Friday, July 12th, 2013 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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Sgt. Denise Diaz
City suing NYPD sergeant for refusing to pay back $130,000 in stolen money
The D.A.'s office claims that the Bronx officer knew her boyfriend George Castro had stolen $5.5 million from Columbia University — and still spent the ill-gotten gains on her waterfront condo and other purchases.
By Barbara Ross AND Ginger Adams Otis — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
The Manhattan district attorney filed a lawsuit against a Bronx cop Thursday, claiming the NYPD sergeant took $310,000 in stolen money and won't pay it all back.
Sgt. Denise Diaz got her stolen windfall in 2010 from George Castro, the father of her two children, according to the suit.
Castro and three of his friends were arrested and later convicted of stealing $5.5 million from Columbia University — and some of those ill-gotten gains found their way to Diaz, Vance says.
The officer used a chunk of the $310,000 to pay off the mortgage on her waterfront condo in the Classon Point section of the Bronx, Vance said.
"Diaz knew or should have known that the $310,000 she received from Castro ... was obtained through the commission of a crime," Vance says in court papers.
Shortly after Castro's arrest, Diaz paid Vance's office $180,141 as restitution for the stolen cash she received.
But she still owes the D.A.'s office nearly $130,000 — and Vance wants her to sell her condo so he can collect, court papers show.
She has refused to pay the balance owed, Vance says in the suit.
Sgt. Diaz "implicitly acknowledged" that she knew the $310,000 was obtained illegally when she paid back just over half of it, Vance said in his court filing.
According to him, Castro passed his NYPD girlfriend five checks totaling $310,000 between mid-October and mid-November 2010.
Diaz knew she was not entitled to keep it, Vance argued.
Diaz could not be reached for comment. The NYPD did not immediately respond to calls.
Her boyfriend Castro is currently seven to 21 years in prison on his 2012 grand larceny and money laundering convictions.
Castro, 52, and three cohorts were accused of stealing $5.7 million from Columbia University in October and November 2010 by redirecting payments from the Ivy League School that were intended for New York Presbyterian Hospital.
One of Castro's partners was an accounts payable clerk at Columbia, who sent the pilfered money to a TD Bank account in the name of IT Security Systems, a company owned by Diaz's boyfriend.
Prosecutors said he withdrew $800,000 in cash and dropped $80,000 on an Audi, as well as $25,000 on Apple products.
Castro tried to squirrel money away in the accounts of various relatives, including the $310,000 he sent to Sgt. Diaz, who used just over half to pay off her mortgage.
It's not clear what happened to the rest of the money, cops said.
When cops arrested Castro he was carrying $212,309 in cash on him.
It was seized by authorities along with his Audi and computer equipment.
D.A. Vance wants Diaz to unload her condo — valued at $425,000 according to online estimates — to make good on the rest of what she owes, his lawsuit said.
Cop clings to crook beau's stolen 130G
By JULIA MARSH — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'The New York Post'
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office wants to seize the Bronx home of an NYPD sergeant and mother of two whose crooked boyfriend was tossed in prison last year for his part in a $6 million embezzlement scheme against Columbia University.
The DA filed a forfeiture lawsuit in Manhattan Civil Court yesterday because Denise Diaz, 41, has refused to repay $130,000 in funds that her baby daddy, George Castro, allegedly gave her from the Internet hacking theft.
Castro was found guilty of grand larceny, money laundering and criminal possession of stolen property last year. The NYPD disciplined Diaz for her involvement by putting her on desk duty.
When asked about the suit, Diaz said, "This is news to me," then hung up the phone.
The P.B.A. and the 'Community Safety Act'
New York City police told to quit proactive policing, be wary of lawsuits
By Cheryl K. Chumley — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'The Washington Times' / Washington, DC
New York City Police are being told by their union to quit responding to calls for crimes that aren't occurring right in front of them, as new laws passed by the City Council open the doors for more discrimination suits.
The New York Police Department Patrolman's Benevolent Association sent a letter to members this week, advising them not to react to "events not occurring in the officer's presence … [that could] subject the officer to legal action," the Daily Mail reported.
One of the new laws established an independent inspector general to oversee the police and ensure compliant with laws against discrimination. The second law that just passed creates a smoother, more streamlined process for individuals to sue the department for racial profiling — and it's this law that's causing police the most confusion.
A veteran officer described how it would play on the streets, to the Daily Mail: Say an officer responds to a criminal incident involving a suspect who's described by witnesses as a black male in his early 20s, wearing a white T-shirt, jeans and a Yankees ball cap. Under this new law, the officer can only describe the suspect to other police as "a male wearing a Yankees hat, jeans and a white T-shirt," he said, in the report. Mentioning race could lead to lawsuit.
The basic gist of the two laws is that the city's police force will now have to assume a reactive approach — rather than proactive — to enforcing law.
The city councilman who introduced the bills, Jumaane Williams, said his measures have been subject to "a lot of bald-faced lies," and that police enforcement could go forth, unfettered.
"We can have safety and can have police accountability at the exact same time," he said, in the New York Daily News.
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PBA Website: http://www.nycpba.org/releases/pr130709-warn.html
Alleged Pervert and Sexual Predator: 120 Pct. P.O. Peter Ciollo Blames It All on the 16 Year Old
'She came on to me': NYPD veteran blames 16-year-old victim after being busted for attempted rape: police
Peter Ciollo, 29, gave the teenager alcohol and sexually abused her, authorities said. He is assigned to the 120th Precinct on Staten Island.
By Erik Badia , Rocco Parascandola AND Larry McShane — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
An NYPD veteran plied a teenager with porn and booze before a Fourth of July sexual encounter that ended when his wife found the two in bed, police sources said.
Peter Ciollo, 29, was off duty when he allegedly targeted the 16-year-old victim over the holiday weekend, the sources said.
Ciollo was partying with two 16-year-old girls before participating in "multiple sexual acts" with the victim, Staten Island prosecutor Victoria Levin said Thursday at the cop's arraignment.
Levin, reading from the criminal complaint, said the accused officer blamed the victim for what started on the night of July 4 and finished around 2 a.m. the next day.
"She came on to me," Ciollo reportedly told authorities. "She told me she was 17."
Ciollo was released after posting $1,500 bail following his arraignment on seven misdemeanor charges, including attempted rape and sexual abuse.
His purportedly cheated-on wife turned out to support her husband, and his lawyer said that Ciollo was innocent.
"Peter denies the allegations, maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court to get rid of these charges," said defense attorney Richard Barrett.
The wife wept on another relative's shoulder as she left the courtroom with Ciollo.
According to the sources, Ciollo gave the victim alcohol before letting her drive his car. The cop allegedly provided her with more to drink before they returned to his home.
Ciollo, at some point, used a computer to show the girl pornography before kissing her on the lips and urging her to take her shirt off, the sources said.
