Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

Sandra Bland’s Alleged Suicide Is Now Officially Being Investigated as a Murder

In U.S. Politics on July 21, 2015 at 11:16 AM

Image Credit: Facebook


On Monday afternoon, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis announced the death of Sandra Bland, which was initially ruled a suicide, would be treated “as it would be in a murder investigation.” Mathis also said while the Texas Rangers were leading the investigation, the FBI was now supervising it.

“It is very much too early to make any kind of determination that this was a suicide or a murder because the investigations are not complete,” Mathis reportedly said at a press conference.

On July 10, police officers pulled over Sandra Bland for failing to indicate before changing lanes in Waller County, Texas. She was violently arrested, according to a passerby’s video, after becoming allegedly combative with the arresting officer. She was found dead in her jail cell three days later.

After discussing Bland with those closest to her and those who saw her before she died, including her bail bondsman, Mathis decided her death warranted a thorough investigation.

“There are many questions being raised in Waller County, across the country and the world about this case. It needs a thorough review,” Mathis said. “It will go to a grand jury.”

A still from a passerby’s video recording of Bland’s arrest | Source: YouTube

Waller County authorities claimed Bland committed suicide by hanging herself with a trash bag, but Bland’s family and friend’s vehemently deny she would have killed herself.

“The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide and Sandy would not have taken her own life,” longtime friend LaNitra Dean told WLS. “Sandy was strong. Strong mentally and spiritually.”

“There are too many questions that need to be resolved. Ms. Bland’s family does make valid points. She did have a lot of things going on in her life for good,” Mathis said, according to the Texas Tribune.

In Bland’s case, placing her in jail demanded charging her with assaulting a public servant, which would classify her as “high risk.” As she was reportedly the only woman in the jail who was regarded as high risk, she was held on her own in a separate cell designated for such inmates.

Sandra Bland
Source: Walker County Sheriff’s Office

A dashboard video to be released on Tuesday allegedly reveals Bland to be combative with Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Brian Encinia, the man who pulled her over. However, once Bland was placed under arrest, there were at least two violations in protocol. After her death, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards examined the Waller County Jail’s logs and discovered staff were insufficiently trained regarding inmates’ health services and the observation rules for inmates were broken.

The country has been using social media to demand a fair and thorough investigation with hashtags such as #WhatHappenedToSandraBland and #IfIDieInPoliceCustody, so many will likely see the District Attorney’s recent announcement as a step towards clearing up some of the questions surrounding this case.

White Supremacist Starts Legal Defense Fund After FBI Visit About Dylann Roof

In U.S. Politics on July 8, 2015 at 8:31 AM


TPM Muckraker

Don Black, the former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon who founded the online forum two decades ago, said Tuesday on his online radio show that its commenters’ right to free speech was “under attack.” But he was vague about just what imminent legal challenge the website faced.

“We are under legal attack and we do have to have a defense,” he said. “We’re not going to just sit back and let the government do whatever it wants in lockstep with much of the media.”

Black said that on Independence Day he made an appeal to Stormfront’s “sustaining members,” or commenters who’ve previously donated to the site, to contribute to the legal defense fund. In that appeal, which was obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Black wrote that “Stormfront’s existence is threatened now more than ever in its history.”

“I can’t discuss any details for the usual lawyerly reasons, but the assault has begun,” he added, as quoted by the SPLC. “I don’t know how far it will go or where it will end.”

The Stormfront founder recently told The New York Times that the FBI visited his West Palm Beach, Florida home last week. He told the newspaper that the agents were seeking information about Charleston shooter Dylann Roof’s online associations, but wouldn’t comment on whether he received a subpoena.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the legal defense fund was related to the reported FBI visit to Black’s home. Black did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment from TPM.

Roof’s connection to Stormfront.org also remains unclear. A chilling manifesto that was apparently written by Roof before the July 17 shooting at Emanuel AME Church specifically credited a group called the Council of Conservative Citizens with opening the author’s eyes to black-on-white crime. An analysis by the SPLC further found that passages from the manifesto, which was published at a site called lastrhodesian.com, closely resembled comments published by a user named “Aryanblood1488” on The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi forum.

