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Archive for April 3rd, 2017

Retired FBI Agent Flies in to Detroit For Premiere of Movie ‘White Boy,’ Hoping To Help Keep Injustice In Public Eye

Retired FBI agent Herman Groman in the movie "White Boy."

Retired FBI agent Herman Groman in the movie “White Boy.”

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — As an FBI agent in Detroit for 12 years, Herman Groman often played a central role in some of the most explosive cases in the city that resulted in crooked judges and cops going off to prison.

But Groman says there was more to being an agent.

“It’s not about just locking up bad guys,” says Groman, who retired in 2005 from the Las Vegas FBI office after 25 years in the bureau. “Part of the job description is bringing justice to the situation.”

Last week,  Groman, who for years has been advocating the release of imprisoned drug trafficker Richard Wershe Jr.,  flew in from Las Vegas to Detroit for the premiere last Friday night of the documentary, “White Boy,” at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It’s part of the Freep Film Festival.

Richard Wershe Jr., aka "White Boy Rick" as a teen and now.

Richard Wershe Jr., aka “White Boy Rick” as a teen and now.

The film by Shawn Rech portrays Wershe, 47, (aka “White Boy Rick”) as being the victim of an injustice, suggesting higher ups in the city have worked for decades to prevent him from getting paroled. He’s been serving a life sentence for cocaine trafficking for 29 years, since he was a teenager, something even many law enforcement people have said is not right.

“Part of the reason I participated in this documentary, which was well researched, was because I wanted to be part of the effort to keep that story alive,” says Groman, who is one of the key characters in the documentary. “It was important to be here for the premiere to lend support to the underlying goal of getting the attention of the folks who need to revisit this injustice.”


Herm Groman after the movie

Groman met Wershe as a teen through his dad who was FBI informant. Wershe also ended up being an informant for the FBI and Detroit Police, starting at age 14.

In the early 1990s, Groman helped head up a major FBI sting dubbed “Operation Backbone,” and convinced Wershe to cooperate from prison in Marquette in the Upper Peninsula where he was serving the life sentence at the time.

Groman convinced Wershe to work with the FBI and get cops to protect drug and money shipments into Detroit for drug dealers, who were really undercover FBI agents. It worked. He sucked in Mayor Coleman A. Young’s niece, Cathy Volsan, whom he dated, and her father Willie Volsan, who had a lot of connections in town. In the end Willie Volsan went off to prison along with a number of cops. Charges were dropped against Cathy.

It was good for justice. Not so good for Wershe, who says in the documentary that his cooperation with authorities in investigations may be a reason he’s still behind bars after 29 years. He said he believes Mayor Young wasn’t happy that he hurt his family and either was the late Gil Hill, the former homicide cop and city council member.

“In the final analysis, I think it did hurt Rick, but that was unpredictable,” Groman says of Wershe’s cooperation in the sting. “It’s my goal has been all along to right that wrong.”


There was a panel discussion after the movie

After becoming an informant, Wershe became a drug dealer, peddling multi-kilos of cocaine and dating the mayor’s niece after her husband, drug dealer Johnny Curry, went off to prison.

“I became addicted to the lifestyle,” Wershe says in the documentary. “I became addicted to the money. I became addicted to the woman. I became addicted to that life.”

Some folks who have opposed his parole up until recently include Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who portrayed Wershe as a dangerous drug kingpin, who should never get paroled. She just recently said she won’t oppose a parole. He’s expected to get a parole hearing later this year.

“There’s someone in there keeping me in prison and it’s not the crime that I committed,” Wershe says in the movie.

As an aside, former homicide inspector Hill is portrayed as a crooked cop.

Hitman Nathaniel Craft, who is out of prison, accuses Hill in the movie of asking him to kill Wershe. He says he tries at one point, but fails.

Groman says Hill was no angel, but he’s skeptical of Craft’s accusation about Hill.

As for Wershe as a teenager:

“He was a bad kid. He needed to go to jail for a few years. But not for the rest of his life. That’s just Draconian.”

WHITE BOY TRAILER from Transition Studios on Vimeo.

FBI Pays Best Buy Technicians to ‘Ferret Out Child Porn” on Computers

Best Buy, via Wikipedia

Best Buy, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Technicians for Best Buy’s “Geek Squad City” are being paid by the FBI as part of “a joint venture to ferret out child porn,” according to claims in new federal documents.

The allegations were leveled by lawyers for a California doctor who was charged with possessing child pornography after Best Buy technicians said they found unlawful images on his computer, the Washington Post reports

It has been known that Best Buy’s computer repair facility had a relationship with the FBI, but the new allegations suggest the ties are much deeper the previously believed.

The Post wrote:

While there is no question that Geek Squad technicians have notified authorities after finding child porn, the new court documents assert that there is a deeper relationship than has previously been revealed between the company and federal authorities. The court is now considering the extent of that relationship and whether it is grounds to throw out a pending child porn case, though it could also have ramifications for the dozens of cases which originate from the Kentucky facility annually.

Defense lawyers for the doctor argue that Geek Squad City’s technicians acted as government agents by receiving payments from the FBI, regularly speaking with and referring cases to the FBI, and creating a program to search for child porn. If a government agent wants to search a computer, they need a warrant, and the case has raised issues of privacy invasion and violation of constitutional search and seizure rights.

Federal Incentives for Seizing Assets Encourages ‘Policing for Profit’

frozen-cash2By Editorial Board
Sentinel & Enterprise

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan have introduced legislation to reform civil asset forfeiture, a practice by which law enforcement agencies seize the property and assets of individuals with minimal due process.

The practice has encouraged “policing for profit,” distorting the mission of police agencies toward revenue generation to the detriment of the property rights of Americans. Paul’s and Walberg’s bill should unite those concerned with upholding constitutional rights and justice more broadly.

The FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, previously introduced by Paul in 2014, seeks to shore up the rights of Americans facing civil asset forfeiture proceedings and curb the perverse profit incentives that underline the practice.

“The federal government has made it far too easy for government agencies to take and profit from the property of those who have not been convicted of a crime,” said Paul. “The FAIR Act will protect Americans’ Fifth Amendment rights from being infringed upon by ensuring that government agencies no longer profit from taking the property of U.S. citizens without due process.”

Under current practices, federal agencies, often in partnership with state and local police departments, may seize a person’s cash, home or vehicle simply upon the suspicion that such assets were connected to criminal activity. One need not even be charged or convicted of a crime to have personal assets permanently seized.

All the government needs to do is meet the relatively low standard of a preponderance of the evidence to prevail in court — while innocent owners have the burden of trying to prove their innocence and bearing the costs of legally opposing government authorities.

This has created a situation where the federal government has seized billions of dollars in assets under questionable circumstances. According to the Institute for Justice, from 2001 to 2014, the forfeiture funds of the Department of Justice and Treasury Department took in nearly $29 billion. This provides financial incentive to both federal agencies and state and local partners, who get a cut of the money through “equitable sharing,” to increasingly focus on cases with revenue-generating potential.

To read more click here.  

FBI Plans to Launch Special Unit to Investigate Russian Interference in American Politics

The FBI's current headquarters in Washington D.C.

The FBI’s current headquarters in Washington D.C.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Showing how serious the FBI is about allegations of Russian interference in American politics, the bureau plans to create a special unit at its Washington D.C. headquarters to coordinate the probe.

The special unit also will give FBI Director James Comey “greater visibility into the investigations granular details,” the Financial Times reports.

“It’s meant to surge resources,” one FBI agent said.

The FBI also used temporary units to investigate WikiLeaks.

Because of the high-profile investigation of Russia and the massive amount of resources involved, the special unit allows the inquiry to have a central manager.

“It’s getting unwieldy,” said one person briefed on the plan. “It’s too big and it’s on the front page of the newspaper every day.” 

An FBI spokesman declined to comment.

FBI Recovers Norman Rockwell Painting Stole 40+ Years Ago

The stolen Norman Rockwell painting.

The stolen Norman Rockwell painting.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

More than 40 years after someone stole a Norman Rockwell painting from a family home in New Jersey, the artwork is back in the owners’ possession thanks to the FBI.

The painting of a chubby boy resting against a tree was a pized possession of the Grant family. Robert Grant paid just $50 or $100 for the painting, the New York Times reports. 

On Friday, one of Robert Grant’s sons, John, picked up the painting from an FBI agent at federal building in Philadelphia.

“It’s unbelievable,” Grant said. “The dream came true, and my dad would be so happy.”

On the 40th anniversary of the painting’s theft, the FBI issued a press release about the stolen painting, generating fresh attention.

It worked. An anonymous antique dealer turned over the painting. The dealer is not believed to be a suspect.

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