Mike Carter reports: Veteran Seattle police Officer Alex Chapackdee is accused of helping his brother-in-law and others smuggle at least 100 kilograms of marijuana to the East Coast. In return, Chapackdee was paid $10,000 a month, charges allege.
Federal prosecutors will ask that a suspended Seattle police officer charged with being part of a large-scale East Coast marijuana smuggling ring be held in jail pending trial.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida set a detention hearing Friday for Alex Chapackdee, who faces a mandatory-minimum five-year federal prison sentence — and perhaps up to 40 years — for his role in allegedly transporting hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Washington to Baltimore then driving back with boxes of cash. The court also could impose a fine of up to $5 million if he’s found guilty.
Chapackdee, a veteran Seattle police officer, appeared briefly in U.S. District Court in Seattle Monday afternoon along with three co-defendants named in a 15-page complaint unsealed Monday. He was arrested last Friday and suspended from duty without pay.
More than two dozens shocked friends and family members crowded Tsuchida’s courtroom during the brief hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Vince Lombardi said the serious allegations and significant penalty prompted him to seek detention for all four defendants. Read the rest of this entry »
Richard A. Serrano, Richard Winton, Sarah Parvini and James Queally report: An examination of digital equipment recovered from the home of the couple who killed 14 people in San Bernardino last week has led FBI investigators to believe the shooters were planning an even larger assault, according to federal government sources.
Investigators on Thursday continued to search for digital footprints left by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, scouring a downtown San Bernardino lake for electronic items, including a hard drive that the couple was hoping to destroy, sources told The Times.
FBI agents will probably spend days searching Seccombe Lake and canvassing the neighborhood for clues after receiving a tip that the couple may have visited the area on the day of the attack, according to David Bowdich, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.
Farook and Malik were in the final planning stages of an assault on a location or building that housed a lot more people than the Inland Regional Center, possibly a nearby school or college, according to federal sources familiar with the widening investigation.
Investigators have based that conclusion on evidence left behind on Farook and Malik’s computers and digital devices, not all of which the couple were able to destroy before they were killed in a firefight with police, the sources said.
Images of San Bernardino-area schools were found on a cellphone belonging to Farook, according to a law enforcement source. But the source cautioned that Farook may have had a legitimate reason to have the images because his work as a county health inspector involved checking on school dining facilities.
On Thursday, one of the federal government sources told The Times that Farook asked his friend and neighbor, Enrique Marquez, to buy two military-style rifles used in the attacks because he feared he “wouldn’t pass a background check” if he attempted to acquire the weapons on his own. The rifles were bought at a local gun store, the source said.
The timing of the rifle purchases is significant to FBI investigators. Another federal government source previously told The Times that Farook may have been considering a separate terror plot in 2011 or 2012.
Farook was self-radicalizing around that time, FBI Director James Comey said, and met Malik soon after, eventually escorting her to the United States. Farook was a practicing Muslim. Marquez converted to Islam around the time he purchased the weapons, sources have told The Times.
FBI agents believe Farook abandoned his plans to launch the earlier attack after a law enforcement task force arrested three men in Chino in November 2012. The men were later convicted of charges related to providing material support to terrorists and plotting to kill Americans in Afghanistan. A fourth man arrested in Afghanistan also was convicted in the scheme. Read the rest of this entry »
CHICAGO (CBS) — Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges he paid hush money to conceal wrongdoing before he entered politics, and lied to the FBI when questioned about the money.
Dressed in a dark blue suit, the 73-year-old Hastert appeared frail, hunching over as he walked through a crowd of photographers and reporters waiting outside the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Tuesday.
Hastert pleaded guilty when he appeared before U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin.
Hastert, who was second in line to succeed the president while he served eight years as the Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007, has not spoken publicly since he was indicted in late May on one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI.
The indictment accused Hastert of illegally structuring bank withdrawals to hide $1.7 million in payments he made to a longtime acquaintance, and lying to the FBI when questioned about the banking activity.
