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Archive for April 20th, 2011

Rep. Conyer’s Wife Can’t Serve Remaining Prison Term at Home, Judge Rules

Monica Conyers/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Monica Conyers, the divisive ex-Detroit City Council member, and the wife of Rep. John Conyers, isn’t coming home any time soon.

The Detroit News reports that U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn of Detroit denied her request to serve the remainder of her 37-month prison sentence at home. She pleaded guilty in June 2009 to taking at least $6,000 in bribes for her vote on a city sludge hauling contract.

Cohn, who sentenced her last year, wrote in a court order filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit that he lacked jurisdiction to modify her sentence or credit her with time spent free on bond, the Detroit News reported.

“As to defendant’s argument that the Court misapplied the sentencing guidelines, her pending appeal has divested the court of jurisdiction to reconsider its judgment,” Cohn wrote, according to the News.

Judge Avern Cohn/wsu photo

The News reported that the 46-year-old, who is in a West Virginia federal prison, argued that Cohn “failed to consider her age, education, work skills, employment record, family ties and ‘likihood (sic)’she would commit another crime. Plus, her son’s baby sitter is returning to school soon.”

Judge Chastises FBI for Listening to Too Much, But Won’t Ban All Recordings

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge on Wednesday chastised the FBI for listening to wiretapped conversations that were private or irrelevant, calling the agency’s action “unnecessary”, “voyaeuristic” and “disgraceful.” But  he refused a request by the defense to bar all tapes from being used in an upcoming insider trading trial in Manhattan.

Defendant Craig Drimal, a former Galleon Group hedge fund trader, had asked that all tapes  be barred because the FBI listened to “scores” of  personal conversations with his wife, “some of a particularly intimate and personal nature,” according the judge’s ruling. The government is supposed to stop listening to wiretapped conversations when it determines the  talk is personal or irrelevant.

“As these eight calls illustrate, for at least portions of the wiretaps, the government failed to take appropriate steps to ensure that unnecessary intrusions into the private lives of its targets were kept to a minimum,” U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan wrote.

“While the majority of these calls were not particularly lengthy — indeed, most were under two minutes — in each of these calls it should have been apparent within seconds that the conversation was privileged and non-pertinent. As the Court stressed at the hearing, given the deeply personal nature of several of these conversations, the agents’ failure to minimize was nothing short of ‘disgraceful.'”

But Sullivan added:  “Nevertheless, viewing the wiretap as a whole, the Court cannot find that the government’s conduct was so unreasonable that it warrants the ‘drastic and excessive’ remedy of total suppression.”

“Given the wiretap’s scope and the substantial manpower needed to sustain it, the Court concludes that, on the whole, the wiretap was professionally conducted and generally well-executed,” Sullivan wrote.

Drimal’s attorney JaneAnne Murray told Reuters: “This litigation prompted the U.S. Attorneys’ Office to review its wiretap procedures. Hopefully, the deeply troubling privacy intrusion Sullivan found here will not occur again.”

A spokesperson for the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment, according to Reuters.

Read Judge’s Ruling

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Rep. Issa Threatens to Hold ATF in Contempt

ATF's Kenneth Melson /fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) continues to hammer away at ATF.

On Wednesday, the Congressman threatened to  begin contempt proceedings against the agency if it continues to hold back subpoenaed documents on the controversial gun-walking programs that encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers — all in hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

David Codrea of The Examiner reported that Issa, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,  fired off a letter dated April 20 to acting ATF director Ken Melson  stating: “I am hereby informing you that the Committee intends to enforce the subpoena issued to you on March 31, 2011. If you do not comply with the subpoena, the Committee will be forced to commence contempt proceedings.”

Earlier on in the 6-page letter, Issa stated: “I am disappointed that you have failed to produce any documents that would meet your legal obligation by the subpoena’s April 13 deadline. ”

Issa’s committee has been pushing to review Project Gunrunner and its offshoot Operation Fast and Furious.

The ATF gunwalking program proved an embarrassment. ATF lost track of some of the guns, which ended up in the hands of criminals. The committee is trying to determine if the guns were used in the murder of a border agent and an ICE agent.

ATF declined comment on the letter.

Read the letter

New Warnings to Replace the Color-Coded Terrorism Ones

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Goodbye Code Orange, Code Yellow. We’ll hardly miss ya.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is set Wednesday to announce the new terrorism advisory warnings that will replace the color coded ones many citizens became numb to.

