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January 28, 2014 | By Erwin Chemerinsky and Miriam Aroni Krinsky
The recent resignation of Sheriff Lee Baca presents a much-needed opportunity for meaningful, lasting and long-overdue reform of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The federal indictments in December of 18 former and current sheriff's deputies are the latest and most dramatic indication of a department in desperate need of change. In charting the road for reform - with the multifaceted aims of transforming a troubling culture, institutionalizing internal structural changes and rebuilding public confidence - much can be learned from the experiences that propelled reform of the Los Angeles Police Department.
January 27, 2014 | By Chris O'Brien
The chief executive of a Bitcoin startup backed by the Winklevoss twins was arrested Monday and charged with laundering money through a notorious drug-trafficking site. The Department of Justice said that it had charged Robert M. Faiella and Charlie Shrem with selling $1 million worth of Bitcoins to people attempting to buy and sell drugs on the Silk Road black market website. PHOTOS: 10 ways to use the sharing economy Shrem is CEO of BitInstant, a Bitcoin exchange that counts the Winklevoss twins as its investors.
January 9, 2014 | By Richard A. Serrano
WASHINGTON - The head of a criminal probe into allegations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups and tea party supporters personally donated a total of $6,750 to President Obama's election campaign and the Democratic National Committee, spurring Republicans to call for her removal. Republicans said Thursday that political contributions by Barbara Bosserman, a prosecutor in the Justice Department's civil rights division, raised questions about her objectivity and the integrity of the investigation into the IRS. "It is unbelievable that the department would choose such an individual to examine the federal government's systematic targeting and harassment of organizations opposed to the president's policies," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista)
January 9, 2014 | By Michael Muskal
Federal investigators have come down with a case of coulrophobia and now have to explain how the fear of clowns and their fans is not a violation of the U.S. Constitution: The Insane Clown Posse, a hip-hop rap duo, and their fans, known as Juggalos, are suing the U.S. Justice Department for including them in a 2011 FBI report “as a loosely organized hybrid gang.” The government argued that some Juggalos have been involved in assaults and a...
January 7, 2014 | By Stuart Pfeifer
JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to pay $1.7 billion to resolve a Justice Department investigation into its role in Bernard Madoff's multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. The giant Wall Street firm, which served as Madoff's primary banker, acknowledged that it failed to alert authorities to suspicious activity in Madoff's accounts as required under federal law. Prosecutors with the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York agreed to defer a criminal prosecution in exchange for the monetary penalty, which will be forwarded to victims of the Ponzi scheme.
December 26, 2013 | By Timothy M. Phelps
WASHINGTON - Debo Adegbile, President Obama's nominee to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, attributes much of his success as an attorney to a nine-year stint as a child actor on "Sesame Street" in the 1970s. The unusual resume item brought him a kind of mini-celebrity and was a surprisingly frequent focus of job interviews, Adegbile has said, even as he climbed the legal ranks to join a big New York corporate law firm. But as he faces Senate confirmation hearings next month, Adegbile is drawing a different kind of attention from conservative activists.
December 19, 2013 | By Timothy M. Phelps
WASHINGTON -- President Obama on Thursday commuted the prison terms of eight people sentenced to life in prison or other long sentences for drug crimes. The commutations are part of the administration's campaign to roll back inequities in connection with mandatory minimum sentencing, particularly for possession or sale of crack cocaine. Until recently, possession of crack was punished more severely than other forms of cocaine, disproportionately impacting African Americans. “Commuting the sentences of these eight Americans is an important step toward restoring fundamental ideals of justice and fairness.
December 18, 2013 | By Michael Muskal
A former engineer for BP was convicted of obstructing an investigation of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico after the first criminal trial to come from the environmental disaster. Kurt Mix, a drilling engineer who formerly worked for the oil giant, was convicted on Wednesday of obstructing the investigation into the massive spill but acquitted of a second count of obstruction of justice, Justice Department officials announced. Mix, 52, of Katy, Texas, faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 26. Mix is one of four current or former BP employees charged with crimes related to the spill, one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history.
December 16, 2013 | By Meg James
Gannett Co.'s $2.2-billion acquisition of Belo TV stations can move forward -- but the Department of Justice is demanding the sale of KMOV-TV Channel 4 in St. Louis as a condition for the agency's approval of the deal. The proposed deal would give the McLean, Va., newspaper and broadcasting company multiple TV stations in several markets, which has become an issue for media watchdogs.  The situation in St. Louis was particularly problematic because Gannett owns KSDK-TV, the NBC affiliate there, and Belo owns the CBS affiliate, KMOV-TV -- the top two stations in that market.
December 10, 2013 | By Jon Healey
What does it take to provoke a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy to slap handcuffs on you? For a female Austrian diplomat, all it took was asking to see a supervisor at the Men's Central Jail. That's according to one of the federal indictments unsealed Monday in Los Angeles. Granted, the indictments tell only one side of the story. But it's still astounding that a diplomat (and a female one at that) making a routine visit to the jail would end up in restraints. I mean, who hasn't heard of diplomatic immunity?
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