Friday, February 12, 2016

Third Circuit Upholds South Philly Mob Convictions

Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia (seen in the above photo) reports on the court upholding the convictions from the South Philly mob trial.

An appeals court has upheld the convictions of mobsters Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, Damion Canalichio and Anthony Staino, all of whom are serving lengthy prison sentences following their convictions in 2013.

"The evidence established that the Philadelphia (La Cosa Nostra)...exercised control over illegal gambling, bookmaking and loansharking operations, all bolstered by implicit and explicit threats of physical violence," a three-judge panel for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in an opinion filed earlier this month. 

The ruling also reaffirmed the sentences of Massimino (188 months), Canalichio (137 months) and Staino (97 months) that were imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo Robreno who had presided over the controversial racketeering case.

Mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and mob capos Joseph "Scoops" Licata and George Borgesi beat the charges that were built around the testimony of cooperating witnesses and undercover FBI agents. (Ligambi and Borgesi were tried twice after the jury hung on some of the charges during the first trial.)

A seventh defendant, Gary Battaglini was also found guilty but his case remains in front of Robreno who has yet to schedule a hearing on post-trial motions Battaglini has filed, including an argument that he had ineffective counsel during the trial and that prosecutors had deliberately withheld evidence that would have exonerated him.

The appellate court ruling comes as federal and state authorities have opened a new investigation into the operations of the Philadelphia branch of Cosa Nostra, focusing on real estate, construction and mortgage refinancing businesses reportedly linked to several members of the crime family. Investigators are also revisiting the cold case files of three unsolved mob murders, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

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

Happy Birthday To President Abraham Lincoln

As notes, today is President Abraham Lincoln's birthday.

You can read about this great president via the below link:

10 Dumbest T-Shirts Ever Worn During A Mugshot

The website offers 10 of the dumbest T-shirts worn by perhaps the 10 dumbest criminals for their mugshots.

Pro-tip: Never wear a stupid t-shirt if you’re going to get arrested. It will make for an awkward, and pretty funny mugshot. These 10 people had the ill fortune to get cuffed while touting some ridiculous apparel. [All pictures belong to the law enforcement agencies that took these alleged crooks in.]

You can read the rest of the piece and view the rest of the mugshots via the below link:

FBI Warns Of Online Dating Scams

The FBI offers the below crime prevention tips:

Millions of Americans visit online dating websites every year hoping to find a companion or even a soulmate. But as Valentine’s Day gets closer, the FBI wants to warn you that criminals use these sites, too, looking to turn the lonely and vulnerable into fast money through a variety of scams.
These criminals—who also troll social media sites and chat rooms in search of romantic victims—usually claim to be Americans traveling or working abroad. In reality, they often live overseas. While their most common targets are women over 40 who are divorced, widowed, and/or disabled, but every age group and demographic is at risk.
Here’s how the scam usually works. You’re contacted online by someone who appears interested in you. He or she may have a profile you can read or a picture that is e-mailed to you. For weeks, even months, you may chat back and forth with one another, forming a connection. You may even be sent flowers or other gifts. But ultimately, it’s going to happen—your new-found “friend” is going to ask you for money.
So you send money...but rest assured the requests won’t stop there. There will be more hardships that only you can help alleviate with your financial gifts. He may also send you checks to cash since he’s out of the country and can’t cash them himself, or he may ask you to forward him a package.
So what really happened? You were targeted by criminals, probably based on personal information you uploaded on dating or social media sites. The pictures you were sent were most likely phony lifted from other websites. The profiles were fake as well, carefully crafted to match your interests.
In addition to losing your money to someone who had no intention of ever visiting you, you may also have unknowingly taken part in a money laundering scheme by cashing phony checks and sending the money overseas and by shipping stolen merchandise (the forwarded package).
In another recently reported dating extortion scam, victims usually met someone on an online dating site and then were asked to move the conversation to a particular social networking site, where the talk often turned intimate. Victims were later sent a link to a website where those conversations were posted, along with photos, their phone numbers, and claims that they were “cheaters.” In order to have that information removed, victims were told they could make a $99 payment—but there is no indication that the other side of the bargain was upheld.
While the FBI and other federal partners work some of these cases—in particular those with a large number of victims or large dollar losses and/or those involving organized criminal groups—many are investigated by local and state authorities.
We strongly recommend, however, that if you think you’ve been victimized by a dating scam or any other online scam, file a complaint with our Internet Crime Complaint Center (
Before forwarding the complaints to the appropriate agencies, IC3 collates and analyzes the data—looking for common threads that could link complaints together and help identify the culprits. This helps keep everyone safe.
Here are some tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of an online dating scam.
Recognizing an Online Dating Scam Artist
Your online “date” may only be interested in your money if he or she:
  • Presses you to leave the dating website you met through and to communicate using personal e-mail or instant messaging;
  • Professes instant feelings of love;
  • Sends you a photograph of himself or herself that looks like something from a glamour magazine;
  • Claims to be from the U.S. and is traveling or working overseas;
  • Makes plans to visit you but is then unable to do so because of a tragic event; or
  • Asks for money for a variety of reasons (travel, medical emergencies, hotel bills, hospitals bills for child or other relative, visas or other official documents, losses from a financial setback or crime victimization).
Do not send money through any wire transfer service to someone you met online. The chances of recovering your money are very slim.
One way to steer clear of these criminals altogether is to stick to online dating websites with nationally known reputations. Finally, the FBI advises not to send money through any wire transfer service to someone you met online. The chances of recovering your money are very slim. If you believe you are the victim of an online dating scam or any Internet facilitated crime, please file a report at

