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Justice Dept. signals more police property seizures coming

Published: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 5:14 PM
Updated: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 5:14 PM

The Justice Department will soon make it easier for local law enforcement to seize cash and property from crime suspects and reap the proceeds, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday.

Sessions said a shift will be announced this week that will increase the use of asset forfeiture, especially for drug suspects. The practice has been criticized because it allows law enforcement to take possessions — such as cars and money — without indictments or evidence a crime has been committed.

"With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime," Sessions told local prosecutors in Minnesota.

A change would likely represent another reversal by Sessions of Obama-era Justice Department policies. His Democratic predecessor Eric Holder had tightened control of the department's asset forfeiture operations amid concerns that property could be seized without judicial oversight and without the owner ever being charged with a crime.

Holder namely restricted the ability of the federal government to take possession of, or adopt, assets seized by local authorities, who could then share in the proceeds with their federal counterparts. Civil liberties groups and some members of Congress praised the move as a step toward reform because that practice made it easier for local authorities to circumvent state laws that were sometimes stricter than the federal ones governing seizures.

Sessions on Monday said such practice — known as adoptive forfeiture — is "appropriate, as is sharing with our partners." The line drew a round of applause from the hundreds of county attorneys and law enforcement officials inside a Minneapolis convention center.

Local law enforcement agencies use forfeited proceeds to pay for expenses, and some had complained that Holder's policy left them without a key source of funding. But that policy was also designed to save federal resources for larger, complex investigations where the ability to seize assets is critical, such as cases involving national money laundering or Russian organized crime, said Stefan Cassella, a former federal prosecutor and expert on asset forfeiture and money laundering law.

"It's a great way to build teamwork by adopting the cases and sharing the money," Cassella said. "But at the same time, not everything can be a priority."

The Justice Department sees the assets forfeiture program as a way to strip suspects of the proceeds of their activities, to deter crime and to compensate crime victims. An effort to expand it is in keeping with Sessions' tough-on-crime agenda, which he continued to espouse during Monday's speech.

He again implored prosecutors to pursue the toughest punishments against most crime suspects, echoing a directive he issued earlier this year to U.S. attorneys. He reiterated his top priorities: cracking down on illegal immigration and quashing violent crime. Sessions stressed the need to tackle gang activity, pointing to cities such as Minneapolis, where data show a recent uptick in violent crime. And he encouraged prosecutors to go after drug offenders, because "drug offenses are not nonviolent crimes, as most of you all know."

Mike Freeman, the top prosecutor for the Minneapolis area, said he disagreed with the attorney general's approach on drug crimes and with his portrayal of crime in that city, calling it "a blip."

"Our plates are full. We prosecuted about the same number of murders each of the last five years," Freeman said.

___

Gurman reported from Washington.

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Family, friends provide loving tributes to Barbara Bush at funeral service

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 10:20 AM
Updated: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 4:01 PM

VIDEO: Barbara Bush’s Funeral

Approximately 1,500 guests attended former first lady Barbara Bush's private funeral ceremony in Houston Saturday.

Barbara Bush, the wife of the nation’s 41st president and mother of the nation’s 43rd, died Tuesday at her Houston home. She was 92.

About 2,500 mourners paid their respect at a public viewing held Friday in Houston, The Associated Press reported.

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The service took place at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. Jeb Bush delivered a eulogy for his mother. Longtime friend Susan Baker and historian Jon Meacham also gave remarks during the 90-minute service. Multiple musical selections were performed.

A procession followed, with burial at the Bush Library at Texas A&M University in College Station. Barbara Bush will be buried next to her daughter, Robin, who was 3 years old when she died of leukemia in 1953, The AP reported.

Notable guests included first lady Melania Trump, former President Bill Clinton, former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, The AP reported.

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Barbara Bush funeral: George H.W. Bush wears special socks in literacy campaign tribute

Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 1:02 PM
Updated: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 2:02 PM

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21:  Former President George H.W. Bush, assisted by his son, former President George W. Bush, enter the church during the funeral for former First Lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Brett Coomer - Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Former President George H.W. Bush, assisted by his son, former President George W. Bush, enter the church during the funeral for former First Lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Brett Coomer - Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

Former President George H.W. Bush is known for wearing festive socks. He wore a special pair of socks Saturday to the funeral of his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush, in tribute to her work in literacy awareness.

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Barbara Bush, the wife of the nation’s 41st president and mother of the nation’s 43rd, died Tuesday at her Houston home. She was 92.

Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath posted on Twitter that the former president is wearing socks festooned with books.

McGrath went on to say that Barbara Bush's literacy campaign raised over $110 million in 30 years.

The private funeral ceremony is being attended by approximately 1,500 invited guests, including first lady Melania Trump, former President Bill Clinton, former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama.

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Did you know Barbara Bush’s grandfather was a founder of the Dayton Rotary Club?