Black alluded to the shooting, which left nine black parishioners dead, on Tuesday’s radio show.

“There are attempts to shut us down effectively by associating — by calling the truth ‘hate speech.’ That’s the method being used and suggesting that hate speech is illegal,” he said. “Telling the truth about race, telling the truth about the racial reality of crime is illegal because, well, it might cause somebody to get so outraged. Some mentally unbalanced person. He might do something illegal. He might go out and commit murder.”

In his interview with the Times, Black said he was concerned that a federal investigation into the shooter’s online associations could have a chilling effect on online commenters. He further suggested Tuesday that the specter of a federal inquiry could scare off people from posting in the public Stormfront forums.

“I didn’t want to immediately post in the public side of the board because our people are a little timid,” Black said on his radio show. “People coming to the board might get scared off if I start talking about government crackdowns that have to be fought with a legal defense fund.”


Why the FBI’s Suicide Note to MLK Still Matters

In Jr., Martin Luther King on November 15, 2014 at 4:26 PM

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. |  Express Newspapers/Getty

I had actually forgotten about this for a while. I first learned of it in a Black Studies class in College then on  a television documentary…

The Daily Beast ~ Nick Gillespie

A reminder that Washington has been toying with and lying to Americans for a long, long time.

The more we learn about the government these days, the less we can trust it. Forget about the simple incompetence that used to fire up libertarian critics of an expansive government—that’s a complaint that seems almost quaint given recent and ongoing revelations about official fraud and deception. It’s looking more and more like the government tends toward evil and mean-spiritedness, and it’s going to take real change to reverse eroding faith among citizens.

Though it was sent 50 long years ago, the FBI’s so-called suicide letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. is very much of a piece with today’s America, where fear of and anger toward the government casts a shadow over everything from web-surfing to starting a business. Historian Beverly Gage and The New York Times have just published an unredacted version of the anonymous November, 1964 letter almost certainly sent by the FBI to Martin Luther King, Jr. a few weeks before the civil rights leader was set to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

The typo-laden note pretends to be from a black American repulsed by King’s “psychotic” sexuality and warns that he will be unmasked as a “filthy, abnormal animal” unless he kills himself. “King you are done,” reads the letter, drawing on surveillance and wiretaps approved by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and President Lyndon Johnson. “There is but one way out for you,” the note continues. “You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

In the 21st century, we worry less about the government ratting out our sex lives and more about it tapping our phones, reading our emails, secretly dispatching drones abroad, sending “desperate and dumb” mash notes to Iranian fascists, and generally lying about its true goals and actions. “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles” announced theTimes in 2012, clearly uncomfortable with the implications of its own expose (“Secret ‘Kill List’ Reveals Obama’s Principles” would have been more accurate).

So it’s fitting that the letter to King, one of the government’s most despicable acts of domestic surveillance, has only fully come to light in the age of Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, and what Barack Obama promised was going to be the “most transparent administration” in U.S. history.

Alas, when it comes to openness, Barack Obama  neglected to mention that the most disturbing revelations would happen in spite of—not because of—his actions. We didn’t learn that  the president’s former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, former CIA director Keith Alexander, and current CIA director John Brennan all lied to Congress because the administration suddenly decided to come clean.

And it’s not just unseemly cloak-and-dagger stuff in an age of terrorism that’s causing trust issues. MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who helped create the Affordable Care Act, has rightfully come under fire for admitting that the “lack of transparency” in Obamacare was a political strategy designed to take advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter.” Nancy Pelosi, who was speaker of the House when Obamacare passed, has carried the deception further still, falsely saying that “I don’t know who [Gruber] is” and that “he didn’t help write our bill” —claims that were immediately revealed as false after about 10 seconds of Googling.

A new survey by The Atlantic of 50 “Silicon Valley Insiders”—“executives, innovators, and thinkers”–asks respondents to name “the biggest barrier to innovation in the United States.” The top three answers are “government regulation/bureaucracy” (20 percent), “immigration policies” (16 percent), and “education” (14 percent). Given the role it plays in setting immigration policy and controlling education at all levels through a mix of money and mandates, that means government takes the gold, silver, and bronze medals at making life harder.

It’s not just tech gazillionaires who feel this way. Gallup annually asks jes’ plain folks, “Which of the following do you think is the biggest threat to the country in the future—big business, big labor, or big government?” Last December, a record-high 72 percent chose big government. That’s more than double the figure Gallup recorded when the FBI was listening to Martin Luther King’s heavy-breathing sessions. These days, says Pew Research, just 2 percent (!) of us trust the government “to just about always” do the right thing.

Fifty years ago—again, right around the time that the FBI was about to become the subject of a hagiographic hit TV show and trying to goad Martin Luther King, Jr. into killing himself—Richard Hofstadter was denouncing the “paranoid style in American politics,”. He lamented that, “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”

But today’s lack of trust and confidence in the government doesn’t seem all that angry. It’s more like we’re resigned to the fact that our rulers think little of us—that is, when they think of us at all. In gaining new knowledge about how people in power almost always behave, we are wiser and sadder and, one hopes, much less likely to put up with bullshit from the left, right, or center.

There’s a real opportunity to the politicians, the parties, and the causes that dare to embrace real transparency —about how legislation is being crafted, about our surveillance programs at home and abroad—as a core value and something other than a throwaway slogan. But as an unbroken thread of mendacity and mischief binds the present to the past, a future in which government can be trusted seems farther off than ever.

Police killings highest in two decades

In Police v Minority Males, Young Black Males on November 12, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Ferguson demonstrator | (Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

USA Today

WASHINGTON — The number of felony suspects fatally shot by police last year — 461— was the most in two decades, according to a new FBI report.

The justifiable homicide count, contained in the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report, has become increasingly scrutinized in recent months as questions continue to be raised about the use of lethal force by law enforcement.

National attention has been drawn to cases from New York to Albuquerque, though much of the focus is on Ferguson, Mo., where the restive St. Louis suburb awaits the decision of a grand jury weighing the fatal shooting in August of a black teenager by a white police officer.

The death of Michael Brown prompted weeks of protests and larger questions about the operations of a largely white department working in a majority African-American community. The Justice Department is conducting a parallel inquiry into the shooting Aug. 9 and a broader review into Ferguson law enforcement operations and whether the department has engaged in a pattern or practice of discriminatory policing.

This year, a USA TODAY analysis of the FBI’s justifiable homicide database during a seven-year period ending in 2012 found an average of 96 incidents each year in which a white officer killed a black person.

The new 2013 total of justifiable killings represents the third consecutive increase in the annual toll. Criminal justice analysts said the inherent limitations of the database — the killings are self-reported by law enforcement, and not all police agencies participate in the annual counts — continue to frustrate efforts to identify the universe of lethal force incidents involving police.


University of Nebraska criminologist Samuel Walker said the incomplete nature of the data renders the recent spike in such deaths even more difficult to explain.

“It could be as simple as more departments are reporting,” Walker said.

The Nebraska criminologist has been among the most vocal advocates calling for an all-inclusive national database to closely track deadly force incidents involving police.

“It is irresponsible that we don’t have a complete set of numbers,” Walker said. “Whether the numbers are up, down or stable, this (national database) needs to be done. … This is a scandal.”

University of South Carolina criminologist Geoff Alpert, who has long studied police use of deadly force, said the latest number of justifiable homicides, while increasing, still likely represents a significant under-counting.

He said most major agencies have strongly supported close tracking of deadly force incidents. But he said the majority of police agencies in the country are small — with fewer than 50 officers — and their reporting practices involving such cases are not always uniform.

“Unfortunately, I think there has to be a government mandate for this kind of reporting that ties the responsibility to the communities’ eligibility to receive federal funds.” Alpert said. “It has to happen, because it has gotten to be an embarrassment.”