Fourth Minnesota Man Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Provide Material Support To ISIL

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

Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, 20, of Egan, Minnesota, pleaded guilty today to an information charging him with conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization.  The defendant pleaded guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis of the District of Minnesota.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger of the District of Minnesota and Special Agent in Charge Richard T. Thornton of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division made the announcement.
“With his guilty plea, Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame has admitted to conspiring to provide material support to ISIL,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “Warsame was part of a group of individuals who sought to travel to Syria to fight with the designated foreign terrorist organization.  The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and hold accountable those who conspire to provide material support to terrorists.”
“ISIL recruiting in Minnesota is an ongoing problem,” said U.S. Attorney Luger.  “Federal law enforcement and our local partners remain dedicated to ending terror recruitment in our state.  One of the important factors we believe will help stop the recruiting pipeline is for those who have been charged to take responsibility for their crimes.  I am encouraged that today Mr. Warsame is doing just that.  He has now taken the first step to help himself begin the process of rehabilitation and help our entire community begin to heal.”
“Preventing terrorism in the United States or against U.S. interests remain the FBI’s top priority,” said Special Agent in Charge Thornton.  “This includes identifying individuals who aspire to travel overseas to fight on behalf of foreign terrorist organizations such as ISIL.  Every person we stop from joining ISIL is one less person ISIL has to conduct acts of terror and the atrocities they are known for.  This Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation which culminated in today’s guilty plea was the result of collaboration with our state, local, and federal partners.”
According to the defendant’s guilty plea, throughout early 2014, Warsame participated in several meetings with a group of individuals who wished to travel to Syria to join ISIL.  Warsame and his co-conspirators discussed means of funding travel to Syria and potential routes from Minnesota to Syria that would best elude law enforcement.  In April 2014, Warsame applied for an expedited passport with the intent of using the passport to travel overseas to join ISIL and in that same month, provided approximately $200 to co-conspirator Adnan Farah for fees associated with Farah’s expedited passport application.  Warsame knew Farah planned to use the passport to travel to Syria to join ISIL.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea, during a May 2014 meeting between Warsame and his co-conspirators, Warsame accepted the position of “emir,” or leader, of the group.  Guled Ali Omar had previously been “emir,” but was at that time planning to depart for Syria to join ISIL.
According to the plea, in June 2014, Warsame obtained a phone number for H.K., who at the time was an ISIL fighter, and Warsame passed the contact information along to Y.J., who was then attempting to travel from Turkey to Syria to join ISIL.
In April 2015, according to his guilty plea, Warsame participated in a series of meetings with co-conspirators Omar, Abdirahman Daud, Mohamed Farah and Adnan Farah.  At one of the meetings, Warsame repeatedly encouraged Omar to travel to Syria to join ISIL.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by members of the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew R. Winter and John Docherty of the District of Minnesota with assistance provided by the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Italian Police Arrest Dozens Of Mafia Suspects From Female-Led 'Prickly Pear Lips' Gang

The British newspaper the Guardian offers a piece on the arrest of a Sicilian organized crime group led by alleged female mobsters.

Italian police have arrested dozens of suspected Mafia members in an international operation to dismantle a powerful Sicilian crime group run by women.

Over 500 officers took part in the raid on the Laudani clan in the Sicilian port of Catania, nicknamed “Mussi di ficurinia” (“Prickly pear lips”), in a sting that also involved forces in Germany and the Netherlands, Italian police told AFP.

Three women, known as the three queens of Caltagirone, a town near Catania, had ruled the clan with an iron grip as well as governing all financial matters but were brought down by the heir to the clan who began helping police.

The suspects were all wanted for Mafia association, extortion, drug trafficking and possessing illegal arms.

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

Spies, Traitors & Saboteurs: International Spy Museum's Traveling Exhibit Explores Terrorist Motivations, Public Response

I saw "Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America" when the exhibit appeared at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

I liked the International Spy Museum's exhibit, but I had a few questions about the lack of a mention of al-Qaeda or a photo of Osama bin Laden anywhere in the 9/11 portion. The exhibit did however offer a row of photos of white supremacists nearby.

So, as I noted in my Threatcon column for Counterterrorism magazine at the time, if one did not know better, a visitor might assume the KKK attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

One hopes the traveling exhibit has corrected that omission.

The exhibit is now appearing in St. Louis, Missouri and Alex Siegman at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers a piece on the exhibit.

A renowned traveling exhibition from the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., made its debut Saturday at the Missouri History Museum.
“Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America” opened in 2004 and has been touring since 2005. St. Louis is the final planned stop for the 6,000-square-foot exhibit, which explores nine major terrorist events in U.S. history — the motivations for the attacks, public and government response, and more.
“They want to show that terror and sabotage and espionage — they’re not new things,” says Adam Kloppe, writing and research fellow at the Missouri History Museum. “This isn’t something that started on 9/11 or with the Oklahoma City bombing, but it’s something that’s been with us since the very beginning.”
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read my Threatcon column on the "Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America" exhibit via the below link: