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Archive for March 10th, 2010

Congressman John Conyers’ Wife Gets 37 Months in Prison in Bribery Case

Monica Conyers/facebook

Monica Conyers/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, a combative and divisive figure in a town with too little cash and too much crime, was sentenced Wednesday to 37 months in prison in a bribery scandal, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Conyers, the wife of veteran Congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit), was sentenced even though she told the judge she wanted to withdraw her guilty plea, the paper reported.

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn said Conyers’ conduct on the city council “fell woefully short” of expectations for a public servant, the Free Press reported.

In June,  Conyers pleaded guilty to accepting at least $6,000 in bribes for her support of a  $1.2 billion waste disposal contract with Synagro Technologies.

To read more click here.

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Column: After 2 Mistrials Involving Radio Host Hal Turner, It’s Time to Give Up

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As I predicted earlier in the week, a mistrial for the second time was declared Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court in the trial of right wing talk show host Harold Turner, who was accused of threatening the lives of three Court of Appeals judges in Chicago by posting their photos on the Internet and writing that they were “worthy of death”.

The New York Times reported that the jurors, after three days of deliberations, told the judge in the late afternoon that they were hopelessly deadlocked.

“Unfortunately positions have solidified and folks have stated they will not change their minds, no matter how much longer we continue,” they wrote in a note presented to the court, the Times reported.  The first trial ended in a mistrial in December.

Hal Turner/msnbc photo

Hal Turner/msnbc photo

The case was flawed from the outset. Why?

The problem was that Turner had been an FBI informant. And in the second trial he testified that back in 2005 the FBI asked him to take his hateful rhetoric up a notch to help them solve a case involving the murder of a Chicago federal judge’s family members.

The FBI apparently thought the killer might be a white supremacist,  Turner’s target audience. Perhaps Turner might be able to draw the person out.

So Turner said he obliged and said  at the time the judge was “worthy of death”. Last summer, he posted on the Internet the photos of three Chicago federal judges who upheld a gun ban and wrote that  they too were “worthy of death”.

It’s not hard to imagine that at least one juror, if not more,  may have saw little distinction between the two incidents and had a difficult time convicting.

The Times reported that a new trial date has been set for April 12.

The Times wrote that lead prosecutor  William Hogan declined to say whether there would be a third trial.

“We’re going to review it,’ he said, according to the Times. “I’d say it’s highly likely.”

Frankly, it would be a good idea to let this one go and chalk it up to a lesson learned.  It’s really not a question at this point as to whether Turner committed a crime.  The answer is Yes.  It’s not a question of whether he’s a racist. He is.

It’s really an issue of who is holding what cards. And frankly, the government’s cards don’t look so hot.  So it would bode well for the prosecution to give up on this one.  Then again, I could be wrong.

FBI Busts Italian Man in Miami Beach With Suspected Ties to Sicilian Mafia

miami beachBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI on Wednesday arrested an Italian man in Miami Beach who’s suspected of helping a Sicilian Mafia family expand operations in the U.S., the Miami Herald reported.

Agents arrested Roberto Settineri as part of a multi-year international probe into his criminal ties to the Cosa Nostra in Italy, the Gambino crime family and three other suspects, the Herald reported.

To read more click here.

Charges Dropped Against FBI Police Officer Accused of Spying on Teens Undressing at W. Va. Mall

west virginiaBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Charges have been dropped against a uniformed FBI police officer who was accused of watching teen girls try on prom gowns  in a dressing room during a fashion show at a West Virginia mall last year, WBOY TV reported Tuesday.

A Marion County magistrate judge last December found FBI police officer Charles Hommema  guilty of criminal invasion of privacy and not guilty of conspiracy, the tv station reported.

Authorities had charged Hommema and fellow FBI police officer Garry Sutton Jr. were working in an FBI satellite control room at the Middletown Mall in Fairmont, W. Va.,  when they positioned a camera on temporary changing rooms and zoomed in for at least 90 minutes on girls dressing for the Cinderella Project fashion show.

Sutton pleaded guilty to conspiracy, but Hommema appealed his conviction.

The station reported that the prosecution decided there was insufficient evidence to retry him.

