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Archive for March 3rd, 2009

El Salvador Man Charged in 2001 Chandra Levy Slaying

Ingmar Guandique

Ingmar Guandique

By Jon Perkins and Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — After years of bad and often frustrating leads, authorities charged a long-time suspect from El Salvador with first-degree murder in the slaying of intern Chandra Levy.

At a press conference attended by local and federal law enforcement, authorities said they had issued an arrest warrant for Ingmar Guandique, 27, an illegal immigrant who had been a prime suspect for about six years and is serving a 10-year sentence for attacking two female joggers in Rock Creek Park in Washington where Levy’s body was found in May 2002.

Linda Katz, Chandra’s aunt, who lives in Maryland, said upon hearing the news: “I hope justice is served, and if he is proven guilty,  he gets the maximum penalty under the law.” The penalty for the crime is 30 to 60 years.

In a statement, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said: “Just as I promised the family of Shaquita Bell, I promised the Levy family that I would renew efforts to find the person responsible for her death. I now believe we have the person in custody that is responsible for her murder.”

The evidence, according to a police affidavit, centered around statements from several unidentified people who said Guandique confessed to strangling and sexually assaulting Levy. Authorities said the slaying appeared to be a random act of violence.

According to a police affidavit in support of an arrest warrant, one witness told detectives during a 2008 interview that in 2003 they communicated with Guandique many times through letters.

Read Police Affidavit

Read more »

Exclusive: Authorities to Announce Murder Charge Today Against Long-time Suspect in Chandra Levy Case

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Authorities are expected to  announce today that a long-time suspect has been charged in the death of intern Chandra Levy, according to sources.
Charges are being filed against Ingmar Guandique, who is already serving a 10 year sentence for attacking two joggers in Rock Creek Park where Chandra Levy’s body was discovered in 2002.

One law enforcement source said authorities had built a cirumstantial case that included information from at least one person who knew Guandique. The charges were expected to be filed in D.C. Superior Court.

Levy, 24, disappeared in the Spring of 2001, triggering a summer full of stories and speculation about then-Congressman Gary Condit (D-Calif.), who had been carrying on an affair with the intern.

Authorities focused on Condit for quite a while, but eventually concluded that he had nothing to do with her disappearance. The publicity and the way Condit handled the matter — not very well — ended up derailing his promising political career which included aspirations to one day be California governor.

Susan Levy, Chandra’s mother, was contacted at her home shortly after noon Tuesday, but said she was too busy to talk at the moment.

Linda Katz, Chandra’s aunt, who lives in Maryland, said upon hearing the news: “I hope justice is served, and if he is proven guilty,  he gets the maximum penalty under the law.”

Read Allan Lengel’s Comments on Gary Condit

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson Trying to Discredit Key Witness By Getting Psychiatric Records

Ex-Rep. William Jefferson’s defense in his upcoming public corruption case is becoming clearer. For one, he insists any of his actions to drum up business for himself was not done under the official capacity of a Congressman. And two, he plans to discredit the sanity of a key witness, Lori Mody, a wealthy business woman who wore a wire after telling the feds that she was being shaken down for cash.

Regardless whether he can prove that the witness is mentally unstable, he’s got an uphill fight in that area. The government has videotape of him taking money from Mody and audio tapes of him talking to her, sounding more like a mobster than a Congressman, acting paranoid about the FBI and trying to avoid the mere mention of the word “cash”.

By Bruce Alpert
New Orleans Times-Picayune
WASHINGTON — If a key government witness against former Rep. William Jefferson has “qualms” about producing mental health records and answering questions “it is the charges that must yield, ” not Jefferson’s “right to defend against them, ” his attorneys say.

Documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., where Jefferson is scheduled to go on trial May 26 on 16 corruption charges, also reveal previously unreleased transcripts of FBI recorded conversations with the witness, Virginia businesswoman Lori Mody. The tapes describe her as worried about a possible stalker and having “a lot of personal issues” at the time she and Jefferson worked together on a Nigerian telecommunications project.

In the papers, Jefferson’s attorneys said that at some of the meetings between Mody and the congressman “considerable amounts of wine was consumed.” They also said the Justice Department had revealed in a previously sealed document that Mody was undergoing something (the phrase is redacted by court order) that affected her ability “to concentrate.”

The attorneys said they are entitled to raise these issues to challenge the credibility of Mody, who they describe as the key witness against the nine-term New Orleans Democrat.

