Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Possible Vindication in Alabama?

Breaking News

A respected Democratic political leader and a former health care business owner who were scalped by the Rove Republican Racket are seeking vindication from the political persecution they suffered during the Rove Bush Cheney years. The Birmingham News reports tonight:
Former Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals today to toss out all charges against them, arguing that money Scrushy gave Siegelman's 1999 lottery campaign could not be considered a bribe. The U.S. Supreme Court in June sent the case back to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to review in the wake of a recent order from the high court limiting the use of the "honest services" fraud statute in public corruption cases.
The Supreme Court in a case involving disgraced Enron Corp. Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling curtailed prosecutors' use of the honest services fraud statute, saying it can be applied only in cases involving bribes or kickbacks. A jury convicted Scrushy and Siegelman on charges that Scrushy bribed Siegelman for a seat on the state Certificate of Need Review Board with $500,000 in contributions to Siegelman's lottery campaign.
Lawyers for Siegelman and Scrushy wrote in their court filings that there is a significant difference between giving money to someone personally and giving money to an issue advocacy campaign. "Siegelman was not paid anything. The prototypical bribe involves a pay-off," lawyers for Scrushy wrote. "The Eleventh Circuit should dismiss all charges against Governor Siegelman, based on Skilling. That would be the correct legal outcome, based on the law as the Supreme Court has explained it," Siegelman lawyer Sam Heldman said this evening.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Indiana Republicans Refuse to Refund Retirees

Embattled U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of Indiana Timothy M. Morrison let his Republican pal, Timothy S. Durham, a once pompous Hoosier multimillionaire, skirt away after mismanaging over $200 million of investors' money, most of it from Ohio retirees.

Over $1 million  of the $54 million Durham loaned himself in the scheme went to Rove Republican campaign coffers in Indiana.

After being called on to refund the money, Republican have weasel-worded themselves out of refunding the money with legal gimmicks and double-speak.

The Associated Press reports:
Asheesh Agarwal, an attorney who represents Daniels' Mitch for [Indiana] Governor campaign committee and his Aiming Higher political action committee, said he stood by a statement last week that the organizations do not intend to refund money already spent. "Based on what we know now, it is not out of the question that some of the money could be returned, but we need to see more than a letter from an attorney," Agarwal said in the statement. "In fact, if a court finds wrongdoing, and these funds were the source, a refund of any remaining dollars would be appropriate."

Republican [Indiana] Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who received $11,000 in donations from Durham, said his campaign treasurer created a segregated account for the money. "The reason I did this was to balance my respect for our legal system's presumption of innocence with concerns from my role protecting consumers that there may be future actions that might possibly involve restitution to investors," Zoeller said in an e-mail. "I did receive a letter from the bankruptcy trustee but intend to continue to hold these funds until the U.S. Attorney's Office completes their investigation," Zoeller said.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

FBI Agent Threatens FBI Agent

Our blog has repeatedly questioned the trustworthiness of some FBI agents, many of whom worked with the Rove Republican Racket to persecute political opponents.

The Associated Press reports from Dallas tonight a bizarre case showing how messed up J. Edgar Hoover's former bureau truly is:

The FBI says it has arrested one of its own Dallas agents and charged him with threatening a federal law enforcement officer. An FBI statement issued Wednesday says Special Agent Carlos Ortiz Jr. was arrested Wednesday at the bureau's office in Dallas. He faces a charge of threatening to assault or murder a federal law enforcement office on account of the performance of official duty. Robert Casey, the head of the Dallas FBI office, says Ortiz was fired after a personnel inquiry. The former agent is scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court in Dallas on Thursday. The FBI declined to discuss Ortiz's work history or the arrest. No attorney information was available from online federal court records, and a U.S. Attorney's spokeswoman in Dallas said she was unaware of the case and declined to comment.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Until Birotte Splits Us Up!

The Obama-appointed U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, Andre Birotte, Jr. loves headlines, especially headlines boasting about the awful work he and his crew are doing in Southern California.

In June, Birotte's office applauded the continued persecution of Pierce O'Donnell, a prominent Los Angeles Democrat targeted by the Rove Republican Racket, over some irregular campaign contributions made to John Edwards' failed presidential bid in 2004.

Earlier this year, Birotte looked like a complete buffoon when he tried to escalate the profile of a sushi restaurant that served endanged whale and boost his ever-growing ego. He was harpooned.

Now comes the most ridiculous news story yet! The Associated Press reports this afternoon:

A Mexican-born actress and her musician husband lied about their marriage to immigration officials so she could stay in the U.S., a federal prosecutor told prospective jurors Tuesday. In his opening statement, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James Left showed a picture of Fernanda Romero  [pictured] and Kent Ross on their wedding day but said the appearance was deceptive. "There was a real ceremony but nothing else about it is real," Left said. "It was a sham marriage."

Romero, a singer, actress and model who has attained moderate fame in her homeland, and Ross, a musician and manager of a pizza delivery business, have each pleaded not guilty to charges of marriage fraud and making false statements. If convicted, they could each face a maximum prison sentence of five years. The couple sat next to each other wearing black suits and wedding rings on their left forefingers.
 And politicians are worried about Arizona? Shame on Andre! Shame on him!

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Immense Relief" in Kansas

The backlash against the Rove Republican Racket persecution of political opponents and its use of the broad Honest Services crime statute has come  now come to fruition.

In Kansas last Friday, just hours after Barry Grissom (pictured) a new, Obama appointed U.S. Attorney took office, the case against two men who have endured two-trials, a third one in the works, saw a seven-year nightmare come to an end. As readers recall, the dishonest "Honest Services" crime was severely narrowed by the U.S. Supreme Court this past June.

The Associated Press reports:
A federal judge Friday dismissed all charges against two former Westar Energy executives who were accused of looting the Kansas utility, granting a request by prosecutors that came just hours after the state's new U.S. attorney was sworn in. Former Westar chief executive David Wittig and his top strategy officer, Douglas Lake, were charged with conspiring to inflate their compensation from the Topeka-based company and taking steps to hide their actions. A third trial date for the men, who were forced out of Westar in late 2002, was pending. Their first trial ended in a hung jury and a conviction in their second was overturned.

"I credit the Justice Department for recognizing how flawed this case was," said Patrick McInerney, an attorney for Lake. McInerney said a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling narrowing the scope of the "honest services" law — which made it a crime to "deprive another of the intangible right to honest services" — crippled the government's case against Wittig and Lake. The high court's ruling in the case against former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling found that theft of honest services is only relevant in cases involving bribes and kickbacks.

Lake, 60, of New Canaan, Conn., and his family have been living with the charges for more than seven years. "It was an immense relief," McInerney said of his client's reaction upon learning of the motion to dismiss. "It vindicates him and what he has said since the very beginning of this that he is innocent. He committed no crime and at long last it has been recognized."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Will Paddy Boy Exit Stage Right?

The intense fallout against once esteemed U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (pictured) over his legal and professional failure to successfully prosecute former Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is growing.

As readers may recall, before the Blago verdict, we reported about Fitzgerald's Assistant U.S. Attorney who was involved in prosecutorial misconduct and allowed a government witness to testify falsely. In addition, we raised the profile of a controversial developer who accused Fitzgerald's staff of wanting him to lie on the stand. When he refused, the developer allegedly was framed and charged with obstruction of justice charges.

But the fallout on Blago is coming from conservative, national, and traditionally Rove Republican publications.

Having failed to secure a conviction on 23 of 24 charges filed, a Wall Street Journal editorial published today called for Fitzgerald's resignation or removal:
Blagojevich may or may not be corrupt, though he has repeatedly proved his stupidity. In any event, Mr. Fitzgerald’s legal team failed to persuade a jury that Blagojevich was guilty of racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud, extortion, kickback schemes and a litany of other crimes, despite five weeks of argument and testimony that included incriminating selections from thousands of wiretapped phone calls. The defense did not call a single witness. The jury also deadlocked on four charges against Blagojevich’s brother, while his chief of staff earlier copped a plea.

If Mr. Fitzgerald doesn’t resign of his own accord, the Justice Department should remove him—especially after such other recent examples of prosecutorial bad faith or bad judgment involving Blackwater contractors in Iraq, the forgotten backdating accounting scandal and the late Senator Ted Stevens. Prosecutors have vowed to retry Blagojevich this fall on the other 23 mistrial counts. But if he really is guilty, then incompetence alone is grounds for Mr. Fitzgerald's removal.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blago and Lying to the FBI

Yesterday's stunning news that former Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (pictured right) was not convicted on 23 of the 24 counts he was charged with was a tremendous setback to the Rove Republican Racket, federal prosecutors, and esteemed U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

But there's a bigger story to this. In knee-jerk fashion, prosecutors vowed to retry Blagojevich. The Chicago Tribune reported:
Moments after a rare setback, a chastened U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was acting nothing like the swaggering prosecutor who just 20 months earlier proclaimed he had arrested a sitting governor to stop a political crime spree. He would not take questions from reporters about his office's failure to convict former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 23 counts against him, winning a guilty verdict only on a single count of lying to the FBI, among the least serious of the charges he faced.  Instead, Fitzgerald vowed to retry the case, then quickly ending his news conference.
The real "political crime spree" and bigger story here is the charge Blago was convicted on: lying to the FBI.

Lying to federal agents, or not telling the whole truth, has been a favorite tool of the federal government to bring in  innocent people, some with no criminal records, and force them to plead out or fry bigger fish.

FBI agents visit and interview people and draft up what are called 302 reports.  A 302 report (sample pictured left) is used to summarize an interview conducted by an FBI agent. Depending on the agent's interpretation, some interviewees may end up as criminal defendants.

Most interviewees believe the FBI is just doing its job and are never told they should have a lawyer present. Their own words, or misinterpretations and misspeak, can be used against them in a court of law.

The Rove Cheney Bush Administration succeeded in using this slight-of-hand tactic. Like the Honest Services Fraud Crime was, lying to the FBI became a stretched-beyond-the-limits weapon to prosecute political targets.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Seattle's Lost Luggage

Post 9/11, the Rove Republican Racket increased the scope of intrusive government with the Patriot Act, Honest Services Crime, and other law enforcement tools that caused Americans to lose some liberty and privacy all in the name of "national security."

Besides a huge and enormous growth in national security and secret intelligence operations, the most visible change Americans have seen is at the airport: the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The TSA screens us, forces us to remove our shoes, and place our laptops in a screening basket.

Now comes the news today from Seattle. The Post Intelligencer writes:

A security supervisor at Sea-Tac International Airport has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $20,000 worth of items from checked luggage. Randy Pepper, a 50-year-old Spanaway resident, pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges related to the string of thefts, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office at Seattle. Hired by the Transportation Security Administration in 2007, Pepper was fired in July 2009 after the thefts were discovered. In pleading guilty, Pepper, a supervisory transportation security officer, admitted to taken money and jewelry from luggage he was inspecting at Sea-Tac. Authorities began investigating Pepper after another TSA employee reported seeing him removing items from luggage. According to the statement, most of the items stolen by Pepper could not be recovered because they were melted down.
And we are to trust TSA officers or their supervisors who testify against alleged "criminals?"

The meltdown of federal law enforcement officers, from the TSA to the DEA to the FBI, has grown out of a culture blessed by the Rove Cheney Bush Administration with this motto: be arrogant, be in absolute control and screw anyone who gets in your way.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

U.S. Attorney "Very Pleased" with Political Persecution

Andre Birotte, Jr., the Obama appointed U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, has an ego bigger than the Golden State.  Last winter he ended up with fish sauce all over his face when he tried to pump up his national profile in a case involving a Sushi restaurant that served endangered whale. His ego-driven sideshow was quickly harpooned when the restaurant immediately closed down as a self-imposed punishment.

