Get Our Newsletter



Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

June 2019
S M T W T F S
« May    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Tag: public corruption

FBI Investigating Jersey City Police Over Alleged Private Security Scheme

jersey-city-policeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As many as 10 officers with the Jersey City Police Department are under investigation by the FBI for an alleged private security scheme.

Those police officers may be charged with corruption as early as next year, sources told New York 4. 

The scheme involves off-duty officers taking security jobs from private companies, which are required to hire the help through the city and pay extra administrative fees. Investigators allege the officers demanded cash without going through the city.

One former officer, Juan Romaniello, pleaded guilty in federal court last month for participating in the scheme and taking more than $200,000 in improper payments and never paying tax on the money.

The FBI declined to comment on the investigation, but expressed the importance of fighting public corruption.

“Per official policy, the FBI cannot confirm or deny the existence or non-existence of an investigation,” FBI spokesman Michael Whitaker said. “However, combating public corruption is the FBI’s top criminal investigative priority and we encourage the public to call the FBI with any information.”

The Wrap Up of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Criminal Cases for 2015-16, Including the Decision on Ex-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s Corruption Case

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.

Ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell

Ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The Supremes spent a very busy June and completed opinions on six difficult criminal cases, as well as three important civil cases and several others totaling 24 opinions as of June 27th.

That constitutes more than a quarter of the opinions for the entire year. The Court did, of course, have other business, several hundred certiorari petitions to review for next term’s docket, in-chambers opinions (applications to stay proceedings etc.), orders, and a few per curiam opinions deemed not to be worthy of full, authored opinion. The Justices have, for the most part, cleared the deck so that they can visit the grandchildren.

The Court rounded off the term on criminal cases by vacating the conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell in a convincing unanimous opinion that not only restored his career hopes but also those of hundreds of legislators who feared the government’s interpretation of Hobbs Act bribery would make politics as usual a dicey business.

The Court narrowed the definition of “official acts” and “pending question or matter” such that the standard assistance of constituents provided by politicians could not result in a career-ending indictment.  The Court did not go so far as to completely end McDonnell’s worries. It remanded the case to the Court of Appeals to review his claim that the evidence was insufficient, thus requiring dismissal of the charges. Even if he overcomes that hurdle or the Justice Department decides not to re-try the case, the question is whether future voters will forgive the First Couple’s receipt of $175,000 in shopping sprees and luxury vacations from someone who got essentially zero for his generosity.

As expected, the Court also vacated the judgment in Williams v. Pennsylvania, a capital case in which the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court refused to recuse himself from ruling on a habeas petitioner’s appeal. What makes this action remarkable is that the Chief Justice, in his position as district attorney, had been involved in the criminal case by authorizing the decision to seek the death penalty and in supervising the case generally as head of the office. The vote, however, was closer than expected, 5-3, in reviewing this egregious behavior by former Chief Justice Castille. The dissent’s distinction was that the appeal involved a habeas decision, not the criminal phase of the case and occurred after Castille had left the prosecutor’s off ice. The state’s argument did not, however, pass the smell test, whatever artificial distinctions could be drawn.

In contrast, the Court ruled unanimously, 8-0, to reverse the 9th Circuit’s dismissal of the conviction in United States v. Bryant. The case held that tribal court domestic assault convictions could be valid predicates in a federal habitual offender prosecution, even though the prior convictions were without counsel. This was not a 6th Amendment violation since the right to counsel does not apply in this misdemeanor context in tribal courts. A victory for serially battered Native American women.

It was a tough month for Puerto Rico. Another prediction whiff by this column occurred in Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle. Apparently a vestige of Yankee imperialism lives on since the majority found that Congress, not the Puerto Rican people, was the historical source of the territory’s authority to enforce criminal laws. This meant that Puerto Rico is not sovereign in the same way that Indian tribes or the states are. Therefore the illegal firearms prosecution by local prosecutors was barred under Double Jeopardy after the Justice Department did a quickie prosecution for the same offense while the Puerto Rican case was awaiting trial.

