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Tag: feds

Feds Prosecuton of Zimmerman Case Would Be a Mistake

 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.

Trayvon Martin

 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The acquittal Saturday of George Zimmerman in a Florida state courtroom has already brought cries by civil rights leaders for a federal civil rights prosecution. On Sunday, the Justice Department announced it was going to review the case.

Zimmerman was found not guilty of second degree murder of a 17 year old African American boy, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was an armed neighborhood watch volunteer patrolling in his Sanford, Florida townhouse complex because of his concern about some recent burglaries in the area. Martin was returning home in his gray hoodie from a snack run for some Skittles and a fruit drink. Zimmerman pursued him, at least for a time, a struggle ensued, and Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest during the fight. The evidence was murky, emotional, conflicting, and heart rending.

A nationwide controversy erupted from the beginning over the racial implications of the case and whether and what to charge. The local prosecutor and law enforcement officers were replaced by state officials who chose to charge second degree murder. Although late in the trial they sought an instruction for the lesser included offense of manslaughter, they clearly focused their evidence, trial theory and argument on murder with malice aforethought and intent rather than on manslaughter based on an imperfect and unjustified self defense.

After the not-guilty verdict the charges of racial profiling and counter-charges are flying fast and furious and will undoubtedly continue for some time. My son’s social media is buzzing with a wide assortment of wacky accusations on both sides.

Among the protests has been discussion in the media about a federal investigation and prosecution under the U. S. Civil Rights Act, 18 U.S.C. 245. The Double Jeopardy Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not bar such a re-prosecution since the state and federal governments are separate sovereignties. Such cases are rare, however, and require a full Justice Department review.

A federal civil rights prosecution requires proof of an intentional interference with a person’s right to enjoyment of public accommodations on the basis of race or national origin. So the question is whether George Zimmerman was motivated by racial animus when he pursued and shot Trayvon Martin. Or more precisely, the question is whether there is evidence and proof of such a motivation.

The case and the cries for federal prosecution bring to mind a case of thirty years ago when members of one ethnic group appealed to the public and prosecutors when they were greatly dissatisfied with the lack of state justice, in their opinion, over the homicide of another young man by someone of a different race.

Vincent Chin, a young Chinese American was bludgeoned to death by a baseball-wielding white man after an argument in a bar in Highland Park, Michigan. The killer was accused of being motivated by his anger over the success of Japanese auto makers and the effect it was having over American auto workers.

Like the Zimmerman/Martin case, epithets were allegedly spoken during the events which preceded the killing. This, the protesters insisted, proved that the killing was racially motivated.

Angry protests, supported by the media, led to political pressure on Congressmen, which led to pressure on the Justice Department. Receiving literally thousands of letters, the Detroit U. S. Attorney Len Gilman ordered a re-examination of the record. A young AUSA, John Thompson, did so and concluded that the evidence of race was insufficient for proof beyond a reasonable doubt. His supervisors and Mr. Gilman also reviewed the evidence, came to the same conclusion and recommended no prosecution by the Justice Department.

But politics and emotion at DOJ trumped a calm investigation of the facts, the Detroit USAO was countermanded, and a prosecution was ordered in July 1983. At the time, I was chief of the criminal division at the U.S Attorney’s Office in Detroit.

After five years of intense effort, including a trial in Detroit, a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reversal, and a trial in Cincinnati, both defendants were acquitted for the same reason that first AUSA declined the prosecution. Like that of Travon Martin, the killing was a tragedy, but there was not enough evidence of racial motivation to convince the jury that a federal civil rights prosecution was warranted.

I do not pretend to know the evidence of the case as well as the media pundits and armchair trial lawyers claim to. Maybe the state prosecutor did overcharge and should have focused on defective self defense theory for manslaughter. Maybe in his mind and his actions George Zimmerman was wrongly affected in his decision-making and mistaken perceptions about a young black man in a hoodie in the neighborhood.

But I do know that the jury has spoken after hearing all of the evidence. And I still adhere to the jurisprudential truism that the jury is the greatest truth-finder ever invented.

Agree with the verdict or not, there does not appear to be enough evidence of manifestations of a racial basis for a federal re-prosecution. Federal court is not the place to fix every wrong result in state court.

Sometimes, however unsatisfying, a case is just over.

 

The FBI Files: A Peek Into Detroit Mobster Vito Giacalone’s Cat-And-Mouse Game With the Feds

The late Detroit mobster Vito "Billy Jack" Giacalone

 
By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Like old Tiger Stadium and the Vernors plant, Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone was a fixture in Detroit, one of the city’s best known mobsters — a Tony Soprano type whose mug occasionally graced the 6 p.m. news.

He was a suspect in the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance. He was known as a street boss who helped run sports betting operations.

And he wasn’t shy about collecting debts.

After he died last year at 88, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI, which indicated it had about 20,000 documents on Giacalone.

I became interested in Giacalone when I was a reporter at the Detroit News in the early 1990s. He had just pleaded guilty to some IRS charges and was walking out of a federal courtroom downtown.

“Mr. Giacalone, would you care to comment?” I asked. He ignored me, and with an icy stare, straight ahead, he proceeded to the elevator.

Before he went off to prison, I wrote a rather lengthy profile on him. I called his attorney David DuMouchel to request an interview. Dumouchel called Giacalone, then called me back to say that he not only didn’t want to talk, but: “He’s not happy” that I was doing the story.

While Giacalone was alive, we got very little information on his private goings on, even though there was always a thirst for news about the Mafia. I thought the FBI files could shed some light.

FBI Finally Releases Some Documents

A week ago, I got the first installment from the FBI, a measly 120-plus pages or so, focusing on the mid-1980s. Many were redacted, chock full of whited out spaces to hide names and certain information , and more than 250 were reviewed and withheld. The FBI said it is working on processing the rest of the documents, determining what it can release.

To read full story click here.

 

Feds Arrest 3 More in Boston Marathon Bombing

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Feds Want to Run eBay Sneaker Business Implicated in Massive Pot Conspiracy

photo: Baltimore City Paper

 
By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper

BALTIMORE — The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for a pair of Nike Shox Turbo 3.2 SL running shoes is $120, but Krush NYC, an eBay seller based in a warehouse in Jessup, sells them for $79.99. That kind of markdown is what attracts the buyers that make Krush a profitable enterprise: It clears an average of almost $1.5 million annually on gross sales of nearly $2.6 million, according to court documents.

The nitty-gritty on Krush’s financial information was revealed in court because federal prosecutors want to make sure Krush remains valuable. Its principals—40-year-old Kerem Dayi of Gambrills, Md., and California, and 43-year-old Steven Neil Madden of Randallstown, Md.—are two of 18 defendants charged in January with operating a massive pot-dealing and money-laundering conspiracy in Maryland, New Jersey, and California since early 2010. The indictment includes a count to allow the government to take ownership of at least $10 million in allegedly ill-gotten gains, including a number of assets already seized: eight pieces of real estate, 22 bank accounts, 24 vehicles, and three businesses. Krush is one of them.

To read the full story clickhere.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

 

 

Feds Investigating Jesse Jackson Jr. For Possible Misuse of Campaign Funds

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Feds Pile on Another Charge on Detroit’s Ex-Hip Hop Mayor Kilpatrick

Ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — The feds in the Motown just keep digging a deeper and deeper hole for Kwame Kilpatrick, the ex-mayor Detroit who was once dubbed the “Hip Hop Mayor.”

The Detroit Free Press reports that Kilpatrick and longtime friend Bobby Ferguson were charged Wednesday in a superseding indictment with extortion involving the shakedown of a towing contractor. Ferguson and Kilpatrick had already been charged with a slew of public corruption charges.

To read more click here. 

Mob Museum Opens in Appropriate Setting: Las Vegas

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The nicknames have become legendary: The Chin, The Dapper Don, Bugsy.

Now, there’s a place for them, all under one roof.

The New York Times reported on Monday of a $42 million museum in Las Vegas dedicated to the Mob, three stories of a 41,000-square-foot landmark building with 17,000 square feet of exhibition space. The museum opened on Tuesday, Valentines Day.

How romantic.

“With artifacts, clever interactive displays, atmospheric exhibits and photographs and videos, … We see how the mob maneuvered into businesses of pleasure, not releasing its hold until late in the 20th century, when corporate casinos trumped their almost quaint predecessors,” reports the Times.

The museum will also teach how immigrants of a Italian and Jewish backgrounds built what they could in the “land of opportunity” until the Feds brought them down by wiretaps and informants, according to the Times.

To read more click here.

Feds Warn Alabama Law Enforcement Over Immigration Law

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The Feds are pushing back on the state of Alabama.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division warned 156 local law enforcement agencies they could lose their federal funding if they fail to comply with federal civil rights laws while enforcing the state’s harsh immigration laws, according to Talking Points Memo.

“As you undertake law enforcement activity under H.B. 56, it is critical that your enforcement of this law does not result in the unlawful stopping, questioning, searching, detaining, or arresting of persons in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, or in the targeting of racial or ethnic minorities in a manner that violates the Fourteenth Amendment,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez wrote in a letter sent to reporters on Tuesday, according to Talking Points Memo.

Local law enforcement agencies are required to comply with certain federal non-discrimination requirements while receiving federal funding, Perez wrote; the feds are able end funding or bring a civil suit in federal court for noncompliance.

To read more click here.