Thursday, May 28, 2015

Former House Speaker Indicted For Hush Money Paid To Keep Past Wrongdoing Quiet

Dennis Hastert
It turns out the old wrestling coach from Yorktown, Illinois was as dirty of a man as I always thought him to be from my days working with him as an Illinois House Republican staffer back in the 1980s when he was a former state lawmaker. Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has been indicted for making cash withdrawals of $1.7 million from an Illinois bank over a four-year period as part of an agreement with an unidentified man to pay him $3.5 million to stay quiet about misconduct committed by Hastert known to the man and then lying about the purpose of the cash withdrawals to FBI agents. The unidentified man to whom the payments were made had known Hastert most of his life. The $3.5 million payment scheme allegedly began after a 2010 meeting between the two men about bad acts that pre-dated Hastert's political career (pre-1980) according to sources familiar with the case.

Hastert served as Speaker of the House for eight years after two successive House Speakers, Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston, were forced from their positions in quick order by political scandals. The former high school wrestling coach has been working in Washington as a lobbyist since his resignation in 2008. Hastert faces two felony charges of structuring currency payments to avoid federal currency reporting requirements and lying to FBI agents. The indictment was made by the U.S. Attorney in Chicago. Long-time Advance Indiana readers will recall an under-reported allegation made by a government whistle blower, Sibel Edmonds, who claimed she had knowledge of bribes Hastert, former Indiana Rep. Dan Burton and other members of Congress had accepted from officials in Turkey. Hastert denied the allegation, but his first client as a lobbyist was the Turkish government, which reportedly paid him $35,000 a month.

I'll never forget a bad experience I had with Hastert when he was a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. I was in a meeting of Republican members of the House Revenue Committee as the staff member for the committee when Hastert accused me of making misrepresentations about a bill he had sponsored before the committee in front of all of the members. His accusation was completely unfounded and his bill was a piece of crap he had introduced for some political crony in his district. The Republican spokesman for the committee later went to him and told him he was completely out-of-line and he owed me an apology. The classless Hastert refused to apologize to me. My boss, the House Minority Leader, would later tell me to keep an eye on Hastert because he didn't trust him. I told him I knew what he meant. Karma's a bitch, Denny! You're dirty secret is no more a secret.

A Chicago Tribune opinion offers this on Hastert's "Dark Secret":
. . . According to an affidavit, he'd made 15 withdrawals of $50,000 each by July 2012 when bank officials — who are required to report transactions greater than $10,000 — questioned him. After that, he made frequent withdrawals of less than $10,000 "to evade the reporting requirements," it says.
When FBI agents confronted him about the withdrawals, Hastert said he was stashing the cash because he didn't trust the banking system, according to the feds. By that time, he'd withdrawn $1.7 million.
Why? The affidavit provides few clues. "Individual A" is a resident of Yorkville, where Hastert taught high school and coached wrestling from 1965 to 1981. The two have known each other "for most of Individual A's life."
Hastert left teaching for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly and quietly worked his way up to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he became the longest serving Republican speaker in history. He's been a lobbyist since he left office.
Many of the people who knew and liked Hastert were, frankly, surprised that he rose to such national prominence.
But not nearly as surprised, no shocked, no stunned, as they are today.
On paper, he's accused of moving money around illegally and fibbing to the feds about it. Between the lines, prosecutors suggest he has harbored a dark secret.
Pedophilia is a right and privilege for the rich and powerful. Remember how badly Hastert handled the sexual abuse of congressional pages by the perverts in Congress?

Married DC Attorney Was Killed By Lesbian He Met On Craigslist He Thought Was A Man

Jamyra Gallmon
A 30-year old D.C. attorney who worked at one of the world's most prestigious law firms thought he was meeting another guy for sex last February at a hotel just blocks from the White House whom he met on Craigslist. David Messerschmitt, a married man originally from Cincinnati who worked for the international law firm DLA Piper, checked into a room on February 10 at the Donovan Hotel with a laptop computer, condoms, lube and an enema ready for hardcore action. When his online hook-up showed up and turned out to be a woman, things turned really bad.

The person who entered Messerschmitt's hotel room was a 21-year old woman, Jamyra Gallmon, who had graduated from Forestville Military Academy in Maryland where she was described as an "exemplary" student. Gallmon told police things turned violent when the two began arguing and Messerschmitt grabbed her arm. That's when she says she pulled out a knife and stabbed him multiple times. Gallmon fled with $40 she found in Messerschmitt's wallet and his Metro travel card.

According to the Daily Mail, police say Gallmon's 19-year old girlfriend, Dominique Johnson, conspired with her to rob Messerschmitt. Johnson waited outside the hotel for Gallmon, who pleaded guilty this week to second degree murder. Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery after she admitted to police she knew of Gallmon's plan when she accompanied her to the hotel.

