Former security firm Blackwater settles with criminal prosecutors

August 9, 2012
Blackwater
“A special police SWAT team from Blackwater. Credits: Blackwater/Police Times”

Examiner.com on August 8, 2012 released the following:

“BY: JIM KOURI

The liberal-left’s least favorite company, security contractor Blackwater, through it’s new corporate name Acadmi LLC, agreed on Tuesday to pay more than $7 million in fines in order to settle federal charges regarding alleged arms smuggling and other crimes.

The documents. which were unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Raleigh, North Carolina, stated that the company’s executives agreed to pay the fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement to settle all 17 violations of law.

The agreement also acknowledges and references a $42 million settlement between the company and the Department of State as part of a settlement of violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations, according to officials at Justice Department.

According to Justice Department documents, list of violations includes the possession automatic weapons in the United States without registration, deceptive statements made to government firearms officials about weapons tranferred to the Kingdom of Jordan, and passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark without U.S. government approval.

A separate violation entailed illegally shipping body armor to nations overseas.

“Compliance with the firearms laws of the United States in both domestic and international commerce is essential to maintaining order and accountability,” stated ATF Special Agent in Charge Wayne L. Dixie. “Whether it is an individual or a corporation, we will enforce the provisions of the federal gun laws equally. If violations are discovered, we will move to hold those responsible for the violations accountable for their actions.”

Federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials said Blackwater, which has held billions in U.S. security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, repeatedly flouted U.S. laws.

Blackwater was founded in North Carolina in 1997 by a former Navy SEAL officer, Erik Prince, and the company became well-known working for the U.S. government during the Iraq War. Prince is said to be worth over one billion dollars.

IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Jeannine A. Hammett stated, “High-ranking corporate officials hold positions of trust not only in their companies but also in the eyes of the public. That trust is broken when such officials abuse their power and commit crimes to line their own pockets. An international fraud of this magnitude requires a coordinated effort among law enforcement agencies to stop those involved from profiting from their wrongdoing.”

A provision in Academi-United States settlement prohibits the company executives from making any public statements “contradicting any aspect” of the agreement. Any such statement opens the door to nullification of the settlement by the U.S. Justice Department.

“Blackwater profited substantially from Department of Defense (DoD) contracts in support of overseas contingency operations over the past decade,” commented Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, Southeast Field Office, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS). “This investigation showed that no contractor is above the law and that all who do business with the DoD will be held accountable. With this agreement, Blackwater acknowledged their wrongdoing and took steps to remedy and mitigate the damage they caused to the United States and the public trust.”

“For an extended period of time, Academi/Blackwater operated in a manner which demonstrated systemic disregard for U.S. government laws and regulations. Today’s announcement should serve as a warning to others that allegations of wrongdoing will be aggressively investigated,” said Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the FBI.

The agreement also acknowledges and references a $42 million settlement between the company and the Department of State as part of a civil administrative settlement of violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations, according to the Justice Department.

“The left-wing media and political activists hate the military and police but fear being fingered as anti-Americans, so all their hatred for soldiers and cops is transferred to private firms that offer military and law enforcement services,” said Sid Franes, a former Marine, police detective and security firm owner.

“Now that we have an administration that shares the views of the radical left, you will see more and more cases against private security, military and intelligence firms,” Franes predicted.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Secret evidence at issue in South Seattle terrorism plot

February 27, 2012
Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif
“Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, aka Joseph Anthony Davis, 33, of Seattle.
Photo: State Department Of Corrections”

SeattlePI.com on February 26, 2012 released the following:

“Classified surveillance conducted prior to arrest

By LEVI PULKKINEN

Federal authorities with a secret warrant were intercepting phone calls related to a planned terrorist attack on a South Seattle military induction center well before the alleged plotters were arrested.

While details remain sparse, court filings in the case against Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif – a SeaTac man accused of plotting to kill dozens of Department of Defense employees at the East Marginal Way South center – show federal agents had been conducting electronic surveillance of Abdul-Latif in the weeks or months before his arrest.

