Archive for Crime

Down Mexico Way

You know, like Maryland:

U.S. sheriffs are alarmed that securing the U.S. – Mexico border is no longer a concern for the law enforcement agencies near the boundary, with Mexico drug cartels infiltrating cities and towns across the country trading in human trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping and money laundering.

Sam Page – sheriff of Rockingham County in North Carolina, who oversees 94,000 residents – told The Washington Times that a Mexican cartel set up a drug warehouse one mile from his home.

He estimates hat cartels have infiltrated more than 3,000 U.S. cities and are recruiting local gangs, former prisoners and teenagers to join them.

‘If we fail to secure our borders, then every sheriff in America will become a border sheriff,’ he told The Times.

‘We’re only a two-day drive from the border and have already seen the death and violence that illegal crossings brings into our community.

‘These men are coming into our county with more firepower than I have. I’m literally outgunned.’

Since entering into an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in early 2008, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has detained 1,250 illegal immigrants, 50 of whom have had connections to Mexican drug cartels and organized crime, Sheriff Jenkins said.

‘The success of the program is not in the numbers – it’s who is actually getting arrested,’ he said.

‘Do I want Mexican gang members on the streets of Frederick County? Hell no.’

This ought to unite people to action, right?


Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said such programs waste federal money and are discriminatory.

‘The idea of deputizing local sheriffs as front-line immigration reformers is a catastrophic mistake,’ said Chris Newman, the network’s general counsel.

‘It distracts attention, chills people from reporting crime, encourages racial profiling and leads to the unconstitutional arrest and detainment of illegal immigrants.’

Isn’t it the job of local sheriffs to arrest people breaking the law? How can any such “detainment” be unconstitutional? Indeed, how does the US Constitution apply to Mexican nationals—especially those here illegally, especially those “trading in human trafficking, prostitution, kidnapping and money laundering”—at all?

Readers know my obsession with this particular Obama lie. Not once but twice has he flapped his gums to portray Mexico as Switzerland with chipotle. Among his myriad lies, this one is a lie not of opportunity (like his ObamaCare lies), but a lie of fancy. He doesn’t gain anything by quoting such Mexican luminaries as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Octavio Paz, and… uh…Octavio Paz. He just likes to. There’s nothing wrong with Mexico, he asserts, that fewer “sensational headlines” couldn’t fix.

So, why does he do it? Why try to portray Mexico in terms opposite of the facts of this sensational headline?

Drug cartel internal feud leaves 28 dead in Mexico

That was last week.

But of course the answer is easy. The “day laborer” activists quoted above tell us all we need to know. Obama flatters Mexico not to flatter Mexicans, but to flatter Mexicans (and Guatemalans, and Salvadorans, etc.) here illegally. When we lost our health care plans and our doctors, who but a few late-stage cancer patients was harmed (all of whom were liars anyway, according to Harry Reid)? At the very least, prostitutes and kidnapping victims have been harmed by this Obama lie. Where are their support groups and advocates?


What Am I Missing?

I should rephrase the question, as it is so open-ended that it would take an Encyclopedia Thirstania to answer it as posed.

What am I missing in regard to the tragic fatal fire in Boston’s Back Bay of two weeks ago?

A team of four federal investigators will be looking for answers in the Back Bay blaze late last month that killed two Boston firefighters.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, also called NIOSH, which has investigated two other fatal firefighting incidents in Boston in recent years, announced Friday that it would look into the deaths of Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr., 43, and firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, 33.

But we already know how they died, and why:

Walsh and Kennedy were killed March 26 after they became trapped in the basement of 298 Beacon St. during a nine-alarm fire. Frantic calls for water to douse the fire were heard on audio recordings.

Last week, authorities disclosed the cause and origin of the blaze: It was ignited by sparks from welders working on an iron handrail at the building next door.

The workers had been working without a city permit, which usually requires a Fire Department official to inspect the work site for potential hazards and decide whether a fire detail should be present.

Investigators determined that fierce winds blew sparks from the welding job at the back of 296 Beacon St. onto the clapboards at the rear of 298 Beacon St. The fire smoldered, traveled up inside the walls, and fed on the dry wood, authorities said.

Two brave men died gave their lives in the most heroic and heartbreaking manner imaginable, and we don’t name the welders, or even the company for which they worked, responsible for starting the fire? Even when they omitted a crucial safety step that might have prevented the fire? Even when they persisted on welding (without a permit) on an unusually windy day?

What am I missing? Pope Francis asks us to forgive pedophile priests even as we condemn their evil, and he’s got a point (in Christian theology).

But why are we so forgiving of these unnamed welders, whose negligent actions (confirmed on surveillance tapes) surely bordered on criminality? But for their violation of city fire regulations, Kennedy and Walsh—sons, fathers, brothers—would be alive today. Yet we prance around with these “investigations” and “inquests”.

What am I missing?

