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Tag: bo schembechler

Stejskal: The FBI and Drugs in the Beginning

Greg Stejskal

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

Webster Bivens may have been a drug dealer, but his place in law enforcement history is not proportional to his status as an alleged dealer.

In the fall of 1965, Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents raided Bivens’ Brooklyn apartment. The FBN agents had neither an arrest warrant nor a search warrant. The agents arrested Bivens and handcuffed him in front of his family. They also allegedly threatened his family and in the terminology of Bivens’ later law suit searched his apartment from “stem to stern.” No drugs were found, and the charges filed after Bivens’ arrest were dismissed.

Bivens apparently had a litigious streak and brought a civil action against the “six unknown agents” of the FBN based on the violation of his rights under the 4th Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized.”

Up until that time, a cause of action could not be brought against the US or its agents except as specifically authorized under certain statutes, and that was the ruling of the lower courts in Bivens’ action. But the Bivens case made it to the US Supreme Court, and in 1971, the Court decided that the US could be sued if the acts of its agents violated the Constitutional rights of a person. This not only created a cause of action, it fostered a perception that federal drug agents were running amok and were incapable of doing more than simple “buy-bust” investigations.

As the Bivens case worked its way through the courts, the whole approach to the federal war on drugs was being evaluated. The FBN agents who arrested Bivens were part of the Department of the Treasury. Presumably because drugs like alcohol were viewed as taxable commodities even though the principal drugs being targeted at that time were heroin, cocaine and marijuana, and were illegal per se.

Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Was Created

In order to unify the federal effort against illegal drugs, one agency was created in 1968, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), and it would now be an investigative agency in the Department of Justice. Then in 1973 the BNDD was renamed the Drug Enforcement Administration, and it remained in the DOJ. Although the perception of drug agents out of control was mostly inaccurate, DEA did have limited resources and was under pressure to produce results in terms of arrests and drug seizures. This made it difficult to dedicate their limited resources to long-term investigations targeting the upper echelons of drug trafficking organizations.

In the meantime the FBI was learning to utilize tools provided by the Omnibus Crime Act of 1968. This lengthy act was intended to provide means for federal law enforcement to investigate organized crime. For the FBI that meant La Costa Nostra, the Mafia. One particular part of the act (Title III) prescribed the process to legally intercept wire, oral or electronic communications – electronic surveillance or elsur for short. It included telephone wiretaps and surreptitiously placed microphones or bugs – generally referred to as a “wire.”

The probable cause required to get judicial approval for elsur was by design a difficult standard to meet. The affidavit documenting this “special “ probable cause often ran well in excess of 100 pages. Among other things, there had to be a showing that other investigative techniques wouldn’t work. For example if a drug dealer would only deal with someone he has known for years, it would be very difficult to get him to deal with an undercover agent.

Once the affidavit & accompanying order are written, they have to be submitted to the Attorney General of the US or a specifically designated Assistant AG for approval. If they are approved, they then have to be authorized by a US District Court Judge in the district where the elsur is to be conducted. The elsurs are limited to 30 days, but can be renewed based on an updated affidavit.

Read more »

Retired FBI Agent Greg Stejskal Will Talk to U-M Football Team About Gambling

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

The author (right) Greg Stejksal and late Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

 
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com
In 1982, legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler asked the Ann Arbor, Mich., FBI office to talk to his team about the perils of illegal sports gambling.

The senior resident agent, Tom Love, agreed to make the presentation. Love, knowing I had played college football at Nebraska (read: mostly practiced), asked me to help. We explained that sports gambling is not about who wins but about covering the point spread. That gamblers need to get inside information as an edge to better divine how a team will perform and, the Holy Grail of bookmakers, have a cooperating player or referee with the ability to control the point spread: point shaving.

Sports gambling was and is a potential threat to the integrity of sports. The huge amount of money bet illegally in the United States, estimated at more than $300 billion, is an incentive to control the outcome of a game.

When I started making presentations, Michigan’s football team was housed in a relatively small, one-story building. Michigan’s transition to the state-of-the-art facilities it has today is emblematic of the change in Division I football in the past 30 years. In those days, college teams such as Michigan might be on TV once or twice a year. Now, a dedicated fan or gambler can watch just about any game played anywhere in the country. With the increase in TV coverage, sports gambling also has increased. And with the advent of the Internet, gamblers have access to more current information and can place bets online.

