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Ex-FBI Agent Who Stole $136,000 in Seized Drug Money Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former FBI agent who stole more than $136,000 in seized drug money to buy cars and cosmetic surgery for his wife was sentenced Wednesday in California to three years in prison.

Scott Bowman, 45, of Moreno Valley, Calif., confessed to stealing the money and pleaded guilty in May to charges of conversion of property by a federal employee, obstruction of justice, falsification of records and witness tampering.

U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal also ordered Bowman to pay $136,462 in restitution.

The Justice Department wrote:

According to admissions made in connection with his plea, Bowman misappropriated drug proceeds seized during the execution of three search warrants in June and August 2014 after they were transferred to his custody in his official capacity as a federal law enforcement officer.  Bowman admitted that he proceeded to spend the stolen money for his own personal use and enjoyment, including tens of thousands of dollars on vehicles and new equipment, including speakers, rims and tires.  Bowman also used $15,000 of the misappropriated cash to pay for cosmetic surgery for his spouse and opened a new checking account into which he deposited $10,665 of the stolen funds, he admitted.

According to the plea agreement, in order to conceal his embezzlement, Bowman falsified official FBI reports and submitted a deposit receipt – with a forged signature – that understated the amount of proceeds he had actually seized at the search site.  In October 2014, Bowman sent emails to a local police detective containing a detailed cover story that the detective was instructed to provide in case he was asked about Bowman’s handling of the drug proceeds and a copy of the receipt with the forged signature so that the detective could falsely claim the forged signature as his own, Bowman admitted.


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FBI Investigating Breaches Against Two State Voter Systems

ballot box flintBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is trying to determine who hacked voting registration databases in Illinois and Arizona ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.

The FBI discovered breaches in the databases in both states and is urging officials in both states to increase security, Reuters reports. 

Agents are now investigating whether other states also were targeted.

But it’s unclear whether there was an effort to manipulate votes since much of the information is already publicly available.

Still, the FBI has become increasingly concerned about Russian-sponsored hackers who likely targeted the Democratic National Committee and others within the party.

An FBI spokeswoman said the agency “routinely advises” on “various cyber threat indicators observed during the course of our investigations.”


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Guardian: Internet Security Becomes Huge, Growing Problem

hacking By Editorial Board
The Guardian

The phone in your pocket gives you powers that were hard to imagine even five years ago. It can talk to you, listen, and give sensible answers to questions. It knows your fingerprint and recognises your face and those of all your friends. It can buy almost anything, sell almost anything, bring you all the news you want, as well as almost all the books, films and music you might want to look at. What’s more, it will even allow you to talk to your friends and to communicate with almost anyone.

The problem is that these powers are not yours – at least they don’t belong to you alone. They belong to whoever controls the phone and can be used to serve their purposes as well as yours. Repressive governments and criminal gangs are all contending to break into phones today, and this kind of hacking will increasingly become the preferred route into all of the computer networks that we use – the ones we don’t call “phones”.

Apple’s sudden forced upgrade to the iPhone operating system last week was a response to these anxieties. A dissident in the UAE appears to have had his iPhone hijacked by a very sophisticated piece of malware produced by a security company and sold legally, if in secret, to regimes that want to spy on their enemies. This offers its controllers complete knowledge of anything the infected phone is privy to: that’s all the contacts, all the messages of any sort, whether chats, texts or emails, all the calendars and even, potentially, any voice conversation that it overhears. It’s difficult to imagine a more assiduous or intimate spy. And once one phone has been subverted, it becomes a tool for spying into all other the networks to which it or the owner has access.

To read more click here.


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FBI’s Jacksonville Division Gets New Agent in Charge, Charles P. Spenser

Charles P. Spenser is the new agent in charge of Jacksonville's FBI office.

Charles P. Spenser is the new agent in charge of Jacksonville’s FBI office.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s Jacksonville division is getting a new agent in charge.

Tapped for the job was Charles P. Spenser, a 28-year veteran of the bureau with a background in counter-terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and counter-intelligence, The Florida Times-Union reports. 

When Spenser takes over in mid-September, he will replace Michelle S. Klimt, who was the first woman to lead the Jacksonville division when she took the helm in June 2013.

“I am equally proud of the strong working relationships that we have developed with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners,” Klimt said. “I retire with the utmost confidence that this team will continue to build those partnerships to ensure safer communities across North Florida.”

