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Entries in HSI (52)

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.

Wednesday
Feb152012

ICE HSI Houston - Much Ado About Nothing

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is at work shooting fish in a barrel.  Two Houston manufacturers have agreed to forfeit $2 million each to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a result of investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). In exchange, the United States has agreed not to criminally prosecute the companies.

Wow, $2 million each! Heres some breaking news: At $100,000+ a special agent that pays 40 agents salaries for a year.  That doesnt include, training, travel, equipment such as take home vehicles.  How do we pay for the other 8,000 sitting around HSI offices all over the country?  You see, the agents dont do these audits. HSI hired clerks to do this mundane work. 

Notice this case started in February 2011.  So as usual, it took a year to make one chicken shit administrative case. 

HSI audits found that Atrium Companies, owner of Houston-based Champion Window, and Advanced Containment Systems, Inc. (ACSI), a manufacturer of custom emergency response vehicles and trailers in south Houston, employed large numbers of undocumented workers over periods of more than 4 years. Both companies received no-match letters from Social Security Administration (SSA) indicating employee names and Social Security numbers did not match SSA records, but the firms failed to correct the problem, HSI said.

A February 2011 audit at ACSI found “egregiously suspect” identification documents, including some with misspelled agency names and at least one featuring the words “novelty item.” HSI concluded that from 2005 to 2009 roughly 44 percent of the company’s workforce was undocumented, resulting in about $2 million in wages paid to undocumented aliens.

A 2011 audit at Champion found that 269 of Champion’s 451-person workforce consisted of undocumented aliens. According to HSI, Champion managers falsely attested on I-9 forms that new hire documents appeared genuine. At HSI’s request, Champion terminated the undocumented workers. HSI concluded that Champion derived at least $2 million in revenue from sales of products and services provided by a predominantly illegal workforce from 2006 through 2010.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said the agreements “require each company to continue their substantial remedial measures to address past immigration violations, the payment of a significant penalty and the company’s continued cooperation in an ongoing criminal investigation, while also taking into consideration the collateral consequences that a criminal prosecution would have on the company’s ongoing business concerns.”

 

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?

Saturday
Dec172011

Sam Hurd, Graduate of the Nate Newton School of Stupid Drug Dealers

After reviewing the criminal complaint filed against failed drug dealer (and failed Dallas Cowboys wide receiver) Sam Hurd, Im convinced hes a graduate of the Nate Newton School of Stupid Drug Dealers.

Former Dallas Cowboys player Nate Newton created an extensive marijuana distribution ring that he claimed earned him $75,000 a transaction. He was caught twice smuggling weed from Texas to Georgia and spent 2 ½ years in prison.

Newton gave this infamous quote in 2005: Ive always been competitive. Ive always been in sports. I couldnt see myself not being the biggest dope man.

According to the complaint filed by Dallas Division HSI Special Agent George Ramirez, Hurd told an informant he was looking to buy between $125,000-250,000 worth of cocaine and another $450,000 of marijuana every week.

But last summer he went to the cops to recover his seized $88,000? Hurds associate T.L. was pulled over in Texas with a canvas bag, covered in a green leafy plantfield tested positive for the properties of marijuana containing $88,000. So Hurd went and claimed the money which had been seized by the police but what about the weed? The cash was his, but the weed wasnt? 

Then, when Hurd met with the undercover agent and informant in Chicago, he told them the money that was seized couldnt be traced to him. Even though he claimed the seizure himself.

Hurd told an undercover Dallas HSI agent that he already was distributing four kilograms of cocaine weekly but that his supplier couldn’t keep up with the demand from his customers, according to the criminal complaint.

The complaint makes multiple references to Hurds personal cell phone.  And given that he was rolling in cars registered in his name and picking up kilos himself, it looks like Hurd failed to spend an extra $40 per month for a burner cell. I guess he already had unlimited minutes on his personal cell, so why waste the $40 bucks? Exceptwell, the next question.

 

The complaint states Hurd wanted to acquire Mexican cell phones, because the law couldnt eavesdrop on those calls. No wonder he couldnt run his routes when playing wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. Hurd is a native of San Antonio.  But apparently, he spent his time hanging out with the jocks not the drug smugglers.

 

Hurd told the undercover HSI agent that a (co-conspirator) is in charge of doing the majority of the deals while he focused on higher-end deals, according to the complaint. He agreed to pay $25,000 for each kilogram of cocaine and $450 a pound for the marijuana, according to the charges, and then said he could pay for a kilo of cocaine about 2.2 pounds after he gets out of practice. He walked out of the restaurant with the package and was arrested.

 

By the way, in 2010, Hurd was named the Cowboys Ed Block Courage award winner. The award is voted on by teammates and given to role models of inspiration, sportsmanship and courage.  When I was on the job at HSI (formerly Customs Investigations) it was often said that we only caught the dumb asses.  See Sam Hurd for details. 

And heres a hint for all you wannabe NFL drug dealers.  Your time would be much better spent watching re-runs of The Wire on DirecTv Audience 101 than Weeds on HBO. 

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