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Tag: deal

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 »

Former Head of Boston’s FBI Office to Plead Guilty to Ethics Charge

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The former head of the FBI’s Boston office won’t serve any time in jail under a proposed deal with prosecutors that would require him to plead guilty, the Associated Press reports.

Kenneth Kaiser is expected to pleaded guilty to an ethics charge in return for a maximum punishment of a $15,000 fine.

The 57-year-old is accused of violating a federal ethics law by meeting with former FBI colleagues about his company that was under investigation, the AP wrote.

Kaiser served as special agent in charge of the office from 2003 to 2006 before leaving to become an assistant director at FBI headquarters.

Appeals Court Refuses to Overturn 1984 Marijuana Conviction over Mobster Whitey Bulger’s Information

Whitey Bulger/fbi

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A large-scale marijuana dealer who claims FBI agents lied in court to protect longtime informant and mobster James “Whitey” Bulger won’t receive a new trial, the Boston Globe reports.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First District refused Monday to overturn the 1984 conviction of Michael F. Murray, saying the evidence was overwhelming.

“In rejecting this petition, we in no way excuse or condone the FBI’s illicit involvement with Whitey Bulger,” the court wrote, according to the Boston Globe. “But the connection to Murray’s 1984 conviction, for a crime he did commit, is too attenuated to support his petition.”

Bulger tipped off the FBI about the marijuana because he wasn’t getting a cut of the profits, the Globe reported.

Murray, now 61, argued the case should have been tossed because Bulger’s involvement wasn’t properly disclosed.

Madoff’s Accountant Pleads Guilty and Agrees to Cooperate

money-photoBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The potential to snare more bad guys in the Bernie Madoff scam is growing.

Madoff’s accountant David Friehling pleaded guilty in New York on Tuesday  to nine criminal charges, and has agreed to cooperate with the feds. That could mean more indictments.

Friehling told U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein that he failed to conduct meaningful audits of Madoff’s business from 1991 through 2008, USA Today reported. His sentencing is set for Feb. 26.

“I appear before your honor today to take responsibility for my conduct,” said Friehling, who insisted he didn’t know about the scam and lost his own and his family’s life savings to Madoff, USA Today reported. “I am truly sorry for the suffering of all the victims.”

USA Today reported that “he may qualify for leniency based on what Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called his agreement to ‘assist us in holding others accountable for their involvement in Madoff’s epic fraud'”.

He pleaded guilty to securities fraud, investment adviser fraud and making false filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission.