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Sexual assaults that began in Old Town Saginaw mirror suspect’s 1983 rape case, records show

Sexual assaults that began in Old Town Saginaw mirror suspect's 1983 rape case, records show 2014 Larry Currington Assault Case

http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2014/09/sexual_assaults_that_began_in.html

SAGINAW, MI — The facts surrounding the 1983 rape for which Larry D. Currington was in prison nearly 30 years are similar to those of three recent incidents in which Currington now is charged as the suspect.

Currington, 53, appeared before a judge Thursday, Sept. 18, for arraignment on 19 felonies for two sexual assaults and a third assault on a woman that began near the “Hamilton Street area and Cass” in Saginaw’s Old Town district.

In the two sexual assaults, police have said, the suspect kidnapped women who were alone near their vehicles and forced them to drive to Wickes Park on Saginaw’s South Side; the third incident began as such before a citizen stopped the suspect, police said.

Larry Currington arraigned in connection with two sexual assaults and a third assault involving a woman in Saginaw's Old TownLarry D. Currington, 53, arrives in court for his Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, arraignment by Saginaw County District Judge A.T. Frank in connection with two sexual assaults and a third assault involving a woman that began in Saginaw’s Old Town district.

A jury in 1984 convicted Currington of four felonies, including two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, for a Nov. 28, 1983, rape that began the same way.

According to court records, the victim in that case testified she was leaving her job at the then-Michigan Bell Telephone building on South Washington in downtown Saginaw about 7:10 p.m. when she saw a man walking across the street in the other direction. When she got to the parking lot, she realized the man was about 40 feet behind her, she testified.

When she reached the first row of cars in the lot, the man jumped behind her, pulled out a knife, and demanded she give him her money, she testified. The man refused to take her purse, however, and said, “Do exactly what I tell you or I swear, I’ll cut your throat, I’ll kill you,” she testified.

The man pulled her across the parking lot as he held the knife to her throat and made her sit down on a wall near a landscaped area of the lot, she testified. He groped her, and then her purse fell to the ground, scattering the items inside, she testified.

The man then told her to get her on the ground behind the wall, she testified. He did the same and then proceeded to rape her, she testified. When he was done, the man looked around, heard a noise, and said, “Shut up or I’ll kill you” before running away, the woman said.

A couple hours later, Saginaw Police Officer Robert Zwingman spotted the suspect coming out of a downtown bar, he stated in a police report. He chased the man for four blocks before an another officer stopped him and arrested him, Zwingman stated.

The man, identified as Currington, denied the officers chased him, saying, “Man, it’s cold out here. I was just trying to get warm,” Zwingman stated. Zwingman located a knife in the vicinity of where Currington was arrested, according to his report; the knife matched the description provided by the victim, according to court records. In addition, the knee area of Currington’s pants were muddy, according to court records.

At some point during Zwingman’s transport of Currington to the Saginaw County Jail, Currington’s artificial right eye popped out and fell to the floor of Zwingman’s patrol vehicle, the officer stated. When they arrived at the Saginaw County Jail, Zwingman asked Currington, who had not mentioned his eye falling out, if the eye was his because Currington’s eye was watering, the officer stated. Currington confirmed the eye was his and placed it in his pocket, the officer stated.

The victim subsequently picked Currington out of a lineup, court records show.

Currington was sentenced in 1984 to 30 to 50 years in prison for the two first-degree criminal sexual conduct counts. He was released from prison on July 17, 2012, and from parole on July 17, 2014, according to county Prosecutor John McColgan Jr. Currington’s parole conditions included him being on tether, McColgan said.

‘Tireless efforts’

McColgan conducted a press conference Thursday after county District Judge A.T. Frank arraigned Currington and ordered him held without bond pending his Sept. 29 preliminary hearing.

The prosecutor did not provide many details of how investigators tied Currington to the three incidents, which occurred on Aug. 19, Sept. 6, and Sept. 14. He did confirm, however, that the Michigan State Police crime lab expedited DNA testing for the case.

Larry Currington arraigned in connection with two sexual assaults and a third assault involving a woman in Saginaw's Old TownSaginaw County Prosecutor John McColgan Jr., second from right, conducts a Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, press conference with, from left, Saginaw Police Interim Chief Robert Ruth, Michigan State Police 1st Lt. Ryan Larrison, director of the state police crime lab in Bridgeport, and state police 1st Lt. David Simon, post commander of the Tri-City Post.

“The evidence all points to Mr. Currington,” McColgan said.

Bridgeport Crime Lab Director and 1st Lt. Ryan Larrison, “as well as everybody else, did a great job in expediting and getting this to the forefront where it needed to be and solved and this person off the street,” McColgan said.

The investigation was a collaboration between the state police, the crime lab, and the Saginaw Police Department.

“I commend everyone involved for their tireless efforts in this investigation,” McColgan said.

Police have said that in the first two incidents, the suspect forced  women to drive in their own cars to Wickes Park on Saginaw’s South Side, where he sexually assaulted them multiple times. In the third incident, the assault occurred near the the victim’s vehicle but was interrupted by a citizen who recognized what was occurring. The man fled the area on foot, police said.

“I would also like to commend the citizen who assisted and intervened in the most recent assault,” McColgan added. “The continuing cooperation of the community is appreciated in helping in the fight to stem the violence here in Saginaw.”

New Image sexual assault SaginawPolice released this sketch of a man believed to be the suspect in three sexual assault incidents.

Following the third incident, police released a sketch of the suspect and described him as a black male, standing about 5 feet 10 inches and weighing approximately 180 pounds, in his mid-to-late 30s with a large forehead, no facial hair, a square chin, and wearing dark clothing.

Currington shaved his head after he was lodged in the Saginaw County Jail, authorities said, and he had a thin mustache when he appeared in court Thursday afternoon.

The incidents that Currington is charged with committing aren’t the only ones to have recently began in Old Town’s bar district and ended in Wickes Park. Gregory D. Agee is serving a minimum of 100 years in prison for carjacking and kidnapping a woman in the rear parking lot of McDonald’s at South Hamilton and Mackinaw early Thanksgiving Day 2012 and then raping her near Wickes Park.

McColgan warned citizens “against being complacent” even though Currington is in custody.

“We can rest easier with that fact,” McColgan said. “However, crime is always looking for an opportunity. Don’t provide that opportunity. Be aware of your surroundings, keep your eyes open, travel in pairs if you can. Again, don’t provide that opportunity for crime. Together, we will tackle the crime problem that exists in our community.”

As they did with Agee, prosecutors are charging Currington as a violent fourth-or-subsequent-time offender, a status that makes his mandatory minimum sentence 25 years in prison.

Larry Currington arraigned in connection with two sexual assaults and a third assault involving a woman in Saginaw's Old TownSaginaw County Prosecutor John McColgan, right, listens as Larry D. Currington, 53, is arraigned by Saginaw County District Judge A.T. Frank on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, in connection with two sexual assaults and a third assault involving a woman that began in Saginaw’s Old Town district.

In connection with the Aug. 19 incident, Currington is charged with armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, two counts of first-degree and a single count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a weapon, extortion, and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder.

His arrest warrant alleges he used a machete to steal money from a woman and force her to drive her car to Wickes Park, where he sexually assaulted her.

In the Sept. 6 incident, Currington is charged with armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, three counts of first-degree and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and extortion.

His arrest warrant alleges he used a knife to steal money from a woman and then force her to drive her car away from the area in a similar fashion to Wickes Park, where he sexually assaulted her multiple times, including once with the knife.

In the Sept. 14 incident, Currington is charged with attempted carjacking, attempted kidnapping, and felonious assault, or assault with a dangerous weapon. His arrest warrant alleges he used a knife to assault a woman prior to the civilian getting involved.

