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Archive for August 6th, 2009

Jury that Convicted Jefferson Says He Should Forfeit $470,000

William Jefferson was already in financial straights before this. He bounced plenty checks and ran up credit cards. Now he and his family face some tough times ahead with the jury’s latest finding.

money-photo

By Bruce Alpert and Jonathan Tilove
New Orleans Times-Picayune

William Jefferson, the former Democratic congressman convicted of 11 of 16 counts of corruption, can be held liable to forfeit more than $470,000 in bribe money paid to sham companies under his family’s control, a jury ruled Thursday, one day after convicting him.

The jury also found that ANJ Group, one of those front companies controlled by Jefferson’s wife, Andrea, and their five daughters, could be required to surrender millions of shares of stock in a Kentucky technology company and a Nigerian telecommunications venture that were at the center of the FBI investigation into Jefferson and are now presumably worthless.

The jury’s forfeiture verdict establishes which assets controlled by the defendant amount to ill-gotten gains, and sets an upper limit on how much the government may demand that he forfeit.

The precise determination of how much Jefferson owes and how it would exacted is left to the judge, T.S. Ellis III, who could make a determination any time up to and including at Jefferson’s sentencing, which is set for Oct. 30.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Head of FBI in Mobile, Ala. Is Stepping Down Under a Cloud

FBI Agent Debra Mack
FBI Agent Debra Mack

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Debra Mack, the first African American female  to head the FBI Mobile, Ala., office, is stepping down under a cloud of controversy.

WKRG tv reports that  Mack had been the subject of a two-year internal investigation involving a high ranking local politician.

A source tells ticklethewire.com that FBI agents in the Mobile division were unhappy with her leadership and management style  for a long time. In recent times, the FBI conducted a surprise inspection of the bureau and agents complained to inspectors about Mack.

Eventually, the tv station reports that Mack, a 26-year veteran of the FBI, was offered a choice: Become an FBI agent in Birmingham, which would have been a big demotion, or retire.

Angela Tobon, a spokeswoman for the FBI Mobile office, said Mack announced to staff earlier this week that she was retiring at the end of the month. She had headed up the FBI office since February 2005.

“She just said it was time to retire,” Tobon said. She declined to comment on reports of an internal probe or the FBI inspection.

For the past 60 days, Mack has been working in Washington as a deputy assistant director in the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence, Tobon said.

She said Mack will go on vacation and contemplate her future.

John Edwards’ Ex-Mistress Appears Before North Carolina Grand Jury

It has come down to this. John Edwards, once a viable candidate for president has fallen very far from grace. Now he’s got his former mistress going before a grand jury investigating his campaign finances. Maybe it’s just bad karma to get a $400 haircut during a campaign where you voice concern about poverty.

John Edwards

John Edwards

By ALYSIA PATTERSON
Associated Press Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. — The former mistress of John Edwards arrived at a federal courthouse in Raleigh where a grand jury was meeting Thursday – an appearance that comes as federal investigators examine the two-time presidential candidate’s finances.

Rielle Hunter walked into the building through a back entrance and holding a young child.

Edwards adamantly denied during his confessional interview with ABC News last summer that he had fathered a child with Hunter, and he welcomed a paternity test. His wife, Elizabeth, has said while promoting her book that she doesn’t know if her husband is the father.

For Full Story

Book Gives Behind the Scenes Glimpse of U.S. Secret Service

Ronald Kessler has written an interesting book on the Secret Service. Inside the agency, some people aren’t very happy about it and have expressed disappointment that some former agents have opened up and talked. The following is an excerpt of the book “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect” (Crown Publishing Group). It was printed in Newsmax Magazine.

secret-service-book

By Ronald Kessler

All eyes in the crowd were on the new president and first lady as they smiled and waved and held hands, celebrating the moment. But the men and women who walked along Pennsylvania Avenue with them never looked at the couple, only into the crowd.

The temperature was twenty- eight degrees, but the Secret Service agents’ suit jackets were open, hands held free in front of the chest, just in case they had to reach for their SIG Sauer P229 pistols. On television as the motorcade proceeded, the world could sometimes catch a glimpse of a man’s silhouette on top of a building, a countersniper poised and watching. But that was just a hint of the massive security precautions that had been planned in secret for months.

The Secret Service scripted where Barack and Michelle Obama could step out of “the Beast,” as the presidential limousine is called. At those points, counterassault teams stood ready, armed with fully automatic Stoner SR- 16 rifles and flash bang grenades for diversionary tactics.

If they spotted any hint of a threat, the grim- faced agents never betrayed it. It is the same when they see what goes on behind the scenes. Because Secret Service agents are sworn to secrecy, voters rarely know what their presidents, vice presidents, presidential candidates, and Cabinet officers are really like. If they did, says a former Secret Service agent, “They would scream.”

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Woman Who Tried Shooting Pres. Ford — Squeaky Fromme — Will Get Paroled

Few have forgotten her attempt on President Ford’s life 34 years ago. And few have forgotten that name “Squeaky”. Maybe she’ll get a new nickname once she’s on the outside.

