Get Our Newsletter



Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

October 2013
S M T W T F S
« Sep   Nov »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Archive for October 21st, 2013

Douglas Lindquest to Head Up El Paso FBI

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Douglas E. Lindquist, who recently served as section chief of the Counterintelligence Division at FBI headquarters, has been named head of the agency’s El Paso Division.

Lindquist began his career with the FBI in 1997, and was first posted at the Washington Field Office, where he investigated international terrorism and counterintelligence.

In 1998, as a member of the Rapid Deployment Team, he deployed to Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya, as part of the KENBOM investigation, which followed the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, according to an FBI press release.

In 2002, he was promoted to a supervisor in the Middle East Unit of the International Terrorism Operations Section in the Counterterrorism Division.

Two years later, he joined the Springfield Division as a counterintelligence squad supervisor and program coordinator. He also supervised the Field Intelligence Group squad.

In 2009, he was off to Philly where he became assistant special agent in charge of the division’s counterterrorism and weapons of mass destruction programs and directed the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Before joining the FBI, he was an officer in the Marine Corps.

 

 

The Hole-in-the-Truck Gang

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

It was a cold early spring Saturday morning, and I was following a lead in a rural part of Michigan. I had received a call on Friday afternoon that there was a unique piece of evidence on a farm near the Michigan/Ohio border.

When I got to the farm, I made contact with the owner and identified myself. He walked me to the back of an outbuilding. There parked in the weeds was a white cargo van with flat tires. The farmer opened the van’s back door. In the middle of the cargo bay was a circular hole that had been cut in the floor.

So why was I out here on a cold Saturday morning looking at a van with a hole in its floor?

It all started in the summer the year before, 1998. An Environmental Protection Agency /FBI task force that was working illegal dumping cases had received information that a waste disposal company near Ann Arbor, Michigan, was defrauding clients by not doing work and overcharging. There were also rumors that the company was surreptitiously creating spills which they then charged clients to clean-up. The information was fragmentary, and it was coming primarily from disgruntled employees.

The disposal firm was Hi-Po. Hi-Po had been in business for about 9 years. The founders Aaron Smith, who was just 26, and Stephen Carbeck (34) started with a pick-up and a power washer. They had grown Hi-Po to more than 100 employees and several vacuum trucks at well over $200,000 each. By all accounts Hi-Po had become extraordinarily successful with such clients as the University of Michigan and Chrysler.

In the summer of 1998, the EPA/FBI task force had learned that recently one of the Hi-Po employees had quit reportedly because he was upset with Hi-Po not performing work and then charging for the work that hadn’t been done.

That employee, Michael Stagg had retired from the Washtenaw County (Michigan) drain commissioner’s office prior to working at Hi-Po.  EPA agent Greg Horvath and FBI agent, Steve Flattery,  both from the task force, and I went to Stagg’s home in Ann Arbor. He wasn’t surprised to see us and said he had been thinking about coming to us.

Stagg was very forthcoming, but he only had limited direct knowledge. He had inspected a Hi-Po clean-up project in Riverview, a city south of Detroit. There he saw that Hi-Po had only done about ½ the work they had contracted to do, but Stagg was told Hi-Po billed Riverview for the whole job. (Later we learned that a Riverview official was receiving kickbacks.)

Because Stagg had left Hi-Po, he had no ability to get additional evidence. He did suggest we contact Greg Cainstraight (good name for a potential cooperating witness), who had been recently hired as Hi-Po’s chief financial officer. Stagg seemed to think that Cainstraight was uncomfortable with some of the things Hi-Po was doing and might be cooperative.

Cainstraight had attended West Point and played football there. He transferred to Michigan State University where he received his accounting degree. We decided to meet Cainstraight cold and try to get a feel for whether he might be willing to work with us. It was a gamble. We did not have a strong case. If we approached Cainstraight, and he wasn’t cooperative, he could go back and warn Smith and Carbeck of the investigation. With forewarning they could make it very difficult for us to make a case.

I knew it was important to establish some rapport with Cainstraight. I talked to him about playing college football and being a West Point cadet. (I had been an undistinguished football player at Nebraska.) The West point motto, “Duty, Honor, Country” was mentioned and “The Long Gray Line,” John Ford’s movie and Rick Atkinson’s book. I think Cainstraight would have been cooperative, no matter who contacted him, but it’s important for a cooperating witness to trust the agent who handles him. We did develop a trusting a relationship, and as a result he agreed to attempt to record possibly incriminating conversations with Smith and Carbeck.