Read more »

Thirty Years Later, Carrying on a Tradition: Talking to U of M Football Team About Gambling and Other Matters

The author (right) Greg Stejksal and late Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

 In 1982 legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler called the FBI office in Ann Arbor. Bo wanted the FBI to talk to his team primarily about the perils of illegal sports gambling.

The Senior Resident Agent, Tom Love, agreed to make the presentation. Tom knew I had played (read mostly practiced) college football and asked me to help.

At the time Michigan’s football team was housed in a relatively small one story building that reminded me of a Quonset hut. Michigan’s transition from that modest building to the state of the art facilities they have today is emblematic of the change in Division 1 football in the last 30 years.

In our talk we explained how sports gambling worked. How it’s not about who wins. It’s about covering the point spread. How important it was for gamblers to get inside information as an edge to better divine how a team will perform, and if possible, have a cooperating player or ref with the ability to control the point spread, “point shaving.”

Sports gambling was and is a potential threat to the integrity of sports. The huge amount of money bet illegally in the US on sports is an incentive to gain an advantage in knowing or trying to control the outcome of a game. Recent estimates of the annual amount bet illegally in the U.S. are north of $300 billion.

When I started doing the FBI presentations, a D-1 college team, like Michigan, might be on TV once or twice a year. Now sports programing has become so pervasive that a dedicated fan or gambler can watch just about any game played anywhere in the country.

 

With the increase in TV coverage, sports gambling has also increased. And with the advent of the internet, gamblers have access to more current information and can place bets on-line.

Recognizing the need for educating players, the FBI developed a sports presentation program, and trained agents to address college and professional teams. After my first talk to the Michigan football team, I went through the training and attended periodic conferences with representatives from NFL, MLB, NHL and NCAA.

Over the years I’ve talked to pro and college teams. (I talked to the Michigan basketball teams several times including the “Fab Five” teams. That might have been a case of a failure to communicate.)

Something I didn’t always do, but learned was important, was to ensure that the head coaches stayed during the presentations. If the coaches didn’t think it was important enough to be there, the players would think the same thing.

The FBI program still exists in theory, but priorities have changed. It is no longer as active as it was, although sports gambling is bigger than ever and point shaving scandals continue to surface.

Our first talk with the Michigan football team must have gone well. Bo invited Tom Love and me back the next year. Tom was not as enthusiastic about speaking to the team as I was. So he told me to handle it on my own.

Little did I know that it was to be the “beginning of a beautiful friendship” between Bo and me. It was to have a substantial impact on my career.

Bo and I would work together on several FBI cases – notably the investigation of Norby Walters/Lloyd Bloom, two notorious sports agents who bribed and signed about 20 blue chip college football players while they were still eligible to play college ball. Walters and Bloom post dated the contracts and kept them secret, a clear violation of NCAA rules. Under NCAA rules, once you sign with an agent, your college eligibility ends.

Bo would be the “star” witness in the successful federal prosecution of Walters and Bloom. (Walters had been a New York music agent and had organized crime ties and a NY Mafia family helped finance Walters’ sports operation. It was believed that the ultimate goal of signing so many star athletes was to try to get some of the players in the stable to become involved in point shaving.)

Bo also convinced me –he was very persuasive — to pursue an undercover operation targeting the illegal trafficking of anabolic steroids. That UCO, Equine, was international in scope and resulted in the successful prosecution of over 70 dealers. (I’ve written several stories about Equine.)

Although illegal sports gambling continued to be the primary topic over the years, other concerns were discussed like: drugs, steroids, domestic violence (more specifically don’t beat-up your girlfriend) and recently the improvident use of social media. Obviously social media can also be a source of inside information for gamblers – makes you wonder how many star players’ twitter followers are professional gamblers.

The topics may have changed, but the message never really did. The common theme was using good judgment, having good values and making good decisions.

Bo had a concept of a “Michigan Man” (not meant to be gender specific). A Michigan Man not only demonstrated traditional values like integrity, honor and responsibility, on the field, but he/she lived them.