For Full Story

Read One of Jefferson’s Motions for Pyschiatric Records of Witness

Judge Orders Dick Cheney to Give Deposition in Lawsuit Against Secret Service Agents

Just when you thought ex-V.P. Dick Cheney had rode off into the sunset, never to be heard again. Now he’s going to have to testify in a case. Some how you get the feeling he’s probably not too thrilled about this.

By KIRK JOHNSON
NEW York Times
DENVER – Former Vice President Dick Cheney will have to give his account – under oath, in a legal deposition – of what happened at a Colorado ski resort in June 2006 when a man stepped up to protest the Iraq war and was arrested, a federal district judge ruled Monday.

The protester, Steven Howards, sued five Secret Service agents in Mr. Cheney’s security detail after the encounter at the Beaver Creek resort. Mr. Howards’s lawyers have argued that Mr. Cheney’s version of events is crucial to getting at the truth.

Mr. Cheney’s lawyers had responded – successfully until Monday’s ruling by Judge Christine M. Arguello in Denver – that a deposition was unnecessary. A federal magistrate agreed with Mr. Cheney last April; Judge Arguello’s ruling reversed that decision.

For Full Story

Read Ruling on Cheney Deposition

Florida Attorney Accuses Fed Prosecutors of Misconduct in Doctor’s Trial


The missteps of a federal prosecution team could cost the government it’s case in Miami. Prosecutors have already admitted they made a “mistake”. We’ll see if that’s enough to lose the case.

BY JAY WEAVER
Miami Herald
MIAMI — An attorney for a Miami Beach doctor charged with peddling prescription drugs has accused federal prosecutors of ”misconduct,” arguing that the charges should be thrown out because the government authorized witnesses to record phone calls — but didn’t tell the defense lawyer before trial.

Defense lawyer David O. Markus — representing Dr. Ali Shaygan — said he only learned about the questionable phone recordings after cross-examining one of the government witnesses during trial last month. Markus found out he was recorded in two phone conversations.

”Dr. Shaygan respectfully submits that the government’s conduct in this case is so outrageous and was undertaken with such flagrant disregard for Dr. Shaygan’s constitutional rights that dismissal is the appropriate remedy,” Markus and his trial partner, Marc Seitles, wrote in a motion filed Monday.

They filed it with U.S. District Judge Alan Gold, who is presiding over the Shaygan trial, now in its third week.

For Full Story

Read Defense Motion to Dismiss

Justice Dept. Stops One of Two Death Penalty Cases in San Francisco

The Justice Department has intervened to stop one of two death penalty trials in San Francisco. In the one case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office had reached a plea agreement with the defendant, but the Bush Justice Department insisted on going ahead with the death penalty.  It looks like the plea agreement will now stand. The Bush administration had ignored the wishes of some U.S. Attorney’s offices that made deals with defendants, some which involved agreements to cooperate. Those moves hurt the credibility of prosecutors. This reversal by the Justice Department is a clear sign of a change in policy regarding the death penalty and the autonomy of local U.S. Attorneys.

By Bob Egelko
Chronicle Staff Writer
SAN FRANCISCO — President Obama’s Justice Department halted the death penalty trial of an alleged San Francisco gang leader Monday by accepting a 40-year prison sentence that the Bush administration had vetoed.

The plea agreement for Emile Fort remained on hold after a federal judge heard a tearful plea from a murder victim’s mother for a life sentence and summoned prosecutors to a closed-door session to describe their case against Fort.

Afterward, despite apparent irritation at his lack of authority to change the terms of the plea deal, U.S. District Judge William Alsup indicated he was likely to accept the agreement at a hearing today.

For Full Story

Bush Era Legal Memos Reveal Legal Errors

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

The Obama administration should be get kudos for releasing these revealing memos which show some of the legal errors of the Bush administration. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. says this is all about government transparency. But the true test will be whether this administration practices a policy of transparency not just for matters involving the Bush years, but the Obama years as well. Let’s hope we don’t see any hypocrisy here.

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
WASHINGTON –The number of major legal errors committed by Bush administration lawyers during the formulation of its early counterterrorism policies was far greater than previously known, according to internal Bush administration documents released for the first time by the Justice Department yesterday.

Those policies were based on at least 10 legal opinions conferring broad powers on the president that the Justice Department later deemed flawed and ordered withdrawn, including several approving the military’s search, detention or trial of civilians in the United States without congressional input, according to the documents.

While the Bush administration had previously acknowledged rescinding two of those memos — authorizing the infliction of pain and suffering on detainees and claiming unquestioned authority to interrogate suspects outside the United States — the government’s eventual repudiation or rewrite of the eight other early legal memos was secret until now.

For Full Story

Read Memos