Protect and Serve at the highest level — emphasis on High!

Bags of heroin recovered from Lowry’s car

An FBI agent in the District fired for stealing heroin, collected as evidence, for his personal use has been charged with 64 criminal offenses and, through his attorney, said he would plead guilty and focus on avoiding a drug relapse.

The 33-year-old former agent, Matthew Lowry, had been part of a team targeting violent drug traffickers who cross between Maryland and the District. His misconduct compromised cases and forced the dismissal of charges against 28 defendants. It also exposed weaknesses in the handling of drug evidence in the FBI’s Washington field office…

The case represents a stunning turn for the Maryland resident, who graduated near the top of his class at the University of Maryland, earned a graduate degree while working full time for the FBI and tried to follow his father’s distinguished career in law enforcement. He was found six months ago, seemingly incoherent, on a lot near Southeast Washington’s Navy Yard with open bags of heroin in his agency car…

Friends had noticed Lowry’s erratic behavior, but knew that he had a new baby at home and was having trouble in his marriage. They took Lowry to a fellow agent’s apartment that night.

But the next day, agents were cleaning out the trash in the car when they found the drugs. Inside were evidence bags, full of heroin, that had been cut open…

The Washington Post obtained more than 600 pages of internal documents, memos and transcripts of interviews with Lowry’s fellow agents that detail how he managed to obtain the drugs and the personal events leading to his downfall.

In those documents, Lowry described how he took advantage of procedures that allowed a single agent to sign out drugs for lab analysis and did not track whether the packages reached their purported destination. As a result, Lowry was able to store drug evidence in his car, sometimes for as long as a year, with no questions asked. Lowry described how he forged signatures of agents on forms and evidence seals, repackaged drugs in bags and used store-bought laxatives to replaced heroin he had taken to avoid discrepancies in package weight…

Many of the 28 defendants whose cases were dismissed had already pleaded guilty and had been sent to prison, some for up to 10 years or more. Within two months, all of them had been freed and sent home with the convictions erased. Those charges had been filed based solely or substantially on drug evidence that Lowry stole from.

A scary example of unintended consequences – even from a drug addict.

New York Congressman hit with 20-count indictment

grim Grimm

A two-year investigation into U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm’s campaign finances resulted in his indictment on Monday — on federal charges of cheating the government out of taxes on his restaurant.

Grimm was slammed with a 20-count indictment charging he fraudulently underreported the wages he paid his workers at Healthalicious on the Upper East Side and concealed the eatery’s actual income…

Grimm, 44, is also charged with obstruction and perjury for allegedly lying about his involvement in the business in a sworn deposition…

The feds said Grimm ran the day-to-day operations of the restaurant between 2007 and 2010, and “engaged in schemes to fraudulently under-report the wages he paid his workers — many of whom did not have legal status in the United States — and fraudulently under-report the true amount of money the restaurant earned to both federal and New York State tax and insurance authorities.”

He pulled off part of the scam by paying a “large portion” of employees’ pay in cash, “thereby lowering the restaurant’s payroll tax costs,” the feds said.

In all, prosecutors said, he hid more than $1 million in Healthalicious sales and wages…

FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos noted that…“As a former FBI agent, Rep. Grimm should understand the motto: fidelity, bravery and integrity. Yet he broke our credo at nearly every turn. Rep Grimm lived by a new motto: fraud, perjury and obstruction,” Venizekos said…

Last week, Grimm’s lawyer said the investigation into his Republican client was politically motivated and predicted he would be vindicated of whatever the charges were…

Grimm made headlines in January after threatening a New York 1 reported who’d asked him about the investigation.

In the exchange, which was caught on camera, Grimm said, “Let me be clear to you. If you ever do that to me again, I’ll throw you off this fucking balcony.”

A real class act – Congressman Grimm. As an ex-Marine, an ex-FBI agent, you’d think the concept of standing up for law and order might have made an impression on him. Though his behavior towards the press – and not so incidentally ordinary working people in his employ – makes it seem that exploitation is more in his line.

Prison, indictment, no problem in Illinois primary

In the Illinois primary elections, today, candidates on Chicago’s Democratic ballot will include someone who served a prison term for bribery, another who is due to go on trial on bribery charges this spring and a third charged with bank fraud.

“It’s a terrible indictment” of the local political culture, said Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman who teaches at University of Illinois at Chicago. “There is still a patronage-based political army on the West Side of Chicago.”

