“‘Mandatory minimum’ sentences to end for many drug offenders”

August 12, 2013

Los Angeles Times on August 11, 2013 released the following:

“Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. plans to announce a federal policy shift to reduce penalties for low-level, nonviolent offenders and to ease prison overcrowding.

By David G. Savage

SAN FRANCISCO — Federal prosecutors will no longer seek long, “mandatory minimum” sentences for many low-level, nonviolent drug offenders, under a major shift in policy aimed at turning around decades of explosive growth in the federal prison population, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. planned to announce Monday.

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no good law enforcement reason,” Holder planned to tell the American Bar Assn. meeting here, according to an advance text of his remarks. “While the aggressive enforcement of federal criminal statutes remains necessary, we cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation.”

Under the new policy, prosecutors would send fewer drug offenders to federal prison for long terms and send more of them to drug treatment and community service. A Justice Department spokesman said officials had no estimate of how many future prosecutions would be affected.

The change responds to a major goal of civil rights groups, which say long prison sentences have disproportionately hurt low-income and minority communities.

In his speech, Holder endorses that point of view, saying that “a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities” and that “many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem, rather than alleviate it.”

He also notes that prominent conservatives have embraced the idea of cutting sentences and reducing prison populations.

Conservative groups with leaders including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have called for changing U.S. crime and prison policies, Justice Department officials note. Support from conservatives has come in part because of the enormous bite that prison costs take out of state budgets.

Beginning with the “war on drugs” of the 1980s, many states and the federal government adopted laws that required judges to impose long sentences on anyone caught with certain amounts of illegal drugs, regardless of the circumstances.

More recently, as crime rates have dropped sharply in most major urban areas, public demand for lengthy prison terms has waned, and both liberal and conservative states have changed their laws to incarcerate fewer people.

Advocates of change point to Texas and New York as leaders in the effort to reduce sentences, particularly for lower-level drug crimes. Although California has modified its strict “three strikes” sentencing laws, the state has made fewer changes than many others. The state’s prisons currently are under court order to reduce the number of inmates by nearly 10,000 this year to cope with overcrowding.

Congress has moved more slowly than state legislatures. But conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats have both called for pulling back on the use of mandatory minimum prison terms.

In his speech, Holder plans to cite proposals by Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), two of the Senate’s leading liberals, and Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), two tea party favorites, that would give judges more leeway in sentencing drug offenders.

“By reserving the most severe penalties for serious, high-level or violent drug traffickers, we can better promote public safety, deterrence and rehabilitation, while making our expenditures smarter and more productive,” Holder says in his speech.

How big a role mass incarceration has played in cutting crime rates remains a hotly debated topic among criminal justice experts. But there’s no disagreement that mandatory minimum sentences helped cause explosive growth in prison populations. At the federal level, nearly half of the 219,000 inmates are serving time for drug-related crimes.

“While the entire U.S. [prison] population has increased by about a third since 1980, the federal population has grown at an astonishing rate — by almost 800%,” Holder’s speech says. “It’s still growing, despite the fact that federal prisons are operating at nearly 40% above capacity. Even though this country comprises just 5% of the world’s population, we incarcerate almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.”

Under the new federal policy, which stems from a review Holder ordered this year, U.S. attorneys will no longer bring charges that include lengthy mandatory minimum prison terms in cases of “low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels,” Holder planned to announce.

Those low-level offenders instead “will be charged with offenses for which the accompanying sentences are better suited to their individual conduct.”

Meting out long sentences to low-level criminals “breeds disrespect for the system” and does not serve public safety, the speech says.

In addition, according to the remarks, the federal Bureau of Prisons will revise its guidelines to allow the early release of more inmates who are elderly or who seek “compassionate release” for medical reasons.

The department is also looking into new ways to identify drug offenders who can be sent to drug treatment or required to do community service as an alternative to prison.

“Clearly, these strategies can work,” Holder’s speech says, citing recent efforts in Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Hawaii. “They’ve attracted overwhelming, bipartisan support in ‘red states’ as well as ‘blue states.’ And it’s past time for others to take notice.””

————————————————————–

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.


“Federal prosecutors won’t seek death penalty for Kodiak Coast Guard killings”

August 7, 2013

Alaska Dispatch on August 6, 2013 released the following:

By Laurel Andrews

“Prosecutors announced Monday that they will not seek the death penalty against James Michael Wells, charged with murdering two men on the Kodiak Coast Guard base in April 2012.

