Monday, March 2, 2015

South Philly Auto Shop Operator Sentenced In Murder-For-Hire Case

Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia, author of Gotti's Rules, reports on the sentencing of Ron Galati for

Ron Galati, the South Philadelphia auto body shop operator with a Godfather complex, was sentenced to nearly 23 years in federal prison this morning in a convoluted murder-for-hire case that was more suited for Mob Wives than Mario Puzo's classic American Mafia saga.

Citing the "callous" nature of the crime, but acknowledging Galati's age (64) and health problems, Judge Joseph Rodriguez imposed a sentence of 271 months, less than the maximum 308-month sentence sought by prosecutors but considerably more than the "home confinement" Galati's defense attorney had asked for.

No one from Galati's family attended the sentencing hearing and Galati, dressed in a green prison jump suit, his toupee neatly in place, opted not to comment when asked by the judge if he had anything to say. Andrew Tuono, on the other hand, took a series of parting verbal shots at his one-time friend. The victim of the shooting, Tuono asked for a maximum sentence, telling Rodriguez that he lives every day with the aftermath of the attempted murder that Galati set in motion.

Tuono, 34, was dating Galati's daughter Tiffany when he was shot multiple times outside the Atlantic City townhouse they shared in November 2013.

"I have no doubt this came from him," Tuono, dressed in jeans and a starched white shirt, said after being called to the witness stand by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Richardson. Tuono said he still has a bullet lodged in his pelvis that gives him constant pain and that two of the fingers on his left hand are paralyzed from another bullet that ripped through his hand during the attempted murder.

Richardson, the prosecutor in the case, said the murder-for-hire plot was in many ways a twisted love story involving two men who loved the same woman. Tuono was living with Tiffany Galati at the time and her father didn't think he was good enough for her, the prosecutor said.

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

You can also read Allison Steele's report on the Galati sentencing at the Philadelphia Inquirer via the below link:

Admiral Rogers Discusses Cyber Operations, ISIL, Deterrence

Cheryl Pellerin at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2015 - Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, took questions here recently on many topics -- cyber defense and offense, finding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on the dark Web and cyber deterrence -- during a New America Foundation cybersecurity conference.

Rogers, who's also director of the National Security Agency, spoke with CNN national security correspondent Jim Sciutto and took questions from the audience and from Twitter and other social media outlets.

Rogers often says, as he did at this conference, that he believes in appearing publicly and putting no restrictions on questions asked of him.

"You can ask me anything," he said, "because we have got to be willing as a nation to have a dialogue" on cyber issues.

Cyberspace as a Domain of War

On a question about whether the United States is positioned effectively to address cyberspace as a domain of warfare, Rogers said the nation is in a better position in many ways than most of its counterparts around the world.

"We've put a lot of thought into this as a department," he added. "U.S. Cyber Command, for example, will celebrate our fifth anniversary this year. This is a topic the department has been thinking about for some time."

But the admiral said he doesn't think Cybercom is where it should be yet in preparation for fully engaging in cyberspace.

"Part of that is just my culture," he explained. "My culture as a military guy always is about striving for the best, striving to achieve objectives. You push yourself."

Defending the Networks

From a defensive standpoint it's difficult to defend a network infrastructure that has been built over decades, Rogers said, noting that most of it was created at a time when there was no critical cyberthreat.

"We're trying to defend infrastructure in which redundancy, resiliency and defensibility were never design characteristics," he said. "It was all about 'build me a network that connects me in the most efficient and effective way with a host of people and lets me do my job.'" Rogers noted that concerns about an adversary's ability to penetrate the network and manipulate or steal data was not a primary factor at the time.

The department is working to change its network structure to incorporate core security characteristics, the admiral said.

On the offensive side, Cybercom is "working its way," Rogers said, and doing this within a broader structure that dovetails with the law of armed conflict.

Cyber as an Offensive Tool

"Remember," he said, "when you look at the application of cyber as an offensive tool, it must fit within a broader legal framework -- the law of armed conflict, international law, the norms we have come to take for granted in some ways in the application of kinetic force."

Cybercom must do the same thing in the offensive world, the admiral said, "and we're clearly not there yet."

Like many nations around the world, the United States has capabilities in cyber.

"The key for us is to ensure that such capabilities are employed in a very lawful, very formulated, very regimented manner," Rogers said.

Legal Framework for Cyberspace

In January 2014, in Presidential Policy Directive 28, Rogers said President Barack Obama laid out the framework he wanted used in the conduct of signals intelligence.

Today, the admiral said, "all that remains applicable."

Another question from the audience referenced ISIL's use of the dark Web to raise money through Bitcoin, a form of digital currency.

The questioner described the dark Web as "a bunch of anonymous computers -- a bunch of anonymous users -- that are still able to find each other" using a browser that protects users' anonymity, no matter what a user is doing there.

Nature of the Business

On collecting intelligence from the dark Web, Rogers said, "We spend a lot of time looking for people who don't want to be found."

In some ways, he added, that is the nature of the business, particularly involving terrorists or individuals engaged in espionage against the United States or against its allies and friends.

Such activities, the admiral said, are a national concern.

"ISIL's ability to generate resources, to generate funding, is something that we're paying attention to," Rogers said.

Focusing on ISIL

"It's something of concern to us," he noted, "because it talks about ISIL's ability to sustain themselves over time [and] about their ability to empower the activity we're watching on the ground in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya [and] in other places."

Such activities also are of concern to a host of nations, the admiral said, adding, "I won't get into the specifics of exactly what we're doing, other than to say this is an area that we are focusing attention on."

When asked about deterring America's adversaries from carrying out cyberattacks, Rogers said the concept of deterrence in the cyber domain is relatively immature.

"This is still the early stages of cyber in many ways," he said, "so we're going to have to work our way through this" by developing and accepting norms of behavior in cyberspace that will underlie and support the notion of deterrence.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Fall: A British Police Inspector Pursues A Serial Killer In Belfast

I just finished watching season one and two of The Fall on Netflix.

Created, written and directed by Allan Cubitt, the psychological thriller set in Belfast is about a British police inspector hunting another hunter - a serial killer.

I enjoyed the crime series and I thought Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan and the supporting cast were all outstanding.

Elisabeth Vincentelli at the New York Post offers a piece on The Fall. 

When Season 1 of “The Fall” debuted on Netflix last year, it pretty much flew in under the radar.

Yet another moody BBC thriller? Ho-hum.

Then word got around that the compact five-episode show was very creepy in a very addictive way.

And a lot of it has to do with Gillian Anderson’s career-defining performance as Superintendent Stella Gibson — a potential heir to Helen Mirren’s iconic Jane Tennison in “Prime Suspect.”

Gibson is in hot pursuit of Paul Spector, a fetishistic serial killer played by Jamie Dornan, the upcoming dominating hottie in the “50 Shades of Grey” movie (opening Valentine’s Day).

In Season 2, now streaming on Netflix, the cop describes her foe as “very controlled, calm, cold-blooded.” Those words also apply to the deliberately paced show and to Gibson herself — whom Anderson gives a quiet but steely determination.

You can read the rest of the piece and watch the Netflix video trailer via the below link:

And you can read a piece about the crime series, written by Allan Cubitt, the creator of The Fall, at the British newspaper the Guardian via the below link: 

Are Women Hardwired To Love Thrillers?

Rebecca Whitney at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers a piece on women who love thrillers and crime fiction.

Thrillers, it seems, are everywhere. They dominate our cinema screens. They jostle for space in our Kindles. And they steal into our homes – the phenomenal success of House of Cards, the third series of which was released this week, is testament to that. Frank Underwood and his wife Claire are fast becoming the greatest super villains of our TV age.

Our thirst for thrillers goes unabated – especially in written form. Paula Hawkins's novel The Girl on the Train has topped the UK and US bestseller lists. While Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl has apparently become the 25th bestselling book of all time.
The genre sells about 21 million books every year in the UK alone. (Which, as a thriller writer myself, makes me feel pretty chuffed). What’s more, the majority of thriller readers are women.
A Sisters in Crime survey in 2010 found that 68 per cent of people who read thrillers were women. While, another study from the same year discovered that female fiction fans read thriller/crime novels at a higher rate than men (57 per cent to 39 per cent). It was the most popular genre for both genders.    

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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

FBI: Joint Effort Takes Down Detroit-Based "Smash & Grab" Robbery Group

The FBI web site reports on their take down of a robbery group.

Today, the FBI and its partners announced three separate indictments filed during the past month against 17 individuals from the metropolitan Detroit area who are believed to be responsible for a number of “smash and grab” robberies of jewelry stories in a half-dozen states. The charges, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan, involved violations of the Hobbs Act, which makes it a crime to obstruct, delay, or affect interstate commerce by robbery.

The indictments follow a series of investigations around the nation by various local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies involving approximately 40 smash and grab jewelry store robberies. Authorities also announced they are looking for the public’s help in identifying 16 other individuals believed to be connected to additional smash and grab robberies (see Seeking Information poster below).

Smash and grab robberies are aptly named—they involve perpetrators who enter a jewelry store and, in front of store employees and customers alike, threateningly whip out tools like sledgehammers, smash those hammers through the glass displays, and grab expensive pieces of jewelry before taking off, stunning and frightening anyone who witnesses their actions. In addition to the constant threat of violence from these criminals, there have been instances of innocent bystanders actually getting hurt during these robberies.

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

DEA Congratulates Mexico On Arrest Of Knights Templar Cartel Leader "La Tuta"

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released the below statement:

DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart (seen in the above official DEA photo) today issued the following statement in response to the capture of Knights Templar Cartel Leader Servando Gomez-Martinez, a.k.a. “La Tuta” by the Mexican Federal Police:
"The arrest of Servando Gomez-Martinez, a.k.a. "La Tuta," is another win for Mexico in the fight against brutal criminal cartels like the Knights Templar. La Tuta led one of the world's most vicious and violent drug and criminal networks.  He not only headed the drug trafficking activities, but was in charge of all organized crime, including extortion, kidnappings, and murder. We congratulate the  brave members of the Mexican Federal Police for their successful operation and look forward to more successes against global organized crime." 

Note: You can read about Gomez-Martinez via the below link:

U.S. Intelligence Chief Describes 'Pervasive Uncertainty' Of Worldwide Threats

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2015 - "Unpredictable instability" is the new normal, the director of National Intelligence told the Senate Armed Services Committee here yesterday.

James R. Clapper (seen above in his official photo) testified on worldwide threats facing the United States and gave his best advice on what he considers to be the dangers Americans need to be aware of.

He said 2014 had the highest rate of political instability since 1992, when the Soviet Union collapsed. Last year also saw the most deaths as a result of state-sponsored mass killing and the highest number of refugees and internally displaced persons since World War II.

"This pervasive uncertainty makes it all the harder to predict the future," he said.

The North Korean cyberattack on Sony, the Ebola epidemic, and dramatic terrorist attacks in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France and the United States mean 2015 promises to be as unstable as 2014, Clapper said.

Cyber, Terror Concerns

Cyberattacks are increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication and severity of impact, he said. The U.S. government must be prepared for a massive cyberattack, he added, but the truth is the nation is already living with a constant and expanding barrage of cyberattacks.

Nations, criminal networks, terror groups and even individuals can launch these attacks, Clapper said. He highlighted the actions of North Korea, Iran, Russia and China in the cyber realm.

The terrorist threat grew last year, also, the director said.

"In 2013, just over 11,500 terrorist attacks worldwide killed approximately 22,000 people," he said. "Preliminary data for the first nine months of 2014 reflects nearly 13,000 attacks, which killed 31,000 people."

About half of all attacks, as well as fatalities occurred in just three countries: Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Clapper said. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant conducted more terror attacks than any other entity in the first nine months of 2014.

A new terror threat comes from "radicalized" individuals who travel to fight with ISIL in Syria or Iraq and then return to their home countries and launch attacks there, Clapper said. He estimates more than 20,000 Sunni foreign fighters have traveled to Syria from more than 90 countries to fight the Assad regime. Of that number, at least 13,600 have extremist ties, he said.

"About 180 Americans or so have been involved in various stages of travel to Syria," Clapper said.

Rise of ISIL

ISIL is increasing its influence outside of Iraq and Syria, seeking to expand its self-declared caliphate into the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and South Asia and planning terrorist attacks against Western and Shia interests, Clapper said.

"ISIL's rise represents the greatest shift in the Sunni violent extremist landscape since al-Qaida affiliates first began forming, and it is the first to assume at least some characteristics of a nation state," the director said.

Iran is exerting its influence in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, he said. Iranian leaders have provided robust military support to Syrian leader Bashir al-Assad and to the Iraqi government. This includes arms, advisers, funding, intelligence collection, electronic warfare and cyber support and combat support, Clapper explained.

"More broadly, Iran will face many of the same decision points in 2015 as it did in 2014," Clapper said. "Foremost is whether the supreme leader will agree to a nuclear deal. He wants sanctions relief but, at the same time, to preserve his options on nuclear capabilities."

Yemen's political future and stability are, at best, uncertain. Iran has provided support to the Houthis -- a group that now controls the government -- for years," Clapper said. "Their ascendancy is increasing Iran's influence."

Russia's Intentions in Eastern Europe

Clapper discussed problematic relations with Russia, as the country seems intent on a revanchist strategy with Ukraine squarely in the cross hairs.

"Moscow sees itself in direct confrontation with the West over Ukraine and will be very prone to overreact to U.S. actions," he said. "[Russian President Vladimir] Putin's goals are to keep Ukraine out of NATO and to ensure separatist control of an autonomous entity within Ukraine. He wants Moscow to retain leverage over Kiev, and Crimea, in his view, is simply not negotiable."

China Modernizes its Military

China is an emerging power and China's leaders are primarily concerned with domestic issues, the Communist Party's hold on power, internal stability and economic growth, Clapper said.

"Although China is looking for stable ties with the United States," he said, "it is more willing to accept bilateral and regional tensions in pursuit of its interest, especially on maritime-sovereignty issues."

The Chinese government continues a robust military modernization program directly aimed at what they consider to be U.S. strengths, Clapper said.

"Their military training program last year included exercises unprecedented in scope, scale and complexity to both test modernization progress and to improve their theater warfare capabilities," he said.