Anthrax Suspect’s Atty. Doubts FBI Case and Says “I Never Had a Client Commit Suicide – It’s a Terrible Experience”

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

Anthrax Suspect Bruce Ivins

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — Just weeks before government scientist Bruce Ivins’ suicide, a grand jury was convening on the third floor of the federal courthouse, near the U.S. Capitol, looking into the 2001 anthrax murders. Things weren’t looking good for Ivins, the only suspect in the case.

It was July 2008. His attorney, Paul F. Kemp, according to court documents reviewed by AOL News, had just filed court papers to become a death-penalty-certified attorney in the case — a little-known fact. And the chief U.S. District judge in Washington, Royce C. Lamberth, had approved the request.

“I thought this was a precaution to take. My job is to anticipate anything,” Kemp said.

Paul F. Kemp, an attorney for Dr. Bruce E. Ivins, linked to the deadly anthrax mailings of 2001, said he doesn’t think the case should be closed

He said he had told Ivins the investigation could turn into a death-penalty case. “At some point in the near future I felt the government was probably going to the grand jury and would issue an indictment.”

What Kemp — and the government as well — didn’t anticipate was the unthinkable. On July 27, Ivins, 62, loaded up on Tylenol with codeine in a suicide bid. Two days later, he died.

“I was disturbed over it,” Kemp said in an interview this week . “I never had a client commit suicide. It’s a terrible experience. I’m much more distraught for his family.”

To read more click here

Feds Charge Colombo Crime Family Members in Kickback Scheme at Ground Zero

mafia33By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn continues to chip away at the Colombo crime family.

On Tuesday, the office announced the indictment of eight people tied to the notorious crime family on charges including fraud and extortion linked to the World Trade Center.

The indictment alleges that the Colombo-controlled trucking company All Around Trucking paid kickbacks to win a subcontract with a demolition company working at Ground Zero.

Authorities also alleged that the defendants threatened employees with the demolition company when it failed to pay on time.

Consensual recordings captured one of the defendants saying that the demolition company employees were ” “shakin’ in their boots over us” when threats were made, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“La Cosa Nostra continues to profit illegally in numerous sectors of our economy, allegedly including the World Trade Center construction site,” U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell said in a statement. “Our office is dedicated to eliminating these crime families, which take a significant economic toll.” U.S. Attorney Campbell praised the outstanding investigative efforts by special agents of the FBI and DOL/OIG.

The defendants included Theodore Persico, Jr., Michael Persico, Thomas Petrizzo, Edward Garofalo, Jr., James Bombino, Louis Romeo, Alicia Dimichelle and Mike LNU.

Read Press Release

Retired FBI Agent Pleads in Las Vegas to Income Tax Evasion

las-vegas-mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 67-year-old retired FBI agent in Nevada has pleaded guilty to evading about $109,000 in income taxes, authorities said.

Jan Lindsey of Henderson, Nevada, pleaded guilty Friday in Las Vegas to one count of felony tax evasion. Sentencing is set for July 9.

The 26-year-veteran of the FBI retired in 1995 and then went on to work for the next 10 years as a contractor for the FBI performing background investigations, authorities said.

Authorities charged that he failed to timely file or pay federal income tax from 1999 to 2006 and “committed various acts that were designed to hide his income and assets from the IRS, including placing assets in nominee names, presenting or recording fraudulent documents in an attempt to obtain lien and levy releases on his property, filing false returns after liabilities were assessed in an attempt to reduce or eliminate his unpaid liability, and presenting frivolous financial or negotiable instruments to the Department of the Treasury in claimed payment of his outstanding tax liability.”

Read Plea Agreement

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Homeland Chief Napolitano Says Austin Suicide Pilot Was “Lone Wolf”

Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano echoed what has been said pretty much all along: Suicide pilot Joseph Stack, 53, who crashed his plane into the IRS building in Austin last month was not a domestic terrorist but simply someone carrying out a personal agenda.

Napolitano made those remarks Tuesday in a radio interview on WAMU-FM’s “Diane Rehm Show”, according to a report in the Washington Post.

“To our belief, he was a lone wolf,” Napolitano said. “He used a terrorist tactic, but an individual who uses a terrorist tactic doesn’t necessarily mean they are part of an organized group attempting an attack on the United States.”

To read more click here.