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Tag: U.S. Attorney

Palestinian Pleads to Plotting to Buy Stolen Military Weapons in FBI Sting

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Palestinian man pleaded guilty Thursday in Miami in a plot to acquire and transport stolen military weapons in what turned out to be an FBI sting.

Abdalaziz Aziz Hamayel, 23, of the West Bank, pleaded guilty to trying to buy from an undercover agent what he thought were stolen M-16s, AK-47s and explosive materials, including hand grenades and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Sentencing is set for Feb. 22. Another conspirator in the case still faces trial, authorities said.

Authorities said were told by a confidential source in April 2009 that the two men wanted to purchase large quantities of automatic weapons. The source then introduced them to an undercover agent who posed as a weapons supplier.

At their first meeting with the undercover agent the following month, the men requested 200 to 300 fully-automatic assault rifles that they planned to ship out of the country, authorities charged. They also asked for grenades and homemade bombs with remote detonation capabilities.

Ex-Detroit Mayor Hammered Again: Indicted on Public Corruption Charges with Father and Others

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, already facing an avalanche of legal trouble, was hammered again on Wednesday when a federal grand jury in Detroit  indicted him, his father, a city contractor and former aides on public corruption charges centering on government contracts and kickbacks.

In announcing the 38-count  indictment at a televised afternoon press conference, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said Kilpatrick used  “his public office as a corrupt organization.”  Authorities said the probe was ongoing for six-years.

Kilpatrick, 40,  once dubbed the “hip hop mayor”,   is currently in prison, serving time for failing to pay $1 million in restitution after he pleaded in 2008 to obstruction of justice charges for  lying  about an affair with his chief of staff and about the discharge of a police official while  under oath during a whistle-blower lawsuit. The lies were revealed in Kilpatrick’s text messages the Detroit Free Press published.

He was sentenced in May to 18 months to 5 years in prison for violating his probation.

A month later, he was indicted by a federal grand jury on 19 federal counts including mail fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion and filing a false tax return. He was Detroit mayor from 2002 to 2008.

Others indicted Wednesday  included Kilpatrick’s father Bernard Kilpatrick, city contractor Bobby Ferguson, former top Kilpatrick aide Derrick Miller and former water department chief Victor Mercado.

The indictment alleged that the defendants extorted money from municipal contracts and were knee-deep in bribery.

Authorities alleged that city contractor Ferguson kicked back at least $424,000 in cash and other items of value to Mayor Kilpatrick, and that the mayor used more than $590,000 of ill-gotten cash from the conspiracy to pay off credit card bills, buy clothes and pay off loans.

Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, who had long been under federal investigation, allegedly put $600,000 in cash into his bank accounts and was charged with filing  false tax returns.

U.S. Attorney McQuade, addressing criticisms that her office is piling on charges, said the new charges were far more significant than the ones Kilpatrick has faced in the past two years.  Plus, she said she wanted to send a message to politicians that leaving office doesn’t get you off the hook.

Judges Urged to Suspend Fed Prosecutor’s License for Withholding Info


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An assistant U.S. Attorney in Boston is battling for his career.

The state Office of Bar Counsel in Massachusetts urged a three judge panel on Thursday to suspend Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn’s license for at least two years, claiming he deliberately withheld evidence in a high-profile Mafia case in the early 1990s, the Boston Globe reported.

But a lawyer for Auerhahn, Michael D. Ricciuti, a former federal prosecutor himself, argued that the suspension would be career ending and that it was an unintentional mistake made long ago, the Globe reported.

`There’s no one in this court who says that Auerhahn was the win-at-all costs, cut-the-corners kind of prosecutor,” Ricciuti said, according to the Globe. `There was no intentional violation of any rule.”

Ricciuti urged the federal judges to find that no professional misconduct occurred.

Auerhahn is assigned to  the antiterrorism and national security squad.

US District Judges Rya W. Zobel, William G. Young, and George A. O’Toole Jr. said they will review voluminous records in the case, the Globe reported.

The Globe reported that “in 2005, US District Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf released Mafia capo Vincent Ferrara from prison after finding that Auerhahn had improperly and possibly illegally failed to tell defense lawyers in the early 1990s that a key witness had tried to recant his assertion that Ferrara ordered the 1985 slaying of Vincent “Jimmy” Limoli in the North End.”

The Justice Department concluded that Auerhahn “engaged in professional misconduct and exercised poor judgment” and gave him a letter of reprimand.

Judge Wolf called referred the matter to the Board of Bar Overseers three years ago because he thought a letter of reprimand was inadequate, the Globe reported.

Tenn. FBI Agent Convicted of Fraud

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal jury in Nashville on Thursday convicted an FBI agent  on 15 counts of wire fraud and three counts of bankruptcy fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Agent Darin Lee McAllister, 44, of Brentwood, Tenn., who is married to a Christian gospel singer,  was indicted in May on the multiple count indictment. The jury failed to reach a verdict on a bank fraud charge.

