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Archive for September 10th, 2010

Weekend Series Commemorating the 9th Anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 Attack

Former ICE Official Charged with Scamming Govt out of $582,000 in Salary Scheme With Wife

iceBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former assistant special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in California was arrested Friday on charges that he scammed the government by approving $582,000 in salary and benefits for his wife, who virtually did no work, the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Authorities said that Frank Eugene Johnston, 51, surrendered to special agents with ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). He had retired in August 2009 after 31 years in federal law enforcement.

The indictment alleges that he approved the bogus salary for his wife Taryn Johnston while they were at ICE and its predecessor agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service. She was also taken into custody on charges that she lied to ICE OPR investigators by saying she worked for the pay.

Taryn Johnston, 53, had worked as an immigration enforcement agent and then as an intelligence research specialist for the law enforcement agencies .

The indictment alleges that Frank Johnston became his wife’s supervisor and in 2002 and assigned her to “an isolated INS sub-office, approximately six blocks away from the INS main office in Los Angeles.”

Soon after that, she stopped going to work and Frank Johnston approved her time sheets, which “frequently also claimed premium pay for overtime and holiday hours,” authorities charged.

Terri Tollefson, special agent in charge for the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility in Los Angeles, said in a statement: “As this indictment makes clear, ICE takes charges of employee misconduct seriously and we will aggressively investigate any allegations that arise. We hold our employees to the highest standards of professional and personal integrity. Guarding against illegal or unethical behavior is not an option; it is an obligation we have to the people we serve.”

D.C. Mayoral Challenger Vincent Gray Turns to FBI Before Primary

Mayor Fenty/campaign photo

Mayor Fenty/campaign photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Allegations of political misdeeds in the nation’s capital more often than not center around some politicos on Capitol Hill.

But not to be outdone, D.C. City Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray is stirring some controversy on the local political scene.

Gray and his advisers said they have asked the FBI to investigate allegations that incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty offered offered young adults jobs in exchange for votes, a possible violation of fed election laws, the Washington Post reports.

“We are deeply concerned,” Gray said at a news conference in front of his campaign headquarters in Chinatown, according to the Post. “There are very few things that are more sacrosanct, sacred, than the voting process, and we want to make sure it’s fully preserved in the city.”

The Post reported that the FBI referred questions to the Justice Department, which declined comment. The Democratic primary is set for Sept. 14.

Is Koran Burning Controversy Over?

Defense Lawyers Accuse Govt. of Misconduct in Detroit Motorcycle Gang Convictions

detroit mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Defense attorneys were in federal court in downtown Detroit earlier this week alleging that the government engaged in misconduct and committed a number of errors to get convictions for all six Highwaymen Motorcycle Club members earlier this year, the Detroit Free press reported.

The Free Press reported that defense lawyers on Tuesday told U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds that the prosecution withheld evidence that could have helped their case, manufactured a bogus conspiracy theory “and paid one witness $25,000 for his testimony with the expectation that he would get additional bonuses if he helped secure a conviction.”

“We don’t think that the government should be paying witnesses bonuses,” one attorney Jim Thomas said, according to the Free Press.

Prosecutors denied any wrongdoing and said the convictions were legitimate, the Free Press reported.

To read more click here.

Appeals Court Says Rep. John Conyer’s Wife Must Head to Prison

Monica Conyers/facebook

Monica Conyers/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Detroit City Council member Monica Conyers — wife of Rep. John Conyers — won’t be able to delay the inevitable.

The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that she can’t stay out of prison pending her appeal, which centers on U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn’s decision not to allow her to withdraw her guilty plea on public corruption charges on the day of sentencing, the Detroit News reported.

Conyers, who was a divisive figure on the city council, is supposed to turn her self in by Friday to start serving her 37-month sentence, the News reported. The Detroit Free Press reported that she is scheduled to turn herself in by 2 p.m. to begin serving her sentence in a federal prison in West Virginia.

She pleaded guilty in June 2009 to taking at least $6,000 in bribes involving a sludge hauling contract that was before the city council.

The Court of Appeals ruled that Conyer’s legal challenge did not raise a substantial question of law, the News reported.

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