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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: U.S. Department of Justice

Union leaders open to DOJ investigation

Spokane Police Department union leaders said Tuesday they’re happy to cooperate with a possible federal investigation of the department and have no concerns about what it may find.

“We know that we need the community to believe in us again, and that’s why we know this is a good thing,” said Lt. Joe Walker, president of the 13-member Spokane Police Lieutenants and Captains Association.

Read the rest of my story here.

Montana pot provider warns others

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A medical marijuana provider indicted on federal drug charges warned other Montana caregivers Friday to shut down their businesses or risk being the next arrested.

Jason Burns, of Helena, said federal agents told him before his arraignment Thursday that the Department of Justice plans to indict every Montana caregiver raided this spring and that there may be more searches.

“I would warn every caregiver that is in business right now to shut down because the feds are going to prosecute you,” Burns said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Jessica Fehr, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office, said she couldn't comment on whether criminal charges are pending against other providers. No charges have been filed against Spokane medical marijuana providers targeted by federal authorities in April.

Burns' alert may be moot, however, with a new state law scheduled to take effect July 1 that will bar all commercial medical marijuana operations. Providers will be prohibited from profiting from medical marijuana and will not be allowed to distribute pot to more than three registered patients under the law.

Read the rest of the story by Matt Volz by clicking the link below.

Holder vows to clarify medical marijuana

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, right, tours the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, R.I., Thursday, June 2, 2011. With Holder are Teny Gross, left, executive director of the institute, Ajay Benton, second from left, and Juan Carter, third from left. Holder promised Thursday to clarify the Justice Department's position on state medical marijuana laws after federal prosecutors warned they might prosecute everyone from licensed growers to regulators. (AP Photo/Bob Thayer, Pool)


LAURA CRIMALDI, Associated Press
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promised Thursday to clarify the Justice Department's position on state medical marijuana laws after federal prosecutors warned they might prosecute everyone from licensed growers to regulators.

“We're going to bring clarity so that people understand what this policy means and how this policy will be implemented,” Holder said during a visit to a Providence, R.I., institute that specializes in nonviolence.

Holder didn't go into detail about plans for clarification. But he said the department was wary of medical marijuana dispensaries being seen as a form of de facto marijuana legalization.

Several U.S. states have started reassessing their medical marijuana laws after U.S. attorneys recently sent stern warnings that everyone from licensed medical marijuana growers to regulators could be subjected to prosecution. The cautions were sent to officials in California, Colorado, Montana and Rhode Island. Federal authorities also recently conducted a series of raids at grow operations in Montana and at dispensaries in Washington.

More than a dozen states have approved the medical use of marijuana, which is not legal under federal law. About half of those states regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

In Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee suspended plans last month to license three such dispensaries after U.S Attorney Peter Neronha sent him a letter warning that they could lead to prosecutions.

Chafee does not believe Holder's comments imply a change in the Justice Department's underlying position and dispensary plans will remain on hold, his spokesman Michael F. Trainor said.

“He will await whatever resolution that Attorney General Holder indicated would be forthcoming,” Trainor said of the governor. “He will take that under advisement. At that point, he'll make a decision concerning whether or not he feels it's prudent to move forward with issuing certificates to the three applicant dispensaries.”

Cuts could end sex offender task force

Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Damon Simmons spends much of his time hunting for online sexual predators with the Spokane County Child Sexual Predator Task Force.

But Simmons’ time with the task force may be running out.

The task force, which focuses on finding new online offenders and managing known offenders, was created in 2008 with a nearly $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The money for his position runs out in a few weeks. Faced with budget cuts, it’s a position the department may not be able to keep.

Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach’s story here.

Internet fueling wide spread of child porn

WASHINGTON (AP) — The spread of child pornography, fueled by technology and the Internet, is outpacing efforts to combat it, the Justice Department said Monday in a report to Congress that promises more arrests, prosecutions and better coordination among federal, state and local authorities.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the distribution of child pornography, the number of images being shared online and violence against child victims all have increased. “Tragically, the only place we’ve seen a decrease is in the age of victims,” Holder said in a speech at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va.

The report, ordered by Congress in legislation approved two years ago, concedes that the market for child pornography continues to grow rapidly and determining its size is impossible. “The number of offenders accessing the images and videos and the quantity of images and videos being traded is unknown,” the report said.

Creating or possessing images that depict the sexual abuse of children is illegal. There is no First Amendment protection for child pornography.

In announcing a national strategy for preventing child exploitation, Holder laid out several steps that he said would help authorities make progress:

— The U.S. Marshals Service will target the “top 500 most dangerous” sex offenders who have not registered with authorities in the states where they live.

— The Justice Department is creating a database intended to increase cooperation among authorities at all levels of government that investigate child porn cases.

— Thirty-eight new prosecutors will be hired for child porn cases.

The increased attention to fighting child pornography already has led to record numbers of prosecutions and tips. More than 8,600 people have been prosecuted at the federal level since October 2006. State and local authorities focused on the use of the Internet in child sexual exploitation reported that documented complaints of online enticement of children more than tripled from 2004 to 2008 and complaints of child prostitution rose more than 10 times.

Happy April 15: Man charged with tax evasion

A former North Idaho resident has been charged with federal tax evasion.

Michael George Fitzpatrick is accused of using offshore bank accounts to hide his assets and of failing to file individual income tax returns in 2003 and 2004.

He also allegedly didn’t filed corporate income tax returns in 2004 for the Washington corporation Dynamic Solutions, and a Nevada corporation, NAES.

Both companies claimed to allow people “to completely eliminate their credit card debt and other types of debt,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Fitzpatrick, a former resident of Sandpoint and Hope, as well as Kent, Wash., is charged with two counts of tax evasion and two counts of failure to file a tax return, according to a grand jury indictment filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Boise.

Tax evasion carries a maximum of 5 years in prison; failure to file brings a maximum of one year.

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