Saturday, May 31, 2014

DEA Employee and Contractor Husband Plead Guilty to False Statements in Kidnapping Hoax

The U.S. Justice released the below information:

Nydia L. Perez and John A. Soto, both 44, of Haymarket, Virginia, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to law enforcement officials in federal court on Friday, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director for International Operations John Boles of the FBI.

According to the plea agreement, in December 2013, Perez, an employee of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and her husband Soto, a private contractor in the United States Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, designed and executed a hoax with the intention of defrauding the United States Embassy in Bogotá.   As part of the hoax, Perez and Soto fabricated a plot to kidnap minors who are United States citizens.

According to court filings, Perez and Soto sent, through electronic mail and courier services, information about a purported threat to the safety of minor United States citizens in Bogotá.   Perez and Soto added detailed descriptions of the targeted United States citizens, including information about their whereabouts and daily routines.   Perez and Soto included photographs of the citizens in order to enhance the seriousness of the threat, and attempted to implicate innocent individuals in the kidnapping plot.   Perez and Soto made numerous false representations to law enforcement and security officials in furtherance of the fabricated kidnapping plot.

Sentencing before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman-Jackson is scheduled for Aug. 21, 2014.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI Legal Attaché in Bogotá and the Extra-Territorial Squad of the FBI Miami Field Office.   Also participating in the investigation were the DEA, the U.S. Embassy Bogota Regional Security Office, and the U.S. Embassy Bogota Force Protection Detail.   The Department is grateful for the assistance of the Colombia National Police Directorate of Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Extortion.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Justin Weitz of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Was Snowden Spying For Russia Seven Years Ago?

The British newspaper the Daily Mail offers a piece on NSA leaker Edward Snowden and the possibility that he has been a Russian spy prior to his flight to Hong Kong.

The CIA believes Edward Snowden may have been recruited by the Russians as long as seven years ago and could have passed on a "treasure trove" of secrets.

The US intelligence agency is investigating whether the fugitive, now living in Moscow, betrayed his country by working for the Putin regime as a doubel agent as early as 2007.

Robert Baer, a former senior CIA official, told the Mail that the fact that Snowden had ended up in Russia was a likely sign that Moscow had signed him up when he was working for the spy agency in Geneva. 

... Mr. Baer also derided Snowden's claims in an NBC interview that he was a bona fide spy as 'silly'. 'I think we all know by now he was a systems administrator,' he said. 'When he worked in Geneva, he was a communicator - that means he sits in an office and relays messages back to Langley. That's not a spy.'

'And secondly the NSA doesn't have spies overseas. It's got technicians who sit in American embassies and sort of listen to scanners. So I worry about his common sense here. He has a Walter Mitty complex it seems to me.'

Mr. Baer said Snowden's actions would have cost Western intelligence agencies billions of dollars as they are forced to rebuild their communications systems.

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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Gambino Family Administration Member Bartolomeo Vernace Sentenced to Life Imprisonment

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information on May 27th:

Earlier today at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Bartolomeo Vernace, a member of the administration of the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the Gambino family), was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, plus 10 years. On April 17, 2013, following a five-week jury trial before the Hon. Sandra L. Townes, Vernace was found guilty of a racketeering conspiracy spanning 1978 through 2011. The jury found that Vernace participated in all nine racketeering acts alleged as part of the conspiracy, including the 1981 double homicide of Richard Godkin and John D’Agnese, heroin trafficking, robbery, loansharking, and illegal gambling.
The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).

“For more than four decades, the defendant dedicated his life to committing crimes for the mafia. He rose through the ranks to become a powerful Gambino family leader by making money from crime and committing brutal acts of violence, including the 1981 murders of two innocent bar owners over a spilled drink. Though they were taken from their families long ago, Richard Godkin and John D’Agnese—two businessmen who also ran the local Boys’ Club—have not been forgotten,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “We hope the victims’ families are able to take some measure of comfort from the fact that, with this life sentence, one of the killers has now been brought to justice.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the FBI, the agency that led the government’s investigation.

“After more than 33 years evading justice, Bartolomeo ‘Bobby Glasses’ Vernace can hide no more. Vernace made a life of being a key player in the Gambino crime family where his activities led to his convictions for heroin trafficking, robbery, loansharking, gambling, and firearms, as well the vicious double murder. Today’s life sentence ensures the rest of Bobby Glasses’s life will only be seen inside of a federal facility,” stated FBI Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos.

The evidence at trial established that Vernace, known by various aliases including “Bobby Glasses,” had a long career in the mafia that began in the early 1970s and culminated in his rise to the rank of a captain who served on the three-member ruling panel overseeing the Gambino family. Vernace was arrested on January 20, 2011, as part of a national sweep of almost 100 members and associates of organized crime led by the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Among the crimes he committed for the mafia, Vernace, together with two Gambino family associates, murdered Richard Godkin and John D’Agnese in the Shamrock Bar in the Woodhaven neighborhood of Queens on April 11, 1981, after a dispute arose between a Gambino family associate and others in the bar over a spilled drink. The associate left the bar and picked up Vernace and a third accomplice at a nearby social club. A short time later, the three men entered the bar and gunned down Godkin and D’Agnese—the owners of the bar—as the bar’s patrons fled for cover.

In the weeks after the murders, Vernace went into hiding. He did not reemerge until years later when, having successfully avoided state charges for the murders, Vernace returned to Queens and to an active role in the Gambino family. Over the next two decades, his power within the mafia grew, as he operated a large and profitable crew from a café on Cooper Avenue in the Glendale neighborhood of Queens.

In 1998, Vernace was charged in Queens County Supreme Court with the Godkin and D’Agnese murders but was acquitted after trial in 2002. During testimony in the federal trial in 2013, an eyewitness to the murders testified that he had lied during the state trial about Vernace’s role in the murders out of fear of retribution. The eyewitness testified in the federal case that he recognized all three assailants but that he had been afraid to testify against them because, in his words, “two men were dead over a spilled drink. I think that was reason enough to be afraid.”

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Evan M. Norris, Amir H. Toossi, M. Kristin Mace, and Claire S. Kedeshian.

South Philly's "Don Corleone" Of The Auto Repair Business Hits The Trifecta, Indicted For A Third Time

Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia is covering the trials of South Philadelphia auto repair owner Ron Galati for

Ron Galati, the Don Corleone of the auto repair business, hit a trifecta this afternoon when he was indicted for a third time in an ongoing investigation by city, state and federal authorities.

The latest charges, announced by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, allege that the 63-year-old South Philadelphia auto body shop owner orchestrated an elaborate insurance fraud scheme that netted nearly $5 million for himself and his co-conspirators.

Those charged in the case included Galati's wife, Vicky, his son, Ron Jr. and Steven Ligambi, the 28-year-old son of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi.

In all, 41 people have been charged and several have already agreed to cooperate, according to the District Attorney's Office which quoted one cooperator who said Galati would boast, "I live my life to cheat insurance companies. My high every day is to cheat insurance companies."

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

Twenty-One Defendants Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Participating In Multimillion-Dollar Scheme To Extort Others By Posing As DEA Agents

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York released the below information yesterday:

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Michele M. Leonhart, the Administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced today that 21 citizens of the Dominican Republic have been charged with conspiring to impersonate United States law enforcement officers, extortion, and wire fraud. Beginning two weeks ago, authorities in the Dominican Republic, acting on requests from the United States, located and arrested 17 of the defendants in the Dominican Republic, who are now awaiting extradition proceedings in that country. Four defendants remain at-large.

The defendants are alleged to have engaged in a scheme to extort money from individuals located in the United States by posing as DEA Agents or other representatives of the United States Government. The defendants targeted individuals who they believed had illicitly purchased prescription pharmaceuticals through call centers located in the Dominican Republic. As part of the defendants’ scheme, a member of the conspiracy would call a victim located in the United States and identify him- or herself as a DEA agent or representative of another United States agency. The victim would then be told that he or she was under investigation for illegally purchasing prescription drugs, and that the only way to avoid arrest and jail would be to pay a “fine” or some other fee to the DEA. In total, the defendants and others who participated in this scheme and copy-cat schemes demanded at least $3.5 million, and received at least $880,000, in extortionate payments from victims in the United States.

United States Attorney Preet Bharara said: “These defendants generated untold millions of dollars in illicit profits by posing as DEA Agents or other U.S. law enforcement officers. They carried out the internet or telephone equivalent of displaying phony badges to rip off their victims. In the process, the defendants assaulted the good name of the DEA. We commend the DEA for putting a stop to this criminal charade.”

DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said: “These alleged criminals not only bilked thousands of dollars from unsuspecting Americans but they also called into question the integrity and honor of the DEA and all law enforcement. The DEA, with the assistance of our Dominican Republic counterparts, have worked diligently to identify, target and, ultimately, dismantle this group of alleged scam artists. We urge anyone who receives a similar threatening phone call to hang up and contact local or federal law enforcement immediately.”

According to the Indictment, which was unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

From at least 2008, up to and including March 2013, JULIO SANTANA JOSEPH, FRANCISCO RUBIO MONTALVO, ANGEL PEREZ AVILES, a/k/a “Mike,” DEIVY BURGOS FELIX, CHENGY PADILLA GARO, GEURY GUZMAN ROSA, DANTE CAMINERO VASQUEZ, SAUL HERNANDEZ BATISTA, MOISES DE LA CRUZ DECENA, CELSO MIGUEL SARITA, EDWARD CUEVAS ESCANO, SANTIAGO GUZMAN GONZALEZ, JOSE ARISMENDY CUESTA ABREU, CARLOS PERDOMO ROSARIO, a/k/a “El Depo,” ELINSON REYES ALMONTE, YEURY AMARANTE ROSARIO, MARIO ANTONIO PLACIDO, YGNACIO ESTEVEZ MESSON, BORIS GIL GUERRERO, VICTOR VELASQUEZ ROCHTTIS, a/k/a “Vitico,” and RAFAELA MEDINA, a/k/a “Carolina,” the defendants, and others known and unknown, engaged in a scheme to extort money from individuals located in the United States by posing as DEA Agents or other representatives of the United States Government (the “Impersonation and Extortion Scheme”). Each of the defendants made extortionate calls and/or received money from victims who had been extorted. The Impersonation and Extortion Scheme targeted individuals who the defendants believed had purchased prescription drugs unlawfully over the internet or through call centers. The illicit websites and call centers at issue sold pills to customers that would typically require a doctor’s prescription to purchase. The illicit websites and call centers did not require consumers to obtain the required prescriptions before purchase (hereinafter, the pills sold in this manner are referred to as the “Prescription Drugs”).

The DEA Impersonation and Extortion Scheme typically operated as follows: First, certain of the defendants and other individuals not named as defendants who engaged in the Impersonation and Extortion Scheme (the “Extorters”) purchased, or otherwise obtained, lists of individuals who the Extorters believed had previously purchased Prescription Drugs over the internet on illicit websites or through illicit call centers located in the Dominican Republic (“Customer Lists”). The Customer Lists generally contained the names, addresses, credit card numbers and other information for individuals located in the United States.

Second, an Extorter contacted a customer from the Customer Lists (the “victim”) and identified him- or herself as a DEA agent or representative of another United States agency. Often, the Extorter provided the name of an actual DEA supervisor from a DEA office located in the United States. The Extorters attempted to extort money from victims throughout the United States, including victims in Manhattan and the Bronx, New York.

During a call with a victim, an Extorter falsely informed the victim that authorities in the Dominican Republic or elsewhere were investigating or criminally charging the victim as a result of his or her illegal purchase of Prescription Drugs that were sent to the victim from the Dominican Republic. In a single call or series of calls and emails, the Extorter detailed the purported criminal charges and potential penalties facing the victim, including imprisonment, and the likelihood that the victim would be arrested and extradited to a foreign country for prosecution.

During a call with the victim, an Extorter also generally informed the victim that he or she could dispose of, or avoid, the criminal charges by making a cash payment. In order to do so, the Extorter had the victim transfer between several hundred and several thousand dollars either (i) through a money remitting service to a particular individual in the Dominican Republic, or (ii) via wire transfer to a particular bank account located in the Dominican Republic.

Following receipt of a payment from a victim, an Extorter typically contacted the victim again. During the follow-up conversations, the Extorter demanded additional payments and threatened to have criminal charges re-filed against the victim. If the victim refused to make, or to continue to make, extortion payments to the Extorter, the Extorter threatened the victim with his or her imminent arrest, with searches of the victim’s home in the United States by federal law enforcement officers, or with public disclosure of the victim’s prior purchases of Prescription Drugs.

The Extorters typically made extortion calls from illicit call centers located in the Dominican Republic (the “Call Centers”). In these Call Centers, the Extorters gathered together and used multiple computers equipped with Voice Over Internet Protocol (“VOIP”) technology to make extortion calls to victims listed on a Customer List. VOIP is a means of transmitting digital voice communications over the internet via a high-speed internet connection. The VOIP technology allowed the Extorters to contact their victims by using VOIP lines that made it appear as though the Extorters were calling from telephone numbers with area codes from within the United States. For example, the Extorters used VOIP lines that made it appear as though the Extorters were calling from, among other places, Washington, D.C., and New York, New York, when, in truth, the Extorters were located in the Dominican Republic. The Extorters often made hundreds of extortion calls a day from these Call Centers to victims in the United States.

Once a particular victim made an extortion payment to one of the Extorters, the Extorter who received that payment often shared that victim’s contact information with other Extorters, who then besieged the victim with additional, repeated extortion attempts via telephone. While using these lines to further the Impersonation and Extortion Scheme, the Extorters often traded tips with other Extorters in the same Call Center on the best techniques to use to extort victims.

Beginning in June 2010, the DEA established a telephone hotline (the “Hotline”), to allow victims to report extortion attempts and other contacts with the defendants and other individuals who engaged in the Impersonation and Extortion Scheme and who posed as DEA and other federal agents. Since the Hotline was established in June 2010, through January 2013, the DEA received approximately 6,500 reports from victims of extortion attempts, nearly all of which followed substantially the same pattern described above. In sum, through the Hotline, the DEA has learned of the Extorters’ efforts to obtain over $3.5 million in extortion payments from victims, and of actual extortion payments from victims to the Extorters of over $880,000. These attempted extortions and actual extortion payment amounts reflect only what was reported to the DEA through the Hotline, and thus represent only a portion of the extortion payments that the Extorters have attempted to obtain, or actually obtained, from their victims.
*                      *                      *
Each of the defendants has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, each of which carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. Each of the defendants has also been charged with one count of conspiracy to impersonate a United States law enforcement officer, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, the New York Field Office of the DEA, the DEA’s Dominican Republic Country Office, the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Dominican National Directorate for Drug Control for their work in this investigation.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Ian McGinley and Adam Fee are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Letters Show "Earliest Evidence" Of Poe's Imagination

Louis Llovio at the Richmond Times-Dispatch offers a piece on Edgar Allan Poe's early writings.

You can read the story via the below link:

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Poe via he below link:

Philadelphia Cosa Nostra Soldier Sentenced To Serve 27 Months In Prison

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

Eric Esposito was sentenced today to serve 27 months in prison for conducting an illegal gambling business on behalf of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Family, announced 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 and Edward J. Hanko, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division .

Esposito, 43, of Philadelphia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.   In addition to his prison term, Esposito was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a fine of $4,000.

On Feb. 21, 2014, after a week-long trial, a jury convicted Esposito of conducting an illegal gambling business involving the use of video poker machines at a private social club known as the “First Ward Republican Club” in South Philadelphia.   According to evidence presented at trial, as a fully initiated mob soldier, Esposito worked in concert with other mob members to carry out this illegal gambling business on behalf of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Family.

A total of 13 leaders, members and associates of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Family have pleaded guilty or been convicted by a jury as part of this case.   To date, 12 defendants, including Esposito, have been sentenced, and one is awaiting sentencing.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney John S. Han of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank A. Labor III and Suzanne B. Ercole of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.   Valuable prosecutorial assistance was provided by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, the Pennsylvania State Police, the New Jersey State Police, the Philadelphia Police Department, U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.  Additional assistance was provided by the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

Happy 106th Birthday To Ian Fleming

Happy 106th birthday to the late great thriller writer Ian Fleming.

You can read my Crime Beat column on Ian Fleming and his iconic character James Bond via the below link:

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Commander Ian Fleming and his 30 Assault commando unit in WWII via the below link:

A Veteran's Salute

The above Defense Department released photo shows C.D. Studyvin, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, saluting the U.S. flag during a Memorial Day ceremony at El Paso Cemetery in Derby, Kan on, May 26, 2014.

Members of the local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations conducted the ceremony, which drew veterans like Studyvin.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hoover's Secret War Against Axis Spies: FBI Counterintelligence During World War II

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review in the Washington Times of Raymond J.Batvinis' Hoover's Secret War Against Axis Spies: FBI Counterintelligence During World War II.

An oft-told story in the annals of intelligence is that of the rivalry of the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover with William Donovan of the Office of Strategic Services over which agency should have wartime primacy in the fight against the Axis powers. However, an overlooked principal in the fight was none other than MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service.

As retired FBI executive Raymond Batvinis relates in engrossing detail, the Brits chose to align themselves with Donovan, realizing that he had considerably more clout with President Roosevelt than did Hoover. Indeed, in the pre-war years, the British were bold enough to set up their own shadow intelligence service in the United States, British Security Coordination, whose functions paralleled those of the FBI in many respects. To the British, the FBI was a police agency, interested in imprisoning spies rather than using them to feed disinformation back to Berlin, as did MI6.
In due course, peace was made. The OSS emerged with prime responsibility for foreign intelligence, but the FBI had an overseas presence through agents posted to American embassies as “legal attaches.”

Drawing upon previously classified documents, Mr. Batvinis describes how the FBI joined with MI6 in the so-called “Double Cross” operation to funnel false information back to the enemy through agents who were caught and “turned.” The bureau’s target audience was Japan, which was fed a flood of bogus “information” on subjects ranging from the growth of U.S. military prowess to intended invasion targets. I had not encountered a full description of the bureau’s work on “Double Cross” until Mr. Batvinis'  book.

Joseph C. Goulden also reviews Matthew Cecil's Hoover's FBI and the Fourth Estate: The Campaign to Control the Press and the Bureau's Image.

From the same publisher, but not nearly so impressive, is Matthew Cecil’s book on Hoover and the media. Put directly, it is an ill-disguised hatchet job that reveals the author to be either ill-informed or duplicitous.

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

Batman 75th Anniversary: An A-Z Of The Dark Knight

Simon Reynolds at looks back at 75 years of the Batman character.

Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939, Batman debuted on the cover of Detective Comics #27 swinging across the Gotham City rooftops to apprehend a bank robber.

In the decades since the Caped Crusader's comic book bow, the character has traversed almost every entertainment medium possible - TV, film, animation, video games - to cement himself as one of the world's most recognizable cultural icons.

You can read the rest of the piece and watch a video clip via the below link:

Former KGB General Says Snowden Is Cooperating With Russian Intelligence

Richard Byrne at offers a piece on a former KGB general who suugests that NSA leaker Edward Snowden is cooperating with Russian intelligence.

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden probably never envisioned that he’d someday be working for the Russian federal security service, or FSB.

But according to former KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin, he is now, albeit as a consultant or technical advisor.

“These days, the Russians are very pleased with the gifts Edward Snowden has given them. He’s busy doing something. He is not just idling his way through life.”

“The FSB are now his hosts, and they are taking care of him,” Kalugin boldly claimed in an interview with VentureBeat.

The 80 year-old retired Soviet intelligence officer is Russian spy royalty personified. At 34, he became the youngest KGB general in history, and Kalugin famously helped run Soviet spy operations in America during a career that spanned over three decades.

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Flags In: Memorial Day Weekend Event At Arlington National Cemetery

In the above photo a soldier of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as "The Old Guard," places flags in front of headstones during Flags In, an annual event before Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, Va. on May 22, 2014.
The above U.S. Army photo was taken  by Klinton Smith.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

What To Stream: "Robin And Marion"

Richard Rushfield at offers a look back at a great film, Robin and Marion.

Starring Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn, the film also features a good number of great supporting character actors, including Nicol Williamson (as a Little John who is smaller than Connery's Robin Hood), Richard Harris and Ian Holm - and the late great Robert Shaw.

Shaw portrays the Sheriff of Nottingham and he and Connery go round two (after their classic train compartment fight in From Russia With Love) in a great broad sword battle with each other.

The film is directed by Philadelphia native Richard Lester, who previously directed the Beatles in Hard Day's Night and Help!

Connery is superb as an older Robin Hood and I'd like to see the film again.

You can read the piece and watch a video trailer of the film via the below link:

Freedom Is Not Free: A 2014 Memorial Day Message

The Navy News Service offers Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Mike Stevens' Memorial Day message:

This weekend we will reflect on our Navy history and core values with great pride. We often hear the words, "Freedom is not free." We preserve our freedoms by supporting and defending, and at times sacrificing our lives for the guarantee of rights, liberties, and pursuit of happiness to every citizen. There is absolutely no greater sacrifice than giving one's life for their country.

Memorial Day also allows us to remember our fallen heroes, our loved ones who served and pay our respects to many shipmates who have donned the uniform of a United States Sailor. You have put service before self. It is because of your selfless contributions that missions are completed, battles are won, and our nation continues to thrive in freedom. From supporting homeland defense and deployments downrange with ground forces to participation in disaster response and months underway on ships, your role in every diverse aspect of our Navy's mission is critical.

I encourage each of you to pause and reflect on those that have given their all in defense of freedom.

Theresa and I would like to give our heartfelt gratitude for your dedication, strength and support.

May God richly bless each of you, our nation, and our Navy.

Very Respectfully,

Note: MCPON Stevens is seen above in a U.S. Navy photo taken by Mass Communications Specialist Martin L. Carey.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

"Goldfinger" Is Still The Gold-Standard Bond

Ed Symkus at the Boston Globe looks back at the classic James Bond film Goldfinger.