When Bo retired in 1989, I continued to talk to the Michigan football teams.

Later I was fortunate to become friends with Lloyd Carr during his 13 year tenure as Michigan coach. Lloyd reminded me of Jimmy Stewart, whereas Bo was more like George C. Scott playing General Patton. Both men led by example and practiced the values they taught.

During four of the seasons Lloyd coached (2000-03), my son was a walk-on. Those presentations were special for me. When I spoke to those teams, I was not only a FBI agent speaking to Michigan’s football team, but a father seeing his son in a group of men representing a program that I had come to respect.

This week I will again talk to the Michigan football team. Brady Hoke is Michigan’s coach now.

Before leaving to be head coach at Ball State and San Diego State, Brady was an assistant at Michigan under Lloyd Carr for 7 years (1995-2002). Brady has embraced the traditions of Michigan and the concept of the Michigan Man.

It is Michigan’s 133rd football season, and it will be my 30th year.

The topics have changed. There are still the perils of illegal sports gambling, but now there are the issues of social media: texting, sexting, twittering, etc. New problems, but the message stays the same: making good choices based on good values.

I always end my talks with a quote attributed to John Wayne: “Life is tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

Column: 30 Years Later Retired FBI Agent Still Tries to Keep U of M Football Team on the Straight and Narrow

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

 

The author (right) Greg Stejksal and late Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

 In 1982 legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler called the FBI office in Ann Arbor. Bo wanted the FBI to talk to his team primarily about the perils of illegal sports gambling.

The Senior Resident Agent, Tom Love, agreed to make the presentation. Tom knew I had played (read mostly practiced) college football and asked me to help.

At the time Michigan’s football team was housed in a relatively small one story building that reminded me of a Quonset hut. Michigan’s transition from that modest building to the state of the art facilities they have today is emblematic of the change in Division 1 football in the last 30 years.

In our talk we explained how sports gambling worked. How it’s not about who wins. It’s about covering the point spread. How important it was for gamblers to get inside information as an edge to better divine how a team will perform, and if possible, have a cooperating player or ref with the ability to control the point spread, “point shaving.”

Sports gambling was and is a potential threat to the integrity of sports. The huge amount of money bet illegally in the US on sports is an incentive to gain an advantage in knowing or trying to control the outcome of a game. Recent estimates of the annual amount bet illegally in the U.S. are north of $300 billion.

When I started doing the FBI presentations, a D-1 college team, like Michigan, might be on TV once or twice a year. Now sports programing has become so pervasive that a dedicated fan or gambler can watch just about any game played anywhere in the country.

Read more »

Column: Now More Than Ever I Believe Bo Schembechler Would Have Done Right Thing in Penn State Scandal

The author (right) Greg Stejksal and Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

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 November I wrote a column about how I thought legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler would have handled the Penn State scandal.

Since then Joe Paterno was fired and subsequently died from cancer. Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 46 of 48 counts of sexual child abuse involving 10 boys.

Now the results of an independent investigation, the Freeh report, have been released.

As I had speculated in my column, Joe Paterno knew of allegations of Sandusky’s sexual child abuse as early as 1998. He apparently forced Sandusky to “retire” from the PSU coaching staff (after the 1999 season), but gave him a unique severance package including $168,000 and the designation Assistant Professor Emeritus – thus, allowing Sandusky continued, unrestricted access to Penn State athletic facilities.

This makes Paterno’s actions and inaction in 2002 all the more indefensible. When confronted with an eyewitness account of Sandusky sexually abusing a child in a shower at the PSU football facility, Paterno passed the report to his superiors.

But rather than actively pursue it, Paterno counseled that the allegations not be reported to law enforcement or child welfare services.

Paterno was an active participant in the cover-up. Then he lied about it under oath.

I am more certain now that faced with the situation that occurred at Penn State, Bo Schembechler would have handled it differently from the beginning, and it would not have ended like this.

Here is the column as it appeared last November:

“Do the Right Thing –Always,” Bo Schembechler

I want to preface this by saying, I was an admirer of Joe Paterno and Penn State football, which in my adult life have been synonymous. I don’t know Joe Paterno, but I know that he has been head coach at Penn State for 46 years and has been extremely successful, winning 409 games and two national championships.

