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October 23, 2014

Posts in "DC Crime"

October 14, 2014

Benghazi Attack Suspect Indicted With 17 New Charges

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U.S. Marshals set up a perimeter around the convoy of vehicles carrying Khattala after his pretrial detention hearing in D.C.(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News File Photo)

The Libyan national being prosecuted for his alleged participation in the September 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi faces charges that could be punishable by death, following an indictment by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on Tuesday.

Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a.k.a. Ahmed Mukatallah, 43, faces 17 new charges related to the attack, which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and other U.S. government personnel. Ten of those new offenses could carry death sentences.

Khatallah was initially indicted on June 26 on the charge of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists resulting in death. That charge carries a potential life sentence. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 7:06 p.m.
DC Crime

October 1, 2014

White House Jumper Pleads Not Guilty

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Gonzalez was arraigned for charges stemming from the White House intrusion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Had Secret Service agents acted differently on Sept. 19, the person who scaled the White House fence might have been shot dead on the North Lawn, and Julia A. Pierson might still be in place as the agency’s leader.

Instead, Omar J. Gonzalez — the man arrested after allegedly knocking back an officer posted inside the executive mansion’s doors and being tackled just outside the Green Room — appeared in an orange jumpsuit before a judge in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday afternoon.

Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to three charges stemming from the incident that has exposed the agency to intense scrutiny. About 90 minutes later, Pierson resigned. Full story

September 23, 2014

Capitol Hill Staffer Arrested on Gun Charge Returns to Work

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Marino reinstated Shucard, who pled guilty to bringing a gun to Capitol Hill, as his press secretary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the D.C. Council moves forward with new, more permissive handgun legislation, the Capitol Hill staffer arrested on July 18 for carrying a 9mm to the Cannon House Office Building is back to work.

Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., reinstated Ryan Shucard as his press secretary this week, after the 26-year-old pleaded guilty to possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition under the terms of a plea agreement with U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen, Jr.

D. C. Superior Court Judge Milton C. Lee sentenced Shucard to 30 days in jail on Sept. 17, but suspended the sentence, meaning he would not be locked up. Shucard has been ordered to serve six months unsupervised probation, which means he is not required to report to a probation officer. He was ordered to pay $100 in court costs.

Marino’s chief of staff, Bill Tighe, indicated the congressman had been monitoring the situation carefully and wanted to let the legal process play out instead of acting with haste. He told CQ Roll Call that Monday was Shucard’s first day back at work.

Shucard was initially charged with carrying a pistol outside a home or business — a felony under D.C. law that carries up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Though bringing a gun to Capitol grounds remains, in most circumstances, a violation of federal and D.C. code, the District’s ban on carrying handguns in public was thrown into limbo when a federal judge declared it unconstitutional on July 26.

In the wake of the ruling, Machen proposed the plea agreement. Each charge Shucard pled guilty to carries a maximum penalty of one year of prison and a $1,000 fine.

The bill being considered by the council would allow D.C. residents and people with state-issued gun carry licenses to apply to D.C. police for permits, while placing strict limitations on where guns could be carried. Virginia, where Shucard lives, does not require residents to register handguns.

Shucard has said he mistakenly brought the Smith and Wesson gun, plus 9 rounds of hollow point ammunition, in his bag that Friday morning as he headed to work. Following the arrest — which put the campus community on alert — Shucard was immediately placed on unpaid leave. He told CQ Roll Call he loved his job and hoped to return to the Hill.

According to the Associated Press, Shucard said after the hearing that he was robbed in D.C. earlier this year, which set him on edge, so he took the gun for his protection while house-sitting in Alexandria.

Related Stories:

Capitol Hill Staffer Ryan Shucard Hopes Gun Charges Are Dismissed

Ryan Shucard Case Highlights Gun Law Discrepancies

Ryan Shucard Arrested For Bringing Gun to Cannon House Office Building

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September 18, 2014

Judicial Nomination Logjam Causes Dilemma for D.C.

With the flow of judicial nominations slowing to a trickle this summer, District of Columbia officials are becoming increasingly concerned about the effect on the local bench.

Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield last week wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid describing the “adverse impact” of the backlog. Facing three judicial vacancies on the D.C. Superior Court, and a fourth coming in November, Satterfield requested votes on pending nominations before Congress adjourns.

The Nevada Democrat’s office has not responded formally to the Sept. 10 letter, according to Leah H. Gurowitz, director of governmental affairs and public relations for the court. Despite the correspondence, first reported by Legal Times, the chamber appears poised to adjourn without considering the nominations. Reid’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the situation. Full story

September 5, 2014

Former Gray Campaign Driver Pleads Guilty to Role in ‘Uncle Earl’ Conspiracy

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More prosecutions could be forthcoming from investigation into Gray’s 2010 campaign. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mayor Vincent Gray’s driver during the 2010 campaign has admitted to federal prosecutors that he knew about the “Uncle Earl” finance scheme taking place behind the scenes.