First there was “Dr. No.” The 1962 big-screen introduction to the popular Ian Fleming character Bond, James Bond, cost $900,000, and pulled in $60 million at the box office. A year later, “From Russia With Love” had twice the budget and earned almost $80 million. These straightforward, action-packed spy films starring the relatively unknown Scottish actor Sean Connery and featuring lots of guns and gals were surprise hits. But no one was ready for the explosion that came with the late-1964 release of “Goldfinger,” which made household names of Connery, Aston Martin, the fictional characters Oddjob and Pussy Galore, and plucked the journeyman German actor Gert Frobe from obscurity when he landed the title role of Bond’s nemesis.

The film was made for $3 million and raked in $125 million — a true blockbuster. Yet now, with 24 Bond films produced, and an as-yet untitled 25th set for release in November 2015, “Goldfinger” still remains the gold standard for many aficionados. It gets a local screening at the Brattle Theatre on May 31 in honor of its 50th anniversary, though purists will remember that the film wasn’t released in the United States until December of ’64.
Why has the film remained so popular for five decades? Maybe because, along with those guns and gals, there was the addition of gadgets. Possibly also because a snarky sense of humor was added (after electrocuting a Mexican assassin in a bathtub, Bond utters his first one-liner, actually a one-worder: “Shocking”). And probably because everything about the film, from humor to action to exotic locales to sophisticated characters and an entertaining story line, happened to line up perfectly.

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

Note: Ed Symkus is wrong about Bond uttering his first one-liner in Goldfinger.

In Dr No Bond kills one of the evil doctor's henchmen and places him in the back seat of his convertible. Bond drives to Government house, gets out and tells a policeman at the entrance to watch the stiff in the backseat. "Make sure he doesn't get away." The policeman does a double-take.

In From Russia With Love Bond and Kerim are watching a movie billboard with a large photo of Anita Ekberg when the killer Krilencu slips out a trapdoor hatch from Ekberg's mouth and slides down a robe. Bond shoots and kills him with a sniper's rifle. He then says, "She should have kept her mouth shut." I recall the first time I watched the film in the theater. The audience roared.

FBI: Have You Seen These Kids? National Missing Children’s Day


In observance of National Missing Children’s Day on Sunday, May 25—which honors the memories of those who are lost and focuses attention on the issue—the FBI is highlighting the names and faces of the children listed on our Kidnappings and Missing Persons webpage and asking for your continued help to locate them.
We’d also like to remind everyone about the committed efforts the Bureau undertakes—in conjunction with our federal, state, local, and organizational partners—to help rescue the most vulnerable of crime victims, to bring to justice those who would harm them, and to educate parents and kids about the all-too-real dangers of violent and sexploitation crimes threatening children.
Those efforts include our:

  • National Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team, ready to travel anywhere at a moment’s notice to assist in missing child investigations;
  • Innocence Lost National Initiative, a partnership with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) that addresses domestic sex trafficking of children;
  • Child Exploitation Task Forces, cooperative ventures with federal, state, and local partners around the country that investigate individuals and criminal enterprises responsible for victimizing young people;
  • Endangered Child Alert Program, a joint effort with NCMEC that seeks national and international exposure of unknown adults whose faces and/or distinguishing characteristics are visible in child pornography images and videos;
  • Safe Online Surfing initiative, a web-based program that teaches kids how to recognize and respond to online dangers like sexual predators and cyber bullying; and
  • FBI Child ID App, which provides parents with an easy way to electronically store pictures and vital information about their children in case they go missing.
Recently, the NCMEC paid tribute to a number of Bureau employees—along with their state and local partners—for their extraordinary work on missing or exploited children investigations. We congratulate all the honorees, but we know our work is not done. The FBI will continue to make investigating violent crimes against young victims a priority, working side by side with our public and private partners to ensure the safety of children nationwide.


- More on the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children Program

Note: The children pictured here may have been located since the above information was posted on this website. Please check our Wanted by the FBI webpage for up-to-date information.

FBI Announces Child Safety Tips

The FBI released the below information:

In advance of National Missing Children’s Day on May 25, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Seattle Field Office is sharing tips on how to keep kids safe and information about how the FBI investigates instances of child abduction and exploitation. Through the Child Exploitation Task Force, the FBI works to decrease the vulnerability of children to sexual exploitation, provide a rapid investigative response to crimes against children, and enhance the capabilities of state and local law enforcement agencies.

An unfortunate reality is that every year, thousands of children go missing. In these cases, the FBI works to assist in the investigation and speedy recovery of the abducted child. In cases of child exploitation, an individual often targets a child for the purpose of abuse or violence. This targeting can be done in person by an acquaintance or a stranger or it can be done online through social websites and chat rooms.

As the school year draws to a close, many parents are planning for their children’s summer activities. Whether a child is spending the summer at home with parents, a nanny or tutor, or away from home at a summer camp, the following safety tips will help ensure that children are being cared for under the watchful eyes of trusted and vetted adults.
  • Know your child care providers. Choose babysitters, nannies, and tutors with care. Obtain references from family, friends, and neighbors. Many states now have registries for public access to check criminal history or sex-offender status. Observe the interaction with your children and ask your children how they feel about your child care provider. Do background screening and reference checks on everyone who works in your home, particularly those people who care for your children. Check references with other families who have used the child care providers. Make sure you know as much about them as they do about you and your family.
  • Check out camps and summer programs before enrolling your children. Ask if a background screening check is completed on the individuals working with the children. Make sure there will be adult supervision of your children at all times and make sure you are made aware of all activities and field trips offered by the camp or program.
  • Observe how adults work with your children. Be involved in your children’s activities, and if you are concerned about anyone’s behavior, discuss your concerns with the sponsoring organization. Notice when anyone shows one or all of your children an inordinate amount of attention or tries to give them gifts. Take the time to talk to your children about the person and find out why that person is acting in this way. Tell your children to never accept money or gifts from anyone unless you have told them it is OK.
  • Know where your children are and who they are with. Make sure an adult whom you have met and know the background of is supervising children any time they are outside or away from home. Review rules with your children about whose homes they may visit and discuss the boundaries of where they may and may not go in the neighborhood.
  • Talk to your children about safety and encourage them to tell you or another trusted adult if anyone or anything makes them feel sad, scared, or confused. Teach them it is OK to tell you what happened and they will not be “tattletales” for telling.
  • Remember to stay alert, informed, and focused about personal-security issues. Being available and taking time to really know and listen to your children helps build feelings of safety and security. Be sure your child knows what to do in case of an emergency and how to reach you by phone. Children should have a trusted adult, whom you know, to call if they are scared or there is an emergency.
In addition to these summer safety tips for parents, the FBI has developed tips for employers who are hiring for summertime positions that have interaction with children. Visit

Friday, May 23, 2014

Report: U.S. Army Reprimanded Ex-Delta Force Commander Over 2008 Book

Dan Lamothe at the Washington Post offers a piece on the reprimand issued to retired Lt. General William Boykin over his 2008 book.

WASHINGTON — When retired Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, the former commander of the U.S. Army's elite and secretive Delta Force, published a book in 2008, it detailed some of the Pentagon's most sensitive operations of the 20th century. Among them were the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran and the tragically flawed 1993 mission in Somalia that killed 18 U.S. troops and was later depicted in the book and movie "Black Hawk Down."

Retired military personnel who write about such sensitive issues commonly submit their works to the Pentagon for advance review to ensure that they don't divulge classified information. But Boykin declined to do so, forging ahead with publication of "Never Surrender: A Soldier's Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom."

The Army struck back last year, quietly issuing him a scathing reprimand following a criminal investigation that concluded he had wrongfully released classified information, according to an Army document obtained by The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to the Jan. 23, 2013, memorandum, the Army determined that Boykin's book disclosed "classified information concerning cover methods, counterterrorism/counter-proliferation operations, operational deployments, infiltration methods, pictures, and tactics, techniques and procedures that may compromise ongoing operations."

The reprimand is the latest in a series of embarrassing incidents in which senior military officers have faced scrutiny for alleged wrongdoing.

But Boykin says it's not so simple in his case. The Defense Department first launched an investigation into his book shortly after it was published and determined in 2010 that he had not released any classified information, he said. The Army then reopened the investigation about two years later, after he publicly voiced objections to several Pentagon policies, including the ongoing integration of women into more jobs in the military, he said.

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine interview with General Boykin via the below link: 

Sherlock Holmes: Can A Fictional Man Be A London Icon?

Beth Rose a the BBC News offers a piece on a Museum of London exhibit on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's great character Sherlock Holmes.

"The air of London is the sweeter for my presence," Sherlock Holmes once said, and yet the detective never lived, nor died. He existed solely in our imaginations.

Now, the Museum of London is planning a new exhibition focusing on the detective, citing the creation of the author and medic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as one of London's most "iconic" figures.

The museum says it will be the first time since the Festival of Britain in 1951 that there has been a major Sherlock Holmes exhibition.

It comes complete with artefacts which it is hoped will unpick the origins of the character and shine a gaslight on Victorian London.

Curator Alex Werner said: "Sherlock Holmes was an incredibly powerful, cultural, London icon.

"The main challenge was anything you select [for this exhibition] has nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes because he is a character, but on the other hand it has everything to do with him.

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

Sixteen Current and Former Puerto Rico Police Officers Indicted for Allegedly Running Criminal Organization out of Police Department

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

Sixteen current and former Puerto Rico police officers have been indicted for their alleged participation in a criminal organization, run out of the police department, that used their affiliation with law enforcement to make money through robbery, extortion, manipulating court records and selling illegal narcotics.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico and Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the FBI’s San Juan Division made the announcement.

The criminal action today dismantles an entire network of officers who, we allege, used their badges and their guns not to uphold the law, but to break it,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil.   “The indictment portrays a classic criminal shakedown, an organized crime spree of which the most experienced mafia family would have been proud.   But the people wielding the guns and stealing the drugs here weren’t mob goodfellas or mafia soldiers – these were police officers violating their oaths to enforce the law, making a mockery of the police’s sacred responsibility to protect the public.
“This is a troubling day for law enforcement in Puerto Rico. Officers who use their badges as an excuse to commit egregious acts of violence and drug trafficking are an affront to the rule of law,” said US Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.  “According to these allegations, the law enforcement officers charged today sold their badges by taking payoffs from drug dealers that they should have been arresting, extorting money, planting evidence and stealing from them, to mention a few of their crimes.  They not only betrayed the citizens they were sworn to protect, they also betrayed the thousands of honest, hard-working law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe.  We will continue to work with our local law enforcement partners to end this cycle of corruption and renew Puerto Rico’s trust in its police officers.”

“Today is a sad day for Puerto Rico, where a group of police officers allegedly disgraced their uniform and are a shame to the Police of Puerto Rico,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Cases.   “They not only let their colleagues and family down, they let the citizens of Puerto Rico down.”

The indictment, returned yesterday by a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico, includes 36 charges against the following individuals: Osvaldo Vazquez-Ruiz, 38; Orlando Sierra-Pereira, 37; Danny Nieves-Rivera, 34; Roberto Ortiz-Cintron, 34; Yovanny Crespo-Candelaria, 33; Jose Sanchez-Santiago, 31; Miguel Perez-Rivera, 34; Nadab Arroyo-Rosa, 33; Jose Flores-Villalongo, 52; Luis Suarez-Sanchez, 36; Eduardo Montañez-Perez, 29; Carlos Laureano-Cruz, 40; Carlos Candelario-Santiago, 46; Ruben Casiano-Pietri, 36; Ricardo Rivera-Rodriguez, 39; and Christian Valles-Collazo, 28.   At the time of the crimes charged, Flores-Villalongo and Candelario-Santiago were sergeants with the Police of Puerto Rico (POPR); the others were police officers.

The first 13 defendants listed are charged with conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.   Other charges against certain defendants include extortion and attempted extortion under color of official right, conspiracy to commit robbery and attempted robbery, illegal use and sale of firearms, narcotics trafficking, civil rights violations, theft of government property, and false statements to federal agents.

According to the indictment, the officers charged with RICO conspiracy were members of a criminal organization who sought to enrich themselves through a pattern of illegal conduct.   The officers worked together to conduct traffic stops and enter homes or buildings used by persons suspected of being engaged in criminal activity to steal money, property and narcotics.    The officers planted evidence to make false arrests, then extorted money in exchange for their victims’ release from custody.   In exchange for bribe payments, the defendants gave false testimony, manipulated court records and failed to appear in court when required so that cases would be dismissed.   The officers also sold and distributed wholesale quantities of narcotics.

For example, in April 2012, defendants Vazquez-Ruiz and Sierra-Pereira allegedly conducted a traffic stop in their capacity as police officers and stole approximately $22,000 they believed to be illegal drug proceeds.   Vazquez-Ruiz later attempted to extort approximately $8,000 from an individual they believed to be a drug dealer’s accomplice in exchange for promising to release an alleged prisoner.

In another example, the indictment alleges that in November 2012, defendants Sierra-Pereira, Nieves-Rivera, Ortiz-Cintron and Valles-Collazo illegally entered an apartment and stole approximately $30,000, which they believed were illegal lottery proceeds.

The indictment charges that the defendants frequently shared the proceeds they illegally obtained and that they used their power, authority and official positions as police officers to promote and protect their illegal activity.   Among other things, the indictment charges that they used POPR firearms, badges, patrol cars, tools, uniforms and other equipment to commit the crimes and concealed their illegal activity with fraudulently obtained court documents and falsified POPR paperwork to make it appear that they were engaged in legitimate police work.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations.   The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s San Juan Division.   The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Brian K. Kidd, Emily Rae Woods and Menaka Kalaskar of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mariana Bauza of the District of Puerto Rico.

Citizens of Puerto Rico with allegations of law enforcement corruption are encouraged to contact the FBI’s San Juan Division at (787) 754-6000.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Terror-Targeted Navy Ship Sails By Ground Zero


Frank Rosario and Bruce Golding at the New York Post offer a piece on the USS Cole in New York for Fleet Week.

The USS Cole triumphantly cruised into New York for Fleet Week on Wednesday — staging a symbolic victory over terrorism on the same day the new Sept. 11 museum opened to the public.

The guided-missile destroyer was the target of a deadly attack in 2000 that marked the rise of al Qaeda less than a year before the terror group toppled the Twin Towers.

It will be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Memorial Day at the former Navy Home Port off Front Street in Staten Island. Admission is free.

“All of the sailors are happy that we are here just in time for the 9/11 memorial,” said US Navy Ensign Hannah Taylor, 22.

“Sailors and New Yorkers alike will be able to pay tribute to the people of New York and everyone who died in the 9/11 attacks.

“Just having the opportunity to showcase our unity as one nation is a blessing,” she added.

