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Anti-Israel Protestors Block Expressway Even as Area Synagogues Face Bomb Threats

Hundreds of rush-hour drivers were stuck on the Schuylkill Expressway near the Philadelphia Art Museum when pro-Palestinian protesters locked arms and blocked the highway Thursday.

According to a state police spokesperson, 32 people were arrested for disorderly conduct.

The protesters, with the left-wing groups Jewish Voice for Peace and Rabbis for Ceasefire, blocked traffic in the westbound lanes of the I-76 Expressway at 3:38 p.m. Officers from the Pennsylvania State Police, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Department took them into custody and reopened the highway. The protesters were transported to the State Police Headquarters on Belmont Avenue, where they were cited for disorderly conduct and released, police said.

Most of those who were cited gave Philadelphia addresses. Two were from Maryland, according to police records.

“I hope the people on I-76 can understand that demanding a ceasefire, that calling attention in every way that we can to the horrific situation in Gaza makes being stuck in traffic not that important,” protestor Rabbi Linda Holtzman reportedly said.

But law enforcement officials said protesting on a major highway at rush hour is not just foolhardy; it is dangerous for demonstrators and people in vehicles.

“They should be arrested, period,” said Mike Chitwood, retired Upper Darby police chief.

“I think the police department did the right thing with respect to opening up the freeway. You cannot block a major thoroughfare for any type of protest. It impacts the safety of the public.”

The protest was “dangerous to everybody,” he said. “Not just the protesters but the motoring public, especially at that time of day. And at the entrance to I-76, give me a break. They put everyone in danger.”

Radnor Police Superintendent Chris Flanagan agreed.

“It’s extremely dangerous to themselves and to the motoring public,” said Flanagan. Stopping traffic on the expressway might have caused a chain reaction accident with “a significant loss of life.” And ambulances or doctors heading to work could have been impacted by the highway closure.

Flanagan said if people want to protest, they should contact the local authorities and get a permit.

“They can get their message out in a safe way,” said Flanagan.

On its Facebook page, Jewish Voice for Peace said it held protests on the last night of Hannukah in Washington D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Diego, as well.

“Thousands shut down rush hour traffic with banner drops, candle lightings, and giant handmade ceasefire menorahs demanding an immediate, lasting ceasefire, an end to the siege on Gaza, and full Palestinian freedom,” the anti-Zionist group stated.

At the same time the protest occurred, police and FBI agents were investigating bomb threats against Pennsylvania synagogues and Jewish centers, including some in the Delaware Valley. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the Germantown Jewish Centre and Kol Ami in Newtown, Bucks County, were among the locations that received bomb threats.

Carrie Adamowski, an FBI spokeswoman,  confirmed there is an ongoing investigation into bomb threats but declined to confirm that those specific locations were targets.

“The FBI is investigating a series of bomb threats targeting synagogues in Pennsylvania and multiple other states across the country. The FBI takes all threats seriously, especially those motivated by hate or bias. Although, at this time, no explosive devices related to these threats have been found, we continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners and will remain vigilant to protect our communities.”

Bucks County Pro-Life Activist Houck Sues DOJ for Wrongful Prosecution

On September 23, 2022, pro-life activist Mark Houck and his family were awakened by armed federal agents banging on the door of their house. They were there to arrest Houck on a questionable case related to an incident outside a Philadelphia abortion clinic.

Now, Houck is trying to send the federal government a message. He is suing the Department of Justice for selective prosecution.

Houck, a Bucks County pro-life activist, was acquitted by a jury of violating the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act earlier this year. He is suing the Biden administration for $1.1 million. His wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, is also suing for $3.25 million for herself and their seven children. The claim says they have suffered stress-related health problems.

Houck is challenging U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) in the GOP primary, and he is using his experience with what he says is an overreaching federal government as a central part of his campaign.

The FBI’s treatment of Houck has raised disturbing questions about a Department of Justice already widely viewed to be politically motivated.

Although Houck’s criminal defense lawyer had offered to turn him in if a grand jury indicted him, around 20 FBI agents and other officers raided his house with guns drawn in the early morning of Sept. 23, 2022. They carried rifles and battering rams and wore armored vests, helmets, and shields.

Although Houck, who had been making breakfast in his pajamas, came out on the porch of his Kintnerville home with his hands up, surrendering peacefully, agents kept guns pointed at him and then his wife, who came out to see what was going on. The children followed and stood on the inside stairs, crying and screaming in terror.

“The entire family was located directly downrange,” the court filing noted. “This egregious show of force was both unnecessary and unlawful. Mr. Houck is a peaceful man who is innocent of the non-violent federal charges against him…(He) had no firearms of any kind in the house or on his property and had none registered.”

