Friday, July 31, 2015

Former Philadelphia Police Officer Sentenced For Robbing Drug Dealers

The justice Department released the below link:

PHILADELPHIA—Former Philadelphia Police Officer Jeffrey Walker, 47, of Philadelphia, was sentenced today to 42 months in prison for a scheme in which he planned to rob a drug dealer while on official duty. Walker pleaded guilty, on February 24, 2014, to attempted robbery which interferes with interstate commerce and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo Robreno ordered three years of supervised release, a $5,000 fine and a $200 special assessment.
Walker told a cooperating witness (CW) that he wanted the CW to help him identify a drug dealer so that Walker could conduct a car stop for suspected drug violations or plant drugs in the car. On May 21, 2013, the CW informed Walker of a car parked outside of a bar on West Girard Avenue. Walker drove up to the car, placed drugs inside the car, and then followed the driver when that person left the bar. When the car was pulled over, Walker took the key to the driver’s home. Walker and the CW went to the driver’s home. When they exited the home, Walker was arrested and was in possession of $15,000 that he had taken from the house.
The case was investigated by the FBI and Philadelphia Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Wzorek.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Story Of The Only NYPD Officer Ever Sentenced To Death—100 Years Ago Today

Edward Conlon, former NYPD detective and the author of Blue Blood, offers an interesting piece at the Daily Beast that looks back at the only NYPD officer ever sentenced to death.

When it came to scandal, the Tammany leader Big Tim Sullivan said, New York was a nine-day town. But in the case of the murder of his friend Herman “Beansie” Rosenthal, a gangster and gambling house proprietor, Sullivan’s adage proved spectacularly untrue. Charles Becker, an NYPD lieutenant, was one of five men convicted of the murder, and he remains the only New York City police officer sent to the electric chair. Though the case was sensational and the conviction a travesty, Becker is little remembered today, and defended less. Both failures are all the more disgraceful because the prosecution was undertaken for a noble cause, that of political reform in general and police reform in particular. 
As with any criminal trial that is transformed into social allegory, the cause trumped the case; facts that contradicted it were held not as false but as heretical, demanding suppression instead of debate. Later generations seeking lessons from the past are likelier to dwell on episodes of clear-cut triumph or transgression. Who wants to commemorate a battle without heroes?   
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Jimmy Fallon On Work Safety

Jimmy Fallon spoke of safety in the workplace on the Tonight Show.

A recent study shows that standing at work for long periods of time is bad for you, after earlier research indicated that sitting for too long at work is bad for you. So really the only thing we know is, work is bad for you. 

Former Department Of Defense Contractor Charged With Making A False Statement And Damaging Army Computers

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

BOSTON—Charges were unsealed today in federal court against a former Department of Defense (DOD) contractor for the U.S. Army in Kuwait for making a false statement on his security clearance form and for damaging Army computers.
Wei Chen, 61, of Westfield, Mass., was charged with one count of making a false statement and one count of damaging computers. The indictment, which was filed on July 23, 2015, was unsealed today after Chen’s arrest.
According to the indictment, Chen, a computer system administrator, applied for a job as a DOD contractor—a job that required him to have a Secret-level security clearance. To obtain that clearance, he needed to complete a questionnaire called the SF86, on which he acknowledged that he knew that a false statement on the form could be punished by imprisonment. Nonetheless, in response to the form’s question about whether he had ever served in a foreign country’s military, Chen falsely answered, “no.” In fact, Chen, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, served from approximately 1971 to 1976 in an anti-aircraft unit in China’s People’s Liberation Army.
After making this false statement on the SF86, the indictment charges, Chen was hired as a DOD contractor and worked as a system administrator at Camp Buehring, a large U.S. Army base in Kuwait. Chen knew that Army policy prohibited personnel from connecting personally-owned thumb drives to Army computer systems. Chen also knew that personnel were prohibited from connecting even government-owned thumb drives to Army computer systems unless they had received a specific exemption from this policy. Chen had not received such an exemption.
The indictment charges, on approximately June 15 and 16, 2013, in violation of Army computer security policy, Chen connected one or more personally-owned thumb drives to computers at Camp Buehring that were connected to the Army’s unclassified network and the classified Secret-level network. After connecting his personally-owned thumb drive to the Secret-level network server, Chen made an effort to cover his tracks and hide his security violation. Specifically, he deleted network logs on the server that would have documented his connection of the personally-owned thumb drive to the network server. Chen also copied a computer file, containing saved e-mail and documents, from his Secret-level workstation onto his personally-owned thumb drive, in violation of Army computer security policy.
“National events over the past several years have highlighted the critical role that cyber security plays in protecting our national security,” said United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “Military employees and DOD contractors must understand that, if they lie to obtain a security clearance or intentionally violate computer security policies and then destroy evidence of that violation, they are committing crimes and we will prosecute them.”
“As charged, Mr. Chen lied about his background, violated Army security policies, and attempted to destroy the evidence,” said Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston Field Division. “Being granted and appropriately maintaining a Secret or Top Secret security clearance by the U.S. Government to safeguard information on our military bases is a tremendous privilege and responsibility. Failure to uphold that responsibility threatens our national security.”
“Mr. Chen allegedly abused his position as a system administrator to circumvent U.S. Army cybersecurity controls, improperly access classified information, and delete evidence of his wrongdoing,” said Daniel Andrews, Director of the Computer Crime Investigative Unit of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. “Insider threats pose a serious risk to national security and military operations, and we will continue to work closely with our partners to prosecute those who engage in this type of criminal activity.”
On the charge of damaging a computer, Chen faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and forfeiture. On the false statement charge, the maximum sentence is five years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and forfeiture. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz, Special Agent in Charge Lisi and Director Andrews made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Bookbinder, of Ortiz’s Cybercrime Unit, and Stephanie Siegmann, of Ortiz’s Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

Hemingway As The Godfather Of Long-Form

Richard Brody at the New Yorker offers a piece on Ernest Hemingway's Green Hills of Africa. 

Hemingway’s 1935 book “Green Hills of Africa,” which has just been republished by Scribner in a new and augmented edition, is a work of nonfiction. It’s not his first; his encyclopedic account of the world of bullfighting, “Death in the Afternoon,” was published in 1932. But that book is about bullfighting overall, occasionally adorned with references to Hemingway’s own experience. It’s not a narrative; it’s a history and an analysis sprinkled with anecdotes. In “Green Hills of Africa,” by contrast, Hemingway states his ambitions clearly in a brief foreword: 
Unlike many novels, none of the characters or incidents in this book is imaginary. . . . The writer has attempted to write an absolutely true book to see whether the shape of a country and the pattern of a month’s action can, if truly presented, compete with a work of the imagination.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

A Writer In Training: Ian Fleming The Journalist

Tom Cull at tours London and examines Ian Fleming's career as a journalist, before he found fame as the author of the James Bond thrillers.

On a quiet Sunday in the City of London recently, I re-traced some of Ian Fleming’s old haunts during his journalism and banking days, including what used to be the Reuters building at The Royal Exchange. It occurred to me that it was here that Ian Fleming got his first taste of writing professionally. Throughout his career, journalism formed an important part of his research and inspiration, before finally becoming a way to remain ‘part of the action’ after the war.
His well-documented 2 month break in Jamaica to write his James Bond novels was a feat of discipline and economy; writing quickly and accurately and never looking back, trusting totally in his technique. Many writers, including the prolific Raymond Chandler, found this timetable astonishing. He asked Ian in an interview in 1958 how he could write so quickly with all the other things that he did, and remarked that the fastest book he ever wrote was in 3 months. So, from where did Ian Fleming acquire this skill?
...When an intriguing assignment came up in Stalin’s Russia, to report on a court case involving British construction workers (tantamount to a show trial), Fleming was called up. His ‘smattering of Russian’ and the fact that the regular Reuters Moscow correspondent might have had his Russian sources compromised meant that this was Ian’s big break. It was also his first exposure to the dark underbelly of Soviet communism that would pique his interest in cloak and dagger matters and mark Russia out as the political bĂȘte noire for the West. His reporting again impressed his peers. He turned in articles on tight deadlines. Ian described his training at Reuters as giving him a “good, straightforward style,” and there he learned to write fast and accurately because at Reuters “if you weren’t accurate you were fired, and that was the end of that.”  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Philadelphia Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah And Associates Charged With Participating In Racketeering Conspiracy

