Louisiana Federal Prosecutor Sal Perricone Loses Job, Faces Lawsuit Over Years Of Obnoxious Online Comments

September 6, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – Not content to go after suspected wrongdoers in court, a Louisiana federal prosecutor apparently spent years attacking them in the comments section of the local newspaper’s website as well. His online barbs, posted under pseudonyms such as “Henry L. Mencken1951,” “legacyusa,” and “dramatis personae,” were meant to be anonymous. Instead, they have cost him his job and made him the target of at least one defamation lawsuit.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the owner of a landfill that is the target of a federal probe got so fed up with Mencken1951’s comments on NOLA.com articles about him that he hired the famous forensic linguist James Fitzgerald to unmask the troll. Fitzgerald compared the comments to a legal brief by then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone, and found striking similarities, including the use of obscure words such as “dubiety” and “redoubt.” Perricone eventually fessed up and stepped down from his position, and he now faces a defamation lawsuit from the landfill owner, Fred Heebe.

A sample comment about Heebe from Mencken1951: “If Heebe had one firing synapse, he would go speak to Letten’s posse and purge himself of this sordid episode and let them go after the council and public officials. Why prolong this pain… .” Letten refers to Perricone’s boss, U.S. Attorney James Letten.

Now the saga has apparently inspired another embattled local figure to lash out against his online tormentors. Yesterday the Times-Picayune reported that an indicted parish president has filed a defamation lawsuit against a NOLA.com commenter who goes by the name “campstblue.” The suspected culprit? None other than Perricone, who, if the allegations are correct, also took potshots at a deputy U.S. attorney general who might end up having a say in deciding whether Perricone gets censured for his conduct.

Appeared Here


9 Month Jail Sentenced Delayed Again – Former Las Vegas Nevada Drug Prosecutor David Schubert Pled Guilty After Buying Cocaine

April 8, 2012

A nine-month jail sentence for a former drug prosecutor who pleaded guilty to buying $40 worth of cocaine again has been delayed, this time by Nevada’s high court.

The Supreme Court on Friday said that because the case is under appeal, David Schubert does not have to report to the county jail Monday to start serving his sentence, which was handed down by a district judge in February.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has asked the state attorney general’s office to respond to the sentencing appeal made by Bill Terry, Schubert’s lawyer.

Terry has said Judge Carolyn Ellsworth showed bias against his client at a Feb. 27 sentencing hearing.

At the hearing, Terry said, Ellsworth violated procedure by adjudicating Schubert guilty before arguments by the defense and the prosecution. And Ellsworth’s court marshal handcuffed him before the judge announced she was sentencing him to nine months in jail for his buying $40 of rock cocaine last year.

Last week Chief Judge Jennifer Togliatti denied Schubert’s motion to have the sentence tossed and the case moved to another judge.

The Supreme Court has asked for a response to Terry’s appeal from the state attorney general’s office, which prosecuted the case. As part of a deal with prosecutors, Schubert pleaded guilty to a felony charge of cocaine possession, which under state law results in mandatory probation.

At the sentencing hearing, Ellsworth called the deal “offensive” and sentenced Schubert to three years of probation, which included nine months in the county jail. State law allows a judge to order a defendant to serve a year of probation in jail.

In contrast, two high-profile cocaine prosecutions handled by Schubert resulted in probation and no jail time. At the time of their arrests, celebrity Paris Hilton and singer Bruno Mars both had more cocaine in their possession than the former prosecutor.

Las Vegas police arrested the 10-year veteran prosecutor in March 2011 after they watched a man get out of Schubert’s car, go into an apartment complex and return. Officers found Schubert with a minute amount of rock cocaine and confiscated a 9 mm handgun from his car.

Appeared Here


FBI Agent Fred Kingston And Federal Prosecutor Get Away With Crashing Rare $750,000 Ferrari F50 During Joyride

October 12, 2011

DETROIT (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the U.S. government over the wreck of a $750,000 Ferrari driven by an FBI agent, saying federal law grants immunity if property is being held by law enforcement.

