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Tag: court

Border Patrol Agent Sentenced to 70 Months in Prison for Helping Smuggle Drugs

Border marker, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent who helped smuggle what he thought were drugs along the U.S.-Mexican border, was sentenced to 70 months in prison Wednesday.

Noe Lopez, 38, believed he was helping deliver meth and cocaine that was dropped off at the border, but he actually was talking to a confidential informant.

“You held a position of trust,” U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw scolded Lopez. “This was the ultimate betrayal and breach of that trust.”

Lopez apologized for his actions.

“It’s something I regret — I’m going to regret — the rest of my life,” said Lopez, who worked out of the Imperial Beach station.

Ex-FBI Agent Pleads Guilt to Leaking Secrets to Media

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A former FBI agent has pleaded guilty to leaking confidential documents to a news organization, becoming the first federal employee convicted as part of the Justice Department’s crackdown on government leaks.

Terry James Albury, 39, who previously was a special agent in the Minneapolis division, faces up to 20 years in prison on two counts of retaining and disclosing defense information.

“As this prosecution demonstrates, we will not waiver in our commitment to pursue and hold accountable government officials who violate their obligations to protect our nation’s secrets,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in a statement.

Albury has said he was exposing “systemic biases” within the bureau when he allegedly gave a national reporter documents relating to assessing confidential informants and “threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country,” according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

An outline of the charges doesn’t mention the reporter or the news organization, but the timing of the alleged leaks coincide with an Intercept story published on Jan. 31, 2017, that accuses the FBI of aggressively investigating people deemed to have valuable sources. 

Federal prosecutors said they will continue to aggressively pursue government leakers.

“Terry Albury betrayed the trust bestowed upon him by the United States,” U.S. Attorney Doherty-McCormick said in a statement.  “Today’s guilty plea should serve as a reminder to those who are entrusted with classified information that the Justice Department will hold them accountable.”

Mistrial Declared in Stabbing Death of Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent

Hisaias Justo Lopez was on trial for allegedly murdering an off-duty Border Patrol agent.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A mistrial has been declared in the trial of a man accused of killing an off-duty Border Patrol agent.

The 12 jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict Friday in the murder trial of Hisaias Justo Lopez, who is accused of fatally stabbing Border Patrol Agent Isaac Morales on May 20, 2017, in the parking lot of the Union Draft House in East El Paso, the El Paso Times reports

Defense lawyers for Lopez argued Morales was drunk and the aggressor, forcing their client to defend himself.

Prosectors insisted Lopez started the fight unprovoked.

“I think there is no more deliberation,” the jury’s foreperson told the judge.

According to the El Paso Times, 10 jurors believed Lopez was guilty, and two thought he was not guilty.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether prosecutors would seek to retry Lopez.

Other Stories of Interest

DEA Sex Scandal Not Sufficient Reason to Dismiss Deadly Drug Conspiracy Case

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A DEA sex scandal was not a sufficient reason to dismiss a St. Louis drug case, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Shirley Padmore Mensah rejected defense lawyers’ claims on Jn. 12 that a deadly drug conspiracy case was compromised by an undisclosed affair between a DEA supervisor and a confidential informer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Lawyers for four people accused of a deadly drug conspiracy “failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that any government agent or any informant acting as a government agent deliberately or recklessly included a false statement” in an affidavit that resulted in permission to wiretap the suspects.

The wiretaps led to drug-related charges against Dionne L. Gatling, Andre Alphonso Rush, Timothy Lamont Rush and Lorenzo Gibbs. Further evidence was collected that prosecutors said showed Gatling and Rush were involved in the murder of two men whom the suspects believe were feeding information to police.

DEA supervisor Keith Cromer denied having a sexual affair with the informer, but admitted the relationship “became personal in violation of DEA policy but denied that it was ever sexual,” Mensah’s ruling says. 

The judge didn’t buy Mensah’s claims that the affair wasn’t sexual, citing “intimate photographs,” trips the pair took and court testimony.