PS: What I might be missing—the only thing that makes any sense—was provided by a caller to local talk radio the day it was revealed two un-permited welders had started the fire: they themselves were un-permited. They were illegal aliens. I have no evidence; as far as I know, none exists. But in the absence of any explanation why the negligent actions of these two have gone unexamined, I can think of no other explanation. However protective of pedophile priests the Catholic Churdh was, that’s nothing compared to the protective shield the liberal media holds over illegal immigrants and their crimes.

I’ll revisit this post if and when anything further is revealed.


Obama Administration Desperate For Money, Stealing Tax Refunds From Children If Parents Failed To Pay Up Back In The 1970s

Yes, folks, an authoritarian, lawless regime can do stuff like this. If you like your tax refund, you can keep your tax refund.

I am alerting you to this, because who reads the Washington Post? :) Readers of BTL will make it go viral.

A few weeks ago, with no notice, the U.S. government intercepted Mary Grice’s tax refunds from both the IRS and the state of Maryland. Grice had no idea that Uncle Sam had seized her money until some days later, when she got a letter saying that her refund had gone to satisfy an old debt to the government — a very old debt.

When Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them.

Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. Why the feds chose to take Mary’s money, rather than her surviving siblings’, is a mystery.

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds this month are instead getting letters like the one Grice got, informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check.

Mary Grice
Mary Grice

The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years, said Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department’s debt management service. The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam.

No one seems eager to take credit for reopening all these long-closed cases. A Social Security spokeswoman says the agency didn’t seek the change; ask Treasury. Treasury says it wasn’t us; try Congress. Congressional staffers say the request probably came from the bureaucracy.

The only explanation the government provides for suddenly going after decades-old debts comes from Social Security spokeswoman Dorothy Clark: “We have an obligation to current and future Social Security beneficiaries to attempt to recoup money that people received when it was not due.”

Since the drive to collect on very old debts began in 2011, the Treasury Department has collected $424 million in debts that were more than 10 years old. Those debts were owed to many federal agencies, but the one that has many Americans howling this tax season is the Social Security Administration, which has found 400,000 taxpayers who collectively owe $714 million on debts more than 10 years old. The agency expects to have begun proceedings against all of those people by this summer.

“It was a shock,” said Grice, 58. “What incenses me is the way they went about this. They gave me no notice, they can’t prove that I received any overpayment, and they use intimidation tactics, threatening to report this to the credit bureaus.”


Hey O-Bots, what if Granny didn’t pay? Do you suppose the government can come after you?

Grice filed suit against the Social Security Administration in federal court in Greenbelt this week, alleging that the government violated her right to due process by holding her responsible for a $2,996 debt supposedly incurred under her father’s Social Security number.

Social Security officials told Grice that six people — Grice, her four siblings and her father’s first wife, whom she never knew — had received benefits under her father’s account. The government doesn’t look into exactly who got the overpayment; the policy is to seek compensation from the oldest sibling and work down through the family until the debt is paid.

The Federal Trade Commission, on its Web site, advises Americans that “family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets.” But Social Security officials say that if children indirectly received assistance from public dollars paid to a parent, the children’s money can be taken, no matter how long ago any overpayment occurred.

They are doing this because they can.

Grice, who works for the Food and Drug Administration and lives in Takoma Park, in the same apartment she’s resided in since 1984, never got any notice about a debt.

Social Security officials told her they had sent their notice to her post office box in Roxboro, N.C. Grice rented that box from 1977 to 1979 and never since. And Social Security has Grice’s current address: Every year, it sends her a statement about her benefits.

“Their record-keeping seems to be very spotty,” she said.

Ya’ Think???? Are you suggesting that the government is maybe a touch incompetent? Hey, here’s a thought. Let’s given them an additional 1/6th of our economy to manage – our health care system – and see how it goes. Maybe if they can’t raise enough dough there, they can come after saps like you and me.

Treasury officials say that before they will take someone’s refund, the agency owed the money must certify the debt, meaning there must be evidence of the overpayment. But Social Security officials told Grice they had no records explaining the debt.

“The craziest part of this whole thing is the way the government seizes a child’s money to satisfy a debt that child never even knew about,” says Robert Vogel, Grice’s attorney. “They’ll say that somebody got paid for that child’s benefit, but the child had no control over the money and there’s no way to know if the parent ever used the money for the benefit of that kid.”

Grice, the middle of five children, said neither of her surviving siblings — one older, one younger — has had any money taken by the government. When Grice asked why she had been selected to pay the debt, she was told it was because she had an income and her address popped up — the correct one this time.

You see? They took it because they could. Plain and simple. They wanted, they took.

Think Ms. Grice’s case is a fluke?

In Glenarm, Ill., Brenda and Mike Samonds have spent the past year trying to figure out how to get back the $189.10 tax refund the government seized, claiming that Mike’s mother, who died 33 years ago, had been overpaid on survivor’s benefits after Mike’s father died in 1969.

