Medical Marijuana Business Attracts Hedge Funds, Venture Capitalists

Marijuana has been a cash crop for many years in this country. The only problem is that most of that crop had been grown illegally. Now, that medical marijuana is legal in 15 states and the District of Columbia, legalized marijuana has quickly become so popular it is attracting attention from hedge fund managers and venture capitalists, not to mention a whole new batch of entrepreneurs.

Doctors still can’t prescribe marijuana because it is categorized as a schedule one drug like LSD. But they can recommend it and that’s all anyone needs to get a medical marijuana license that allows them to buy marijuana legally in those 15 states, with three more states about join them.

Each license sells for around $130 and some clinics selling the licenses have brought in more than a million dollars in just their first year. The once illegal joint is selling like hot cakes throughout middle America to consumers who no longer have to worry about getting arrested for possession, at least by local or state authorities.

The federal government still outlaws marijuana possession but it’s unlikely someone with a medical marijuana license will be busted by an FBI or DEA agent if caught smoking in his or her own home. In fact, just last year U.S. enforcers promised to leave medical marijuana operations alone if they complied with state law.

That prompted a significant increase in interest among entrepreneurs. Today, there are an estimated 2,400 medical marijuana dispensaries from California to Maine. In Colorado, they outnumber Starbucks two to one.

 

Continue reading

Retired airman accused of soliciting minor

An outstanding warrant remains in effect for an Air Force officer accused of soliciting sex from a person he thought was a 15-year-old girl in an Internet chat room.

Maj. Reinaldo Canton was arrested in 2007 on suspicion of meeting a girl he met online at a mall in Layton, Utah. The “girl” was actually an Federal Bureau of Investigation agent working for an Internet sex crimes unit.

Continue reading

Captain pleads guilty to online enticement

An officer from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., pleaded guilty in federal court May 17 to a charge of online enticement after traveling to Tennessee to have sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Capt. Felix Tran, assigned to Air Mobility Command, will be sentenced Sept. 23 in Chattanooga, Tenn. He faces a minimum sentence of 10 years, said Bryan Hoss, Tran’s defense lawyer.

The 32-year-old officer met the girl five years ago while playing the online fantasy game Everquest II, according to court documents. The two developed a relationship via online chat, e-mail, MySpace, text messages and phone calls. The girl’s mother discovered the relationship after Tran mailed the teenager a sex toy, and an undercover employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation began working with the family in November.

The girl invited Tran to visit her in Chattanooga, where Tran was arrested shortly after he arrived Dec 18. According to an affidavit filed by an FBI special agent, Tran knew the victim’s age and worried he was being set up by police.

He was taken into custody following his guilty plea, and Hoss said his client will be discharged from the Air Force soon.

“He was keeping his unit aware of what was going on,” Hoss said. “They knew this day was coming.”

Gun Running, Drugs and Flamenco: US Army Human Terrain System Has It All

See also:  Nature: Shut Down Army’s Human Terrain Program

A member of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command management team in Afghanistan, according to sources, is a “gun runner.” That individual is allegedly listed in an “Federal Bureau of Investigation database” and has “ties to Ahmad Wali Khan Karzai and the drug business.”

Another Human Terrain System leader has apparently been accused by “local nationals…of being a pedophile—touching young Afghan children while out in the field and making disturbing comments about them.” Members of a US Army Stryker group in Afghanistan have made the same comments.

These comments appear outrageous but, then again, this is the US Army Human Terrain System. It’s a head-shaker that the US Army (TRADOC) and Lieutenant General William James Lennox Jr. heap praise upon it even as the US Congress, House Armed Services Committee, has said the program needs a good scrub, as reported by the authorities on HTS at Wired the Washington Independent.

HASC is to be applauded for this action. And it could not come at a better time.

Continue reading

FBI Releases Preliminary Statistics for Law Enforcement Officers Killed in 2009

According to preliminary statistics released today by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 48 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty during 2009. Geographically, 21 of the victim officers were killed in the South, 13 in the West, seven in the Northeast, and five in the Midwest. Two officers were slain in Puerto Rico. The total number of officers killed is seven higher than in 2008.

Continue reading

Forty years since the Kent State massacre

May 4 marks the 40th anniversary of the shootings of unarmed student protesters at Kent State University in northeast Ohio. The Ohio National Guard killed four students and wounded nine others at a rally against the Nixon administration’s decision to escalate the Vietnam War by invading neighboring Cambodia.

The four students who died were Allison B. Krause and Jeffrey Glenn Miller, who had participated in the antiwar protest, and two bystanders, Sandra Lee Scheuer and William Know Schroeder, who were walking between classes when the troops opened fire. Miller was killed instantly, Scheuer died within minutes, while Krause and Schroeder succumbed to their wounds after several hours.

One of the students wounded, Dean Kahler, 20, was a first-semester freshman who was a curious onlooker to the protest. A bullet cut his spinal column, leaving him in a wheelchair to this day.

At least 67 bullets were fired during the 13-second fusillade, and students were hit over a wide area. The closest of the victims, one of the wounded, was 71 feet from where the troops formed a firing line. The furthest, wounded in the neck, was 750 feet away. The four dead students were between 265 and 345 feet distant. None of the victims was armed or could have posed a physical threat to the guardsmen.

The Kent State Massacre was part of a wave of violent state repression that swept the United States in the aftermath of the April 30 television announcement by President Richard Nixon that US forces had crossed the border from Vietnam and invaded Cambodia.

Continue reading

FBI Adds Electronic Form for FOIA Requests

The FBI has a new electronic form designed to make requesting information easier. In addition, the bureau has retooled it records website, including a guide for research in FBI Records.

Of course, filing a request has always been the easiest part of making a FOIA request of the FBI. George Washington University’s National Security Archive has criticized the bureau for its high percentage of “no records exist” responses in 2008, and the low percentage of requests granted by the FBIA.