Authorities said they will include a clear statement on the nature of the threat, and will be defined in one of two ways:which will be defined in one of two ways:

Elevated Threat: Warns of a credible terrorist threat against the United States

Imminent Threat: Warns of a credible, specific, and impending terrorist threat against the United States.

“The terrorist threat facing our country has evolved significantly over the past ten years, and in today’s environment – more than ever – we know that the best security strategy is one that counts on the American public as a key partner in securing our country,” Napolitano said in a statement

“The National Terrorism Advisory System, which was developed in close collaboration with our federal, state, local, tribal and private sector partners, will provide the American public with information about credible threats so that they can better protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”

FBI Profilers Looking at Folks Like Serial Killers and Bernie Madoff

Bernie Madoff

By Matthew Goldstein
Reuters

NEW YORK — Bernard Madoff — the architect of history’s biggest Ponzi scheme — and Gary Ridgway – the Green River killer — would seem to have little in common aside from being branded as “monsters” in the tabloids.

But a team of FBI agents, the same ones who specialize in helping local police track down serial killers like Ridgway, are using their expertise in behavioral profiling to target white collar criminals like Madoff.

For about two years now, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Behavioral Analysis Unit have been consulting with their colleagues in New York who specialize in securities fraud detective work. The BAU agents are going over the case files put together by the FBI for Madoff and other convicted scammers like Bayou Group’s Samuel Israel, whose $400 million hedge fund turned out to be Ponzi scheme, and former Democratic fundraiser Hassan Nemazee, who stole nearly $300 million from Citigroup and two other big banks.

The hope is the BAU agents, whose work in profiling serial killers has been popularized in books, movies and on TV, can get into the minds’ of fraudsters and see what makes them tick.

To read more click here.

 

Jones motion

Fed Judge Tosses Conviction of White Supremacist Who Posted Info About Jury Foreman

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The message is clear: Even hatemongers have Constitutional rights.

The Chicago Tribune reports that a federal judge has tossed out the conviction in Chicago of  white supremacist William White who posted personal  information on his website about a jury foreman who helped convict a fellow white supremacist in 2004. A jury found White had used the website to solicit an attack on the foreman.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman of Milwaukee, who had been assigned to the trial because of local conflicts of interest, wrote in a ruling that prosecutors failed to prove during trial — even though the jury convicted after three hours of deliberation — that supremacist White’s postings on overthrow.com showed he wanted the foreman harmed, the Tribune reported.

She wrote that the posting was protected by the First Amendment.

“The First Amendment protects vehement, scathing and even offensive criticism of others, including individuals involved in the criminal justice system,” Adelman wrote, according to the Tribune. “Knowledge, suspicion or even hope that something might happen to Hoffman is not enough.”

Prosecutors charged that White had posted info in 2008 on his website about jury foreman Mark Hoffman, saying he was the  “gay Jewish anti-racist” juror who had helped convict Matthew Hale for the solicitation of the murder of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow, the Trib reported. White also included info about Hoffman including a color photo, home address, phone numbers and his cats name (Hoffman is not Jewish).

Prosecutors during trial pointed out that in 2005, White on his website called for the “assassination” of anyone involved in the Hale trial, the Trib reported.

White’s attorneys argued their client never directly solicited an attack on Hoffman, the Trib reported.

The Tribune reports that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago is considering an appeal.

Widow and Daughter of Suspect Face Charges in Slaying of W. Va. Deputy Marshal

Dep. U.S. Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The feds aren’t finished dealing with the February shootout in Elkins, W. Va., which resulted in the death of deputy U.S. Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller  and the wounding of two other deputies. The suspect Charles Smith was also killed.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in West Virginia announced charges against the suspect’s  widow,  the daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend, who were home at the time when deputy Marshal  Hotsinpiller and two other deputies came to arrest Charles Smith on drug and firearms charges, the State Journal reported. Smith was fatally shot during the confrontation.

Specifically, the  widow of the suspect, Sherry Smith, 49,  her daughter Cassandra Smith, 25 , and the daughter’s  boyfriend Anthony Lambert,  23,were indicted by a federal grand jury on multiple charges.

Sherry Smith,  Charles Smith’s wife, is charged with making a false statement when buying a shotgun authorities believe was used in the slaying of  Hotsinpiller, the State Journal reported.  She is also accused of possessing a .30 caliber M2 machine gun and faces conspiracy, obstruction and false statement charges.

Cassandra Smith and Lambert face conspiracy, obstruction and false statement charges.

Read Counts 1-7

Read Counts 8-14