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Archive for April, 2018

Border Patrol Agent Sentenced to 70 Months in Prison for Helping Smuggle Drugs

Border marker, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent who helped smuggle what he thought were drugs along the U.S.-Mexican border, was sentenced to 70 months in prison Wednesday.

Noe Lopez, 38, believed he was helping deliver meth and cocaine that was dropped off at the border, but he actually was talking to a confidential informant.

“You held a position of trust,” U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw scolded Lopez. “This was the ultimate betrayal and breach of that trust.”

Lopez apologized for his actions.

“It’s something I regret — I’m going to regret — the rest of my life,” said Lopez, who worked out of the Imperial Beach station.

Former Watergate Attorney: Trump Invoking Fifth Amendment Would Be ‘Political Suicide’

Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A former Watergate prosecutor warned that President Trump would commit “political suicide” if he invokes his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the lawsuit filed by pornographic film star Stormy Daniels.

“He cannot take the Fifth Amendment,” Jill Wine-Banks said on MSNBC. “That would be political suicide.”

Her comments follow news that longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid depositions and disclosing sensitive information that could be used against him in the criminal investigation.

“Michael Cohen can take the Fifth Amendment,” Wine-Banks said. “But the president of the United States cannot say, ‘I can’t answer questions because they might incriminate me in another matter.’ That just is not politically acceptable.”

Daniels filed a lawsuit against Cohen to get out of a nondisclosure agreement i which Cohen said he paid her $130,000 to stay quiet about an affair she said she had with Trump.

Michael Cohen, the longtime personal attorney of President Trump, plans to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to avoid testifying in a lawsuit filed against the president by pornographic film star known as Stormy Daniels.

Cohen, whose office, hotel room and home were raided by the FBI earlier this month as part of a criminal investigation by prosecutors in New York City, cited the probe in a court filing in California, where the lawsuit was filed, the New York Times reports. 

According to the filing, Cohen said if he’s called as witnesses in the lawsuit, “I will assert my 5th Amendment rights in connection with all proceedings in this case due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the F.B.I. and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.”

Cohen said he paid Daniels $130,000, which she said was meant to keep her quiet about claims that she had an affair with Trump in 2006.

By invoking the Fifth Amendment, Cohen won’t be subjected to depositions and be forced to disclose sensitive information that could be used against him in the criminal investigation.

Cohen to Invoke Fifth Amendment in Lawsuit by Stormy Daniels

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Michael Cohen, the longtime personal attorney of President Trump, plans to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to avoid testifying in a lawsuit filed against the president by pornographic film star known as Stormy Daniels.

Cohen, whose office, hotel room and home were raided by the FBI earlier this month as part of a criminal investigation by prosecutors in New York City, cited the probe in a court filing in California, where the lawsuit was filed, the New York Times reports

According to the filing, Cohen said if he’s called as witnesses in the lawsuit, “I will assert my 5th Amendment rights in connection with all proceedings in this case due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the F.B.I. and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.”

Cohen said he paid Daniels $130,000, which she said was meant to keep her quiet about claims that she had an affair with Trump in 2006.

By invoking the Fifth Amendment, Cohen won’t be subjected to depositions and be forced to disclose sensitive information that could be used against him in the criminal investigation.

Defense in Gov. Greitens Case Spending Considerable Time Attacking Ex-FBI Agent

Vince Wade is a former investigative TV reporter in Detroit and author and documentary producer in the Los Angeles area. His book, “Prisoner of War: The Story of White Boy Rick and the War on Drugs,” will be released on June 25. This column is being reposted with permission.

By Vince Wade

William Don Tisaby

In the Gov. Eric Greitens affair, the defense is spending considerable time attacking William Don Tisaby, a private investigator assisting St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner. A casual observer might conclude it is Tisaby who is facing charges, not the governor.

The Greitens defense team has attacked Tisaby as a tarnished former FBI agent who once engaged in bigamy and has since moved on to lying under oath in the Greitens case.

The Tisaby portrayed by the Greitens camp is not the one I know. I am a former TV news investigative reporter in Detroit. My work garnered three Emmys and the first place prize for Best Local Documentary in the New York Film Festival. I knew Tisaby as a special agent in the Detroit FBI. He is an important figure in an upcoming book I have written. It tells the story of a street-wise 14-year-old Detroit white kid, recruited by the FBI to spy on a ruthless black drug gang with City Hall connections. The boy’s bizarre tale is an example of why the War on Drugs has been a trillion-dollar policy failure. “White Boy Rick,” a film inspired by the boy’s story, will star Matthew McConaughey. It will be released in September.

