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…)

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 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!

April 30, 2016

Take a Bow, Chuckleberriesonline.com!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 2:23 pm

good job2OpenCdA thinks that website Chuckleberriesonline.com deserves a round of public applause for its recent series of posts about Kootenai County Commissioner David Stewart.

The applause is not only for the leg work Chester and his able associates did in obtaining and analyzing public records about Commissioner Stewart’s questionable permitting of his pole barn/house.

It is also for being able to light a fire under the Coeur d’Alene Press and forcing it to do its job in the public interest for a change.  The article in Friday’s skews paper headlined Commissioner faces permit violation was pretty clearly prompted by Chuckleberriesonline’s groundwork.    Sadly, The Spokesman-Review apparently lacks the will to try some actual news reporting in Idaho again.

It’s fair for the public to wonder if there is sufficient evidence to support criminal investigation and prosecution for the apparent deception.  Hopefully the Idaho Attorney General will be asked to exercise his authority under Idaho Code § 31-2002 and make that determination.

Regardless of the state’s action or inaction, we think Chuckleberriesonline.com deserves to take a bow!

March 23, 2016

Even Later to the Party …

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — Bill @ 12:15 pm

EDITBOARDOur post entitled Late to the Party on October 27, 2015, pointed out that even back then, Coeur d’Alene Press Publisher Jim Thompson (left in photo) and Editor Mike Patrick were waaaaay late to the urban renewal agency examination party.

Well, again today Frick and Frack demonstrated their remarkable ability to editorialize in arrears. This morning’s editorial was headlined You can’t blame ’em for asking.

The editorial finally and we suspect begrudgingly acknowledged that for years Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, ignite cda (née Lake City Development Corporation), had been engaging in “… the practice of lining friendly pockets under the guise of resurrecting worn-down parts of town.”

Honest and diligent citizens like Mary Souza, Dan Gookin, Kathy Sims, Sharon Culbreth, Frank Orzell, and others have been delivering the evidence of that practice for years.    The Press chose not to investigate and then report it as news.

But today’s editorial contained a real whopper. (more…)

February 14, 2016

Beyond the Hyperventilation

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 1:10 pm

Clinton 100OpacityThe views and skews media blatherskites are hyperventilating at the suggestion the US Department of Justice might indict former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for mishandling of national security information or influence peddling.  “How would that affect her presidential campaign?” they worry.

OpenCdA doesn’t know if she will be indicted.

Our uncertainty has nothing to do with US Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s political loyalties or with President Obama’s prejudicial comments made during his 60 Minutes television interview on October 11, 2015.

Prosecutors from the US Attorney General down the prosecutorial food chain to the most incompetent and politically comprimised county prosecutors in Idaho are given great latitude to decide which cases will be prosecuted and which ones will be declined for good reasons, bad reasons, politically expedient reasons, or no reason at all.

Our concern is that when Hillary Clinton used unsecured email systems and her own private server to exchange and store national security information, she knowingly and wilfully exposed that information to exploitation by all enemies foreign and domestic who will use that information harm to our nation.

That damage has been done.  It will not be corrected even by criminal prosecution, conviction, and lifetime incarceration for Hillary Clinton.

If there is any value in criminally prosecuting and convicting Hillary Clinton, it is in ensuring she would never again be in any position of public trust and never again have access to national security information.   It is in ensuring she would never again be able to barter information which, in the wrong hands, places at grave risk the lives of American citizens and foreign nationals working on our behalf. (more…)

February 10, 2016

Former Sheriff Admits Lying to Feds

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 5:01 pm

badge-baca-350Eileen M. Decker, US Attorney for the Central District of California, announced that retired Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca pleaded guilty today in federal court to two counts of lying to federal agents investigating allegations of abusive treatment and corruption by deputy sheriffs in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

Baca acknowledged lying about his office’s efforts to hide an LA County jail inmate from the FBI.  The plan to hide the inmate, an FBI confidential source, was named Operation Pandora’s Box.

Several of Baca’s former command staff are scheduled to be tried in federal court on related charges.

Addendum on 02-13-2016Recordings reveal the lies former LA sheriff told prosecutor

February 8, 2016

One Honest Man Left Standing …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 11:59 am

crystalcityWhat would happen if the FBI swooped into a town and arrested the mayor, the city attorney,  and all but one member of the city council?

That’s the question Crystal City, Texas, city councilman Joel Barajas is going to have to answer.  He’s the one man left on the city council after the FBI arrested the city’s mayor, mayor pro tem, the city attorney, and the rest of the council on corruption or human smuggling charges.

Here’s a link to the Washington Post article headlined FBI arrests nearly all of the top officials of Crystal City, Tex.   The information about the city attorney has a Bell-like ring to it.

However, the federal indictment does have some useful information for other cities whose officials may be corruptly inclined.  This is a very plain-language indictment.  One need not be an attorney to understand the federal jurisdiction, the object of the conspiracy, or the crimes alleged.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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