“It was never Mike’s money, it was his mother’s,” Brenda Samonds said. “The government took the money first and then they sent us the letter. We could never get one sentence from them explaining why the money was taken.” The government mailed its notice about the debt to the house Mike’s mother lived in 40 years ago.

And for all you math whizzes out there, cogitate on this for a moment: How much employee time was spent stealing $189.10 from Brenda and Mike Samonds of Glenarm, Illinois? Because I will bet you a nickel that they spend more, for more, finding and collecting that money than they acquired in stealing it. If we really want to add to the Treasury, perhaps we should fire 10% of all IRS staffers?

Here’s a nice quote:

“I’ll put in the request,” a Social Security clerk told Verbich, “but in reality, you’ll never get anything.”

In other words: We take because we can.

Grice was also told there was little point in seeking a waiver of her debt. Collections can only be halted if the person passes two tests, Clark said: The taxpayer must prove that he “is without fault, and [that] repayment of the overpayment would deprive the person of income needed for ordinary living expenses.”

In other words: We are an authoritarian regime and you have no recourse.

The Moral of the Story? Never, ever overpay your taxes. Pay what you owe, fair and square, when it is due. They cannot confiscate your refund because your father happened to die in 1960, and your mother may or may not have received too much money in benefits, if there is no refund due.

- Aggie


Good News, Bad News

Speaking of comatose victims of senseless violence: Adelle Biton (see below), meet Steve Utash:

[P]olice announced Wednesday that a fifth person was arrested in connection with the April 2 attack on Utash, 54, of Clinton Township, who remains in a medically induced coma. He has been hospitalized since being attacked after stopping to help a 10-year-old boy whom he hit with his pickup after the boy stepped into traffic on Morang.

During a news conference Wednesday, Police Chief James Craig said the man arrested on Wednesday “didn’t turn himself in.” Craig, though, declined to give specifics.

“I don’t want to get into the details of our investigative strategy,” he said.

Asked whether more arrests are likely, Craig said: “There’s a strong possibility.”

Three people have been charged in the attack, and the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is determining whether to charge a 16-year-old, who is in custody, as an adult.

James D. Davis, 24; Wonzey Saffold, 30, and Bruce Wimbush Jr., 17, were arraigned in 36th District Court in Detroit on Tuesday on charges of assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.

All three are due back in court April 21.

Can’t wait.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Mr. Utash is still in a coma.

The other good news is that Detroit has rallied against thuggery:

The Rev. Jim Holley and other area religious leaders want to see something good rise out of the ugliness that further tarnished Detroit’s reputation last week when a motorist was severely beaten by a mob on the city’s east side.

On Thursday night, they hope to start a healing process with a prayer event not only for Steven Utash and other victims of violent crimes in Detroit, but for all of metro Detroit.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, members of Utash’s family and area ministers are expected to attend a Night of Healing at 7 p.m. Thursday at Little Rock Baptist Church, 9000 Woodward Ave. in Detroit. Family members of other victims of recent violent crimes in Detroit are also expected to attend.

Holley, pastor of Little Rock, said a multiracial coalition of suburban and urban pastors is coming together “to pray for peace and healing for Mr. Utash and the entire metro Detroit community.” He said the coalition of Catholic, Jewish, Protestant and Baptist leaders will make a strong appeal to the community.

“We need to send a crystal clear statement to the world that the violent actions of a few individuals will not cast a cloud of negativity over our city,” Holley said in a news release Wednesday. “We are inviting everyone to participate to show support that this is a region of hope, peace and renewal.”

I’ll believe it when I see it. But I’m a big softie when it comes to Detroit. No, seriously—I’m a hell of a lot nicer to the (former) city than its unions or its politicians.


Obama’s IRS Lies And The MSM

In fact, the IRS did not hassle “progressive” groups

IRS agents testified before Congress that the agency’s political targeting did not apply to progressive groups as Democrats and the media have claimed, according to a bombshell new staff report prepared by the House Oversight Committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa.

IRS agents testified before Oversight that ACORN groups were scrutinized because the agency thought they were old organizations applying as new ones. Emerge America was scrutinized for potential “improper private benefit.” No evidence exists that the IRS requested additional information from any Occupy Wall Street group.

“Only seven applications in the IRS backlog contained the word ‘progressive,’ all of which were then approved by the IRS, while Tea Party groups received unprecedented review and experienced years-long delays. While some liberal-oriented groups were singled out for scrutiny, evidence shows it was due to non-political reasons,” according to the Oversight staff report, which was obtained by The Daily Caller.

“[T]he Administration and congressional Democrats have seized upon the notion that the IRS’s targeting was not just limited to conservative applicants,” the report states. “These Democratic claims are flat-out wrong and have no basis in any thorough examination of the facts. Yet, the Administration’s chief defenders continue to make these assertions in a concerted effort to deflect and distract from the truth about the IRS’s targeting of tax-exempt applicants.”

