Saturday, October 31, 2015

On This Day In History: The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes Was Published

As notes, on this day in history The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was published in 1887.

On this day, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle, is published. The book was the first collection of Holmes stories, which Conan Doyle had been publishing in magazines since 1887.

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

'Cowboy George' Martorano And The Case That Changed The Philly Mob

Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia (seen in the above photo) offers a piece at on the release of Philadelphia mobster George Martorano and how his drug conviction changed the face of the Philly mob.

Earlier this month, George Martorano was released from a prison.

It was long overdue.

Martorano, 65, had spent 32 years in federal institutions. Jailed in 1983, he pleaded guilty a year later to drug dealing charges, admitting that he ran a multi-million dollar narcotics ring that dealt in cocaine, heroin and marijuana.  It was his first offense. Yet the judge -- the late John B. Hannum -- sentenced him to life.

On the face of it, it hardly seemed logical or fair. It was the maximum sentence. Martorano could have gone to trial, gotten convicted and would have faced no harsher punishment. Where was the benefit in pleading out? Usually that factors in to the sentencing process. You take a plea, you catch a break. 

Conventional wisdom at the time was that Martorano -- nicknamed "Cowboy George" and the son of mobster Raymond "Long John" Martorano -- was looking at a 10-year max. If he got lucky, maybe less. 

Instead, the judge dropped the hammer.

Why Hannum chose to go in that direction is part of a bigger, more complicated story that literally changed the face of the Philadelphia mob.  At least that's the position of aging mob informant Nicholas "Nicky Crow" Caramandi whose testimony in the late 1980s decimated the crime family he and Long John Martorano had once served.

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

You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of George Anastasia's book Gotti's Rules below:

Nine Charged In Interstate Human Trafficking Conspiracy

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

PANAMA CITY, FL—A federal grand jury returned a 32-count indictment charging nine defendants, all residing in the United States illegally, in an interstate human trafficking case. The defendants were arrested yesterday in the Northern District of Florida and other locations. Their initial appearances in federal court took place yesterday and today. The indictment was announced by Christopher P. Canova, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
The defendants are:
  • Edegardo Osorno Rodriguez, 37, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida;
  • Antonio Flores-Esparza, 31, Pensacola, Florida;
  • Jose Juan Ruiz Prudencio, 40, Montgomery, Alabama;
  • Jose Alvaro Trujillo-Santiz, 45, Panama City Beach, Florida;
  • Rosa Mirtha Cruz Vidal, 34, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida;
  • Mauro Gonzalez-Lira, 24, McComb, Mississippi;
  • Romon Tobon, 45, Starkville, Mississippi;
  • Lazaro Juarez-Juarez, 33, Atlanta, Georgia; and
  • Emerson Corvera, 30, Montgomery, Alabama.
The indictment alleges that, between July 2014 and August 2015, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to transport, harbor, and market female aliens for prostitution in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and thereafter, wired the prostitution proceeds outside the United States. In addition to the conspiracy, the defendants are also charged with: 13 counts of enticing individuals to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution; 4 counts of money laundering; 7 counts of transporting individuals in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution; 6 counts of harboring an alien for the purpose of prostitution; and illegal entry by a deported alien. The trial is scheduled for January 4, 2016, at 8:15 a.m.
As part of this investigation, federal agents executed six search warrants yesterday at the following locations: two in Pensacola, one in Santa Rosa Beach, one in Panama City Beach, one in Montgomery, Alabama, and one in Laurel, Mississippi.
This case resulted from a 15 month investigation into human trafficking activities in the Northern District of Florida by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)-Panama City Resident Agent in Charge. It is a follow-up prosecution to a previous kidnapping case prosecuted in federal court in Panama City. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen M. Kunz and Kathryn D. Risinger.
An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. The office strives to protect and serve the citizens of the Northern District of Florida through the ethical, vigorous, and impartial enforcement of the laws of the United States, to defend the national security, to improve the safety and quality of life in our communities through the protection of civil rights, and to protect the public funds and financial assets of the United States. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit

Friday, October 30, 2015

FBI: Financial Fraud - Inside the Investigation of a Las Vegas Construction Boss

The FBI released the below report:

When a federal judge sentenced former Las Vegas construction boss Leon Benzer to nearly 16 years in prison in August, it marked a final chapter in a $58 million fraud scheme that took investigators nearly a decade to unravel.
Over a period of many years, Benzer brazenly sought to gain control of numerous condominium homeowners associations (HOAs) in the Las Vegas area to secure lucrative construction and other contracts for himself and additional conspirators. To date, 44 individuals, including numerous state officials, have been convicted of crimes in connection with the fraud—which has been described as one of the largest public corruption cases in Nevada history.
“This case represented an incredibly complicated financial fraud with a significant public corruption component,” said Special Agent Michael Elliott, who spent nearly eight years working on the investigation from the FBI’s Las Vegas Division. “It involved so many people over so long a period of time, it was like an intricate spider web of crime that kept expanding.”
The scheme was nothing if not grandiose. In attempting to control dozens of Nevada HOAs between approximately 2002 and 2009, Benzer, an attorney, and other conspirators recruited straw buyers to purchase condominiums and then secure positions on HOA boards of directors. Benzer rigged HOA board elections and paid board members to take actions favorable to his interests—including hiring his co-conspirator’s law firm to handle construction-related litigation and awarding profitable construction contracts to Benzer’s company, Silver Lining Construction.
Evidence in the case against Leon Benzer included a $20,000 cash bribe that was concealed in this
baby wipes container.

Benzer manipulated and bribed HOA boards in a variety of ways—he often claimed he had local judges and law enforcement in his pocket; in other cases, he fooled unwitting homeowners into thinking his actions were legitimate and they were simply making wise investment choices.
In September 2008, investigators executed a search warrant—one of nine that would take place during the investigation—and found that Benzer was in the process of targeting well over 20 different HOAs for illegal takeovers. “There were boxes and boxes of folders with information about different HOAs,” Elliott said. “He was deliberately attempting to identify board members along with other information to target what he believed were HOAs vulnerable to takeover through bribery, extortion, or whatever illegal means could be used.”
One of the HOAs had more than 700 units, with each owner paying community fees, Elliott said. “In some cases, HOA boards had operating budgets larger than some small Nevada cities. There was lots of money at stake,” he added.
The FBI, along with investigators from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations, used a variety of investigative techniques—including confidential sources, multiple undercover operatives, and forensic accountants—and conducted hundreds of interviews to piece together the extent of the crimes committed by Benzer and his co-conspirators.
In January 2015, Benzer pled guilty to multiple counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and tax evasion. In addition to his 188-month jail term, he was ordered to pay more than $13 million in restitution.
“This was a very sophisticated scam that evolved over time and generated millions of dollars for Benzer,” Elliott said, adding that when Benzer was riding high, the charismatic fraudster employed “an army of lawyers, had bodyguards, and had an entourage that included three armored SUVs. He had no problem spending money to maintain his lavish lifestyle.”
But like many high-flying scam artists, it was only a matter of time before Benzer was brought to justice. “Now he is in jail and penniless,” Elliott said. “He has nothing.”

Bada Bing: Goodfellas Staging Shakespeare

James Verniere at the Boston Herald offers a good piece on Friends and Romans, a film that I look forward to seeing.

Friends, Romans and fellow fans of “The Sopranos” will get a kick out of “Friends and Romans,” a Staten-Island-neighborhood-set low-budget but winning and very well-cast comedy about a group of Italian-Americans who have worked as extras for many years and get a chance to mount a production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” at a local theater.
Their leader is hard-working family man Nick DeMaio (film, TV and “Sopranos” veteran Mike Rispoli). Nick is a seasoned extra, who has been repeatedly cast as “Gangster Number 3” in films and dreams of having lines to speak in front of a genuine audience. The screenplay, co-written by Rispoli, producer Gregg Greenberg and director Christopher Kublan (“Giving It Up”), was obviously penned by people fond of showbiz spoofs and of actors.
Nick and his fellow frustrated, extra buddies Dennis Socio (TV veteran Paul Ben-Victor), Joey “Bananas” Bongano (“Sopranos” veteran Anthony DeSando), Bobby Musso (the one and only Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri, aka Tony Sirico) and Frankie Fusso (Tony Darrow, “The Sopranos”) are hardly Shakespeare-ready. But they are game and they have a dream.