Published: Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 10:02 AM

Former first lady Barbara Bush died on Tuesday, according to a statement from the office of George H.W. Bush.

Former first lady Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday night, had strong family ties to Dayton and southwest Ohio.

Her grandfather Scott Pierce was one of the founders of the Dayton Rotary Club. Her parents, Marvin Pierce and Pauline Robinson, met at Miami University in Oxford.

When the family lived in New York years later, Marvin would bring Barbara on trips to Dayton when he worked for McCall Corporation. He went on to be the president of McCall’s, the publisher of Redbook and McCall’s.

RELATED: Former first lady, presidential mom dies | Photos: Barbara Bush through the yearsGeorge and Barbara Bush had ‘storybook’ 73-year marriage

“When I was four or five years old, my father would take me with him on business trips to Dayton, the site of a McCall plant,” Bush wrote in her memoir.

Marvin was a 1916 graduate of Miami University. He was a standout athlete nicknamed Monk. He played basketball, football, baseball and tennis. He was inducted into the Miami Athletic Hall of Fame in 1972.

In her memoir, Bush wrote about her father saying, “Daddy was really bright and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, while at the same time waiting tables and tending furnaces.”

“Miami is where Daddy fell in love with Mother who was studying to be a teacher.”

Pauline and Marvin were married in 1918 in Union County, Ohio.

George and Barbara Bush wave at their supporters in West Carrollton in August 1988.

Pauline was born in Richwood, Ohio, on April 28, 1896. Her father was Ohio Supreme Court Justice James Edgar Robinson.

Pauline died in a car accident in 1949 in Rye, N.Y. When Marvin who was driving the car lost control. She was 53 years old.

Barbara’s brother, Scott Pierce, also attended Miami University. He is 88 years old.

RELATED: What to know about the former first lady

Bush’s grandparents

Barbara Bush’s grandfather, Scott Pierce, was an insurance salesman for a while in Dayton.

In her memoir, Bush said her grandfather and grandmother “lost all their money in the 1890s, and my grandfather never recovered. He sold insurance in Dayton, Ohio, but the family lived humbly.”

Pierce was among a group of 16 men who formed the Dayton Rotary Club in 1913 and he became the its first president, according to David Williamson, the club’s historian.

Barbara Bush visits Middletown just before the 1988 election.

The story goes that during the Great Dayton Flood of 1913, Scott Pierce’s teenage daughter Charlotte — Bush’s aunt — became separated from her family and had to ride out the flood waters in the attic of another Rotary member. It was several days before her family got word that she was safe.

Rotary International members then came to Dayton’s rescue, making the flood recovery the organization's first ever national relief effort.

“(Scott Pierce) was a big deal in Dayton Rotary,” Williamson said. Words he wrote are presented to each outgoing club president on a plaque to this day.

Bush’s grandmother Mabel Pierce was born in Hamilton County in 1869 and died in Dayton in 1955. Scott Pierce died in Dayton in 1945.

Barbara Bush’s great grandparents, Mabel’s parents, Jerome Pierce and Martha Stokes, are buried in Glen Haven Cemetery in Harrison, about 20 miles northwest of Cincinnati.

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Democratic Party sues Trump Campaign, Wikileaks, others, over 2016 elections

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 11:56 AM

The legal fight over the 2016 elections expanded further on Friday, as the Democratic National Committee filed a wide-ranging lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s campaign, top aides, one of Mr. Trump’s son, as well as his son-in-law, the Russian government, and others caught up in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 race for the White House.

The 66 page lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, where an FBI raid recently took place on the President’s personal lawyer, alleges a broad conspiracy involving Russia, its intelligence service, and members of the Trump inner circle, like former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

“No one is above the law,” the lawsuit begins. “In the Trump Campaign, Russia found a willing and active partner in this effort.”

The charges cover everything from racketeering, conspiracy, computer fraud, trespass, and more, claiming the hacking effort was a coordinated effort with the Trump Campaign, designed to damage the bid of Hillary Clinton for the White House.

Along with the Russian government and intelligence service known as the GRU, the Democratic lawsuit names Julian Assange and Wikileaks, the Trump Campaign, Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner, and two campaign aides who have already agreed to help the Russia investigation, George Papadopoulos and Richard Gates.




The document did not seem to make public any brand new details about how the hacking occurred at the DNC or with members of the Clinton campaign.

In the lawsuit, Democrats charge “Russia’s cyberattack on the DNC began only weeks after Trump announced his candidacy for President,” in June 2015.

“In April 2016, another set of Russian intelligence agents successfully hacked into the DNC, saying that “massive amounts of data” were taken from DNC servers.

The lawsuit makes no mention of the FBI warning to the DNC that it was being hacked, and how that was ignored for weeks by officials at DNC headquarters in Washington.

If the lawsuit actually goes forward, it would not only involve evidence being gathered from those being challenged by the Democrats – but some made clear it could open the DNC hacking response to a further review as well in terms of discovery.


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