“Everyone needs to be aware,” McColgan said. “If it hadn’t been for the civilian in the last assault, who knows where that would have ended up.”

— Andy Hoag covers courts for MLive/The Saginaw News. Email him at ahoag@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter @awhoag

 

2014 Larry Currington Assault Case

Witnesses recall fake eye of man charged in sexual assaults that began in Old Town Saginaw

Witnesses recall fake eye of man charged in sexual assaults that began in Old Town Saginaw 2014 Larry Currington Assault Case

http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2014/10/suspect_in_sexual_assaults_tha.html

SAGINAW, MI — It’s Larry D. Currington’s eyes, multiple women say, that make him stand out as the person they say assaulted them and sexually assaulted them in a series of incidents that began in Saginaw’s Old Town district.

Asked in court to identify the man who assaulted them in August and September, three women on Monday, Oct. 13, pointed to Currington’s eyes, one of which is artificial, in their identifications.

“All I saw was the knife,” a 22-year-old woman told Saginaw County District Judge M.T. Thompson. “The knife and those eyes.”

Larry D. Currington removed his glasses so witnesses could identify him during his Oct. 13, 2014, preliminary hearing in front of Saginaw County District Judge M.T. Thompson. Currington, 54, was charged with 19 felonies in connection with two sexual assaults and a third assault on a woman that began in Saginaw’s Old Town district. Thompson bound him over for trial for 16 of the felonies.

Three women and one of the women’s boyfriends took the stand Monday during Currington’s preliminary hearing, intended for Thompson to determine whether probable cause existed for Currington to stand trial in Circuit Court on 19 felonies in connection with the three assaults.

Currington is charged with carjacking and kidnapping a 35-year-old woman in her employer’s parking lot near South Niagara on Aug. 19 and a 21-year-old woman in a parking lot at South Hamilton and Cass on Sept. 6, driving each of them to Wickes Park Drive near Fordney and the Rust Street Bridge on Saginaw’s South Side, and sexually assaulting them before threatening them to not report the incidents to police.

He also is charged in connection with a Sept. 14 incident when prosecutor’s allege he entered the 22-year-old woman’s car, in the same parking lot as the second incident, immediately after her boyfriend walked her to her vehicle, the woman testified. Currington only was able to tell the woman to shut up twice before the boyfriend pulled him out of the car, the woman testified.

Currington was able to flee, but Michigan State Police troopers arrested him within four days of that final incident. State police crime lab experts were able to match Currington’s DNA to that of his saliva left on the second victim, DNA analyst Joni Johnson testified.

Based on the victims’ identification of Currington and the DNA evidence, Thompson ruled probable cause existed for Currington to stand trial on 16 of the 19 felonies with which prosecutors charged him. Thompson dismissed one of the eight charges Currington faced in the second incident and two of the three charges Currington faced in the third incident.

‘I knew he was going to rape me’

In the first incident, Currington is charged with armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, two counts of first-degree and a single count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a weapon, extortion, and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder.

Larry Currington preliminary hearing in connection with sexual assaults that began in Saginaw's Old Town districtSaginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Janetsky questions one of the victims about the length of her attacker’s machete during the Oct. 13, 2014, preliminary hearing for Larry D. Currington in front of Saginaw County District Judge M.T. Thompson.

The victim, the 35-year-old woman, testified she was leaving work about 4:30 p.m. when somebody approached her with a machete and asked her what she had in her purse. The woman gave the man $20 and told him to leave because her co-workers soon would be leaving work as well, she testified.

At that point, the man forced the woman into the back of her vehicle and drove away, she said. The man parked by the Saginaw River near a willow tree, the woman said; while she did not take police back to the location, she was able to pinpoint the location, off Wickes Park Drive, on Google’s Street View feature, she said.

Once there, the woman and her attacker struggled for an extended period of time before the woman was able to get out of the car and roll toward the river bank and try to swim away, she testified. She ended up on the river embankment, though, and was “completely isolated” from any passersby, she testified.

“I knew he was going to rape me,” she said.

The attacker raped her, and when he was done, he repeated her address to her in an effort to convince her not to call police, she testified. The woman assured him she would not call the police but explained she had to go to the hospital because her right hand was sliced by the machete during the struggle, she said.

At an area hospital, she lied about how she hurt her hand, she said. After encouragement from two close friends, the woman called police the next day, she testified.

Shortly into the woman’s testimony, Thompson interrupted county Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Janetsky and asked the woman if she was able to identify her attacker. The woman said the attacker was not wearing glasses and did not have a beard — two features Currington had Monday. Janetsky pressed her later about whether she could identify Currington, and Currington eventually took off his glasses.

The woman immediately slid her chair back as if she was in fear, and after she composed herself with deep breaths, she said, “Given his facial features, he looks very similar to my assailant.”

‘Very bone chilling’

In the second incident, Currington now is charged with carjacking, kidnapping, three counts of first-degree and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and extortion. Thompson dismissed a charge of attempted armed robbery, which Janetsky had reduced from an initial charge of armed robbery.

The victim in that case, the 21-year-old woman, testified she traveled to Hamilton Street about 10:30 p.m. to see her friends’ band. She sat in her car for about 10 minutes on the phone, and when she ended the call, she went to open her door but realized she had not grabbed her driver’s license. After she reached to grab the license, a man entered her vehicle, pushed her head down, and got on top of her, the woman testified.

The man put a knife with a blade approximately six inches long to her throat and told her to be quiet and move over into the passenger seat, the woman said. The man said he needed a ride, drove to a park, and then parked near a willow tree, the woman testified.

Larry Currington preliminary hearing in connection with sexual assaults that began in Saginaw's Old Town districtLarry D. Currington listens to testimony as his attorney Matthew Frey questions a witness during Currington’s Oct. 13, 2014, preliminary hearing in front of Saginaw County District Judge M.T. Thompson.

The woman asked the man if he needed anything else, but after telling her that her drive back to Hamilton Street was simple, he told her he wasn’t going anywhere until they had sex, she testified.

The woman explained she was a Catholic who had kept her virginity, but the man sexually assaulted her in an effort to somehow prove whether she was a virgin, the woman testified.

She began crying, and the man picked up the knife and threatened to remove her eyes if she did not stop crying, the woman testified. After the woman refused to allow the man to give her oral sex, the man instead sexually assaulted her with the knife, she said.

He eventually gathered his things and left, trying to convince her not to call the police because he let her go, she testified.

The woman called police about two hours later and underwent a rape kit a short time later. Johnson, the state police expert, was able to match Currington’s DNA from swabs collected from the woman, she testified.

The woman explained that Currington had “very, very distinctive eyes” and had “very bone chilling” direct eye contact with one of Currington’s eyes, but his other eye did not stare at her, she said.

The robbery charge that Currington faced was in connection with him asking the woman how much money she had. When she said she only had $6, Currington did not demand she hand him the money, the woman testified.

Thompson cited Currington’s decision not to take the money in dismissing the robbery charge.

‘Bug eyes’

In the third incident, Currington now is charged with felonious assault, or assault with a dangerous weapon. Thompson dismissed felony charges of attempted carjacking and attempted kidnapping.

The victim in that case testified she and her boyfriend were walking back from a bar and that her boyfriend walked her to her vehicle. After she put her key in the ignition, somebody tried to open the door, but she resisted, she testified. The attacker then “ripped” the door open and entered the vehicle, the woman said.

The woman screamed multiple times, and the man told her to shut up twice, she said. That’s when her boyfriend pulled the man out of the vehicle, she said.

The boyfriend testified he had just sat in his vehicle, which was across the small parking lot from his girlfriend’s vehicle, when he looked back and saw somebody enter his girlfriend’s vehicle. He got out of the car even though he had released the vehicle’s emergency brake, grabbed the man by the back of his hoodie, and said, “Who the (expletive) are you, man?”