The pair wound up in bed, where the officer had the teen climb on top of him while he rubbed his genitals against hers, the sources said.
The woozy girl later said she remembers waking up in somebody else's underwear before Ciollo's wife found the two in bed, the sources said.
The Staten Island cop, who joined the force in 2006, was suspended without pay from the 120th Precinct.
Prosecutors: Staten Island cop charged with attempted rape of 16-year-old said, 'She came on to me'
By John M. Annese — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'The Staten Island Advance' / Staten Island
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The Staten Island police officer accused of attempted rape of a 16-year-old told police "she came on to me. She told me she was 17," according to prosecutors, citing a statement that he purportedly made to investigators.
The defense attorney for Peter Ciollo, 29, said his client is not guilty. "Peter denies the allegations, maintains his innocence, looks forward to his day in court ... His wife supports him," said lawyer Richard J. Barrett.
Assistant District Attorney Victoria Levin said Ciollo plied two 16-year-olds with alcohol, and engaged in multiple sexual acts with one of them.
Ciollo's wife cried during the hearing at Stapleton Criminal Court.
Ciollo was using a crutch during the hearing -- the result of a line of duty knee injury from a while back, his lawyer said.
According to a law enforcement source, Ciollo's wife walked in on him and the underage female in a compromising position on the Fourth of July.
The alleged attack reportedly occurred on Staten Island, but police did not say where, or provide further details.
The NYPD says Ciollo is charged with attempted rape, unlawfully dealing with a child -- an incident apparently involving alcohol; endangering the welfare of a child, and sexual abuse.
The Execution of OCCB Firearms Investigations Unit Detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin
Decade Later, Still Seeking a Rare New York Execution
By MOSI SECRET — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'The New York Times'
The government has spent more than a decade trying to put Ronell Wilson to death.
Enduring through setback after setback, the extraordinary efforts to make Mr. Wilson the first person executed in New York in a half-century have been a testament to both the brutality of the murders he has admitted to carrying out and the political commitment to winning a seemingly ideal capital case.
It was pursued first by state prosecutors on Staten Island, where Mr. Wilson shot two undercover detectives at point-blank range during a failed sting operation, until New York's highest court ruled the state's death penalty unconstitutional.
The cause was taken up by federal prosecutors, who defied expectations by persuading a jury to hand down a death sentence — only to have the decision overturned because the arguments for execution had been so vigorous they crossed the lines of propriety.
And now prosecutors are again in court explaining to jurors why they should vote to execute Mr. Wilson, who is already spending life in prison without the possibility of release for the murders.
Over the last few weeks, the prosecutors, James G. McGovern and Celia Cohen, called on his fellow inmates to make the case that prison was not punishment enough given his actions, painting a scene of a man who has operated so freely behind bars that he even realized his life's dream: fathering a child, Justus, through trysts with one of his prison guards.
They called on family members of the slain detectives, James V. Nemorin and Rodney J. Andrews, to share the lasting impact of their deaths and the bitter wish that still haunts them. One of them, Marie-Jean Etienne, Detective Nemorin's older sister, argued that Mr. Wilson should pay for his crimes with his life.
"I want closure," she said in an interview after she took the stand in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. "I have to do it for James."
And in the coming days, Mr. Wilson's lawyers and his supporters will once again make the case for why he should be allowed to live.
Since the federal death penalty was reinstated in 1988 and expanded in 1994, prosecutors have tried more than 280 people nationwide in death penalty cases and executed three of them, according to data from the Death Penalty Information Center.
If the government is successful in this case, Mr. Wilson will return to death row, where 60 other prisoners await execution. Under President Obama, who supports capital punishment after opposing it early in his career, the Justice Department has authorized more than two dozen death penalty prosecutions, about a tenth the number authorized by attorneys general under President Bush.
Two of those cases, one in Massachusetts and one in Iowa, resemble Mr. Wilson's in that they are being pursued after an appellate court struck down a previous death sentence. In two other such cases, the Justice Department declined to retry for the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Rory Little, a law professor who served as a member of the committee that reviewed capital cases in the Justice Department under Janet Reno, said that attorneys general are often reluctant to drop a death penalty prosecution started by one of their predecessors. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has done so on two occasions.
"It's pretty unlikely that he will drop it at that point," Professor Little said. "They have already seen the evidence go in and seen a jury verdict. There is a fair amount of inertia force to this locomotive and it's hard to knock off the tracks."
The Justice Department rarely explains its reasoning for pursuing capital punishment, but there are several factors that made this case seem an obvious candidate from the start.
Though the death penalty has come under scrutiny in recent years both because of exonerations of people on death row and because of persistent racial disparities in who is executed, those are mitigated somewhat in a case where there was no question of guilt and where the attorney general, the local United States attorney and the victims were all black.
And in a city where juries have long been assumed to be unwilling to put someone to death, Mr. Wilson's personal style — even after his conviction, he taunted his victim's families in the courtroom — made him a particularly unsympathetic figure.
But Russell Neufeld, who used to be in charge of capital defense at the Legal Aid Society and was not involved with Mr. Wilson's case, said that he believed the government was going to unusual lengths with the prosecution, noting that it was the only state capital case to continue after the state death penalty was abolished. "It seems that the motivation here is that the victims were law enforcement," Mr. Neufeld said.
David Kaczynski, former executive director of New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said putting Mr. Wilson to death versus keeping him in jail for the rest of his life wasted resources and would not make anyone safer. "It exemplifies the futility of the death penalty system," he said.
The details of the case that have emerged in the courtroom have been heard many times. On March 10, 2003, Detectives Nemorin and Andrews, working undercover, drove to Staten Island to meet a known gun dealer. But when they arrived at a corner near the Stapleton Houses, two other men climbed into the back seat of their car: Ronell Wilson, then 20, and Jesse Jacobus, 17. The men planned to rob them.
The four crisscrossed the streets of Staten Island, losing the police who had been secretly tailing them in unmarked cars. As they talked, Mr. Wilson shot Detective Andrews. Then he shot Detective Nemorin, who was begging for his life. They searched the bodies for cash, dumped them and sped off.
As the killings dominated the news, the Staten Island district attorney announced he would seek the death penalty. That effort ended less than a year later when the state's highest court declared the state death penalty unconstitutional.
At the request of the district attorney, the federal government took over the case, using racketeering laws to seize jurisdiction. The federal prosecutors turned down two plea offers from Mr. Wilson (discussions broke down because Mr. Wilson wanted to serve his sentence in state prison, where conjugal visits are allowed). Though so many capital cases had failed that many legal experts believed it was all but impossible in New York, 12 jurors handed down a death sentence in 2007.
A federal appeals court overturned the sentence, but not the conviction, three years later, concluding that the closing arguments by one of the prosecutors, Jack Smith, had violated Mr. Wilson's constitutional rights to stand trial and refuse to testify. Mr. Smith had argued that if Mr. Wilson truly felt remorse for his actions, he would have taken the stand, and if he had wanted to take responsibility, he could have pleaded guilty.
After prosecutors indicated that the original authorization to seek the death penalty was still valid and they intended to retry Mr. Wilson, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis insisted in open court that they get approval from the new attorney general, Mr. Holder. "If I'm going to spend four months of my career and millions of dollars of taxpayers' money trying another one of these penalty cases, I need to know that this attorney general wants to try it," Judge Garaufis said.
By the time jury selection began in March, the case had become so notorious — and the stakes so emotionally charged — that Judge Garaufis took the extraordinary step of summoning 4,000 prospective jurors, with 1,992 completing a 25-page questionnaire, and 419 others completing interviews.
Mr. Wilson's lawyers opened their case on Wednesday, arguing that his rough childhood should mitigate arguments for death.
The prison guard he impregnated, Nancy Gonzalez, is among those asked to testify on his behalf, according to her lawyer. In another courtroom in the same building, she recently pleaded guilty to having sex with an inmate. During a hearing in that case, she said, "He's the father of my son and I do want him to live."
Michaelle Bond contributed reporting.
Cop-killer defense witness pricey for taxpayers
By SELIM ALGAR — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'The New York Post'
A defense witness in the death sentence retrial of cop killer Ronell Wilson earned $5,000 in taxpayer money in less than two hours today — mostly to read excerpts from other people's research on the stand.
Actor-cum-construction worker and now child psychology guru Dr. Robert Macy spent 90 minutes telling jurors that a bad childhood often leads to misbehavior — and recited studies to back up the notion.
Since Wilson was provided with court appointed attorneys, taxpayers will pay the hefty price of Macy's wisdom — $500 per hour.
The Bloods gangster's lawyers want jurors to spare Wilson's life partly because of his horrific childhood — and Macy was brought in to drive home the point in Brooklyn federal court.
Relatives of Wilson's victims could barely contain their sarcastic laughter when Macy announced his rate on the stand and then admitted to skipping any actual research on Wilson's case.
Prosecutor Celia Cohen asked the psychologist if he had ever even been to Staten Island, the borough where Wilson committed the crimes.
Macy — who often parachutes into disaster areas as a consultant — wasn't sure. "Wasn't there a flood here recently?" he asked in an apparent reference to Hurricane Sandy, again drawing incredulous looks in the gallery.
After a lengthy recitation of his qualifications, Macy proceeded to read excerpts from a report by Attorney General Eric Holder about the devastating effects of childhood trauma.
But he then admitted not knowing that Holder had authorized seeking the death penalty against Wilson.
Despite testifying for less than two hours, the expert witness told Cohen that he was going to bill the court for 10 hours to cover time spent on his preparatory research.
Meanwhile, Wilson's attorneys submitted a letter yesterday alerting the court that he won't be making any statements during the current resentencing trial.
He was convicted in 2006 of murdering undercover NYPD detectives James Nemorin and Rodney Andrews during a gun buy-and-bust sting on Staten Island. He was later sentenced to death but averted lethal injection after an appeals court tossed the sentence due to a prosecutor's misstep.
Psychologist asks NY court to spare cop killer from death sentence
Dr. Robert Macy, an expert on childhood trauma, asked a jury to spare convicted cop-killer Ronell Wilson from the death penalty.
By John Marzulli — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'The New York Daily News'
A $500-per-hour psychologist testifying to spare Ronell Wilson from the death penalty acknowledged Thursday that he has never met or spoken to the cop killer.
"I have not reviewed any of the evidence in the case," said Dr. Robert Macy, an expert on childhood trauma and president of the Boston-based International Center for Disaster Resilience.
A federal jury is deciding whether Wilson should get the death penalty or life in prison for murdering NYPD undercover detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin in 2003.
Macy's testimony will cost taxpayers $5,000.
Ronell Wilson won't express sorrow for cop killings, lawyers say
By JOHN RILEY — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'New York Newsday' / Melville, L.I.
Convicted double cop-killer Ronell Wilson has decided to not tell the jury he's sorry this time around.
In a dramatic reversal from his unsworn declaration at his first death-penalty trial in 2007 that he felt "deep sorrow" for the families of the officers he murdered, Wilson's lawyers said in a letter disclosed Thursday that he won't offer a repeat of the statement for the Brooklyn federal jury retrying the case.
Wilson's lawyers declined to comment on the strategy behind the unexpected decision to stay silent. They revealed it on June 21 to Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who kept it secret until Thursday.
Wilson, 31, was sentenced to death in 2007 following his conviction for executing NYPD detectives James Nemorin of Baldwin Harbor and Rodney Andrews of Middle Village, Queens, during an undercover gun buy in 2003. But an appeals court ordered a retrial on the penalty.
During the penalty phase of the original trial, Garaufis permitted Wilson to make an unsworn statement to the jury without being cross-examined. He said he had "seen the pain" he caused and "cannot be remorseless and show no sympathy," adding that he was "so, so sorry."
The statement proved unpersuasive. Newsday reported that Wilson spoke in a halting voice as he read from a piece of paper, never looking up at the jury or relatives of the cops, and a few days later the jurors agreed unanimously that Wilson had not accepted responsibility or shown remorse.
The statement was central to the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to reverse Wilson's death sentence. The appeals court ruled that prosecutors improperly criticized Wilson for failing to testify under oath, and Garaufis gave inadequate instructions to the jury on that argument.
In the retrial, now in its third week, Wilson's team has relied largely on arguments that his upbringing in a poor, drug-ridden household on Staten Island was responsible for his crime.
Thursday Robert Macy, a Boston-based psychologist identified as a child trauma expert, testified that exposure to violence and neglect can cripple kids' behavior for life. "Violence affects the brain as much as it affects the body and spirit," he testified.
Macy, a former theater major, homebuilder and dance therapy instructor, read the jury extended remarks by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about the link between childhood trauma and violence. But he said didn't know what Holder -- who authorized prosecutors to seek the death penalty -- thought about Wilson.
Macy said he was paid $5,000 for 10 hours of work by Wilson's taxpayer-funded defense, but never interviewed Wilson or reviewed any records relating to his childhood or the case.
He wasn't sure he had ever been on Staten Island until he remembered some trauma work he did last year. "Was there a flood?" he asked the prosecutor questioning him.
NYPD $$ Layer Lotto $$ 'Giveaways' / NYPD Stop,
Question and Frisk Search
Miss Westchester plans $210M NYPD suit, claims she and mom falsely imprisoned
By Hoa Nguyen, [The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal New] — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'USA Today'
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Reigning Miss Westchester Kristy Abreu is accusing New York City police officers of stripping her of her pageant crown and sash, subjecting her to an "extremely invasive frisk and search" and mistreating her and her mother during a traffic stop in May.
