Illegal Immigrant Worked As Anchorage Alaska Police Officer For 6 Years… Mexican Used Identity Of U.S. Citizen, Caught When Applying For A Passport

April 22, 2011

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – An Anchorage police officer who took on a false identity that masked his Mexican citizenship has been arrested and charged with passport fraud, federal officials said today.

At a news conference Friday, U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler said that patrolman Rafael Espinoza, on the Anchorage police force for about six years, was really Rafael Mora-Lopez, a Mexican national working in the United States illegally.

The identity swap was discovered when the police officer applied for a U.S. passport and officials from the State Department found that the Rafael Espinoza identity he was using was actually someone else in the Lower 48, Loeffler said.

Mora-Lopez, 51, was arrested Thursday and is being arraigned before a U.S. Magistrate Judge this afternoon. Loeffler declined to say when Mora-Lopez entered the United States and where he has been since then. But she said he didn’t appear to be part of a larger conspiracy.

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“We have no evidence at this time that this individual had been anything but a good police officer,” Loeffler said. The real Espinoza also has a clean record, she said.

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Alaska Airlines Pilots Overreact To Three Praying Orthodox Jews – Leading To Involvement Of FBI, Customs, Police, And Fire Crews

March 14, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Pilots on an Alaska Airlines flight locked down the cockpit and alerted authorities after three passengers conducted an elaborate orthodox Jewish prayer ritual during their Los Angeles-bound flight.

Airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan says the crew of Flight 241 from Mexico City became alarmed Sunday after the men began the ritual, which involves tying leather straps and small wooden boxes to the body.

FBI and customs agents, along with police and fire crews, met the plane at the gate at Los Angeles International Airport.

Airport police say two or three men were escorted off the plane, questioned by the FBI, and released. No arrests were made.

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Alaska Lawmaker Stands Up To Crazed TSA Agents – Refuses Pat-Down After Full Body Scan Reveals Mastectomy

February 21, 2011

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — An Alaskan state lawmaker is returning home by sea after refusing a pat-down search at a Seattle airport, a spokeswoman said..

Rep. Sharon Cissna underwent a body scan as she was preparing to leave Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Sunday and was then required to undergo the pat-down by Transportation Safety Administration officials, said Michelle Scannell, her chief of staff.

Scannell said that TSA called for the pat-down because the scan showed Cissna had had a mastectomy. But it wasn’t immediately clear from statements by the lawmaker’s office and TSA why that would necessitate the further search.

Scannell described the pat-down search as “intrusive,” but did not elaborate on the Anchorage Democrat’s decision.

TSA spokesman Kwika Riley was asked to respond to Cissna’s comments when contacted by The Associated Press. But a general statement issued later did not mention her or her claims, saying the agency is “sensitive to the concerns of passengers who were not satisfied with their screening experience and we invite those individuals to provide feedback to TSA.”

Both full body scanners and pat-down searches have come under increasing criticism as the TSA has stepped up its airport security measures.

Cissna, who had undergone medical treatment in Seattle, is traveling by ferry from Seattle to Juneau, Scannell said.

Appeared Here


Department Of Justice Investigated After Botched Case And Kangaroo Trial Of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens – Gross Misconduct

April 5, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – The bungled trial of former GOP Sen. Ted Stevens tainted more than just the Justice Department. It probably tipped the balance of a close election, and the fallout from that is far from over.

Stevens, the 85-year-old patriarch of Alaska politics, is headed to court Tuesday, when a judge is expected to grant Attorney General Eric Holder’s request to dismiss the case and toss out Stevens’ conviction.

Within the department, the Stevens case could have far-ranging implications. The prosecution team, including the top two officials in the public integrity section, faces an internal investigation.

The FBI has 2,500 pending corruption investigations across the country, and whether the targets are lawmakers or suspected crooked government inspectors, prosecutors may be more cautious in bringing charges after the Stevens debacle.

A jury convicted Stevens of lying about gifts and home renovations provided by an Alaska businessman.

Stevens beat the charges, but lost his job. In that, he’s not alone.

In Puerto Rico last year, prosecutors filed a new indictment against Democratic Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila three months before the election. He lost the race, but a jury found him not guilty of all charges.

The prosecution “certainly smacked of political motivation,” argued Acevedo’s lawyer, Thomas Green.

Such accusations are not new from defense lawyers in corruption cases. But they have far more bite when the politicians charged ultimately win in court after having lost their careers.

In Wisconsin in 2006, prosecutors indicted a little-known state worker for allegedly helping contributors to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle get a contract. The worker, Georgia Thompson, was sentenced to prison two months before the election.

After the election – which Doyle won – an appeals court not only overturned her conviction, but ordered her immediately freed from prison. One appeals court judge described the evidence against Thompson as “beyond thin.”

During the Bush administration, Democrats claimed the conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was pushed by politically minded Republicans.

Siegelman, who was sent to prison in 2007 for bribery and corruption, was freed last year on bond. An appeals court recently dismissed some, but not all the charges and ordered him resentenced. His lawyer is asking the attorney general to toss out the case entirely, just like in the Stevens case.

