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Tag: U.S. Attorney

Ex-U.S. Atty. Who Charged John Edwards to Run for Congress

U.S. Atty. George Holding

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It didn’t take long for Raleigh U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding — who charged ex-Sen. John Edwards with campaign violations shortly before stepping down this month — to figure out what he wants to do next.

The former U.S. Attorney announced Wednesday that he plans to run for Congress in the 13th District in North Carolina, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. The seat is currently held by Dem Brad Miller.

“I’m committed to run for Congress,” Holding, 43, said, according to the paper. “Our nation faces its greatest problems ever, and the only way to solve them is to stop sending politicians to Washington and start sending public servants to Washington.”

Holding resigned July 8.

He was appointed the U.S. Attorney by President Bush in 2006.  The Obama administration let him stay on for more than 2 years so that he could complete the investigation into ex-Sen. John Edwards without interruption.

The trial is pending for Edwards.

Ex-U.S. Atty. Russell Millin Who was Appointed by Pres. Kennedy Dies at Age 88

Russell Millin/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Russell Millin, who served as U.S. Attorney in western Missouri under President Kennedy in the 60s, and was known as “Mr. Clean”, died Monday of natural causes at age 88, the Kansas City Star reported.

The Star reported in 1976 that Millin prosecuted more “big name criminals,” including mobsters, than any other U.S. attorney up to that time.

“He was a real presence as a U.S. attorney,” nephew Steve Millin said, according to the Kansas City Star.

Millin served as U.S. Attorney from in 1961 to 1967.

He made unsuccessful bid the Democratic nomination of Missouri attorney general in 1968 and for the Democratic nomination to the Missouri Senate in 1976.

In recent times, he was part of an ad hoc coalition of former and current Missouri law enforcement officials that opposed the death penalty.

Computer Geeks Continue to Wreak Havoc

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
Computer geeks are wreaking so much havoc we may soon have to have prison just for geeks.

The latest: The FBI has busted Jason Cornish, 37, of Smyrna, Ga., with hacking into a New Jersey pharmaceutical company’s computer network and shutting down operations, resulting in losses of at least $300,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.

“The computers on which companies do business are the engines of the 21st century economy,” Newark U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said late last week. “Malicious intrusions are against the law, regardless of motive. Hacking attacks devised as personal revenge can have serious repercussions for perpetrators as well as victims.”

“In this instance, Jason Cornish allegedly was able to inflict great damage to Shionogi, Inc., with the stroke of a few computer keys,” added Michael Ward, head of the Newark FBI.

Authorities said Cornish was an information technology employee at Shionogi, Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese pharmaceutical company with operations in New Jersey and Georgia.

In late September 2010, shortly after Cornish had resigned from Shionogi, the company announced layoffs that would affect a close friend and former supervisor, authorities said.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 3, Cornish gained unauthorized access to Shionogi’s computer network and took control of a piece of software that he had secretly installed on the server several weeks earlier.

Cornish then used the secretly installed software program to delete the contents of each of 15 “virtual hosts” on Shionogi’s computer network, authorities said.

The 15 virtual hosts housed the equivalent of 88 different computer servers.

The deleted servers housed most of Shionogi’s American computer infrastructure, including the company’s e mail and Blackberry servers, its order tracking system, and its financial management software, authorities said.

The attack effectively froze Shionogi’s operations for a number of days, leaving company employees unable to ship product, cut checks, or communicate by e-mail, authorities said.

Senate Confirms U.S. Attys for N.C., Ala., Miss, Virgin Islands; Obama Nominates Miss. U.S. Attorney

Thomas Walker

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously confirmed  Thomas Walker for U.S. Attorney in Raleigh, N.C., according to WRAL.

Three other U.S. Attorneys were also confirmed, according to the website Main Justice: George Beck for the Middle District of Alabama; Felicia Adams for the Northern District of Mississippi; and Ronald Sharpe for the Virgin Islands.

Walker, who was in private practice, and was  previsously an assistant U.S. Attorney and an  assistant district attorney in Mecklenburg County, N.C., replaces  Bush-appointee George Holding who announced earlier this month that he will step down on July 8.

Holding stayed in office to oversee the criminal investigation into ex-Sen. John Edwards, who was recently indicted for alleged campaign fund irregularities.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday President Obama nominated Gregory Davis for the U.S. Attorney spot in Southern District of Mississippi.

He has been a member of the law firm Davis, Goss & Williams, PLLC since 1989. From 1987 to 1989, he was an associate attorney for the law firm Stamps & Stamps.

ICE Agent Busted on Charges of Leaking Sensitive Info to Drug Traffickers South of the Border

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Fed authorities in Arizona have busted a special agent with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on charges that she illegally accessed, stole and transferred sensitive U.S. government documents to family members and associates with strong ties to drug trafficking organizations south of the border, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Jovana Samaniego Deas, 33, of Rio Rico, Ariz. was charged with computer fraud, theft of government records and making false statements/entries, authorities said. She made her initial court appearance Tuesday in Tucson federal court.

The indictment, which capped a two year investigation, was filed in Tucson federal court.

Authorities said Deas is accused of abusing her position as an HSI special agent to illegally obtain and disseminate government documents classified as “Official Use Only.”

“When it comes to our national security, blood is not thicker than water,” U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke said in a statement. “This defendant used and abused her position as a special agent to illegally help family members south of the border with ties to drug trafficking organizations. That is a violation of the public’s trust and a breach of our security that, thanks to this very thorough joint investigation, will have serious consequences.”

Deas became a U.S. government employee in June 2003 as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at a Nogales, Ariz., port of entry. In 2008, she became a special agent at the HSI Nogales office.