Jailed since June and facing a potential life sentence if convicted of terrorism-related charges, Abdul-Latif is accused of preparing to storm the Military Entrance Processing Station with two other men and open fire there with automatic weapons and grenades. One of his alleged conspirators was actually a government informant who purportedly turned to Seattle police after Abdul-Latif came to him searching for weapons.

U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan and others were quick to praise the informant in the days after Abdul-Latif and Los Angeles resident Walli Mujahidh were arrested. Mujahidh has since pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

The informant’s actions – going to police, then working, in essence, as an undercover agent – were presented publicly as the essential break in the case.

Now, though, court documents indicate Abdul-Latif had been under investigation for months before the informant came forward in May.

Abdul-Latif appears to have himself been the target of a wiretap warrant obtained through a secret federal court operating under the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, better known as FISA.

Prosecutors have filed notice that they intend to use “information obtained and derived from electronic surveillance” conducted with a warrant issued by the FISA court. What evidence prompted that warrant to be issued remains classified, and almost certainly will not be provided to Abdul-Latif’s defense attorneys or the public.

Created in the late 1970s in an attempt to curtail unjustified surveillance of Americans, the FISA system is a classified forum through which law enforcement agents – chiefly the FBI – can obtain search warrants that will never be fully disclosed to their targets or the public.

Under the FISA process, agents present the closed court with statements asserting they have probable cause to believe their target is an agent of a foreign government or terrorist organization, and receive a warrant to tap the target’s phone or search their property. That probable cause statement remains classified, though it must be provided to the U.S. District Court judge hearing the criminal case if prosecutors hope to present evidence obtained through the FISA warrant at trial.

Some aspects of the FISA system have drawn criticism in recent years, largely because the number of FISA warrants has increased dramatically since the Sept. 11 attacks. Congress has repeatedly expanded the wiretapping authority available through FISA – notably through the FISA Amendments Act in 2008 – but the warrant acquired against Abdul-Latif was most likely a traditional FISA action in line with those initially considered under the law.

Neither the Justice Department nor Abdul-Latif’s attorneys would speak about the case with regard to the secret evidence apparently now in play. Still, there’s reason to believe transcripts of Abdul-Latif’s tapped phone calls may be declassified if the case proceeds to trial.

It also remains unclear whether information obtained through a secret warrant may be introduced in the state criminal case against Michael McCright – a Lynnwood man accused of running two Marines off of Interstate 5 in North Seattle. McCright, a convicted felon also known as Mikhial Jihad, is alleged to have spoken with Abdul-Latif by phone at least three times; prosecutors have not divulged how or when those phone calls were intercepted.

Extent of surveillance unclear

Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh were arrested Jan. 24, less than a month after the informant went to Seattle police and claimed Abdul-Latif was scheming to kill Western Washington soldiers.

The man who would become key to the government’s case against Abdul-Latif met Abdul-Latif several years before. Abdul-Latif, a failed janitor and ex-con who adopted a Muslim name in 2007, had come to believe the man shared his views and willingness to turn to violence, according to charging documents.

“Abdul-Latif said that ‘jihad’ in America should be a ‘physical jihad,’ and not just ‘media jihad,’ expressing his view that it was necessary to take action rather than just talk,” an FBI agent told the court. “Abdul-Latif referred to the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, when a single gunman killed 13 people … (and) said that if one person could kill so many people, three attackers could kill many more.”

Writing the court, the agent said Abdul-Latif was recorded expressing his anger about United States activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen, and saying that he believed killing American soldiers was justified.

The men had initially aimed at attacking Joint Base Lewis-McChord, but later changed their target to the South Seattle intake center. The facility is next to a day care.

The informant met with Seattle detectives on June 3 and said he’d met with Abdul-Latif four days prior. He then began to divulge details of the purported plot, including that Abdul-Latif had intended to attack the Tacoma base.

In early June, Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh spoke with the informant, offering details on the planned attack, according to charging documents. They met outside the recruiting station and conducted reconnaissance inside the center.

Despite a short stint in the Navy, Abdul-Latif knew little about firearms but believed the informant could assist him in acquiring automatic weapons, according to charging documents.

“Abdul-Latif told the source that he wanted to acquire, for use in the attack, AK-47 assault rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade, grenades, and bulletproof vests,” the FBI agent told the court.

According to charging documents, Abdul-Latif told Mujahidh and the informant their objective was to “take out anybody wearing green or a badge.”

Law enforcement provided the informant with weapons – a Heckler & Koch submachine gun, an M-16-style rifle and a fragmentation grenade – prior to a June 14 meeting. All had been rendered inoperable before the meeting.

Abdul-Latif examined the weapons later that day, according to charging documents. The men then reviewed a map of the center, and Abdul-Latif suggested a plan of attack.

In the days that followed, Abdul-Latif provided the informant with money to buy the weapons, the FBI agent continued. Mujahidh arrived in Seattle on two days before his arrest.

Planning continued through the evening of June 22, when the guns were delivered and the plotters were arrested at a Seattle warehouse, the FBI agent alleged. Mujahidh pleaded guilty in December and may testify against Abdul-Latif if the case goes to trial, which is scheduled to start in early May.

Defense faults prosecutors for secrecy

Following the arrests, the informant drew praise from Durkan and Seattle Police Chief John Diaz. Then as now, authorities contended the informant’s tip to police sparked the sting operation.

“This attack was foiled because of the trust and relationships the men and women of the Seattle Police Department enjoy with our community,” Diaz said at the time. The informant, he continued, “ended the plot intended to take innocent lives.”

Speaking shortly after the arrests, Durkan declined to answer when asked whether Abdul-Latif was being investigated before the informant came to police.

Now, though, attorneys for Abdul-Latif contend investigators were already at work for some time before the informant contacted authorities. They noted that the investigation appears to have begun “months” before the informant became involved.

Contacted for comment, Abdul-Latif’s attorneys declined to expand on the allegation or say whether their client’s phone had been tapped.

Abdul-Latif had for some time been posting videos to Youtube discussing his views on his adopted faith. He praised Anwar al-Awalki – a New Mexico-born recruiter for al-Qaida killed in Yemen by a U.S. missile strike in September – in one of several rambling speeches recorded in his apartment.

In October, federal prosecutors in Seattle filed a single-paragraph notice stating they would be using evidence obtained through electronic monitoring conducted under a FISA warrant. Going forward, it will likely fall to U.S. District Court Judge James Robart to determine what classified material, if any, will be made available to Abdul-Latif’s attorneys.

Without arguing that the government’s claims should be made public, Abdul-Latif’s attorneys have asked that the sealed pleadings be routed to Seattle defense attorney Jeff Robinson, who has been cleared by the Department of Defense to review top secret material.

Prosecutors on the case have endeavored to have their legal arguments heard by Robart privately. Abdul-Latif’s attorneys argue the move violates federal law and, ultimately, endangers their client’s constitutional rights.

“Barring the security-cleared member of the defense team from participating in discovery determinations cripples the adversary process without any commensurate benefit to national security,” Abdul-Latif’s attorneys told the court, noting that Robinson previously reviewed “extremely sensitive” classified information while involved in a military commission trial in Guantanamo Bay.

“Moreover, defense counsel are not clairvoyant,” they continued. “Without access to either the classified evidence or the government’s arguments for non-production, Mr. Abdul-Latif will be deprived of his right to counsel at this stage, and of the other fair trial rights to which he is constitutionally entitled.”

Disclosure requirements still demand prosecutors produce any exculpatory information to Abdul-Latif’s defense. But the court – in this case Judge Robart – may allow the government to delete or redact portions that pose a “reasonable danger” to national security.

Robart has also been tasked with reviewing the propriety of the FISA warrant apparently obtained by investigators. Unlike a standard search or wiretap warrant, though, the defense won’t have an opportunity to review the warrant application.

‘There could be boldface lies’

The law that will govern the court’s handling of classified information in Adbul-Latif’s case – the Classified Information Procedures Act – directs that defendants facing secret evidence “should not stand in a worse position, because of the fact that classified information is involved.” But, as a practical matter, the restrictions make a defense team’s work more difficult.

Robart could order that prosecutors release summaries of classified evidence. Were he to order the government to release the investigator’s statements in full, he’d be the first federal judge to do so.

Josh Dratel, a New York defense attorney with a long record of cases involving secret evidence, said there has been an “explosion” in the number of FISA warrants issued since Sept. 11.

Prosecutors benefit from the secrecy, in part because the defense is unable to challenge the claims that prompted the warrant in the first place, Dratel said.

“It’s not an adversarial process,” Dratel said. “We never see the warrant. …

“There could be just boldface lies, and we’d never get any of that information.”

It’s not yet clear what defense Abdul-Latif will put if the case proceeds to trial.

Abdul-Latif may claim he’s innocent of the allegations against him, or that he was entrapped by the government informant. In court documents, the prosecution has also suggested Abdul-Latif may offer a “mental” defense – that he is either less-culpable or not guilty because of a mental illness.

When all is said and done, Abdul-Latif’s defense attorneys will likely get to see transcripts of the recorded calls at issue in the prosecution. That’s the case in most prosecutions involving warrants issued through the FISA process, said Alex Abdo, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project.

“What they’ll normally get at the end of all this is transcripts of the intercepts,” Abdo said. “Those will usually be classified at first. … Sometimes those transcripts are declassified shortly before trial.”

Abdo said the secrecy involved leaves the defense at a disadvantage, chiefly by limiting the opportunities to challenge the prosecution’s claims. He also asserted there has been an erosion of the wall between the national security functions envisioned when the FISA process was created and criminal law enforcement.

State defendant also faces life

What impact, if any, the FISA-obtained evidence could have on McCright’s prosecution in state court also remains unclear.

McCright is accused of swerving at a government-owned sedan carrying a uniformed Marine sergeant and another noncommissioned officer on July 12. Prosecutors also claim McCright had been in contact with Abdul-Latif, a Des Moines man accused of plotting to attack a South Seattle military processing station.

Writing the court, attorneys for McCright characterized the connection put forward by King County prosecutors as “tenuous” and said they have not received any evidence backing the claim. They also noted that McCright, unlike Abdul-Latif and a second man, is not accused of terrorism.

Outlining the allegations related to the July 12 incident, FBI Special Agent Len Carver III said the Marine sergeants left the South Seattle Military Entrance Processing Station – Abdul-Latif’s alleged target – at 4:45 p.m. While the staff sergeant driving the car remained in uniform, the other man had changed into civilian clothing.

The Marines were headed north on Interstate 5 near Northgate when a small blue car sped toward them, Carver told the court. They saw a bearded man with a skull cap behind the wheel, and subsequently identified him as McCright.

Without warning, McCright swerved at the government car, forcing it into the emergency lane, the FBI agent said in court documents. McCright then allegedly pulled in front of the Marines’ vehicle and slammed on his brakes, nearly causing a collision.

The gunnery sergeant riding in the sedan’s passenger seat called 911 and reported the Geo Metro’s license plate number to the police. McCright was arrested on Sept. 8 in Seattle.

What connection McCright had to Abdul-Latif has not been outlined in court documents. Senior Deputy Prosecutor Gary Ernsdorff has said only that McCright’s cell phone was used to call Abdul-Latif prior to Latif’s arrest.

“Investigators have confirmed that the cell phone used by the defendant … was used on at least three occasions to contact Abdul-Latif prior to Latif’s arrest by federal authorities,” Ernsdorff said in court documents. “The FBI is continuing to investigate defendant McCright’s possible connection to domestic terrorism.”

On at least one occasion, FISA-obtained information has been used in state prosecution. No one has suggested it will be in McCright’s case.

McCright faces life in prison if convicted on the second-degree assault charge filed against him. His previous convictions make him eligible for the sentence under Washington’s “three-strikes” law.

Abdul-Latif remains jailed, as does McCright. Both men have pleaded not guilty.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


John R. Brock, Former Department of Defense (DoD) Employee, Pleads Guilty to Submitting False Travel Claims Totaling Nearly $500,000 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

October 13, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on October 13, 2011 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— A former civilian employee of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), a component of the Department of Defense, pled guilty today in Washington, D.C., to making more than $485,000 in false travel claims using the Defense Travel System, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

John R. Brock, 52, of Crofton, Md., pled guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Wilkins in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a criminal information charging him with one count of making a false claim against the United States. According to court documents, Brock worked as a budget analyst within the Resources Management Department of the AFIP from 2007 through 2011. As part of his guilty plea Brock admitted that, from September 2008 through April 2011, he submitted 99 false travel vouchers totaling $485,535 for expenses that were never incurred. He admitted that he submitted the claims through the Defense Travel System using the profile of a former AFIP employee.