For more, click here.

Oklahoma Passes Bill Outlawing Militia Recruitment

Last week the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill that equates recruiting militia members to recruiting gang members.

“Recruiting membership in an unauthorized militia or the Ku Klux Klan would be a crime if legislation approved Thursday by the House of Representatives becomes law. ‘This is making unauthorized militias illegal,’ said Rep. Mike Shelton, the amendment’s author,” News OK reported on Thursday.

Shelton wants to send people to prison who do not ask the state for permission to form a militia. If the bill becomes law, it will likely be challenged as unconstitutional. However, the bill and its passage in the Oklahoma House reveals there is support on the part of lawmakers to deny citizens their rights under the First Amendment (specifically, the right to peaceably assemble).

A news report video on the law can be viewed here.

Continue reading

FBI: Ex-airman claimed he had dynamite

BANGOR, Maine — A former Air Force intelligence specialist showed signs of paranoia aboard a trans-Atlantic flight and told federal air marshals that he had dynamite in his boots and laptop computer, forcing the plane to be diverted to Maine, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

Derek Stansberry told the FBI that fellow passengers were talking about him, ridiculing him and using interrogation techniques on him, and suggested that he concocted the dynamite story to divert attention from the fact he held “classified information,” according to an affidavit.

Passengers reported that seat cushions, pillows and blankets were taken to the back of the plane, where federal air marshals erected a bunker of sorts around the boots and laptop “to dampen the effects of any potential explosion,” FBI Special Agent James McCarty wrote in the affidavit.

Stansberry, 26, of Riverview, Fla., is charged with false information and threats, and interfering with a flight crew. He was ordered detained pending a competency hearing.

The Air Force described him as a former intelligence specialist who served four years, ending his Air Force career as a senior airman in 2009 at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Continue reading

Let Dr. Aafia go home, Mr. President

Reading all those legal thrillers by John Grisham and watching Hollywood blockbusters that portray innocent individuals framed and ensnared by a powerful system, one always thought: Of course, these things do not happen in real life.

I am not so sure anymore though. The abduction, persecution and now conviction of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-educated neuroscientist, by the U.S. authorities reads like a regulation Grisham thriller written for Hollywood.

Aafia disappeared with her three children on her way to Jinnah International Airport airport for Islamabad way back in 2003. Five years later, she was presented in a New York court in March 2008 as “a top al-Qaeda terrorist” and the “most dangerous woman on earth,” as United States Attorney General John Ashcroft put it.

The U.S. authorities claimed then that Aafia was captured near Ghazni governor’s office in Afghanistan with a bag that carried instructions on making explosives and a list of U.S. landmarks.

But more damningly, the U.S. authorities claimed that the frail mother of three attacked a team of eight U.S. soldiers, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Afghan officials in Ghazni with a highly sophisticated, heavy M-4 gun in Ghazni when they went to question her. Surprisingly though, it’s Aafia who ended up with two gunshot wounds, inflicted point blank. None of the officials she allegedly attacked sustained any injuries or wounds.

Last week, after months of courtroom drama and charade of a trial, Aafia was convicted of attempted murder and attacking U.S. soldiers and FBI officials with a deadly weapon.

Continue reading

Former soldier convicted of stealing pay, lying

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A former soldier has been convicted of stealing $100,000 in pay and lying to federal agents.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte said that 60-year-old Dyrrle Gene Osborne of Charlotte was found guilty on Tuesday.

A statement from federal officials said Osborne, a former master sergeant, was paid after he was no longer on active duty. Instead of returning the money, authorities say he spent it and then made false statements about it to the FBI and to the Army.

Osborne faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for stealing the money and five years each for three counts of making false statements.

Feds Can Search, Seize P2P Files Without Warrant

The authorities do not need court warrants to view and download files traded on peer-to-peer networks, a federal appeals court says.

Wednesday’s 3-0 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concerned a Nevada man convicted of possessing child pornography as part of an FBI investigation. Defendant Charles Borowy claimed the Fourth Amendment required court authorization to search and seize his LimeWire files in 2007.

The San Francisco-based appeals court, however, cited the nation’s legal standard, reiterating that warrants are required if a search “violates a reasonable expectation of privacy.” (.pdf)

Borowy, the court noted, “was clearly aware that LimeWire was a file-sharing program that would allow the public at large to access files in his shared folder unless he took steps to avoid it.”

Continue reading

FBI probes US school webcam ‘spy’ case

The FBI is investigating a Pennsylvania school district officials accused of secretly activating webcams inside students’ homes, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation will explore whether Lower Merion School District officials broke any federal wiretap or computer-intrusion laws, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Days after a student filed a suit over the practice, Lower Merion officials acknowledged on Friday that they remotely activated webcams 42 times in the past 14 months, but only to find missing student laptops. They insist they never did so to spy on students, as the student’s family claimed in the federal lawsuit.

Families were not informed of the possibility the webcams might be activated in their homes without their permission in the paperwork students sign when they get the computers, district spokesman Doug Young said.

Continue reading

Phony US Marshal Apprehends, Deports Woman

A Hemet man who passed himself off as a U.S. Marshal was able to enter San Diego International Airport with a “prisoner” after convincing airport security officers he was a federal agent, a Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

Suzanne Trevino, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said in a telephone interview that an investigation has revealed that someone who presented “falsified law enforcement documents” was able to get past security and eventually make it to a gate with a prisoner. The individual presented himself as a law enforcement officer and followed the proper procedures, including logging in, she said.

The agency learned about the incident after being contacted by “local law enforcement” about the potential breach in security.

“We are working with law enforcement and other departments to make sure this does not happen again,” Trevino said.

Trevino declined to discuss what law enforcement officers are required to do to verify their status, or what policy changes have taken place since the incident.