Pres. Ford
Pres. Ford

Demian Bulwa and John Koopman
San Francisco Chronicle

Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, the waif-like Charles Manson follower who tried to shoot President Gerald Ford outside the Capitol in Sacramento in 1975, will be released from prison as early as Aug. 14, authorities said Wednesday.
Images

Fromme, now 60, has been serving a life sentence in Texas. A federal parole board granted her parole last year, but her release was delayed because she got extra time after trying to escape from a West Virginia facility in 1987.

Traci Billingsley, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, said Fromme remains at a prison for women with special medical or mental health needs in Fort Worth, Texas. Billingsley said her agency had the authority to release Fromme Aug. 14, 15 or 16. She said she did not have any information about Fromme’s plans.

For Full Story

A 1987 Interview With Squeaky Fromme

Ex-Detroit Fed Prosecutor Wants Former Co-Worker To Give Up His Emails

Ex-Prosecutor Richard Convertino continues to stir the mud in the Detroit U.S. Attorney’s Office where he had become a divisive figure.

Ex-Prosecutor Convertino
Ex-Prosecutor Convertino

By Paul Egan
Detroit News
DETROIT — A federal prosecutor identified as a possible source of a newspaper leak has gone to court to try to stop Richard Convertino from reading e-mails he exchanged with his personal attorney on his Justice Department computer.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel says the e-mails – which former prosecutor Convertino is seeking in connection with his federal lawsuit against the Justice Department – are protected by attorney-client privilege.

But Convertino’s attorney, Stephen Kohn, says Tukel gave up confidentiality when he communicated with his lawyer on a taxpayer funded computer.

It’s the latest wrinkle in the battle between Convertino and the Justice Department he once served. Convertino alleges his Privacy Act rights were breached and wants to know who leaked information to Detroit Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter for a January 2004 article about an internal investigation into Convertino’s conduct.

Once a rising star in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Convertino resigned amid misconduct allegations related to a high-profile 2003 terrorism trial.

Terror convictions Convertino won were later overturned at the request of the Justice Department. In 2006, Convertino was indicted, accused of concealing helpful evidence from defense lawyers and allowing false testimony. But a jury acquitted him of all charges.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Black Guerilla Family Gang Put on Legit Fronts; Feds Not Buying It

Not everyone in this dangerous gang had the public profile of a criminal. In fact, one ran a car detail shop. Another was an administrator for a management firm. Another was a mortgage broker and supposedly a law student. Reporter Van Smith of the Baltimore City Paper details how some gang members sought legitimacy in society, while in reality, the government said they were not so legit.

Some Suspected Members of the Black Guerilla Gang/photo Baltimore City Paper
Some Suspected Members of the Black Guerilla Gang including Avon Freeman (top left) /photo Baltimore City Paper

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper
BALTIMORE — “I’m a responsible adult,” 41-year-old Avon Freeman says to Baltimore U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge James Bredar.

The gold on his teeth glimmers as he speaks, his weak chin holding up a soul patch. He’s a two-time drug felon facing a new federal drug indictment, brought by a grand jury in April as part of the two conspiracy cases conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Maryland involving the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) prison gang (“Guerrilla Warfare,” Mobtown Beat, April 22).

Now it’s July 27, and Freeman, standing tall in his maroon prison jumpsuit, believes himself to be a safe bet for release. He’s being detained, pending an as-yet unscheduled trial, at downtown Baltimore’s Supermax prison facility, where he says he fears for his safety.

For Full Story

Commentary: There’s No Other Way to Say It: Jefferson Was a Crook

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Like a run of the mill drug dealer, he hid cash in the freezer.

Like a run of the mill drug dealer, he used cryptic code words in conversations. In one instance, he used the words “African Art” when referring to a cash bribe to an African official.

Like a run of the mill drug dealer, he was paranoid about the FBI, and said so much during a meeting with rich Virginia investor/FBI informant Lori Mody, who just happened to be wearing an FBI wire.

Still, William J. Jefferson , a 9-term Congressman, was anything but a run of the mill criminal. He had a law degree from Harvard. He had an advanced tax degree from Georgetown . He had a sophisticated wife and well educated daughters. He was intelligent. Low key. He was thoughtful .

And he was more than just another Congressman to many of his constituents.

He was the first African American Congressman to be elected in Louisiana since Reconstruction.

“Since he’s been in office, he’s one of the few black officials who has been able to get in office and do something for the people,” a 58-year man old man told me down in New Orleans during Jefferson’s successful re-election campaign in 2006. Jefferson lost two years later.

On Wednesday, Jefferson was convicted of 11 of 16 counts of public corruption. The case centered on allegations that Jefferson took bribes in exchange for using his Congressional influence to promote businesses in Africa he or his family members had a hidden interest in.

He’ll be sentenced in October and you can be sure he’ll get some serious prison time. At 62, whatever it is, it’s likely to amount to a life sentence — or close to one.

Now, instead of being a stand up politician, instead of being someone people could rely on, Jefferson becomes another cliché in this town, a crooked politician, who came with ideals, who left with a criminal record — someone few outside his district knew of — that is until the FBI raided his home on Capitol Hill on Aug. 3, 2005, and found $90,000 in FBI marked bills that the rich Virginia woman/FBI informant Lori Mody gave him.

Read more »