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Ex-DEA Agent Pleads Guilty to Stealing Fraud Proceeds

dea-logo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former DEA agents pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing fraud proceeds that she had been assigned to recover on behalf of fraud victims, the Justice Department said.

Artemis Papadakis, 57, of Richmond, Calif., pleaded guilty in Southern California before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill L. Burkhardt to an information charging her with theft by a government official.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 11.

Papadakis was  stationed by the DEA in Nicosia, Cyprus, between 2008 and 2014, to help the U.S. Government recover the proceeds of an American fraud scheme that had been frozen in the banking system in northern Cyprus.

When Papadakis was transferred from Cyprus to San Francisco in June 2014, the funds had not yet been recovered.

Papadakis admitted that she was told not to pursue the matter regarding the funds following her transfer. But when she was in Cyprus in October 2015 on personal business, Papadakis took possession of $310,000 of the funds without notifying anyone at the DEA or in the U.S. Government.

According to the plea agreement, Papadakis mailed approximately $230,000 of those funds from Cyprus to her California home  in California and later took possession of an additional $20,000 of those funds from a third party when he visited her in the U.S., a Justice Department press release said.

Papadakis admitted that she hid the $250,000 in her flower pots at her home in California. She also admitted that in February 2016 she handed over the $250,000 to the U.S. government under the false cover story that she had just received it via an unexpected package from Cyprus.

 


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Trump Allies Launch Propaganda War Against Special Probe of Russia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of high-powered attorneys begin digging deeper into Russia’s suspected interference in the 2016 election, President Trump and his supporters are doing everything they can to smear and undermine one of the most important political investigations since Watergate.

Over the past few days, Trump apologists and allies have stepped up their attacks on the intelligence community and Mueller, a former FBI director who earned an impeccable reputation as a nonpartisan, fair-minded investigator. The idea is to discredit the probe by calling it a “witch hunt” before any conclusions have even been drawn by the special counsel and his team.

Greater America Alliance, a nonprofit ally of Trump, has begun a propaganda campaign in a 45-second ad.

Greater America Alliance, a nonprofit ally of Trump, has begun a propaganda campaign in a 45-second ad.

Take the pro-Trump nonprofit, Greater America Alliance, which has raised nearly $29 million for the campaigns 0f Republican House and Senate candidates and Trump during last year’s campaign, Newsweek reports

The nonprofit in May hired conservative commentator and YouTube provocateur Tomi Lahren to “execute communications and messaging strategies.”

Lahren stars in a political ad entitled “Witch Hunt,” which targets Mueller and his team of investigators. She suggests they are part of “the Washington establishment” that will do anything to take down Trump, who has been accused of colluding with Russians and obstruction of justice for firing former FBI Director James Comey after he refused to drop Russia-related investigations.

“Only in Washington could a rigged game like this be called independent,” Lahren concludes.

Lahren is just one example of a high-profile Trump supporter attempting to undermine the special investigation as biased and agenda-driven.


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Trump Officially Nominates Wray to Replace Ousted FBI Director

Christopher A. Wray

Christopher A. Wray

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump has officially nominated Christopher Wray to replace ousted FBI Director James Comey.

The White House on Monday sent its formal nomination of Wray to the Senate, which will decide whether to approve the nomination.

Wray, a former assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush, released a statement through the Justice Department, touting his experience working with federal investigators.

“From my earliest days working with agents as a line prosecutor to my time working with them at the Department of Justice in the aftermath of 9/11, I have been inspired by the men and women of the FBI – inspired by their professionalism, integrity, courage, and sacrifice for the public.” Wray said. 

“If confirmed, it will be a privilege and honor to once again work with them.  America faces grave threats both here and abroad, and the FBI, in concert with its federal, state, and local partners, continues to work steadfastly to prevent and hold accountable those responsible for these threats.” 

Trump’s termination of Comey has led to allegations that the president tried to obstruct justice to end the Russia-related investigation. 


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FBI Grilled Trump Adviser Carter Page for 10-Plus Hours on Russia

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

Carter Page, former campaign advisor for Donald Trump.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, has acknowledged he has was extensively questioned by the FBI in March in connection with the ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

In an unverified collection of memos popularly known as the Trump-Russia dossier, Page is accused of being the middleman between the campaign and Russia.

The dossier, written by Christopher Steele, a former British spy who spent years working in Moscow, alleges Page was part of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between (Trump associates) and the Russian leadership.”

Page said he denied the allegations during five FBI interviews that lasted more than a combined 10 hours.

Steele is no stranger to the FBI. During his time on British intelligence agency’s M16 Moscow desk, the FBI repeatedly worked with him on Russia-related investigations.

In a message to CNBC, Page said:

During my extensive discussions with the FBI agents just weeks before Comey’s departure, they acknowledged that I’m a loyal American veteran but indicated that their ‘management’ was concerned that I did not believe the conclusions of the fake January 6 intelligence report. I told them that I learned the lessons from the intelligence failures of the original Dodgy Dossier from 2003 which cost this country thousands of service members lives and over a trillion dollars. Our frank and open conversations gave me confidence that there are still logical, honest individuals at the Bureau who respect civil rights and the Constitution, despite the recent devastating impact on our democracy by self-centered politicians at the top of the Clinton-Obama-Comey regime.


