House Oversight Chair Issa Predicts Disgraced US Attorney General Will Be Held In Contempt (But of course it will be civil, and less than a slap on the wrist…)

June 24, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The top Republican leading the House investigation into Operation Fast and Furious said Sunday he expects a “bipartisan” floor vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress this coming week.

“I believe they will (vote to hold him in contempt),” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told “Fox News Sunday.” “Both Republicans and Democrats will vote that — I believe it will be bipartisan.”

Issa kept his focus on the Justice Department, clarifying that he has no evidence the White House was involved in any Fast and Furious cover-up. But he repeatedly said Congress is trying to get to the bottom of why the Justice Department “lied” about the operation.

The comments underscored the apparent momentum among majority House Republicans behind the contempt push, following a committee contempt vote against Holder along party lines this past week. That vote proceeded after Holder and Republicans were unable to reach an agreement over subpoenaed documents pertaining to the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious discussions.

Issa said Sunday it’s possible the vote could be delayed or even “eliminated” if the administration produces the subpoenaed documents the House is seeking. He noted the entire schedule is at the discretion of House Speaker John Boehner.

“But we have to see the documents first,” he said.

Barring such a resolution, Issa and his allies are teeing up a major election-year clash this coming week between the Executive and Legislative branches, and between Democrats and Republicans.

President Obama intervened this past week, invoking executive privilege to protect the documents in question, but Republicans dismissed the claim and proceeded with the contempt vote. On the sidelines, minority House Democrats are pleading with Republicans take a step back and work out the document dispute without the threat of contempt. At the same time, both sides are antagonizing each other at the dais and in the press over what Democrats claim has become a political “witch hunt.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings, R-Md., ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that the confrontation was entirely avoidable.

“I think it’s extremely unfortunate,” he said. “The attorney general has made it clear that he is willing to work with this Congress.”

Cummings called on Boehner to intervene and try to reach an agreement with Holder that involves turning over some documents while also halting the contempt proceedings.

“I think that we have a duty … at this critical moment to get the documents,” he said. “I know we can get them. It’s just a matter of sitting down and talking to Holder.”

Cummings suggested the course of the committee’s investigation has lost sight of one of the major reasons for the probe — the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, whose murder scene included weapons from the Fast and Furious operation.

But Issa defended the escalation, saying the committee is trying to obtain critical documents to help explain why Congress was initially told — incorrectly — in February 2011 that the government did not knowingly let guns “walk” across the U.S.-Mexico border. The department later issued a correction to that statement.

“We, in fact, are simply trying to get to the truth when we were told a lie,” Issa said. “It’s about the cover-up.”

“Ultimately, Justice lied to the American people on February 4 (2011), and they didn’t make it right for 10 months.”

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House Oversight Committee To Vote On Holding Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder In Contempt Of Congress – Still Hiding Documents And Information On His Department Efforts That Armed Mexican Drug Cartels

June 11, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – CBS News has learned the House Oversight Committee will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. It’s the fourth time in 30 years that Congress has launched a contempt action against an executive branch member.

This time, the dispute stems from Holder failing to turn over documents subpoenaed on October 12, 2011 in the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” investigation.

The Justice Department has maintained it has cooperated fully with the congressional investigation, turning over tens of thousands of documents and having Holder testify to Congress on the topic at least eight times.

However, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., says the Justice Department has refused to turn over tens of thousands of pages of documents. Those include materials created after Feb. 4, 2011, when the Justice Department wrote a letter to Congress saying no gunwalking had occurred. The Justice Department later retracted the denial.

“The Obama Administration has not asserted Executive Privilege or any other valid privilege over these materials and it is unacceptable that the Department of Justice refuses to produce them. These documents pertain to Operation Fast and Furious, the claims of whistleblowers, and why it took the Department nearly a year to retract false denials of reckless tactics,” Issa wrote in an announcement of the vote to be released shortly. It will reveal the vote is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20.

Issa says the Justice Department can still put a stop to the contempt process at any time by turning over the subpoenaed documents.

If the House Oversight Committee approves the contempt citation, the matter would likely be scheduled for a full House vote.

For several weeks, there has been closed-door discussions and debate among House Republicans as to whether to move forward with contempt. Some have expressed concern that it could distract from the Republican’s focus on the economy in this election year.

Led by Republicans Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Issa, Congress’ investigation into Fast and Furious is now in its second year. In the ATF operation, agents allowed thousands of weapons to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels in the hope it would somehow help ATF take down a major cartel. Some of the weapons were used in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry at the hands of illegal immigrants crossing into Arizona. Mexican press reports say hundreds of Mexicans have died at the hands of the trafficked weapons. The story was exposed nationally for the first time by CBS News in February 2011.

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee have called the Republicans’ move to find Holder in contempt a politically-motivated “witch hunt.”

In 1983, Congress found EPA administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford in contempt for failing to produce subpoenaed documents.

In 1998, the GOP-controlled House Oversight committee found Attorney General Janet Reno in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena on campaign finance law violations.

In 2008, the Democratic-led House Oversight Committee found former White House counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff John Bolton in contempt for failing to cooperate with an inquiry into whether a purge of federal prosecutors by the Bush administration was politically motivated.

Congress went to federal court to seek enforcement of that contempt action, but a compromise was reached with the Executive Branch before any court decision was final.

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Secret Documents Prove Obama’s Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder Is Full Of Shit – Hid Department’s Documents On Operations That Armed Criminals And Mexican Drug Cartels

June 7, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – With the help of a mole, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has turned the tables on Attorney General Eric Holder.

Issa has long been exasperated with Holder, claiming that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been withholding information on a controversial gun-running operation. But through an anonymous source, Issa has obtained information about the initiative that is under a federal court-ordered seal.

Giving such information out is a federal crime, raising the question of whether the Justice Department will seek to prosecute what Republicans are calling a whistleblower.

Issa has asked the DOJ for the documents — wiretap applications it used in the botched federal gun-tracking Operation Fast and Furious — for months. The California lawmaker has taken preliminary steps to move contempt-of-Congress citations against Holder, but it remains unclear if GOP leaders support that move. This new controversy could help Issa attract more Republican support for a contempt-of-Congress resolution.

If Holder does launch an investigation into where the leak originated, the powerful Republican could paint the move as an attempt by the DOJ to hide the documents’ contents. It would also raise the possibility that DOJ investigators will seek information from Issa, who has been trying to determine who approved the “gun-walking” tactics used in Fast and Furious along the U.S.-Mexico border.

