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Tag: U.S. Attorney

Boston Fed Judge Criticizes Prosecutors for Charging Homeland Official

boston-map-istockBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Boston federal judge on Friday sharply criticized the U.S. Attorney’s office for bringing charges against a Homeland Security official, saying prosecutors overreached and crushed her for what he saw as a minor offense, the Boston Globe reported.

U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock postponed sentencing while he considers a defense motion to vacate the verdict of Lorraine Henderson, Boston’s port director for Customs and Border Protection, the Globe reported. She was convicted in March of deliberately encouraging her Brazilian housekeeper to remain in the U.S. illegally, the Globe reported.

The judge said said Henderson, who is on suspension, was the first person he is aware of who has been charged with a felony for this type of violation, the Globe reported. He thought the charge was excessive.

“This is a cleaning lady,” he said in court, according to the Globe. “There must be some sense of proportion.”

The judge also noted that he was troubled that Henderson was arrested and kept in a holding cell for several hours instead of being ordered to make a court appearance.

Boston’s U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz was in the courtroom for the part of the hearing, the Globe reported, but she declined comment.

To read more click here.

White Powder Letters Sent to FBI, U.S. Atty and IRS Offices Out West

western u.s. mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The old white powder in the envelope trick continues to scare people and disrupt work places even though none have ever proved dangerous since the 2001 attacks that killed five people and sickened 17.

The latest: White powder envelopes, that were later found to be harmless, were discovered Monday in eight federal buildings in seven cities in Washington, Idaho and Utah, the Associated Press reported.

An IRS building and a U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boise were evacuated. Letters were also sent to various FBI offices.

“It is obviously disruptive and taken seriously,” FBI special agent Frederick Gutt told AP.

AP reported that a field test on powder found in Bellevue, Wash., showed it was comprised of calcium carbonate, which is found in chalk and limestone.

After the 2001 deadly anthrax letter attacks, the postal service set up systems to detect letters with anthrax and other harmful materials.

FBI Defends Itself in Murder Linked to Joran van der Sloot

Joran van der Sloot

Joran van der Sloot

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI on Wednesday defended itself against accusations that it screwed up in the case involving Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the death of a woman in Peru. He has also long been a suspect in the death of Natalee Holloway, the Alabama high school teen who disappeared in Aruba five years ago after being last seen with van der Sloot.

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alabama said in a statement that agents and prosecutors “were working as hard as possible to bring the case to fruition when they learned of the murder.”  Some criticized the FBI, saying it could have arrested van der Sloot before he went to Peru and allegedly murdered a 21-year-old woman.

On June 3, a few days after the murder, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged van der Sloot with wire fraud.  Several weeks before, Van der Sloot had contacted someone close to the Holloway family and asked for $250,000 in exchange for disclosing circumstances surrounding the death of  Natalee Holloway, the FBI said.

Press reports said the FBI set up a sting and an intermediary met on May 10 with van der Sloot in an Aruba hotel and gave him $10,000, according to AOL News. An additional $15,000 was wired to van der Sloot. Some critics say he should have been arrested right there on the spot after taking the money.

Instead, Van der Sloot reportedly used the money to go to Peru and play in a poker tournament, where he met Stephany Flores, 21, a business student.

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Six Highwaymen Motorcycle Gang Members Convicted of Racketeering in Detroit

Michael Cicchetti

Michael Cicchetti

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Six members of the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club, accused of engaging in violence, drug trafficking and other illegal activities, were convicted Thursday in Detroit federal court of racketeering conspiracy charges including one member who was tried in absentia after having a heart attack in the third week of trial.

The verdict marked a major victory for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which took on an ambitious project by indicting more than 80 members and associates of the motorcycle gang.  This was the first of potentially many trials to come in what has been regarded as one of the biggest indictments in the history of the U.S.  Attorney’s Office in Detroit.

Those convicted included Aref (Steve) Nagi, 46; Gary (Junior) Ball Jr., 44; Leonard (Dad) Moore, 61; Joseph (Little Joe) Whiting, 56; Anthony (Mad Anthony) Clark, 52, and Michael (Cocoa) Cicchetti, 55, who recently suffered a heart attack during the trial.

“Violent crime is a top priority of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and we will use all of the tools available to us to attack violent criminal organizations like this one,” Detroit  U.S. Attorney Barbara L.  McQuade said in a statement.

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Senate Confirms U.S. Attorneys in Calif. and Louisiana

iStock_000003368801XSmall
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed Stephanie Finley for the U.S. Attorney post for the Western District of Louisiana and Laura Duffy for the top federal prosecutor post in the Southern District of California.

Duffy had been recommended by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the San Diego Union reported.  The website Main Justice, which closely tracks the U.S. Attorney appointments,  reported that the Senate has now confirmed 51 of President Obama’s U.S. Attorney nominees.

President Obama Nominates U.S. Attys. for W. Va. and Wisconsin

wisconsin-mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — President Obama continued to press forward Thursday in his effort to put his appointees in key jobs by nominating U.S. Attorneys for West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The President nominated William J. Ihlenfeld, II, for the U.S. Attorney post in the Northern District of West Virginia and John William Vaudreuil for the Western District of Wisconsin U.S. Attorney job, according to a White House press release.

Ihlenfeld, a private attorney, has served as Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Ohio County, W. Va., solicitor for the Village of Clearview, and as a Ohio County Juvenile Referee, according to the bio on his website.

Vaudreuil has been an assistant U.S. Attorney in the office since 1980.

Senate Gives Nod to R. Booth Goodwin II for W. Va U.S. Attorney

west virginiaBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate gave the final nod Tuesday to assistant U.S. Attorney R. Booth Goodwin II to become the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of West Virginia in Charleston.

He will replace Charles T. Miller.

Goodwin is the son of Joseph R. Goodwin, the district’s chief federal judge.

D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office #2 Prosecutor Channing Phillips Off to the Justice Dept. to Help With Diversity Management

Channing Phillips/doj photo

Channing Phillips/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Channing Phillips, the number two person in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office, is heading off to the Justice Department several blocks away to become Deputy Associate Attorney General for Diversity Management.

A Justice Department memo announcing the move said Phillips will be responsible for the implementation  of Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s Diversity Management Plan, which calls for greater diversity in such areas as hiring, promotions and retention at the Justice Department, U.S. Attorney’s Offices and agencies including the FBI, DEA, ATF and Marshals.

Phillips will also serve as Executive Director for the Attorney General’s Diversity Management Advisory Council.

Phillips first joined the Justice Department in 1990 and was hired by then-U.S. Attorney Eric Holder Jr. in 1994 as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the D.C. office. He held a variety of posts over the year, including chief of staff,  but was best known to reporters as the affable and very able person who dealt with the media.

Last May, he was appointed interim U.S. Attorney and tossed his hat into the ring to be considered for the permanent post, which is a presidential appointment.  But he lost out to a private attorney and former federal prosecutor Ronald Machen, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in February.  Phillips subsequently became the second in command of the office.

Many believed that Phillips was clearly capable of handling the U.S. Attorney job, but because he had been a career prosecutor, he wasn’t able to build up the political capital necessary to close the deal.