Among First Black Agents

 Tisaby was among the first black agents hired when the FBI sought to shed its image as a mostly male, all-white police organization. To this day, some white male agents resent the inclusion of minorities and women in the special agent ranks.

When the FBI was given concurrent narcotics jurisdiction with the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1982, Tisaby was one of the first FBI agents to work drug investigations and he excelled at it. He made one of the first major FBI multidefendant drug conspiracy cases. In the 1980s, Tisaby worked undercover, gaining valuable intelligence about Detroit’s burgeoning narcotics underworld.

Tisaby also made enemies — in the FBI. Several white FBI supervisors and managers were miffed when Tisaby refused a command to enter an apartment to look for drugs without a proper search warrant. White agents did the “black bag job,” but the tainted search caused internal FBI problems. Tisaby was viewed by some white agents and managers as “difficult.”

Yet his accomplishments were such that New York Gov. Mario Cuomo personally hired him as the deputy state inspector general of substance abuse services. During this time, black FBI agents and support staff called Tisaby periodically for advice on discrimination complaints against the FBI. This didn’t win him friends among some whites in the bureau.

Helped DEA 

In the early ’90s, Tisaby returned to the FBI, where he helped found the National Drug Intelligence Center. Later, he was assigned to help the DEA remodel its “kingpin” program to mirror the protocols of the FBI’s major case program.

Agent Tisaby continued his advancement in the FBI and continued to provide guidance and counsel to FBI blacks on discrimination issues.

 I’m trying to reconcile the Tisaby I know, the one who made enemies inside the FBI for refusing to do an illegal drug search ordered by white agents, with the Tisaby who is now accused of lying about withholding notes related to a partially botched videotape interview with the alleged victim in the Greitens case.

I don’t know the gory details of Tisaby’s bitter, messy divorce, but it appears he wasn’t totally candid with FBI’s internal investigators about some related issues. That’s what got him in trouble in the FBI, not bigamy. He was disciplined but not fired.

The lightning and thunder the Greitens camp is hurling at Tisaby smacks of “Hey! Look over here!”

The poet Carl Sandburg once said of court cases, “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.”

The Greitens camp is yelling a lot.

 

Lawyers Claim Feds Case Against FBI Agent in Oregon Shooting Lacks Concrete Evidence and Is Based on Flimsy Expert Witnesses

Robert “LeVoy” Tinicum

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Attorneys for FBI Agent Joseph Astarita, who is charged with repeatedly lying to state and federal investigators about firing two shots at leading Oregon standoff protester Robert “LeVoy” Tinicum’s truck in 2016, claim the government has no concrete evidence and instead is relying on questionable “so-called experts.”

The attorneys are asking the judge to block the government’s experts from testifying in the upcoming jury trial on July 24. Astarita denies that he fired shots and has pleaded not guilty.

In a 50-page motion filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Portland, the defense attorneys write:

“The government’s theory of the case is predicated on Special Agent Astarita having fired the bullet that caused the defect on the roof of Mr. Finicum’s truck on January 26, 2016 (“Round 5”), an assertion that Special Agent Astarita denies. Because the government has no photographic, video, ballistic, or eyewitness proof that Special Agent Astarita fired his weapon, this assumption rests entirely on the proposed testimony of so-called experts. The  government presents a daisy-chain of purported experts, each of whom comes from a completely different background.”

“These experts depend upon one another ultimately to create two different “visual reconstructions,” allegedly showing that Special Agent Astarita was the most likely person to have fired Round 5. These two “reconstruction” attempts are built upon a series of heretofore unheard-of steps, none of which withstands scientific scrutiny on its own, much less in combination. The Court should exclude both reconstruction attempts, and all of the underlying inputs, because they are riddled with unaccounted-for errors and are thus unreliable under Federal Rule of Evidence 702, Daubert, and its progeny. They should also be excluded as unduly prejudicial under Federal Rule of Evidence 403”

The motion, filed by attorneys David H.Angeli, Robert M. Cary and Meghan A. Ferguson, question the validity of the government’s witnesses including two reconstruction experts, Kevin Turpen, a Deschutes County patrol deputy, and Toby Terpstra, a forensic animator at a private accident reconstruction firm in Denver, Colo.

