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Archive for August 23rd, 2011

FBI Focusing on Security Over Ordinary Crime

By CHARLIE SAVAGE
New York Times

WASHINGTON — Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been more likely to be hunting for potential threats to national security than for ordinary criminals in recent years, but much of the time found neither, according to newly disclosed internal information.

Data from a recent two-year period showed that the bureau opened 82,325 assessments of people and groups in search for signs of wrongdoing. Agents closed out most of the assessments, the lowest-level of F.B.I. investigation, without finding information that justified a more intensive inquiry.

Separately, the bureau also initiated 1,819 assessments during the period to identify any possible threats within particular geographic districts. That activity ranged from looking for the presence of particular organizations, like gangs or terrorist groups with definable characteristics, to evaluating other potential vulnerabilities, like a university with classified research and many foreign students.

To read full story click here.

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FBI Helps Local Police Crack 7-Year Cold Case

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

FBI agents moved into a local police station in Mountain View, Calif. in January of last year and reopened a 6-year-old cold case, reports Mountain View Patch. This week, three arrests were made in the case, a fatal drive-by shooting of a 17-year-old.

“The FBI resources and technology were very valuable to this case,” Mountain View Police spokeswoman Liz Wylie told Patch “This case has been hanging over our heads for years.”

Wylie said that despite a $10,000 reward offering and some early leads, local police were not able to identify any suspects in the slaying in Mountain View, which is in the San Francisco Bay area.

“We never stopped thinking about it, but [the case] stalled,” she said. Then, in january of 2010, a gang task force comprised of “two FBI special agents, two MVPD detectives and one from the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety breathed new life into the homicide case,” Patch reported.

“They re-interviewed everyone involved and got new tips and leads,” Wylie said. “The story started to unravel into a new picture.”

High-Ranking Gulf Cartel Member Extradited to US

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Those keeping score can add yet another extradition from Mexico in the fight against the violent drug trade.

This time it’s Aurelio “Yayo” Cano-Flores, of the Mexican Gulf Cartel, also know as “Yankee.” Cano-Flores has been in the custody of Mexican authorities since a June 10, 2009 arrest, and was extradited August 19, authorities said. He remains in federal custody pending trial.

The 39-year-old drug trafficker appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola in D.C. on Monday.

He is charged with “conspiracy to manufacture and distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana for importation into the United States,” according to a Justice Department press release.

“Cano-Flores was allegedly responsible for ensuring that multi-ton quantities of cocaine, heroin and marijuana were shipped into the United States, and that the illegal drug proceeds were subsequently funneled back into Mexico,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer in a statement.

Breuer said Cano-Flores was responsible for the Gulf Cartel’s operations in Camargo, Mexico, a colonial town in the east of the state of Chihuahua, and other proximate stretches of the US-Mexico border.

The indictment alleges that Cano-Flores and other defendants used radio communications and Nextel “push-to-talk” phones to evade law enforcement and kept detailed records of shipments, payrolls to traffickers and law enforcement, drug boss identities, and more on laptops and flash drives.

The Justice Department said Cano-Flores worked with partner cartel “Los Zetas” to oversee motor vehicle shipments of marijuana and cocaine into Texas, and from there across the United States, and carried out violent acts against law enforcement and competing traffickers.

The investigation was led by the DEA’s Houston Field Division and the DEA Bilateral Investigation Unit.

Judge Grants $700,000 in Legal Fees in FBI Mob Frame Up in 1965

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Saying the feds acted in “bad faith” during discovery, a federal judge in Boston has ordered the U.S. government to pay about $700,000 in legal fees in a lawsuit that resulted from four men being deliberately framed by the FBI in a 1965 mob slaying.

The legal fees are on top of the $101 million a jury awarded against the government  in the lawsuit in 2007.  The men and their families sued the government, alleging the FBI framed the four men in the Boston area mob slaying of Edward “Teddy” Deegan.

In her ruling earlier this month on the court fees in the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner stated:

“There is no doubt that there was bad faith in connection with the government’s conduct during discovery. The government played a shell game – dumping vast numbers of documents that were so redacted as to be incomprehensible, interposing procedural objections to delay taking any substantive position, repeatedly filing specious objections to discovery, and thenspecious motions for a stay, culminating in the disclosure that trial counsel had no access to the unredacted documents.”

The men who were framed included Peter Limone, Enrico Tameleo, Louis Greco and Joseph Salvati.  All but Salvati were sentenced to die in the electric chair, but that was later reduced to a life sentence after Massachusetts did away with the death penalty. Salvati got life.

Courthouse News Service, which first reported about the Aug. 12 fees ruling, wrote that all four men’s convictions were vacated in 2001. By then, Tameleo and Greco had already died in prison and Salvati had been paroled after serving 30 years. Limone was released in 2001 after 33 years in prison.

Courthouse News Service reported that more than 30 years after the fact, a Justice Department investigation into the Boston FBI discovered secret documents proving a frame up.

The evidence included a report showing that that an FBI informant, who was key to the prosecution, had not named these men, but different mobsters.

