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Archive for July 31st, 2012

How an Inside Trader Avoided FBI Agents

By David Voreacos 
Bloomberg News

Every dawn in the early spring of 2011, Matthew Kluger peered out his window, wondering when federal agents would knock at his door. Kluger, a mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer, says he worried that authorities were closing in on him as the source of illegal tips in a three-man insider-trading ring that had eluded detection for 17 years.

The knock came on April 6. U.S. agents handcuffed Kluger, hustled him into a Dodge Intrepid, drove to the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Manassas, Virginia, and laid out the case against him. The evidence included tape recordings of Kluger telling the man he tipped to get rid of a cellular phone that could lead back to him — and to do it carefully because the authorities had dogs that can sniff out mobiles.

“I really would like to see this phone go bye-bye ASAP,” Kluger said, adding: “Do you want this to be our undoing?”

Kluger’s account offers a unique view of insider trading by a mid-level lawyer who moved from one powerful firm to another, exploiting his access to partners and confidential documents. It shows how difficult it is to police such activity when conspirators take care to conceal their crimes and trade with discipline. The trio’s downfall came only when one of them changed the routine after almost two decades.

To read more click here.

Out-of-State Guns Used in Most NY Crimes

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

New York’s restrictive gun laws have triggered a rash of gun sales from other states, a federal report shows, Newsday reports.

Because the state prohibits machine guns and possessing handguns without a license, weapons are brought into New York from elsewhere, according to a report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms.

“We call New York a market state because it’s so highly regulated that it’s easier to get a gun in another state and bring it back,” said ATF group supervisor Robert Cucinelli, according to Newsday.

Importing guns from other states is so common that most guns recovered from New York crimes last year originated from states with fewer legal restrictions, Newsday reported.

 

GOP Report Blames Five ATF Officials for “Fast and Furious” Mess


William Newell

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republican investigators blamed the failures of “Operation Fast and Furious” on five high-ranking officials at ATF in a scathing congressional report issued Monday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“From the outset, the case was marred by missteps, poor judgments, and an inherently reckless strategy,” the report states.

The 211-page report calls on the Obama administration and Senate to improve leadership at the ATF, which has been without a permanent director for six years.

Among the five held responsible is William Newell, the former special agent-in-charge in Phoenix, who the report says exhibited “repeatedly risky management,” the LA Times reported.

The five ATF managers identified in the report have been moved to other positions, according to the LA Times.

Here’s some excerpts of the report:

“From the outset, the case was marred by missteps, poor judgments, and an inherently reckless strategy. In the summer of 2009, the Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. promulgated a ‘Strategy for Combating the Mexican Cartels.’ The new aim was to zero in on the firearms trafficking networks. Agents were advised that ‘merely seizing firearms’ purchased illegally by straw buyers should take a back seat to gathering information in hopes of dismantling entire firearms trafficking networks. To effectuate the new plan, ATF agents in Phoenix convinced local gun dealers to cooperate by supplying ATF with real-time information on the straw purchases, even though ATF knew the buyers were illegally obtaining firearms destined for the Mexican drug cartels. The gun dealers were reassured that ATF was closely monitoring the transactions, and interdicting the weapons. That was false.”

**

“Shortly after the case began, in December 2009, DEA supplied ATF with extensive information on what would become ATF’s prime target. At that point, ATF should have shut Fast and Furious down, but it failed to recognize the significance of the information the DEA had shared. Instead, ATF continued with its plan to identify all the players in the trafficking network rather than disrupt or deter them through confrontation and arrest. So, hundreds of guns flowed to criminals while two of the trafficking network’s customers, who were its connection to the Mexican drug cartels, were already known to U.S. law enforcement. Both the FBI and DEA had key information on the network’s connection drug cartels in Mexico by the time ATF’s wiretaps were approved.”

 

***

“Though Attorney General Holder testified that the case was ‘fundamentally flawed’ and President Obama has stated that mistakes may have been made, all responsible ATF officials still work either at the ATF or within the Department of Justice. The two men most closely identified with the failed strategy of the case and who bear the brunt of responsibility for supervising the operation on a day-to-day basis, William Newell and David Voth, have both kept their jobs at ATF.”

