Thursday, June 30, 2016

Conan O'Brien On Benghazi Report

Late night talk show host and comedian Conan O'Brien offered his take on the Benghazi Report.

Today, Democrats said the committee investigating Hillary Clinton’s involvement with Benghazi was a "witch hunt." Hillary tried to respond, but just then a house fell on her.

FBI And Department Of State Announce A Global Law Enforcement Forum On Diamond Trafficking And Illicit Trade Hosted By Europol

The FBI released the below information:

THE HAGUE—Today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of State announce a global law enforcement forum on diamond trafficking, illicit trade, and threat financing. This forum is being hosted by Europol, the European Law Enforcement Agency based in The Hague, Netherlands, and will run from June 28 to June 30, 2016. It is also being co-sponsored by the World Customs Organization.

For the first time, senior law enforcement and customs officials, regulatory bodies, anti-money laundering experts, private sector experts, and others who have equities in combating the illicit trade in diamonds will assemble. The forum will focus on the exploitation of the diamond trade and the use of diamonds as a vehicle for trade-based money laundering, crime financing, and similar nefarious purposes.

“Europol is interested in this topic from several angles—robbery crimes, money laundering, and terrorist financing activities—due to the high value and portability of diamonds. Precious stones and gold are still readily liquid and moveable assets that can be easily traded and transported over borders,” said Europol’s Deputy Director Wil van Gemert.

“The FBI is proud to help lead the charge to bring together global law enforcement partners in an effort to strengthen and enhance cooperation and information sharing. We are fighting back against illicit trafficking and trade that so often goes to fund more and more criminal activity,” said FBI Assistant Director for the Criminal Investigative Division Stephen Richardson. “This forum is a crucial step forward in our mission to disrupt the criminal activity that touches not just the United States but the entire world.”

William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, said, “We laud these positive efforts to combat the illicit diamond trade, and we recognize that they are important, initial steps in addressing a complex problem. To effectively counter the negative consequences of illicit trade in diamonds and other contraband and to bring successful prosecutions of those who engage in such transnational crime, it will take strong political will and determination from our international partners.”

The forum will facilitate and increase international law enforcement cooperation and awareness of the illicit trade in diamonds and will provide a platform for information sharing and networking. In addition, the forum will help build law enforcement partnerships that will lead to the identification, dismantling, and disruption of criminal networks associated with the illicit trade in diamonds. This is the first global law enforcement forum on the topic of illicit diamond trafficking and trade.

For more information about the FBI, please visit For more information about the Department of State, please visit For more information about Europol, please visit

Chinese National Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison For Smuggling High Tech U.S. Military Hardware To China

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

Kan Chen, 26, of Ningbo, China, in Zhejiang Province, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release for conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations; attempting to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations; and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III of the District of Delaware, Acting Special Agent in Charge Gregory C. Nevano of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) Philadelphia and Special Agent in Charge Nasir Khan of the U.S. Department of Commerce-Bureau of Industry and Security’s Office of Export Enforcement Washington Field Office made the announcement.

On June 16, 2015, Chen was arrested by HSI agents on the Northern Mariana Island of Saipan following an eight-month long investigation into his illegal conduct and has remained in custody.  He pleaded guilty to the offenses listed above on March 2, 2016.

“The United States will simply never know the true harm of Chen’s conduct because the end users of the rifle scopes and other technology are unknown,” said U.S. Attorney Oberly.  “No matter their nationality, those individuals who seek to profit by illegally exporting sensitive U.S. military technology will be prosecuted.  It is important that we take all necessary steps to prevent our military technology and equipment from being exported and possibly used against our service members and our allies overseas.”

“These sophisticated technologies are highly sought after by our adversaries,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Nevano.  “They were developed to give the United States and its allies a distinct military advantage, which is why HSI will continue to aggressively target the individuals who might illegally procure and sell these items.”

“Today's sentencing is the result of exceptional investigative work by the Office of Export Enforcement and our law enforcement partners to disrupt an illicit network and prevent sensitive technology from falling into the wrong hands,” said Special Agent in Charge Khan.

According to court documents, from July 2013 through his arrest in June 2015, Chen caused or attempted to cause the illegal export of over 180 export-controlled items, valued at over $275,000, from the United States to China.  Over 40 of those items – purchased for more than $190,000 – were sophisticated night vision and thermal imaging scopes, which are designated by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations as U.S. Munitions List defense articles and can be mounted on automatic and semi-automatic rifles and used for military purposes at night.

Given the sensitivity surrounding these military-grade items, Chen devised a scheme to smuggle these items through Delaware and outside the United States.  He purchased the devices via the internet and telephone and had them mailed to several reshipping services in New Castle, Delaware, which provide an American shipping address for customers located in China, accept packages for their customers and then re-ship them to China. 

In order to further conceal his illegal activity, Chen arranged for the re-shippers to send the devices to several intermediary individuals, who in turn forwarded the devices to Chen in China.  Chen then sent the devices to his customers.  During the course of this conduct, Chen made numerous false statements in order to knowingly and willfully evade the export control laws of the United States, including by undervaluing the shipments, unlawfully avoiding the filing of export information with the U.S. government, indicating that he was a natural-born U.S. citizen and providing the address of the reshipping service as his own.

During the sentencing hearing, the government noted the lethality of these items when combined with weapons designed for use on a battlefield.  For example, the ATN ThOR 640-5x, 640x480-Inch Thermal Weapon Scope, 100 mm, which Chen purchased for $8,428.39, is described by the manufacturer as “an ideal product for force protection, border patrol officers, police SWAT and special operations forces providing them the tools they need to be successful in all field operations both day and night.  Uncooled thermal imaging cuts through dust, smoke, fog, haze, and other battlefield obscurants.”  These rifle scopes, therefore, are weapons of war, and Chen’s smuggling and subsequent sale of these military-grade items outside of the United States directly undermines our nation’s national security interests.