In her ruling on the fees, Judge Gertner stated:

“Secrecy – and secrecy gone awry – was central to the litigation.” She called the government’s strategy a “charade.”

“The record revealed FBI agents ‘hiding the ball,’ not disclosing critical exculpatory information in the Deegan murder case for nearly forty years, information that would have exonerated the plaintiffs,” she stated.

Feds Respond to Leak Allegations by Lance Armstrong’s Attorneys

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Unless someone leaks it, we won’t know what federal prosecutors said in a sealed motion filed Monday in response to complaints by star cyclist Lance Armstrong’s attorneys, who say the feds leaked info about a grand jury probe into Armstrong and allegations of doping.

The Associated Press reported that LA U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Thom Mrozek said Monday prosecutors filed the response under seal to safeguard rules protecting grand jury secrecy.

Armstrong’s attorneys in July filed a motion complaining about the leaks reported in such publications as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times were harming Armstrong’s reputation, AP reported.

Armstrong’s lawyers want a judge to require federal agents to detail conversations with the media and hold officials in contempt for the leaks, AP reported.

As a last resort, they’ve want reporters to reveal their sources.

Remembering the FBI’s Campaign Against Martin Luther King — “The Most Dangerous Negro”

After 36 Years FBI Gets Its Man — Thanks to Dying Mom’s Request

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A dying mother’s request helped the FBI nab her her son, who had been on the lam for 36 years. He had escaped from prison while serving life for a deadly San Francisco robbery.

The Sacramento FBI Safe Streets Violent Crime Task Force on Friday arrested William Walter Asher III, 66, in Salida, Calif., a community outside of Modesto in northern California.

The story begins in 1966 when Asher, 20 at the time, and three other accomplices, robbed a San Franciso bar and killed the bartender. He fled to Chicago and the following year was captured by the FBI. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

In January 1975 , a woman on the outside helped him escape from a state prison in El Dorado County, Calif. The FBI tracked him to  the Northwest Territories of Canada and the area in and around Hyder, Alaska. But by then, he was gone.

Investigators eventually figured out that Asher had assumed the name David Donald Mcfee, worked as a long-haul truck driver, married, and raised a family.  At some point, he  separated from his wife, who was later interviewed by Canadian authorities as well as the FBI. But she was unable to help authorities find Asher.

Recently, authorities got a break. They learned that that just before Asher’s mother, Mable Welch, passed away on July 1, 2005, she asked  family members to assist her in using the “secret” number to call “Billy.”

Armed with that information, the FBI Sacramento office collected toll records for associates of Mable Welch who were believed to have assisted her in contacting Asher.

Authorities reviewed multiple cell phone records which showed that two days prior to Mabel’s death, on June 29, 2005, two calls were made to a home in Salida, Calif.

Investigators found that the home was tied to the name  Garry Donald Webb (DOB: 01/15/1946).  The FBI found that Webb’s California driver’s license  photo resembled an older, thinner Asher.

On August 19,  agents and officers set up a surveillance of the  Salida home and the trucking business where  “Webb” supposedly worked.

At about 8:15 a.m., Asher exited the home and confronted by investigators. After some initial discussion, he admitted his true identity.

The FBI said it  appeared that a woman who had been with Asher for at least 10 years was unaware of his criminal past.

2 Somali Pirates Get Life in Death of 4 U.S. Citizens

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The pirate biz may have provided a good life for two Somalian men. Now it’s simply providing life — in prison that is.

Ali Abdi Mohamed, 30, and Burhan Abdirahman Yusuf, 31, were both sentenced Monday in federal court in Norfolk, Va. to life in prison for their roles in the pirate attack in February off the coast of Oman against the S/V Quest, which resulted in the murder of four U.S. citizens, the Justice Department said.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office; Alex J. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; and Mark Russ, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in Norfolk, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Mark S. Davis.

“Piracy is a scourge that threatens nations, commerce, and individual lives,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride in a statement. “This is the first case where American lives have been lost due to Somali piracy, and as Somali pirates expand their territory, the risk of violence and harm to others continues to grow. Today’s sentences send a message to all those who participate in piracy that armed attacks on the high seas carry lifelong consequences.”

Janice Fedarcyk, head of the New York FBI added: “The pirates’ vain attempt to obtain ransom, after nine days at sea, ended in the death of four Americans. Today’s life sentences will be heard throughout the pirate community—and should send a clear message—that the days of unbridled armed robbery and extortion at sea are over. The only plunder these pirates earned is life behind bar.”

Authorities said the two men pled guilty to piracy, which carries a mandatory life sentence. Nine co-conspirators have also pled guilty and will be sentenced in the coming weeks.

The two men were among 19 Somalis who searched the high seas for a vessel to hold for ranson.

After several days at sea, authorities said,  the pirates were approximately 900 miles from Somalia and running low on fuel when they spotted the American vessel, the S/V Quest. So they took the four people aboard as hostages. Eventually during a standoff with U.S. warships, the pirates killed the four hostages.

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