On the other hand, not launching a probe would mean turning a blind eye to a criminal breach and could lead Issa’s source and others to reveal other information sealed by a judge.

Issa told Fox News on Wednesday that he has no intention of shining the light on his source: “We’re not going to make our whistleblower available. That’s been one of the most sensitive areas, because some of the early whistleblowers are already feeling retribution. They’re being treated horribly.”

Asked earlier this week where he got the wiretap applications, Issa told The Hill, “You can ask, but you should have no expectation of an answer. By the way, if I asked you where you got yours, would you give me your sources?”

Of course, there is some political risk for Issa. The Obama administration could point out that he is stonewalling federal authorities after complaining throughout this Congress of being stonewalled by DOJ.

As the lead congressional investigator of Fast and Furious, Issa says the documents show top-ranking DOJ officials signing off on the condemned “gun-walking” tactics used in the failed operation. Senior DOJ officials have repeatedly denied that they approved the botched initiative.

The documents have not been made public, and Issa has apparently broken no laws by being given the information.

Regardless, the DOJ is not pleased.

“Chairman Issa’s letter makes clear that sealed court documents relating to pending federal prosecutions being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California have been disclosed to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in violation of law,” wrote Deputy Attorney General James Cole to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Issa this week.

“This is of great concern to us,” the letter added.

A spokesman for the DOJ declined to comment about whether it was planning to launch an investigation into the leak.

Democrats say that Issa is exaggerating what he has. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on Issa’s panel, reiterated this week that top-ranking DOJ officials didn’t personally review any of the six wiretap applications related to Fast and Furious. Issa sent Cummings the information he received from his source.

In the past, the DOJ has justified not turning over the wiretap applications to Issa by saying that doing so could jeopardize the current criminal cases it is prosecuting.

Two former prosecutors for the DOJ, who were not familiar with the details of this article, independently told The Hill that defense lawyers could use an instance of documents being leaked in violation of a court-ordered seal to justify seeking a mistrial.

It is unlikely that the DOJ, if it does investigate the leak, will have grounds to go after Issa for accepting the documents. In past instances of court-ordered seals being broken, it is the actual breaker of the seal who is held responsible, which in this case could mean criminal contempt proceedings and possible jail time.

The battle between Issa and the DOJ has escalated over the past month, with House Republican leaders writing a letter to Holder asking him to hand over information about who was responsible for Fast and Furious. The letter also asked whether the DOJ misled Congress on when officials, including Holder, became aware of the program.

Issa is set to square off against Holder on Thursday when the attorney general is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee. The Republican lawmaker will appear on a panel to discuss oversight of the DOJ.

Under the now-defunct Fast and Furious initiative, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is under the DOJ, authorized the sale of firearms to known and suspected straw purchasers for Mexican drug cartels, but lost track of many of the weapons. Some of those guns might have contributed to the December 2010 shooting death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

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25 Shot Overnight In Chicago Illinois – No Arrests

May 28, 2012

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – 25 people were shot in Chicago overnight.

19-year-old Jaleel Beasley and two other young men were hit just after 2 a.m. outside a bar in the Lawndale neighborhood.

Beasley died later at Mt Sinai hospital.

The other two men were brought to Stroger Hospital and are in stable condition.

Two other people were shot in the same area within 20 minutes of the first incident.

Police are investigating the possibility that the two events were related.

So far, no arrests have been made in connection with any of the shootings.

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Evidence Goes Missing From Asheville North Carolina Police Department Evidence Room, Putting Criminals Back On The Street – At Least 27 Guns, 54 Containers Of Drugs, And 34 Packets Of Money Unaccounted For – Police Hiding Results Of Audit From Public

May 28, 2012

ASHEVILLE — Not long after midnight on a cold January morning, police officer Evan Flanders found himself facing the wrong end of a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver.

Flanders thought 24-year-old Twari Rashad Mapp looked suspicious when he walked up to him, and Mapp started to go for a gun, according to police.

But in reality the circumstances leading up to that Jan. 6 confrontation started months earlier with the discovery of sweeping problems in the Police Department evidence room.

Mapp might otherwise have been in jail — along with at least three other violent crime suspects freed on unsecured bonds because of lost evidence, according to a search of criminal and detention center records by the Citizen-Times.

One of four had been recently extradited from Oklahoma for a 2001 break-in, assault and rape of an Asheville woman who was still living in the city.

Before he was freed, Mapp had been jailed on charges including robbery with a dangerous weapon and was unable to post a $25,000 secured bond.

Police Sgt. Ernie Welborn called the releases unfortunate.

“We regret that the property room issues played a role in the bond reductions,” Welborn said.

Others, though, including residents living near the site of Flanders’ struggle, said the incidents were disturbing.

All four violent crime suspects were eventually jailed again, but not before two committed offenses again, according to police charges.

The releases of the men had to happen because those accused of crimes have a right to see any evidence against them, Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore said.

Moore has refused to release the findings of a full evidence room audit, saying the state Bureau of Investigation is using the city-funded report as part its investigation.

Evidence frozen, lesser pleas

Moore was alerted to problems on April 1, 2011, when an assistant district attorney and an attorney defending a man on drug trafficking charges discovered 397 prescription oxycodone pills were missing from the evidence room.

Days later, a police audit of 1,097 “high-risk” items found 27 guns, 54 containers of drugs and 34 packets of money missing.

Longtime evidence room manager, William Lee Smith, resigned two months earlier.

Moore, working with the SBI, sealed the evidence room, and state agents began working it as a crime scene. The city, meanwhile, hired a special auditor to go through the whole room.

That meant only the auditor and SBI agents would have access.

Because Moore could not immediately produce evidence against people facing charges, he was forced to allow some charged with violent crimes to leave jail on unsecured bonds.

They included:

• Andrew Grady Davis, 37, extradited to Asheville on DNA evidence for a 2001 rape and placed in jail on a $1 million bond before it was reduced to unsecured.

• Mapp, in jail on charges including robbery with a dangerous weapon and placed on a $25,000 bond before it was reduced.

• Corey Jawil Mapp, 21, brother of Twari, in jail on charges including robbery with a dangerous weapon and placed on a $24,100 bond before it was reduced. Prior charges against him include robbery and drug dealing.

• Daniel Wayne Jenkins, 19, in jail on charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault by pointing a gun. His bond was $31,000 before being reduced to unsecured.