After the “prisoner” took off in a plane, Trevino said, the individual left the airport.

Continue reading

Man who says he spied on mosques for FBI files lawsuit

Craig Monteilh says he lives in danger.

He’s been targeted for death by Islamic extremist groups, the Romanian and Mexican mafias and white supremacist groups. One fugitive now wants his head, he claims.

Today Monteilh, a 47-year-old fitness consultant, plans to serve papers on the people he says put him in this bind – his former employer, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Irvine Police Department.

Monteilh, who says he spied on mosques for the FBI as an undercover informant, filed a lawsuit last week claiming his agency handlers violated his civil rights and put his life in danger.

“They put me in prison with no protection,” he said. “There were hits on my life. I had to do what was necessary to survive in there in defense of my own life.”

He said his FBI supervisors reneged on a promise of severance and protection after a FBI supervisor muddled an operation that would have uncovered “bomb making materials” at a mosque, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit, seeking $10 million in damages, was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Jan. 22.

Monteilh, 47, spied on nearly a dozen mosques from July 2006 and October 2007 on the FBI’s behalf, posing as a Muslim convert, the suit alleges.

Two of the mosques were in the San Gabriel Valley, including the Al-Nabi Mosque in West Covina and the Masjid Al-Fatiha mosque in Azusa, he said.

“The government will have an opportunity to respond to these allegations in court,” said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. “However, the accusations appear to be an attempt to discredit law enforcement for personal gain, at the expense of the Muslim-American community.”

Continue reading

Efforts to silence Aafia Siddiqui continue

Efforts to silence Pakistani citizen Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who is charged with attempted murder of US military and Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel, are continuing during her trial.

In a letter to the New York Federal judge presiding over her trial, Siddiqui’s defense team said that she is not mentally fit to testify.

In the letter, the lawyers said that they believe she suffers from “diminished capacity,” the NY Daily News reported on Tuesday.

“We feel it is our duty under relevant ethical rules to take protective action to safeguard her interests,” the letter read.

Siddiqui’s trial started on January 19, 2010.

See also:

Case against Aafia Siddiqui begins to unravel

My children were tortured, this trial is a sham: Aafia

‘US torturing females in Afghan prisons’

Rights groups seek Siddiqui extradition

Continue reading

Former Fulton County, GA, Sheriff’s Deputy Convicted on Obstruction of Justice Charges Related to Federal Investigation of Inmate Death

Richard Glasco

ATLANTA, GA—Mitnee Markette Jones, 46, of Atlanta, Georgia, a former Fulton County Sheriff’s Department deputy assigned to work at the Fulton County Jail, was convicted by a federal jury late yesterday in Atlanta for her role in the obstruction of a federal investigation of a 2008 inmate death.

Acting United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “We’re still uncertain exactly why Mr. Glasco died, but this conviction brings us one step closer to learning the truth. Deputy Jones lied and covered up what happened in Mr. Glasco’s cell, and now she is being held accountable.”

Gregory Jones, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta, said, “The conviction of Fulton County Sheriff’s Deputy/Jailer Mitnee Jones on charges related to lying to the FBI and providing false statements as part of a serious investigation into the death of a Fulton County jail inmate should serve as a message to others that the FBI expects full cooperation in such matters. For a sworn law enforcement officer to deliberately mislead a federal investigation is unconscionable, and the jury, with a returned verdict of guilty, agreed that it should not be tolerated.”

Continue reading

DOJ Finds FBI Violations Over Phone Conversation Requests

A Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Use of Exigent Letters and Other Informal Requests for Telephone Records

The U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General has just released a report which concludes that the Federal Bureau of Investigation violated U.S. laws by claiming terrorism emergencies which allowed it to collect more than 2,000 records on U.S. telephone calls between 2002 and 2006. This report follows two previous DOJ OIG reports on the matter, commonly referred to as ‘National Security Letters‘, which are also available at the Justice Inspector General website.

The Washington Post first broke this story yesterday and DOJ has now made the unclassified version available to the public.

Smith & Wesson Executive Indicted

A Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. sales executive and a former Secret Service official were among 22 officials at companies that supply law enforcement and the military who were charged with violating U.S. anti-bribery laws.

Amaro Goncalves, vice president of sales at Smith & Wesson, and R. Patrick Caldwell, chief executive officer of Protective Products Of America Inc. and a former deputy director of the U.S. Secret Service, were among the individuals indicted for engaging in schemes to bribe foreign officials, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Lanny Breuer said today in a statement.

The indictments, which name only the individuals and not the companies they work for, stem from a Federal Bureau of Investigation undercover operation that focused on bribery allegations in the military and law-enforcement products industry, Breuer said. Yesterday, 21 defendants were arrested at a convention in Las Vegas and one was arrested in Miami, the government said.

The indictments unsealed today in Washington represent the largest single investigation and prosecution against individuals under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Department of Justice said. The law prohibits U.S. citizens and companies from paying bribes to foreign officials to gain business. The indictments were returned Dec. 11 by a grand jury in Washington.

Continue reading

Time for full disclosure of DNA databases

Editorial: Time for full and frank data disclosure

WHEN a defendant’s DNA appears to match DNA found at a crime scene, the probability that this is an unfortunate coincidence can be central to whether the suspect is found guilty. The assumptions used to calculate the likelihood of such a fluke – the “random match probability” – are now being questioned by a group of 41 scientists and lawyers based in the US and the UK.

These assumptions have never been independently verified on a large sample of DNA profiles, says the group. What’s more, whether some RMPs are truly as vanishingly small as assumed has been called into question by recent insights into DNA databases in the US and Australia.

The group, led by Dan Krane of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, is demanding access to CODIS – the US national DNA database, which contains over 7 million profiles – so that they can test the assumptions behind RMPs. They have outlined their arguments in a letter, which was published in Science in December (vol 326, p 5960). “The national US database is a truly enormous source of data,” says signatory Larry Mueller of the University of California, Irvine (UCI).

