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Tag: Kwame Kilpatrick

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Appeal of Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

Featured_kwamekilpatrick-connectedinteractive_8707

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s travels through the federal court system came to an end on Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected without comment his request to appeal his conviction.

A federal jury in 2013 convicted Kilpatrick, 46, of public corruption charges. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison and is currently serving his time in a federal prison in El Reno, Okla.

He appealed his case to U.S. Court of Appeals, which refused to overturn the conviction.

The odds were against the Supreme Court taking the case. It takes so few and usually looks to see if a case brings up new legal issues that need clarification.

One key issue of the appeal, his attorney Harold Gurewitz argued, was that the trial judge gave federal agents too much latitude by letting them interpret for jurors written communications involving Kilpatrick.

 

Despite All the Dead Motorists, GM Gets to Pay Off Justice Department

handshake

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Imagine if you will, if former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was able to pay the Justice Department hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of going to prison for 28 years. Imagine if Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, accused of having a hand in 19 murders, was able to pay a couple million dollars to the Justice Department instead of serving life in prison.  Imagine if Dr. Farid Fata, a Detroit area oncologist who administered chemotherapy to patients who didn’t even have cancer, paid a $10 million fine instead of getting a 45-year sentence.

And then imagine, if you will,  if General Motors was able to pay $900 million to the Justice Department in lieu of having some of its employees go to prison for sweeping under the rug a gravely serious problem with faulty ignitions that resulted in well over 100 deaths.

Call it murder.  Call it negligent homicide. Call it manslaughter.

Call it a bloody injustice. Call it a shame that General Motors is able to pay off the Justice Department to make a criminal case go away.  Reuters reported Wednesday that GM has agreed to pay about $900 million in fines and sign a deferred-prosecution agreement to end a federal investigation into its handling of problems.

The Justice Department will charge the company, not any individuals, with criminally hiding the defect from regulators and in the process defrauding consumers. So what.

The Justice Department has historically failed to address some corporate crimes appropriately by letting some folks off without prison time. The message is clear in cases like this: “Just give us money and we’ll make it go away.” GM could have recalled these dangerous cars with faulty ignitions 10 years ago, but nobody made them do it, so they didn’t.  Lives could have been saved.

Sure, GM’s CEO Mary T. Barra can take some credit for cleaning house and getting rid of those responsible. Now, those folks have lawyered up and shut their yaps.

The word is that the Justice Department didn’t have enough incriminating documents or a real whistleblower to put together a solid criminal case against individuals.

But that’s no reason not to pursue a criminal investigation. If the feds could get N.Y. Underboss Salvatore “Sammy The Bull” Gravano to flip and rat out his boss, John Gotti, they could certainly have worked the case more and gotten some white collar workers to flip on co-workers.

Again, Mary Barra and GM should get some credit for cooperating with a federal investigation and offering payouts to victims, but that shouldn’t mean a free pass for those who could have acted responsibly and saved lives.

The $900 million is certainly a lot of money to you and I. But for GM, that’s a quarterly earning. GM can absorb that.

We rely on the automakers to produce a safe product, one that many of us rely on nearly everyday of our adult lives.  We don’t expect the automakers to be perfect and always produce a flawless product.

But we do expect them to respond appropriately, and in a timely manner, when they realize a flaw in their product could kill us.

Unfortunately, the Justice Department has once again sent a message to the automakers that cover ups are OK, so long as you have the money to pay for them when you get caught.

 

Lengel: Despite All the Dead Motorists, GM Gets to Pay Off Justice Department

handshakeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Imagine if you will, if former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was able to pay the Justice Department hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of going to prison for 28 years. Imagine if Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, accused of having a hand in 19 murders, was able to pay a couple million dollars to the Justice Department instead of serving life in prison.  Imagine if Dr. Farid Fata, the Detroit area oncologist who administered chemotherapy to patients who didn’t even have cancer, paid a $10 million fine instead of getting a 45-year sentence.

And then imagine, if you will,  if General Motors was able to pay $900 million to the Justice Department in lieu of having some of its employees go to prison for sweeping under the rug a gravely serious problem with faulty ignitions that resulted in well over 100 deaths.

Call it murder.  Call it negligent homicide. Call it manslaughter.

Call it a bloody injustice. Call it a shame that General Motors is able to pay off the Justice Department to make a criminal case go away.  Reuters reported Wednesday that GM has agreed to pay about $900 million in fines and sign a deferred-prosecution agreement to end a federal investigation into its handling of problems.

The Justice Department will charge the company, not any individuals, with criminally hiding the defect from regulators and in the process defrauding consumers. So what.

The Justice Department has historically failed to address some corporate crimes appropriately by letting some folks off without prison time. The message is clear in cases like this: “Just give us money and we’ll make it go away.” GM could have recalled these dangerous cars with faulty ignitions 10 years ago, but nobody made them do it, so they didn’t.  Lives could have been saved.

Sure, GM’s CEO Mary T. Barra can take some credit for cleaning house and getting rid of those responsible. Now, those folks have lawyered up and shut their yaps.

The word is that the Justice Department didn’t have enough incriminating documents or a real whistleblower to put together a solid criminal case against individuals.

But that’s no reason not to pursue a criminal investigation. If the feds could get N.Y. Underboss Salvatore “Sammy The Bull” Gravano to flip and rat out his boss, John Gotti, they could certainly have worked the case more and gotten some white collar workers to flip on co-workers.

Again, Mary Barra and GM should get some credit for cooperating with a federal investigation and offering payouts to victims, but that shouldn’t mean a free pass for those who could have acted responsibly and saved lives.

The $900 million is certainly a lot of money to you and I. But for GM, that’s a quarterly earning. GM can absorb that.

We rely on the automakers to produce a safe product, one that many of us rely on nearly everyday of our adult lives.  We don’t expect the automakers to be perfect and always produce a flawless product.

But we do expect them to respond appropriately, and in a timely manner, when they realize a flaw in their product could kill us.

Unfortunately, the Justice Department has once again sent a message to the automakers that cover ups are OK, so long as you have the money to pay for them when you get caught.

Detroit’s Top FBI Agent Paul Abbate Talks About ISIS, Gangs, Corporate Espionage and Violence

 

Paul Abbate

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Paul M. Abbate arrived in Detroit last fall to take over the local FBI office, days after Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick got a hefty 28-year prison sentence. Kilpatrick was whisked away in handcuffs.

But the scent of corruption lingered, and Abbate suddenly found himself heading up an FBI office, where public corruption investigations continue to be a high priority.  In the past few years alone, besides the mess at city hall, several people in the Wayne County government have been convicted of corruption charges. That investigation remains open

Before arriving here, Abbate headed up the counterterrorism division in the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which handles terrorism investigations domestically and overseas.

Before that, he spent time at FBI headquarters, Newark,  New York, Los Angeles, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was involved in such FBI investigations as Benghazi and Pan Am 103.

October marked his first anniversary in Detroit.

A native of the New Haven,  Conn. area, the very affable Abbate, an 18-year veteran of the FBI,  recently sat down with Allan Lengel of ticklethewire.com to talk about ISIS, traditional organized crime, the agency’s relationship with the Arab-American community, local gangs and use of social media, corporate espionage, violence and how he ended up in Detroit.

“I actually asked to come here,” he says, adding that he’s been impressed with the people of Michigan.

The following is an interview with Abbate, which has been trimmed for brevity. The questions have been edited for clarity.

DD: Is there any sense that ISIS  or ISIL has any presence or connection here?

Abbate: It’s something that we’re constantly vigilant about, proactive in terms of trying to be in front.  I wouldn’t say that we have any specific or credible information that there’s an ISIL presence here in Michigan at this time. But it’s something, 24/7, we’re always on guard for.

DD: The Internet has become a big tool for recruiting. Do you see any of that activity here?

Abbate: That’s everywhere.

DD: Is that monitored out of headquarters?

Abbate: We work in conjunction with the Counterterroism Division in headquarters. And that type of investigative work is carried out throughout the 56 field offices including here as well. When you talk about focusing on a specific area, the Internet and the reach of the Internet has really broken that down. Any person sitting anywhere in the world can reach out and attempt to recruit, radicalize and incite anyone else in the world whether it’s here in Michigan or anywhere in the United States.

DD: Do you have any sense of al Qaeda having some presence here?

Abbate: Like the earlier questions you ask, I would say that we don’t have any specific or credible information with regard to any particular group like that, but that’s what we do. That’s what we’re on the watch for. It’s our top priority to identify if it’s here and prevent an attack from occurring.

DD: Do you see anything in Michigan, an exchange of people coming and going from Syria, that might concern you?

Abbate: We’re always on the look out for that. We had a case here , we had an individual who was arrested  this past March who was seeking, as alleged in the complaint, to go over to Syria to join up with a terrorist organization. We’ve had a number of cases nationally where we’ve had people travel there.

DD: How would you describe your relationship with the Arab American community here?

Abbate: I think it’s strong. Again the community outreach that we do is broad based, so I don’t like to single out any one particular community. With respect to the Arab American community, we  have a very robust outreach, with various aspects of that community and individuals. It’s strong. We go to various events that are held within the community. We hold regular meetings here to share ideas, to hear from the various communities.

DD: In some parts of the country there have been concerns over the years that the FBI has been too aggressive in monitoring activities in mosques. Is there a concern here that you’ve heard?

Abbate: I think a lot of those earlier concerns that have been around for a long time, now to a great extent, have been overcome.  Certainly that sort of distrust or concern still exists to some level, and we do continue to hear that. But I think we’ve made great strides.

Read more »

Breaking: Ex-New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin Gets 10 Years in Prison

Mayor Nagin/city photo

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Another ex-big city mayor is headed to federal prison.

On Wednesday, C. Ray Nagin, the ex-mayor New Orleans was sentenced to 10 years in prison on corruption charges. He was convicted in February.

Nagin was found guilty in February on 20 counts that included kickbacks from contractors seeking city work, the New York Times reported.  The kickbacks came in cash and trips and other things of value.

He was arrested in January 2013, nearly three years after he left office.

Last year in Detroit, ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was hit with a harsh sentence of 28-years for bribery, kickbacks and tax related charges.

To read more click here.

Feds Want to Give a Break to Close Kwame Kilpatrick Confidante Who Testified Against Him

Featured_bell_11205Emma Bell/DOJ photo
By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Emma Bell, Kwame Kilpatrick’s chief fundraiser who provided helpful testimony against the ex-Detroit mayor in last year’s corruption trial, should get a break in her sentencing Thursday in federal court for income tax evasion, federal prosecutors wrote.

In a sentencing memorandum filed Monday, prosecutors Michael Bullotta and Mark Chutkow wrote  that the judge should grant a downward departure from the recommended sentencing guidelines, saying Bell provided “substantial assistance in the  investigation and prosecution of other criminal activity.”

The guidelines call for Bell, 70, to be sentenced anywhere from 18 to 24 months in prison. The government is recommending to U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds that the guidelines range from 9 to 12 months. Bell could even probation.

In a court filing, prosecutors wrote:

Ms. Bell was paid a commission from the funds she raised– usually between 10-15%.  Kwame Kilpatrick required her to kick back half of the money in cash when her  commission checks reached $5,000 or more.

Ms. Bell dutifully complied with Mr. Kilpatrick’s directive; however, she failed to report her commissions on her federal tax returns. As a result, she owes the Internal Revenue Service restitution in the \amount of $334,236 , which represents the additional tax due and owing from her  unreported income for tax years 2003 through 2008.

Bell was teary eyed when she testified Kilpatrick and said he was like a son.

The filing by prosecutors stated:

From the outset, Ms. Bell was cooperative about her failure to pay taxes on her fund raising commissions. Significantly, Ms. Bell volunteered information about misconduct of which the government was unaware, namely, the fact that Kwame Kilpatrick had demanded she pay him cash commission kickbacks.

Ms. Bell took part in numerous proffers, as well as meetings in preparation for trial, and was extremely forthright.

At trial, Ms. Bell testified at length against Kwame Kilpatrick, something that  was emotionally painful for her because of her close relationship with the Kilpatrick family.

Kwame was sentenced in October to 28 years in prison.  His buddy Bobby Ferguson got 21 years.

Read Court of Appeals Ruling 8-14-15

 

5 Top Federal Law Enforcement Achievements in 2013

 
 

Whitey Bulger

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Mob boss convicted: One of the nation’s most notorious mafia leaders, James “Whitey” Bulger, was sentenced to life in prison on Nov. 13 after a Boston federal jury found him guilty of racketeering, money laundering and extortion. Bulger was a violent, cold-blooded leader of the Boston Irish mob for decades. He had been on the run for 16 years.

Silk Road busted: In October, the FBI captured the elusive owner and operator of Silk Road – a website that sold drugs and other illegal items and services. The transactions were virtually untraceable because of a currency called bitcoins. The FBI seized $28 million worth of the bitcoins.

Bombs in Boston: A federal manhunt ended in the death of one suspect and the arrest of another in the Boston Marathon bombing in April. The suspects, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are accused of placing a bomb at the finish line of the marathon on April 15. The blast killed three and injured more than 260 others.

Motor City corruption: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in prison for racketeering, extortion, bribery, fraud and tax charges in March. Kilpatrick, his father and a city contractor were running a criminal enterprise out of city hall.

Exploited children saved: In a nationwide sweep targeting underage prostitution in July, 105 juveniles were rescued and more than 150 alleged pimps arrested. The FBI coordinated with local, state and federal officials over three days to nab suspects in 76 cities.

Friend of Ex-Detroit Mayor Gets 21 Years

Bobby Ferguson at sentencing/Deadline Detroit sketch by Jerry Lemenu

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — Painting him as a bully, extortionist and violent criminal who hid assets, a Detroit federal judge on Friday sentenced Bobby Ferguson, the city contractor and good buddy of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, to 21 years.

“Bobby Ferguson was the catalyst at the center of an historic and unprecedented criminal scheme,” said U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds.

“Mr. Ferguson was bold and outspoken in his extortion activities,” she said.

Edmunds said Ferguson strong-armed companies to get city contracts, some in which he did no work for. He threatened to kill contracts with the help of Kilpatrick if people didn’t give him a cut of the action.

Along with sentencing, the government asked that Ferguson forfeit $6,284,000 in cash and some property.

The sentencing fell short of the 28 years Kilpatrick received Thursday. Kilpatrick was convicted of 24 counts compared to Ferguson’s 9. Kilpatrick’s status as an elected official influenced his sentence.

Ferguson sat looking at a bible, and sometimes turned to his attorneys and talking while Edmunds was building up to announcing the sentence.

To read more click here.