The boyfriend was about to put his fists up to fight the man, but the man quickly pushed him on his back and fled, the boyfriend said. When he tried to get up to chase after the man, the boyfriend’s vehicle had started rolling toward him, he testified.

The woman and her boyfriend both quickly identified Currington, though the boyfriend needed Currington to take his glasses off. The woman said she recognized Currington because of his “bug eyes” and “broad forehead.”

Janetsky, the prosecutor, cited court rules regarding character evidence of propensity to commit other crimes in arguing that, despite the relative weakness of the first victim’s identification and Currington’s failed third attempt, the judge should bind Currington over for trial on all counts.

Larry Currington preliminary hearing in connection with sexual assaults that began in Saginaw's Old Town districtSaginaw County District Judge M.T. Thompson asks one of the victims a question during the Oct. 13, 2014, preliminary hearing for Larry D. Currington.

Thompson disagreed, saying that because Currington only told the woman to “shut up,” he would be assuming what Currington’s intentions were in the third incident.

“While I think you can guess or assume that those were probably his intentions, he certainly didn’t verbalize his intentions,” Thompson said. “He didn’t say anything to her other than to shut up.”

Janetsky argued Currington’s intentions were derived from his similar acts, but the judge again disagreed.

“Well, I’m not going to assume what he would do,” the judge said.

Thompson then referred to the lower penalties that the attempt charges carry compared to the other offenses for which he bound Currington over. Most of the other charges that Thompson bound Currington over on carry maximum penalties of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

If Currington is convicted in his current case, he will face a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence because prosecutors have charged him as a violent fourth-or-subsequent-time offender.

Currington served about 29 years in prison for two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two other offenses for a Nov. 28, 1983, rape in downtown Saginaw. He was released from prison on July 17, 2012, and from parole on July 17 of this year, according to county Prosecutor John McColgan Jr.

The facts from that case are similar to this summer’s incidents, as Currington pulled a knife on a woman who was leaving work in downtown Saginaw and ultimately raped her.

Prior to that case, Currington served multiple years in an Iowa prison for a 1978 felony burglary case, authorities have said. He first was sentenced to five years probation, but after violating probation in 1979, he was sentenced to the maximum of 10 years in prison, authorities said. He gained early release from prison in that case.

Currington remains lodged in the Saginaw County Jail without bond.

— Andy Hoag covers courts for MLive/The Saginaw News. Email him at ahoag@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter @awhoag

2014 Larry Currington Assault Case

Man who served 30 years for rape charged in sexual assaults that began in Old Town Saginaw

Man who served 30 years for rape charged in sexual assaults that began in Old Town Saginaw

2014 Larry Currington Assault Case


http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2014/09/man_who_served_30_years_for_ra.html

SAGINAW, MI — A 53-year-old Saginaw man who served about 30 years in prison for multiple sexual assault offenses is jailed without bond in connection with two sexual assaults and a third assault involving a woman in Saginaw’s Old Town district.

Larry D. Currington, who was released from parole two months ago, is charged with 19 felonies in three separate incidents near the “Hamilton Street area and Cass” that occurred within the last month involving women who were alone near their vehicle.

Michigan State Police troopers lodged Currington at the Saginaw County Jail about 1 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, on multiple felony offenses. It wasn’t immediately known how police linked Currington to the incidents.

Prosecutors in the early afternoon Thursday charged Currington in connection with incidents on Aug. 19, Sept. 6, and Sept. 14. Saginaw County District Judge A.T. Frank arraigned Currington shortly before the county Prosecutor’s Office conducted a press conference regarding Currington’s arrest.

Currington served about 29 years in prison for two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two other offenses for a Nov. 28, 1983, rape in downtown Saginaw. He was released from prison on July 17, 2012, and from parole on July 17 of this year, according to county Prosecutor John McColgan Jr.

In connection with the Aug. 19 incident, Currington is charged with armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, two counts of first-degree and a single count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a weapon, extortion, and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder.

His arrest warrant alleges he used a machete to steal money from a woman and force her to drive her car away from the area. Police have said the suspect forced the woman to drive to Wickes Park on Saginaw’s South Side, where he sexually assaulted her multiple times.

In the Sept. 6 incident, Currington is charged with armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, three counts of first-degree and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and extortion.

His arrest warrant alleges he used a knife to steal money from a woman and then force her to drive her car away from the area in a similar fashion to Wickes Park, where he sexually assaulted her multiple times, including once with the knife.

In the Sept. 14 incident, Currington is charged with attempted carjacking, attempted kidnapping, and felonious assault, or assault with a dangerous weapon.

His arrest warrant alleges he used a knife to assault a woman. Police said that assault occurred near the the victim’s vehicle and was interrupted by a citizen who recognized what was occurring. The man fled the area on foot, police said.

New Image sexual assault SaginawPolice released this sketch of a man believed to be the suspect in three sexual assault incidents.

Following the third incident, police released a sketch of the suspect and described him as a black male, standing about 5 feet 10 inches and weighing approximately 180 pounds, in his mid-to-late 30s with a large forehead, no facial hair, a square chin, and wearing dark clothing.

In arraigning Currington, Frank entered a not guilty plea on his behalf and ordered him held without bond.

McColgan at the arraignment recommended no bond for Currington, saying he is an “obvious danger to the community.”

Currington is scheduled for a Sept. 29 preliminary hearing before District Judge M.T. Thompson.

— Andy Hoag covers courts for MLive/The Saginaw News. Email him at ahoag@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter @awhoag

2014 Larry Currington Assault Case

DNA expert approved for man charged in sexual assaults that began in Old Town Saginaw

DNA expert approved for man charged in sexual assaults that began in Old Town Saginaw

2014 Larry Currington Assault Case


http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2015/02/man_charged_in_sexual_assaults.html#incart_related_stories

SAGINAW, MI — The man accused of sexual assaults that began in Saginaw’s Old Town district will have his own expert analyze DNA test results police say link him to one of the incidents.

Saginaw County Circuit Judge Janet M. Boes on Monday, Feb. 9, approved Larry D. Currington’s motion for a court-appointed DNA expert.

Boes approved Currington’s request, filed by his attorney Bruce Petrick, to appoint Julie A. Howenstine of East Lansing-based Speckin Forensic Laboratories to analyze both the collection and examination of DNA samples that police collected in connection with three summer 2014 incidents.

The county’s cost for Howenstine’s services will not exceed $4,500, the judge ruled. That number usually is limited to $1,500, but Petrick requested that amount for each of the three incidents in which Currington is charged.

Currington, 54, is charged with 16 felonies, including 10 that carry maximum penalties of life in prison, in connection with incidents that occurred on Aug. 19, Sept. 6, and Sept. 14 and began in the city’s Old Town district.

Larry D. Currington, 54, waits for the start of his preliminary hearing in front of Saginaw County District Judge M.T. Thompson on Oct. 13, 2014.

The three female victims in those cases testified at Currington’s October preliminary hearing and identified Currington as their attacker by pointing to his eyes, one of which is artificial. That testimony was bolstered by Michigan State Police crime lab experts matching Currington’s DNA to that of his saliva left on the second victim.

In his motion requesting Hownstine’s services, Petrick wrote she will, among other things, review the collection and chain of custody of DNA samples from all three incidents; analyze the testing conducted by crime lab personnel; “provide assistance in understanding the principles of DNA preservation, custody, testing, analysis, and results;” and testify as a defense witness.

Petrick on Monday declined further comment regarding the motion.

Currington’s trial currently is scheduled for Feb. 24 before Boes, but it’s likely Boes eventually will agree to postpone the trial to allow Howenstine time to conduct her analysis.