Mark and Ryan-Marie Houck and their children

The FBI handcuffed and shackled Houck and kept him incommunicado chained to a desk for six hours before he was released on his own recognizance. The filing said the FBI deprived Houck of his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force. The claim cited the bureau’s “tortious conduct, its faulty investigation leading to malicious and retaliatory prosecution, and its egregious and excessive force.”

Houck has been a pro-life sidewalk counselor for decades and is not a protester, as authorities claimed. His interactions with a Planned Parenthood volunteer were to protect his 12-year-old son, whom the volunteer was heckling, the claim said. Houck shoved the volunteer away from his son, and the man fell but was not seriously injured. Local authorities did not prosecute Houck.

The DOJ’s website shows 20 prosecutions of pro-life defendants and one of a pro-choice defendant. Although the U.S. Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects crisis pregnancy centers, the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke, said in her prior position that crisis pregnancy centers were “fake clinics,” the filing said.

Her superior, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, also attacked crisis pregnancy centers and, in 2020, criticized a judicial nominee for serving as president and legal counsel for one. After the Dobbs decision that overturned R0e vs. Wade, she formed a Reproductive Rights Task Force. Two months later, the FBI arrested Houck.

“We’re the face of the weaponization of the government, right?” Houck told DVJournal. “Because it is absurd they would not take the offer to come in (to be arrested). Instead, authorities wanted to “terrorize American citizens and violate their constitutional rights. It’s just off the rails, for sure.”

The filing claims the FBI and federal prosecutor misled the grand jury to obtain an indictment against Houck. Press releases that damage Houck’s reputation remain on the DOJ’s website, the filing noted.

Although Fitzpatrick is a former FBI agent, Houck told DVJournal that is not why he is running against the incumbent Republican. He believes Fitzpatrick, who has backed some pro-life legislation, is not a reliable pro-life vote. And, “probably the most important thing for the district is all the taxpayer money that he uses to fund proxy wars and to fund the Democratic Biden administration agenda,” a reference to Ukraine’s war against Russian invaders.

Fitzpatrick is a co-chair of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus.

“[Fitzpatrick] prides himself that he’s across the aisle, and look, he votes with them most of the time,” said Houck. “He’s got a 17 percent rating from the John Birch Society for not voting with the Constitution… He’s more aligned with the Democrats than the Republicans, for sure.”

Houck has been attending various events in the district, meeting people, and listening to their concerns. He said they all want to hear the story of his arrest and trial. He also continues his mission of sidewalk counseling for pregnant women.

“I’ve been there every Wednesday since I was acquitted,” said Houck, who received a Hero Award from Catholic Voter in November.

Houck has raised nearly $100,000 so far and says he will need at least $500,000 to compete with Fitzpatrick in the April 23 primary. Houck said Fitzpatrick has a nearly $3 million war chest but will need to save some of it for the general election if he wins the primary.

The DOJ declined to comment on the litigation that was filed by Kansas City firm Graves Garrett.

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Heritage Backs Moms for Liberty, Sues FBI, Homeland for Documents

Parental rights activist group Moms for Liberty faces slurs by federal government agencies. But The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project is standing up for it.

Thursday, it filed a lawsuit on behalf of Moms for Liberty against the Biden administration, demanding the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) produce all records concerning the parental rights organization and the Biden administration’s coordination with the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The lawsuit comes after the agencies refused to comply with the Oversight Project’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for those documents, Heritage officials said in a press release.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)  released a report that listed Moms for Liberty as an “extremist” coalition of “far-right antigovernment parents” who are known for “intimidating and harassing teachers and school officials.” It also claimed that Moms for Liberty is “one of the most recognized names in the anti-student inclusion movement,” citing the group’s opposition to critical race theory.

SPLC officials have visited the Biden White House many times, and media reports have highlighted concerning examples of federal law enforcement agencies relying on the SPLC’s “hate group” list to weaponize the federal government against American citizens.

“President Biden needs to leave the moms alone,” said Mike Howell, director of the Oversight Project at The Heritage Foundation. “But his crooked administration won’t because these parents are the only thing standing between the government and your children. We know that the radical Southern Poverty Law Center has targeted the patriots at Moms for Liberty, which resulted in an unhinged mob harassment campaign. We also know the Biden administration and their weaponized law enforcement agencies work closely with the Southern Poverty Law Center. In fact, our recent investigation discovered that SPLC employees visited the White House 11 times in the past three years, including six meetings with the president himself.

“Under our rights as American citizens, we demanded from these agencies all communications about Moms for Liberty. In clear violation of the law, these agencies are withholding this information. So now, we are fighting back for parents across the country and suing President Biden and his corrupt administration.”

Tiffany Justice, co-founder of Moms for Liberty, said, “Moms were harassed and targeted by their own federal government for speaking out during the COVID school shutdowns. The Department of Justice labeled parents of public-school kids’ domestic terrorists.’

