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Archive for September 18th, 2015

Weekend Series on Crime History: Mobster Meyer Lansky

Despite All the Dead Motorists, GM Gets to Pay Off Justice Department

handshake

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Imagine if you will, if former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was able to pay the Justice Department hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of going to prison for 28 years. Imagine if Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, accused of having a hand in 19 murders, was able to pay a couple million dollars to the Justice Department instead of serving life in prison.  Imagine if Dr. Farid Fata, a Detroit area oncologist who administered chemotherapy to patients who didn’t even have cancer, paid a $10 million fine instead of getting a 45-year sentence.

And then imagine, if you will,  if General Motors was able to pay $900 million to the Justice Department in lieu of having some of its employees go to prison for sweeping under the rug a gravely serious problem with faulty ignitions that resulted in well over 100 deaths.

Call it murder.  Call it negligent homicide. Call it manslaughter.

Call it a bloody injustice. Call it a shame that General Motors is able to pay off the Justice Department to make a criminal case go away.  Reuters reported Wednesday that GM has agreed to pay about $900 million in fines and sign a deferred-prosecution agreement to end a federal investigation into its handling of problems.

The Justice Department will charge the company, not any individuals, with criminally hiding the defect from regulators and in the process defrauding consumers. So what.

The Justice Department has historically failed to address some corporate crimes appropriately by letting some folks off without prison time. The message is clear in cases like this: “Just give us money and we’ll make it go away.” GM could have recalled these dangerous cars with faulty ignitions 10 years ago, but nobody made them do it, so they didn’t.  Lives could have been saved.

Sure, GM’s CEO Mary T. Barra can take some credit for cleaning house and getting rid of those responsible. Now, those folks have lawyered up and shut their yaps.

The word is that the Justice Department didn’t have enough incriminating documents or a real whistleblower to put together a solid criminal case against individuals.

But that’s no reason not to pursue a criminal investigation. If the feds could get N.Y. Underboss Salvatore “Sammy The Bull” Gravano to flip and rat out his boss, John Gotti, they could certainly have worked the case more and gotten some white collar workers to flip on co-workers.

Again, Mary Barra and GM should get some credit for cooperating with a federal investigation and offering payouts to victims, but that shouldn’t mean a free pass for those who could have acted responsibly and saved lives.

The $900 million is certainly a lot of money to you and I. But for GM, that’s a quarterly earning. GM can absorb that.

We rely on the automakers to produce a safe product, one that many of us rely on nearly everyday of our adult lives.  We don’t expect the automakers to be perfect and always produce a flawless product.

But we do expect them to respond appropriately, and in a timely manner, when they realize a flaw in their product could kill us.

Unfortunately, the Justice Department has once again sent a message to the automakers that cover ups are OK, so long as you have the money to pay for them when you get caught.

 

Lengel: Despite All the Dead Motorists, GM Gets to Pay Off Justice Department

handshakeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Imagine if you will, if former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was able to pay the Justice Department hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of going to prison for 28 years. Imagine if Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, accused of having a hand in 19 murders, was able to pay a couple million dollars to the Justice Department instead of serving life in prison.  Imagine if Dr. Farid Fata, the Detroit area oncologist who administered chemotherapy to patients who didn’t even have cancer, paid a $10 million fine instead of getting a 45-year sentence.

And then imagine, if you will,  if General Motors was able to pay $900 million to the Justice Department in lieu of having some of its employees go to prison for sweeping under the rug a gravely serious problem with faulty ignitions that resulted in well over 100 deaths.

Call it murder.  Call it negligent homicide. Call it manslaughter.

Call it a bloody injustice. Call it a shame that General Motors is able to pay off the Justice Department to make a criminal case go away.  Reuters reported Wednesday that GM has agreed to pay about $900 million in fines and sign a deferred-prosecution agreement to end a federal investigation into its handling of problems.