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Border Patrol Finds Pounds of Cocaine Taped to Woman’s Chest

The 21-year-old woman tried to hide cocaine by taping it to her chest and stomach, via Border Patrol.

The 21-year-old woman tried to hide cocaine by taping it to her chest and stomach, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Even in the days of breast augmentation, Border Patrol agents weren’t fooled by the bulging chest of a 21-year-old woman who had taped about eight pounds of cocaine to her chest and stomach.

At the Morley Pedestrian Gate at the border between Arizona and Mexico, agents wanted a closer look at what was behind the Tucson resident’s strangely bulging shirt.

After a drug-sniffing dog also shared its suspicions, a secondary inspection found about $135,000 worth of cocaine stuffed in her shirt.

The woman, whose identity wasn’t immediately released, was arrested.

Other Stories of Interest


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Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Kidnapped, Beaten After Protecting Family

Fernando Puga

Fernando Puga

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An off-duty Border Patrol agent was kidnapped and brutally beaten by two strangers in Northeast El Paso after he tried to keep them away from his family.

Agent Lorenzo Hernandez, who is assigned to the agency’s Deming area, was helping his mother at her food truck when two suspicious men, one of whom had gun, asked Hernandez for a ride on June 9, saying their car had broken down, according to FBI affidavits obtained by the El Paso Times. 

Concerned the men, later identified as Sergio Ivan Quiñonez-Venegas and Fernando A. Puga, would harm his mother and minor brother and nephew, Hernandez offered the strangers a ride in his 2014 Ford Focus.

“When one of the subjects paid for some tamales purchased from BP Agent Hernandez’s mother, Hernandez noticed a large amount of cash in the subject’s wallet,” according to the affidavit by FBI Special Agent Jesus Nieto of El Paso. “BP Agent Hernandez also observed that one of the subjects had a handgun in the waistband of his pants. BP Agent Hernandez stated that he felt compelled to give the subjects a ride to a nearby gas station because he had become concerned for the safety of his mother and his minor brother and nephew who were present at the food truck.”

One of the suspects stuck a gun into Hernandez’s ribs and said, “This is a kidnapping.”

During a 50-mile drive to an area outside of Las Cruces, the suspects threatened to kill him. When the car stopped, Hernandez confronted the men outside of his car.

“Although BP Agent Hernandez reported he was able to gain control of the handgun in a struggle, it was of poor quality and he was unable to fire it at the subjects,” according to the affidavit. “As a result, BP Agent Hernandez threw the handgun away into the field/desert area adjacent to the dirt road. During a physical struggle and foot chase, BP Agent Hernandez was assaulted and struck/stabbed multiple times with a machete by Puga.”

Hernandez was taken to the hospital with fractures to his skull and arms and severe stab wounds to his body and fingers.

Quiñonez-Venegas was arrested June 13 and told FBI agents that he was forced to participate in the kidnapping by Puga. Two days later, the FBI and a local sheriff’s office arrested Puga, who claimed he was kidnapped by Quiñonez-Venegas.

Both men face federal kidnapping charges.


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FBI, Justice Department Offer Starkly Different Positions on Trump’s Budget Cuts

Photo via FBI

Photo via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Top officials for the FBI and Justice Department are at odds over the impact of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe offered Congress starkly different positions on whether Trump’s spending reductions would hurt FBI operations, Politico reports.

McCabe told the House Appropriations subcommittee that “every program” in the bureau would be adversely affected and would force the reduction of employees, including agents.

“It will certainly impact us in many ways. It is a broad and deep reduction that will touch every program. it will touch headquarters. It will touch our field offices,” McCabe told a House Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday. “It is a reduction that is not possible to take entirely against vacancies. It’s a reduction that will touch every description of employee within the FBI. We will lose agent positions. We will lose analyst positions and, of course, professional staff.”

Rosenstein seemed to suggest McCabe was exaggerating and that the spending cuts would not impact national security or violent crime.

“I believe that if you look at the budget, we are not cutting the critical areas — violent crime, terrorism, the areas that you’ve raised are areas where there will be no cuts, cybercrime, all those areas,” Rosenstein said at a parallel Senate hearing, under questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “And so the effort in this budget, as I understand it, is to reduce only in areas that are not critical to those operations.”

According to Rosenstein, the number of FBI agents would increase by 150 to 12,484.

But according to the FBI’s website, the bureau has about 13,500 agents.


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Russian Cyberattacks on Election Systems Adds Pressure to Homeland Security

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Mounting evidence that Russia used cyberattacks to impact the presidential election has turned up the heat on Homeland Security to protect America’s democratic system from hackers.

Homeland Security officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that they have evidence to suggest Russian operatives targeted election systems in 21 states.

The Hill reports that lawmakers are urging the department to help states protect their election systems. 

“I’m deeply concerned about the danger posed by future interference in our elections,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chairman of the intelligence panel, said Wednesday. “We have elections in 2018, but in my home state of Virginia, we have statewide elections this year. So this needs a sense of urgency.”

Senators asked Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to provide more details about the targeted election systems, including which states were targeted.

(D-Ore.). “We obviously need to know about vulnerabilities, so that we can find solutions, and we need better cybersecurity to protect elections from being hacked in the first place.”


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