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Tag: Arlen Specter

Ex-Interim Philly U.S. Atty. Suspended for 100 Days

Ex-U.S. Atty. Laurie Magid

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former Philly interim U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid, who is now an assistant U.S. Attorney, has agreed to a 100 day suspension without pay for violating federal restrictions on political contributions in connection with fund-raisers for U.S. Rep. Patrick L. Meehan and former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The paper reported that the settlement, completed Thursday in the ethics case, was investigated by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

The penalty was part of a settlement completed Thursday that concluded an ethics case pursued by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an independent federal agency. The suspension is slated to begin Sept. 6.

“I have spent my life devoted to public service, and I am looking forward to continuing my work as a prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Magid said Friday in a statement to the newspaper.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has alleged that as a government employee Magid improperly held fundraisers for Sen. Arlen Specter in 2008 and one for U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan in 2009, and solicited funds from subordinates at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the fundraisers, according to the counsel’s Feb. 15 document.

The special counsel recommended disciplinary action for violating the Hatch Act law. which limits political activity by federal employees.

Magid was the first assistant U.S. Attorney from summer 2005 until July 2008 when she became acting U.S. Attorney. From February 2009 to May 2009 she was the interim U.S. Attorney and then was replaced.

The Office of Special Counsel document stated that in 2008, Magid’s husband was hosting a fundraiser at their home for Sen. Arlen Specter.

The document alleged that she helped her husband and invited eight assistant U.S. attorneys (AUSAs) for the Sen. Specter fundraiser.

“At least one one AUSA expressed concern that he felt pressure to attend this political fundraiser,” the document said.

In early 2009, the husband threw a fundraiser for gubernatorial candidate Patrick Meehan, the former U.S. Attorney, who eventually decided to run for Congress. Magid helped her husband with the invite list, which included 35 of her subordinate employees. Of those, about 18 got the invitations at their official U.S. Attorney address, the document said.

“When invitations were received, performance evaluations were in progress,” the document said. “Several of respondent’s subordinate employees expressed concerns that they felt pressure to attend this political fundraiser or make a financial contribution.”

Sen. Specter Introduces Legislation Making Witness Intimidation in Local Cases a Fed Crime

Sen. Specter/gov photo

Sen. Specter/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As any local or federal prosecutor in urban America can tell you, witness intimidation is a big problem.

In fact, in Baltimore, a gang member made some popular videos warning people not to “snitch”. And tv shows like HBO’s popular “The Wire” show the downfall of snitching: death.

That being said, who knows how much a difference this will make — considering some of the people who intimidate or kill witnesses don’t really care about the law. Still, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that makes it a federal crime to threaten, harm, or kill a witness in a local criminal case, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The paper reported that Specter said he was reacting to an Inquirer series that concluded that witness fear was a factor in “virtually every violent-crime prosecution in Philadelphia.”

“Unless witnesses can be assured they will be protected, the problem of witess intimidation cannot be expected to go away,” Specter said on the Senate floor, according to the Inquirer.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Politics as Usual Impeding Philly U.S. Attorney Appointment

Politics as usual isn’t really good enough. It’s been almost a year since Pres. Obama took office and there’s still no clear picture as to who will be the new U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia. That should be unacceptable.

Acting U.S. Atty. Michael Levy/gov photo

Acting U.S. Atty. Michael Levy/gov photo

By MICHAEL HINKELMAN
Philadelphia Daily News

PHILADELPHIA — By this date eight years ago, the then-new U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, Patrick Meehan, had been on the job almost four months, after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate in September 2001.

Now, almost a year into President Obama’s term, there is not even a nominee for the post. And the appointment of a new U.S. attorney, which is considered a plum assignment, is not believed to be imminent, sources familiar with the process say.

Some blame the ambling pace on unusual political circumstances.

Traditionally, the state’s senior senator of the president’s party, in this case Sen. Bob Casey, makes a recommendation to the White House. However, when longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter switched parties last April and became a Democrat, that complicated the selection process, sources said.

