Monday, December 17, 2007

Holladay: Abdul Target Of Criminal Recklessness Investigation

Former Star columnist and fellow blogger Ruth Holladay has uncovered some very interesting information from a probable cause affidavit for a search warrant against Abdul Hakim-Shabzz, which was signed by Marion County Superior Court Robert Altice on November 16, 2007, but the execution of which was aborted hours later by police after a higher-up law enforcement officer intervened on Shabazz' behalf. Holladay writes about Shabazz being the target of a criminal recklessness charge:

According to the affidavit written by Capt. Chris Boomershine of IMPD's investigations division, Shabazz was a target of a criminal recklessness charge. The police probe began when the now-defunct blog IndyUndercover outed a woman who had served as a confidential informant for police trying to solve nine fires in the city from May 23 to June 17.

On June 9 IndyUndercover wrote about those arsons, naming the names of several suspects already identified by police. But the IndyUndercover blog also published the name of a confidential police informant. (!)

The information in the affidavit discussing the naming of the confidential police informant is quite troubling. According to the affidavit, IndyUndercover identified the police informant by name, who was an 8-month pregnant woman who was forced to relocate to another residence after being identified on the blog, fearing for her personal safety. Quoting from the affidavit, Holladay writes:

"Then we get another confession from REDACTED who was arrested for arson in 2004. She told detectives (arson suspect Robert) Green was also responsible for five fires and Dale Gray was responsible for two fires..."

IndyUndercover then issued this call to arms: "Someone should haul these guys into court and make them all testify against each other before someone is killed."

The affidavit continues, in Boomershine's words, "Following the leak of this information, REDACTED, who was eight months pregnant at the time and a former member of the 2-1 Fatal Gang, feared for her safety and had to relocate where she resided."

Holladay identifies police officers Brian Durham and Sherron Franklin as the investigators assigned to the case. Franklin, a frequent critic of Sheriff Frank Anderson and Mayor Bart Peterson is a Democratic City-County Councilor who lost who re-election bid this year. The IndyUndercover blog promoted her re-election. Holladay explains how the evidence led police to Shabazz as the person behind IndyUndercover. She writes:

"[Captain Chris Boomershine] was directed to investigate the possible leak of sensitive and confidential information provided by public safety personnel to the blog."

A four-month investigation followed, in which police, possibly with the aid of federal officials, began peeling back the identity of IndyUndercover through various e-mail addresses and Internet providers: Yahoo, Google, EOS and finally Bright House.

The trail ultimately led to Abdul Shabazz, according to the affidavit, which also lists Shabazz' Downtown address and phone number. Boomershine identifies Shabazz in the warrant as the IndyUndercover blog's moderator.

Judge David Altice of Marion Superior Court Criminal Division signed the search warrant. Prior to that, throughout August, Grand Jury subpoenas were issued to Google, Yahoo, etc., in the painstaking search to trace the blog back and discover who was running/writing on it.

Holladay says the affidavit described the police's interest in obtaining "any and all computer hard drives, data storage devices" etc. as well as "any indication of criminal activity." Judge Altice signed the search warrant at 2:21 p.m. on November 16. Here's what happened next according to Holladay:

By 4 p.m. or so, officers were outside Shabazz' Downtown apartment. But before they could serve the warrant, they received a phone call from someone high up in the city, and they were told to "stand down."

Shabazz himself later received a phone call from someone presumably high up in the city, warning him, "Dude, you don't know how close you came."

Based on how few people knew about this investigation, the warning call had to have come from the top, possibly in the office of Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.

By 8 p.m. or so, Shabazz wrote about nearly being served with a search warrant on his blog Indiana Barrister, where he's public about his identity. He claimed he was being investigated because he was looking into a possible child sex-abuse charge regarding a prominent local Democrat. Nothing has ever come of that.

Professor Henry Karlson of the IU School of Law--Indianapolis contends the search warrant against Shabazz is illegal under Indiana law, which protects the media from being compelled in legal proceedings to disclose their sources. Ruth Holladay wonders whether this warrant was illegal under these circumstances and asks whether the high-ranking law enforcement officer who called off the Shabazz investigation committed obstruction of justice. More importantly, she asks, "Was a confidential informant's life put in danger by a careless blog?" "That seems very possible and likely," she adds.

It doesn't look like this story is going to die anytime soon as long as Ruth Holladay is on the case.


Anonymous said...

Publishing the name of a confidential police informant, without that individual's permission I would think is a violation of the law, whether dne by mainstream media or a blogger. Prof Karlson's assertion of privledge wouldn't hold. The question is if a grand jury investigated internet providers was Abdul the only person investigated? If so, then perhaps he really is IndyU, under the cloak of media respectability.

Anonymous said...

First off, Indiana Code has source-protection for journalists. Abdul is one. Second, this was a stupid investigation. Six months? Over a leak which made it to a non-member of the police? A leak which wasn't internal? Ruth is serving her old masters in the media, who demand a pound of flesh over the humiliating Bart Peterson defeat (which puts the Dems in a terrible place to be before 2008, with Mitch's numbers so low...It pretty much guaranetees Mitch's reelection.) I read on Ruth's blog that this all shows Abdul and RiShawn got taken down. What a laugh. The biggest loser in all of this was the ex-mayor. The unwashed masses blogged, protested and went to the polls. The elites in the media and the Democratic Party cannot stand that. By the way, when is Brizzi going to investigate the cop who initiated a six-month (!) investigation into a journalist's affairs for little gain? --- By the way, Ruth was a reporter for how many years? yet she suggests the media has no right to write about an investigation? Yet she says it may have been an "obstruction of justice" to call off a search of Abdul's pad? Doesn't she know all prosecution is selective? If Brizzi made the call, so what? He can make that call. The Star and its alum never fail to disappoint -- and make me laugh. They (The Star, Ryerson, Jen Wagner, etc.) helped elect Ballard, and they will, like dupes, help re-elect Mitch.

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon 11:04 said, "Second, this was a stupid investigation. Six months? Over a leak which made it to a non-member of the police? A leak which wasn't internal?"

And how would you know, anon. 11:04, that this leak wasn't internal?

Anonymous said...

Abdul, *cough* *cough* I mean, anon 11:04,let me please respond.

Abdul is no journalist. He hosts a conservative talk radio show, much like Amos' liberal spiel on WTLC-AM. Although they work for media outlets, technically, neither are journalists, yet they are shielded because of their employer. Go figure.

Journalism 101: Reporters cover the news; they don't make, fabricate or become the subject of the news they are covering. You can't be an objective observer when you're also a player.

Criminal recklessness is a serious allegation, particularly when it's allegedly the result of careless bloggers who hide behind anonyminity(sp?) to spew their vitriol. There's a familiar phrase most old heads from these BB's and message boards recognize: Own your words. And yes, I posted this as anon. Shoot me, now.

And no, all prosecution isn't selective. It's having sufficient probable cause to build a case to prosecute in court.

Keep looking over your shoulder, Abdul. You may soon find yourself the biggest - and most stupid - loser.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. Was it the "Joe" character who stated the name or did someone unknown (without tracing IPs) post the name in comments section? Also, this doesn't mean Abdul wrote the blog. For all we know, he set up the blog for a handful of cops and gave them the user name and password. Does anyone know the IC code for the statue that makes disclosing a police informant a crime? Wouldn't one have to have at least _known_ said person was a witness/informant?
As far as someone higher up making the call to not serve the warrant, it may very well have saved the taxpayers money in a lawsuit. No one, and I mean no one, can tell me that some higher up Democrats were not very, very upset with Indy Undercover. This entire thing screams of dirty politics.

Well, thanks to Google cache I have found the post. The post was written by "Joe," not by someone posting a comment. Still, I don't see how Abdul is responsible for anything. To me, the person who is guilty of a crime is the person who gave Joe this information. Otherwise, how did Joe (maybe Abdul) know _any_ of the specifics of the police investigation? The only way Joe could be held responsible is if Joe _knew_ the nature of the information given to him/her. I also do think that Abdul and Amos are journalists. They both report news. I don't care that they are biased to a certain political ideology, they do report the news.

Anonymous said...

Abdul is not a journalist ...he is in the entertainment business....and if the leak was Sherron Franklin then it was by a member of the police...I am sure that we have not heard the last of this.

Anonymous said...


Are bloggers considered 'journalists' under Indiana Law?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Good question, Chris. I'm not aware of any Indiana decisions on this point. I know the federal media shield legislation sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence covers bloggers, but I'm not sure about Indiana law.

Anonymous said...

It actually appears that Abdul wouldn't have been protected for anything done as a blogger on IndyUndercover.

IC 34-46-4
Chapter 4. Journalist's Privilege Against Disclosure of Information Source

IC 34-46-4-1
Applicability of chapter
Sec. 1. This chapter applies to the following persons:
(1) any person connected with, or any person who has been connected with or employed by:
(A) a newspaper or other periodical issued at regular intervals and having a general circulation; or
(B) a recognized press association or wire service;
as a bona fide owner, editorial or reportorial employee, who receives or has received income from legitimate gathering, writing, editing and interpretation of news; and
(2) any person connected with a licensed radio or television station as owner, official, or as an editorial or reportorial employee who receives or has received income from legitimate gathering, writing, editing, interpreting, announcing or broadcasting of news.
As added by P.L.1-1998, SEC.42.

IC 34-46-4-2
Privilege against disclosure of source of information
Sec. 2. A person described in section 1 of this chapter shall not be compelled to disclose in any legal proceedings or elsewhere the source of any information procured or obtained in the course of the person's employment or representation of a newspaper, periodical, press association, radio station, television station, or wire service, whether:
(1) published or not published:
(A) in the newspaper or periodical; or
(B) by the press association or wire service; or
(2) broadcast or not broadcast by the radio station or television station;
by which the person is employed.