As the government further noted, Chen’s conduct was particularly harmful because he sold this military technology indiscriminately.  Thus, it could have ended up in any number of nefarious hands – including agents of foreign governments, bad actors and brokers.  Once these rifle scopes were exported to China and distributed by Chen to his customers, the military technology contained inside these items could have been reversed engineered or used anywhere in the world for a variety of purposes by oppressive regimes, terrorists, or others to threaten the United States or its allies’ military advantage or to commit human rights abuses.

This case was investigated by HSI and U.S. Department of Commerce-Bureau of Industry and Security’s Office of Export Enforcement.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jamie M. McCall and Elizabeth L. Van Pelt of the District of Delaware and the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Read The Congressional Select Committee On Benghazi Report

You can read the Congressional Select Committee On Benghazi Report and watch a video clip via the below link:

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Jury Convicts Philadelphia Doctor Accused Of Running Pill-Mill with Outlaw Bikers' Help

Steve Bohnel at the Philadelphia Inquirer offers a piece on the conviction of the Philadelphia doctor accused of running a pill-mill.

A federal jury Tuesday convicted a Levittown doctor accused of running a multimillion-dollar pill mill with help from the Pagans Motorcycle Club of drug, money-laundering, bankruptcy-fraud, and other charges.
During 23 days of testimony, the government questioned strippers, former patients, investigators, and Pagans members, all of whom said that William J. O'Brien was a drug dealer who illegally prescribed painkillers.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

CIA Director Is 'Worried' That ISIS Is Planning A Major Attack In US

Jamie Schram at the New York Post offers a piece on the CIA director's warning of a possible terrorist attack in the US.

CIA Director John Brennan warned Americans hours after Tuesday’s deadly Istanbul terror attack that ISIS is planning similar large scale offensives inside the United States.
In an interview with Yahoo News, the nation’s top spy said he’s “worried” a copycat attack will be carried out within our borders by the radical jihadist network, which is believed to be behind the suicide bombings at Ataturk Airport that claimed 41 lives and injured scores more.
“I am worried from the standpoint of an intelligence professional who looks at the capabilities of (ISIS) … and their determination to kill as many as people as possible and to carry out attacks abroad,” Brennan told Yahoo News, adding, “I’d be surprised if (ISIS) is not trying to carry out that kind of attack in the United States.”
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Shanika S. Minor: FBI's New Top Ten Fugitive

The FBI released a report on the newest Top Ten Fugitive.

A Wisconsin woman charged with killing a pregnant woman and her unborn child has been named to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, and a reward of up to $100,000 is being offered for information leading to her capture.

Shanika S. Minor is wanted for the March 2016 murder of her mother’s neighbor in Milwaukee, a 23-year-old who was five days away from her due date. The shooting stemmed from an argument over loud music being played from the victim’s residence.

“Apparently Minor believed that the victim had somehow disrespected her or her mother,” said Special Agent Chad Piontek, who is investigating the case from the FBI’s Milwaukee Field Office. “It is a fairly violent neighborhood,” Piontek said. “Unfortunately, there is sometimes a street mentality about solving problems.”

According to witnesses, on March 5, 2016, Minor instigated an argument with her mother’s neighbor after Minor’s mother had previously said the neighbor was playing loud music at an unreasonable hour. On the sidewalk outside the victim’s residence, Minor brandished a handgun and challenged the neighbor—her former high school classmate—to fight. Minor’s mother ran to the scene and implored her daughter not to hurt the pregnant woman.

Minor fired a round from her gun into the air, got in her car and left the scene. “Most people who witnessed the incident thought that was the end of it,” Piontek said. But it was only the beginning.

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

U.S. Attorney John H. Horn Delivers Testimony Before The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee On “Protecting Older Americans From Financial Exploitation”

The U.S. Justice Department released the remarks made by U.S. Attorney John H. Horn (seen in the above Justice Department photo) to the Senate on protecting older Americans from financial exploitation:

Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Blumenthal, and distinguished members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Department of Justice’s efforts aimed at combatting elder financial exploitation.  Protecting our nation’s seniors from financial fraud and abuse is one of the department’s highest priorities and the department is actively engaged on this issue on multiple fronts.
Seniors have many reasons to celebrate, including that they are more likely to have nest eggs, own their homes and have excellent credit.  Unfortunately, these very characteristics make them attractive targets for scammers and con artists.  While we are still learning about the risk factors that may contribute to financial exploitation, there is ample research on the consequences.  Research has shown, for example, that seniors who have been financially exploited experience a loss of independence, decreased health and psychological distress, all of which culminate in a diminished quality of life.
During my 14 years with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, I have witnessed firsthand the crippling effect that financial fraud has on its victims.  Likewise, as the first lead attorney of the David G. Wilhelm Organized Crime-Drug Enforcement Strike Force in Atlanta, I prosecuted international drug cartels and witnessed the importance of coordinating federal, state and local efforts, especially when combatting international schemes.  Since January 2015, I have led the office as the U.S. Attorney.  I am proud to say that my district has a long history of actively working to protect seniors and for that reason was selected as the site of one of the 10 Elder Justice Task Forces launched by the department in February of this year.
More recently, I was named the Chair of the newly created Attorney General’s Advisory Committee’s Elder Justice Working Group.  One of the main purposes of this working group, which is comprised of U.S. Attorneys from across the country, will be to improve our information sharing on financial scams targeting the elderly and to advise the Attorney General on how we can continue to enhance our many ongoing efforts.  Today, I would like to take a few moments to describe some of those ongoing efforts and the outstanding work the men and women of the department and their law enforcement partners are doing in this area.
Department-Wide Efforts
The department is fully engaged on the issue of elder financial exploitation and elder abuse more broadly.  The department is actively prosecuting a wide array of large international and domestic schemes targeting the elderly, as well as smaller cases against individuals who have breached their fiduciary duty to exploit seniors.  The department has actively pursued and continues to actively pursue nursing homes under the False Claims Act for billing the Medicare and Medicaid Programs while providing grossly substandard care to their residents.  Equally importantly, the department is enhancing the capacity of state and local prosecutors, other law enforcement agencies and civil legal aid programs to also identify, combat and prosecute elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.  
Within the department, numerous components play a role in combatting elder financial exploitation.  As an example of how broadly the department is approaching the problem of elder financial exploitation, a meeting last year on this topic included representatives from across the department, including:
  • the department’s senior leadership offices;
  • the Elder Justice Initiative, Fraud Section, and Consumer Protection Branch (which has both civil and criminal jurisdiction), within the Civil Division;
  • the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering, Computer Crime and Intellectual Property, Fraud and Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Sections, within the Criminal Division;
  • the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys;
  • the Office of Justice Programs, including the Office for Victims of Crime;
  • the Office on Violence Against Women; and
  • the Office for Access to Justice.
Further, we have a long history of engaging with our interagency colleagues at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC); Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI); the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA); Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN); U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Administration on Aging, within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Together, we work to investigate and prosecute mass-marketing schemes and engage on a range of other elder justice legal and policy issues. 
The department also actively works with other federal agencies through the Elder Justice Coordinating Council (EJCC).  Addressing elder financial exploitation has been one of the highest priority areas of the EJCC and there are many ongoing interagency efforts to improve information sharing and coordinating proactive efforts.  Given the importance of this issue, the department worked closely with other federal agencies to highlight it at the Elder Justice Forum held at the White House on June 16, 2015, as well as at the decennial White House Conference on Aging, held on July 13, 2015.  (Seehttp://archive.whitehouseconferenceonaging. gov)
International Coordination and Mail-based Fraud Schemes
Many frauds targeting the elderly in the United States originate overseas.  Combatting such schemes often requires close collaboration with our international partners.  To this end, we are committed to expanding our engagement with law enforcement agencies in the countries in which many of these frauds originate.
As a key component of these efforts, the department co-chairs the International Mass-Marketing Fraud Working Group.  This group includes the FBI, as well as other U.S. investigative and regulatory agencies, such as the FTC, USPIS, U.S. Secret Service, and ICE-HSI.  It also includes law enforcement and regulatory personnel from Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom.  The members of the group meet to confer on cooperative measures to improve the sharing of law enforcement intelligence, disrupt mass-marketing schemes, enhance public education and prevention measures and increase the effectiveness of criminal and civil enforcement actions directed against mass-marketing fraud.
The success of such cooperation is illustrated by the recent Dutch matter that is now pending in Brooklyn.  (  The complaint filed by the United States alleges that U.S. residents received fraudulent direct mail solicitations that falsely claimed that the individual recipient had won, or would soon win, cash or valuable prizes or otherwise come into a great fortune.   The recipient need only send some money for processing fees or taxes.  Victims sent payments through the U.S. and international mail systems to defendants that were located, owned and operated in the Netherlands.  Through its action, the United States is seeking an injunction under the Anti-Fraud Injunction Statute to immediately shut down the defendants’ role in the fraudulent schemes and to protect U.S. victims from further harm.  The injunction sought by the United States would enjoin the defendants from using the U.S. mail, or causing the U.S. mail to be used, to distribute the fraudulent solicitations or to collect victim payments, and from selling lists of American victims who have responded to the solicitations.  If granted, a permanent injunction would allow the USPIS to intercept mail heading to the defendants and return that mail—along with any money being sent to the defendants—to U.S. victims.
At the same time that the department took its enforcement action in this matter, Dutch law enforcement agents executed search warrants at the business address used by the Dutch companies and the home address of the individual defendant.  The Dutch authorities also took control of the Dutch post office boxes used by the defendants to receive victim funds.  The coordinated U.S. and Dutch enforcement actions seek to immediately prevent the defendants from benefitting from their scheme and thus to shut down their continuing efforts to victimize the elderly.
