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Tag: court

FBI Agent Denies Firing 2 Mysterious Shots at Leader of Oregon Wildlife Refuge Takeover

Robert “LeVoy” Tinicum, who was shot dead by police during the armed Oregon wildlife refuge takeover.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent accused of obstruction and making false statements denied Wednesday that he shot at a militia leader involved in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

W. Joseph Astarita is accused of firing his weapon twice in the line of duty and removing the shell casings from the scene.

But Astarita testified during his trial this week that he did neither.

Astarita is charged with allegedly lying that the fired two errant shots that missed Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, who was fatally shot by Oregon State Police.

Investigators were able to identify who fired six of the eight shots. After an investigation, prosecutors became convinced that Astarita fired the other two shots. 

He was indicted in June 2017.

Astarita testified Wednesday that he did not fire his weapon at Finicum because he was worried about cross-fire.

Prosecutors rested their case earlier this week, saying Astarita was the only person who could have fired the mysterious shots.

Gates Told Feds about Manafort’s Foreign Bank Accounts Long Before Mueller’s Probe

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Before longtime business partners Paul Manafort and Rick Gates began running Donald Trump’s campaign for president, Gates revealed to the FBI that their consulting firm had foreign bank accounts.

The disclosure by Gates, made public during the Manafort trial this week, is a big deal because the foreign bank accounts became the impetus for investigating and eventually charging the pair with bank and tax fraud.

Gates told the jury that federal law enforcement in was investigating money the pair made working for Russian-friendly Ukrainian officials. He said Manafort told him to be truthful before Gates made the disclosure in 2014.

At the time, federal authorities didn’t have enough evidence to force the pair to disclose their financial records, which eventually were obtained by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and used as key evidence in charging both men.

Earlier this year, Gates struck a plea deal with prosecutors to cooperate with them as they took their case to trial. The government is expected to rest its case in the Manafort trial by Friday.

Prosecutors allege millions of dollars were deposited into the accounts so Manafort wouldn’t be taxed on money he was making from consulting work in Ukraine.

Manafort’s Longtime Business Partner, Gates, Expected to Testify Against Manafort at Trial This Week

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Paul Manafort’s former longtime business partner, Rick Gates, is expected to testify against his old buddy this week in a criminal trial that could land the former Trump campaign chairman in prison for the rest of his life.

Rick Gates, who also served as an aide in Trump’s campaign, struck a plea deal with special counsel prosecutors to testify against Manafort, who is charged with 18 counts of tax fraud and banking crimes.

Gates is a vital witness for federal prosecutors’ case that alleges Manafort hid millions of dollars in secret, off-short bank accounts from profits he made working with a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party. When he stopped working as a consultant for Ukrainian officials, Manafort lied to banks about his income to obtain loans to finance his “extravagant lifestyle,” prosecutors allege.

The trial resumes today and will be the second week of testimony for special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Gates told prosecutors he has firsthand knowledge of the crimes.

The defense plans to paint Gates as en embezzler willing to bend the truth because of the leniency he received in the plea bargain.

Prosecutors: How Manafort Evaded Taxes, Falsified Records to Finance ‘Extravagant Lifestyle’

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel prosecutors on Friday shifted from Paul Manafort’s “extravagant lifestyle” to how he allegedly evaded taxes and falsified his bookkeeping to obtain loans used to finance his expensive tastes for clothes and real estate.

Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign chairman during the election, is accused of hiding millions of dollars in secret, off-short bank accounts from profits he made working with a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party, the Washington Post reports

Manafort is charged with 18 counts of tax fraud, banking crimes and conspiracy.

Friday was the fourth day of the criminal trial in Alexandria, Va.

In testimony early Friday, prosecutors sought to show how Manafort lied about the existence of off-shore accounts.

Tax preparer Philip Ayliff testified that Manafort claimed numerous times that he had no foreign bank accounts.

In an email from Ayliff to Manafort, the tax preparer asked Manafort if he had any interested in a foreign bank account, and Manafort responded that he didn’t.

“They never told us about any income that was deposited in foreign accounts,” he said.

If convicted, the 69-year-old Manafort could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Man Accused of Killing Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Is Facing Second Trial

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

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The man accused of stabbing to death an off-duty Border Patrol agent outside of a Far East El Paso bar is facing his second trial after the first one ended in a mistrial.

Testimony began in the second trial on Tuesday, when the common-law wife of Agent Isaac Morales said her husband flashed his Border Patrol badge after an argument ensued between him and Hisaias Justo Lopez in May 2017. Yasmi Gonzalez testified that Lopez swatted the badge out of Morales’ hand, pulled out a knife and threatened to kill the 30-year-old agent, KVIA reports.

Gonzalez said Lopez then stabbed the Border Patrol agent in the eye. He died four days later.

The defense has an entirely different story and points to a surveillance camera that shows Morales and one of his friends following Lopez as he walked away. In the first trial, the defense argued that Morales punched Lopez in the face.

During her testimony, Gonzalez said she did not recall whether that happened.

The trial resumes Wednesday.

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.

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