Thursday, June 29, 2017

Statement By U.S. Attorney John W. Huber On Kate’s Law And The No Sanctuary For Criminals Act

The U.S. Justice Department released the below statement by the Utah U.S. Attorney John W. Huber (seen in the below photo), which was delivered at the White House press briefing on June 28, 2017:

“Just last month, a Utah federal judge issued a sentence of life plus 80 years to Roberto Roman, a criminal alien who had been removed from our country three times prior to 2010. Those three deportations, and even time in state prison, were not enough to dissuade Roman from returning to rural Utah where he trafficked methamphetamine to addicted residents.

“In 2010, Millard County Utah's first female deputy sheriff, Josie Greathouse Fox was working with her partners to curtail drug dealing in the wide open spaces of rural Utah. She intercepted Roman on dark, lonely highway in his big Cadillac. Roman is an amoral criminal, and he had no intention of complying with U.S. Law. Without warning or remorse, he gunned down Deputy Fox with an AK-47 style semi-automatic rifle and left her to die in the middle of the road on a frigid January night.

“In 2011, in a different case, another Utah federal judge sentenced three MS-13 gang members to 15 years each for their role in a Mexican cartel marijuana farm in the pristine Dixie National Forest of Southern Utah. These thugs had been recruited to provide operational security for the illegal farm and were in possession of multiple firearms in connection with the drug operation. Although Utah has not suffered violence at the hands of MS-13 like California and states here in the east, we see its influence creeping ever closer. Even still, other transnational gangs (Nortenos and Surenos) and drug trafficking organizations do have an outsized impact on public safety in Utah and the mountain west.

“I am a career prosecutor and I am beginning my third year as a United States Attorney -- which makes me one of the longest tenured US Attorneys presently serving. Both as a line prosecutor and as a lead prosecutor, I have dutifully served under both Democrat and Republican administrations. Utah perennially leads interior districts in criminal alien prosecutions where we charge and convict hundreds of criminal aliens each year (average 300 in 2015, 2016, and projected 2017) who ignore our laws and re-enter our country unlawfully over and over again. To be clear, these are criminals with Rap sheets as long as their arms in many cases: violent criminals, drug traffickers, gang members, domestic violence abusers, child exploiters and human traffickers.

“From my perspective in the presumptively safe mountain enclave of Utah, criminal aliens significantly impact our quality of life by exposing our nation to an unwarranted risk of violent crime. If it’s a problem in Utah (40% of Utah's cases), it’s a problem nation wide. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors need more tools and unfettered coordination to address the challenge.

“This pending legislation -- "Kate's Law" and the "No Sanctuary for Criminals Act" -- advance the ball for law enforcement in keeping our communities safe. The laws, if passed, would give officers and prosecutors more tools to protect the law-abiding public.

“Stiffer penalties for re-entry offenders make sense. The status quo is just not deterring the criminals from returning. (As an example --- Just today, in Salt Lake City, my office initiated one more prosecution in what is projected to be over 300 federal felony cases by year end against criminal aliens. This defendant's record indicates that he has been convicted 4 times for drug trafficking and 2 times for unlawfully re-entering the United States after deportation. Well, he's back in Utah and this year he was arrested once again for drug trafficking). "Kate's Law" enhances our ability to stem the tide of criminals who seem to almost always return to victimize us.

“Removing unnatural impediments between local and federal law enforcement will enable the coordination we need in this country to keep our neighborhoods safe. The priority for public safety overrides so-called sanctuary policies when those two are matched against one another. The "No Sanctuary for Criminals" bill will help law enforcement partners work together for our safety, as we expect them to do. Criminal aliens don't need encouragement to reside in any of our beautiful cities. Rather, these drug trafficker and gang member aliens need handcuffs and removal. Law enforcement professionals are very good at what they do -- we should not impede them from doing their excellent work in keeping us safe.” 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

'Goodfellas' Mobster Admits Arson, Insists He's No Rat

The New York Post offers a piece on Bonanno Cosa Nostra crime family capo Vincent Asaro.

Bonanno crime ​family capo Vincent Asaro assured a judge he’s no rat Tuesday, as he ​copped to charges that he ordered henchmen ​– including the namesake grandson of the late Gambino boss John Gotti — ​to torch the car of a driver who cut him off in 2012.

As Asaro took a plea deal, Judge Allyne Ross suggested he ditch defense attorney Elizabeth Macedonio, who is ​also ​representing his loan shark nephew Ronald Giallanzo, because it would be ​dangerous ​for Asaro to ​potentially ​turn ​government ​witness while his lawyer reps other ​wiseguys.