Holder, a former corruption prosecutor, is also facing calls to overhaul the public integrity section.

In announcing his decision on Stevens, he said the department “must always ensure that any case in which it is involved is handled fairly and consistent with its commitment to justice.”

Joseph diGenova, a former federal prosecutor, said federal prosecutors suffer from “a lack of supervision.”

“I’m a great fan of prosecutors, but the department and the U.S. attorneys offices in my opinion have been out of control,” diGenova said.

In Stevens’ case, Holder decided to pull the plug after prosecutors withheld notes of an interview with a crucial witness. The notes would have contradicted damaging testimony the witness gave against Stevens.

To diGenova, it was one of the worst examples of prosecutors caring more about winning a case than finding justice, and further proof of what he called incredible arrogance of many lawyers in the department.

“This was, in essence, a framing of a senator. That doesn’t mean he’s pure as the driven snow, but they were going to convict him no matter what,” the lawyer said. “They changed the balance of power in the United States Senate. That ought to be a crime.”

Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in Senate history. A week before the 2008 election, a jury found him guilty on seven felony counts of lying on Senate financial disclosure forms to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations from a wealthy oil contractor.

After the conviction, Stevens lost to Democrat Mark Begich by fewer than 4,000 votes. Begich has rejected calls from Alaska Republicans, including Gov. Sarah Palin, for him to resign in order to have a new election for the seat.

When he took the job of attorney general, Holder pledged to remove any political considerations from the department’s work after a slew of investigations into alleged partisan meddling during the Bush years.

Those accusations were initially driven by the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in late 2006, and culminated with the ouster of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general.

Yet it was the Republican administration that filed the case against the Republican Stevens, and it was their Democratic successors who dropped it.

Appeared Here


Department Of Justice Investigated After Botched Case And Kangaroo Trial Of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens – Gross Misconduct

April 5, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – The bungled trial of former GOP Sen. Ted Stevens tainted more than just the Justice Department. It probably tipped the balance of a close election, and the fallout from that is far from over.

Stevens, the 85-year-old patriarch of Alaska politics, is headed to court Tuesday, when a judge is expected to grant Attorney General Eric Holder’s request to dismiss the case and toss out Stevens’ conviction.

Within the department, the Stevens case could have far-ranging implications. The prosecution team, including the top two officials in the public integrity section, faces an internal investigation.

The FBI has 2,500 pending corruption investigations across the country, and whether the targets are lawmakers or suspected crooked government inspectors, prosecutors may be more cautious in bringing charges after the Stevens debacle.

A jury convicted Stevens of lying about gifts and home renovations provided by an Alaska businessman.

Stevens beat the charges, but lost his job. In that, he’s not alone.

In Puerto Rico last year, prosecutors filed a new indictment against Democratic Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila three months before the election. He lost the race, but a jury found him not guilty of all charges.

The prosecution “certainly smacked of political motivation,” argued Acevedo’s lawyer, Thomas Green.

Such accusations are not new from defense lawyers in corruption cases. But they have far more bite when the politicians charged ultimately win in court after having lost their careers.

In Wisconsin in 2006, prosecutors indicted a little-known state worker for allegedly helping contributors to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle get a contract. The worker, Georgia Thompson, was sentenced to prison two months before the election.

After the election – which Doyle won – an appeals court not only overturned her conviction, but ordered her immediately freed from prison. One appeals court judge described the evidence against Thompson as “beyond thin.”

During the Bush administration, Democrats claimed the conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was pushed by politically minded Republicans.

Siegelman, who was sent to prison in 2007 for bribery and corruption, was freed last year on bond. An appeals court recently dismissed some, but not all the charges and ordered him resentenced. His lawyer is asking the attorney general to toss out the case entirely, just like in the Stevens case.

Holder, a former corruption prosecutor, is also facing calls to overhaul the public integrity section.

In announcing his decision on Stevens, he said the department “must always ensure that any case in which it is involved is handled fairly and consistent with its commitment to justice.”

Joseph diGenova, a former federal prosecutor, said federal prosecutors suffer from “a lack of supervision.”

“I’m a great fan of prosecutors, but the department and the U.S. attorneys offices in my opinion have been out of control,” diGenova said.

In Stevens’ case, Holder decided to pull the plug after prosecutors withheld notes of an interview with a crucial witness. The notes would have contradicted damaging testimony the witness gave against Stevens.

To diGenova, it was one of the worst examples of prosecutors caring more about winning a case than finding justice, and further proof of what he called incredible arrogance of many lawyers in the department.

“This was, in essence, a framing of a senator. That doesn’t mean he’s pure as the driven snow, but they were going to convict him no matter what,” the lawyer said. “They changed the balance of power in the United States Senate. That ought to be a crime.”

Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in Senate history. A week before the 2008 election, a jury found him guilty on seven felony counts of lying on Senate financial disclosure forms to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations from a wealthy oil contractor.

After the conviction, Stevens lost to Democrat Mark Begich by fewer than 4,000 votes. Begich has rejected calls from Alaska Republicans, including Gov. Sarah Palin, for him to resign in order to have a new election for the seat.

