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Tag: Virginia

Federal Government Seeks Public Input on New FBI Headquarters

FBI's headquarters is called the J. Edgar Hoover Building.

FBI’s headquarters is called the J. Edgar Hoover Building.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

How should the FBI redevelop it new headquarters?

The National Capital Planning Commission is hosting two public meetings this week determine the best course of action, the Associated Press reports. 

The FBI plan to leave the J. Edgar Hoover Building and move to a new location in either Virginia or Maryland.

The first meeting is tonight.

Authorities are seeking guidance on the design, size and land use.

April Supreme Court Cases Include Conviction of Ex-Virginia Governor

By Ross Parker
ticklehthewire.com

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in four difficult criminal cases on the April docket. All without the incisive, biting and entertaining interrogation of Justice Scalia. But last month Justice Thomas asked his first question in more than a decade. That must have raised some eyebrows.

One of the highest profile cases of the term, McDonnell v. United States, will be among those argued. Bob McDonnell was the popular governor of Virginia, and his name had been mentioned as a Vice Presidential running mate. Probably not any more since his prosecution for bribery.

Gov. Bob McDonnell

Gov. Bob McDonnell

His financial problems led him and his wife to seek various loans and gifts valued at over $175,000 from a businessman who was promoting a dietary supplement under review by the FDA. The gifts included a $20,000 shopping spree by Mrs. McDonnell, a former Washington Redskins cheerleader. Not that I hold anything against former cheerleaders (some of my best friends…), but she does seem to be at the center of both the “quid” and the “quo” of this sordid affair.

The issue before the Court is whether the Hobbs Act felony of agreeing to take “official action” in exchange for something of value by exercising actual government power (i.e. bribery) was proven in the case, as opposed to merely providing routine political courtesies, benefits and access to others.

The evidence at trial included the following “official acts” by the governor, all around the time that the McDonnells were receiving their goodies: asking the Secretary of Health to send an aide to a meeting where Mrs. McDonnell and the businessman could pitch the product; attending a luncheon arranged by Mrs. McDonnell where  the businessman gave two state medical schools $200,000 to research the product; sending an ambiguous email (at Mrs McDonnell’s request) to a staffer regarding the medical school’s lack of responsiveness; inviting the businessman to a reception for the “Health Care Leaders”; and finally suggesting a meeting to discuss whether the product could be included in the state employee health plan. Note the First Lady’s involvement. Cherchez la femme

None of these actions by the governor resulted in any specific benefit to the businessman. Nor did the governor make any request or order that a government official do anything other than exercise his/her independent judgment. McDonnell said that he was doing nothing more than helping a state business and extending political courtesies.

The Solicitor General argues that at least some of the actions amounted to personal benefits conferred in exchange for an agreement to influence government matters. But McDonnell’s supporters filed more than a dozen briefs which warn that the expansion of the statute to include this kind of conduct will create an ill-defined situation where aggressive federal prosecutors could criminalize what has been merely political custom.

Read more »

Congressional Bills Calls for $390M to Jumpstart FBI’s New Headquarters

Current FBI Headquarters

Current FBI Headquarters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Congressional leaders proposed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that includes $390 million to build a new FBI headquarters, the Baltimore Sun reports.

“I’m fully behind the FBI and fully behind Prince George’s County as home to the new headquarters,” said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, the top Democrat on theSenate Appropriations Committee. “With more than 40 percent of FBI employees already living in Maryland, Prince George’s is the right place and has the right stuff.”

The bill, which is aimed at preventing a government shutdown, also includes modest pay raises for federal employees.

The FBI plans to leave its aging headquarters in downtown Washington D.C. and move to a new headquarters in Maryland or Virginia.

“The Hoover building is dated and dysfunctional,” Mikulski said. “It’s sinking, leaking and flooding and doesn’t even meet the FBI’s own security requirements. It’s too small for the FBI’s needs, so workers are scattered across 14 leased offices impeding efficiency and effectiveness.”