Such research could reveal if incorrect RMPs are prompting jurors and judges to attach undue weight to DNA evidence, possibly leading to miscarriages of justice. Even if these fears are not borne out, independent checks on the DNA held in large databases like CODIS are vital to maintaining confidence in DNA evidence presented in courts all over the world, the group says. Access would also allow the number of errors in CODIS to be measured.

See also:  FBI resists scrutiny of “matches.”

Continue reading

Right-wing radio host, Hal Turner, was an FBI informant

The New Jersey Record reports that ultra-right-wing radio host/blogger Harold Charles “Hal” Turner worked for over five years for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Turner was tried last month for threatening three federal appellate judges in Chicago: Judges Richard Allen Posner, Frank Hoover Easterbrook, and William Joseph Bauer. Turner’s case ended in a mistrial and he is scheduled to be retried in March. According to the Record, Turner was paid and coached by the FBI while he broadcast neo-Nazi and white supremacy views over the radio and internet:.

As Turner took to his radio show and blog to say that those who opposed his extremist views deserve to die, he received thousands of dollars from the FBI to report on such groups as the Aryan Nations and the white supremacist National Alliance, and even a member of the Blue Eyed Devils skinhead punk band. Later, he was sent undercover to Brazil where he reported a plot to send non-military supplies to anti-American Iraqi resistance fighters. Sometimes he signed “Valhalla” on his FBI payment receipts instead of his own name.

His dual life of shock jock and informant offers a window into the murky realm of domestic intelligence in the years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in particular, the difficult choices for the FBI in penetrating controversial fringe groups with equally controversial informants. In interviews, he said the FBI coached him to make racist, anti-Semitic and other threatening statements and now he feels double-crossed by the bureau after his arrest. The documents reviewed by The Record, however, show repeated instances of federal agents admonishing Turner for his extremism.

Turner blames the FBI, saying that while agents never said he could threaten judges, they coached him on the limits of what he could say. As a result, Turner said he felt he had wide latitude. “I was given specific instructions,” he said.

FBI investigating corruption allegations at Bexar Sheriff’s narcotics unit

Over the holidays, the SA Express News reported on a possible brewing corruption scandal at the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office narcotics division. According to reporter Guillermo Contreras (“Bexar narcotics deputies probed,” Dec. 27):

The FBI is investigating the Bexar County sheriff’s narcotics unit over allegations that some of its deputies might have been unlawfully taking evidence or stealing money and property from people they detain or arrest, the San Antonio Express-News has confirmed.

The two-year-old probe includes allegations of civil rights violations, but has expanded as agents learned about deputies who are living beyond what their county pay could afford — group trips to Las Vegas and the purchase of a large property in South Texas, for example.

“There have been many complaints about that narcotics division,” said one law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation, one of several who confirmed its existence. “The complaints include stuff about rogue cops and deputies running roughshod, arresting people without cause and stealing money.”

“It’s not the whole (narcotics) division, but four or five names keep coming up,” another source in the criminal justice system said. “But it doesn’t end there. They’re also looking up the chain to see what they knew.”

Independent of those sources, the Express-News confirmed FBI agents have approached several defense attorneys to interview their clients about the allegations.

Among the accusations are claims that deputies, while moonlighting in private security jobs, took advantage of their roles as law officers and shook down people at apartment complexes where deputies were hired to provide security. Some complained to federal officials about the deputies using excessive force and threats.

Rival Gangs Doing Business Together in L.A.

LOS ANGELES — Some neighborhoods in Southern California are experiencing a kind of truce between rival gangs that used to fight each other.

The decrease in gang violence in recent years has led some experts to theorize that gangs are now working together.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Los Angeles told La Opinión that although they are not investigating a particular case of collaboration between rival gangs, they are aware of a trend in which gangs of different ethnicities are working together.

“We know Latino gangs are working with African-American gangs to get drugs or arms, and we are already doing intelligence work,” said Robert Clark, special agent with the FBI’s Criminal Division. “It’s a trend we are seeing among different groups. And I think if they see an opportunity to collaborate across these barriers, they’re going to take it,” he added.
Continue reading

Former Army Ranger Tries to Hire a Hit on a Federal Prosecutor

SEATTLE — A former Army Ranger convicted of leading a 2006 Tacoma bank robbery in a terrifying military-style heist has pleaded guilty to attempting to hire a hit man to kill a federal prosecutor.

Luke E. Sommer also pleaded guilty Monday to attacking a robbery co-defendant behind bars because he thought the man had ratted him out.

Sommer, 22, of Peachland, British Columbia, pleaded guilty in federal court to assault with a deadly weapon and solicitation of a crime of violence. Under terms of his plea agreement, he will face 20 years in prison in addition to the 24-year sentence he received in the August 2006 robbery of a Bank of America branch.

Court documents say Sommer offered an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent as much as $20,000 to kill a federal prosecutor in March, shortly after Sommer was sentenced on the bank robbery charges.

Sommer also pleaded guilty to attacking a co-defendant with a prison-made knife in January 2009 at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac. The victim suffered a minor stab wound.

Related reading

Prosecutors: Ex-Ranger assaulted heist partner

Former Lewis Ranger sentenced in bank robbery

UPDATES: 3 police officers among 5 people indicted in fatal, race-related beating

Luis Ramirez was in a coma on life support
before he died two days after he was beaten.

See updated article on this case, with photos, here.  Then see here.  YouTube here

Five people, including three police officers, have been indicted on charges related to the beating death of a Latino man in rural Pennsylvania in July 2008, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Two indictments charge the five with federal hate crimes, obstruction of justice and conspiracy in what authorities are calling a racially motivated attack.

The indictments come almost six months after a Schuylkill County jury acquitted two teens of aggravated assault and one of murder in the death of Luis Ramirez.

