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Archive for July 26th, 2013

Weekend Series on Crime: Hunting for Fugitives With Deputy U.S. Marshals

Column: The Unfair Treatment of Man Who Really Just Wanted to Be an FBI Agent

Herman Groman is a retired FBI agent whose work included investigating public corruption and organized crime.

Justin Slaby

 
By Herman Groman
For ticklethewire.com

I’m not one to easily pick up a cause. I’ve seen too many situations when after all of the hype and the dust settles, somehow the “cause” was found to be flawed.

So when I heard about FBI Agent trainee Justin Slaby being drummed out of the FBI training academy at Quantico, Virginia, I was certain after looking into it, there would be more to this story. It would all make sense.

You see Justin Slaby is a former US Army ranger and he served three tours of duty serving his country in Afghanistan and Iraq. He left the military only after his left hand was blown off by a grenade.

His life-long ambition was to become an FBI Special Agent, but with his amputated left hand it seemed unlikely his dream would be realized. Still, he was hopeful.

He got some encouragement along the way from an FBI recruiter he met, and decided as improbable as it might be, he would continue his quest. The first obstacle he faced however, wasn’t his missing hand. He had a state of the art prosthesis and could just about do anything he could before he lost his hand. He had to get a college degree.

So the married father went to college at night full-time and worked during the day. All the while he kept his sights on his dream to become an agent. Eventually, he landed a job with the elite FBI hostage rescue team as a support employee.

Not an easy accomplishment by itself, but he still wasn’t an agent. Fortunately, when it came to firearms, he was an expert shot and he was right handed. But knowing that the FBI firearms training required that some shooting be done with the “weak hand” (in his case his left hand with the prosthesis) he even learned to shoot with the prosthesis for this limited shooting. Eventually, his determination paid off.

After enduring the grueling application process, countless interviews and an extensive background investigation, he was offered a position as an FBI Special Agent trainee at Quantico Va.

Herman Groman

He was where he had dreamed of being since he was boy. Against all odds, he had made it to the FBI Academy. He was doing well in the academics, and the physical part of it was a cake walk given his Army Ranger training.

In firearms training he was doing well, but the technique he developed for shooting with his prosthesis in his “weak hand” wasn’t in conformance established FBI firearms guidelines.

It wasn’t pretty, but he got the job done. After several weeks into the training, he noticed that he would be called out of classes and summoned to the firearms unit. He was tasked to do things that the other trainees were not asked to do.

Things like draw a can of pepper spray and his weapon at the same time and pull  a 250-pound man around with one arm. One of the instructors even callously blurted out to one of his classmates, “What’s next? Guys in wheelchairs?”

Still, he was willing to endure whatever they asked of him in order to accomplish his goal of becoming a special agent.

After a few weeks, in spite of his satisfactory performance, he was dismissed from the FBI Academy because of his unconventional “weak hand shooting technique.”

He formally requested to be reinstated to the academy and his request was denied.

Slaby has filed a federal law suit and the trial is scheduled to begin on Monday July 29th in Stafford Va.

I for one hope he prevails. He has already demonstrated that he has guts, focus, drive and integrity: the qualities that make an outstanding FBI Special Agent.

Detroit’s U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade Knew Feds Would Be Subject to Some Ridicule in Hoffa Dig

Featured_mcquade3_6597U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade
By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Things haven’t been dull for Barbara McQuade.

Right after being sworn in as the Detroit U.S. Attorney in January 2010, she started dealing with the “Underwear Bomber” case involving Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to detonate an explosive aboard a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas day.

Later that year, her office indicted ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

This year, her staff scored a major victory, convicting Kilpatrick, his buddy Bobby Ferguson and his dad Bernard Kilpatrick.  She was involved in the decision that lead to the FBI digging for Jimmy Hoffa in June. And her prosecutors continue to investigate corruption in Wayne County government.

In a wide-ranging interview, McQuade, who has been a prosecutor in the office for 15 years,  sat down with Deadline Detroit to talk about public corruption, terrorism,  Hezbollah’s links to Metro Detroit,  Kwame Kilpatrick’s upcoming sentencing, the Hoffa mystery, the credibility of ex-mobster Tony Zerilli who provided the latest tip as to Hoffa’s whereabouts, and what went into the decision to dig for the legendary union leader recently in Oakland Township.

“We knew there’d be some ridicule, like ‘Oh my gosh, they’re digging for Hoffa again,” she says.

The following interview was condensed and the questions were edited for clarity.

DD: Can we expect more indictments out of City Hall?

McQuade: I don’t know about city hall per se. I guess I wouldn’t want to comment on that. The pension fund case is pending and we’ll go to trial early part of next year. It’s no secret that we’re currently investigating Wayne County government because that has all been very public despite our efforts to do our best make sure we protect the integrity of people involved in that investigation. I think there have been six defendants convicted to date in that investigation.

DD: I noticed in the paper that former U.S. Attorney Jeff Collins, who works for Bob Ficano, has asked you for a letter for Ficano saying he’s not a target of the investigation. Apparently he’s not gotten one. Is there a reason not to issue a letter?

McQuade: I don’t want to comment on that other than we are investigating all aspects of Wayne County and we don’t know yet where the evidence may lead us. So people should not infer anything positive or negative from that.

DD:  It’s unusual for a federal judge to detain a defendant in a white collar case before sentencing. Were you surprised Judge Nancy Edmunds detained Kwame Kilpatrick?

McQuade: We thought we had a reasonable chance of that outcome.  I don’t know I expected that outcome. I wasn’t stunned in light of the history he had in the state court with flouting court orders.

DD: Have you seen that before in a white collar case?

McQuade: From time to time people get detained in white collar cases. I agree with you that it is more rare. There was no argument that he was a danger to the community and more often, those are the kind of defendants who get detained.  This was more along the lines of risk of flight and a history of not complying with court orders.

DD: How involved was the Justice Department with the Kwame case and how worried were they about pulling the trigger and indicting?

McQuade: Not much at all.  The Justice Department does get involved in certain kinds of cases with national implications. For example, the Abdulatalab case (Underwear Bomber), which was an international terrorism case. They were very involved in that and wanted to be kept apprised at every step of the way and we needed approval from them every step of the way.  The Kilpatrick case much less so. Really we were notifying them of significant events in that case.  But other than that, they really let us run that case on our own.

Featured_22_33_49_874_bernard_kilpatrickBernard Kilpatrick

DD: You indicted Bernard Kilpatrick, Kwame’s dad, who worked as a business consultant for city contractors. I know prosecutors sometimes worry the jury might be more sympathetic when they see a family unit on trial.  Was that something that was debated?

McQuade: I guess I don’t want to talk about specifics of what we debated. But you’re absolutely right that those are always the kinds of things that you think about: How does this affect the jury’s perception of the case? Are we overreaching in any way? But we felt very strongly about charging Bernard Kilpatrick because we thought the evidence against him was very strong. Ultimately, the jury was hung on him with respect to RICO charges but did convict him of the tax charges. There was wire tap evidence, video evidence, that we thought was very strong that (showed) he was just not a participant but a leader in this activity.

DD: Do you think in his case or others the laws involving lobbying and consulting are too vague?

McQuade: Well, sometimes the lines are unclear about what is permitted and what is not permitted. But the evidence we thought in this case was very strong that there was no gray matter, that this was misconduct. But as I said, reasonable minds can disagree.

DD: A lot of people were happy to see the indictment, but some supporters of his  wondered if it was racially motivated. Did you feel pressure if he walked that it would bolster his cries of racism?

McQuade: I wasn’t worried about it. Defendants always have some argument about why they’re being unfairly targeted.  That’s a fairly common tactic. Certainly it was an important case for the city of Detroit. And so we did feel strongly and had great hopes the jury would see it our way and convict him.  If he had not been held accountable I think it would have sent a terrible message to the entire city of Detroit and the entire community.

To read full interview click here.

Wounded Army Ranger Claims FBI Denied Him Job Because of Prosthesis

Justin Slaby

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Army Ranger who served twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan was on his way to his fourth overseas tour when his left hand was blown off in a training accident, NPR reports.

Justin Slaby, who was fitted with a state-of-the-art prosthesis, opted to join the FBI but said he couldn’t believe what happened next.

But six weeks into his 21-week program, the FBI said Slaby wasn’t cut out for the job and couldn’t safely handle a weapon, NPR reported.

Slaby objected.

“Let me go to the firing range, and I’ll show you what I can do,” he said, according to NPR.

When that didn’t work, Slaby hired an attorney.

Cory B. Nelson, Head of Chicago’s FBI Office, to Retire After Just Seven Months

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of Chicago’s FBI Office, is leaving his post after just seven month to take a job in the private sector, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

The 51-year-old notified the bureau Wednesday that he was leaving for a job with insurance and banking firm USAA in San Antonio, according to the Sun Times.

Nelson, who held a low public profile, had replaced Rob Grant for the top FBI job in Chicago.

