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Archive for June 13th, 2014

Weekend Series on Crime: Boxing and the Mafia

U.S. Plans to Auction Off Nearly 30,000 Bitcoins Seized in Crackdown on Online Marketplace for Illicit Drugs

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. government plans to unload nearly 30,000 bitcoins – valued at $17.3 million – during an auction later this month after seizing the currency as part of an FBI crackdown last year on an illicit online marketplace for drugs, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Some of the bitcoins seized from Silk Road  will be auctioned off over a 12-hour period on June 27. Bids can be placed on the U.S. Marshals website.

The Journal reports that the sale of so many bit coins could devalue the digital currency.

The value of bitcoins have fluctuated wildly after reaching an all-time high of $1,166 in December. The value hit a low of $344.24 on April 11 and has bounced back to $583, the Journal wrote.

Ross Ulbricht, the alleged administrator of Silk Road, was arrested in October by the FBI. He faces trial on Nov. 2.

FBI’s Phoenix Office to Handle Criminal Investigation of VA Hospital Following Serious Allegations

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s Phoenix office is handling the criminal investigation of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Arizona Republic reports.

FBI Director James Comey said the Phoenix office is handling the case because the allegations began at the VA in Phoenix.

At least 18 Arizona veterans waiting for care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System have died. The staff also is accused of manipulating patient-wait times to receive financial bonuses.

Today the Senate is considering whether to support legislation that would allow veterans to seek care outside of the VA system.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said in a statement that they are taking the matter seriously.

“To restore veterans’ trust and confidence in the VA, individual employees must be held accountable. The FBI’s investigation is a positive signal; but, wherever the evidence shows that crimes have been committed, they must follow through and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”

Florida Prosecutors Ask Appeals Court to Reinstate Murder Charge Against Ex-FBI Agent Connolly

Whitey Bulger

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Disgraced FBI Agent John J. Connolly Jr., whose murder conviction was overturned by a Florida state court panel two weeks ago, won’t be released from prison – at least not yet.

Boston’s NPR station, WBUR, reports that Florida’s attorney general is urging the court to reconsider reinstating charges against Connolly, who is accused of participating in a plot to kill a Florida businessman in 1982 at the urging of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger.

The three-judge appellate panel tossed out the murder conviction, citing a legal technicality.

NPR reports that Connolly won’t be released from prison until the court decides on Florida’s request.

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

Border Patrol Station in Texas Overwhelmed by Central American Migrants

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Throngs of Central American women and children are forced to stay in squalid, cramped conditions at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, the Washington Post reports.

Video obtained by the Washington Post shows children sleeping on concrete floors in sweltering heat for days. The migrants are fed tacos and bologna sandwiches and the sick are separated by strips of yellow police tape. They use portable toilets and have no showers.

After seeing the conditions, President Obama declared a “humanitarian crisis.”

Each day, agents capture hundreds of Central American migrants, some of whom travel in groups as large as 250 people.

Many of them are fleeing violence and poverty.

TSA Officers Killed in Line off Duty to Receive Same Death Benefits As Other Federal Law Enforcement Officers

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s not often that a TSA officer dies in the line of duty.

In fact, TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez, 39, became the first to die on Nov. 1 at Los Angeles International Airport.

But Westside Today reports that the House Appropriations Committee this week approved a legislative amendment that would provide the same death benefits to Hernandez’s family that are given to family members of other federal law enforcement officers killed on the line of duty.

The benefits will be available to future TSA officers killed in the line of duty.

“These benefits will be a great help to his wife and the couple’s young children,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles. “Not only was today’s vote an important moment for the Hernandez family, I also believe it sends a powerful message to our nation’s homeland security personnel that we value their service and honor their sacrifices.”

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