“[T]here is simply no evidence that any liberal or progressive group received enhanced scrutiny because its application reflected the organization’s political views,” the report stated.

Big surprise.

- Aggie

Comments (1)

Driving While White

We noted this story yesterday. Two updates: one, they’ve arrested two teenagers on suspicion of being among the mob.

Two, Detroit is the comeback city?

A year or so ago, I was driving out of downtown late at night when I came upon an accident scene. A guy in a pickup had hit a young man crossing the road. The corner was dark — the streetlight was out — and the pedestrian was dressed all in black.

The driver, a white suburbanite just leaving his job at the MGM casino, never saw him step off the curb. He was devastated.

The victim, who was African-American, appeared to have a broken leg, and was in considerable pain. The driver and I covered him with our coats and tried to to keep him comfortable while waiting more than a half hour for the cops.

A lot of passing cars slowed down to see what was going on, but at no point did I feel in danger.

Steven Utash wasn’t as lucky. The Clinton Township man was also driving a pickup on a dark Detroit street last week when he struck a kid who had stepped in front of him. Utash also stopped and got out to help.

What happened next is sickening. Utash, who is white, was seized by a mob of bystanders and beaten senseless in the street. As of this writing, he was still clinging to life. You want to see what a breakdown of society looks like? Watch the video of the attack.

On second thought, don’t. You can’t see anything but the kid getting hit by the truck. It looks bad, but the kid’s fine. Utash, on the other hand, might not make it.

Racism is a two-way street in this region. A black woman stumbles noisily onto a Dearborn Heights porch in the middle of the night and is shot and killed by a panicked homeowner, and we rush to the judgment that race played a role.

A white guy gets beat nearly to death by blacks on a Detroit street and it makes us very uncomfortable to look at the racial element. We’re constantly being admonished that we must have a conversation about race in Metro Detroit. But when we do, it should be an honest one. We shouldn’t shy away from the reality that whites can be the victims of hate crimes, and blacks can be the haters. Everyone must do better.

Detroit is the comeback city, yes. That needs celebrating. But let’s not pretend that a spruced-up downtown solves everything. Detroit is still a city with too much bloodshed. It’s still a city too with many people who have too little hope. And it’s still a city with way too much hate.

The extent to which Detroit is “coming back” is debatable, but was achieved only by hitting bottom. Fiscal bankruptcy allowed the city to climb out from under crippling debt and usurious union contracts. But isn’t there a parallel moral bankruptcy that also requires hitting bottom—and acknowledging it? How can you go about curing a disease without admitting you’re sick?

To be fair to Detroit, everyone was sickened by this attack, There seems to be no attempt at understanding the mindset of these thugs, no phony moral relativism. Black and white, urban and suburban, everyone is disgusted. This may be Detroit’s moral bottom. God help it if it is not.

Comments (3)

Back to the Land

One idea of what to do with the vast wasteland that was Detroit is to plow it under and grow crops.

I don’t know what would grow there, however:

There are two checks on my desk.

The first is my donation toward the bills for Steve Utash, the Roseville tree trimmer who’s lying in a hospital bed two days after he accidentally hit a kid who stepped in front of his truck on the east side.

The second is a donation to the reward fund to find the thugs who ran up and beat Utash nearly to death after he got out to make sure the child was OK.

Utash did what he should, what any human being should. But what were those other guys doing?

Besides loitering? Putting a child at risk? Waiting for an opportunity to descend on defenseless prey like a pack of rabid animals? They were doing plenty.

Utash got out and ran to the aid of a child. As many as a dozen people ran past the child to attack Utash.

They beat him like he stole something. Twenty-four hours later, he still had not regained consciousness. His family says he suffered numerous head injuries.

Now Detroit suffers, too, again.

We have spent a lot of time in recent weeks talking about whether Detroit can work, what with high car insurance bills, high taxes, struggling schools and crime. Much of that recent conversation was fueled by the theft of a prominent resident’s car, followed by the theft of her rental car the very next day.

That resident, Kim Trent, a member of the Wayne State Board of Governors, a woman who loves Detroit, appeared on WDIV-TV (Channel 4)’s “Flashpoint” to say she finally has to consider moving her family out of Detroit.

It is a heartbreaking discussion that too many middle-class Detroiters are having, a conversation that Mayor Mike Duggan has to be listening to as much as any other.

These things cannot happen here. Not when we’re rebuilding, fighting for air out of bankruptcy, pushing for better. Bankruptcy won’t kill Detroit; things like this might.

If the columnist is trying to make a case to save Detroit, she’s failing as miserably as Detroit itself. These “things” are happening there, as she just told us. The only question to answer is: soy beans or corn?


Identify The Difference Between Wisconsin Prosecutors And The KGB

From the Wall Street Journal, this depressing story of Democrats run amok.

I am so appalled by this that I am reprinting it in full. This poor woman is alone and persecuted by the state apparatus. Read this, and then explain to me why the US is better than Putin’s Russia or any other authoritarian regime.

