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Archive for April 2nd, 2009

Ex-Texas Border Patrol Agent Gets 14 Years for Helping Drug Smugglers

Border PatrolBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former Border Patrol agent, who showed drug traffickers how to smuggle 20 kilos of cocaine through Zapata County, Tex.,  was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in prison.

Authorities say Leon Morales, 30, of Zapata County, showed traffickers how to avoid sensors and drew a map of the best routes to smuggle the drugs.

Federal authorities said he also bragged that he could get other Border Patrol agents out of the area.

Ohio Men Who Pumped Bullets in Car Say They Didn’t Know FBI Agent Was Inside

It’s hardly much of an excuse when you say I pumped a car full of bullets but didn’t realize an FBI agent was inside.

cincinnati
By Dan Horn
Cincinnati Enquirer
CINCINNATI — The men accused of firing two dozen shots at a car in College Hill last week didn’t know the man sitting inside was an FBI agent.

Authorities say the men mistook the agent’s black Impala for a car driven by a thief who had stolen money from one of them. As soon as they spotted the Impala, authorities say, two of the men opened fire with a handgun and an automatic rifle, riddling the car with bullets but missing the agent.

They didn’t find out they shot at the wrong guy until police arrested them hours later.

The news got worse when they learned their target was a federal agent, a detail that could add years to their potential prison sentences.

“It’s a miracle the agent wasn’t hit,” said FBI spokesman Mike Brooks.

For Full Story

Ex-Gov Blagojevich and His Brother and Four Others Indicted in Chicago

Ex-Gov. Blagojevich

Ex-Gov. Blagojevich

The scandal is only getting bigger. All it will take is for some of the defendants to start talking and it will grow even more. Expect the ex-Gov to hit the airwaves denying guilt.

BY NATASHA KORECKI, CHRIS FUSCO AND STEVE WARMBIR
Chicago Sun-Times
CHICAGO — A federal grand jury today has lodged sweeping corruption charges against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, his brother, Robert, two former top aides, as well as a prominent Downstate businessman.

The 19-count indictment charges that corruption started under the former governor’s reign almost as soon as he was elected office in 2002.

Blagojevich himself was charged in 16 felony counts including racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud, extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and making false statements.

Also charged as co-defendants were Alonzo Monk, Blagojevich’s former chief of staff; John Harris, his most recent chief of staff who is expected to be a witness in the case; chief Blagojevich fundraiser Christopher G. Kelly; and Springfield powerbroker William F. Cellini.

The 75-page indictment makes numerous references to the former governor’s wife, Patti Blagojevich, who got thousands of dollars from Blagojevich fund-raiser Tony Rezko, who was convicted on public corruption charges last year. She has not, however, been charged with any crimes.

“I’m saddened and hurt but I am not surprised by the indictment,” former Gov. Blagojevich said in a statement. “I am innocent. I now will fight in the courts to clear my name. I would ask the good people of Illinois to wait for the trial and afford me the presumption of innocence that they would give to all their friends and neighbors.”

For Full Story

Read Indictment

Ex-Gov Rod Blagojevich Expected to be Indicted Today

Ex-Gov. Blagojevich in happier times

Ex-Gov. Blagojevich in happier times

CHICAGO — The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the U.S. Attorney’s office will announce today the indictment of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald’s office is expected to issue a press release and a court filing late this afternoon. The office  has only said the matter involved a significant criminal matter.

Blagojevich, 52, was arrested in December on public corruption charges centering on a variety of deals including the filling of Pres. Obama’s senate seat. The indictment is the next step in the criminal matter.
Allan Lengel

ATF Busts Father and Son in N.Y. in Untaxed Cigarette Scheme

marlboro2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sure, the beautiful bonding between father and son is admirable. But there are limits to how admirable it is when it involves the world of crime.

ATF agents on Wednesday busted Guang Ming Wang, 58, and his son Feishan Wang, 30, in Flushing, N.Y., following a nine-month undercover investigation in which the men allegedly bought $846,000 in untaxed cigarettes and sold agents 103,950 N.Y. State/City tax stamps for the cigarettes for $4,000. The stamps are put on packs of cigarette to make them look legit.

The arrest highlighted the growing problem with criminals and store owners buying and selling untaxed cigarettes in high-taxed cigarette states like N.Y.

In recent years terrorist organizations and organized crime have gotten into the high-profit black market.Store owners who buy the untaxed cigarettes make far greater profits than the honest merchants who pay much more for taxed smokes.

