Thursday, July 31, 2014

Six Philly Cops Charged With Robbery, Kidnapping, Extortion

Jeremy Roebuck, Mark Fazilollah and Aubrey Whelen at the Philadelphia Inquirer offer a piece on the Philadelphia narcotics officers charged robbery, kidnapping and extortion.

Stories of shakedowns, brutality, kidnapping, and theft have dogged a group of the city's Narcotics Field Unit officers for nearly a decade. But despite multiple investigations, cases against them never stuck.

Federal prosecutors set out to change that Wednesday, laying out a sprawling racketeering case against six of the unit's former members. The charges paint them as rogue cops running roughshod over the rights of their targets, confident that few would believe anyone who dared complain.

As the years went on, the 26-count indictment suggests, Officers Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser became only more brazen.

Between February 2006 and November 2012, it states, they stole more than $500,000 in cash, drugs, and personal property - all while using extreme force, and falsifying police reports to downplay their takes.
Targets who resisted, prosecutors say, were dangled over balconies, threatened with the seizure of their homes, held in dank hotel rooms for days, or beaten as the officers kept score on who could inflict the most debilitating injuries.

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey described the allegations as "one of the worst cases of corruption I have ever heard."

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Former U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command Manager Sentenced for Receiving Bribes

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

Kenny E. Toy, 54, the former Afloat Programs Manager at the United States Navy Military Sealift Command, was sentenced today to serve 96 months in prison for receiving bribes.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office, Acting Executive Assistant Director Charles T. May Jr. of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Atlantic Operations and Special Agent in Charge Royce E. Curtin of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office made the announcement today after sentencing by United States Chief Judge Rebecca Beach Smith of the Eastern District of Virginia.

On Feb. 12, 2014, Toy pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with one count of bribery.   According to the statement of facts filed with Toy’s plea agreement, Toy was employed as the Afloat Programs Manager in the N6 Command, Control, Communication, and Computer Systems Directorate at the Military Sealift Command, which is the leading provider of transportation for the United States Navy.  

In approximately November 2004, Toy joined an extensive bribery conspiracy that spanned five years, involved multiple co-conspirators, including two different companies, and resulted in the payment of more than $265,000 in cash bribes, among other things of value, to Toy and to Scott B. Miserendino Sr., a former government contractor who performed work for the Military Sealift Command.

At his plea hearing, Toy admitted that he accepted monthly cash bribes of approximately $3,000, as well as a flat screen television and a paid vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, from co-conspirators Dwayne A. Hardman, Roderic J. Smith, Michael P. McPhail and Adam C. White, all of whom were employed at a government contracting company referred to as Company A in court documents.  

Toy also admitted that he accepted a $50,000 cash bribe in May 2009 from Hardman and another co-conspirator, Timothy S. Miller, both of whom were employed at a government contracting company referred to as Company B in court documents.   In exchange for the bribes, Toy provided favorable treatment to Company A and Company B in connection with Military Sealift Command related business.

As part of his guilty plea, Toy also admitted to engaging in a scheme to conceal his criminal activity.  Toy admitted to causing more than $88,000 to be paid to Hardman in an attempt to prevent Hardman from reporting the bribery scheme to law enforcement authorities.

Toy was also ordered to serve a supervised release term of three years following his prison sentence, and ordered to forfeit $100,000.

Earlier this year, four other individuals pleaded guilty in connection with the bribery scheme.   On Feb. 18, 2014, Hardman, the co-founder of Company A and Company B, pleaded guilty to providing bribes to Toy and Miserendino.   On Feb. 19, 2014, McPhail, a former employee at Company A, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.   On April 4, 2014, White, a former vice president at Company A, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery.   On March 5, 2014, Smith, the former president of Company A, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe public officials.   On June 23, 2014, United States District Judge Henry Coke Morgan sentenced Smith to serve 48 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release and ordered him to forfeit $175,000.

On May 23, 2014, a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia indicted Miserendino and Timothy S. Miller, a businessman whose company sought contracting business from the Military Sealift Command.   The indictment charges Miserendino with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, one count of bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit obstruction of criminal investigations and to commit tampering with a witness, and one count of obstruction of criminal investigations.   The indictment charges Miller with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and two counts of bribery.   Trial is set for Sept. 30, 2014, before Chief Judge Rebecca Beach Smith.

