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Tag: Pennsylvania

PA-Based Fireworks Company Suspended After ATF Investigation

fireworks1By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ATF has taken action against a Pennsylvania-based firework company after police found stolen fireworks in an employee’s home during an unrelated investigation.

Zambelli Fireworks was suspended for two weeks and fined $200,000, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. 

“This is a very serious issue that relates to poor record-keeping, not to the strength of Zambelli Fireworks,” Zambelli managing partner Ed Meyer said in a statement. “We are a world leader with strong bookings in 2017.” 

Zambelli said the suspension won’t affect operations because no events ere planned.

The company was founded in 1893 and produces 1,600 fireworks shows nationwide every years.

FBI Agent: Informant Says He Was Discouraged from Investigating Republicans in PA Probe

Harrisburg Capitol Building in Pennsylvania.

Harrisburg Capitol Building in Pennsylvania.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent said an informant in a statehouse sting in Pennsylvania notified him that he was pressured to only target Democrats.

The case has snagged five Democrats and no Republicans.

FBI Special Agent Richard Haag made the comments in a defense filing for Democratic state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

State investigators denied any partisan motive.

“Never, ever was he told to steer towards one party or another,” former state prosecutor Frank Fina told the newspaper, speaking of informant Tyron Ali.

The informant’s cooperation began in 2010 to gain leniency in a state fraud case. In a 2013 email, Haag wrote that Ali asserted that he had been “reprimanded” for questioning Republicans and was told “not to make any initiative in contacting Republicans in the future.”

Woman Who Fatally Shot FBI Agent Won’t Be Released Early from Prison

Christina Korbe

Christina Korbe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Christina Korbe, who fatally shot an FBI agent during a drug raid in Pennsylvania, won’t be freed from prison early.

U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry rejected her bid for early release, saying she agreed not to challenge her sentence when she pleaded guilty, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Korbe was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing FBI Agent Sam Hicks when her home was raided for drugs at her Indiana Township home in 2008.

Her attorney requested the early release following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ordered federal courts to re-examine sentences for offenders.

Slain FBI Agent Sam Hicks/fbi photo

Slain FBI Agent Sam Hicks/fbi photo

Korbe was convicted in 2011 of voluntary manslaughter and using a fund during a crime of violence. She was spared a life sentence for a murder a federal agent.

Korbe is eligible for release in 2022.

Other Stories of Interest

New Video Shows How Secret Service Stopped Man from Shooting at White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A judge said the “only thing” that prevented a Pennsylvania man shooting people at the White House last month was a Secret Service agent who shot the assailant in the chest.

ABC News said U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey said reviewed video of the shooting this week before making his conclusion.

Authorities said Jessie Olivieri drove from his home in Scranton, Pa.,  and to a park near the White House.

The judge said Olivieri fired a shot before passing through a security gate on the perimeter of the White House, ignoring orders to stop by the Secret Service.

“The agent, standing behind the gate and in [Olivieri’s] path, ordered [him] to halt and drop the gun. He did neither, even seeming to wave off the commands with the hand not holding the gun. Moments later, the agent shot him in the chest,” Harvey wrote in a court document.

According to authorities, Olivieri  “came here to shoot people” and wanted to commit “suicide by police.”

FBI Steps Up Search for Convicted Murder Who Escaped 45 Years Ago

Leonard Rayne Moses, via FBI.

Leonard Rayne Moses, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Leonard Rayne Moses was sentenced to life in prison when he was allowed to attend his grandmother’s funeral in Pennsylvania.

Moses escaped from authorities and has been missing ever since.

That was June 1, 1971.

On the 45th anniversary of his escape, the FBI began posting information about Moses on electronic billboards in several states, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The FBI all is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to his arrest.

At the time of his escape, authorities thought he may have fled to Detroit.

No other Pennsylvania inmate has been on the run as long as Moses.

Moses was convicted of murder after tossing a Molotov cocktail at a house in Homewood, Pa., on April 6, 1968 as people rioted in the wake of the Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

Former Aide to Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell Pleads Guilty in Pay-to-Play Scheme

Harrisburg Capitol Building.

Harrisburg Capitol Building.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former top aide to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell pleaded guilty Tuesday in a pay-to-play scheme involving a phony company set up by the FBI.

John H. Estey pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud after funneling illegal campaign contributions to Pennsylvania legislators to help the fake company, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. 

Estey’s attorney said hie client was “sorry about the mistakes he has made.”

Estey is facing up to 20 years in prison but sentencing guidelines call for six months of probation.

More Public Corruption Charges Expected in FBI Case Targeting Pennsylvania Officials

Harrisburg Capitol Building.

Harrisburg Capitol Building.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is expected to make more public corruption arrests stemming from a case that targeted a onetime top aide to former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, the New York Times reports. 

John H. Estey, 53, is expected to plead guilty to wire fraud in federal court Tuesday.

The investigation involves a phony company established by the FBI to root out public corruption in Harrisburg.

“I would anticipate that there are a lot of people who are nervous and looking over their shoulder right now, because they know they had conversations with John Estey,” said Jeffrey Lindy, a Philadelphia defense lawyer and a former prosecutor.

More charges are likely, legal experts said.

“You’re not going to set up a fake corporation and go to all the trouble just to take down one guy,” said L. George Parry, a Philadelphia defense lawyer who as a former prosecutor helped set up the fake businesses.

Parker: Five Tough Criminal Cases for the Supreme Court in February

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.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Tough sledding for the Supreme Court in February with oral arguments on five thorny criminal justice cases.

Judicial Bias : What was he thinking? In Williams v. Pennsylvania the DA of Philadelphia, Ronald Castille, personally authorized the pursuit of the death penalty against Terrence Williams in connection with the office’s prosecution for a brutal murder. Williams was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. Castille supervised the direct appeal, which was denied. During post-conviction proceedings, with Castille still heading the office, a lower court found that his office had violated the Brady rule in failing to turn over exculpatory evidence during the penalty phase (that Williams had been abused along with other minors by the victim) and in presenting false argument.

Shortly thereafter Castille ran for election to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and boasted during the campaign that he had personally sent Williams and others to death row. He won the election. By the time the case reached the state supreme court, Castille had become the Chief Justice.

Incredibly, Castille refused to recuse himself from the case when the appeal arrived in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The court unanimously reversed the lower court and reinstated the death sentence. Chief Justice Castille wrote a scathing concurring opinion criticizing the Defender’s Office as “ringmasters, with their parrots and puppets as a side show.”

US_Supreme_Court

Prediction: Reverse. It is astounding that this guy failed to appreciate that his direct participation in the case created a risk that he could not decide it fairly. The appearance of actual and potential bias was obvious particularly when the issue was his former office’s misconduct.

The voters should turn him out of office. He has damaged the reputation of good prosecutors and judges, as well as the reputation of the state’s highest court. The remedy for the Supreme Court is the conundrum. Merely remanding the case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court without Castille sitting on the case seems hardly enough. A different vote by the other Justices is an admission of that they were previously influenced by Castille’s involvement, but reaffirming their former votes smacks of continued injustice.

Search Attenuation Doctrine:  In Utah v. Strieff the issue is whether evidence seized incident to a lawful arrest on an outstanding warrant should be suppressed because the investigative stop was not supported by reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

The officers had some reason after surveillance to stop the defendant’s vehicle on suspicion of drug dealing, but the information did not meet the reasonable suspicion standard. To their happy surprise, however, after the stop they learned that there was already an arrest warrant outstanding.  A search incident to that arrest produced evidence. However the Utah courts threw the evidence out and tossed the case. A great law school exam case.

Read more »