“Then, the SPLC puts a target on our backs by falsely accusing us of antigovernment extremism,” said Justice. “Exercising our free speech rights to attend public school board meetings that decide how our public schools operate is not ‘extremism.’ It is American. We are very thankful the Heritage Foundation is standing with our moms and fighting to get the public information surrounding the Biden administration’s work with the SPLC. Why would they not comply with public records requests? What do they have to hide? We look forward to the truth coming to light.”

Moms for Liberty began in 2021 in response to COVID restrictions that forced many students to take classes online. Its members are parents, former school board members, and concerned citizens who educate and empower parents to fight for their rights. It has been active in school districts around the country, fighting against gender ideology and critical race theory.

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Sources Allege Falls Township in Bucks Co. Allowed Union Corruption to Flourish, Colluded with Unions

This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty.

The multi-year FBI investigation in Falls Township is digging into whether the township’s administration contributed to or even actively fostered a culture in which unions — and one union in particular — were able to put pressure on local businesses to hire more unionized labor or, if not, face government harassment through permitting delays, according to multiple sources.

Sources who spoke to Broad + Liberty are well placed to have firsthand knowledge of matters related to both the township, as well as the investigation. All requested to speak anonymously out of concerns of retaliation.

Sources confirmed the union side of the investigation is mainly focused on the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Number 269, based across the river from the township in Trenton, New Jersey. Previous media reports have also indicated that the Local 269 was a focus the investigation.

Previous media reports have also indicated that a federal grand jury has been impaneled on the matter and has been taking testimony, but those reports have not specified the nature of the investigation. Those reports also established that Bucks County Board of Commissioners Chair Bob Harvie, the longtime former chair of Falls Township’s board of supervisors was summoned to testify before the grand jury, raising the specter about whether the ongoing criminal investigation could have an impact on the county’s hotly contested election for county commissioners.

For several years now, two of the township’s longest serving supervisors have been members of IBEW Local 269 — Jeff Dence and Jeff Boraski. But what has seldom, if ever, been reported is the towering influence the IBEW has had over the township through the last dozen years in terms of donations from its federal political action committee to those individuals.

That tally of campaign donations swells even larger if two other township supervisors are included: Bob Harvie and Jeff Rocco. Harvie served as the chairman of the Falls Township Board of Supervisors from 2008 to 2020, according to his online biography. Rocco served on the board from 2012 to 2021. Neither are IBEW members.

Since 2009, the IBEW’s federal PAC (which can donate to local candidates) has given $397,950 to the campaign accounts of those four individuals, according to Federal Election Commission records — a staggering sum for a township of approximately 34,000 persons of whom only 10,500 voted in the most recent general election, and which already has a natural Democratic bent.

The donation figure represents about four-and-a-half percent of all the political money donated by the same IBEW federal PAC to all other Pennsylvania candidates and committees over the same time period, according to a Broad + Liberty analysis of FEC records. Yet, in terms of population, Falls Township represents two-tenths of one percent of Pennsylvania.

The lion’s share of that political money — $214,000 — went to Dence. The rest was mainly split between $80,000 for Harvie and about $76,000 for Boraski.

(The same IBEW PAC has made a small number of donations to others who have served on the Falls Township Board. For example, the IBEW has also made one donation each to Erin Mullen and John Palmer, both of whom are currently serving on the township’s board of supervisors. Some of the donations included in the above tally also include donations made to Harvey while he was running for Bucks County commissioner in 2019 and after.)

The sources indicated the main question in the federal probe was a simple scheme: a business which might be expanding an existing building or starting new construction was approached by someone who urged the business owner to choose union labor. If the business owner refused, various permits needed to keep the project on schedule were held up by the township government.

Broad + Liberty’s sources pointed to one construction project in particular: a massive building project announced in 2015 by KVK Technologies, a specialty pharmaceutical company. In the spring of 2015, the township’s board of supervisors approved a new office and warehouse complex to be built on Cabot Blvd. A request for comment to KVT was not returned or was not successful.

The sources were not able to point to any individual for any specific act, with one exception. That exception is not being published in this story because it was only offered by a single source, and was not independently corroborated by other sources.

Although the investigation has been going on for years including the impaneling of a grand jury in Philadelphia, no indictments have yet been handed up. All persons named in this report are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law.

The business manager for IBEW Local 269, Steve Aldrich, said the allegations are false.

When asked by phone for the union’s comment, Aldrich said: “Same thing we told the other paper over there in Bucks County, the same thing — the grand jury, there’s nothing. There never has been. We don’t do that s*** here. That’s not how we operate. That’s it. I don’t have any other comments than there’s nothing there and I can’t believe you’re still asking this from 2010. It’s like there’s got to be some other news that you can — to look for. There’s nothing here. I have no idea. You must be bored.”

The sources also indicated that the alleged wrongdoing was a driving factor in the yo-yo-like employment of the township’s former manager, Peter Gray.

Gray proffered his resignation in September 2019, but then rescinded it when the township offered him a retroactive pay raise, according to a report from Four months later, Gray left the township for good and is currently the borough manager for New Hope.

The sources indicated that Gray kept a book or log of some sort that chronicled the alleged activity. That idea is key, as has reported a year ago that its own sources said “FBI special agents and prosecutors are in possession of a significant number of documents that went through former township manager Gray’s office.”

In September last year, Levittown Now reported that numerous individuals have testified before the grand jury investigating the matter, including Harvie and Gray.

The township is also dealing with two individuals suing it either over whistleblower claims or allegations that they were asked to perform illegal or unethical acts while in office and were then retaliated against when they objected.

“A fired Falls Township police officer claims in a new lawsuit that he has provided information to the FBI as part of an ongoing investigation involving the municipality’s government,” said a report from January.  “He also says he was wrongfully terminated by township officials because he is a whistleblower.”

In 2020, the township’s former code enforcement officer quit and later filed suit, alleging he had been asked by township officials to manipulate an inspection of a specific home. The allegations in the suit are contained to that incident, and seem unlikely to weigh on the FBI investigation.

The IBEW’s interest in Falls Township, as evidenced by its campaign donations, matches a time when the union seemed to be growing its influence in southeast Pennsylvania by leaps and bounds.

Through most of the second decade, the IBEW looked ascendant in the region, emblemized by John Dougherty, the business manager of the IBEW Local 98, based in Philadelphia. Dougherty, more commonly known by the nickname “Johnny Doc” was indisputably one of the most influential political power brokers in the region until he was indicted by the federal government in 2019.

The apex of Dougherty’s influence was on vivid display in 2015, when he marshaled more than $1.5 million in direct and in-kind donations to his brother’s successful run for the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court — an election that helped swing the balance of power at the top court and continues to reverberate politically to this day.

Dougherty also single-handedly funded the election of Bobby Henon, an IBEW member who served for ten years as a member of Philadelphia’s City Council. Henon was charged along with Dougherty with corruption charges in 2019. He was convicted and is currently serving a three-and-a-half years term in federal prison.

Falls Township has an established Democratic political bent, based on election results dating back more than a decade.

For example, in the hotly contested 2010 U.S. Senate election between Democrat Joe Sestak and Republican Pat Toomey, Sestak easily carried Falls Township 6,000 to 4,200. Statewide, Toomey eked out a 51-49 win in a Republican wave year.

Four of the five current members of the elected board of supervisors are Democrats.

None of the current members of the Falls Township Board of Supervisors, including Dence and Boraski, responded to a request for comment. Former members of the board, including Commissioner Harvie and Rocco, did not respond to a request for comment. For this outreach, Broad + Liberty used Falls Township government email addresses, personal emails gleaned from campaign finance reports, as well as text messages sent to phone numbers also taken from campaign finance reports.

A request for comment was also not returned from the IBEW national office in Washington D.C. which controls the PAC mentioned in this story, or from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Sources with further information on any aspect of this story — governance in Falls Township, knowledge of union activities in the township, etc — are encouraged to reach out to this reporter at [email protected], confidentiality assured.

Wray, Garland Throw Philly FBI Under the Bus in Houck Arrest

Confronted with tough questions about armed agents making an early-morning show of force at an unarmed pro-lifer’s house, America’s top law enforcement officials pushed the blame onto the Philadelphia office of the FBI.

At issue was the decision to send armed, shield-wielding federal agents, brandishing semi-automatic rifles, to arrest Bucks County pro-life activist Mark Houck. Houck was charged with allegedly violating the federal Freedom to Access Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act after a minor scuffle with a clinic escort. Local authorities declined to charge him over the incident, and his attorneys had already offered to bring in the father of seven to turn himself in.

Instead, the Biden administration’s Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland, executed an early-morning raid on his home to take Houck into custody.

When his case went to trial, it took a Philadelphia jury just an hour to acquit Houck of all charges.

Garland was grilled about the DOJ’s actions by Republican senators on Wednesday. Rather than explaining the rationale for bringing the case in the first place, or offering a defense of using armed agents for the arrest, Garland pushed the responsibility onto the local FBI.

Despite photos showing the armed agents, Garland insisted the Senators’ description of events “didn’t match” the information he was given by the local FBI. When asked how their actions matched the guidelines of the DOJ — which call for a “reasonable” use of force in each situation — he again deferred to the local agents.

“They made decisions on the ground about what is safest and easiest,” Garland said.

Senators found his answers less than satisfactory.

“In the early morning, Mrs. Houck said the children were screaming. He offered to turn himself in. And this is who you go to terrorize?” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)

“You use an unbelievable show of force with guns –liberals usually decry long guns and assault-style weapons. We’re supposed to hate long guns.  You’re happy to deploy them against Catholics and innocent children, and then you haul them into court. And a jury acquits him in one hour.  I just suggest to you that that is a disgraceful performance by your justice department and a disgraceful use of resources.”

Carrie Adamowski, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia FBI, defended the level of force used in the Houck case. “Extensive planning takes place prior to the service of any federal warrant. The FBI then employs the personnel and tactics deemed necessary to effect a safe arrest or search.

“While it’s the FBI’s standard practice not to discuss such operational specifics, we can say that the number of personnel and vehicles widely reported as being on scene is an overstatement, and the tactics used by FBI personnel were professional, in line with standard practices, and intended to ensure the safety of everyone present in and outside the residence.”

Houck told DVJournal the raid on his house remains fresh in his mind.

A judge had found he was not a flight risk, had no criminal history, and he was released on his own recognizance the same day as his arrest, Houck said. And yet, “they pointed M-16s at my wife and children.”

FBI agents shackled Houck to a table for six or seven hours, he said.

“It’s not normal to show up without a warrant,” Houck said. “It’s not normal for them not to announce ‘FBI’ and point guns at babies and little children.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray also faced questions about the Houck arrest, during a Tuesday interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier. Asked about the significant show of force, Wray also pushed the responsibility onto the local agents.

“Those decisions are made as they should be by the commanders on the ground in the field office who have the expertise about when to conduct operations safely and securely for the safety of everybody involved. And to my knowledge, those processes were all followed in this case,” Wray answered.

Houck said he believes his treatment, from arrest to trial, was not a mistake by local FBI officials.

“Obviously, Director Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland told the DOJ to pursue people like me,” Houck said.


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Thirteen Arrested for Gang-Related Thefts of 93 Guns

From a press release

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub, Special Agent-in-Charge EricDeGree of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division; and Springfield Township Police Chief Michael Pitkow announce the arrests two adults and 11 juveniles on charges related to three burglaries and one attempted burglary of federal firearms licensed dealers, i.e. gun  stores, in Montgomery and Bucks Counties.

In total, 93 firearms were stolen. Just 33 firearms have been recovered by law enforcement, leaving 60 firearms on the streets and unaccounted for.

In adult court, two adults and two direct-filed juveniles, all from Philadelphia, were charged: Angel Mason, 40, of Poplar Street, Elijah Terrell, 16, also of Poplar Street, Donte Purnell, 22, of Olympus Place, and Liv Hall, 18, of Parish Street. Nine juveniles from West Philadelphia, who ranged in age from 14 to 17 years old, were charged in Juvenile Court and their names were not released.

The three burglaries and an attempted burglary of gun stores occurred between Sept. 24, 2022, and Nov. 20, 2022. All were overnight burglaries that occurred between 2 and 4:30 a.m. In each successful burglary, a group of the defendants gained access to each gun store, smashed glass display cases and grabbed numerous firearms before fleeing. The details of each burglary are:

· Sept. 24, 2022 (4:22 a.m.): Founding Fathers Outfitters, Lafayette Hill section of Springfield Township, Montgomery County: 26 firearms stolen, 6 recovered to date by law enforcement, including one used in a shooting incident in Philadelphia and one found on a suspect involved in a Sept. 29, 2022 homicide in Philadelphia. Also of note regarding this burglary, the burglars drove a 2020 Kia Forte that had been stolen in Philadelphia just prior to the burglary.

· Nov. 12, 2022 (4:20 a.m.): Target Word Gun Shop, in Chalfont, New Britain Township in Bucks County: 32 pistols, 8 rifles and one suppressor stolen, 10 firearms recovered to date by law enforcement through search warrants.

· Nov. 20, 2022 (2:15 a.m.): Attempted Burglary of Continental Armory in Hatboro in Montgomery County; burglary was interrupted when an individual heard breaking glass and called 911.

· Nov. 20, 2022 (2:41 a.m.): Tanners Sports Center in Warwick Township in Bucks County; 27 firearms stolen, 16 recovered by law enforcement, including one used in an armed robbery in Pennsauken, N.J. on Dec. 14, 2022. The getaway vehicle fled at speeds over 100 mph.

The joint investigation into these gun store burglaries was led by the Montgomery County Detective Bureau, Bucks County Detective Bureau, the ATF—Philadelphia Field Division and Springfield Township Police, with critical participation by Philadelphia Police, Hatboro Police, New Britain Township Police, Warwick Township Police. The investigators also  received assistance from the FBI, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General and the Delaware State Police.

