Entries in DHS (30)

Monday
Feb202012

Miami ICE/HSI SAC Pleads Not Guilty to Child Porn Charges

The Hits just keep on keeping on at HSI/ICE.  We never read stories like this or last weeks LA Office shoot out, about either the INS or Customs.  But the government decided to break up both those agencies and create the Department of Homeland Stupidity.  TSA and ICE, the lowest rated agencies in the government make up 75% of DHS. 

Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), has been charged with transportation, receipt and and possession of child pornography. If convicted, Mangione could face up to 20 years in prison. Each transportation and receipt of child pornography charge carries minimum-mandatory sentences of five years.

On Wednesday, the South Florida head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI, who spent decades investigating federal crimes, pleaded not guilty to a federal indictment that accuses him of child-porn offenses on the Internet, including transporting and receiving “visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct,” according to the Justice Department.

Mangione, was arrested Tuesday by Broward sheriff’s deputies and FBI agents outside a Publix supermarket in Coral Springs.  Justice Department, FBI and ICE officials declined to comment on the controversial case brought against the suspended special agent in charge of ICE’s South Florida office.

In April, The Miami Herald reported that the Broward County Sheriffs Department and FBI invesigators had seized Mangione’s computer from his Parkland residence after obtaining a search warrant based on an alert from AOL, Mangione’s Internet service provider. Sources said Mangione, who had headed the ICE regional office since 2007, was not believed to have received the pictures in connection with any ICE investigation.

The Justice Department probe took months to complete as investigators analyzed his computer and other electronic equipment to determine whether Mangione sent, received or distributed illegal digital images of children.

AOL, which monitors the distribution of child pornography by its users, alerted a national nonprofit resource center about the images allegedly sent to Mangione’s computer, sources said. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children then sent the information to a multi agency task force that investigates child-porn distribution over the Internet.

During the past decade, ICE has aggressively targeted child pornography, with Mangione frequently speaking out against “predators” who illegally share images through their computers.  As special agent in charge of ICE’s South Florida office, Mangione often praised the agency’s efforts to fight child pornography in both the cyber and real worlds.

Mangione had planned to retire this summer. He served his entire federal career with ICE and its predecessor, the U.S. Customs Service.  He began his South Florida Customs career hunting down dope smugglers.

He was later transferred to the Washington office. Mangione’s biggest case, during a tour of duty in Customs’ headquarters, came in the mid-1990s. As the head of financial investigations, he supervised a team of Customs agents in Los Angeles that dismantled a Colombian-Mexican drug money-laundering network run by cartels and bankers.

He managed a department stretching from Fort Pierce to Key West that investigates both immigration and customs cases, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security that was created in 2003 after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/09/27/2427824/suspended-immigration-official.html#storylink=mirelated#storylink=cpy
Sunday
Feb192012

ICE Advice for Those Left Behind

The opinions posted below and in this entire blog are my personal opinions and are based on my experience.  Anyone who disputes my representations, or opinions, are welcome to post comments.

We all know that homicide or any form of violence is not the solution for the problems in the workplace. There are reasons that some workers go postal.  In general, Government managers suck. (But not all of them, I worked for and with some of the finest men that I have ever met during my 30 year federal career.)  Federal workers are well paid but can pay a steep price for working in todays bureaucracy.

HSI senior management is now aware of what street agents have known for years.  There can be serious consequences when managers plot to humiliate their armed employees. If ICE/HSI management meetings were recorded and made public, I believe there would be a bounty on the heads of many top managers at HSI.

Money is not the primary reason someone goes into law enforcement or federal service.  I never heard complaints about the pay and benefits.  It was lack of job satisfaction, loss of dignity and respect, the lack of responsibility and simply not being able to work, to do the job you signed up for, that made ICE/HSI agents miserable.

Meter maids and dog catchers have more responsibility and are treated more professionally by supervisors than GS/13 agents at HSI.  Those who can do the job, do.  Those that cant, are all too often promoted to management.  In my opinion, Group Supervisor Ric Manriquez in the SAC/Dallas Division is a prime example.  Many other agents in Dallas have expressed the same sentiments to me. 

He transferred from Secret Service, which by all accounts that Ive heard, was more than happy to get rid of him. We were assigned to the same financial group at Customs.  I used to say that he struggled to spell Customs.  But it appeared that he could sell snow to an Eskimo.  He never finished a case that I know about.  He botched many of them so bad,  they were transferred to other agents.

I got my share of his homicides.  He touted tons of cases to the SAC as the greatest ever.  But he could never do anything with them, except tell everybody how great they were.  Hed sit on them, then open up the next great goat rope.  The GS would reassign his homicides and tell us it was raining as he pissed down our legs because Manriquez was the RACs fair haired boy. 

I proudly turned every one of those pie in the sky reassigned homicides into a suicides.  You cant make chicken salad from chicken shit. Case closed.

In my opinion, Manriquez is a world class suck up. He was on the same level as ASAC Tim OConnor, who I think is the gold standard for suck ups.  So of course, Ric was quickly promoted, even though he had less than two years of Customs experience and little talent for conducting investigations or stats to justify his promotion. 

I think, Manriquez was even more incompetent as a supervisor than he was a street agent. A little power can be a most dangerous thing.  In my experience, Ric was incompetent but predictably consistent.

If his lips were moving, odds were in favor of him lying.  I think he would fuck up a two car funeral. And last but not least, I never knew Ric to have an agents back.  I think he ALWAYS blamed somebody else for his screw ups. Many other agents who worked in his group have shared the same opinion with me.  Manriquez may hold the ICE record for throwing agents under the bus, yet he continues to work as a GS in Dallas.  According to a former SAC, HQ wont have him nor allow him to be passed off (transferred) to another office. 

I spent the last two years of my career working for an empty suit.  I think Chakwin figured out that all Ric was capable of doing was kissing ass and bird dogging (harassing) the troops for the promise of another promotion. Ric told me on more than one occasion that he was frustrated that Chakwin had not promoted him to an ASAC.

Fucking with me appeared to be the only assignment he was capable of handing.  He did that well.  I was eligible to retire and Chakwin wanted all the senior guys gone.  It took two years but he succeeded in running me off on my 54th birthday.  I walked out on the last working day in June 2008 and I never set foot back in the ICE office again. I retired from the comfort of the Wolf Compound.

On Monday I went to my doctor who told me that job is killing you.  You wont get better until after you retire.  I went on sick leave and GS Manriquez and ASAC OConner started harassing me immediately.  The doctor wrote a letter saying I was sick and would be out at least two weeks.  Chakwin said the letter was not specific enough so she wrote another.  I received a harassment call almost daily from Manriquez or OConner for two weeks. Then Chakwin demanded a third letter or my sick leave would not be approved.

Enough was enough. I filed an EEO complaint and retired on August 3, 2008.  Chakwin had to send a GS to my house to pick up my G-ride and other ICE gear. Sources in the office told me he considered having the Special Response Team (SRT) come pick up my stuff because I refused to return to the office. That tells you his goal was to push agents to the brink.  I really was sick; sick of John Chakwin to be more specific.

The EEO complaint was eventually settled to the satisfaction of all parties. Thats all I can say about my EEO case.

But I can say this.  I got out just in time.  I was a CSRS guy with 30 years service, so getting out turned out to be great.  My only regret is not leaving sooner.  In fact, life post ICE is much better than I ever expected.  I lost 50 pounds and I feel better than I did when I was age 50. Life without ICE is good.

For those of you who are not eligible to retire or because of FERS need to log more time, heres some advice. Filing an EEO case is not an easy route to take but its more acceptable than homicide. It wont cost you your life or your freedom.  Its the only complaint you can make that HQ will actually see.   EEO complaints get the attention of someone outside the ICE/HSI chain of command, so you have a fighting chance.

In the mean time, get a hobby. The government doesnt fire people for not working so coast.  Go along to get along.  Find something to do, that keeps your mind off all the problems at ICE.  Make flying under the radar job one.  Use your investigative skills to figure out a way to survive until you can retire.  ICE is a good paycheck, but sadly nothing more.  By the way, turning homicides into suicides will save you a lot of grief. If you cant out maneuver your group supervisor, youre not trying hard enough. 

I have no doubts that Group Supervisor Zeke Garcia was abused and mistreated by the DSAC in LA.   Arrogant, mean spirited, chicken shit management is an ICE trademark.  All of us have seen or experienced forced transfers for not bringing the SAC morning muffins. Youre either a golden boy or on the shit list.  There is no in between in ICEland.

Discipline for chicken shit violations is the order of the day at ICE.  Filing a travel voucher a day late, being late on your car report , or putting a page on the wrong side of a case file are major offenses at HSI.  All of us have been called into meetings to be berated and have been treated like red headed step children at a family reunion.  ICE was and still is a bad place to work. That aint going to change.

But heres the good news. If you make it to retirement, you wont think about the place unless a tragedy happens.  Then the memories come back.  But they go away quickly.  Once youre out, you put it behind, and dont look back.  The first day of every month will cure whatever ailed you at ICE.

Government bosses often get into positions of power and authority because they NEED to exercise control over someone to feel good about themselves.  Many of them are zeros who would be in soup lines if they were held accountable. Their only reason for getting out of bed in the morning is to fuck with the troops.  The only way they build themselves up is by putting talented people down.

But all things must come to an end.  Their career has to end at age 57 and most are run off before they reach mandatory retirement age.  Ask John Chakwin.

Its never a good idea to murder the boss.  Turns out some of then are in fact bullet proof anyway.  Violence is not the answer and it will only make life on the job more difficult.  ICE was created as a result of a typical government knee jerk reaction.  Thats how government works.  It would not surprise me if HSI agents will soon be required to remove their weapons before entering the office. ICE is probably writing the memo now.  Lockers will be placed at the entrance and guns will be locked up before you enter the facility (like at jails).  This will be the ICE solution to the problem.  They are not going to change the culture of management by machete.  Have you ever known a high level manager to admit they were wrong?  I foresee only supervisors being armed in HSI offices as a result of the Long Beach shooting.

By the way, Group Supervisors take more shit from SACs, DSACs and ASACs than street agents.  They have more pressure on them than street agents.  GS is by far the worst job in the office.  Those guys never get a break from the shit.  If you ever heard Chakwin dressing down a GS, you will never forget it.  Ive never been talked to like that in my life. Since shit rolls down hill, many GSs end up dumping all over their troops. But there are a few good ones.  Every agent wants to be in their group, but if the SAC knows you want something, you wont get it.

John Chakwin, Kevin Kozak and Kyle Bully Barnette are infamous within ICE for mistreatment of agents, especially group supervisors . One finally snapped.   Are others dangerously close to the edge?  Will ICE do anything to fix these management problems?  Dont hold your breath.

The bottom line is, if you cant find a way to cope, get out.  Youre not going to change the culture of ICE/HSI management.  Accept it for what it is, or find another job.  But whatever you do, keep your gun in the holster.  You cant shoot your way out of that mess. 

RIP Zeke Garcia. 

Saturday
Feb182012

Tragic ICE Shooting Doesn't Surprise Many HSI Agents

I am deeply saddened by the tragic events that happened in the SAC/Los Angeles Division of Homeland Security Investigations on Thursday evening.  I wish I could say that Im surprised. 

I did not know the agents involved but I have heard good things about Zeke Garcia, the group supervisor, who suddenly snapped, firing six shots at his HSI boss.  There are numerous reports that Deputy Special Agent Kevin Kozak, was relentlessly on Garcias case for reasons known only to Kozak. 

Of course, thats not an excuse for what happened.  I deplore the violence that took place yesterday. More lives could easily have benn lost in the office shooting.  I pray for a complete and speedy recovery for DSAC Kozak.  I also pray that he will look deep within himself and change as a result of this horrific event. 

In 30 years of working in law enforcement, I never dreamed something like this would happen.

Then I worked for John Chakwin Jr. in Dallas. Those close to me know that I feared a similar shooting incident would take place in the Dallas ICE/HSI Office of the Special Agent in Charge.

Chakwin was universally despised by the entire office due to his unfair bullying of employees and his serial mismanagement.   Chakwin had numerous complaints filed against him and was removed from his position as SAC/Atlanta by a former Assistant Commissioner. He was demoted and transferred to RAC/Jacksonville, where he was also hated by the entire office.

But new ICE management decided Chakwin would be a good fit in Dallas.  After a brief trial period his reappointment to the position of Special Agent in Charge was made permanent.  Chakwin was not as confident as his superiors in his long term tenure.  He didnt sell his house in Jacksonville.

The filing of complaints, including EEO discrimination and other unfair management practices began almost immediately.  I retired on my birthday in July 2008, a year earlier than I had planned.  I couldnt take working for Chakwin anymore.  Hes the reason I left.  After 32 years of chasing bad guys, the stress of being confined to an office working for John Chakwin was more than I could take.  Looking back, leaving then was the best decision I ever made in my life.  I honestly believe that John Chakwin Jr has no redeeming qualities.