What’s unclear is why he left. Some are speculating that he left because of sequesters or the inevitable turnover to happen when a new FBI director takes over, according to the Sun Times.

Column: The Unfair Treatment of Man Who Wanted Nothing More Than to Be An FBI Agent

Herman Groman is a retired FBI agent whose work included investigating public corruption and organized crime.

Justin Slaby

 
By Herman Groman
For ticklethewire.com

I’m not one to easily pick up a cause. I’ve seen too many situations when after all of the hype and the dust settles, somehow the “cause” was found to be flawed.

So when I heard about FBI Agent trainee Justin Slaby being drummed out of the FBI training academy at Quantico, Virginia, I was certain after looking into it, there would be more to this story. It would all make sense.

You see Justin Slaby is a former US Army ranger and he served three tours of duty serving his country in Afghanistan and Iraq. He left the military only after his left hand was blown off by a grenade.

His life-long ambition was to become an FBI Special Agent, but with his amputated left hand it seemed unlikely his dream would be realized. Still, he was hopeful.

He got some encouragement along the way from an FBI recruiter he met, and decided as improbable as it might be, he would continue his quest. The first obstacle he faced however, wasn’t his missing hand. He had a state of the art prosthesis and could just about do anything he could before he lost his hand. He had to get a college degree.

So the married father went to college at night full-time and worked during the day. All the while he kept his sights on his dream to become an agent. Eventually, he landed a job with the elite FBI hostage rescue team as a support employee.

Not an easy accomplishment by itself, but he still wasn’t an agent. Fortunately, when it came to firearms, he was an expert shot and he was right handed. But knowing that the FBI firearms training required that some shooting be done with the “weak hand” (in his case his left hand with the prosthesis) he even learned to shoot with the prosthesis for this limited shooting. Eventually, his determination paid off.

After enduring the grueling application process, countless interviews and an extensive background investigation, he was offered a position as an FBI Special Agent trainee at Quantico Va.

Herman Groman

He was where he had dreamed of being since he was boy. Against all odds, he had made it to the FBI Academy. He was doing well in the academics, and the physical part of it was a cake walk given his Army Ranger training.

In firearms training he was doing well, but the technique he developed for shooting with his prosthesis in his “weak hand” wasn’t in conformance established FBI firearms guidelines.

It wasn’t pretty, but he got the job done. After several weeks into the training, he noticed that he would be called out of classes and summoned to the firearms unit. He was tasked to do things that the other trainees were not asked to do.

Things like draw a can of pepper spray and his weapon at the same time and pull  a 250-pound man around with one arm. One of the instructors even callously blurted out to one of his classmates, “What’s next? Guys in wheelchairs?”

Still, he was willing to endure whatever they asked of him in order to accomplish his goal of becoming a special agent.

After a few weeks, in spite of his satisfactory performance, he was dismissed from the FBI Academy because of his unconventional “weak hand shooting technique.”

He formally requested to be reinstated to the academy and his request was denied.

Slaby has filed a federal law suit and the trial is scheduled to begin on Monday July 29th in Stafford Va.

I for one hope he prevails. He has already demonstrated that he has guts, focus, drive and integrity: the qualities that make an outstanding FBI Special Agent.

FBI: Agents Used Drones 10 Times in U.S. Airspace for Criminal Investigations, National Security

 

istock photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has flown drones in U.S. airspace 10 times since 2006, the FBI told Sen. Rand Paul, The New York Times reports.

The bureau admitted it uses drones for aerial surveillance in “very limited circumstances.”

Drones were used eight times for criminal cases and twice for national security, according to the Times report.

“The FBI does not use (unmanned aerial vehicles) to conduct ‘bulk’ surveillance or to conduct general surveillance not related to an investigation or assessment,” Kelly wrote.

In one of the cases, the FBI used a drone to help rescue a 5-year-old boy who was being held hostage in an underground bunker in Alabama, The Times reported.

Obama’s Choice for Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Denies Abusing His Influence

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

President Obama’s nomination for second in command at the Department of Homeland Security fended off allegations Thursday that he helped Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s brother get a special visa for foreign investors, The Los Angeles Times reports.

The nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas is important because he could become the temporary replacement for Janet Napolitano, who plans to leave in September for another job.

The department’s inspector general is trying to determine whether Mayorkas abused his position by helping Gulf Coast Funds Management, run by Anthony Rodham, get a visa visa for a Chinese investor who was twice denied a visa.

“I have never in my career used undue influence to influence the outcome of a case,” Alejandro Mayorkas, the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told a Senate panel considering his nomination, The LA Times wrote.

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