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

You can also watch the film's trailer via the below link:

Reading Hemingway's Personal Letters: The Letters Of Ernest Hemingway, Volume 3, 1926-1929

Nick Mafi at looks at The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, 1926-1929. 

There isn't much that hasn't been said about Ernest Miller Hemingway. He was, after all, a literary titan of the 20th century, winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature; a man who, through his short stories and novels, captured the imagination of the world by pinning his vulnerable, damaged characters in extraordinary situations and exotic locales. As The New York Times boasted in 1950, Hemingway was "the greatest writer since Shakespeare."  

With the recent publication of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Volume 3: 1926-1929 (Cambridge University Press, $45), the question begs to be asked, what more does the reader need to know about the boy from Oak Park, Illinois? The answer, quite frankly, is a hell of a lot.    

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

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Hemingway on crime via the below link:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mafia Turncoat: 'Goodfellas' Were Livid After I Killed Guard Dog

Selim Alger at the New York Post is covering the trial of New York mobster Vincent Asaro.

Killing mobsters who got out of line was routine for these “Goodfellas” gangsters — but dogs enjoyed a status more like “made” men, and whacking one could get your own ticket punched, a Gambino goon told jurors Wednesday.
Mafia enforcer turned canary Peter Zuccaro, testifying in the trial of Vincent Asaro for the $6 million 1978 Lufthansa heist, said the Bonanno wiseguy showed up to his home with three menacing pals — all featured prominently in the 1990 Martin Scorsese flick — because he’d killed a guard dog that attacked him.
Asaro brought with him a criminal All-Star team including characters immortalized by Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson in the film, Zuccaro testified Wednesday.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Eric Bartoli, Fugititive For More Than A Decade, Is In Custody In The U.S. And Scheduled To Appear In Court Thursday

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

Eric V. Bartoli, who was indicted in 2003 and was a fugitive for more than a decade, is in custody in the United States, said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the FBI.
Bartoli is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge John Adams Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in Akron to be arraigned on a 10-count indictment.
Bartoli is accused of operating a large-scale ponzi scheme from 1995 through 1999. Bartoli allegedly created and operated a company by the name of Cyprus Funds, Inc., which was based in Doylestown, Ohio and incorporated in Central America. Bartoli and his co-conspirators allegedly operated Cyprus to sell certificates of deposit and unregistered mutual funds. Cyprus raised approximately $65 million from an estimated 800 investors in Latin America and the United States. Some of Cyprus’s victims include retirees, according to court records.
Bartoli was sued in 1999 by the Securities and Exchange Commission on charges involving the Cyprus Funds, Inc. Bartoli did not appear at a scheduled hearing regarding the SEC charges. He was subsequently found in contempt of court and a civil arrest warrant was issued. Bartoli had fled Ohio and was arrested in New Hampshire. Bartoli was not detained at that time and became a fugitive.
A 10-count federal indictment was filed against Bartoli in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in October 2003. He was charged with conspiracy, securities fraud, sale of unregistered securities, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, and attempted income tax evasion.
Bartoli has been featured on shows including American Greed and Life on the Run, among others.
Bartoli was taken into custody by the Peruvian National Police in Lima, Peru, in 2013. The operation was a joint effort between the FBI, Diplomatic Security Service, and the Peruvian National Police.
“The fact that this man is back on American soil and will finally stand before a judge to answer to these charges is a tribute to all who have worked on this case,” Dettelbach said. “They never stopped pursuing justice for the victims.”
“A little over 12 years past the date of indictment, Bartoli’s life on the run has come to an end,” Anthony said. “The over 800 investors will now have some closure by seeing that the FBI, in cooperation with our international partners, never gave up and has brought this fugitive to justice.”
“Honest and law-abiding citizens are fed up with those who use deceit and fraud to line their pockets with other people’s money,” said IRS Special Agent in Charge Kathy Enstrom. “Tax evasion and fraud of this magnitude, and with this degree of trickery, dishonesty and deceit, deserves to be punished.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Antoinette T. Bacon and Miranda Dugi following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense, and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases they will be less than the maximum.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

John le Carré: As Slippery As His Characters?

The British newspaper the Telegraph offers a piece on John le Carre and the new biography of the spy novelist.

John le Carré is one of the great English mysteries, like Stonehenge or the Princes in the Tower. "I'm a liar," he says. "Born to lying, bred to it, trained to it by an industry that lies for a living, practised in it as a novelist."

One of the reasons that Adam Sisman's new biography has been so eagerly awaited is that it promised, with its subject's help, to unpick the contradictions and obfuscations in le Carré's own accounts of his life.

Le Carré may be ready to tell the truth. He turned 84 on Monday, and like many people in old age seems to have been visited by a new compulsion to set the record straight. When I interviewed him a couple of years ago and thanked him at the end for answering my questions so fully, he replied: "Yes, I didn't mean to."

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

Britain’s Top Fictional Spy Also Its Greatest Intelligence Asset

Peter Apps at offers a column how Ian Fleming's iconic James Bond character is the United Kingdom's greatest intelligence asset.

In the 62 years since James Bond first appeared in print, there's no doubt he has helped boost the reputations of his real-life counterparts in British intelligence.
Now, Daniel Craig - the truest to author Ian Fleming's original vision since Sean Connery, if not ever - is back on screen in "Spectre." The franchise is as strong as ever.
In reality, however, the decades since Fleming first penned "Casino Royale" have been distinctly mixed for the United Kingdom and its spies.
For sure, the Secret Intelligence Service - traditionally known to its members as SIS and to the rest of the world as MI6 - and its sister service MI5 retain a world-class reputation. They are in good company. The reach and skill set of those two agencies - responsible for foreign and domestic intelligence, respectively - are more than equaled by signals intelligence specialists Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Britain's special forces - the Army's Special Air Service (SAS) and Royal Marines' Special Boat Service (SBS) are also legendary.
They have, however, been far from infallible. Even as Fleming wrote of their prowess in the early 1950s, some stellar embarrassments loomed.
Throughout the late 1950s and 60s, Whitehall (one-word shorthand for the UK's version of the State Department, the Pentagon and CIA and FBI headquarters) was torn apart by slow-burning scandal as news emerged that some of Britain's most trusted intelligence officials had in fact been spying for the Soviet Union. More recently, there have been controversies over officials' complicity in torture and rendition, as well is the small matter of their intelligence-gathering related to Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
Bond and his fellow fictional British operatives, however, allow UK intelligence to project an image that goes well beyond the niggling issues of reality.
It might have only the most tangential relationship to what really happens, but it still has real-world impact.
A couple of years ago at a drinks reception in Washington, a former CIA official told me he believed neither he nor anyone else in the U.S. government would ever turn down a briefing from British intelligence. It wasn't just about the quality of the material, he said - good though it often was.
Even the phrase "British intelligence," he said, had a mystique, glamour and style that was intrinsically fascinating. He suspected British officials were well aware of it, he added, and deliberately styled themselves accordingly.
You can read the rest of the column via the below link:

Hostage Describes Terrifying Reality Of 'Goodfellas' Heist

Selim Algar is covering the trial off New York mobster Vincent Asaro for the New York Post.
In harrowing detail, a former Lufthansa Airlines worker on Tuesday described the night in 1978 when mafia bandits descended on a cargo area and subdued staffers at gunpoint before pillaging a vault packed with more than $6 million in cash and jewels.
Rolf Rebmann told jurors at accused Lufthansa heist mobster Vincent Asaro’s Brooklyn federal court trial Tuesday that he was toiling in the wee morning hours at the Kennedy Airport terminal when he heard a commotion.
“I heard a noise, someone hollering at the back,” Rebmann recalled. “I went over to investigate. I opened the other door and there was a van parked there and a guy standing next to the van.”
Not knowing that he was about to become a reluctant witness to one of the biggest robberies in history — one that would come to be immortalized in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 mob classic “Goodfellas” — Rebmann made a polite inquiry of one of the intruders.
“I asked if I could help him,” Rebmann said. “He said , ‘No’ and stuck a gun in my face and told me to get into the van face-down.”

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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Three Defendants Convicted Of Conspiring To Illegally Export Controlled Technology To The Russian Military

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

Earlier today, after a month-long trial, Alexander Posobilov, Shavkat Abdullaev and Anastasia Diatlova were convicted of all counts, including conspiring to export, and illegally exporting, controlled microelectronics to Russia.  Posobilov was also convicted of money laundering conspiracy.  These defendants, all of whom worked at Arc Electronics Inc. (Arc), a Houston-based corporation, and eight other individuals were originally charged in October 2012.  Five members of the conspiracy, including Arc owner Alexander Fishenko, previously pleaded guilty to related charges.
The convictions were announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director Randall C. Coleman of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division and Director Douglas Hassebrock of the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement.
“Alexander Posobilov, Shavkat Abdullaev and Anastasia Diatlova evaded U.S. export laws to illegally send sophisticated microelectronics to Russia,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “By purposefully circumventing U.S. law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Arms Export Control Act, the defendants jeopardized our national security.”
“These defendants were key players in a sprawling scheme to illegally export sophisticated technology to Russia,” said U.S. Attorney Capers.  “Through lies and deceit, the defendants and their co-conspirators sold over $30 million of microchips, much of which was destined for Russian military and intelligence agencies.”
“By putting a halt to this conspiracy, and stopping the flow of these dual-use components to the Russian military and intelligence services, this verdict represents a clear victory for our national security,” said Assistant Director Coleman.
“Today's convictions send a strong message to those who willfully evade export control laws and jeopardize the national security of the United States,” said Director Hassebrock.  “This case is the result of outstanding collaborative investigative work by the Justice Department, the Commerce Department and the FBI to break up a network whose aim was to illegally ship sophisticated U.S.-origin technology to Russia.”
The evidence at trial established that between approximately October 2008 and October 2012, these defendants and their co-conspirators obtained advanced, technologically cutting-edge microelectronics from manufacturers and suppliers located within the United States and exported those high-tech goods to Russia, while carefully evading the government licensing system set up to control such exports.  The microelectronics shipped to Russia included analog-to-digital converters, static random access memory chips, microcontrollers and microprocessors.  These commodities have applications, and are frequently used, in a wide range of military systems, including radar and surveillance systems, missile guidance systems and detonation triggers.  Russia does not produce many of these sophisticated goods domestically.
Posobilov was the Procurement Director of Arc, Abduallev was the Shipping Manager and Diatlova was a salesperson.  To induce manufacturers and suppliers to sell them these high-tech goods, and to evade applicable export controls, the defendants and their co-conspirators often provided false end user information in connection with the purchase of the goods, concealed the fact that they were resellers and falsely classified the goods they exported on export records submitted to the Department of Commerce.  For example, Arc falsely claimed to be a traffic light manufacturer on its website.  In fact, Arc manufactured no goods and operated exclusively as an exporter.
Despite this subterfuge, the evidence established that the defendants were supplying Russian government agencies with sophisticated microelectronics.  For example, the investigation uncovered a letter sent by a specialized electronics laboratory of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s primary domestic intelligence agency, to an Arc customer regarding certain microchips obtained for the FSB by Arc.  The letter stated that the microchips were faulty and demanded that the defendants supply replacement parts.
Shortly before trial, Arc President Alexander Fishenko pleaded guilty to all charges against him, including acting as an agent of the Russian government without prior notification to the Attorney General, as well as conspiring to export, and illegally exporting, microelectronics to Russia, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.  Fishenko is currently awaiting sentencing.
When sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. of the Eastern District of New York, defendants Posobilov, Abdullaev and Diatlova face up to five years in prison for the conspiracy conviction, and up to 20 years in prison for each violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Arms Export Control Act (AECA).  Posobilov also faces up to 20 years in prison for money laundering conspiracy.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Silver, Una Dean, Richard Tucker and Claire Kedeshian of the Eastern District of New York, as well as Trial Attorney David Recker of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. 

On This Day In History: The Gunfight At The O.K. Corral

As notes, it was on this day in history that the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral was fought.

As On this day in 1881, the Earp brothers face off against the Clanton-McLaury gang in a legendary shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.  After silver was discovered nearby in 1877, Tombstone quickly grew into one of the richest mining towns in the Southwest. Wyatt Earp, a former Kansas police officer working as a bank security guard, and his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, the town marshal, represented “law and order” in Tombstone, though they also had reputations as being power-hungry and ruthless. The Clantons and McLaurys were cowboys who lived on a ranch outside of town and sidelined as cattle rustlers, thieves and murderers. In October 1881, the struggle between these two groups for control of Tombstone and Cochise County ended in a blaze of gunfire at the OK Corral.

