FBI probes Foothills Regional Airport

June 13, 2012

Winston-Salem Journal on June 13, 2012 released the following:

“By: Sharon McBrayer and Julie N. Chang | Media General News Service

MORGANTON —
The FBI is investigating Foothills Regional Airport and two of its employees have been suspended without pay.

A news release Tuesday from Foothills Regional Airport Authority said a federal criminal investigation involves two employees of the airport, Alex Nelson and Brad Adkins. Nelson was the airport manager but Adkins did not hold a management position, according to airport officials.

“The Airport continues normal operations without interruption,” the statement said. “Brent Brinkley, a long time employee, has been appointed as acting administrator.”

FBI Public Affairs Specialist Shelley Lynch said, “As a matter of Department of Justice policy, the FBI can neither confirm nor deny the existence of investigations.”

According to the FBI’s website, it investigates public corruption, major white-collar crime, significant violent crime, civil rights violations and transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises and cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes, along with national security threats.

Airport Authority Chairman and Burke County Commissioner Chair Wayne Abele said Tuesday no one has been charged with anything and federal investigators haven’t given them any information about the investigation.

“All I know is it’s an ongoing investigation,” Abele said.

Abele said about 10 FBI personnel showed up at the airport last Tuesday, accompanied by Caldwell County Sheriff’s deputies, and seized records and computers.

“The FBI, they don’t charge people unless they have a concrete case,” Abele said.

The public airport, located on NC 18, receives funding from Burke and Caldwell counties and the cities of Morganton and Lenoir. The funding the airport received in the 2011-12 budgets of the two counties and two cities were:

  • Caldwell County — $48,254, which includes money for capital improvements; and $30,017 in property taxes the county collects on planes, said Stan Kiser, Caldwell County manager.
  • Burke County — $36,246 for operating expenses; $4,166 in capital improvement money; and $4,100 from property taxes paid on planes, said Paul Ijames, Burke County finance director and assistant county manager. He said more planes are kept on the Caldwell County side. He said even though $4,100 was budgeted for taxes, only $3,300 has been collected so far in property taxes on the 20 planes listed for the Burke County side.
  • City of Morganton — $38,088 for operating expenses and $4,166 in capital funding, said City Manager Sally Sandy.
  • City of Lenoir — $42,320 total for operating and capital expenses, said Kaye Reynolds, communications and resource director for the city of Lenoir.

None of the boards of the four governments has voted on their individual budgets for next year.

Each one of the four has a representative on the Airport Authority, which alerted the two counties and two cities about the investigation, according to the release from city of Morganton Attorney Louis Vinay. Vinay also is acting as the authority’s attorney after its previous one retired, Kiser said.

Cuts to the airport’s budget from the four member entities resulted in a $42,000 revenue shortfall on the operations side, Nelson recently told the Burke County Board of Commissioners. The airport made internal cuts, shortened operational hours and skipped on mowing to cut that amount down to about $24,000, Nelson said at the time.

The airport planned on asking each entity for additional money for this fiscal year, Nelson said.

During that recent meeting, Burke County Commissioner Maynard Taylor questioned why the airport needed more money and why it isn’t self-supporting. He also questioned what the average county resident received from the airport.

“We’re spending more money than we have every year to keep this thing above ground so to speak, but the average citizen in Burke – what are they getting for that,” Taylor said in previous reports.

The airport’s condition has improved since the authority took over, Abele said at the meeting.

At the time, Nelson said the airport is a “tourism magnet,” adding that area colleges recruiting athletes use the airport.

Burke County commissioners have put off the funding request.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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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.


Aaron T. Ford Named Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Memphis Division

November 8, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on November 7, 2011 released the following:

“Director Robert S. Mueller, III has named Aaron T. Ford special agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis Division. Mr. Ford most recently served as an inspector in the FBI’s Inspection Division at FBI Headquarters (FBIHQ) since August 2010. He oversaw field office and FBIHQ inspections, shooting incident review teams, audits, and special inquiries.

Mr. Ford began his career as an FBI agent in August 1985. His first assignment was to the St. Louis Division, where he worked violent crime and organized crime matters. He was also a SWAT team member, where he participated in the execution of numerous high-risk threats, search warrants, and protective details.

In June 1989, Mr. Ford transferred to the Newark Division. He served as team leader on the SWAT team. In August 1998, he was promoted to supervisory special agent on a drug squad.

Two years later, in January 2000, he became a supervisor for the public corruption/civil rights squad. In August 2005, he was assigned as supervisory special resident agent of the Red Bank Resident Agency. While in this role, he supervised all criminal matters.

Mr. Ford returned to FBIHQ in February 2006 as a team leader in the Inspection Division, where he served until August 2007. He participated in the auditing of all FBI programs. In October 2007, he made his way back to the Newark Division as assistant special agent in charge. Mr. Ford oversaw the administrative branch and later the criminal enterprise branch.

Prior to his FBI career, he served as a special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Ford investigated violent crime, fugitive, drug, and corruption cases.

Mr. Ford is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in criminology from Tennessee State University and a Juris Doctor degree from Rutgers School of Law.”

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

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

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


F.B.I. Focusing on Security Over Ordinary Crime

August 25, 2011

The New York Times on August 23, 2011 released the following:

“By CHARLIE SAVAGE

WASHINGTON — Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been more likely to be hunting for potential threats to national security than for ordinary criminals in recent years, but much of the time found neither, according to newly disclosed internal information.

Data from a recent two-year period showed that the bureau opened 82,325 assessments of people and groups in search for signs of wrongdoing. Agents closed out most of the assessments, the lowest-level of F.B.I. investigation, without finding information that justified a more intensive inquiry.

Separately, the bureau also initiated 1,819 assessments during the period to identify any possible threats within particular geographic districts. That activity ranged from looking for the presence of particular organizations, like gangs or terrorist groups with definable characteristics, to evaluating other potential vulnerabilities, like a university with classified research and many foreign students.

The data, obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, offers a panoramic view of the bureau’s activities toward the end of a decade-long effort to transform the F.B.I. from a law-enforcement agency focused on solving crimes to a domestic intelligence agency whose mission is to detect potential threats before they can reach fruition.

The disclosure, covering March 25, 2009, to March 31, 2011, focused on assessments, which an agent may open “proactively or in response to investigative leads” and without first having a particular factual basis for suspecting a target of wrongdoing, according to the F.B.I. manual. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey issued guidelines for the bureau creating that category in 2008.

During an assessment, agents may use a limited set of techniques, including searching databases about targets, conducting surveillance of their movements and sending a confidential informant to an organization’s meetings. But to use more intrusive techniques, like secretly reading e-mail, agents must open a more traditional “preliminary” or “full” investigation. Such inquiries require agents to first have a greater reason to start scrutinizing someone: either an “information or allegation” or an “articulable factual basis” indicating possible wrongdoing.

According to the data, during the 2009-11 period agents opened 42,888 assessments of people or groups to see whether they were terrorists or spies. A database search in May 2011 showed that 41,056 of the assessments had been closed. Information gathered by agents during those assessments had led to 1,986 preliminary or full investigations.

The data also showed that agents initiated 39,437 assessments of people or groups to see whether they were engaged in ordinary crime. Of those, 36,044 had been closed, while 1,329 preliminary or full investigations had been opened based on the information gathered.

Michael German, a former F.B.I. agent who is now with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the high number of assessments relative to the number that developed into more intensive investigations was cause for concern. He noted that the F.B.I. retained the data it collects about a target, even if the person or group turns out to be innocent.

“It’s clear the F.B.I. is casting its investigative net too broadly,” Mr. German said. “And remember that only a small proportion of ‘preliminary’ investigations become ‘full’ investigations, and only a small percentage of full investigations result in criminal charges. This data makes it clear that the ‘assessment’ authority granted in the attorney general guidelines is far too broad.”

But Valerie E. Caproni, the F.B.I. general counsel, said that the data showed that agents had been able to dispose of about 96 percent of the low-grade reasons they might have had for suspecting someone of wrongdoing, like a vague tip or some other ambiguous lead, using “low intrusion techniques” rather than by opening a potentially more invasive preliminary investigation.

The new investigation standards, Ms. Caproni said, “end up being privacy protective because previously, without a well-developed, robust assessment category, many if not most of those would have been opened as preliminary investigations.”

The newly disclosed data roughly matched a far more limited disclosure earlier this year about assessments of people and groups generated in late 2008 and early 2009, but the latest data covered a longer period and included additional detail. The data also bolsters the F.B.I.’s assertion that since the Sept. 11 attacks, the bureau has taken low-grade tips about national security threats more seriously than similarly vague and seemingly implausible leads about possible criminal activity. The 39,437 criminal assessments were based on 73,303 complaints received by the F.B.I., indicating that about half of the time, agents merely filled out a complaint form but saw nothing worth following up on.

In contrast, the disclosure did not offer a separate number of national security complaints, suggesting that some were not followed up with an assessment. The bureau says its policy calls for every national security-related tip, no matter how dubious, to be investigated. Still, Ms. Caproni cautioned that the assessment data did not offer a complete view of the F.B.I.’s activities. For example, she said, if the Central Intelligence Agency told the bureau that an overseas source had provided a specific claim about a terrorist cell operating inside the United States, agents would immediately open a more intensive investigation rather than starting with an assessment.

She also cautioned that some details about the numbers might be fuzzy. In the past, for example, the F.B.I. has noted that one assessment may uncover information that leads to more than one preliminary investigation. At the same time, agents may occasionally have neglected, when opening a preliminary investigation, to record the fact that it developed out of an assessment.

The new data also showed that while the agency has opened fewer assessments looking for broader intelligence about possible threats and vulnerabilities within a district, a category it calls Type 3 assessments, it has been slower to close them. Of the 1,819 it had opened during the period, 1,056 were open by May.

Those figures covered Type 3 assessments generated both by national security programs — like domestic and international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and counterintelligence — and criminal programs, like civil rights, gangs, organized crime, violent crime and white-collar crime. The F.B.I. censored the specific breakdown for each category. The data release comes as the F.B.I. is preparing to issue agents a new version of its manual, the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, that will relax some rules about the techniques allowed at the assessment stage. Ms. Caproni said the new rulebook is at the printer now, and a partly redacted version is likely to be released to the public at the same time it takes effect around mid-October.”

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

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

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

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Stephen L. Morris Named Special Agent in Charge of the Houston Division

July 18, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 18, 2011 released the following:

“Director Robert S. Mueller, III named Stephen L. Morris special agent in charge of the FBI’s Houston Division. Mr. Morris most recently served as deputy assistant director in the Criminal Justice Information Services Division since March 2008.

Mr. Morris joined the FBI in 1988 as an administrative file clerk in the Honolulu Division. He completed new agent training in Quantico, Virginia in 1991 and was assigned to the El Paso Division, where he investigated white-collar crimes, violent crimes, and drug cases.

In 1996, he supervised the initiation and implementation of the El Paso criminal intelligence squad. Shortly after, he was promoted as supervisory special agent in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI Headquarters.

While at FBI Headquarters, he supervised the FBI’s domestic and international criminal informant programs in support of violent crime, drug trafficking, white-collar crime, and terrorism investigations. In 1999, he was promoted to the Cincinnati Division as supervisory senior resident agent for the Dayton Resident Agency.

In 2003, he was promoted as assistant special agent in charge in the Houston Division. In this position, he managed the division’s white-collar crime and civil rights programs and directed the administrative and investigative operations conducted by Houston’s six resident agencies.

Mr. Morris was promoted into the Senior Executive Service in 2005 and was designated chief of the Programs Support Section in the Criminal Justice Information Services Division. Additionally, he served as program manager for the FBI’s development of the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange program.

In 2006, he returned to FBI Headquarters and was appointed as chief of the Strategic Information and Operations Center. In this position, he managed the FBI’s 24-hour global command center for strategic information and crisis management.

Mr. Morris is a South Carolina native and graduated from Hawaii Pacific University in 1990.”

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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