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Archive for November 3rd, 2011

Feds Convict Crooked Attorney But Not Before Being Duped by FBI Snitch


Louis Cherico/gang land news photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The feds got their conviction on Tuesday in New York against attorney Louis Cherico for mortgage fraud. But the case was not without embarrassment in what Gang Land News described as “Keystone Kops-like antics by the feds.”

Jerry Capeci, editor of Gang Land News, reports that the feds and Cherico “were victims of an elaborate scam by an FBI snitch.”

Here’s how.

Back in September, before trial started for Cherico, an FBI snitch provided bogus info to the feds that Cherico was going to skip town and head to South America to be with a former lover who wanted to ditch her husband, Gang Land News reported.

The snitch went as far as to say that Cherico was trying to get a secret charter flight to Venezuala and apparently used “text-spoofing” to make it look as if Cherico was texting certain messages.  Gang Land wrote: “As it happens, Cherico, 70, does not even know how to send text messages.”

Cherico ended up having to wear an ankle monitor.

On the last day of trial, Gang Land News reports, fed prosecutor Nicholas McQuaid announcd that the feds had “developed information that undermines the credibility of our source significantly.”

Gang Land reported that the prosecutor asked the judge to remove the ankle monitor from Cherico.

The feds may have gotten duped, but they did get the conviction against Cherico,70, for bank fraud, mortgage fraud and money laundering in what turned out to be a three-week trial. Sentencing is set for March 6.

 

 

FBI Turns to West Point for Counterterrorism Training

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has turned to the Army for help with its counterterrorism training.

After a troubled past with their understanding and interactions with Islam, reports Wired Magazine’s The Danger Room blog, the Bureau will begin working with the Army’s Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point.

The center at West Point is known among experts for its rigorous, practical scholarship on terrorism and Islamic Extremism, according to Danger Room. “It’s researchers consider themselves to be the opposite of analysts like William Gawthrop,” writes the Danger Room’s Spencer Ackerman, “the FBI intelligence analyst who compared Islam to the Death Star and Mohammed to a ‘cult leader.'”

“At CTC, there’s an ethos of education,” Brian Fishman, a researcher at the New America Foundation and former research director at the center, told the Danger Room. “When you have that, you inherently recognize that you need to illustrate that, for example, the practice of Islam around the world isn’t monolithic.”

According to the Danger Room, all new FBI agents go through a CTC-prepared class on international terrorism, but it is not yet certain how thoroughly the CTC will revamp the Bureau’s curriculum.

To read more click here.

Fed Jury Convicts Cop in Fatal Beating of Man Whose Last Words Were “All I wanted was a Snickers”

 By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Call it one of the low points in policing in Spokane, Wash.

A federal jury on Wednesday  convicted a Spokane, Wash., police officer  on civil rights and obstruction charges in the beating death of an unarmed man, the Justice Department announced.

Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr., 64, was convicted on charges stemming from a March 18, 2006 beating of an unarmed citizen and subsequent cover-up. Officer Thompson had claimed he felt threatened by a plastic bottle of soda the victim was holding, which justified the fatal beating.

But video evidence presented at trial established that on that day, while Zehm went to purchase soda and snacks at a Zip Trip convenience store, Thompson ran into the store, drew his baton and charged at a completely unaware Zehm, according to the Justice Department.

As the victim turned into a candy aisle he saw the officer charging at him, and within 2.5 seconds Thompson had delivered two overhand baton blows to the victim’s head, dropping him to the ground. With Zehm lying in the fetal position, Thomas then delivered taser blasts to Zehm’s chest. Zehm never stood up again.

Thompson remained standing above Zehm, delivering baton blows, “including a final flurry of seven baton strikes in eight seconds.” The incident was caught on the store’s security cameras.

The Justice Department said Thompson had responded to a vague and uncertain report earlier that night. Two teenagers said a man matching Zehm’s description had lingered around them at an ATM machine, making them feel uncomfortable. Driving away, the kids were uncertain if they had canceled their transaction and reported seeing the man walk up to the ATM and walk away with what looked like money in his hand.

“Prior to Thompson’s first strike, dispatchers made clear that the complainants were not sure whether the man at the ATM had taken any of their money,” said the FBI. “One of the women at the ATM who called 911 that night testified at trial that she was horrified by Thompson’s rapid series of overhand baton blows to the victim.”

Witnesses testified to hearing Zehm’s last words: “All I wanted was a Snickers,” he said from the floor of the Zip Trip convenience store. The man’s paycheck was found in his pocket.

Thompson later denied hitting Zehm over the head in his report of the incidence. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.

 

 

Terrorists Convictions Upheld in Plot to Bomb 110-Story Building and FBI Offices

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The appeals of Narseal Batiste and followers were rejected in Atlanta on Tuesday, reports the Associated Press. Batiste and four others were convicted of plotting, in conjunction with al-Qaida, to destroy the 110-story Willis Tower in Chicago and to bomb FBI offices in several cities in May of 2009.

Batiste, cited as the group’s ringleader, questioned the sufficiency of the evidence, the FBI’s use of an informant posing as a member of al-Qaida and one juror’s dismissal amid deliberations in the trial. A three-judge panel in Atlanta’s 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the claims.

The men were convicted of providing material support to al-Qaida in addition to the plan to take down the hulking, 110-story Chicago skyscraper formerly known as the Sears Tower. Their stated goal was to “overthrow the US government,” according to the AP.

After two mistrials, they were convicted the third time around.

To read more click here.

Dems Demand Explanation on TSA Missed Deadline on Screening Packages on Planes

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The Transportation Security Administration is still not scanning 100 percent of  the parcels on inbound international flights, and Congress wants to know why.

The website NextGov.com reports that it appears TSA will miss a deadline to scan all parcels on overseas planes for the second time, and House Democrats have sent a letter to TSA officials demanding an explanation,NextGov.com

Following 9/11,  TSA was mandated to screen 100 percent of international inbound passenger plane cargo by August of 2010. NextGov reported that when the time came and the task still seemed too great, “partly due to technological challenges,” the deadline was extended until the end of this year.

Still, TSA is reportedly screening only “identified high-risk” parcels. In an Oct. 31 letter legislators demanded to know if the TSA is skirting the law, reports NextGov.

Bomb-making materials were found hidden in packaged printer parts headed from Yemen to the United States about a year ago.

The TSA declined to comment specifically on the new demands, but TSA spokesman Greg Soule did say that the TSA is continuing its efforts to detect and eliminate risk, NextGov reported.

“Air cargo is more secure than it has ever been with 100 percent of cargo on flights departing US airports and 100 percent of identified high-risk international inbound cargo undergoing screening,” he said in a statement.

To read more click here.

Feinstein, Breuer: ATF Needs Improved Gun Laws

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) defended the ATF at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, reports the website Main Justice, saying the real problem is lax gun laws.

“The number of deaths caused by American guns are up in the tens of thousands,” she said, claiming that 70 percent of guns seized in Mexico were traced to the US.

Later on, reports Main Justice, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) had entered into the record a report refuting Feinstein’s numbers.

Agreeing with Feinstein, Asst. Attorney General Lanny Breuer said that if the ATF had more information on gun sales and enhanced its regulatory function, the agency would be better positioned to stem the violence.

To read more click here.

4 Congressional Members Send Letter to FBI’s Mueller and Hillary Clinton Asking Palestinians to be Put on Terrorist List

Rep. Berman was one the Congressional members who signed letter

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. terrorist data base watch could get quite a few new names if it’s up to four Jewish Congress members.

The Jewish Telegraph Agency reports that the four Congress members wrote to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking that they place on the list the names of the Palestinian prisoners who were recently released in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been abducted and held prisoner since 2006. The move would prevent any of those people from entering the U.S.

The Jewish Telegraph Agency reported that Israel agreed to release 1,027 Palestinian men and women, and all but a handful were convicted of terrorism related crimes.

“Each of these Palestinian prisoners has been convicted of a terrorism-related offense and should be treated as such,” said the Oct. 28 letter, which was first obtained by Politico.

The letter was signed by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), the senior Democrat on its Middle East subcommittee; Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee; and Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

 

15 Tied to Texas Mexican Mafia Charged with Racketeering Conspiracy, Assault, and More

By Danny Fenster
ticklethwire.com

They say things are bigger in Texas, and a recent Tex-Mex plate of indictments and potential sentences certainly are.

A group of members and associates of the Texas Mexican Mafia (TMM) have been indicted with a buffet of charges that may net them decades in prison, the FBI announced in a press release on Tuesday.

The 9-count, 15-defendant indictment charges men from Uvalde and Crystal City, Texas, including:

Jorge Abel Ramirez (a/k/a “Hondo,” a/k/a “Superdope”), age 32; Geronimo Torres (a/k/a “Jerry,” a/k/a “G”), age 32; Benito Benavides (a/k/a “Benny”), age 48; Chris Gutierrez (a/k/a “Fire”), age 19; Albert Torres (a/k/a “Terrible”), age 41; Robert Marcus Castro (a/k/a “Tiny”), age 32; Eric Velasquez Solis (a/k/a “Kilo”), age 32; Mario Zavala, age 26; Rodolfo Villegas (a/k/a “Rudy”), age 31; Charles Martinez (a/k/a “Charlie”), age 29; Eliseo Sanchez, III, age 29; and Sebastian Cortinas (a/k/a “Seabass”), age 28.

Charges against the men, returned on the 12th of October and unsealed on Tuesday, cover a variety of crimes related to drugs and violence, including “attempted murder, retaliation against an informant, extortion, and distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine,” according to the FBI. Three of the men–Ramirez, Gutierrez and Torres–have been charged with conspiring to attempt to kill an informant on November 22, 2010.

All defendants but Cortinas are in federal custody.