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Archive for February, 2019

Cohen Blasts Trump and Trump Blasts Back

Michael Cohen

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The hearing had the feel of an underboss for the mob flipping on the boss, with some of the interrogators having little trust in what he said.

Nonetheless, freshly disbarred attorney Michael Cohen, a convicted liar and cheat,  took to Capitol Hill on Wednesday and did a major dump on his former boss, President Donald Trump,  calling him a con man and a racist, and suggesting he had broken the law.  He also indicated that he was assisting the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York in a criminal probe into the president.

The Republican members couldn’t find enough ways to call him a liar who is incapable of telling the truth. The Democrats insisted the Republicans were afraid of him telling the truth.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, President Trump attacked the testimony.

“It was pretty shameful, I think,” Trump said, according to USA Today. He went on to call it a fake hearing, but was pleased that Cohen did not suggest there was collusion with Russia.

He didn’t lie about one thing: He said no collusion with the Russian hoax,” Trump said.

“I was actually impressed he didn’t say I think there was collusion for this reason or that,” Trump said. “… I was a little impressed by that frankly.”

Fired FBI Supervisor Sues for Sex Discrimination and Retaliation

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Jennifer Boughton, a former civilian supervisor at the FBI’s Cincinnati field office, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging sexual discrimination and retaliation after she complained some of the male employees on her team slept on the job, lied about their work and drove FBI cars after drinking alcohol,  Fox 19 reports.

Boughton began working for the FBI in October 2003 and was promoted to Supervisory Investigative Specialist in December 2008, according to the lawsuit. She spent most of her time overseeing a mobile surveillance team. She received no discipline and had no performance issues between 2008 and 2014, according to the lawsuit.

In May 2015, she was reassigned to special projects and her pay was reduced and her car privileges were revoked. She was fired in early 2016, the station reports.

Read the lawsuit

Ex-Chicago Cornerback Charles Tillman Becomes An FBI Agent

Tillman (Photo by Jeffrey Beall)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has become an an FBI agent.

A source tells the Chicago Tribune that Tillman graduated from the FBI’s training academy is now working as an agent.

Tillman, 37, retired from the NFL in 2016.

 

It’s the Big Day in Washington: Cohen to Testify that Trump Is a Racist and Conman

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Trump.

There should be more excitement Wednesday on Capitol Hill than at this last Super Bowl.

President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen takes to the world stage as he appears before Congress to tell his story about his boss.

USA Today writes:

Michael Cohen is set to deliver a blistering account of his dealings as President Donald Trump’s longtime attorney Wednesday, casting his former boss as a “a conman” and “racist’ while tying the White House more directly than ever to multiple investigations that have shadowed Trump’s presidency.

In a prepared statement to Congress, Cohen asserted that Trump knew in advance that WikiLeaks planned to release stolen emails damaging to political rival Hillary Clinton; that he personally reimbursed Cohen for an illegal hush-money payment to a porn star; and that the  president indirectly encouraged him to lie to Congress about his pursuit of a potentially lucrative Trump Tower development in Moscow, even as Trump repeatedly denied any business interests in Russia throughout the 2016 campaign.

Cohen also suggested that Trump knew in advance of a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, headed by Donald Trump Jr., in which a Russian lawyer promised to provide damaging information on Clinton.

 

Fed Judge Upholds Ban on Bump Stocks

Bump Stock (Wikipedia photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Despite a challenge from the Firearm Policy Foundation, U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of D.C. on Monday upheld a ban by the Trump administration on bump stocks, UPI reports.

Bumps stocks, which can modify a weapon so it fires like a machine gun, was used in the Las Vegas slaughter that killed people in 2017. The ban takes effect March 26.

The  Firearm Policy Foundation contends that the ban “smacks of agency abuse” and was the “product of serious multi-dimensional legal violations,” UPI reports. It also  argued that then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker didn’t have the authority to issue the ban.

The judge ruled that ATF was within its right to redefine the rules that had previously allowed bump stocks.

The Not-So Shocking Revelation that Some Asian Spas are Really Brothels

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

Last week in Jupiter, Florida, the Orchids of Asia Day Spa was raided and closed allegedly for being a prostitution business, a brothel. Making it a prominent story on national news was the identity of one of the spa customers, Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots. Kraft has been charged with soliciting prostitution.

Robert Kraft

Surprising to me was the reaction of law enforcement and the media. It reminded me of that iconic scene from the movie, “Casablanca:”

The local police chief, Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) is closing Rick’s American Café. When asked why he’s closing the Café, Renault replies. “I am shocked – shocked – to find that gambling (think prostitution) is going on here!” After delivering that line, the croupier hands Renault a stack of bills and says, “Your winnings sir.” Renault thanks the croupier and quickly walks away.

I find it hard to believe that the media and law enforcement like Capt. Renault didn’t know that many storefront Asian spas/massage parlors are in fact brothels. The story that follows was posted in 2009 on the federal law enforcement website, ticklethewire.com. 

In 1999, the Ann Arbor (MI) Police Department came to me with a proposal. AAPD wanted to know if the FBI would be willing to help investigate Asian spas/massage parlors in Ann Arbor, and prosecute them federally. There were five Asian spas in Ann Arbor, and they strongly suspected that the spas were fronts and were actually brothels. At the time I was the senior agent in the local FBI office and knew next to nothing about Asian spas.

Greg Stejskal

I consulted with US Attorney’s Office (USAO) in the Eastern District of Michigan and FBIHQ. I got the go ahead and learned there were other similar cases being pursued elsewhere in the country. We would coordinate our investigation with those other cases. Further, there were national implications involved, e.g., organized crime, indentured servitude, immigrant smuggling, human trafficking and sexual exploitation which the then US Attorney General had made a priority. The Asian spa/brothel seemed to be a national phenomenon.

