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Archive for April 20th, 2010

Senior ICE Attorney Convicted of Taking Bribes: Caught in FBI Sting

iceBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A senior attorney with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was convicted Tuesday in Los Angeles  federal court of  taking a series of bribes from immigrants seeking documentation to remain in the U.S., the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

ICE Assistant Chief Counsel Constantine Peter Kallas, 39, of Alta Loma, Calif. was convicted following a three week trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“Mr. Kallas was a corrupt government official who abused his position of trust to line his own pockets,” U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. said in a statement.

Authorities said Kallen has been in federal prison since August 2008, about two months after he was busted in an FBI  sting and videotaped at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland, Calif. “where he and his wife accepted a bribe from an immigrant”, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

He accepted a series of bribes, some as high as $20,000, authorities said.

Authorities said court documents show that besides Kallas’ salary,  the couple had deposited $950,000 in their bank accounts since 2000.

A search of their home turned up more than $177,0000 in cash, authorities said.

Actor Michael Douglas’ Son Cameron Gets 5 Year Sentence in DEA Bust

Kirk Douglas letter to judge/ticklethewire.com photo

Kirk Douglas letter to judge/ticklethewire.com photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Actor Michael Douglas’ son Cameron, who pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, got a five year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine in New York federal court on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. District Judge Richard told the 31-year-old Douglas that this was his “last chance to make it.” Douglas apologized for his crime during the sentencing which was attended by his father, AP reported.

Read more »

NY Feds Crackdown on Gambino Crime Family: Indict 14

NY FBI Agents Involved in the Mob Arrests/photo by Richard Kolko
NY FBI Agents Involved in the Mob Arrests/photo by Richard Kolko

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

The New York feds came crashing down on the Gambino crime family Tuesday, indicting 14 members and associates — including one of the top bosses — on charges ranging from murder, extortion and narcotics trafficking to tampering with the 1992 jury of then-boss John Gotti.

The 23-count indictment alleges certain defendants killed four people, two of whom were cooperating with the feds; extorted money from the building, home-heating oil and financial services industries; defrauded high-end New York restaurants; and used baseball bats to beat shakedown victims.

All but one of the 14 defendants — Steve Maiurro — are in custody. Among them is a woman, Suzanne Porcelli, who was charged with running a prostitution ring and the sex trafficking of a minor.

“As today’s case demonstrates, the Mafia is not dead — it is alive and kicking,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in statement. “Modern mobsters may be less colorful, less flamboyant and less glamorous than some of their predecessors, but they are still terrorizing businesses, using baseball bats and putting people in the hospital.

“Today the Gambino family has lost one of its leaders,” he added, “and many of its rising stars have now fallen.”

Central to the indictment is Daniel Marino, who authorities described as one of three bosses who run the Gambino crime family, which has more than 200 “made” members and hundreds of associates.

To read more click here.

FBI File on Holocaust Museum Shooter Reveals 1963 Incident

James von Brunn/facebook photo

James von Brunn/facebook photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON –– It’s not particularly shocking. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that the FBI had a file on a 1963 incident involving James von Brunn, the man who killed a Holocaust museum guard in Washington  last June 10, according to the Associated Press.

Von Brunn, 88, died in January before he could go to trial.

The AP reports that it obtained FBI files under the Freedom of Information Act for von Brunn,who came to the FBI’s attention over a death threat in 1963 over a business dispute.

AP reported that a Greensboro, N.C. company official  told the FBI that von Brunn called  and threatened to kill him over not getting paid. The wire service reported that von Brunn admitted making the call, but denied threatening the person’s life. He was never prosecuted.

Chicago Prosecutors Fear Ex-Gov. Blago’s Lawyers Will Try for “Jury Nullification”

jury boxBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Chicago fed prosecutors in the upcoming political corruption trial of ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich are worried defense attorneys might go for “jury nullification” and ask jurors to ignore the facts of the case and acquit.

“The government respectfully moves this Court to preclude the defendants from arguing, or otherwise presenting evidence or pursuing lines of inquiry to illicit, jury nullification,” the government wrote in a motion filed Monday.

The motion anticipates a number of arguments the defense may present to jurors to get  jury nullification including “politics as usual”.

“The defendant may well suggest that the law is unfair or burdensome because their conduct is simply consistent with the way the political system is set up,” the motion states. “Likewise, the defendant may argue that their conduct is simply what all politicians do and, to the extent their conduct violates the law, the the law is unrealistic or unfair.”

“Such argument, which concedes the conduct but simply suggests to the jury that even if such conduct is technically illegal it is proper, necessary, or simply the way of life in politics, seeks jury nullification and should be barred.”

Read Govt. Motion on Jury Nullification

Blago Blasts Prosecutors and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald

15 Years Later: Brother of Oklahoma Bomber Keeps Distance From Limelight

James Nichols/cbc photo

James Nichols/cbc photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOl News

Fifteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing, James Nichols — whose younger brother Terry was convicted in the case — isn’t really talking, except to say he’s still an organic farmer in Michigan.

“I’m not commenting unless you’ve got a big checkbook,” Nichols told AOL News in a phone interview.

Normally, a 15-year milestone of any event — as opposed to 10 years or 25 years — would pass with little fanfare. But recent events have made this one a little different.

Just a few weeks ago, federal agents busted up a Michigan-based Christian militia known as the Hutaree that was accused of plotting to kill law enforcement officers. The arrests triggered chatter on the Sunday talk shows about militias, the potential dangers some might pose and, perhaps inevitably, the Oklahoma City bombing.

Nichols has no ties to the Hutaree, or to any other militia, for that matter. But 15 years ago he found himself in the thick of something like the Hutaree case — only far, far bigger.

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killed 168 people and sent a shock wave of vulnerability across the nation. Within 90 minutes of the blast, an Oklahoma state trooper stopped a man named Timothy McVeigh for driving his yellow 1977 Mercury Marquis without a license plate, and subsequently arrested him for possession of a 9 mm Glock. McVeigh was quickly linked to the bombing, as was his Army buddy Terry Nichols, who soon surrendered to authorities.

Two days later, an army of FBI and ATF agents raided James Nichols’ farm in Decker, Mich., a small farming community about two hours north of Detroit. Terry Nichols and McVeigh had spent time on the farm, and McVeigh listed it as his home address when he checked into the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Kan., right before the bombing.

During the raid on the Decker farm, FBI agents arrested James Nichols on a material witness warrant and soon charged him with illegally possessing unregistered explosives on his farm.

James Nichols, who would contend the explosive materials were for farm use, was held in prison for about a month before he was released. The charge was eventually dropped, and authorities — certainly not for lack of trying — failed to find any evidence linking him to the Oklahoma City bombing.

Most of the world knows what became of McVeigh and Terry Nichols since that time. Both men were convicted of the crime; McVeigh was executed in 2001 by lethal injection, while Nichols is serving life in a Colorado federal penitentiary.

But these days, at least outside the town of Decker, few know what has become of James Nichols, who turned 56 this month.

His lawyer says he married a few years back. Residents say he’s gone on with life as usual: farming corn and beans, showing up at occasional farm auctions, stopping for a burger and fries at Kayla’s Kafe, a small roadside diner just down the road from his farm.

“He’s always friendly with everybody,” says Kayla Nolan, owner of Kayla’s Kafe. “Nobody ever talks about (the bombing). I don’t think anybody thought he had anything to do with it. He’s a good guy.”

“It’s sort of all blown over,” Decker resident Phil Rockwell says. But he adds, “Nobody really knows if he had a part in it or not. Everybody has got their own opinion. I don’t have any problems. A person is innocent until proven guilty.”

Even in Decker, it seems, some may still wonder about Oklahoma City, even if they don’t talk about it. But James Nichols himself has nothing to say — at least not to the public at large.

Why? Maybe because the last time he did, it turned into a messy ordeal.

In the fall of 2000, filmmaker Michael Moore asked to interview Nichols for a project he was working on, the anti-gun documentary called “Bowling for Columbine.” Nichols agreed, thinking Moore simply wanted to “learn more about the Oklahoma bombing and his brother Terry Nichols’ pending trial,” according to the lawsuit Nichols would later file.

Soon afterward, Moore showed up at the Decker farm and conducted a three-hour interview, according to Nichols’ lawsuit. And Nichols, then not shy about espousing anti-government views, spoke his mind as the camera rolled.

“Them people, law enforcement, if you want to call them that, were here and they were shaking in their shoes, they were physically shaking, scared to death,” Nichols said in the interview, discussing the raid on his farm after the bombing. “Because they thought this was going to be another Waco, because certain people, namely my ex-wife and other people, said I’m a radical, I’m a wild man, I got a gun under every arm, down every leg and every shoe, every corner of the house — ‘You say anything to me, I’ll shoot you.’

“If people find out how they’ve been ripped off and enslaved in this country by the government, by the powers to be,” Nichols went on, “they will revolt with anger, merciless anger. There’ll be blood running in the street. When the government turns too radical, it is your duty to overthrow it.”

“Bowling for Columbine” debuted on Oct. 28, 2002, in Moore’s hometown of Flint, Mich., about 65 miles west of Decker. The film would go on to earn international critical acclaim and the Academy Award for best documentary feature.

But Nichols was none too happy with the finished product. In the film, Moore said McVeigh and the Nichols brothers made practice bombs on the farm “but the feds didn’t have the goods on James, so the charges were dropped.”

After the film’s debut, Nichols’ quiet life in the country was under siege. He was deluged with “hate mail and threatening phone calls,” says his attorney, Stephani Godsey. “It was a terrible ordeal to go through.”

On Oct. 27, 2003, Nichols filed a $100-million-plus lawsuit claiming defamation as a result of comments Moore made about him both in the film and on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” In 2005, however, a U.S. district judge in Detroit dismissed the suit, saying Moore’s statements were “factual and substantially true.” Nichols appealed, but to no avail: He lost in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in 2007.

“Michael Moore tried to portray him as the mastermind behind the bombing,” Godsey says, adding that her client was “really upset.” She says Nichols agreed to the interview because he thought Moore wanted to hear his side of the story, “but it was far from the case.”

Since Nichols didn’t have the resources to keep battling in court, they decided to give up the lawsuit. Still, to this day, she says of the film: “It wasn’t based on the truth.”

As for James Nichols, Godsey says, “I haven’t spoken to him very recently. But he’s doing well and getting on with his life.”

Fugitive Thinks Ex-FBI Agent Who Vanished in Iran is Dead

Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Is former FBI agent Robert Levinson who vanished in Iran three years ago, dead?

An American-born Muslim convert Hassan Abdulraham, who is wanted for the 1980 murder of a former Iranian diplomat in Maryland, says most likely Yes, Fox News reports.

Abdulraham, who was editor of Iran’s state run Press TV at the time of the dispearance, and lives in an Islamic nation overseas, may have been the last to meet with Levinson at the time, Fox reported.

Read more »

Obama Administration Ready to Name James Cole as New Dep. Atty. General

James Cole/law firm

James Cole/law firm

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Obama administration, which still has more vacant positions to fill than a department store chain before Christmas, is apparently getting ready to name a new deputy attorney general.

The investigative news website ProPublica reports that the administration is ready to nominate white collar defense attorney James A. Cole, 57 a partner at Bryan Cave, a D.C. law firm. He would replace David Ogden who stepped down last February. He didn’t appear to be a good fit.

Cole previously served as deputy chief of the Justice Department’s public integrity section, ProPublica reported. He was special counsel to the House ethics committee in 1997.