Charges contained in an indictment are merely allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case was investigated by the FBI, NCIS and DCIS.   The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Emily Rae Woods of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Haynie of the Eastern District of Virginia.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Joseph C. Goulden's Review Of "A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy And Cold Warrior

I'm thankful that veteran journalist, author and noted espionage expert Joseph C. Goulden offered me his review of Mark A. Bradley's A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior.
Below is the review:
A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior
By Mark A. Bradley
Basic Books.  333 pages.  $34.50
Reviewed by Joseph C. Goulden
One of the best espionage books to cross this desk in years, A Very Principled Boy also poses a psychological mystery:  What demons haunted the brilliant mind of Duncan C. Lee, a Rhodes Scholar and Yale-educated attorney who went from a top Wall Street law firm to the inner-circle of the Office of Strategic Services during World War Two.  There he spied for the Soviets while working at the right hand of OSS director William Donovan.
Not until after the war ended did investigators uncover this secret part of Lee’s life. His contact with Soviet intelligence was through one of the more notorious figures in the “spy era” of the 1940s, Elizabeth Bentley, a member of the Communist Party USA who acted as a courier for the Soviet NKGB, predecessor to the KGB. She broke with the Soviets in November 1945 and named Lee, among dozens of other persons in the government, as witting sources of secrets she passed to the Soviets.
But Bentley lacked any hard evidence – documents or the like – to back her accusations.  Lee wisely refused to take any papers out of the OSS office. Instead, he would commit key memos to his attentive memory – he boasted of an IQ in the 170s – and relate the information orally to Bentley at his apartment in the3000 block of Dent Place NW in Georgetown.

Another Soviet spy of the era, Alger Hiss of the State Department, was not so cautious. He gave reams of documents to his underground contact, Whittaker Chambers - evidence that resulted in his conviction and imprisonment for perjury
Once the first evidence of his NKVD link emerged, Lee performed a deft political flip-flop.  Working for the renowned Thomas “Tommy the Cork” Corcoran, he played a seminal role in creating Air America, the CIA proprietary airline that played an important role in many covert Cold War operations.
Mark A. Bradley, a former CIA intelligence officer who is now a lawyer with the Department of Justice, performs a masterful job of exploring the tangled and confusing life of Lee.  And he surveys the definitive smoking-gun proof of Lee’s guilt that the government possessed in the 1940s and 1950s but could not use without revealing our ability to decipher Soviet intelligence cables to Moscow.
He also makes skilled use of Soviet intelligence documents snuggled out of Russia by historian Alexander Vassiliev several years ago.
Lee boasted of a distinguished lineage. Two of his ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence. Another kinsman was Confederate General Robert E. Lee. His strongly religious parents were serving as missionaries in China  when Lee was born.
The several sides of Lee began to emerge during his student days . Walter  Pforzheimer, a Yale  classmate (and later a founding father of CIA) asserted that as an undergraduate,  Lee “always screwed more than a silkworm.” He was a chronic philanderer even when married with five children. His seemingly endless  string of bedmates included a woman who was both a Soviet espionage courier and a secretary to columnist Walter Lippmann.
At Oxford, Lee made two discoveries. He courted, and wed, a lissome – and very leftist -- Scottish woman named Ishbel Gibbs, who shared his views on sexual freedom. Perhaps because of her influence, he made a reappraisal  of religion. He stunned his parents by writing, “I find the Communist Party a fear nearer embodiment of what I regard as genuine Christianity than any organized church.”  Further, he planned to join the party’s secret underground. Not doing so, he asserted, would force him into “ineffectual armchair pinkness,” which  would be cowardly. According to NKVD documents unearthed recently, he and Ishbel joined the Communist Party in 1939.
The same year, after he finished Yale Law School, Lee went to work for Donovan Leisure, a prestigious Wall Street law firm headed by Donovan, who in a few years would be his boss at OSS. Here again, Lee had serious second thoughts. He worried that it would find it difficult to reconcile his dreams of working for what he called the “cause” and practicing in Wall Street. As he wrote his mother, “I am haunted by the specter of the Babbit-brained lawyer and all he stands for.”
When the war began, he entered the military and eagerly followed Donovan to Washington. He was assigned to a secretariat responsible for handling incoming reports. 
Lee’s importance to the Soviets is revealed in a Soviet document dated September 8, 1942, which boasts of a source, code name “Kokh,” in the OSS. The cable states that “agent reports from Europe and all over the world go through him. He chooses among them and shows them to Donovan for his consideration.”          
Unfortunately, U. S. code breakers could not decipher the cable and identify “Kokh.” for several more years; hence Lee went undetected. 
But his secret world began to crumble in the autumn of 1945 when Elizabeth Bentley broke with the communists and gave the first of a series of statements to the FBI. She related the same charges in testimony to Congress and grand juries. 
Although her targets – and especially Lee  – denounced her as deluded, even crazy, history proved her to be on-target. As Bradley writes, “Twenty-nine Americans she named as Soviet spies appeared in the NKGB’s intercepted traffic. One of them was Duncan Lee.” 
In his testimony, Duncan admitted to knowing Bentley, but only casually, and not as a spy.  He denied they ever discussed OSS affairs. He said much the same before a grand jury, which declined to indict him. Not until 1995 did the intelligence community release the intercepted Soviet cables from the 1940s clearly branding  Lee as a spy. By then, of course, Lee was dead. 
But Lee’s problem in the late 1940s was that he bore the stigma of “spy,” the lack of prosecution notwithstanding. In what Bradley rightly describes as an opportunistic maneuver, Lee aligned himself with the famed Washington insider,  Corcoran, a fierce Cold Warrior and a prominent member of the so-called “China Lobby” working to protect the struggling Nationalist Chinese government.
Corcoran – and through him, Lee – worked closely with Col. Claire Chennault, who during  the war created the famed “Flying Tigers,”  air arm  of the  Nationalist military. Lee did much of the legal work that in effect privatized  the air operations, which then  flew both military and commercial cargoes in China. When communist forces ousted the Nationalists in 1947, Mao Tse-Tung laid claim to 83 planes  that had been moved to Hong Kong, calling them the “sacred property of the People’s Republic of China.” 
Chennault and partner Whiting Willauer warned that Mao would use the air fleet for a paratroop assaults on Taiwan. They also struck a deal with the Nationalists to buy the planes.  Lee did the paperwork. He worked “almost exclusive” on recovering the planes from 1949 t0 1952. When money ran short, the CIA opened its coffers – an association that eventually marked the birth of Air America, which thereafter was a proprietary company. 
The Red Chinese fought back in the Hong Kong courts, and they won nine times. But the Privy Council in London, Britain’s highest court, ultimately upheld as legal the contracts drafted by Lee.  As Willauer later wrote “The importance to the [anti]-Communist cause of obtaining these airlines cannot be over-exaggerated.”  
But as Bradley asserts, Lee acted for motives other than patriotism.  “To keep J. Edgar Hoover’s agents from knocking on his front door or the HUAC’s investigators from slapping another subpoena into his hands, Lee had cloaked himself in the mantle of anticommunism and surrounded himself with men with unassailable anticommunist credentials….As importantly, it had allowed him to dry-clean his conscience. Perhaps Lee believed, if his father was right about a forgiving God, he had finally broken even.”
But given the U. S. wartime alliance with the Soviets, did the stolen secrets really do any harm?  Bradley’s answer is an emphatic “yes.”  As he writes, “his intelligence alerted the Soviets to British and American diplomatic strategies for negotiating with Stalin over postwar Poland’s borders and the United States’ diplomatic activities in Romania and Bulgaria, especially with those nations’ pro-Western politicians, who were in great danger once they found themselves behind the Iron Curtain.”  
Soviet penetration made an open book of the OSS. “It gave the Kremlin a clear look into the previously obscure activities of the foreign intelligence service of its most important wartime ally.  As John le Care observed, an intelligence service discloses its own ignorance when it reveals its targets.”  The exposure extended to the CIA when it was formed in 1947, given that it drew heavily on the OSS for manpower and operational techniques.
Lee spent his last years working abroad for an international insurance company. Wife Ishbel tired of his constant affairs and divorced him (and married a man seventeen years her junior).  
Lee protested his innocence to the end, writing for his sons a “memoir” that tied to explain away the charges against him. In the end, even his sons were unconvinced of his innocence. The family gave Bradley documents which he uses in the book.
Lee sought relief in heavy drinking. He died in 1988. Perhaps his only solace was that Donovan never denounced him, commenting only that he was a “very principled boy.” 
Classify this as a five-cloak, five-dagger read.
A Chinese language edition of Joe Goulden’s 1982 book, Korea: The Untold Story of the War, is being published this summer by Bejiing Xiron Books. 
Note: I interviewed Joseph C. Goulden for Counterterrorism & Homeland Security magazine a while back. You can read the interview via the below link:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Iraq Extradites Fugitive Defense Contractor to U.S. to Face Fraud Charges