For my money, Justice Breyer’s dissent had it right that all three branches of the federal government had returned that authority to the people of Puerto Rico when a self-governing Constitution was authorized. This broke any chain of authority going back to Congress. Yet another reason for statehood.

Then the Court piled on a week later when it struck down a Puerto Rican civil law as unconstitutional under the federal bankruptcy law. The case disallowed the attempt by Puerto Rican public utilities to restructure a $20 billion debt over the objections of creditors. Without a way to reduce its enormous debt, the case threatens the government’s ability to provide transportation and clean water to the public. Unlike say Detroit, Puerto Rico had been excluded from the Bankruptcy Code by Congress in 1984. Look for a renewed bail out plea by Puerto Rico to Congress.

In Taylor v. United States the Court rejected the defendant’s clever defense to a Hobbs robbery charge that he only intended to rob those who dealt in locally grown marijuana, and thus had no effect on interstate commerce. Not much left of this element in the context of drug dealing victims since all drug dealing affects the economy.

Without Justice Scalia as a partner in dissents, Justice Thomas must feel lonely on that side of the opinions. Justice John Marshall Harlan was the first called the Great Dissenter for his opposition in the 19th Century to the Court’s abominable opinions denying equal protection to Black Americans. Since then others have been given the title as an expression of respect—Oliver Wendell Holmes in the 1st Amendment freedom of speech context, Hugo Black and William O. Douglas in the 60s, and John Paul Stevens for his unique way of viewing the law in contemporary society. But Justice Thomas will never join their ranks. The Great Contrarian perhaps.

The Court in Utah v. Streiff held 5-3 that the attenuation doctrine could limit the exclusionary rule’s application in the context of a police officer who made an unlawful stop but then got lucky when he discovered that there was an outstanding arrest warrant for the detainee. The case made sense since the officer acted in good faith and did nothing to contrive the basis for the stop. As Napoleon said before Waterloo, it’s better to be lucky than good.

Another significant 4th Amendment decision was Birchfield v. North Dakota/Bernard v. Minnesota, in which the Court reviewed state statutes which made it a crime for detained drivers to refuse to submit to a sobriety test. Both breathalyzer and blood tests are considered searches incident to arrest, but is a warrant required? The Court distinguished between the two, finding that the former does not implicate significant 4th Amendment privacy interests but the latter does. So, unless there are exigent circumstances, a warrant is required to obtain a blood sample.

Finally the Court disappointed 2nd Amendment firearms advocates in holding in Voisine v. United States, by a 6-2 vote, that a conviction of domestic violence misdemeanor, even with only a showing of recklessness, could satisfy the federal statute’s prohibition of possession of a firearm.

For those schadenfreudian readers who kept track of the column’s predictions for the term, it is 17 out of 22, about 80%, great for a hockey forward on shoot outs, bad for a goalie.

Not that the summer will be a complete blow-off for the Justices. They, with the help of their law clerks, continue to look over about 100 new petitions for review received every week, along with motions, preparing for fall arguments, etc.

Actually, the Justices travel quite a bit throughout the year, frequently on the dime of outside groups. These trips totaled 365 for all nine of the Justices last year, ranging from about five a year by Chief Justice Roberts to around 25 by Justice Scalia. The trips often involve speeches which, no doubt, help educate the public about the life and function of the Court.

One interesting development this last month was the GAO’s report which gently supported the idea of live video of oral arguments, an issue advocated for some time. Two of the Circuit Courts, as well as dozens of state courts, already have stepped into the 21st Century with this project. The Court, however, is cautious about such changes, and column writers on oral arguments are unlikely to be made redundant in the near future.

This project has renewed my respect for the rigorous job the Justices have as the Supreme law of the land. Not the occupation for slackers or the faint of heart.

Chicago’s New FBI Boss Brings Plenty of Experience Cracking Down on Public Corruption

Anderson, Mike

Michael Anderson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Few people in the FBI have the experience cracking down on public corruption quite like Michael Anderson.

Anderson, the new boss of Chicago’s FBI office, has written the bureau’s Public Corruption manual and led investigations into former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the Chicago Tribune reports. 

In mid-October, the 48-year-old will become special agent in chafe of the Chicago FBI after three years at the helm of the bureau’s New Orleans division.

Anderson’s career with the FBI began in 1995 in Miami, where he began investigating public corruption. He moved on to Washington in 2001, also helping investigate public corruption.

In 2006, Anderson led the Public Corruption Unit at FBI headquarters.

FBI Agents Handling Civil Rights Investigation of Eric Garner’s Death Are Experienced With Such Cases

Eric Garner with his children, via National Action Network

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI team handling the civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man killed by a white NYPD officer, has plenty of experience with long-term probes and public corruption cases. 

CNN reports that the New York-based agents are taking a “free look” into the July death of Garner, who was killed while being placed in an illegal chokehold.

A grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer led to protests nationwide.

One of the agents specializes in long-term investigation in the white-collar crime division.

The FBI will be reviewing the actions of the officers to determine whether the civil rights of Garner were violated.

 

Retired FBI Agent Charles McGinty, Who Went After Public Corruption, Died at Age of 67

Charles McGinty

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Charles McGinty, a retired FBI agent with an impressive resume, died Thursday of unknown causes, NOLA.com reports.

He was 67.

McGinty was supervisor of a public corruption squad in the FBI’s New Orleans office when he retired in 2004.

After retiring, McGinty became a security director for Fidelity Homstead Savings Bank, where he was teaching a class when he collapsed.

McGinty, whose older brother also was an FBI agent, became one of the last agents hired by J. Edgar Hoover.

McGinty investigated public corruption and white-collar crime, and at the time of his retirement, he was finishing up a case that sent two Jefferson Parish judges to prison.

FBI Director Comey Reaffirms Commitment to Cracking Down on Public Corruption in Maryland

James Comey

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Although counterterrorism remains the FBI’s top priority, public corruption isn’t far behind, FBI Director James Comey said during a visit with local law enforcement in Baltimore.

WBALTV.com reports that Comey addressed concerns among officials that public corruption remains a problem.

“Public corruption has long been one of the FBI’s top priorities, one of the things we do well. I wish it was work we didn’t have to do, but we do it all over the country,” Comey said.

An elected official hasn’t drawn federal attention four four years, WBALTV reports, citing Prince George’s County state Sen. Ulysses Currie and Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson, both of whom were indicted in 2010.

“It tends to run in waves and cycles,” Comey said of corruption. “As I tell folks when I am in different communities that have seen prominent cases recently, everybody will have their turn at some point just given the nature of human beings.”

FBI Agent Who Cracked Down on Public Corruption to Join North Carolina Board of Elections

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Agent Charles W. Stuber Jr. knows a thing or two about public corruption, from going after U.S. Sen. John Edwards to helping secure convictions against a range of state political figures.

Now the 54-year-old, who has worked for the FBI since 1985, is retiring this month and will take his investigative prowess to the North Carolina Board of Elections, where he’ll probe campaign and elections violations, the Charlotte Observer reports.

Stuber expects to begin work for the state’s elections agency in June.

Letter by Jail Inmate Prompted Wide-Sweeping Investigation of L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputies

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

What turned into the largest mass arrests of L.A. County sheriff’s officials in decades began with a single letter from a jail inmate, the Los Angeles Times reports.

FBI Agent Leah Marx testified that the probe began in June 2010 when a county jail inmate detailed a pattern of violence by deputies.

The letter prompted a joint civil rights and public corruption investigation after more inmates began describing excessive force, Marx said on the stand for one of the deputy’s trials.

One inmate told the FBI that deputies were offering contraband for a bribe.