“Ex-agent testifies to good FBI reviews while taking Bulger bribes”

June 28, 2013

Reuters on June 28, 2013 released the following:

By Richard Valdmanis

“(Reuters) – Now retired FBI agent John Morris testified that he received excellent performance reviews from the bureau in the 1970s and 1980s while he and a colleague accepted cash bribes from members of Boston’s violent Winter Hill Gang and protected them from arrest.

In a Boston court on Friday, a lawyer for accused gang boss James “Whitey” Bulger showed Morris three of his reviews describing him as “excellent” and “exemplary” – part of his questioning aimed at undermining the credibility of FBI evidence at the murder trial of Bulger, the reputed head of Winter Hill.

Once one of the most feared men in Boston, Bulger, 83, is on trial for killing or ordering the murders of 19 people while running extortion and gambling rackets for decades. Bulger, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, evaded capture for 16 years and now faces life imprisonment if convicted by a Boston federal jury.

“I received good reviews,” Morris said on the witness stand, as defense lawyer Henry Brennan showed him a series of documents, including one which said other FBI supervisors looked to Morris for guidance.

The trial, which began June 12, has given the jury a glimpse of an era when machine-gun toting mobsters shot associates who talked too much and buried bodies under bridges in a bloody struggle for control of the criminal underworld.

But it also has shown a dark side of the FBI during that period, when some former agents are suspected of having traded information with Bulger and his gang to help them elude arrest and murder “rats” who spoke to police.

Morris testified on Thursday that he and another ex-FBI agent John Connolly – who cultivated Bulger as an FBI informant – would sometimes invite Bulger and his associate Steven “The Rifleman” Flemmi to dinner, where they would trade information and gifts.

Connolly apparently became so rich on kickbacks that he began wearing jewelry and bought a boat and a second home on Cape Cod, Morris said, adding that he too had accepted at least $5,000 in cash directly from Bulger and provided tips.

“I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do. I felt awful about everything,” he said.

Morris, who now works as a part-time wine consultant, was offered immunity from prosecution in late 1997 in exchange for his testimony in hearings about FBI misconduct.

“I didn’t want to carry that burden anymore,” Morris said.

Bulger cursed at Morris in court on Thursday and called him a liar as the prosecution witness described how Bulger received special treatment for being a government informant.

Bulger denies providing any information to law enforcement officials, contending that he paid them for tips, but offered none of his own.

The gangster’s story has fascinated Boston for decades and inspired the 2006 Academy Award-winning Martin Scorsese film, “The Departed,” in which Jack Nicholson played a character loosely based on Bulger.

Called “Whitey” because he once had white-blond hair, fled Boston after a 1994 tip from Connolly that authorities were preparing to arrest him.

Connolly is serving a 40-year prison term for murder and racketeering.

Bulger’s attorneys have spent much of the past few days attacking the reliability of the FBI’s 700-page informant file on him, which they contend was fabricated by Connolly to provide a cover for his frequent meetings with the gang boss.”

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

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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.


“Feds: Bulger at center of murder, mayhem in Boston”

June 12, 2013

KSL.com on June 12, 2013 released the following press release:

By Denise Lavoie, Associated Press

“BOSTON (AP) – A federal prosecutor said in opening statements Wednesday at James “Whitey” Bulger’s racketeering trial that the reputed mobster was at the center of “murder and mayhem” in Boston for almost 30 years, while the defense attacked the credibility of the government’s star witnesses.

Prosecutor Brian Kelly told jurors that Bulger headed the violent Winter Hill Gang that “ran amok” in Boston for nearly three decades, killing 19 people, extorting millions from drug dealers and other criminals, and corrupting police and FBI agents.

“At the center of all this murder and mayhem is one man – the defendant in this case, James Bulger,” Kelly said.

Bulger’s lead attorney, J. W. Carney Jr., went after the prosecution’s star witnesses, including hit man John Martorano, who admitted killing 20 people and has agreed to testify against Bulger.

Martorano served 12 years in prison for his crimes, in what Carney called an “extraordinary benefit” for his cooperation with prosecutors.

“The federal government was so desperate to have John Martorano testify … they basically put their hands up in the air and said take anything you want,” Carney said.

Other once-loyal Bulger cohorts who will likely testify against him include Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, Bulger’s former partner, and Kevin Weeks, a former Bulger lieutenant who led authorities to six bodies.

