If the Feds need hard evidence on your, they can do a wiretap. This requires a court order. It is also expensive to operate. There are some devices you can buy that detect whether you are under surveillance.
Before sentencing you meet up with a probation officer. That title is a bit misleading. Their job at this point has nothing to do with probation. They write up a report which is supposed to be a comprehensive profile of you. Make sure you have your lawyer present during this interview.
Lawyers cost a lot. If you cannot afford one, your best bet is to study up yourself. This is good advice even if you must rely on the public defender. Buy a couple of the great books such as The Prisoners Self Help Litigation Manual. You should also pick up Federal Sentencing Guidelines, as well as Federal Criminal Codes and Rules. You got to lean the rules of the game before you can play ball.
Timing is Everything - I was assigned a tricky problem to work on. Some of the data was missing in our production environment. Everything seemed to work fine in development and ...