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Tag: U.S. Attorney

Biden to Replace Acting ATF Director with Top Prosecutor in Arizona

By Steve Neavling

President Biden will pick Gary M. Restaino, the top prosecutor in Arizona, to serve as interim director of the ATF until a permanent one is confirmed, the Associated Press reports.

Biden’s administration is removing the ATF’s acting director, Marvin G. Richardson, who has been accused by gun advocates of cozying up to the gun industry.

Richardson will remain at the agency and advise Restaino, the AP reported.  

The move comes about a week after Biden announced he was nominating Steven Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney, to serve as the permanent director.

Biden’s first pick to lead the ATF, David Chipman, couldn’t get enough votes in the Senate for confirmation last year. 

Former FBI Chief of Staff Corey Ellis Named Interim U.S. Attorney

Corey F. Ellis

By Steve Neavling

Corey F. Ellis, former FBI chief of staff, has been appointed as interim U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina. 

Ellis is replacing former acting U.S. Attorney M. Rhett DeHart and will be responsible for federal criminal prosecutions and civil litigation within South Carolina. He’ll supervise about 62 U.S. attorneys, 75 support staff and 18 contract support staff, the DOJ said in a statement.

Ellis served as chief of staff for FBI Director Christopher Wray. He also held several leadership roles in the Justice Department, including as chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. Ellis also was the first assistant in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. 

His career as a prosecutor began in the district attorney’s office in Hendersonville, North Carolina. 

Ellis received an undergraduate degree from Brown University and his law degree from the University of Memphis School of Law. 

Inmate Sentenced to 21 Years Behind Bars in Murder-for-Hire Plot Against U.S. Attorney, FBI Informant

Richard Robert Gilbert. Photo Spartanburg County Detention Center.

By Steve Neavling

A federal inmate has been sentenced to an additional 21 years behind bars for a murder-for-hire plot against an assistant U.S. attorney and a confidential FBI informant, the Justice Department announced this week.

Richard Robert Gilbert, a Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate, was serving a 130-month sentence for trafficking methamphetamine in Kentucky in 2017. While in prison, he used a contraband cell phone in an attempt to hire a hitman to kill the federal prosecutor and a key witness in his drug trafficking case. 

Unbeknownst to Gilbert, he was arranging the murder with an undercover FBI task force officer. As a downpayment for the hit, Gilbert sent the officer a $2,000 check from his prison canteen account. He planned to pay the rest using money from real estate investments. 

Gilbert provided maps and directions to the undercover officer. 

U.S. District Juge Henry M. Herlong, Jr., sentenced Gilbert to 262 months in prison. 

The FBI and BOP Special Investigative Services Team led the case.  

U.S. Charges Six Russian Intelligence Officers with Hacking

GRU Emblem

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department on Monday indicted six Russian intelligence agency officers in connection with what prosecutors called some of the world’s most destructive cyber attacks.

The attacks targeted the Ukrainian power grid in 2016, the French elections in 2017 and the winter Olympics in 2018. 

A grand jury in Pittsburgh returned the seven-count indictment on Thursday, which includes charges for conspiracy, wire fraud, computer fraud, and aggravated identity theft. 

Those charged are officers within Unit 74455 of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate, known as the GRU, which is a military intelligence agency.

“No country has weaponized its cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, wantonly causing unprecedented damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement.  “Today the department has charged these Russian officers with conducting the most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group, including by unleashing the NotPetya malware.  No nation will recapture greatness while behaving in this way.”

U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady for the Western District of Pennsylvania said the charges are part of a two-year investigation.

“For more than two years we have worked tirelessly to expose these Russian GRU Officers who engaged in a global campaign of hacking, disruption and destabilization, representing the most destructive and costly cyber-attacks in history,” Brady said.  “The crimes committed by Russian government officials were against real victims who suffered real harm.  We have an obligation to hold accountable those who commit crimes – no matter where they reside and no matter for whom they work – in order to seek justice on behalf of these victims.” 

Justice Department Opens Investigation into Police Shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the police shooting of a Black man in Wisconsin on Sunday.

A Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back, leaving him partially paralyzed and sparking days of unrest.

The FBI will lead the investigation, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the DOJ said in a statement.

Blake, 29, was shot as he leaned into his car following an interaction with police at the scene. Police said they tried to use a Taser, but it was unsuccessful.

Police were called to the scene to investigate a reported domestic disturbance.

A knife was found in Blake’s car, but it’s unclear whether he was trying to reach for it when he was shot.

Fired U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman to Teach at Stanford Law School

Former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Geoffrey Berman, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by President Trump, will teach at Stanford Law School this fall.

A graduate of Stanford Law, Berman will return to his alma mater as the Edwin A. Heafy Jr. Visiting Professor of Law, Stanford Law announced.

“We are pleased to welcome back Geoffrey to Stanford Law,” Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Stanford Law School Dean, Jenny Martinez, said. “Many of our students will go on to careers in criminal law, public interest, and government work and Geoff’s presence on our campus is a unique opportunity for our students to learn from a well-respected and accomplished public servant and professional.”

Berman, 60, was abruptly fired last month after refusing to take another job in the federal government so Trump could replace him with a political ally. Berman, whose office was investigating Trump allies, said the job offers included the chairmanship of the Securities and Exchange Commission or head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

“The Attorney General said that if I did not resign from my position I would be fired,” he told the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month. “He added that getting fired from my job would not be good for my resume or future job prospects. I told him that while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign.”

His firing has drawn criticism from Democrats and legal experts who questioned why Barr was trying to remove an accomplished prosecutor from an office with a reputation for being independent and apolitical.

Fired U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman Testifies Barr Repeatedly Pressured Him to Resign

Former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Geoffrey Berman, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by President Trump, told lawmakers that Attorney General William Barr repeatedly pressured him to resign last month.

Berman, in a written statement to the House Judiciary Committee, said Barr suggested he take another job so Trump could replace him with a political ally. Berman, whose office was investigating Trump allies, said the job offers included the chairmanship of the Securities and Exchange Commission or head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

“The Attorney General said that if I did not resign from my position I would be fired,” he said in his statement obtained by The Washington Post. “He added that getting fired from my job would not be good for my resume or future job prospects. I told him that while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign.”

Barr’s firing has drawn criticism from Democrats and legal experts who questioned why Barr was trying to remove an accomplished prosecutor from an office with a reputation for being independent and apolitical.

Barr is scheduled to testify before the committee in the end of July.

“We don’t know yet if the attorney general’s conduct is criminal, but that kind of quid pro quo is awfully close to bribery,” committee chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., told reporters after Berman testified.

AG Barr Must Resign for Politicizing DOJ, Ex-Assistant U.S. Attorney for Southern District of NY Argues

AG William Barr in Detroit, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The criticism of Attorney General William Barr continues as an increasing number of legal experts say he has turned his back on his responsibilities to represent the best interests of the U.S.

Elliot B. Jacobson, who served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1985 to 2017, is the latest to call on Barr to resign.

“For his part, Barr has openly abandoned any pretense of acting in the nation’s best interest and has instead acted as Trump’s ‘Roy Cohn’ or his new Michael Cohen — take your pick,” Jacobson wrote in a column in The New York Law Journal. “The litany of his abuses of power on behalf of the president is worth rehearsing here.”

From the time Barr took office in February 2019, Barr defied his oath to support and defend the Constitution by refusing to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s probe of Russian interference in Trump’s 2016 election, Jacobson argued. In a whitewashed letter summarizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings during the investigation, Barr “had deliberately mischaracterized the Mueller report and its conclusions.”

“Not content with mischaracterizing the report’s findings and conclusions, ‘Barr has engaged in a real witch-hunt by, in May of 2019, appointing District of Connecticut United States Attorney John Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation,” Jacobson wrote.

Barr continued to discredit Mueller’s report, Jacobson said.

Then last week, in what Jacobson calls a “Friday night massacre,” Barr fired Geoffrey Berman, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

“The only plausible reason for Berman’s sacking would appear to be his record as U.S. Attorney including: his prosecution of Michael Cohen, Trump’s prior attorney/fixer; his prosecution of two associates of the president’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who were said by prosecutors to have been involved in the effort to recall the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch; his investigation of Giuliani himself, in connection with allegations stemming from his lobbying practice; and his indictment, against Trump’s personal wishes, of Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, on charges that it conspired to undermine the United States Iran sanctions regime,” Jacobson wrote.

It has become clear that Barr’s role is “supporting and defending the man who appointed him to the office he holds, Donald Trump,” Jacobson wrote.

“In doing so, he has engaged in gross abuses of power, and the damage he has done to the integrity of the Justice Department and to the rule of law is incalculable,” Jacobson wrote. “It’s time for him to go. If he will not resign or be fired by the president — either of which seems highly unlikely — then he should be impeached and removed by Congress, pursuant to its power under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, before he can do any more damage.”