York’s Counterintelligence and Cyber Division.

Driscoll was named special agent in charge of the Philadelphia Field Office in 2020. 

Before joining the FBI, Driscoll worked as an attorney in commercial litigation. He’s a graduate of the State University of New York in Albany, and he received his law degree from Hofstra University School of Law in Hempstead, N.Y.

The FBI announced three other appointments on Wednesday.

Jennifer L. Moore was named assistant director of the Security Division at FBI headquarters. Christine O’Neill was named assistant director of the Human Resources Division at FBI’s headquarters. And Timothy M. Dunham was named assistant director of the Training Division.

Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Albany Field Office Retires After 25 Years with Bureau

Special Agent Thomas Relford.

By Steve Neavling

Thomas Relford, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Albany Field Office, retired Wednesday after 25 years with the bureau. 

Relford, who was appointed to head the field office in May 2020, plans to return to his home state of Missouri “to enjoy some long overdue family time,” Relford said in a statement.

“I’m incredibly proud of my 25-year career with the FBI, and especially lucky to end it on such a high note as head of the Albany field office,” Relford said.

Relford joined the bureau as a special agent in 1996 at the New Orleans Field Office, investigating criminal and counterterrorism cases. In 2005, he was promoted to supervisor of the Baton Rouge Resident Agency in Louisiana, overseeing investigative programs.

In 2008, Relford became the legal attaché in Dakar, Senegal, where he oversaw investigations in 11 Western and Central African countries and served as FBI liaison to local law enforcement and government agencies. In 2010, he went to Nairobi, Kenya, to serve as legal attaché for three years. Relford was responsible for the oversight and investigative programs in five countries, including the probe into the 2010 World Cup bombing in Kampala, Uganda.

In 2013, Relford was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Kansas City Field Office, where he was in charge of the National Security Branch. In 2015, he led the Criminal and Administrative Branch. He was promoted in 2018 to inspector in the Inspector Division at headquarters, where he inspected investigative and administrative programs of the bureau nationwide.

Before the FBI, Relford served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force for four years and earned a bachelor of science from the University of Missouri and a masters of public administration from Troy University.

“My work has taken me all over the world, but I truly believe I was meant to spend this last year serving the amazing people of the Capital Region, Central New York, Upstate New York, the Souther Tier and Vermont,” Relford said. “Now, especially with the birth of our first grandchild, it’s time to head back home to Kansas City to enjoy some long overdue family time and start our next chapter. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to lead this office and for the partnership I experienced here in Albany.”

Former Head of FBI’s Albany Field Office Sexually Harassed 8 Women, According to OIG

James Hendricks, former special agent of the FBI’s Albany Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

A former special agent in charge of the FBI’s Albany Field Office in New York sexually harassed eight female subordinates, according to the Justice Department’s internal watchdog. 

James Hendricks’ harassment was so egregious and frequent that his colleagues called him a “skilled predator,” the Office of Inspector General concluded in a report obtained by The Associated Press.

Hendricks, 50, was tapped to lead the Albany Field Office in July 2018 and quietly stopped working for the bureau last year.  

Hendricks, who writes a law enforcement blog, told investigators he did nothing wrong and blamed his accusers of misjudging his actions or exaggerating his behavior. He did not respond to AP’s requests for an interview. 

“It’s an ugly, ugly laundry list of things that were said, and that’s really hurtful to me and it really just disappoints me,” he was quoted as telling investigators.

The FBI declined to comment on the case but said the bureau “maintains a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment and is committed to fostering a safe work environment where all of our employees are valued, protected and respected.”

After interviewing more than a dozen FBI officials, investigators said Hendricks’ harassment began at FBI headquarters, where he served as a section chief in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, the position he held just before he was promoted to head the Albany Field Office. Two of his accusers were in Washington and six were in Albany. 

Investigators said Hendricks gawked at women, touched them inappropriately, and made sexually suggestive comments.