Sunday, April 30, 2017

Alleged Philly Mob Boss And His Co-Defendant Get OK To Attend Wedding Festivities — But At Separate Times

Larry McShane at the New York Daily News offers a piece on how co-defendants in a federal racketeering case can each attend a wedding.

Love will keep a Florida bride and groom together — and a federal judge will keep two of their wedding guests apart.

Reputed Philadelphia Mafia boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino and his racketeering co-defendant Anthony Cirillo were approved to attend the Sunday nuptials in Florida — just not at the same time.

Mobster Merlino is standing as best man for groom Michael Caudo, and leaving the event once the couple declares “I do.” Cirillo was ordered to skip the wedding and appear only at the subsequent reception.

Both were admonished to do so without discussing the bridesmaids’ dresses, the choice of entrees or any other topic.

“Defendant Merlino shall attend only the wedding ceremony on (Sunday) and not the reception,” wrote Manhattan Federal Court Judge Richard Sullivan in his Thursday ruling.

“Defendants Merlino and Cirillo shall not speak to each other or otherwise communicate with each other.”

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

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Same Brain Disease Battering The NFL May Have Killed Ernest Hemingway

Avi Selk at the Washington Post offers a piece on a new book about Ernest Hemingway’s head injuries.

In one of Ernest Hemingway’s first published stories, a man goes into the woods and meets a disfigured prizefighter — insightful, though prone to fits of paranoia and violence.

“You’re all right,” says the visitor after they’ve chatted a while.

“No, I’m not. I’m crazy,” the fighter says. “Listen, you ever been crazy?”

“No. How does it get you?”

“I don’t know. When you got it you don’t know about it.”

Nearly a century after “The Battler” was written, psychiatrist Andrew Farah contends, we would recognize that the prizefighter suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE — the same concussion-induced brain disease now infamous in sports, particularly professional football.

And the prizefighter’s renowned author had CTE, too, Farah argues in his new book, “Hemingway’s Brain.”

The psychiatrist from High Point University in North Carolina writes of nine serious blows to Hemingway’s head — from explosions to a plane crash — that were a prelude to his decline into abusive rages, “paranoia with specific and elaborate delusions” and the final violence of his suicide in 1961.

Hemingway’s bizarre behavior in his latter years (he rehearsed his death by gunshot in front of dinner guests, for example) has been blamed on iron deficiency, bipolar disorder, attention-seeking and any number of other problems.

After researching the writer’s letters, books and hospital visits, Farah is convinced that Hemingway had dementia — made worse by alcoholism and other maladies, but dominated by CTE, the improper treatment of which likely hastened his death.

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

Note: Paul Newman, in the center of the above photo, portrayed the "battler," the brain-damaged former boxer, in Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man.  

The Battler and The Killers are two of my favorite Hemingway short stories. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Black Hand: The Self-Made Cop Who Took On A Notorious Criminal Syndicate

Nick Poppy at the New York Post offers a piece on a new book about an Italian-American police officer who fought the Black Hand.

The terror might come in the mail, or in an envelope slipped under the door. Or a note tacked to the wall. Pay up, it would say. Give us the money. Or your child dies. Go to the police, your child dies.

The letter would be unsigned. But everyone would know who had sent it: the dreaded Society of the Black Hand, a shadowy criminal organization that targeted Italian immigrants to the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The recipients of such a note had few options. If they did nothing, the Society might make good on its promises. Its threats weren’t empty — the Society was responsible for bombings, arson, kidnappings and murders. The Society’s targets could meet the extortioners’ exorbitant demands, and pay the hard-earned ransom — though inevitably, that would lead to demands for more money.

Because they were immigrants and because they were Italian, Black Hand victims typically could count on little help from officials. In New York, the bulwark against Black Hand was extraordinarily thin, but also very tough. It consisted chiefly of one man: a dark-suited, opera-loving bruiser of a cop with a photographic memory, a sixth grade education and fists like iron, named Joseph (Giuseppe) Petrosino.