The Yonkers native and her parents, who now live in the Bronx, told the city this week that they intend to sue and seek $210 million in damages, saying officers falsely imprisoned Abreu and her mother, Kendy Paredes; deprived them of their constitutional rights; and physically and psychologically assaulted them.
Police stopped the two on a traffic violation, and subsequently accused them of riding in a stolen vehicle despite records showing otherwise, their lawyer alleged in a notice of claim he said was filed with New York City.
City comptroller officials said they have not received the notice while the New York Police Department did not respond to requests for information on the incident.
Abreu said she and her mother were going to the Fashion Fighting AIDS benefit show in Manhattan when they were stopped by two police officers at Broadway and 145th Street at 9 p.m. May 5. After being presented with the vehicle's documentation, police threw Paredes against the car and accused her of driving a stolen vehicle, the claim alleges.
The officers ignored her when she told them there was an error in their computer files that was triggering a "stolen vehicle false alarm," Abreu said, recounting a traffic stop months earlier when another set of officers told her of the problem and then advised her that it had been corrected, according to the claim.
Officers subsequently frisked Abreu, handcuffed her and placed her in the back of a patrol car while "laughing at and mocking" her and her mother, the claim said.
At the police station, Abreu had her sash and crown taken from her and underwent a pat down, the claim said. She and her mother also were placed in a cell with another prisoner who yelled, cursed, taunted and spit on the pair, according to the claim. They said they were denied access to a phone, bathroom and lawyer.
After two hours, another police officer acquainted with Abreu arranged for her to be released so she could track down the car dealer with her father and obtain title documents before returning to the station to free her mother, the claim said.
Since going public with the allegations, Abreu, whose reign ends next month when the next Miss Westchester will be crowned, said she has received much support.
"Thank you all for all of your nice comments and support," she Tweeted Tuesday. "I've kept this in for (a while) and finally I am able to vent and fight for what I believe in."
Dee van Eyck, executive director of the Miss Westchester pageant, said she believes Abreu's claim of police mistreatment.
"We just feel that she and her mother are innocent victims," van Eyck said. "We just want to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Brooklyn D.A.O. / Retired Bklyn. North Homi Det. Louis Scarcella
The Cost of Withholding Information as Brooklyn Murder Cases Are Reviewed
By JIM DWYER — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'The New York Times'
The Brooklyn district attorney has claimed that he does not have to say what murder cases a retired detective testified in, even though the detective gave evidence in public trials, juries reached guilty verdicts and judges pronounced sentences.
Last month, the office of the district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, formally rejected a request for a list of those cases, involving some 50 convictions in the 1980s and 1990s, that had been made by a reporter for The New York Times.
And last week, for good measure, Mr. Hynes's office also rebuffed the executive director of New York's Committee on Open Government, Robert J. Freeman, who had written that records of information revealed "during a public judicial proceeding must be disclosed, unless the records have been sealed."
For decades, prosecutors in Brooklyn sent people to prison for murder on testimony from the detective, Louis Scarcella, and the witnesses he dug up. He presented the same crack-addicted prostitute as a witness to four separate murders.
The remarkable record was matched by the language of the suspects who Mr. Scarcella said confessed to him: time and again, he quoted the defendants in at least six other murders using very similar words. Only one of those confessions was recorded.
In March, Mr. Hynes's office moved to overturn the murder conviction of David Ranta, who was arrested 23 years ago by Mr. Scarcella. A witness in that case had come forward to say that he was pressed by investigators to identify Mr. Ranta as the gunman who killed a Hasidic rabbi during a botched robbery. Other evidence had "degraded," a prosecutor told the court.
After The Times found that the same prostitute had been used as a witness in the four separate cases, Mr. Hynes ordered a special unit in his office to examine about 50 convictions that Mr. Scarcella was involved in. The approach in Brooklyn — to conduct a kind of full-scale audit because irregular practices came to light — is one that has long been advocated by criminal justice reformers. Prosecutors are always supposed to be alert to possible miscarriages of justice, but human nature often blinds them to mistakes that they may have a hand in.
To avoid that trap, Mr. Hynes set up a team of prosecutors two years ago to conduct "conviction integrity" investigations when concerns are raised that a guilty verdict may have been unjust. Few prosecutors in the country have been so aggressive. In March, he gave that unit the job of reviewing the convictions of 50 people arrested by Mr. Scarcella. Many of them took place before Mr. Hynes was elected, but could involve prosecutors still in the office.
It is the list of those cases that Mr. Hynes now refuses to release.
"We do not talk about ongoing, active investigations," said Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for the district attorney. "We consider that confidential."
Of course. The state open records law usually does not require law enforcement to release information about open investigations. But that is not what was being sought here: The Times reporter, Frances Robles, was asking what trials Mr. Scarcella had been involved in. Those cases are closed, with judgments entered.
No, Mr. Hynes said, they have been reopened. So the records are closed, he asserted.
His spokesman said on Thursday evening that that might change.
"It doesn't mean that at some point we're not going to make a report on where we're at," Mr. Schmetterer said.
In addition to his Conviction Integrity Unit, Mr. Hynes has set up a panel of outside authorities to review cases that his in-house lawyers think are suspicious. Some of those on that panel are old friends or colleagues of Mr. Hynes; by hoarding information, the district attorney runs the risk of making people doubt the panel's work.
The inquiry into the Scarcella cases has already been advanced by people with no connection to Mr. Hynes or his office. Since Mr. Ranta was released in March, another convicted man, Shabaka Shakur, has been granted a hearing by a judge to explore the circumstances of the police work in his case. Moreover, the peculiar echoes in the confessions taken by Mr. Scarcella were discovered not by the district attorney's office, but by Ms. Robles through her reporting for The Times.
Even if the law didn't require the release of a list of Scarcella cases, this is more than a squabble over names on a piece of a paper. At stake is how a prosecutor manages the tricky business of honorably reviewing what may be mistakes made by his own office.
Lawyer: Cabbie who was shot won't testify before grand jury
By SANDRA PEDDIE AND KEVIN DEUTSCH — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'New York Newsday' / Melville, L.I.
The unarmed cabdriver shot by an off-duty Nassau cop who had been drinking does not want to testify before the grand jury empaneled by Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota to hear evidence in the 2011 case, his lawyer said Thursday.
The lawyer for Thomas Moroughan, William Petrillo, said his client has not been subpoenaed and, if he is, "he will not be held in contempt of court, but we will address any and all legal issues if the district attorney fails to honor our request and victimize him further by seeking to compel his testimony."
In a letter to Spota, Petrillo said his client had been "emotionally, mentally and physically scarred" by the incident and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"He has spent the last two years and four months trying to heal by placing these events behind him, regaining public trust in his character and reputation, and attempting to move forward with his life. He has had quite a struggle," Petrillo said in the letter.