Currington is accused of kidnapping a 35-year-old woman in her employer’s parking lot near South Niagara on Aug. 19 and a 21-year-old woman in a parking lot at South Hamilton and Cass on Sept. 6, driving each of them to Wickes Park Drive near Fordney and the Rust Street Bridge on Saginaw’s South Side, and sexually assaulting them before threatening them to not report the incidents to police.

He’s also accused of entering a 22-year-old woman’s car on Sept. 14 in the same parking lot as the second incident. Currington only was able to tell the woman to shut up twice before her boyfriend, who has just walked her to her vehicle, pulled him out of the car, the woman testified at Currington’s hearing.

After the state police expedited testing the samples from the second incident and matched Currington’s DNA, troopers arrested him within four days of the third incident.

In the first incident, Currington is charged with armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, two counts of first-degree and a single count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a weapon, extortion, and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder.

In the second incident, Currington is charged with carjacking, kidnapping, three counts of first-degree and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and extortion.

In the third incident, Currington now is charged with felonious assault, or assault with a dangerous weapon. District Judge M.T. Thompson, who presided over the preliminary hearing, dismissed felony charges of attempted carjacking and attempted kidnapping.

If Currington is convicted, he will face a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence because prosecutors have charged him as a violent fourth-or-subsequent-time offender.

Currington served about 29 years in prison for two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two other offenses for a Nov. 28, 1983, rape in downtown Saginaw. He was released from prison on July 17, 2012, and from parole on July 17, 2014 of this year, according to county Prosecutor John McColgan Jr.

The facts from that case are similar to this summer’s incidents, as Currington pulled a knife on a woman who was leaving work in downtown Saginaw and ultimately raped her.

Currington remains jailed without bond.

— Andy Hoag covers courts for MLive/The Saginaw News. Email him at ahoag@mlive.com or follow him on Twitter @awhoag
2014 Larry Currington Assault Case

From the Speckin Forensics Archive – Speckin Forensic laboratory experts weigh in on evidence of “Kennedy Letters”

http://4n6.com/how-a-forensic-laboratory-can-help-your-case-part-1

http://4n6.com/category/john-f-kennedy-letters/

The son of a prominent lawyer was found guilty Friday of selling forged documents claiming President Kennedy paid hush money to keep secret an affair with Marilyn Monroe. Lawrence X. Cusack III, 48, of Fairfield, Conn., who made a fortune selling hundreds of Kennedy-linked documents he claimed came from his late father, was convicted on 13 mail and wire fraud charges. At his sentencing in July, Cusack faces up to five years in prison on each of the 13 fraud counts, and a maximum $250,000 fine on each count. According to the papers, Kennedy had set up a trust for Monroe’s mother to buy her daughter’s silence about the alleged affair between the president and the actress. Cusack produced letters that he said were written between his late father, who helped handle the Monroe estate, and the slain president. The documents appeared to prove rumors about Kennedy and Monroe.

John Lennon Sketches are Phony, Collector Says

John Lennon Memorabilia Forgery

July 08, 2010

http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/07/08/28667.htm

By LISA BUCHMEIER

MILWAUKEE (CN) – A man claims he was bilked for $191,000 for phony John Lennon memorabilia. David Petersen says Hawaii-based Celebrites Galleries sold him 14 sketches and a microphone, claiming Lennon used it to record “Imagine.” But Petersen says the microphone was not even made until 6 years after the “Imagine” album, and he says the sketches are bogus too.
In his federal complaint, Petersen says he paid more than $191,000 for the microphone and the 14 sketches supposedly drawn by Lennon. Petersen, of Waukesha, says he collects John Lennon memorabilia.
He sued Celebrites Galleries, of Kihei, Hawaii; its owners, Gerard Marti and his wife, Colleen Noah-Marti; and an employee, an insurer, and the gallery’s payroll company.
Petersen says he did not know he’d been had until he found out that the microphone was made 6 years after the “Imagine” album. He decided he had better check the authenticity of the sketches, too, and says that they are also phony.
Petersen claims Gerard Marti supplied him with a “provenance” for each of the 14 drawings, and a certificate of authenticity. He says that Marti claimed that Dr. Jesse Steinfeld, a former U.S. Surgeon General, had befriended Lennon while the two were on the “Mike Douglas Show,” which the former Beatle co-hosted with Yoko Ono in 1972.
Petersen says Celebrites told him that Dr. Steinfeld collected the sketches that Lennon drew while he was bored during the show. He claims Marti told him that Steinfeld’s son inherited the artwork, and eventually sold it to Celebrites.
But Petersen says that Steinfeld did not have a son – just three daughters.
Petersen says he hired a forensic document analyst and ink dating specialist, Erich Speckin, who told him that the drawings “were not authentic,” and could not have been drawn during the time period that Celebrites said they were.
Petersen seeks punitive damages for misrepresentation, negligence, breach of contract and fraud. He is represented by Gerald Boyle with Boyle, Boyle & Boyle.

John Lennon Memorabilia Forgery

South Bend Tribune – Witness says Morgan told him to copy signatures

Barack Obama 2008 Presidential Election Fraud Indiana
April 24, 2013

Witness says Morgan told him to copy signatures ERIN BLASKO South Bend Tribune  

SOUTH BEND — “‘Don’t worry about it.’ That’s what Owen ‘Butch’ Morgan said to Pam Brunette when she told him she thought what they were doing was illegal. But as you’ll find out, Butch Morgan thought he was above the law.”

 

So began special prosecutor Stanley Levco on Tuesday, day two of the forgery trial involving Morgan, the former longtime head of the county Democratic Party, and party member Dustin Blythe.

Following a tedious day of jury selection Monday, day two began with opening statements by Levco and defense attorneys Jeffrey Kimmell and Mike Jasinski and progressed into witness testimony, including that of a forensic document examiner and former Voter Registration worker Lucas Burkett.

Morgan and Blythe are charged with conspiring to forge signatures on petitions to place then-presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the state Democratic primary ballot in 2008.

Morgan faces two counts of conspiracy to commit petition fraud, a Class C felony, and two counts of conspiracy to commit forgery, a Class D felony; Blythe faces nine counts of forgery, a Class C felony, and one count of falsifying a petition, a Class D felony.

Speaking to members of the jury, Levco said they would hear about how Morgan instructed Burkett and others to forge names on the Obama and Clinton petitions “in a creative way, so people won’t know what we’re doing.”

Also, he said, the jury would hear how, after being charged, Morgan conducted “strategy sessions” with his three co-defendants — Blythe, Pam Brunette and

Bev Shelton – concerning “how to beat the charges.”

In closing, “I promise you this,” he said, “after you’ve heard all the evidence in this case … you will be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that both of the defendants are guilty of all the charges.”

Blythe’s attorney, by contrast, described the prosecution’s case as reliant on the testimony of a disgruntled former party worker and admitted forger, Burkett, and two admitted criminals – Shelton and Brunette, who pleaded guilty to multiple charges in the case prior to the start of the trial.

“You’ll hear evidence pointing to the motivation of these witnesses to testify against the defendants,” Kimmell said.

He added that the jury would hear about how no one ever witnessed Blythe forge any petitions, and about how the state’s forensic document examiner could not match him to any of the allegedly forged signatures on the Obama and Clinton petitions.

“At the end of this case, contrary to what Mr. Levco said, you will have a lot of doubt,” he told the jury.

As for Morgan’s attorney, he described the alleged conspiracy as something that was carried out behind his client’s back.

“Butch Morgan had little if any input into the day-to-day operations of the Voter Registration office,” Jasin-ski said, adding, “The evidence will fail to show beyond any reasonable doubt that (he) is guilty of the crimes for which he is accused.”

Witness testimony

Following opening statements, Burkett, who worked as one of three Democratic appointees to the office of Voter Registration between January and August 2008 (he was appointed by Morgan, with whom he said he had a “cordial” relationship at the time) took the stand.

The investigation by The Tribune and Howey Politics Indiana that led to the charges in the case began when Burkett, through his friend and attorney Andrew Jones, with whom he helps coach the John Adams High School Mock Trial Team, approached the two publications with information about the alleged conspiracy.

Burkett testified that on Jan 21, 2008, a Monday, Morgan instructed him and others, including Brunette and Shelton, to copy signatures from a petition to place Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Schellinger on the ballot onto petitions to place Clinton and Obama on the ballot.

He said Blythe was charged with copying the same signatures onto a petition to place John Edwards on the ballot, but that Blythe switched and started copying onto the Obama petition after Edwards dropped out.

He said he never personally witnessed Blythe copying any signatures.

This went on for about five days, Burkett said, at which point he decided to stop. “I was new to the job, and very naive to the process,” he told the jury. “But later in that week, I realized what I was doing was illegal.”

He said he tried to convince Morgan that the signatures could be collected legitimately, but that Morgan insisted there wasn’t enough time. The deadline to submit petitions for nomination to the state Election Division in 2008 was Feb. 18.

Burkett testified that he continued to work in Voter Registration for another seven months before being asked to leave in August for what he considered to be legitimate reasons. It was not clear from his testimony Monday whether he was fired or resigned.

“I was a bad employee,” he said. “I was nervous, I was afraid. I also had health problems like hyper-thyroidism. I was a bad employee.” He also admitted to spending time on the computer listening to music and, later, to conducting opposition research for the Stephen Luecke campaign when he should have been working.

Burkett testified that he decided to come forward with the story after being threatened by Morgan at a Mardi Gras event at Democratic Headquarters in 2010. He said Morgan became upset when he started to leave before the end of the event and shouted, “Well, I kept you out of jail!”

During cross-examination, first Kimmell and then William Stanley, Morgan’s other attorney, attempted to discredit Burkett by portraying him as a disgruntled former party worker out to get Morgan and further motivated by a desire to escape prosecution.

Kimmel, for his part, repeatedly asked Burkett whether he had ever been promised immunity in exchange for his cooperation in the case, to which Burkett responded that he had not.

Kimmell also pointed out that, as a student at Adams, Burkett was a member of the mock trial team, where he acted as a witness. “So you have some experience with this,” he said, to which Burkett responded, “There’s a big difference between a real trial and a fake trial, I can tell you that.”

Stanley, meanwhile, noted that, in addition to forcing Burkett out at Voter Registration, Morgan also backed Democrat Tim Scott and not Burkett’s friend, fellow Democrat Jones, when the two ran for South Bend Common Council in 2008.

“That upset you, didn’t it,” he said.

Stanley also touched on the period surrounding Burkett’s departure from Voter Registration.

Allegedly, Morgan approached Burkett at the time and said he had spoken to county Prosecutor Mike Dvorak and then-county Commissioner Steve Ross, both Democrats, and that the two had agreed not to charge Burkett with ghost employment so long as he resigned.

As Stanley saw it, Morgan was trying to help Burkett by keeping him out of jail.

Burkett, however, didn’t see it that way.

“Accusing someone of ghost employment, I would not consider that helping someone,” Burkett said.

Dvorak, whose forged name appears on one of the Obama petition pages, would later testify that he never discussed such a deal with Morgan, nor was he aware of any such discussions having taken place.

Stanley also questioned Burkett’s decision to give the story to the press and not the police.

Later, in re-cross, Levco asked about that. “Is it fair to say you had more trust in the press than the prosecutor’s office?”

“Absolutely,” Burkett responded, noting that, at the time, he believed Dvorak had been involved in conversations with Morgan regarding what he now, with the benefit of hindsight, assumes was a made-up ghost employment investigation.

Courtney King, the state’s other key witness Tuesday, took the stand later in the afternoon, following a break for lunch.

A forensic document examiner with the state police, King testified to comparing the handwriting on a number of the questioned petition pages to the known handwriting of Blythe, Morgan, Brunette and Shelton at the request of the state.

She said she identified Blythe as having filled out the majority of the hand-printed portions of eight pages of the Obama petition, including printed names, dates of birth, addresses and city and town or zip code information.

She said she could not say for sure whether Blythe wrote the signatures on those pages, partly because the known samples he provided lacked enough lower-case letters. But she also could not rule him out as the author, either, she said.

In scientific terms, she said, there were either “indications” Blythe wrote the signatures or it was “probable” he wrote the signatures. As a rule, forensic document examiners do not deal with percentages. However, “probable” indicates “strong evidence,” she said.

Erich Speckin, a forensic document examiner hired by The Tribune to examine some of the same documents back in 2011 came to more or less the same conclusion.

King also found evidence of Morgan’s handwriting on some of the questioned petition pages. Among other things, she concluded he was the “probable” writer of one entire entry, signature included, on page 49 of the Obama petition.

Asked by deputy prosecutor Christopher Fronk if forensic document examination is a scientific field, King said, “Yes, it is.”

The trial resumes today with the cross-examination of King by the defense. Kimmell provided a hint as to how that might go in his opening Monday, when he said of forensic document examination, “It’s not a science.”

Barack Obama 2008 Presidential Election Fraud Indiana

South Bend Tribune – Primary Forged?

Barack Obama 2008 Presidential Election Fraud Indiana,

October 9, 2011

South Bend Tribune – Archives

ERIN BLASKO and KEVIN ALLEN Tribune Staff Writers  

The signatures of dozens, if not hundreds, of northern Indiana residents were faked on petitions used to place presidential candidates on the state primary ballot in 2008, The Tribune and Howey Politics Indiana have revealed in an investigation.

Several pages from petitions used to qualify Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the state’s Democratic primary contain names and signatures that appear to have been copied by hand from a petition for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Schellinger. The petitions were filed with the Indiana Election Division after the St. Joseph County Voter Registration Office verified individuals’ information on the documents.

The Tribune faxed county Prosecutor Michael Dvorak two petition pages containing his name and signature on separate occasions over the past two weeks. He confirmed the signature on the page included in the first fax but did not respond to the second.

Spokeswoman Lora Bentley later said the prosecutor could no longer comment on the matter because it was now under investigation.

Falsifying a ballot petition is a Class D felony in Indiana. According to Dale Simmons, co-legal counsel for the Elections Division, the statute of limitations for Class D felonies is five years.

‘Terribly obvious’

The Tribune has talked with more than 30 people whose names are on both the Clinton and Schellinger petitions. All but one of them have confirmed their purported signatures on the Clinton petition are not genuine.

Erich Speckin, a forensic document analyst, examined the petitions at the request of The Tribune and Howey Politics.

He said there is clear evidence, based on the consistency of the handwriting, that about 10 pages in the Obama petition were filled in by the same person, and another person apparently filled in nine pages. He said it’s possible another two people filled in several more pages. Each page in the petition contains up to 10 signatures.

“It’s obvious. It’s just terribly obvious,” Speckin said, pointing to one of the writer’s idiosyncrasies repeated throughout the petition’s pages.

Consequences

The full extent of the fakery, which appears to be limited to the state’s 2nd Congressional District and specifically St. Joseph County, is not yet known. The situation, however, calls into question whether either Clinton or Obama, both of whom were U.S. senators at the time, should have been on the Indiana primary ballot.

Candidates for president, senator and governor must submit ballot petitions signed by at least 500 registered voters in each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts to quality for the statewide ballot.

Clinton edged Obama by about 2 percentage points in the Indiana primary but lost the overall Democratic nomination. Obama, of course, went on to be elected president, defeating Republican Sen. John McCain in the general election.

