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Archive for May, 2009

How a Swaggering Ex-Federal Prosecutor Paul Bergrin, Son of a Cop, Allegedly Went Bad

Paul Bergrin/photo News12 New Jersey

Paul Bergrin/photo News12 New Jersey

This is a fascinating story that has all the markings of great movie. But federal authorities don’t see it as entertaining, nor amusing.

By Joe Ryan
Newark Star-Ledger
NEWARK — Last August, authorities say, Paul Bergrin traveled from Newark to Chicago hoping to meet a hit man.

Bergrin, who investigators describe as a go-to lawyer for Newark street gangs, was working on the case of an alleged Monmouth County cocaine kingpin. Authorities say the attorney wanted someone in Chicago to silence a potential witness.

That would-be triggerman, however, wound up working on a different case. He was an informant for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. And his case was against Bergrin.

After years of investigating, the DEA and the FBI arrested the 53-year-old lawyer May 20 on charges of running a wide-ranging criminal operation that included racketeering, mortgage fraud and employing nefarious and sometimes murderous tactics to shield his clients from prosecution.

For Full Story

Read Paul Bergrin Indictment

Secret Service: What it Takes to Protect the President

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Lawyers for Arizona Sheriff Insist Homeland and Justice Probes Politically Motivated

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Does the sheriff have a legit beef or is he just trying to create a smoke screen to cover up his wrongdoings? That is the question.

By Carrie Johnson and Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers

The lawyers representing a controversial Arizona sheriff who is under investigation for his treatment of Latino residents accused officials in the Justice and Homeland Security departments yesterday of political motivations in pursuing probes against their client.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. Arpaio and his office, which have drawn widespread attention for an unorthodox approach to crime and punishment, are the focus of three federal investigations into whether they violated federal rules or civil rights laws in pursuing illegal immigrants.

For Full Story

Obama Admin Insists It Has No Obligation to Provide Secret Info in Wiretap Case

top-secretThe Obama administration, which has been advocating transparency in general, is advocating secrecy in this instance. Let’s see what happens here.

By The Associated Press
Washington – The Obama administration insists it has no obligation to provide access to a top secret document in a wiretapping case, setting up a showdown next week with the judge who ordered it released.

Justice Department lawyers, in a response filed Friday with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, also argued that Judge Vaughn Walker had no cause to penalize the government for its refusal to turn over the document.

Walker on May 22 threatened to punish the administration for withholding the document, which he ordered given to lawyers suing the government over its warrantless wiretapping program.

For Full Story

President Obama to Appoint Cybersecurity Czar

computer1

From the Pentagon and utility companies to Obama’s own campaign headquarters, hackers have been making Swiss cheese out of our cyber-security. Appointing a leader to guard against this new threat to our nation will hopefully lead to standardization of our nation’s digital defenses and better ways to keep our nation’s secrets safe.

CNN
WASHINGTON – President Obama announced Friday he is creating the post of cyber security coordinator to oversee “a new comprehensive approach to securing America’s digital infrastructure.”

The president said he will personally select the person who takes on that post and “will depend on this official” in all matters related to online security.

Tackling the economic crisis cannot be done without ensuring the safety of online activities, Obama said.

“I know how it feels” to have online privacy violated, the president said.

He referred to last year’s hacking of computers at his campaign headquarters. The hackers did not access databases containing information about campaign donors, but did gain access to policy position papers and travel plans, Obama said.

For Full Story

Crime: The Good and Bad About Social Networking Sites Like Facebook and MySpace

facebook1Bank Robber Discovers It’s Not A Good Idea To Blog Everything You Do

By Brian Schott
ticklethewire.com
A man who robbed a South Carolina bank and then blogged about it on MySpace pleaded guilty Thursday  to the crime in a South Carolina federal court.

On Jan. 20, Joseph Wade Northington, 27, of Roanoke, Va., robbed the Security Federal Bank in North Augusta, S.C., and made off with nearly $4,000, according to the FBI.

After suveillance photos aired on television, a tipster called authorities to say the robber was Northington, the FBI said.

Agents then tracked him down in Virginia.

Of course, the prosecution’s job was made a little easier by the fact Northington had posted on social networking site MySpace, for all to see:“On tha run for robbin a bank Love all of yall.”

He faces a maximum fine of $250,000 and a prison sentence of seven years to life.

Fake Facebook Profile Leads to Child Porn Charges

A Kansas man is charged with creating a fake Facebook account to solicit pictures of underage children, according to a federal indictment announced last week.

Michael Cowley, 38, posed as a 19-year-old woman on the social networking site in order to entice the victims – including a 13-year-old boy – into sending him illicit images, according to a Department of Justice press release. He could face over 30 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines if convicted on all counts.

Reputed Chicago Mob boss Michael “The Large Guy” Sarno, a Cop and 5 Others Indicted

chicagomap

MIKE ROBINSON
Associated Press
CHICAGO – A reputed mob boss, a police officer and five other men were charged Thursday in a sweeping racketeering indictment that alleges eight years of armed robberies, burglaries, jewel thefts and arson based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Michael “The Large Guy” Sarno, 51, of Westchester allegedly masterminded much of the group’s illegal activity, including a February 2003 pipe-bomb explosion that wrecked the storefront offices of a company distributing video poker machines.

Prosecutors say the bombing was a message from organized crime to stop intruding on its $13-million-a-year video poker gambling business.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Justice Department Spars With Washington Times Over Black Panther Report

black-panther

Interesting to see the Democratic administration sparring with the conservative media voice in town. This is not likely to be the last time.

By Mary Jacoby
Main Justice

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice is disputing a Washington Times report today claiming that Obama administration political appointees overruled career Civil Rights Division attorneys in dismissing a voter-intimidation lawsuit against members of the militant Black Panthers. In an editorial, the Times expressed dismay the story hadn’t been “front-page news.”

In a statement issued by Civil Rights Division spokesman Alejandro Miyar, the DOJ said:

Contrary to the report in the Washington Times, a career attorney in the Civil Rights Division made the final decision to dismiss charges against three of the defendants in this case following a thorough review that determined the facts and the law did not support pursuing the claims in this case

For Full Story

Another Story: FBI Attacks New York Post for Story on Cyber Virus Attack on FBI Computers  (FBI Press Release)