I went back to AAPD and told them we could pursue the spas federally, but only if AAPD was willing to commit to a long-term investigation. To AAPD’s credit it made that commitment.

At the outset of the case, we understood the spas could be shut down like the speakeasies of the prohibition era, but to have any lasting impact the owners had to be identified and prosecuted. It was relatively easy to show there was prostitution occurring in these spas, the trick (no pun intended) was to prove the owners had knowledge that prostitution was occurring, and they were profiting from it.

All the spas in Ann Arbor were run by Korean Americans. (We code-named our investigation Seoul Provider.) Surveillance and telephone pen-registers indicated some interaction between spas in Ann Arbor and all over the country. All the spas we became aware of in Michigan and Ohio were run by Korean Americans, and they all had very similar operating procedures.

The working girls were almost exclusively Asian and lived on the premises and seldom left. They moved from one spa to another after six weeks to two months often in other parts of the country. The spas were usually managed by older Asian women, who were in effect madams. Often the spas would have the working girls sign agreements making them independent contractors, thus giving the owners plausible deniability as to knowledge of sexual activity. The working girls were in almost all cases uncooperative with law enforcement and could not be relied upon as potential witnesses. Despite the women being exploited, most had very limited skills, little English language capability and were in an indentured servitude status. Many were told the expenses that were incurred to get them to and into the US was a debt and had to be repaid.

The spas operated seven days a week with very long hours, e.g., 10 AM – 2 AM. (not the kind of hours of operation in legitimate massage parlors and probably a clue). The spas would set fees such as $45 for a half hour and $60 for an hour massage. Generally, these fees went to the house. The money for sex was added to the initial fee and was negotiated based on the agreed sexual activity. The money for sex was split between the house and the girls. All the spas we investigated accepted credit cards. This turned out to be a key element in proving the owners’ knowledge.

Read more »

Stejskal: The Not-So Shocking Revelation About Some Asian Spas in the U.S.

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

Last week in Jupiter, Florida, the Orchids of Asia Day Spa was raided and closed allegedly for being a prostitution business, a brothel. Making it a prominent story on national news was the identity of one of the spa customers, Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots. Kraft has been charged with soliciting prostitution.

Robert Kraft

Surprising to me was the reaction of law enforcement and the media. It reminded me of that iconic scene from the movie, “Casablanca:”

The local police chief, Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) is closing Rick’s American Café. When asked why he’s closing the Café, Renault replies. “I am shocked – shocked – to find that gambling (think prostitution) is going on here!” After delivering that line, the croupier hands Renault a stack of bills and says, “Your winnings sir.” Renault thanks the croupier and quickly walks away.

I find it hard to believe that the media and law enforcement like Capt. Renault didn’t know that many storefront Asian spas/massage parlors are in fact brothels. The story that follows was posted in 2009 on the federal law enforcement website, ticklethewire.com. 

In 1999, the Ann Arbor (MI) Police Department came to me with a proposal. AAPD wanted to know if the FBI would be willing to help investigate Asian spas/massage parlors in Ann Arbor, and prosecute them federally. There were five Asian spas in Ann Arbor, and they strongly suspected that the spas were fronts and were actually brothels. At the time I was the senior agent in the local FBI office and knew next to nothing about Asian spas.

Greg Stejskal

I consulted with US Attorney’s Office (USAO) in the Eastern District of Michigan and FBIHQ. I got the go ahead and learned there were other similar cases being pursued elsewhere in the country. We would coordinate our investigation with those other cases. Further, there were national implications involved, e.g., organized crime, indentured servitude, immigrant smuggling, human trafficking and sexual exploitation which the then US Attorney General had made a priority. The Asian spa/brothel seemed to be a national phenomenon.

I went back to AAPD and told them we could pursue the spas federally, but only if AAPD was willing to commit to a long-term investigation. To AAPD’s credit it made that commitment.

At the outset of the case, we understood the spas could be shut down like the speakeasies of the prohibition era, but to have any lasting impact the owners had to be identified and prosecuted. It was relatively easy to show there was prostitution occurring in these spas, the trick (no pun intended) was to prove the owners had knowledge that prostitution was occurring, and they were profiting from it.

All the spas in Ann Arbor were run by Korean Americans. (We code-named our investigation Seoul Provider.) Surveillance and telephone pen-registers indicated some interaction between spas in Ann Arbor and all over the country. All the spas we became aware of in Michigan and Ohio were run by Korean Americans, and they all had very similar operating procedures.

The working girls were almost exclusively Asian and lived on the premises and seldom left. They moved from one spa to another after six weeks to two months often in other parts of the country. The spas were usually managed by older Asian women, who were in effect madams. Often the spas would have the working girls sign agreements making them independent contractors, thus giving the owners plausible deniability as to knowledge of sexual activity. The working girls were in almost all cases uncooperative with law enforcement and could not be relied upon as potential witnesses. Despite the women being exploited, most had very limited skills, little English language capability and were in an indentured servitude status. Many were told the expenses that were incurred to get them to and into the US was a debt and had to be repaid.

The spas operated seven days a week with very long hours, e.g., 10 AM – 2 AM. (not the kind of hours of operation in legitimate massage parlors and probably a clue). The spas would set fees such as $45 for a half hour and $60 for an hour massage. Generally, these fees went to the house. The money for sex was added to the initial fee and was negotiated based on the agreed sexual activity. The money for sex was split between the house and the girls. All the spas we investigated accepted credit cards. This turned out to be a key element in proving the owners’ knowledge.

Read more »

Head of FBI Agents Association Praises Comic Jon Stewart

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Tom O’Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association, gives a big shout out on Linkedin to Jon Stewart for his support of 9/11 heroes and their families.