Mark Long, 47, the former director of advance operations for the 2010 campaign team, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to defraud the District of Columbia’s Office of Campaign Finance by funding and concealing illegal contributions.

Long admitted knowing that business owner Jeffrey E. Thompson, aka Uncle Earl — a nickname federal prosecutors say was used to conceal the corrupt campaign financier’s identity — and business owner Eugenia C. Harris, who paid him for his services, intended to and did conceal the payments from the finance office. Full story

August 27, 2014

U.S. Attorney: Police Response to Navy Yard Killing Was a Clean Shoot

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No criminal charges will be filed against the officers who responded nearly a year ago to the Navy Yard shooting, U.S. Attorney Office for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced Wednesday.

Law enforcement agents involved in the fatal shooting of 34-year-old Defense Department contractor Aaron Alexis acted in defense of themselves and others, prosecutors said in a statement released nearly a year after the day when 12 civilians were killed and four other people were wounded, including a Metropolitan Police Department officer.

“After a careful review of the evidence, we have closed this investigation,” Machen said. “We concluded that the law enforcement officers involved demonstrated exceptional valor in acting to protect the lives of Navy Yard employees and other responding law enforcement officers.” Full story

August 13, 2014

Capitol Hill Gun Case Delayed in Wake of D.C. Ruling

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Attorneys for Prestage are negotiating with government officials in his Capitol Hill gun case. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

For the second time in less than a week, federal prosecutors and defense lawyers have agreed to delay a case involving a man carrying a gun to Capitol Hill.

Ronald Prestage — the South Carolina pork executive arrested by Capitol Police when they found a loaded semi-automatic pistol and magazine in his briefcase — was expected to appear in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday. But the 11 a.m. hearing was not held.

Court documents state the government and defense are continuing negotiations, suggesting a plea deal might be possible. A federal ruling on D.C.’s gun policy may impact charges in the case.

On July 23, Capitol Police spotted a handgun in Prestage’s briefcase during an administrative search at the Rotunda door of the Cannon House Office Building. Police say the weapon, concealed in a black ankle holster, appeared to be “fully functional” and “capable of being fired by a single hand.” According to charging documents, Prestage told police at the time of the arrest that he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon in South Carolina. He does not have a permit to carry in D.C.

Prestage, president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, has been charged with a single count of possessing a gun outside a home or office, a felony that carries up to five years in prison.

Full story

July 29, 2014

Judge Stays D.C. Handgun Ruling for 90 Days (Updated)

Updated 7:02 p.m. | A federal judge on Tuesday put a hold on the ruling that overturned the District’s ban on carrying handguns in public, effectively giving D.C. police and law enforcement some space to figure out how to respond.

The July 26 ruling by U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. declaring the gun law unconstitutional threw Metropolitan Police Department and legal officials into rapid, confusing response. D.C. police were ordered on Sunday not to arrest people for carrying registered pistols and deadly weapons in public — a directive that effectively put them in the position of recognizing all other jurisdiction’s handgun permits.

MPD Chief Cathy L. Lanier and District officials requested the stay on Monday evening, saying it would allow them to pursue an appeal and enact a “licensing mechanism” consistent with the ruling and the Second Amendment. Full story

July 21, 2014

Ryan Shucard Case Highlights Gun Law Discrepancies

Staff in Rep. Tom Marino’s office are convinced that Ryan Shucard, the press secretary that arrived at the Cannon House Office building toting a 9 mm handgun on Friday morning, was not planning to harm anyone with the gun.

“No, not at all,” said Bill Tighe, chief of staff for the two-term Pennsylvania Republican, said when asked if staff thought Shucard had ill intentions. Capitol Police also indicated it was an accident, according to Tighe.

Tighe said he was not formally aware that Shucard, a resident of Alexandria, Va., owned a gun. Shucard was hired by Marino’s office in late May. Tighe said he did not know whether Shucard, 26, was registered, trained or permitted to hold a gun in Virginia, where gun laws are less strict than in the District. Full story

July 18, 2014

Ryan Shucard Handgun Incident Casts Campus Security in New Light (Updated)

Updated 6:11 p.m. | Metal detectors and X-ray machines at the southeast door of the Cannon House Office Building  stopped Capitol Hill press secretary Ryan Shucard from allegedly carrying a 9 mm handgun and magazine to work on Friday.

Shucard, a staffer in the office of Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., was arrested by Capitol Police and charged with carrying a pistol without a license. Shucard could face up to five years in prison if convicted of the felony, according to Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which will review the case.

Opponents of congressional efforts to wipe out the District’s gun laws seized on the arrest as an example of hypocrisy, while members of the Capitol Hill community pondered what could have happened if Shucard entered Cannon via the building’s garage. Full story

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