| NEWS of the Day - February 18, 2012
|on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
From Los Angeles Times
Would-be attacker arrested near U.S. Capitol, officials say
A Moroccan immigrant whom the FBI had been tracking for more than a year is caught near the Capitol with an automatic weapon and an explosives vest, both rendered inoperable.
by Richard A. Serrano
An immigrant from Morocco armed with a jammed automatic weapon and wearing a suicide vest packed with what he thought were explosives was arrested Friday near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, officials announced.
Amine El Khalifi, 29, who allegedly had overstayed his visa after arriving in the U.S. when he was 16, was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against government property. FBI agents had been closely monitoring him for more than a year in an undercover sting operation.
An affidavit described El Khalifi strutting around a hotel room with the gun and vest, watching himself in the mirror as he practiced how to pull the trigger and detonate the vest bomb by calling a cellphone number.
He also allegedly discussed hitting military targets near the Pentagon and a restaurant during the crowded lunch hour in Washington. But eventually he settled on the Capitol, authorities said, planning to shoot his way inside and detonate the bomb. He reportedly told undercover FBI agents that he "would be happy killing 30 people."
He appeared briefly in federal court in nearby Alexandria, Va., where most of the investigation was handled, but did not enter a plea. He faces life in prison if convicted.
According to Neil MacBride, the U.S. Attorney in Alexandria, El Khalifi believed he was working for Al Qaeda. MacBride said that El Khalifi "devised the plot, the targets and the methods on his own."
He was arrested Friday morning in a parking garage near the Capitol after taking the MAC-10 automatic weapon from a van and strapping on the bomb vest. But authorities had rendered the weapon and the explosive device inoperable, officials said.
He then walked alone from his vehicle toward the Capitol just two blocks away, officials said, "where he intended to shoot people and detonate the bomb." But agents arrested him before he made it out of the garage or could approach the Capitol, where lawmakers were busy voting on a $150-billion economic package to extend the payroll tax cut.
Twenty people have been arrested in the last year on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks in this country, many of them after the FBI was tipped off by their friends or associates and the suspects were placed under surveillance by undercover agents posing as Al Qaeda operatives.
A Massachusetts man of Bangladeshi descent, Rezwan Ferdaus, was arrested in September on suspicion of conspiring to fly deadly model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol, and Farooque Ahmed, a Pakistani American from Virginia, was given 23 years in prison for plotting to attack Washington-area subway stations. According to Steven W. Hersem, supervisor of the FBI's Washington Field Office's Joint Terrorism Task Force, agents first learned of El Khalifi in January 2011.They were told that El Khalifi had become angry about the U.S. "war on terrorism" and the "war on Muslims."
To get closer to El Khalifi, the FBI placed an undercover officer known as "Yusuf" close to him. The defendant allegedly talked to him about several targets — an office building in Alexandria, popular sites where U.S. military personnel gather, the home of an Army general and the Washington restaurant.
The affidavit said he cased the Capitol, searching for an entrance to shoot a guard and then detonate the bomb inside the structure. At one point last month, he purchased nails and glue and other bomb components, and drove with Yusuf to a West Virginia quarry where he test-fired explosives inside a vest, the affidavit said.
It was then, officials said, that El Khalifi decided that "rather than leaving a bomb in a restaurant, he wanted to conduct a suicide/martyrdom operation in which he would blow himself up in the United States Capitol building." They added that he decided against leaving behind a "martyrdom video" because "he did not want people to know who conducted the attack."
Don't scam -- or be scammed! IRS lists 'dirty dozen' tax frauds
Identity theft, hiding income offshore and inflating expenses are among the frauds that commonly pop out during tax preparation season, the Internal Revenue Service warns.
The federal agency, which administers tax collection, has released its annual list of the so-called dirty dozen tax scams. Such scams often become more prevalent as the tax season comes to a head; this year's tax deadline is April 17.
The ranking is designed to protect taxpayers from the unscrupulous as well as ensure the government gets the funds it needs to operate.
“Taxpayers should be careful and avoid falling into a trap with the Dirty Dozen,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in a statement released Thursday. “Scam artists will tempt people in-person, on-line and by e-mail with misleading promises about lost refunds and free money. Don't be fooled by these scams.”
The top scam involves identity theft. In such cases, criminals use a taxpayer's identity information to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund. The IRS said it blocked $1.4 billion from going to the wrong person last year.
In January, the IRS announced the results of a national crackdown on suspected identity theft, with 105 people in 23 states targeted, the agency said.
Related to identity theft, but a second category of fraud, is phishing. These cases generally use unsolicited emails or websites to gain personal information from unsuspecting taxpayers. The information is then used to file false returns and get refunds, much as in identity theft cases.
As for hiding income offshore, it is generally legal for Americans to keep money abroad, but the funds must be declared and taxes paid. Trying to hide money, whether in an offshore bank, foreign trust or in a number of other ways, is illegal.
The IRS has been targeting this type of problem and has offered some special programs so that taxpayers can make their offshore funds legal.
