March 27, 2014

Charlotte, NC, Mayor Arrested – Corruption

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 2:58 am

CannonThe Charlotte Observer online reports that Charlotte, NC, Mayor Patrick Cannon (shown left) has resigned after being arrested on Wednesday by the FBI and charged with corruption.   Cannon was accused of taking over $40,000 in bribes from undercover agents posing as big developers who wanted to do business with the City.

The criminal complaint and affidavit in support of the complaint sworn by FBI Special Agent Eric J. Davis alleges that Cannon committed violations of the Hobbs Act (Extortion/Color of Official Right), Theft or Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds, and Honest Services Wire Fraud.

Here is the press release issued March 26, 2014, by Anne M. Tompkins, US Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.  The press release nicely summarizes the allegations against former mayor Cannon.

ADDENDUM on 03-28-2014 at 7:02 AM:  People sometimes ask why law enforcement doesn’t act more quickly on corruption cases against public officials.  In Cannon’s case, people asked why the FBI could not have arrested him before he was elected and sworn in as Charlotte’s mayor just a few months ago.  Here is a partial answer.

Calif. State Senator Arrested By FBI – Gunrunning, Honest Services Fraud

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 2:03 am

YeeBannerSizedIn its Wednesday online edition, the San Jose Mercury News article headlined State Sen. Leland Yee indicted on arms trafficking, corruption reports that California State Senate colleagues were shocked at the indictment of Sen. Leland Yin Yee, one of the state’s strongest advocates for both gun control and good government.  Yee was considered a strong contender to be California’s next Secretary of State.  Yee’s district includes San Francisco and part of San Mateo County.

In addition to Yee, the 26 people indicted included Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, the alleged leader of San Francisco’s Chee Kung Tong .  FBI Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pascua’s  136-page affidavit in support of the complaint identifies a wide range of charges including firearms trafficking, money laundering, murder-for-hire, drug distribution, trafficking in contraband cigarettes, and honest services fraud.  So far, however, the charges against Yee are for Wire Fraud of Honest Services, Conspiracy to Deal Firearms Without a License and Conspiracy to Illegally Import Firearms.  (Note:  The honest services fraud allegations against Yee are detailed in the affidavit and are an excellent tutorial in how campaign finance donations are used to bribe public officials.)

Here is a link to the March 26th  press release issued by the US Department of Justice‘s United States Attorney for the Northern District of California Melinda Haag, FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.

ADDENDUM on 03-28-2014 at 07:13  AM:  Some but not all racketeers and gangsters shun publicity.  Others like Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow seek to achieve an air of legitimacy by associating with prominent community leaders and appearing to “give back to their community.”  As reported in this San Jose Mercury news story, this SFGate story, and this Los Angeles Times story, Chow was in the latter category.

March 25, 2014

DBSI – A New Wrinkle?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:08 am

DBSIThis morning’s Idaho Statesman article headlined Hearing after FBI agent’s death raises questions about her veracity during DBSI trial by John Sowell further complicates the already complicated federal trial going on in Boise.

As we reported in our March 23 post entitled DBSI – Ever Hear of It?, after testifying on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, FBI Special Agent Rebekah Morse was found dead in her Boise home on Thursday morning.  By Thursday night, within a period of about 16 hours, the investigation of her death resulted in the Ada County coroner announcing that she had died of a self-inflicted gunshot  to her head.

In his Monday morning hearing, federal district court Judge B. Lynn Winmill said that afternoon he would review the contents of the alleged text messages found on Morse’s phone and discuss the contents with the attorneys on Tuesday morning before bringing in the jury.

It is likely that the contents of any of the text messages on Morse’s phone will help Judge Winmill decide how to best proceed with the trial.

For readers who have PACER accounts, the case number is Case 1:13-cr-00091-BLW.  This will give you access to several of the unsealed filings and court documents.

And still no timely reporting of this major Idaho story from either The Coeur d’Alene Press or The Spokesman-Review.

ADDENDUM on 03-25-2014 at 11:36 AM:  From the Idaho Statesman:  Update:  Judge concludes deceased FBI agent was texting during testimony

ADDENDUM on 03-26-2014 at 03:25 AMHere is a link to Judge Winmill’s Memorandum Decision and Order filed 03-25-2014 concerning the assertations that FBI SA Morse had been texting during her testimony and had lied about it to the Court.  The heavily redacted portions of the FBI’s FD-302 form presumably pertain to matters of her death investigation.  This is one of the “newly unsealed court documents” Idaho Statesman reporter John Sowell refers to in his article in today’s paper headlined FBI agent’s court texts unrelated to DBSI.

March 23, 2014

Good Question! Can Someone Answer Authoritatively?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 10:56 am

Good ideaIn her comment appended to our March post titled URDs Hurt Community Colleges, Susie Snedaker asked,

“A friend familiar with urban renewal legislation in another state told me that legislation in her state permitted taxing districts to negotiate percentages taken by URAs. Prior to the city’s adoption of urban renewal legislation, I contacted Steve Schenck at NIC to discuss the impact that the legislation would have on NIC and the possibility that NIC could negotiate the percentage taken by the URA. If I remember correctly, he told me something to the effect that the sum wouldn’t amount to much.  Are percentages taken from taxing districts negotiable?”

Does anyone have an authoritative answer, particularly one traceable directly to the wording in Idaho’s urban renewal statutes or precedent case law?

DBSI – Ever Hear of It?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 8:01 am

DBSIHave you ever heard of DBSI?  That’s Diversified Business Services & Investments, Inc., a Meridian-based real estate development company.  Several of its principals have been charged with federal crimes and are currently on trial in US District Court in Boise.

According to an Idaho Statesman article, the trial was abruptly recessed this week when a Boise FBI special agent who had been testifying in the trial was found dead in her home of what the Ada County coroner stated was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In April 2013 a federal grand jury in Boise indicted Douglas L. Swenson, 64, of Eagle, Idaho; Mark A. Ellison, 64, of Boise, Idaho; David D. Swenson, 35, of Boise, Idaho; and Jeremy S. Swenson, 40, of Meridian, Idaho, for conspiracy to commit securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, and interstate transportation of stolen property stemming from their involvement in the DBSI Group of Companies (DBSI).  The details of the indictment are in this press release from the Office of the US Attorney for the District of Idaho.  Here is a link to the April 10, 2013, federal grand jury indictment.

This 2008 Watch List article gives readers some idea of the geographic and financial span of the allegations raised against DBSI both civilly and criminally.

This 2009 report by Boise television station KTVB explains how the allegations against DBSI affected one particular individual who likened the breadth of the losses allegedly attributable to DBSI as being proportionally similar to those attributed to convicted swindler Bernie Madoff.

OpenCdA wonders if DBSI’s tentacles reached into northern Idaho?  According to the website,

“DBSI and its various entities issued many different investments including non-traded real estate funds (REITS), tenants-in-common investments (TICs), in addition to various notes. It has been alleged in various regulatory and legal filings that the broker-dealers who sold DBSI investments were deficient in discharging their due diligence requirements with regard to approving DBSI for sale to their retail investment clients.”

Our local and regional newspapers, The Coeur d’Alene Press and The Spokesman-Review, seem to have been missing in action on this very significant Idaho-based story.

March 20, 2014

Coeur d’Alene Press Wrong – Again

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:58 am

Fact CheckThe Thursday, March 20, 2014, Coeur d’Alene Press ran an online unattributed story headlined Matheson seeks county treasurer post.

The Press story included this statement, “He [Steven D. Matheson] is a graduate of Central Washington University with a double major in accounting and finance. He is also a certified public accountant.”

OpenCdA’s search of the Idaho State Board of Accountancy’s online database did not show Steven D. Matheson as being a certified public accountant in Idaho.

We sent an email inquiry to the Idaho State Board of Accountancy asking for confirmation that Steven D. Matheson is a certified public accountant.  A representative of the State Board responded via email and referred us to Matheson’s website which states, “Steve is a CPA (inactive) with undergraduate degrees in Accounting and Finance from Central Washington University.”  The Idaho State Board of Accountancy has no record of Steven D. Matheson ever being a licensed certified public accountant in Idaho.  (more…)

March 19, 2014

URDs Hurt Community Colleges

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:39 am

bewarepickpocketOur local skewspaper, The Coeur d’Alene Press, likes to take cheap shots at local legislators who encourage citizen awareness about the not so altruistic side of some of Idaho’s urban renewal agencies.  So it was a pleasant surprise to see this morning’s skewspaper published a letter to the editor authored by Sharon Culbreth and titled NIC:  Hurt by urban renewal.

Her letter revealed (because the Press hasn’t reported) one particular piece of legislation pending in the Idaho legislature.  Though she didn’t cite the legislation explicitly, it is House Bill 631.  Its Statement of Purpose reads:  “The purpose of the legislation is to protect Idaho’s community colleges from monies being taken away to fund urban renewal districts (URDs).  URDs have the ability to access taxing districts’ budgets.  In the past Idaho Code was amended to protect Idaho school districts from having monies diverted to URDs.  This legislation would do the same to protect Idaho’s three community colleges.”

As Culbreth’s letter to the editor noted, this legislation was authored by Senator Bob Nonini.  She failed to include, however, that its legislative co-sponsors are Representatives Kathy Sims and Ron Mendive.

The Legislature should quickly and unanimously pass this legislation.  Idaho’s community colleges can use the money now.

March 17, 2014

“Big News X 2!” – Mary Souza’s Newsletter, 03-17-2014

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 3:02 pm

SouzaNewsletterGraphic 03-17-2014

Mary Souza’s Newsletter

March 17, 2014

Big News x 2!

Dear Newsletter Readers,

It’s time for positive change.  I’ve filed to run for the Idaho State Senate, District 4, because I want to be part of the solution to the outrageous overreach of the Federal government into our lives.  I am a Republican, always have been, and this race will be determined by the Republican Primary vote on May 20th. (more…)

Idaho Ag-Gag Law To Be Challenged in Federal Court

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:02 pm

Ag-Gag1The Idaho Statesman has just published online article headlined Idaho’s ag-gag law challenged in federal court.

Here is a copy of the 52-page complaint filed against the State of Idaho by several organizations and individuals who assert that Idaho’s newly-passed law violates US citizens’ civil rights by criminalizing protected free speech.

What do you think?

March 16, 2014

Holder’s Roadblock

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 9:29 am

road-closed CORRECTED[

In our January 17, 2014, OpenCdA post titled So Look Already! we expressed frustration and disappointment that Mary Rook, the Special Agent in Charge of the Salt Lake City Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had not been investigating allegations of public corruption in Idaho.  The Salt Lake City Division is responsible for conducting FBI investigations in Idaho as well as Utah.

In the same post we observed that if Idaho’s US Attorney, Wendy Jo Olson, has sent an implicit or explicit message to the FBI that she is not interested in corruption cases, it’s a safe be that the Bureau would not spend much time and effort building cases likely to be declined by Olson’s office.

It appears we were at least half right.  (more…)

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