In addition, Moroughan "feels skeptical regarding this process almost two and one half years after the fact," Petrillo wrote. He also said a subpoena would "victimize" his client further.
The empanelling of a grand jury in the case of Nassau Police Officer Anthony DiLeonardo comes after Newsday published a story based on a report by Nassau Internal Affairs investigators that found DiLeonardo unlawfully shot and beat Moroughan in Huntington Station after a night of drinking on Feb. 27, 2011.
The report by the Internal Affairs Unit recommended 19 departmental charges for what it found to be 11 unlawful acts and eight departmental rules violations by DiLeonardo. It also recommended five departmental charges be brought against Nassau Officer Edward Bienz, who accompanied DiLeonardo to several bars that night, based on the investigation's findings that he committed two unlawful acts and three counts of violating department rules.
DiLeonardo's lawyer, Bruce Barket, said Thursday that Di-Leonardo had not been subpoenaed and that his client committed no crime.
"Moroughan tried to run him over, and Officer DiLeonardo defended himself by firing his weapon," Barket said. "Those facts are not going to be changed."
Newsday, citing law enforcement sources, reported Thursday that DiLeonardo and Bienz had received subpoenas.
Suffolk County police arrested Moroughan the day of the altercation on charges of felony assault and misdemeanor reckless endangerment. Three months later, a judge granted a motion by the Suffolk district attorney's office to drop the charges, citing evidence that the officers had been drinking, and the disputed version of events.
"Obviously, one can understand his lack of trust in the police and the system," Petrillo wrote of his client.
Prosecutors said last month that criminal charges had not initially been filed against DiLeonardo and Bienz because Moroughan and his girlfriend -- who was with him during the shooting -- refused to cooperate.
Responding to Petrillo's letter, Spota issued a statement saying: "We are surprised and disappointed that the cabdriver, Mr. Moroughan, and his girlfriend, continue -- as they did two years ago -- to refuse to cooperate with this office, including requesting that we not subpoena or attempt to compel them to testify before a grand jury.
"Nevertheless, based upon the facts and circumstances of the case, and even more importantly, the failure of the Nassau County Police Department to follow our recommendation that they discipline or remove the police officers involved in the incident, we have requested a special grand jury be empaneled, we will consider all of our options and this investigation will move forward."
Nassau police said state law bars the department from commenting on whether either of the officers has already been disciplined. Department spokesman Kenneth Lack declined to comment on Spota's statement.
Stephen Scaring, a Garden City defense lawyer who was chief of the Homicide Bureau in Nassau County from 1969 to 1977, said that Moroughan would be required to testify in the grand jury if Spota subpoenas him.
"It's not really up to the cabdriver as to whether he has to testify," Scaring said. "If subpoenaed, he must give truthful testimony" or be subject to contempt charges.
By testifying truthfully in the grand jury, Scaring said, Moroughan would automatically be granted immunity from any possible criminal charges.
"The issue is, does the DA want to go forward on a case in which his key witness is not cooperating . . . and objecting to appearing and testifying?" Scaring said. "Most prosecutors are not excited about going forward with a case where the victim is uncooperative. It makes it difficult to win."
Bennett Gershman, a law professor at Pace Law School and a former Manhattan prosecutor, challenged statements by the district attorney's office about not prosecuting the case because Moroughan wouldn't testify before a grand jury.
"Prosecutors use strong-arm tactics all the time when they want to indict someone," he said. "It raises all sorts of questions about cover-up, about favoritism, about police misconduct."
Spread of DNA databases sparks ethical concerns
By JILL LAWLESS (The Associated Press) — Friday, July 12th, 2013; 8:51 a.m. EDT
You can ditch your computer and leave your cellphone at home, but you can't escape your DNA.
It belongs uniquely to you - and, increasingly, to the authorities.
Countries around the world are collecting genetic material from millions of citizens in the name of fighting crime and terrorism - and, according to critics, heading into uncharted ethical terrain.
Leaders include the United States - where the Supreme Court recently backed the collection of DNA swabs from suspects on arrest - and Britain, where police held samples of almost 7 million people, more than 10 percent of the population, until a court-ordered about-face saw the incineration of a chunk of the database. The expanding trove of DNA in official hands has alarmed privacy campaigners, and some scientists. Recent leaks about U.S. surveillance programs by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden have made people realize their online information and electronic communications may not be as secure as they thought. Could the same be true of the information we hold within our genes? DNA samples that can help solve robberies and murders could also, in theory, be used to track down our relatives, scan us for susceptibility to disease, or monitor our movements.
Earlier this year Yaniv Erlich, who runs a lab at MIT's Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, published a paper in the journal Science describing how he was able to identify individuals, and their families, from anonymous DNA data in a research project. All it took was a computer algorithm, a genetic genealogy website and searches of publicly available Internet records.
"It was a very weird feeling - a `wow' feeling," Erlich told The Associated Press. "I had to take a walk outside just to think about this process."
Erlich says DNA databases have enormous positive power, both for fighting crime and in scientific research. But, he said, "our work shows there are privacy limitations."
Few would disagree about the power of DNA to catch criminals - and to clear the innocent. Hundreds of wrongly convicted people around the world have been freed thanks to DNA tests. A recent AP investigation found that at least 24 men in the United States convicted of or charged with murder or rape based on bite marks on the flesh of victims have been exonerated since 2000, thanks to DNA evidence.
Ethical qualms have done little to stop the growth of genetic databases around the world.
The international police agency Interpol listed 54 nations with national police DNA databases in 2009, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany and China. Brazil and India have since announced plans to join the club, and the United Arab Emirates intends to build the world's first database of an entire national population.
The biggest database is in the United States - the FBI's Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, which holds information on more than 11 million people suspected of or convicted of crimes.
It is set to grow following a May Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right of police forces to take DNA swabs without a warrant from people who are arrested, not just those who are convicted. (Policies on DNA collection vary by state; more than half of the states and the federal government currently take DNA swabs after arrests.)
The court's justices were divided about implications for individuals' rights. Justice Anthony Kennedy, for the five-judge majority, called the taking of DNA a legitimate and reasonable police booking procedure akin to fingerprinting.
But dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia argued that it marked a major change in police powers. "Because of today's decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason," he said.
A similar note of caution has been struck by Alec Jeffreys, the British geneticist whose 1984 discovery of DNA fingerprinting revolutionized criminal investigations. He has warned that "mission creep" could see authorities use DNA to accumulate information on people's racial origins, medical history and psychological profile.
Erlich agreed that scenario was possible, if not likely.
"If it's not regulated and the police can do whatever they want ... they can use your DNA to infer things about your health, your ancestry, whether your kids are your kids," he said.
Police forces have already tracked down criminals through the DNA of their innocent relatives, a practice that is both a goldmine for investigators and, according to skeptics, an ethical minefield. Charles Tumosa, a clinical assistant professor in forensic studies at the University of Baltimore who is wary of the potential for genetic surveillance, says relatives of suspects could be identified through DNA and leaned on for information about their family members.