Another example of the department’s active efforts to combat elder financial exploitation is its successful action to shut down a large scale “psychic” mail fraud scheme.  In an amended complaint filed in November 2015, the United States alleged that certain defendants operated a mail fraud scheme in which they sent letters through the U.S. mail to American consumers, purporting to be written by psychics claiming that they had a specific, personalized vision or psychic reading revealing that the recipient of the letter had the opportunity to achieve great wealth, including winning millions in the lottery.  The solicitations urged victims to purchase various products and services to ensure that their predicted good fortune would come to pass.  In reality, the solicitations were identical, mass-produced form letters sent every month to tens of thousands of recipients throughout the United States.  Many of the citizens who received the solicitations were vulnerable victims, including the financially desperate, the elderly and the infirm.  Over one million individual victims were defrauded out of over $180 million by this scheme. 
As a result of the department’s efforts, in May 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York entered a consent decree that permanently barred eight individuals and entities from operating this psychic mail fraud scheme.  In particular, the consent decree barred the defendants from using the U.S. mail to distribute any advertisements, solicitations or promotional materials on behalf of any psychics, clairvoyants or astrologers.  Moreover, the consent decree enjoined the defendants from using the U.S. mail to distribute materials representing that services or items offered for purchase would increase the recipient’s odds of winning a lottery, would bring the recipient good luck or would entitle the recipient to receive an inheritance.
Other successful examples of international partnerships include Project Jamaican Operations Linked to Telemarketing, or Project JOLT.  As part of this project, U.S. and Jamaican law enforcement worked together to combat fraudulent lottery schemes from Jamaica preying on elderly citizens in this country.  In 2015, the department, working with ICE-HSI and the USPIS in Miami and with the government of Jamaica, successfully extradited the first Jamaican citizen to be prosecuted in this country for conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a lottery scheme.  He was ultimately convicted in federal court and was sentenced to 46 months in prison.  Moreover, since 2009, department attorneys have prosecuted or are prosecuting nearly 100 individual defendants linked to Jamaican-related lottery schemes.  The approximately 40 defendants who have been convicted and sentenced thus far have been sentenced, collectively, to more than 145 years in prison.
Telephone-Based Fraud Schemes
In addition to mail-based fraud schemes, the department has pursued telemarketing schemes that targeted the elderly.  For example, a common telemarketing scheme involves the purported resale of timeshare interests.  The fraudsters, who target elderly victims who own timeshare interests, falsely claim to have buyers for victims’ timeshare interests and express the need to move quickly on the deals.  They solicit fees from the victims of up to several thousand dollars, claiming they are for pre-paid closing costs and related expenses and such fees will be refunded at the time of closing.  The sales never occur and the fraudsters pocket the money for their own personal gain. 
On July 10, 2014, Peter Massimino was sentenced for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud elderly individuals who owned timeshares.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois, working with investigators from the FTC and the USPIS used the Senior Citizens Against Marketing Scams (SCAMS Act) – which requires courts to sentence defendants to an additional five years’ imprisonment for telemarketing-related crimes against victims over the age of 55. 
Specifically, Massimino solicited fees (purported to be pre-paid closing costs and related expenses, some of which would be returned at closing) from the victims of up to several thousand dollars and claimed that he would use marketing firms to advertise the timeshares.  The sales did not take place, closings were not scheduled as claimed and Massimino did not sell any of the victims’ timeshare interests as promised. 
While this case involved one defendant and 68 victims, the matter was part of a multiple-victim timeshare resale scam operating from Florida that led to the victimization of 25,500 people and total losses of $35 million.  Massimino was ultimately convicted and sentenced in July 2014 to 87 months in prison.
More recently, on Feb. 2, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois worked closely with investigators from the FTC and USPIS to successfully prosecute Gilbert Freeman for a timeshare scheme in which the majority of victims were elderly.  Freeman defrauded more than 1,400 owners out of $4.8 million by falsely promising that he would sell their Mexico timeshares to corporate buyers.  Freeman and others collected payments from the owners for fictitious fees and taxes that he claimed were required to complete Mexican real estate deals and that he promised would be refunded upon closing.  In reality, Freeman had no intention of selling the timeshares or reimbursing the owners.  Freeman was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in this scheme. 
Embezzlement and Ponzi Schemes
While combatting larger scale international and domestic fraud schemes targeting the elderly, the department has prosecuted those who have abused their fiduciary responsibilities to exploit the elderly.  
For example, in April, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California charged a Santa Clara insurance broker with mail and wire fraud in connection with an alleged attempt to steal more than $1 million dollars from a client widow’s trust account.  The indictment alleges that although the defendant had a fiduciary duty to manage and oversee his client’s account, he allegedly withdrew almost $1.5 million from that account and deposited it into an account that he controlled and used for his own personal benefit.  See‌usaousao-ndca/pr/santa-clara-insurance-broker-charged-wire-fraud-and-mail-fraud-alleged-theft-widow-s.
Likewise, in February 2015, in the District of Maryland, Travis Wetzel, a branch operations manager for an investment advisory firm, was sentenced to 42 months in prison for embezzling over $1 million from an elderly client’s annuity account.  Over a two-year period, as a FBI investigation revealed, Wetzel took money from his client’s account without the client’s knowledge and used the money for his own personal benefit.  He also laundered a portion of the money by transferring it to other bank accounts he controlled.  Wetzel knew his client was elderly and was able to repeatedly embezzle the funds due to his client’s age and physical condition.  In particular, the victim was isolated and potentially suffering from cognitive impairments.  In addition to incarceration, the court also ordered Wetzel to forfeit and pay restitution of $1,282,224.
Additionally, in January 2015, in the Middle District of Florida, Donald Ray Babb and Ralph Victor Ruth were sentenced to 121 months in prison for their role in a scheme to defraud elderly investors from 2006 to 2013 out of $18 million.  In that matter, an FBI investigation revealed that Babb and Ruth falsely represented that their businesses were licensed financial institutions whose deposits were insured by the FDIC.  They advertised risk-free certificates of deposit (CD) investment opportunities which yielded high rates of return.  However, neither Babb nor Ruth ever purchased a CD for an investor.  Instead, they used the money to make payments to earlier investors in the scheme, and to purchase real estate and other luxury items for themselves.  As a part of their sentences, the court also ordered the forfeiture of their interests in various pieces of real property, which were traceable to proceeds of the offense, and restitution in the amount of $9.7 million.
Tracking Financial Fraud Schemes
The department is taking a number of steps to both highlight its efforts to the public and to bolster efforts to track elder financial fraud nationwide.  With regard to better tracking of its prosecutorial activity, the department has taken steps to collect press releases issued by the department and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices regarding federal actions against elder fraud exploitation and to display that information on the Elder Justice Website.  Those press releases can currently be found at
In order to develop a more comprehensive and timely picture of evolving elder financial fraud and scams nationwide, the department’s Civil Division is working closely with the FTC to improve its Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN).  The CSN is a secure online database of millions of consumer complaints available only to law enforcement.  In addition to receiving complaints from the FTC, the CSN includes complaints from state consumer affairs agencies, state Attorneys General, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, Better Business Bureaus, MoneyGram and Western Union.  Moreover, the CSN accepts complaints on a wide range of issues, including identity theft, debt collection, credit reports, mortgage assistance scams, Do Not Call violations, imposter scams, telephone and mobile services, prizes and sweepstakes, Internet services, job scams, privacy/data security, auto-related scams and a variety of other frauds.
Although the CSN is the most robust repository of scam-related data, to date, CSN has had limited ability to inform users of repeat offenders or offenders targeting elderly victims.  As such, the department has been assisting the FTC to implement improvements to the CSN in order to help identify those bad actors and types of crimes more easily.  The modified CSN will better allow users to identify frauds targeting the elderly in a manner that should enhance the ability of investigators, prosecutors and civil enforcement attorneys at the federal, state and local levels to stop them more quickly.  At the same time, the department is currently working with several federal agencies to develop a resource locator to help direct victims to available federal resources and complainants to the appropriate federal agency to report allegations of financial abuse.  By making this resource locator available to the public, the department hopes to channel complaints to the right place, including the FTC’s CSN, and hopefully provide as comprehensive a view as possible of elder financial exploitation on the federal level.   
Failure of Care Cases
In addition to the financial scam cases described above, the department has also dedicated significant resources to pursuing nursing homes that failed to provide Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries with the health care services to which they were entitled and for which those programs paid.  In May 2015, for example, the department resolved a matter against the owners and operators of two nursing homes in Watsonville, California.  In that matter, the department alleged in its complaint that, between 2007 and 2012, the nursing facilities persistently overmedicated elderly and vulnerable residents, thereby causing infection, sepsis, malnutrition, dehydration, falls, fractures, pressure ulcers and for some residents, premature death.  In addition to paying $3.8 million, the facilities entered into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS/OIG).  
Similarly, in October 2014, the department reached a $38 million settlement with Extendicare Health Services, one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains, to resolve False Claims Act allegations that the company had billed Medicare and Medicaid for grossly substandard services.  The department led that nationwide investigation and worked closely with Medicaid Fraud Control Units and HHS-OIG, which negotiated a five-year CIA with that chain. 
Finally, a criminal prosecution in my own district broke new ground in 2012 by successfully convicting a nursing home operator of criminal health care fraud on a “failure of care” theory.  This defendant, George Houser, accepted $32.9 million in Medicare and Medicaid funds while the operation of his three nursing homes exhibited a long term pattern and practice of inhumane living conditions for the residents—who often went without food, medical care and other needed services.  Indeed, the judge at sentencing described the conditions at the nursing home as “barbaric, inhumane and uncivilized,” and sentenced Houser to 20 years in prison.
Building off this model of federal-state coordination, on March 30, the department launched 10 regional Elder Justice Task Forces.  These multidisciplinary teams, which were chosen primarily based on their expertise on nursing home cases, will bring together federal, state and local prosecutors, law enforcement, victim service agencies and others in order to more quickly and effectively intercede against nursing homes that are failing to meet their obligations.  In addition to my office in Atlanta, Elder Justice Task Forces were launched in the Northern District of California, Northern District of Georgia, Northern District of Iowa, District of Kansas, Western District of Kentucky, District of Maryland, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Tennessee and the Western District of Washington.
In addition to focusing on nursing home cases, Elder Justice Task Forces will pursue allegations of elder financial exploitation and other, related elder issues that may arise within the respective districts.  The Elder Justice Task Force for the Northern District of Iowa, for example, will be continuing to combat elder financial fraud, like lottery and sweepstakes scams, as well as investigating allegations of nursing home providing grossly substandard care to their residents.  See[external link].
Training, Outreach and Deterrence
While pursuing elder financial exploitation cases that fall within its jurisdiction, the department has devoted significant resources to training and enhancing the capacity of state and local prosecutors and law enforcement to detect and respond to elder financial exploitation. 
Since 2006, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) has provided grant funding to over 60 communities through its Enhanced Training and Services to End Abuse in Later Life Program.  Through this program, OVW has supported the development of national curricula for law enforcement, prosecutors and courts to enhance their ability to recognize, address, investigate and prosecute cases of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. 
To further enhance prosecution, the department established in 2013 the National Institute on Prosecuting Elder Abuse.  This Institute puts on an intensive four-day training that covers the essential elements of bringing an elder abuse or financial exploitation case, including working with older victims, capacity issues, working with medical and financial evidence, charging decisions and coordinated community responses.  Since 2013, the department has trained state and local prosecutors from 26 states and the District of Columbia.  In order to ensure that every state has prosecutors trained to effectively prosecute elder abuse and financial exploitation, the department has committed to enrolling and training prosecutors from the remaining 24 states by 2017.
For those prosecutors unable to attend the in-person training, the department is working with the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life and state and local prosecutors from around the country to develop a video series on the key elements of an elder abuse prosecution.  This video series, which will cover topics ranging from investigations and charging decisions to working with experts and older victims, will be made available on the Elder Justice Website in the fall of this year.    
Over the past decade, the department has also supported the development of national curricula for criminal justice professionals and others to enhance their ability to recognize, address, investigate and prosecute cases of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.  During that time, the department has provided grant funding to 77 communities in 37 states and the District of Columbia to provide in-person training to over 8,000 law enforcement officers on elder abuse and financial exploitation.  Because not all law enforcement officers can attend these in-person training sessions, the department has been collaborating with national law enforcement organizations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police and National Sheriffs’ Association to develop Internet-accessible training materials and resources that will be available to state and local law enforcement officers nationwide.  
In addition to supporting the training of law enforcement and prosecutors, the department has focused on enhancing the capacity of civil legal assistance programs to support victims of elder abuse.  In 2014, the department’s Office for Victims of Crime, in collaboration with the department’s Office for Access to Justice and the Elder Justice Initiative, developed a series of free, online elder abuse training for legal services providers.  The elder abuse training consists of four modules, including:
  • What Every Lawyer Needs to Know About Elder Abuse;
  • Practical and Ethical Strategies;
  • Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Later Life; and
  • Financial Fraud and Exploitation.
In 2015, there were more than 3,400 completions of these four online trainings, including 711 completions of the Financial Fraud and Exploitation online training module.  More recently, on June 14, the department and the Corporation for National and Community Service announced the launch of its Elder Justice Americorps program to provide civil legal assistance and support to victims of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.  This program will provide grants to support 300 Americorps members over the next two years.  AmeriCorps members will serve more than 4,000 older adults each year by providing screenings for abuse, neglect or financial exploitation; referrals to support services associated to abuse or neglect; and high-quality legal services.  These Americorps members will work in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C. 
Community outreach is also an important part of the department’s strategy to combat elder abuse.  Educating seniors about how they can protect themselves helps prevent further victimization.  Every year, the department participates in the Rocky Mountain Fraud Summit in Denver.  This summit is a collaborative effort among the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the AARP, the SEC, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and other federal, state, and local regulators across the Rocky Mountain region.  The summit, which is often held at an assisted living facility, consists of interactive presentations about investment frauds that target our communities, including our senior communities. 
While investigating and prosecuting matters such as those I have discussed is one component of an effective strategy to combat elder fraud, preventing these crimes from happening at all is similarly a priority.  To this end, the department hosts community outreach events across the country.  For example, in April 2015, during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota partnered with assisted living facilities in St. Paul, St. Cloud and Duluth to educate seniors on ways to protect themselves against investment fraud.  The presentations informed seniors about identifying red flags, how to report suspicious conduct and other tips for dealing with investment fraud.  We will continue to reach out to elders in all communities to help ensure that they are well informed.
Research to Advance Practice
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the department’s research and evaluation component, operates an active research portfolio related to elder mistreatment.  The goals of the research are to improve knowledge and understanding of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation through science.  From 2005 to 2015, NIJ awarded more than 20 grants totaling over $9 million that examine diverse elder mistreatment issues.  While much of NIJ’s elder mistreatment research focuses on violence and victimization, NIJ also has funded projects that explore the factors that contribute to or are associated with the financial abuse of the elderly as well as the factors that promote reporting and facilitate investigation of scams and abuse.  This includes research projects in the following areas:
  • Financial exploitation of the elderly in a consumer context;
  • Elder financial exploitation victimization: identifying unique risk factors to enhance detection, prevention, and intervention;
  • Identifying risk and preventative factors for elder financial exploitation; and
  • Integrating improved assessments of financial judgment: conceptual and measurement advances.
Elder Justice Website
Lastly, the department’s Elder Justice Website is a critical piece to its efforts to combat elder financial exploitation.   
The department launched the Elder Justice Website ( in September 2014.  The website is a “one-stop shop” for prosecutors, researchers, practitioners, victims and families looking for resources to identify, report and prosecute elder abuse and financial exploitation, including common fraud schemes perpetrated against seniors.  For prosecutors, the Elder Justice Website identifies relevant state laws and provides sample materials and pleadings (e.g.,indictments, civil complaints, and trial pleadings).  For elder abuse researchers and academics, the website provides an innovative search tool specifically designed to help identify relevant articles and scientific literature pertaining to elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.  For victims and their families, the website provides a wealth of information, including an interactive map which allows users to identify potential additional resources and assistance by zip code. 
With regard to elder financial exploitation, the website contains information on where to report elder financial exploitation, common scenarios and examples of elder financial exploitation and training resources.  Moreover, the financial exploitation section of the website contains an extensive discussion of what the latest research shows regarding elder financial exploitation, including but not limited to victim risk factors, where it occurs and its consequences.  The department is currently working on a number of improvements to this section, including materials and resources on how seniors can better protect themselves against fraud schemes.
The department is fully engaged in combatting the problem of fraud targeting the nation’s seniors.  As I have outlined above, many hard working dedicated prosecutors, investigators, victim advocates, and others work tirelessly every day to provide creative solutions to this complex issue.  Thank you again for the opportunity to discuss the department’s efforts, and I now look forward to answering any questions you may have. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Thriller Writer Donald Hamilton Discusses Matt Helm Films Based On His Novels In 1991 Lettter

The Spy Command website offers a piece on a letter the late thriller writer Donald Hamilton (seen in the above photo) sent to a fan that deals with his view of the Dean Martin films that were based on his Matt Helms novels.

Over on The Spy Command's Facebook page, reader Bill Groves shared a 1991 letter he received from Matt Helm creator Donald Hamilton.
In the letter, Hamilton commented about the four 1960s Matt Helm movies starring Dean Martin.
The films took Hamilton's very serious novels and made them into comedies that incorporated bits from Dino's variety show. The hero supposedly drank heavily (like Dean on his show) and was frequently surrounded by beautiful women. The Ambushers (1967) even had a joke referencing Martin's birthplace of Stubenville, Ohio.

As it turns out, Hamilton wasn't upset about the changes. 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
You can also read my Crime Beat column on Donald Hamilton and Matt Helm via the below link:

U.S. Defense Secretary Hails Iraqi Fallujah Success As Counter-ISIL Milestone

Cheryl Pellerin at the DoD News offers the below report:

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2016 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter today congratulated Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Iraqi people for freeing the city of Fallujah from the grip of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The operation in Fallujah was a significant challenge for the Iraqi security forces and for the multinational coalition, and it won’t be the last, the secretary said in a statement.

“The United States military and our coalition partners are proud to have supported the Iraqi security forces under the prime minister's command in this important operation,” Carter said, calling the operation “another milestone in our joint efforts to accelerate ISIL's defeat and to continue supporting our Iraqi partners moving forward.”

Hard fighting is ahead, the secretary added, as is the vital task of caring for the residents of Fallujah displaced by ISIL's violence and beginning to rebuild the city so they can safely return.

Fallujah Victory

Carter said it’s also essential to complete the investigations launched by the Iraqi government to address alleged abuses of civilians.

"Despite the hard work still to do," he added, "the clearing of Fallujah will make the people of Iraq safer and bring us all one step closer to dealing ISIL a lasting defeat."

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters here today that the coalition continues to provide support through strikes, intelligence, advice and assistance to Iraqi government fighters operating in Fallujah and will continue to do so as the Iraqi forces switch from taking the city to beginning clearing operations.

“The fighting to get into Fallujah was fierce,” Davis told Pentagon reporters, “particularly as they broke through some of the defensive belts on the southern side and the Iraqi security forces have worked their way through the city and … rapidly took control of it.”

Thwarting ISIL’s Goals

Since the ground operation began May 21, coalition forces have conducted more than 100 airstrikes in support of local ground forces under the command of the government of Iraq, Davis said. “Those strikes destroyed key ISIL targets, including tactical units, fighting positions, heavy and light machine guns [and] rocket-propelled grenade systems, and they also denied access to key terrain for ISIL,” he added.

After Iraqi security forces victories in Rutba, Hit and Ramadi this year, Fallujah was the last major stronghold for ISIL in Anbar province, Davis said. “With its large population centers, infrastructure and key road networks, the loss of Fallujah will further deny ISIL access to a province that's critically important to its overall goals,” he told reporters. “It also significantly helps the security situation in Baghdad, as Fallujah was the closest ISIL-held territory to Baghdad.”

Further north, in the Euphrates River Valley between Hit and Haditha, Davis said, Iraqi forces continue clearing villages along the north side of the river and have opened critical roads that connect the region to Baghdad. As Iraqi forces clear those areas, he added, local forces are serving as hold forces to secure and safeguard the area.

Fighting to Liberate Manbij

ISIL has had no strategic victories for more than a year and has lost significant territory over and over again, Davis noted, listing Fallujah, Ramadi, Rutba, Hit, Synjar and Beiji in Iraq, and Hawl, Shadaddi and the Tishrin Dam in Syria. Though possession of the Syrian city of Manbij is still a hotly contested battle, Davis said, ISIL will soon lose that city as well.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-led coalition is “supporting the Iraqi security forces as they move north from Beiji toward Kayara,” which is on the road to Mosul up the Tigris River, Davis said, specifically on the west side of the Euphrates to Kayara west, where there’s a large airfield.

“Kayara is the key pathway to be able to ultimately reach Mosul, … so they've got to get up that river valley, and they're doing it quickly. We've seen significant progress just in the last few days,” he added.

Note: In the above U.S. Navy photo by Heather Judkins the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman is moored during a port call in Souda Bay, Greece on June 21, 2016. The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet’s area of operations.

'He Was A Crook, But He Was Our Crook: The 'Fat Leonard' U.S. Navy Bribery And Fraud Scandal

Christopher P. Canvas at the Defense News offers a piece on the U.S. Navy's 'Fat Leonard' bribery and fraud scandal.

WASHINGTON — The aircraft carrier John C. Stennis swung at anchor in early October 2012 in the harbor at Kota Kinabalu, on the northwest coast of Borneo along the South China Sea. Chinese island-building activities in the nearby Spratly Islands were only just beginning, but the strategic importance of the region was well established. US Navy ships operating with the Seventh Fleet occasionally visited the port, capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah, but this was the first time a warship this large had dropped the hook. It was a major jump, strategically and logistically.
But the US Navy needed help in making the port call happen — US planners were not that familiar with the myriad services and arrangements needed to support the Stennis and the more than 5,000 sailors on board. In to fill the void, as throughout the western Pacific, was Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), at the time the pre-eminent ship husbanding firm in the region.
In fact, GDMA had pushed US Navy planners to send the Stennis to Kota Kinabalu, where the company controlled most of the port services and stood to make a significant profit. And they had a friend on the staff of Seventh Fleet, Cmdr. Mike Misiewicz, deputy of fleet operations. Misiewicz, in exchange for money and favors, fed GDMA information on upcoming ship visits and in turn, had a voice in where those visits would take place.

GDMA and its chief executive Leonard Glenn Francis — widely known as "Fat Leonard" — are at the center of what is likely the longest-running scandal ever to hit the US Navy. The company, banned in September 2013 from doing any further business with the US, routinely overcharged the Navy by a total of more than $20 million, according to US Justice Department estimates.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Monday, June 27, 2016

Italian Police Hold Mafia Boss After 20 Years On Run

The British newspaper the Guardian offers a piece on the capture of an Italian organized crime boss.

Italy’s second most wanted mafia boss, Ernesto Fazzalari, was arrested on Sunday after almost two decades on the run, apprehended by the paramilitary carabinieri police.
Fazzalari, of the notorious Calabrian ’Ndrangheta, Italy’s richest and most powerful criminal organisation, had been a fugitive since June 1996. He was the country’s second most wanted mafia boss in terms of influence and danger to society behind Matteo Messina Denaro, of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, a police statement said.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Michael Herr, Author Of The Vietnam-Era ‘Dispatches,’ dies

The Washington Times reports that Michael Herr, the author of one of the best books on the Vietnam War, Dispatches, died.

NEW YORK (AP) - Michael Herr, the author and Oscar-nominated screenplay writer who viscerally documented the ravages of the Vietnam War through his classic nonfiction novel “Dispatches” and through such films as “Apocalypse Now” and “Full Metal Jacket,” died after a long illness. He was 76.
His death Thursday in an upstate New York hospital was confirmed by publisher Alfred A. Knopf, which released “Dispatches” in 1977, two years after the U.S. left Vietnam.
A native of Syracuse, New York, with a knack for eavesdropping and a reverence for Ernest Hemingway, Herr was part of the New Journalism wave that included Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote and Norman Mailer and advocated applying literary style and techniques to traditional reporting. “Dispatches” is often ranked with Tim O’Brien’s novel “The Things They Carried,” Neil Sheehan’s “A Bright Shining Lie” and Stanley Karnow’s “Vietnam: A History” as essential reading about the war.
“If you think you don’t want to read any more about Vietnam, you are wrong,” critic John Leonard of The New York Times wrote when “Dispatches” came out.
“‘Dispatches’ is beyond politics, beyond rhetoric, beyond ‘pacification’ and body counts and the ‘psychotic vaudeville’ of Saigon press briefings. Its materials are fear and death, hallucination and the burning of souls. It is as if Dante had gone to hell with a cassette recording of Jimi Hendrix and a pocketful of pills: our first rock-and-roll war, stoned murder.”
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

The British newspaper the Guardian named Dispatches as number nine in their 100 best nonfiction series. You can read the Guardian piece via the below link:

Note: Dispatches is a fine account of the Vietnam War, but it is marred somewhat as journalism and nonfiction, because, like Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, Herr later admitted that many of the passages in the book were invented. Perhaps one should read the fine book and regard it as fiction.

FBI: Putting The Brakes On Intellectual Property - Crime Trio Pirated Mercedes-Benz Diagnostic Software

The FBI released the below report:

The case of the pirated Mercedes-Benz software is a classic example of how a company’s intellectual property can be compromised—and how criminals can profit from someone else’s hard work.
In April 2016, California resident Martin Vellozzi was the last of three individuals sentenced for creating and selling non-authentic Mercedes-Benz diagnostic software systems. The diagnostic systems are used by auto mechanics to diagnose and fix Mercedes vehicles. For more than a decade, Vellozzi and his co-conspirators—Rainer Wittich of Louisiana and Robert Beckmann of North Carolina—made money by stealing the proprietary software and selling it at a steep discount.
“All three conspirators had legitimate businesses in the automotive industry,” said Special Agent Sundanah Parsons, who investigated the case from the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office. “Each one had a different kind of expertise, and they came together to profit from their illegal activity.”
The Mercedes-Benz Star Diagnostic System is a hand-held computer containing proprietary, confidential software that costs as much as $22,000. “Vellozzi discovered a way to pirate the software from legitimate Star Diagnostics Systems,” Parsons explained, “which over the years effectively robbed Mercedes of millions of dollars in business opportunities.”
By stealing the Mercedes software—and without having to spend money on research and development—Vellozzi, Wittich, and Beckmann were able to produce, market, and sell their illegal versions of the system on laptop computers for anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000. Court records indicate the trio sold nearly 1,000 of the units. “They were selling them all over the country and even internationally,” Parsons said. “It was all about the money.”
In 2011, representatives from Mercedes-Benz contacted the FBI’s Intellectual Property Rights Unit to report their suspicions that the diagnostic system had been compromised. The Bureau later sent an undercover operative to one of Vellozzi’s automotive repair seminars, where the pirated units were being openly sold.
“Mercedes was rightfully concerned about its intellectual property,” Parsons said, explaining that the diagnostic system could be used to modify and control a variety of critical features on automobiles, including air bags and braking systems.
“Vellozzi and his colleagues knew what they were doing was illegal,” Parsons added. “Although the units were being sold openly at seminars he held around the country, Vellozzi didn’t advertise the systems on his website or list them anywhere in his business records—and neither did Wittich and Beckmann.”
In April, a federal judge sentenced Vellozzi to four years’ probation and a $6,000 fine. In January 2016, Wittich and his Louisiana-based aftermarket auto parts distributor business, The Brinson Company, were sentenced for their roles after previously pleading guilty to criminal copyright infringement and violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Wittich received five years of probation, and his company was ordered to forfeit $150,000 and assist Daimler AG—parent company of Mercedes-Benz—in compiling a list of all customers to whom it provided the pirated software systems.
In March 2016, a federal judge sentenced Beckmann to four years of probation, with the first four months to be served on home detention, and a fine of $5,000 for criminal copyright infringement. His company, Beckmann Technologies, was also sentenced to five years of organization probation and fined $75,000.
“They all knew what they were doing was wrong,” Parsons said. “They made a lot of money, but then they got caught.” 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Spies In Fact And Fiction: My Q&A With CIA Analyst Mark Henshaw, Author Of 'Red Cell' And 'The Fall Of Moscow Station

My Q&A with Mark Henshaw, CIA analyst and author of Red Cell, Cold Shot and The Fall of Moscow Station, appears in the current issue of The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International. 

You can read the interview above and below:

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.