Political experts say all three candidates are either guaranteed victory or heavily favored to win.

The candidates include Isaac “Ike” Carothers, a former Chicago alderman who was sentenced to 28 months for bribery and tax fraud, and is now running for commissioner of the Cook County Board. He was released from prison in late 2011.

Derrick Smith, a state representative, was expelled by the Illinois House in 2012 after he was charged with taking a $7,000 bribe, but then won his seat back and is now running for re-election. His trial date has been set for the spring.

A third candidate, state Representative La Shawn K. Ford, has been charged with bank fraud for alleged actions before he was elected a legislator in 2006. He is running unopposed in his primary…

Chicago, the state’s largest city, ranked first in the nation in public corruption over the past three decades and has had 1,531 public corruption convictions since 1976, according to a 2012 analysis of U.S. Department of Justice statistics…

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, both Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle have urged voters not to back the younger Carothers. They have endorsed another candidate, attorney Blake Sercye.

But both Smith and Ford have the backing of powerful state House Speaker Michael Madigan.

It’s been a long time since I lived in Chicago…but I recall standing offers from alley mechanics to get me any car I wanted. Cheap. Stolen, of course. I could pick out model, color, options. It would come with license and title.

Woman busted for faking son’s cancer

A Warren [Michigan] woman accused of telling her 12-year-old son he had cancer and holding fundraisers to bilk people was formally arraigned in 39th District Court.

Carol Lynn Schnuphase, 47, is charged with second-degree child abuse and two counts of taking money under false pretenses. The child abuse charge carries a penalty of four years in prison and the false pretense charges are five-year felonies…

“She shaved her son’s head and eyebrows every other week,” said Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith. “She crushed tablets and put them in his applesauce to make him appear lethargic and as if he was going through chemotherapy.

We’ve never seen anything like it.”

Smith said Schuphrase, who is unemployed, used money from the fund-raisers to pay bills and everyday expenses. When authorities removed her son from her home this summer, she told people that he died and that she needed money for his funeral, Smith said…

Local churches held fundraisers for the boy, officials said. One event, held at St. Thomas Church in Eastpointe, raised more than $7,000. Schnuphase allegedly accepted the donations as a check in her name.

Every day, some scumball figures out how to make crime just a little sleazier.

Shutting the butterfly botnet

The last 12 months have seen significant success in combating one of the main forms of cybercrime – botnets.

These networks of hijacked home computers have become the basic tool for many cyber thieves. Maintaining them, finding new victims and using them has become a significant part of the net’s criminal economy.

The vast majority of spam is sent out via the computers on botnets; they are used to stage attacks on websites and the machines forming them are harvested for saleable information such as credit card numbers and game logins.

Shutting down the Mariposa, or butterfly, botnet was one of the bigger successes. It got its name because it was built using the butterfly bot kit…

Luis Corrons, a senior researcher at Panda Security, played a big part investigating Mariposa…

Finding out was only possible when one of Mariposa’s controllers accidentally revealed the net address of his home computer.

In this case we were really lucky,” said Mr Corrons. “When I found the IP address imagine my face when I realised it was in Spain.”

Not only that but one of the men behind the botnet lived a few kilometers from the Bilbao lab where Mr Corrons worked.

He assumed that the arrest and closure of Mariposa would mark the end of his involvement of the investigation.

RTFA and grab a chuckle over the brass balls of the script kiddies who ran this packaged botnet.

How many greedy and grotty, spotty little nerds are required to be a royal pain in the butt to a world full of ordinary folks who would just like to go about their business – using what has become an essential avenue of communications?

How many? Apparently – two or three. Not any brighter than anyone else – absent honesty and ethics.

Nurse to stand trial for whistleblowing on mediocre Doctor – UPDATED, Acquitted!

It occurred to Anne Mitchell as she was writing the letter that she might lose her job, which is why she chose not to sign it. But it was beyond her conception that she would be indicted and threatened with 10 years in prison for doing what she knew a nurse must: inform state regulators that a doctor at her rural hospital was practicing bad medicine…

But in what may be an unprecedented prosecution, Mitchell is scheduled to stand trial in state court Monday for “misuse of official information,” a third-degree felony in Texas.

Sounds about right for Texas.

The prosecutor, Scott M. Tidwell, said he would show that Mitchell had a history of making “inflammatory” statements about Dr. Rolando G. Arafiles Jr. and intended to damage his reputation when she reported him last April to the Texas Medical Board, which licenses and disciplines doctors.