County voter registration offices are responsible for verifying that those who sign the petitions are registered voters in that county. Staff in the offices check to make sure each signer’s name, birth date and home address match the information on his or her voter registration card.

The chairs of the two major parties, Democratic and Republican, each appoint one member to serve on the two-member voter registration board in the county. They also appoint a first deputy and three staff members each to work in the voter registration office.

In St. Joseph County, certified petitions are stamped, initialed and signed by both members of the board – Republican Linda Silcott and Democrat Pam Brunette, in the case of the Obama and Clinton petitions – and then returned to the person who submitted the petition.

That person is then responsible for delivering the petition to the state Election Division by noon on the final day candidates can declare they’re running for office. In 2008, that deadline was Feb. 18.

The front of the Clinton and Obama petitions bear a stamp and the initials “pb” for Brunette, whose signature appears on the back of the petitions beside Silcott’s.

Brunette said she had not heard any complaints about invalid signatures on the 2008 presidential petitions. She said the office’s employees typically wouldn’t know if a signature had been forged unless someone else calls attention to it.

“We’re not handwriting analysts,” she told Howey Politics, “so our job is basically making sure that the papers are complete.”

Brunette added that a huge volume of petition pages circulate through voter registration in advance of the candidate filing deadline.

Identifying the person or persons responsible for petition irregularities is not a simple task. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of volunteers participated in the Clinton and Obama petition drives in the 2nd District, both independently and as part of candidates’ official campaigns.

Receipts that would have included the names of people who submitted the petitions no longer exist. Silcott said voter registration is required to keep those records for only two years. But Speckin says further analysis could likely reveal who faked the signatures.

Inconsistencies

The people contacted by The Tribune who denied signing the Clinton petition included ordinary citizens but also County Council member Mike Hamann, former county sheriff and auditor Joe Nagy, county attorney Pete Agostino and two South Bend police officers.

Capt. Phil Trent, the spokesman for the city’s police department, looked at pages from the Clinton and Schellinger petitions where his name appears. He confirmed that his signature was valid on the Schellinger petition, but said he did not sign the Clinton petition. What’s more, Trent added, whoever signed the document in his name wrote his birth date incorrectly.

Some reacted with shock and confusion when told their names and signatures were on petitions for the presidential candidates.

South Bend resident Robert Hurst told Howey Politics that he wouldn’t have signed a Clinton or Obama petition, because, “I liked both of them, and I didn’t decide until Election Day.”

Several signatures, including those of county Democrat Party Chairman Owen “Butch” Morgan, appear multiple times on the Clinton and Obama petitions.

Morgan initially did not respond to several requests via phone and in person to comment on his signature and on the petition process for this story. His attorney, Shaw Friedman, later responded in an e-mail that questions should be directed to him.

The Democratic chairman’s name and signature appear three times on the Clinton petition – as “Owen D. Morgan,” “Owen B. Morgan” and just “Owen Morgan.” One of the signatures is marked “duplicate” on the page, but the other two appear to have been accepted by voter registration.

In addition to being chairman of the county Democratic Party, Morgan also is chair of the 2nd District for the Indiana Democratic Party.

Howey Politics also identified similar groupings of names on the Clinton, Obama and Schellinger petitions. In most cases, the corresponding signatures do not appear to match.

One person’s last name became “Miller” instead of “Gillis” when it was copied over to the Clinton petition. Another’s last name originally was written as “Wesser” before the writer wrote “Webber” over it.

“Most people can sign their name and also print it,” Speckin, the handwriting expert, said of such errors. “Even at a low-level education, most people can cash their paycheck. … I don’t think I’ve ever misspelled my first or last name since the first grade.”

He noted that none of the names on the Schellinger petition is corrected or misspelled, because legitimate signatories will almost never make such mistakes.

“That’s a good (example) of what happens when people sign petitions,” he said.

Speckin is an internationally known forensics document analyst. His firm, Speckin Forensic Laboratories, is headquartered in Okemos, Mich.

Speckin says he has worked on more than 50 ballot-petition cases in many states during his career.

The Obama campaign and the Office of the Secretary of State did not immediately respond Friday afternoon to separate e-mails seeking comment on the faked signatures.

Staff writer Erin Blasko: eblasko@sbtinfo.com 574-235-6187 Staff writer Kevin Allen kallen@sbtinfo.com 574-235-6244

Barack Obama 2008 Presidential Election Fraud Indiana,

Wall Street Journal – The Anthrax Probe Ranges Far and Wide As Investigators Scour Tips, Quotes & Research Trash for Leads

2011 Anthrax Probe


December 11, 2001
The Anthrax Probe Ranges Far and Wide As Investigators Scour Tips, Quotes & Research Trash for Leads
By MARK SCHOOFS, GARY FIELDS
and MAUREEN TKACIK
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Thanksgiving was a busy day in the anthrax manhunt. Trying to solve the mystery of 94-year-old Ottilie Lundgren’s death from the bacterium, law-enforcement agents fanned out around her Connecticut home, interrupting turkey dinners to search for clues.

In Seymour, Conn., they wanted to know whether Kevin Cox had seen anything suspicious around Ms. Lundgren’s house, where he mowed the lawn. The Fritz family was just sitting down to their traditional dinner at Fritz’s Snack Bar — a favorite of Ms. Lundgren’s — when agents came and swabbed the tabletops.

And John Criscuolo was about to serve dinner for 24 when eight police cars pulled up. Mr. Criscuolo never knew Ms. Lundgren, but he did hire the same Odd Couple cleaning service, whose owners had told agents they might have dumped her vacuum bag in Mr. Criscuolo’s trash. Agents combed the garbage for an hour, but failed to find the bag. They even ran anthrax tests on a dead stray cat in the area. But the results came back negative.

As the Thanksgiving visits show, investigators are casting an enormous net as they press forward with one of the most extraordinary manhunts in U.S. history. Agents have pursued thousands of leads, ranging from gumshoe interviews to sophisticated laboratory tests of the anthrax itself to computerized analyses of about 800,000 people who entered the country shortly before the tainted letters were mailed. In one tantalizing clue, a person familiar with the investigation said Monday that one of the letters mailed along with the anthrax was of a size not normally found in the U.S.

Yet the very breadth of their search shows just how far they may still be from solving the crime. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the lead agency, says several hundred agents are working the case, with help from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and state and local police, among others. The FBI members have divided into three teams, working in parallel. One is pursuing the theory that the mailer is a Unabomber-type lone wolf. Another team is investigating whether the mailings are the work of a home-grown terrorist group, and the third is checking out whether the anthrax represents a strike by a foreign organization or state. A portrait of the investigation, code-named “Amerithrax,” emerges from dozens of interviews with law-enforcement agents, scientists and people who have been questioned by authorities.

The Envelopes and Letters

The best clues are hard to trace: the anthrax powder itself, four handwritten envelopes and four letters, all photocopies of originals authorities don’t have.

The letters to Sen. Tom Daschle, NBC anchor Tom Brokaw and the New York Post have already been examined, and they didn’t contain the sender’s fingerprints or DNA.

One clue was contained in the missive to the New York Post: The letter, which read in part, “Death to America,” wasn’t printed on a paper size normally found in the U.S., says an FBI official familiar with the matter. An FBI spokesman declined to elaborate. Erich Speckin, who runs a private forensic laboratory in Okemos, Mich., says the height-to-width ratio was approximately 1.41 to 1, according to a photo released by the FBI. He says that ratio is common for business letters in Europe and elsewhere but rare in the U.S. That could suggest that the mailer is from another country or has traveled outside the U.S. Law-enforcement officials say they have gleaned few other useful clues from the first three letters. They were able to discover the brand of tape the mailer used to close the envelope, but it was a common one used by millions of people. They won’t reveal the brand. The ink used to address the envelopes was also common. And the envelopes themselves were pre-stamped versions issued by the Postal Service in January of this year, but they are sold at post-office counters and vending machines around the country. Some are also bought in bulk by companies. There is no way to tell where the perpetrator obtained those used to deliver anthrax.