This case reminds me of the killing of a prominent Indianapolis attorney, Donald Jackson, in 1988. Jackson, who was the president of the local bar association, was married with children but liked hooking up with young rent boys who hung out around the Central Library downtown on the down low. Jackson decided to kick off his 4th of July weekend a little early. He took his trick to some cheap, sleazy motel on the west side where he was later found stabbed to death without any identification on him. Police had to furnish a sketch of Jackson to the media for help in identifying him since he hadn't been reported missing. One of his law partners got the job of going down to the morgue to identify him. When police finally caught up with the young hustler who stabbed him to death, he said he acted in self-defense because Jackson became too rough with him during sex. A jury bought it, finding him guilty of the lesser charge. The assailant's small stature compared to Jackson's comparatively towering size made an impression on the jurors.
Murdered: 30-year-old David Messerschmitt, pictured with his wife Kim Vuong, was stabbed in the groin, abdomen and heart. He was killed after soliciting for gay sex on Craigslist, police have said
David Messerschmitt with his wife, Kim Vuong

As List Of GOP Presidential Candidates Grows, Only One Candidate Benefits

By my count, there are now at least 14 candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2016 or planning to take that step. The list includes:

Jeb Bush
Ben Carson
Chris Christie
Ted Cruz
Carly Fiorini
Lindsey Graham
Mike Huckabee
Bobby Jindal
John Kasich
George Pataki
Rand Paul
Marco Rubio
Rick Santorum
Scott Walker

I believe that most of those Republican candidates in the field are not serious candidates for the office; rather, they are only in the race in the early goings to muck up the field in order to ensure that the CIA/Military-Industrial/Wall Street-backed candidate, Jeb Bush, wins the race by default and to prevent a legitimate alternative candidate like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul from emerging early in the race in a head-to-head match-up with Bush. Why do I say that? Most of these candidates have deep ties with the Bushies and are/will receive their funding from the very same people who really want to see Bush as the nominee. The oligarchs who run the United States would love nothing more than to see Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush as the two major party candidates in 2016 because that outcome ensures they win and we lose no matter which of those two candidates wins the presidency. Sadly, the 2016 presidential election is essentially over before it even started.

Lawsuit Reveals How Mourdock Tried To Lock His Successor Into Three-Year Contract With His Chief Deputy

Some would consider it a pretty dirty move on former State Treasurer Richard Mourdock and his chief deputy and former general counsel's part. Mourdock, who did not seek re-election as State Treasurer last year because he was term-limited, signed a three-year employment contract with his chief deputy and general counsel, Jim Holden, to serve as counsel to the Indiana Board of Depositories at $100,000 a year on terms very favorable to Holden. The contract was signed last June after Holden lost a bitter primary battle in a Boone County judicial race and was to take effect on Mourdock's last day in office.

As it turned out, Mourdock chose to resign his office several months before the end of his term in order to take advantage of a retirement benefit scheduled to expire days before his resignation. Mourdock's elected successor, Kelly Mitchell, a former co-worker of Holden, accused Holden of engaging in unethical conduct and violating state conflict of interest rules. She fired him and had him escorted from the State House by State Police before his 3-year contract could take effect. Holden is now suing Mitchell, claiming she breached the contract and violated a federal law protecting U.S. serviceman from adverse employment actions because of active duty service. Holden was scheduled to be called up in December 2014 for active duty as a National Guardsman. His contract provided that his 3-year contract was to be credited an additional 2 days for each day of active military duty he served.

Holden claims in a lawsuit he filed recently in Marion County that Mitchell fired him in violation of the federal USERRA law and breached his employment contract. Holden is asking a a Marion Co. judge to enforce his employment contract and sanction Mitchell for violating USERRA. The Attorney General's Office is representing Mitchell in the lawsuit in her capacity as a statewide officeholder. Mourdock should be holding his head in shame for participating in this stunt, but I doubt he is.

More Than Decade-Old Prank Photo Costs Chicago Cop His Job

Timothy McDermott (right) with Jerome Finnigan (left) and unidentified man
A prank photo taken more than a decade ago of two Chicago police officers holding guns while standing over a black man wearing deer antlers resulted in the police officer's firing last year. Despite evidence the man wearing the antlers consented to participating in the prank photo, the Chicago Police Department fired Officer Timothy McDermott last year because the photo, which was described as "degrading and humiliating," discredited the department, disrespected a citizen and unnecessarily displayed a gun. Chicago police had sought to keep the photo sealed, but a Cook Co. judge hearing an appeal of a police board decision to fire McDermott ordered its release. The other officer in the photo, Jerome Finnigan, is a former police officer now in jail for unrelated crimes he committed as a police officer in the department's now disbanded Special Operations Section. Federal prosecutors uncovered the photo during the investigation of Finnigan and turned it over to Chicago police. The case provides an interesting contrast to the case of the now-deceased Officer Gregory Slaven, who posted numerous images on social media of his BDSM lifestyle that some people would consider "degrading and humiliating."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

IMPD Waits Two Days To Identify Gregory Slaven As Deceased Police Officer

Officer Slaven (right) with Aaron Barnes
Last month, Advance Indiana exclusively reported the death of 34-year old Aaron Barnes whose body was found in the home of a 15-year IMPD veteran detective, Officer Gregory Slaven. Police sources fearing a cover up by the department told Advance Indiana that Barnes was found bound in a cage wearing a chloroform mask. IMPD denied public records requests of Barnes' death investigtion, but the Marion Co. Coroner's Office confirmed at the time it had recovered Barnes' body from a home owned by Officer Slaven in the 8600 block of Ingalls Lane on the city's southwest side. The coroner's office told Advance Indiana that Barnes' cause of death was pending while the office awaited toxicology test results.

Police were called to Officer Slaven's home again on Memorial Day after a roommate in the home found him unresponsive. IMPD refused to release the police officer's name until two days later even though his identity was made clear when a department spokesman confirmed the deceased officer was found in the same home where Barnes' body was recovered last month. The Indianapolis mainstream media never reported on Barnes' death until Slaven's body was discovered Monday. Fox 59 News said in its reporting on Monday that police had confirmed they had removed used duct tape and chloroform from Officer Slaven's home during Barnes' death investigation. IMPD Chief Rick Hite told The Star that Officer Slaven was not under investigation regarding Barnes' death or being subject to any discipline. Police claim no foul play is suspected in Officer Slaven's death. It is being treated as a suicide.

A Facebook site maintained by Officer Slaven discovered by Advance Indiana chronicled a BDSM lifestyle he led with Barnes, who was depicted as his sex slave. Numerous images were posted to the social media page showing Officer Slaven in various stages of undress and in sexually-provocative poses. Slaven had been the winner of the Mr. Eagle 2014 competition at the 501 Eagle, a gay leather bar in the 500 block of North College Avenue. Slaven complained on his Facebook site, which was later deleted, that IMPD had required him to submit to blood and drug testing three days after Barnes' body was recovered from his home. Police sources faulted IMPD investigators for waiting three days until after Barnes' death to order drug testing. Barnes' Facebook site documented his BDSM-lifestyle where he proudly claimed the role as Slaven's sex slave. Barnes went by the name "Aaron Slaven," although it was not clear the two were legally married. A GoFundMe site was set up by a third party at Slaven's request to pay for Barnes' funeral expenses. Some time before Barnes' death, Officer Slaven established another master-servant relationship with a younger man, who goes by the name Steve Slaven. Steve wrote on his Facebook wall: "I miss him a lot . . . And it hurts I will never see him again. I will always love you Greg."
Facebook photo of Officer Slaven (left) with Steve Slaven

Facebook photo posted by Steve Slaven with Officer Slaven

The Indianapolis Star is now reporting that Officer Slaven was the subject of an internal affairs investigation and had been placed on paid administrative leave contrary to what Chief Hite previously told the newspaper:
. . . IMPD spokesman Lt. Rick Riddle said Slaven was placed on paid administrative leave as a result of the investigation. According to a police report, officers who responded to the 34-year-old man's death April 5 found chloroform and used duct tape in the home.
IMPD Chief Rick Hite told The Star in April that Slaven was not a suspect in any criminal probe in connection with the 34-year-old's death and that Slaven was not suspended because of the death.
A suspension, during which an officer is unpaid, is the result of a completed investigation in which wrongdoing is uncovered by the department.
According to personnel files released by IMPD on Wednesday, Slaven's only department suspension was in 2004. The personnel file does not specifically say what actions led to the one-day suspension.
Riddle said the police chief has the discretion to place a member of IMPD on administrative leave during an internal investigation, which Riddle said is what happened in Slaven's case.
Hite did not respond to phone calls Wednesday requesting further comment about that internal investigation.
Riddle said the internal investigation was still active when Slaven was found dead Monday.
WRTV is now reporting the investigation of Officer Slaven included an attempt by him to purchase drugs with no known medicinal value on an underground website:
Sources told RTV6 reporter Jack Rinehart on Wednesday that police started looking into Slaven after Barnes' death. According to those sources, police discovered that Slaven went on an underground social media website to find drugs that had no medical purpose.

GM Plans $1.2 Billion Investment In Upgrades To Truck Assembly Facility In Fort Wayne

It's a massive investment that Allen County officials say will cement GM's long-term commitment to the Fort Wayne area, but it won't create any long-term jobs. Yesterday, Gov. Mike Pence joined Allen County officials and GM representatives to announce the company's plan to invest $1.2 million in upgrades to its truck assembly facility in Fort Wayne. The project includes installing state-of-the-art vehicle painting and pretreatment technology. Construction work on the project is expected to create hundreds of short-term jobs, but GM officials conceded no long-term jobs are expected to be created as a result of the project.

According to the Journal-Gazette, Allen Co. officials last year approved $15 million in property tax abatements over a 10-year period for a prospective $1 billion upgrade to the facility. Although the Pence administration supposedly worked closely with GM officials in cementing the deal, no details were provided at yesterday's announcement on any state incentives that are being offered. If GM qualifies for a new tax credit created by the General Assembly this year, state incentives could easily total in the tens of millions of dollars, and that may be why state officials were mum on the size of the state contribution to the deal.

It was recently announced that Indianapolis' Rolls Royce operations would qualify for a $17 million incentive for agreeing to spend a half billion dollars in upgrades to its facility on Tibbs Avenue that won't create a single job. That so-called refundable tax credit allows major companies to reduce their Indiana corporate tax liability to less than zero and actually recover a refund from the state to make up the difference. The Journal-Gazette notes that Pence voted against a government bailout out of GM while he was a member of Congress. Pence credited the local workforce for GM's decision to invest here. 

International Soccer Association Rocked By Sweeping Indictments

More than a dozen leaders of a multi-billion dollar organization that promotes soccer events around the world, including the World Cup, have been arrested in a sweeping FBI probe investigating the awarding of bids for the World Cup, as well as broadcast and marketing deals, over the past two decades. Top officials of FIFA were taken into custody by Swiss authorities in Zurich as officials of FIFA gathered there for their annual meeting.

The New York Times reports that 14 officials of FIFA are facing charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering. The indictment includes sports marketing officials in the United States and South America who are accused of paying more than $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for media deals associated with major soccer tournaments. "The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States," said United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

According to U.S. officials, four persons have already pleaded guilty, including former FIFA executive Chuck Blazer and two sports marketing companies. Blazer forfeited $1.9 million when he entered a guilty plea in 2013 and has agreed to make a second payment at his sentencing. The Times described the probe as "a startling blow" to the organization that governs the most popular sport worldwide.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Indiana Securities Commissioner Resigns

The woman Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson appointed as the state's securities commissioner less than two years ago abruptly resigned her position last Friday. Carol Mihalik offered a curt, two-sentence letter to Lawson announcing her resignation. Without commenting on the reason for her departure, Lawson praised her work on behalf of the state in a statement her office released to the media. Lawson's chief of staff, Brandon Clifton, will serve as an interim securities commissioner.

Mississippi Senator Marries Long-Time Aide Five Months After Wife Dies From Dementia

Fast turnaround: U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (left) on Saturday married his longtime aide Kay Webber (right) just months after his wife of over 50 years died in a Mississippi nursing home. The new husband and wife are seen here in 2013
Sen. Cochran shown with his mistress and staff aide, Kay Webber, at a gala in 2013
In what was described as one of the nastiest political campaigns last year, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) denied he was involved in an affair with a long-time member of his Washington Senate staff. Cochran's wife of 50 years, Rose, had been institutionalized in a nursing home suffering from dementia when a political blogger walked into the nursing home and snapped a photo of her sleeping in her bed at the nursing home. A local prosecutor in Jackson who backed Cochran's re-election indicted the political blogger and several others, including a local radio talk show host and a prominent attorney, on conflated conspiracy charges in an effort to discredit Cochran's Republican primary opponent, Chris McDaniel. Sen. Cochran steadfastly denied he was having an affair with the long-time staffer, Kay Webber, from whom he claimed to only be renting a baseroom apartment in her Washington home. It turns out Cochran was lying to the state's voters. Over the Memorial Day weekend, Cochran married Webber just five months after his 73-year old wife passed away.

Meanwhile, the blogger at the center of the accusation still awaits trial on charges of criminal voyeurism, burglary and conspiracy. The prominent attorney who allegedly aided him, Mark Mayfield, committed suicide last year after a SWAT team descended on his law office and arrested him like a violent offender. The two other men charged in the case pleaded to lesser crimes in exchange for cooperating with the prosecutor in his case against the blogger, Clayton Kelly. Cochran went on to narrowly defeat his Republican primary opponent and win re-election over his Democratic opponent. Another long-time Cochran aide, Fred Pagan, was recently arrested in Washington for buying and distributing a date rate drug. The Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger, which backed Cochran's re-election, was at the center of the flash mob media mentality that sought to demonize the McDaniel supporters who thought Mississippi voters should know that their long-time senator was having an illicit affair with a high-paid member of his staff whom he was shacking up with in Washington. And then they wonder why Americans have no confidence in the people elected to Congress. Washington is nothing more than a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.