For more than 20 years, Petrosino waged an almost single-handed war against the Society of the Black Hand. It was as much a war for the place of Italian immigrants in American society, for their rights to exist and to be seen as Americans worthy of legal protection.

It’s a story recounted in Stephen Talty’s engrossing new book, “The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

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

U.S. Leaders Brief Congress On Review of North Korea Policy

The DoD News offers the below report:

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2017 — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefed members of Congress at the White House today on the review President Donald J. Trump ordered of U.S. policy toward North Korea.

After the briefing, Tillerson, Mattis and Coats released a joint statement.

“Past efforts have failed to halt North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs and nuclear and ballistic missile tests,” the statement said. “With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our allies and the U.S. homeland.”
Urgent Threat, Top Priority

North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and a top foreign policy priority, the statement said.

The president’s approach aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with allies and regional partners, the government leaders said.

“We are engaging responsible members of the international community to increase pressure on [North Korea] in order to convince the regime to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue,” the statement said. “We will maintain our close coordination and cooperation with our allies, especially [South Korea] and Japan, as we work together to preserve stability and prosperity in the region.”

The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the leaders said. “We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies,” they added.

Note: In the above Combined Forces Command photo taken by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class John Queen South Korean marines carry a roll of concertina wire across Dogu Beach near the South Korean port city of Pohang as they help prepare for the Operation Pacific Reach exercise on  April 6, 2017. The exercise is a bilateral training event designed to ensure readiness and sustain the capabilities that strengthen the South Korean-U.S. alliance. 

George V. Higgins' 'Eddie Coyle': Even Better Than True

I’ve been an admirer of George V. Higgins since I first read his crime classic The Friends of Eddie Coyle when it came out in 1972. I also enjoyed the film based on the crime novel that came out a year or so later.

So while searching the Internet for something else I was pleased to come across a piece by Howie Carr on Higgins, the great novel, the film and true crime in Boston.

Carr, the author of The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter Century, wrote the piece in 2011 for

As a kid, I was never a big fan of crime fiction–I always associated it with my Aunt Doris, smoking Pall Malls and drinking Ballantine Ale while reading Perry Mason potboilers about spurious spinsters and restless redheads.

But in 1972 I came across George V. Higgins and his first novel, The Friends of Eddie Coyle. I read something in the Boston papers about a hot new book, and pretty soon, I was driving down to the Caldor’s in Northampton, parting with (I think) $4.95 for a first edition.

I couldn’t believe how good it was. I still can’t, as a matter of fact. Suddenly I couldn’t get enough of crime fiction—as long as it was hard-boiled and as long as it was American.

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

Note: The above photo shows the late George V. Higgins on a park bench. The below photo is of Howie Carr.

You can also read an earlier post on George V. Higgins via the below link:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Little Night Music: Andy Narel's 'Kalinda'

You can listen to Andy Narel's Kalinda via the below link:

Note: I like the steel drums. They remind me of my many visits to Jamaica.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Northcom Commander Highlights Partnerships To Counter Transnational Crime

By Lisa Ferdinando at the DoD News offers the below report:

COZUMEL, Mexico, April 25, 2017 — The U.S. military is looking for ways to enhance cooperation with its Mexican and Central American partners to address the security challenges that threaten the stability in the region, the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command said here today.

The issues of concern in Central America include migration and countering transnational organized crime, Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson said in closing remarks at the two-day Central America Security Conference.

"At U.S. Northern Command, we recognize that transnational organized crime does pose a challenge to stability of all the countries in the region," she said, adding that her command is working closely with Mexico and U.S. Southern Command to counter the challenges.

The conference, co-hosted by the United States and Mexico, provided a forum for Central American, Mexican and U.S. officials to examine ways to boost cooperation to address the evolving, multidomain threats.