Paterno achieved this seemingly without compromising sound values. His players were encouraged to be student-athletes with equal emphasis on the student part.

Read more »

Steroids Had Plenty of Victims

The author (right) Greg Stejsal and Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

The author (right) Greg Stejsal and Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

“Say it ain’t so, Rocket.”

(“Say it ain’t so, Joe.” Reported words of a young fan to Shoeless Joe Jackson after the Black Sox gambling scandal.)

Roger Clemens may have lied under oath in front of a Congressional committee regarding the use of steroids during his baseball career, but so what? Couldn’t our prosecutorial resources be used for more important things?

In the late 1980s and early 90s, as an FBI agent (now retired), who helped shepherd the largest steroid investigation in history, similar questions were posed to me. Why should we pursue the illegal distribution of steroids?

In 1989, University of Michigan head football coach Bo Schembechler and his strength coach, Mike Gittleson, shared a big concern.

They believed steroid use was becoming pervasive in college football. Their concern was not only that some players and teams were getting a competitive advantage but that high school players were beginning to think that steroid use was a necessary and accepted practice in getting to the next level.

Bo and Mike knew that steroids were an effective performance-enhancing drug, but could also cause very serious health problems. Not the least of these is severe depression. I learned of numerous cases of young, aspiring athletes who committed suicide after using steroids. (One of those suicides was the son of an FBI agent I knew.) I also thought of my own daughter and son, who, at the time, were beginning to participate in sports. Would they be faced with the choice of having to use steroids in order to reach their athletic goals?

Many believe steroid use is a victim-less crime. It’s not. Using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) affect the very integrity of the sport in which they are used. I see three sets of victims. The first is the players who choose to remain clean but must compete against the “enhanced” players. The other victims are aspiring athletes who use PEDs to continue pursuing their sport, or become disillusioned and quit. The third victim is the fan – more on that just ahead.

When we began our steroid investigation, dubbed Operation Equine, our goal was to pursue the steroid dealers, not the users. We reasoned prosecutors would have little interest in going after users whether they be gym rats or professional athletes. However, in retrospect, perhaps the only way to snag the media’s attention would have been to arrest celebrity athletes. We were also stunned when Major League Baseball stifled a yawn when presented with facts about all their “juiced” players.

Our investigative team was faced with a quandary when one of the dealers we arrested told us he had been supplying Jose Canseco and other members of the then Oakland A’s. (Later we learned one of those A’s was Mark McGwire.) No doubt, these are headline-generating names. For the reasons outlined above, we chose to pursue this dealer’s suppliers, not the star players/users.

It was way back in 1994 that information about the players’ use of steroids was given to the office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. It was ignored for nearly a decade. Yes, nothing happened for nearly 10 years until Canseco himself became the messenger. (Ironically, the U.S. Attorney’s office in northern California didn’t deem steroid dealing a crime worthy of prosecution at the time. What might have happened had they prosecuted the Oakland A’s dealer there, the future home of BALCO?)

If Roger Clemens did use steroids, the ramifications were far greater than just a high profile athlete using a substance to enhance his performance. The past and future are forever altered. Here’s where the Fan as a Victim enters the picture. In baseball, perhaps more than in any other sport, you not only compete with your contemporaries but against players from the past through statistics. These statistical achievements have long been considered sacrosanct, the lifeblood of every baseball fanatic.

These numbers transcend generations of players and fans. Thus, the use of PEDs not only potentially alters the final score, but has, to some extent, destroyed the integrity of those precious stats. Maybe more importantly, when star athletes turn to PEDs, they inadvertently encourage the same behavior by young aspiring athletes who seek to emulate their heroes.

People may argue about whether Congress should be involved in these issues, but persons testifying in front of Congressional committees under oath must tell the truth. Or invoke the protection of the 5th Amendment. To do otherwise renders the whole process a farce.

Ironically, if Clemens had used steroids during his career and admitted it, he most likely wouldn’t have been prosecuted. However, he now faces a serious charge of perjury, and perhaps worse – a tarnished career that no stellar statistic can ever repair.

It goes beyond just saying it ain’t so.