The $390 million would pay for design and pre-construction expenses. The total cost is expected to exceed $2 billion.

FBI Foils Alleged Plans by White Supremacists to Shoot Up, Bomb Church And Synagogues

fbi-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI said it has disrupted two men’s plans to shoot up or bomb churches and synagogues.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that FBI agents were posing as illegal arms dealers who received orders for guns and explosives from two men who were part of a white supremacy group.

The men, Robert C. Doyle, 34, of Chester, and Ronald Beasley Chaney III, 33, were charged  Monday in U.S. District Court in Richmond with attempting to buy the weapons from FBI agents.

“Doyle and Chaney and others known and unknown to the FBI, ascribe to a white supremacy extremist version of the Asatru faith (a pagan religion),” alleges a five-page affidavit from FBI Special Agent James R. Rudisill.

The agent said the plan was for Doyle and others to meet at Doyle’s house “to discuss acting out in furtherance of their extremist beliefs by shooting or bombing the occupants of black churches and Jewish synagogues, conducting acts of violence against persons of the Jewish faith, and doing harm to a gun store owner.”

ATF: Man Who Killed 2 Virginia Journalists Legally Purchased Gun in July

 Vester Lee Flanagan II

Vester Lee Flanagan II

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The gun used to killed two TV reporters in Virginia were purchased legally by the man who pulled the trigger, The Roanoke Times reports. 

Vester Lee Flanagan II bought the Glock 9 mm pistol in July from a federally licensed gun dealer in Virginia, an ATF official said.

ATF spokesman Tom Faison said a proper background check was conducted.

“I have no indication that anything was done illegally or improperly, or any shortcuts were made,” Faison said.

Iowa Couple Accused of Torturing, Forcing Woman into Prostitution, Are Charged

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Iowa couple accused of torturing a 20-year-old woman and forcing her into prostitution was charged this week with sex trafficking and torture, Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

Charges in U.S. District Court allege Aldair Hodza, 36, and Laura E. Sorensen, 31, abducted the woman before subjecting her to sexual abuse, starvation and burning.

“She was forced to engage in prostitution in order to earn money for Sorensen and Hodza to use for food and gas on the trip,” according to federal documents.

The couple is accused of forcing the woman on a cross-country trip aboard a 37-foot Sun Voyager recreational vehicle.

The nightmare ended in New Kent County in Virginia on Jan. 6, when a truck alerted police to the woman inside the recreational vehicle.

Stories of Other Interest


Former FBI Agent Who Shot, Killed Wife Gets Emotional During Trial

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A former FBI agent who shot his estranged wife in the chest four times at their home testified that he had no choice but to pull the trigger, Fredericksburg.com reports.

An emotional Arthur Gonzalez insisted Wednesday that he was forced to protect himself when his estranged wife attacked him with a knife.

“Everything was such a blur. I was in disbelief, shock,” Gonzales testified. “Even though we were apart, I still loved her as the boys’ mother.”

Gonzalez, who is charged with second-degree murder, spoke of his turbulent marriage, which led to him filing for divorce in 2012. He said his relationship with his wife was cordial during the separation because of their two sons.

The jury is expected to deliberate today.

Ex-Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell Sentenced to 2 Years

Gov. Bob McDonnell

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Richmond to two years in prison for soliciting and obtaining payments, loans, gifts and other items from Star Scientific, a Virginia-based corporation, and Jonnie R. Williams Sr., Star Scientific’s then chief executive officer.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen McDonnell, were convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right. McDonnell was also convicted of three counts of honest-services wire fraud and six counts of obtaining property under color of official right.

Maureen McDonnell was also convicted of two counts of honest services wire fraud counts and four counts of obtaining property under color of official right. She is set to be sentenced Feb. 20.

“Robert McDonnell corrupted the most powerful office in Virginia and fractured the public’s trust,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell in a statement. “Taking bribes in exchange for official actions is not politics as usual – it is an insidious crime that strikes at the heart of public service and will not be tolerated.”