The undocumented Mexican immigrant was beaten into a coma during a street brawl involving the teens and their friends on a residential street in Shenandoah. The incident divided the small, rural mining town along racial lines and became a flash point for racial tensions nationwide.

After the verdict, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Gene “Ed” Rendell denounced the attack as racially motivated and called on the Department of Justice to intervene.

A federal grand jury handed up the indictments last week, and they were unsealed Tuesday. The two young men, Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky, are accused of a hate crime for beating Ramirez while shouting racial epithets at him, according to the department.

If convicted of hate crime charges, Donchak and Piekarsky face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Donchak also faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted of obstruction, and an additional five years on the charge of conspiring to obstruct justice.

Continue reading

FBI Releases Michael Jackon Files

Michael Joseph Jackson, a celebrity pop star, was born on August 29, 1958. He died unexpectedly on June 25, 2009 at the age of 50.

Between 1993 and 1994 and separately between 2004 and 2005, Mr. Jackson was investigated by California law enforcement agencies for possible child molestation. He was acquitted of all such charges. The FBI provided technical and investigative assistance to these agencies during the cases. The Bureau also investigated threats made against Mr. Jackson and others by an individual who was later imprisoned for these crimes.

This release consists of seven separate files, as described below:

Continue reading

Record High Federal Prosecutions in 2009

FY 2009 Federal Prosecutions Sharply Higher

Analyzing data from the United States Department of Justice, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University has released this report showing a 9% increase in federal prosecutions compared to last year. At a total of 169,612, the swell in prosecutions is attributed to “an unusual flood of immigration prosecutions.” According to the report, immigration and narcotics cases represented the majority of prosecutions, with the former at 54% and the latter at 16%.

In regards to what agencies referred cases for prosecution, Customs and Border Protection filed 46.5%, Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed 12%, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) filed 9%, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives filed 6%, and all other agencies filed 18%. The report also touches on the administrative priorities of the Justice Department.

Continue reading

Federal Military/Prison-Industrial Complex Mole Slinks into Orange County

Alan Hostetter, the deputy chief of the Fontana Police Department, has been selected as the new police chief in La Habra and is scheduled to begin as city’s top cop Jan. 4.Hostetter ranked highest among 20 candidates who applied for the job in the 60,000-person city, according to a statement from city officials.

He replaces David Hinig, who has been interim chief since January. Hinig replaced Dennis Kies, who was police chief for eight years.

According to the city’s statement, Hostetter understands community policing, a method that emphasizes building relationships with residents.

Hostetter worked his way up from patrol officer to deputy chief, according to a statement from the city. Some of these assignments included detective, special enforcement detail and captain.

He has also been the police chief for Fontana Unified School District.

Hostetter received a master’s degree in public administration from California State University, San Bernardino.

The La Habra Police Department has faced a few high-profile incidents and crimes in the last decade.

In 2006, a La Habra man alleged to be the head of the Mexican Mafia in Orange County was found guilty of federal racketeering charges.

Peter Ojeda, who was 64, was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

In April of this year, Officer Nancy Garcia‘s vehicle collided with a Chrysler while responding to a call. La Habra residents Charles Antuna and Susanne Antuna were killed in the collision.

The California Highway Patrol in September recommended prosecutors file vehicular manslaughter charges against Garcia, but the Orange County District Attorney so far has not taken the case before a court.

From Fontana’s web site:

Continue reading

America’s Secret ICE Castles

“If you don’t have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he’s illegal, we can make him disappear.” Those chilling words were spoken by James Pendergraph, then executive director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement‘s (ICE) Office of State and Local Coordination, at a conference of police and sheriffs in August 2008. Also present was Amnesty International‘s Sarnata Reynolds, who wrote about the incident in the 2009 report “Jailed Without Justice” and said in an interview, “It was almost surreal being there, particularly being someone from an organization that has worked on disappearances for decades in other countries. I couldn’t believe he would say it so boldly, as though it weren’t anything wrong.”

ICE agents regularly impersonate civilians–Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors, insurance agents, religious workers–in order to arrest longtime US residents who have no criminal history. Jacqueline Stevens has reported a web-exclusive companion piece on ICE agents’ ruse operations.

Pendergraph knew that ICE could disappear people, because he knew that in addition to the publicly listed field offices and detention sites, ICE is also confining people in 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices, many in suburban office parks or commercial spaces revealing no information about their ICE tenants–nary a sign, a marked car or even a US flag. (Presumably there is a flag at the Department of Veterans Affairs Complex in Castle Point, New York, but no one would associate it with the Criminal Alien Program ICE is running out of Building 7.) Designed for confining individuals in transit, with no beds or showers, subfield offices are not subject to ICE Detention Standards. The subfield office network was mentioned in an October report by Dora Schriro, then special adviser to Janet Ann Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, but no locations were provided.

Continue reading

FBI Linguist Leaked Classified Docs to Blogger

An Israeli-American attorney who worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a translator pled guilty yesterday to unlawfully disclosing five classified FBI documents to an unidentified blogger last April, who then published information from the documents on his blog, the Department of Justice announced.

In a signed plea agreement (pdf), Shamai Leibowitz stipulated that he had “knowingly and willfully caused five documents, which were classified at the Secret level and contained classified information concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States, to be communicated… to a person not entitled to receive classified information (’Recipient A’).  Recipient A was the host of a public web log (’blog’) available to anyone with access to the Internet.”

Continue reading

Rhode Island Officer Indicted on Beating Handcuffed Woman

PROVIDENCE, R.I. —  A Rhode Island police officer was indicted Friday on charges that he kicked a handcuffed woman in the head after removing her from a slot parlor for disorderly conduct, authorities said.

Edward Krawetz, 40, has been suspended without pay from the Lincoln Police Department and also faces administrative charges, said police Capt. Raymond Bousquet.

Krawetz was working in uniform at the Twin River New England Gambling Casino just north of Providence on May 31 when he escorted out a woman in handcuffs after other patrons complained about her unruly behavior, said Rhode Island State Police spokesman Capt. David Neill.

A videotape shows Krawetz kicking the woman in the side of the head after she apparently tried to kick him, said Michael Healey, a spokesman for the attorney general‘s office.

Healey said the alleged assault occurred as the woman was cuffed with her hands behind her back waiting on a curb for a patrol car to take her to the police station for booking.

The woman, whose name has not been released, later pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct and has no memory of what happened that night, Healey said.

A Providence County grand jury indictment handed up Friday charges Krawetz with assault with a dangerous weapon.

Continue reading

Retired Army Major Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison for Role in Bribery Scheme Involving DOD Contracts in Kuwait

A retired major in the U.S. Army today was sentenced to 57 months in prison for his role in a bribery scheme related to Department of Defense (DOD) contracts awarded in Kuwait, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer and Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division Christine A. Varney.

Christopher H. Murray, 42, a resident of Cataula, Ga., was also ordered by Judge Clay D. Land of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia – Columbus Division to pay $245,000 in restitution and to serve three years of supervised release following the prison term.

Murray pleaded guilty in January 2009 to a five-count criminal information charging him with four counts of bribery and one count of making a false statement. According to the court documents, in 2005 and 2006, then-Major Murray served as a contracting specialist in the small purchases branch of the contracting office at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. As a contracting specialist, Murray was responsible for soliciting bids for military contracts, evaluating the sufficiency of those bids, and then recommending the award of contracts to particular contractors. In this capacity, Murray solicited and received approximately $225,000 in bribes from DOD contractors in exchange for recommending the award of contracts for various goods and services.

See document here.

Continue reading

Interesting FBI Priorities

Recently, I waded through the fiscal year 2010 budget request/justification documents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which for the most part are about as unexciting as you might expect. A couple of things, however, stood out as kind of interesting and worthy of discussion, so I thought I’d go over them here.

Part of the budget documents include performance metrics that the Bureau have assigned to themselves; they then annually grade themselves on how well they’re doing. I’m honestly not clear why this is the case, unless – however cynical it might be – they’re there just to make the Bureau “look good” and successful come budget-request time.

There’s nothing wrong with setting targets for performance; such a practice helps ensure focus and accountability and so on. The thing is, a lot of the FBI’s performance targets are qualitative, rather than quantitative, and I wonder if this isn’t actually detrimental under some circumstances.

For instance, the Bureau has identified certain criminal enterprises as “consolidated priority organizational targets”, or CPOTs. All fine and dandy, assuming there’s some degree of accountability where adding organizations to the list is concerned. The potential problem, as I see it, is that the Bureau then requires that a percentage of investigations by certain operational divisions involve individuals connected to a CPOT.

That’s great, on the surface, because it helps ensure that priority organizational targets remain, you know, priorities.

You have to wonder, though – given the importance of these performance metrics to the Bureau – whether (or how many) field offices skimp on other investigations so they don’t mess up their percentages and get in Washington’s bad graces.

I’m not saying it’s happening, but let’s be honest, here; that kind of target metric is incredibly prone to abuse.

Food for thought?

Continue reading

Man Who Spent 28 Years in Prison Cleared by DNA Testing

WASHINGTON —  A man who spent 28 years in prison for a rape and murder has been freed after DNA testing showed he’s innocent.

Fifty-eight-year-old Donald Eugene Gates left the federal prison in Tucson, Ariz., on Tuesday, just hours after a Washington judge ordered his release.

Gates tells The Associated Press it feels “beautiful” to be free. He says his faith in God helped him get through his incarceration.

Judge Fred B. Ugast, who presided over Gates’s trial, ordered his release just hours before.

Gates was convicted of the 1981 rape and murder of 21-year-old Catherine Schilling.

Recent testing showed Gates is not a match for DNA found on Schilling’s body and the work of an Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic analyst involved in the investigation has been called into question.

Report Shows Rise in Anti-Muslim Incidents

Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States 2009: Seeking Full Inclusion

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) just released its annual report which shows an increase in the number of bias-related incidents, but a decrease in anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2008. In addition to summarizing the year’s incidents of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination, and harassment, the report also examines rhetoric in the 2008 presidential election, watch lists, surveillance of mosques, and new guidelines enacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation allowing religious and ethnic profiling.

Examining the attitudes and opinions of Muslim Americans, a 2007 Pew Research Center report Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream found that most Muslim Americans are “largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.”

Transcript shows man claiming to be spy helped FBI

WEST COVINA, Calif. — A Southern California man who claimed to spy on mosques for the Federal Bureau of Investigation provided the agency with valuable information for a federal prosecution, a court transcript showed on Friday.

The transcript from an August 2007 hearing states that Craig Monteilh (MON’-tay) provided “very, very valuable” information to the FBI, which prompted a deputy district attorney to ask a Superior Court judge to have his probation terminated in an unrelated theft case.

The transcript released on Friday does not state the nature of the information nor the relationship the FBI had with Monteilh, who has accused the agency of failing to properly pay him for his work as an informant.

The 47-year old fitness consultant from Irvine claims he infiltrated Orange County mosques in 2006 and 2007 for an anti-terrorism task force — an activity that caused an uproar in Muslim communities.

Continue reading

Feds: Former US Prosecutor Helped Rub Out Witnesses For Gangster Clients, Ran Drugs And Call-Girls

From federal prosecutor to accused violent gangster, pimp, and drug-dealer…That’s the unusual career trajectory taken, say the Feds, by Paul Bergrin, who was indicted earlier this month in a 39-count racketeering indictment.

