APNewsBreak: FBI affidavit says Minn. man plotted attack against Mexican consulate

May 18, 2012

The Washington Post on May 17, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota man with suspected ties to white supremacist groups planned to attack the Mexican consulate in St. Paul, believing it would stir debate on immigration amnesty issues ahead of the 2012 presidential election, according to a federal affidavit obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

Joseph Benjamin Thomas also told an undercover FBI agent he considered himself a “domestic terrorist” instead of an American and would risk his life for the white supremacist movement in the event of a “race war,” the FBI affidavit said.

The document, recently unsealed in federal court, provides new details about the investigation into Thomas’ alleged plan. He was indicted in April on drug charges, though authorities had been watching him and another man since 2010 as part of a domestic terrorism probe. The affidavit said he’d amassed weapons and wanted to attack minorities, people with left-leaning political beliefs and government officials.

Thomas, 42, is not facing any terrorism-related charges. His attorney did not return a phone message Thursday, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

“We consider him a threat, and we believe he had the capacity to carry these threats out,” FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said in an interview Thursday. “This was a lengthy investigation, and it was driven by our belief that the intentions of these persons were sincere.”

In addition to the plot against the consulate, the FBI alleges, Thomas had collected license plate numbers of people with Barack Obama bumper stickers and had asked an associate to volunteer at a left-leaning bookstore to obtain customers’ addresses.

The affidavit alleges that Thomas and another man arrested in April, 31-year-old Samuel James Johnson, were trying to form a supremacist group with a militant wing. Thomas told an undercover agent he expected a race war within two years and that his group would be able to control an interstate and airports to prevent the military from coming into Minnesota, the affidavit said.

In the plot against the consulate, Thomas allegedly told an undercover agent he wanted to steal a pickup truck, load it with barrels of oil and gas, drive it into the consulate and allow the mixture to spill, then set it ablaze with a road flare. Thomas also said he’d found recipes for the mixture and instructions for making napalm, the affidavit said.

The affidavit alleged Thomas wanted to carry out the attack on May 1, a day used in recent years by activists in the U.S. to hold rallies for immigrant rights. But he later said the attack couldn’t happen that day, blaming personal reasons and noting more police were in the area, the affidavit said.

FBI agents reported seeing Thomas conducting surveillance on the consulate building in December. At that point, he told an undercover agent he wasn’t sure if the plot should move forward but continued to develop it and found a place where 55-gallon barrels could be stolen.

Thomas also suggested placing hoax explosive devices along the May Day parade route in the Twin Cities, saying he had video of prior parades so he could identify parade participants.

Ana Luisa Fajer, the consul of Mexico based in St. Paul, said the consulate was “duly and timely” notified of Thomas’ alleged plot.

“We take these threats very seriously and appreciate the full support we have received from the outset,” she said in a phone interview, adding that the consulate’s security protocols have been reinforced.

“Expressions of hate are the ones that motivated the alleged plotter,” she said. “These things exist, but we definitely think it’s an isolated voice here.”

Thomas, from the St. Paul suburb of Mendota Heights, was indicted on four charges related to possession and sale of methamphetamine, while Johnson, of Austin, Minn., was indicted on weapons charges. The indictment said Johnson’s prior convictions barred him from having weapons, though he was found with five — including a semi-automatic assault rifle — and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks extremist groups nationwide, said weapons charges are common in such cases because it’s hard for prosecutors to prove terror charges based on someone’s planning.

“In my 18 years of having tracked extremists, I think that weapons charges are among the most sure to stick,” he said. “Weapons charges are pretty common among most major right wing extremist movements because they love guns.”

According to an affidavit unsealed last month, Johnson was a former member and Minnesota leader of the National Socialist Movement, a white nationalist group, and he and Thomas were trying to form a spinoff group called the Aryan Liberation Movement with the intent of committing violence.”

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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

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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.


6 suspects in black market pot-sale bust facing prison

May 4, 2012

Chicago Tribune on May 3, 2012 released the following:

“Chris Conrad
Mail Tribune, Medford, Ore.

Federal prosecutors say the six men accused of funneling thousands of pounds of excess buds grown on medical marijuana farms to the black market could face a mandatory five years in prison if they are convicted.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Fong said federal statutes allow for mandatory prison sentences for marijuana offenses if more than 100 plants are involved. However, prosecutors could forgo the mandatory sentences, depending on the suspects’ criminal history and whether they cooperate with the investigation. “The absolute maximum penalty would be 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine,” Fong said.

Fong said four named in the federal indictment released Tuesday have made their initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Medford.

Brian Wayne Simmons, Clifford Ruhland, Caleb Joseph Kulp and Scott Grantski appeared in court on charges of manufacture, delivery and possession of marijuana, Fong said.

Michael Reed Peru and John Wayne Johnson could be arraigned in the near future, Fong said.

“They are not being held in jail at this time,” Fong said. The men have deep ties to the Rogue Valley and are not believed to be a flight risk prior to their trial, Fong said.

The men are believed to have grown at least 4,000 pounds of excess marijuana at medical gardens in Medford and Central Point last year, according to a federal affidavit.

The buds from these plants were in the process of drying when Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided the farms on Dark Hollow, East Gregory and Table Rock roads in October, the affidavit says.

Fong said the scope of the investigation was responsible for the nearly seven-month lag time between the raids and the indictment.

DEA investigators culled through bank records and video surveillance linked to the group as they tried to piece the case together. “It takes time to look through all this evidence and try to understand what you’re seeing,” Fong said.

Investigators believe Peru was a major player in the crimes, which include moving pounds of Southern Oregon marijuana up Interstate 5 for sale in Washington.

Peru made local headlines about eight years ago when he tried to build a golf course on private and environmentally sensitive public land at the site of the Billings Ranch in north Ashland.

When reached by phone Wednesday, Peru declined to comment on the claims made by the DEA in the indictment.

“All I can say is that I didn’t do half of what they accused me of,” Peru said. “I’m going to wait and see what happens before I make a statement.”

Peru’s son, identified as Reed Peru in the indictment, was arrested by Washington police after allegedly selling 12 pounds of marijuana to a police informant in Bremerton, near Seattle.

Prosecutors believe Mike Peru was selling buds grown in Jackson County in Washington.

Bank account records noted in the indictment showed that Mike Peru, Simmons and Ruhland deposited upwards of $40,000 in cash at a time between October 2010 and October 2011. Prosecutors believe the proceeds are from black-market marijuana.

Attempts to reach the five other men named in the indictment were not successful Wednesday.

Peru did say that Ruhland was the boyfriend of Kaelin Glazier at the time the Ruch teen was killed in 1996.

“He told me once that he never really got over that,” Peru said.

Ruhland has a previous felony marijuana conviction, according to Jackson County Circuit Court records.

Fong said the plants pulled from the suspects’ farms were “impressive” in their size and the amount of high-quality buds they produced.

“Some of these plants produced more than 10 pounds of bud,” Fong said.

Oregon Medical Marijuana Program guidelines allow a registered grower to produce six mature plants 12 inches or taller per patient, for up to four patients.

There is no limit to the number of growers per site. But all the marijuana produced must belong to the patients, who can possess only 1.5 pounds of usable buds at one time.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Chief Judge Rules in Favor of Prosecutors, Says Bulger Must Face Federal Criminal Charges for an Alleged Role in 19 Murders

June 30, 2011

The Boston Globe on June 30, 2011 released the following:

“By Milton J. Valencia, Maria Cramer and John R. Ellement, Globe Staff

US District Court Chief Judge Mark Wolf today handed federal prosecutors their first victory in the James “Whitey” Bulger prosecution and said prosecutors can focus on the case involving the 19 murders Bulger allegedly played a role in committing.

