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Archive for September 22nd, 2008

State Dept. Worker Pleads To Peaking At Passports

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — A former State Department employee pleaded guilty Monday to illegally accessing  hundreds of confidential passport applications of celebrities, athletes and game show contestants, the Justice Department said.
Lawrence C. Yontz, 48, of Arlington, Va,  pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of unauthorized access, the Justice Department said.  Sentencing is set for Dec. 19. He could face up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Yontz admitted between February 2005 and March 2008 that he logged into the Passport Information Electronic Records System, which contains passport applications dating back to 1994, authorities said.
In all, he looked at passport information of about 200 celebrities, athletes, actors, politicians, musicians, game show contestants and media members, the Justice Department said.

Pakistan Tells FBI No Thanks

Pakistan said thanks but no thanks to an offer from the FBI to help investigate the suicide bombing in Islamabad. Is it a another sign of the tension between the two nations or is it just national pride?

By Paul Wiseman and Zafar M. Sheikh
USA TODAY
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan on Sunday rejected a U.S. offer to help investigate the weekend suicide bombing that killed at least 53 people and destroyed the Islamabad Marriott, this capital city’s best-known hotel.
“We do not need help. We are competent. We reject it,” Interior Ministry adviser Rehman Malik told reporters Sunday after the U.S. offered FBI help in pursuing the terrorists behind the attack.

For Full Story

The Big Guns In Washington May Take The Stand

Collin Powell/white house photo

Colin Powell/white house photo

A parade of Washington insiders could take the stand in the high-profile public corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens. Jury selection began today in Washington. Opening statements are expected Wednesday.

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Several powerful senators and former Secretary of State Colin Powell are among possible witnesses at the corruption trial of the longest serving U.S. Republican senator.
Jury selection began Monday in the trial of the Sen. Ted Stevens, who has represented Alaska for more than 35 years. A federal judge listed dozens of people who might be called at the monthlong trial.
Among them are Democratic Sens. Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy and Daniel Inouye. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch is also on the list, as is Powell.
For Full Story
For Full Story

“Rifleman” Takes Stand In ex-FBI Agent’s Trial

Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi became the latest Boston gangster to take the stand in Miami in the murder trial of ex-FBI agent John Connolly. He didn’t disappoint.

The "Rifleman" in 1965

The Rifleman in 1965

By Shelley Murphy
Boston Globe Staff
MIAMI — A slim and graying Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi took the stand this morning and offered a Florida jury a primer on the history of Boston’s gang wars.
Wearing wire-rimmed glasses, Flemmi, 74, acknowledged that he killed 10 people from 1974 to 1984, 10 murders that have him serving a life sentence. The gangster was laying the groundwork for what is expected to be two days of testimony against his former FBI handler, John J. Connolly.
Staring expressionless, Flemmi described his introduction to murder in 1964, when he helped “clean up and remove the body” of a victim of a gang battle. Prosecutor Fred Wyshak asked whether Flemmi had been involved in the 1965 murder of Charlestown gang leader Edward “Punchy” McLaughlin.
For Full Story

Ex-Prosecutor Going After Reporter’s Source

DETROIT –The widespread fallout from a federal case that began with the arrest of alleged terrorists and then turned into a widely cited textbook example of prosecutorial excess has now hit a Detroit Free Press reporter who’s attempting to protect the identity of a confidential source.
Advocates are saying this latest twist in an already twisted saga is more evidence of the need for a federal shield law protecting journalists.
Meanwhile, critics continue to point to the failed case against the alleged Detroit “sleeper cell” as a prime example of the government’s reckless post-9/11 anti-terrorism agenda.
For Full Story

Former Tommy Hilfiger Exec Pleads Guilty

NEW YORK — The former chief financial officer of Tommy Hilfiger Handbags and Small Leather Goods Inc. has pleaded guilty to embezzling $19 million from the company from 2000 to 2007, the Justice Department said.

Martin S. Bodner, 60, entered his plea last week in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.  Bodner secretly increased his salary and bonus, was reimbursed for phony expenses and added a phantom employee — his son —  to the payroll at an annual salary of $225,000, according to the Justice Department.

He faces up to 40 years in prison.  As part of his guilty plea, he agreed to forfeit a home in Sands Point, N.Y., a Manhattan apartment, three cars and other property, the Justice Department said.

Illegal Immigrant Witnesses Create A Controversy

Fairfax County Jail/lattatech photo

Fairfax County Jail/lattatech photo

The issue over illegal immigrants continues to cause controversy. But in Fairfax County, just outside Washington, a case is raising even more issues. Some detained immigrants may have witnessed a murder and the government might need to detain them long-term rather than deport them quickly. The case is causing some controversy.

Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
FAIRFAX, Va. – Five men have been sitting in the Fairfax County jail for nearly a month now, although none is charged with a crime. Rather, they might have witnessed a killing. Some of them.
The men are being held as witnesses after the fatal stabbing of Adulio Morales-Bonilla, 36, in Fairfax City last month. Everyone in the case — the victim, the suspect, the witnesses — was in this country illegally. Fairfax City police enlisted the help of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and had the witnesses detained.
But then ICE told police that the witnesses were going to waive deportation hearings and might be returned to their native Honduras within a week. Faced with the possible collapse of their case, police obtained “material witness” warrants against the men and had them jailed without bond, even though the trial might not occur for another year.
For Full Story

Sen. Stevens Hopes To Testify In Trial

Sen. Ted Stevens could add some spice to his public corruption trial in Washington by testifying. Testifying in your own trial can always be risky.  Then again, Stevens may feel he has nothing to lose.  Jury selection begins today in U.S. District Court, just blocks from the Capitol.

Sen. Stevens/official

Sen. Stevens/official photo

By KYLE HOPKINS
Anchorage Daily News
ANCHORAGE — Sen. Ted Stevens said he intends to testify at his federal corruption trial, which begins with jury selection Monday, but he said the final decision will be up to his lawyers.
Stevens spoke briefly about the trial with reporters Friday in Anchorage while talking about defense spending in Alaska, the tanking economy and his plans for the next two months.
For Full Story

Related Story (Washington Post)
Stevens’ Lawyers At Williams & Connolly (Legal Times)