The Florida Times-Union wrote:

Spencer has been the deputy assistant director of the FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate since August 2015, dealing with both domestic and international weapons activities, according to the FBI. He was responsible for managing classified programs designed to prevent foreign and terrorist efforts to obtain weapon capabilities. Prior to that, Spencer was the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s National Security Branch in New Orleans, leading counter-terrorism, counter-intelligence, cyber, surveillance and crisis management programs.


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‘America’s Toughest Sheriff’ May Face Criminal Charges Over Handling of Latinos

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, via Wikipedia.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

One of America’s most controversial law enforcement officials, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, may face criminal contempt-of-court charges following allegations he defied federal orders to stop racially profiling Latinos.

The years-long legal saga is expected to come to a head as the Justice Department decides whether Arpaio should be charged for intentionally defying federal orders, the Washington Post reports. 

Arpaio, dubbed as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” has long been an adversary of immigration activists for his tough, defiant stance on Latinos.

The Washington Post wrote:

The decision followed several other blows for the Arizona sheriff in the protracted case. In May, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow ruled that Arpaio and his aides – Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Capt. Steve Bailey and his former attorney, Michele Iafrate – had intentionally ignored federal orders to stop racially profiling Latinos at traffic stops and in “saturation patrols” of predominantly Latino neighborhoods.

On Aug. 19, Snow referred the sheriff and three of his associates to be prosecuted for criminal contempt of court.

The decision was almost without precedent, so unusual that even the Justice Department initially seemed unsure of what, exactly, would happen next.

Other Stories of Interest


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Widow of Rancher Shot During Wildlife Refuge Protest Is Suing FBI, State Police

Scene at federal wildlife refuge six weeks ago.

Scene at federal wildlife refuge earlier this year.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Oregon State Police are the targets of a potential lawsuit over the shooting of a rancher during a standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge.

The widow of Robert “Lavoy” Finicum said she plans to sue the state police and two FBI agents over the shooting near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Finicum, 54, acted as the spokesman for the anti-government protesters who occupied the refuge to protest charges filed against local ranchers.

Brian Claypool, an attorney for the widow, Jeanette Finicum, said he was motivated to file the suit after new evidence emerged in the case, including what appears to be shell casings from the FBI, which had denied pulling the trigger.

Finicum’s family said the man was “executed in cold blood.”


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FBI: Missing Girl Likely Abducted, Raped, Shot, Fed to Alligators

Brittanee Drexel, who went missing seven years ago.

Brittanee Drexel, who went missing seven years ago.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Gruesome new details have emerged in the case of a missing teenage girl who disappeared from Myrtle Beach seven years ago.

The FBI now believes 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel, of Rochester, NY, was “abducted, gang-raped, shot to death and thrown into an alligator-infested swamp,” the New York Daily News writes.

The information comes from a prison inmate, who said he was present during the killing.

“Several witnesses have told us Miss Drexel’s body was placed in a pit, or gator pit, to have her body disposed of. Eaten by the gators,” FBI Agent Gerrick Munoz said.

At least two people have been implicated in the case so far.


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Portland Press Herald: Ban on Medical Marijuana Hurts Legitimate Patients

marijuana-istockBy Editorial Board
Portland Press Herald

A recent decision upholding the federal ban on medical cannabis was a letdown in Maine and the 24 other states where the drug can be prescribed to ease the symptoms of illness.

But the Aug. 11 announcement also offered reason for a more optimistic prognosis: The Drug Enforcement Administration is removing a major roadblock to medical studies of marijuana and advancing long-stalled efforts to research the plant’s value as a medication.

For 46 years, marijuana (along with heroin and LSD) has been a Schedule I drug, with no known medical benefits and “a high potential for abuse.” So when the DEA announced in April that it would soon decide whether to reclassify cannabis, there was widespread hope that the government was rethinking its long-held stance on the drug.

The production, distribution and consumption of marijuana all remain illegal under federal law – a fact that keeps medical cannabis patients and state-licensed suppliers in limbo.

Maine families have had to establish residency in Colorado in order to obtain the cannabis extract that helps their children’s epilepsy. Why? Because that particular strain, Charlotte’s Web, is grown in Colorado. And if parents can’t find something that works at home, they don’t have the option of crossing state lines to get it somewhere else.

Under federal law, that’s drug trafficking, even if they’re transporting strains like Charlotte’s Web that are low in THC, the chemical compound that’s the source of the high.

To read more click here. 


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