In a drama that could have been made for HBO, Bergrin — a white-collar defense lawyer who once represented, pro bono, a solider accused of abusing Abu Ghraib detainees — seems to have allowed his gangster clients to drag him into a world of violent crime. And he may have gone a lot further than Maury Levy ever did for Stringer Bell.

Bergrin, a former AUSA with the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey, is charged with leading a criminal enterprise that used violence, intimidation, and deceit to generate millions of dollars, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Among the most eye-catching allegations against him:
- That he used a Newark restaurant as a front for a cocaine-distribution network.
- That he oversaw a $1,000-an-hour call-girl ring in New York City.
- That he had a witness killed in one drug case, and hired a hitman to kill another.

You can read a key portion of the indictment here.

Continue reading

‘Counterinsurgency’ to Fight U.S. Crime? No, Thanks

After the sickening murder of a 9-year-old boy in Washington, our friend Spencer Ackerman made an impassioned plea: U.S. Central Command chief General David Petraeus for D.C. metro police chief. The idea of America’s leading counterinsurgent taking on one of its most crime-ridden towns definitely has a certain visceral appeal. But militarizing our approach to policing is an idea that could backfire in a hurry.

Continue reading

FBI Releases 2008 Hate Crime Statistics

“Statistics released today by the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that 7,783 criminal incidents involving 9,168 offenses were reported in 2008 as a result of bias toward a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin, or disability. Published by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Hate Crime Statistics, 2008, includes data about hate crime incidents submitted by law enforcement agencies throughout the nation.

Hate Crime Statistics, 2008, includes the following information:

Continue reading

Our research has shown that child trafficking increases when you have military bases

Excerpt:

When I reached her by phone, Goodnight said, “Our research has shown that child trafficking increases when you have military bases and a strong agricultural presence in the area.” That’s why, this year, before Shaniya Davis‘s disappearance and the discovery of her body made “human trafficking” a hot topic, Stop Child Trafficking Now had led marches to raise money and call attention to what Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Scott Cheney said is “an extremely common situation” in our state.

Read more

FBI kept tabs on Pulitzer-winning author Studs Terkel for 45 years

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which acted as America’s political police during the Cold War, spent several decades watching Pulitzer Prize-winning author Studs Terkel, who died earlier this year at age 96.  The revelation was made by the City University of New York’s NYCity News Service, which acquired 147 of the 269 pages in Terkel’s FBI file through a Freedom of Information Act request.  The FBI said that it intends to keep the remaining 122 pages kept secret “because of privacy and other reasons”.  The FBI appears to have opened a file on Terkel in 1945, in an attempt to discern whether he was affiliated with the Communist Party USA (CPUSA).

The released pages contain an intense dialogue among FBI agents and informants, with some suggesting that Terkel was not a CPUSA member and the file should be closed, and others arguing that the author of Working and The Good War was “a concealed C[ommunist] P[arty] member in 1945” and “subscribed to the Daily Worker”, the CPUSA’s newspaper. The file appears to contain some reports from the 1960s and 1970s, and was last updated in 1990, when for some bizarre reason an FBI agent in Miami, Florida, filed a copy of an article in The Wall Street Journal about a high-yield bonds scandal, in which Turkel was quoted.

A complete copy of the released pages in Studs Terkel’s FBI file is available here (.pdf).

Society in Jail

“What are you in for?” the inmate of Lee County jail asked the new prisoner.

“Rolling through a stop sign in my subdivision,” answered the new inmate, to gales of laughter from others languishing in the same cell.

As they laugh, crumbs from their hard, dry sandwiches — distributed by the wardens twice per day — flew from their mouths to add to the debris of filth on the floor that was ground up by the cracked plastic sleeping mats and absorbed by the old, thin blankets inmates use to keep warm in this cold and wet 8×8 room.

The new inmate today joined the 500 prisoners, among whom were some of the most violent threats to society — but also people who, like Inmate 501, are no threat to anyone.

Continue reading

Flaw in Fed Wiretaps Could Allow Circumvention

People who think they are being wiretapped by the cops could disable the taps by sending a stream of text messages or making numerous VOIP calls to overwhelm the system’s thin bandwidth, researchers in Pennsylvania postulate.

The researchers say they’ve found a vulnerability in U.S. law enforcement wiretaps, if only theoretical, that would allow a surveillance target to thwart the authorities by launching what amounts to a denial-of-service (DoS) attack against the connection between the phone company switches and law enforcement.

The University of Pennsylvania researchers found the flaw after examining the telecommunication industry standard ANSI Standard J-STD-025, which addresses the transmission of wiretapped data from telecom switches to authorities, according to IDG News Service. Under the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or Calea, telecoms are required to design their network architecture to make it easy for authorities to tap calls transmitted over digitally switched phone networks.

But the researchers, who describe their findings in a paper (.pdf), found that the standard allows for very little bandwidth for the transmission of data about phone calls, which can be overwhelmed in a DoS attack. When a wiretap is enabled, the phone company’s switch establishes a 64-Kbps Call Data Channel to send data about the call to law enforcement. That paltry channel can be flooded if a target of the wiretap sends dozens of simultaneous SMS messages or makes numerous VOIP phone calls “without significant degradation of service to the targets’ actual traffic.”

As a result, the researchers say, law enforcement could lose records of whom a target called and when. The attack could also prevent the content of calls from being accurately monitored or recorded.

Continue reading

An Aryan Nations E-Mail Box Hacked ;)

WikiLeaks: aryannationspa@hotmail.com leaked emails, 2009 mail archives (chronological)

( Aryan Nations (AN) is a white nationalist neo-Nazi organization founded in the 1970s by Richard Girnt Butler as an arm of the Christian Identity group Church of Jesus Christ-Christian. As of December 2007 there were two main factions that claimed descent from Butler’s group. Aryan Nations has been called a “terrorist threat” by the FBI, and the RAND Corporation has called it the “first truly nationwide terrorist network” in the USA. )  Download zip file here.