The DEA forbids its investigators from being alone with an informant or having a relationship closer than “arm’s length.”

Cromer has since been suspended without pay.

The judge said the the alleged misconduct between the DEA supervisor and the informant had no impact on this case. 

FBI Expected to Reveal New Details of Houston Man Accused of Plotting Terrorist Attack

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is expected to reveal more details Thursday about an 18-year-old Houston man accused of plotting a violent attack in U.S. soil.

U.S.-born Kaan Sercan Damlarkaya is set to appear in federal court for a detention hearing, the Houston Chronicle reports

Damlarkaya was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on one count of providing material support to terrorists, two counts of attempting to provide material support to ISIS and two counts of unlawfully distributing explosive information, according tot he Justice Department.

Most of the charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Damlarkaya’s public defender declined to discuss the case.

ATF Under Fire for Controversial Stings Primarily Targeting African Americans

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ATF stings have come under fire because they’re predominately targeting African Americans and prompting allegations of racial profiling and entrapment.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the ATF has “convinced hundreds of would-be robbers across the country that they were stealing large quantities of narcotics, only to find out the drugs were a figment of the government’s imagination.” 

Because of mandatory federal sentencing laws, suspects caught up in the controversial stings are spending decades or even life behind bars, even though the drugs never existed.

The Tribune wrote:

Now the legal battle is coming to a head in an unprecedented hearing at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago before a panel of nine district judges overseeing a dozen separate cases involving more than 40 defendants.

The hearing, which has been four years in the making, will take place over two days in the courthouse’s large ceremonial courtroom. As many as 30 defendants, their relatives and individual attorneys are expected to attend, and an overflow courtroom has been set up to handle the anticipated crowd.

“In my 46 years of practicing law, I’ve never seen anything like this before,” attorney Richard Kling, who represents one of the defendants, told the Chicago Tribune this week.

The testimony will focus on dueling experts who reached starkly different conclusions about the racial breakdown of targets in the stash house cases.

A nationally renowned expert hired by the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School — which is spearheading the effort to have the cases dismissed — concluded that disparity between minority and white defendants in the stings was so large that there was “a zero percent likelihood” it happened by chance.

Other Stories of Interest

Hacker Accused of Stalking FBI Agent Back in Jail for Criticizing Bureau

hacking By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An alleged hacker accused of online stalking and harassment of an FBI agent is back in jail after criticizing the FBI on a blog post. 

The Texas man, Justin Shafer, had been free of jail after his March arrest on charges of online stalking and harassment of an FBI agent who was investigating a link between him and a notorious hacking group, the TheDarkOverlord

A judge said Shafer violated conditions of his release that included avoiding posts on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, The Dallas Morning News reports

But 12 days after the order, the 37-year-old criticized the FBI agent on his bog post, prompting a federal magistrate to order him held in custody until trial.

Share’s attorney claims the jailing violating his client’s rights to free speech.

“Mr. Shafer has a First Amendment right to criticize his prosecution and rebut the accusations made against him,” said his New York lawyer, Tor Ekeland, in an appeal of that judge’s order.

Other Stories of Interest

Former Trump Aides Under House Arrest After Money Laundering Charges

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two aides who were influential parts of Donald Trump’s campaign team are now under house arrest as their attorneys go on the defensive.

Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manaf0rt, and another aide, Rick Gates, have been under house arrest since Special Counsel Robert Mueller unsealed a 12-count indictment stemming from their work for a pro-Russian faction in Ukraine, Reuters reports

They have been ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device as they await a tial on money-laundering and other charges.

The aides’ attorneys said they case was embellished and overblown by the special counsel team and unsuccessfully requested that their clients not be forced to wear monitoring device.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she’s “concerned, very concerned” that an unsecured appearance bond was “not sufficient” without some sort of monitoring.

“If they leave and don’t come back, we need to know where they went,” the judge said.

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