Collective Willingness' to Address Challenges

Robinson urged the countries represented at the conference to continue to collaborate and pursue the ideas that emerged from this year's talks.

"I appreciated hearing a collective willingness to work together for stronger partnerships in the region," she told the forum, saying she looks forward to working with the partners to advance efforts for security.

Robinson thanked Mexico for its role in hosting the 12th iteration of the conference, which marked the first time the session was held outside Central America. Next year's forum is slated to take place in El Salvador.

The conference brought together chiefs of defense and ministers of defense from Central America, plus observers from Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Great Britain. Panama and Costa Rica sent public security representatives.

Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, the Southcom commander, addressed the forum yesterday. He highlighted the need for a unified approach in confronting the threats in Central America that are "adaptive and dynamic, constantly reacting."

Transnational Organized Crime is 'Common Enemy'

According to the Mexican military hosts, the participants reached consensus on greater integration to make their regional security structures more efficient. A joint news release from Mexico's National Defense and Navy secretariats said the countries stressed that transnational crime threatens all nations in the region.

"Participant countries remarked that our common enemy is transnational organized crime, which respects no border and it is towards this objective that all our efforts must be focused, with an absolute respect of human rights," the news release said.

After the conference, the participating countries hold multilateral and bilateral discussions to define specific steps to achieve the objectives defined in the conference, Southcom spokesman Jose Ruiz said.

NoteIn the above Northcom photo taken by Air Force 1st Lt. Laruen Hill, U.S. Public Health Service Cmdr. Kiel Fisher and first responders from the Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacán review various techniques using a rescue sled to save a water-based victim in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on March 22, 2017.

U.S. Northern Command donated $270,000 of equipment and sent multiple representatives to Puerto Vallarta for a week of water search and rescue training with Mexican firefighters and lifeguards. This training took place in support of Northcom’s humanitarian assistance partnership with the Mexican government. 

You can click on the above photo to enlarge. 

USS Mahan Has Close Encounter With Iranian Fast Attack Craft reports that the USS Mahan, a guided-missile destroyer, had a close encounter with an Iranian Revolutionary Guard "fast attack craft" in the Persian Gulf Monday and had to alter course, sound the danger signal, fire flares and man its weapons.

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

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

Is The IRS Truly Calling? Report Phone Scams To The FTC

 The Federal Trade Commission released the below information:

You get a call from someone who says she’s from the IRS. She says that you owe back taxes. She threatens to sue you, arrest or deport you, or revoke your license if you don’t pay right away. She tells you to put money on a prepaid debit card and give her the card numbers. The caller may know part of your Social Security number. And your caller ID might show a Washington, DC area code. But is it really the IRS calling?

No. The real IRS won’t ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. They also won’t ask for a credit card over the phone. And when the IRS first contacts you about unpaid taxes, they do it by mail, not by phone. And caller IDs can be faked.

Here’s what you can do:

Stop. Don’t wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card. Once you send it, the money is gone. If you have tax questions, go to or call the IRS at 800-829-1040.

Pass this information on to a friend. You may not have gotten one of these calls, but the chances are you know someone who has.

Please Report Scams

If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Report a scam online or call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261. Your complaint can help protect other people. By filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify the imposters and stop them before they can get someone’s hard-earned money. It really makes a difference.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Air Force Photo: Heritage Flight

In the above U.S. Air Force photo taken by Staff Sgt. Jason Couillard an Air Force F-22 Raptor flies in formation with a World War II-era P-51 Mustang over Panama City Beach, Florida on April 22, 2017.

The flight was part of the opening ceremony of the Gulf Coast Salute Air Show. 

Note: You can click on the above phot to enalrge.

U.S. Stands By Afghan People After Taliban’s Heinous Acts, Defense Secretary Mattis Says

Terri Moon Cronk at the DoD News offers the below report:

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2017 — During a visit to the headquarters of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in the Afghan capital of Kabul today, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had stern words for the April 21 Taliban attack on an Afghan military base and mosque, in which more than 100 people were killed.