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

The New Tsar: The Rise And Reign Of Vladimir Putin

Gary Anderson at the Washington Times offers a review of Steven Lee Meyers' The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin.  

Some traditional American allies are beginning to view the United States as a nation of lions led by a sheep, and Russia as a nation of sheep led by a lion. For several years now, Russian President Vladimir Putin has consistently outthought and outmaneuvered a seemingly hapless President Obama on the world stage. Perceptions are everything, and Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is in tatters; it is too late to salvage that. The next American president will have to show our allies that our country still has resolve and can be trusted. To do that, our next commander-in-chief must be able to deal firmly with Mr. Putin. If knowing your adversary is key to dealing with him, our next president should read “The New Tsar,” Steven Lee Myers’ biography of Mr. Putin.
Mr. Myers traces Mr. Putin’s rise from the only surviving child of a poor Russian war hero workingman in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) of the defunct Soviet Union to the leadership of a newly assertive Russia. The author does so in a no-nonsense narrative that largely avoids hyperbole while explaining the development of the psyche of a world leader.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Being True To Ian Fleming's Character: Bond Row Looms As Roger Moore Says 007 Can't Be Gay - Or A Woman

Sir Roger Moore, who was not my favorite James Bond actor, (although I loved him as the Saint on TV when I was a teenager) is an intelligent and classy actor who is spot on with his comments on the Bond character to the British newspaper the Daily Mail.  

James Bond legend Sir Roger Moore has courted controversy by insisting that 007 could never be portrayed as a gay man – or be played by a woman.

Sir Roger, who has previously come under fire for questioning whether the spy could be played by a black actor such as Idris Elba, risks a further backlash over his latest comments.

He said: ‘I have heard people talk about how there should be a lady Bond or a gay Bond. But they wouldn’t be Bond for the simple reason that wasn’t what Ian Fleming wrote.’

You can read the rest of the piece and watch a clip from the new James Bond film via the below link:

You can also read my Crime Beat column on the idea of a black James Bond via the below link: 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

FBI: Operation Northern Spotlight - American-Canadian Partnership Combats Human Trafficking

The FBI website offers the below report:

The FBI joined law enforcement officials from across Canada in Toronto yesterday to announce the results of Operation Northern Spotlight, a human trafficking investigation that led to the recovery of 20 sexually exploited juveniles and the arrests of numerous individuals.
The Canadian operation—carried out by 40 police agencies and hundreds of law enforcement officers—was conducted as a parallel action with the FBI’s Operation Cross Country, the results of which were announced earlier this month.
“Human trafficking investigations are complex and labor intensive, but entirely necessary,” said Scott Tod, deputy commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). He noted that human trafficking victims are often from susceptible populations, including immigrants, migrant workers, and at-risk youth. “And human trafficking victims rarely identify themselves to authorities,” he said.
“Human trafficking is a very serious criminal threat that often targets the most vulnerable—our children,” added Joseph Campbell, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. The collaboration between U.S. and Canadian law enforcement to fight trafficking, he explained, is essential.
Operation Cross Country is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative. Since its creation in 2003, the Innocence Lost program has resulted in the identification and recovery of approximately 4,800 sexually exploited children. And prosecutors have obtained more than 2,000 convictions of pimps and others associated with these trafficking crimes.
During last year’s Operation Cross Country, Campbell said, “I met with our Canadian law enforcement partners, and we agreed that this mission was so critical and important that it should be a unified effort between our two countries.”
That collaboration resulted in parallel enforcement actions that took place across the U.S. and Canada in early October, with both countries sharing intelligence and best practices to run successful operations that led to the recovery of child victims from truck stops, hotels, clubs, and casinos. The Canadian effort led to charges against 47 individuals and the recovery of victims who were mostly under the age of 19—some as young as 14.
Yesterday’s press conference in Toronto included law enforcement personnel from OPP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ottawa Police Service, and numerous other Canadian law enforcement agencies. Also on hand were representatives from a child advocacy center and a recovered victim of the sex trade who now advocates on behalf of those who are trafficked and sexually exploited.
“It is vitally important that we continue to mobilize to raise awareness about human trafficking and to enhance public safety at the community level,” Tod said.
Campbell agreed. “Operation Cross Country and Operation Northern Spotlight are so important because they maximize the impact in combating the threat and they draw attention to this serious problem. I am proud to stand here today with my Canadian partners.” 

Pals So Mad At 'Goodfellas' Turncoat Henry Hill They Skipped His Wake

Selim Algar at the New York Post offers a piece on the current trial of mobster Vincent Asaro.

“Goodfellas” mob rat Henry Hill was so hated by some of his former pals that they skipped his 2012 wake.
“F–k him,” growled Bonanno capo Vinny Asaro on a secret recording played Friday at his trial in Brooklyn federal court.
On trial for the famed 1978 Lufthansa heist that was featured in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 flick “Goodfellas,” Asaro told his wire-wearing turncoat cousin, Gaspare Valenti, that he didn’t bother to attend Hill’s wake.
“That’s one less left of Lufthansa,” Valenti chimed in, referring to Hill’s death and the dwindling number of crooks left from the score. “He made a big thing like he was there with us.”
“Yeah,” Asaro responded. “Piece of sh-t.”
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Friday, October 23, 2015

FBI Director Briefs Congressional Oversight Committee On FBI’s Current Efforts

The FBI released the above photo and the below report.

FBI Director James Comey, pledging to “be the best possible stewards of the authorities and the funding you have provided for us,” testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee on current Bureau efforts in a wide variety of priority investigative programs and initiatives.
Among the highlights:
  • Counterterrorism remains the FBI’s top priority, and the Bureau is working to address the evolving threat, including offshoots of al Qaeda, like ISIL, and the explosion of terrorist propaganda and training on the Internet.
  • In the counterintelligence realm, the Bureau continues to investigate traditional espionage—spies posing as diplomats or ordinary citizens—but we also remain focused on the growing insider threat: trusted employees and contractors who use their legitimate access to steal secrets to benefit another company or country.
  • In the cyber arena, an element of virtually every national security threat and crime problem the FBI faces is cyber-based or facilitated—cyber threats exist from those who want our state secrets, trade secrets, technology, and our ideas; those who maliciously steal or delete corporate data; and criminals on the so-called “dark web” who exchange information and tools that enable cyber crimes.
  • And on the criminal side, the FBI continues to place a premium on investigations involving public corruption, violations of civil rights, health care fraud, violent crime, transnational organized crime, crimes against children, and crimes in Indian Country, among others.
In his prepared statement, Comey also discussed the FBI’s commitment to countering the threat of nuclear smuggling and other weapons of mass destruction, his continued focus on the Going Dark communications technology gap, ongoing efforts to integrate intelligence and operations, the need for more and better Uniform Crime Reporting data related to officer-involved shootings, and the many state-of-the-art services provided by the FBI Laboratory to our law enforcement, intelligence, military, and forensic science partners.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Spy Files: How Kim Philby And Anthony Blunt Turned On Their Fellow 'Cambridge' Agents

Tom Whitehead and Tom Morgan at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers a piece on the notorious Cambridge spy ring.

Kim Philby and Anthony Blunt turned on their fellow “Cambridge” agents in a desperate attempt to deflect suspicion from themselves as the Soviet spy ring first began to be exposed, files reveal for the first time.
Philby came under immediate suspicion when his associates Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean suddenly fled to Russia in May 1951 as the net closed in on the latter as a Soviet mole.
Burgess had been sent by Philby to tip Maclean off but was not supposed to go with him to Russia and when he did it turned the spotlight on Philby, a senior MI6 agent.
But within days of their disappearance, and with doubts still lingering over Burgess, Philby wrote to the head of MI6 suggesting he had all “the essential requirements of an espionage agent”.
Similarly, Blunt went to see the deputy director general of MI5 on a fishing exercise to see what they knew of Maclean and also pointed the finger at Burgess.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
Note: To learn more about Kim Philby and the Cambridge spy ring I suggest you read Ben Macintyre's A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.