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Tag: Fraud

FBI Arrests Iraqi Refugees Who Failed to Disclose Brother’s Involvement in Kidnapping of American

fbigunbadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two Iraqi refugees living in Northern Virginia were arrested by the FBI after failing to disclose their brother’s involvement in a 2004 kidnapping of an American contractor in Iraq, the New York Times reports. 

The refugees, Yousif Al Mashhandani, 35, of Vienna, Va., and Adil Hasan, 38, of Burke, Va. admitted they didn’t make the disclosure when applying for citizenship, according to a criminal complaint. They were charged with visa fraud.

The Times wrote:

The F.B.I. said it had learned the brothers withheld the information when Mr. Mashhandani was fingerprinted as part of the citizenship process. When those fingerprints were analyzed in 2013, they matched those on a document seized by American commandos during the rescue of the contractor, Roy Hallums, in 2005.

The arrests come as President Trump is seeking to bar visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Iraq was originally among the countries but was later removed from the ban, which is being challenged by federal courts. Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that the United States needs to strengthen its borders to protect itself from terrorism.

As part of an investigation into the kidnapping of Mr. Hallums, F.B.I. agents interviewed Majid Al Mashhandani, the brother of Mr. Mashhandani and Mr. Hasan, in 2005. He admitted taking part in the kidnapping of Mr. Hallums, who was held for 311 days in an underground bunker with other hostages south of Baghdad.

Parker: Supreme Court Opens the Term with Criminal Case Arguments

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.

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

US_Supreme_Court

The Supreme Court opens the 2016-2017 term on Monday with only 8 Justices because of the death last spring of Justice Scalia. The conventional wisdom is that the Court will do its best to avoid the confusion of 4-4 voting splits by postponing controversial cases another Justice is confirmed. Of course that is not always possible, particularly when the case had already been accepted while the Court was at full strength or when a case is unavoidable. An example of the latter would be a voting controversy after the Presidential election such as the 2000 case which confirmed George W. Bush’s election. God forbid the only thing that could make this election any crazier.

The Court has broad discretion in deciding what cases to accept for decision. Certiorari is granted in only about 80 of the 8,000 odd petitions that are filed. Oral arguments occur about 5 or 6 days a month from October to April. After the argument the Justices meet privately and take a preliminary vote. If the Chief Justice is in the majority, he will assign the author of the opinion. If he is in the minority, the senior Justice does so.

October’s case selections are somewhat unusual in that of the 8 cases scheduled for argument, 6 of them are criminal. Moreover, one of the two civil cases involves an issue of the liability of law enforcement agents who are sued for unconstitutional searches. Usually criminal cases comprise a third or less of the full opinion docket, about half that number of oral arguments in a month.

The first case scheduled for oral argument in the term, Bravo-Fernandez and Martinez-Maldonado v. US, involves a Puerto Rican Senator and businessman convicted of bribery in connection with gifts (Las Vegas boxing match tickets) provided to the Senator who then proceeded to vote in favor of legislation which benefitted the businessman. However, during the same prosecution, the jury also acquitted the two of other charges directly related to the issue of bribery. The verdict was irreconcilably inconsistent. On appeal the substantive bribery convictions were vacated due to erroneous instructions. The government seeks to re-try the vacated counts.

The issue before the Court is whether the factual conclusions underlying the acquittals should work to preclude the retrial under the Collateral Estoppel doctrine of the Double Jeopardy Clause. That is, should the jury’s acquittals prevent the government from retrying the defendants a second time on the charges of the vacated convictions?

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

As a general rule the government cannot re-litigate fact issues resolved against it in a previous prosecution. However, an exception to this rule is made in the case of inconsistent verdicts. The question is whether vacated convictions can be considered under double jeopardy to decide if the verdicts were inconsistent.

Four amicus briefs have been filed in support of the defendants’ arguments. The appeal is a prime example of why amicus briefs should be read to fully understand the issue and what is at stake in the case. One of them in particular filed on behalf of the Cato Institute is a good example of this practice ignored by most lawyers who follow Supreme Court cases. It was authored by Cato’s counsel on the appeal, David Debold, and it presents a thoughtful and erudite discussion on why the history of double jeopardy should preclude the re-trial on the vacated counts. Those of us who have worked beside Mr. Debold can only smile appreciatively at his use of an obscure theory of quantum physics to explain his point that a vacated conviction does not exist legally and so cannot be used to support the proposition that the verdicts are inconsistent.

Read more »

Justice Department: DEA Paid Informants Millions of Dollars without Proper Oversight

dea-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is under fire for spending millions of dollars on confidential informants without proper oversight and using sources in a way that potentially violates the Constitution, the Justice Department inspector general has found.

The 65-page report lists serious missteps in the handling of confidential informants and recommended better policies and procedures, the Washington Post reports. 

Inspector General Michael Horowitz found a lack of oversight that led to fraud and abuse. One example showed that the DEA paid a source more than $469,000, even though he had previously been “deactivated” for lying in court and depositions.

The investigation found that the DEA used more than 18,000 informants between October 2010 and September 2015, and half were paid about $237 million.

The Washington Post wrote:

The sources ranged from criminals providing information on their associates to airline, train and parcel-service employees providing tips on suspected drug traffickers’ movements.

The work, for all involved, can be lucrative. The inspector general found one airline employee who received more than $600,000 in less than four years, and a parcel employee who received more than $1 million in five years.

The inspector general found, though, that more money did not always come with more oversight. The DEA’s Intelligence Division, for example, paid $25 million to eight sources over a five-year period and “did not independently validate the credibility of these sources, or the accuracy of the information they provide,” according to the inspector general. The Intelligence Division, according to the report, generally relied on “DEA field offices’ risk assessments and determinations that confidential sources are reliable.”

Prosecutors Drop Case Against ex-DEA Agent Accused of Posing As FBI Agent

dea-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former DEA agent who was accused of posing as an FBI agent in a fraud scheme no longer faces charges.

The Daily Breeze reports that federal prosecutors dropped their case against David Garcia Herrera, 70, this week.

The decision comes after U.S. District Court Judge Jesus Bernal said he would inform jurors that the U.S. Attorney’s Office had used bad evidence in the case.

Herrera and his alleged conspirator, Jerome Arthur Whittington, are accused of convincing a victim that they would help him recover money he lost in investment schemes if he paid about $290,000.

In another scheme, Herrera and Whittington are accused of convincing another victim to pay them about $8,500 to help with his wife’s immigration case.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI: Polygamist Leader Lyle Jeffs Escaped Using Slippery Substance

Lyle Jeffs' mugshot

Lyle Jeffs’ mugshot

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Lyle Jeffs was able to escape custody using what likely is a readily available product.

“He used a substance which may have been olive oil to lubricate the GPS tracking band and slip it off his ankle,” Eric Barnhart, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Salt Lake City field office of the FBI, said in an interview with FOX 13. “The damage to the bracelet was not such to trigger the full array of alarms that law enforcement or the U.S. Marshal’s Service would have responded to.”

Jeff, whose trial on food stamp fraud and money laundering charges was delayed, was released from jail and told to wear a a GPS monitoring device as part of a home arrest.

At some point on June 18, Jeffs appeared to lather himself in oil and slide the ankle bracelet off.

“Checks were done with Mr. Jeffs and at some point, on the 18th, to a satisfactory level the bracelet was still intact where it was supposed to be,” he told FOX 13. “The evening hours, though, that changed. Attempts were made to contact him to no avail. The next day he was found to be missing.”

Senate Report Cites ‘Inferior’ Whistleblower Protections for FBI Agents

whistleBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has a habit of punishing its own whistleblowers.

That may change soon under the proposed FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, the Washington Post reports. 

“Whistleblowers play a critical role in keeping our government efficient and honest, yet they also risk retaliation from their employers, sometimes being demoted, reassigned, or fired as a result of their actions,” says a report issued in support of the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.

The legislation would strengthen protections for whistleblowers who expose fraud, waste and abuse.

It also would allow employees to report abuses to their own supervisors.

“This has left protections for FBI whistleblowers inferior to those of other Executive Branch employees …” the report said. “Unlike all other Executive Branch employees, including employees in the intelligence community. … FBI employees enjoy no legal protection for making reports of wrongdoing to supervisors or others in their chain of command.”

FBI Investigates Connecticut City to Determine Whether Superstorm Sandy Funds Were Misused

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 8.41.51 AMBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating whether Milford, Conn., officials misused millions of federal dollars to help clean up the damage from Superstorm Sandy, NBC Connecticut reports. 

Chairman of the Milford Republic Town Committee Paul Beckwith said the FBI Public Corruption Task Force interviewed several city employees.

“They shared with us they had been questioned about funding issues within the City of Milford concerning FEMA grants,” Beckwith said.

Agents are concerned that millions of dollars in federal funds may have been misused.

School Administrator Who Defrauded Chicago Public Schools Accused of Similar Crimes in Detroit

Detroit-Public-Schools-DPS--jpgBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT –– A former Detroit Public Schools official who pleaded guilty last month to defrauding schools in Chicago is accused of illegally steering a $40 million book deal to DPS, according to court records obtained by the Detroit Free Press. 

The records show that Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was the accountability officer for DPS from May 2009 to June 2011, had a conflict of interest and lied about her relationship with the book publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

While she worked later at Chicago Public Schools, Byrd-Bennett helped steer $23 million in no-bid contracts in return for $2.3 million in kickbacks and bribes.

She pleaded guilty last month in the Chicago Public Schools case.

A search warrant for her AOL account uncovered the new allegations.

The FBI believes there is “probable cause” that Byrd-Bennett committed theft, fraud and conspiracy while working for DPS.

DPS officials said they are cooperating.

“Detroit Public Schools takes seriously any allegations of misconduct against its employees and/or vendors,” DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski wrote in an e-mail. “As with any matter where there are allegations of misconduct, DPS investigates internally and works cooperatively with the law enforcement agency handling such matters.