At least seven U.S. police departments have been the subjects of federal reviews in the wake of fatal police shootings since 2010.

In addition to Ferguson, one of the broadest examinations has been occurring in Albuquerque where the Justice Department last month announced an agreement that requires the city’s troubled police agency to transform its lethal force policy.

Since 2009, according to municipal records, Albuquerque officers have been involved in nearly 50 shootings, with at least 32 resulting in death, including several mentally ill suspects.

Michael Grimm Barred From Entering FBI Offices Where He Claims He Left On Good Terms

In Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) on May 8, 2014 at 10:17 AM

The Washington Post via Getty Images

The plot thickens for “Mickey Suits” (aka Michael Grimm)…

The Huffington Post

Rep. Michael Grimm, who quit as an FBI agent eight years ago, was barred from returning to its New York field offices — even after he was elected to Congress, DNAinfo New York has learned.

Federal security personnel at the FBI’s headquarters in Lower Manhattan and a satellite office in Kew Gardens, Queens, posted Grimm’s photo inside their glass-enclosed stations in the event he showed up, sources said.

They were under orders to stop him and to immediately notify higher authorities on what further action to take, according to the sources.

“He is not permitted in our space,” one source told “On The Inside.”

“He is not welcome,” a former top FBI official said.

Last week, Grimm was slapped with a 20-count federal indictment that accused him of hiding $1 million in revenue at “Healthalicious,” an Upper East Side restaurant that he owned, and cheating on taxes.

Grimm has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has vowed to run for re-election later this year to retain his Congressional seat as a Republican representing Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.

Sources say Grimm’s FBI identification picture was posted shortly after he resigned from the bureau in 2006 and now hangs with about two dozen other ex-agents and federal employees.

“They are all employees who were fired, or they were under circumstances where they were forced out or felt they should leave, and all are no longer welcome back,” the former FBI official explained.

Grimm’s spokesman said the congressman was unaware that his photo was posted at FBI security checkpoints and he had no idea why it should be.

Grimm insists that he left the bureau on good terms because he wanted to get married and start a family. That relationship eventually fell apart.

“False rumors and malicious lies relating to the congressman’s tenure in the FBI have been reported on since 2010 and have been repeatedly refuted,” the spokesman said.

“Fortunately, the congressman has more than three years of a tremendous track record delivering real, tangible results for the people he represents — they are proud of him and he is proud to represent them.”

The spokesman also provided a letter on FBI stationery dated Feb. 16, 2012 that states Grimm “resigned his post in good stading with the FBI.”

An FBI spokesman declined comment.

A former Marine who served in the 1992 Gulf War and a lawyer, Grimm penetrated the Gambino Crime Family while with the FBI and unearthed evidence against John Gotti’s brother, Peter.

In this role, the hoods dubbed him “Mickey Suits” because of his penchant for flashy tailored clothes.

He also went undercover in “Operation Wooden Nickel,” during which he spent two years posing as a dirty currency trader, bringing down 50 white collar crooks in 2003.

Sources say Grimm, 44, was under internal scrutiny before he quit over allegations that he told a woman whom he met during a probe that he worked undercover — a violation of FBI protocol.

The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility was also questioning so-called “voucher” expenses he submitted in connection with his undercover roles.

The sources believe the pressure of the inquiry played a role in his decision to exit the FBI — an agency he often professed to love, his colleagues noted — without getting a pension because he didn’t serve 20 years.

Whatever the reason he left the bureau, FBI officials placed him on their “not welcome” list.

“Some of us thought it was kind of a joke after he was elected to Congress that his picture stayed up,” the former FBI official said.

According to his bio, Grimm joined the FBI as a clerk in 1991 and became an agent four years later. After exiting the bureau in 2006, he ventured into the private sector, launching businesses in Texas and opening the small Upper East Side health food restaurant “Healthalicious.”

He was elected to Congress in January 2011.

While becoming a popular figure and guest on numerous television talk shows, Grimm’s stint in Washington was not without controversy and turmoil.