The ATF said the two men allegedly conspired to cheat the state of $1.8 million in tax revenue.

“In these hard economic times, selling untaxed cigarettes are putting our law abiding merchants at a hugh disadvantage,” said Ronald B. Turk, head of the ATF in New York said in a prepared statement. “The legal tax revenue collected on tobacco products goes towards improving our schools, our highways and our quality of living.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Investigating Assessor’s Letter in Illinois (Chicago Tribune)

War on Drugs Seems Lost (Miami Herald Columnist)

Mistrial for Ex-Philly Cop (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Alaskans Have Mixed Reaction to ex-Sen. Ted Stevens Case (AP)

Man Arrested in Fla. for Stealing FBI Car

Some how stealing an FBI car doesn’t seem like the wisest career path.

 

tampa1
By TBO.com
TAMPA – An unmarked FBI car has been found, and a Tampa man has been arrested and charged with the theft.

The 2006 silver Pontiac Grand Prix was stolen about 1:30 p.m. from the Century Buick Pontiac GMC dealership at 3308 W. Hillsborough Ave.

According to Tampa police, a mechanic was working on the car when he noticed a man loitering nearby. A short time later, when his attention was diverted, the man stole the car, police said.

Tampa police Cpl. Harold McCray was on patrol when he spotted the car being driven recklessly near North 26th Street and East Linebaugh Avenue at 11:17 p.m. Tuesday. It looked similar to the description he had heard of the stolen FBI vehicle, so he ran the Florida tag: X74IVY.

The Grand Prix turned onto the North 26th Street, and he followed it.

Soon after, the vehicle’s tag information came back as belonging to the FBI and having been stolen.

For Full Story

TSA Still Waiting For Collective Bargaining

Morale is low, attrition is high. It’s clear collective bargaining would help improve things over at the Transportation Security Administration, which overseas the security of our airports. The Obama administration needs to address this sooner than later. 

By Steve Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON tsa— Border Patrol agents can do it. So can federal protective officers and U.S. Capitol Police. But Transportation Security Administration officers, who screen passengers at airports across the country, are not allowed to engage in collective bargaining.

The unions representing TSA employees say that one result is the agency has the lowest morale and highest attrition rate of all federal agencies, and that they are eager to see change.

They have the backing of President Obama, who promised on the campaign trail that collective bargaining and workplace protections “will be a priority” for his administration. “It is unacceptable for TSOs to work under unfair rules and without workplace protections — this makes it more difficult for them to perform their jobs,” Obama wrote in a letter to the American Federation of Government Employees in October. “Since 2001, TSA has had the unfettered ability to deny its workforce even the most basic labor rights and protections.”

So far, no changes have been made. The legislation that established the agency after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, states that the decision on whether to allow collective bargaining rests with the TSA administrator.

An Ex-Lobbyist and the Virginia Gov’s Brother-in-Law are Among Candidates for U.S. Atty. in Va.

It’s an interesting mix of candidates for the U.S. Atty. post  in Virginia. The question is whether President Obama wants to deal with the possible backlash of appointing an ex-lobbyist or the Virginia governor’s brother-in-law.  The latter might look just a little too much like political cronyism even if he is well qualified.  Va. Gov. Tim Kane’s name surfaced during the campaign as a possible vice presidential candidate and was a big booster of Obama and helped Virginia turn into a blue state, the first time since Lyndon Johnson.

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A former corporate lobbyist and the brother-in-law of Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine are among four candidates recommended by Virginia’s U.S. senators for U.S. attorney in Alexandria, one of the nation’s most prominent law-enforcement posts, officials said yesterday.

Ex-Lobbyist Neil MacBride

Ex-Lobbyist Neil MacBride

Neil MacBride, a former prosecutor and chief counsel to Vice President Biden who lobbied federal officials as recently as mid-2007, and Dwight C. Holton, a federal prosecutor in Oregon and the brother of Kaine’s wife, are on the list of names sent to the White House by Sens. James Webb (D) and Mark Warner (D). The list also includes Erik R. Barnett, a federal prosecutor in Alexandria who heads the narcotics unit, and Robert P. Crouch Jr., a former U.S. attorney in Roanoke.

The Alexandria job has grown increasingly visible in recent years as the U.S. attorney has handled high-profile terrorism and national security cases. Recommendations from home-state senators are traditionally key to the appointment.

For Full Story