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

A Las Vegas-based former Department of Defense contractor has been extradited from Iraq to the United States to face fraud and conspiracy charges for attempting to bribe U.S. officials in order to secure government contracts for his companies.   Metin Atilan, 54, is the first person extradited from Iraq to the United States pursuant to the U.S.-Iraq extradition treaty signed on June 7, 1934 and entered into force in 1936.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Carter M. Stewart of the Southern District of Ohio, Special Agent in Charge Kevin Cornelius of the FBI’s Cincinnati Office and Resident Agent in Charge Bret Flinn of the Defense Criminal Investigation Service (DCIS) made the announcement.

 “This historic extradition from Iraq to the United States is an example of our cooperation with law enforcement worldwide to bring fugitives to justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. 

“Atilan’s return to the United States, after more than six years on the run, sends a clear message to fugitives: no matter where in the world you try to hide, we will find you, and we will prosecute you.”

“ This case is a tremendous example of a successfully organized and cooperative law enforcement effort put forth by the FBI, DCIS, Interpol and the Iraqi government,” said Special Agent in Charge Cornelius. “I commend the work of the FBI’s Legal Attaché  Office and the U.S. Embassy Country Team in Iraq. They have garnered a superior level of law enforcement cooperation between the FBI and Iraqi officials. Without their support, this extradition would not have been possible.”

Atilan, a dual U.S. and Turkish citizen, is scheduled to appear today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz of the Southern District of Ohio.

Atilan was charged by indictment on June 10, 2008, with conspiracy to engage in contract fraud, conspiracy to engage in wire fraud, and wire fraud.   According to court documents, Atilan is  president and chief executive officer of PMA Services Ltd. of Las Vegas and Kayteks Ltd. of Adna, Turkey.    

In 2006 through 2008, Atilan offered bribes and kickbacks in order to secure contracts for businesses he owned in connection with services and construction associated with U.S. military operations in Iraq.   Some of the Defense Department contracting officials who Atilan is accused of trying to bribe were stationed in Dayton at the time.

Atilan was first arrested in Las Vegas on May 23, 2008.  Atilan was placed on electronic monitoring pending his formal hearing before a federal judge in Dayton, Ohio.   On June 15, 2008, Atilan allegedly violated the terms of his pretrial release by cutting off his electronic bracelet and fleeing the country.   The government sought his extradition, and Atilan arrived in Dayton, Ohio on July 27, 2014.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the FBI and DCIS.   The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dwight Keller of the Southern District of Ohio with assistance from Trial Attorney Dan E. Stigall of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs and Department of Justice Attaché Ellen Endrizzi.   The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided assistance.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Member and Associate of Lucchese Organized Crime Family Convicted of Racketeering and Other Crimes

While I was in the hospital the U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

A member and an associate of the Lucchese organized crime family and two Texas brothers were convicted today of racketeering and other charges after a six-month trial.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman for the District of New Jersey made the announcement.

Nicodemo S. Scarfo, 49, of Galloway, N.J., a member of the Lucchese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (LCN) and Salvatore Pelullo, 47, of Philadelphia, an associate of the Lucchese and Philadelphia LCN families, were convicted of all the counts against them, including racketeering conspiracy and related offenses, including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice.  Two other defendants, William and John Maxwell, were also convicted. Co-defendants David Adler, Gary McCarthy and Donald Manno were acquitted on all counts.