Since 2009, 30,000 individuals have voluntarily come forward to disclose their foreign financial accounts, the IRS said. The agency said it has collected $3.4 billion so far from people who participated in the 2009 offshore program, reflecting the resolution of about 95% of the cases. The IRS also said it has collected $1 billion in upfront payments under a similar 2011 program.
Other scams in the so-called dirty dozen include: fraud by return preparers; false or inflated income and expenses; false claims for refunds from Form 1099, which reports income other than wages, salaries and tips; and abuse of charitable organizations and deductions.
$100 million in PCP seized
Stunned officials find 130 gallons of the dangerous drug in Los Angeles and Culver City — enough for 10 million doses.
by Sam Allen, Los Angeles Times
February 17, 2012
About $100 million worth of PCP was seized this week in Los Angeles and Culver City in what authorities described as a major bust of a national drug-trafficking organization.
Officials said they found huge amounts of PCP — totaling roughly 10 million individual doses, which in the Los Angeles area sell for between $10 and $20 each — at two local storage facilities and several other locations. Authorities also recovered nearly $400,000 in cash.
Authorities believe the trafficking organization included at least 10 individuals locally and that it was distributing to Texas, New York and Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities.
"They were shipping and moving and dealing a huge amount of product," said Lt. Scott Fairfield of the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force, known as L.A. IMPACT. "It's the largest PCP seizure I've ever heard of."
Two suspects, Darryl Dwayne Burton and Lagina Bell Huckaby, were arrested Wednesday at a UPS store in Culver City where they were allegedly trying to ship narcotics, Fairfield said. L.A. IMPACT investigators had been trailing the suspects for about a month in response to a tip from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Search warrants were subsequently issued for several locations where a drug ring was believed to be operating, Fairfield said. In the sweep, authorities discovered approximately 130 gallons of phencyclidine, the chemical name for PCP, along with $389,000 in cash, two assault weapons and enough chemicals to produce 500 additional gallons of the narcotic.
Fairfield said Burton is believed to be associated with the Bounty Hunter Bloods, a street gang active in Los Angeles. He described Burton as a "major player" in the trafficking organization, but said investigators are still trying to determine what relationship, if any, existed between the drug operation and the gang.
The search warrants covered two residences in South Los Angeles as well as two large storage facilities, Fairfield said. Authorities found cash and an active drug lab at the homes, and most of the PCP and "precursor ingredients" were found at the storage facilities, he added.
Burton and Huckaby both pleaded not guilty to felony drug charges on Friday. They are being held in lieu of $3 million and $2 million bail, respectively.
Burton, 55, has two convictions for drug offenses, including one for possession of PCP, according to the criminal complaint filed against him. No prior convictions were listed for Huckaby, who is 31.
Experts said the quantity of drugs seized indicates a potentially sizable network involved in the manufacturing and distribution of the PCP.
"You know for sure it's not somebody cooking down in his basement," said John Sullivan, a former chief of detectives for the Las Vegas Police Department. "It must be on a grand scale."
Fairfield said there were "definitely more than two" individuals involved in the operation. "We're still working this," he said. "We're hoping it leads to more and we believe that it will."
Another law enforcement expert, Stan Kephart, said it was difficult to asses the exact value of such a large quantity of PCP because street prices can vary substantially throughout the country. But he expressed shock at the total volume seized.
"PCP is a very scary drug — basically what it does is take people on trips where they don't feel any pain," he said. "I can't even get my head around 130 gallons."
From Google News
Josh Powell had some 400 images depicting sex of cartoon characters and graphic incest
by Associated Press
OLYMPIA, Wash. — Three weeks before Josh Powell killed himself and kids in a violent inferno, Utah authorities disclosed to social workers for the first time that his computer once contained some 400 images of cartoon sex and incest.
Investigators had initially told Washington state officials that there were only a half-dozen images, seized in 2009, but the social worker tasked with keeping the kids safe sent off a note to a psychologist saying “it is now clear there are many more images than initially indicated.” The psychologist who had previously praised Powell's strong parenting skills found the images to be a “great concern” and quickly suggested a more intense evaluation of the father.
Powell killed himself before that assessment took place.
Many of the approximately 400 images described in documents released under Washington state public records laws Friday included sexual depictions of popular cartoons, including child-focused characters such as Rugrats, Dennis the Menace and SpongeBob SquarePants. Another 15 images showed 3-D depictions of sex involving parents and their children.
Powell had initially told the psychologist that he visited only pornography sites featuring adults.
“Given the gaps of information about Mr. Powell there seems reason to conclude he may not presently be a stable and appropriate resource for his children,” wrote Dr. James Manley in a follow-up report dated Jan. 31.
Washington officials overseeing the care of Powell's children first got word of the graphic content in November, when a Utah investigator wrote in an email that they were looking to disclose to social workers about 5-6 images recovered in 2009 shortly after Susan Powell's disappearance.
But two months later, social worker Forest Jacobson wrote that the images weren't received until mid-January and were far more extensive. Powell had full custody of his kids up until last summer, when his father was charged with voyeurism. After that, he had consistent supervised visitations with the children.
It wasn't clear why it took so long for authorities to reveal the information. A spokesman for the West Valley City police in Utah declined comment Friday.
In other documents released under Washington public records laws, social workers detailed how they were concerned that Josh Powell would speak disparagingly of his in-laws, Chuck and Judy Cox, in front of his children.
The documents also state that Charlie Powell was beginning to remember about his mother, and that he said “he remembers she left because grandpa was mean to her” — apparently a reference to Susan Powell's father. Caseworkers believed that Charlie was repeating what his father had been saying.
In interviews with mental health professionals, Powell said he feared a “militant faction” of the Mormon church might kidnap his two sons. Braden and Charlie were overheard saying that “Mormons” were “trying to steal” them and “harm” them. When Charlie told his father that they were “good Mormon boys,” Powell abruptly responded that they were not Mormon and not to let anyone tell them they are.
Charlie once told school personnel how to bury an animal so it wouldn't be discovered. Personnel only noted this because of their mother's disappearance.
Powell was a suspect in Susan Powell's 2009 disappearance from their home in West Valley City, Utah. He had always claimed that he didn't know what happened to his wife. He took the boys — then 2 and 4 — on a midnight camping trip in freezing weather in the Utah desert, he said, and when he returned home the next day authorities were at the house looking for her.
Weeks later, he moved the boys to the home of his father, Steve Powell, in Puyallup. After Steve Powell's arrest on voyeurism and child pornography charges last fall, the boys were removed from the house and turned over to Susan Powell's parents.
A social worker brought them to Josh Powell's rental home for what was supposed to be a court-sanctioned supervised visit. Josh Powell let the boys inside, locked the social worker out, hit them with a hatchet and set fire to gasoline, authorities said.
The records indicate that Susan Powell remained a focal point in the family. Charlie talked about how her favorite color was purple. Powell talked about how she made tasty pumpkin pies from pumpkins that they had grown themselves.
As they ate pancakes, bacon and orange juice one day in early November, Braden looked at Powell and said: “I wish mommy was here.” Powell said he did, too.
The next month, as they decorated for Christmas, Charlie showed the visit supervisor a stocking with “SUSAN” lettered across the top. He later found his mother's favorite stained glass ornament, and Powell said he could hang it on the tree.
In notes from Jan. 29 — the day of the last visit before Josh Powell killed his children — the social worker wrote that the boys made Shrinky Dink toys with him. When the visit was over, Josh Powell walked Charlie and Braden out to the car, buckled them into their booster seats, told them he loved them and said he would see them as soon as he could.
“Be happy and have a good time,” he said.
Police using less force, study finds
Reduction is from community policing, better communication, chief says.
by Veronica Rocha
February 17, 2012
The number of use-of-force incidents by Glendale police officers has decreased by 43% since administrators began tracking them in 2009.
Police officers used force 56 times last year, down from 77 in 2010 and 99 in 2009, according to a Glendale Police Department report.
Police Chief Ron De Pompa attributed the decrease in use-of-force incidents to the department's improved community involvement and policing.
“I don't find it unusual in an environment where community policing becomes the norm,” he said. “I think when that happens, you develop much better working relationships with the community. You communicate better, you have better points of contact and it just follows that use-of-force incidents will decrease in those types of environments.”
The types of force used, according to the report, included involvement of batons, canines, carotid restraints, chemical agents, firearms, impact weapons, physical control techniques, Tasers and unarmed striking.
Physical control techniques significantly dropped from 44 in 2009 to 25 last year, according to the reports. Taser use dropped from 13 in 2009 to seven last year. A single firearm incident was logged for 2009 and 2011, but none for 2010.
The Police Department began keeping detailed records of use-of-force incidents when De Pompa replaced former police Chief Randy Adams in 2009.
The next year, De Pompa established a Use of Force Review Board to examine and decide whether the incidents were within policy. The board also identifies the training and equipment needed to deal with the incidents.
The board has determined all incidents as of 2010 were within Police Department policy, according to the report.
But that has not protected the department from legal action.
Asadoor Mirzaeyan, 71, filed a lawsuit in 2011, claiming undercover officers ordered him to leave a coffee shop in the Glendale Galleria and broke his shoulder in the process of detaining him, prompting him to fall unconscious as a result of the pain.
“He was very upset about the incident,” said Mirzaeyan's attorney, Timothy Mitchell.
Glendale contends Mirzaeyan was intoxicated — which he also admitted to in his lawsuit — unable to care for himself and confrontational when they asked him to leave the mall. City attorneys claim Mirzaeyan resisted arrest, and tried to clinch his arms to his chest as the officers tried to detain him.
While use of physical control techniques has been reduced in the Police Department, high numbers in that category are not unusual because grabbing and detaining someone may require force, said Michael Gennaco, chief attorney at the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, which provides civilian oversight of sheriff's operations and tactics.
“The fact that force is being tracked and numbers are being kept is critical for any [police] department,” he said.
Information on use-of-force incidents in law enforcement agencies hasn't always been available for the public, Gennaco said, but a push to become transparent has prompted more agencies to go the way of Glendale's department.
“It's good news for the citizens of Glendale,” he said.