In other cases, those charged with nonviolent crimes were allowed to plead to lesser crimes.

Moore, who could not be reached Thursday or Friday, has said he didn’t know the full tally but that they involved more than a dozen cases, many of them drug-related.
Charged with offenses while out

It was while they were out that the Mapp brothers again ran afoul of the law, according to police.

Corey Mapp was cited for driving while license revoked and careless and reckless driving.

His brother, meanwhile, got into deeper trouble. It’s not clear why Twari Mapp had a loaded gun, according to police, and was out near the neighborhood south of downtown early on Jan. 6.

Police reports say Flanders recognized him as someone who had been charged with violent crimes before, including robbery with a dangerous weapon and carrying a concealed weapon, and suspected he might have a warrant out for his arrest.

He approached Mapp near the corner of South French Broad and Hilliard avenues. A release from the police department gave an account of the encounter:

“As Officer Flanders interacted with the individual, he asked repeatedly for the suspect to remove his hands from his pockets. After the suspect refused to comply, Officer Flanders grabbed both of the suspect’s wrists and immediately ascertained that the suspect was then trying to pull a handgun from his pocket. Officer Flanders noted that the suspect had his hand around the handle of the gun in his pocket, and the barrel of the gun was extended forward in the direction of Officer Flanders as he attempted to break the suspect’s grip.”

At that point, Flanders feared “for his life,” the release said, and moved to draw his own pistol. He was able to do it, and Mapp, seeing the gun slackened his grip, allowing Flanders to take his pistol.

Mapp was charged with assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer, carrying a concealed weapon and resisting arrest. He remains in jail under a $5,500 bond.

His attorney Gene Ellison would not comment on the charges.

Ranking police officers acknowledge problems in the evidence room led to Mapp and the other men having reduced bonds.

But it’s possible, too, they could have gotten out anyway, Welborn said.

“We cannot know if these subjects would have made bond without the reductions,” the sergeant said.

Welborn denied a request to speak directly to Flanders.

Residents near where Flanders and Mapp struggled say the neighborhood is usually safe and internal police problems put dangerous people near their homes.

Theo Crouse-Mann lives with his girlfriend, Spring Pearson, near the corner where the fight happened and said that he has seen minor crime such as prostitution, but never anything violent.

“I’ve never heard a gunshot,” Crouse-Mann said. “But now, this thing with the evidence room seems like a systemic failure.”
Back in police control

Police have regained control of the evidence room, and new Chief William Anderson said he will make a national search for a new evidence room manager a priority.

The problems happened under former Police Chief Bill Hogan, who abruptly retired after they became public.

Davis is back in jail under a $400,000 bond for charges including the rape. His attorney, public defender LeAnn Melton, did not return a call or email seeking comment.

Corey Mapp is under a $105,000 bond for his original charges, plus others, including possession of a stolen vehicle and stolen goods.

Jenkins was sentenced to six to eight months in a state prison. He was released Sept. 11, according to Department of Correction records.

Moore has withheld results of the city-funded audit despite requests for its release made by the Citizen-Times and numerous other media organizations under the state’s public records law.

N.C. Press Association attorneys say the report should be available to anyone, but the district attorney said it is exempt from state public records law because it is part of the SBI investigation.

The city paid a private contractor $174,723 for the audit, but no city officials have requested to see it, saying they would wait for the SBI probe to play out.

SBI spokeswoman Noelle Talley said the investigation is ongoing but said she could not say when it wound be done.

“It is our policy not to comment on ongoing investigations so as not to jeopardize those investigations,” Talley said.
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Judge Orders Man’s Guns Returned After Crazed Cops And State Of New Jersey Tried To Strip Him Of His Constitutional Rights For Being Disabled

May 12, 2012

ROCKAWAY, NEW JERSEY -  A blind New Jersey man is declaring victory in a legal battle over his gun collection.

The state confiscated his weapons citing safety, but now a judge’s order — citing the right to bear arms — means he will get them back.

Steven Hopler of Rockaway knows a lot about guns. The 49-year-old has been handling them since childhood, and practices regularly at a local gun range. His aim is incredible, especially considering he’s blind.

“I’ve handled guns for many years — being sighted and being blind — and I’ve never had a problem,” Hopler told CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis on Friday.

But four years ago, Hopler had an accident. He shot himself in the leg. Police responded and took six of his guns, citing safety concerns. They also accused him of drinking too much.

“They had taken the guns that were out in plain sight,” Hopler said.

That episode began a legal battle that wound up in Morris County Superior Court. Prosecutors argued Hopler shouldn’t have guns because he’s a danger. However, a judge ruled otherwise, saying his disability shouldn’t take away his constitutional right to bear arms.

Robert Trautman is Hopler’s attorney, and said police singled out his client.

“The state argued that Steve drinks too much.” Trautman said. “It’s just simply that the police didn’t want Steve Hopler to own firearms because he’s blind and they felt that was improper.”

In a statement, the Morris County prosecutor said “From the outset, there was concern as to whether Mr. Hopler was suitable to possess firearms…we are satisfied that we had our day in court…and no appeals will be filed.”

With the ordeal finally over, Hopler said the victory is about more than guns.

“I wouldn’t say power, [it's] freedom,” he said.

The judge’s order said Hopler’s guns should now be returned. He’ll make arrangements on Monday.

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Not Yours: Florida Governor Shoots Down Tampa Mayor’s Effort To Ban Guns Downtown During Republican National Convention

May 3, 2012

TAMPA, FLORIDA – Florida Governor Rick Scott has shot down a request by Tampa’s mayor to allow local authorities to ban guns from the city’s downtown during the Republican National Convention in August.

Citing Second Amendment protections in the U.S. Constitution, Scott told Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn that conventions and guns have co-existed since the nation’s birth and would continue to do so during the four-day event beginning August 27.

“It is unclear how disarming law abiding citizens would better protect them from the dangers and threats posed by those who would flout the law,” the Republican governor said in a letter on Tuesday.

Local officials need Scott’s permission to enact the temporary restrictions after state lawmakers last year passed a measure that prohibits local governments from adopting gun ordinances that are stricter than state law.

Florida has some of the most lenient gun laws in the United States and by some counts leads the nation in gun ownership, with about 6.5 percent of all adults licensed to carry a concealed weapon, state records show.

New applications for concealed gun permits have quadrupled since 1998.

In a letter to Scott, Buckhorn said the Tampa City Council had banned a host of items from the area surrounding the convention facility, a list that includes water guns, poles and pieces of wood.