The murders stunned the island of Kodiak – a community of about 6,000 people living on the second-largest island in the U.S. — and the case continued with no arrests made for 10 months after the killings.

Richard Belisle and James Hopkins were found dead April 12, 2012, shortly after their shift began at 7 a.m. at the “rigger shop,” where they worked alongside Wells repairing antenna at Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak.

U.S. Attorney for Alaska Karen Loeffler said in February that Alaska State Troopers, the FBI, and the U.S. Coast Guard investigative service considered the investigation “a top priority,” and that Wells’ indictment in February was the culmination of their efforts.

Wells was charged with four counts of premeditated murder in the killing of U.S. Coast Guard Electronics Technician First Class Hopkins and U.S. Coast Guard civilian employee Belisle — and six counts total. The first two counts charge him with murder in the first degree on federal property. Two others charge him with murder of an officer or employee of the United States. The final two charge him with possession and use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.

Wells pleaded not guilty to the February murders.

The question of whether prosecutors would seek the death penalty remained up in the air in late July, when Wells’ defense attorney Rich Curtner filed a motion that made reference to the possibility of the death penalty being sought in the case.

The death penalty was abolished in Alaska in 1957, two years before the then-U.S. territory became a state. But prosecutors still can seek the death penalty for cases tried in federal court.

In March, Loeffler told Alaska Dispatch there’s been “no case that I’m aware of in the last 25 years where the death penalty was actually sought at trial” in Alaska.

However, the death penalty was approved, and would have been sought, by prosecutors in the high-profile case against Joshua Wade, an Anchorage man convicted of killing his neighbor, nurse Mindy Schloss, in 2007. Because the case was tried in federal court and because the charges also involved a carjacking, Wade was eligible for the death penalty. But eventually, Wade cut a deal in which he pleaded guilty to the murder, and federal prosecutors agreed to not seek the death penalty.

Loeffler said in March that she would make a recommendation to the U.S. Attorney General’s Capital Review Committee in Washington, D.C., on whether to pursue the death penalty, but ultimately the decision lies with the U.S. Attorney General.

Monday’s notice states simply that the U.S. District Attorney’s office will not be pursuing the death penalty in the case.

Neither Wells’ defense attorney nor the U.S. District Attorney’s office were available for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

Well’s trial is slated for February 2014.”

————————————————————–

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.


Justice Department Targets Retired Gen. James E. “Hoss” Cartwright in Leak Probe

June 28, 2013

The Washington Post on June 27, 2013 released the following:

By Greg Miller and Sari Horwitz

“A retired four-star Marine Corps general who served as the nation’s second-ranking military officer is a target of a Justice Department investigation into a leak of information about a covert U.S.-Israeli cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program, a senior Obama administration official said.

Retired Gen. James E. “Hoss” Cartwright served as deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was part of President Obama’s inner circle on a range of critical national security issues before he retired in 2011.

The administration official said that Cartwright is suspected of revealing information about a highly classified effort to use a computer virus later dubbed Stuxnet to sabotage equipment in Iranian nuclear enrichment plants.

Stuxnet was part of a broader cyber campaign called Olympic Games that was disclosed by the New York Times last year as one of the first major efforts by the United States to use computer code as a destructive weapon against a key adversary.

Cartwright, who helped launch that campaign under President Bush and pushed for its escalation under Obama, was recently informed that he was a “target” of a wide-ranging Justice Department probe into the leak, according to the senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Justice Department officials declined to comment on the case, as did Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland, which is in charge of the investigation.

Neither Cartwright nor his attorney, former White House counsel Greg Craig, responded to requests for comment.

The revelation, which was first reported by NBC News, means that an administration that has already launched more leaks prosecutions than all of its predecessors combined is now focused on one of its own. Since Obama took office, the Justice Department has prosecuted or charged eight people for alleged violations of the Espionage Act.

Cartwright was a regular participant in meetings of top national security officials at the White House and was thought to have significant influence with Obama before being passed over as a possible candidate to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A target is a suspect in a criminal case who has not yet been indicted but is expected to be. Federal prosecutors are not required to tell targets that they are under investigation but it is not uncommon for them to do so in cases when an indictment is likely.

The investigation into the Stuxnet leak was launched in June 2012 by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and gained momentum in recent months amid indications that prosecutors were putting pressure on a range of current and former senior officials suspected of involvement.

The leaks surrounding Stuxnet exposed details about what had been one of the most closely held secrets in the U.S. intelligence community, an ambitious effort by the National Security Agency in collaboration with the Israeli government to devise computer code that could cripple Iran’s alleged effort to pursue a nuclear bomb.

The malware was designed to infiltrate Iranian computer networks and cause the nation’s centrifuges to spin out of control, causing damage to critical equipment and sowing confusion among Iranian scientists.

The campaign is believed to have destroyed as many as 1,000 of Iran’s 6,000 centrifuges at the time. But the virus also escaped those closed systems and was subsequently discovered on the Internet, raising concern about the potential that government-sponsored viruses could cause widespread and unintentional harm.

Cartwright, who previously served as head of U.S. Strategic Command, was a principal architect of the campaign. His role, a former senior official said in an interview last year, “was describing the art of the possible, having a view or vision.”

Cartwright, 63, went on to be named to the Pentagon’s No. 2 military post, moving him to the center of policy issues ranging from Iran to the pursuit of al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Yemen.

As vice chairman, Cartwright was scorned by many fellow senior generals for opposing a plan in 2009 to dispatch tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan, putting him at odds with former peers, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, but earning him favor with senior Obama national security aides.

Although Obama forged a quick rapport with Cartwright — White House officials referred to him as the president’s favorite general — the president chose not to promote him to chairman in 2011, in part because of concern that Cartwright had frayed his relationships with too many senior generals during the surge debate. Within the Pentagon, “he wasn’t seen as a team player,” said a senior military official who worked on the Joint Staff.

After retiring, Cartwright took a position at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and has spoken frequently on national security issues. He has emerged as a growing critic of the Obama administration’s expanded use of drones to counter the al-Qaeda threat.

At at event in Chicago in March, Cartwright said that the United States was beginning to see “blowback” from that targeted killing campaign. “If you’re trying to kill your way to a solution, no matter how precise you are, you’re going to upset people even if they’re not targeted.””

————————————————————–

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.


FBI: “Federal Grand Jury Returns 30-Count Indictment Related to Boston Marathon Explosions and Murder of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier”

June 27, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 27, 2013 released the following:

“WASHINGTON—A federal grand jury returned a 30-count indictment against Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev for his alleged role in using weapons of mass destruction at the Boston Marathon to kill three individuals and maim or seriously injure many others, as well as for using a firearm to intentionally kill Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Police Officer Sean Collier.

Tsarnaev, aka “Jahar Tsarni,” 19, a U.S. citizen residing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was charged today by indictment with the use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and conspiracy; bombing of a place of public use resulting in death and conspiracy; malicious destruction of property resulting in death and conspiracy; use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death; carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury; interference with commerce by threats or violence; and aiding and abetting.

“This indictment is the result of exemplary cooperation between federal prosecutors and a wide range of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to investigate the horrific attacks on the Boston Marathon two months ago,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “The department is firmly committed to achieving justice on behalf of all who were affected by these senseless acts of violence. And today’s action proves our unyielding resolve to hold accountable—to the fullest extent of the law—anyone who would threaten the American people or attempt to terrorize our great cities. I would like to thank our law enforcement partners, the FBI, the Department’s National Security Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, and every investigator, agent, officer, attorney, analyst, and support staff member whose courage and commitment continues to make our communities and our nation safer.”

“Today’s indictment is the result of the dedicated and collective efforts of law enforcement and intelligence partners, working with a sense of urgency and purpose to find those responsible for these deadly attacks,” said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller. “These continuing efforts reflect the pursuit of justice for those who lost their lives and for the scores of individuals who were injured.”

“Our hearts go out to the victims of these horrendous acts of violence, and our gratitude to the courageous law enforcement officers who have given so much to protect the people of Boston and the United States,” said John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “We remain committed to obtaining justice in this matter and will continue to work side by side with our partners throughout the law enforcement and intelligence communities to protect the American people from future harm.”

“Today’s charges reflect the serious and violent nature of the events that occurred on April 15th and the tragic series of events that followed,” said Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. “The defendant’s alleged conduct forever changed lives. The victims, their families, and this community have shown extraordinary strength and resilience in the face of this senseless violence, and it is with the hundreds of injured, as well as Krystle, Lingzi, Martin, and Sean in mind that we proceed to ensure that justice is served in this case.”

The indictment alleges that beginning no later than February 2013 and continuing until Tsarnaev was apprehended on April 19, 2013, Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan conspired to use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against people, property, and places of public use. Specifically, the indictment alleges that on April 15, 2013, during the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, Tsarnaev and his brother placed IEDs among the crowds of spectators who were cheering the runners on Boylston Street towards the marathon finish line. After placing the IEDs among the crowd, the indictment alleges, Tsarnaev and his brother detonated the bombs seconds apart, killing three people, maiming and injuring many more, and forcing a premature end to the marathon. The indictment alleges that the IEDs were constructed from pressure cookers, explosive powder, shrapnel, adhesives, and other items and were designed to shred skin, shatter bone, and cause extreme pain and suffering, as well as death.

The indictment also alleges that on April 18, 2013, the FBI released photographs of Tsarnaev and his brother, identifying them as suspects in the marathon bombings. These photographs were widely disseminated on television and elsewhere. The indictment alleges that hours later on April 18, Tsarnaev and his brother, armed with five IEDs, a Ruger P95 semi-automatic handgun, ammunition, a machete, and a hunting knife, drove in their Honda Civic to the MIT campus, where they shot MIT Police Officer Sean Collier and attempted to steal his service weapon.

The indictment further alleges that shortly after Tsarnaev and his brother killed Officer Collier, they carjacked a Mercedes and kidnapped the driver and forced him to drive to a gas station, robbing him of $800 along the way. After the driver managed to escape, the brothers are alleged to have driven the carjacked vehicle to the vicinity of Laurel Street and Dexter Avenue in Watertown, Massachusetts, where Watertown Police officers located them and tried to apprehend them. The indictment alleges that the brothers fired at the police officers and used four additional IEDs against them; then, Tsarnaev re-entered the carjacked vehicle, drove it directly at the officers, and ran over his brother as he managed to escape. Tsarnaev is alleged to have hidden in a dry-docked boat in a Watertown backyard until his arrest the following night.

Seventeen of the charges authorize a penalty of up to life in prison or the death penalty. The remainder authorize a maximum penalty of life in prison or a fixed term of years. Tsarnaev is scheduled to be arraigned on July 10, 2013.

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Middlesex County, Massachusetts District Attorney Marian T. Ryan; Suffolk County, Massachusetts District Attorney Daniel F. Conley; Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Field Division; Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis; Colonel Timothy P. Alben, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Kenneth J. Croke, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Boston Field Division; and Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in Boston, made the announcement today during a press conference.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Boston Division, the Boston Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police, and member agencies of the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is composed of more than 30 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including the ATF, ICE-HSI, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Secret Service, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, and others. In addition, the Watertown Police Department, the Cambridge Police Department, the MIT Police Department, the Boston Fire Department, the National Guard, and police, fire, and emergency responders from across Massachusetts and New England played critical roles in the investigation and response.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Weinreb and Aloke Chakravarty of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts’ Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit; Nadine Pellegrini, Chief of its Major Crimes Unit; and Trial Attorneys of the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and its Criminal Division.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”

————————————————————–

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.


Edward Snowden Charged by a Federal Criminal Complaint With Espionage Over NSA Leaks

June 22, 2013

CNN on June 21, 2013 released the following:

“U.S. charges Snowden with espionage

By Chelsea J. Carter and Carol Cratty, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Federal prosecutors have charged Edward Snowden, the man who admitted leaking top-secret details about U.S. surveillance programs, with espionage and theft of government property, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in U.S. District Court in Virginia on Friday.

The United States has asked Hong Kong, where Snowden is believed to be in hiding, to detain the former National Security Agency contract analyst on a provisional arrest warrant, The Washington Post reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials.

Hong Kong police did not confirm whether they received an arrest request, but Commissioner Andy Tsang said Saturday if they did, authorities would process it in accordance with law.

The complaint charges Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person. The latter two allegations amount to espionage under the federal Espionage Act.

Snowden, 30, has admitted in interviews he was the source behind the leak of classified documents about the NSA’s surveillance programs. Those leaks were the basis of reports in Britain’s Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post this month. The Guardian revealed Snowden’s identify at his request.

The documents revealed the existence of top-secret surveillance programs that collect records of domestic telephone calls in the United States and monitor the Internet activity of overseas residents.

The revelation rocked the Obama administration and U.S. intelligence community, raising questions about secret operations of the NSA and whether the agency was infringing on American civil liberties.

Obama, top legislators and national security officials defend the surveillance programs as necessary to combat terrorism and argue that some privacy must be sacrificed in a balanced approach.

They say the law allows collection of metadata, such as the time and numbers of phone calls, and that a special federal court must approve accessing the content — listening to the call itself.

Snowden is believed to be in hiding in Hong Kong, where he said in interviews earlier this month he fled with the classified documents after taking a leave of absence from his job as an intelligence analyst for NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamiliton. The company has since fired him.

A series of blog posts this week purportedly by Snowden said he leaked classified details about U.S. surveillance programs because President Barack Obama worsened “abusive” practices, instead of curtailing them as he promised as a candidate.

However, Obama “closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge,” a blog post said. The Guardian newspaper and website identified the author as Snowden.

Snowden said that he had to get out of the United States before the leaks were published by the Guardian and The Washington Post to avoid being targeted by the government.

In the interview with the South China Morning Post, he said he plans to stay in Hong Kong to fight any attempt to force him to return to the United States because he has “faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law.”

The complaint against him was filed under seal on June 14 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, but it was unclear from the document whether the United States has asked or will be asking Hong Kong to detain Snowden.

There have been “some preliminary” discussions with Hong Kong authorities, a U.S. official with knowledge of the process told CNN.

The U.S. signed an extradition treaty with Hong Kong in 1996, just seven months before the then British colony was handed back to Beijing. Hong Kong’s extradition laws had previously been governed by the United States-United Kingdom extradition treaty.

This new treaty established an agreement under Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” that allows Hong Kong autonomy from Beijing in all matters apart from defense and foreign policy.”

As Federal Criminal Lawyer Douglas C. McNabb predicted, the U.S. has charged Mr. Snowden in a Federal Criminal Complaint. He was charged on June 14, 2013 with the following federal crimes:

  • 18 USC 641 – Theft of Government Property
  • 18 USC 793(d) – Unauthorized Communication of National Defense Information
  • 18 USC 798(a)(3) – Willful Communication of Classified Communications Intelligence Information to an Unauthorized Person

A copy of the Snowden Federal Criminal Complaint may be found here.

————————————————————–

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.


“Feds crack down on foreclosure auction scams”

June 3, 2013

The Associated Press on June 1, 2013 released the following:

By PAUL ELIAS
Associated Press

“SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — At the height of the financial crisis, bargain hunters would gather each week on county courthouse steps to bid on foreclosed properties throughout Northern and Central California. The inventory lists were long, especially in hard-hit areas such as Sacramento and Stockton. But the auctions were generally short affairs – often because real estate speculators were illegally fixing the bidding process.

In the past three years, federal prosecutors have charged 54 people and two companies in three states for bid-rigging during courthouse auctions of foreclosed properties. Most cases originated in California, the state with the highest foreclosure rate during the financial crisis. Nearly identical rings were also broken up in Raleigh, N.C., and Mobile, Ala.

Working in concert, the would-be buyers would appoint just one person to bid on each property on the auction block, thus securing the “winning” bid. Minutes after the official proceeding was over, they would then conduct an auction among themselves, often on the same courthouse steps.

That’s when a property’s true price would emerge. The conspirators would then divvy up the difference paid at the official auction and the private one.

Federal prosecutors say such schemes have operated for decades, once earning a few thousand dollars per property. But the explosion of foreclosures amid the country’s financial meltdown a few years ago upped illicit gains to millions of dollars. The scammers took money that otherwise would have gone to banks selling the foreclosed properties or beleaguered homeowners who should have been compensated.

The bidding investigations are being driven by a special task force established at the U.S. Justice Department in the wake of the financial crisis to combat mortgage fraud. The probes aim to “stop those who engage in illegal conduct that thwarts the competitive process, and take advantage of American consumers when they are most vulnerable,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer, head of DOJ’s antitrust division in Washington, D.C.

Prosecutors say the circle of conspirators gradually widened at each courthouse: First-time buyers would be brought into the conspiracy as an increasing number of speculators attended the auctions. Those not in on the schemes were often pressured not to return by verbal harassment and, in some cases, physical jostling.

In the last two years, more than 30 people have pleaded guilty to participating in a series of courthouse bid-rigging conspiracies in Northern California counties. Another 11 have been busted in Central California. Similar prosecutions have been carried out in Alabama, where eight people have pleaded guilty in Mobile in the last two years. Five others have pleaded guilty in North Carolina since 2010 to operating a bidding conspiracy around Raleigh.

For many now going to prison, this is their first brush with the law.

Father and son Robert and Jason Brannon were each sentenced to 20 months in prison this month in Mobile, Ala., after pleading guilty to participating in 17 rigged bids. The two opened a real estate investment company in 2003, after Robert Brannon sold a portion of the family farm. When they began attending auctions to acquire rental properties, they discovered that some speculators were rigging the bids and joined in the conspiracy, according to court documents.

In addition to the jail time, the Brannons were ordered to pay restitution of almost $22,000 each, their cut from the rigged auctions.

In April, real estate investor Mohammed Rezaian pleaded guilty to participating in similar scams in Northern California. He has agreed to cooperate in the prosecution of other perpetrators and pay a fine of $213,000. He also faces a little less than two years in prison when sentenced sometime next year. Neither he nor his lawyers returned phone calls.

Federal officials say they expect to charge a few more people in the coming months but that cases are expected to soon drop off now that the heated foreclosure market of late 2008 and 2009 has cooled.

Madeline Schnapp, an economist with PropertyRadar, a company that tracks foreclosures, said sales at auctions have fallen from a height of about 30,000 a month to about 5,000 a month in California as government programs and new laws have made it more difficult for banks to begin foreclosure proceedings.

“There’s not much of a supply now,” she said.

Paul Pfingst, a lawyer who represents another investor charged in participating in a Central California ring, says illegal temptation got the better of many speculators who couldn’t resist victimizing seemingly unsympathetic banks. His client, Andrew Katakis, is accused of participating along with four others in a $2.5 million conspiracy to rig bids in the Stockton area, which has led the nation in foreclosures.

“The amount of money and properties that were changing hands was staggering,” said Pfingst, who maintains his client’s innocence. “It caused many people to cross from legality to illegality.””

————————————————————–

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

————————————————————–

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.


“Walmart Pleads Guilty to Federal Environmental Crimes, Admits Civil Violations, and Will Pay More Than $81 Million”

May 29, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 28, 2013 released the following press release:

“Retailer Admits Violating Criminal and Civil Laws Designed to Protect Water Quality and to Ensure Proper Handling of Hazardous Wastes and Pesticides

WASHINGTON—Walmart Stores Inc. pleaded guilty today in cases filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally handling and disposing of hazardous materials at its retail stores across the United States. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company also pleaded guilty today in Kansas City, Missouri, to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by failing to properly handle pesticides that had been returned by customers at its stores across the country.

As a result of the three criminal cases brought by the Justice Department, as well as a related civil case filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Walmart will pay approximately $81.6 million for its unlawful conduct. Coupled with previous actions brought by the states of California and Missouri for the same conduct, Walmart will pay a combined total of more than $110 million to resolve cases alleging violations of federal and state environmental laws.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, from a date unknown until January 2006, Walmart did not have a program in place and failed to train its employees on proper hazardous waste management and disposal practices at the store level. As a result, hazardous wastes were either discarded improperly at the store level—including being put into municipal trash bins or, if a liquid, poured into the local sewer system—or they were improperly transported without proper safety documentation to one of six product return centers located throughout the United States.

“By improperly handling hazardous waste, pesticides, and other materials in violation of federal laws, Walmart put the public and the environment at risk and gained an unfair economic advantage over other companies,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today, Walmart acknowledged responsibility for violations of federal laws and will pay significant fines and penalties, which will, in part, fund important environmental projects in the communities impacted by the violations and help prevent future harm to the environment.”

“Federal laws that address the proper handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes exist to safeguard our environment and protect the public from harm,” said André Birotte, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. “Retailers like Walmart that generate hazardous waste have a duty to legally and safely dispose of that hazardous waste, and dumping it down the sink was neither legal nor safe. The case against Walmart is designed to ensure compliance with our nation’s environmental laws now and in the future.”

