Friday, July 31, 2015

Former Philadelphia Police Officer Sentenced For Robbing Drug Dealers

The justice Department released the below link:

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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

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

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

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

Jimmy Fallon On Work Safety

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

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

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

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

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

Hemingway As The Godfather Of Long-Form

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

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

A Writer In Training: Ian Fleming The Journalist

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

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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

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

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

Good Question: Why Is The U.S. Releasing Israeli Spy Jonathan Pollard?

Michael Weiss at the Daily Beast asks why the notorious convicted spy and oddball is being released from prison.

“It is difficult for me, even in the so-called ‘year of the spy,’ to conceive of a greater harm to the national security than that caused by the defendant in view of the breadth, the critical importance to the U.S., and the high sensitivity of the information he sold to Israel.”
Thus spake U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in 1986 in a still largely classified declaration, more or less sealing the life sentence handed down to Jonathan Pollard, a former analyst at the U.S. Navy’s Anti-Terrorist Alert Center who over a 17-month period in the mid-1980s passed along enough classified intelligence to Israel to fill, by his own admission, a 6x6x10-foot room.
After decades of trying in vain to get out of jail, Pollard will be released on November 20 after serving 29 years in a federal prison. The timing, coming so soon after the U.S. helped ink an arms control agreement with Iran, has raised eyebrows not least because anonymous U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal last week that the Obama administration was planning to release Pollard as a salve to Israel to try and convince the Jewish state to tone down or abandon its fierce criticism of the Iran deal.
The administration has repeatedly denied that any such quid pro quo arrangement was being brokered and insisted that Pollard’s fate was entirely up to an independent parole board. “I haven’t even had a conversation about it,” Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters Tuesday.
However, while it’s true that Pollard was in any event due for a mandatory parole hearing this year under the terms of his sentence, the Journal scoop proved uncannily prescient.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
You can also read an earlier post on Pollard via the below link:

Note: The above photo of Jonathan Pollard was released by the U.S. Navy.

Nicodemo S. Scarfo, Member of Lucchese Organized Crime Family, Sentenced to 360 Months in Prison for Racketeering and Other Crimes

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

A member of the Lucchese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (LCN) was sentenced today to serve 360 months in prison for participating in a racketeering conspiracy and related offenses.  Three other members of the conspiracy are scheduled to be sentenced later this week.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District New Jersey made the announcement. 
“Nicodemo Scarfo and his associates tried to take La Cosa Nostra corporate, using traditional, strong-arm mob tactics to take over a publicly traded company and loot it like a personal piggy bank,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “The Justice Department will fight organized crime wherever it may surface – from back alleys to public board rooms – to ensure that crime does not pay.”
“Scarfo and his crew gave new meaning to the term ‘corporate takeover,’ pushing out the legitimate leadership of a publicly traded company and then looting it,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman.  “They used false SEC filings, phony consulting agreements and more traditional mob methods to steal $12 million from the company’s shareholders.  That’s a risk that investors should never have to take.”
Nicodemo S. Scarfo, 50, of Galloway, New Jersey; Salvatore Pelullo, 48, of Philadelphia, an associate of the Philadelphia and Lucchese LCN families; William Maxwell, 56, of Houston, a Texas attorney; and John Maxwell, 63, of Dallas, were convicted in July 2014, after a six-month trial, of racketeering conspiracy and related offenses, including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice. 
In addition to sentencing Scarfo to prison, U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler ordered Scarfo to forfeit his interest in certain properties and to pay restitution in the amount of approximately $14 million.  Pelullo, William Maxwell and John Maxwell are scheduled to be sentenced later this week. 
According to evidence presented at trial, since 1989, Scarfo has been a member of the Lucchese family.  As a member, he was required to earn money and participate in the affairs of the Lucchese family.
The trial evidence showed that, in April 2007, Scarfo, Pelullo and others conspired to take control of FirstPlus Financial Group Inc. (FPFG), a publicly-held company in Texas, by using threats of economic harm to intimidate and remove FPFG’s management and board of directors, and to replace them with persons beholden to Scarfo and Pelullo, including William Maxwell and his brother, John Maxwell.  The evidence introduced at trial further demonstrated that, once the takeover had occurred, FPFG’s new board of directors named William Maxwell as “special counsel” to FPFG and John Maxwell as the company’s CEO, positions that they used to funnel approximately $12 million to themselves, Scarfo and Pelullo through fraudulent legal services and consulting agreements.  According to evidence presented at trial, Scarfo and Pelullo used their illicit gains to fund extravagant purchases, including an $850,000 yacht, a luxury home, a Bentley automobile and thousands of dollars in jewelry. 
The indictment also named as co-conspirators Nicodemo D. Scarfo, or Scarfo Sr., the imprisoned former boss of the Philadelphia LCN family, and Vittorio Amuso, the imprisoned boss of the Lucchese LCN family.  Five other defendants – Cory Leshner, Howard Drossner, John Parisi, Todd Stark and Scarfo’s wife, Lisa Murray-Scarfo – previously pleaded guilty to various charges related to their roles in the conspiracy. 
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Newark, New Jersey, Division, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations New York Region, the FBI’s Philadelphia Division and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The case is being 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. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