“One noticeable item missing from the city’s temporary ordinance is firearms,” Buckhorn wrote. “In the potentially contentious environment surrounding the RNC, a firearm unnecessarily increases the threat of imminent harm and injury to the residents and visitors to the city.”

Scott said he was confident law enforcement officials, who are expected to number nearly 4,000, would be able to protect the public without having to enforce a blanket gun ban.

That city officials have banned other items is irrelevant, he said.

“The choice to allow the government to ban sticks, poles but not firearms, is one that the people made in enacting their state and federal constitutions,” Scott wrote.

Weapons will not be allowed in the convention center itself or in the immediate area surrounding the site. Security in that venue is being handled by the U.S. Secret Service.

The City Council wants to extend the restrictions to all of downtown, including areas that have been designated zones for protesters expected at the event.

“As governor, you have the duty to meet dangers presented by events such as the RNC where there is a threat of substantial injury and harm to Florida residents and visitors to the state,” Buckhorn wrote

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Effort By House Oversight Committee To Hold Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder In Contempt Making Progress – His Department’s Efforts Armed Mexican Drug Cartels, Then Hid Documents Amid Investigation

May 3, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Republicans on the House Oversight Committee were to take the first formal step Thursday toward contempt proceedings against Attorney General Eric Holder over the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” operation, CBS News has learned.

The case for a citation declaring Holder in contempt will be laid out in a briefing paper and 48-page draft citation distributed to Democrats and Republicans on the committee. CBS News has obtained copies of both documents. In them, Republican members use strong language to accuse Holder of obstructing the committee’s investigation, which is now in its second year.

The documents allege that the Justice Department has issued, “false denials, given answers intended to misdirect investigators, sought to intimidate witnesses, unlawfully withheld subpoenaed documents, and waited to be confronted with indisputable evidence before acknowledging uncomfortable facts.”

“The Justice Department’s demonstrable contempt for the congressional investigation has inflicted harm on the people of two nations seeking the truth – and very pointedly on the family of fallen Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ATF whistleblowers who now face retaliation in the wake of their own heroic efforts to expose wrongdoing,” says the brief to be distributed Thursday.

For its part, the Justice Department says it has complied with the congressional investigations, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).

“We’ve done twice-a-month (document) productions since last year, and the Attorney General has testified about this matter no less than seven times,” a Justice official tells CBS News.

There have been at least three House contempt actions against the Executive Branch in the past 30 years.

In 1983, Congress found EPA administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford in contempt for failing to produce subpoenaed documents.

In 1998, the GOP-controlled House Oversight committee found Attorney General Janet Reno in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena on campaign finance law violations.

In 2008, the Democrat-controlled House found former White House counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff John Bolton in contempt for failing to cooperate with an inquiry into whether a purge of federal prosecutors was politically motivated.

In 2008, the Democratic-led Oversight Committee found two White House officials in contempt in the probe of Bush Administration firings of U.S. Attorneys. Congress went to federal court to seek enforcement of that contempt action, but a compromise was reached with the Executive Branch before any court decision was final.

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No Bond For US Border Patrol Agent Ricardo Montalvo And Girlfriend – Charged With Smuggling Guns To Mexican Drug Cartel Members

April 19, 2012

EL PASO, TEXAS – A federal judge on Wednesday denied bond for an El Paso Border Patrol agent and his girlfriend, both accused of smuggling guns to members of a Mexican drug cartel.

Federal agents arrested Border Patrol Agent Ricardo Montalvo, 28, and his girlfriend, Carla Gonzales-Ortiz, 29, last week after their indictment on conspiracy, firearms and smuggling charges. The couple showed no emotion after the judge announced his ruling.

An investigation into the allegations began in early 2011, after a man identified in court documents only as E.P. told agents he worked as a “straw purchaser” for Montalvo, who allegedly once tried to recruit other straw purchasers while wearing his Border Patrol uniform.

A straw purchaser is a person who fills out paperwork to buy a gun from a licensed dealer but is actually illegally buying the gun for someone else.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Mesa made his bond ruling during a detention hearing Wednesday morning. After reviewing the possible maximum punishment of more than 10 years in prison, Mesa determined that both Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz are flight risks.

During the hearing, Special Agent Jesus Lowenberg, who works for Customs and Border Protection’s Internal Affairs, testified that in the fall of 2010, Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz became involved in buying weapons, ammunition and accessories destined for Mexico. Montalvo recruited straw purchasers by paying them for buying weapons and other items, and paid them extra if they delivered
the items to Mexico, Lowenberg testified.

The couple’s indictment states Montalvo bought ammunition and firearms, such as AK-47-type pistols favored by Mexican drug cartels. He also allegedly bought about 20,000 rounds of ammo, 97 high-capacity magazines — including 10 100-round magazines for 5.56-mm rifles — and four 37-mm flare launchers that drug cartels can convert to grenade launchers.

During a five-week span beginning in November, Montalvo allegedly spent $11,200 on weapons and ammunition, but his take-home pay as a Border Patrol agent was only $42,000 a year.

Montalvo made hundreds of calls to Mexico between November 2010 and January 2011 on one of two cellphones he kept — one apparently for personal use, and the other for “illicit activity” –ÊLowenberg testified. During the same span, Montalvo was considered a “frequent” border crosser, making six or seven visits a month to Mexico.

In January 2011, agents executed two search warrants at the couple’s home on Emerald Point Drive in far East El Paso. There, the agents seized nine weapons, a handwritten ledger with descriptions of the weapons and price markups, and a photo from Montalvo’s computer showing Montalvo, dressed in plain clothes, holding a large wad of money. Topping the wad was a $100 bill. The photo was titled “Pay Day.”

At one point, Lowenberg testified, Montalvo threatened E. P., telling him, “You know what happens to snitches? Bad things happen to snitches.” Lowenberg also said Montalvo once patted down E. P. to find out whether he was wearing a wire.

During cross-examination, Montalvo’s attorney, Sib Abraham, pointed out that the ledger didn’t have any notes indicating the weapons were indeed sold to cartel members in Mexico, although Lowenberg in turn pointed out that the weapons Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz allegedly bought are favored by the cartels.

Lowenberg also testified that many of the statements made between E. P. and Montalvo weren’t recorded.

Abraham also pointed out that Montalvo has several family members who live in Mexico, including siblings and his father.

Gonzales-Ortiz was charged in the case after she attempted to buy two weapons in 2010 but was denied based on her expired immigrant visa status at the time. At the time the investigation began, Gonzales-Ortiz was living illegally in the U.S. with Montalvo.

She was later granted conditional permanent legal residency, and her parents are legal permanent residents who live in Ruidoso, her attorney Leonard Morales said during the hearing.

Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz have a 6-month-old baby, whom Gonzales-Ortiz was breast-feeding when she was arrested, Morales said.

During the hearing, Montalvo’s U.S. citizenship was also called into question but wasn’t the basis for the federal prosecutors’ request that he be detained without bond.

Lowenberg testified that in early 2011, he and two other agents visited Montalvo’s mother and stepfather in Brownsville, where Montalvo is originally from, to find out why Montalvo’s U.S. birth certificate is flagged as fraudulent by the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Montalvo also has a Mexican birth certificate, Lowenberg said on the stand.

Lowenberg testified that Montalvo’s mother never verified whether Montalvo’s U.S. birth certificate is valid, but during cross-examination, Abraham pointed out Montalvo was enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005, when he was honorably discharged, and that Border Patrol agents are required to be U.S. citizens.

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Truck With 268,000 Rounds Of AK-47 And AR-15 Machine Gun Ammunition Takes Wrong Turn And Ends Up In Juárez Mexico

April 19, 2012

MEXICO – The U.S. truck driver detained by Mexican authorities Tuesday with 268,000 rounds of ammunition was transporting a legal cargo to Phoenix but mistakenly exited to Juárez, the man’s employer said on Wednesday.

Dennis Mekenye, owner of Demco Transportation Inc. in Arlington, Texas, said Bogan Jabin Akeem, 27, left Dallas on Monday with a trailer with nine pallets containing the ammunition.

• Photos: Ammunition seizure in Juárez, U.S. trucker arrested

The cargo was being taken from Tennessee to an ammunition retailer in Phoenix called United Nations Ammo Co. as part of a legitimate transaction, Mekenye said.

Akeem made a stop in El Paso and, before driving the last stretch toward Phoenix, he accidentally took a wrong turn toward the international Bridge of the Americas, his boss said.

“It was a mistake for him to take a wrong turn and find himself in Mexican soil,” Mekenye said. “He missed the exit, and he went south. He asked one cop there, ‘I missed my exit, how can I turn around?’ “

Mekenye said Akeem could not turn the vehicle around at the bridge and had to continue into Mexico. Coming back,
Mexican authorities told him they had to inspect his vehicle.

Mekenye said he didn’t know whether Akeem declared he was transporting ammunition or whether Mexican authorities discovered the cargo upon inspection.

“It was a legitimate movement from Tennessee to Phoenix,” said Mekenye, who also said that his company does not ship to Mexico and that he has never been investigated for shipping contraband.

The owner of United Nations Ammo in Phoenix, who identified himself only as “Howie,” said he was expecting Akeem to arrive Tuesday night to offload the cargo Wednesday morning.

“All the media was calling it cartel ammo, but we paid for that ammo, it’s really our property. In no way whatsoever was that ammunition ever supposed to go to Mexico,” he said. “We ordered this ammunition, and it’s ammunition meant to be sold in the United States of America for legal hobbyists, legal shooters and legal enthusiasts.”

The cargo had a value of $100,000, he said.

“It’s a tremendous shipment we paid for,” he said. “We’re hoping they will release the man and our property so it can be delivered to us.”

Howie declined to comment on how large the order of ammunition rounds was compared with previous ones.

Federal officials did not respond to calls seeking comment on Mekenye’s version of the events.

Akeem was arrested Tuesday evening by Mexican federal authorities and will remain in custody until a court determines whether a criminal case will go forward. Mexican authorities have 48 hours to decide whether they will continue with an investigation.

José Angel Torres Valadez, spokesman in the Northern region for Mexico’s General Attorney’s Office, or PGR, said he could not share any details until the 48-hour period has passed but said it is possible that Akeem will be taken to Mexico City to continue the investigation.

Akeem was driving a tractor-trailer with Texas plates and the logo “McKinney Trailer Rentals.” A spokesman with McKinney confirmed that Mekenye’s company has been a McKinney client for several years.

The bullets were being transported inside metal boxes. Sources said the ammunition is of the type used for AK-47 and AR-15 rifles. The rifles are often used by members of Mexican criminal organizations.

The bullets are legal to buy in the United States, but the ammunition is banned in Mexico, which considers those types of rifles and bullets only for military use. The seizure was one of the largest made by Mexican authorities in Juárez since a vicious drug-cartel war that has killed more than 9,500 people erupted four years ago.

Mekenye said he has been in touch with the U.S. Consulate in Juárez, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Olga Bashbush, spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate in Juárez, confirmed that Akeem was a U.S. citizen and said consular officials met with him Tuesday. Representatives of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not return calls seeking comment.

Mekenye said that Akeem had been his employee for more than two years. A criminal background check showed Akeem did not appear to have any previous convictions or run-ins with the law.

U.S. authorities have increased enforcement to try to stop the so-called Iron River, or flow of weapons, into Mexico.

Last week, a U.S. Border Patrol agent from El Paso and his girlfriend were arrested by U.S. federal agents on gun-smuggling related charges. They are accused of lying on federal forms to buy firearms and ammo intended for Mexico.

In Juárez, local police operations have resulted in the seizure of 168 weapons so far this year.

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California Senator Dianne Feinstein Trying To Block Votes On Bill To Require States To Honor Other States Legally Issued Gun Permits

April 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. Dianne Feinstein is trying to block votes on bills that would require a state to honor concealed gun permits from other states.

The California Democrat wrote Majority Leader Harry Reid and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, requesting that no votes be scheduled on two concealed weapons “reciprocity” bills. There was no immediate response from Reid, D-Nev., or Leahy, D-Vt., to the letter dated April 17.

The National Rifle Association said it would not be deterred in efforts to pass reciprocity legislation.

“We have to work harder to get 60 votes, and we’re prepared to do that,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said, referring to the number of senators needed to end a filibuster.

Feinstein wrote, “These dangerous bills … would undermine states’ rights by forcing nearly every state to accept the concealed carry permits issued by other states, even if the permit holder could not qualify for a permit i the state to which he is traveling.”

She said major law enforcement agencies opposed the legislation.

Feinstein said the bills present a special problem for women who are domestic violence victims.