Wolf, ruling from the bench, approved a motion by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’ office to drop a set of charges filed against Bulger in 1995 and to keep intact a second batch of charges, which include the allegations the 81-year-old reputed gangster participated in 19 killings.

“It is in the public interest that this case be dismissed,” Wolf said. “I find that the US attorney has made a good faith decision to dismiss this case.”

Speaking to a courtroom filled with relatives of Bulger’s alleged victims as well as Bulger’s two brothers, John and William, Wolf said Bulger could have raised the concern when he was first charged. But now, after having spent 16 years on the run, the judge said Bulger should not benefit from being a fugitive.

“Mr. Bulger did not appear to object to alleged judge shopping in 2000. He could have,’’ Wolf said.

The extraordinary case of Bulger had yet another unexpected twist today when authorities used a United States Coast Guard helicopter to transport Bulger from the Plymouth jail to Boston for a court appearance. Since his return to Boston last week, authorities have deployed a caravan of speeding vehicles to bring him to US District Court.

NECN-TV video shows a handcuffed 81-year-old Bulger, in an orange prison uniform, being helped out of the helicopter by a camouflage-clad officer armed with an assault rifle. Bulger, who appears to be wearing ear protectors, crouches a little as he passes under the helicopter’s rotors toward an SUV waiting a short distance away. The alleged vicious gangster stands patiently by the open door of an SUV before being placed in it.

Bulger is in the courthouse for the third time this week for two separate hearings in which lawyers and federal prosecutors will battle over the number of criminal charges Bulger will face and whether the alleged gang leader will get a court-appointed lawyer.

Wolf ‘s decision to throw out the 1995 also ends his personal inovlvement in the prosecution of Bulger and Bulger’s confidant, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, both of whom worked as informants for the FBI while engaging in years of criminal activity, allegedly including some of the 19 murders Bulger is charged with.
“My role in this case is essentially over,’’ Wolf said from the bench.

At the courthouse today, Steven Davis, the brother of Debra Davis, one of Bulger’s 19 alleged murder victims, protested when Bulger’s brothers, John and William, were allowed into the courtroom before anyone else.

The Globe’s Maria Cramer reports that security officials tried to calm Steven Davis, who was thrown out of court proceedings against a Bulger associate in the 1990s when he lost his temper. “It’s his brother. If it was your brother, I’d let youse in, too,’’ a security official told Davis.

In the courtroom, John and William Bulger sat next to each other. James Bulger, wearing the orange uniform of a federal pretrial detainee, winked at his two brothers while waiting for the court hearing to get underway.

From the bench, Wolf said he would unseal a federal affidavit late today that outlines how the government is cracking down on leaks to reporters about what Bulger has said since he was taken into custody. The issue was raised by the defense following a Boston Sunday Globe story reporting that Bulger had told officials that he had gone to Mexico during his years on the run.

Later today, US Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler is slated to hold a hearing to determine whether Bulger cannot afford a lawyer.

Peter Krupp, a provisional attorney for Bulger, argued Wednesday in court documents that prosecutors were “forum shopping’’ when, earlier this week, they moved to dismiss the racketeering charges brought against Bulger in 1995. Prosecutors want to focus instead on charges brought in 2000, which includes allegations that Bulger murdered 19 people.

Krupp argued Wednesday for pursuing both sets of charges at the same time. That would keep the indictments before Wolf, the original judge in the case. The 2000 case was assigned to a different judge.

The defense lawyer accused prosecutors of wanting to drop the 1995 charges as a way to keep the case out of Wolf’s court. He suggested prosecutors wanted to avoid Wolf because of the judge’s thorough examination more than a decade ago of the government’s scandalous dealings with Bulger.

“The government would be allowed to game the system,’’ Krupp said in the court documents. “Having encountered difficult questions from this court in lengthy hearings in the late 1990s, the government chose to have the newest allegations returned in a separate indictment, so that it might be assigned a different docket and drawn to a different judge.’’

Prosecutors responded by saying that Bulger’s call for consolidation of the cases was an attempt to delay his trial on the 19 slayings by bogging down the proceedings. They also said his lawyer lacks the authority to challenge the government’s decision to drop the 1995 case, in which the most serious charge is that Bulger extorted money from bookmakers.

Prosecutors have the support of families of Bulger’s alleged victims, including Thomas Donahue of Dorchester, whose father, Michael, was gunned down, allegedly by Bulger, in 1982. Noting Bulger’s age, Donahue said that the defense tactics could prevent Bulger from standing trial at all.

“As the government tries to push the issue, the defense is just dragging their feet,’’ Donahue said. “If this man dies, everything with him dies as well, and everything that happened to my father dies.’’

Krupp has argued that investigators seized more than $800,000 that they found in Bulger’s apartment after his arrest last week and that they have vowed to seize other assets they find, leaving him incapable of hiring his own lawyer.

But prosecutors say Bulger has the means to pay for an attorney, even if that means getting the financial support of his family, including former state Senate president William M. Bulger.

The ongoing legal wrangling that has occurred in the week following Bulger’s arrest June 22 in Santa Monica, Calif., after 16 years in hiding shows the complexities of the high-profile, high-stakes case, legal analysts say.

Prosecutors and family members of some of Bulger’s alleged victims say Krupp is doing his own “forum shopping’’ in an attempt to keep the case before Judge Wolf and trying to preserve the original charges. They say he is drawing out the legal process and delaying justice.

Ortiz said in court documents that prosecutors wanted to dismiss the older case because it is weaker. Two key witnesses have died, she said, and prosecuting the case would divert resources from the more serious case.

Responding to Krupp’s motion late yesterday, prosecutors decried “the defendant’s lack of knowledge’’ of the history of the case, saying the 2000 racketeering indictment alleges “a new enterprise and a different pattern of racketeering.’’

“In fact, the only logical explanation for the defendant’s counterintuitive strategy of opposing dismissal and requesting that he be prosecuted for additional offenses is that the defendant is engaging in forum shopping,’’ prosecutors said.

Bulger, a longtime FBI informant, fled just before Christmas 1994 after his former FBI handler, John J. Connolly Jr., warned him that he was about to be indicted. Bulger and his longtime sidekick, Stephen “the Rifleman’’ Flemmi, were indicted in January 1995, along with Francis “Cadillac Frank’’ Salemme, then boss of the New England Mafia, and four other men on racketeering and extortion charges. Bulger, Flemmi, and Salemme were accused of running illegal rackets in Greater Boston and extorting money from bookmakers.

Bulger became the target of a worldwide manhunt. Flemmi tried to get the case dismissed by revealing that he and Bulger were longtime FBI informants who provided the bureau with information about local Mafia leaders, including Salemme.

He argued that their alliance was with the FBI, not with the Mafia.

But the defense backfired. Several of Bulger’s former associates began cooperating with investigators, leading them to secret graves of homicide victims and exposing Bulger’s relationship with the FBI during a series of hearings before Wolf.

The former associates’ assistance led to the 2000 indictment, which charged Bulger and Flemmi with 19 murders. Flemmi pleaded guilty to participating in 10 of those slayings and is serving a life sentence.

The son of William O’Brien, who was gunned down on Morrissey Boulevard in March 1973, said yesterday that prosecutors and the court should focus on the 2000 case.

Billy O’Brien never got to meet his father. He was born four days after the slaying, and he said the trial could help him understand the past.

“I’m just looking for this to get going, so I can put it all behind me,’’ O’Brien said. “I’ve been looking at this for so long. He needs to answer to the 19 murders that he has coming to him. They need to get on to the stuff that really does matter to me and the other victims involved in this case.’’”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The 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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