"There's got to be a debate," said Tumosa. "Nobody has talked this out.
"At what point do you say, enough is enough? Do we want to have a society where 5 percent of the crime is unsolved, or do we want to have a society where 100 percent of the crime is solved" but privacy is compromised. "What's the trade-off?"
And yet familial DNA searches have helped solve terrible crimes. In Kansas in 2005, police identified Dennis Rader as a serial killer known as "BTK" through his daughter's DNA obtained, without her knowledge, from a pap smear in her medical records.
Investigators in Massachusetts say advances in DNA technology may finally establish beyond doubt the perpetrator of the 1960s Boston Strangler slayings. They plan to exhume the body of longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo - who confessed to the crimes but was never convicted - after DNA from one of the crime scenes produced a familial match with him.
Both supporters and critics of DNA databases point to Britain, where until recently, police could take the DNA of anyone 10 or older arrested for even the most minor offense - and keep it forever, even if the suspect was later acquitted or released without charge.
Police say the database has helped solve thousands of crimes, including murders and rapes. On the other side of the coin are hundreds of thousands of innocent people, including children, who feel shamed and tainted by inclusion on a database of criminal suspects - a status some legal experts say undermines the presumption of innocence.
"A lot of British people were very shocked to find themselves or their children ending up on the database for minor alleged offenses such as throwing a snowball at a car," said Helen Wallace, director of the privacy group GeneWatch, which campaigns for restrictions on collection of DNA and other personal information.
After a long legal battle - waged in part by a youth who was arrested at 11 on suspicion of attempted robbery and had his DNA retained despite being acquitted - the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2008 that Britain's "blanket and indiscriminate" storage of DNA violated the right to a private life.
The U.K. was forced to trim its huge database. Under a law passed last year known as the Protection of Freedoms Act, the government is destroying the DNA profiles - strings of numbers derived from DNA samples that are used to identify individuals - of a million people who were arrested for minor offenses but not convicted. People acquitted of serious crimes have their DNA profiles kept for up to five years.
Britain also has incinerated more than 6 million physical DNA samples - mostly swabs of saliva - taken from suspects. Samples, which could previously be kept indefinitely, must now be destroyed after six months.
Destroying the samples is seen as key to limiting DNA databases to crime-fighting rather than snooping, because it means stored DNA cannot be used to trace relatives or susceptibility to disease.
The U.K. government says the curbs have restored a sense of proportion to Britain's database, but some aspects of the country's genetic monitoring remain murky.
The U.K. DNA ethics watchdog has expressed concerns about a secret counterterrorism database, which, according to the Metropolitan Police Authority, contains "DNA obtained through searches, crime scenes and arrests in relation to counterterrorism" - including samples from people stopped and questioned at ports and borders, even if they are not arrested.
The Home Office, which oversees police and the DNA database, said there was a "robust regulatory framework" for the counterterrorism database. But it would not disclose how large it is, who has access to it or whether the information is shared with other countries.
Some authorities on DNA say fears of genetic intrusion are misplaced.
Chris Asplen, a former assistant U.S. attorney who now heads the Global Alliance for Rapid DNA Testing, argues that DNA is not dramatically different from other information the authorities already hold about millions of people, such as fingerprints, social security numbers or automobile registrations.
But he does see avenues for abuse.
"There is an argument to be made that because that biological sample exists, the government could go back and do other things with it that are not authorized by the law," he said. "It's a constant tension between government and people, particularly when technology is applied."
For Youths, Fewer Homicides But Still Many Deaths
By Nancy Shute — Thursday, July 11th, 2013; 2:24 p.m. 'NPR News' / Washington, DC
Homicide rates among teenagers and young adults have dropped to the lowest level in 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That's good news, but it still means about 4,800 young people under age 25 were murdered in 2010.
Teenagers and young adults remain more likely to be killed than older adults, and homicide is a leading cause of death in the young, behind motor vehicle accidents.
Homicide rates have dropped steadily since an uptick in the early 1990s, according to the CDC, which published the data today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The homicide rate for people aged 10 to 24 was 7.5 per 100,000 in 2010, compared to 15.9 in 1993.
That mirrors a long decline in crime overall. There are plenty of theories for why that's happened, including better policing, higher incarceration rates, and the economic boom of the 1990s. But none of the theories have really been proved.
Indeed, scientists are at a bit of a loss to explain why we're seeing fewer murders and other crimes. "In short, we don't know," says Dr. Matthew Miller, an associate professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The usual suspects don't seem to explain it."
The legalization of abortion was at one point thought to account for it, but crime rates have dropped in other developed countries, such as Canada, that didn't change their abortion laws. Spending on policing has waxed and waned, but the decline in homicide rates, and crimes overall, has continued. The economy boomed, and then tanked. But homicides don't appear to have increased as a result.
Therapy Helps Troubled Teens Rethink Crime
One statistic hasn't changed: The death toll continues to fall disproportionately on young men, especially young black men. The homicide rate in 2010 was 12.7 per 100,000 for males, 13.2 for people ages 20 to 24, and 28.8 for blacks. "The disparities by race are extraordinary, and they're obscene," says Miller.
And some neighborhoods continue to pay a heavy price. The murder rate rose in Chicago in 2012, bucking the trend.
A broad variety of prevention programs aim to lower those numbers, including programs to help parents set rules and monitor children's behavior; school-based programs that teach techniques to solve conflicts without violence; and business-improvement districts to increase economic opportunities.
Better assessment is needed to find of which of the many programs really work best to prevent murders, Miller says, "but they're not easy."
And the CDC spends just $100,000 a year on research into gun violence, despite the fact that 79 percent of homicides in the CDC study were committed with firearms.
President Obama has pledged to increase funding for research on guns and violence, but it's unclear if his commitment reaches beyond a year.
Feds seek lesser sentences for some drug crimes
The U.S. Sentencing Commission is considering changes that would provide lesser sentences for less serious offenders
By Donna Leinwand Leger — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'USA Today'
As prison populations swell, the Justice Department is seeking sentencing changes that would keep tough penalties for violent and repeat drug offenses, but provide reduced or alternative sentences for less serious offenders.
Sentencing changes, including mandatory minimum sentences established in 1984 "led to great success, but they also took a great human and fiscal toll," Jonathan Wroblewski, director of the Justice Department's policy and legislation office, wrote in an annual report sent Thursday to Patti Saris, chairwoman of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
"Violent crime in the United States is now near generational lows," Wroblewski wrote in his report to the commission. "At the same time, the U.S. prison population exploded and overall criminal justice spending with it."
The U.S. Sentencing Commission is an independent government agency that sets sentencing policies for the federal courts. Each year, the commission reviews the guidelines and may act to change them. Federal law requires the Justice Department's criminal division to submit a report assessing the guidelines and recommending changes.
The commission said in a public notice that it would review and possibly amend guidelines for gun offenses, drug crimes, economic crimes and probation violations.
The letter urges the commission to consider pragmatic sentencing changes enacted at the state level as potential models for change at the federal level. Many states, faced with prison overcrowding and tight budgets, have opted for shorter sentences for non-violent offenders and more robust efforts to prevent repeat offending, the letter said.
"These changes have no doubt sprung in part out of budgetary necessity," the letter said. "But they have also come from a growing understanding of new research into what works among various approaches to sentencing and corrections."
If the government fails to control prison spending, it will have to cut in other areas, including investigations, prosecutions and prevention programs, the Justice Department's report said.
The letter also recommends revising sentencing guidelines for immigration crimes to make clearer when a past conviction triggers a higher sentence and creating provisions to account for child pornographers who use the Internet to distribute or solicit illegal images.
The Justice Department in the report suggests higher penalties for firearms trafficking and gun buyers who lie to purchase guns for other people, such as felons, who are prohibited from owning firearms.
Study cites racial disparities in D.C. arrests
By Peter Hermann — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'The Washington Post' / Washington, DC
A new study by a group of civil rights lawyers says that black people in Washington are disproportionately arrested for minor drug offenses and other petty crimes, which the group's director says has essentially "criminalized a large portion of the African American community."
The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs does not make specific policy recommendations. But the report, to be released at a news conference Friday, says the arrest statistics from 2009 through 2011 should be a "wake-up call" and feature prominently in the debate over decriminalizing drugs, forming strategies for reducing crime and devising arrest policies.
Authors of the report found that eight of 10 adults arrested in the District are black, disproportionate to the racial breakdown of residents — roughly 47 percent black and 43 percent white. Nine of 10 people arrested on the charge of simple drug possession are black, the study found. And eight of 10 charged with disorderly conduct are black.
Said Roderic V.O. Boggs, executive director of the lawyers' committee: "Police are spending an enormous amount of time resolving behavior that is not life-threatening."
He called the disparities jarring. In 2010, the equivalent of 30 percent of the District's adult male population were arrested, compared with 2 percent of the white residents.
The report was researched with the help of a team of lawyers from Covington & Burling and an advisory committee of five retired or senior federal and district court judges. The Washington Post obtained an advance copy of the report.
Police have criticized similar studies as unfairly discounting the fact that crime rates are highest in black areas of the District, particularly east of the Anacostia River, which in 2012 recorded nearly half — 43 — of the District's 88 homicides. That area also accounted for nearly 40 percent of the city's violent crime last year.
Authorities say they don't target people for minor drug crimes, such as marijuana possession, but the arrest numbers reflect the increased presence of law enforcement often demanded by residents who want order restored in communities long considered neglected.
The report comes a month after the American Civil Liberties Union found that the District is arresting more people than ever for marijuana possession: 60 percent more in 2010 than 2001, with black residents accounting for much of the increase.
This week, a majority of the D.C. Council supported a bill that would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, changing it to a civil penalty that could bring a $100 fine.
One explanation was that people with criminal records even for minor crimes find it difficult to get jobs.
Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, in a statement posted on the department's Internet bulletin board, warned that the drug issue needs to include a discussion of the risk to children, the health impact of "increasingly potent plants" and conflict with federal laws.
Lanier wrote an op-ed for The Post, published last month, saying that the ACLU wrongly framed the debate as "police inflicting a war on drugs in the community." She said her department has "not prioritized marijuana arrests. Since day one, my priority has been combating violent crime, and the District is safer as a result."
Responding to the Lawyers' Committee report, Lanier said in an e-mail that the issues raised reflect a long-running debate in academia examining "the complex relationship between arrest rates and certain variables such as race, poverty, education, and/or employment. . . . I believe that the most important factor in our success in decreasing violence in the District has been strengthening the relationship between police and the community."
In many ways, the Lawyers' Committee report doesn't seem surprising — a high percentage of blacks are arrested in wards with predominately black populations — but Boggs said it is the disparities between some areas of the city that stand out.
He said more blacks are being arrested for drug crimes even in white communities, although statistics show that an equal number of whites and blacks use drugs.
The report singles out Ward 3 in Northwest, some of the District's richest real estate with Chevy Chase and Woodley Park. It had the city's fewest drug arrests in 2011 — 27 — although it is home to nearly 13 percent of the city's population. Nearly 80 percent of its residents are white.
In Ward 1, which includes part of historically black Shaw but also Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan, 81 percent of the more than 1,200 drug arrests in 2011 were of blacks, who make up about one-third of the population.
The report also says that throughout the city, seven of 10 people charged with traffic violations are black.
Authors of the report matched arrests against court dispositions and said they found similar disparities. Of tens of thousands of arrests on drug and traffic charges over three years, 17 percent of the narcotics cases and 23 percent of the traffic cases were dismissed.
"This suggests that a large number of people may have suffered the collateral consequences of a pending charge based on charges that were weak or otherwise not worth pursuing," the report concludes.
Homeland Security Chief to Step Down, Officials Say
By PETER BAKER — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'The New York Times'
WASHINGTON — Janet Napolitano, who has served as President Obama's secretary of homeland security since the beginning of the administration, announced Friday that she is stepping down to become president of the University of California system.
Ms. Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona, has overseen the administration's handling of homegrown terrorism incidents, natural disasters and immigration, one of the most expansive portfolios of anyone in the cabinet. Ms. Napolitano had her eye on becoming the next attorney general, but with this move is taking herself out of the Washington political arena.
"The opportunity to work with the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who serve on the front lines of our nation's efforts to protect our communities and families from harm, has been the highlight of my professional career," Ms. Napolitano said in a statement. "We have worked together to minimize threats of all kinds to the American public."
President Obama issued a statement praising "her outstanding work" and her friendship. "Janet's portfolio has included some of the toughest challenges facing our country," he said. "She's worked around the clock to respond to natural disasters, from the Joplin tornado to Hurricane Sandy, helping Americans recover and rebuild." She helped "make our immigration system fairer," he added, and "the American people are safer and more secure thanks to Janet's leadership."
Ms. Napolitano expressed particular satisfaction in improving safety of travelers, adjusting the immigration system to make it "more fair and focused" while still protecting the borders, working with states to improve disaster response and partnering with private companies to bolster cybersecurity.
Ms. Napolitano had been one of Mr. Obama's favorite cabinet secretaries, and he considered her as a finalist to be nominated to the Supreme Court. After his re-election, when some thought Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. might step down, her associates said she was interested in succeeding him.
But Mr. Holder stayed put and has not said when he might leave, so Ms. Napolitano was open to the California opportunity when it arose. She does not have an extensive background in education, but the California university system saw her extensive management experience running a state and one of the largest federal government bureaucracies as assets.