The Justice Department will charge the company, not any individuals, with criminally hiding the defect from regulators and in the process defrauding consumers. So what.

The Justice Department has historically failed to address some corporate crimes appropriately by letting some folks off without prison time. The message is clear in cases like this: “Just give us money and we’ll make it go away.” GM could have recalled these dangerous cars with faulty ignitions 10 years ago, but nobody made them do it, so they didn’t.  Lives could have been saved.

Sure, GM’s CEO Mary T. Barra can take some credit for cleaning house and getting rid of those responsible. Now, those folks have lawyered up and shut their yaps.

The word is that the Justice Department didn’t have enough incriminating documents or a real whistleblower to put together a solid criminal case against individuals.

But that’s no reason not to pursue a criminal investigation. If the feds could get N.Y. Underboss Salvatore “Sammy The Bull” Gravano to flip and rat out his boss, John Gotti, they could certainly have worked the case more and gotten some white collar workers to flip on co-workers.

Again, Mary Barra and GM should get some credit for cooperating with a federal investigation and offering payouts to victims, but that shouldn’t mean a free pass for those who could have acted responsibly and saved lives.

The $900 million is certainly a lot of money to you and I. But for GM, that’s a quarterly earning. GM can absorb that.

We rely on the automakers to produce a safe product, one that many of us rely on nearly everyday of our adult lives.  We don’t expect the automakers to be perfect and always produce a flawless product.

But we do expect them to respond appropriately, and in a timely manner, when they realize a flaw in their product could kill us.

Unfortunately, the Justice Department has once again sent a message to the automakers that cover ups are OK, so long as you have the money to pay for them when you get caught.

Friend of Alleged Charleston Church Shooter Arrested by FBI

handcuffsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI on Thursday arrested a man who gave shelter to the accused Charleston church shooter, Dylann Roof, and then allegedly lied to investigators in an attempt to cover up for his friend.

The Washington Post reports that Joey Meek is expected to be arraigned today on charges of making false statements to federal officials and “misprision of a felony.”

“We knew it was going to happen,” his girlfriend told the Post, referring to the arrest, “but we don’t understand why it was happening.”

The FBI believes Roof stayed at Meek’s trailer in Lexington County in the weeks before the shooting.

New ABC Drama ‘Quantico’ to Feature Group of FBI Recruits

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ABC will premier a new drama, “Quantico,” on Sept. 27 about a group of FBI recruits training at Quantico Base.

The network released the first eight minutes of the show, starring Priyanka Chopra.

One of the recruits is accused of masterminding a terrorist attack in New York.

The show premiers at 10 p.m.

Bar Fight Tied to FBI Investigation of City Hall Corruption in Allentown, Pa.

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s getting a little steamy in Allentown, Pa., where the FBI has opened a city hall investigation.

Now the president of the Leigh Valley Building Trades Council has been charged with attacking a man he believes alerted the FBI to corruption in Allentown, the Morning Call reports. 

James Edward Reilley, 57, was charged with terroristic threats, simple assault, aggravated assault and disorderly conduct following the alleged incident on Sept. 1.

Reilley shut down his political consulting firm on July 2, the day when FBI agents raided Allentown City Hall in search of contracts and other related documents.

The man he allegedly attacked was Brendan Hansbury, the brother-in-law of Mike Fleck, who had served as campaign manager to Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

DEA’s No. 2 Official Refuses to Retire After Prison Escape of ‘El Chapo’ Guzman

DEA's Jack Riley

DEA’s Jack Riley

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It has gotten personal for Jack Riley, the DEA’s No. 2 official.

Riley has put plans of retiring on hold after the prison escape of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the head of the deadly Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico.

“Just so you now, I was going to retire – until this dick escaped,” Riley told Yahoo News.

Now, he said, “I’m in it for the long haul.”

Riley was one of the targets of Guzman’s murderous trafficking organization.

Guzman escaped from prison three months ago through a mile-long tunnel and hasn’t been seen since.

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