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Archive for June 27th, 2014

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Detroit Mob

Movie review: ‘Whitey’ Documentary Gives Too Much Legitimacy to Claim That Bulger Wasn’t Informant

By Kevin Cullen
Boston Globe

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Joe Berlinger made a pretty good documentary about Whitey Bulger, but it is seriously undermined by his treating far too seriously Bulger’s claim that he was never an informant for the FBI.

Whitey insists he had no idea that when he sat there, all those years, telling John Connolly stuff about other criminals, that Connolly was writing it down back at the office. Whitey wants you to believe the FBI — not just Connolly, but other agents and supervisors who protected him and, unlike Connolly, got away with it — took care of him because he paid them and saved the life of a federal prosecutor. It’s all jive. Insulting jive.

But Joe Berlinger takes it very seriously. And his film, “Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger,” suffers for that.

In the 26 years that have gone by since I was part of the Globe Spotlight Team that exposed Bulger as being a protected FBI informant, I have repeatedly stressed that Bulger was a lousy informant, one not deserving the FBI’s protecting him from prosecution and helping him murder potential witnesses against him. It was all a scam. His handler, John Connolly, just lumped Whitey in with his partner in crime, Steve Flemmi, pretending that Whitey had inside information on the Mafia, with which the FBI was obsessed.

The Mafia wouldn’t tell Whitey if his pants were on fire. But the Mafia did talk to Stevie, and Stevie talked to Whitey, and Whitey went along with the charade, that he really knew what the Mafia was thinking, because it was good business.

To read here click here.

Honduran First Lady Visits South Texas to Witness Crisis of Unaccompanied Children Immigrants

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The first lady of Honduras is visiting South Texas immigration shelters beginning today after news broke about a growing crisis involving tens of thousands of unaccompanied children who were confined to overcrowded, squalid conditions at the border, KXAN reports.

Ana Garcia de Hernandez is just the latest in a growing number of politicians arriving in Texas to get a firsthand look at the plight of the children, who are spilling over the Mexico border without adult supervision.

Since October, more than 150,000 of those children came from Honduras.

Experts said more people are fleeing Honduras because of widespread gang violence and chronic joblessness.

Border Patrol Officer Hospitalized After Shooting Self in Hand While Cleaning Gun

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol officer cleaning his gun accidentally shot himself and was hospitalized, Fox 5 San Diego reports.

The unidentified officer was rushed to UC San Diego Medical Center on Wednesday evening.

The accident happened at the officer’s San Ysidro home, where his five children were.

Details remained sketch yearly Friday morning.

Synthetic Drug Craze Involving LSD-Like Substance Has Killed 19 People So Far

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is trying to crack down on the latest synthetic drug craze that is responsible for at least 19 deaths nationwide, KGUN9-TV report.

The drug is called “N-bomb” and has similar hallucinatory effects of LSD.

But users are buying the drug from amateur chemists who are selling the product online.

“It’s like playing Russian Roulette, because you just don’t know what you’re getting. They may just mix in any other lethal substances into these drugs,” said Spokesperson for the DEA Phoenix Division Special Agent Ramona Sanchez.

The DEA temporarily banned the drug while it conducts further research.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

Supreme Court Effortlessly Throws Out Warrantless Cell Phone Searches

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Guessing the correct result and even the basic rationale of the Supreme Court’s cell phone case could be considered a minor achievement, but not even the most ardent defense attorney would have predicted that the opinion would be a unanimous 9-0 decision authored by the normally pro-law enforcement Chief Justice. Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion held, without a single dissent, that the warrantless search of an arrestee’s cell phone incident to his arrest was in violation of the 4th Amendment. It’s embarrassing to miss the ease with which the Court made the decision.

In doing so the Court resolved a split in lower courts and rejected a line of cases which compared the cell phone search to be analogous to the previously authorized search of an arrestee’s papers, diaries and the like. That had been the rationale of one of the two cases reviewed, the California Court of Appeals decision in Riley v. California, which had upheld the police search of a man’s cell phone when he was stopped on a traffic charge and then arrested for illegal firearm possession. The search had produced data linking him to a gang shooting, and he was convicted of attempted murder. Instead the Court followed the other decision reviewed, U.S. v. Wurie, in which the Court of Appeals threw out drug and firearm convictions for a defendant whose cell phone was searched incident to his arrest.