An ex-girlfriend from Texas, Diana Durand, has been indicted in connection with alleged campaign finance irregularities.  He also famously threatened an NY1 reporter on camera, and later apologized.

And the federal investigation that uncovered the alleged  “Healthalicious” criminal activity is continuing, officials say.

Rep. Michael Grimm, facing federal charges, surrenders to FBI

In Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) on April 28, 2014 at 8:15 AM

Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.) faces federal charges related to his past ownership of a restaurant in Manhattan. | Carolyn Kaster/AP

Mr. Tough Guy turns himself in…

The Washington Post

Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.) surrendered Monday morning to federal authorities in New York as he faces multiple charges connected to a restaurant business he operated before entering Congress in 2011, according to sources familiar with the long-running probe into the lawmaker’s finances.

Grimm spent much of the weekend hunkered down, bracing for the unveiling of the federal charges, which were due to be disclosed after his surrender. He turned himself in to the FBI at an undisclosed location Monday morning and was taken to Lower Manhattan for processing. The charges stem from his ownership of a Manhattan health-food restaurant that has ties to an Israeli fundraiser who served as a liaison between Grimm and a mystic, celebrity rabbi whose followers donated more than $500,000 to Grimm’s campaign in 2010.

While the investigation has focused on Grimm’s fundraising, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch is expected to announce an indictment centered on his restaurant business, which Grimm launched after leaving the FBI in 2006, according to officials familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the pending charges.

The state fined the Upper East Side restaurant, Healthalicious, $88,000 for not providing workers compensation. In a lawsuit against the company, workers accused the owners of not paying proper wages and sometimes giving out cash payments to skirt tax and business laws.

It is unclear whether federal prosecutors will eventually expand the charges to encompass Grimm’s campaign activities, but investigators have been moving on that side of the case against several key players, some with ties to the restaurant.

New York FBI spokesman Peter Donald declined to comment.

Healthalicious was run by a Grimm company that was connected to another company affiliated with Israeli fundraiser Ofer Biton. Last August, Biton pleaded guilty to filing false documents in 2010 when he sought an investor visa. The plea ended a standoff of several months, during which prosecutors asserted that Biton was not cooperating in their Grimm investigation.

Biton often served as a go-between for Grimm, a Roman Catholic, and followers of Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, a multi-millionaire celebrity rabbi with a strong following in the United States. Pinto is currently in discussions with officials in Israel over a plea deal in a case involving alleged bribery of police leaders there, according to Israeli reports. Pinto has congregations and charitable institutions in the United States and Israel, according to the Associated Press, and reportedly has close relationships with many business leaders, politicians and celebrities, including the Miami Heat’s LeBron James. Forbes Israel recently ranked Pinto as Israel’s seventh-richest rabbi, with a net worth of about $21 million.

The donations from Pinto’s followers proved crucial for Grimm in his 2010 campaign, his first political race, demonstrating to party leaders that he was a viable candidate. He narrowly beat the Democratic incumbent after a campaign that he devoted to his own biography, trumpeting his background as a Marine and an undercover FBI agent as a sign of his ethical standing.

On Friday, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York unsealed an indictment against Diana Durand, a close friend of Grimm’s, alleging that the Houston businesswoman ran a straw-donor scheme that brought in more than $10,000 to Grimm’s 2010 campaign. The charges included lying to investigators in 2012 when they asked about her alleged reimbursement of Grimm donors.

While Grimm’s attorney has proclaimed the lawmaker’s innocence, the charges and the investigation have provided an opening for his Democratic opponent, former New York City councilman Domenic Recchia, who barnstormed the congressional district over the weekend. Recchia bounced around Staten Island and the southern end of Brooklyn, concluding the weekend at a charity event Sunday evening at the Yellow Hook Grille in Brooklyn. Upon his arrival, a waitress rushed up to Recchia and expressed interest in volunteering with his campaign.

Already inclined to support Recchia, Jessica Hauser told him that the arrival of new charges in the Grimm case “makes me extra inclined to volunteer.”