New DOJ Report: Gang Information Management System Needed

Review of the Department’s Anti-Gang Intelligence and Coordination Centers

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General just released this report which examines the intelligence and coordination activities of the National Gang Intelligence Center and the Gang Targeting, Enforcement, and Coordination Center. Additionally, the review “assesses the effectiveness of their contributions to the Department’s anti-gang initiatives.”

The review found that, although located in the same office, both NGIC and GangTECC are not collaborating or sharing information. The review also found that NGIC, perceived as an Federal Bureau of Investigation organization, does not effectively share intelligence with other law enforcement agencies, and that GangTECC has no budget, hindering its ability to carry out its mission. It recommends the development of a gang information management system.

According to the 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment, criminal gangs commit as much as 80 percent of the crime in many communities.

 

New Audit Report on FBI’s ‘Sentinel’ Case Management System

Sentinel Audit V: Status of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Case Management System

This Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General audit report is the fifth in a series of reports assessing the FBI’s ‘Sentinel’ case management system.

“The objectives of this current audit, the fifth in our ongoing review of Sentinel’s progress, were to: evaluate the FBI’s implementation of Phase 2 of the Sentinel project, including the project’s cost, schedule, and performance; and assess the FBI’s progress in resolving concerns identified in the OIG’s previous Sentinel audits.”

See the FBI’s Response to this Audit (Released Today)

 

ACLU Sues FBI for Imprisonment of New Jersey Man in Africa

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit [1] against the Federal Bureau of Investigation, saying it illegally detained and mistreated an American, Amir Meshal, who was held in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia for four months in 2007 before being released.

According to the ACLU’s complaint, which was filed in district court in Washington this afternoon, Meshal, who is now 26, traveled to Mogadishu, the Somalian capital, in 2006, to study Islam. In January 2007, he fled Somalia after fighting flared up in the country’s long-run­­ning civil war. He was arrested in Kenya by a joint U.S.-Kenyan-Ethiopian operation, the complaint alleges, then was transferred first to Somalia and later to Ethiopia. The lawsuit said he was interrogated more than 30 times by U.S. officials, including two FBI agents, who threatened him with torture and execution and denied him access to an attorney. Meshal, of Tinton Falls, N.J., was released that May and returned to the United States.

The complaint alleges that Meshal’s detention and treatment “was at the direction or behest of U.S. officials, or carried out with their active and substantial participation.” The ACLU identifies two FBI agents by name, as well as two unknown employees of the U.S. government.

Continue reading

SF soldier arrested after C-4 found near house

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Special Forces soldier was arrested Monday after a pair of hunters found about 100 pounds of explosives outside his home near Fort Campbell.

Timothy Ryan Richards was charged with possessing two unregistered guns, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent Eric Kehn said he expects Richards will face more charges related to the explosives.

A sworn statement said agents found about 100 pounds of explosives — including C-4, a plastic explosive commonly used by the military. The material was sealed in watertight containers and partially buried near his home outside of Clarksville, near the sprawling Army post on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line.

Joel Siskovic, a spokesman for the FBI in Tennessee, said agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force were called to the scene, but determined there was no terrorism connection.

According to police, two hunters found the explosives early Sunday morning and alerted the sheriff’s department.

ATF agents contacted Richards and he told agents that he had placed the explosives there, according to the affidavit.

Agents also found a 5.56mm caliber rifle and a .45 caliber machine gun inside his home.

Maj. April Olsen, a spokeswoman for the Army Special Forces at Fort Campbell, confirmed that he was a member of the 5th Special Forces Group, but his age and rank weren’t immediately available.

Continue reading

FBI Demands Tattoo Shops Rat On Customers

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, in league with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (part of the Department of Justice), has launched a program that harks back to East Germany’s Stasi.

In Philadelphia, the FBI has instructed tattoo shops to rat out their customers if they demand privacy, insist on paying with cash, engage in “suspicious behavior,” make “anti-US” comments, or request tattoos that are “extremist symbols.”

According to the Missouri Information Analysis Center report, the Gadsden flag is a “militia symbol.” The Department of Homeland Security’s Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment report characterizes militias as “white supremacists,” domestic terrorists and a threat to the president. MIAC is part of the federal “fusion” effort now underway around the country.

It is not merely “extremist symbols.” In addition, the FBI literature instructs tattoo shops to be on the look-out for people who change hair color, style of dress, or shave beards between visits. Suspicious people also include those with missing fingers or hands, chemical burns, strange orders or bright colored stains on clothing.

Read the handout below for more absurd “extremist” indicators according to the FBI.

Continue reading

Q&A With FBI Director Mueller

As a result of polygraph testing, more than a thousand applications for employment at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been rejected or otherwise terminated in the last year alone, the FBI told Congress last month.  Polygraph testing has been the single largest reason for discontinuing an application, well ahead of administrative or medical issues, use or sale of illegal drugs, or other suitability or security issues. In Fiscal Year 2009, 339 special agent applicants were turned away on polygraph-related grounds, and 825 professional support applications were similarly discontinued.

These data were presented in responses to questions for the record (pdf) from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing (pdf) last March, and were transmitted to Congress on behalf of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on September 15, 2009.

Most of the congressional questions, on everything from Freedom of Information Act compliance to detainee interrogation, are focused and pointed.  Some of the answers are informative and occasionally even startling.

Each day between March 2008 and March 2009, Director Mueller told the Committee, “there were an average of more than 1,600 nominations for inclusion on the [Terrorist] watchlist,” as well as 4,800 proposed modifications of existing records, and 600 proposed removals.  “Each nomination for addition [to the watchlist] does not necessarily represent a new individual,” Mueller cautioned, “but may instead involve an alias or name variant for a previously watchlisted person.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers