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Archive for September 7th, 2012

Fed Judge in Detroit Mayor Trial Trying to Trample on Press Rights

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — U.S. District Court Judge Nancy G. Edmunds, who is overseeing the corruption trial of ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in downtown Detroit has a reputation for being a first-rate judge.

But Edmunds is attracting attention because she appears to be unusually concerned with what the media can report during jury selection in the Kilpatrick case. Her actions have prompted Herschel Fink, a noted First Amendment attorney, to write her a letter on behalf of the Free Press that raises concerns about possible violations of the First Amendment.

In what is an extraordinary case, Edmunds issued an extraordinary court order before jury selection. It’s one I had not seen before in federal court.

The order goes like this:

“The media is not permitted to blog about jury selection or otherwise provide any detail that may enable a prospective juror to be identified.”

To read more click here.

 

Weekend Series on Crime History: East LA Gangs in the 70s

Ex-FBI Agent Pleads to Passing on Inside Info to a Close Friend

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An ex-FBI agent pleaded guilty Friday to obtaining information about an undercover law enforcement operation in Newark and giving it to a close friend,  the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark announced.

In June 2011, Ivan Stantchev was asked by a friend to  obtain confidential information in connection with four telephone numbers and any individuals associated with those numbers, authorities said.

Authorities said Stantchev asked an FBI colleague in the New York Metro area to obtain this information from FBI computers.

On June 30, 2011, that colleague sent  Stantchev an electronic document through the FBI’s email system detailing confidential information from certain FBI databases, including the existence of an ongoing FBI investigation in Newark, N.J.; the federal offenses being investigated in Newark; the related FBI case number; the name of the FBI’s operation; and notations confirming the existence of an undercover law enforcement operation in Newark.

 

Prolific Retired-ATF Official Bernie La Forest Cranks Out His Third Novel

Bernie La Forest/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
 
Ex-ATF official Bernie La Forest is at it again.

The prolific La Forest has just knocked out his third mystery novel, “A Matter of Lex Talionis,” the story of a Lt. Andre de Avilés, who heads the Detroit Police Department’s Intel Squad.

Described as a forty-somethin’, ‘balls-to-the-wall” detective known for fighting organized crimes, the lieutenant gets tied up in a probe involving a bombing in Detroit’s Mexican Town that appears to be an act of terrorism.

He joins up with ATF and eventually some retired associates.

La Forest headed up ATF offices in Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Phoenix, and was a former Detroit cop. He retired from ATF in 1998.

I asked La Forest a few questions about his writing.

Here’s how he responded:

What kind of discipline does it take to write three books? Do you write everyday at a certain time?

I do not prepare an outline or chapter guide. However, I do spend a few months rolling potential plots around in my head. The first day that I begin writing is the most difficult. But, once I type the first paragraph . . . it’s off to the races. As you probably know, my novels are based loosely on a series format. I do not have one single hero or heroine, but rather, I lean on what I always believed. Most large law enforcement agencies . . . federal state or local . . . have many characters working on complex investigations. There may be one or two “case writers” or “lead detective or special agent,” but many more are involved in the day-to-day operation. For example, these are just a few tasks that might break the case wide open: Forensics, intelligence gathering, informants, surveillance, undercover, investigators on multi-agency task forces, timing of arrests or raids, etc. So in the end, on many investigations there are usually many heroes or heroines. Which in the end, allows an author using my style and POV . . . to spread the credit around instead of picking one standout.

The bottom line, while working in two DPD precincts and being an original member of the expanded TMU . . . followed by my thirteen moves around the country with ATF, I have come in contact with hundreds of cops, deputies, troopers, and specialized investigators. Stories are not a problem . . . the well is deep and the water is constantly refreshed by memories of partners, friends and associates who toiled on The Job.

How long did it take you to write this one?

I get up around 6 a.m. every day and take the mountain bike into the desert behind our place. After four or five miles on the dirt trails on the backside of the McDowell Mountains, sometimes more, I clean up, watch the news, check out Stratfor.com, WSJ, AZCentral.com for local news, and the Detroit News and the Freep for hometown “stuff.” Then I station my self next to a twenty-four cup coffee urn with a free flowing spigot . . . around Ten o’clock. Then I begin—after opening pages in Wikipedia, Google Maps and others that will provide definitions or descriptive material . . . and, most importantly Dictionary/Thesaurus.com. I began writing A Matter of Lex Talionis on October 6th of last year. I finished in May of 2012. Review and editing took us . . . my two editors and me, another three months . . . including the galley which contains errors caused by the printing setup at the publisher.

Here’s a hint, almost every street, highway, business address, and location mentioned, e.g., surveillance routes . . . is viewed by me on Google street image program . . . in every country where the trucks have uploaded images. I usually wrap up a session around 4:00 p.m., although, sometimes I will continue until dark. There are occasions where I may spend two or three hours working an one or two pages . . . or, start moving sections back toward the beginning or further into the story. That can be a dangerous proposition if I’m not careful . . . lots of copies of what is, what was, what might be, and what looks best.

Does  it get easier or harder?

It gets easier with every book, and hopefully, a much improved product.

To find out more about the book click here. 

Google Defies FBI Attempts to Gain Cell Phone Passwords

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A defiant Google earlier this year refused to unlock a suspected pimp’s cellphone, prompting a potential legal battle with the FBI that could have sweeping ramifications, the Wall Street Journal reports.

When the FBI can’t unlock cell phone information, such as texts, phone numbers and emails, it appears the agency is asking smartphone software makers for passwords, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Asking for passwords “is awfully new and aggressive,” said Paul Ohm, associate professor at the University of Colorado Law School and former federal prosecutor.

To date, there are no legal standards about obtaining passwords from phone makers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

FBI Investigates U.S. Border Patrol Shooting Along Rio Grand River

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Border Patrol acknowledged Thursday that an agent shot a Mexican citizen along the border.

The patrol’s Laredo sector said in a statement that the shooting occurred after rocks were thrown at agents.

“A weapon was discharged by Border Patrol. All appropriate authorities were notified and the shooting is under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the statement read.

The agency didn’t say whether the shooting was fatal.

Mexican officials said one of their citizens died in the shooting and accused the agency of excessive force.

FBI Agent Convicted of Fraud May Get New Trial

 
Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A Nashville FBI agent who was sentenced last year to four years in prison for wire and bankruptcy fraud may get a new trial after allegations of racial discrimination surfaced, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday, the Tennessean reports.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said the case should be sent back to district court to determine if Darin Lee McAllister is entitled to a new trial.

At issue is the dismissal of two black prospective jurors.

McAllister, who was accused of a scheme to defraud a bank, argues the District Court should have allowed him to challenge the jurors’ dismissals.

‘The Zombies Are Coming!’ Homeland Security Warns

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Homeland Security Department is urging citizens to prepare for a zombie apocalypse.

No, really. It was the government’s way of injecting a little humor into helping communities prepare for emergencies.

The idea is to prepare citizens for genuine disasters and emergencies, which would take the same sort of preparation to fend off a zombie attack, reports the Associated Press.

The tongue-and-cheek warning had a serious tone. If an emergency would break out, Homeland Security said residents should have an emergency evacuation plan and clothes, water, extra medication and emergency flashlights, the AP said.

AP reported that the Federal Emergency Management Agency hosted an online seminar for its Citizen Corps organization to prepare for emergencies and used the zombie thing to add a little humor to the matter.

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