The Court rejected the Justice Department position and reasoned that the invasion of privacy was not comparable to the other cases involving the search of notes, private documents and the like. The extent of private material exposed in a modern cell phone is of an entirely different magnitude than that which could be kept in such papers. The extra-legal consideration was perhaps left between the lines. Everyone including Supreme Court Justices has a cell phone and increasingly relies on it for a variety of private and extensive purposes.

The opinion found a clear distinction in the latest cell phone technology and its ever-expanding capacity to store a vast trove of private information. From a legal analysis standpoint (and foreseeable only with 20-20 hindsight), the case was a logical extension of the Court’s increasing propensity to rein in law enforcement’s use of advanced technology. Thermal imaging, DNA, and transponders are a few of the techniques which had been found to be “unreasonable searches” without prior judicial authorization.

So what does the case portend? The loss of free rein to investigate the secrets of those arrested without prior judicial authorization will be an inconvenience to law enforcement, especially since nearly every person arrested possesses a smart phone. But enterprising agents will mitigate this loss in many cases by imaginative considerations of probable cause to present to a judge. Other advanced tools of the expanding sources of technology should probably be second-guessed in terms of the need for a warrant. But most prosecutors and case agents were already aware of this trip for the unwary.

Does it mean a cutting back from the wide scope of non-cell phone searches incident? Probably not since the prior cases in this category set forth a fairly well defined course of action by arresting officers.

On the other hand, being presumptuous about who your friends are on the High Court can be a humbling experience.

 

Parker: Supreme Court Effortlessly Throws Out Warrantless Cell Phone Searches

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office

Ross Parker

 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Guessing the correct result and even the basic rationale of the Supreme Court’s cell phone case could be considered a minor achievement, but not even the most ardent defense attorney would have predicted that the opinion would be a unanimous 9-0 decision authored by the normally pro-law enforcement Chief Justice. Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion held, without a single dissent, that the warrantless search of an arrestee’s cell phone incident to his arrest was in violation of the 4th Amendment. It’s embarrassing to miss the ease with which the Court made the decision.

In doing so the Court resolved a split in lower courts and rejected a line of cases which compared the cell phone search to be analogous to the previously authorized search of an arrestee’s papers, diaries and the like. That had been the rationale of one of the two cases reviewed, the California Court of Appeals decision in Riley v. California, which had upheld the police search of a man’s cell phone when he was stopped on a traffic charge and then arrested for illegal firearm possession. The search had produced data linking him to a gang shooting, and he was convicted of attempted murder. Instead the Court followed the other decision reviewed, U.S. v. Wurie, in which the Court of Appeals threw out drug and firearm convictions for a defendant whose cell phone was searched incident to his arrest.

The Court rejected the Justice Department position and reasoned that the invasion of privacy was not comparable to the other cases involving the search of notes, private documents and the like. The extent of private material exposed in a modern cell phone is of an entirely different magnitude than that which could be kept in such papers. The extra-legal consideration was perhaps left between the lines. Everyone including Supreme Court Justices has a cell phone and increasingly relies on it for a variety of private and extensive purposes.

The opinion found a clear distinction in the latest cell phone technology and its ever-expanding capacity to store a vast trove of private information. From a legal analysis standpoint (and foreseeable only with 20-20 hindsight), the case was a logical extension of the Court’s increasing propensity to rein in law enforcement’s use of advanced technology. Thermal imaging, DNA, and transponders are a few of the techniques which had been found to be “unreasonable searches” without prior judicial authorization.

So what does the case portend? The loss of free rein to investigate the secrets of those arrested without prior judicial authorization will be an inconvenience to law enforcement, especially since nearly every person arrested possesses a smart phone. But enterprising agents will mitigate this loss in many cases by imaginative considerations of probable cause to present to a judge. Other advanced tools of the expanding sources of technology should probably be second-guessed in terms of the need for a warrant. But most prosecutors and case agents were already aware of this trip for the unwary.

Does it mean a cutting back from the wide scope of non-cell phone searches incident? Probably not since the prior cases in this category set forth a fairly well defined course of action by arresting officers.

On the other hand, being presumptuous about who your friends are on the High Court can be a humbling experience.