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The truth about the unraveling of the our nation's first post 9/11 terrorism trial. The demise of the case was a result of retaliatory efforts by the Justice Department against the lead prosecutor, judicial misconduct and irresponsible journalism.

Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

I have a Master's Degree in Nursing and have been married to Rick Convertino for 20 years. We have 5 children.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Satellite Photos Match Terrorist Sketch

The grand jury heard evidence that satellite photos of the Queen Alia military hospital in Jordan match the Detroit terrorists' sketch. But that didn't stop the two prosecutors from indicting the case anyway.

Not only does the Justice Department state that it doesn't matter that photos would have served as further evidence against the terrorists, the two prosecutors admit that they don't even have proof that the one set of the pictures even existed!


Are we wasting our taxpayer dollars on this?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Click here

to visit the website Convertino.org and learn more about the Detroit Terrorism Case and former Assistant US Attorney Richard Convertino.

Justice Department Indicted Richard Convertino in Retaliation for Criticizing the Administration's Handling of the War on Terror

Follow this link is to an article in the Detroit Free Press that was written by Valerie Convertino 2 days after the indictment of her husband, former terrorism prosecutor Rick Convertino.

'Mean machine' at Justice won't tolerate honest critic
March 31, 2006
Valerie Convertino

Monday, April 04, 2005


The news media’s job is to sift through propaganda, not promote it.
It is clear to me now that 60 Minutes wasn’t alone in practicing what has been referred to as “myopic zeal.” It was “myopic zeal” for sensational headlines, not necessarily for the truth, that contributed to overturning our country’s first post 9/11 terrorism convictions.
The local reporting of the Detroit terrorism case, the first terrorism prosecution after the September 11, 2001 attacks, is a perfect example of why confidence in the press has plummeted. Reporters appeared to go to extreme lengths not to alienate anonymous “court sources” and “Justice Department officials.”
It requires far less effort to report information that is simply handed over by anonymous sources than it is for reporters to examine the truth and motives behind the “hand-off.” A reporter should have a degree of skepticism when someone is unwilling to go “on the record.”
In reference to “deep throat,” the informant in the Watergate scandal, former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean, recently wrote that people leak information for “an array of reasons, not always honorable, and may be using the reporter's confidentiality to protect themselves... if they are releasing information obtained improperly.” He also went on to say that an individual might be “seeking to gain advantage by sabotaging a competitor or foe.” There are currently two investigations against individuals in the Justice Department regarding illegal leaks and retaliation. By not “considering the source,” the Detroit papers helped individuals in the Department of Justice (DOJ) carry out the retaliatory efforts against the lead prosecutor, AUSA Richard Convertino, which inevitably ended in the destruction of the case.
In June 2003, two defendants were convicted of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and document fraud. A third man was convicted of document fraud, while another was acquitted. Following the convictions, Rick Convertino was subpoenaed to testify in front of the Senate Finance Committee about the case, and since the honor of appearing before the Senate is normally given to the U.S. Attorney, attempts were made to discredit him. The events that followed placed the convictions in jeopardy.
Had the press taken a deeper look, it would have found that never before has the Department of Justice launched this multitude of investigations against one of its own cases or prosecutors, that the actions by the judge were questionable, and that the attorney who overturned the case had aspirations to be the U.S. attorney and was himself once accused of serious misconduct.
A comparison of other cases should have been done. For example, in a recent case in the Eastern District of Virginia, a federal judge found that an Assistant U.S. attorney entered a jury room and intentionally planted evidence that was excluded during trial. The department vigorously defended the case and the attorney. The U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the findings of misconduct and, after assigning the case to a new judge, expressed sympathy for the attorney who had denied the allegation. There are many such cases from which comparisons could have been made.
Federal Judge Gerald Rosen frequently spoke to the local and national media prior to his ruling, and while there was still a gag order on the case. Rosen chastised the former Attorney General for his public comments, but justified his own by claiming he knows “where the line is.” He engaged in ex-parte meetings and even agreed to be interviewed by investigators about the terrorism case he still presides over. The Associated Press ran a story about the inappropriateness of Judge Rosen’s conduct. The local papers didn’t print it. Why?
Craig Morford, the special attorney who threw in the towel on the terrorism convictions, was accused of severe prosecutorial misconduct in a high-profile case, and has vied for the positions of U.S. attorney in both the Northern District of Ohio and the Eastern District of Michigan.
Morford was the lead prosecutor in the case against former Ohio Congressman James Traficant. Traficant, not a lawyer, represented himself and was convicted. After the trial, Morford was accused of withholding evidence; suborning perjury; pressuring witnesses to lie; not disclosing benefits given to government witnesses, and providing incomplete and misleading testimony to the jury.
One witness, who testified under oath in front of the House Ethics Committee regarding Morford’s misconduct, was indicted by Morford but later acquitted by a jury — but not until after suffering great personal and financial losses.
After looking into these allegations against Morford, the Department of Justice took no action against him, but the local papers should have compared how differently the two investigations were treated. Had Morford’s “investigative” tactics been used against his own case the outcome would have been quite different. A team of federal agents would have had unlimited time to re-investigate the case, scrutinize all prosecution trial tactics and strategy, re-interview witnesses and retry the case again behind the scenes--- this time working collaboratively with defense attorneys and without a jury. Affidavits from individuals previously considered incompetent as witnesses, and opinions from people without knowledge of the case, would have been considered to be important. The judge, his staff, the defense attorneys and Morford’s colleagues would have all been interviewed for their opinions of him. Defamatory allegations would have been leaked to the media to influence the judge and the public about him and the case, and another prosecutor, not familiar with the case, would have turned over materials that normally would not have been considered to be discoverable.
The conviction would never have held up under such intense scrutiny and sabotage. No case could have.
But then of course, Morford wasn’t suing the DOJ.
Now that all of this political maneuvering has failed to get him the U.S. Attorney’s position, and with the terrorism case in tatters, Morford is back in Cleveland. Was this all myopic zeal? When the truth is finally told…you decide.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Article on Misconduct of Terror Trial Judge



The following article was published in the Detroit Free Press

LOCAL COMMENT: Justice Department retaliation is destructive and uncalled for

January 7, 2005


In the nation's first terrorism trial after the 9/11 attacks, a federal court jury in Detroit convicted three men.

Despite having those convictions tossed aside, and although they had already served several years in prison, two of the defendants have been re-indicted on lesser charges. The reason for the new indictments should be clear to everyone: The Department of Justice still believes these men are terrorists and wants them out of the country. Without a conviction, they cannot be deported. Why else would the Justice Department invest more time and money on charges that would not normally be brought to state courts, let alone the federal system?

The highly publicized retaliatory efforts against the lead prosecutor in the original terrorism case, my husband, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino, led to the inevitable reversal of those convictions, whether or not the decision was legally warranted. The Justice Department actions against Rick began after he testified before the Senate Finance Committee in September 2003, and were then sanctioned in December 2003 by a court-ordered "file review" of the case. The retaliation snowballed in February 2004 after Rick filed a lawsuit against Attorney General John Ashcroft, former U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Collins and others in the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Since then, the Justice Department has seized Rick's computer, mail and work files; read all of his e-mails; launched at least four investigations; and purposefully defamed his name and reputation with "anonymous" leaks. All of these actions were done by people who have taken an oath to uphold the law. This was done for two reasons. The Justice Department realized that a stellar career such as Rick's couldn't be destroyed without undermining his past successes, including the terrorism convictions, and that it couldn't allow Rick's lawsuit to proceed because of the internal Justice Department problems that would be exposed.

Under the guise of "investigations" into Rick's conduct, the government has been able to prevent Rick's attorneys from gaining access to internal memos, interviews, e-mails and other records that would dispute questions into his conduct. His attorneys are also prevented from deposing individuals involved in, and interviewed during, the "file review" of the terrorism case. If the government has "done the right thing" by overturning these convictions, why block the lawsuit and access to this information?

The government and other law enforcement agencies have unstoppable power to open up investigation after investigation against whistleblowers within their organizations. Luckily, there is an agency called the Office of Special Counsel, which was created to protect government employees from abuse of this power. The Office of Special Counsel has decided to open an investigation into the actions taken against Rick, and it has the ability to gain access to all of the things my husband's lawyers are currently being denied. Special Counsel investigators also can analyze personnel actions and the motives behind them to finally expose this unprecedented Justice Department behavior as the retaliation it is.

Rick Convertino has served his country well for 15 years as a government prosecutor. Through his willingness to take on time-consuming, complex and even controversial trials, he has consistently done what is best for the citizens, not what would have been easiest for himself or his family.

Current Detroit U.S. Attorney Craig Morford, who was himself accused of serious prosecutorial misconduct in the past -- although after an investigation, no action was taken against him -- was quoted as saying the Justice Department has "stepped up to the plate" by reversing the terrorism convictions. But Rick, in fact, was really the only one who was willing to step up to the plate by being the first and only federal prosecutor to try a terrorism "sleeper cell" case before a jury. Since then, all the Justice Department has done is throw 95 m.p.h. pitches at his head -- and for internal political reasons, not legal ones.

Enough is enough.

Taxpayers have paid and are continuing to pay for the defense of the terrorism suspects and for the unprecedented nine-month reinvestigation of the case, which involved the Justice Department doing everything in its power to overturn its own hard-won convictions. The taxpayers also have paid for the yearlong investigation of Rick Convertino.

After how the Justice Department has treated Rick, what other assistant U.S. attorney in his or her right mind would ever try a sleeper-cell case again? How will the Justice Department's actions affect future such cases? Will there ever even be another one? The taxpayers deserve a look behind the scenes at how the Justice Department is really mishandling this "war on terror."

Rick has a lot of support, but you would never think so from the slanted press coverage of this matter. Not only is it past time for the government to stop trying to destroy our lives, it is also time for our constitutionally guaranteed "free press" to become a "fair and accurate" press as well.

VAL CONVERTINO is a registered nurse who has been married to Rick Convertino for 19 years. The couple has five children.