Through the use of numerous investigative techniques including interviews, physical surveillance, video surveillance, social media analysis and cellphone data and records, the investigation found that several members of a known, neighborhood-based juvenile street gang in Philadelphia—called “54th Street”—were responsible for the three completed gun store burglaries and one attempted gun store burglary in Montgomery and Bucks counties. The evidence found that the group also planned and had not yet executed two additional gun store burglaries. Criminal activity commonly associated with “54th Street” includes, but is not limited to, car-jackings, robberies, burglaries and gun violence, especially directed at rival groups.

The completed gun store burglaries resulted in 93 stolen guns. Detectives found that those stolen firearms were rapidly distributed and illegally transferred between members of the corrupt organization and to others, which led to the use of these stolen guns to commit crimes.

Of the 33 recovered stolen firearms, several have been recovered by law enforcement during the commission of crimes.

· Sept. 26, 2022: a Glock 17 firearm stolen two days earlier was recovered by Philadelphia Police in the possession of Ellijah Terrell on scene of an armed robbery at 5500 Poplar Street in Philadelphia;

· Oct. 5, 2022: an H&K 9mm firearm stolen during the Sept. 24, 2022 burglary was recovered by Philadelphia Police when they executed a search warrant related to a Sept. 29, 2022 shooting at 54th Street and Willows Avenue where a 16-year-old died of a gunshot wound to the head and a 14-year-old was also shot but survived,

· Dec. 14, 2022: a firearm stolen from the Tanner Sports Center burglary was recovered by Pensauken, N.J. Police after it was used by juvenile in an armed robbery.

“These defendants brazenly broke into gun stores and stole nearly 100 firearms, then sold and transferred them widely throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. With 60 firearms unaccounted for, we still don’t know the extent of the damage by this corrupt organization’s criminal activities, including shootings and murders,” said Steele.

“These arrests have made our communities safer and came about because of the excellent joint investigation with our numerous local, state and federal law enforcement partners.”

“DA Steele took the word that I would use to describe this organized criminal rampage right out of my mouth: ‘Brazen,” said Weintraub. “Together, we fight hard every day against lawless criminals that steal and use crime guns to terrorize our communities, regardless of whose borders they cross. And we will not rest. More to come.”

One of the key partners in this joint investigation was the ATF. “Burglaries of federal firearms licensees are a top priority for ATF, and we are eager to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions,” said ATF SAIC DeGree. “The theft of firearms from FFLs and their diversion into the illegal firearms marketplace is a very serious crime that affects all the citizens of the Commonwealth. We will continue to work alongside our local, county, state and federal partners to seek justice for anyone who violates the federal firearms laws.”

Charges vary by defendant, but all include felony charges related to operating a corrupt organization, conspiracy, criminal use of a communications facility and firearms trafficking charges. Other charges against defendants include burglary,  criminal trespass, robbery, theft, receiving stolen property, aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and possessing an instrument of crime.

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Lawyer: Arrest of Bucks County Pro-Lifer Meant to Intimidate

Sen. Pat Toomey joined the chorus of lawmakers who signed a sharply critical letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray over the unorthodox arrest of a prominent Bucks County pro-life advocate. And his attorney says the entire operation is designed to intimidate pro-life Americans into silence.

Mark Houck, 48, of Kintnersville, was charged with violating the federal Freedom of Access of Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) regarding an October 2021 incident outside an abortion clinic in Philadelphia. Philadelphia police and the district attorney’s office had declined to charge Houck at the time. A private legal action by the pro-abortion activist was dismissed in July.

Houck pleaded not guilty to the federal charges this past week. If convicted, he faces up to a maximum of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000, according to a Department of Justice statement.

Houck has been represented by the Thomas More Society, a public interest law firm, which has been in contact with the FBI since he received a “target letter” in May. Houck’s attorneys informed the DOJ he would voluntarily appear in court. But according to the family’s account, a contingent of heavily-armed FBI agents showed up at Houck’s home last week pointing guns at his family, including young children.

“Given their cooperation with federal law enforcement, the family did not expect to be awakened at 7 a.m. with reportedly over 20 FBI agents surrounding their home wearing armor-plated tactical vests, ballistic helmets, and holding ballistic shields and long guns,” Toomey and his fellow senators wrote.

“The Houck family’s account of the FBI coming to their family home to arrest Mark Houck, who was already cooperating with law enforcement, is concerning,” said Toomey (R-Pa.) via Twitter.

Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel for Thomas More, told DVJournal the letter from Toomey and the other senators was very “pointed,” asking why the FBI did not use a de-escalation plan Garland had put into place earlier this year.

“Just three years ago, I won a FACE case on similar facts in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. On that basis, they have no case against Mark Houck,” said Breen. “And his case, not involving a Mafia boss, he’s got a men’s ministry. (Houck is) what you might call an evangelist, a Catholic speaker.”

“He does not have a criminal history of any sort and when a distinguished former federal prosecutor says, ‘I will bring my client in,’ and even if they wanted to make a show of arresting him, you would not send more than a couple of agents, and those agents would not be dragging him out at gunpoint.

“They would be knocking on the door, presenting an arrest warrant, letting him get his effects and, in a dignified way, say goodbye to his family for the day, then go downtown. Under no circumstances do you send at least 20 federal agents and apparently state law enforcement as well, with shields, long guns, helmets, and the like,” said Breen.

The Thomas More Society has brought in well-known Philadelphia lawyer Brian McMonagle to defend Houck.

According to Ryan-Marie Houck, 15 law enforcement vehicles were on their front lawn.

“Can you even imagine? What if their 6-year-old had gone out with a toy gun because he saw his daddy taken away? What would have happened?” asked Breen. Mark Houck is “not a threat,” he said.

Breen believes the raid was orchestrated out of DOJ headquarters in Washington, not Philadelphia.

Asked whether it would have a chilling effect on people’s rights to freedom of religion and speech, Breen said, “Well, the only reason for a show of force like this was to send a message to people of faith, pro-life people, in an intimidating way. So that’s how I received it. We see that as an intimidation message. If you exercise your First Amendment rights, there could be a bunch of federal agents at your door.”

And Houck was not someone involved in national politics. He was an ordinary person, Breen pointed out.

“If Mark Houck was such a danger to the community, why did it take a year to go and pick him up?” asked Breen.

The alleged victim approached Houck and his then 12-year-old son while praying in front of an abortion clinic. That man “harassed” the boy, and “an altercation ensued,” Breen said.

Breen said the incident had no connection to the FACE Act because Houck was not blocking the entrance to the abortion clinic or stopping anyone from getting an abortion.

“None of that happened here,” said Breen. “This is an intimidation tactic, a meritless case, and we are going to stand up firmly against it.”

“Maybe the Justice Department thought they could roll one individual pro-lifer…but we are going to make sure he has the most vigorous defense that can be mounted,” said Breen.

“We are very grateful that the senators and congress members are looking to assist,” he said. “They are also asking the question, ‘What in the world is going on with this raid? Why are you prosecuting this guy? It’s a local matter.”

The DVJournal asked area Congress members and candidates for Congress whether they plan to sign the Houck letter.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) did not respond. Nor did Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), or Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery County).

“As one of the most bipartisan members of Congress, Rep. Houlahan is constantly looking for opportunities to work across the aisle to deliver real progress for her community, not partisan talking points,” said Aubrey Stuber, communications director for (Chrissy) Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks). “The letter was never even circulated to our legislative staff for consideration, a sign that it was intended to be a partisan exercise. So while Rep. Houlahan takes oversight of our federal agencies very seriously, this letter demonstrates a lack of collaboration and bipartisanship.”

Dean’s Republican opponent, Christian Nascimento, said, “My understanding was that the local authorities either dismissed or did not pursue charges in this case. If that is true, then the DOJ should explain why the federal government felt the need to get involved, and on what evidence.”

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WATERGATE at 50: Dirty Tricks Have Just Gotten More Sophisticated

All this week, Delaware Valley Journal will be publishing stories about the impact of Watergate on American politics and culture, leading up to the 50th anniversary of the break-in on Friday, June 17th.


June 17 marks the 50th anniversary of the night when D.C. police arrested five men breaking into the Watergate hotel/office/apartment complex. The burglars were operatives of President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign. Their mission: to tap phones and steal documents from the Democratic National Committee, which had its headquarters in the Watergate.

The operation was planned and supervised by G. Gordon Liddy, a former FBI agent who was the general counsel of the president’s campaign. He financed the caper with campaign funds. Liddy and the burglars were criminally charged and convicted. Others who participated in the subsequent cover-up orchestrated by the White House, including John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s adviser for domestic affairs.

The investigation of the attempted Watergate break-in by a select committee chaired by Sen. Sam Ervin of North Carolina eventually led to the White House audiotapes, the infamous 18-minute gap, and House Judiciary Committee approval of three articles of impeachment. Nixon resigned August 8, 1974, to avoid a vote by the House and a potential impeachment trial in the Senate.

A month later, President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon, saying his action was intended to end a “long national nightmare” and a disruptive scandal that had polarized the public. He feared that potential litigation against the former president would arouse “ugly passions” and challenge the “credibility of our free institutions of government … at home and abroad.”

