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Archive for November 3rd, 2014

New York Times: FBI Deception Goes Too Far in Investigating Gambling Ring

New York Times 
Editorial Board

If your Internet service goes down and you call a technician, can you be certain that the person who arrives at your door is actually there to restore service? What if he is a law enforcement agent in disguise who has disabled the service so he can enter your home to look around for evidence of a crime?

Americans should not have to worry about scenarios like this, but F.B.I. agents used this ruse during a gambling investigation in Las Vegas in July. Most disturbing of all, the Justice Department is now defending the agents’ actions in court.

During the 2014 World Cup, the agents suspected that an illegal gambling ring was operating out of several hotel rooms at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, but they apparently did not have enough evidence to get a court-issued warrant. So they enlisted the hotel’s assistance in shutting off the Internet to those rooms, prompting the rooms’ occupants to call for help. Undercover agents disguised as repairmen appeared at the door, and the occupants let them in. While pretending to fix the service, the agents saw men watching soccer matches and looking at betting odds on their computers.

There is nothing illegal about visiting sports-betting websites, but the agents relied primarily on that evidence to get their search warrant. What they failed to tell the judge was that they had turned off the Internet service themselves.

Of course, law enforcement authorities regularly rely on sting operations and other deceptive tactics, and courts usually allow them if the authorities reasonably believe they will find evidence of a crime. Without that suspicion, the Constitution prohibits warrantless searches of peoples’ residences, including hotel rooms. The authorities can jump that hurdle if a home’s occupant consents to let them enter, as when an undercover officer is invited into a home to buy drugs.

The Las Vegas case fails on both counts, according to a lawyer for the defendants. Although one of the defendants in the case, Wei Seng Phua, a Malaysian citizen, had been arrested in Macau earlier this year for running an illegal sports-gambling business, the agents did not have probable cause to believe anything illegal was happening in two of the rooms they searched. And a federal prosecutor had initially warned the agents not to use trickery because of the “consent issue.” In fact, a previous ruse by the agents had failed when a person in one of the rooms refused to let them in.

To read more click here.

Armed Security Guard Who Took Elevator Trip with President Obama Was Fired

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The highlight of Kenneth Tate’s career as a private security guard was riding an elevator with President Obama in Atlanta.

That ride has cost Tate his $42,000-a-year job, the New York Times reports.

President Obama was visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when Tate took the elevator ride.

It was later discovered that Tate was carrying a CDC-issued firearm, a security lapse and embarrassment for the Secret Service.

Tate said it’s unfair that he was fired because he was only doing what he was told to do.

“It was something to tell my mom — if I meet him everything will be complete,” he said of meeting the president. “I didn’t know it was going to be my job.”

 Other Stories of Interest


FBI Agent’s Alleged Misconduct Forces Mass Release of Convicts, Suspects

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Alleged misconduct by an FBI agent has forced authorities to release at least a dozen convicts from prison, the Washington Post reports.

Others awaiting trial on drug charges also have been freed as investigators examine the agent’s role in the case.

It’s not yet clear what the agent is suspected of doing, but it was serious enough to force the freeing of felons.

The cases involve drug-dealing in Washington D.C. and its suburbs.

The U.S. attorney’s office said it is “conducting a case-by-case review of matters in which the FBI agent at issue played some role.”

“We have already begun taking steps to address this issue and are committed to doing everything that is necessary to preserve the integrity of the criminal justice process,” the statement said.

Justice Department Lacks Evidence to Warrant Civil Rights Charges Against Ferguson Cop

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Not enough evidence exists to bring civil rights charges against the white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, investigators for the Justice Department said.

The Washington Post reports that the Justice Department is reluctant to acknowledge the lack of evidence because of high tensions in the greater St. Louis area.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon maintains the case is still open.

“This is an irresponsible report by The Washington Post that is based on idle speculation,” Fallon said in a statement.

But the Post interviewed other law enforcement officials who said it was not premature to conclude the investigation is ending.

“The evidence we have makes federal civil rights charges unlikely,” one said.

 

Coffee, Anyone? Homeland Security Spends $30,000 at Starbucks Using ‘Purchase Cards’

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security officials appear to have an affinity for Starbucks.

NBC-4 Washington reports that Homeland Security employees spent $30,000 at the coffee chain in 2013.

The drinks were bought with so-called purchase cards.

At a Starbucks in Alameda, Calif., agency employees spent $12,000.

“I don’t know the agency’s needs or contingencies, but going to Starbucks seems like a really hard sell,” former Inspector General for the U.S. General Services Administration Brian Miller said.

A DHS spokesman said the purchases followed protocol.