‘My greatest fear,” says Kelly Rindfleisch, is that most people “look at my story and think, this is just politics. And it’s only going to get worse until all of us are impacted.”

The resident of Columbus, Wis., is sitting at a restaurant in Chicago, talking for the first time to a reporter about the four-year criminal investigation that has stolen her life savings, isolated her from friends and former colleagues, and put her in danger of losing her home. As a midlevel staffer for then-Milwaukee County executive Scott Walker, she became collateral damage in the pursuit of Mr. Walker by Milwaukee prosecutors. When the secret investigation turned up nothing on the governor, prosecutors made Ms. Rindfleisch their consolation prize.

In October 2012, she pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office for sending fundraising emails during the workday for Brett Davis, a candidate for lieutenant governor. She is now appealing that conviction, but she is also a target of prosecutors’ continuing pursuit of theories of illegal political coordination between conservative groups and the Walker administration. A leak about that secret probe (which she won’t discuss) recently cost her only means of income.

In slacks and a boxy sweater, the 45-year old Ms. Rindfleisch has a defeated tone but still sounds incredulous about the process that began with her looking for a job to pay the bills and ended with prosecutors turning her life into a “deterrent.” It’s a cautionary tale about what it’s like to get caught in the grinder of modern winner-take-all politics.

The story began in January 2010 when Ms. Rindfleisch was hired as a policy adviser for Mr. Walker’s Milwaukee County executive’s office. To make her mortgage payments, she took a second job as a part-time fundraiser for Mr. Davis. Mr. Walker was gearing up to run for governor in 2010 but endorsed no one for lieutenant governor.

Then in May 2010 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a story about Darlene Wink, a constituent-services coordinator in the county executive’s office who had posted pro-Walker comments on the newspaper’s website. Investigators from the district attorney’s office soon seized documents and a computer from Ms. Wink’s office.

Affidavits in support of search warrants that we’ve seen from that period show that prosecutors and chief investigator David Budde used this as an opening to investigate others who had corresponded with Ms. Wink. Eventually they happened onto a senior aide to Mr. Walker, Tim Russell, and his correspondence with Ms. Rindfleisch.

On Nov. 1, 2010, the day before Mr. Walker was elected governor, investigators from the D.A.’s office, including Mr. Budde, returned with a warrant for the office computer’s hard drives. “Our chief of staff wasn’t there so I was the one who had to deal with it,” Ms. Rindfleisch says.

Investigators told her they were looking into her work for Mr. Davis and had search warrants for her house and car. “I said I needed to contact county corporation counsel and they wouldn’t let me. . . . I assume that they’re using the John Doe secrecy order to justify that.” Under Wisconsin law a John Doe is a kind of grand jury probe bound by secrecy, though somehow details about the targets always seem to leak. (It was widely reported in 2012 that Mr. Budde had a Recall Walker sign in his front yard.)

“They took away my phone and kept me in my office against my will” while taking the computers, Ms. Rindfleisch says. One investigator, Bob Stelter, “pulled me into the room and told me how much trouble I was in.”

She soon learned the issue was her fundraising work for Mr. Davis. Though she had not used county resources—she used her personal computer, personal phone and email accounts to do the fundraising—she didn’t always leave the building. “For me, it didn’t make sense to take five minutes to get outside to respond to an email for 30 seconds and then spend another five minutes to get back inside,” she says. “The only thing I was using was time.”

Though her hours were supposed to be 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., she says she never left at 4 p.m. and averaged 9-10 hours a day in the office. According to prosecutors, her work for Mr. Davis was perfectly legal but her presence in a government building when she sent the emails was a felony. With that threat dangling, the D.A.’s office gave Ms. Rindfleisch immunity to talk about anything related to Mr. Walker and told her that investigators would “look favorably” if she cooperated.

“I had answered all their questions truthfully and provided any factual information I had knowledge of,” Ms. Rindfleisch says, but they kept asking the same questions and intimating that she was holding back. “In one of the interrogations, they had the gall to bring up my dad. . . . They were going through my emails, and my dad’s obituary was in there. . . . I wanted to say, my dad would be disgusted by what you are doing, that you are destroying everything he put his life on the line for” fighting in World War II.

As an older single woman, Ms. Rindfleisch says, prosecutors may have seen her as an “easy target” who could be pressured to implicate others. “I know who they were targeting. They were targeting Tim Russell, Jim Villa and John Hiller who were the three closest to the governor. . . . I felt they were trying to intimidate me into providing speculation that would implicate [them] in some wrongdoing. But I didn’t have any knowledge of anything they’ve done wrong.”

When her cooperation produced nothing against Mr. Walker, Democratic District Attorney John Chisholm charged Ms. Rindfleisch in January 2012 with four felony counts of misconduct in public office. “I had been told again and again and again that if I cooperated they would look favorably on this. And instead they charged me with four felonies that could have amounted to 12 and a half years in prison.”