For Full Story

Senators Taking Applications to Replace Pitts. U.S. Atty Mary Beth Buchanan

Sen. Dick Durbin/official photo
Sen. Dick Durbin/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Things aren’t looking so good for Bush loyalist Mary Beth Buchanan, who has expressed interest in remaining the U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting that Pennsylvania Democratic Sens. Bob Casey and Arlen Specter are taking the applications for the Pittsburgh job as well as the one in Philadelphia held by interim U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy.

In Illinois, Sen. Dick Durbin has recommended Springfield assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregory Harris or James Lewis — for the U.S. Attorney post in the state’s central district, according to the State Journal-Register.

In the southern district of Illinois, he recommended retaining U.S. Attorney A. Courtney Cox. Durbin had already recommended that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago stay on, which he is.

Durbin also recommended three names for the U.S. Marshal job in the central district of Illinois, the Illinois paper said. They include: Kenneth Bohac, a deputy U.S. Marshal in Kentucky; Adams County Sheriff Brent Fischer and Robert Moore, a former U.S. Marshal.

Defense Attys and Sen. Specter Attack Pitts. U.S. Atty. Buchanan

Conservative Holdover- Pittsburgh U.S. Atty. Mary Beth Buchanan
Bush Holdover- Pittsburgh U.S. Atty. Mary Beth Buchanan

It’s hard to imagine that Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan will stay on as the top prosecutor under the Obama administration. So far, she’s still there. But how long can she last?

By The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH – Defense lawyers and a U.S. senator are criticizing comments made by Pittsburgh’s U.S. attorney last month as her office dismissed fraud and theft charges against a noted pathologist.

Lawyers for former Allegheny County medical examiner Cyril Wecht are calling on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to formally rebuke U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, saying she “vindictively … expressed the view that Dr. Wecht was a criminal and was guilty of the charges made against him.”

“We trust you will agree such statements by a United States prosecutor are completely improper, violate all notions of prosecutorial ethics and decency, and warrant remedial action by the Department of Justice,” former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh wrote in a June 16 letter to Holder.

Prosecutors originally indicted Wecht on 84 counts in January 2006, but the case was whittled down before a trial that ended in a hung jury. The charges were then trimmed again until 14 counts remained, but the government’s case was undermined when a judge threw out two search warrants.

For Full Story

Sen. Specter’s Switch May Not Impact Appointments of Judges and U.S. Attorneys

When it comes to appointments of judges and U.S. Attorneys, not all that much may change simply because Sen. Arlen Specter has changed parties.  He often exercised independence and is likely to continue on that path.specter-front-page

David Ingram
Legal Times
WASHINGTON — Sen. Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party brings his new colleagues a little closer to controlling 60 seats in the Senate, but it’s not clear that the switch will have much of an effect on the fate of nominees for the federal bench and the Justice Department.

Lawyers and lobbyists who follow the Senate Judiciary Committee have long said that it’s difficult to predict how Specter will vote on nominees — even when he asks critical questions of them in confirmation hearings. On Tuesday the Pennsylvanian vowed not to change his approach.

“I will not be changing my own personal independence or my own approach to individual issues. I will not be an automatic 60th vote,” Specter told reporters, referring to the votes needed to invoke cloture and cut off Senate debate. He added later, “I have always agreed with John Kennedy that sometimes parties ask too much. And if the Democratic Party asks too much, I will not hesitate to disagree and vote my independent thinking.”

In fact, Specter provided a fresh example of that independence Tuesday, saying for the first time that he is “opposed” to the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to be assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel.

Her confirmation is a priority for the Democratic Party’s base, in part because the office has been at the center of the battle over interrogation policies.

For Full Story

Senate Judiciary Gives the Nod to Dawn Johnsen for DOJ Office of Legal Counsel

Dawn Johnsen

Dawn Johnsen

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON –If you’re looking for any inkling of bipartisanship in Washington, don’t count on  the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The committee voted 11-7  Thursday to confirm the nomination of  Dawn E. Johnsen as Office of Legal Counsel for the Justice Department.

All the Republicans voted against her except for Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who passed on the vote. He said he was reserving judgment until he got a better sense of her views.

Johnsen,  an Indiana University law professor has been a big critic of the Bush administration’s policies. Johnsen still faces a confirmation by the full Senate.