Mitchell counters that as an administrative nurse, she had a professional obligation to protect patients from what she saw as a pattern of improper prescribing and surgical procedures – including a failed skin graft that Arafiles performed in the emergency room, without surgical privileges. He also sutured a rubber tip to a patient’s crushed finger for protection, an unconventional remedy that was later flagged as inappropriate by the Texas Department of State Health Services…

Continue reading

Men charged for convening Sharia court in Spain

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Nine Muslims were arrested in Spain – seven of whom are being held in prison – for allegedly trying to kill a woman they had “condemned” for adultery under Islamic Sharia law, police said.

The arrested men formed a “court” that subjected the woman to a “trial” for alleged adultery according to Islamic law in a country house in the province of Tarragona, but the victim was able to flee when her captors were distracted.

The incident occurred in March, and the arrests of the nine suspects came in November after several months of investigation and raids conducted by police on their homes, police said.

The seven men who have been placed in prison have been accused of illegal detention, criminal conspiracy and attempted murder.

I sort of remember when immigrants to just about any country in the West felt it useful – even necessary – to get along with the customs and laws of their adopted country. When did that disappear?

Former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert indicted for corruption

So, you left the envelope under the pillow?

The former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been indicted in three corruption cases, the attorney general’s office says.

The series of probes was a key factor in Mr Olmert’s resignation last year. The charges relate to the periods when Mr Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and a cabinet minister, but before he became prime minister in 2006…

The office of Attorney General Menahem Mazuz confirmed in a statement he had decided to press charges and that the charge sheet had been presented on Sunday in Jerusalem district court…

Israelis are split over what this episode tells them about their politicians. Many believe that the political class is the lousiest in Israel’s short history.

Mr Olmert is the first former prime minister in Israeli history to face criminal charges, the office said.

I hope we catch up, soon.

One of the charges against Mr Olmert is that he accepted cash envelopes from US businessman Morris Talansky with sums amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mr Olmert admits taking money, but insists the funds were legal donations to help his campaigns for re-election as mayor of Jerusalem and for the leadership of the Likud, his former party.

In the second case, Mr Olmert is accused of duplicating funding for his trips abroad. Police have said they suspect the “considerable sums” that remained after the travel expenses were paid for were transferred by Mr Olmert to a special account his travel agency administered for him.

The third case involves alleged conflict of interest. Officials have alleged Mr Olmert arranged investment opportunities for a friend, Uri Messner, while he was industry minister.

The sort of ally the United States has loved over our years of interfering with the Middle East.

FDIC analyst indicted – for bank robbery!

An economist on leave from the federal agency that insures bank deposits has been indicted for allegedly attempting to rob an Independence bank last month.

Jeff W. Walser, 51, worked as regional economist for the Kansas City office of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which protects bank depositors against losses, though not those from robbery. He was on leave at the time of the robbery and will remain on leave until his case his is resolved, said FDIC spokesman Andrew Gray.

He never left the bank and asked to be arrested.

Walser surrendered peacefully and is being held without bond.

He told investigators that he suffered from health problems and was “alone, discouraged and tired of working,” according to court records. He purportedly told authorities that his plan was to be arrested but not tell police that he required thrice-weekly dialysis treatments to survive.

“I wanted to be arrested and I wanted to die,” Walser is quoted as telling interviewers. “But after my arrest, I did not have the will to kill myself.”

Phew! This dude was trying for suicide by cop.

Saudis indict 991 terror suspects

Saudi authorities have indicted 991 suspected militants on charges that they participated in terrorist attacks carried out in the kingdom over the last five years.

The legal proceedings mark a significant step in Saudi Arabia’s fight against terror. Authorities had been reluctant to hold trials for terrorism charges that could result in death sentences until they had shown the public that every effort had been made to give the men a chance to repent.

“In the past few years, the kingdom has been the target of an organized terrorist campaign linked to networks of strife and sedition overseas,” said Interior Minister Prince Nayef.

This campaign targeted the way of life, economy and principles of Saudi society and sought to create chaos,” he added. “It has direct links to a deviant group that adopts the (mind-set) of al-Qaida.”

The militants have been responsible for more than 30 attacks in the kingdom since May 2003, Nayef said. Those attacks killed 164 people, including 74 security officials, and wounded 657 security officials and 439 civilians…

The government fears a public backlash against its crackdown if it takes overly harsh measures against the militants, and it wants to avoid accusations that it is just trying to please the United States.