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Tag: Sting

Prosecutors Allow Defendants to Walk Because of Botched Drug, Gun Case in Milwaukee

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ATF’s botched sting in Milwaukee last year continues to unravel as the depth of the feds’ mistakes become better known.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported prosecutors have dropped charges against another three defendants charged in an undercover ATF sting.

Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Karen Loebel said the three cases were dismissed to protect informants who set up the drug and gun deals.

The litany of mistakes continues to grow: Agents used a brain-damaged man to set up the deals. Government-owned guns were stolen from the undercover store front, and a total of $40,000 in merchandise has gone missing, the Journal Sentinel reported.

 

Watch Underground ATF Agent Snag Would-Be Robber on Surveillance

FBI Distributes Child Porn as Part of Unusual Sting to Identify Users in Washington State

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has disseminated child porn as part of a controversial, unorthodox sting in western Washington state.

After seizing a child pornography service last year, Nebraska-based agents decided to continue operating the service to catch users, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reports.

According to the newspaper, the bureau kept the service open for about two weeks in hopes of nabbing more than 5,000 customers who distribute the images of child being raped and abused. 

It’s unclear whether the FBI has ever dealt child pornography as part of an investigation.

The investigation is in its infancy and has not yet resulted in an arrest, the Intelligencer reported.

“This remains an ongoing investigation, and local court rules and Department of Justice policy prohibit me from providing more information at this time,” said Sandy Breault, spokeswoman for the FBI Omaha Division. “As in any given matter, if charges are filed, they will eventually become a matter of public record.”

Justice Department to Probe Big Blunders in ATF Milwaukee Sting

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The Justice Department is investigating the high-profile blunders of the ATF in Milwaukee following embarrassing mistakes reported by the the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the newspaper reports.

In letters to two members of Congress, Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the sting raised “significant management issues related to the oversight and management” of the ATF, the newspaper wrote.

Journal Sentinel reports detail serious mistakes, including having their guns stolen, losing $40,000 in merchandise and allowing an armed man who had threatened to shoot someone leave the store.

FBI Sting Nets 4 Detroit-Area Cops on Bribery and Drug Charges

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT— An FBI sting netted four Highland Park police officers on charges of bribery and drug trafficking, the feds announced Friday.

The cops included: Anthony Bynum, 29, of Highland Park; Price Montgomery, 38, of Highland Park; Shawn Williams, 33, of Detroit; and Craig Clayton, 55, of Highland Park. Williams and Clayton are both auxiliary officers.

The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office said it all began when officers Bynum and Montgomery arrested a man in August 2012 on a firearms charge and beat him. While in the hospital, the man offered the officers a bribe to drop the charges.

The man started working as an unpaid FBI informant and allegedly gave the two officers $10,000 so they wouldn’t show up to trial. The exchange was recorded by the FBI, and the two cops failed to appear in Wayne County Circuit Court for trial. The charges were dropped, the FBI said.

Subsequently, last Nov. 15, the two officers agreed to transport what they thought was two kilos of cocaine from the Oakland Mall to a location in Taylor for the FBI informant. Each was paid $1,500.

To read more click here.

 

Defense Attorney Still Questions Whether FBI Agent’s Text Messages Were Destroyed: Govt. Says It Did Nothing Wrong

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
The legal battle between the defense and prosecution is heating up in an undercover FBI sting into gun trafficking in the Philippines.

The battle began when deputy Federal Defender John Littrell in Los Angeles accused a a California undercover FBI agent of using taxpayer dollars to pay for prostitutes in the Philippines for himself and targets of the sting. The agent, in court papers, adamantly denied the allegation.

Then Littrell filed a motion last month alleging that the government only saved incoming text messages the FBI agent received from the targets, but didn’t save the ones that the agent sent out to the targets. Littrelle suggested the government may have intentionally destroyed the texts, which might be of  help in proving entrapment.

The government in a document filed on Oct. 24, said  that the undercover phone, which was a pre-paid phone purchased in the Philippines, was not capable of saving outgoing messages the agent sent to the defendants.

The government also noted that another phone used by the agent was lost in a cab in the Philippines and was not recovered.