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

A member of Congress and four of his associates were indicted today for their roles in a racketeering conspiracy involving several schemes that were intended to further the political and financial interests of the defendants and others by, among other tactics, misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal, charitable and campaign funds.   
Congressman Chaka Fattah Sr., 58, of Philadelphia; lobbyist Herbert Vederman, 69, of Palm Beach, Florida; Fattah’s Congressional District Director Bonnie Bowser, 59, of Philadelphia; and Robert Brand, 69, of Philadelphia; and Karen Nicholas, 57, of Williamstown, New Jersey, were charged today in a 29-count indictment with participating in a racketeering conspiracy and other crimes, including bribery; conspiracy to commit mail, wire and honest services fraud; and multiple counts of mail fraud, falsification of records, bank fraud, making false statements to a financial institution and money laundering.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Hanko of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division and Special Agent in Charge Akeia Conner of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Philadelphia Field Office made the announcement.
“As charged in the indictment, Congressman Fattah and his associates embarked on a wide-ranging conspiracy involving bribery, concealment of unlawful campaign contributions and theft of charitable and federal funds to advance their own personal interests,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “When elected officials betray the trust and confidence placed in them by the public, the department will do everything we can to ensure that they are held accountable.  Public corruption takes a particularly heavy toll on our democracy because it undermines people’s basic belief that our elected leaders are committed to serving the public interest, not to lining their own pockets.”
“The public expects their elected officials to act with honesty and integrity,” said U.S. Attorney Memeger.  “By misusing campaign funds, misappropriating government funds, accepting bribes, and committing bank fraud, as alleged in the Indictment, Congressman Fattah and his co-conspirators have betrayed the public trust and undermined faith in government.”
“These crimes and the subsequent elaborate cover-up constitute an egregious breach of public trust,” said Special Agent in Charge Hanko.  “It is the duty of the FBI, IRS and Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute those who violate this trust and put personal gain above public service.”
“Public corruption by our elected officials and their associates undermines the American public’s confidence in our government,” said Special Agent in Charge Conner.  “When our elected officials and their associates violate the law and create sophisticated financial schemes to enrich themselves, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, will work diligently with our fellow law enforcement partners to restore the public’s trust.”
Specifically, the indictment alleges that, in connection with his failed 2007 campaign to serve as mayor of Philadelphia, Fattah and certain associates borrowed $1 million from a wealthy supporter and disguised the funds as a loan to a consulting company.  After he lost the election, Fattah allegedly returned $400,000 to the donor that the campaign had not used, and arranged for Educational Advancement Alliance (EAA), a non-profit entity that he founded and controlled, to repay the remaining $600,000 using charitable and federal grant funds that passed through two other companies, including one run by Brand.  To conceal the contribution and repayment scheme, the defendants and others allegedly created sham contracts and made false entries in accounting records, tax returns and campaign finance disclosure statements. 
In addition, the indictment alleges that after his defeat in the mayoral election, Fattah sought to extinguish approximately $130,000 in campaign debt owed to a political consultant by agreeing to arrange for the award of federal grant funds to the consultant.  According to the allegations in the indictment, Fattah directed the consultant to apply for a $15 million grant, which he did not ultimately receive, on behalf of a then non-existent non-profit entity.  In exchange for Fattah’s efforts to arrange the award of the funds to the non-profit, the consultant allegedly agreed to forgive the debt owed by the campaign.
The indictment further alleges that Fattah misappropriated funds from his mayoral and congressional campaigns to repay his son’s student loan debt.  To execute the scheme, Fattah and Bowser allegedly arranged for his campaigns to make payments to a political consulting company, which the company then used to lessen Fattah’s son’s student loan debt.  According to the allegations in the indictment, between 2007 and 2011, the consultant made 34 successful loan payments on behalf of Fattah’s son, totaling approximately $23,000. 
In another alleged scheme, beginning in 2008, Fattah communicated with individuals in the legislative and executive branches in an effort to secure for Vederman an ambassadorship or an appointment to the U.S. Trade Commission.  In exchange, Vederman provided money and other items of value to Fattah.  As part of this scheme, the indictment alleges that the defendants sought to conceal an $18,000 bribe payment from Vederman to Fattah by disguising it as a payment for a car sale that never actually took place.
Finally, the indictment alleges that Nicholas obtained $50,000 in federal grant funds that she claimed would be used by EAA to support a conference on higher education.  The conference never took place.  Instead, Nicholas used the grant funds to pay $20,000 to a political consultant and $10,000 to her attorney, and wrote several checks to herself from EAA's operating account.
The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations.  The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and IRS-CI.  Assistance was also provided by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General, the NASA Office of Inspector General and the Department of Commerce’s Office of Inspector General.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Eric L. Gibson, T. Patrick Martin and Jonathan Kravis of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul L. Gray of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Trial Attorney Bob Dalton of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section also provided assistance in this case.