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Archive for January 19th, 2011

ATF’s Robert Browning to Head Columbus Division

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Robert J. Browning,  Deputy Director of the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center at Quantico, has been named head of ATF’s Columbus, Ohio field division.

A 23-year veteran of ATF, Browning worked at Quantico as part of a multi-agency organization responsible for analyzing improvised explosive device (IED) evidence, primarily from Iraq and Afghanistan, ATF said.

ATF’s Columbus Field Division is comprised of Ohio and part of Indiana.

Browning is a native of Mobile, Ala. and a graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans, La. and holds a Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice from the University of Virginia, according to a press release.

During his 23 year career with ATF, he has served as Chief, Public Affairs Division at headquarters; Assistant Special Agent in Charge, New Orleans Field Division; Supervisory Special Agent, Special Operations Division, Washington, D.C.; Resident Agent in Charge, Youngstown, Ohio; Public Information Officer, Atlanta, Ga. and Special Agent, Little Rock, Ark.

Va. ATF Agent Under Investigation for Allegedly Stealing Tens of Thousands of Dollars of ATF-Owned Cigarettes

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities are investigating allegations that an ATF agent in Virginia stole tens of thousands of dollars worth of ATF-owned cigarettes and sold them, according to the Daily Press newspaper.

The agent Clifford D. Posey, 43, who is part of the Norfolk, Va. ATF office, has not been charged, but the allegations are contained in a federal search warrant affidavit written by J. Brian Burnett, a special agent with the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s Office, the paper reported. The ATF-owned cigarettes are used as bait in stings.

The affidavit alleges that Posey of Chesapeake,Va., stole the cigarettes, moved them to a rented storage unit in Virginia Beach where he distributed the goods for money, the paper reported.

“Posey has … used his position as an ATF Special Agent to facilitate the embezzlement of property belonging to the United States,” the affidavit said. ATF said Posey has been suspended without pay since December, the paper reported.

The paper said Posey declined Tuesday to discuss the case.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Sentenced at Age 93, Mob Underboss Was Wiseguy’s Wiseguy

John "Sonny" Franzese/wikipedia photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

The story line of Colombo family underboss John “Sonny” Franzese, 93, of New York reads something like this: He knew Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. He got booted from the Army in World War II for displaying homicidal tendencies. His son testified against him in trial last year. And the feds recorded him talking about hiding bodies — though he was never convicted of murder.

And now Franzese, a wiseguy’s wiseguy who a federal prosecutor said was responsible for the “glamorization of the Mafia over the past century,” could spend what’s left of his life in prison.

His grandchildren and daughter wrote gushing letters to the judge asking for leniency, but Franzese was sentenced last week in a Brooklyn, N.Y., federal court to eight years for shaking down Hustler and Penthouse strip clubs in Manhattan and a Long Island pizzeria for protection. He reportedly could become eligible for parole at age 100.

“He’s very resilient,” his attorney, Richard B. Lind, told AOL News, commenting this week on Friday’s sentencing. “He took it like a man.”

Franzese was the underboss — or the second in command — of the Colombo crime family, one of five Mafia families in New York. He got there by taking wrong turns every step of the way, authorities say.

“From a very young age, he has engaged in relentless and increasingly brutal violence, starting with an assault arrest at the age of 19 in 1938, then escalating to rape of a waitress in a garage in 1947 and armed bank robbery in 1967,” Brooklyn Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cristina M. Posa and Rachel J. Nash wrote in a court document last month, weeks before sentencing.

To read more click here.

Feds Bust 2 Hackers for Stealing Emails from AT&T’s iPad Data Base; Some Famous Names Included

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

With the most modern of technology comes the most modern of crimes.

Two men — one from Arkansas and another from California — were arrested Tuesday and charged in Newark, N.J.  with hacking into the AT&T’s servers and stealing emails and personal info of about 120,000 Apple iPad users including such notables as Diane Sawyer, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Harvey Weinstein and Rahm Emanuel.

The thievery happened between June 5 and June 9, authorities said.

Andrew Auernheimer, 25, of Fayetteville, Ark., and Daniel Spitler, 26, of San Francisco were arrested by the FBI and charged with an alleged conspiracy to hack AT&T’s servers and for possession of personal subscriber information obtained from the servers.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that immediately after the Immediately following the theft, the hackers provided the stolen e-mail addresses and ICC-IDs (Circuit Card Identifiers) to the website Gawker, which published the stolen information in redacted form.

The article said the breach “exposed the most exclusive email list on the planet,”and indicated that iPad users were vulnerable to spam marketing and malicious hacking, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Mayor Bloomberg

U.S. Attorney Fishman stated: “Hacking is not a competitive sport, and security breaches are not a game,” said Newark U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

“Companies that are hacked can suffer significant losses, and their customers made vulnerable to other crimes, privacy violations, and unwanted contact.” Computer intrusions and the spread of malicious code are a threat to national security, corporate security, and personal security.”

FBI Says Bomb Found at MLK Parade in Spokane

Life Tenure for Fed Judges Raises Issues of Senility, Dementia

By Joseph Goldstein
Special to ProPublica

Judge Richard Owen of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan gathered a group of lawyers in his courtroom in 2007 to discuss the possible leak of sealed documents in a business case. As the hearing got under way, Owen, then 84, asked for someone to explain this newfangled mode of communication the lawyers kept mentioning — e-mail.

“It pops up in a machine in some administrative office, and is somebody there with a duty to take it around and give it to whoever it’s named to?” he asked.

Some of the lawyers figured that Owen, whose chambers came with a mimeograph machine when he became a judge in 1973, was just behind the times. Others wondered if the judge’s memory was failing him.

After all, the most famous case in his long career — the back-to-back trials of Silicon Valley investment banker Frank Quattrone — had revolved around a single e-mail. Yet he now acted as though this was the first he was hearing about it. “He didn’t understand what was happening in his own courtroom,” said one lawyer present that day.

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