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Archive for December 8th, 2008

FBI Agent Mark Rossini — Romantically Linked to Actress– Pleads Guilty to Accessing FBI Computers To Help Pellicano Case

Linda Fiorentino

Linda Fiorentino

By Allan Lengel
Ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – FBI Agent Mark T. Rossini, who became fodder for the New York gossip columns when  he started dating actress Linda Fiorentino, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Washington to illegally accessing FBI computers to help rogue private eye Anthony Pellicano during his Los Angles trial on wiretapping and racketeering charges.
The dapper 47-year-old Rossini, clad in a charcoal gray pinstriped-suit and vest, with white shirt and purplish tie, pleaded guilty to five-misdemeanor counts of criminal computer access. Sentencing was set for March on Friday the 13th. Each count carries a maximum of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Rossini, looking very somber, told U.S. District Magistrate Judge John M. Focciola that he agreed with the government’s five-page statement of offense that accused him of accessing the FBI’s Automated Case Support System (ACS) more than 40 times for personal use in Washington and New York between Jan 3, 2007 and July 30, 2007.
At one point, the government report said that Rossini downloaded an FBI document known as a “302 report” on Jan. 26, 2007 and gave it to someone only referred to as “X”. That person was Fiorentino .
Fiorentino, who had “a previous relationship with Anthony Pellicano” provided a copy of the report to a Pellincano attorney  in San Francisco, the document said. The attorneys then used the document in Pellicano’s trial to say that the government was withholding “exculpratory information from the defense.”
Little did the attorneys know, the government document said, that the judge had privately told the government in an ex-parte communication that it did not have to hand over the document. Pellicano was eventually convicted of running a criminal enterprise that illegally snooped on high profile celebrities.
The government document went on to say: “On or about July 9, 2007, an online magazine “Radar Online” published a report relating to the defendant, and the government’s prosecution of Anthony Pellicano. The defendant told his supervisors that the article was entirely false, when in fact that was not the case.
“Agents from the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (OIG) interviewed the
defendant on February 25, 2008, in the presence of his prior attorney,” the document said.”The defendant falsely denied that he obtained FBI information without authorization, or that he provided any FBI information to outside persons. He also denied transmitting the FBI 302 report to any person outside the FBI.”
Rossini, who is likely not to get jail time because he pleaded guilty and quit his job, left the courtroom without comment. Under the sentencing guidelines, he could get a sentence of 0 to 6 months.

Read Government’s Statement of Offense

Showdown in the Motown: Detroit Reporter Invokes the Fifth and Refuses to Disclose Sources

An angry ex-federal prosecutor wants to know who in the government leaked damaging information about him. And he wants a reporter to tell him who talked. The reporter is refusing. The drama continues.

David Ashenfelter

Ex-Prosecutor Convertino/law office photo

Ex-Prosecutor Convertino/law office photo

By Joe Swickard
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — Detroit Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter declined under oath this afternoon to reveal confidential sources in a legal standoff that pits journalistic principles against the obligation to testify under subpoena.
In declining to say who told the newspaper that a federal prosecutor was being investigated for his handling of a botched terrorism case, Ashenfelter invoked the First Amendment of the Constitution that guarantees press freedoms, and his Fifth-Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The newspaper released a statement saying Ashenfelter (far left photo)  took the Fifth because of concerns that he could face legal exposure if the sources are identified and charged with a crime for leaking the information. Richard Convertino, a former federal prosecutor who sought the information from Ashenfelter as part of a lawsuit against the government, contends that it was illegal for the information to be leaked. Convertino also contends that Ashenfelter, by refusing to give up his sources, is aiding anyone who committed a crime.
“Journalists ought not to have to resort to taking the Fifth Amendment, when the First Amendment should be enough to protect them,” the Free Press statement said. “But in light of the allegations made by Convertino in his lawsuit, it is appropriate for Ashenfelter to do so.”
It is not immediately clear what Steven M. Kohn, the attorney for Convertino, will do now.
“We will be seeking the appropriate relief,” said Kohn as he exited the deposition in Ann Arbor after a 55-minute session. Kohn said he may seek to ask a federal judge to hold Ashenfelter in contempt of court and seek other sanctions.
For Full Story

Read ticklethewire.com Column on Convertino


U.S. Prosecutor in Blackwater Security Case Will Meet With Victims’ Families in Iraq

The prosecutor meeting with victims’ families sends a message that Iraqi lives matter.

