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Archive for November 25th, 2008

Where Will This Tenacious U.S. Atty. Land?

By Jon Perkins
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Fair to say, during his seven-year reign as Chicago’s U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald has been relentless. He’s gone after ex-Gov. George Ryan, Gov. Rod Blagojovich and Tony Rezko, a political fundraiser with links to President-elect Barack Obama. He came to Washington as a special prosecutor and rattled the town, sending one reporter off to jail, dragging political operative Karl Rove before a grand jury and prosecuting Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.
Now, with the Obama transition, comes speculation about the future of the Bush appointee many in the Justice Department consider a “prosecutor’s prosecutor.”
Hall talk – a term they use over at the Justice Department, is that Fitzgerald, a Harvard Law School graduate, may be tapped to run the criminal division or even serve as deputy attorney general to Eric H. Holder Jr., Obama’s choice to run the Justice Department, or become the U.S. Attorney for New York, Fitzgerald’s hometown. The deputy attorney general post-considered the most political of the three – is probably the least likely.
There’s a good number of folks in Illinois, mostly Democratic and Republican politicians and
their supporters, who want the prosecutor moved. Certainly some of those people wouldn’t cry if he was removed from the Justice Department all together – a move one source says would be “gut-wrenching” to Fitzgerald.
Others want Fitzgerald to stay in Chicago to continue chasing criminals.
An appointment to any of the highly-coveted posts in Washington or New York could be
considered a reward. But some skeptics on the left and right say it may be a way for the Obama administration to remove the feisty prosecutor from the Illinois landscape where some feel he’s overstepped and overstayed.
Most agree he would be an “excellent” selection for Washington or New York.
Even so, such an appointment would fly in the face of a campaign pledge by Obama to leave the prosecutor in Chicago where his investigations have led to the indictment and conviction of scores of public officials including former Gov. George Ryan, who is serving time in a federal prison in
Wisconsin for corruption charges. In Washington, Fitzgerald, as a special prosecutor in Washington, helped convict Vice President Richard Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, on charges stemming from the unmasking of former CIA employee Valerie Plame Wilson.
If Fitzgerald is named chief of the Justice Department’s criminal division, many insiders
would consider it a promotion. Others in Justice say it would be a lateral move, but an important job nonetheless.
Then there’s a little complication.
“He really likes Chicago. He married a local gal,” says one source.
Fitzgerald wed Chicago school teacher Jennifer Letzkus in June.
“The smart thing would be to make him deputy a..g.,” although that job may be too political for Fitzgerald, the source said, adding that he thinks that job be “highly unlikely.” Another possibility is to
make him the U.S. attorney in New York, regarded as the highest profile U.S attorney’s post in the country. “He’d love that.”

Fitzgerald was raised in Brooklyn, a son of a Manhattan doorman. He also worked there as an assistant U.S. Attorney where he helped prosecute mob figure John Gotti.

The Obama transition team declined to comment. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for Fitzgerald, said the prosecutor had “absolutely no comment whatsoever.” on the matter. A spokesman for Chicago Mayor
Richard M. Daley also declined to comment.

News of the possible out of town move would reverberate in Illinois.
Bernard Schoenburg, the veteran political columnist for the Springfield Journal Register, said the Justice Department’s gain would be Illinois’ loss.

“He has the reputation for being a straight shooter and tough prosecutor,” Schoenburg said. “He was not warmly received in some quarters when he arrived in Illinois. He has gone after people in a nonpartisan way and been pretty effective.”
Fitzgerald was behind the recent conviction of Tony Rezko, a financier and fund-raiser who has been connected to several Illinois Democrats including Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Obama.
Schoenburg said that Blagojevich has seen several of his associates indicted and convicted. Obama has not been named as a target in the Rezko case.
Fitzgerald has also gone after the Republicans. Besides ex-Gov. Ryan, he’s gone after his co-defendant Lawrence Warner and his political operative Scott Fawell. In all, about 80 Illinois political figures have been convicted in the corruption probes during his reign. That has not sat well in the great state of Illinois, which has a long history of chicanery.
According to the Chicago Tribune, which in an editorial urged Obama to keep Fitzgerald in Illinois, testimony in Rezko’s trial alleged that several high-ranking Republicans conspired with the Bush administration to force out Fitzgerald.
Schoenberg simply calls Fitzgerald a “hard-driving, straight shooter” and “not in it for the ego.”
“It would be a great disappointment if he leaves Illinois.”

Slain FBI Agent Put to Rest in Baltimore: FBI Dir. Speaks at Funeral

FBI agent Sam Hicks was put to rest Thursday, a reminder to the law enforcement community of the dangers of the job.

The Associated Press
BALTIMORE — FBI agents and police officers joined family members today for the funeral of an FBI agent killed in a drug raid in suburban Pittsburgh.
The funeral for Special Agent Sam Hicks was held at the Cathedral of Mary our Queen in Baltimore, the city where he once served as a police officer.
The only speakers were FBI director Robert Mueller and U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
Mr. Mueller said he didn’t know Agent Hicks but was able to catch a glimpse of his character by talking to his family and colleagues. He called Hicks “something of a superhero,” saying he was “full of strength and energy.” Mr. Mueller presented Agent Hicks’ widow with a memorial star and told her that she and her son, Noah, would always be part of the FBI family.
For Full Story

Read Mueller’s Prepared Remarks

Holy Land Foundation Organizers Found Guilty of Illegally Funding Hamas

It took a couple tries, but federal prosecutors this time emerged victorious.

By Jason Trahan and Tanya Eiserer
The Dallas Morning News
DALLAS — After more than 15 years of investigation and two trials, the Holy Land Foundation and five of its former organizers were found guilty of illegally funneling more than $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
The verdicts by a Dallas federal jury are a significant victory for the Justice Department, which streamlined its case after a mistrial last year and worked hard to carefully educate jurors on the complex evidence presented in the massive case.
Guilty verdicts were read on 108 separate charges.
The verdicts are a major triumph for the outgoing administration of President George W. Bush, whose efforts at fighting terrorism financing have been troubled. Two other similar high-profile prosecutions targeting supporters of Palestinian militants have ended in acquittals, deadlocked juries or convictions on lesser charges.

“Today’s verdicts are important milestones in America’s efforts against financiers of terrorism,” Patrick Rowan, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a prepared statement.

For Full Story

Ex-Philly Anchor Gets House Arrest For Getting Into Co-worker’s Emails

We expect more of our tv anchors…or do we?

By Joseph A. Slobodzian
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
PHILADELPHIA — Disgraced former CBS3 anchor Larry Mendte
Anchor Larry Mendte/

Anchor Larry Mendte/cbs3

will serve six months of house arrest for his guilty plea to reading the e-mails of former co-anchor Alycia Lane and feeding the details to newspaper gossip columnists.
U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin also sentenced Mendte, 51, to three years probation, a $5,000 fine and to perform 250 hours of community service.
Before he was sentenced, Mendte told the court: “When I look back on the story of my life, I can’t believe it brought me to this moment. I am ashamed.”
For Full Story

Study Says New Orleans Tops the Nation’s Cities in Crime

This city has been handed bragging rights over something it would rather not brag about: being number one in crime. It is better to be known for gumbo or fried shrimp po’boys.

By Brendan McCarthy
New Orleans Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS — A national study released today has named New Orleans the most violent city in the country.
The annual crime ranking, compiled by researchers and published by CQ Press, examined statistics for six major types of crime in nearly 400 cities.
With more than 19,000 incidents of crime last year, New Orleans ranked number one, ahead of Camden, New Jersey, and Detroit, Mich.
The rankings are calculated using crime statistics and population data. The editors of the ranking included a special note about New Orleans, highlighting the city’s dramatic changes in population over the last few years.
For Full Story

Pres. Bush Pardons 14 People and Commutes Sentences of 2

white house photo

white house photo

President Bush, who’s looking for forgiveness for the way the economy has turned out, decided to show some forgiveness. No big names so far. But more pardons are expected. Stay tuned.

By Deb Riechmann
Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush has granted pardons to 14 individuals and commuted the prison sentences of two others convicted of misdeeds including drug offenses, tax evasion, wildlife violations and bank embezzlement.
The new round of White House pardons announced Monday are Bush’s first since March and come less than two months before he will end his presidency. The crimes committed by those on the list also include offenses involving hazardous waste, food stamps, and the theft of government property.
Bush has been stingy during his time in office about granting clemency, but more grants are expected.
For Full Story

Read Related Story in The Detroit News