The wreck of the rare 1995 F50 sports car was “certainly unfortunate,” but the government cannot be sued in such a case, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn said.

Motors Insurance, based in Southfield, Mich., believes an FBI agent and a prosecutor were out for a joyride when the agent lost control of the Ferrari in a Lexington, Ky., industrial park in 2009. The government has refused to pay for the car.

The car was stolen in Rosemont, Pa., in 2003, eventually recovered and then kept by the FBI in Kentucky as part of an investigation. The government has declined to reveal much about the incident. But in an email that was released to the insurance company, Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson said he was invited for a “short ride” before the Ferrari was to be moved from an impound garage.

The driver, FBI agent Fred Kingston, lost control and the car hit bushes and a small tree, Thompson said.

The insurance company claimed the Ferrari was not actually in custody because the insurer had granted permission for the government to hold the car. The judge disagreed.

“The government’s purpose in holding the vehicle was not to create a status of either consent or punitive coercion. … Rather, the object was to control and preserve relevant evidence,” Cohn said in an 11-page decision on Sept. 27.

The insurance company’s attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday.

Appeared Here


Not Guilty: Queens New York Prosecutors Targeted Battered Woman – Former Police Officer Husband Abused Her For Many Years

October 7, 2011

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – She had always admitted to killing her husband, using two guns to fire 11 bullets inside the couple’s home in Queens. But she insisted she had no choice: if she had not shot him, he would have surely killed her first.

On Thursday, a jury in State Supreme Court in Queens agreed, clearing the woman, Barbara Sheehan, of second-degree murder charges in a case that had been viewed as a strenuous test of a battered-woman defense. Her son and daughter, the children of her slain husband, wept with joy.

During the trial, the jury heard how Ms. Sheehan had been relentlessly abused by her husband, Raymond Sheehan, a former police sergeant, during their 24 years of marriage. But the critical question at trial was whether Ms. Sheehan was in imminent danger when she killed her husband; New York State’s self-defense law justifies the use of lethal force when a threat to a person’s life is deemed immediate.

The trial offered two narratives so diametrically opposed that jurors said it had often been difficult to decipher who the real Barbara Sheehan was.

In one version, Ms. Sheehan and her children testified that Mr. Sheehan smashed her head against a cinder-block wall during a family vacation in Jamaica in 2007, threw boiling pasta sauce at her and punched her in the face the evening before the killing took place in their Howard Beach home in February 2008.

But prosecutors characterized Ms. Sheehan as a pathological liar who executed her husband because she despised him after years of a sexless, dysfunctional marriage, and then cloaked herself in a false story of chronic abuse to escape justice.

The physical evidence appeared unpersuasive: Mr. Sheehan had been shaving before he was killed; his body was found on the bathroom floor, the faucet still running.

Ms. Sheehan testified that the couple had a fierce argument the day before, and she had decided to leave, carrying one of her husband’s guns for protection. When her husband saw her, she said, he reached for a gun on the bathroom vanity and aimed it at her.

Ms. Sheehan and her children burst into tears when the verdict was announced, and her lawyer, Michael G. Dowd, put his arms around her. Her supporters, adorned in purple in solidarity with victims of domestic violence, began cheering.

The killing had divided the Sheehan family. Mr. Sheehan’s twin brother sat alone on one side of the courtroom, while Ms. Sheehan’s children and various supporters sat on the other side. The case had also divided the jury: a day before the verdict was reached, the jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked.

Nonetheless, the jury of nine women and three men unexpectedly reached a consensus on Thursday, in their third day of deliberations. Ms. Sheehan was acquitted of murder and of a gun possession charge, but was found guilty of a second gun possession charge, which carries a sentence of 3 1/2 to 15 years. The judge ordered her to return to court on Wednesday, when she will be remanded into custody. Her sentencing will follow.

Outside the courtroom, Ms. Sheehan, a school secretary, could not contain her tears, clasping the hands of her children. Mr. Dowd said she would not be speaking and wanted to spend time with her family.

