By Wayne Lusvardi
As recently pointed out by no less than eminent sociologist Peter Berger “symbols of tyranny” are on the rise in America such as the body pat downs at airports, the legal “degradation rituals” of putting criminal suspects through a “perp walk” even though there is supposedly a presumption of innocence, the revival of old fashioned “chain gang” prisoner work crews, and the arrangements of Congressional hearings where the interrogators sit on raised platforms over the “serfs” who are summoned to appear before them. Link: http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/berger/2011/06/01/symbols-of-tyranny-in-america/
Of greater concern are the reported tragic cases of SWAT team raids where nervous police have targeted the wrong person and ended up killing them.
But the recent report at NetRightDaily.com is also symbolic of a widespread paranoia initially triggered by liberal-tabloid TV broadcast media that spreads virally through both Right and Left-wing websites without any fact checking on the truth.
Let’s take a look at the case in Stockton, California where KXTV Channel 10 in Sacramento initially reported that a local police SWAT Team had raided a home purportedly because the “estranged wife” of the male occupant of a home had failed to pay student loans.
First, I called the Stockton PD and they told me they only had a backup “black and white” unit at the scene and that the raid was conducted by theFederal Office of Inspector General (OIG) acting on a search warrant. The Stockton PD public affairs officers told me that an unpaid student loan would be a civil, not criminal, matter and would not ever trigger a police raid on a home.
I checked online and KXTV had already issued a correction on their online webpage indicating that the raid was not by the Stockton Police but they stuck to their erroneous story about an unpaid student loan as the legal grounds for the raid.
I then found online the actual Search Warrant issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory G. Hollows on June 3. Link: http://www.news10.net/news/pdf/Ed-dept-Wright-warrant-060711.pdf
I had a retired prosecutor friend of mine look at the warrant. Here is what he indicated. He noted that the Search Warrant is missing the statement of the Affiant (officer who describes the basis for why the warrant is necessary). This statement should include a factual rundown of the alleged criminal activity, how the activity was executed, and why the criminal activity is reasonably ties to the suspect, etc.
Later, the Inspector General’s Office released a statement that the raid did not involve a mere unpaid student loan but a case involving student aid “fraud, bribery and embezzlement.” This squared with what both the Stockton PD and my prosecutor friend told me. He said that his reading of the warrant and his experience suggests that the suspect was using phony I.D.’s and documents to obtain a large number of student loans. “The total amount of the student loans obtained probably constitutes a very significant amount of money, which is what triggered such a major response for serving the warrant,” my source said. He added that it is “just a guess, but I’ll bet the figure is in the millions. It also may be part of a larger ring.”
My prosecutor source also said he doubted whether you could find a judge anywhere that would issue a “no knock” search warrant on a civil matter of an unpaid student loan, which would be a violation of the 4th Amendment against illegal searches and seizures.
The alleged female defendant in this case was not at home at 6 a.m. and no one reported whether she had fled, been detained and was being held in jail, or had failed to appear or produce records in response to a bench warrant. It later was reported in the media that the alleged victim of the raid, a male ex-spouse, was also named as a suspect in the case.
Coincidentally, I also found online that on June 8 in South Carolina a different woman had pled guilty to student loan fraud she had pulled off while an inmate at the Leath Correctional Institute in Greenville, South Carolina. She used phony I.D.’s to apply for 23 student loans totaling $467,500 while working as an inmate in the educational department of the prison. Link:
Apparently under the Obama Administration, student loans are so easy to apply for if you use a false ID that it is being used as a form of welfare. My guess is that there is a widespread informal criminal network a la ACORN involved with the Internet being the facilitator both with how to apply for student loans and how to pull the crime off.
Coming back to the situation in Stockton, it is now apparent that the raid involved gathering information about stolen ID’s used to obtain fraudulent student loans. The media story about a raid aid on an ex-spouses home for unpaid student loans was in error. And the so-declared victim boyfriend was an apparent accomplice in this case. How much more could you get wrong in a news story?
The initial media story of the Stockton SWAT raid was overblown but was great “news” for a slow TV news day. It resonated with a fearful audience overloaded with debts. I followed up on the story and could not find one media source that has come out with the true context of the SWAT raid in Stockton.
In a scene from some sort of parallel universe, coincidentally a Florida couple that had erroneously had their house foreclosed on by a bank were able to secure a court judgment to “raid” branch of the Bank of America to seize furniture, computers and cash on the premises to recover their legal fees. The legal system in the U.S. isn’t entirely broken or corrupted.
There is a bigger story here about institutional corruption that breeds both loan fraud and police raids, albeit legal. What the Stockton SWAT case reflects is the metastasizing of a government loan program into what political scientist Walter Russell Mead calls a Great White Hope, then into a Great White Father, then into a Great White Elephant, and finally a Great White Shark. At the “shark” stage of such government programs they turn criminal and deadly. Link: http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/06/10/when-government-jumps-the-shark/
Loan recipients turn into criminal plunderers of the system and those that administer the program have to turn into police or hire paramilitary units to keep the criminality in check. But the criminality is so widespread that they mainly focus on only the most flagrant violators involving the largest sums of money.
This is reminiscent of what we just experienced with the sub-prime loan scandal and Bank Panic of 2008, only with foreclosures instead of police raids. There is an institutional basis to both. This is what we can expect with Obamacare.
Here we seem to be facing what historian Klaus Bringmann describes in his book A History of the Roman Republic where free distribution of grain hastened the collapse of the empire.