 

***

“This report is not intended to imply in any way that the mistakes and responsibility for Operation Fast and Furious are limited to ATF and other federal officials who were based in Arizona. While mistakes by figures in Arizona were immense, the joint Congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious will issue a second report detailing the mistakes and culpability of Department of Justice officials based in Washington, D.C.”

***

“Operation Fast and Furious was the largest firearms trafficking case involving the U.S.-Mexico border in the history of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The case began in the fall of 2009 in ATF’s Phoenix Field Division under the leadership of Special Agent in Charge William Newell, an agent with a history of sanctioning the dangerous investigative technique known as gunwalking. Newell had been reprimanded before by ATF management for pushing the envelope with discredited tactics. But Newell had an audacious goal. He intended to dismantle the U.S.-based gun trafficking network that supplied the formidable Mexican Sinaloa Cartel. When the Obama administration resurrected an earlier case in which his division used reckless gunwalking tactics, Newell saw his opportunity.”

***

Click here for a copy of the report, Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation, Part I of III” and the 2,148 page appendices.

Chicago Man Faces Prison Time on Terrorism Charge

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Chicago man accused of traveling to Somalia to become a suicide bomber for a terrorist group tied to al-Qaida faces nearly 10 year in prison, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Shaker Masri, 28, agreed to plead guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization in exchange for serving no more than nine years and 10 months in prison.

Masri’s plans were recorded by an FBI informant who befriended Masri, a native U.S. citizen, and pledged to help him travel, according to the Tribune.

The pair discussed traveling to East Africa and obtaining weapons and supplies.

Masri is of Syrian descent, the Tribune reported.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Trenton Mayor Says He’s Providing Answers to FBI

Mayor Tony Mack

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Trenton Mayor Tony Mack said he is cooperating with the FBI after agents searched his house and city hall offices, the Courier-Post reports.

But Mack, making his first public appearance since the FBI raided his house and city offices about two weeks ago, declined to answer questions about the focus of the investigation and whether he may be charged with any crimes.

Mack wore a suit, tie and wide grin during his appearance at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a library, the Courier-Post reported.

Asked where he went after the raids, Mack said he was on vacation.

Chicago’s Longest FBI Chief Robert Grant Stepping Down; Going to Work for Walt Disney

Robert Grant/fbi photo

By STEFANO ESPOSITO
Chicago Sun-Times

CHICAGO — The city’s longest-serving FBI chief is retiring — just one month after the city’s top federal prosecutor stepped down.

Robert D. Grant, 54, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office, has accepted a job with the Walt Disney Company in Los Angeles, where he will be part of their “Global Security Team,” according to the FBI.

“I have witnessed the FBI do some amazing things,” Grant said in a written statement Monday. “It has grown and stretched in ways I never thought possible. What I have come to realize is there is almost nothing the FBI cannot do when it sets a proper course and supports its tremendous people. There isn’t a day that goes by where I am not impressed and amazed at the work of the men and women of this organization, who I will miss greatly.”

To read the full story click here. 

Stephen Richardson to Head FBI’s Mobile, Ala. Office

Steve Richardson/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Stephen E. Richardson, an inspector with the Office of Inspections, is leaving the mothership at headquarters and heading south to take charge of the Mobile, Ala. FBI office.

Richardson began his career with the FBI in 1996 and was first assigned to the New Orleans Division, Lafayette Resident Agency, and later the Baton Rouge Resident Agency.

In 2002, he moved up to supervisory special agent of the Safe Street and Gang Unit, Criminal Investigative Division at headquarters.

The next year, he was assigned to the Counterterrorism Division as a program manager, where he supervised terrorism investigations throughout the eastern region of the nation. In 2004, he was promoted to unit chief of the FBI Counterterrorism Watch Center, where he oversaw threats made to the United States.

In 2005, he became a supervisory agent in the Memphis Division and in 2009 he was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Richmond Division’s Criminal, Cyber, and Administrative Programs and oversaw the Roanoke, Bristol, and Lynchburg Resident Agencies. In January 2011, Richardson was promoted to his most recent position as inspector with the Office of Inspections.