Fundraising in a public building is a misdemeanor under section 11.36 of the Wisconsin criminal code. But in Ms. Rindfleisch’s case, prosecutors opted for the much less specific misconduct charge in order to convict her of a felony. Section 946.12 of state law bars public officials from acting in a way that is contrary to their duties and confers a “dishonest advantage” on themselves or others.

By then the political environment was vicious. Wisconsin was inflamed over Mr. Walker’s union reforms and election recall fervor was at its peak. “One of the Madison stations broadcast my address and this was at the height of the recall and they were trying to get signatures,” she says. She was unable to pay her legal bills.

“I was in a deep, deep depression,” Ms. Rindfleisch says. “I knew I wouldn’t make it through [a trial], having to sit there and listen to people talk about me, and I knew that emotionally I couldn’t do it. So Frank [Gimbel, her lawyer] got me the best deal he could,” pleading no contest to one felony. At her plea hearing, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Hansher would only accept the deal with a guilty plea. “The judge sentenced me to [six months in] jail and three years probation, which is completely inconsistent with what other people have been sentenced to.”

It was, however, consistent with what prosecutors requested in a sentencing memo written by assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf. Like many criminal defendants, Ms. Rindfleisch had “positive aspects of her life,” he wrote, but with the exception of a minor detail she “provided no information deemed useful by prosecutors.” While that doesn’t mean she was untruthful, he continued, “it is my judgment that her loyalties rested and continue to rest” with the Republican Party and Friends of Scott Walker.

The memo asked the judge not to be swayed by Ms. Rindfleisch’s good character, but to see her work as an “aggravated offense” that “is properly addressed with a jail sentence as a condition of probation.” “Deterrence,” he added, “is a key component” of her sentence.

At the sentencing hearing, Mr. Landgraf spent most of his time discussing issues unrelated to her charges—spending over an hour on a 78-page slideshow largely composed of emails and other allegations of coordination between the county executive’s office and the Scott Walker for Governor campaign. No charges were ever filed against Ms. Rindfleisch related to her communications with the Walker campaign.

As for residual loyalty with Mr. Walker and the GOP, there’s no evidence of that. Mr. Walker has declined multiple opportunities to speak on Ms. Rindfleisch’s behalf, and her former colleagues have been similarly silent.

“I liquidated my entire retirement, $75,000, to pay part of my legal fees,” she says, and she now owes thousands of dollars in taxes on the money she withdrew. She asked Phil Prange, a friend and fundraiser for former Gov. Tommy Thompson, for help with a legal defense fund, but prosecutors heard about it and called to ask him about it. After that, there was no more help. “They cut off any means I had of being able to pay for those bills . . . They did everything they could to financially devastate me,” she says. (Mr. Prange declined to comment.)

And they’re still doing it. In February, prosecutors disclosed her as a target of the current John Doe investigation by failing to redact her initials (as well as those of Wisconsin Club for Growth director Eric O’Keefe ) on court documents. If this was an accident, it also conveniently exposed two of the prosecutors’ main political targets. Despite her plea deal, Ms. Rindfleisch has the right to challenge the process used for evidence gathering and she is now appealing her conviction on grounds that the search warrants were overly broad. Mr. O’Keefe has spoken out against the current Doe investigation in statements to this newspaper.

Last month, a court released some 27,000 pages of Ms. Rindfleisch’s personal emails at the request of Wisconsin media outlets. That exposed thousands of personal emails irrelevant to any public interest in the case, further isolated her from friends and made it impossible for her to get a job. When the news of the second John Doe probe broke, the man she had been working for doing online marketing stopped returning her calls. She worries about defaulting on her mortgage. Her probation officer has asked if she has considered changing her name.

Ms. Rindfleisch realizes she is taking a risk in speaking publicly about her case. “I have no doubt there will be repercussions for me for talking. They’ll figure out a way to do it. But it’s going to be harder for them to try to do that. If they put me in jail at least people will know exactly what they are doing,” she says, referring to reprisals by prosecutors.

“I’m not telling my story to help [Scott Walker], or to hurt him,” she adds. “I don’t care who is doing it, the right or the left. I don’t want this to happen to anyone. I’m hoping that by telling my story I can wake people up to realize what’s happening.”

Ms. Levy is a senior editorial writer for the Journal who has been following the John Doe investigations in Wisconsin.

I truly believe that before we get on our high horse about Putin or anybody else, we ought to take a look in the mirror.

- Aggie


Love and Hip Hop

A little too little of the former, and a little too much of the latter:

Authorities are investigating whether “family tension” led the nephew of controversial rapper and reality TV star “Benzino” allegedly to open fire on his uncle during a funeral procession to a Plymouth church where services for the hip-hop magnate’s mother were to be held.

Funerals are very emotional occasions. I’m surprised there aren’t more drive-by shootings associated with them.

Founder and former owner of hip-hop magazine The Source, Raymond Scott, a Boston native, started another magazine titled Hip-Hop Weekly, but now is most known for his role in the VH1 reality series “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta.”

He has had well-publicized run-ins with the law and rappers during the past decade. In 2003, he had a race-fueled feud with white rapper Eminem. He was a founding member of the rap group Made Men, which was involved in a bloody 2000 melee at the former Fleet Center in which six people were stabbed. And a Made Men bodyguard was acquitted in 2002 in the near-fatal 2000 stabbing of former Boston Celtic Paul Pierce.

The Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III said Raymond Scott came to him in the early ’90s after his then Roxbury-based gangster rap group The Almighty RSO put out an anti-cop record “One in the Chamba.” The record created a buzz but also stirred tension between him and Boston police.

“It is well known on the streets in the city that he had friends and more than a few enemies,” Rivers said.

Forget the streets, Rev, try the dinner table! The one in the “chamba” had his name on it.

The funeral caravan was pulled off the side of the road by police vehicles on Samoset Street in Plymouth, according to witnesses. When the caravan arrived at St. Peter’s Church, blood was smeared on the passenger side of the hearse carrying Mary Scott’s ashes, onlookers told the Herald.

The Rev. William Williams said the funeral continued as scheduled.

“When they got here we just looked out to see them, and there was something on the hearse, and I said to one of the guys, ‘Is that blood on the hearse?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, we had an incident coming up,’?” Williams said. “The family was there. They were mourning somebody they loved who died, so they didn’t want to talk cops and robbers.”

Hence the old expression, “What if they held a funeral and no one brought a Glock?”

Our condolences, of course, to the Scott family for their loss…losses.

PS: “One in the Chamba” was unknown to me until I heard the Pat Boone cover, as part of his desperate attempt to be relevant. The B-side was “I’m-a Put a Cap in Yo A**, Ni**a”.

Comments (1)

Justice 4 Trayvon Update

The Knockout Game never dies.

It just moves to Philadelphia:

The student was walking with her boyfriend near the intersection of 16th and Norris streets around 6 p.m. Friday when a group of about a dozen kids ranging in age from 8 to 14-years-old began taunting them, she said.

“I’m walking by and one of the people from the group screamed at me, really loud and really close to my face,” she said. “I kept walking because I don’t want to engage them. Then they start pulling at my hair and earrings.”

Her boyfriend, a 20-year-old Temple student, asked them to back off, but the group refused to relent.

“They wouldn’t stop touching me,” the victim said. She says one of the girls in the group then struck her in the face.

“My boyfriend pushed the girl away from me that hit me in the face and then the girl’s sister came at me with a brick,” described the victim, who added she knows the pair of attackers are siblings because they said so during the assault.

She says the assailant smashed her with the brick twice, once across her face followed by a second blow to the side of her head.

“I tried to get away as fast as I could,” she said. “My teeth were halfway out of my mouth. I wasn’t thinking about anything besides getting to safety.”

She was rushed to Hahnemann University Hospital, where doctors performed surgery to save and align her teeth.

“All of her teeth were pushed into the back of her mouth,” her father said. “Her five top, front teeth were bent all the way back from the gum.”

The 19-year-old student, who is recovering at her family’s home Sunday, can only consume liquids during her recovery.

Maybe it wasn’t so bad, you say? How much damage could a pack of 8-year-olds do?

See for yourself (though you don’t see much):

This sort of random black-on-white violence has quieted down of late—the last incident I remember was in our own dear Cambridge (where I don’t think they caught the guy).

But fads can go in and out of style for no reason.

PS: Gotta love the choke sign one of the gang ives to the CCTV.


Hearts and Minds

I always thought that was an expression. Not a menu.

Ever eager to lear how President Obama thinks, I follow up on his claims and assertions to see how they stand up to… what is the word?


The shooting deaths of seven men near the Mexico-Arizona border dramatize what appears to be an escalating use of the once-calm stretch of border as a drug trafficking corridor.

The seven men apparently were ambushed by rival drug traffickers in a rural area near Sonoyta, Mexico, close to the U.S. border crossing at Lukeville, Arizona, and their bodies were found inside a pickup truck Wednesday night, a day after the killings.

Authorities said Thursday that an eighth man was found wounded on a hill, and he told state police the victims had just dropped off marijuana when gunmen opened fire with automatic rifles on their pickup truck.

Well, that’ll happen sometimes.

This is a little unusual (I hope):

New members of a Mexican drug cartel were reportedly forced to eat children’s hearts as part of their initiation, according to authorities.

Details of the rituals were discovered by officials investigating an organ trafficking ring allegedly run by the infamous Knights Templar cartel.

The group’s leader Nazario Moreno, who was shot dead by police in March, allegedly ordered that recruits prove their loyalty through an act of cannibalism, the International Business Times reported.