"While some may consider her to be an unconventional choice, Secretary Napolitano is without doubt the right person at the right time to lead this incredible university," the former film studio executive Sherry Lansing, who headed the search committee, said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.
Her departure creates an opening that could be hard for Mr. Obama to fill. The secretary of homeland security presides over a sprawling department with nearly two dozen agencies as varied as the Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration, Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency. Created by President George W. Bush and Congress after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it has proved to be a thorny management challenge for everyone who has headed it.
Napolitano resigns as Homeland Security secretary
By David Jackson — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'USA Today'
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday she is resigning to take a job running the University of California education system.
"I thank President Obama for the chance to serve our nation during this important chapter in our history, and I know the Department of Homeland Security will continue to perform its important duties with the honor and focus that the American public expects," Napolitano said in a statement.
Obama praised Napolitano's performance, which has included national responses to threats ranging from hurricanes to terrorism.
"She's worked around the clock to respond to natural disasters, from the Joplin tornado to Hurricane Sandy, helping Americans recover and rebuild," Obama said in a statement. "Since day one, Janet has led my administration's effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values."
Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona, is only the third person to lead the Department of Homeland Security. She held the job throughout Obama's first term.
"The opportunity to work with the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who serve on the front lines of our nation's efforts to protect our communities and families from harm, has been the highlight of my professional career," Napolitano said.
She said her department "has improved the safety of travelers; implemented smart steps that make our immigration system more fair and focused while deploying record resources to protect our nation's borders; worked with states to build resiliency and make our nation's emergency and disaster response capabilities more robust; and partnered with the private sector to improve our cybersecurity."
The Los Angeles Times reported that regents at the University of California who run a 10-campus college system see Napolitano as someone who has run large public agencies and has demonstrated an interest in improving higher education.
"While some may consider her to be an unconventional choice, Secretary Napolitano is without a doubt the right person at the right time to lead this incredible university," Sherry Lansing, the regent and former film industry executive who headed the search committee, said in a statement being released Friday, the Times reported.
Added Lansing: "She will bring fresh eyes and a new sensibility — not only to UC, but to all of California. She will stand as a vigorous advocate for faculty, students and staff at a time when great changes in our state, and across the globe, are presenting as many opportunities as challenges."
In her statement, Napolitano said that in her new job she wants "to play a role in educating our nation's next generation of leaders."
Report Indicates More Extensive Cooperation by Microsoft on Surveillance
By JAMES RISEN — Friday, July 12th, 2013 'The New York Times'
WASHINGTON — Microsoft has collaborated with the National Security Agency more extensively than it previously acknowledged, providing the spy agency with up-to-date access to its customer data whenever the company changes its encryption and related software technology, according to a new report based on disclosures by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden.
Quoting classified internal N.S.A. newsletters obtained from Mr. Snowden, The Guardian newspaper reported that Microsoft had helped the security agency find ways to circumvent its encryption on its Outlook.com portal's encrypted Web chat function, and that the agency was given what The Guardian described as "pre-encryption stage" access to e-mail on Outlook, including Hotmail e-mail.
The Guardian, which did not release the N.S.A. documents that it quoted, said that Microsoft had also provided the F.B.I. with access to its SkyDrive service, a cloud storage service with millions of users.
Microsoft, according to The Guardian, also worked with the F.B.I. to study how Outlook allowed users to create e-mail aliases, while Skype, now owned by Microsoft, worked with the government to help it collect both the video and audio of conversations. It also reported that information collected through the N.S.A. program code-named Prism was shared with both the F.B.I. and the C.I.A.
Microsoft said in a statement that it only provided access to its systems when required to do so by court orders.
"We only ever comply with orders about specific accounts or identifiers, and we would not respond to the kind of blanket orders discussed in the press over the past few weeks," the company said in its statement. "To be clear, Microsoft does not provide any government with blanket or direct access to SkyDrive, Outlook.com, Skype or any Microsoft product. Finally, when we upgrade or update products legal obligations may in some circumstances require that we maintain the ability to provide information in response to a law enforcement or national security request."
The latest disclosure from documents leaked by Mr. Snowden underscores the increasingly close ties between the N.S.A. and the high-tech community. Microsoft, Facebook and other companies have already been forced to address questions about their cooperation with the agency following Mr. Snowden's disclosure of the Prism surveillance program.
Many of the companies have repeatedly denied that they agree to blanket collection requests from the government, despite evidence that the government has for years collected huge amounts of phone and Internet data from American citizens. An N.S.A. Internet metadata collection program revealed by Mr. Snowden, for example, was halted in 2011 only after two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee began to question its value.
Fearing a negative public response to their cooperation, some Silicon Valley companies are beginning to openly push back against the security agency. Yahoo, for example, is now asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret court that rules on data collection requests by the government, to allow it to make public the record of its 2008 challenge to the constitutionality of the law requiring it to provide its customer data to the agency.
A Yahoo spokeswoman said Thursday that the company was "seeking permission from the FISA court to unseal the arguments and orders from the 2008 case."
Yahoo said in a public filing with the FISA court this week that releasing documents about the 2008 case would allow it " to demonstrate that it objected strenuously to the directives that are now the subject of debate, and objected at every stage of the proceeding, but that these objections were overruled and its request for a stay was denied."
Signs of a popular backlash against the security agency's large-scale collection of the personal data of Americans have convinced a leading privacy advocate in Congress that the Obama administration may soon begin to back away from the most aggressive components of the agency's domestic surveillance programs.
The advocate, Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an interview Thursday that he believed that the security agency might soon abandon the bulk collection of the telephone calling data of millions of Americans.
The current controversy over the agency's surveillance policies was first set off after Mr. Snowden leaked a secret FISA court order telling Verizon to turn over calling data from all of its customers. Mr. Wyden now believes that the White House is beginning to recognize that the program raises so many privacy concerns that it is willing to drop it.
"I have a feeling that the administration is getting concerned about the bulk phone records collection, and that they are thinking about whether to move administratively to stop it," he said. He added he believed that the continuing controversy prompted by Mr. Snowden had changed the political calculus in Congress over the balance between security and civil liberties, which has been heavily weighted toward security since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"I think we are making a comeback," Mr. Wyden said, referring to privacy and civil liberties advocates.
Claire Cain Miller contributed reporting from San Francisco.
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How Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages
• Secret files show scale of Silicon Valley co-operation on Prism
• Outlook.com encryption unlocked even before official launch
• Skype worked to enable Prism collection of video calls
• Company says it is legally compelled to comply
By Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, Laura Poitras, Spencer Ackerman and Dominic Rushe — Thursday, July 11th, 2013 'The Guardian' / London, England
Pathetic Joke of the Day: For all those on the 'Cloud' or use Outlook.Com for their e-mail. Microsoft's latest marketing campaign slogan is, "Your privacy is our priority." L.O.L. - Mike Bosak