OpenCDA

June 21, 2016

Corrupt Congressman Uses Non-Profits and Charities to Launder Money

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 4:36 pm

Chaka_Fattah_official_House_photo2Corrupt Pennsylvania Congressman Chaka Fattah, Sr. is likely going to be headed to a federal prison after being convicted of participating in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, mail fraud, money laundering conspiracy, money laundering, bank fraud, false statements to a financial institution, six counts of mail fraud, and five counts of falsification of records.

The scheme Fattah and his co-conspirators cooked up is well-described in the June 21, 2016, press release issued by Zane David Memeger, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

To make it easier to follow, OpenCdA is going to reduce the essence of the press release to several easily-digestible bullet points.  (more…)

June 20, 2016

NYPD Brass Arrested — Corruption

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 12:52 pm

NYPDCorruptAccording to a press release from Preet Bahrara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, NYPD Deputy Chief MICHAEL HARRINGTON, Deputy Inspector JAMES GRANT, and Sergeant DAVID VILLANUEVA were arrested today, along with a Brooklyn-based man, JEREMY REICHBERG, on bribery charges.

“Harrington, Grant, and Villanueva were charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to commit honest services wire fraud for a bribery scheme involving the receipt of tens of thousands of dollars in meals, trips, home renovations, and other benefits in exchange for an array of official NYPD actions, including private police escorts, ticket fixing, and assistance in settling private disputes.  VILLANUEVA, formerly a supervisor in the NYPD’s gun licensing division, was charged in Manhattan federal court with bribery offenses in connection with his receipt of cash bribes to expedite and approve gun licenses.”

Here is a link to an Associated Press story which appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune.  It was headlined NYC police officials charged in bribery corruption scandal.

The New York Daily News headline is more bombastic:  NYPD officials busted in corruption investigation took ‘substantial bribes’ from de Blasio fund-raiser, including hookers:  Criminal complaint.

For those readers wanting more specific details, here are links to the U.S. v. Grant Harrington Reichberg Complaint, the U.S. v. Villanueva and Lichtenstein Indictment, and the U.S. v. Ochetal Information.

The investigation and resulting criminal charges are relevant to those of us in northern Idaho.

The charges should remind us that law enforcement officers at all ranks are susceptible to bribes offered by people of wealth and influence.   The honest ones resist; the corrupt ones don’t.

In a state such as New York where restrictive laws make it nearly impossible for an average citizen to get one of the three types of concealed weapons permit, those extra-special friends of the law enforcement brass will have no difficulty at all securing one.  The Ochetal Information linked above describes how NYPD officials took bribes to make sure the “right” people got CWPs.

Finally, political party affiliation will not discourage an aggressive and honest US Attorney from pursuing some offenders.    Competent US Attorneys who pursue politically sensitive prosecutions without regard to political party influences and potential career-affecting consequences effectively insulate themselves from punitive dismissal.

US Attorneys who refuse to look at public corruption in their district only encourage it.

June 15, 2016

Public Corruption Bullet Points

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 6:20 am

Calderon|

Another corrupt public official will likely be headed off to the federal hoosegow according to Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times story headlined Former state Sen. Ron Calderon’s guilty plea in corruption case marks blow to political dynasty.

OpenCdA hopes readers will take time to carefully read the entire story written so informatively and understandably by LA Times writers Joel Rubin and Patrick McGreevy.

Here are a few bullet-point highlights that caught our attention. (more…)

June 14, 2016

She Hopes…

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 7:30 pm

Clinton 100OpacityThe Hill article titled Russian hackers stole DNC’s research on Trump reveals that, “Two separate Russian government hacking groups that did not appear to be working together infiltrated the DNC’s systems.”  “… hackers also targeted the campaigns of Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee; and Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee; as well as several GOP political action committees.”

But according to the Associated Press article titled Russian hackers breached Democratic Party’s computers, “Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state raised questions of how well her personal system was protected from intrusions; her campaign has said there’s no evidence it was breached.” [emphasis ours]

Unquestionably the Clinton private email server was targeted.   Unquestionably Clinton ordered that some and maybe all its content was erased; better yet from her viewpoint if it had been securely wiped.

Clinton is not stupid.  It seems reasonable that her effort to delete information on the server was to have also hidden  any evidence of a hostile breach as well.  The absence of evidence of hostile penetration bolsters her case which first professed there was no classified information on the server.  Evidence of hostile penetration increases the likelihood that valuable intelligence had been gleaned from her email traffic.

It is a fallacy that only classified information has value.  Open-source information, unclassified information, that reveals thought processes, personal weaknesses, chronic illnesses, behavioral disorders, medications, and personal desires and failures can often be of as much value as information with seemingly stratospheric classifications and compartments.

Some of our earlier posts on the Clinton email server issue explained the importance of the damage assessment being conducted by the Intelligence Community.

As much as Hillary Clinton hopes that little or none of the classified and compartmented information on her unlawful private email server will be retrieved by the Intelligence Community investigators, she also hopes that any evidence of outside penetration by other nations’ intelligence services will have been obliterated by her actions.  That’s part of the plan to conceal the damage her illegal use of the private email server has done to national security.  She hopes …

June 1, 2016

And In a Related Matter …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 4:54 pm

Clinton 100OpacityIn a report headlined Survey:  More than half of corporate CEOs prefer Clinton over Trump, The Hill website is reporting “More than half of Fortune 500 CEOs [who responded to the survey] say they would prefer Hillary Clinton to win the White House instead of Donald Trump.”

And in a related matter, a note left scribbled on the wall of a McEuen Park porta-potty by an occasionally sober source informed OpenCdA that acting on a recommendation from the Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton has engaged the services of the often used but rarely mentioned Cayman Islands consulting firm of Bakhshesh, Baksheesh, Mordida, and Hùi Lù.   Apparently the State Department Inspector General’s report about Hillary Clinton’s email server has renewed the candidate’s concern about her criminal liability.  B-B-M & H has been retained to act as Clinton’s negotiator with the US Department of Justice.

May 20, 2016

The Shakedown Begins …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 3:51 pm

cpd-station-signWith the approval of the Coeur d’Alene City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, May 3, Mayor Steve Widmyer has officially been given the go-ahead to begin soliciting donations for a water feature in Coeur d’Alene’s McEuen Park.  Widmyer and  retired Coeur d’Alene police officer Christie Wood will co-chair the fund raising.  The water feature is represented to be a police-themed memorial to deceased police sergeant Greg Moore.

Council member Dan Gookin offered this motion:  “Mr. Mayor, I would like to make a motion to approve the preliminary design and to direct the Mayor to proceed with fund raising efforts and to report back to Council when fund raising is complete.” [emphasis ours]  Council member Edinger seconded the motion.  The motion passed on a voice vote.

In his eagerness our giddy Mayor Widmyer didn’t even bother to  ask if there were any ‘nay’ votes, declaring the motion passed after only asking all those in favor to declare ‘aye’.  However, given the comments by several Council members before the vote and expressing their intention to write donation checks themselves, we doubt many of them had the inclination to fulfill their duty to constituents to seriously and publicly question the project’s merits, let alone vote against it.

McEuen is a public park built on public land.  Public funds will be spent to maintain the water feature.  OpenCdA thinks the Council acted hastily and irresponsibly.  In spite of the emotional appeal and public sentiment to honor SGT Moore, there were and are nevertheless some legitimate questions that needed to be discussed publicly at the Council meeting.  Here are some we wish had been asked. (more…)

May 18, 2016

Another Significant Public Corruption Case

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 3:42 pm

corruptionThe May 17, 2016, online edition of the Los Angeles Times is reporting another case of municipal public corruption.  This one is particularly interesting because of who it involved and the duration of the corrupt activities.  The article is headlined 7 former top officials of Beaumont charged with corruption.

Beaumont, California, is an upscale town of about 42,000 people.  It is about fifteen miles east of Riverside and a mile or so east of the intersection of US 60 and I-10 on the way to Palm Springs.  Riverside is the county seat of Riverside County.

The officials accused are all former officials of the city of Beaumont.  They include the former City Manager, former Economic Development Director, former Public Works Director, former Planning Director , former Finance Director , former City Attorney, and former Police Chief.

In spite of regular audits of the city’s financial statements, the alleged financial crimes occurred for more than two decades.  Those crimes alleged involved the sale of municipal bonds for projects handled by companies in which three of the officials had a financial interest. Prosecutors also alleged officials secured interest-free loans for friends and colleagues with taxpayer money.  There are more details in the Times newspaper article.

While public corruption crimes of this duration and scale are usually brought in federal court by federal agencies, this case was investigated by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Team.  It will likely be prosecuted in state court by the Riverside County District Attorney.

May 13, 2016

Not a Good Sign …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 1:16 pm

Like many Kootenai County residents who reside legally in Legislative District 4, OpenCda received the unsolicited campaign flyer supporting Malek, Amador, and Wolfinger.

Normally it would have gone directly from mailbox to trash can, but a quick glance at Wolfinger’s blurb revealed something very questionable reflecting on his suitability to hold the office of Sheriff.

Read the last bullet point under Wolfinger’s picture.

WolfingerWe bristle when a law enforcement officer who has sworn to uphold the law proudly implies that his opponent’s providing legal representation to a citizen accused of violating the law is somehow a black mark against his opponent.  It causes us to question how faithfully Sheriff Wolfinger executes his oath of office when it comes to protecting other Constitutionally guaranteed civil rights and safeguards.

Until receiving this flyer which reveals Sheriff Wolfinger’s disdain for the right of all citizens to be represented by legal counsel, we had been inclined to hold our nose and vote for him as the least professionally unprepared candidate for Sheriff in the November election if he was on the ballot.

Sheriff Wolfinger’s disgusting campaign comment has convinced us that an undervote is an effective vote for “None of the Above” in the November general election.

May 8, 2016

Yantis Shooting Update

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 12:09 pm

19117510-mmmainOpenCdA’s earlier posts reported the death of Council, Idaho, rancher Jack Yantis after his encounter with two Adams County, Idaho, deputy sheriffs on November 1, 2015.

The Idaho State Police was asked to investigate the incident which resulted in Yantis’s death.

On March 10, 2016, the Idaho State Police delivered the results of its investigation to the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.  The AG’s office is serving as the special prosecutor.

Between March 10, 2016, and today, there have been no news releases about this incident on the AG’s office Media Center webpage.  Presumably the AG’s assessment is to determine if any state criminal charges should be filed in Yantis’s death.

Shortly after the November 1 incident, a group of Council-area citizens started a Facebook page titled “Justice for Jack“.  It has been updated fairly regularly.

May 3, 2016

Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 4:12 pm

sheldonsilver-012215 copyOpenCdA’s post on December 1, 2015, titled Another Conviction for Corruption (Somewhere Else) reported the conviction of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) on federal corruption charges.

Today, May 3, 2016, Preet Bharara (D), the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that Silver was sentenced to 12 years in federal prision by US District Judge Valerie E. Caproni.  US Attorney Bharara’s formal announcement contains a good explanation of the crimes proven against Silver.  It also describes the schemes and mechanisms Silver used to sell his elected position in the New York State Legislature and thereby personally enrich himself.

We had to give Silver’s defense attorneys an “E” for Effort in invoking the unofficial and undocumented Idaho Standard frequently used by prosecutors as an excuse to not charge or to plead down sentences:  “Mr. Silver has demonstrated a capacity to do a tremendous amount of good for the public. His personality, vision, and persistence have been brought to bear with great effect.   It is doubtful this Court will ever sentence a defendant with as rich a record of doing so much for others.”  (see this Washington Post article).

Boy, were Silver’s defense attorneys ever wrong.

Public officials often rely on the advice of either their own or their governing body’s legal counsel, often assuming that reliance somehow makes them immune from the law and the court.  We remind those officials of what Silver learned today:  Every federal prisoner sitting (or soon to be sitting) in a federal prison was represented and advised by legal counsel.

Hi-yo, Silver!  Away!

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