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Archive for December, 2011

Justice Dept. Gives the Nod to Online Gambling

istock photo/ticklethewire.com

By KAJA WHITEHOUSE
New York Post

NEW YORK — The Obama administration just gave Donald Trump and other casino titans a big, wet Christmas kiss.

In a stunning decision, the Justice Department has removed a major hurdle that kept states from legalizing online gambling, by maintaining that a key federal law applies to sports betting but not casino games.

In a letter to some lawmakers, released Dec. 23, DOJ officials said they’d changed their long-held stance against interstate online gambling to prohibit only “bets or wagers relating to sporting events or contests.”

“In my view, 2012 is going to be known as the year the online gambling industry in the United States is going to be born,” said Richard Bronson, chairman of US Digital Gaming, which plans to service the US online gaming industry once it gets going.

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Weighs in on Detroit Case Where 4 Women Found Dead in Car Trunks

U.S. Law Enforcement Deaths Up 13% Over Last Year

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

By way of statistics and lives, 2011 was a bad year for law enforcement.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund issued a preliminary report showing  173 officers were killed in the U.S. in 2011, up 13 percent over last year.

Of that figure, 68 died from gunshots, up 15 percent from 2010. Another 64 were killed in traffic related incidents, down 10 percent from last year.

“This is a devastating and unacceptable trend. Each of these deaths is a tragic reminder of the threats that law enforcement officers face each day – and the fact that too many guns have fallen into the hands of those who are not legally permitted to possess them,” commented Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement.

“Departments across the country have mourned the loss of too many dedicated colleagues and friends, but my colleagues and I at the Justice Department are determined to turn back this rising tide. I want to assure the family members and loved ones who have mourned the loss of these heroes that we are responding to this year’s increased violence with renewed vigilance and will do everything within our power – and use every tool at our disposal – to keep our police officers safe.”

See Stats 

DEA Says Mexican Cartels Extorting Protection Money from U.S. Businesses

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Mexican drug cartels just aren’t selling drugs to make cash.

AHN News reports that the cartels are increasingly extorting protection money from retail stores on the U.S. side of the border.

Citing the DEA, the news agency reports that businesses often don’t report the extortion demands because they employe illegal immigrants and don’t want to draw attention that could lead to the arrest and deportation of the workers.

To read more click here

Ex-ATF Chief Blames Underlings for Fast and Furious

Ken Melson/atf photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The then-acting head of ATF, Ken Melson, told Congressional investigators back in July that he was irate that his underlings didn’t tell him about the controversial agency program Fast and Furious, an operation that encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to “straw purchasers” with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Melson, who made the statement during a July deposition, complained that his chief intelligence officer at ATF was upset with the operation, but did little to shut it down, the Times reported.

“He didn’t come in and tell me, either,” Melson said, according to the LA Times. “And he’s on the same damn floor as I am.”

Melson resigned under pressure in August.

B. Todd Jones, the current acting head of ATF who replaced Melson, commented, saying Melson let field agents and supervisors violate the agency’s approved tactics.

Jones told the Times that the weak management structure at ATF — five acting directors in the last six years — provided a green light for some field agents to ignore Washington and act independently.

“There was a vacuum. Fast and Furious went off the rails, and there were plenty of opportunities to pivot so none of this would happen,” Jones said, according to the Times.

To read more click here.

FBI Background Checks Show Guns Sales at Record Levels

By CNN

WASHINGTON — December holiday shoppers were not just interested in buying the hottest electronics and toys — they also were purchasing record numbers of guns, according to the latest FBI figures on background checks required to buy firearms.

With a few days left in December, the FBI reports the number of background checks has already topped the previous one-month record — set only in November — of 1,534,414 inquiries by gun dealers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System also known as NICS. Almost half a million checks were done in just the last six days before Christmas.

Two days before Christmas, NICS ran 102,222 background checks, which was the second-busiest day in history. The one-day record was set this year on Black Friday, the big shopping day following Thanksgiving, with 129,166 searches. By comparison, the previous one-day high was set November 28, 2008, when gun dealers made slightly less than 98,000 requests for background searches.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

Ex-U.S. Atty. Accuses FBI and Prosecutors of Illegally Obtaining Documents and Lying About It

Former U.S. Atty. Roscoe C. Howard Jr.

UPDATE: Wednesday: U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto ruled against the defense request to suppress evidence.
 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former D.C. U.S. Attorney is accusing the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office of illegally obtaining documents in a major bank fraud trial in Brooklyn involving a Democratic fundraiser,  and then lying about it. He’s also accusing the government of allegedly introducing bogus documents that an FBI informant created.

Roscoe C. Howard Jr., the former U.S. Attorney, who is representing Democratic fundraiser Courtney Dupree, raised the allegations in a Dec. 21 letter filed in court and addressed to presiding U.S. District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto. Trial began Dec. 5 and the defense is presenting its case this week.

Howard, a D.C. lawyer with the firm Andrews Kurth,  who served as U.S. Attorney under President Bush, is asking that the Brooklyn  judge to suppress evidence illegally obtained.

The FBI in New York and the U.S. Attorney’s Office  in Brooklyn did not immediately return phone calls Tuesday morning  from ticklethewire.com for comment.

The allegations of wrongdoing have flown under the radar of the New York media, which has showed more interest in ex-Green Bay Packer running back Dorsey Levens testifying in trial as a character witness for Dupree.  Robert Holland, ex-CEO of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, also testified as a character witness.

At the heart of the case is the Long Island-, GDC Acquisitions,  a holding of company,  of which Dupree is the CEO. Dupree  is charged with grossly overstating the billings to fraudulently obtain a $21 million loan from Amalgamated Bank.

The case began to take form when an employee of GDC, Emilio Serrano, went to the FBI to complain about financial shenanigans. The FBI claims that Serrano came in hand with all the documents for the case.

Howard contends in his letter to the judge, that after Serrano’s  initial meeting with FBI agent Gavin Shea in May 2010, the agent directed him to collect more documents from the company. Howard contends that the since Serrano was then acting as an agent for the FBI, the FBI needed to obtain a search warrant after the initial meeting. No search warrant was obtained.

The FBI has contended that Serrano came with all the documents and did not collect anything after that first meeting.

Howard claims in the letter that the government is lying.

In fact, he writes that Serrano testified during cross examination that he collected documents after his first meeting with the FBI , an admission which “contradicts the government’s repeated representations to the Court and defense counsel that Serrano had obrained all the documents before he approached the FBI.”

“Further cross-examination (of Serrano) revealed that not only had Serrano taken documents from GDC after meeting with Agent Shea, he actually created false financial records, which the government has introduced at trial, in an effort to curry favor with the government,” Howard wrote.

 

Missing Girl Found Dead, Babysitter Charged in Case FBI Was Involved In

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A missing 9-year-old girl has been found dead, the Associated Press reports, and the girl’s babysitter was arrested on murder charges Monday night. The FBI had been helping in the search.

Aliahna Lemmon’s body was found in northeast Indiana, near her family’s mobile home park, investigators say. They aren’t releasing where exactly the remains were found, sheriff’s spokesman Cpl. Jeremy Tinkel told the AP.

The babysitter, Mike Plumadore, was taken into custody after being interviewed by police late Monday. The 39-year-old, who was watching Lemmon and her sisters’ at the time of the disappearance, faces a murder charge.

“He was a trusted family friend,” the girl’s step-grandfather, David Story, told the AP.

To read more click here.