But the 82-year-old Asaro, who dodged prison for his role in the 1978 Lufthansa heist​ immortalized in the film “Goodfellas​,​” and ​who ​has previously threatened the life of the prosecutor in the arson case, told the judge in no uncertain terms that he’s no rat.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

You can also read an earlier post on the arson case via the below link: 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

North Carolina Man Sentenced To Life In Prison For Attempting To Commit An Act Of Terrorism Transcending National Boundaries

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

Justin Nojan Sullivan, 21, of Morganton, North Carolina, was sentenced today to life in prison for attempting to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Sullivan pleaded guilty to the charge on Nov. 29, 2016.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose of the Western District of North Carolina and Special Agent in Charge John A. Strong of the FBI’s Charlotte, North Carolina Division, made the announcement. U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger presided over the sentencing.

“Sullivan is a convicted terrorist who plotted with now-deceased Syria-based terrorist Junaid Hussain to execute acts of mass violence in the United States in the name of ISIS,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “Counterterrorism remains our highest priority and we will continue to identify and hold accountable those who seek to commit acts of terrorism within our borders. I want to thank the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for this result.”

“Sullivan was actively planning the mass killing of innocent people with an attack designed to inflict maximum casualties and maximum pain in the name of ISIS, a sworn enemy of our nation. Sullivan’s allegiance to ISIS did not stop there. He also planned to film and send a video of his deadly attack to now-deceased Junaid Hussain, a prominent ISIS member based in Syria, and further expressed his wish to create a new branch of the so-called Islamic State in the United States. The life sentence imposed on Sullivan reflects the seriousness of his crimes, protects the public from the danger he poses, and serves as a deterrent to others who wish to harm civilians within our borders. Our fight against terrorism continues whether against those who commit crimes on behalf of ISIS or any other foreign terrorist organization,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.

“Identifying a terrorist before an attack happens is one of the most difficult tasks we face in the FBI. We compare it to finding a needle in a stack of needles. But that is exactly what we did to stop Justin Sullivan (link is external) from carrying out his murderous plot in the name of ISIL. It took an incredible level of cooperation and collaboration between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Today’s life in prison sentence is the result of the hard work of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force working around the clock to protect this country from those who seek to do us harm,” said Special Agent in Charge Strong.

Federal Terrorism Charges

According to information contained in court documents, starting no later than September 2014, Sullivan sought out and downloaded violent ISIS attacks on the Internet, such as beheadings, and collected them on his laptop computer. Court records indicate that Sullivan openly expressed support for ISIS in his home and destroyed religious items that belonged to his parents.

As Sullivan previously admitted in plea related documents filed with the court and at his plea hearing, beginning no later than June 7, 2015, Sullivan conspired with Junaid Hussain, an ISIS member responsible for online recruitment and providing directions and inspiration for terrorist plots in Western countries, to plan mass shooting attacks in North Carolina and Virginia. Sullivan discussed those plans on social media with an undercover FBI employee (UCE), who Sullivan attempted to recruit to join in such attacks.

Court documents indicate that Sullivan told the UCE via social media that it was better to remain in the U.S. to support ISIS than to travel. Sullivan suggested that the UCE obtain weapons and told the UCE that he was planning to buy a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle at an upcoming gun show in Hickory, North Carolina. On or about June 20, 2015, Sullivan attempted to purchase hollow point ammunition to be used with the weapon(s) he intended to purchase.

According to court records, Sullivan had researched on the Internet how to manufacture firearm silencers and asked the UCE to build functional silencers that they could use to carry out the planned attacks. Court records show that Sullivan told the UCE he planned to carry out his attack in the following few days at a concert, bar or club, where he believed as many as 1,000 people would be killed using the assault rifle and silencer.

Filed documents indicate that over the course of Sullivan’s communications with Junaid Hussain, Hussain had asked Sullivan to make a video of his planned terrorist attack, to which Sullivan had agreed.

On or about June 19, 2015, the silencer, which was built according to Sullivan’s instructions, was delivered to him at his home in North Carolina, where Sullivan’s mother opened the package. Sullivan took the silencer from his mother and hid it in a crawl space under his house. When Sullivan’s parents questioned him about the silencer, Sullivan, believing that his parents would interfere with his plans to carry out an attack, offered to compensate the UCE to kill them. 

Sullivan previously admitted that he took substantial steps towards carrying out terrorist attacks in North Carolina and Virginia by: (1) recruiting the UCE; (2) obtaining a silencer from the UCE; (3) procuring the money that would have enabled him to purchase the AR-15; (4) trying to obtain a specific type of ammunition that he believed would be the most “deadly”; (5) identifying separate gun shows where he and the UCE could purchase AR-15s; and (6) obtained a coupon for the gun shows he planned for himself and the UCE to attend on June 20 or 21, 2015.

The Court’s Findings

The Court announced its reasons for accepting the agreed life sentence. The Court noted that Sullivan’s plan to murder innocent civilians at a social gathering was similar to the Orlando nightclub attack in 2016. According to the Court, Sullivan’s plan, however, was more sinister because he planned to use stealth – including a mask to hide his identity and a silencer to kill as many as possible, with the hope to escape and kill again. The Court found that Sullivan’s offense was cold and calculating.