When he took the job of attorney general, Holder pledged to remove any political considerations from the department’s work after a slew of investigations into alleged partisan meddling during the Bush years.

Those accusations were initially driven by the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in late 2006, and culminated with the ouster of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general.

Yet it was the Republican administration that filed the case against the Republican Stevens, and it was their Democratic successors who dropped it.

Appeared Here


Federal Prosecutors Botched Case Against Alaska Senator Ted Stevens – Conviction Reversed, Charges Dismissed

April 1, 2009

ALASKA – The Justice Department will drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, NPR has learned.

A jury convicted Stevens last fall of seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form in order to conceal $250,000 in gifts from an oil industry executive and other friends. Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, however, he lost his bid for an eighth full term in office just days after he was convicted. Since then, charges of prosecutorial misconduct have delayed his sentencing and prompted defense motions for a new trial.

According to Justice Department officials, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to drop the case against Stevens rather than continue to defend the conviction in the face of persistent problems stemming from the actions of prosecutors.

The judge in the Stevens case has repeatedly delayed sentencing and criticized trial prosecutors for what he’s called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt. Things got so bad that the Justice Department finally replaced the trial team, including top-ranking officials in the office of public integrity. That’s the department’s section charged with prosecuting public corruption cases.

With more ugly hearings expected, Holder is said to have decided late Tuesday to pull the plug. Stevens’ lawyers are expected to be informed Wednesday morning that the department will dismiss the indictment against the former senator.

Holder’s decision is said to be based on Stevens’ age — he’s 85 — and because Stevens is no longer in the Senate. Perhaps most importantly, Justice Department officials say Holder wants to send a message to prosecutors throughout the department that actions he regards as misconduct will not be tolerated.

Holder began his career in the department’s public integrity section; and, according to sources, he was horrified by the failure of prosecutors to turn over all relevant materials to the defense.

The attorney general also knows the trial judge, Emmett Sullivan, well. The two men served together as judges of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia before each was promoted to higher office.

Holder respects Sullivan and reportedly has watched with growing alarm as Sullivan repeatedly has scolded prosecutors for failing to follow his judicial orders to fully inform defense lawyers about everything from potentially favorable evidence to the travel plans of witnesses. During the trial, prosecutorial missteps led to the judge instructing the jury to disregard some evidence.

Sentencing has been repeatedly delayed. By last month, it was playing a back seat to charges of prosecutorial misconduct — as a whistle-blowing FBI agent made complaints about improper conduct by a fellow agent and prosecutors. With a hearing scheduled in two weeks to explore those charges, Holder decided to review the case himself.

Justice Department officials say they will withdraw their opposition to the defense motion for a new trial and will dismiss the indictment — in effect voiding the Stevens conviction.

Appeared Here


Federal Prosecutors Botched Case Against Alaska Senator Ted Stevens – Conviction Reversed, Charges Dismissed

April 1, 2009

ALASKA – The Justice Department will drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, NPR has learned.

A jury convicted Stevens last fall of seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form in order to conceal $250,000 in gifts from an oil industry executive and other friends. Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, however, he lost his bid for an eighth full term in office just days after he was convicted. Since then, charges of prosecutorial misconduct have delayed his sentencing and prompted defense motions for a new trial.

According to Justice Department officials, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to drop the case against Stevens rather than continue to defend the conviction in the face of persistent problems stemming from the actions of prosecutors.

The judge in the Stevens case has repeatedly delayed sentencing and criticized trial prosecutors for what he’s called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt. Things got so bad that the Justice Department finally replaced the trial team, including top-ranking officials in the office of public integrity. That’s the department’s section charged with prosecuting public corruption cases.

With more ugly hearings expected, Holder is said to have decided late Tuesday to pull the plug. Stevens’ lawyers are expected to be informed Wednesday morning that the department will dismiss the indictment against the former senator.

Holder’s decision is said to be based on Stevens’ age — he’s 85 — and because Stevens is no longer in the Senate. Perhaps most importantly, Justice Department officials say Holder wants to send a message to prosecutors throughout the department that actions he regards as misconduct will not be tolerated.

Holder began his career in the department’s public integrity section; and, according to sources, he was horrified by the failure of prosecutors to turn over all relevant materials to the defense.

The attorney general also knows the trial judge, Emmett Sullivan, well. The two men served together as judges of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia before each was promoted to higher office.

Holder respects Sullivan and reportedly has watched with growing alarm as Sullivan repeatedly has scolded prosecutors for failing to follow his judicial orders to fully inform defense lawyers about everything from potentially favorable evidence to the travel plans of witnesses. During the trial, prosecutorial missteps led to the judge instructing the jury to disregard some evidence.

Sentencing has been repeatedly delayed. By last month, it was playing a back seat to charges of prosecutorial misconduct — as a whistle-blowing FBI agent made complaints about improper conduct by a fellow agent and prosecutors. With a hearing scheduled in two weeks to explore those charges, Holder decided to review the case himself.

Justice Department officials say they will withdraw their opposition to the defense motion for a new trial and will dismiss the indictment — in effect voiding the Stevens conviction.

Appeared Here