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Archive for March 19th, 2009

Woman Accused of Killing Pittsburgh FBI Agent Faces More Charges

FBI Agent Sam Hicks

FBI Agent Sam Hicks

Prosecutors are piling up charges against the woman accused of killing FBI agent Sam Hicks. Could there still be more?

By Torten Ove
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PITTSBURGH — An Indiana Township woman charged with killing an FBI agent in November has been charged again in federal court with drug violations and firearms offenses.

Christina Korbe, 40, was already charged with shooting Agent Samuel Hicks on Nov. 19, when he and a team of agents and police officers arrived at her house to serve a warrant on her and her husband, Robert, as part of a drug investigation. In a nine-count superseding indictment filed today, federal prosecutors charged Mrs. Korbe with new drug and gun offenses.

Ms. Korbe is charged with conspiring with others to distribute cocaine from 1990 until the day she was arrested. She is also charged with possession of cocaine base and powder cocaine with intent to distribute on that day.

In addition, the indictment charges her with possession of a weapon during a drug crime and of “aiding and abetting” the possession of that gun by a convicted felon — her husband.

Fed Prosecutors Ask that Judge Balk at Jail in Case of Shortstop Miguel Tejada

Miguel Tejada/webchannel4.com

Miguel Tejada/webchannel4.com

It’s not every day the government recommends probation. In this case, it seems reasonable and it shows some compassion on the part of the government.

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors yesterday told a judge that former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada should be sentenced to probation for lying to Congress about his knowledge of performance-enhancing drug use in baseball.

Tejada, 34, pleaded guilty last month to making a misrepresentation to Congress, admitting that he lied to congressional staffers during an interview in a Baltimore hotel room in 2005 that focused on the prevalence of steroids in the game.

Federal guidelines call for a sentence of probation to six months in jail. Under Tejada’s plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to oppose a sentence at the low end of the guideline range. In recommending a sentence of probation and community service for the Houston Astros infielder, prosecutors wrote in court papers filed yesterday that Tejada has no criminal record, has a steady job and “has expressed appropriate remorse and contrition for this offense.”

For Full Story

Read Government Sentencing Memorandum

“Goodfellas” Mobster is No-Show in Calif Court on Public Drunkenness Charges

goodfellas

By PAUL LAROCCO
The Press-Enterprise
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. –“Henry Hill.”

San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Kyle Brodie matter-of-factly read the name Wednesday in a roll call of small-time suspects: the unlicensed driver; the work-release probationer.

“No answer,” yelled the bailiff.

With that, the mobster-turned-FBI informant — whose life inspired the movie epic “Goodfellas” — was facing two $25,000 arrest warrants.

Once linked to an NCAA point-shaving scandal and a $5 million airport heist, Hill at age 65 is wanted for failing to appear on tickets alleging that he was drunk in public in San Bernardino.

“I would have been asking for his autograph,” said Desiree Gallegos, 27, who was in the courtroom for a suspension of house arrest terms.

Reached by phone later in the day, Hill said he was unaware he needed to be present. He said he had visited the downtown court on Monday to advise the clerks that he would be having hernia surgery later this week and wanted a new date.
For Full Story

Atty. Gen. Holder Says Justice Dept. Won’t Go After Pot Dispensaries

Unlike the Bush administration, A.G. Eric Holder says the Justice Department won’t go after the places that dispense marijuana legally. It makes sense. There’s higher priorities like the Mexican drug wars, which are starting to wreak havoc on our nation.

marijuana-umledu1

By Josh Meyer and Scott Glover
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday that the Justice Department has no plans to prosecute pot dispensaries that are operating legally under state laws in California and a dozen other states — a development that medical marijuana advocates and civil libertarians hailed as a sweeping change in federal drug policy.

In recent months, Obama administration officials have indicated that they planned to take a hands-off approach to such clinics, but Holder’s comments — made at a wide-ranging briefing with reporters — offered the most detailed explanation to date of the changing priorities toward the controversial prosecutions.

The Bush administration targeted medical marijuana distributors even in states that had passed laws allowing use of the drug for medical purposes by cancer patients, those dealing with chronic pain or other serious ailments. Holder said the priority of the new administration is to go after egregious offenders operating in violation of both federal and state law, such as those being used as fronts for drug dealers.

“Those are the organizations, the people, that we will target,” the attorney general said.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-FBI Agent Convicted in Botched Calif. Home Invasion

calif-map

Wednesday was not a banner day for the FBI. First a N.Y. FBI agent was arrested for accessing confidential information and sharing it with an informant. And then this: an ex-FBI agent convicted in a botched home invasion.

By My-Thuan Tran
Los Angeles Times

A former FBI agent who meticulously planned to rob an Orange County residence that he thought was a drug house was convicted in federal court in Santa Ana on Wednesday on charges related to the botched home-invasion robbery.

The “stash house” robbery that lured Vo Duong Tran all the way from New Orleans and for which he was equipped with bulletproof vests, assault rifles and 630 rounds of ammunition was actually nothing more than pure invention by federal agents trying to snare their ex-colleague.

Tran, 41, had conspired with a supposed accomplice to commit armed robbery in Orange County and to develop a crew of criminal associates to commit violent crimes, jurors in the federal case found. The accomplice told him about the Fountain Valley drug house, said to contain $500,000 in cash.

In reality, the accomplice turned out to be an FBI informant who was secretly recording conversations with Tran as part of the sting operation. Prosecutors played the tapes during the four-week trial.

For Full Story

The Joy of the Internet is Causing Big Headaches for the Court System

google

The Internet and the high-tech cell phones may be some of the greatest inventions of our times. But those inventions causing some major headaches in the court system. How can the courts assure these things don’t sabotage our system? Good question.


By JOHN SCHWARTZ
New York Times

Last week, a juror in a big federal drug trial in Florida admitted to the judge that he had been doing research on the case on the Internet, directly violating the judge’s instructions and centuries of legal rules. But when the judge questioned the rest of the jury, he got an even bigger shock.

Eight other jurors had been doing the same thing. The federal judge, William J. Zloch, had no choice but to declare a mistrial, a waste of eight weeks of work by federal prosecutors and defense lawyers.

“We were stunned,” said a defense lawyer, Peter Raben, who was told by the jury that he had been on the verge of winning the case. “It’s the first time modern technology struck us in that fashion, and it hit us right over the head.”

It might be called a Google mistrial. The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges.
For Full Story