By KATHERINE ZOEPF and ATHEER KAKAN
New York Times
BAGHDAD –An American prosecutor working on the case against five Blackwater security guards indicted in connection with a 2007 shooting in Baghdad has arrived in Iraq and will be meeting with victims’ families this week, Iraqi officials said.
An Iraqi official familiar with the investigation said the meeting with victims’ families would take place on Saturday in a large dining center in Iraq’s National Police Headquarters, just a stone’s throw from Nisour Square, the traffic circle in Baghdad where at least 17 Iraqis were killed by private security guards working for Blackwater Worldwide
For Full Story

UPDATED: 2:20 p.m. Monday

Justice Department Unseals 35-count Indictment in Blackwater Case (Washington Post)

Read Indictment

Read Guilty Plea Document For Sixth Defendant

Controversial Office of Legal Counsel Will Undergo Heavy Scrutiny Under Obama Regime

By Mary Jacoby
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The famously leak-proof Barack Obama operation hasn’t said much about its plans for the Justice Department. But one thing’s clear: the controversial Office of Legal Counsel notorious for issuing what critics dubbed the “Torture Opinion” —  the sanctioning of extreme interrogation techniques  — is going to come under some heavy scrutiny in the new administration.
Several members of Obama’s DOJ transition review team have been vocal critics of what they’ve called the Bush administration refusal to abide by the rule of law in national security cases.
They include Dawn Johnsen, a law professor at Indiana University who serves as a DOJ transition team “leader,” and Martin Lederman and Christopher Schroeder, also law professors and members of the DOJ review team.
Moreover, Obama’s pick for the influential post of White House staff secretary is Lisa Brown, former executive director of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, a liberal-leaning advocacy group that was active in the debate against torture.

Read more »

Who is Atty. Gen. Nominee Eric Holder?

Convicted Ex-FBI Agent John Connolly Tells Newsweek: “I’m a Catholic. I Say Rosary Everyday and Pray For My Innocence”

The fascination with ex-FBI agent John Connolly, convicted in a mob murder, continues. Newsweek visited him in a Miami jail to get his take on his conviction in a mob murder.

John Connolly

John Connolly

By Suzanne Smalley and Evan Thomas
Newsweek

For many years, John Connolly was the FBI’s most effective Mafia investigator in Boston. He has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard. He says his “hero” is Bobby Kennedy and points to his family’s devotion to public service (his brother is a retired DEA agent, and his sister became a teacher). But when he met last week with a NEWSWEEK REPORTER at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami, he was wearing shackles around his ankles. Once dashing and athletic, the 68-year-old Connolly was stooped and pot-bellied in his bright-red prison jumpsuit. His skin was paper-thin and white from lack of sunlight. For the past three and a half years, he has lived in a tiny, 10- by 12-foot cinder-block cell; his food is slipped to him through a slot in the heavy metal door. He is kept in solitary confinement for his own protection: a few years ago, Connolly says, another former FBI agent was badly beaten by inmates in the same jail.
Speaking with the reporter in a holding room, Connolly was grandfatherly, intelligent, emotional. “Believe me, I am innocent!” he declared, pumping his fist in the air. “I’m a Catholic. I say the rosary every day and pray for my innocence. I pray to Saint Jude, the saint of hopeless causes, and to Saint Rita, the saint of the impossible.”
For Full Story

Blackwater Guards Plan To Surrender in Utah To Get Favorable Venue

Sometimes the pre-trial legal battles can be intense. In this case, the pre-indictment battles are becoming intense. This one is shaping up as a battle of battles.

By Salt Lake Tribune Staff And Wire Services
Washington— Five Blackwater Worldwide security guards indicted in Washington, D.C., for the shooting of Iraqi civilians plan to surrender to the FBI on Monday in Salt Lake City, in hopes of a favorable trial venue, a person close to the case said.
The case already is shaping up to be a series of legal battles before the guards can even go to trial. With a surrendering in Utah, the home state of one of the guards, Donald Ball, of West Valley City, lawyers could argue in a far more conservative, pro-gun venue than Washington.
The person described the decision to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the indictment against the men remains sealed.
For Full Story

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