The secretary spoke at a news conference alongside Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of the Resolute Support mission and of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

“As if we needed a reminder of the type of enemy we’re up against, the killing of Afghan citizens and soldiers -- protectors of the people -- just as they were coming out of a mosque, a house of worship, it certainly characterizes this fight for exactly what it is,” Mattis said. “These people have no religious foundation. They are not devout anything, and it shows why we stand with the people of this country against such heinous acts perpetrated by this barbaric enemy and what they do.”

Talks With Afghan President

The secretary said he had met earlier with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and thanked him for his leadership in the midst of difficult times and for the inclusive approach of this unity government.

“We discussed his initiative to make the government … more responsive to all of the Afghan people, and we all recognize the challenges to this government of that effort presented by enemies of the Afghan people who refused to renounce violence,” Mattis said.

The secretary pointed out that President Donald J. Trump has directed a review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. “This dictates an ongoing dialogue with Afghanistan’s leadership,” he said, “and that’s why I came here: to get with President Ghani and his ministers and hear directly and at length from … General Nicholson to provide my best assessment and advice as we go forward.”

That advice, he added, will go not only to the president, but also to the NATO secretary general and all the troop-contributing nations with which the United States coordinates and collaborates.

The teamwork between the U.S. and Afghan governments, their diplomats and their international military contingents has achieved high levels of partnership, the secretary said. “In a word, I find it impressive,” he added.

2017: Difficult Road Ahead

The review in Washington of the Afghanistan mission is a dialogue that includes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the president and his staff in the White House, and “I’d say we’re under no illusions about the challenges associated with this mission,” Mattis said

2017 will be another tough year for the Afghan security forces and the international troops who will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan and against those who seek to undermine the nation’s legitimate government, Mattis said. He called on the Taliban to work honestly for a positive future for the Afghan people.

“They need only to renounce violence and reject terrorism,” he added. “It’s a pretty low standard to join the political process.”

Note: In the above DoD photo taken by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantly Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Army Gen. John Nicholson, the Resolute Support commander, meet with some of the mission's senior leaders and command staff at the Resolute Support Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan on April 24, 2017.  

You can click on the above photo to enlarge. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

My Washington Times Review Of The Pierre Hotel Affair: How Eight Gentleman Orchestrated The Largest Jewel Heist In History

My review of The Pierre Hotel Affair appeared in the Washington Times.

In the predawn hours of Jan. 2, 1972, eight armed thieves dressed in tuxedos and transported by limousine invaded the Pierre Hotel in New City. Wearing sunglasses, fake noses, beards and mustaches with their formal wear, the crooks tied up the security guards, the night shift staff and any residents and guests they came across. They even trapped two NYPD officers in the basement after the freezing cops came into the luxury hotel for coffee.

As the hostages were rounded up and detained in an alcove, two members of the gang ripped through selected safety deposit boxes in the hotel vault. The gang escaped with reportedly $28 million dollars in cash, bearer bonds and jewelry. To this day the case is considered to be unsolved, although the two primary crooks, Bobby Comfort and Sammy ‘the Arab” Nalo, went to prison on related charges.

But as David Simone tells us in ‘The Pierre Hotel Affair,” the organized, professional and bold gang of thieves who committed “the perfect crime” did not thrive with their “swag.” The greedy and duplicitous gang members promptly double-crossed each other. The two leaders held out some of the jewels from the rest of the gang while two other members of the gang escaped to Europe with most of the stolen jewels. Three of the thieves were later murdered by other gang members.

Nick “the Cat” Sacco, a former jewel thief and the sole survivor of the gang, wrote the book with David Simone. Written in a sensational and lurid style, reminding me of an early Mickey Spillane crime thriller, the book recounts the detailed planning of the robbery, the robbery itself and the bloody aftermath. The book also introduces us to the motley crew of crooks, which included a stone cold hitman for the mob, a degenerate gambler and serial double-crosser, and professional jewel thieves like Comfort and Sacco.

Sacco, then an associate of Lucchese organized crime family consigliere Christie “the Tick” Furnari, received the backing of the Cosa Nostra boss for the Pierre robbery.

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

On This Day In History William Shakespeare Was Born

As notes, on this day in 1564 William Shakespeare was born.

According to tradition, the great English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1564. It is impossible to be certain the exact day on which he was born, but church records show that he was baptized on April 26, and three days was a customary amount of time to wait before baptizing a newborn. Shakespeare’s date of death is conclusively known, however: it was April 23, 1616. He was 52 years old and had retired to Stratford three years before.

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Russian Cyber-Criminal Sentenced To 27 Years In Prison For Hacking And Credit Card Fraud Scheme

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

A 32-year-old Vladivostok, Russia, man was sentenced today to 27 years in prison for his computer hacking crimes that caused more than $169 million in damage to small businesses and financial institutions, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington.

Roman Valeryevich Seleznev, aka Track2, was convicted in August 2016, of 38 counts related to his scheme to hack into point-of-sale computers to steal credit card numbers and sell them on dark market websites.  U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones of the Western District of Washington imposed the sentence.

“This investigation, conviction and sentence demonstrates that the United States will bring the full force of the American justice system upon cybercriminals like Seleznev who victimize U.S. citizens and companies from afar,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco.  “And we will not tolerate the existence of safe havens for these crimes – we will identify cybercriminals from the dark corners of the Internet and bring them to justice.”

“Today is a bad day for hackers around the world,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “The notion that the Internet is a Wild West where anything goes is a thing of the past.  As Mr. Seleznev has now learned, and others should take note – we are working closely with our law enforcement partners around the world to find, apprehend, and bring to justice those who use the internet to steal and destroy our peace of mind.  Whether the victims are multi-national banks or small pizza joints, we are all victims when our day-to-day transactions result in millions of dollars ending up in the wrong hands.”

According to evidence presented at trial, between October 2009 and October 2013, Seleznev hacked into retail point-of-sale systems and installed malicious software (malware) that allowed him to steal millions of credit card numbers from more than 500 U.S. businesses and send the data to servers that he controlled in Russia, the Ukraine and McLean, Virginia.  Seleznev then bundled the credit card information into groups called “bases” and sold the information on various criminal “carding” websites to buyers who used them for fraudulent purchases, according to evidence introduced during the trial of this case.
Many of the businesses targeted by Seleznev were small businesses, and included restaurants and pizza parlors in Western Washington, including Broadway Grill in Seattle, which was forced into bankruptcy following the cyber assault.  Testimony at trial revealed that Seleznev’s scheme caused approximately 3,700 financial institutions more than $169 million in losses.

Seleznev was taken into custody in July 2014 in the Maldives, and the laptop in his custody at that time contained more than 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers, including some from businesses in Western Washington.  The laptop also contained additional evidence linking Seleznev to the servers, email accounts and financial transactions involved in the scheme.  Evidence presented at trial showed that Seleznev earned tens of millions of dollars from his criminal activity.

Seleznev was convicted on Aug. 25, 2016, of 10 counts of wire fraud, eight counts of intentional damage to a protected computer, nine counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, nine counts of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices and two counts of aggravated identity theft. 

“Mr. Seleznev’s criminal enterprise was both sophisticated and expansive, with transnational implications.  This investigation exemplifies the ability of the U.S. Secret Service and our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who perpetrate such crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Kierstead of the U.S. Secret Service.  “The ultimate success of this case is the result of an extraordinary collaborative effort by the Secret Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Washington, the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the Seattle Police Department.”

“Crime has no borders,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.  “This individual is responsible for defrauding victims out of millions of dollars in Seattle alone, and we are proud to work with our federal partners to bring him to justice.”