But others in the office were not so lucky.  They werent eligible to retire.  The SAC/Dallas Office experienced two suicides on Chakwin’s watch. I agree with Fed Up who posted a comment on Debbie Schlussel yesterday , “Treat a man like an animal and pretty soon he will act like one.” 

ICE avoided another tragedy by removing Chakwin from active management in April 2011. He went kicking and screaming and remained on the ICE payroll until December 31, when he retired with his high three as an SES SAC. Now Chakwins just another obnoxious, retired, New York native living in Florida.  Texas is a better place because of it, believe me.

Based on conversations over the last 24 hours, it appears that ICE Group Supervisor Zeke Garcia was universally liked by his nonmanagment colleagues at ICE.  I have heard from numerous sources that DSAC Kozak  bullied the agents under his command. I heard him compared to Chakwin many times.

Zeke Garcia, recently divorced, appears to have been pushed to the brink at work.  He lost it and crossed the line, committing an unthinkable act of violent aggression, shooting Kozak as many as six times.  Zekes life ended seconds later, when he was shot and killed by an Assistant Special Agent in Charge.

HSI management by machete is not working.  Moral is at an all time low. Lives are being lost.  The only good that may come from this tragic event, is a complete management review and HSI reform by DHS. The Department of Homeland Security cant continue to ignore the management problems at HSI.

Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, shalt observe iniquities; Lord, who shall endure
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness:

My soul hath relied on His word; my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him plentiful redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel from all her iniquities.
Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Friday
Feb172012

HSI Deputy Special Agent in Charge Shoot By Distraught Agent

A SAC/Los Angeles Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations Group Supervisor shot and seriously wounded the Deputy Special Agent in Charge during a Thursday evening workplace confrontation.  An Assistant Special Agent in Charge reportedly pulled his weapon and shot the assailant (group sup) to death inside a Southern California federal building last night. Only management agents were involved in the incident, according to numerous sources.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) are the two primary divisions of ICE.  HSI is the primary investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.  ICE has thousands of agents across the United States and in dozens of foreign countries. The FBI is the only federal law enforcement agency with more agents than ICE.

According to reports, the HSI managers were shot on the seventh floor of the Glenn M. Anderson Federal Building in Long Beach, about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. FBI agents were seen interviewing witnesses and processing the crime scene.

The 5:54 p.m. Thursday shootings were described by the FBIs Steven Martinez as a case of workplace violence involving two federal agents in their office space. He offered no other details about what led to the initial shooting.

The Los Angeles Times, citing multiple law enforcement sources, reported that the initial shots were fired by an agent at his supervisor during an unspecified dispute.

Another agent, working nearby, intervened and fired his weapon to prevent additional rounds being fired at the victim, said Martinez, the assistant director in charge of the FBIs Los Angeles office.

The gunman died at the scene and the wounded agent was hospitalized at St. Mary Medical Center. ICE Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Claude Arnold would only say he was stable.

St. Marys hospital trauma director James Murray told KCAL-TV that the injured agent had multiple gunshot wounds, but he didnt give details. The victims vital signs were good for now, Murray said.

One source told me that the Group Supervisor fired 5 shots at the DSAC before being shot and killed by the ASAC. The names of the dead gunman, the victim and the agent who fired the final rounds have not been released.

There were conflicting early reports about the number of people shot, with local authorities saying two were dead and one wounded, while HSI said one was dead and one wounded.

The Long Beach federal building houses Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Probation and Parole Office.

At times like this, words honestly seem inadequate. When something like this happens in our offices, its incomprehensible, Arnold said.

The shooting is being investigated by the FBI, ICEs Office of Professional Responsibility and Long Beach police.

Friday
Feb102012

LA Times Looking at the Tip of the ICEberg

Yesterday I received a few emails from an LA Times reporter who is covering the Frank Johnston trial in Los Angles and apparently interested in investigating corruption at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  My guess is that the LA Times wants to discredit ICE so the agency does even less immigration enforcement than the little it does now.  But I digress.

ICE/HSI SAC Los Angeles has had more than their share of problems .  In case youre not familiar with Frank Johnston, heres some background on the trial that the LA Times reporter is covering.

Johnston, a retired supervisory special agent for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (now HSI) and his wife, who also worked for ICE in Los Angeles, were arrested in 2010 on charges of stealing from the government and lying to federal investigators.

An indictment handed down by a Los Angeles federal grand jury alleges that Frank Eugene Johnston and his wife, Taryn, stole almost $600,000 that she received in salary and benefits from ICE, even though she had done virtually no work for the agency during her last six years of employment.