The two-year investigation of Deas was conducted by FBI and ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) agents at the FBI’s Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force (SACTF).

SACTF agents were assisted y agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, HSI, the U.S. State Department’s Consular Integrity Division and the Brazilian Federal Police.

Column: What Does the Blago Verdict Mean for Chicago U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald?

Patrick Fitzgerald/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Soon we’ll get the verdict in the Blago II trial and we’ll start to evaluate what it means for Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. The jury begins the fifth day of deliberations on Thursday.

The first trial did not bode so well for Fitzgerald, the rock star among U.S. Attorneys. The jury convicted ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich on only 1 of 24 counts — and that was for lying to the FBI. It wasn’t even a count central to the key charges of shaking down folks and trying to sell President Obama’s Senate seat.

Some argued it was still a victory — particularly those who know Fitzgerald well. They said a felony conviction is a felony conviction, even if it’s on just one count.

I disagree. I say in order for this to be considered a victory for Fitzgerald and his prosecutors, they have to get a conviction on a central count. A conviction on key counts would provide some vindication for Fitzgerald.

What would another embarrassing outcome mean for Fitzgerald?

Probably not a whole lot.

Another embarrassing outcome might tarnish his star power a little. But people forget. And he’s had a lot of big victories in big cases in Chicago. And no one can forget that he came to Washington for a stint as  a dragon slayer — as a special prosecutor —  and convicted Scooter Libby in 2007.

The first Blago trial may have hurt his chances when the White House was recently  considering a replacement for FBI Dir. Robert S. Mueller III (though that has become a moot point since President Obama now wants to keep Mueller on for two more years beyond the 10-year term).

Interestingly, FBI agents who, in general, prefer an ex-agent as a director rather than a prosecutor — seemed Ok with Fitzgerald as a potential replacement.

Nonetheless, the talk inside the Beltway was that the White House wasn’t wild about  the swagger — very Eliot Ness like — that he displayed before the media  when he first announced the charges against Blago in December 2008.

The swagger along with the embarrassing outcome didn’t help. This White House seems to like Robert Mueller’s low-key, fly-under-the-radar style.

So in the end, whatever the outcome in Blago II, Fitzgerald will remain the U.S. Attorney in Chicago.

And frankly, whatever the outcome,  the Blago case won’t short circuit many of his options in the future –including, who knows, even  a run for governor, the office once held by Blago himself.

Conn. Fed Jury Votes to Put Drug Dealer to Death for Triple Murder


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

For the first time since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988, a federal jury in Connecticut has voted to impose the death penalty.

A federal jury in New Haven, Conn. voted Wednesday to unanimously condemn drug dealer Azibo Aquart, 30, of Bridgeport, Conn. to death for murdering three Bridgeport residents on Aug. 24, 2005, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

He had been convicted of conspiring to commit murder in aid of racketeering and committing the racketeering murders of Johnson, Reid and Williams. He was also convicted of committing three counts of drug-related murder and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”).

Though the jury voted to put him death, an execution isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

Since the reinstatement of the federal death penalty in 1988, 68 federal defendants have been sentenced to death and three  have actually been executed, according to Death Penalty Information Center.

Wednesday’s decision prompted a comment from U.S. Attorney David B. Fein, who said: “We thank the jury for their diligent and attentive service over both the guilt and sentencing phases of this case.”

In May, after a month long trial, the jury convicted Aquart of murdering Tina Johnson, 43, James Reid, 40, and Basil Williams, 54.

Authorities said evidence during the trial showed that Aquart also known as “Azibo Smith,” “Azibo Siwatu Jahi Smith,” “D,” “Dreddy,” and “Jumbo,” was the founder and leader of a drug trafficking group that primarily sold crack cocaine out of an apartment building located in Bridgeport.

Authorities said Aquart and associates used violence to maintain control over the group’s drug distribution activities at the Charles Street Apartments.

In the summer of 2005, Aquart and his associates got into a drug dispute with Tina Johnson, a resident of 215 Charles Street, who sometimes sold smaller quantities of crack cocaine without Aquart’s approval, authorities said.

On the morning of Aug. 24, 2005, Aquart and others entered Johnson’s apartment, bound Johnson, her boyfriend James Reid and friend Basil Williams with duct tape, and brutally beat the victims to death with baseball bats.

Aquart and others then drilled the front door of the apartment shut from the inside.

Insurance Firm Isn’t Giving Up on Collecting Money After FBI Agent Smashed $750,000 Ferrari

Latest model of Ferrari F50

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT –– The case of the smashed up $750,000 Ferrari simply won’t go away for the FBI and the Justice Department.

Reporter Ed White of the Associated Press reports that a Southfield, Mi. insurance firm, which is suing the feds to recover money from the crash,  is wondering about the suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident. FBI agent Fred Kingston was driving the stolen 1995 F-50 Ferrari when he crashed it in 2009.

The car had been stolen in 2003 from Rosemont, Pa. and was recovered in Kentucky five years later.

AP reports that Motors Insurance said in a court document filed last week that there was “good reason” to believe that an FBI agent and a federal prosecutor “were taking an extremely rare and exceedingly fast Ferrari out for a joyride.” The car was in the custody of federal authorities after it was recovered.

AP reported that the U.S. Justice Department has claimed it has civil immunity from paying for the smashed car.

The Justice Department had released an email from Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson, who was a passenger, AP reported. It said he was invited for a “short ride” before the Ferrari was to be moved from an impound garage, AP reported.

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn met privately with both sides on Monday, AP reported. The news agency said the Justice Department declined comment.

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