“Imagine that a man who has been convicted of a domestic violence crime against a woman he had been dating seeks — and obtains — a permit to carry a concealed firearm from his state of residence,” she wrote. “Under the concealed carry reciprocity bills, he could legally travel across state lines and confront his former girlfriend …”

She pointed out that state laws vary widely in their requirements for individuals to possess firearms or obtain concealed weapons permits.

Some states issue permits to people with violent misdemeanor criminal convictions, do not require firearms safety training, and do not grant discretion to law enforcement.

Law enforcement officers, she added, could face potentially life-threatening situations. She said it often is impossible for an officer to determine if an out-of-state concealed carry permit furnished during a traffic stop is valid. She said most states do not enter permit information into the primary database used by officers when conducting a stop.

The Republican-controlled House passed a similar measure last year.

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California Senator Dianne Feinstein Trying To Block Votes On Bill To Require States To Honor Other States Legally Issued Gun Permits

April 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. Dianne Feinstein is trying to block votes on bills that would require a state to honor concealed gun permits from other states.

The California Democrat wrote Majority Leader Harry Reid and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, requesting that no votes be scheduled on two concealed weapons “reciprocity” bills. There was no immediate response from Reid, D-Nev., or Leahy, D-Vt., to the letter dated April 17.

The National Rifle Association said it would not be deterred in efforts to pass reciprocity legislation.

“We have to work harder to get 60 votes, and we’re prepared to do that,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said, referring to the number of senators needed to end a filibuster.

Feinstein wrote, “These dangerous bills … would undermine states’ rights by forcing nearly every state to accept the concealed carry permits issued by other states, even if the permit holder could not qualify for a permit i the state to which he is traveling.”

She said major law enforcement agencies opposed the legislation.

Feinstein said the bills present a special problem for women who are domestic violence victims.

“Imagine that a man who has been convicted of a domestic violence crime against a woman he had been dating seeks — and obtains — a permit to carry a concealed firearm from his state of residence,” she wrote. “Under the concealed carry reciprocity bills, he could legally travel across state lines and confront his former girlfriend …”

She pointed out that state laws vary widely in their requirements for individuals to possess firearms or obtain concealed weapons permits.

Some states issue permits to people with violent misdemeanor criminal convictions, do not require firearms safety training, and do not grant discretion to law enforcement.

Law enforcement officers, she added, could face potentially life-threatening situations. She said it often is impossible for an officer to determine if an out-of-state concealed carry permit furnished during a traffic stop is valid. She said most states do not enter permit information into the primary database used by officers when conducting a stop.

The Republican-controlled House passed a similar measure last year.

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New Haven Connecticut Police Officer Lawrence Burns, Charles Kim, And Krzystof Ruszczyk Arrested After Firing Guns Outside Bar And Interfering With A Police Officer

April 6, 2012

NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT - Three police officers were arrested on charges of interfering with a police officer, and two of them were charged with unlawfully discharging their guns.

The arrests followed an investigation into a claim that one or more off-duty officers illegally fired guns early Sunday outside a bar. No injuries were reported.

Police said Friday that Officers Lawrence Burns and Charles Kim were charged with interfering with a police officer, unlawful discharge of a firearm and reckless endangerment, while Officer Krzystof Ruszczyk was charged with interfering with a police officer. They were placed on administrative leave and were ordered to surrender their weapons.

The interfering charge was because the officers left the scene after they were told by a responding officer to remain, police spokesman Officer David Hartman said. The officers were not firing their guns at anyone, he said.

Police say they voluntarily surrendered and are due in court April 20 for arraignment.

It was unclear if the officers had attorneys. A message was left with the police union.

Mayor John DeStefano called the officers’ behavior “unacceptable.”

“It is not representative of the hard work and commitment of the men and women of the police department,” he said. “The police department’s action is appropriate.”

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Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department Had Probable Cause To Arrest Gun Runner, Eight Months Before Border Patrol Agent’s Death Ended Operation That Supplied Drug Cartels With Weapons

March 23, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Documents released Thursday show that federal agents appeared to have probable cause to arrest the biggest buyer of assault weapons in the Fast and Furious operation — eight months before Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s death ended the scandal-ridden program.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have demanded Attorney General Eric Holder provide a briefing as to why ringleader Manuel Celis Acosta was not arrested earlier given repeated evidence that he was running guns.

“I think the Department of Justice is the Department of Injustice,” Grassley said on Capitol Hill. “They can’t expect people to believe that they couldn’t arrest this guy.”

On April 2, 2010, Phoenix Police stopped Celis Acosta. In the car they found eight weapons, none of which were registered to him. At least one, a Colt .38, had been bought just a few days earlier by Uriel Patino, who had already bought 434 weapons in the previous six months.

It is illegal to buy a gun for anyone other than yourself. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has argued it did not have probable cause to arrest Patino or Celis Acosta. These new documents suggest they did, raising new doubts about the agency’s desire to actually bust the trafficking ring.

Two months later, on May 29, 2010, Celis Acosta was stopped again, this time driving a 2002 BMW 754i trying to cross into Mexico. Inside, border agents found 74 rounds of AK-47 ammunition and nine cell phones hidden in the trunk. ATF Special Agent Hope MacAllister and her counterpart from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Layne France, released him after he promised to cooperate in the future. MacAllister wrote her phone number on a $10 bill.

Celis Acosta had been under ATF surveillance since October 2009. He had been a suspect in a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation, but when he began buying guns for the Sinaloa Cartel, the DEA alerted ATF. The two agencies shared a wiretap until ATF got its own. The ATF also set up a camera mounted on a telephone pole outside his home where they watched guns and money change hands in his garage multiple times.

On April 7, police in El Paso also seized another load of weapons assembled by Celis Acosta. All the guns had been bought in Phoenix by straw buyers under watch by Operation Fast and Furious. Some belonged to Patino, who again appeared to be trafficking weapons.

ATF managers have told Congress they could not arrest anyone because the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona would not allow it since agents lacked probable cause that a crime was committed. They also admit knowingly allowing some guns to be illegally purchased in order to further their investigation.

Many in Congress don’t buy it.

“If you find somebody carrying a massive number of guns across the border that you didn’t have reason to arrest them?” said Grassley. “That just doesn’t hold water as far as I am concerned. It doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

More than 100 Republicans in the House have signed a resolution asking for Holder to resign.

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Department Of Justice In “Panic Mode” As Hearing Nears On Failed Anti-Gun Trafficking Program That Flooded Mexico With Assault Rifles

June 10, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Officials at the Department of Justice are in “panic mode,” according to multiple sources, as word spreads that congressional testimony next week will paint a bleak and humiliating picture of Operation Fast and Furious, the botched undercover operation that left a trail of blood from Mexico to Washington, D.C.

The operation was supposed to stem the flow of weapons from the U.S. to Mexico by allowing so-called straw buyers to purchase guns legally in the U.S. and later sell them in Mexico, usually to drug cartels.

Instead, ATF documents show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms knowingly and deliberately flooded Mexico with assault rifles. Their intent was to expose the entire smuggling organization, from top to bottom, but the operation spun out of control and supervisors refused pleas from field agents to stop it.

Only after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry died did ATF Agent John Dodson blow the whistle and expose the scandal.

“What people don’t understand is how long we will be dealing with this,” Dodson told Fox News back in March. “Those guns are gone. You can’t just give the order and get them back. There is no telling how many crimes will be committed before we retrieve them.”

But now the casualties are coming in.

Mexican officials estimate 150 of their people have been shot by Fast and Furious guns. Police have recovered roughly 700 guns at crime scenes, 250 in the U.S. and the rest in Mexico, including five AK-47s found at a cartel warehouse in Juarez last month.

A high-powered sniper rifle was used to shoot down a Mexican military helicopter. Two other Romanian-made AK-47s were found in a shoot-out that left 11 dead in the state of Jalisco three weeks ago.

The guns were traced to the Lone Wolf Gun Store in Glendale, Ariz., and were sold only after the store employees were told to do so by the ATF.

It is illegal to buy a gun for anyone but yourself. However, ATF’s own documents show it allowed just 15 men to buy 1,725 guns, and 1,318 of those were after the purchasers officially became targets of investigation.

Arizona gun store owners say they were explicitly told by the ATF to sell the guns, sometimes 20, 30, even up to 40 in a single day to single person.

And those orders, from at least one ATF case agent, are on audio recording.

“We would say, ‘Do you (the ATF) want us to stop selling, is there something we should do here?’” Brad DeSayes, owner of J&G Gun Sales in Prescott, said. “And they would say, ‘No, no, no, keep selling – just tell us after the fact.’”

Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, holds a hearing Wednesday into Operation Fast and Furious.

The hearing is billed as “Reckless Decisions, Tragic Outcomes,” and the following are among the details expected in testimony:

- The ATF allowed and encouraged five Arizona gun store owners to sell some 1,800 weapons to buyers known to them as gun smugglers.

- It installed cameras inside the gun stores to record purchases made by those smugglers.

- It hid GPS trackers inside gun stocks and watched the weapons go south on computer screens.

- It obtained surveillance video from parking lots and helicopters showing straw buyers transferring their guns from one car to another.

- It learned guns sold in Phoenix were recovered only when Mexico police requested “trace data,” which is obtained from their serial number.

The first witness in Wednesday’s hearing is Sen. Charles Grassley, who will describe what his investigative team learned from four months of interviews and thousands of documents. He will be followed by three members of Brian Terry’s family, three ATF agents and Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, who only months ago insisted the agency did not let guns go south to Mexico, a claim contradicted by field agents in Group 7, the actual agents who ran the operation in Phoenix.

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Former Federal Judge Jack T. Camp Gets A Tiny Slap On The Wrist In Case Involving Drugs, Guns, And A Whore

March 12, 2011

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – Channel 2 Action News was in a packed courtroom Friday as a sitting federal judge sentenced a former judge in a case involving drugs, guns and a stripper.

Former senior federal Judge Jack T. Camp Jr., 67, was sentenced to 30 days in prison, one year supervised probation, a fine and 400 hours of community service.

Investigative reporter Mark Winne broke the story of Camp’s arrest in October, after Camp purchased oxycodone and cocaine from an undercover FBI agent.

Last year, Camp pleaded guilty to three counts: aiding and abetting the unlawful possession of controlled substances, unlawful possession of controlled substances and conversion of government property. Documents indicate he gave a government-issued laptop to an exotic dancer. It was the same dancer with whom he had a “relationship in which he paid her for sex, gave her money to buy drugs, and used drugs with her,” according to the defense’s sentencing memorandum.

The defense said the lack of proper medical treatment for two serious conditions may have led to the recent chain of events that brought Camp to the federal courtroom as a defendant on Friday.

One of Camp’s lawyers described him as a “human being seeking redemption,” as he asked Judge Thomas Hogan to sentence Camp to probation.

The defense presented a line of character witnesses that described a lifetime of service and good work, among them were Camp’s son, Harry Camp. A recent law school graduate, the younger Camp made his first court appearance Friday speaking in support of his father and asking the judge for probation.

“We ask that he court not interrupt his progress on his road to recovery,” said Harry Camp.

Jack Camp’s voice broke in court as he thanked his many supporters, and especially his family, who stood by his side through this difficult time.

Camp said, “Now I must work very hard to earn the trust and respect of my whole family.”

Jason Fowler, a former law clerk of Camp’s, flew from Washington, D.C., to support his former boss, who he calls a friend. Fowler said he hoped Camp would not receive any jail time.

Camp accepted responsibility for his actions and expressed regret. “No one is to blame for what I did except for me,” Camp said in court, “I’m so very sorry.”

The defense argued Camp’s crime is victimless and that the only people he hurt were himself and his family.

Prosecutor Deborah Mayer countered, “There most certainly is a victim here. The victim is our judicial system. The victim is our society.”

Marcus Coleman, founder of the Atlanta Chapter of the National Action Network, told Channel 2, “Thirty days I think is a little lenient for the lives, all the time that he has dished out.”

A document filed by the defense stated, “There is no punishment he will endure more painful than the guilt and shame he faces every day of the rest of his life.”

Hogan acknowledged the former judge’s intrinsic punishment as a result of his arrest.

“He has a scarlet letter chiseled on his forehead for the rest of his life,” Hogan said.

Camp said, “I am embarrassed and humiliated. I’ll spend the rest of my life known as a judge who disgraced himself.”

“I agree that he had disgraced his office,” Hogan continued, “but I could not give a sentence of only probation.”

Camp’s family and friends consistently echoed the feeling that the person who committed those crimes was not the same Jack Camp they knew for so many years.

“The Judge Camp that I know is completely different from the Judge Camp that one might understand from reading these documents,” Fowler said.

In a sentencing memorandum filed in late February, the defense said, in 1999, Camp sought treatment for what seemed to be depression but “it now appears that he was prescribed medication that worsened, rather than improved, his symptoms.”

According to documents, recent medical exams conducted after his arrest revealed what they thought was depression was actually a mood-cycling or bipolar disorder.

The defense also cited a bicycling accident Camp had in 2000 that left him in the intensive care unit for several days and also caused significant head trauma that went undiagnosed until recently.

The defense claimed these two medical conditions, along with other factors, “undeniably affected his impulse controls, the controls that prevent human beings from doing things that are dangerous and self-destructive.”

Coleman posed the question, “If you have had an injury for the last 11 years that you were a sitting judge, how fit were you to pass judgment on people?”

A document filed by the prosecution reads, “Defendant’s actions cast dark aspersions on the criminal justice system and put the very integrity of the federal courts at issue.”

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Danville California Stephen Tanabe Arrested On Drug And Gun Offenses – Third In One Month Amid Investigation Of Contra Costa County Drug Task Force Chief And PI

March 6, 2011

DANVILLE, CALIFORNIA – A Danville police officer was arrested Friday on suspicion of drug and gun offenses, becoming the third law enforcement official in a month held in the widening investigation of a Contra Costa County drug task force chief and a high-profile private investigator, law enforcement officials said.

Stephen Tanabe, 47, of Alamo, has been put on administrative leave and is being held in the County Jail in Martinez on $260,000 bail, according to the Contra Costa sheriff’s department.

He was arrested at about 9:30 p.m. Friday on suspicion of conspiracy to possess and sell controlled substances and possession and transfer of an assault rifle. It’s unclear whether he is still collecting his total salary package, which was $104,712 in 2009.

Tanabe’s apprehension follows the arrests of Norman Wielsch, the former commander of the state’s now-suspended Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement team, or CNET, and Christopher Butler, who ran a Concord-based private investigative firm. Both Wielsch and Butler have pleaded not guilty on 28 felony counts, with prosecutors alleging both men would steal drugs from evidence lockers and Butler would sell them. Wielsch has been out on bail and Butler made his $900,000 bail Friday and was also released, a jail official said.

“The arrest of Deputy Tanabe is a sad day for the office of the sheriff but should not reflect on the integrity or professionalism of the nearly 1,000 other members of the office,” Contra Costa Sheriff David Livingston said in a statement.

Livingston, whose agency provides deputies for Danville, added that “as soon as we learned of Deputy Tanabe’s alleged involvement in the CNET case, we immediately asked the Department of Justice and the district attorney to take over the investigation.”

A Department of Justice spokesman said Tanabe was not a member of the CNET task force. The state agency declined to comment, saying it was not a part of the arrest and referred calls to the district attorney’s office. A call to District Attorney Mark Peterson was not immediately returned.

Wielsch, Butler and Tanabe all worked as Antioch police officers in the late 1990s, although Tanabe was there only briefly.

A sheriff’s department spokesman declined to say how the trio might be connected in this case, but in court on Wednesday, deputy district attorney Jun Fernandez accused Butler of being involved in a scheme in which he tipped off police officers to drunken motorists after the driver — someone Butler was investigating — was plied with alcohol.

Speaking at the arraignment of Wielsch and Butler, Fernandez said Butler hired decoys, often attactive women, to meet those he was investigating at bars and ply them with booze. Butler would then call police officers he knew to follow the men’s cars and arrest them for driving under the influence.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Tanabe was one of those chosen officers who would make arrests at Butler’s request, and investigators were looking at two of his January arrests and up to four other officers in other Bay Area agencies were being investigated for their links to Butler. The DUI set-ups were to help ex-wives sully their former husbands’ records before divorce and custody hearings, the paper said.

Calls placed to Butler’s attorney, William Gagen, were not returned. After his client’s arraignment, Gagen said that Butler tipping off police of a possible drunk driver was a public service, not criminal.

The DUI ruse was not the first of Butler’s questionable private investigating antics to come to light.

In 2009, Butler and up to eight of his employees posed as Antioch police officers in a fake arrest of a young man at the request of his mother, Fernandez said in court during the arraignment. With Wielsch watching and another employee filming video, Butler’s crew handcuffed the young man at gunpoint, whose mother believed he was taking drugs, and took him to his house where they conducted a search. During the search, they found 4,000 Xanax pills, which investigators later found in Butler’s safe, Fernandez said.

Since his arrest, Butler surrendered his private investigator license, Gagen said.

Butler’s tactics detailed in court were of a rogue investigator, a long-time Oakland private eye said Saturday.

“You’ll always find that element that strays out of bounds,” said Mike Spencer, 15-year operator of Spencer Investigations.

Spencer, who occassionally spoke with Butler over the phone sending business to each other, said Butler came across as professional. However, the use of decoys raised red flags.

“Ninety-nine percent of private investigators don’t touch those,” he said.

Taking clients who want to tarnish their ex-spouses for child custody is another bad sign, he said.

“To give people a leg up in child custody cases? I don’t know any P.I. who would lie or risk that when it would end up in criminal court,” Spencer said. “It’s not worth the risk.”

Tanabe had a private investigator’s license that expired in 2008. He grew up in Hawaii, according to his MySpace profile, and worked in the sheriff’s office for four years, working patrol in Danville as part of contractual partnership between the city and the sheriff’s office.

Wielsch headed up the CNET task force until he and Butler were arrested in Benicia on Feb. 16. The pair could spend more than 25 years in prison if convicted.

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DEA And Rockland County New York Deputies Raid Wrong Address – Home Of Innocent Family Cooking Dinner, Wouldn’t Let Woman Turn Off Stove, Fire Starts, And Three People Were Stuck Upstairs – Threatened To Shoot Family Dogs – Pointed Guns At Man’s Daughter

January 15, 2011

ROCKLAND COUNTY, NEW YORK – A case of mistaken identity put a Spring Valley family in jeopardy.

Deputies surrounded a house on Nereis Drive on reports that an armed gunman, suspected of robbing a medical marijuana delivery provider, was inside. Turned out it was just a family cooking dinner.

Christine Houston told 10News…deputies ordered everyone out of the house and ignored her plea to go back in and turn off the stove. Moments later a fire broke out, trapping three people upstairs, including a seven year old girl. Deputies grabbed a sledge hammer and a skateboard and broke off the metal bars on the windows, then broke the windows to get inside. All eleven people escaped relatively unharmed. one person suffered a minor case of smoke inhalation.

That can’t be said for the kitchen which is a charred mess. A Sheriff’s spokeswoman is denying reports that the department has offered to pay for the damages.

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