Officials are also scrutinizing the photocopied letters. Analyzing the toner and the “feeder marks from the grippers that pull in the paper” can narrow down the type of copier used, says Gideon Epstein. He worked as a document examiner for many years with the Army crime lab and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and founded the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s forensic document laboratory. He says that document experts will also look for “what we call trash marks — scratches on glass, defects in the drum. These are very individual, so they may tie copies to a particular machine.” FBI officials acknowledge examining the documents for these clues, but won’t reveal what they’ve found.

Handwriting and Hate Mail

The handwriting on the envelopes and the letters has also undergone intense scrutiny. About 10 days after the Daschle letter was discovered, a copy of it was sent to the Secret Service to run the letter through its Forensic Information System for Handwriting, or FISH. The Secret Service digitized the Daschle letter and envelope, placing it in a system that includes the digital images of thousands of threatening letters that have been sent over the years to presidents and other officials. In addition to matching handwriting, also compares syntax.

There were no matches.

At the same time the Secret Service was running the letter through its computers, the FBI and the Capitol Police were doing the same with their databases of hate mail. The Capitol Police — which archives thousands of “unusual or inappropriate” communications sent to members of Congress — is still examining them by hand, says Captain David Callaway, head of the Capitol Police’s investigations division.

The Profile

To shake loose a tip, the FBI released a behavioral profile of the mailer, developed by a team of profilers from the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va. When members of the unit sat down to analyze the mailer, their first problem was to find an appropriate category for the anthrax mailings. Was it a crime like serial murder, or was it more like sending hoax letters to abortion clinics? “We operate using typologies,” explains Kevin Kelm, a profiler for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who works with the unit stationed at Quantico. But, he says, “how many anthrax letters have ever been sent?”

They decided the mailings were closest to bombings, partly because bombers kill from afar without actually being present — and some, like Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, send their murderous explosives through the mail.

Another key: Bombers tend to have higher-than-average IQs and tend to be technically oriented, taking great interest in how their bombs are prepared, according to a 121-page study co-authored by Mr. Kelm and reviewed by the team that profiled the anthrax mailer. According to the profile, the mailer may hold a grudge against the intended recipients of his letters but may be nonconfrontational and perhaps even reclusive.

Investigators are considering incorporating this profile into an unusual version of the traditional “wanted” poster. In place of a photograph, agents of the Postal Inspection Service may display samples of the perpetrator’s handwriting and details from the profile. The flyers would likely be mailed to every postal customer around Trenton, N.J., because the anthrax letters were postmarked there and investigators believe the mailer is familiar with that area.

The Leahy Letter

Top anthrax experts have clashed over one of the most basic questions: Who would have the ability to make the lethal powder? Richard Spertzel, a former U.S. military germ-warfare researcher who later worked as a United Nations bioweapons inspector, argued in congressional testimony that the anthrax material was likely produced by a government program because the anthrax in the Daschle letter had extremely pure spores and very small particles, signs of sophisticated equipment and knowledge.

Former Soviet bioweapons specialist Kenneth Alibek countered that making the powder wasn’t especially demanding. “It could be a technician working at one of the hospitals or one of the companies or somebody who worked many years before in the field,” he said during the hearing.

Similar disagreements have raged within the FBI. Last month the Bureau announced that the anthrax could have been produced with equipment costing as little as $2,500. But a senior law-enforcement official working the case says bluntly, “I don’t believe that, and I told them I didn’t believe it.”

It is very difficult to ascertain how the anthrax powder was made. For example, the powder is extremely pure, but the method used to wash it is almost impossible to determine, says a scientist familiar with the investigation. The tiny amount of material in the first three letters makes the task even tougher.

That’s where the letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy could come in handy. Discovered amid more than 600 bags of quarantined mail, the letter was carefully opened last week to preserve as much anthrax as possible. Monday, after having been decontaminated, it was sent to the FBI lab.

The relatively large amount of anthrax in the Leahy letter offers the best chance to resolve some of these disputes. Van Harp, the special agent in charge of the Washington, D.C., field office and the person leading the Bureau’s anthrax investigation, publicly announced that the FBI has enlisted “some of the best minds available” to advise it on what tests to run.

The FBI has declined to name its advisors, but one member of that group, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the tests will focus on three broad areas: the biological traits of the anthrax spores, such as genetic identifiers; the chemical components of the powder, such as any drying agents or any traces of media used to grow the bacteria; and the physical properties of the powder, such as its electrostatic charge.

The Bureau is also considering unorthodox approaches submitted by other agencies. Mitchell Cohen, director of the division of bacterial and mycotic diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that the CDC has a method to detect traces of bacteria besides anthrax in the powder. Conceivably, he says, that could provide clues about where the anthrax was produced or mailed from, especially if investigators found a bacterial species or strain that was prevalent only in some regions of the world.

Another test may help more. The Institute for Genomic Research, a private, not-for-profit research organization in Rockville, Md., has sequenced more than 99% of the DNA of the terror strain of the anthrax. By comparing that strain to those in other labs — which a senior law-enforcement official says authorities plan to do — investigators may be able to narrow down the labs from which the mailer got his stock of anthrax.

Labs and Pesticides

Whoever created the weapon had to have access to the Ames strain of anthrax. And because the Ames strain is quite rare in nature, according to Paul Keim, a professor at Northern Arizona University who is an expert on anthrax strains, that means the mailer almost certainly obtained it from a laboratory.

Martin Hugh-Jones, an anthrax expert at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, said the FBI returned to his lab in mid-November for a two-and-a-half-hour interview asking him for the “name, rank and serial number” of everyone who had visited the facility in the last five years. Previously, the FBI had subpoenaed records going back a few months.

Because of the training required, the anthrax mailer “had a mentor, and we’re going to find him,” says a senior law-enforcement official. Dr. Hugh-Jones agrees and says the international community of anthrax researchers is tightly knit. “We know this guy,” says Dr. Hugh-Jones. “One of us knows him.”

Professor Keim has estimated that fewer than 20 U.S. labs probably possess the Ames strain. Not so, counters the senior law-enforcement official. “More labs than you think” could have acquired the Ames strain, said this official, who points to how freely scientists share microbes. He says scientists have been known to bring anthrax to conferences in “a test tube in their pocket.”

Of course, whoever made the anthrax in the letters had to have mastered not just the biology of Bacillus anthracis, as the bacterium which causes anthrax is formally called, but also the technique of transforming it into a powder. That’s done by people who deploy germ warfare against insects.

A relative of anthrax is Bacillus thuringiensis, or BT. It produces a toxin that kills certain agricultural pests, such as the cotton bollworm. Often formulated as a powder, pesticide BT has particles that are much larger than those of the anthrax in the tainted letters, because pesticides have to fall through the air to coat the leaves of crops.

But military bioweapons experts have used BT and similar nonlethal bacilli as a stand-in for anthrax when ironing out production and manufacturing. David Franz, who runs the Chemical and Biological Defense Division of the Southern Research Institute and who headed three United Nations inspections in Iraq, believes the Iraqis used BT as dummy anthrax. UN inspectors found powderized BT at Iraq’s Al Hakam plant. The particles turned out to be as small as one to five microns in size, similar to the dimensions of the anthrax spores mailed in the United States, says Dr. Franz, adding that the BT was missing the gene for the toxin that kills bugs, rendering it totally useless as an insecticide.

Dr. Franz, who stresses he isn’t pointing the finger at Iraq because “anyone could have made this,” speculates that the anthrax mailer could be “someone who is a good technician who worked with BT or other species that don’t cause disease.” He says the mailer could have “just worked and worked until he got it right, and then switched to anthracis.”

Has the FBI been investigating the BT theory? In response, a senior agent snaps, “Thuringienis — how do you think I knew the name?”

An executive at one of the nation’s largest BT insecticide producers, who asked that neither he nor his company be named, says, “We’re working with the FBI.” An executive from a much smaller company located not far from Trenton, who also asked for anonymity, says the FBI monitored an equipment auction the company held recently.

Army Scientists

Recently, public suspicion has been rising that the mailer might have been connected to the U.S. Army. On Saturday, Senator Daschle was asked if the mailer had a military background. “I think as we look at all the possibilities, that one has the greatest degree of credibility right now,” Mr. Daschle said.

FBI officials say that a military connection is merely one avenue the Bureau is following. The FBI has subpoenaed a list of everyone at the U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., who had access to anthrax, according to a senior employee, who said he had been questioned by law-enforcement agents. “There are people who left here under less-than-the-best circumstances who are being investigated — where did they go and what are they doing?”

This person stressed that other military labs had access to anthrax, including Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, which he describes a particularly bleak and isolated place. “They work with anthrax there, and they have one hell of a turnover. It’s 17 miles of just open desert from the main gate to the main lab,” he said. Having to work there could fill employees with anger and resentment. “It’s like going to a penitentiary,” he said.

The Americans who probably know the most about making biological weapons are aging researchers who worked on the military’s offensive germ-warfare program. Before it was ended by President Richard Nixon in 1969, that program produced powdered anthrax.

Interviews with more than half a dozen former American bioweapons experts, including senior people from that program, reveal that none of them have yet been interviewed by the FBI.

“I don’t want to appear arrogant,” says William Patrick III, who used to be a high-level researcher in the biological-weapons program at Ft. Detrick, but “I don’t think anyone knows more about anthrax powder in this country.” Mr. Patrick, who now works as a consultant and says he would charge the government for his advice, says he attended one advisory meeting with the FBI but hasn’t been asked for suggestions on how to test the Leahy letter.

FBI spokesman Mike Kortan says agents have talked to some of the people in this group, and adds: “The investigative strategy is based in part on consultation with top experts, and any suggestion that a group of key individuals has been overlooked is simply not true.”

— Antonio Regalado and Jerry Markon contributed to this article.

Write to Mark Schoofs at mark.schoofs@wsj.com, Gary Fields at gary.fields@wsj.com and Maureen Tkacik at maureen.tkacik@wsj.com

Copyright © 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

2011 Anthrax Probe

South Bend Tribune – Obama signatures might have fallen short

Obama signatures might have fallen short Barack Obama 2008 Presidential Election Fraud Indiana,

Faked names on ’08 primary petitions could have kept Obama, and possibly Clinton, off Indiana ballot.

South Bend Tribune (IN)

October 14, 2011

Obama signatures might have fallen short

ERIN BLASKO Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND — Minus suspected fakes, then Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama

likely fell short of the number of signatures needed to appear on the 2008 Indiana primary ballot, and

it’s possible his opponent, Hillary Clinton, did as well, according to information obtained by The

Tribune as part of an investigation into suspected ballot petition fraud.

Trent Deckard, Democratic co-director of the state Election Division, in an e-mail Thursday told The

Tribune Obama’s 2008 petition for primary ballot placement in the state contained 534 certified

signatures in the 2nd Congressional District. Clinton’s petition contained 704 certified signatures, he

said.

Presidential candidates must collect at least 500 signatures in each of the state’s nine congressional

districts to appear on the statewide primary ballot in Indiana.

As reported Sunday, The Tribune, in conjunction with Howey Politics Indiana, has uncovered scores

of fake signatures on both the Obama and Clinton petitions in the 2nd Congressional District and

specifically St. Joseph County.

Dozens of people whose signatures appear on the Clinton petition have told The Tribune they did not

sign the document, and Erich Speckin, a forensic document analyst hired by the paper and Howey

Politics identified at least 19 suspected fake Obama petition pages.

Those Obama pages account for more than 100 signatures, meaning, minus the fakes, the former

senator likely would not have qualified for ballot placement in the state.

Whether Clinton, a former senator and now secretary of state under Obama, would have qualified is

harder to determine. The Tribune has identified 35 fake signatures on her petition in the district at this

point.

That said, Speckin identified a number of suspected fake Clinton petition pages as well.

Clinton narrowly defeated Obama in the Indiana primary, and Obama won the state in his general

election victory over John McCain.

If Obama had not been on the ballot in Indiana, it would not have changed the outcome of the primary

election. The former senator and current president won the Democratic nomination for president

despite losing to Clinton in Indiana.

There is no evidence Clinton or Obama knew about the fake signatures. Voter registration offices

across the state certified both candidates’ petitions, as did the Election Division.

No one challenged the petitions at the time.

Responding to the ballot question, state Republican Party Chair Eric Holcomb said in a statement

Thursday: “I’ve consistently said Barack Obama earned his narrow victory in Indiana. If these new

allegations are true, that’s no longer the case. He wouldn’t have visited the state 48 times and aired

countless commercials because he wouldn’t have even been on the primary ballot.”

Holcomb, who has called on the Department of Justice to investigate the Clinton and Obama

petitions, also responded to a report that the suspected fake Obama petition pages passed through the

county voter registration office on days when the Republican member of the office was out.

“The evidence currently suggests this was clearly not a clerical error or simple oversight,” Holcomb

said. “Multiple crimes have been committed in a brazen violation of the public trust against the people

of Indiana and our electoral process.”

As reported by The Tribune on Wednesday, the pages in question bear the stamped signature of

Republican Linda Silcott. That indicates Silcott, who missed a number of days of work in early 2008

because of the death of her husband, was out at the time the documents passed through the office.

“With this latest development that the Republican board member was not even present to confirm the

validity of these fraudulent signatures, yet another set of questions is raised,” Holcomb said.

“Were the forged forms purposely shepherded through the process knowing she was out of the office

and approval would come easily? Where did the vetting process break down or was it meant to? …

What knowledge did the Obama and Clinton campaign teams have of the effort to collect fraudulent

signatures?”

Holcomb also suggested St. Joseph County Prosecutor Mike Dvorak, whose office is looking into the

Obama and Clinton petitions, “recuse himself from any investigation being conducted by his office.”

“Believing Prosecutor Dvorak is a victim of this crime, it’s essential to maintain complete impartiality

in investigating this important case,” he said. “Therefore he should step aside and cooperate with

those assigned to the investigation.”

Dvorak’s name and signature appear twice on the Clinton petition. He told The Tribune one of the

signatures is his but did not respond to a question about the validity of a second signature sent to him

a few days later, saying the matter was now under investigation.

The state Democratic Party declined to comment on the ballot question Thursday. It did, however,

question the Election Division’s signature totals for Obama and Clinton in the 2nd District.

In an e-mail, the party provided to The Tribune an electronic file of a report released by the division a

day before the deadline to file in 2008. The report, generated by a Statewide Voter Registration

System petition module, indicates 580 total signatures for Obama in the 2nd District and 734 for

Clinton.

In a previous statement, party Chair Dan Parker said he supported an investigation into the fake

petition signatures but asserted that, even without those signatures, both Clinton and Obama would

have qualified for the ballot.

“Both had their signatures in well in advance of the deadline,” he said. “Both had more than enough

signatures. Both would have qualified. If you look at every petition, both would have had more than

500 signatures.”

Even 580 Obama signatures, though, would not be enough to make up for more than 100 signatures

the handwriting expert says were not legitimate. It will take further analysis to determine whether

there are enough faked signatures to push Clinton’s legitimate total below 500.

Staff writer Erin Blasko: eblasko@sbtinfo.com 574-235-6187

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