Frank Johnston retired from ICE in August 2009 after 31 years in federal law enforcement. His wife previously worked as an immigration enforcement agent and then as an intelligence research specialist, prosecutors said.

According to the indictment, the alleged scheme dates back to 2002, when Frank Johnston became his wifes supervisor at U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, assigning her to an isolated workplace blocks from the agencys main Los Angeles office.

Soon after, Taryn Johnston stopped going to work and her husband rubber- stamped her time sheets, which frequently also claimed premium pay for overtime and holiday hours, according to the indictment filed this week in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

As part of the scheme, the couple asked the only other employee at the satellite office to log into Taryn Johnstons work e-mail account, review her e- mails and forward some to her personal account.
Frank Johnston is charged with federal wire fraud, false statements and theft of government property, specifically $582,281.27 in salary and benefits paid to his wife by INS and ICE for work she did not perform, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office.

The indictment charges Taryn Johnston with lying to ICE investigators by telling them that she had worked the hours for which she was paid. She is also charged with lying to investigators when she denied giving an ICE agent her computer log-in information so he could access her work e-mail account and forward messages to her personal account.

Frank Johnston was already convicted of obstruction of justice and making false statements in December 2011.  His conviction was for giving bogus information to both a Justice Department prosecutor and a federal judge in Florida.

In that case, Johnston said a convicted felon was providing ongoing cooperation in two criminal investigations being conducted in Los Angeles.  In fact, the convicted felon was not actually providing any information to investigators, and the false statements caused a delay in the start of a prison term for the felon.

Johnston was paid as much as $4,000 a month in consulting fees  while deceiving agents, attorneys and a federal judge by claiming that Syrian-born Abdulahad Touma was working as a confidential informant, prosecutors told the court.

If convicted of all charges, Johnston faces a maximum sentence of 465 years in federal prison, and his wife faces a maximum 10-year term.

I think its safe to say that Johnston will die in prison.  The LA Times should be investigating and reporting on the widespread corruption in ICE that does not involve Johnston. 

The LA Times would better server its readers by pointing out that the government will not solve the countrys current economic and social problems.  Government is the problem.  Both our Founding Fathers and Californian Ronald Reagan were well aware of this fact.  But the majority of the people in California still dont get it. Neither does the LA Times.

Every HSI agent is familiar with numerous incidents of senior officials in ICE doing exactly what Frank Johnston did, paying employees to sit at home and not work, then lying about it.  ICE  regularly pays Senior Officials NOT to work to sit at home and do nothing except wait for a bigger annuity, while drawing full pay, including 25% premium pay.  All of them had disgraced the badge and instead of being fired and/or arrested, they were simply sent home to draw full salary and then retire with bigger annuities. See former Dallas SAC John Chakwin for details.

Waste, fraud, mismanagement and corruption  is widespread in many of the bloated and inefficient federal bureaucracies. The federal government is too big to function.  Every once is a while, OPR or the DHS IG bag some low hanging fruit like Frank Johnston.  Then the DOJ piles on so it appears that corruption wont be tolerated in the federal government. 

The truth is, many of the most egregious offenders like former ICE Los Angeles SAC Robert Schoch are still on the job .  Schoch is a GS-14 Program Manager in Houston, where he receives the second highest locality pay in the country. Schochs friend, former GS-14 Jen Silliman is in Tampa as a GS-13.  Silliman and Schoch had a personal relationship that dated back to 2002 when both were assigned to INS/HQ.

The LA Times should do some investigative reporting so they can inform their readers about the fact that the federal government is the most inefficient and out of control entity in America. 

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a cabinet department, created in knee jerk response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.  The primary responsibilities of DHS is protecting the borders of the United States and immigration management and control.  In fiscal year 2011 DHS was allocated a budget of $98.8 billion. And the United States doesnt regularly enforce Immigration laws.  See California for details.  In fact, the DOJ is suing a number of states, to PREVENT the enforcement of U.S. Immigration law.

With more than 200,000 employees, DHS is the third largest Cabinet department, after the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Homeland security policy is coordinated at the White House by the Homeland Security Council. Other agencies with significant homeland security responsibilities include the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, and Energy.

In other words, DHS has very little to do with Homeland Security and the FBI is in fact, the homeland security investigative agency within the federal government.  DHS is basically the Coast Guard, FEMA, legacy INS and legacy Customs with a much larger budget. Go figure?