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Via Ryan Grim and Ryan Reilly at Huffington Post, Aaron Swartz's lawyers have asked the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility to review the conduct of AUSA Stephen Heymann. In their letter to OPR, available here, they allege Heymann withheld evidence and improperly sought to coerce Swartz into a plea deal. From the letter:
First, AUSA Heymann appears to have failed timely to disclose exculpatory evidence relevant to Mr. Swartz's pending motion to suppress. Indeed, evidence suggests AUSA Heymann may have misrepresented to the Court the extent of the federal government's involvement in the investigation into Mr. Swartz's conduct prior to the application for certain search warrants.
Second, AUSA Heymann appears to have abused his discretion when he attempted to coerce Mr. Swartz into foregoing his right to a trial by pleading guilty. Specifically, AUSA Heymann offered Mr. Swartz four to six months in prison for a guilty plea, while threatening to seek over seven years in prison if Mr. Swartz chose to go to trial.
Swartz' lawyers say they are filing the claim on behalf of Aaron's family. [More...]
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The New York Times had an op-ed this weekend, Why Police Lie Under Oath. The article quotes Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, who wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.”
Why do they do it? [More...]
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Three police officers in Schaumburg, Il, a suburb of Chicago, are in jail with bond set at $750,000 on charges they ripped off drug dealers, put the drugs back on the street, and pocketed the proceeds.
Three Schaumburg police officers conspired to steal drugs they had seized during legitimate busts, then split the profits after their informant put the drugs back on the streets, with one of the officers later admitting he did it for “the thrill of it," according to prosecutors.
John Cichy, 30, Matthew Hudak, 29, and Terrance O’Brien, 47, were captured on video surveillance and audio recordings stealing money and drugs from the dealers, and all three have made incriminating statements, prosecutor Audriana Anderson said in court this morning.
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The Chicago City Council today unanimously approved payments of $32 million to pay two claims of police misconduct.
A mentally ill woman, Christina Eilman, will get $22.5 million.
Christina Eilman now suffers severe brain damage after police ignored pleas for help from her out-of-town family and turned the mentally ill woman lose in one of Chicago's most crime-ridden neighborhoods. She was raped and either fell or was pushed out of a seventh floor window.
Alton Logan will get $10.2 million for the 26 years he spent in prison for a crime he didn't commit. did not commit. [More...]
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One month after Jim Letten, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Lousiana, announced the demotion Jan Mann, his first Assistant and Chief of the Criminal Division for anonymously commenting online about an ongoing criminal investigation, he resigned as U.S. Attorney.
Abruptly ending an 11-year run highlighted by the convictions of more than a dozen crooked politicians, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten resigned Thursday morning amid a metastasizing scandal in his office that started with prosecutors posting anonymous screeds on NOLA.com. Letten was the nation's longest-serving U.S. attorney, having been kept in the job by President Barack Obama despite his Republican affiliation.
Also this week, the Justice Department appointed John Horn, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, as a special assistant to the attorney general to "prepare the required responses and to ensure the government's compliance with [the court's] instructions."
It wasn't just Mann who was commenting anonymously online. Another AUSA, Sal Perricone, was outed for his comments and resigned in May. One of the cases Perricone commented on was the Danziger Bridge case, involving the officers charged and convicted in the shooting deaths of unarmed individuals during Hurricane Katrina. Another news article with background is here. [More...]
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Jim Letten, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana (which includes New Orleans) today announced the demotion of his First Assistant and Chief of the Criminal Division, Jan Mann.
The news came six days after landfill magnate Fred Heebe alleged in a civil suit that Mann had repeatedly used an online alias to slam him and other federal probe targets in comments posted on NOLA.com. Mann's demotion marks the second high-profile takedown of a federal prosecutor engineered by Heebe, who in March unmasked Sal Perricone, the office's senior litigation counsel, as a prolific and intemperate online ranter.
The Complaint in Heebe's lawsuit against Mann, filed in state court, is here. Among Heebe's lawyers filing the suit: Brendan Sullivan of Williams and Connelly.
How Heebee's attorneys linked the online comments posted under a pseudonym to Mann: They used a forensic linguist, who found numerous identical typographical errors in the online comments, pleadings Mann filed in court and e-mails. For example, there were multiple instances in which the online comments and Mann's pleadings contained an extra space after a quotation mark and before the final punctuation mark. Other similarities included the lack of spaces before and after the dots used to designate an ellipsis. (See the complaint if this sounds confusing, I may not have this exactly correct.) [More...]
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Massachusetts drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan was arrested today on charges of obstruction of justice and lying about her educational degrees. She faces up to 20 years in prison.