The government plans to show the jury a 700-page file they say shows that Bulger, while committing a long list of crimes, was also working as an FBI informant, providing information on the New England Mob – his gang’s main rivals – and corrupting FBI agents who ignored his crimes.

Kelly says Bulger’s gang succeeded by instilling fear in other criminals and corrupting law enforcement officials who tipped them off when they were being investigated.

“It was part of a strategy they had, and it worked for them,” Kelly said.

Carney denied that the FBI ever tipped off Bulger.

“James Bulger never ever – the evidence will show – was an informant,” Carney said.

Carney acknowledged that Bulger was involved in illegal gambling and drugs but told the jury that Bulger paid law enforcement to protect him from prosecution.

Bulger, now 83, was one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives when he fled Boston in 1994 after receiving a tip from his former FBI handler, John Connolly, that he was about to be indicted. He was finally captured in 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., where he had been living with his longtime girlfriend in a rent-controlled apartment.

Connolly was convicted of racketeering for warning Bulger and later of second-degree murder for giving information to Bulger that led to the slaying of a Boston businessman in Miami.

Bulger’s lawyers have indicated that they will argue that Connolly fabricated informant reports in Bulger’s lengthy FBI file.

The defense may also present another side of Bulger seen by some residents of South Boston, where he was known for years as a kind of harmless tough guy who gave Thanksgiving dinners to his working-class neighbors.

Prosecutors, however, plan to call one family member of each of the 19 people prosecutors allege were killed by Bulger and his gang. Among the victims were two 26-year-old women who Bulger is accused of strangling.

The trial is expected to last three to four months.”

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

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

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Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

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.


James “Whitey” Bulger’s Lawyer: Former US Attorney Gave Him Immunity

October 25, 2012

The Seattle Times on October 25, 2012 released the following:

“Boston mobster’s lawyer: US atty gave him immunity

A lawyer for James “Whitey” Bulger has identified the federal official who he says gave the Boston mobster immunity to commit crimes while he was an FBI informant.

The Associated Press

BOSTON —
A lawyer for James “Whitey” Bulger has identified the federal official who he says gave the Boston mobster immunity to commit crimes while he was an FBI informant.

In court papers filed late Wednesday, attorney J.W. Carney says former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Jeremiah O’Sullivan granted Bulger immunity for past or future crimes.

The revelation was made in a defense motion for Judge Richard Stearns to recuse himself from the case.

Bulger’s lawyers say Stearns has a conflict of interest because he worked in the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston at the same time as O’Sullivan, who died in 2009.

Prosecutors have said Bulger never received immunity from anyone.

The 83-year-old Bulger is accused of participating in 19 murders. He fled Boston in 1994 and remained one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives until his capture in California last year.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Bulger lawyers due in court to update judge

September 4, 2012

Boston.com on September 3, 2012 released the following:

“BOSTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors and lawyers for mobster James ‘‘Whitey’’ Bulger are due in court this week to update a judge on the exchange of evidence in the case.

Bulger is the former leader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang and was also an FBI informant against the Mafia. He’s accused of participating in 19 murders.

The 82-year-old Bulger was a fugitive for 16 years before being captured in California last year.

His lawyers said in court last month that Bulger plans to take the stand in his own defense at his trial. They say he’ll testify about his claim that he was given immunity by someone within the U.S. Department of Justice for any crimes he committed while he was an informant.

Bulger’s lawyers and prosecutors are due in federal court for a status hearing Friday.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Bulger plans to take the stand

August 7, 2012

The Boston Globe on August 7, 2012 released the following:

“He would detail an immunity deal

By Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff

James “Whitey” Bulger, once America’s most wanted criminal, will for the first time ­address the charges against him, taking the stand in his own defense in hope of convincing a jury that federal officials once granted him immunity for his many crimes, his lawyer said Monday.

J.W. Carney Jr. announced that plan during a hearing in US District Court in Boston. He said Bulger wants to provide a firsthand account of his relationship with the FBI and the deal he had for working secretly as a government informant.

“He is going to tell the truth, if the judge permits him to,” Carney later told reporters outside the federal courthouse.

Bulger’s testimony could further shed light on one of the darkest eras of the FBI, as the gangster would probably describe the crimes he committed, what the FBI knew of them, and whether he received promises for his cooperation, providing a firsthand, real-life account of the type of underworld events that have become the fodder of books and movies.