Seleznev is also charged in a separate indictment in the District of Nevada with participating in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization (RICO) and conspiracy to engage in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization, as well as two counts of possession of 15 or more counterfeit and unauthorized access devices.  Additionally, Seleznev is charged in the Northern District of Georgia with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, one count of bank fraud and four counts of wire fraud.  An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Norman M. Barbosa and Seth Wilkinson of the Western District of Washington and Trial Attorneys Harold Chun and Ethan Arenson of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) prosecuted the case.  The CCIPS Cyber Crime Lab, and its Director, Ovie Carroll, provided substantial support for the prosecution.  The Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Guam also provided assistance in this case.

Authorities Believe CIA Employee Or Contractor Supplied Documents To WikiLeaks

Guy Taylor and Andrew Blake at the the Washington Times report that a CIA employee or contractor supplied WikiLeaks with classified documents.

Federal law enforcement authorities believe it was a vetted member of the U.S. intelligence community — either an official CIA employee or a contractor — who supplied WikiLeaks with a trove of documents that the anti-secrecy group published last month purporting to expose the agency’s vast clandestine cyberoperations.

While the CIA has refused to comment on an investigation into the matter, intelligence sources who spoke anonymously with The Washington Times on Thursday did not push back against the veracity of news reports that the agency and the FBI are engaged in a manhunt for the suspected leaker within the U.S. government.

CNN reported Thursday night that federal prosecutors are separately weighing whether to bring criminal charges against members of the WikiLeaks organization, taking a second look at a 2010 leak of diplomatic cables and military documents as well as last month’s CIA leak.

The network cited unnamed sources behind the claim, but noted that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had said at a news conference Thursday that the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012, is a “priority.”

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

U.S. Navy Bribery And Fraud Scandal: Admiral's Illicit History With 'Fat Leonard' Goes Back 20 years, Prosecutors say

Craig Whitlock at the Washington Post offers a piece on Admiral Robert Gilbeau (seen in the above U.S. Navy photo) who was convicted in the U.S. Navy’s “Fat Leonard” bribery and fraud scandal.

The highest-ranking officer convicted so far in a colossal Navy corruption scandal began accepting a cornucopia of gifts and prostitutes from an Asian defense contractor 20 years ago and later suffered a mental breakdown when he learned authorities were making arrests in the case, new court documents allege.

Robert Gilbeau became the first active-duty Navy admiral ever to be convicted of a felony when he pleaded guilty last year to lying to federal investigators. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month and likely faces up to 18 months in prison.

In a plea deal last June, Gilbeau admitted to making false statements about his contacts with Leonard Glenn Francis, also known as "Fat Leonard," a crooked defense contractor from Singapore who has pleaded guilty to bribing scores of Navy officials. At the time, Gilbeau and federal authorities revealed little about the nature and extent of his relationship with Francis.

But in documents filed last week in federal court in San Diego, prosecutors allege that Gilbeau, 56, was corrupted in 1997 when he and another Navy officer met Francis during a port visit to the Indonesian island of Bali and succumbed to the contractor's offer of free hotel rooms, lavish dinners and paid sex.

The relationship continued on a sporadic basis until 2012, according to prosecutors, who said Francis treated Gilbeau to numerous evenings at karaoke bars and luxury restaurants in Singapore, often capped off by assignations with prostitutes.

Prosecutors allege that Gilbeau also pocketed $40,000 in cash bribes from Francis as part of a kickback scheme to overcharge the Navy for pumping wastewater from its ships.

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the Fat Leonard scandal via the below link:

Note: The above U.S. Navy shows Leonard with then-Chariman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen.

Smuggling By International Crime Syndicates Is What Keeps Homeland Security Chief Up At Night

David Sherfinski and Stephen Dinan at the Washington Times offer a piece on Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly (seen in the above official photo) and his concern over transnational criminal organizations.

Smuggling cartels are now a major threat to the fabric of American society, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly declared Tuesday, saying the international crime syndicates have shown an incredible ability to sneak drugs and people — and potentially terrorists and dirty bombs — into the U.S.