At sentencing, scheduled for Jan. 3, 2012, Brock faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as supervised release following any prison term. Brock is also subject to criminal forfeiture totaling $485,535.

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Richard B. Evans of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, and is being investigated by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI’s Washington Field Office.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Department of Defense (DoD) Employee Desi Deandre Wade Charged in a Federal Criminal Complaint For Allegedly Taking a $95,000 Bribe

August 25, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 25, 2011 released the following:

“Department of Defense Employee Arrested for Taking $95,000 Bribe in Atlanta Relating to Military Contract in Afghanistan

ATLANTA— DESI DEANDRE WADE, 39, of Climax, Georgia, was arrested yesterday by FBI agents and has now been charged in a criminal complaint with bribery. WADE is expected to make an appearance before a United States Magistrate Judge 3:00 p.m. today.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “This Department of Defense employee is charged with selling his position of public trust for cash. While he was supposed to be working to support our troops, he was lining his pockets. The FBI and our partner defense agencies are to be commended for rooting out and stopping this corruption.”

Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, said, “When the integrity of the contracting process is compromised, the taxpayers bear the brunt of this monetarily and the mission overseas can be adversely impacted to say the least. The FBI aggressively seeks out those individuals who attempt to personally profit from the contracting and funding process of these many and varied critical government missions overseas.”

Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, Southeast Field Office, Defense Criminal Investigative Service said, “DCIS continues to place the highest priority on ferreting out public corruption involving Department of Defense contracting in Southwest Asia military operations. These joint investigations with our partner agencies, spanning across the globe, have been highly effective in bringing wrongdoers to justice, and deterring others who would consider betraying the public trust.”

Steven Trent, Acting Deputy Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said, “SIGAR agents are proud to have participated in this investigation, which underscores the cooperation among U.S. law enforcement agencies operating in a conflict zone.”

According to United States Attorney Yates and the criminal complaint just filed in this case: WADE is currently a U.S. Department of Defense employee assigned to Kabul, Afghanistan as the chief of Fire and Emergency Services. On July 16, 2011, Defense Criminal Investigative Services (DCIS) and FBI in Kabul, Afghanistan, received information that WADE was utilizing his position as a contracting official to improperly direct Department of Defense (“DoD”) contracts to certain bidders in return for personal gain. Specifically, WADE influenced an Afghan-based contractor to make bribe payments to him in return for guarantees of continued work by way of future contracts in Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan, WADE allegedly solicited and received a $4,000 bribe in exchange for the awarding of a repair/maintenance contract modification submitted by the Afghan-based contractor.

WADE then allegedly proposed steering a subsequent, much larger contract to the company in exchange for a certain percentage of the value of the contract. The bribe, as calculated by WADE, would amount to over $100,000. WADE promised to obtain the quotes from other bidders and provide them to the company to insure that the company would be the low bidder and ultimately get the contract.

Several weeks later, WADE traveled to Atlanta to attend the August 22-26 Fire Rescue International Conference. While in Atlanta, WADE allegedly reiterated that he wanted $110,000 for the awarding of the new contract to the company. WADE confirmed that he would disclose the competing companies’ bids.

On August 24, 2011, at approximately 5:45 p.m., WADE accepted $95,000 in cash in exchange for his promise to direct the contract to the company. WADE counted the bundles of money before he put them in his backpack. WADE was subsequently arrested by federal agents and his backpack was found to contain $95,000 in cash.

This case is part of an ongoing effort by the FBI, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), as well as the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit to investigate and bring forward for prosecution those individuals engaging in the very costly endeavor of corruption and fraud involving U.S. government funds intended for critical military and other efforts around the world.

This case is being investigated by special agents of the FBI and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), with support from the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.

Assistant United States Attorney Robert McBurney is prosecuting the case.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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