Carney said that Bulger, a ­fugitive for more than 16 years until his arrest in June 2011, wants to tell his story directly to jurors at his trial, scheduled for March, rather than bring it ­before US District Court Judge Richard Stearns, who is presiding over the case.

Bulger’s lead attorney has questioned whether Stearns, who was head of the criminal division in the US attorney’s ­office in Boston during part of the time Bulger allegedly committed his crimes, would be able to look at the immunity claim impartially.

“Our client believes that he will get fairer consideration on the issue of immunity from a jury than he will from the person who was the head of the criminal bureau of the United States attorney’s office,” Carney said, adding, “I expect that he will get a fair jury and trust that they will see the truth.”

Bulger, a notorious gangster in Boston, had been secretly working as an FBI informant while allegedly carrying out his crimes. He fled shortly before a federal indictment of him came down in January 1995, after ­being tipped off by his corrupt FBI handler, John Connolly, who is now in prison for his role in a murder linked to Bulger.

Later, hearings in US District Court in Boston exposed Bulger’s inappropriate relationship with the FBI, and he was eventually charged with participating in 19 murders. He was discovered and arrested in ­Santa Monica, Calif. in a rent-controlled apartment he had been sharing with his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, since 1996.

Family members of some of Bulger’s alleged victims said outside the courthouse Monday that Carney is getting desperate in his representation of the ­notorious gangster, and they questioned how Bulger could believe he had a “license to kill.”

But they also said they look forward to his testimony.

“I want to hear what he has to say,” said Patricia Donahue, whose husband, Michael, was an innocent bystander allegedly gunned down by Bulger in 1982 while giving a friend a ride home.

Whether Bulger will be able to raise an immunity defense before jurors remains an open question, according to legal ­analysts. The courts have established, in the case of Bulger’s longtime cohort, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, that a ­defendant cannot claim immunity offered by a rogue FBI agent.

US District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf made that ruling, which was upheld by the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, when Flemmi said he and Bulger were granted ­immunity for passing along information incriminating the Mafia.

But Carney has said that Bulger’s deal was different: The 82-year-old gangster asserts the immunity was granted not by the FBI, but from within the US Department of Justice, which has the authority to make ­immunity agreements.

Carney would not identify the law enforcement official he said granted Bulger’s immunity, saying he will do that at trial. But he has indicated in court ­records that he plans to call as witnesses some of the former law enforcement officials who held leadership positions in the US attorney’s office, such as Stearns and William F. Weld, former governor, who was also a US attorney during a part of the time Bulger allegedly committed his crimes.

Carney also said he would introduce evidence that would impeach the credibility of past statements by former and ­deceased law enforcement officials, such as former US attorney Jeremiah O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan was the US attorney who decided against indicting Bulger and Flemmi in a historic horse race-fixing scheme, though about 20 other gangsters, including associates in their Winter Hill gang, were charged and received lengthy prison sentences.

A.J. Manieri, a Providence-based criminal defense lawyer who has followed the Bulger case and others in organized crime, said the assertion of ­immunity seems to be a question of law that Stearns might have to decide before it reaches jurors. Prosecutors will probably argue that Bulger had no deal of immunity for crimes such as murder, and jurors should not be exposed to the assertion. Manieri said that the judge could exclude testimony that would not be relevant to the charges.

But he also said that Carney will want to show that the agreement came not from a rogue FBI agent, but from within the leadership of the Department of Justice. He said Carney could be successful just in having Stearns take up the legal ­issue because it would settle the question of law. “It’s going to be a bloodbath in there,” he said.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Federal prosecutors: Defense bid to remove Bulger judge ‘frivolous,’ immunity claim ‘absurd’

July 10, 2012

The Washington Post on July 9, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press,

BOSTON — Former mobster James “Whitey” Bulger’s request to remove the judge at his upcoming trial is “frivolous and unsubstantiated” and should be dismissed, federal prosecutors said Monday in a court filing.

Their motion also calls “absurd” a related claim by Bulger’s attorney that the one-time FBI informant shouldn’t be prosecuted on charges he participated in 19 murders because the government promised him immunity for past and future crimes.

Bulger’s attorney J.W. Carney Jr. filed a motion last month to remove Judge Richard Stearns because he was a top federal prosecutor during a period when Bulger is accused of having committed crimes with impunity. The defense motion argued that the judge would do what he could to shield his former colleagues and could not be impartial. Carney said he might call the judge as a witness.

Carney had said he would file a motion to dismiss the charges against Bulger, who’s 82, because “a representative of the federal government” gave Bulger blanket immunity during the 1970s.

A former Bulger cohort, who also was an FBI informant, used a similar defense, which was rejected by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The cohort is serving a life sentence.

Prosecutors said Bulger “has utterly failed to identify anyone who supposedly promised the defendant immunity from prosecution for committing such crimes as murder. Thus, there is no factual basis for the motion and it should be summarily denied.”

They said the claims in the recusal motion “are little more than unsubstantiated speculation.”

Bulger was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., last year after 16 years on the run. His trial has been set for next March.

His girlfriend, Catherine Greig, who was captured with him, pleaded guilty last March to conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, identity fraud and conspiracy. She admitted she helped Bulger while he was a fugitive, using false identities, accompanying him to medical appointments and picking up his prescriptions. She was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Prosecutors say Bulger and Greig, who’s in her early 60s, posed as married retirees from Chicago and had a stash of more than $800,000 in cash and dozens of weapons in their apartment when they were captured.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Evidence Reveals James “Whitey” Bulger’s Secret Life on the Run

June 18, 2012

NBCLosAngeles.com on June 16, 2012 released the following:

“The feds release 1,000 pages of evidence in the case of one of America’s most wanted mobsters

By Jason Kandel

A neighbor said the old man would sit up all night peering through binoculars from the third floor of The Princess Eugenia, a three-story building three blocks from a Santa Monica bluff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.

A handwritten sign on the apartment door said “Please Do Not Knock” because he slept during the day.

But nearby residents had no idea that the man was really James “Whitey” Bulger, one of most wanted fugitives in the world.

Hundreds of documents and photos released by federal prosecutors Friday offer a detailed look inside the California apartment where Bulger and his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, hid out during 16 years on the run.

In their Santa Monica apartment, investigators found a weekly planner filled with notes on everyday tasks, including laundry, cleaning, picking up prescriptions and going to doctor’s appointments.

But they also found holes in the walls filled with handguns, rifles and cash.

Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang who was also an FBI informant, fled Boston shortly before he was indicted in early 1995 when a former agent told him he was about to be indicted.

He was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives until he and longtime girlfriend, Greig, were caught last June in Santa Monica. Bulger was captured 16 years after his run from the law sparked an international manhunt.

He is currently awaiting trial for his alleged role in 19 murders.

Descriptions and photos of the apartment, as well as interviews with people who knew the couple, were among hundreds of documents unsealed by prosecutors Friday, three days after Grieg was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping Bulger during his years as a fugitive.

The documents offer a glimpse into the couple’s life as fugitives.

One photo shows a shelf with a stack of books about gangsters and crime, including several about Bulger himself.

Some of the titles include “G-Men and Gangsters;” “The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger’s Irish Mob,” co-written by Kevin Weeks, Bulger’s former right-hand man; and “A Mob Story” by former Boston Herald reporter Michele McPhee.

But in other parts of the apartment, there are signs of a simple, more pedestrian existence.

The weekly planner contained notes about going to pharmacies — Rite Aid and CVS — and grocery stores, Trader Joe’s and Vons.

Interviews with people who knew them in California — where authorities say they spent most of the 16 years — describe a quiet, older couple who mostly kept to themselves and pretended to be from Chicago.

Joshua Bond, the general manager of the apartment building where they lived, said they were known in the neighborhood as “the old couple that always wore white.”

Bulger, he said, always wore glasses and a hat, and always had a beard.

They called themselves Carol and Charlie Gasko, he said. Bond, who lived next door, said he would sometimes see Bulger through his window sitting up all night with binoculars.

“Bond only ever saw Charlie get mad one time. This was because Bond had startled him. Charlie yelled at him and told him not to startle him again,” a summary of an FBI interview said.

Bond said Bulger gave him several gifts over the years, including a black Stetson cowboy hat, a beard trimmer and workout equipment.

“If Bond had not thought the Gaskos were such a nice old couple, he would have thought that Charlie was trying to get Bond in shape because he (Charlie) was attracted to him (Bond),” the FBI said in its description of the interview.

The photos show holes cut into the apartment walls, where authorities say Bulger hid more than 30 weapons and more than $800,000 in cash.

One photo shows handguns visible inside one hole. Another shows a picture of a crucifix taped to a doorframe above a hole in the wall, where it appears the FBI removed a mirror that was hiding it.

Another shows stacks of cash.

Other photos show the couple’s separate bedrooms. Bulger’s room is cluttered, with an unmade bed, socks strewn on the dresser and crowded shelves. On one of the shelves is a Valentines’ Day card with a picture of a puppy in front of a big red heart. Five pairs of sneakers line the top of a shelf, including four identical white pairs with blue stripes.

Bulger, nicknamed “Whitey” for his shock of bright platinum hair, grew up in a gritty South Boston housing project, and went on to become Boston’s most notorious gangster.

Along with Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, he led the violent Winter Hill Gang, a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets in the Boston area. U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern said in 2000 that the two were “responsible for a reign of intimidation and murder that spanned 25 years.””

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Catherine Greig sentenced to 8 years for harboring ‘Whitey’ Bulger

June 12, 2012

Boston Glove on June 12, 2012 released the following:

“Catherine Greig, the girlfriend who spent years on the run with notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, was sentenced today to eight years in prison by a federal judge who said that Greig had aided “someone accused of the most serious crimes imaginable” to evade capture by law enforcement.

“We’re all responsible for what we do,” US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock told Greig at her sentencing hearing. “We all make choices.”

“There has to be a price imposed,” the judge said, “to serve as general deterrence.”

The sentencing closed another chapter in the saga of Bulger, a fearsome figure accused of 19 murders who once roamed the city’s underworld while at the same time being protected as a highly prized FBI informant. His connections with a corrupt FBI agent led to a tipoff that allowed him to flee and remain a fugitive for 16 years, until his arrest, along with Greig, last year. Bulger now faces a trial in the fall.

Woodlock, saying that the case demonstrated “how the criminal justice system can break down,” also fined Greig $150,000 and ordered her to serve three years of supervised release.

Prosecutors, arguing today for a 10-year sentence, say Greig, 61, was the “key actor” in a conspiracy that allowed Bulger to evade law enforcement. Assistant US Attorney Jack Pirozzolo said it would be “wise and reasonable” considering the nature of the case.

“Essentially, the defendant was committing a crime, day after day,” Pirozzolo said in US District Court in Boston. “This is a woman who by choice chose to help a man who has been accused of vicious crimes.”

But defense attorney Kevin Reddington, who has described Greig as a woman who was a victim of her love for Bulger, said she had not committed any crimes and was simply Bulger’s “housemate.” In court filings, he said that she was kind to animals, and never believed that Bulger was a murderer.

The sentencing hearing had included brief but emotionally charged testimony from relatives of some of Bulger’s victims.

Tim Connors, 37, whose father, Edward, was allegedly shot to death by Bulger June 12, 1975 — 37 years ago today — was first to speak. He addressed Greig, saying, “You are as much a criminal as Whitey, and you ought to be handled as such. … You are a cold-hearted criminal.”

Greig appeared to pay close attention what her attorney and prosecutors said — and then to the testimony of the relatives.

For the most part, when the relatives were speaking, Greig looked straight ahead, avoided eye contact, and showed no obvious emotion.

However, when Connors made a reference to the 1984 suicide of her brother, David, Greig’s composure crumpled.

Connors said he would have killed himself, too, if he had a sister like Greig. Greig gasped, then put her hands to her face and mouth – and started to cry. It took her several minutes to regain her composure. In March, Greig said in open court that she had sought psychiatric counseling after her brother shot himself to death.

Greig and Bulger were arrested last June at the Santa Monica apartment where they had been staying since at least 1996. Bulger, facing a racketeering indictment that alleges he took part in a host of murders, was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. He fled the Boston area just before he was about to be charged in an initial indictment in 1994, after being tipped off by his corrupt FBI handler.”

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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 – Appeal

————————————————————–

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.


D.C. taxi official turned FBI informant recalls role in corruption probe

April 3, 2012

Washington Post on April 2, 2012 released the following:

“By Del Quentin Wilber,

Leon Swain Jr. double-checked his recording device and then stepped from his black sport-utility vehicle into an overcast September Friday with one simple, yet potentially dangerous, task: to see if his cover had been blown.

“It’s showtime,” he thought.

For the past hour, Swain, a D.C. taxi official turned FBI informant in a public corruption probe, had been mulling over how to keep the investigation going, if only for one more week. He knew it would not be easy: That morning’s newspapers had been filled with headlines trumpeting the arrest of a D.C. Council aide, and his FBI handlers were nervous that their targets might suspect Swain was an informant.

Clad in a dark suit that hung loosely from his rotund frame, the taxi commission chairman took a deep breath and then lumbered across the parking lot to meet one of the targets sitting in an idling gold Mercedes-Benz.

In a city where federal authorities are investigating the campaigns of the mayor and the chairman of the D.C. Council, where a council member was forced to resign in January after pleading guilty to corruption charges and where lower-level officials seem to be indicted all too frequently, Swain not only turned down a substantial bribe but also became an FBI informant. He willingly wore a wire, accepted about $250,000 in payoffs from corrupt businessmen trying to control the D.C. taxi industry and spent two years looking over his shoulder wondering if anyone was onto him.

What did he get for his work? The voluble former D.C. police officer, a bespectacled 59-year-old retiree who shuffles because he has two wrecked knees, received not a dime, nor even a mention in self-congratulatory press releases issued by federal authorities. Stress wrecked his sleep, binge eating hoisted 60 pounds onto his considerable build, and his close-cropped hair and mustache turned increasingly gray. When his boss lost reelection, he was pushed out of his job.

Now, with the key figures recently sentenced, Swain is finally free to talk — about being an informant and what it was like to wonder whether the man in the Mercedes might put a bullet in his head.

To think it all started in a produce aisle.

The bribe

Swain was pushing his cart through a supermarket in College Park on the warm Saturday of Labor Day weekend in 2007 when Yitbarek Syume materialized at his side. A powerful figure in the D.C. cab industry, Syume had called 30 minutes earlier to demand a meeting with Swain, the newly installed chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission.

Syume — a diminutive and soft-spoken Ethio­pian American who had driven a cab before becoming a local taxi tycoon — had something important he needed to discuss, he told Swain over the phone. Immediately. The taxi commissioner, not wanting to offend Syume, suggested meeting while he shopped. Minutes later, Syume was throwing vegetables into Swain’s cart, extolling the importance of proper nutrition.

“What do you want, Yitbarek?” Swain finally asked, cutting short the small talk.

He and others in the taxi industry wanted to give Swain $20,000 to help him build “community support,” Syume replied. And with that, he left the supermarket, but not before promising to appear at Swain’s office Tuesday with the cash.

The taxi commissioner finished his errand in a fog and felt sick to his stomach. As he drove to his home in Southeast Washington, his mind roiled. Had he just been offered a bribe? What did Syume want for the money? He had met with Syume before and heard him and some of his associates talk about their visions for the industry and how they thought they could profit from a controversial switch from the zone fare system to taxi meters. Did that, Swain thought, have something to do with the promise of money?

Swain also wondered why Syume would offer him cash when the businessman knew he had spent 17 years as a D.C. police officer. He had even gained a modicum of fame on the force: In 1981, he drove John W. Hinckley to D.C. police headquarters moments after President Ronald Reagan was nearly killed by the would-be assassin, and he enlisted Sugar Ray Leonard in 1987 to persuade a kidnapper to turn over an 18-month-old girl.

Swain, a lifelong city resident who has connections in the D.C. political community and has weighed runs for the D.C. Council, was on his second tour on the taxi commission.

Within days of taking office in 2007 and having heard rumors about corruption in the cab industry, he told a group of taxi drivers: “I don’t want your money; I don’t want your liquor; and I don’t want women. There is nothing you have that I want.” For a brief moment, Swain wondered if Syume’s ham-handed approach bore the hallmarks of an FBI sting.

This account of Swain’s involvement in the taxi cab case was built on interviews with Swain, current and former federal authorities and lawyers familiar with the case, and a review of court records.

That night, Swain decided to report Syume to an adviser to then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), who had tapped him to be chairman of the commission. Then Swain spoke with D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who told him that she would send detectives to speak with him.

By Tuesday, the taxi commissioner was meeting with Syume in his Southeast office, which two D.C. police detectives had wired with recording devices before stationing themselves in a cramped adjoining bathroom.

Syume wasted little time in handing Swain an envelope stuffed with $14,000 in cash, telling him that he wanted to purchase licenses to operate cab companies. The next day, he gave Swain $8,000, explaining that he wanted to expedite the licensing process. He also said he thought the certificates would become increasingly valuable if the city limited the number of cab companies as expected.

Over the next two years, in exchange for licenses he didn’t realize were fictitious, Syume passed the taxi commissioner more than $200,000 in cash in folded newspapers, envelopes, shopping bags and even a pillow case — so much money, Swain says, that he remembers the payoffs as “just a blur.”

The role

Not long after the first bribe, the FBI took the lead. And it soon became clear to agents and federal prosecutors that Swain seemed to relish his role, perhaps revisiting glory days on the police force. He strapped a pistol to his hip (as a former D.C. police officer he is allowed to carry one). And drawing on his lengthy experience as a vice officer, he provided a stream of advice about techniques, didn’t always take instructions well and criticized agents when he thought they made mistakes. Once, he chastised an agent for repeatedly driving through his meeting place in a conspicuous Ford Crown Victoria.

“I was a pain,” Swain concedes.

Despite the commissioner’s bluster, law enforcement officials say Swain played the role of corrupt official to near-perfection — prodding and cajoling his targets while capturing every bribe and incriminating word on tape.

“Get the money straight,” he told one of Syume’s associates in a recorded conversation. “If you’re not going to get me the money, tell me. But don’t tell me you’re going to give me the money, then don’t show up with it.”

The undercover work and the stresses of his day job — implementing the meter system, for instance, sparked lawsuits and angry confrontations with taxi drivers — eventually wore him down.

He grew apprehensive that Syume and his financial backers, always nebulous in his mind, might resort to violence. Concerned that bystanders might get hurt in potential crossfire, Swain quit his church choir.

Twice divorced with three grown children, Swain removed every photograph and personal item — including a grandson’s hand-drawn birthday card — from his office because he worried Syume might target his family if things went sour. He even asked the FBI to buy him an expensive guard dog, a request that was denied.

“He did not look good,” LaVerne Swain-Thompson, one of Swain’s five siblings, recalled after seeing her brother in 2008 or 2009. “I could tell something was wrong. I asked him about it, and he just told me, ‘There’s something going on, but I can’t tell you about it.’ ”

Unable to talk to friends or family members — Swain was mostly a loner anyway — he came to increasingly rely on his D.C. police handler, Detective Joseph Sopata, a veteran officer who remained on the case with the FBI. Nearly every day, Sopata called Swain to measure his mood and keep him calm with reassurances and jokes.

One way Sopata reduced the tension was to wager that Swain could not slip non-sequiturs into his recorded conversations. When Swain uttered one such phrase, “the Great Gazoo,” during a meeting in his office, Sopata later told the taxi commissioner that he nearly burst out laughing in the nearby bathroom. (Sopata declined to comment.)

“Joe knew what I was going through,” Swain said. “Without him, I would have put an end to it. It was just overwhelming. He helped me through a very tough period.”

Swain also came to depend heavily on the District’s then-Attorney General, Peter Nickles. Known for his brusque demeanor, Nickles surprised Swain by calling at least twice a week to check on him, always expressing earnest concern.

“His effort was heroic,” Nickles recalled recently. “The roughest part was that it never seemed to end. The FBI would tell him it will be over in a week, then two weeks would pass and then a month would pass and they would have him accept more cash. . . . I asked him a couple of times if it was too much and I had to pull the plug, and he would say: ‘No, I love the city. I love my job. I’m determined to see it to its end.’ ”

‘I hear rumors’

As the investigation wore on, Swain met with more people suspected of being involved in the scam, including Abdul Kamus, an advocate for Ethiopian taxi drivers and a close associate of Syume’s. Swain accepted $20,100 from Kamus for taxi licenses, and the FBI soon confronted the suspect and persuaded him to also become an informant. While wearing a recording device, Kamus handed $1,500 to Ted Loza, a top staffer to the influential council member Jim Graham (D-Ward-1).

When Loza was arrested on a Thursday in late September 2009 and word spread that Kamus was an informant, Swain was told by a taxi driver that Syume was gunning for him. Then he got a call from an FBI agent who said that Syume was sitting in his gold Mercedes in a parking lot near the Taxicab Commission offices.

Swain and an undercover FBI agent were worried that Syume knew the taxi commissioner was an informant. Maybe he was waiting there to silence him, Swain thought.

Still, Swain and the agents wanted to keep the operation going until they could arrest Syume and several dozen taxi drivers on charges of bribing Swain to obtain individual operator’s licenses.

As he got out of his truck and shuffled toward the Mercedes, Syume was getting out of the car. Swain’s mind whipped through ways to handle Syume. As they converged, Swain decided to be bold, hoping to push Syume off balance.

“What the —- happened,” Swain barked before a bit of probing: “I hear rumors you were pissed at me and you were going to take me out.”

“Oh, no, trust me,” Syume said — though it quickly became clear that he would not be forgiving Kamus.

“The one [Kamus] will be eliminated,” Syume said. “You’ll see . . . eliminated soon. . . . Permanently eliminated.”

Despite the heat, Swain persuaded the businessman to continue with the scheme. The next week, authorities nabbed Syume and 36 taxi drivers at the D.C. police academy when they showed up to take their tests and obtain their certificates. The major players, including Syume and Loza, would all eventually receive prison terms.

In the weeks after the arrests, Swain didn’t celebrate. Instead, he checked himself into a hospital to be treated for fatigue. “I had to be taught how to sleep again,” he said.”

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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

————————————————————–

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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Alleged Drug lords targeted by Fast and Furious were FBI informants

March 23, 2012

Los Angeles Times on March 21, 2012 released the following:

“Federal agents released alleged gun trafficker Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta to help them find two Mexican drug lords. But the two were secret FBI informants, emails show.

By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington— When the ATF made alleged gun trafficker Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta its primary target in the ill-fated Fast and Furious investigation, it hoped he would lead the agency to two associates who were Mexican drug cartel members. The ATF even questioned and released him knowing that he was wanted by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

But those two drug lords were secretly serving as informants for the FBI along the Southwest border, newly obtained internal emails show. Had Celis-Acosta simply been held when he was arrested by theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in May 2010, the investigation that led to the loss of hundreds of illegal guns and may have contributed to the death of a Border Patrol agent could have been closed early.

Documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington Bureau show that as far back as December 2009 — five months before Celis-Acosta was detained and released at the border in a car carrying 74 live rounds of ammunition — ATF and DEA agents learned by chance that they were separately investigating the same man in the Arizona and Mexico border region.

ATF agents had placed a secret pole camera outside his Phoenix home to track his movements, and separately the DEA was operating a “wire room” to monitor live wiretap intercepts to follow him.

In May 2010, Celis-Acosta was briefly detained at the border in Lukeville, Ariz., and then released by Hope MacAllister, the chief ATF investigator on Fast and Furious, after he promised to cooperate with her.

The ATF had hoped he would lead them to two Mexican cartel members. But records show that after Celis-Acosta finally was arrested in February 2011, the ATF learned to its surprise that the two cartel members were secret FBI informants.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) are investigating Fast and Furious, which allowed illegal gun purchases in Arizona in hopes of tracking the weapons to Mexican drug cartel leaders. In a confidential memo to Republican committee members, Issa and Grassley said the ATF should have known the cartel members were informants and immediately shut down Fast and Furious.

“This means the entire goal of Fast and Furious — to target these two individuals and bring them to justice — was a failure,” they wrote. The “lack of follow-through” by the various agencies, they said, typified “the serious management failures that occurred throughout all levels during Fast and Furious.”

James Needles, a top ATF official in Arizona, told congressional investigators last year that it was very frustrating and a “major disappointment” to learn too late about the informants.

ATF officials declined to comment about the investigations because they are continuing.

But Adrian P. Fontes, a Phoenix attorney representing Celis-Acosta, who has pleaded not guilty, said he was concerned the federal agencies purposely did not share information.

“When one hand is not talking to the other, perhaps somebody is hiding something,” he said. “Was this intentional?”

Emails and other records show that once the ATF and DEA realized they were both investigating Celis-Acosta, officials from both agencies met in December 2009 at the DEA field office in Phoenix.

It is unclear, however, whether MacAllister later told the DEA that she released Celis-Acosta in May 2010 and that he was headed into Mexico.

Her boss, David J. Voth, the ATF’s group supervisor for Fast and Furious, told committee investigators that the ATF realized the Sinaloa cartel members were “national security assets,” or FBI informants, only after Celis-Acosta was rearrested. He identified the informants as two brothers, and said, “We first learned when we went back and sorted out the facts.””

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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

————————————————————–

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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.