“Nicodemo Scarfo, Salvatore Pellulo and their cohorts used threats of physical and economic harm to take over a publicly-traded financial firm, then callously and systematically looted the company out of millions of dollars to buy luxury items for themselves,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.   “As a result of today’s guilty verdict, this mafia member and his conspirators now face substantial prison sentences.”

“Today, four people stand convicted  for giving new meaning to ‘corporate takeover’ – looting a publicly traded company to benefit their criminal enterprise,” U.S. Attorney
Fishman said.  “The defendants stole more than $12 million from shareholders through rampant self-dealing, fraudulent SEC filings and intimidation. The public should not have to worry that the interests of shareholders are being subverted to benefit organized crime or for other corrupt ends.”

The jury deliberated two weeks before delivering its verdicts following a six-month trial before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden federal court.   The defendants were charged in an indictment returned in 2011 by a federal grand jury in Camden.  It named Nicodemo D. Scarfo (Scarfo Sr.) – Nicodemo S. Scarfo’s father and the imprisoned former boss of the Philadelphia LCN family – and Vittorio Amuso, the imprisoned boss of the Lucchese family, as conspirators.

Five other defendants – Cory Leshner, Howard Drossner, John Parisi, Todd Stark, and Scarfo’s wife, Lisa Murray-Scarfo – have previously pleaded guilty to various charges related to their roles in the criminal scheme.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

Scarfo is a made member of the Lucchese family, having become a member after an attempt on his life in 1989 following an internal struggle for control of the Philadelphia family.    In the mid-1990s, while Scarfo Sr. and Amuso were in federal prison in Atlanta, Ga., Amuso arranged for Scarfo to become a member of the Lucchese family as a favor to Scarfo Sr.  As a member of the Lucchese family, Scarfo was required to earn money and participate in the affairs of the Lucchese family.

In April 2007, Scarfo, Pelullo and others devised a scheme to take over FirstPlus Financial Group Inc. (FPFG), a publicly-held company in Texas.  Scarfo and Pelullo used threats of economic harm to intimidate and remove the prior management and board of directors of replaced those officers with individuals beholden to Scarfo and Pelullo, including William Maxwell, an attorney from Houston, Texas, and his brother, John Maxwell, of Irving, Texas, who acted as the company’s CEO.

Once the takeover was completed, the figurehead board named William Maxwell as “special counsel” to FPFG, a position that he used to funnel approximately $12 million to himself, Scarfo and Pelullo through fraudulent legal services and consulting agreements.  The agreements, as well as FPFG’s fraudulent acquisitions of companies controlled by Scarfo and Pelullo, were designed to mask the true identity and nature of the control exerted over FPFG and to conceal the source of the money fraudulently conveyed to Scarfo and Pelullo.

In a telephone call intercepted by law enforcement, Pelullo called Scarfo to tell him about the sudden death of a former FPFG executive.  This former executive had provided information to Pelullo and Maxwell that they used to extort control of FPFG.  At the time of his death, he was employed by FPFG as a member of its “compliance team.” During the conversation, Scarfo and Pelullo expressed relief regarding his death. After laughing about how he was “crushed” that “the rat is dead,” Pelullo acknowledged that the executive was “the only connection, the only tie to anything.”  Scarfo replied: “Oh boy.  Yeah, Sal, you wanna know something though?  That’s one that I know you can’t take credit for . . . [laughter] . . . and that’s the natural best thing.  You know what I mean?  That is so like Enron-ish.  You know what I mean?   Kenneth Lay, he bailed out and took a heart attack."

Scarfo and Pelullo used their illicit gains to fund extravagant purchases, including an $850,000 yacht for both defendants, a luxury home for Scarfo, a Bentley automobile for Pelullo, and thousands of dollars in jewelry for Scarfo’s wife.  As a direct result of the enterprise’s criminal activity, FPFG and its shareholders suffered a loss of at least $12 million.

Sentencing for Scarfo is scheduled for Oct. 22, 2014; for Pelullo, Oct. 21, 2014, and for both Maxwell brothers, Oct. 23, 2014.

This case was investigated by the FBI, Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.   The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Adam L. Small of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven D’Aguanno and Howard Wiener of the District of New Jersey’s Organized Crime/Gangs Unit.

