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Archive for November 5th, 2008

Pakistani National in Baltimore Gets 9 Years After Getting Caught in Terrorism Sting

The government says Saifullah Anjum Ranjha thought he was helping out al Qaeda. Unfornuately for Ranjha he wasn’t helping himself out much.  Now it’s off to prison.

By Tricia Bishop
Baltimore Sun
BALTIMORE — A Pakistani national with homes in Laurel and Washington, D.C., was sentenced to nine years in prison yesterday in a Baltimore federal court for financing people he believed were terrorist al-Qaida operatives and laundering $2.2 million in what he was told were illegal funds through an ancient currency-transfer system that avoids financial institutions.
Saifullah Anjum Ranjha, 45, was one of nearly four dozen people indicted last year after a four-year global sting – dubbed “Operation Cash-Out”- revealed multiple schemes that stretched from Maryland to Belgium, Spain and Canada. They included three money-laundering systems and a plan to bribe public officials to get green cards.
About 30 defendants have pleaded guilty in the cases so far, according to the Maryland U.S. attorney’s office; a handful are proceeding to trial, and several others are fugitives.
According to a plea agreement, Ranjha, who was born in Pakistan and became a U.S. resident in 1997, was running a money-remittance business in Washington called Hamza Inc. when he was approached in 2003 by an undercover law enforcement witness who operated a phony import/export company.
For Full Story

A Letter To The President-elect About Federal Law Enforcement

Dear President-elect Obama,

Congratulations on your election by the American people to be their Chief Executive. Now comes the hard part.

I write this letter to provide some unsolicited advice about one of your most important duties, the enforcement of federal law. Neither you nor your opponent said much about crime or law enforcement during the campaign. I hope this doesn’t signify a belief that these issues are not among the most important challenges facing our nation. Frankly, those of us who are or have been in law enforcement cannot tell whether your administration will commit the attention and resources to make crime reduction one of the priorities of the new government. Whether you know it or not, there are significant decisions to be made to maintain the nation’s security and its effective public administration of justice.

First, you must select as an Attorney General, 93 United States Attorneys, and the other “political” appointees in the Department of Justice, men and women of exceptional dedication, integrity and ability. They must be independent of political partisanship and committed to the full and fair administration of justice and the zealous investigation and prosecution of crime in all of its forms. Please don’t re-pay political obligations or allow party loyalty to become factors in deciding on these appointments.

Second, resist the pressures and temptations in this economic crisis to reduce the federal budget for criminal and civil law enforcement. This is not to say that federal agencies cannot be more efficient and effective in spending the public’s money. But cutting back on law enforcement resources would be a mistake. Some areas, such as combating the international drug trafficking-terrorism nexus and fraud investigations of financial and business institutions, to name a couple, need more resources, not fewer. The return from this additional investment in federal law enforcement will be worth the initial pinch.

Third, make a clear and unmistakable pronouncement that the Department of Justice, under your watch, will operate in a culture of impartiality, transparency, and fairness. Particular attention must be given to reverse the practices of politicization of the previous administration. Decisions on individual investigations and prosecutions must be made based strictly on the applicable law and facts of a particular case. Complaints and attempted influence by politicians, including the Congress and the White House, on individual cases are inappropriate and must be both resisted and the attempt made public.

Such policies should not impair the healthy debate and communication by the legislative and executive branches to the Department and law enforcement agencies as to the policies and priorities on specific categories of cases, as well as practices and procedures.

Fourth, re-establish the practice of nonpartisan hiring of career employees of the Department of Justice. Career attorneys, agents, and other staff members are the backbone of the federal criminal justices system. They prosecute and investigate the individual cases which adjudicate rights and liberties and provide for the incremental development of the rule of law. Moreover, on policy questions, they maintain continuity, develop essential expertise on increasingly complex matters, and provide perspective and objective advice. Career law enforcement officials should be consulted and should participate in all policy discussions. This omission, as much as any other, was at the root of the failures of the Gonzalez Justice Department.

Fifth, you have a unique opportunity to influence segments of society who seem to have lost faith in law enforcement. The more visible wear “No Snitch” t-shirts and sing rap songs about the cops being the enemy. Even more disturbing is the seemingly increasing ethic to refuse to talk with police and federal agents. The anti-snitch culture has moved from an antipathy for informers to the advocacy of non-cooperation with all of law enforcement. The results in some places are falling crime clearance rates, witness reluctance and intimidation, and juror skepticism. Even more dangerous are those who openly obstruct the efforts of federal agents, such as providing personal information on agents and cooperating witnesses on internet websites. We cannot afford to undermine the legitimacy of law enforcement in communities which most need its protection. Oppose legislation which would dilute the effect of cooperating witness testimony, such as reliability hearings and corroboration requirements. Use your position to re-establish the norm that assisting law enforcement is every citizen’s responsibility.

Finally, there are several substantive areas in law enforcement which need your attention. Immigration and the continuing struggle against violence and lawlessness on both sides of the Southwest border should be a priority. The financial scandals have prompted much needed investigations which not only need more resources but have highlighted legal areas where enforcement can be made more effective. Consistent with our newly expanded constitutional right to bear arms, legislative efforts to limit guns for non-criminal purposes ought to be pursued. Other fine-tuning of statutes on subjects such as hate crimes, transnational offenses, “medical” marijuana use, to name a few, need your support for further study and debate.

Well Mr. (almost) President, I fear I have gone on too long, especially since you didn’t ask my advice in the first place. I ask only that, in fulfilling promises made on the campaign trail, you don’t forget the fundamental functions of government which made this country a great place in which to live.

D.C. Clerk On Trial in Fed Court For Alleged Elevator License Scam

A D.C. clerk  allegedly involved in an elevator license renewal scam could be headed somewhere where they have no elevators — just bars.

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Ikela M. Dean, a District government clerk, sometimes demanded late fees when businesses and nonprofit groups came in to renew their elevator licenses — and she wanted cash, prosecutors said.
She took the money, then issued receipts for the cash with a large red “PAID” stamp. But it was Dean who was getting paid, prosecutors said, in a scam that netted more than $4,000.
Dean, 32, who no longer works for the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, went on trial yesterday in U.S. District Court on bribery and extortion charges. She was arrested after an undercover FBI investigation that included the use of hidden cameras to record at least two payments, prosecutors said.
For Full Story

Read FBI Affidavit

Indicted Rep. William Jefferson Wins Dem Primary

That little thing called an “indictment” still hangs over Rep. William J. Jefferson’s head, but it apparently hasn’t been a big enough negative in the 61-year-old’s  bid for re-election. He won again. Go figure. He faces a December election against a Republican challenger.

WWLTV.com
NEW ORLEANS — Indicted U.S. Rep. William Jefferson lived to fight another day as he easily defeated political neophyte Helena Moreno to win the Democratic primary, bolstered no doubt by a large, Obama-bolstered African-American turnout in his Congressional District.
Jefferson held a wide, double-digit percentage lead over Moreno with more than three-fourths of the precincts reporting.
Jefferson, who still faces a trial on bribery and money laundering charges, acknowledged Obama’s influence on voters and the fact that it probably helped him secure a win.
“I think it’s an extraordinary help,” he said early in the day. Jefferson must still defeat a Republican challenger in a December general election.
Jefferson had an answer to people he said would wonder how he continues to get re-elected despite his troubles.
For Full Story

Other Election News:

Convicted Felon Sen. Ted Stevens Leads By Thin Margin (Anchorage Daily News) Updated 11:40 a.m.

N.Y. Mobster Charged in 1977 Murder of Rival Nicknamed “Coca Cola”

Thirty one years after the murder,  mobster Michael Coppola has been charged in the murder of a rival nicknamed “Coca Cola”.  He pleaded “not guilty” Monday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

By Tom Hays
Associated Press
NEW YORK — A jailed reputed mobster was charged on Monday with the 1977 slaying of a gangland rival who used his last words to taunt him in a motel parking lot.
“What’re you going to do now, tough guy?” Giovanni “Coca Cola” Larducci asked when Michael Coppola’s gun jammed during the New Jersey confrontation on Easter 1977, prosecutors said.
Coppola has bragged to cooperators that he responded by pulling out another pistol from an ankle holster and shooting Larducci dead, prosecutors said.
The slaying was recounted in court papers alleging Coppola also infiltrated and shook down a labor union for the Genovese organized crime family.
For Full Story