Cainstraight told us that Smith and/or Carbeck would on occasion come to his office and discuss business matters. It would not be practical to have Cainstraight “wired” all the time. (This was before miniature digital recorders were generally available. We were still using Nagra reel-to-reel tape recorders.) So we decided to wire Cainstraight’s briefcase which he told us he customarily kept next to his desk. Our tech guys put a recorder in the briefcase and made a small hole for the microphone. They also placed an exterior on/off switch so that Cainstraight could easily activate the recorder.

In September, when I delivered the briefcase to Cainstraight, we talked about recording conversations. We decided to see what transpired without trying to orchestrate any meeting. If that didn’t work, we might try to instigate something.

Within days Cainstraight called me and said he thought had recorded a good conversation. (He had no way to review the tape as Nagra’s don’t have playback capability.) “Good Conversation” turned out to be a dramatic understatement. Smith and Carbeck had come to Cainstraight’s office and for about 2 hours, held forth with a running narrative of their criminal activity at Hi-Po.

They talked about defrauding the University of Michigan. They billed UM for whole days of sewer maintenance, even though Hi-Po was doing nothing. On jobs where Hi-Po was doing work for UM and other clients they substantially over billed. They alluded to employees at UM, Chrysler and Riverview that they were bribing to play along.

But most disturbing were their stories of the incidents where they created intentional spills. Smith, as though he was telling a story about a fraternity prank, told about how he and Carbeck took a cargo van out at night with 55 gallon drums of diesel fuel. Then Smith dumped the drums through a hole in the floor of the van. Smith and Carbeck laughed when they related how the empty drums and Smith were rolling around in the back of the van as Carbeck drove away from one of the dumping sites. (Later they would anonymously report the spills to their clients, and Hi-Po would clean them up.)

Ironically, I suspect, Smith and Carbeck were trying to recruit Cainstraight to be a full-fledged member of their criminal conspiracy, and Cainstraight was recording their recruitment pitch. In my experience I had never heard nor heard of a recorded statement that was so incriminating regarding so many criminal acts. It was as though it had been scripted. One statement by Smith became notorious, “My scams are 90% foolproof.”

In October, 1998, the Assistant US Attorney, Kris Dighe, decided to get a search warrant for the Hi-Po facility. The search warrant was executed by the task force and officers from the UM Department of Public Safety. A huge amount of records were seized, and UMDPS arranged for space where the records could be stored and analyzed. The records would corroborate what many witnesses had and would tell us. They also substantiated much of Smith and Carbeck’s recorded admissions.

AUSA Dighe obtained an indictment charging Smith and Carbeck with numerous violations including RICO (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization), a statute designed to prosecute organized crime which in effect Hi-Po had become. They were also charged with the predicate acts underlying a RICO charge: mail fraud; conspiracy; bribery; money laundering; intentional dumping of hazardous waste (violations of the Clean Water Act).

So that’s what brought me to that field in southern Michigan to see a forlorn van with a hole in the floor. The van wasn’t a critical piece of evidence, but it was a symbol of the “foolproof” nature of Smith’s scams.

Epilogue:

Smith and Carbeck pleaded guilty to one count each of violating the RICO Act. (I’m sure they were not enthusiastic about the prospect of hearing the recorded admissions played for a trial jury.)They were the 1st people in the US to be convicted of racketeering in an environmental case. Smith was sentenced to 33 months and Carbeck 27 months. (They had previously agreed to testify, if necessary, against other defendants.)

Smith, Carbeck and Hi-Po were ordered jointly to pay a total of $504,000 restitution to UM, Chrysler, the city of Riverview, the Budd Co. and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Smith was also ordered to forfeit $500,000. Both Smith and Carbeck were also ordered to publish apologies in local newspapers.

They at least indicated they were 100% sorry.

 

Stejskal: The Hole-In-The-Truck Gang

Greg Stejskal

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

It was a cold early spring Saturday morning, and I was following a lead in a rural part of Michigan. I had received a call on Friday afternoon that there was a unique piece of evidence on a farm near the Michigan/Ohio border.

When I got to the farm, I made contact with the owner and identified myself. He walked me to the back of an outbuilding. There parked in the weeds was a white cargo van with flat tires. The farmer opened the van’s back door. In the middle of the cargo bay was a circular hole that had been cut in the floor.

So why was I out here on a cold Saturday morning looking at a van with a hole in its floor?

It all started in the summer the year before, 1998. An Environmental Protection Agency /FBI task force that was working illegal dumping cases had received information that a waste disposal company near Ann Arbor, Michigan, was defrauding clients by not doing work and overcharging. There were also rumors that the company was surreptitiously creating spills which they then charged clients to clean-up. The information was fragmentary, and it was coming primarily from disgruntled employees.

The disposal firm was Hi-Po. Hi-Po had been in business for about 9 years. The founders Aaron Smith, who was just 26, and Stephen Carbeck (34) started with a pick-up and a power washer. They had grown Hi-Po to more than 100 employees and several vacuum trucks at well over $200,000 each. By all accounts Hi-Po had become extraordinarily successful with such clients as the University of Michigan and Chrysler.

In the summer of 1998, the EPA/FBI task force had learned that recently one of the Hi-Po employees had quit reportedly because he was upset with Hi-Po not performing work and then charging for the work that hadn’t been done.

That employee, Michael Stagg had retired from the Washtenaw County (Michigan) drain commissioner’s office prior to working at Hi-Po. EPA agent Greg Horvath and FBI agent, Steve Flattery, both from the task force, and I went to Stagg’s home in Ann Arbor. He wasn’t surprised to see us and said he had been thinking about coming to us.

Stagg was very forthcoming, but he only had limited direct knowledge. He had inspected a Hi-Po clean-up project in Riverview, a city south of Detroit. There he saw that Hi-Po had only done about ½ the work they had contracted to do, but Stagg was told Hi-Po billed Riverview for the whole job. (Later we learned that a Riverview official was receiving kickbacks.)

Read more »

FBI Investigated PETA Over Alleged Plan to Launch Anthrax Threat

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI began investigating the animal-rights group PETA in the late 1990s after agents were told volunteers planned an anthrax attack, the New York Post reports.

Documents obtained by PETA show the FBI was told the group planned to release anthrax at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Washington D.C.

“I was bowled over by it,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said. “It was such a disappointment. I don’t know if someone just hated us, but it’s Alice in Wonderland. It’s total fantasy.”

The FBI declined to comment.

FBI Worried About Increase in Lasers Being Pointed at Aircraft

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI reported an increasing number of lasers being pointed at aircraft and pilots in the New York area, CNN reports.

The 17% increase is concerning because lasers can temporarily or permanently blind a pilot or crew. Earlier this year, several pilots suffered significant eye injuries, including a burnt retina.

On Tuesday, at least two incidents of green lasers were reported, according to CNN.

“The FBI is asking anyone with information about any of these dangerous laser incidents to pick up the phone and call us,” Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said. “Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew.”

 

 

Justice Department: California Prisons’ Handling of Riots Often Violate Federal Constitution

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

California prisons are violating the federal constitution by isolating people based on race after a riot, the Associated Press reports.

When a riot breaks out, officers often lock up entire races of people to prevent further violence.

But the Justice Department said in a recent court filing that the practice violates the 14th amendment, which guarantees equal protection, the AP wrote.

The policy “is not based on any individual analysis of prisoner behavior, but rather on generalized fears of racial violence. Indeed, the policy affects hundreds of prisoners throughout the (prison) system who the state acknowledges have absolutely no gang ties or history of violence,” according to the filing signed by the chiefs of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Washington Times: Obama’s Poor Choice for Homeland Security Secretary

By the Washington Times 
Editorial Page

Janet Napolitano finally retired as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to take a job as president of the University of California.

That’s good news for friends of reason, good sense and liberty, considering her tenure was marked by the implementation of backdoor amnesty schemes.

The not-so-good news is that President Obama’s replacement doesn’t sound much better. Jeh Johnson, formerly the top lawyer at the Pentagon, was crowned, or bemedaled, or beribboned, or whatever may be appropriate for that job, in a Rose Garden ceremony Friday. He was a Manhattan trial lawyer and a lobbyist who was general counsel at the Defense Department during Mr. Obama’s first term.

The department looks dysfunctional, and may need someone more than a professional lobbyist.

To read more click here.

FBI Apologizes for Press Release That Gives False Credit to Head of Connecticut Office

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI office in Connecticut issued an unusual apology after sending out a press release with false information about the office’s new head, Patricia Ferrick said.

The Hartford Courant reports that the Sept. 23 news release incorrectly credited Ferrick for playing a key role in an investigation she wasn’t involved in.

“Ms. Ferrick left the ranks of management [at FBI headquarters in Washington] in 2005 and transferred to the New Haven Division after being selected primary investigator of a high-profile case involving the governor of Connecticut,” the news release read.

Turns out, Ferrick didn’t investigate the case, according to the Courant.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST