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Archive for August, 2017

Mueller, New York AG Team up to Investigate Paul Manafort

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller is teaming up with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on the investigation into President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Politico reports

The news means the investigation is intensifying and that Trump won’t have the authority to pardon Manafort on any future state charges. As a result, Mueller will have more leverage to convince Manafort to cooperate with authorities on the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign.

In the past few weeks, the state and federal teams have shared information and discussed the case frequently.

Much of the focus is on potential financial crimes, including money laundering.

It’s too early to say whether charges will be filed.

 “Nothing is imminent,” said one of the people familiar with the case.

Chicago Special Education Teacher Charged with Supplying Guns, Ammo to Felon

gunsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Chicago Public Schools special education teacher is accused of supplying a handgun magazine, laser sighting device and ammunition to a convicted felon working undercover for the FBI.

Brent Turpin, a 53-year-old teacher at Kershaw Elementary in violence-torn Englewood, was charged Wednesday with federal weapons offenses, including providing a firearm and ammunition to a known felon, the Chicago Tribune reports

The Tribune wrote:

The informant is a close friend of a juvenile with gang ties who is under Turpin’s guardianship, according to the charges.

The juvenile is in custody awaiting trial on reckless homicide charges. The complaint alleged the juvenile is also “believed to have been involved” in the burglary of the South Post Guns store in Streator, which led to federal charges against three men in May.

While the charges do not allege Turpin gave the undercover informant any guns, a federal prosecutor revealed at a detention hearing Wednesday that Turpin is believed to have dealt “firearms and ammunition to felons, youths and gang members” on multiple occasions.

The investigation also showed that a 15-year-old boy was shot and wounded in the basement of Turpin’s Far South Side home last Thanksgiving weekend, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ankur Srivastava said in court.

Drug Smugglers Face Stiff Penalties for Trying to Smuggle Meth in Penis-Shaped Candles

Penis-shaped candles were stuffed with crystal meth.

Penis-shaped candles were stuffed with crystal meth.

A group of drug smugglers was arrested Wednesday and face stiff sentences after trying to hide crystal meth in penis-shaped candles.

Five suspects, including three Mexicans who were in the country illegally, were arrested after authorities found 1,300 pounds of candles stuffed with drugs in a New Jersey warehouse, the New York Daily News reports

“It’s kind of a cross between ‘Breaking Bad’ and a ‘Sex in the City’ case,” mused one law enforcement source.

They face up to five years in prison.

The sting was a joint operation by the DEA, Homeland Security and NYPD.

“DEA has seen drugs smuggled in numerous ways: concealed in puppies, lollipops, furniture and produce. But secreting a million dollars’ worth of methamphetamine in wax candles of various shapes is shocking,” said DEA Special Agent in charge James Hunt. “This seizure signifies that drug trafficking organizations are determined to create a stronghold of meth users in the Northeast.”

Democrats Back Measure to Prevent Secret Service from Paying Trump Businesses

secret serviceBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Democrats are trying to prevent President Trump from using the Secret Service to pay his businesses.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Wednesday he plans to introduce an amendment to an appropriations bill, the USA Today reports. 

“None of the funds made available by this Act to the United States Secret Service may be used to purchase, rent, or otherwise acquire goods or services, including hotel rooms, office space, or golf carts, from entities that are owned or operated by the President or the immediate family of the President,” the amendment reads.

The amendment follows news that Trump’s large family and frequent travels have drained the Secret Service budget.

“The immense honor and responsibility of serving as president of the United States should never be exploited for profit or personal gain,” Schiff said. “That the Trump Organization is profiting off the Secret Service is an abuse of taxpayer money and an improper method of enrichment.”

Senator Urges FBI to Investigate Billionaire Investor Tied to Trump

Sen. Tammy Duckworth

Sen. Tammy Duckworth

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A U.S. senator is urging the FBI to investigate whether billionaire investor Carl Icahn violated federal law by attempting to enrich himself by using his role as an adviser to President Trump.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., believes Icahn may have violated federal anti-corruption law, Business Insider reports

The billionaire investor resigned from his position earlier this month following a new story about his efforts to change a policy that jeopardized his investments in a company. 

“Icahn had been using his government position to try to dramatically change the Renewable Fuel Standard program in a way that would substantially benefit CVR Energy, an oil refinery Icahn simultaneously controls an 82% stake in and serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of,” Duckworth said in a statement.

Other Stories of Interest

White Supremacist Convicted of Plot to Murder Atlanta Drug Dealer

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A self-described white supremacist was convicted of multiple charges related to a plot to kill a drug deal with outstanding debts in Georgia.

The case broke open after an FBI informant and admitted white nationalist alerted the bureau to Adrian Apodaca, saying the Florida man had admitted to murdering several people in New Mexico and Arizona, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports

The FBI dispatched a team of undercover agents posing as white supremacists who were owed money by an Atlanta drug dealer, who also was an FBI plant.

Recordings played at the trial indicate Apodaca offered to kill the “dealer” in exchange for $5,000 and a false identity to avoid investigators who wanted to question him in at least one murder.

Jurors took just three hours to convict Apodaca, 45. He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 8.

Special Counsel Mueller Subpoenas Manafort’s Spokesman, Former Attorney

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed Paul Manafort’s spokesman and one of his former attorneys.

Manafort, who is Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, is under investigation for possible tax and financial crimes in connection with his work for the former ruling party in Ukraine, which had espoused pro-Russian policies.

The subpoena seeks documents and testimony from attorney Melissa Laurenza and Jason Maloni, who is Manafort’s spokesman.

Business Insider wrote:

Manafort is one of a handful of Trump campaign associates who have been a central focus of the Russia ongoing probe. The Trump campaign brought him on in March 2016 to help wrangle delegates ahead of the Republican National Convention, and he was promoted to campaign chairman in May that year.

Manafort resigned three months later amid scrutiny over millions of dollars in undisclosed payments for work he performed on behalf of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Since then, Manafort’s work as a foreign agent has remained under the microscope in the US’ Russia investigation, which led to an FBI raid at one of his homes in Alexandria, Virginia, last month.

Maine Legalized Marijuana Use, But Border Patrol in Maine to Continue Enforcing Federal Law

marijuana-istockBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Eight months after Maine residents voted to legalize marijuana, defiant Border Patrol agents say they will continue to enforce federal laws that ban the use of pot.

Chief Daniel Hiebert told The Portland Press Herald that Border Patrol agents will confiscate marijuana when they find it. He added that agents aren’t actively looking for the drug, though.

Hiebert maintains that enforcing federal marijuana laws will not distract agents from their focus on terrorism and human and drug trafficking.

Since 2012, Maine Border Patrol agents have confiscated about 720 pounds of marijuana. In the past, the federal government has declined to prosecute those cases.