So, have things gotten better since then? Liddy and his fellow co-conspirators were driven by political objectives — to find out everything they could about what the Democratic Party was doing and to get information that they could use to sabotage George McGovern’s presidential campaign. But they got caught because of their ineptness.

Compare that to what we now know happened in the 2016 presidential campaign. The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign — using campaign lawyers, an opposition research firm and allies in the press — orchestrated a smear campaign against Donald Trump. The concocted hoax about his supposed collusion with the Russian government continued well into his presidency.

The Clinton campaign didn’t have to engage bumbling burglars for a risky wiretapping scheme. Instead, as the special counsel, the Justice Department’s inspector general, and the John Durham investigation have revealed, they created a salacious “dossier” rife with phony claims. They also enlisted the help of a technology executive and university researchers with government cybersecurity contracts to secretly scoop up internet communications data from Trump both during the campaign and from the White House itself after he became president. The sophistication of this conspiracy makes Gordon Liddy look like an amateur.

Even the FBI got entangled in this dirty political trick, leading the nation’s most powerful law enforcement agency to abuse its authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to spy on people connected to the opposition presidential campaign. This, in turn, led to the expensive, unjustified two-year investigation by Special Counsel Bob Mueller that baselessly hampered Trump (and his advisers) in carrying out his presidential duties.

In 1972, Nixon’s dirty trick failed, and Liddy and his co-conspirators all went to prison. The Clinton campaign’s dirty trick failed to win the election. Still, it succeeded in hobbling the Trump presidency and corrupting the Justice Department. Yet no one has gone to prison as a result of what happened in 2016. The cover-up was so successful that we didn’t even know about the illegal spying and politicization of Justice until well after it occurred and the dirty deed was done.

So, what have we learned in the 50 years since Watergate? Dirty tricksters in politics have become more adept at hiding what they are doing, abusing advances in technology to further their dishonest ends, weaponizing federal law enforcement agencies against their political opponents, and using their friends in the media to ensure they are successful.

Americans deserve better. And unfortunately, the dirty tricks in the last presidential campaign have done precisely what Gerald Ford feared: raised “ugly passions,” polarized the electorate, and damaged the “credibility of our free institutions of government … at home and abroad.”

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‘It Can Happen Anywhere:’ Radnor Township Hosts Active Shooter Seminar

It can happen anytime, anywhere, If an active shooter were to open fire, what would you do?

The Radnor Township Police outlined the “Run, hide, fight” response at an Active Shooter & Safety Seminar Tuesday evening.

The event, held in conjunction with the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI, focused on how area religious institutions can protect their staff and congregants and how to be prepared should the worst occur.

“We are here not to scare you but inform you,” Radnor Police Superintendent Chris Flanagan said. “As a community, we need to work together to have these tough conversations and make sure we’re prepared for any situation.”

Some of the topics discussed during the symposium included the psychological profiles of shooters, a review of recent attacks, Radnor Police responses to active shooters, vulnerability assessments, and more.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer noted the rising concern over how poor behavioral mental health and domestic grievances often lead to these tragedies.

“This is an alarming issue that has grown over the past couple of years and has often been amplified through social media platforms,” Stollsteimer said. “We have 40 detectives in our office to fully assess any situation that comes our way. It’s also important to have mental health professionals on the scene as we assist our local police departments.”

Pennsylvania had the highest level of white supremacist propaganda incidents in 2021, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League. And New York City saw a 400 percent increase in antisemitic hate crimes in February.

One recent attack discussed was the shooting in Colleyville, Texas, in early January. In that incident, a gunman who took hostages inside a Colleyville synagogue died after FBI agents shot him following a nearly 11-hour standoff. Authorities labeled it an act of terrorism.

Radnor Police Superintendent Chris Flanagan speaks at the Active Shooter Seminar.

“While this was a very complex issue, it’s always important to be precautions. If you ever sense something suspicious, reach out to local authorities immediately,” Flanagan said. “That’s why in Radnor Township, we always perform a simple checkup technique to make sure we are fully aware of what’s going on in our community.”

The next topic of discussion was how to respond to those situations through the technique of ‘Run, Hide, Fight.’

The ‘Run’ technique advises you to scan for exits and quickly and cautiously evacuate the scene as soon as possible.

In the ‘Hide’ technique, people are instructed to hide, lock, and barricade the door while silencing their phones to make sure their location is kept secret.

The ‘Fight’ technique is a last resort technique when you plan to defend yourself and attack the shooter.

“We are big believers in this philosophy,” said Radnor Officer Christopher Gluck. “Whenever you’re on the line with 911, make sure to quickly and calmly explain the entire situation.”

Radnor Township also promotes gun safety and gun locks were distributed at the symposium.

“The best thing to do is to keep having these conversations about preparation and safety by continuing to build relationships with our local law enforcement in our communities,”  Stollsteimer said.

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