FBI: International Parental Kidnapping Case

The FBI website reports on an international kidnapping case.

When 9-year-old Billy Hanson didn’t return to Pennsylvania after spending the summer with his father in Seattle, the boy’s mother called her local police department, setting in motion an international kidnapping investigation that led FBI agents halfway around the world to a tiny island in the South Pacific.
What would eventually bring the case to a successful conclusion was the extraordinary collaboration between local, federal, and international law enforcement and other agencies. But on that September day in 2014 when Billy was not on the flight he was supposed to be on, his mother “was obviously very concerned,” said Special Agent Carolyn Woodbury, who led the investigation from the FBI’s Seattle Division.
Johanna Hanson had agreed to let her son spend that July and August living with his father, Jeff Hanson, aboard a 30-foot sailboat named the Draco. But after Billy arrived in Washington, she began receiving text messages from her estranged husband suggesting that Billy would not be returning in the fall—a clear violation of their court-approved custody agreement.
You can read the rest of the report via the below link: 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Good Hunting: My Q & A With Former CIA Official Jack Devine

My interview with former CIA official Jack Devine appears in the current issue of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security magazine. 

Devine, the author of Good Hunting: An American Spymaster's Story, served as acting director and associate director of the CIA's overseas operations from 1993 to 1995. He also headed the CIA's Afghan Task Force that helped to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan in 1987.

You can read my interview with Jack Devine below:

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

My Crime Prevention Column: Violent Street Gangs

Below is my old crime prevention column on street gangs from 2006:

You can click on the above column to enlarge.

A Review of Roberto Saviano's ZeroZeroZero

Mark Bowden reviews Roberto Saviano's ZeroZeroZero for the New York Times.

Roberto Saviano has written a kind of concordance of cruelty in this cocaine-­trafficking epic, minus the alphabetized structure, which would have made it easier to follow. Much of it, sadly, may be true.How much is an open question. 

The second chapter begins with the story of Don Arturo. We never learn exactly who this is, beyond the first name and the honorific. He is like a character out of “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” a rich old patriarch who in his younger days grew poppies for morphine production. ­Saviano writes of the day a general arrived at Don Arturo’s Mexican estate and set fire to his growing crop. Don Arturo watched the flames grow higher, incinerating live animals and even some peasants who had fallen asleep in his fields. While villagers feared the flames too much to attempt a rescue of their burning neighbors, the story goes, a dog braved the conflagration to pull its puppies to safety: “He remembers because it was there he learned how to recognize courage, and that cowardice tastes of human flesh.”

Neat sentence. Memorable passage. But did this actually happen? Is there ­really a Don Arturo? Field of flames? Brave dog? What in this sometimes compelling, often tedious assortment of parables, poetry, dramatic monologues, cautionary tales and horror stories is true, and what is fantasy? 

The cool answer, I suppose, is that we shouldn’t care.A word about Saviano. Because of the work he did on his acclaimed first book, “Gomorrah,” he lives under constant guard. His life has been threatened by people who follow through. Some of the best passages in this book deal with these profound restrictions on his freedom, and with his determination to persevere.

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

My Philadelphia Inquirer Review Of 'Rescue At Los Banos: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid Of WWII'

My review of Bruce Henderson's Rescue at Los Banos: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of WWII appears in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. 

I was a frequent visitor to the Philippines while serving as an 18-year-old sailor aboard the USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War in 1971. On one of my shore leaves, I traveled to Manila, and the Manila Memorial Cemetery, where more than 17,000 Americans and Filipinos who died fighting Japanese forces during World War II are buried. I was impressed by the cemetery's mosaic wall maps of many great battles. One such battle was the raid on Los Banos. 

This year marks the 70th anniversary of that raid, which many historians consider one of the greatest military rescues of all time. "I doubt that any airborne unit in the world will ever be able to rival the Los Banos prison raid," said retired U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell. "It is the textbook airborne operation for all ages and all armies." Bruce Henderson offers a fine account in Rescue at Los Banos. 

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

Note: In 1945, years before I sailed into the Philippines on the aircraft carrier the USS Kitty Hawk, my father and other U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) frogmen hit the beaches of the Japanese-held Philippines just ahead of the allied invasion force.

Thanks to my father and men like him, the Japanese were defeated and the Philippine Islands were liberated.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bad Idea: Convicted Spy Jonathan Pollard Could Be Freed Soon After Nearly 30 Years In Prison.

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard may soon be released from prison, U.S. News & World Reports reports.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jonathan Pollard, an American who was convicted of spying for Israel in a sensational espionage case that inflamed public sentiment, could be released from federal prison within months, his lawyer and the Justice Department said Friday.

Pollard becomes eligible for parole in November, on the 30th anniversary of his arrest on charges of selling classified information to Israel. He will be presumptively eligible for release unless the U.S. Parole Commission determines that he has a record of bad behavior in prison or is likely to commit new crimes.

U.S. officials say they're unlikely to oppose his parole. But the Justice Department says it expects Pollard to serve out his entire sentence. 

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

You can also read my 1999 Philadelphia Inquirer piece on why Pollard should not be released from prison via the below link:

And you can read my Counterrorism magazine piece on Ronald J. Olive, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) special agent who investigative Pollard via the below link:

U.S. Service Member Charged With Illegal Retention Of Photos Taken Inside Nuclear Sub, Obstructing Justice

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

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that a federal grand jury in Bridgeport returned an indictment yesterday charging KRISTIAN SAUCIER, 28, of Arlington, Vermont, with unlawfully retaining photos taken inside restricted areas of a nuclear attack submarine, and obstructing the investigation of this matter.

As alleged in court documents, from September 2007 to March 2012, SAUCIER served as a machinist’s mate aboard the USS Alexandria, which is a U.S. Navy Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine based at the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.

On at least three separate dates in 2009, SAUCIER used the camera on his personal cellphone to take photographs of classified spaces, instruments and equipment of the USS Alexandria. In March 2012, SAUCIER’s cellphone was found at a waste transfer station in Hampton, Connecticut.

After SAUCIER was interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Naval Criminal Investigative Service in July 2012, SAUCIER destroyed a laptop computer, a personal camera and the camera’s memory card. Pieces of a laptop computer were subsequently found in the woods on a property in Connecticut owned by a member of SAUCIER’s family.

SAUCIER is currently enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a Petty Officer First Class assigned to the Naval Support Activity Base, Saratoga Springs, New York.

SAUCIER was arrested on a criminal complaint on May 28, 2015, and is released on a $100,000 bond.

The indictment charges SAUCIER with one count of unauthorized retention of defense information, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000, and one count of obstruction of justice, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vanessa Richards and Jacabed Rodriguez-Coss, with the assistance of Justice Department’s National Security Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.

Thriller Writer Frederick Forsyth Set To Reveal He Was A British MI6 Spy

Some of the best British spy thriller writers were former intelligence officers, such as Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, John le Carre and Somerset Maugham.

Now Frederick Forsyth, the author of The Day of the Jackal and other great thrillers, may at last reveal that he is a member of that club.

Gordon Rayner at the British newspaper the Telegraph reports on this possible revelation in Frederick Forsyth's new book, The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue.

