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Archive for February, 2014

Former Inspector General for HUD is Indicted in Alleged Mortgage Fraud Scheme

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former head of the Office of Inspector General’s Atlanta office faces charges of making false statements to a bank to obtain a mortgage loan and conspiring to obstruct an investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta said Thursday.

Herschell Harvell, Jr., 53,  made his initial appearance in federal court in Atlanta.  Harvell’s co-defendant and nephew, Tavus A. Wright also made his initial appearance on federal charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury.

He is accused of obstructing an investigation into his real estate transactions by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG). He was terminated last year.

 “As a federal law enforcement officer, Harvell was entrusted with supervising mortgage fraud investigations,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. in a statement“It is particularly troubling that someone responsible for investigating mortgage fraud is charged with committing it and with obstructing justice to cover up his crimes.”

David Montoya,  Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said in a statement: “It is a regrettable day for the dedicated, hard-working men and women of our organization. We cannot tolerate or condone the abuse of trust and the violation of the very laws that Mr. Harvell was sworn to investigate and that is why I brought this matter to the attention of the U.S. Attorney.  I am profoundly disappointed at that break down of our former employee’s ethical and moral compass.”

A press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta stated:

Between 2007 and 2012, Harvell served as a supervisory Special Agent in several HUD-OIG offices, including as a Special Agent in Charge in Fort Worth and Atlanta. Harvell also owned residential homes in the Atlanta area as investment properties. During 2007 and 2008, he acquired and refinanced several more homes with mortgage loans. In addition, in January and February 2008, Harvell purchased a Precision Tune automobile care franchise, incurring significant expenses in connection with that purchase.

On March 25, 2008, Harvell refinanced one of his rental homes and received over $23,000 in cash. Harvell’s loan application represented that he had a $70,000 certificate of deposit and that he received $6,180 in monthly rental income from six residential homes. The indictment alleges that these representations were false. It is alleged that Harvell had cashed in the certificate of deposit more than a month before, during the time period that he was purchasing the Precision Tune Franchise. In addition, it is alleged that Harvell’s houses were not rented or producing the rental income as stated on his loan application. For example, it is alleged that Harvell in fact received less than $900 in rent in March 2008 and for the year to date, had received less than $6,000 total in rental income.

The indictment alleges that during the course of the HUD-OIG investigation of the accuracy of Harvell’s loan application, Harvell’s nephew, Tavus Wright, provided false information to agents and perjured himself before the grand jury about whether he had signed a document used to demonstrate to Harvell’s lender that one of his houses was rented.

 

 

Florida State Attorney to Reveal Results of Investigation of FBI Shooting of Friend of Boston Marathon Bomber

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A state investigation into the mysterious fatal shooting of a friend of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerian Tsaranev during an FBI interview is expected to be released next month.

The Boston Herald reports that Florida state Attorney Jeffrey Ashton anticipates releasing the report by the end of March.

The Florida investigation is one of three into what happened to 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev when he was being interview by FBI agents and state police at his Orlando apartment.

Top Criminal Prosecutor at Justice Department Is Leaving Following High-Profile Cases

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Mythili Raman, the Justice Department’s top criminal attorney, is leaving the agency next month following high-profile cases of corporate misdeeds, Reuters reports.

Raman is a 17-year veteran of the department and once acted as chief after her predecessor, Lanny Breuer, stepped down last year.

Raman said she’s not sure what’s next in her career.

A Senate panel today is expected to consider Breuer’s replacement, Leslie Caldwel, a former federal prosecutor who helped prosecute Enron Corp.

Congressional Panel to Probe Discovery That FBI Was in Direct Contact with Osama bin Laden in 1990s

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A special congressional panel will investigate revelations this week that the FBI was in direct contact with Osama bin Laden in the early 1990s, the Washington Times reports.

The agency’s close contact with bin Laden was never included in the official investigations of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but the Washington Times disclosed the existence of a mole Wednesday after being tipped off about an old employment case that happens to divulge the information.

The investigation will be taken up by a special panel that was recently authorized by Congress to review FBI reforms following the terrorist attacks.

Homeland Security Is Shedding Air Marshal Jobs Because of Deep Budget Cuts

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Budget cuts have forced Homeland Security to reduce the number of Federal Air Marshals whose job is to protect aircrafts from terrorists, CNN reports, citing internal emails.

The department declined to say how many marshals the department has lost in the past three years.

Critics blasted the department for its secrecy surrounding the issue.

It’s believed that the agency had about 3,500 air marshals about two years ago.

Air Marshal Director Robert Bray said the agency’s budget has been slashed from $966 to $806 million over the past three years.

ATF Agents Lost Track of Dozens of Their Own Guns, Reports Show

By John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 
ATF agents have lost track of dozens of government-issued guns, after stashing them under the front seats in their cars, in glove compartments or simply leaving them on top of their vehicles and driving away, according to internal reports from the past five years obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Agents left their guns behind in bathroom stalls, at a hospital, outside a movie theater and on a plane, according to the records, obtained Tuesday by the news organization under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

In December 2009, two 6-year-old boys spotted an agent’s loaded ATF Smith & Wesson .357 on a storm sewer grate in Bettendorf, Iowa. The agent lived nearby and later said he couldn’t find his gun for days but didn’t bother reporting it — until it hit the local newspaper.

To read more click here. 

FBI Was In Direct Contact With Osama Bin Laden in 1993, Knew He Was Financing Terrorism

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI had direct contact with Osama bin Laden in 1993 and learned that he was trying to finance terrorist attacks inside the U.S., according to the Washington Times.

The information about the al Qaeda leader quietly emerged from an employment dispute case involving an FBI agent in 2010 and escaped the attention of the media.

“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al Qaeda, directly involved,” Edward J. Curran, a former top official in the FBI’s Los Angeles office, told the court in a case by former agent Bassem Youssef.

Members of the Sept. 11 commission and experts in terrorism expressed surprise when told of the discovery.

“I think it raises a lot of questions about why that information didn’t become public and why the 9/11 Commission or the congressional intelligence committees weren’t told about it,” said former Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Michigan, who chaired the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2004 through 2007 when lawmakers handled the fallout from the 9/11 Commission’s official report.

FBI Director Comey Says FBI is Hiring Again, Will Resume Training for New Agents

James Comey

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Automatic spending cuts last year resulted in the elimination of more than 2,000 FBI jobs and a freeze on training for new agents.

Now the FBI is ready to hire and restart training, the Washington Post reports.

FBI Director James Comey said Tuesday that he’s authorized the opening of 700 positions throughout the country’s field offices.

And there’s even better news: He plans on hiring even more.

“We’re going to be doing more of that in the form of agents, intelligence analysts and support personnel,” he said during a brief news conference at the FBI’s Omaha field office in Nebraska. “We’re trying to figure out now where those should go, based on where the need is and the highest unaddressed risk is. That was actually part of my conversations here today with the (local) leadership — what are their needs and what are their gaps where they might use more resources.”