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FBI Investigates Possible Computer Server Connection Between Trump Organization, Russian Bank

Donald TrumpBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI counterintelligence team is investigating a possible computer server connection between the Trump administration and a Russian bank.

The same team is investigating whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

One U.S. official told CNN the server relationship was “odd,” but it’s not yet clear whether it was significant. 

CNN wrote:

Internet data shows that last summer, a computer server owned by Russia-based Alfa Bank repeatedly looked up the contact information for a computer server being used by the Trump Organization — far more than other companies did, representing 80% of all lookups to the Trump server.

It’s unclear if the Trump Organization server itself did anything in return. No one has produced evidence that the servers actually communicated.

Parker: Supreme Court Opens the Term with Criminal Case Arguments

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

US_Supreme_Court

The Supreme Court opens the 2016-2017 term on Monday with only 8 Justices because of the death last spring of Justice Scalia. The conventional wisdom is that the Court will do its best to avoid the confusion of 4-4 voting splits by postponing controversial cases another Justice is confirmed. Of course that is not always possible, particularly when the case had already been accepted while the Court was at full strength or when a case is unavoidable. An example of the latter would be a voting controversy after the Presidential election such as the 2000 case which confirmed George W. Bush’s election. God forbid the only thing that could make this election any crazier.

The Court has broad discretion in deciding what cases to accept for decision. Certiorari is granted in only about 80 of the 8,000 odd petitions that are filed. Oral arguments occur about 5 or 6 days a month from October to April. After the argument the Justices meet privately and take a preliminary vote. If the Chief Justice is in the majority, he will assign the author of the opinion. If he is in the minority, the senior Justice does so.

October’s case selections are somewhat unusual in that of the 8 cases scheduled for argument, 6 of them are criminal. Moreover, one of the two civil cases involves an issue of the liability of law enforcement agents who are sued for unconstitutional searches. Usually criminal cases comprise a third or less of the full opinion docket, about half that number of oral arguments in a month.

The first case scheduled for oral argument in the term, Bravo-Fernandez and Martinez-Maldonado v. US, involves a Puerto Rican Senator and businessman convicted of bribery in connection with gifts (Las Vegas boxing match tickets) provided to the Senator who then proceeded to vote in favor of legislation which benefitted the businessman. However, during the same prosecution, the jury also acquitted the two of other charges directly related to the issue of bribery. The verdict was irreconcilably inconsistent. On appeal the substantive bribery convictions were vacated due to erroneous instructions. The government seeks to re-try the vacated counts.

The issue before the Court is whether the factual conclusions underlying the acquittals should work to preclude the retrial under the Collateral Estoppel doctrine of the Double Jeopardy Clause. That is, should the jury’s acquittals prevent the government from retrying the defendants a second time on the charges of the vacated convictions?

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

As a general rule the government cannot re-litigate fact issues resolved against it in a previous prosecution. However, an exception to this rule is made in the case of inconsistent verdicts. The question is whether vacated convictions can be considered under double jeopardy to decide if the verdicts were inconsistent.

Four amicus briefs have been filed in support of the defendants’ arguments. The appeal is a prime example of why amicus briefs should be read to fully understand the issue and what is at stake in the case. One of them in particular filed on behalf of the Cato Institute is a good example of this practice ignored by most lawyers who follow Supreme Court cases. It was authored by Cato’s counsel on the appeal, David Debold, and it presents a thoughtful and erudite discussion on why the history of double jeopardy should preclude the re-trial on the vacated counts. Those of us who have worked beside Mr. Debold can only smile appreciatively at his use of an obscure theory of quantum physics to explain his point that a vacated conviction does not exist legally and so cannot be used to support the proposition that the verdicts are inconsistent.

Read more »

Justice Department Charges 7 Iranians with Launching Cyber Attacks Against 40+ U.S. Banks

hacking By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department charged seven Iranians who are accused of cyber attacks targeting more than 40 U.S. banks.

One of the suspects also is accused of breaking into the computer network of a small New York dam, the Christian Science Monitor reports. 

The Iranians are accused of launching a campaign of distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks against 46 American companies between 2011 and 2013.

“The attacks were relentless, systematic, and widespread,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a press conference Thursday. “We believe that they were conducted with the sole purpose of undermining the targeted companies and damaging the online operation of America’s free market.”

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Helps Bangladesh Investigate Massive $81M Cyberheist, Kidnapping of Crime Expert

BangladeshBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is helping Bangladesh investigate a massive heist by hackers who stole $81 million from the country’s central bank last month.

The stolen money was funneled to casino in the Philippines by hackers from six different countries, Time reports. 

“This is the biggest transnational organized crime ever seen in Bangladesh and so we sought both technical and human assistance [from the FBI],” Mirza Abdullahel Baqui, a senior police official, told Reuters.

The theft escalated after one of the country’s leading cybercrime experts, Tanvir Hassan Zoha, was kidnapped while helping investigating the case.

“This is a wake-up call,” former central bank governor Mohammad Farashuddin said.

Before Zoha was kidnapped, he had told the media he identified three of the user IDs involved in the heist – one of the world’s largest.

FBI Agent Admits He Tipped Off Media About Raid on Chaka Fattah Jr.’s Home

fbi badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent admitted from the witness stand Wednesday that he leaked information on the raid on Chaka Fattah Jr.’s home in Philadelphia, Philly.com reports. 

Fattah, the son of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah Sr., said he’s considering seeking a mistrial in a federal case involving bank- and wire-fraud charges.

FBI Special Agent Richard Haag acknowledged during testimony that he contacted a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter to ask questions about the case.

The agent said he tipped off the reporter about the raid at Fattahs home in exchange for information on contracts obtained by for-profit companies from school districts.

“I knew that someone had leaked it,” Fattah said. “But I didn’t know who.”

Fattah, who has been indicted on 23 counts of bank and wire fraud, said he lost $1 million in contracts because of the media.

My business has been ruined,” Fattah said. “My life is ruined.”

FBI Agent Pleads Guilty to Illegal Bank Deposits in Scheme to Hide Gambling From Bosses

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

FBI agent Travis Raymond Wilson, 38, of Huntington Beach, Calif., thought he could hide his gambling activity from his bosses.

He was wrong.

Wilson pleaded guilty Wednesday to structuring financial transactions in violation of the federal Bank Secrecy Act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Fresno, Calif.

Authorities stated in court documents that Wilson was a FBI special agent assigned to offices in California.

Between January 2008 and February 2013, Wilson regularly gambled at casinos in California, Nevada, Arizona, and West Virginia, authorities said.

Authorities charged that he frequently left the Casinos with more than $10,000 cash and regularly made deposits in amounts of $10,000 or less into his bank account “to attempt to prevent CTRs from being filed because he did want not the FBI to become aware of his gambling activities. In total, Wilson structured more than $488,000 in cash into his bank account.”

“Agent Wilson was well aware of the CTR requirement, and engaged in a pattern of transactions intended to circumvent the reporting of cash transactions under the Bank Secrecy Act,” said U.S. Attorney  Benjamin Wagner. “It is particularly important that federal law enforcement agents be faithful to the letter and spirit of federal law.”

 

Man in Mitt Romney Mask Robs D.C. Area Bank

View more videos at: http://nbcwashington.com.

Authorities Bust Two San Diego Men Posing as FBI Agents

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Two San Diego men were busted for impersonating FBI agents in a scheme to shake down a woman out of more than $200,000.

NBC San Diego reports that the men posed as agents and told a woman that she was a victim of a fraud by her bank.

They directed her to remove $200,000 from the bank and turn it over to them. The woman called police, the station reported.

To read more click here.