Recchia has tried to keep the campaign focused on kitchen-table issues, but he took indirect swipes at the congressman’s legal problems. “It’s very troubling what has transpired,” he said, suggesting that the criminal case will make it harder for Grimm to serve his constituents. “They want someone who is going to focus on them 100 percent.”

Despite Grimm’s legal predicament, Republicans are probably stuck with the embattled congressman on the ballot because the filing deadline for candidates passed two weeks ago. Some New York Republicans are angry about the timing of the charges, fearful that the case could get worse and leave them without a viable candidate in November. Grimm is the only Republican who represents any part of New York City.

The lawmaker’s attorney, William McGinley, denies that Grimm violated any laws and predicted that he “will be vindicated” when the case is concluded.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has not spoken to Grimm about the indictment, according to aides. Neither Boehner nor Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has commented about Grimm’s future. The National Republican Congressional Committee has declined to comment on the case. In some previous ethics cases, Boehner has called for lawmakers to resign or removed them from their committee assignments.

Grimm sits on the Financial Services Committee, which oversees Wall Street and the banking industry.

Despite the investigation, Grimm has remained a prolific fundraiser. Through March 31, he brought in more than $1.8 million for his reelection campaign and had more than $1.1 million in his account. However, the case has left a cloud over his political finances.

He paid $50,000 to McGinley’s law firm, Patton Boggs, in the last quarter, and his campaign reports show that he owes an additional $417,000 to the firm.

Al Sharpton: I’m No Snitch

In Rev. Al Sharpton on April 8, 2014 at 11:09 AM

Najlah Feanny/Corbis

I actually find this entire thing hilarious.  I’m not a Sharpton fan and as Dr. Rex would say: It is what it is

The Daily Beast

The reverend tells The Daily Beast he never ratted out the Mafia to the FBI, but The Smoking Gun, which made the charges, is sticking to its story.
“If I brought down the Mob,” the Rev. Al Sharpton demanded on Monday, “I want my ticker tape parade.”

The civil rights activist and MSNBC host was referring, facetiously, to TheSmokingGun.com’s meticulously detailed, epic account, rife with court documents and law enforcement sourcing, of Sharpton’s apparent four-year career in the 1980s as one of the FBI’s more valuable mafia informants—a narrative that can best be described as The Sopranos meets American Hustle.

It’s a colorful chronicle that features con men and homicidal hoodlums with nicknames—as the Smoking Gun points out—such as “Benny Eggs,” “Chin,” “Fritzy,” “Corky,” and “Baldy Dom.” Also in the mix are famous performers like James Brown, the young Sharpton’s mentor and benefactor; Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis Jr., and rascally boxing promoter Don King, another associate of the fledgling Baptist minister.

The latest inconvenient revelation is another chapter of Sharpton’s checkered past coming back to haunt him—or maybe just throwing into sharp relief his amazing rise from rabble-rousing street preacher to member of the Democratic Party establishment as well as anchor of his own weeknight MSNBC program, PoliticsNation. MSNBC had no response to the Smoking Gun’s storyYet a screaming headline on the Drudge Report—SHARPTON WAS FBI MOB RAT—was hardly an auspicious way to begin a momentous week.

On Friday, President Obama—who has hosted Sharpton repeatedly at the White House, including at a recent dinner for the president of France—is scheduled to address the civil rights entrepreneur’s National Action Network convention at Manhattan’s Times Square Sheraton, where Education Secretary Arne Duncan and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, among other political and media luminaries, are also expected to kiss the ring during the 4-day confab.

“The government was trying to entrap a civil rights kid on some crimes that were never committed, and failed to trap him. That’s the unsaid part of it: Why did they go after Sharpton in the first place? What was the crime?”

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Sharpton called the Smoking Gun’s story—versions of which have been circulating in the media for the past 26 years—“embellished,” “a stretch,” and “crazy.” He denied that he ever knowingly snitched on wiseguys for the FBI.