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine interview with the commanding officer of the USS Cole when it was attacked, retired Commander Kirk S. Lippold, via the below link:

Note: The above U.S. Navy photo shows the USS Cole at sea.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

U.S. Navy Petty Officer Based in Japan Pleads Guilty in International Bribery Scandal

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

U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Daniel Layug pleaded guilty in the Southern District of California today to accepting more than $10,000 in cash, consumer electronics and travel expenses from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for classified and internal Navy information.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations James B. Burch of the U.S. Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General made the announcement.

Layug, 27, entered his plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.  He is the sixth defendant charged – and the third to plead guilty – in the alleged bribery scheme involving Singapore-based defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), which provided port services to U.S. Navy ships in the Asia Pacific region.

“Today, U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug admitted that he swapped classified U.S. Navy information for cash, luxury travel perks and electronic gadgets from a defense contractor,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil.  “In taking these under-the-table bribes, Layug put his own financial interests above those of the Navy and the country he vowed to serve.  The Criminal Division, with our law enforcement partners, is committed to holding responsible those who were part of this massive fraud and bribery scheme that cost the U.S. Navy more than $20 million.”

“Every service member is entrusted with the enormous responsibility of protecting this country at all costs,” said U.S. Attorney Duffy.  “Because of greed, Daniel Layug fell woefully short of that high calling, and this guilty plea holds him accountable for a painful betrayal.”

“The guilty plea of U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug is part of an ongoing effort by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and its law enforcement partners to bring to justice individuals who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of U.S. taxpayers,” said Deputy Inspector General Burch.  “While the conduct of the vast majority of service members is beyond reproach, Defense Criminal Investigative Service will vigorously pursue individuals who betray the trust bestowed upon them.”

“Petty Officer Layug sold sensitive Navy information for monetary gain,” said NCIS Director Traver.  “In doing so, he compromised the integrity of his position and the safety of his shipmates. NCIS will continue to work with DCIS and the U.S. Attorney's Office in investigating and prosecuting these crimes to the fullest extent possible.”

According to allegations in court documents, GDMA owner and CEO Leonard Glenn Francis and his cousin, GDMA executive Alex Wisidigama, enlisted the clandestine assistance of Navy personnel – including Layug, Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent John Beliveau – to provide classified ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information in exchange for cash, travel expenses, and consumer electronics.   GDMA allegedly overcharged the Navy under its contracts and submitted bogus invoices for more than $20 million in port services.

Court records state that Layug worked secretly on behalf of GDMA, using his position as a logistics specialist at a U.S. Navy facility in Yokosuka, Japan, to gain access to classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and then provided this information to GDMA’s vice president of global operations.  Layug admitted he also provided pricing information from one of GDMA’s competitors.

In return, according to the plea agreement, GDMA gave Layug envelopes of cash on a regular basis.  Layug admitted that he accepted a $1,000 monthly allowance from GDMA.   On May 21, 2012, GDMA’s vice president of global operations instructed a GDMA accountant that “at the end of each month, we will be providing an allowance to Mr. Dan Layug. Total of US $1,000.  You may pay him the equivalent in Yen.  He will come by the office at the end of each month to see you.”    Layug also admitted that he received luxury hotel stays for himself and others in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Thailand.

Further according to the plea agreement, Layug asked GDMA for consumer electronics.  In an email on March 9, 2012, Layug asked the vice president of global operations, “What are the chances of getting the new iPad 3? Please let me know.”  In the plea agreement, Layug admitted that GDMA then provided him with an iPad 3.

In another email exchange on May 28, 2013, Layug asked the vice president of global operations for a “bucket list” of items including a high end camera, an iPhone5 cellular phone, a Samsung S4 cellular phone, and an iPad Mini.  Shortly after sending his “bucket list” to the vice president of global operations, Layug stated in an email that “the camera is awesome bro! Thanks a lot! Been a while since I had a new gadget!”

Francis was previously charged with conspiring to bribe U.S. Navy officials.  Wisidagama pleaded guilty on March 18, 2014, to defrauding the U.S. Navy.

Two other senior Navy officials – Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 46, and Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, 41 – have been charged separately with bribery conspiracies involving GDMA.  On Dec. 17, 2013, NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II, 44, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery charges for regularly tipping off Francis to the status of the government’s investigation into GDMA.

The ongoing investigation is being conducted by NCIS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

The case is being prosecuted by Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Trial Attorneys Brian Young and Wade Weems of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Robert Huie of the Southern District of California.

Those with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at, the DOD Hotline at , or call (800) 424-9098.

Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, a/k/a ‘Abu Hamza,’ Convicted on 11 Terrorism Charges in Manhattan Federal Court

The U.S. Justice Department rleased the below information on May 19th:

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, today announced the conviction of Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, a/k/a “Abu Hamza,” a/k/a “Abu Hamza al Masri,” “Abu Hamza,” for his participation in a hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998 that resulted in four deaths, a conspiracy to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, in 1999, and supporting violent jihad in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001. Following a four-week trial and two days of deliberations, the jury convicted Abu Hamza of each of the 11 charges that he faced. Abu Hamza is scheduled to be sentenced on September 9, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest, who presided over the trial.

Attorney General Eric Holder said, “In both word and deed, Abu Hamza supported the cause of violent extremism. His conviction is as just as it was swift. This case is all the more noteworthy since it continues a trend of successful prosecutions of top terrorism suspects in our federal court system. With each efficiently delivered guilty verdict against a top al Qaeda-linked figure, the debate over how to best seek justice in these cases is quietly being put to rest.”

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “Once again, the men and women of this office and the FBI have brought a notorious terrorist before the bar of American justice and once again the men and women of an American jury, having weighed the evidence, have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We are gratified that the jury has returned a unanimous verdict of guilt against Mustafa Kamala Mustafa, also known as Abu Hamza. The defendant stands convicted not for what he said but for what he did. Abu Hamza was not just a preacher of faith but a trainer of terrorists. Once again, our civilian system of justice has proven itself up to the task of trying an accused terrorist and arriving at a fair and just and swift result. As we have seen in the Manhattan federal courthouse in trial after trial—of Ahmed Ghailani, of Suleiman Abu Ghayth, and now of Abu Hamza—these trials have been difficult, but they have been fair and open and prompt. These trials demonstrate that in an American civilian courtroom, the American people and all the victims of terrorism can be vindicated without sacrificing our principles. And that is one reason our civilian court system is admired the world over.”

As alleged in the Indictment against Abu Hamza and established by the evidence admitted at trial:

Hostage-Taking in Yemen in December 1998
On December 28, 1998, in Yemen, hostage-takers stormed a caravan of sport utility vehicles carrying 16 tourists, including two United States citizens, and took the tourists hostage by force. Prior to the hostage-taking, Abu Hamza issued a public warning to “infidels” not to travel to Yemen. In addition, five days prior to the hostage-taking, Abu Hamza’s stepson and other associates of Abu Hamza were arrested in Yemen. During the hostage-taking, the hostages told their victims that they were taken prisoner to free the hostage-takers’ “friends.”

Prior to the hostage-taking, Abu Hamza provided the leader of the hostage-takers with a satellite telephone and subsequently spoke with him on that satellite telephone the night before the hostage-taking and during the hostage-taking. During the call on the day of the hostage- taking, Abu Hamza agreed to act as an intermediary on behalf of the hostage-takers. Abu Hamza also provided advice to the leader of the hostage-takers over the telephone.

On December 29, 1998, the Yemeni military launched a rescue operation to free the hostages. The hostage-takers fought the Yemeni military, using the hostages as human shields. During the rescue operation, four of the hostages were killed and several others were wounded. Subsequently, in a recorded interview with one of the surviving hostages conducted at his mosque, Abu Hamza described the hostage-taking as “justified” and “a good thing.”

Efforts to Create a Terrorist Training Camp in Bly, Oregon, in 1999
In late 1999, Abu Hamza and several co-conspirators, including Oussama Abdullah Kassir, Haroon Rashid Aswat, and others, attempted to create a terrorist training camp to support al Qaeda on property located in Bly, Oregon. The primary purpose of the Bly, Oregon camp was to provide various types of terrorist training, including weapons training. In late November 1999, at Abu Hamza’s direction, Kassir and Aswat traveled from London, England, to Bly to assist in setting up the camp. Kassir brought with him to the camp a manual on the use of sarin nerve gas and letters of appreciation to Osama bin Laden and Abu Hamza. Aswat subsequently was present at an al Qaeda guest house in Pakistan.

On May 12, 2009, after a four-week jury trial in this District, Kassir was convicted of various criminal offenses, including conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and to al Qaeda and conspiracy to kill persons overseas, as a result of Kassir’s participation in the efforts to establish the Bly terrorist training camp. On September 15, 2009, United States District Judge John F. Keenan sentenced Kassir to multiple terms of life in prison. The conviction was subsequently affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

Aswat was arrested in Zambia in July 2005 and then deported to England, where he was arrested at the request of the United States, pursuant to a warrant issued in this District. The extradition proceedings against Aswat are currently pending.

Facilitating Violent Jihad in Afghanistan 2000 and 2001
In November 2000, Abu Hamza requested that Ernest James Ujaama, a London-based follower of Abu Hamza, escort another one of Abu Hamza’s followers, Feroz Abassi, to Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, a commander at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. Thereafter, Ujaama and Abassi traveled from London to Pakistan. Ujaama and Abassi then separately entered Afghanistan. Abu Hamza subsequently conveyed instructions for Abassi to contact Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, who was expecting Abassi. Thereafter, Abassi passed through an al Qaeda safe house in Afghanistan, attended al Qaeda’s al Faruq training camp, and met with senior al Qaeda leaders. In December 2001, United States forces took Abassi into custody in Afghanistan.

In addition, from the spring of 2000 through late 2001, Abu Hamza provided goods and services to the Taliban by, among other things, directing Ujaama to deliver money to Taliban-controlled parts of Afghanistan.

Ujaama was arrested in 2002 and testified against Abu Hamza as a cooperating witness for the government.

Abu Hamza, 56, a naturalized citizen of the United Kingdom, was extradited from the United Kingdom to the Southern District of New York in October 2012. The 11 offenses of conviction carry the following maximum penalties:

Statutory Violation
Maximum Prison Term
OneConspiracy to take hostages18 U.S.C. § 1203Life
TwoHostage-taking18 U.S.C. §§ 1203, 2Life
ThreeConspiracy to provide material support to terrorists18 U.S.C. § 371Five years
FourProviding material support to terrorists18 U.S.C. §§ 2339A, 210 years
FiveConspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization (al Qaeda)18 U.S.C. §2339B10 years
SixProviding material support to a foreign terrorist organization (al Qaeda)18 U.S.C. §§ 2339B, 210 years
SevenConspiracy to provide material support to terrorists18 U.S.C. § 2339A15 years
EightProviding material support to terrorists18 U.S.C. §§ 2339A, 215 years
NineConspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization (al Qaeda)18 U.S.C. § 2339B15 years
10Providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization (al Qaeda)18 U.S.C. §§ 2339B, 215 years
11Conspiracy to provide goods and services to the Taliban18 U.S.C. § 371Five years

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
The arrest, extradition, and conviction of Abu Hamza was the result of the close cooperative efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the FBI, the NYPD, the United States Marshals Service, and New Scotland Yard in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Bharara expressed particular appreciation to the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs for its extraordinary assistance with the extradition in this case. Mr. Bharara also thanked the FBI’s Seattle Field Office, the Home Office of the United Kingdom, the U.S. Department of Justice National Security Division, and the United States Department of State for their assistance.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. Cronan, Edward Y. Kim and Ian McGinley are in charge of the prosecution.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mistrial In South Philly Murder Trial

Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia is covering the Anthony Nicodemo trial in Philadelphia for

Shortly after mobster Anthony Nicodemo's attorney offered a bizarre carjacking defense last week to explain how his client became an unwitting getaway driver in the December 2012 murder of Gino DiPietro, a person following the trial rolled his eyes and scoffed.

"There's no way a common-sense jury buys that story," the observer said.

But common sense doesn't always apply in Common Pleas Court, a sometimes illogical Alice in Wonderland judicial world where the unexplainable happens. This morning, as the defense was preparing to call its first witness, it happened again.

Judge Jeffrey Minehart declared a mistrial late this morning after dismissing two more jurors in the case. That left the panel with just 11 members and apparently neither side wanted to proceed at that point. The case blew up amid reports that police have opened an investigation into possible jury tampering.

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

Review Of Alvin York: A New Biography Of The Hero Of The Argonne

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review of Colonel Douglas V. Mastriano's Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne in the Washington Times.

Those of us of a certain generation first became aware of the World War I hero via the 1941 movie, “Sergeant York,” starring Gary Cooper in the title role, for which he won an Academy Award. Even at age 7, sitting in a movie house in East Texas, I realized that Alvin York was a special human, both as a warrior who shot up a German machine gun nest and captured 132 prisoners, and as a decent man with devout religious beliefs.

In subsequent years, York was nitpicked by skeptics ranging from jealous colleagues-in-arms who had never liked the taciturn Tennessee country boy, to persons who scoffed at the audacity of a born-again Christian crediting God for bringing him through fierce combat unharmed.

Now, Col. Douglas V. Mastriano, a U.S. Army veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, restores York to his rightful place in military history. His book is also a valuable depiction of how a created-on-the-fly Army entered battle during the war, a welcome addition to the flood of anniversary books gushing from publishers these days.

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

International Blackshades Malware Takedown

Yesterday Preet Bharara (seen in the above FBI photo), the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, released the below statement:

Today, representatives from the FBI New York Field Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced the results of a cyber takedown, which included the unsealing of an indictment against Swedish national Alex Yucel and the guilty plea of U.S. citizen Michael Hogue, both of whom we believe co-developed a particularly insidious computer malware known as Blackshades. This software was sold and distributed to thousands of people in more than 100 countries and has been used to infect more than half a million computers worldwide.

Also charged and arrested in the U.S. were an individual who helped market and sell the malware and two Blackshades users who bought the malware and then unleashed it upon unsuspecting computer users, surreptitiously installing it on their hardware. So far during the takedown, 40 FBI field offices have conducted approximately 100 interviews, executed more than 100 e-mail and physical search warrants, and seized more than 1,900 domains used by Blackshades users to control victims’ computers. 

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mississippi Man Pleads Guilty in Ricin Letter Investigation

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

James Everett Dutschke, 41, of Tupelo, Mississippi., was sentenced today by United States District Judge Sharion Aycock, in Aberdeen, Mississippi., to a 300 month prison sentence for developing and possessing the biological agent ricin and subsequently mailing ricin-laced, threatening letters including one that threatened bodily harm to the President of the United States.   Dutschke was also sentenced to serve a term of 5 years supervised release.

The sentence was announced by John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Felicia Adams, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Jackson Field Office, and Craig Caldwell, Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service’s Birmingham, AL, District Field Office.

Following an investigation, Dutschke was arrested on April 27, 2013, and indicted by a federal grand jury on June 3, 2013.  A superseding indictment was filed on Nov. 20, 2013. Dutschke pled guilty on Jan. 17, 2014 to one count of developing and possessing ricin, and three subsequent counts of mailing threatening letters laced with the substance to the President of the United States, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, and Lee County, Mississippi, Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.   According to the plea agreement between Dutschke and the U.S. Attorney’s Office that was filed in U.S. District Court in Oxford, Dutschke had agreed to serve a 300 month prison sentence and had waived his right to appeal.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Jackson and Memphis Joint Terrorism Task Forces, the U.S. Secret Service, the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, the U. S. Capitol Police and was assisted by the following state and local agencies: Mississippi National Guard 47th Civil Support, Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Prentiss County Sheriff’s Office, Corinth Police Department, Tupelo Police Department and Booneville Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad Lamar, Clay Joyner and Clyde McGee of the Northern District of Mississippi, and Andrew Sigler of the Department of Justice, National Security Division.

U.S. Charges Five Chinese Military Hackers for Cyber Espionage Against U.S. Corporations and a Labor Organization for Commercial Advantage

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

A grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania (WDPA) indicted five Chinese military hackers for computer hacking, economic espionage and other offenses directed at six American victims in the U.S. nuclear power, metals and solar products industries.
The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to hack into American entities, to maintain unauthorized access to their computers and to steal information from those entities that would be useful to their competitors in China, including state-owned enterprises (SOEs).  In some cases, it alleges, the conspirators stole trade secrets that would have been particularly beneficial to Chinese companies at the time they were stolen.  In other cases, it alleges, the conspirators also stole sensitive, internal communications that would provide a competitor, or an adversary in litigation, with insight into the strategy and vulnerabilities of the American entity.
“This is a case alleging economic espionage by members of the Chinese military and represents the first ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.  “The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response.  Success in the global market place should be based solely on a company’s ability to innovate and compete, not on a sponsor government’s ability to spy and steal business secrets.  This Administration will not tolerate actions by any nation that seeks to illegally sabotage American companies and undermine the integrity of fair competition in the operation of the free market.”
“For too long, the Chinese government has blatantly sought to use cyber espionage to obtain economic advantage for its state-owned industries,” said FBI Director James B. Comey.  “The indictment announced today is an important step.  But there are many more victims, and there is much more to be done.  With our unique criminal and national security authorities, we will continue to use all legal tools at our disposal to counter cyber espionage from all sources.”
“State actors engaged in cyber espionage for economic advantage are not immune from the law just because they hack under the shadow of their country’s flag,” said John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.  “Cyber theft is real theft and we will hold state sponsored cyber thieves accountable as we would any other transnational criminal organization that steals our goods and breaks our laws.”
“This 21st century burglary has to stop,” said David Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  “This prosecution vindicates hard working men and women in Western Pennsylvania and around the world who play by the rules and deserve a fair shot and a level playing field.”
Summary of the Indictment
Defendants :  Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui, who were officers in Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).  The indictment alleges that Wang, Sun, and Wen, among others known and unknown to the grand jury, hacked or attempted to hack into U.S. entities named in the indictment, while Huang and Gu supported their conspiracy by, among other things, managing infrastructure (e.g., domain accounts) used for hacking.
Victims : Westinghouse Electric Co. (Westinghouse), U.S. subsidiaries of SolarWorld AG (SolarWorld), United States Steel Corp. (U.S. Steel), Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI), the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) and Alcoa Inc.
Time period : 2006-2014.
Crimes : Thirty-one counts as follows (all defendants are charged in all counts).
Maximum Penalty
Conspiring to commit computer fraud and abuse
18 U.S.C. § 1030(b).
10 years.
Accessing (or attempting to access) a protected computer without authorization to obtain information for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain.
18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(2)(C), 1030(c)(2)(B)(i)-(iii), and 2.
5 years (each count).
Transmitting a program, information, code, or command with the intent to cause damage to protected computers.
18 U.S.C. §§ 1030(a)(5)(A), 1030(c)(4)(B), and 2.
10 years (each count).
Aggravated identity theft.
18 U.S.C. §§ 1028A(a)(1), (b), (c)(4), and 2
2 years (mandatory consecutive).
Economic espionage.
18 U.S.C. §§  1831(a)(2), (a)(4), and 2.
15 years.
Trade secret theft.
18 U.S.C. §§ 1832(a)(2), (a)(4), and 2.
10 years.
Summary of Defendants’ Conduct Alleged in the Indictment
Criminal Conduct
In 2010, while Westinghouse was building four AP1000 power plants in China and negotiating other terms of the construction with a Chinese SOE (SOE-1), including technology transfers, Sun stole confidential and proprietary technical and design specifications for pipes, pipe supports, and pipe routing within the AP1000 plant buildings. 
Additionally, in 2010 and 2011, while Westinghouse was exploring other business ventures with SOE-1, Sun stole sensitive, non-public, and deliberative e-mails belonging to senior decision-makers responsible for Westinghouse’s business relationship with SOE-1.
In 2012, at about the same time the Commerce Department found that Chinese solar product manufacturers had “dumped” products into U.S. markets at prices below fair value, Wen and at least one other, unidentified co-conspirator stole thousands of files including information about SolarWorld’s cash flow, manufacturing metrics, production line information, costs, and privileged attorney-client communications relating to ongoing trade litigation, among other things.  Such information would have enabled a Chinese competitor to target SolarWorld’s business operations aggressively from a variety of angles.
Wang and Sun
U.S. Steel
In 2010, U.S. Steel was participating in trade cases with Chinese steel companies, including one particular state-owned enterprise (SOE-2).  Shortly before the scheduled release of a preliminary determination in one such litigation, Sun sent spearphishing e-mails to U.S. Steel employees, some of whom were in a division associated with the litigation.  Some of these e-mails resulted in the installation of malware on U.S. Steel computers.  Three days later, Wang stole hostnames and descriptions of U.S. Steel computers (including those that controlled physical access to company facilities and mobile device access to company networks).  Wang thereafter took steps to identify and exploit vulnerable servers on that list.
In 2012, ATI was engaged in a joint venture with SOE-2, competed with SOE-2, and was involved in a trade dispute with SOE-2.  In April of that year, Wen gained access to ATI’s network and stole network credentials for virtually every ATI employee.
In 2012, USW was involved in public disputes over Chinese trade practices in at least two industries.  At or about the time USW issued public statements regarding those trade disputes and related legislative proposals, Wen stole e-mails from senior USW employees containing sensitive, non-public, and deliberative information about USW strategies, including strategies related to pending trade disputes.  USW’s computers continued to beacon to the conspiracy’s infrastructure until at least early 2013. 
About three weeks after Alcoa announced a partnership with a Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE-3) in February 2008, Sun sent a spearphishing e-mail to Alcoa.  Thereafter, in or about June 2008, unidentified individuals stole thousands of e-mail messages and attachments from Alcoa’s computers, including internal discussions concerning that transaction.
Huang facilitated hacking activities by registering and managing domain accounts that his co-conspirators used to hack into U.S. entities.  Additionally, between 2006 and at least 2009, Unit 61398 assigned Huang to perform programming work for SOE-2, including the creation of a “secret” database designed to hold corporate “intelligence” about the iron and steel industries, including information about American companies.
Gu managed domain accounts used to facilitate hacking activities against American entities and also tested spearphishing e-mails in furtherance of the conspiracy.
An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
The FBI conducted the investigation that led to the charges in the indictment.  This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division Counterespionage Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.