So what if federal prosecutions of white-collar criminals are at a two-decade low? The Transactional Records Clearinghouse, a tiny nonprofit based in Syracuse, New York, says records released to it under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that federal prosecutions of suite crime (as opposed to street crime) are 37 percent below what they were during the Clinton administration. "The decline in federal white collar crime prosecutions does not necessarily indicate there has been a decline in white collar crime. Rather, it may reflect shifting enforcement policies by each of the administrations and the various agencies, the changing availabilities of essential staff and congressionally mandated alterations in the laws," the nonprofit writes in the introduction to its findings. "White collar crimes — as defined by the EOUSA — involve a wide range of activities including the violation of health care, tax, securities, bankruptcy, antitrust, federal procurement and other laws. Because such enforcement by state and local agencies for these crimes sometimes is erratic or nonexistent, the declining role of the federal government could be of great significance." Could be. As federal anti-fraud muscle atrophies, and with the new focus on regulatory issues—and away from corporate crime—by the legendary Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, expect more prosecutions of minor ne'er-do-wells like Kenneth W. Watford (he was convicted in April but his sentencing, scheduled for July 28, was continued amid Watford's claims of innocence and motions for acquittal) and fewer (is that even possible?) of people associated with Goldman Sachs, hedge funds, and UBS. (Edward Ericson Jr.)
Some prankster managed to make a construction sign in West Baltimore read "[Expletive] the police," reports The Sun. The family newspaper wouldn't print the swear word to protect the kiddies and readers' modest sensibilities. But reporter Justin Fenton tweeted out an image of the sign that very clearly shows the sign saying, "Fuck the police." The Department of Public Works responded on Twitter: "We believe a citizen gained access to the contractor's sign. Taking steps so signs are more secure. We are sorry for this." Later, the sign flashed messages such as "Respect the police" and "Love yourself." Maybe the person who altered the sign is both a First Amendment absolutist and dedicated N.W.A. fan, and they'll change it to say "Express yourself." (Brandon Weigel)
Yesterday, City Paper began poring over the 7,000 emails city officials sent and received around the time of the Baltimore Uprising (we, like The Sun and other media outlets, were given access after requesting them in a Maryland Public Information Act request, but they're now available to the public). Soon, we'll be able to report about what those communications reveal about the inner workings of the city government during the uprising, but one email caught our eye because it was about City Paper. The email was written by Tom Leonard, owner of Pickles Pub, presumably in response to this story, in which Brandon Soderberg described the confrontation between sports fans and protestors outside Camden Yards on April 25. The story read, in part, "I don’t know who threw something first, but I heard a shift to jeers and boos from the people drinking and ran right over to it and saw beers being tossed from behind a gate that keeps Pickles drinkers from standing in the road and bottles being whipped back at the drinkers. Some people at Pickles stood up and moved toward the protesters though they were protected by the gate. Then, protesters pulled away the gate protecting Pickles customers from the street. Men from Pickles and elsewhere charged toward the protesters and the protesters charged the Pickles customers. It was at this point that I stopped being a journalist and became someone who was trying to help out."
In response, Leonard sent the email below on May 1, with the subject heading "Pickles Pub, Saturday April 25th":
"Pickles Pub is asking friends, associates, and family to discontinue relationships with City Paper. They printed a slanderous article that has numerous false statements about Pickles concerning the events of Saturday, April 25th. All of the content about Pickles Pub can be refuted by videos. I was outside the entire day of Saturday, April 25, prior to the arrival of the protesters. I gave my security specific direction on what we will do. They exceeded my expectations- Pickles staff, security, and patrons should be commended; not falsely accused.
"Since, there was no fact checking, no documentation related to the article we are asking that you help us in protecting future incidents of slander to businesses. Baltimore Sun Media owns City Paper, Tribune Publishing owns Baltimore Sun Media. Look at their websites see if you do business with them; then help us make a stand and cancel that business. Stop Advertising, stop circulation, stop subscription, and show your support in calls, and posts of outrage to the Media Groups.
"It was an extremely tense and volatile situation on Saturday. I lived it, and when it was over and Pickles was damage free, and all patrons and staff were not injured- I knew the only reason we were safe was due to our actions. When the article came out Wednesday I had never felt that much rage and betrayal.
"If you feel such action will damage your business, then do not do anything you feel you should not do. I am trying to protect my business and right a wrong. The article has made Pickles Pub a target if violence happens on Friday or Saturday.
Thank you for your time,
With the greatest of Gratitude,
The content of the email jibes mostly with a longer message posted on the Pickles Facebook page on April 30. What may be surprising is how it got to the officials with the mayor. The list of recipients on Leonard's email is undisclosed, but presumably the list included Bill Cole, the former 11th District city councilman who resigned last year to become president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation. Cole forwarded the email to Deputy Mayors Andrew Smullian and Colin Tarbert, the mayor's Public Affairs Chief Kevin Harris, and SRB's director of strategic planning and policy, Howard Libit. It's not clear what Cole hoped to accomplish by forwarding the email to four members of the mayor's administration. (Evan Serpick)