He has long been lauded for the uncanny realism of his spy thrillers, and now Frederick Forsyth is set to reveal the secret of his insider knowledge: he was himself an agent for MI6.
Fans of the 76-year-old author had suspected he may have had brushes with the Secret Intelligence Service, as MI6 is formally known, and Forsyth is expected to confirm they were right when his autobiography is published in September.
As a journalist for the BBC and Reuters, Forsyth spent time based in Communist East Germany and in Africa, where he became close to key figures including Odumegwu Ojukwu, leader of the Nigerian breakaway state of Biafra.
He has admitted in the past that he often draws on his real-life experiences for the plots and action in his books; his experience of reporting on an attempt to assassinate the French president Charles de Gaulle gave him the idea for his first novel, The Day of the Jackal.
He has also admitted having friends in MI6. In his newspaper column Forsyth has referred to “taking lunch with a senior officer of from the Secret Intelligence Service” though he did not explain how they knew each other and he has never gone as far as revealing that he was recruited by them.
The title of his new book, The Outsider: My Life In Intrigue, provides a huge hint that he will use it to blow his own cover as a former spy, and it has become an open secret in the publishing world that he is about to do just that.   

... As a former RAF jet fighter pilot who spoke German and French like a local, and whose job took him behind the Iron Curtain and behind enemy lines in Africa, Forsyth would have been a natural choice for an approach by MI6.

He also lived like James Bond even without the help of Britain’s overseas spying agency.

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

Note: You can also read my Crime Beat column on Frederick Forsyth via the below link:

William McIlvanney: The Father Of Tartan Noir

Allan Massie in the Wall Street Journal looks back at William McIlvanney's Scottish classic crime novels.

Crime and Scotland go together, fictionally at least. Set aside J.K. Rowling, and the leading, certainly the most popular, Scottish novelists today are crime-writers, with Ian Rankin and Denise Mina only two of those who show us how nefarious activity permeates society. Most genre writers are prolific, a novel a year or every 18 months being normal. There is one notable exception over here, and it’s the man who is widely regarded as the father of “Tartan Noir”: William McIlvanney. He has written only three crime novels, “Laidlaw” (1977), “The Papers of Tony Veitch” (1983) and “Strange Loyalties” (1991), all featuring Glasgow policeman Jack Laidlaw. If three novels seem a narrow foundation for such a reputation, we might remember that Raymond Chandler wrote only half a dozen. Now, after some years out of print, leading a shadowy life in popular memory, the Laidlaw novels are available in handsome editions from Europa Press.   

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

Friday, July 24, 2015

U.S. Airstrike Kills Senior Al-Qaida Leader

The Defense Department's DOD News released the below information today:

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2015 - The Defense Department confirmed that a senior al-Qaida leader was killed earlier this month by a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement issued today.

"We have confirmed that Abu Khalil al-Sudani, a high-ranking al-Qaida operational commander, was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Bermal district, Paktika province, Afghanistan, on July 11, 2015," Cook said in the statement.

Al-Sudani, a senior shura member and head of al-Qaida suicide and explosive operations, is directly linked to external attack plotting against the United States, Cook said in the statement.

The deceased al-Qaida leader also had directed operations against coalition, Afghan and Pakistani forces and maintained a close association with al-Qaida's top leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Cook added.

Al-Sudani was one of three known violent extremists killed in the strike, Cook said in the statement.

Al-Sudani's demise will further degrade al-Qaida operations across the globe, Cook added.

FBI Probes 'Hundreds' Of China Spy Cases

Shane Harris at the Daily Beast offers a piece on the FBI investigating Chinese cyber espionage case.

The FBI has seen a surge in cases of economic espionage in the past year, and the bureau says that China is largely to blame.
China’s intelligence services are “as aggressive now as they’ve ever been,” said Assistant Director Randall Coleman, who runs the bureau’s counterintelligence division. He and other senior FBI officials described the threat China poses to U.S. companies during a rare, on-the-record briefing with reporters Thursday. It was an event meant to underscore the pervasive nature of intellectual-property and trade-secrets theft and to alert businesses to protect themselves.
“The predominant threat we face right now is from China,” Coleman said.
The FBI has linked the theft of a broad range of technologies—from seeds to software—to the Chinese government, he said. The number of cases investigated by the division, which is responsible for stopping and catching spies, has shot up 53 percent in the past year, Coleman said. The precise number of total cases is classified, but Coleman said it’s “in the hundreds.” 

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

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Happy Birthday To The Late, Great Crime Writer Raymond Chandler

As my friend R.T. notes at his blog, Crimes in the Library, today is the late, great crime writer Raymond Chandler's birthday.