Hastert’s arraignment drew so much media attention, a judge in a neighboring courtroom complained about noise from the throng of reporters waiting to get into Durkin’s courtroom before Hastert’s hearing. Read the rest of this entry »
Charges relate to large sums of money he allegedly paid to keep someone quiet about ‘prior misconduct’
WASHINGTON — Andrew Grossman and Ben Kesling report: Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges related to bank withdrawals of large sums of money that he allegedly paid to keep someone quiet about “prior misconduct.”
Mr. Hastert is charged with intentionally withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in increments of less than $10,000 to avoid federal reporting requirements designed to prevent money laundering. The Republican also is charged with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the withdrawals, telling agents he was taking the money out because he didn’t feel safe using the banking system.
“Mr. Hastert is charged with intentionally withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in increments of less than $10,000 to avoid federal reporting requirements designed to prevent money laundering.”
The indictment alleges the money was going to someone identified only as “Individual A,” who had known Mr. Hastert for most of the person’s life. In 2010, Mr. Hastert agreed to pay this person $3.5 million “to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A,” the indictment said.
What did Hastert do? Whatever it was, it was worth $3.5 million to him.
— jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) May 28, 2015
The seven-page indictment notes that Mr. Hastert was a high-school teacher and coach in Yorkville, Ill., from about 1965 to 1981 before running for public office. The individual he was trying to pay off was also a resident of Yorkville and apparently met Mr. Hastert as a child, according to the indictment.
“After Mr. Hastert left office, he became a lobbyist at Dickstein Shapiro. Two years later, he began meeting with the individual listed in the indictment. At some point, they began discussing the ‘prior misconduct,’ according to the indictment, and Mr. Hastert agreed to the payments.”
Mr. Hastert, 73 years old, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Attempts to reach his personal assistant and the law firm where he worked, Dickstein Shapiro LLP, for comment weren’t successful. The firm removed his biography from its website Thursday.
Mr. Hastert was first elected to Congress in 1987 to represent an Illinois district west of Chicago. He became House speaker in January 1999 after the resignation of Newt Gingrich, who stepped down as speaker amid GOP infighting after the party’s unexpected losses at the polls in the previous election. Read the rest of this entry »
Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death today by a jury in a Boston federal courthouse.
Tsarnaev was convicted by the same jury of seven women and five men last month of all 30 counts related to the deadly April 15, 2013 bombing. Three people were killed, including an 8-year-old boy, and another 260 were injured when Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, detonated twin explosive devices near the finish line of the marathon. Three days later, the brothers murdered MIT police officer Sean Collier.
The jury today found death the penalty was “appropriate” for six of the 17 death penalty eligible counts against Dzhkohar Tsarnaev. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police four days after the explosions….(read more)
Josh Feldman writes: Alan Dershowitz really went after Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby today for charging the six cops involved in the death of Freddie Gray, saying it was entirely based on politics and “crowd control.”
Dershowitz lamented that “this is a very sad day for justice” and told Steve Malzberg that Mosby acted out of a “desire to prevent riots.” It will be “virtually impossible,” he predicted, for the six officers involved to get a fair trial. Read the rest of this entry »
Grand Jury Indicts Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh: Air Force Vet Charged in Plot to Aid Islamic State GroupPosted: March 17, 2015
He will appear Wednesday in federal court in New York City and is now in custody….(read more)
For NBC News, Michael Kosnar and Daniel Arkin report: A former U.S. Air Force mechanic has been charged with attempting to go to Syria to join ISIS, authorities said Tuesday. Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh was indicted Monday by a grand jury in Brooklyn on two charges, including attempting to provide material support to a terror organization.
The indictment said that Pugh was fired from a job in Kuwait as an airplane mechanic in December 2014. It said that he flew from Egypt to Turkey on January 10, in an effort to cross the border into Syria to join ISIS and wage violent jihad.