“As one of the largest retailers in the United States, Walmart is responsible not only for the stock on its shelves but also for the significant amount of hazardous materials that result from damaged products returned by customers,” said Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. “The crimes in these cases stem from Walmart’s failure to comply with the regulations designed to ensure the proper handling, storage, and disposal of those hazardous materials and waste. With its guilty plea today, Walmart is in a position to be an industry leader by ensuring that not only Walmart but all retail stores properly handle their waste.”

“This tough financial penalty holds Walmart accountable for its reckless and illegal business practices that threatened both the public and the environment,” said Tammy Dickinson, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. “Truckloads of hazardous products, including more than two million pounds of pesticides, were improperly handled under Walmart’s contract. Today’s criminal fine should send a message to companies of all sizes that they will be held accountable to follow federal environmental laws. Additionally, Walmart’s community service payment will fund important environmental projects in Missouri to help prevent such abuses in the future.”

“The FBI holds all companies, regardless of size, to the same standards,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the San Francisco Field Office. “We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure there is a level playing field for all businesses and that everyone follows the rules.”

“Today, Walmart is taking responsibility for violating laws that protect people from hazardous wastes and chemicals,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Walmart is committing to safe handling of hazardous wastes at all of its facilities nationwide, an action that will benefit communities across the country.”

Walmart owns more than 4,000 stores nationwide that sell thousands of products which are flammable, corrosive, reactive, toxic, or otherwise hazardous under federal law. The products that contain hazardous materials include pesticides, solvents, detergents, paints, aerosols, and cleaners. Once discarded, these products are considered hazardous waste under federal law.

Walmart pleaded guilty this morning in San Francisco to six misdemeanor counts of negligently violating the Clean Water Act. The six criminal charges were filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles and San Francisco (each office filed three charges), and the two cases were consolidated in the Northern District of California, where the guilty pleas were formally entered before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero. As part of a plea agreement filed in California, Walmart was sentenced to pay a $40 million criminal fine and an additional $20 million that will fund various community service projects, including opening a $6 million Retail Compliance Assistance Center that will help retail stores across the nation learn how to properly handle hazardous waste.

In the third criminal case resolved today, Walmart pleaded guilty in the Western District of Missouri to violating FIFRA. According to a plea agreement filed in Kansas City, beginning in 2006, Walmart began sending certain damaged household products, including regulated solid and liquid pesticides, from its six return centers to Greenleaf LLC, a recycling facility located in Neosho, Missouri, where the products were processed for reuse and resale. Because Walmart employees failed to provide adequate oversight of the pesticides sent to Greenleaf, regulated pesticides were mixed together and offered for sale to customers without the required registration, ingredients, or use information, which constitutes a violation of FIFRA. Between July 2006 and February 2008, Walmart trucked more than two million pounds of regulated pesticides and additional household products from its various return centers to Greenleaf. In November 2008, Greenleaf was also convicted of a FIFRA violation and paid a criminal penalty of $200,000 in 2009.

Pursuant to the plea agreement filed in Missouri and accepted today by U.S. District Judge John T. Maughmer, Walmart agreed to pay a criminal fine of $11 million and to pay another $3 million to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which will go to that agency’s Hazardous Waste Program and will be used to fund further inspections and education on pesticide regulations for regulators, the regulated community, and the public. In addition, Walmart has already spent more than $3.4 million to properly remove and dispose of all hazardous material from Greenleaf’s facility.

In conjunction with today’s guilty pleas in the three criminal cases, Walmart has agreed to pay a $7.628 million civil penalty that will resolve civil violations of FIFRA and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In addition to the civil penalties, Walmart is required to implement a comprehensive, nationwide environmental compliance agreement to manage hazardous waste generated at its stores. The agreement includes requirements to ensure adequate environmental personnel and training at all levels of the company, proper identification and management of hazardous wastes, and the development and implementation of Environmental Management Systems at its stores and return centers. Compliance with this agreement is a condition of probation imposed in the criminal cases.

The criminal cases announced today are a result of investigations conducted by the FBI and the EPA, which received substantial assistance from the California Department of Substance and Toxics Control, and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

In Missouri, the case was prosecuted by Deputy U.S. Attorney Gene Porter and ENRD Senior Trial Attorney Jennifer Whitfield of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. In California, the cases were prosecuted in Los Angeles by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph O. Johns and in San Francisco by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Geis.”

————————————————————–

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.