Tuesday, September 30, 2014

South Philly "Wannabe Wiseguy" Convicted In Murder-For-Hire Case

Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia is covering the murder-for-hire case of a South Philly auto repair shop owner with alleged organized crime connections for bigtrial.net.

Wannabe wiseguy Ron Galati was convicted of murder-for-hire and conspiracy charges today in a case that offered a look into a bizarre and twisted South Philadelphia family dynamic.

A federal jury deliberated for about five hours before returning guilty verdicts on all four charges Galati faced. No date has been set for sentencing, but the 64-year-old auto body shop owner is looking at from 20 years to life.

With a prior conviction for insurance fraud and with two other cases pending in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia, Galati could very well spend the rest of his life in prison.

"We're not surprised, but we're disappointed," said Anthony Voci Jr., Galati's defense attorney. Voci said Galati took the verdict well. But members of his family were "devastated," according to Galati's twin sister Renee.

"I can't believe it," she said through tears. "This is something my brother is not capable of."

The jury of 10 women and two men, after hearing five days of testimony and deliberating for about six hours, thought otherwise. The verdict was an endorsement of the prosecution case and a clear rejection of an alternative motive offered by Voci during an impassioned defense and closing argument.

Galati was convicted of hiring hitmen to kill the boyfriend of his estranged daughter Tiffany.

The boyfriend, Andrew Tuono, 35, was shot as he and Tiffany left their Atlantic City townhouse on Nov. 30 of last year. Tuono, shot three times, survived the assault. He was one of several witnesses called by the prosecution.

While Galati liked to play the role of The Godfather and frequently quoted lines from famous gangster movies, the plot he was convicted of setting in motion was strictly a grade-B operation.

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Federal Indictments Charge 40 Alleged Drug Traffickers In Chester, PA

The U.S. Justice Department rleased the below information:

PHILADELPHIA—Federal, state, and local law enforcement, today, arrested more than 30 people on charges of distributing drugs in and around the city of Chester, PA. The operation targeted alleged members of the violent Rose and Upland Drug Trafficking Group (“DTG”) and coincided with the unsealing of 14 indictments charging 40 people. The group is charged with selling drugs, illegally carrying guns and stashing both drugs and guns in a neighborhood playground.

The main indictment is a 261-count superseding indictment that charges 22 of the 40 defendants with operating a drug market within the Rose and Upland neighborhood on the east side of Chester City.

According to the indictment, William Dorsey ran the operation, sold multiple kilograms of cocaine, often in the form of crack, to members of the group and others. One of the group’s largest alleged cocaine and heroin suppliers, Paris Church, has been charged in five separate indictments alleging that he, along with others, distributed and attempted to obtain approximately 25 kilograms of cocaine for re-distribution.

The charges were announced today by United States Attorney Zane David Memeger, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan, Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Robert R. Niczyporowicz, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Edward J. Hanko, and Chester Police Chief Joseph Bail.

According to the superseding indictment, the DTG was distributing cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin to customers in their territory and elsewhere between September 2012 and 2014.

Charged with Dorsey are: Donald Womack, Sr., Paris Church, Braheem Edwards, Naim Butler, Ronell Whitehead, Michael Lewis, Breon Burton, JaVaughn Anderson, Robert Duson, Spencer Payne, Satchel Johnson, Alonzo Jones, Jamear McGurn, Classie Mae Dorsey, Herman Purnell, Dondre Ellis, Erven Towers-Rolon, John Dennis, Charles Stansbury, Waali Shepherd, and Kareem York.

The defendants are also charged with maintaining a drug house, possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes, and distributing cocaine, crack and heroin within 1,000 feet of area schools and a playground. Some of the defendants are also charged with being felons in possession of firearms. During the investigation, 15 firearms were recovered.

Several other individuals are charged in separate indictments with drug trafficking conspiracies and other drug distribution offenses. Included in those indictments are: Kareem Bannister, George King, Nathaniel Coles, Lamont Carter, Rafael Hunt-Irving, Michael Pinkney, Solomon Whitaker, Shmeca Melvin, Anthony Floyd (of North Carolina), Steven Miller (of Maryland), and Anthony Potter, Shawn Mills, Tiffany Beauford, Farud Gigetts, Avery Mosley, Al-Ghani Rasheed, Steven Crews, and LaQuan Allen.

According to the superseding indictment, members of the DTG who sold cocaine hid the drugs in various ?stash? locations in order to avoid having drugs on them if they were stopped by police. Those stash locations included playgrounds, abandoned houses, alley ways, trash cans, mailboxes, windowsills, and other locations in the neighborhood. Members of the RUDTG controlled the drug sales in the Rose and Upland geographic territory and did not permit non-group members to sell drugs in that area. To protect their territory and drug trafficking activities, members routinely carried, and sometimes used, loaded firearms or had firearms available in hidden locations, including their stash locations.

“The people who live in the city of Chester, particularly in the area surrounding Rose and Upland Streets, deserve a break,” said Memeger. “They deserve better. And we will keep going back there until we release the choke hold these drug organizations have on that community. This is the third major multi–agency law enforcement initiative in that city and we will continue to commit the federal resources necessary to free the many good, hardworking citizens who call Chester home from violent drug traffickers.”

“Today, a major step was taken to make the City of Chester, PA a safer place” said DEA Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Bob R. Niczyporowicz. “The outstanding cooperation between the local, state and federal partners utilizing their resources led to the infiltration and dismantlement of this violent DTO, which had a stronghold on the streets of Chester. Taking the entire hierarchy of this organization off the streets should have a significant impact and help improve the safety and welfare of the residents of Chester.”

“These arrests dismantle an insidious drug trafficking organization that operated throughout the city for years and will make a significant dent in criminal activity and violence not only in Chester but in surrounding communities,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan. “This is an excellent example of collaboration among law enforcement that sends a clear message that we are continuing to aggressively work together to address the violent gang problems that communities like Chester have faced for too long.”

“Residents of a city blighted by violence often feel like law enforcement has just given up,” said FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Ed J. Hanko. “Well, that’s clearly not the case with the FBI, and all of the partners involved in today’s arrests. We’ll keep working to make Chester’s streets safer—corner by corner, block by block.”

“In my 43 years of police work, I’m most amazed by the good, old-fashioned, boots-on-the-ground law enforcement effort that achieved today’s result,” said Chester Police Chief Joseph Bail. “Running a close second is the collaborative focus among the local, state, and federal agencies, all in the name of making Chester a safer place.”

The government has given notice of intent to forfeit 15 firearms seized during the investigation, along with approximately $1.8 million proceeds derived from the crimes charged.

The case was investigated by the Delaware County Office of the District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Chester Police Department, and the Pennsylvania State Police. Also providing substantial manpower and assistance in the arrests were agents from the United States Marshall Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Faithe Moore Taylor, Ashley K. Lunkenheimer, and A. Nicole Phillips.

The Guardian's 100 Best Novels: No 54 - "The Maltese Falcon" By Dashiell Hammett (1929)

Robert McCrum at the British newspaper the Guardian offers a piece on Dashiell Hammett's classic crime novel The Maltese Falcon, which comes in at number 54 in the newspaper's 100 Best Novels series.

Raymond Chandler, who has yet to appear in this series, once said: “Hammett is all right. I give him everything. There were a lot of things he could not do, but what he did, he did superbly.” He added, in a summary that helps define Hammett’s achievement: “He was spare, frugal, hard-boiled, but he did over and over again what only the best writers can ever do at all. He wrote scenes that seemed never to have been written before.” He also gave his characters a distinctive language and convincing motivations in a genre that had grown stereotyped, flaccid and uninvolving.

The Maltese Falcon is the Hammett novel that jumps from the pages of its genre and into literature. It’s the book that introduces Sam Spade, the private detective who seduced a generation of readers, leading directly to Philip Marlowe. Dorothy Parker, never a pushover, confessed herself “in a daze of love” such as she had not known in literature “since I encountered Sir Lancelot” and claimed to have read the novel some 30 or 40 times.

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You can check out the Guardian's list of 100 Best Novels via the below link:


Monday, September 29, 2014

'Decisive' Air Power Thwarts ISIL's Capabilities, Official Says

Amanni Lyle at DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2014 - Air power has stymied Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists, with the Air Force accomplishing 74 percent of the more than 240 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since Aug. 8, a senior Air Force official told reporters at the Pentagon today.

Maj. Gen. Jeff Harrigian, the Air Force's assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, said airmen are working closely with joint and coalition partners to execute current operations as part of the "persistent and sustained" campaign against the terrorist group.

"Air power's targeted actions are disrupting ISIL's command and control, their logistics and infrastructure, and their freedom of movement," Harrigian said. "We see air power as one of the fundamental components of the comprehensive strategy."

The general also reported that the Air Force's decisive capabilities have prevented large-scale force massing, have degraded ISIL's command and control capabilities, and will, over time, stanch ISIL's financing, which he acknowledged will require a whole-of-government approach to address. The Air Force has executed some 50 percent of the airstrikes in Syria thus far, and 70 percent of the more than 3,800 total sorties in Iraq and Syria, Harrigian said.

The Air Force, he added, also has accomplished 95 percent of the almost 1,300 tanker sorties essential to persistence and range requirements, as well as 700 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sorties in support of the operation.

Noting his dual role as Air Force operations deputy to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Harrigian explained that the Air Force has worked for years to develop airmen across the theater, training them both downrange and in garrison to seamlessly integrate into operations and ensure necessary interoperability.

But U.S. air power alone, the general asserted, will not destroy ISIL. "We've been working with our coalition partners and sister services for years to develop the full array of air power capabilities that we're bringing into this fight, leveraging our lessons from both combat and training to execute these current operations," he said. "This broad coalition has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of the strategy against ISIL."

The F-22 Raptor fighter jet has been an important part of the effort, the general said, bringing stealth, speed and integrated avionics that facilitate situational awareness for the pilots, planners and joint terminal air controllers.

"Ultimately, ... air power offers a broad range of capabilities to the combatant commander, and ultimately, the president," Harrigian said. "Beyond airstrikes, we'll continue to provide ISR, the tankers, command and control platforms and humanitarian assistance as required to meet the enduring and ... emerging requirements that will occur over the course of the operation."

Note: The above DoD photo shows two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fighters.

South Philly Murder-For-Hire Trial To Turn On Testimony From Hit Men

Julia Terruso is covering the murder-for-hire trial of a South Philly auto repair shop owner with alleged organized crime connections for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The only evidence tying Ronald Galati to the shooting of his daughter's boyfriend is the testimony of three men, all career criminals, who say Galati hired them to do it.

It's up to a jury whether to believe them.

"This is a simple case, simple facts. The defendant, Ron Galati, wanted Andrew Tuono dead," U.S. Assistant District Attorney Jason Richardson said in his closing argument today in federal court in Camden.

Richardson reiterated in a 30-minute summation how the three hit men - Ronald Walker, Jerome Johnson and Alvin Matthews - all testified that Galati sent them to shoot Tuono in Atlantic City. The three have pleaded guilty in the case and are facing life in prison. Tuono was struck three times while walking with Tiffany Galati from his apartment to a car with Tiffany Galati but survived the attack.

Galati, an alleged mob associate, is on trial on murder-for-hire and attempted-murder charges that could land him in prison for 15 years. He also faces murder-for-hire charges in Philadelphia and insurance scam charges in Philadelphia. No testimony about Galati's friendships or connection to the Philadelphia mob was admissible in the trial.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

U.S. Military, Partner Nations Conduct Airstrikes Against ISIL In Iraq and Syria

The U.S. Central Command released the below information:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2014 - U.S. and partner nation military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria Friday and today, using fighter and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct seven airstrikes. Separately, U.S. military forces used attack aircraft to conduct three airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq.

In Syria, an ISIL vehicle was destroyed south of Al-Hasakah. Also near Al-Hasakah several buildings that were part of an ISIL garrison were destroyed. An ISIL command and control facility near Manbij was damaged.

An ISIL building and two armed vehicles at the Kobani border crossing were destroyed. An ISIL held airfield, an ISIL garrison and an ISIL training camp near Ar Raqqah were damaged.

To conduct these strikes, the U.S. employed U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy attack and fighter aircraft deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations.

In addition, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates also participated in these strikes.

All aircraft exited the strike areas safely. In Iraq, three airstrikes southwest of Irbil destroyed four ISIL armed vehicles and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

All aircraft exited the strike areas safely. The strikes were conducted as part of the President's comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.

Friday, September 26, 2014

What The Jury Knows, And Doesn't Know, In The South Philly Murder-For-Hire Trial

Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia is covering the federal murder-for-hire trial of the South Philadelphia auto body shop owner with alleged organized crime connection for bigtrial.net.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday morning in the murder-for-hire trial of South Philadelphia auto body shop owner Ron Galati.

A jury of 10 women and two men will likely begin deliberations later in the day. Galati's future is in the balance. The 64-year-old wannabe wiseguy, who opted not to take the witness stand, faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. A sentence near the top of the guideline would be tantamount to life.

If the jury convicts, Galati's daughter Tiffany, 31, will be the witness who sealed his fate.

If the jury acquits, or can't make a decision, Tiffany may also be the reason.

The tart-tongued South Philadelphia princess was one of the last witnesses called by the prosecution in the weeklong case. She spent nearly three hours on the stand, largely supporting the testimony of three other key witnesses who said Ron Galati had hired them to kill Andrew Tuono, Tiffany's then boyfriend.
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