But William Bastone, the Smoking Gun’s founder and the story’s author, insisted: “If he didn’t think he was an informant, the ‘Genovese squad’ of the FBI and NYPD officials sure knew him to be an informant. He was paid to be an informant, he carried a briefcase with a recording device in it, and he made surreptitious tape recordings of a Gambino crime family member 10 separate times as an informant. He did it at the direction of the FBI, he was prepped by the FBI, was handed the briefcase by the FBI and was debriefed after the meetings. That’s an informant.”

Bastone reported that Sharpton secretly taped Gambino family member Joseph Buonanno, who went by “Joe Bana,” in ten face-to-face meetings as the mobster gossiped about blackmail, mob executions, shylocking and other criminal activities under the leadership of Vincent “Chin” Gigante. Sharpton, by most accounts a skilled interlocutor who knew how to “play dumb” and draw out his conversation partners, received small payments from his FBI handlers— “walking around money,” Bastone wrote.

He cites several other instances in which Sharpton’s recordings and other tips, based on his business and social contacts with members of four of New York’s five major crime families, led to wiretaps and convictions of key mobsters. One of them, Genovese soldier Federico “Fritzy” Giovanelli, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for racketeering, in large measure because of court-approved wiretaps obtained with the help of Sharpton’s information.

Giovanelli, now 82 and three years out of prison, was in a joking mood when Bastone asked his reaction to the television’s host’s hidden role in his prosecution: “Poor Sharpton, he cleaned up his life and you want to ruin him,” Fritzy chided Bastone with a laugh.

Indeed, at 59, Sharpton has proved himself a miracle-worker in the art of reinvention—or, as he put it on Monday, “I’ve been able to make the transition, but I did it on my own.” He has, for one thing, shed half his 300-pound body weight since his troublemaking days as an angry outsider and exchanged those slovenly tracksuits for elegantly tailored duds. Hardly anyone, certainly no polite person, ever mentions the Tawana Brawley hoax anymore.

On Monday, however, Sharpton found himself doing energetic damage control regarding the Smoking Gun’s story. In interviews, he portrayed himself as a concerned citizen who, as a self-described “civil rights kid” of 29, reached out to the Feds after his life was threatened by mobsters, in order to expose a criminal conspiracy in the music business to cheat African American performers and promoters out of fair compensation.

He did so, he argued, at the risk of life and limb—and certainly there’s little doubt what might have happened to him if his gangster contacts thought he was dropping a dime on them. Even Bastone seemed to acknowledge that with some of the targeted mob figures alive and kicking, simple prudence might make Sharpton believe he should continue to deny a secret arrangement with the FBI and stick to the cover story he included in his 1996 autobiography, Go and Tell Pharaoh, and last year’s best-seller, The Rejected Stone.

“Yes, you’d want to keep that on the QT,” Bastone said. “But time has moved on from when he did it. Perhaps the danger has subsided.” Still, Barone said such concerns don’t justify Sharpton’s “going out of his way to deny it.”

“I think they take a lot of leaps here,” Sharpton said about the Smoking Gun, which asserted that the young activist was “flipped” by the FBI and coerced into being an informant after blundering into a sting operation in which an undercover agent, pretending to be a drug lord, got him on videotape apparently countenancing the idea of taking a 10 percent cut for helping in the importation of “pure coke” at $35,000 a kilo.

But the Smoking Gun concedes that a successful prosecution would have been iffy, at best, based on the video, in which Sharpton merely nodded, said “I hear you,” and speculated on the market needs of an unnamed buyer: “If he’s gonna do it, he’ll do it much more than that.” For years Sharpton has claimed that far from being intimidated by the FBI into becoming an informant, he dared the agents, “Indict me.” That never happened.

“The government was trying to entrap a civil rights kid on some crimes that were never committed, and failed to trap him,” Sharpton said on Monday. “That’s the unsaid part of it: Why did they go after Sharpton in the first place? What was the crime?” He added: “The one interesting thing that we’re looking at, three decades later, is that no one can identify, with all of the documents Bastone’s got, what it is they came after me for? There is no crime here.”

FBI Arrests 18 L.A. Sherriff’s Deputies in Corruption/Inmate Abuse Investigation

In LAPD, Prison Industrial Complex on December 9, 2013 at 3:49 PM

It’s good to read how the tables can turn on the bad apples in law enforcement…

Daily Kos

One small blow, perhaps, to the burgeoning Prison Industrial Complex. From NBC News:

Nearly 20 L.A. current and former sheriff’s deputies were expected to be arrested Monday in connection with a two-year- federal probe into corruption and inmate abuse in the Los Angeles County jail system, law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said Monday.Some 18 deputies, most still active in the department, were either arrested without incident or were expected to surrender Monday to agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to the sources. None of those arrested ranked higher than lieutenant.

The sources said that the deputies are alleged to have committed crimes that include use of force under color of authority and obstruction of justice. The investigation is ongoing, according to sources, but the arrests seem to culminate an investigation that included allegations that deputies tried to hide an informant who was providing information to the FBI while locked up after the deputies discovered the informant had a cell phone.


According to the article, the informant was using his cellphone to provide the FBI with photos of the ongoing inmate abuse.

The article also says that much of the onus of these arrests will fall on L.A. Chief Sheriff Lee Baca, who is seeking a fifth term. In June, the Justice Department caught some of his deputies harassing and intimidating Blacks and Latinos in L.A.’s Antelope Valley district.

Second Boston Marathon suspect now in custody: Summary

In Boston Marathon Bombings on April 20, 2013 at 8:37 AM

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev in ambulance after being taken into custody

Daily Kos

A brief summary of today’s events for those who were unable to follow them throughout the day. Here’s hoping this wraps up a truly monstrous week.

  • After a shootout with police that left Tamerlan Tsarnaev (“Suspect 1”) dead last evening, today began with a street-to-street search for the remaining suspect in Watertown and a stay-indoors order in place for all of Boston.
  • A hero: Jeff Bauman lost both legs in the bombing, as was evidenced by several of the most grisly post-bombing pictures. After waking up in the hospital, however, he was still able to deliver crucial information to the FBI:

    “He woke up under so much drugs, asked for a paper and pen and wrote, ‘bag, saw the guy, looked right at me,’” [his brother] Chris Bauman said yesterday in an interview.

    Bauman was able to give a description of the man, allowing investigators to narrow their focus. He is also facing major medical needs, and his friends have set up a a fundraiser for those expenses: you can contribute here.

  • Late today, the FBI confirmed that the older brother, Tamerian, had been interviewed two years ago. According to CBS, the interview was done “at the request of a foreign country about possible extremist ties“, but no such ties were found.
  • By the afternoon, the trail had seemingly gone cold. Police lifted the stay-indoors order at slightly after 6 PM local time; less than an hour later, a call to police from an alert resident reporting blood in or near a backyard boat led to an immediate police response and another shootout.
  • The suspect was soon confirmed to be Dzhokar Tsarnaev, hiding in the boat. After an extended standoff, he was captured alive this evening and transported to a nearby hospital, where he is reported in “serious” condition.
  • In remarks late this evening, President Obama pledged: “We will determine how this happened. We will investigate any associations that these terrorists may have had.”

This story is far from over, of course. But both main suspects have now been accounted for.


FBI: Poison Letter Sent to Obama

In Contaminated Letters To Politicians on April 17, 2013 at 4:30 PM

The Daily Beast

Just one day after a mysterious letter sent to Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker was found to contain ricin, the FBI announced the discovery of another poison-laced letter—this one meant for President Obama.

Several other senators reported receiving suspicious mail Wednesday as well.  A spokesman for the FBI announced that early tests on the Obama letter showed signs of ricin.

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president had been briefed on the letter, but deferred all other questions to the FBI, which is conducting the investigation. The disturbing discovery comes just one day after authorities intercepted a note meant for Wicker, which was also found to contain ricin. Whether the letters are connected to the deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon remains unclear.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,196 other followers

%d bloggers like this: