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Archive for June 16th, 2010

Man Celebrated Pres. Obama’s Election By Burning Down African-American Church

white house photo

white house photo

By Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

Not everyone rejoiced the day after President Obama was elected as the first African-American President.

In fact, Massachusetts resident Benjamin Haskell, 23, celebrated by burning down a yet to be completed, predominantly African-American church in Springfield, Mass., on Nov. 5, 2008, the morning after the election, authorities said.

On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to burning down the structure of the Macedonia Church of God in Christ that was 75 percent completed, the Justice Department said.

Read more »

Will Spike TV Spike Reality Show “DEA”?

deashow2By Matt Castello
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — NBC weatherman Al Roker predicts the weather, but his production company, which produces  the reality TV show “DEA”,  has been reluctant to predict whether there will be a third season for the program featured on Spike TV.

By most accounts, the forecast for a third season looks doubtful.

The show, which helped boost the profile of the agency and interest from prospective recruits, last aired on March 31,  2009, more than a year ago.  Both seasons featured agents in gritty, high-crime cities; the first year in Detroit, the second in Newark.

Debra Fazio, a spokeswoman for Spike TV, told ticklethewire.com “no decision has been made yet about a 3rd season.” And Tom Chiodo, a spokesman for Al Roker Entertainment Inc., the producer of the show, echoed similar sentiments, saying he was uncertain as well.

The show, which  followed DEA agents and task force members around as they busted down doors, made arrests and gathered info from informants, played to mixed reviews inside and outside the agency. On the upside, it gave the DEA, which is too often overshadowed by the FBI,  a higher profile and helped boost recruiting.

Read more »

NY Pastor With Cable Show Pleads in $3 Million Jewelry Fraud Scheme

gemBy Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

A New York pastor with a religious cable television show pleaded guilty Wednesday in Manhattan federal court to bilking investors out of $3 million in a jewelry fraud scheme.

Samuel Solanky, 63, whose Asian Indian Christian cable show “Vandana”  was broadcast in the New York Metropolitan area and elsewhere around the world, told investors he would use their money to buy gemstones in India, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

He told investors he would then sell the gemstones to jewelers in the United States and promised them a 100 percent return on the investment in months, authorities said.

Unfortunately for the investors, he never bought gems and pocketed the money through a crafty scheme that often involved wiring the money overseas, authorities said. The scheme took place from 2005 to 2009.

Solanky agreed to a forfeiture of $3 million. Sentencing is set for Sept. 29 before U.S. District Judge Stephen C. Robinson.

The website National Jeweler, which reported on the indictment last year, said Solanky’s  website Vandana.org noted that the cable show was broadcast in  New York, Texas, Pakistan, India and all of Asia.  Solanky’s website no  longer appears to be functioning.

DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center Pretty Much a Bust, IG Report Says

el paso map istockBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — An Inspector General report released Tuesday concludes that the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), opened by the DEA in 1974 to identify drug dealers south of the border is pretty much a bust, the website Spy Talk reports.

Spy Talk’s Jeff Stein reports that the 86-page report “was a virtual laundry list of seemingly intractable problems at the border intelligence post.”

“EPIC could not produce a complete record of drug seizures nationwide because of incomplete reporting into the National Seizure System, which is managed by EPIC,” Glenn A. Fine, chief of the Office of the Inspector General, reported, according to Spy Talk.

“EPIC had not sustained the staffing for some key interdiction programs, such as its Fraudulent Document unit, its Air Watch unit, or its Maritime Intelligence unit….” Fine added.

To read more click here.

Read IG Report

No. 2 Justice Dept. Nominee Cautions About Criminally Charging Corporations

James Cole/law firm

James Cole/law firm

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — At a time when Americans want BP’s scalp, one way or another, James M. Cole is raising some concerns about criminally charging corporations, the Associated Press reported.

The nominee for the number two post in the Justice Department, told the Senate Judiciary Committee at his nomination hearing,  that  the best approach is to criminally charge individuals, the Associated Press reported.

Cole said he did not  oppose charging corporation, but urged caution in that area, saying such charges can harm innocent employees and shareholders.

He also refuted suggestions by Republican committee members that he’s soft on terrorism, AP reported.

To read more click here.

Read Washington Post report.

Justice Dept. Showing Face in Assessment of New Orleans Police Dept.

new-orleans-map-istockBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is starting to show its face in the New Orleans police department as part of a wide-scale assessment of the troubled police force.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that on Friday  “a handful of representatives from the Department of Justice’s Special Litigation Section sat silently, taking in the scene and jotting down occasional notes” a the department’s weekly command meeting on crime.

The paper reported that the Justice Department is on the ground in New Orleans beginning the assessment of a department that has recently seen several current and former cops indicted in connection with the shooting of civilians and the cover up of those cases.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez recently announced the inquiry, which will assess systemic problems that need correcting.

To read more click here.

FBI Won’t Let Muslim American Fly Home From Middle East

Middle-East-mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Call it the sign of the times.

The FBI won’t let 26-year-old Muslim American Yahya Wehelie fly home to Virginia from the Middle East, the New York Times reports.

Wehelie spent 18 months in Yemen. In May, he was heading home to Virginia and was changing planes in Cairo when the FBI stopped him and told him he was on the no-fly list, the Times reported.

The Times reported that the FBI wanted to question him about his contact with an American in Yemen accused of hooking up with al Qaeda and fatally shooting a hospital guard. He and his parents said he wants to come home, finish his education and get a job, the Times reported. They say he hates al Qaeda.

He’s stuck in Cairo. It’s been six weeks. He even told the FBI he’d fly handcuffed all the way home, sitting next to air marshals, the Times reported. The FBI declined that offer.

“I’m an innocent American in exile, and I have no way to get home,” he told the Times.

To read more click here.

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