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Archive for May 17th, 2011

Ex-Suburban D.C. County Executive Jack Johnson Who was a Prosecutor Pleads Guilty

Jack Johnson/wusa

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Considering he was once the  top prosecutor for a prominent suburban county just outside D.C., Jack B. Johnson was not such a smart crook and shakedown artist.

Johnson was arrested by the FBI last November while in his final weeks in office as county executive of Prince George’s County on charges of taking more than $400,000 in bribes.  He was recorded by the FBI on a frantic phone call with his wife Leslie, who was home at the time when two FBI agents knocked at the front door. He was advising her to hide incriminating evidence including wads of cash.

On Tuesday, it was time to fess up.

Johnson, 62, of Mitchellville, Md. pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt to  extortion conspiracy relating to the performance of his official duties and tampering with a witness and evidence. A number of other people were charged in the case including Johnson’s wife, who faces charges relating to hiding evidence.

Read more »

Federal Agencies Praise America’s Most Wanted Day After Fox Cancels Show

Michael Kortan (left) talking to ex-FBI Dir. Louis Freeh /fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Federal agencies on Tuesday tipped their hats to America’s Most Wanted, one day after Fox announced it was canceling the show after 23 years.

“For 23 years, John Walsh and the ‘America’s Most Wanted’ team have worked tirelessly to make communities across the country safer and more secure,” Michael Kortan, chief FBI spokesman said in a statement to ticklethewire.com.

“More than 550 fugitives sought by the FBI have been arrested or located as a direct result of their hard work, including 17 individuals who were on the FBI’s “Top Ten Most Wanted” list.”

Jeff Carter/facebook photo

“Few television shows have aired for so long. Even fewer have provided such a worthy public service, or have made such a lasting impact on the American public. John and his team have always understood the power of the people in helping to bring criminals to justice. Their tenacity, their unwavering dedication to victims of crime and violence, and their commitment to law enforcement will be missed.”

Jeff Carter, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, also praised the show, saying:

“America’s Most Wanted has been a valued partner for the U.S. Marshals Service for the 23 years that it’s been airing.  We’ve worked very closely with them over the years. They’ve been a real asset to us.”

Fox said that the show had not been profitable for quite a while.

OTHER SHOWS OF INTEREST

FBI Dir. Mueller Still Bedeviled by Computer Problems

By Aaron Mehta
iwatch news
Center for Public Integrity
In a rare show of bipartisanship, both Congressional Democrats and Republicans have come out in support of President Barack Obama’s recent request to extend Robert Mueller’s decade-long tenure as FBI director.

But for all his accomplishments, Mueller has failed at the same IT management task that bedeviled his predecessor and has cost taxpayers hundreds of million of dollars — the development of a computerized case tracking system within the bureau.

When FBI director Louis Freeh installed the Automated Case Support (ACS) system in 1995, it was supposed to be a top-of-the-line technological marvel that would streamline sharing information in the bureau. Created with 1980s technology, however, the ACS was outdated by the time it was installed, and its many flaws — including an inability to “connect the dots” — were starkly revealed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

When Mueller first arrived at the bureau — just a week before 9/11 — he set about creating his own technological revolution. Mueller sunk tens of millions of dollars into tech upgrades, including a program called the Virtual Case File (VCF) that would replace the ACS

Read more »

Law Enforcement Killings Up in 2010, FBI Report Says

Brian Terry

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Fifty six law enforcement officers were “feloniously killed” killed in 2010, including U.S. Border agent Brian Terry, up from 48 in 2009, according to preliminary statistics released Monday by the FBI.

Of the 56 felonious deaths:

  • 15 officers were killed during ambushes.
  • 8 were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances.
  • 7 were killed during traffic pursuits/stops.
  • 6 were interrupting robberies in progress or were pursuing. robbery suspects.
  • 6 were responding to disturbance calls (four of them being domestic disturbances).
  • 3 interrupted burglaries in progress or were pursuing burglary suspects.
  • 3 died during tactical situations.
  • 2 were conducting investigations.
  • 1 was handling or transporting a prisoner.
  • 1 was killed during a drug-related conflict.
  • 4 were attempting to make arrests for other offenses.

Offenders used firearms in all but one of the felonious deaths of law enforcement officers in 2010, the FBI said.

Thirty-eight of the fallen officers were killed with handguns, 15 with rifles, and two with shotguns, the FBI said. The only officer who was not a victim of firearms was killed with a vehicle.

Among those killed in 2008 was U.S. Border agent Brian Terry, 40,  who was killed in Arizona last Dec. 14 while trying to apprehend a group of suspects.

FBI Dir. Mueller, Steroids and Getting Stranded on 3rd Base

The author (right) Greg Stejskal and Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

I recently read the “Time” magazine profile of FBI Director Robert Mueller noting that his 10-year statutory term was coming to an end. It was mentioned that the Director is a big baseball fan especially of the Boston Red Sox. I have also read speculation about what may be in Dir. Mueller’s future, among other things, that he might be a possible replacement for Bud Selig as Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner. Apparently that may have to wait considering the White House has announced that it will ask Congress to extend Dir. Mueller’s tenure by 2 years.

I think there may be some irony in the mentioning of the director and the baseball commissioner job. Without spoiling the whole story, I just want to say maybe one day the director may want to offer me an apology.

It was mid-February, 2005, I was sitting in my office at the FBI Resident Agency in Ann Arbor, Mi., when I received a phone call from a couple of reporters from the “New York Daily News.”

They had been referred to me by Michael Leibson, an Assistant US Attorney in Detroit, who had prosecuted a steroid case with me about 10 years before. (It was actually many cases stemming from an undercover operation. Over 70 steroid dealers were convicted in the US and Canada.)

Let me back up even further. In 1989, Bo Schembechler, the football coach at the University of Michigan convinced me that anabolic steroids were a serious problem in high school and college football. (Not all steroids are anabolic, promoting muscle growth, but for simplicity I will refer to anabolic steroids as just steroids.)

Based on Bo’s concerns and some additional research, I proposed a limited undercover operation (UCO), to target the sale of illegal steroids, the first of its kind.

FBI headquarters begrudgingly authorized it (see my column, “FBI Probe into Illegal Steroids Broke New Ground” ).

What started as regional short-term investigation became a very successful international investigation, codenamed “ Equine”, that ran for over 3 years.

One of the dealers we prosecuted was Curtis Wenzlaff. He told us that he had supplied large amounts of steroids to players on the Oakland A’s baseball team; specifically Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. The undercover operation ended in 1993, but prosecutions continued for a few years thereafter.

Jose Conseco/abc news

In August, 1994, I attended a sports presentation conference at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. (The sports presentation program had been established to train FBI agents to speak to college and pro teams about sports bribery and gambling. The presentations expanded into other topics over time.) Also in attendance at this conference were representatives from the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. From the MLB the representative was Kevin Hallinan, MLB Director of Security.

Prior to this conference, I had written an article for the August, 1994, “FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin,” a national monthly magazine primarily distributed to law enforcement agencies.. The article, “They Shoot Horses Don’t They? Anabolic Steroids and Their Challenge to Law Enforcement,” was distributed to all the attendees at the conference.

That night many of the conference attendees had an informal session in the Board Room, the FBI Academy pub.

At that session Kevin Hallinan and I talked about steroids. I told Hallinan what Curtis Wenzlaff had told us about supplying steroids to players on the Oakland A’s including Jose Canseco, and my belief that steroid use was becoming pervasive in MLB as it had been in football. Hallinan said he had heard rumors of steroid use in MLB and that Canseco was one of the players alleged to be using.

Hallinan didn’t think there was much they could do as the players had rejected any efforts to require testing in the contract that had been negotiated following the strike. I told Hallinan to let me know if we could be of any assistance, but I never heard from him. In 2002, I did arrange through Hallinan to have Wenzlaff debriefed by one of Hallinan’s staff.

In the summer of 2004, I also arranged for Wenzlaff to testify before a Senate hearing regarding steroid use in sports, chaired by Senators Charles Grassley and Joseph Biden.

Christian Red from the “NY Daily News” interviewed Wenzlaff after the hearing. Wenzlaff told Red what he told us about supplying steroids to players on the Oakland As, principally Canseco, in the early 90’s. They asked if Wenzlaff had disclosed this information to the FBI. He told them he had, but he did not know whether the FBI had passed the information on to MLB.

Now back to 2005, my office in Ann Arbor and the phone call from Christian Red and T.J. Quinn (now with ESPN) of the Daily News. Red and Quinn told me they had been referred to me by Mike Leibson, the AUSA, who had prosecuted most of the Equine cases. They also told me about their interview of Wenzlaff. What they wanted to know was, had the FBI passed the Wenzlaff information on to MLB?

A moment of truth: I could have responded, “no comment”, but I knew that if I had, it would be thought that the FBI had not passed on the information.

Here was a situation where the FBI did the right thing. All the criminal cases arising from Equine had long since been adjudicated. (The usual reason for not commenting to the media is that it is inappropriate if a case(s) is being investigated or prosecuted.) So I said I had told MLB about Wenzlaff’s allegations.

I said in August, 1994, I had told the MLB’s Dir.of Security, Kevin Hallinan everything Wenzlaff had told us about his having supplied Canseco and other players on the Oakland A’s with steroids. (It wasn’t until after I had spoken to Hallinan that we learned from Wenzlaff that one of the other Oakland As players being supplied was Mark McGwire.)

The next day the fecal matter hit the air oscillating device as they say.

The front sports page of the Daily News read, “Agent: MLB turned blind eye to steroid warning 10 years ago. FBI says… THEY KNEW!” –over a full-page photo of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, resting his head in his hand. The MLB Commissioner’s office was quick to respond by denying that I had ever warned them. In fact Kevin Hallinan claimed to not even know me.

I had no idea about the Daily News article until I started receiving calls from all over the country including from Mike Wallace from “60 Minutes.”

Then I received a call from my Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC). The Detroit Special Agent in Charge (SAC), who happened to be in Washington at the time, had spoken to the Director (Robert Mueller).

I was instructed by the ASAC to make no further comments to the media. It would seem my 15 minutes of fame were over. I explained that I had not initiated any contact with the media and that the Daily News had been referred to me by the AUSA, who prosecuted the case.

My concern was having made a statement saying the FBI had warned MLB, would it now look like we were backing down in the face of MLB’s denials if the FBI made no further comment?

I did get a follow-up call from the Daily News. I told them I had been instructed not to make any further statements to the media.

Red & Quinn wanted to know if I was now retracting any part of my previous statements. I said I was not, and my reported quote was, “I don’t think I was off-base with anything I said….I hope the Bureau allows me to defend myself if necessary, but I’m not particularly worried. I can weather the storm.”

When Dir. Mueller told me to not talk to the media, (For the record, I have never met nor spoken to the Director, but was told that it was he.) I thought that maybe the FBI would support me. Instead the silence was deafening.

In the meantime the MLB continued to attack my veracity, but slowly over the next few days, they moved from complete denial to admitting, well maybe I had warned them.

The FBI never did provide any support for me or for my statement that the FBI had warned MLB about their steroid problem in 1994. It was gratifying to have others outside the Bureau go to bat for me (so to speak). Bo Schembechler told the Daily News, “If Greg Stejskal said it, that’s the way it is.” I can’t think of a better character reference than that.

I retired from the FBI in the fall of 2006, having served for almost 32 years. I never did hear from the Director although I was given a 6 month extension beyond my mandatory retirement date. The extension had to have been approved by the Director.

None of this is meant to demean the tenure of Dir. Mueller, but there are times when it is important to protect the reputation of the FBI and support the agents when they are fighting the good fight even if it means taking on institutions like MLB.

Maybe some day if Dir. Mueller does become Commissioner of MLB, he can send me an apology.

Column: FBI Director Mueller, Steroids and Getting Stranded on 3rd Base

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

Greg Stejskal

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

I recently read the “Time” magazine profile of FBI Director Robert Mueller noting that his 10-year statutory term was coming to an end. It was mentioned that the Director is a big baseball fan especially of the Boston Red Sox. I have also read speculation about what may be in Dir. Mueller’s future, among other things, that he might be a possible replacement for Bud Selig as Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner. Apparently that may have to wait considering the White House has announced that it will ask Congress to extend Dir. Mueller’s tenure by 2 years.

I think there may be some irony in the mentioning of the director and the baseball commissioner job. Without spoiling the whole story, I just want to say maybe one day the director may want to offer me an apology.

It was mid-February, 2005, I was sitting in my office at the FBI Resident Agency in Ann Arbor, Mi., when I received a phone call from a couple of reporters from the “New York Daily News.”

They had been referred to me by Michael Leibson, an Assistant US Attorney in Detroit, who had prosecuted a steroid case with me about 10 years before. (It was actually many cases stemming from an undercover operation. Over 70 steroid dealers were convicted in the US and Canada.)

Read more »

Jesse Jackson Jr. Denies Scheme to Buy Senate Seat

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr./campaign photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The retrial of Rod Blagojevich is putting more people than just the  chatty ex-governor on the defensive.

The Chicago Sun-Times on Monday reported that U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) adamantly denied that he had fundraisers offer Blago about $1 million in campaign contributions in exchange for getting the Senate seat vacated by President Obama. He made his statement after attending inauguration ceremonies for Mayor Emanuel and the new city council.

“I’ve committed and participated in no such scheme. It’s been a thorough investigation. And I think the investigation has revealed that,” Jackson said, according to the Sun-Times.

Jackson said he had no idea why an Indian businessmen Rajinder Bedi made the offer to the Blagojevich camp, and insisted he did not act on his direction.

Last week, fund-raiser and onetime state worker Rajinder Bedi testified in trial that fundraising and the senate seat were discussed at a breakfast on Oct. 28, 2008 with Jackson and another fund-raiser, Raghu Nayak, the Sun-Times reported.

That same day, Bedi met with the Blagojevich camp and offered $1 million in exchange for the senate appointment, the Sun-Times reported.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Law Enforcement in Ky Case

file photo/istock

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court handed law enforcement an added tool on Monday.

The Court ruled 8-1 that it was okay when Lexington, Ky.  police busted into an apartment without a warrant after smelling marijuana and fearing the suspect was trying to destroy evidence, the Associated Press reported.

The ruling overturned a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling that had thrown out evidence gathered during the raid of Hollis King’s apartment, AP reported.

“Occupants who choose not to stand on their constitutional rights but instead elect to attempt to destroy evidence have only themselves to blame,” Justice Sam Alito said in his opinion, according to AP.

Justice Ginsburg, the lone dissenting vote, said the ruling gives police an easy was to forgo warrants in drug cases, AP reported.

“Police officers may now knock, listen, then break the door down, never mind that they had ample time to obtain a warrant,” she said.