Kai Franklin, daughter of Atlanta Mayor, pleads guilty in drug trafficking probe

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Hat Tip:  By Alan Judd, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Greenville, S.C. — A daughter of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin pleaded guilty today to federal charges that she illegally concealed proceeds from her former husband’s transcontinental drug-trafficking ring.

Kai Franklin Graham, 35, the oldest of the mayor’s three children, pleaded guilty to structuring financial transactions in a way that avoided scrutiny from federal authorities.

 

While her former husband, Tremayne Graham, 34, was a fugitive from justice, she converted cash from him into 14 postal money orders totaling $14,000. She admitted going to seven Atlanta area post offices in a single day to avoid federal financial rules that would require reports of transactions exceeding $2,000.

Franklin Graham is likely to be sentenced to three months of home confinement and three years of probation. However, if she fails to comply with terms of her plea agreement with federal prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Henry M. Herlong Jr. could increase the sentence to as much as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Herlong will formally sentence Franklin Graham in 60 to 90 days.

The mayor sat in a federal courtroom in Greenville this morning and watched as her daughter entered the plea. She declined to comment afterward.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Moore said Franklin Graham is expected to cooperate in several aspects of an investigation into her former husband’s drug business, which moved at least 2,200 pounds of Mexican cocaine from Los Angeles through Atlanta to South Carolina.

He said authorities will question her about a double homicide in Atlanta linked to the case. One of the victims, Ulysses Hackett III, was a co-defendant of Tremayne Graham’s and was thought to be considering an offer to testify against him in exchange for a lenient sentence.

A federal grand jury in South Carolina indicted Tremayne Graham in April 2004 in the drug case, which has resulted in more than a dozen guilty pleas. While he was out of jail on a $400,000 bond, Hackett and his girlfriend, Misty Denise Carter, were shot to death in her Virginia-Highland townhouse.

Atlanta police never solved the case, but federal prosecutors have alleged Graham ordered the killings.

According to earlier testimony, Graham then told an associate that he had moved into the mayor’s house, hoping to signal he feared he, too, would be killed. Soon, he fled to California. From there, authorities allege, he sent couriers with bags of cash to his wife.

Although Franklin Graham pleaded guilty to financial transactions conducted on Nov. 12, 2004, Moore said in court that the government could have proved that she engaged in additional transactions to hide the source of her cash.

Franklin Graham filed for divorce in January 2005.

Authorities captured Graham in June 2005 in California. Prosecutors later alleged he lied about his former wife’s role in his drug business ” one factor that prompted the judge to impose the maximum sentence against him: life with no chance of parole.

Must be nice to have Mama’s pull when you’re jammed up in a drug sting.  If it was you or me, they woulda charged us as accessories and sent us up for a cool quarter-mandatory.  That’s 25 years, for all y’all who ain’t know.

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Weekend Developments

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U.S. REPRESENTATIVE JULIA CARSON 1938-2007

As I am sure you’ve heard, Indiana Congresswoman Julia Carson, 69,  passed over the weekend after a short bout with lung cancer.  The Congressional Black Caucus lost another trail blazer and progressive stalwart.   Mrs. Carson’s career in public service was long and distinguished by her grace, wit, determination, and compassion.   Holding public office for 35 years, she is the first African American woman to be elected to both Houses of the Indiana legislature, local elective office, and the U.S. Congress. 

The second African American woman elected to Congress from Indiana, and the first to be re-elected, Julia Carson stands alone in a class by herself.  In 35 years in elective office, Miss Julia never lost a race.   Her devotion to the down and out was legendary and so was their affection for her.   On Friday, Miss Julia will break down one last barrier when she becomes the first African American woman to lie in state at the Indiana State Capitol.     Well Done, Sistah.  Well Done.

Also this weekend, the endorsements of the major papers in the first caucus and primary states came out.   In a surprise move, the Des Moines Register endorsed the Hillary Clinton, a.k.a the Borg Queen.   It was just what she needed to right her listing ship of inevitability. I was expecting them them to either re-endorse Edwards or to endorse Obama.   Not to be left out, Obama picked  up the endorsement of the Boston Globe, a major coup because New Hampshire has long been considered a bedroom community to Massachusetts.  

 Mitt Romney at CPAC

Finally, Mitt Romney appeared on Meet the Press yesterday to have his chesnuts roasted over an open fire.  He and Tim Russert had this interesting exchange.  

 MR. RUSSERT:  You, you raise the issue of color of skin.  In 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court, Brown vs.  Board of Education, desegregated all our public schools.  In 1964 civil rights laws giving full equality to black Americans. And yet it wasn’t till 1978 that the Mormon church decided to allow blacks to participate fully.  Here was the headlines in the papers in June of ’78. “Mormon Church Dissolves Black Bias.  Citing new revelation from God, the president of the Mormon Church decreed for the first time black males could fully participate in church rites.” You were 31 years old, and your church was excluding blacks from full participation.  Didn’t you think, “What am I doing part of an organization that is viewed by many as a racist organization?”

GOV. ROMNEY:  I’m very proud of my faith, and it’s the faith of my fathers, and I certainly believe that it is a, a faith–well, it’s true and I love my faith.  And I’m not going to distance myself in any way from my faith.  But you can see what I believed and what my family believed by looking at, at our lives.  My dad marched with Martin Luther King.  My mm was a tireless crusader for civil rights. 

You may recall that my dad walked out of the Republican convention in 1964 in San Francisco in part because Barry Goldwater, in his speech, gave my dad the impression that he was someone who was going to be weak on civil rights.  So my dad’s reputation, my mom’s and my own has always been one of reaching out to people and not discriminating based upon race or anything else.  And so those are my fundamental core beliefs, and I was anxious to see a change in, in my church.

I can remember when, when I heard about the change being made.  I was driving home from, I think, it was law school, but I was driving home, going through the Fresh Pond rotary in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  I heard it on the radio, and I pulled over and, and literally wept. 

(Romney becomes teary-eyed) Even at this day it’s emotional, and so it’s very deep and fundamental in my, in my life and my most core beliefs that all people are children of God.  My faith has always told me that.  My faith has also always told me that, in the eyes of God, every individual was, was merited the, the fullest degree of happiness in the hereafter, and I, and I had no question in my mind that African-Americans and, and blacks generally, would have every right and every benefit in the hereafter that anyone else had and that God is no respecter of persons.

MR. RUSSERT:  But it was wrong for your faith to exclude it for as long as it did.

GOV. ROMNEY:  I’ve told you exactly where I stand.  My view is that there–there’s, there’s no discrimination in the eyes of God, and I could not have been more pleased than to see the change that occurred.

I am so “moved” that a grown man wept about his church embracing the twentieth century, 10 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, and deigning to allow black folk to participate fully in the church’s ministerial ranks.  But the unanswered question is what did Mitt Romney and his parents do before then to make this change occur?   The answer is probably nothing.  Because if Mama and Daddy or Mitt had done anything, we’d have heard about it before now and he certainly woulda said so yesterday.  Whatcha’ll think?

Lieberwhore endorses John McCain

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Republican Presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., ...

Hat Tip:  Jennifer Loven, Associated Press

Sen. John McCain, trying to keep momentum in this state’s critical Republican primary race, brought in something unusual on Monday — an endorsement from the other party’s former vice presidential nominee.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Democrat Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, said he had intended to wait until after the primaries to make a choice for the 2008 presidential race. But McCain asked for his support and no Democrat did.

Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said he chose his longtime Senate colleague because he has the best shot of breaking partisan gridlock in Washington. Both men also support the war in Iraq.

“On all the issues, you’re never going to do anything about them unless you have a leader who can break through the partisan gridlock,” Lieberman said. “The status quo in Washington is not working.”

Independents can vote in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 8, and they are the people McCain is targeting, much as he did in winning the state’s Republican primary in 2000 over George W. Bush.

Traveling with Lieberman Monday morning to Hillsborough’s American Legion hall, McCain said the Connecticut senator is his answer to the people he hears in every town hall meeting who ask, “Why can’t you all work together?”

Lieberman said McCain’s approach to Iraq and his credentials on national security are the main reasons he is supporting a Republican for president.

But both men said the election seems increasingly about the economy and domestic issues rather than Iraq. On those issues, Lieberman acknowledged he does not always see eye-to-eye with his 2008 pick. But, said Lieberman, McCain is always straightforward about where he stands.

For McCain, behind in the polls here but gaining, the endorsement carries the risk of alienating conservatives who have been critical of his support for immigration and campaign finance reforms.

“If I get some criticism for aligning myself with a good friend I have worked with for many years, I will be more than happy to accept that criticism,” McCain said.

For Lieberman, it marks another turn away from the Democrats.

“Political party is important, but it’s not more important than what’s good for the country and it’s not more important than friendship,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman won re-election to the Senate in 2006 as an independent, after losing the Democratic primary largely because of his support for the war. High-profile Democrats abandoned him after the primary defeat.

This has to be the most epic betrayal of all time.  The Majority Leader, Harry Reid, mumbled something about having “the greatest respect for Joe.”   Greatest respect, Harry?  F*#@, Joe and F*#@ You.