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Archive for May, 2014

Weekend Series on Crime History: Joseph Bonanno

Family of Man Fatally Shot by FBI in New Orleans Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

Steve Neavling
ticklethwire.com

The FBI used excessive force when fatally shooting a 37-year-old man during a drug sting at a New Orleans motel, a civil rights lawsuit filed Thursday by the man’s family alleges.

The Times-Picayune reports that the family of Allen Desdunes also claims that FBI agents and other law enforcement tried to cover up the details of the July 30 shooting.

In April, the Justice Department concluded its investigation of the shooting and said charges weren’t warranted. The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office also declined to pursue criminal charges.

Family members said Desdunes was unarmed when he came under attack during a drug sting.

Frank Montoya Jr. Becomes Next Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Seattle Division

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Frank Montoya Jr., who acted as head of national counterintelligence for the U.S. government, has been named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Seattle Division, the Seattle Times reports.

Montoya most recently served as the national counterintelligence executive in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Montoya replaces Laura M. Laughlin, who abruptly retired in February.

Montoya joined the FBI in 1991 and was first stationed in the San Antonio Field Office, where he worked violent crime and fugitive investigations. He also worked temporarily in the Oklahoma office to help in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing investigation.

In June 1996, he transferred to the San Juan Field Office and worked in the special operations group and was a surveillance team leader on drug, violent crime, and national security cases, the FBI said.

He then went off to the Washington Field Office’s national security squad, and in April 2000, he went to headquarters where he oversaw national security investigations and operations. During that time, he assisted with the Robert Hanssen investigation.

In November 2002, he went to the Milwaukee Field Office where he was a supervisor and oversaw the counterintelligence squad and several national security investigations.

In 2005, it was back to headquarters where he was promoted to unit chief in the Counterintelligence Division.

In July 2007, he became a special agent in charge of the counterintelligence branch in the San Francisco office.

Border Patrol Agent Who Died in Car Crash While on Duty Wasn’t Wearing Seatbelt

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent who was killed while in a rollover accident on duty was not wearing a seatbelt, the Arizona Daily Star reports.

Agent Alexander Irving Giannini was driving a Dodge patrol truck on Interstate 10 in Arizona on Wednesday morning when “the truck’s left rear tire failed when the tread separated from the tire,” said Officer Carrick Cook, a state Department of Public Safety spokesman.

“The truck rotated clock wise and traveled right and off of the asphalt portion of the roadway,” Cook said. “When the truck entered the right dirt shoulder, it began to roll over.”

While Giannini, 24, was ejected, the passenger Agent Van Keith Hartwigsen was wearing a seatbelt and remained in the truck while it rolled.

Hartwigsen suffered “minor injuries and is expected to have a full recovery,” said Agent Nicole Ballistrea, a spokeswoman for the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector.

Secret Service Agents to Return to Columbia After Agency Rocked by Prostitution Scandal in 2012

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Secret Service agents are expected to be on their best behavior this time.

Two years after the infamous prostitution scandal rocked the Secret Service, agents are returning to Columbia where Vice President Biden is expected to travel during the week of June 16, the Daily Caller reports.

“In Colombia, the Vice President will meet with President Santos to follow-up on the bilateral and regional prosperity and security agenda,” the White House said.

In 2012, up to 12 agents were implicated in the scandal, bring back prostitutes while the president was preparing for the Sixth Summit of the Americas.

Since then, the Secret Service implemented new rules and dismissed numerous agents.

House Votes To Stop DEA from Targeting Medical Marijuana Operations in States

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA’s crackdown on state-licensed medical marijuana operations may finally come to an end under a measure passed late Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives, Huffington Post reports.

The bipartisan amendment, approved 219-189, would prevent the DEA from using federal funds to go after medical cannabis in states where it is legal.

The vote marks a seismic change in Congressional attitudes toward marijuana.

“We are nearing a point now where the United States Congress is essentially ready to end marijuana prohibition,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project.

The bill, which still has hurdles to clear, seeks to end DEA raids of cannabis dispensaries that comply with state law.

There are 22 states that allow the medical use of marijuana.

Thursday’s measure must now get approval from the Senate.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

Court Overturns Murder Conviction of Former FBI Agent John Connolly Jr. Linked to Mobster Whitey Bulger

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Florida state court panel on Wednesday ruled that former FBI Agent John J. Connolly Jr. was wrongfully convicted of participating in a plot to kill a Florida businessman in 1982 at the urging of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the three-judge appellate panel tossed out the murder conviction, citing a legal technicality.

The government is expected to appeal the decision.

Connolly is serving a 40-year sentence that began in 2011.

Former FBI agents expressed relief.

“We won,” said former agent Richard Baker of Boston, who has led the coalition of ex-FBI agents. “I’m very delighted he’s going to finally get to see his kids on every holiday there is. I just have to pray now that somebody doesn’t come out of the woodwork and put a wrench in it…. He’s not out of jail yet.”

FBI Spied on Nelson Mandela During His First Visit to U.S. in June 1990

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When Nelson Mandela visited the U.S. for the first time in June 1990, he was under the watch of the FBI.

Al Jazeera America reports that the FBI used a confidential source to spy on Mandela, who had been recently released after spending 27 years in prison.

The newly released documents are heavily redacted and give little detail about the intelligence.

What’s certain is that the source provided information about Mandela’s travel itinerary, according to a memo from the Atlanta field office to then-FBI Director William Sessions.

“What’s missing from these documents is often as illuminative as what’s disclosed,” said Ryan Shapiro, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology doctoral candidate who studies the policing of dissent. “Not only did the FBI heavily redact and withhold documents, but there’s virtually no discussion of U.S. intelligence community involvement prior to Mandela’s 1990 release from prison.”