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Tag: search warrant

Former U.S. Attorney: Good Reason to Believe Mueller Has Obtained Trump’s Tax Returns

President Trump, via White House

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said there’s good reason to believe special counsel Robert Mueller already has President Trump’s tax returns as part of his investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 general election.

“Based on my years of experience conducting complex white-collar investigations as a federal prosecutor, it suggests to me that Mueller has already obtained tax returns as part of his investigation,” Renato Mariotti,  a former federal prosecutor in the Securities and Commodities Fraud Section of the United States Attorney’s Office in Chicago, wrote in a column for The Hill

Mariotti notes that Mueller’s ability to obtain a search warrant to raid the home of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort indicates the special counsel has a good reason to believe a federal crime was committed.

Mariotti wrote:

One typical step that federal prosecutors take near the beginning of white-collar investigations is obtaining tax returns. I worked with federal prosecutors who obtained tax returns in every single white-collar investigation they worked on. I didn’t do that, but I obtained tax returns in most white-collar cases I investigated, particularly cases involving financial transactions.

Obtaining a subject’s tax returns can be a useful tool in almost any investigation. They tell you where the person invests their money, where their bank accounts are, where they have debts and who they’ve given money to. Often the information found in a tax return can tell a prosecutor which financial institutions and corporate entities to subpoena for records.

At times, obtaining tax returns can lead to evidence of tax offenses. If an individual receives money that is not reported in the tax return or is misrepresented, that can be charged as a separate federal crime. Hiding financial transactions also can be used as evidence that the subject knew that the underlying source of the money was illegal. 

Other Stories of Interest

What FBI Raid of Manafort’s Home Shows about Probe of Russia And Trump’s Campaign

Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s raid of the home of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort shows that the investigation of Russia meddling in the presidential election is ramping up.

The longtime Republican operative and lobbyist is under investigation by both special counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Judiciary Committee for his alleged role in colluding with Russia to help get Trump elected.

“It is a big deal,” former Justice Department prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg told Politico. “Prosecutors do not take aggressive steps like this with subjects who the government feels are being open and cooperative. And they also do not do this to ‘send a message.’ They do it because they think there is evidence to be found and that if they do not act aggressively, it could be destroyed.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the raid is “clear evidence” connecting him to “some criminal wrongdoing.”

“This highly significant step reaffirms the reasons that I first urged the appointment of a Special Counsel with the power to execute such investigative measures and bring criminal charges and redoubles my determination to protect this investigation from political interference,” Blumenthal said in a statement.

Duke Law School professor and former federal prosecutor Samuel Buell said the search warrant “confirms, beyond doubt, serious, criminal investigative focus on Manafort.”

Judge Refuses FBI Request to Force Potential Targets to Give Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

fingerprint-smaller-version

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The battle over privacy and devices continues.

This time it’s taking place in Chicago.

A federal judge in Chicago has rejected a request by the FBI to force potential targets to provide fingerprints to unlock any iPhones or Apple devices in child pornography case, Jason Meisner and Steve Schmadeke of the Chicago Tribune report.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Weisman decision came in response to a request for a warrant to search a residence where investigators suspect someone was using the internet to traffic images of child pornography, the Trib reports. 

The Trib reports:

The prosecution filing seeking the search warrant on the FBI’s behalf remains under seal, but the judge’s opinion said the government requested “the authority to compel any individual who is present at the subject premises at the time of the search” to provide a fingerprint or thumbprint needed to unlock an Apple device.

Weisman, a former federal prosecutor and FBI agent, wrote in his 14-page opinion last month that the government hadn’t presented enough facts in its application that would justify such sweeping “intrusions,” including any specific information about those who might be living at the residence or their connection to the child pornography investigation.

ATF Investigation of Pasadena Police Officer Leads to Search of Home

pasadena-policeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ATF executed a search warrant at a home owned by a Pasadena police officer on Thursday.

The officer is on paid administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation, CBSLA.com reports. 

“The ATF told [Pasadena Police] Chief [Phillip] Sanchez its investigation was unrelated to the officer’s duties with the department,” William Boyer, spokesman for Pasadena, wrote in a news release.

Federal agents were spotted loading dozens of gun cases from the officer’s home in Sierra Madre.

“The officer was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal affairs review per department policy,” Boyer said. “The officer has not been arrested nor have there been any charges filed against the officer at this point.”

Records: FBI Had No Evidence of Wrongdoing Against Clinton in Computer Search

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI had no evidence of wrongdoing when the bureau asked a judge for a warrant to search a computer that contained correspondence between Hillary Clinton and top aide Huma Abedin.

The newly released documents shed more light on the FBI’s revelation that it was resuming the Clinton investigation less than two weeks before the election, the Washington Post reports. 

The search warrant was for a computer that belonged to former congressman Anthony Weiner, who is Abedin’s estranged husband.

“The affidavit concedes that the FBI had no basis to conclude whether these e-mails were even pertinent to that closed investigation, were significant, or whether they had, in fact, already been reviewed prior to the closing of the investigation,” said David E. Kendall, Clinton’s lawyer. “What does become unassailably clear, however, is that as the sole basis for this warrant, the FBI put forward the same evidence the Bureau concluded in July was not sufficient to bring a case — the affidavit offered no additional evidence to support any different conclusion.”

The Washington Post wrote:

Looking at just the header information of emails, agents found on Weiner’s device thousands of Abedin emails, including what seemed to be “regular” correspondence with Clinton and some messages that appeared to have been sent while Clinton was secretary of state. Based on that — and because Clinton and Abedin were previously on email chains in which classified information was discussed — they argued to a judge there was probable cause for their search. They had not at the time reviewed the content of any Abedin emails, according to the documents unsealed Tuesday.

Family of Man Fatally Shot by FBI to File Wrongful Death Claim

fbigunbadgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

David Coborubio was at his friend’s house playing video games in Los Angeles County when the FBI entered the house on Aug. 25 and fatally shot him in the chest.

The 31-year-old’s family plans to file a wrongful death claim against the FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department,  89.3 KPCC reports. 

The search warrant was for his friend, Paul White, who was wanted on a parole violation.

The family’s attorney said Coborubio ran toward the backdoor of the home when he and his friend saw an armed man at a gate at the end of the driveway.

Coborubio said she heard three gunshots, followed by someone yelling “FBI.”

“He lay dying on the door of my bedroom,” Martinez said. “He came to warn me. … I saw my baby at the door of my room dying.”

The FBI declined to say whether Coborubio was armed or if agents believed he was armed.

“In order to carry out a fair and objective investigation, we have not provided details beyond what was contained in the statement,” said spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.

Other Stories of Interest

Judge: FBI Agents Should Not Have Posed As Internet Technicians in Gambling Probe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI crossed the line when agents cut off the Internet connection at a Las Vegas luxury villa and then posed as repairmen in order to access information from the computers of people suspected of running illegal betting operations, a federal magistrate said, Bloomberg reports.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen said in a non-binding recommendation to a district judge that Wei Seng Phua and his son Darren were subjected to a search based on false and misleading evidence that the FBI used to obtain a warrant.

“The investigators’ suspicions that Phua was engaged in illegal sports betting at Caesars Palace may be borne out by the evidence recovered in the execution of the warrant,” Leen said. “However, a search warrant is never validated by what its execution recovers.”

While requesting a warrant, agents never disclosed that they obtained the evidence by posing as repairmen.

Phua and others were arrested in charges of operating an illegal gambling hub involving World Cup games.

FBI: Agents Need No Search Warrant to Intercept Cell Phones in Public

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI maintains it does not need a warrant to intercept cell phone devices in public, according to a letter written by Senate leaders, Gizmodo reports.

The bureau said it does not plan to get search warrants to intercept mobile devices in public. The interception devices, which include Stringrays, quickly extract data using cell towers as a decoy.

Gizmodo wrote:

“Stingrays, dirtboxes, and other surveillance tools help law enforcement catch criminals. That’s true. To do so, the decoys grab information from lots of innocent people by tricking their phones into sending data to the FBI before they can pinpoint a suspect. This is a substantial and wide-ranging intrusion, which is why the policy to forgo warrants is raising concerns.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, requested information after reading disturbing reports about other surveillance techniques.