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Tag: Utah

SLT Editorial: DEA Should Not Bypass Judges Or Search Warrants

dea-badgeBy Editorial Board
The Salt Lake Tribune

If the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says it can’t do its job without bypassing a judge’s signature, it raises reasonable suspicions about law enforcement operating without proper oversight.

If the DEA adds that such a bypass is needed to stop Utahns from overdosing at high rates, it exposes just how shameless the war on drugs has become.

In a move that raises the specter of indiscriminate NSA phone monitoring, the federal government’s drug cops are pushing back against a Utah law that took effect this year that requires a judge to sign a search warrant for access to the state’s data base of prescriptions. Before that law, law enforcement could simply use “administrative subpoenas” that required no signoff from a judge.

It is precisely because of the abuse of such subpoenas that Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, sponsored the Utah law. The prescription data base was created in 1995 to track the blossoming problem of prescription drug abuse, particularly pain medications, and police could access it without a formal warrant from a judge.

In a notorious case, Cottonwood Heights police searched through every prescription issued to 480 Unified Fire Authority employees after pills were found missing from ambulances. If that egregious violation of privacy wasn’t enough, prosecutors eventually filed faulty charges against one assistant fire chief based on the search. He was cleared, and he’s now suing Cottonwood Heights.

DEA’s spokeswoman says the state’s new requirement “will significantly hamper our mission,” but she didn’t elaborate on how. All the Utah law asks is that the DEA get a judge to sign a warrant before the data base can be searched. That is something that could take as little as a couple of hours in a process that most of law enforcement uses daily. It also adds a measure of legitimacy to any investigation, meaning that the eventual charges have a better chance of sticking.

To read more click here. 

FBI, Marshals Service Bestowed ‘Black Hole Award’ for Refusing to Disclose Records

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s not an award to celebrate.

The Utah Headlines Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists bestowed the Black Hole Award to the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI.

The Deseret News published a letter to the Attorney General from the journalist group.

The group explained that the agencies won the award for refusing to disclose any information about the April 21, 2014, shooting at a federal courthouse in Salt Lake City.

The shooting by a U.S. marshal killed defendant Siale Angilau, and the case was investigated by the FBI.

“Those few facts and that the Department of Justice elected not to prosecute the marshal comprise what we know,” the group wrote. “No one at the Marshals Service or the FBI will answer more questions. The Marshals Service has denied multiple requests made for documents under the Freedom of Information Act. A request to the FBI has been pending for a year.”

Sniper Rifle Stolen from FBI Agent’s Car in Utah Just Days Before President Obama Visits

Pres. Obama at state of the union/white house photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just days before President Obama was to visit Utah, an FBI agent’s sniper rifle was stolen from his car in Salt Lake City hotel, International Business Times reports. 

Police said the rifle was stolen from the agent’s parked car, where it was stored and properly locked down in a hard case.

“The rifle had been secured properly,” Salt Lake City Police Detective Dennis McGowan told KSTU-TV. “A couple of padlocks, chains, it was attached to a truck safe. There are all kinds of ways the weapon was secure. Yet someone was able to forcefully take the weapon.”

The Secret Service was made aware of the theft.

The agent’s window was broken.

“I observed the rear right passenger window was shattered and the window frame was pulled out, hanging from the door,” the police report states, according to KSTU-TV. “[The agent] stated his FBI issued sniper rifle was missing, which was in a hard rifle case along with some gear bags, backpacks, clothing and tools.” The stolen FBI rifle has yet to be found.

“We have not recovered the weapon, and we have not identified the person who has taken it yet,” McGowan told KSTU-TV.

 

Legalizing Medical Pot in Utah Would Make Bunnies Go Crazy, DEA Agent Insists

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA has proposed numerous reasons to oppose medical marijuana – health effects, lack of motivation, dependency.

But the latest reason given by a DEA agent may be the most memorable. Speaking to a Utah Senate panel about a bill that would allow certain patients to consume edible cannabis, Special Agent Matt Fairbanks said legal outdoor grows would endanger bunnies.

Fairbanks suggested that passing the bill would harm rabbits because they would “cultivate a taste” for the plant and be constantly high, the Washington Post reports.

“I deal in facts. I deal in science,” Fairbanks insisted last week.

Fairbanks said he saw rabbits “that had cultivated a taste for marijuana” and “one of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone.”

Other Stories of Interest


FBI Joins Investigation into Who Threatened ‘Deadliest School Shooting’ if Feminist Spoke

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI joined an investigation into who sent an email threatening “the deadliest school shooting in American history” if Utah State University hosted a speech by feminist writer Anita Sarkeesian, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Sarkeesian, a critic of how women are portrayed in video games, said she canceled the speech because of the threat and a state law that allows people to carry concealed permits at events in public venues.

The email purportedly came from an anonymous USU student, who claimed to “have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs” that he would use to ensure Sarkeesian would “die screaming like the craven little whore that she is.”

Campus police said they were prepared to protect Sarkeesian.

“She was worried about Utah law preventing police from keeping people with legal, conceal-carry permits from entering the event,” USU spokesman Tim Vitale said. “But our police were prepared and had in place extra security measures. It was her decision to cancel.”

 

Utah Man Accused of Threatening to Blow Up FBI Office After Making 112 Calls

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Utah man really wanted the FBI’s attention.

Robert Zickella, 49, is accused of calling the FBI in St. George at least 112 times over several days, threatening agents and threatening to blow up the bureau’s office, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Zickella is being held in the Purgatory Correctional Facility on a $10,000 bond

What remains unclear is why Zickella threatened the FBI and hounded agents.

Utah Man Accused of Plot to Bomb Police Station, Assassinate Cops to Begin Revolt

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A 47-year-old Utah man has been arrested on allegations he was plotting to kill police officers and bomb a police station to instigate an uprising against the government, the Associated Press reports.

The FBI said John Huggins, who was arrested Thursday, is expected to return to federal court Tuesday after he was charged with possessing an unregistered destructive device.

Huggins faces up to 10 years in prison.

The investigation began on a tip that Huggins had buried bombs around the city of Ogden, which turned out to be true. But investigators said Huggins threatened to blow up the Tremonton Police Department with the intention of assassinating two police officers before the bombing.

The AP wrote that Huggins said be believed the attack would trigger an uprising against the government.

FBI Agents Search Homes of Former Utah AGs As Part of ‘Very Robust Open Active Investigation’

Former Utah Atty. Gen. Mark Shurtleff

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Two former Utah attorneys general found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

On Monday night, FBI agents searched the Utah homes of former Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, Fox 13 reports.

“We continue to work with our state and our federal law enforcement partners,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told FOX 13′s Ben Winslow on Monday night. “They’re engaged in a very robust open active investigation. We continue to pursue all avenues and options consistent with that investigation and support their efforts as we go forward.”

Investigators didn’t say what they were searching for or what they seized.