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Archive for August 21st, 2018

Jury Convicts Manafort on 8 of 18 Counts

Paul Manafort

Update: 6:04 p.m. Tuesday —  A federal jury in Alexandria, Va., found President Trump’s campaign manager guilty of eight tax and bank fraud charges. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10, the Washington Post reports. 

________________________

Reported from Earlier Today

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The jury in the trial of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman accused of bank and tax fraud, alerted a judge that it is split on at least one count and wanted instructions on how to proceed.

The news came late Tuesday morning on the fourth day of deliberations in a case that could send Manafort to prison for the rest of his life if he’s found guilty.

“Your honor, if we cannot come to a consensus on a single count, how should we fill in the jury verdict form for that count, and what does that mean for the final verdict?” the note asked U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, the Washington Post reports

The jury is tasked with reaching a verdict on 18 counts filed by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to meddle in the presidential election.

Manafort is accused of hiding millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts to avoid paying taxes on profits he made while working as a consultant for a Ukrainian political party with ties to the Kremlin. He also was charged with lying about his income to obtain loans to support what prosecutors described as an extravagant, excessive lifestyle that included six homes and an assortment of very expensive clothes.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s Longtime ‘Fixer,’ Reaches Plea Deal with Prosecutors

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Trump.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohn, reached a plea agreement Tuesday with prosecutors investigating money used to silence women who said they had affairs with Trump, according to the New York Times and ABC News.

Prosecutors in New York have been investigating Cohen for bank and tax fraud, along with his role in arranging payments to silence at least two women who said they had affairs with Trump.

The New York Times reported the plea deal does not include cooperation with prosecutors, so it’s unlikely Cohen, who had been Trump’s longtime fixer, is providing investigators with incriminating information on the president.

In July, Cohen’s attorney released a secret audio recording in which Cohen and Trump discuss hush money to former porn star Stephanie Clifford, one of the women claiming to have an affair with the president.

DEA Wants to Increase Marijuana Research While Limiting Opioids Production

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The DEA is recommending an increase in the amount of marijuana grown for research while reducing the production of opioids.

The agency, which has long resisted research that could lead to the legalization of cannabis, wants to more than quintuple the amount of marijuana that can be grown for research, according to a DEA news release.

In an upcoming Federal Register filing, the amount of marijuana that could be produced for research would increase to about 5,400 pounds.

At the same time, the DEA wants to reduce the production of six types opioids by 10% over the next year.

It would be the third time the DEA has imposed limits on the amount of opioids made in the U.S.

Border Patrol Agent Sentenced to Probation for Possessing Illegal Firearm, Heroin

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent arrested last year for possessing an illegal firearm and heroin was sentenced to three years’ probation and time served.

Brandon James Herrera was arrested in April 2016 after police in Oceanside, Calif., found a short-barrel rifle and about five grams of heroin in the agent’s trunk, NBC7 reports

Police pulled over Herrera after they said his truck matched the description of a vehicle driven by a suspicious person.

Herrera pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of an assault weapon on July 23.

FBI Frantically Searching for Man Who Was Kidnapped, Held for $2M Ransom

Ruochen “Tony” Liao

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI is frantically searching for a man who was kidnapped in California last month and held by captors for a $2 million ransom.

Federal authorities said Monday that Ruochen “Tony” Liao, a 28-year-old Chinese national, was kidnapped from a San Gabriel shopping center last month by three men on July 16, The Mercury News reports

The captors are demanding $2 million from Liao’s family, which has not paid the money. Authorities have not heard from the kidnappers since.

A witness reported seeing one of the three men, and provided a description to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which created a sketch of the suspect, known as David. He’s described as a Chinese man who speaks Mandarin, is between 35 and 40 years old and is about 6 feet tall.

The other two suspects are also believed to be of Chinese ethnicity.

Liao was spotted entering a black minivan after a business meeting in the Los Angeles area.

Jury Begins Fourth Day of Deliberations in Manafort Trial. Is That Unusual?

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The jury in the Paul Manafort fraud trial began its fourth day of deliberations Tuesday morning after failing to reach a verdict Monday evening.

The jury deliberated until 6:15 p.m. Monday, which is the latest it had gone home for the day.

Manafort’s attorneys suggested the jury’s failure to reach a verdict after three days of deliberations is good news.

But experts largely disagreed, saying it’s not unusual for a jury to take days – even more than a week — to reach a verdict in a case as complex as the one against Manafort, who is charged with 18 counts, ranging from tax fraud to tax fraud.

Defense attorneys’ suggestion that “the length of the deliberations is a good sign for them is pure spin,” Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general, told Vox. “Indeed, quick verdicts in complex cases are frequently for the defendant.”

Check back with Ticklethewire.com for updates on the deliberations.

Ex-Trump Campaign Adviser Papadopoulos Considers Withdrawing Guilty Plea in Russia Probe

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos is strongly considering withdrawing his guilty plea after special counsel prosecutors recommended a six-month jail sentence, according to his wife Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos struck a deal with prosecutors last year, pleading guilty to misleading FBI agents during the Russian election meddling investigation. In exchange for his cooperation, Robert Mueller’s team was going to recommend leniency.

But a six-month jail sentence is not what he was expecting.

His wife told ABC that “he will make his final decision” Tuesday.

“He needs a serious conversation with his attorney.”

On Monday, Papadopoulos tweeted, “Been a hell of a year. Decision.”

Mueller’s prosecutors recommended jail time because they said Papadopoulos “caused damage” to the investigation by misleading investigators.

In October, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with a professor, identified in news reports as Joseph Mifsud, who said he had dirt on Hillary Clinton.