Turkish authorities denied him entry into the country, however, and sent him on a return flight to Egypt. He was deported from Egypt to the U.S. in January 15, after he was found carrying suspicious items, including a photograph of a machine gun.
Pugh was arrested Jan. 16, but the case has been sealed since that date.
Searches of his laptop revealed online queries about borders and crossing points controlled by the Islamic State, and videos showing ISIS executions. Posting on social media show Pugh repeatedly professed a desire never to return to the U.S., even though he has family — including children — in the country….(read more)
This is a breaking news story. Please refresh for updates.
— Michael Kosnar and Daniel Arkin
NEW YORK — The FBI has arrested three men who allegedly attempted to fly from New York to Turkey in hopes of eventually joining ISIS in Syria, according to a complaint unsealed in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday.
The suspects — identified as Abdurasul Jaraboev, 24; Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19; and Abror Habibov, 30 — face charges that include providing material support for terrorists, authorities said.
The men allegedly discussed staging attacks in the United States, according to court papers. Read the rest of this entry »
Hands Down, You’re Wrong
Jim Treacher writes: The Obama Way: Say what you think people want to hear, and keep saying it until they leave you alone. Then do whatever you were going to do anyway.
Or, don’t do whatever you weren’t going to do anyway. Chuck Ross reports:
The Justice Department is preparing to clear Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson of violating the civil rights of Michael Brown… Read the rest of this entry »
A defense contractor who is the central figure in a wide-ranging Navy bribery scandal pleaded guilty on Thursday to providing cash, prostitutes, free hotel rooms and gifts worth millions of dollars to gain maintenance and supply contracts in Asian ports that overbilled the Navy by $20 million.
In a federal court in San Diego, Leonard Francis, known by his nickname “Fat Leonard,” pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges related to a decade-long conspiracy to gain the contracts that he said involved “scores” of U.S. Navy officials. Francis was the CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) a Singapore-based company that provided fuel, supplies, tugboats and sewage disposal to U.S. Navy ships when they arrived in ports.
“Francis admitted that he gave millions of dollars in extravagant gifts and expenses to Navy officials including $500,000 in cash; hundreds of thousands of dollars in prostitution services; travel expenses, including first class airfare, luxurious hotel stays and spa treatments.”
Leonard gave the Navy officials lavish gifts to gain classified information about the scheduled movement of U.S. Navy ships in Asia so he could block out competitors and then overbill the Navy for his company’s services, prosecutors said.
“He also provided officials with lavish meals, including Kobe beef, Spanish suckling pigs, Cuban cigars, designer handbags and even tickets to a Lady Gaga concert.”
Francis admitted that he gave millions of dollars in extravagant gifts and expenses to Navy officials including $500,000 in cash; hundreds of thousands of dollars in prostitution services; travel expenses, including first class airfare, luxurious hotel stays and spa treatments. He also provided officials with lavish meals, including Kobe beef, Spanish suckling pigs, Cuban cigars, designer handbags and even tickets to a Lady Gaga concert.
“It is astounding that Leonard Francis was able to purchase the integrity of Navy officials by offering them meaningless material possessions and the satisfaction of selfish indulgences. In sacrificing their honor, these officers helped Francis defraud their country out of tens of millions of dollars. Now they will be held to account.”
— U.S. Attorney Laura E Duffy
When sentenced in April Francis could face up to 25 years in prison. In admitting his guilt he and his company agreed to repay the Navy $35 million. He has been cooperating with investigators and additional Naval officials may be implicated.
So far the investigation has involved eight Navy officials, including a Naval Criminal Services Investigative Services (NCIS) agent who would tip Francis off to ongoing investigations into his conduct.
A former Apple executive who sold some of the iPhone maker’s secrets to suppliers will serve a year in prison and repay $4.5 million for his crimes.
The U.S. Attorney’s office announced Devine’s penalty Friday, but declined to explain the reason for the lengthy delay in his sentencing.
Devine faced up to 20 years in prison. Read the rest of this entry »
Nagin, 58, the two-term mayor who was the face of the city during Hurricane Katrina, joins a list of Louisiana elected officials convicted of misdeeds committed while in office. But he is New Orleans’ first mayor to be convicted and sent to prison for public corruption.
Nagin is expected to report to prison in coming weeks.
U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan handed down the sentence before a packed courtroom five months after a jury convicted Nagin on 20 of 21 counts of bribery, wire fraud, tax evasion and other charges. Nagin’s wife, Seletha Nagin, joined him for sentencing, as she did every day during the two-week trial.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Nagin was facing 20 or more years in prison, court records indicated.
“I do intend to downward depart from these guidelines,” Berrigan said after taking the bench.
Prosecutors in U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s office called him a mayor “on the take.” He sold his office, they told the jury, for personal gain, which included lavish trips, cash and granite for his sons countertop business, Stone Age LLC.
Reporting by Mark Waller and Andy Grimm of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.
Yoni Heisler reports: This past July, US District Judge Denise Cotefound Apple guilty of colluding with book publishers in an effort to raise the price of e-books across the industry. Following that, the Department of Justice proposed a wide array of remedies to ensure that Apple wouldn’t run afoul of antitrust laws in the future.
One of the proposed remedies called for the court to appoint an external monitor tasked with keeping an eye on Apple as to ensure that they comply with antitrust laws going forward. On Wednesday, Judge Cote appointed former Assistant US Attorney Michael Bromwich as that external monitor.
Bromwich was one of two names picked by the Justice Department as well as plaintiff states as part of last month’s injunction ruling. As monitor, he’ll work from inside Apple to maintain the company’s compliance with US antitrust laws.
Bromwich filled a similar, independent monitor role within the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia a little more than a decade ago, and more recently served as part of US oversight on the oil industry.
Apple previously argued that an external monitor was wholly unnecessary, but ultimately failed to persuade Cote.
Bromwich will keep an eye on Apple’s antitrust compliance for two years. Note that the two-year period is less than the five-year period initially proposed by the DOJ.
Lastly, Apple earlier this month filed a motion indicating that it plans to appeal Cote’s ruling. Formal arguments on the matter, however, won’t be submitted until early 2014.
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) — A businessman who swore an oath of allegiance to al-Qaeda and three years ago pleaded guilty to providing financial support to the international terror group was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison, despite a plea from his attorney for leniency because of the risk he took by becoming an informant against the organization.
Khalid Ouazzani, 35, who pleaded guilty in May 2010 to bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to support a terrorist group, was sentenced in federal court in Kansas City.
Federal prosecutors claimed Ouazzani provided more than $23,000 to al-Qaeda and had pledged more, with the hope of eventually traveling to the Middle East to join the fight against the US.
In his guilty plea, Ouazzani admitted making false claims to borrow money for a used auto parts business and wiring the proceeds to a bank in Dubai. That money was used to purchase an apartment in Dubai that later sold for a $17,000 profit, which was given to al-Qaeda. Ouazzani also admitted sending the terror group $6,500 from the sale of his business.
The Holder DOJ stopped at nothing to convict five New Orleans police officers.
Hans A. von Spakovsky reports: In a shocking case of “grotesque” misconduct by federal prosecutors, a federal judge in Louisiana has ordered a new trial for five New Orleans police officers convicted for a shooting on the Danziger Bridge on September 4, 2005 — in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — and for a subsequent cover-up. This is another black eye for the Holder Justice Department that the media have barely covered.
Participating in the misconduct that the judge said had created an “online 21st-century carnival atmosphere” was Karla Dobinski, a lawyer in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and the former deputy chief of the section. The reversal of the convictions is what Judge Kurt Engelhardt calls a “bitter pill” for Hurricane Katrina survivors, but his investigation of the matter provides an intensive inside look at the unprofessionalism of some of the lawyers at the Holder Justice Department, and also at the department’s attempts to obscure its misdeeds. Read the rest of this entry »