Now Birotte is supporting the Rove Republican Racket's continued persecution of Democratic operative and famed trial lawyer Pierce O'Donnell (pictured). O'Donnell was accused of funneling money to John Edwards' 2004 presidential campaign by having friends and family donate to the campaign. O'Donnell later reimbursed them.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the charges were tossed out last year by U.S. District Judge S. James Otero, who ruled that the conduct described by prosecutors in their indictment did not violate the federal law under which O'Donnell was charged. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel disagreed in June. As a result of the ruling, the charges were reinstated and the case was ordered back to Otero's court.

When the federal appeals court reinstated the charges,  Birotte's office claimed to be "very pleased" with the ruling.

How "pleased" should Americans be that an Obama-appointed  prosecutor is supporting the Rove Racket's purely political prosecution of O'Donnell?

To support the notion that O'Donnell was being singled out by the Rove Republicans, his lawyers presented prosecutors with 21 illegal campaign contribution cases they said were handled administratively by the Federal Elections Commission, even though most involved larger amounts of money and more egregious conduct than what was alleged in O'Donnell's case, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Without a doubt, Birotte should receive another black-eye and his ego fed to the political shredder.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Morrison's Million Dollar Smoking Gun

We have been puzzled why Bush-leftover and Acting U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of Indiana Timothy M. Morrison has vigorously prosecuted a small-town Democrat but let a high-profile Republican donor, Timothy S. Durham,who allegedly swindled over $200 million  from Ohio retirees, completely off the hook.

Earlier this month, the trustee for the bankrupt Fair Finance Company, the entity in which the "high-risk" fraud occurred, announced he had traced $54 million of the money as a loan to Durham. And in that trace, there laid the smoking gun: $1 million of the money was spent by Durham on Rove Republican candidates, mostly in Indiana, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

Will the Hoosier Republicans return the money? Will Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a Bush and Rove square dancer who wants to be President, man up and refund the money he received from his Republican pal? Will Morrison finally get off his rear and prosecute Durham?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Death of a Targeted Former U.S. Senator

Breaking News:

Former U.S. Senator of Alaska Ted Stevens (pictured) was killed in a plane crash in Alaska.

Stevens was targeted, prosecuted, and convicted by the Rove Republican Racket in 2008. He lost his re-election bid that same year.

After the Obama Administration took over the reigns of government, a "horrified" U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder vacated the conviction in April of last year and launched an investigation into gross prosecutorial misconduct by federal prosecutors, who withheld evidence from Stevens' defense team.

His death brings an unofficial close to one of many disturbing and political persecutions of the Rove Bush Cheney era.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Return of the Tomato King

We're happy to be back and we start where we left off: the Rove Republican Racket's unfair prosecution of the so-called "Tomato King" of California, Frederick Scott Salyer.

As we reported last month, the federal government is in a steaming bowl of hot tomato sauce for obtaining evidence via illegal means, including the theft of internal corporate documents and tomato paste by a turned-FBI informant who was on Salyer's payroll.

The prosecutorial misconduct has not gone unnoticed and now Salyer's friends and family are rallying behind his ridiculous political prosecution.

Tonight, the Sacramento Bee reports:
Lawyers for indicted tomato king Frederick Scott Salyer are renewing their efforts to spring him from the Sacramento County Jail on bail, this time by having his friends and family put up their homes as an assurance that he will not flee the country if he is released. In a motion filed in federal court in Sacramento, Salyer attorney Malcolm Segal states that Salyer's "family and longtime friends have rallied to his support and trust him not to flee."

Together, they have offered to put up $2 million in cash and property as collateral to ensure that Salyer will remain in this country and stand trial on bribery, racketeering and other charges. Federal prosecutors have repeatedly opposed Salyer's release on bail, arguing that he has access to millions of dollars and is a flight risk, especially because he faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Returning Monday

We have been on summer break, but we'll be back next Monday. We hope you, our readers, have had a sunny and fun summer.