“The government acted in good faith at all times, and there is no reason to believe that the agents’ outgoing texts were exculpatory in any way, particularly in light of the very incriminating nature of the defendants’ email, text, and other communications to the agent,” the government wrote.

But on Thursday, defense attorney Littrell, who represents one of three defendants, Sergio Syjuco, wrote in a motion:

In its opposition, the government admits that the undercover agent failed to preserve any of the outgoing text messages he sent during the 18-month investigation in this case. The government’s excuse for the undercover agent’s failure to preserve his outgoing messages from September 2010 to May 2011 (the “first phone”) was that  he lost the phone in a taxi in Manila. Its excuse for the undercover agent’s failure to preserve his outgoing text messages from May 2011 to January 5, 2012 (the “second phone”), was that the “undercover phone did not save outgoing text messages, and they are “not available on the undercover telephone.” The government does not explain why messages are unavailable on the second phone, and it does not attach a declaration from the agent. It does not rule out the possibility that the undercover agent deliberately lost the first phone, or deleted the messages or altered the settings on the second phone to prevent it from saving outgoing texts. The government says only that “there were no messages in the “sent” box.” This explanation is not complete, and it is not convincing.

The fight continues. Stay tuned.

FBI Informant Who Helped FBI in Unprecedented Sting Sentenced to Six Years in Prison

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Solomon Dwek, the informant behind the largest FBI sting operation in New Jersey history, was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison in an unrelated scheme, the Star-Ledger reports.

Dwek was facing up to 11 years but received a sentence reduction in exchange for helping in “one of the most far-reaching, and at times bizarre, undercover stings ever seen,” the Star-Ledger reported.

Using hidden surveillance, Dwek helped target politicians, rabbis and even a black market kidney broker.

Dwek was accused of running a $400 million real estate Ponzi scheme.

Sen. Grassley Demands Answers About an Undercover FBI Agent Accused of Spending Taxpayer $$ for Prostitutes in Philippines in Gun Trafficking Sting

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A controversy over allegations that a California undercover FBI agent paid for prostitutes for himself and targets of a gun trafficking sting in the Philippines seems to be picking up some steam.

The latest: Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) fired off a letter to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller on Wednesday demanding answers.

Ticklethewire.com was first to report on the allegations that were made by John Littrell, a deputy Federal Defender in Southern California. The office filed a motion in Los Angeles District Court on Sept. 17 asking the judge to dismiss the gun trafficking case against three defendants because of egregious governmental misconduct.

The office alleged that the the agent paid for prostitutes for himself and the three defendants, and that one brothel was raided by Philippine authorities who found underaged girls and signs of sex trafficking.

 

In his letter Grassley wrote:

 In light of this information, I ask that you provide a briefing to my staff on this issue as soon as possible. I also request that you come prepared to answer the following questions:

1) Of the $14,500 requested by the undercover agent for reimbursement, how much was the agent actually reimbursed by the FBI?

2) Was the undercover FBI agent the case agent for this weapons-trafficking investigation? If not, did the case agent authorize the expenses at the brothels in this undercover operation?

Sen. Grassley/official photo

3) Did any other U.S. law enforcement or embassy personnel visit these brothels with the undercover FBI agent? Please list each agency, the number of employees involved, each individual’s role, and whether they were a recipient of the services for which reimbursement was requested of the FBI.

4) Was any of the activity for which reimbursement was requested recorded by wire or video surveillance? If so, which activity? Please provide all recordings.

5) What other U.S. law enforcement or embassy personnel participated in the Philippines in the overall weapons-trafficking investigation? Please list each agency, the number of employees involved, and their role.

6) Was the first-line supervisor of the undercover FBI agent and/or case agent aware of the undercover agent’s visits to brothels? What other supervisors were informed?

7) When and how did FBI headquarters become aware of these allegations against this FBI agent working in the Philippines?

*What actions were taken by FBI headquarters to investigate these allegations?

9) Has discipline been proposed for any FBI employees (agents or other personnel) in connection with this? If so, please describe the circumstances and procedural standing of the proposed discipline.

10)When did FBI supervisors become aware that minors may have been involved at these brothels?

Read more »