In making today’s announcement, Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente and U.S. Attorney Rose praised the investigative efforts of the FBI, the Burke County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente and U.S. Attorney Rose also thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Charlotte Division, the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Charlotte, the North Carolina Highway Patrol and the Hickory Police Department for their assistance in this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael E. Savage of the Western District of North Carolina and Trial Attorney Gregory R. Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. 

Navy Officer Facing Military Charges In Fat Leonard Bribery Scandal Is Former F-18 pilot

Brock Vergakis at the Virginian-Pilot offers a piece on a U.S. Navy officer who is the first officer charged by the military in connection to the “Fat Leonard” bribery and fraud scandal.

A former fighter pilot charged with accepting bribes and gifts that included prostitutes, four suckling pigs and tickets to a Julio Iglesias concert as part of the expansive “Fat Leonard” scandal appeared at the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing Monday.

Cmdr. David Alexander Morales is the first Navy official to be charged by the military in connection with the “Fat Leonard” case, which until now has been prosecuted in civilian federal court in San Diego. Monday’s hearing will help determine whether there’s probable cause to take the case to court-martial.

“Fat Leonard” is the nickname given to Leonard Francis (seen in the above photo), the owner and chief executive of Glenn Defense Marine Asia. Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to presiding over a decade-long conspiracy involving “scores” of U.S. Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud and millions of dollars in bribes and gifts, according to the Justice Department.

The massive scheme involved awarding Glenn Defense Marine Asia lucrative contracts to provide services to U.S. ships while in southeast Asia.

At least 20 current or former U.S. Navy officials have been charged in the fraud and bribery investigation.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read my Counterterrorism piece about the Fat Leonard bribery and fraud scandal via the below link:

Monday, June 26, 2017

Been There, Done That: Sailors Manning The Rails As Aircraft Carrier Returns To San Diego Homeport

The U.S. Navy released the above photo of sailors manming the rails of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) as it returns to its homeport at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif. 

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group successfully completed a five-month deployment to the western Pacific. 

I recall manning the rails as a young sailor aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk as we returned to San Diego from a WESTPAC deployment in 1971. 

Note: The above photo was taken by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Elton Charles Wheeler.

You can click on the above photo to enlarge. 

Crime Columnist Revered And Feared in the Book Review

Daniel Fromson at the New York Times offers a piece on Marilyn Stasio, who writes a crime round-up column for the New York Times. 

On a recent morning, Marilyn Stasio’s Upper West Side living room contained at least two dozen piles of books — arranged on shelves, peeking from bags and boxes, heaped in precarious leaning towers. “Books to the right of me, books to the left of me, books in front of me, books behind me,” she declared. “It’s terrible!”

Ms. Stasio entered her equally book-filled office and sat before a desk on a red stool that belonged to her grandmother. Outside, a soft rain fell and a blue jay sang. It did not seem like the sort of place where she might write about, say, a serial killer who tears out his victims’ throats with metal teeth and drinks their blood.

But for Ms. Stasio, who has written The Times Book Review’s Crime column since 1988, the tales of atrocity and mystery in every corner fuel an everyday labor of love. A good murder novel, she once wrote, can be “a portal to a wider world.” Here she is literally at home among them, windows into alternate realities as familiar and vital to her as they can be strange and sinister to others.

Times Insider delivers behind-the-scenes insights from The New York Times. Visit us at Times Insider and follow us on Twitter. Questions or feedback? Email us.

Ms. Stasio has always gravitated to darkness. As a student growing up in Revere, Mass., she liked the morbid and horrible: “Dracula,” for instance. She came to New York for graduate school and never left, reviewing theater for Cue magazine in the 1970s. (In addition to writing for The Times, she is now the chief theater critic for Variety.) A devourer of mystery novels, she began reviewing them in a syndicated column, which eventually led to her position at The Times.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Patriots Day: A Film That Dramatizes The Boston Marathon Bombing

My wife and I watched Patriots Day on Comcast Demand TV tonight.

The film, directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg, who was also the film's producer, is about the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

Patriots Day is a powerful film with a fine cast that includes John Goodman and Kevin Bacon.

The film does a good job of showing us the horror of the bombing, the suffering of the victims and the bravery of the police and the medical people who quickly responded. They didn't know if there were more bombs set to explode after the two bombs went off, but they charged in and did their jobs anyway.

Peter Berg is a good director of action films about military people and he handles the police action well in this film.

The film makes one angry at the heartless terrorists, who killed an eight-year-old boy and others, and the film makes one proud to be an American.

You can read a Hollywood Reporter piece on the film, the real people involved in the bombing and aftermath, and the actors who portrayed them via the below link: