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Archive for November 16th, 2011

Man Arrested in Shooting at White House

20 Charged in Chicago-Mexico Drug Network, Ties to Zetas Drug Cartel

The logo of the Los Zetas Cartel/baltimore city paper

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The tentacles of the Mexican cartels can be found throughout the U.S.

The latest: 20 defendants — five of them suspected members of a Chicago cell of the violent Zetas Mexican drug cartel — were charged in major drug indictment in Chicago following a joint FBI-DEA investigation, Chicago’s US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office announced Wednesday.

The investigation resulted in the seizure of more than $12.4 million in cash and about 250 kilograms or more than 500 pounds of cocaine during 2010 in the Chicago area.

Arrests were made on Tuesday in Chicago and Laredo, Tex. Along with the Tuesday arrests, an additional $480,000 in cash and two kilograms of heroin were also seized.

“The extensive cash seizures made during the course of this investigation illustrates how lucrative the illicit drug trade can be,” said Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Chicago Office in a statement. “Combined with the apparent presence of the Zetas in the Chicago area, the charges announced today should serve as a wake-up call to law enforcement throughout the state.”

Five of the defendants in the case remain at large.

 

 

Ex-Fed Prosecutor: A Letter to My Son on Moral Decisions in Light of Penn State

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Dear Son,

As your enthusiasm builds for leaving home and going off to college in a few months, I want to talk with you about having to make on-the-spot moral, legal, and social decisions when you are on your own.

As you know, the news has been filled with reports and commentary about the alleged incidents at Penn State involving former Defensive Coach Jerry Sandusky sexually molesting disadvantaged young boys who participated in his charity. He has denied the charges in the indictment, and due process of law will determine his guilt or innocence.

Up for discussion in the unforgiving public forum are the actions of Assistant Coach Mike McQueary who, on March 1, 2002 at 9:30 p.m., while he was a grad assistant entered the practice facility to obtain some video tapes to review. He heard noises from the shower area and went to investigate. According to reports of his grand jury testimony, he was “distraught” when he saw Sandusky raping a ten-year old boy.

It is unclear what happened next. McQueary apparently made no mention in the grand jury about intervening to save the child, but in the last couple days he has hinted that he forced Sandusky to stop. He then called his father, with whom he had a close relationship, for advice on what to do next. Then he contacted Coach Joe Paterno and reported the incident. Later he also told two other Athletic Department officials. These three, however, say that his report was not detailed enough to cause them to take further action of some kind.

It is clear that no one reported the crime to the police or to Child Protective Services. Allegedly Sandusky’s access to the children and the Penn State facilities was not restricted, and he inflicted other such assaults on children during the nine years that have followed. Both Paterno and McQueary continued to publicly support Sandusky’s charitable activities.

The public reaction to McQueary and Paterno has ranged from commendation to vilification. Paterno, probably the most revered football coach in America, was summarily fired and McQueary, perhaps because of his legal protection as a whistleblower, has been placed on paid administrative leave. Probably neither will have any connection to college football again.

The issue worth thinking about is whether McQueary’s response, whatever it was, presents a moral and legal lesson for the rest of us. In my generation a woman named Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in New York’s Central Park while dozens failed to take action when they heard her cries for help. Social psychologists have labeled the phenomenon diffusion of responsibility or bystander effect, but the bottom line is that, when confronted with a moral imperative, people who could have saved her life failed to act.

McQueary has been showered with the moral opprobrium of the commentators who have assumed he failed to stop the assault. They have hastened to assure their listeners that they would have assuredly stepped up stopped the violence and called the cops. Jane Turner, an FBI psychological profiler who specializes in child sex crimes, however has indicated that in her experience most people would have walked away as McQueary is alleged to have done. She writes:

“It takes enormous strength to put one’s moral integrity over your personal inclination to protect fellow colleagues who have committed malfeasance, or criminal activity. The FBI, like Penn State and the Catholic Church, are entities that allows their personnel to report allegations up a chain of command but those in positions of power or change, fail to take immediate or strong actions. It simply boils down to the fact that those in power have a stronger desire to preserve the reputation of their institution, than taking the road of truth or justice. Entities like Penn State, the Catholic Church and the FBI all share something in common; they operate in an insular world where rules or laws that apply to everyone else, do not apply to them.”

Early in my career as a prosecutor, my boss Len Gilman made it clear to us that our job was to do what was right even if we as individuals or our office had to pay the price of being embarrassed or worse. And a couple times we were.

Assume for the sake of this letter that Mike McQueary is neither a hero nor a villain but just a guy who hesitated, as a majority of others would have in 2002, when suddenly confronted with a terrible moral issue. Just a guy who knew that the price to be paid for more aggressive action would be to jeopardize the head coach he idolized, the powerful institution and football program to which he was so loyal, and the future he wanted so badly.

So he called his dad for guidance, then Joe Pa. And that apparently was it, for nine years, until it hit the fan, as it seems with increasing frequency to do. If we have learned nothing else from the massive tragedy that has so damaged the Catholic Church, it is that doing nothing, protecting people and institutions that seem so invulnerable at the time, will usually be disastrous for everyone concerned. And now a legend will die, a great university tarnished for a generation and saddled with millions of dollars of civil settlements, and an apparently otherwise fine young man’s dreams dashed forever. Worst of all, boys who had tough enough lives already were damaged by a man who should have been isolated so he couldn’t harm others.

Son, I hope you always have the luxury of time for meditation and parental guidance before you have to act on a moral issue. But if you don’t, consider this your father’s advice.

Demonstrate the courage I know you have to step up, do what is right, protect the vulnerable, call the police and support them in any way they ask. If there is a price to pay, we will share it together and you will be compensated by the respect of your family and friends.

Oh, and call your mother once in a while.

Dad

Column: Cutting FBI Agents’ Benefits Won’t solve the country’s fiscal crisis

Konrad Motyka/ticklethewire.com photo

Konrad Motyka is president of the FBI Agents Association

By Konrad Motyka
The Hill

Among the federal employees closely watching the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the “Super-Committee”) negotiations are FBI Agents and other federal law enforcement officers. They are becoming increasingly alarmed by calls from some of our political leaders for drastic changes to the formula by which they contribute to their defined pension plans.

For some, attacking federal employees — “faceless bureaucrats” — in the debate over spending cuts offers an easy sound-bite and generates little opposition. However, when they do so, they are also attacking FBI Agents and other law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day.

Agent pay and benefits are not the cause of this country’s fiscal problems, and cutting these benefits would have minimal impact on reducing the deficit. However, federal employees like FBI Agents may be tempting targets because we don’t have the financial wherewithal to impact the Super-Committee’s negotiations with large political operations or active political action committees. Instead, we are working daily to protect this country by combating a wide array of crimes ranging from street gangs to mortgage fraud, and from foreign spy networks to anti-terrorism operations.

To read more click here.

Bullet Hits the White House; Secret Service Investigating

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A bullet hit the White House, but was stopped by ballistic glass, reports the Associated Press.

Because the investigation is ongoing Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan declined to answer questions about the incident, including the room of the hit window are the caliber of the bullet, AP reported. Additional rounds were found outside of the White House.

The bullets were discovered on Tuesday, AP reported.

President Obama was on his way to a summit in Hawaii and not at home at the time.

Officials say the incident is not tied to another shooting incident near the White House on Friday, when gunfire was heard accompanied by two speeding vehicles.

To read more click here.

 

Gunfire Exchange Confirmed in Baltimore ATF Operation

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The ATF operation that sent one agent to the hospital this week included an exchange of gunfire, several other injuries and several arrests, reports the Baltimore Sun.

After remaining tight-lipped about the incident, Special Agent Clare A. Weber, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore ATF office, said information about the exchange was initially withheld because of an internal investigation. She said no one was injured from the gunfire, but apparently offered no details on the injuries.

A video of the incident shows that the exchange took place in the parking lot of a storage company in an industrial section of Baltimore. “That video showed a white SUV speeding across the lot, the passenger side door open, and crashing into another car,” reports the Sun. The video also showed police snipers positioned on rooftops.

To read more click here.

 

Mich. Fire Chief Pleads Not Guilty in FBI Probe

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It’s tough to come by a buck in Metro-Detroit these days.

Still, Jeffrey Hawkins, a 46-year-old former fire chief for Pontiac, Mich.–a city at the northern end of Detroit’s metropolitan area–maintains that he did not ignore fire violations in exchange for cash.

Hawkins plead not guilty on Tuesday after turning himself in following an FBI investigation into an alleged shakedown he had with a local bar.

The bar owner told the FBI that Hawkins offered not to report the violations in exchange for $1,000. Hawkins allegedly took $500 from the owner in August of 2009 and another $500 from an undercover FBI agent in April of 2010.

To read more click here.

FBI Questions W. Va Treasurer’s Employees in Widening Probe

John Perdue/govt. photo By Danny Fenster

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com
 
FBI Agents spread out across West Virginia on Tuesday night to question employees of the state Treasurer John Perdue about $1,000 campaign contributions made to his unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign last spring, reports the Charleston Gazette.

“A number of individuals are being interviewed this evening,” U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin told the paper. “Beyond that, I can’t comment further.”

The FBI and the US Attorney’s Office were already investigating a property sale by Perdue, but the new questioning indicates a widening of the scope of the investigation. They questioned employees over whether they had donated $1,000 themselves or had been given the money to donate to their boss, an illegal practice.

Thirty-five employees of the Treasurer’s Office donated $1,000 each — the maximum allowed — to Perdue’s campaign. Some of the donators earned less than $35,000 a year, according to the Gazette, which raised questions as to how they could afford such a contribution.

To read more click here.