Dookan has been the subject of a huge lab scandal in Mass. She tested over 60,000 samples in 34,000 cases over 9 years. She has admitted intentionally faking results. More than 1,100 inmates are still serving time in cases in which she performed or assisted in the drug tests. The lab has since been closed.
The only motive authorities have found so far is that Dookhan wanted to be seen as a good worker, the state attorney general said.
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The Office of Inspector General released a 451 page report today on Fast and Furious. It specifically clears Attorney General Eric Holder of wrongdoing.
We determined that Attorney General Holder did not learn about Operation Fast and Furious until late January or early February 2011 and was not aware of allegations of “gun walking” in the investigation until February. We found no evidence that Department or ATF staff informed the Attorney General about Operation Wide Receiver or Operation Fast and Furious prior to 2011. We concluded that the Attorney General’s Deputy Chief of Staff, the Acting Deputy Attorney General, and the leadership of the Criminal Division failed to alert the Attorney General to significant information about or flaws in those investigations.
Holder's public statement on the report is here.
Some others didn't fare so well. [More....]
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Justin Wolfe has been on death row in Virginia since 2002 for killing a fellow drug dealer. He was convicted based upon testimony of the shooter, Owen Barber, that Wolfe had hired him to kill the dealer. Barber later recanted and said he made that up to avoid the death penalty. His affidavit is here.
In 2010, Barber testified at Wolfe's federal habeas hearing that he fabricated Wolfe's involvement to avoid the death penalty. (He was sentenced to 60 years.) In 2011, the federal court vacated Wolfe's conviction and sentence finding he was wrongfully convicted based on the prosecution's withholding of critical evidence. Virginia appealed.
Today the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's order vacating Wolfe's conviction and sentence, finding no error in the district court's findings. Virginia says it is disappointed and most likely will retry Wolfe. [More...]
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Here is the statement of Attorney General Eric Holder today announcing he has named two U.S. Attorneys to investigate the recent alleged leaks of classified information:
“Today, I assigned U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. and U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein to lead criminal investigations into recent instances of possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information.
The Washington Post reports: [More...]
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Today, the Department of Justice charged four officers, Dennis Spaulding, David Cari, Jason Zullo and Sgt. John Miller, with conspiracy, deprivation of rights and obstruction of justice. Miller is the head of the local police union.
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ICE Agent and deportation officer Jason Lowery was arrested in Arizona after taking police on a high speed chase as he tossed "bundles" of marijuana from his government vehicle. It was a government sting operation.
A U.S. immigration officer in Arizona was arrested on drug charges after leading authorities on a high-speed chase as he tossed bundles of marijuana from his government truck, state troopers said on Wednesday.
Jason Lowery, a deportation officer with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was taken into custody on Tuesday in southern Arizona following a 45-minute pursuit that ended when his vehicle flipped, troopers said. Lowery, 34, suffered minor injuries.
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The new documents released by the President's Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues on the 1,300 Guatanmalan soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients who were deliberately infected with sexually transmitted diseases in the 1940's will turn your stomach.
Here's the story of Berta, a mental patient believed to be dying:
During the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues’ meeting today on the investigation of US researchers deliberately exposing and infecting Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases from 1946 to 1948, one member raised the story of Berta.
....Dr. John Charles Cutler [the principal investigator for the study] .... “put gonorrhea puss on her eyes, urethra and rectrum.” Soon after, Berta died. She was one of 83 participants who died during the course of the studies.
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Remember the corrupt juvenile judge scheme in Pennsylvania the prosecutors dubbed "Cash for Kids?" The scheme involved the judges taking money from private detention centers in exchange for sentencing kids to the facilities.
Defiant former Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr., convicted of racketeering, has been sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Ciavarella, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom demeanor, filled the beds of the private lockups with children as young as 10, many of them first-time offenders convicted of petty theft and other minor crimes.
....In the wake of the scandal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.
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A New Orleans jury has convicted five former police officers of charges related to their unjustified shooting of six unarmed people and attempt to create a cover-up in two incidents on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Two of the shooting victims died, including a 17 year old and a 40 year old man who was severely mentally disabled. One woman lost her arm.
Four of the shooting victims were from one family. None were armed and they were crossing the bridge looking for food when police opened fire. Not long after, police shot at two unarmed brothers who were also walking on the bridge looking for food. The 40 year old disabled brother was shot seven times in the back.
At trial, lawyers for the cops claimed they were fired on first and feared for their lives. Not so. One of the cops, Retired Sgt. Arthur Kaufman, who was assigned to investigate the shootings, staged the cover-up for the other cops, using his own gun. He was also convicted today. [More...]
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