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Archive for August 9th, 2018

FBI Agent Denies Firing 2 Mysterious Shots at Leader of Oregon Wildlife Refuge Takeover

Robert “LeVoy” Tinicum, who was shot dead by police during the armed Oregon wildlife refuge takeover.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent accused of obstruction and making false statements denied Wednesday that he shot at a militia leader involved in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

W. Joseph Astarita is accused of firing his weapon twice in the line of duty and removing the shell casings from the scene.

But Astarita testified during his trial this week that he did neither.

Astarita is charged with allegedly lying that the fired two errant shots that missed Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, who was fatally shot by Oregon State Police.

Investigators were able to identify who fired six of the eight shots. After an investigation, prosecutors became convinced that Astarita fired the other two shots. 

He was indicted in June 2017.

Astarita testified Wednesday that he did not fire his weapon at Finicum because he was worried about cross-fire.

Prosecutors rested their case earlier this week, saying Astarita was the only person who could have fired the mysterious shots.

White-Collar Attorney: It’s a Myth that Mueller Must Interview Trump Before Seeking Indictments

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The constant media coverage about President Trump refusing an interview with  special counsel Robert Mueller has created the false perception that prosecutors need to talk with the president before completing the investigation.

It’s not true, says Jon Sale, an opinion contributor for The Hill and a lawyer who has represented people accused of white-collar crimes.

Sale wrote:

Government prosecutors conduct white-collar investigations every day. Usually, prosecutors complete their investigations without the benefit of interviewing the person under investigation. 

Like all white-collar investigations, Mueller’s investigation requires an analysis of the president’s knowledge and intent. The allegations involving obstruction and foreign meddling in our election are no exception.

Knowledge and intent determinations are necessary in most white-collar investigations. Typically, prosecutors determine whether they can prove criminal intent based on the facts uncovered in their investigation, including relevant witness testimony and documentary evidence such as emails.

Truth is, Mueller can seek an indictment of the president without an interview by using evidence culled from witnesses and records.

Sure enough, Trump’s team of lawyers is urging him not to agree to an interview, which is not unusual in cases like these.

“Here, the president and his legal team have apparently concluded, rightly or wrongly, that Mueller’s probe is a “witch-hunt” conducted by partisans who have pre-determined the president’s guilt,” Sale writes. “Given the president’s view about the unfair mindset of Mueller’s team, submitting to a voluntary interview would be tantamount to walking into the lion’s den.”

Gates Told Feds about Manafort’s Foreign Bank Accounts Long Before Mueller’s Probe

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Before longtime business partners Paul Manafort and Rick Gates began running Donald Trump’s campaign for president, Gates revealed to the FBI that their consulting firm had foreign bank accounts.

The disclosure by Gates, made public during the Manafort trial this week, is a big deal because the foreign bank accounts became the impetus for investigating and eventually charging the pair with bank and tax fraud.

Gates told the jury that federal law enforcement in was investigating money the pair made working for Russian-friendly Ukrainian officials. He said Manafort told him to be truthful before Gates made the disclosure in 2014.

At the time, federal authorities didn’t have enough evidence to force the pair to disclose their financial records, which eventually were obtained by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and used as key evidence in charging both men.

Earlier this year, Gates struck a plea deal with prosecutors to cooperate with them as they took their case to trial. The government is expected to rest its case in the Manafort trial by Friday.

Prosecutors allege millions of dollars were deposited into the accounts so Manafort wouldn’t be taxed on money he was making from consulting work in Ukraine.

A Lot At Stake As Prosecutors Plan to End Fraud Case Against Manafort

Paul Manafort

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A lot is at stake in the Paul Manafort trial that began last week.

A victory for special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling during the election, would give him more credibility as president Trump tries to chip away at his reputation and intentions.

A loss for Mueller would give Trump more ammunition in his quest to convince the public that the investigation is a “witch hunt.”

By Friday, Mueller’s prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case against Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who is accused of bank and tax fraud.

Prosecutor Greg Andres told U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III that the government will rest its case after calling about eight more witnesses to the stand, which is expected to happen by the end of the week.

Once the prosecution rests its case, Manafort’s lawyers will make their case that the Republican consultant did nothing wrong. It’s unclear how long the defense plans to take during the trial, which entered its second week on Monday.

Gang Land News: A Key Government Witness’s Next Home: Back Seat Of His 2011 KIA

Jerry Capeci is regarded as an expert on the mob. His website, Gang Land News, is a subscription-based website. This article was republished with permission.

By Jerry Capeci
Gang Land News

Lester Zullo was a key player in an almost comical Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight event when he ran with a violent Luchese family crew back in 1992. But nine years later, he had two serious problems: a federal indictment, and throat cancer. So he agreed to flip. He got a new identity in the Witness Protection Program, and quietly helped send a bunch of Luchese mobsters to prison for murder and racketeering.

The government never called him, but Zullo was all set to testify against NYPD rogue detectives, Louis Eppolitto and Steve Caracappa, the so-called Mafia Cops who carried out hits and fingered targets for Luchese underboss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso.

But that was a long time ago. These days, mobster Joseph (Joey Flowers) Tangorra, and all the other wiseguys and mob associates who Zullo helped send to prison, have been released. And Zullo, 67, who was disabled when he joined Team America, is forgotten history, like water under the bridge, as far as the feds are concerned. His wife, also 67, is also disabled and suffers her own medical ailments. Their government funding — about $3100 a month — was cut off in June of 2014.

The move came after Zullo was assured — year after year — that wouldn’t happen, the ex-gangster told Gang Land. The couple have little to fall back on: Their savings from a malpractice award Zullo got for faulty laryngeal surgery to remove his voice box is almost gone.

Their disability and social security payments barely cover their rent. Their monthly rent where they’ve lived for 17 years is currently $1421. Their combined monthly income from disability and social security is $1740.

“In less than a few months,” Zullo rasped, speaking with the aid of a mechanical voice box, “we’ll be living in a car.”

Easy Decision

It wasn’t a difficult decision for Zullo to decide to cooperate. He and six others, including then-capo Tangorra, then-acting underboss Eugene (Boobsie) Castelle, and soldiers John (Big John) Castellucci and Scott Gervasi were hit with racketeering charges in December of 2000. At the time, Zullo had already been diagnosed with cancer and was suffering serious after-effects from having his voice box removed.

The feds were also looking to put him away as a shooter in the fouled-up hit he and Tangorra had attempted. Zullo, aiming at their target from the top step of a Brooklyn apartment building, mistakenly hit Tangorra in the back when Joey Flowers suddenly appeared at the bottom of the stairs. In hindsight, it’s obvious they were both at fault, but Zullo took the weight, likely because it was the wounded Tangorra who shot and maimed their victim. Within days of his arrest, according to court records, Zullo, who was indicted as “Lester Ellis,” a name he often used, pleaded guilty. He was released on bail, secured by an annuity he got for his malpractice award.

Read more »

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