“There is no joy today,” he said. “The only thing that can bring joy to this family would be to bring them back 17 years before the first blow was struck.”

In an interview, the jury forewoman, Barbara Fleisher, said jurors ultimately decided to exonerate Ms. Sheehan of murder because the family’s accounts of chronic and vicious abuse had rung true. She said they had believed that Ms. Sheehan reasonably feared she faced an imminent threat of bodily harm when she shot her husband the first time.

“We believed she was justified with all the things she went through over the years,” she said. “We didn’t believe that Raymond Sheehan was the perfect family man or the photographs that were supposed to make him look like a pillar.”

She said that the jury had decided, however, to find Ms. Sheehan guilty of possessing the second weapon, since she had shot her husband even after he no longer posed a danger. The verdict, she indicated, was something of a compromise.

Ms. Sheehan’s son, Raymond Sheehan, said he was happy that his mother had been exonerated of murder, but added, “We don’t want her to go back to jail.”

Mr. Sheehan’s twin brother, Vincent Sheehan, said it was a “bad verdict.”

Asked if his brother would be able to rest in peace, he said: “I think the truth is what makes you rest in peace — not what 12 citizens say about it. But this is the system and you’ve got to live with it.”

“People make decisions based on emotion,” he added.

Ms. Fleisher said the jury’s impasse had been overcome once jurors agreed that they had several doubts about the prosecution’s case. In particular, she said the jury doubted the attempt to show that Mr. Sheehan’s bizarre sexual behavior, which included forcing his wife to watch while he masturbated dressed in an adult diaper, had been a motive for a murderous rage.

Legal experts said the verdict was a vindication for the so-called battered-woman defense. Under this strategy the battered woman chronicles her abuse in intimate and graphic detail with the aim of convincing the jury that she reasonably feared for her life based on her abuser’s past behavior.

“The case is a good marker of the willingness of jurors to realize that a history of abuse can inform a woman’s sense of the need to act in self-defense,” said Holly Maguigan, a law professor at New York University.

Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, said the case was a cautionary tale that those claiming domestic abuse should not take the law into their own hands. “This is a terribly sad and tragic case,” Mr. Brown said. “A family has been torn apart. Their two children will have to pick up the pieces.”

Appeared Here


U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Changes His Story With Respect To His Department Supplying Guns To Medican Drug Cartels

October 5, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – New documents obtained by CBS News show Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial Fast and Furious operation as far back as July 2010. That directly contradicts his statement to Congress.

On May 3, 2011, Holder told a Judiciary Committee hearing, “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”

Yet internal Justice Department documents show that at least ten months before that hearing, Holder began receiving frequent memos discussing Fast and Furious.

The documents came from the head of the National Drug Intelligence Center and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.

In Fast and Furious, ATF agents allegedly allowed thousands of weapons to cross the border and fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

It’s called letting guns “walk,” and it remained secret to the public until Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered last December. Two guns from Fast and Furious were found at the scene, and ATF agent John Dodson blew the whistle on the operation.

Agent: I was ordered to let guns “walk” into Mexico

Ever since, the Justice Department has publicly tried to distance itself. But the new documents leave no doubt that high level Justice officials knew guns were being “walked.”

Two Justice Department officials mulled it over in an email exchange Oct. 18, 2010. “It’s a tricky case given the number of guns that have walked but is a significant set of prosecutions,” says Jason Weinstein, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. Deputy Chief of the National Gang Unit James Trusty replies “I’m not sure how much grief we get for ‘guns walking.’ It may be more like, “Finally they’re going after people who sent guns down there.”

The Justice Department told CBS News that the officials in those emails were talking about a different case started before Eric Holder became Attorney General. And tonight they tell CBS News, Holder misunderstood that question from the committee – he did know about Fast and Furious – just not the details.

Appeared Here


New York Prosecutor Alisha Smith Suspended For Moonlighting As A S&M Dominatrix

September 19, 2011

NEW YORK – A lawyer for the New York State Attorney General’s Office has been suspended after the New York Post inquired about word that she was leading a double life as an S&M dominatrix.