Authorities charged that McAllister devised a scheme to defraud SunTrust Mortgage Co., Inc., in the purchase of rental properties totaling $1.25 million in May and July 2006. Additionally, he devised a scheme to defraud the SunTrust Bank to obtain  a $100,000 line of credit, and made three false statements in connection with his subsequent bankruptcy petition in July 2009.

The Nashville City Paper reported in May that the indictment alleged that McAllister falsely claimed he was president of Judah Music and DOJ Productions and earned $500,000 annually. His wife Judith Christie McAllister — a Christian gospel singer – is president and founder of Judah Music.

“The result in this case shows that no one is above the law. The actions of this federal law enforcement officer should not tarnish the good reputation of the FBI or the many fine men and women in federal law enforcement,” said Nashville U.S. Attorney Bill Killian.

The case was investigated by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee’s Offices in Chattanooga and Nashville.

Column: Feds Drop Tainted Star Witness In Politicized NJ Witch-Hunt

Andrew Kreig is Executive Director of the Justice Integrity Project. Kreig has two decades experience as an attorney and non-profit executive in Washington, DC and is an author and longtime investigative reporter.

Andrew Kreig

By Andrew Kreig

The Justice Department is dropping its disreputable star witness in the latest trial of the 46-defendant “Bid Rig III” corruption case that helped propel former New Jersey U.S. Attorney Chris Christie to his state’s governorship last year. Christie’s image as a crime-fighting, cost-conscious reformer worthy of 2012 Presidential consideration has taken big hits during the last month.

More generally, the case illustrates a bipartisan pattern by which DOJ officials waste vast sums to help their cronies and themselves, with scant meaningful oversight by leaders of either party or career officials who lend their names to whitewashed internal investigations.

The first image-blow to the DOJ was the Oct. 27 acquittal of a former Ridgefield mayor after the defense exposed mind-boggling ways that Christie’s team funded bank fraudster and brothel owner Solomon Dwek to inveigle local political candidates, rabbis and others into corruption schemes.

Then the DOJ’s Inspector General Glenn Fine exposed Christie, right, on Nov. 9 as the nation’s leading abuser among federal prosecutors of wasting taxpayer money on government-funded trips that exceed spending limits.

Christopher Christie/campaign photo

Bid Rig III federal prosecutors last week removed Dwek for unexplained reasons from the witness list for the trial of former state assemblyman Harvey Smith, 61.

Authorities this week will try to prove in Newark’s federal courthouse that Dwek bribed Smith with $15,000 during the defendant’s unsuccessful 2009 campaign to become mayor of Jersey City.

To read more click here.

President Nominates Christopher Thyer for U.S. Attorney in Ark.

Christopher Thyer

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Wednesday nominated Christopher R. Thyer, a former state lawmaker, for the U.S. Attorney post in the Eastern District of Arkansas.

According to a White House press release, Thyer has been a partner at Stanley & Thyer in Jonesboro, Ark., since 2007.

Before that, he was a partner at Halsey & Thyer, PLC from 2005 to 2007, and at Mooney Law Firm from 1997 to 2005.

From 1995 to 1997, he was a sole practitioner. He also served in the Arkansas House of Representatives as a State Representative for the 74th District from 2003 to 2009.

He attended the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1995.

Wall Street’s New Sheriff: NY U.S. Atty Preet Bharara — A Bruce Springsteen Fan

U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara/doj photo

By Shira Ovide
Wall Street Journal

Hey, hedgies, better brush up on Preet Bharara’s CV and predilections. The U.S. Attorney for Manhattan is looking like the new Sheriff of Wall Street–-and he’s a Springsteen fan, to boot.

Bharara’s office, along with the FBI and the SEC, are closing in on an insider-trading case that could ensnare a wide swath of bankers, investor consultants, hedge funds and mutual-fund traders, The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend.

Investigators in part are looking into the role played by the cottage industry of industry consultants and analysts who give hedge funds and mutual funds an in-depth look into industries.

The wide-ranging probe stemmed from Bharara’s focus on insider trading. Bharara may not be a household name, but he made his bones taking on organized crime in New York, and more recently has tackled investigations into Bernie Madoff, the Galleon insider trading probe and the arms merchant known as the “Merchant of Death.” Wall Street isn’t so tough by comparison.

To read more click here.

Miss. FBI Agent Acquitted on 2 Counts; Mistrial Declared on Remaining 3

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal jury in Mississippi on Saturday found FBI agent Hal Neilson not guilty on two counts relating to charges that he failed to disclose his ownership in a building housing the FBI in Oxford, Miss., and then lied about it,  News360.com reported. The jury deadlocked on three other counts and a mistrial was declared.

The news organization reported that family and friends “shrieked with joy” as the verdict was read Saturday afternoon.

The verdict capped a 10-day trial. Neilson had claimed before trial that the then-U.S. Attorney indicted him because he had been critical of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The website reported that prosecutors had not immediately whether they would go for a second trial on the hung counts.

The website reported that FBI agent Neilson, an attorney, took the stand for six hours on Wednesday, insisting he was not part of the company when it first leased the building to the FBI and that he’d gotten permission from the FBI to enter into the business.