Anonymous said...

Abdul is only considered a part of the media while he is in the employ of WXNT or other mainstream media outlet.
Indy Undercover AND Indiana Barrister were Abdul's personal blogs UNLESS WXNT paid him to run them both.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:36 - that was probably the point of the warrant. To get more information to determine who actually made the post. If they really did trace the origins of the blog back to Abdul's ISP, then it is reasonable to assume that either Abdul is the author, or they would be able to determine who the authors were through Abdul.

Sounds like this warrant was justified, based on this latest info. I'm curious who called it off.

Anonymous said...

There appears to be some rather compelling evidence that Abdul did, in fact, turn over his computer and files to the police.
More evidence will be forthcoming that will bear this out.
This supposed "stand down" order is pure rubbish and Abdul knows it.
The call supposedly came from Brizzi but AFTER the fact, not before.
Evidence also will be forthcoming as to what information Abdul had collected regarding organized crime in Indianapolis, especially those running the mulitmillion dollar pea shake illegal numbers racket and other criminal operations in the black community.
The next shoe that drops will drop real hard.
Gary, you are absolutely correct, this is far from being over.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't a federal law cover all states?

Gary R. Welsh said...

I believe Pence's legislation is applicable to federal court proceedings only.

Anonymous said...

A couple of points:

1. Ignore Karlson-he is looney tunes.
2. Judge Altice is a Republican and a former chief deputy in the prosecutor's office. He knows his stuff, and you can bet he wouldn't sign a warrant of this magnitude without making sure things are in order.
3. The Brizzi-Abdul connection is very interesting. It becomes even more interesting when one notices that Brizzi is one of Abdul's most frequent guests, and is a cheap way for him to get a lot of publicity. If Abdul gets indicted, he probably loses his show, and Brizzi loses his soapbox. Motive to order a stand down?
4. If the Brizzi connection is correct, how does he get the authority to order the police to stand down? The two agencies are closely related and cooperate, but Brizzi shouldn't be calling the shots on this, or am I mistaken.

Anonymous said...

My, My, what an outstanding Crime Feat by Sheriff Anderson's IMPD. Six months, untold man hours and assistance by the FBI to determine that Abdul may have had input into IndyU.

Outing a potential witness isn't right but I can guarantee that if Peterson and Anderson didn't have a vested interest into shutting down IndyU for their own personal benefit this Arson pretext would never have been used.

Gary, how many other Blogs are being investigated by IMPD and by the FBI at the request of IMPD. Are you being monitored? Criticize Peterson, Anderson or IMPD and be wire tapped. That in itself sends a chilling message; Be Quite and Play Along like Our MSM Buddies the Indy Star and Indy TV Outlets Or Else. Maybe Denny Ryerson had some skeletons in his closet. Makes one wonder just how far intimidation of the press can go in Indy.

Meanwhile, the Pea Shakes, the Arsons and Homicides keep on rolling along in Indy.

Good Work IMPD, Sheriff Anderson and Mayor Peterson you have made this poster proud to be an ex resident of Indy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the blogs, I first read about Indy's massive underground gambling market. Not the Star or Ruth or other Star alumni fools. AI asked me earlier how do I know a cop didn't leak the name of the informant to IU? I don't. I do know after SIX MONTHS they only targeted Abdul, a journalist protected by the Indiana source law. (Yes, I know, blogs don't seem covered according to the law. You forget precedents, and the fact source protection law was declared by JUDICIAL fiat in 17 states, with 32 others passing laws. There is no way Abdul wouldn't be covered by the law.) Usually, such investigations begin within the IMPD or such. Only the feds go through the journalists because there is no federal protection. But even then, when they hear of a leak, they usually subpoena government records first, treading lightly near journalists. Abdul is clearly protected. Writing about cop investigations may be risky, but it is not illegal. That's why they tried to say it was "criminal recklessness," which is a charge best suited for a drunk driver, a person shotting a gun in the air, etc. Not a blogger. Thus, no charge of "exposing a police informant." It's amazing when I see liberals and the occasional Ron Paul wacko bemoan the Patriot Act, but in this case, coo for Police State action. Like I said, the Democrats believe in litigating even after a clear loss. Look at Robin Winston. Winston weirdly went after Steve Carter supporters for months after Freeman-Wilson's loss in 2000. Bart, Jen Wagner, Wilson666 and the rest of the merry band were humiliated by Greg Ballard and a bunch of citizens throwing a six month Tea party. They demand a pound of flesh. They got RiShawn, and now they want Abdul. A true conservative -- a true citizen -- would demand to know the real answers needed: why the Bart-Frank team went after a bothersome blog. How much it cost and like. I think Brizzi should appoint a special prosecutor to examine this matter, because Indiana's first amendment law was weakened because of it.