Alisha Smith, 36, had been working as a prosecutor by day and as a paid performer for fetish events in her free time, the Post reports it learned from a source active in New York’s fetish world. The office suspended Smith after the Post inquired about her extracurricular activities.

Smith has been suspended without pay, effective immediately, pending an internal investigation, the Post quoted an unnamed spokesman for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as saying.

The spokesman would not elaborate on the reason for the suspension.

An executive order in the attorney general’s office stipulates that employees must “obtain prior approval … before engaging in any outside pursuit … from which more than $1,000 will be received or is anticipated to be received,” the Post reports.

Smith has been working in securities fraud, and three years ago, then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (now the governor) praised her for her role in obtaining a $5 million settlement from Bank of America and other firms in a securities fraud case, the Post reports.

The Post approached Smith outside of her Manhattan home and she declined to comment. Her lawyer, Marshall Mintz, also would not comment.

On Aug. 5, Smith sent out a post via Twitter in which she shared her experience trying to find the best price for a fetish product, the Post reports.

Appeared Here


Jury Sees Through Orange County Florida Prosecutors Bullshit Case Against Casey Anthony

July 5, 2011

ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA – In a case that became a national sensation on TV, Casey Anthony was acquitted Tuesday of murdering her 2-year-old daughter in what prosecutors portrayed as a cold-blooded attempt to free herself to party and be with her boyfriend.

Officials said Casey is back in the Orange County jail and remains in protective custody.

“As to the charge, first-degree murder, we the jury find the defendant not guilty,” read the court clerk.

After a trial of a month and a half, the jury took less than 11 hours to find Casey not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse. She was convicted of four counts of lying to investigators who were looking into the June 2008 disappearance of her daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony.

Tears welled in Casey’s eyes, her face reddened, her lips trembled, and she began breathing heavily as she listened to the verdict. Casey, 25, could have gotten the death penalty if she had been convicted of murder.

After the verdict was read, Casey hugged her attorney Jose Baez and later mouthed the words “thank you” to him. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton, meanwhile, shook his head in disbelief.

Casey’s parents, Cindy and George Anthony left the courtroom without speaking to her as the judge thanked the jury.

Juror number seven, one of the seven women on the panel, appeared to cry as she left court.

Once the jury left, Casey hugged her attorneys and squealed out loud. The lawyers high-fived one another, and minutes later Casey laughed as she was fingerprinted on the convictions for lying to detectives.

Many in the crowd of about 500 people outside the courthouse reacted with anger after the verdict was read, chanting, “Justice for Caylee!” One man yelled, “Baby killer!”

Given the relative speed with which the jury came back with a verdict, many court-watchers were expecting Casey to be convicted in the killing, and they were stunned by the outcome.

Sentencing was set for Thursday. Casey could get up to one year behind bars on each count of lying to investigators. But since she has been in jail for nearly three years already, she could walk free.

The case played out on national television almost from the moment Caylee was reported missing three years ago, and it became a macabre sensation as testimony turned to tape marks on the child’s face and the alleged smell of decayed flesh inside the trunk of Casey’s car.

After the verdict, Casey’s attorney, Jose Baez, took the criminal justice system and the media to task, saying the outcome should make people realize “you cannot convict someone until they’ve had their day in court.”

“We have the greatest constitution in the world, and if the media and other members of the public do not respect it, it will become meaningless,” he said.

State’s Attorney Lawson Lamar said: “We’re disappointed in the verdict today because we know the facts and we’ve put in absolutely every piece of evidence that existed.” The prosecutor lamented the lack of hard evidence, saying: “This is a dry-bones case. Very, very difficult to prove. The delay in recovering little Caylee’s remains worked to our considerable disadvantage.”

The jurors would not talk to the media.

Caylee’s disappearance went unreported by Casey for a month. The child’s decomposed body was eventually found in the woods near her grandparents’ home six months after she was last seen. A medical examiner was never able to establish how she died.

Prosecutors contended that Casey, a single mother living with her parents, suffocated Caylee with duct tape because she wanted to be free to hit the nightclubs and spend time with her boyfriend.

Defense attorneys argued that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool, and that Casey panicked and hid the body because of the traumatic effects of being sexually abused by her father.

The case became a macabre tourist attraction in Orlando. People camped outside for seats in the courtroom, and scuffles broke out among those desperate to watch the drama unfold.

Because the case got so much media attention in Orlando, jurors were brought in from the Tampa Bay area and sequestered for the entire trial, during which they listened to more than 33 days of testimony and looked at 400 pieces of evidence. Casey did not take the stand.

“While we’re happy for Casey, there are no winners in this case,” Baez said after the verdict. “Caylee has passed on far, far too soon and what my driving force has been for the last three years has been always to make sure that there has been justice for Caylee and Casey because Casey did not murder Caylee. It’s that simple. And today our system of justice has not dishonored her memory by a false conviction.”

In closing arguments, prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick showed the jury two side-by-side images. One showed Casey smiling and partying in a nightclub during the first month Caylee was missing. The other was the tattoo Casey she got a day before law enforcement learned of the child’s disappearance: the Italian words for “beautiful life.”

“At the end of this case, all you have to ask yourself is whose life was better without Caylee?” Burdick asked. “This is your answer.”

Prosecutors also focused heavily on an odor in the trunk of Casey’s car, which forensics experts said was consistent with the smell of human decay.

But the defense argued that the air analysis could not be duplicated, that no one could prove a stain found in the trunk was caused by Caylee’s remains, and that maggots in the compartment had come from a bag of trash.

Prosecutors hammered away at the lies Casey told when the child was missing: She told her parents that she couldn’t produce Caylee because the girl was with a nanny named Zenaida Gonzalez, (Zanny) a woman who doesn’t exist; that she and her daughter were spending time with a rich boyfriend who doesn’t exist; and that Zanny had been hospitalized after an out-of-town traffic crash and that they were spending time with her.

Baez said during closing arguments that the prosecutors’ case was so weak they tried to portray Casey as “a lying, no-good slut” and that their forensic evidence was based on a “fantasy.” He said Caylee’s death was “an accident that snowballed out of control.”

He contended that the toddler drowned and that when Casey panicked, her father, a former police officer, decided to make the death look like a murder by putting duct tape on the girl’s mouth and dumping the body in the woods a quarter-mile away. Anthony’s father denied both the cover-up and abuse claims.

Among the trial spectators was 51-year-old Robin Wilkie, who said she has spent $3,000 on hotels and food since arriving June 10 from Lake Minnetonka, Minn. She tallied more than 100 hours standing in line to wait for tickets and got into the courtroom 15 times to see Casey.

“True crime has become a unique genre of entertainment,” Wilkie said. “Her stories are so extreme and fantastic, it’s hard to believe they’re true, but that’s what engrosses people. This case has sex, lies and videotapes — just like on reality TV.”

The Anthonys’ attorney Mark Lippman released a statement on behalf of the family on Tuesday reading:

“The family hopes that they will be given the time by the media to reflect on this verdict and decide the best way to move forward privately. While the family may never know what has happened to Caylee Marie Anthony, they now have closure for this chapter of their life. They will now begin the long process of rebuilding their lives.

Despite the baseless defense chosen by Casey Anthony, the family believes that the Jury made a fair decision based on the evidence presented, the testimony presented, the scientific information presented and the rules that were given to them by the Honorable Judge Perry to guide them.

The family hopes that they will be given the time by the media to reflect on this verdict and decide the best way to move forward privately.

The family also wanted the public to know that if anyone wanted to honor Caylee by leaving stuffed animals or other toys at any area near their home, that they would prefer those items be donated in Caylee’ s name to families in need, religious centers, or any other entity where the toys would be appreciated.”

Appeared Here