General Dempsey Explains Danger Posed By Extremist Groups

Claudette Roulo at DoD News offers the below piece:

ASPEN, Colo., July 24, 2014 - It's important to recognize that the various religious extremist groups that threaten the United States do not share the same ideologies, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

"Some of them are opportunistic, some of them seek to establish a sense of political Islam and theocracy under sharia law, and some of them are apocalyptic, actually, meaning they have such a world view that it becomes of a magnitude that makes them, I think, especially dangerous," Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told an audience at the Aspen Security Forum.

The group known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seeks a sense of religious legitimacy, he said. Its leaders believe they are the heirs to the Islamic caliphate that Muslims believe began with the prophet Muhammad. "They can only sustain that religious legitimacy if they continue to succeed," Dempsey said. "So this is not a group that can go halfway. It has to keep moving toward its ultimate end-of-days, apocalyptic narrative or it will lose support, because it loses religious legitimacy."

ISIS must be contained, then disrupted and, ultimately, defeated, the chairman said. "What makes it very hard is that ultimate defeat has to come from within the Sunni population," he said. Their defeat can be enabled and assisted by the United States, Dempsey said, but their end will come about only when moderate Sunnis of the region, and the world, reject them. The group is very dangerous, he said. "They will employ whatever tactics they have to employ," the chairman added, noting that they have succeeded through infiltration and misinformation and by preying upon a "youth bulge" and disenfranchised populations in parts of the world that aren't led by inclusive governments. "And then they just pop up one day, and you have to deal with them," Dempsey said. "

And you deal with them by either allowing them their way or suffering the consequences." The nation must take a long view in dealing with ISIL in particular, but also in dealing with many similar organizations that are filling voids where governments are absent or failing, the chairman said. "This isn't about us. ... This very much has to have the support of the government in Baghdad," he explained, adding that it remains to be seen whether the nation has a credible partner in the re-formed Iraqi government.

ISIL isn't a unified force in Iraq, Dempsey said, but rather is a syndicate of several disenfranchised Sunni groups willing to work with ISIL "because they're winning." "When you are disenfranchised and believing that the government in Baghdad will never be inclusive and never allow you to be part of the government, you'll back a winner until that winner is contained," the chairman said.

The collapse of the Iraqi military is representative of this disenfranchisement, he said. They were overcome because their soldiers concluded that their future did not lie with the government in Baghdad, Dempsey said. "Look, why do any of us in uniform stand and fight?" he asked. "You know, it's not just because were wear the uniform. We stand and fight because we believe in what we stand and fight for. ... If we were ever placed in a position where you didn't believe what you were fighting for, you know, you wouldn't see the kind of military you have in the United States today."

The problem of ISIL isn't isolated to Iraq, he said. The border between Iraq and Syria has ceased to exist, Dempsey explained. In addition, Turkey and the Kurds in northern Iraq are uniquely positioned to pressure ISIL, he noted. "It has to be a partnership, a coalition, and we have to build partners who can reject it from inside out," the chairman said. "

The immediate task is to determine whether Iraq has a political future, because if Iraq has a political future, then we will work through Iraq, among others, to deal with the ISIL threat," Dempsey said. "If Iraq does not have a political future as an inclusive unity government, then we're going to have to find other partners."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Famed Detective Randy Jurgensen Coming Back To The Big Screen

Ian Mohr at the New York Post offers a piece on former NYPD detective and filmmaker Randy Jurgensen returning to the big screen.

Legendary New York detective Randy Jurgensen — who was a consultant on “The French Connection” and “Donnie Brasco,” as well as the inspiration for Al Pacino’s character in the 1980 film “Cruising” — is coming back to the big screen, Page Six has learned.

Jurgensen’s 2006 book, “Circle of Six: The True Story of New York’s Most Notorious Cop Killer and the Cop Who Risked Everything to Catch Him,” about his investigation of the infamous Harlem mosque incident in 1972, has been adapted as a feature by veteran “Law & Order: SVU” writer Jonathan Greene.

Tod “Kip” Williams, whose credits include “Paranormal Activity 2,” will direct.

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

Note: I read Circle of Six and interviewed Randy Jurgensen a while back, but to my regret I put the Q & A on the back burner. I hope to post the interesting interview here in the near future.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Unpublished Elmore Leonard Stories Coming In 2015

Jennifer Schuessler at the New York Times offers a piece on an upcoming book of short stories by the late great crime writer Elmore Leonard.