You can read about Chandler at Crimes in the Library via the below link:

You can also read my interview with Chandler biographer Tom Williams via the below link:

And you can read my Crime Beat column on Chandler's influence on novels and films via the below link:

P.J. O'Rourke: How I Killed 'National Lampoon'

Back in the day, I was a huge fan of the satiric magazine National Lampoon (see the great magazine cover above), and I also enjoyed the Lampoon films, such National Lampoon's Vacation and Animal House. 

I later enjoyed the satiric books and magazine pieces of former National Lampoon editor P.J. O'Rourke, who went on to become a conservative humorist.

O'Rourke offers a clever and amusing piece on National Lampoon history in the Hollywood Reporter. You can read the piece via the below link:

For More Americans, Owning A Gun = Safety

John R. Lott Jr offers a piece at on the growing number of people who own guns and have a licence to carry.

Americans are increasingly convinced that owning a gun makes them safer.

A new Rasmussen poll found that an overwhelming margin of Americans (68 to 22 percent) “feel safer in a neighborhood where guns are allowed.” And a series of polls by Gallup, Pew Research Center, and ABC News/Washington Post show similar results.

But it isn’t just what people say. They are clearly putting increased stock in self-defense. Since 2007, the number of concealed handgun permits has soared from 4.6 million to 12.8 million. A new study by the Crime Prevention Research Center finds that a record 1.7 million permits have been issued in just the past year. This is a 15.4 percent increase.

While 5.2 percent of adults nationwide have a permit, in Pennsylvania it is almost 11 percent, ranking it fourth in the country. More than 1 million Pennsylvanians have permits.

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

Philadelphia Ironworkers Business Manager Sentenced To 230 Months For Racketeering Conspiracy

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

PHILADELPHIA—Joseph Dougherty, 73, of Philadelphia, former Business Manager/Financial Secretary/Treasurer of Ironworkers Local 401, was sentenced today to 230 months in prison for his role in a racketeering conspiracy involving a dozen members of Ironworkers Local 401, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. Dougherty was found guilty, on January 20, 2015, of RICO conspiracy, malicious damage to property by means of fire, use of fire to commit a felony, attempted malicious damage to property by means of fire, and conspiracy to damage to property by means of fire. His 11 co-defendants in the case pleaded guilty. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Baylson ordered three years of supervised release, $558,041.66 in restitution, and a $600 special assessment.
Dougherty and his co-defendants engaged in a systemic pattern of extortions, arsons, and assaults in an attempt to force non-union companies to hire union ironworkers. The union’s business agents would approach construction foremen at those work sites and imply or explicitly threaten violence, destruction of property, or other criminal acts unless union members were hired. The defendants relied on a reputation for violence and sabotage, which had been built up in the community over many years, in order to force contractors to hire union members. The defendants created “goon” squads, composed of union members and associates, to commit assaults, arsons, and destruction of property. One such squad referred to itself as the “The Helpful Union Guys,” “T.H.U.G’s.”
The jury convicted Dougherty for his participation in the 25 charged acts of arson and extortion in the racketeering conspiracy. Among the charged incidents included an arson at the Quaker Meetinghouse in Philadelphia, an arson at a warehouse under construction on Grays Avenue in Philadelphia, and an attempted arson of a commercial complex under construction in Malvern. Dougherty personally handed co-defendant James Walsh an acetylene torch to commit the Grays Avenue arson. On October 12, 2012, when co-defendants James Walsh and William Gillin arrived at the Malvern construction site with an acetylene torch which they intended to use to damage the site, FBI and local law enforcement officers arrested Walsh and Gillin before they could light the torch. Prior to their arrest, on October 9, 2012, Dougherty gave the greenlight for Walsh and Gillin to proceed with the arson by stating “that’s good. Alright. He [Walsh] just got to be careful.”
“The sentence in this case serves as a reminder that corrupt union practices and bullying tactics, like those employed in this case, will be met with severe consequences,” said Memeger. “Fear, intimidation and violence should not be a part of any union’s operational handbook and will not be tolerated in this district.”
During the extortion of a contractor working on an apartment building near the intersection of 31st and Spring Garden in Philadelphia, Dougherty told union business agent Edward Sweeeny that if the non-union contractor erected the building “and gets away with it, we’re tearing it the [expletive] down in broad, in broad daylight, broad [expletive] daylight. I’ll rent the [expletive] crane from work reservations. So, we’re not losing in center city, man. . . . We’ll take it right the [expletive] back down again. And then we’ll load it out, rent the truck, and we’ll steal the iron.”
During a July 8, 2013 phone call, Dougherty summarized his motivation for committing these crimes by describing the financial condition of the union: “I look at the general fund, ah the health fund. It’s (expletive) hurting. And we’re hurting it every hour that the carpenter steals from us hurts. Every hour non-union steals from us hurts it, and we keep pumping more money into it, and that keeps us from getting jobs.”
The case was investigated jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, with assistance provided by the Philadelphia Police Department Corruption Task Force, East Whiteland Township Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Employee Benefit Security Administration. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert Livermore with legal assistance from Gerald Toner, Acting Deputy Chief for Labor-Management Racketeering, Organized Crime and Gang Section at the Department of Justice.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Spectre: New James Bond Film Trailer Released

The new Spectre James Bond film trailer has been released. You can watch the trailer via the below link:

After Nearly 20 Years, International Fugitive In Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme Apprehended In Greece And Extradited To United States To Serve Prison Sentence

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

A former New York businessman, who disappeared the same day a federal jury sitting in the U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey, began deliberating in his tax evasion and fraud trial, was caught while in Greece more than 18 years after his conviction, and appeared in federal court in the District of New Jersey on Friday, July 17, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division. 
Gideon Misulovin, 58, whose last known address was in New York City, was extradited from Greece to the United States to serve his 10-year prison sentence.  He has been incarcerated in the United States since his return on July 16.           
On March 7, 1996, a jury convicted Misulovin of conspiracy to impede and impair the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the ascertainment and collection of more than $6.5 million in federal motor fuel excise taxes, wire fraud and money laundering stemming from a scheme to conceal the unpaid diesel fuel excise taxes from state and federal tax authorities.
During trial, Misulovin was free on $500,000 bail and attended each day of the trial.  He failed to appear in court March 4, 1996, for the parties’ closing arguments.  U.S. Senior District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise of the District of New Jersey in Newark issued a warrant for his arrest.  On June 25, 1997, Judge Debevoise sentenced Misulovin in absentia to serve 10 years in prison and a three-year term of supervised release, and to pay a $150,000 fine.  The court also ordered Misulovin to pay restitution in the amount of $200,000 to the United States and $100,000 to the state of New Jersey.
The evidence at trial established that from 1988 through Jan. 31, 1993, Misulovin and his co-conspirators sold untaxed diesel fuel in a series of paper transactions using wholesale companies.  Some of the companies were shams and called “burn” or “butterfly” companies.  As part of the scheme, the sham company would assume the federal and state tax liability and then vanish, allowing the conspirators to keep the excise taxes they collected from truck stops and service stations.
The case, part of a then-nationwide motor fuel excise tax enforcement effort, was investigated jointly by the Motor Fuel Task Force and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey.  In an effort to infiltrate the bootleg gasoline industry, task force agents set up an undercover business called RLJ Management that competed directly with the defendants’ operation.
At the conclusion of the undercover operation, in November 1992, federal agents seized Misulovin’s assets, including approximately $70,000 in cash from his residence and $277,000 from his business bank account. 
Misulovin’s co-defendant and co-conspirator, Arnold Zeidenfeld, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty prior to trial and testified for the government.  Gurmit Singh and Manbir Singh, of Matawan, New Jersey, who operated truck stops in southern New Jersey, also pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme.
In August 2014, based on an Interpol Red Notice, Misulovin was detained in a Greek airport using an alias and traveling with an Israeli passport.  He was subsequently arrested pursuant to a U.S. request for a provisional arrest, and after contested extradition proceedings, was found extraditable in 2015.  
The task force included attorneys from the Tax Division and agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation and Examination Divisions, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the New Jersey State Department of Taxation and Finance.  Seth D. Uram, formerly a Trial Attorney in the Tax Division and now an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Portland, Oregon, and Trial Attorney Charles A. O’Reilly of the Tax Division prosecuted the case.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the FBI’s New Jersey Field Office and the Greek Ministry of Justice for their assistance in apprehending and extraditing Misulovin.  Ciraolo also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey for their substantial assistance.