The motion states that  Turpen and Terpstra used completely different methods to produce two totally different yet allegedly “accurate” reconstructions.

“The fact that the government is presenting two different reconstructions in this case suggests that it knows that something is terribly wrong here,” the defense attorneys write.  “The Court cannot allow experts to present conclusions on such important issues in a criminal trial without ample assurances of reliability. The government and its purported experts have failed to provide such assurances here, both as to the ultimate reconstruction attempts as well as to the underlying inputs upon which Messrs. Turpen and Terpstra relied.”

The motion also attacks the reliability of other expert witnesses as well.

The defense attorneys insist that the government’s proposed expert testimony “utterly fails to withstand scrutiny… For example, a pervasive problem with virtually every step of the purported experts’ analyses is the failure to establish a reliable error rate (or to establish any error rate at all). In that regard, the relevant inquiry is whether the margin of error claimed by the proposed expert is properly supported and connected to an ‘objective source.’”

The motion concludes that the court should exclude from trial any testimony, reports, or exhibits offered by the government relating to the analyses of proposed experts Frank Piazza, Victoria Dickerson, Michael Haag, Kevin Turpen, and Toby Terpstra.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland did not immediately respond to a call Wednesday from ticklethewire.com for comment.

To read the motion click here. 

 

DEA Agent Accused of Pooping, Spreading Feces on Agent’s Hotel Door

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The DEA is investigating a wild night in the Netherlands, where an intoxicated agent is accused of stripping naked, pooping in front of another agent’s hotel door and then scooping up the excrement and smearing in on the door and its handle.

Two sources told the Washington Examiner that the two agents, who were in Rotterdam for the 2018 International Drug Enforcement Conference in early April, were fighting with each other after an evening of heavy drinking. 

Agent Brian Shanahan is accused of getting his revenge outside the other agent’s hotel room.

The excrement caused on security guard to vomit.

“Shanahan took a dump in front of this agent’s door and smeared it all over it, including the door knob,” one DEA source said.

Comey Assails FBI’s Treatment of Martin Luther King But Ignores Racial Profiling Under His Leadership

Former FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

When James Comey became the FBI director in 2013, he placed atop his desk a framed copy of the letter that authorized the surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr. as a reminder of the bureau’s “shameful.” 

In his new book, Comey said he deeply admired the civil rights giant and criticized the FBI’s treatment of him as “a dark chapter in the Bureau’s history.” Comey required the bureau’s entire workforce to read King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” and created a curriculum for new agents to “remember how well-meaning folks lost their way.” New recruits were ordered to visit the King memorial and write an essay about one of their favorite quotes inscribed on the wall.

But what Comey doesn’t mention is the bureau’s “same racialized tactics and assumptions in his tenure as FBI director: broadly targeting the Muslim-American community, coercing informants, trafficking in racial profiling, surveilling Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock activists, and largely standing aside amid police violence and misconduct.”

The surveillance of the civl rights movement, which went far beyond King, wasn’t largely known until activists broke into an FBI office in Pennsylvania and stole the records before leaking them to the media.

“To become targets of the FBI, it wasn’t necessary for African Americans to engage in violent behavior,” said Betty Medsger, the Post reporter who broke the initial story. “Being black was enough.” Agents were required “to investigate and, if possible, infiltrate every black student organization at two year and four year colleges.”

U.S. Customs Officer, Charged with Child Pornography, Faces Up to 10 Years in Prison

U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Houlton, Maine.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A U.S. customs officer in Maine faces up to 10 years in prison on a federal child pornography charge.

Homeland Security began investigatinxg Larry O’Neal, 44, in early January after investigators traced a downloaded file of suspected child pornography to his computer at home in Houtlon, Maine, Bangor Daily News reports

Investigators said they found child pornography on a computer and hard drive, including images of girls about 12 to 14 years performing sex acts.

O’Neal was indicted on Feb. 15 and pleaded not guilty.

A CBP spokeswoman declined to discuss the case but said they agency “is fully cooperating with the FBI and Office of the Inspector General regarding this investigation.”