Elmore Leonard may have died last August, but readers now have a book of new stories by the wisecracking, adverb-murdering grand old man of crime fiction to look forward to.
The British publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson has acquired 15 unpublished early stories, most written while Leonard was working as a copywriter at a Detroit advertising agency in the 1950s. The volume will be released in the fall of 2015, with HarperCollins publishing in the United States.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
You can also read my Crime Beat column on Elmore Leonard via the below link: 

James Garner RIP

I was hospitalized when the actor James Garner died, so I was unable to post anything about his life and death.

I've been a Garner fan since I was a kid watching Garner as Bret Maverick on television. I also loved Garner as Jim Rockford on The Rockford Files. 

Garner also starred in a number of good films, including The Americanization of Emily, The Great Escape, Support Your Local Sheriff, Up Periscope, Darby's Rangers and The Hour of the Gun. 

My favorite Garner film is the one where he portrayed one of my favorite characters, Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe.

Garner portrayed the wise-cracking, tough private detective in 1969's Marlowe.

I've written here before that I believe Garner is the actor who comes closest to Chandler's Philip Marlowe character.

Had the film been set in the proper period, the 1940s, instead of a contemporary setting, the film would have been near-perfect.

I read James Garner's interesting memoir The Garner Files a while back and I recomend the book to his many fans. 

Beyond The Screen: A Look Back At The James Bond Thriller "Licence To Kill"

MI6, the website devoted to Ian Fleming's iconic character James Bond, offers a look back at Cinemax's video on Licence To Kill.

American premium cable channel Cinemax focused on the new 007 adventure Licence To Kill in one of their 1989 episodes of 'Beyond The Screen' and aired the segment before broadcasts of The Living Daylights.
Director John Glen, who is mistakenly captioned in the video, boasts of Timothy Dalton's action prowess: "Most actors say they do their own stunts, but this guy really does his own stunts. He's a very thorough actor, and I think he's always a little uneasy when someone has to step in and impersonate him." Dalton himself is a little more coy: "If you believe it's me it's me. If you can see it's me it's me. The audience should quite simply believe that the man - the character - they're watching, James Bond, does them."  
You can watch the video via the below link:
Note: I think Timothy Dalton was the second best James Bond, behind the great Sean Connery, and I think License To Kill was a very good thriller. I also like Robert Davi as the bad guy in the film.  
You can read an earlier post on Dalton and License To Kill Kill via the below link:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Philadelphia Police Commissioner, FOP Assail Philadelphia Daily News Reporters On Police Allegations

Craig R. McCoy at the Philadelphia Inquirer offers a piece on police criticism of two Philadelphia Daily News reporters' Pulitzer Price-winning newspaper series and a book on police misconduct.

The president of the Philadelphia lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police assailed the Philadelphia Daily News on Wednesday, saying there were credible allegations that two of the newspaper's reporters paid for utility bills, food, diapers, and other gifts to a woman whose story was told in their Pulitzer Prize-winning series on police misconduct.

In an interview later in the day, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey raised similar criticisms of the reporters, saying that if the allegations were true, the reporters crossed an ethical line.

John J. McNesby, president of FOP Lodge 5, said he had "sound evidence" that the Daily News reporters had paid for food and bills and given gifts to a woman who told them she had been sexually assaulted by a police officer. He would not identify his source.

Without providing details, he also cited allegations that "they intentionally fabricated parts of their story."

H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, owner of the company that publishes The Inquirer and the Daily News, rejected the criticism.

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

You can also read my interview with the two reporters, Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, via the below link:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Leonetti Rips Uncle, Says Cousin Didn't Have A Chance

Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia offers a piece on former Philadelphia-South Jersey La Cosa Nostra Underboss Philip Leonetti's view of his cousin Nicky Scarfo's federal trial.

Defense attorneys for Nicodemo S. Scarfo said repeatedly during his federal fraud trial that Scarfo,
49, was targeted for prosecution because of the reputation and notoriety of his father, jailed Philadelphia mob boss Nicodemo D. "Little Nicky" Scarfo.

The jury, of course, saw it differently, convicting the younger Scarfo of all 25 counts he faced in the looting of FirstPlus Financial, a Texas mortgage company.

But now another voice has weighed in in Scarfo's defense. It's not a defense of what he did, but rather an explanation for how he ended up where he did. And it's also a plea for some consideration from Judge Robert Kugler when he sentences Scarfo in October.

The younger Scarfo never had a chance, said his cousin, mobster-turned-government witness Philip Leonetti.

"He's really not a gangster," Leonetti, 61, said in a telephone interview with Bigtrial this week. "His father had him under his spell...I used to tell him, 'Nicky, get away from these guys.' And when he was talking to me, he would agree' But then he would talk to his father and..."

The words trail off, but the point is clear. Leonetti, the one-time underboss of the Scarfo crime family, followed his cousin's trial from afar.

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

You can also read my interview with Philip Leonetti via the below link:

"The Director," A Sobering Tale Of Cyberterrorism

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden reviewed David Ignatius' The Director for the Washington Times.

About halfway through a first draft of this review, a sobering thought brought me up short: My criticisms of the underworld of online hackers and data thieves were apt to cost me retaliatory computer grief for years to come. So I shall take the coward’s way out. If you are among that band of technological bandits, and do not care for the way you are depicted, go after David Ignatius, who wrote the book, and not the guy reviewing it.

In a sense, “The Director” is even more frightening that the usual intelligence fare of Cold War nuclear sword-rattling or terrorism plots out of the Middle East. Those who are regular readers of Mr. Ignatius' commentary realize that he is perhaps the best-informed journalist writing today about intelligence and national security. Thus, when he sounds a klaxon alarm about the dangers of cyberterrorism, he is not making things up. He is describing a clear and present danger.

Mr. Ignatius is a rare columnist who does hard reporting rather sitting in an office and sucking his thumb. He devotes the same energy and skills to his fiction, and several of his nine novels were based on actual events.

To set the stage for “The Director,” in a prologue, Mr. Ignatius walks us through an annual hackers’ convention, DEF CON, held in a Las Vegas casino. This event really exists, and as Mr. Ignatius writes, “It was a school for mischief.” The multipage program lists lectures: “Hacking Bluetooth connections on phone,” “Hacking RFID tags on cargo containers,” “Controlling automobiles remotely through their electronic systems” and so on.

At the center of the chilling novel at hand is an idealistic high-tech businessman named Graham Weber, who is tapped to bring the Central Intelligence Agency out of slothful years of scandal and official misconduct.

However, on his very first day on the job, Weber is confronted with a more immediate problem. A young German man with a shaved head and scruffy clothes, ears adorned with metal studs — “a normal adult’s bad dream” — comes to the U.S. Consulate in Hamburg with a warning: Hackers have broken into CIA’s communications system. “Your messages can be read,” he tells a CIA officer. “They are not secret.” He gives her proof of the intrusion.

Thus, Mr. Ignatius plunges into a high-tech thriller that is essentially a cram course in how to foul up a communications system (although I trust that some of the details are fuzzed enough to deter readers from creating chaos on their own). The crowning moment is the hacking of the Bank of International Settlement in Basel, Switzerland, which serves as a clearinghouse for the world banking system — and which is viewed by many moon-howlers as “a compendium of all the mistakes and conspiracies of the twentieth century,” as one hacker muses.

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Philadelphia Inquirer Review Of "Brothers Forever"

My review of Brothers Forever apeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In James A. Michener's 1953 novel The Bridges of Toko-Ri, a carrier jet pilot and two rescue helicopter pilots are killed in action during the Korean War. Upon hearing of the pilots' deaths, the carrier task force admiral wonders why America was lucky enough to have such men.

"Where do we get such men?" the admiral asks himself.

Brothers Forever is a book that may answer that question. It's a book one should read to learn more about the military people who volunteer to serve and sacrifice their lives in America's far-off conflicts.

You can read the rest of the review below:

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

Off Line And In the Hospital

I have not posted anything in a while, as I've been in the hospital.

I was laid up in bed thinking the pain came from my back injuries, but I later discovered that I had some serious kidney problems.

I was taken to the hospital where I learned from surgery that I had a kidney infection, a lodged kidney stone and other kidney problems.

I was released from the hospital this week, but I have to return for round two in the near future.

My posting here will be light in the near future.