“At [an] initiation ceremony they used the organs, in this case the heart, and forced people going through this initiatory process to eat it,” Alfredo Castillo, the federal government’s envoy to Michoacan, told a local radio station.

The majority of the hearts came from local children who had been kidnapped for organ trafficking purposes, authorities believe.

Waste not, want not!

I guess smuggling works up an appetite:

California has become the nation’s top entry for methamphetamine coming into the country, with over 70 percent of the U.S. supply of the drug being brought across the border into the Golden State by Mexican drug cartels, a new report states.

“The harm done by transnational criminal organizations to communities all across California is hard to overstate,” the report states. “Not only do these organizations threaten public health by driving the supply and distribution of harmful narcotics, but their alliances with violent prison and street gangs have sparked a rash of violence in a period of otherwise declining criminal activity.”

You know another word for “criminal activity”?


The Sinaloa Cartel, headquartered on Mexico’s northern Pacific Coast, is constantly exploring new ways to launder its gargantuan profits. The State Department reports that Mexican trafficking organizations earn between $19 and $29 billion every year from selling marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines on the streets of American cities.

“It’s very important for them to get that money into the banking system and do so with as little scrutiny as possible,” says Jim Hayes, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for the New York office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. He was lead agent in the 2012 case that revealed how Sinaloa money men used HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, as their private vault.

The bank ignored basic anti-money laundering controls, as the investigation found. In 2007 and 2008, the bank’s personnel in Mexico wired $7 billion dollars to corresponding U.S. dollar accounts in New York. These were more dollars than even larger Mexican banks wired to U.S. accounts. ICE says some of it was drug proceeds.

A U.S. Border Shelter That Attracts Asylum Seekers Far And Wide
Yet no red flags were raised because of what a bank official later described as, a “lack of a compliance culture” in the Mexico affiliate, according to the Senate report.

We’ll comply mañana.

But President Obama said Mexico was getting better! That it was practically Swiss in its devotion to the rule of law.

President Obama say a lot of [bleep]:

Little has improved in Mexico’s security since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in 2012, even with the arrest of the nation’s biggest drug kingpin and a government committed to improving the rule-of-law, some Mexican executives say.

Rogelio Velez, chief operating officer at railroad operator Ferrocarril Mexicano SA, said his company has spent 2.2 percent of its income in 2012 and 2013 to protect the company. Samantha Ricciardi, Mexico’s country head at BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, agreed that violence has remained at elevated levels and investors in the automotive hub of Queretaro state are concerned about safety.

Pena Nieto in his 2012 inaugural address vowed to reduce crime in Latin America’s second-biggest economy and shift Mexico’s focus away from the drug violence that has left more than 92,000 people dead or missing since 2006. While he captured drug cartel leaders including Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the world’s most-wanted criminal, kidnappings and extortions have increased under his watch.

“Basically we’re in the same place as before,” Ferromex’s Velez said today at the Bloomberg Mexico Economic Summit in Mexico City. “We haven’t been able to see in our numbers a security improvement.”

Them’s some pretty “sensational headlines”, don’t you think?


Higados y Riñones

Regular readers know my interest in (more like obsession with) Mexican affairs since our president visited there last May. He described Mexico as a stable, cultured land of peaceful and literate happy people. Obama dismissed stories of drug cartel violence and political corruption as mere “sensational headlines”. That spawned my series of posts under the standing headline “Sensational Headline Watch”, detailing story after story of depravity, savagery, inhumanity—on our southern border.

Then Obama went back last month and pretty much repeated himself:

If you think about North America, to have three borders this long in which we share a common set of values, a common set of principles, a commitment to democracy, a commitment to free markets, a commitment to trade where we are allies and interact peacefully, that is a precious gift. And it’s one that I think all three of us are committed to building and nurturing for future generations.

How stupid does he think we are? This stupid:

Police in Mexico’s western state of Michoacan detained an alleged member of the Knights Templar cartel who is suspected of kidnapping children to harvest their organs, an official said on Monday.

Michoacan state Public Safety Secretary Carlos Castellanos Becerra alleged that Manuel Plancarte Gaspar was part of the cartel’s organ-trafficking ring.

The ring would kidnap children and take them to rented homes with medical equipment where their organs were removed, Castellanos Becerra charged.

A leader of one of the local vigilante groups that sprang up last year in Michoacan to challenge the cartel’s control told a radio station after hearing about the tweet that people in the area knew the Knights Templar gang was involved in organ trafficking because several children had been rescued in his town while being transported in a refrigerated container inside a van.

‘They were inside a refrigerated box, tightly wrapped in blankets,’ Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles, leader of the civilian ‘self-defense’ group in Tepalcatepec, said in a morning interview with MVS radio.

Mexican authorities have said drug trafficking is no longer the top source of income for the Knights Templar, which was once a top producer of crystal meth.

The officials say the cartel’s main sources of income are illegal mining, illegal logging and extortion.

What would Diego Rivera say, Mr. President?


« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »