Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

August 2020
S M T W T F S
« Jul    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Tag: prosecutors

Ex-DEA Spokesman Pleads Guilty to Posing As CIA Operative in Elaborate $4 Million Fraud Scheme

Garrison Courtney

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former DEA spokesman is facing up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to posing as an undercover CIA operative to defraud government contractors out of more than $4 million.

Garrison Kenneth Courtney, who served as a DEA spokesman between 2005 and 2009, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia said.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 23.

Prosecutors said the 40-year-old Florida resident posed as a covert CIA officer serving on a highly classified task force, whose mission was to enhance the intelligence-gathering capabilities of the U.S. government.

No such task force existed, and Courtney had never worked for the CIA, prosecutors said.

“Courtney went to extraordinary lengths to perpetuate the illusion that he was a deep-cover operative. Among other things, he falsely claimed that his identity and large portions of his conduct were classified; directed victims and witnesses to sign fake nondisclosure agreements that purported to be from the United States government and that forbade anyone involved from speaking openly about the supposedly classified program; told victims and witnesses that they were under surveillance by hostile foreign intelligence services; made a show of searching people for electronic devices as part of his supposed counterintelligence methods; demanded that his victims meet in sensitive compartmented information facilities (SCIFs) to create the illusion that they were participating in a classified intelligence operation; and repeatedly threatened anyone who questioned his legitimacy with revocation of their security clearance and criminal prosecution if they ‘leaked’ or continued to look into the supposedly classified information,” federal prosecutors said in a news release. “Courtney further created fake letters, purporting to have been issued by the Attorney General of the United States, which claimed to grant blanket immunity to those who participated in the supposedly classified program.”

As part of the scheme, Courtney convinced several public officials that he was a CIA operative and told them they had been chosen to participate in the program, using “those officials as unwitting props falsely to burnish his legitimacy,” prosecutors said. The government officials unwittingly repeated those claims to the companies, giving his scheme an air of legitimacy.

The investigation was carried out by multiple law enforcement agencies.

1,100+ Former DOJ Officials Call for Attorney General Barr’s Resignation

President Trump and AG William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

More than 1,100 former Justice Department officials are calling for the resignation of Attorney General William Barr after injecting himself into the case of President Trump’s friend and confidant Roger Stone.

“Each of us strongly condemns President Trump’s and Attorney General Barr’s interference in the fair administration of justice,” the letter, released Sunday, states.

The former federal prosecutors and DOJ officials said it was unethical for Barr to intervene in the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for Stone, a GOP dirty trickster who was found guilty in November of seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering. Four prosecutors originally recommended a prison sentence of seven to nine years.

After Trump publicly criticized the recommendation, Barr ordered the Justice Department to file an updated sentencing memo calling for less prison time for Stone.

The four career prosecutors who wrote the original sentencing recommendation resigned from the case.

“Mr. Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words,” the Justice Department alumni wrote in the letter posted online. “Those actions, and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice’s reputation for integrity and the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign.”

Eric Starkman: The Unethical Preet Bharara and His Despicable Media Enablers

Eric Starkman is founder and president of STARKMAN, a public relations and crisis communications firm based in Los Angeles.  He was previously a reporter at major newspapers in the U.S. and Canada.

By Eric Starkman
For ticklethewire.com

preet-bharara-time

Growing up in Toronto I had a quintessentially Canadian view about government authority: Only bad people ran afoul of the law.

But my innocence was shattered when I was a young reporter at The Toronto Star and Ontario’s Attorney General leaked me some information about some entrepreneurs who had embarrassed his Administration that I knew to be untrue. I didn’t write the story but other reporters happily picked up the narrative, ultimately giving the government the PR cover to seize the businesses of the entrepreneurs without any due process. I’m still shaken by the abuse of power.

I naively believed that such prosecutorial wrongdoing could never happen in the U.S. My bubble was quickly burst when The Detroit News hired me as a business reporter and assigned me to cover the high profile administrative hearing of Stanford Stoddard, a maverick Michigan banker who the Comptroller of the Currency alleged had misappropriated funds from the bank he founded. In her opening statement, a young ambitious OCC attorney alleged that among Stoddard’s wrongdoings was using bank funds to purchase alcohol. As Stoddard was a devout Mormon the charge was exceptionally damning, so I asked Stoddard’s attorney about the allegation. Turns out the alcohol in question was a bottle of wine for a religious ceremony.

Former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who was lionized in the media as “The Sherriff of Wall Street,” jolted me with another wakeup call about prosecutorial wrongdoing. Spitzer and his minions routinely spread false or misleading information about my former client Dick Grasso after he was forced out of the New York Stock Exchange because of bogus allegations the former chairman and CEO was overpaid. An example of Team Spitzer’s dishonesty was leaking a document that showed Grasso’s son accompanied him on the private jet the NYSE chartered so Grasso could host a reception at Davos, Switzerland. Spitzer’s team neglected to provide the documentation showing that Grasso reimbursed the NYSE for the cost of his son’s trip.

Preet Bharara, who was just fired as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, took Spitzer’s prosecutorial abuse to an even higher level. For a time, Bharara was an even bigger media darling than Spitzer, garnering fawning media coverage for his high-profile cases, including this gusher of a puff piece by William Cohan in Fortune. Bharara loved the media limelight, routinely holding news conferences to trump up publicity for his cases and leaking damaging allegations to obsequious reporters who gladly published them and abetted in the smearing of his targets before they had an opportunity to defend themselves.

As Jesse Eisinger noted last week in Pro Publica, Bharara was no hero. His prosecutorial track record was mixed, as several of his high-profile cases were overturned on appeal. And his practice of arguing his cases in the media earned him the opprobrium of the judge overseeing his case against Sheldon Silver, the former NY Democratic State Assembly speaker, who charged that Bharara’s media blitz “strayed so close to the rules governing his own conduct.”

Even Cohan came to appreciate Bharara’s unethical behavior, publishing this impressive story about the questionable tactics used to pressure former hedge fund manager Todd Newman to settle insider trading charges. Bharara tellingly was too tongue tied to talk to Cohan for a story that was critical of him.

Sadly, the universe of reporters who appreciate the dangers of prosecutorial abuse is limited to a handful of some very experienced reporters.  One of them is New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, who has written critically about Bharara and presumably played a meaningful role in the critical portrayal of U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades in the Showtime series “Billions.” (Sorkin is one of the show’s creators).  The Rhoades character is clearly based on Bharara, replete with the latter’s petulance and media manipulation. The show also admirably is unkind in its portrayal of a reporter and his pursuit of a scoop.

Best-selling author Michael Lewis took up the cause of Sergey Aleynikov, the Goldman Sachs programmer who was convicted and sentenced to prison for stealing computer code, Jim Stewart wrote about the questionable charges leveled against Zachary Warren, and Joe Norcera wrote an admirable column about the shameful prosecution of Charlie Engle.

Diane Brady, among the fairest and most ethical journalists, recently commented that stories based on leaked documents should be held to the same reporting standards as any news story.  That’s an admirable requirement, but regretfully we’ve entered the Brian Stelter media age, where reporters who publish leaked documents and give anonymous people a platform for their political agendas are deemed “investigative journalists.”

The media can’t be counted on to protect against prosecutorial wrongdoing. But with Bharara out of office, the Southern District is momentarily a safer place for innocent people.

 

Prosecutors Drop Case Against ex-DEA Agent Accused of Posing As FBI Agent

dea-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former DEA agent who was accused of posing as an FBI agent in a fraud scheme no longer faces charges.

The Daily Breeze reports that federal prosecutors dropped their case against David Garcia Herrera, 70, this week.

The decision comes after U.S. District Court Judge Jesus Bernal said he would inform jurors that the U.S. Attorney’s Office had used bad evidence in the case.

Herrera and his alleged conspirator, Jerome Arthur Whittington, are accused of convincing a victim that they would help him recover money he lost in investment schemes if he paid about $290,000.

In another scheme, Herrera and Whittington are accused of convincing another victim to pay them about $8,500 to help with his wife’s immigration case.

Other Stories of Interest

Man Convicted in Murder Plot of Judge, Prosecutors And FBI Agents

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Laguna Beach man who tried to arrange for the kidnapping and murder of a judge, two prosecutors and a pair of FBI agents was convicted Tuesday.

John Arthur Walthall, 60, was convicted of soliciting the murders after a judge earlier sentenced him to 14 years in prison for fraud, MyNewsLA.com reports.

Prosecutors said he wanted someone to kill U.S District Judge Andrew Guilford, two prosecutors and a pair of FBI agents who helped in the case.

Walthall is accused of spilling his plans to inmates and an undercover FBI agent.

FBI Unsure Whether It Can Unlock iPhone in Arkansas Murder Case

Apple-iphoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Arkansas prosecutor suggested this week that FBI agents would help hack into a locked iPhone and iPod of two teenagers accused of killing a couple.

The FBI responded that it’s unsure it can crack the devices, backing away from the prosecutor’s statements, ABC News reports.

While the FBI said it’s not ruling out the possibility, the bureau said it hasn’t learned enough about the devices to know definitively whether it can help.

At issue is whether the FBI can use the technique it employed to access a locked iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

“At the time of the request, no information was provided regarding the device models or operating systems, so FBI Little Rock was not able to state if they would be able to provide assistance. The FBI does not currently have possession of the devices,” the agency wrote. “The FBI’s handling of this request is not related to the San Bernardino matter.”

The FBI has not divulged how it opened the San Bernardino phone.

FBI to Help Arkansas Prosecutors Unlock iPhone, iPad in Murder Case

Apple-iphoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is helping prosecutors open an iPhone 6 and an iPod linked to a murder case in Arkansas after successfully hacking an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters.

The FBI’s Little Rock field office has agreed to help gain access to the locked devices, which belong to suspects in the slayings of Robert and Patricia Cordell, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

It’s not yet clear how the FBI plans to open the phone or if its plans to use the same method it used to unlock Syed Rizwan Farook’s phone.

The Arkansas case involves four suspects, ages 14 to 18, who have been charged in the killings.

“The iPod had just come into our possession a couple of weeks ago,” Cody Hiland, prosecuting attorney for Arkansas’ 20th Judicial District, said Wednesday. “Obviously when we heard that [the FBI] had been able to crack that phone we wanted to at least ask and see if they wanted to help.”

Justice Department to Prioritize Prosecution of Wall Street Criminals

wall-streetBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has pledged to prioritize prosecution of Wall Street criminals.

The Boston Globe reports that the DOJ established new rules in an effort to hold individual employees and their companies accountable.

The rules were issued in a memo to federal prosecutors in an attempt to also pressure corporations to cooperate when their executives are accused of wrongdoing.

“Corporations can only commit crimes through flesh-and-blood people,” Sally Q. Yates, the deputy attorney general and the author of the memo, said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s only fair that the people who are responsible for committing those crimes be held accountable. The public needs to have confidence that there is one system of justice and it applies equally regardless of whether that crime occurs on a street corner or in a boardroom.”