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Archive for January 29th, 2009

Newest Disaster: Mississippi Mayor and Wife Indicted in Katrina Fraud

Mayor Brent Warr/city photo

Mayor Brent Warr/city photo

Meet the latest public corruption case. Sadly this one involved Katrina funds. Sadly there are no limits to greed.

By Chris Joyner
Jackson Clarion Ledger
JACKSON, Miss — Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr and his wife, Laura Jean Warr, have been indicted today on 16 counts of Katrina fraud, including charges they stole federal funds, filed false disaster assistance claims and committed insurance fraud.
If convicted on all counts, the Warrs could face decades in federal prison and up to $4 million in fines. Both have been released on bond and given an April 6 trial date.
The investigation was conducted by the inspectors general of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Housing and Urban Department and the State Auditor’s Katrina Fraud Task Force.
State Auditor Stacey Pickering said the case is similar to more than two dozen indictments handed down on prior Katrina-related fraud cases.
For Full Story

Man Hanged Self In Va. Jail Hours Before Pleading in Fed Court to Child Porn Charges


Don Douglas was just one of the scores of people nationwide facing child pornography charges. The Internet has opened opportunties never seen before.

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A 40-year-old Springfield man killed himself just hours before he was scheduled to plead guilty in federal court on child pornography charges, sheriff’s officials said today.
Don Douglas was discovered by guards during a routine check Jan. 12. He had hanged himself in the shower and was pronounced dead at Inova Alexandria Hospital after efforts to revive him failed, sheriff’s officials said.
For Full Story

A Detroit Reporter Comments on a Colleague’s Refusal to Disclose Federal Sources

In Detroit, a battle has been simmering between a former Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino and Pulitzer Prize winning reporter David Ashenfelter. Convertino wants to know who leaked information about him to Ashenfelter, who is now taking the Fifth.

Ex-Prosecutor Convertino

Ex-Prosecutor Convertino

By Sandra Svoboda
News Hits staff/Detroit Metro Times
DETROIT — Let’s get this out right from the start: News Hits has a hard time being even close to objective when it comes to covering the legal tussle going on between Detroit Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter and former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino.
We don’t like to see good journalists called criminals for essentially doing their jobs. If reporters routinely fear prosecution for providing an otherwise absent watchdog role over government, everyone suffers.
Think Kwame Kilpatrick.
But part of us does understand Convertino’s position of wanting the truth to come out relevant to his personal lawsuit against the government. We’ve seen the movie Absence of Malice many times, and get the concept of unnamed government officials unscrupulously using the press as a weapon against someone they’re out to get.
We also understand how frustrating it can be for the aggrieved person trying to find out exactly who leaked the tar so that they can be held accountable. All of which is part of the reason we find the case fascinating.
Convertino, now in private practice in Plymouth, has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against his former employer, the U.S. Department of Justice. Among other things, Convertino claims an unnamed official illegally gave Ashenfelter information for a 2004 article about the department investigating Convertino’s handling of a high-profile terrorism trial.
Convertino also claims he was punished for complaining – to Congress, in fact – about a lack of resources to fight terrorism.

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