Mr. Kelly, a former Marine Corps general who is three months into his tenure as secretary, said among all the other dangers facing Americans, the threat from the cartels, known in the security world as “transnational criminal organizations” is what keeps him up at night.

He said the Trump administration has already notched some victories over the criminal networks, including cutting the level of illegal immigration across the southwestern border by a staggering 70 percent. But he said the amount of drugs has increased and that the smuggling cartels share ties with the terrorist networks that the U.S. is fighting overseas.

“We know, as an example, that the money-laundering of massive amounts of profit from the U.S. drug demand — there are terrorist organizations that make money from that money-laundering process,” he said. “It’s an incredibly lucrative way to raise money. They’re not doing it in huge amounts yet, I don’t believe. But to me, it would be a next step. So the nexus between criminal networks and terrorist networks is real, and, I would predict, will get more sophisticated.”

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

Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo: A Former Philadelphia-South Jersey Cosa Nostra Organized Crime Boss Who Was Just An Old Man Who Died Alone

Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia offers a piece on the life and death of Philly mob boss Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo (seen in the center of the above FBI surveillance photo) at 

He was, to borrow an over-used sports term, a game changer. And he, and all those around him, paid a significant price because of it.

Little Nicky Scarfo, the violent Philadelphia-South Jersey mob boss who died in prison earlier this year, played by his own set of rules. The result was chaos. His passing (he died in a federal prison on Jan. 13) attracted front page headlines, but there was little of the pomp and ceremony that used to be de rigueur when a mob boss died. No viewing at a South Broad Street funeral home with lines of mourners stretching out the door and down the block. No FBI agents in unmarked vans taking pictures of crime family members and their associates coming to pay their final respects. No church ceremony with pallbearers carrying an ornate coffin to a waiting black limousine.

There has been little mention of Scarfo’s “final arrangements.” One source said his passing was marked at a private family memorial service and his body was cremated. For all the noise he made while on the streets, Little Nicky went quietly.

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

You can also read Philip Leonetti's view of his uncle in my interview with Scarfo's nephew and former underboss via the below link:

On This Day In History The American Revolution Began With 'The Shot Heard Around The World'

As notes, on this day in 1775 the American Revolution began.

You can read about the historical event via the below link:

Former South Philly Mob Boss Ralph Natale Speaks To Fox 29 Reporter Dave Schratwieser

TV Fox 29 News' Dave Schratwieser, a veteran crime reporter, spoke to former Philadelphia-South Jersey Cosa Nostra boss Ralph Natale about his past life of crime, his book, and the current state of mob affairs in Philadelphia.

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

You can also read my interview with Ralph Natale via the below link:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On This Day In History Ernie Pyle, America's Most Popular WWII War Correspondent, Was Killed In Combat

As notes, on this day in 1945 Ernie Pyle, America's most popular WWII war correspondent, was killed in combat by Japanese machine-gun fire on the island of le Shima in the Pacific.

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

Note: I'm a huge admirer of Ernie Pyle. I have the collection of all of his columns in my library.

Someone once wrote that his columns read like short stories. I agree.

Actor Burgess Meredith portrayed Ernie Pyle in the movie The Story G.I. Joe, which also starred Robert Mitchum. Good film about a good man and the good men he covered during the war.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions On Organized Crime And MS-13

The U.S. Justice Department released the below prepared remarks of Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the meeting of the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Council and OCDETF Executive Committee on April 18, 2017:

I want to thank the Organized Crime Council for convening today as they have done since 1970. We represent law enforcement from across the government: FBI; Drug Enforcement Administration; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Coast Guard; IRS; Labor Department; State Department; U.S. Postal Service; and the director of our Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). This is the federal team, but we all know well that we have essential partners and leaders in our state and local offices. This can only be done together.

In February, President Trump issued an executive order to us to interdict and dismantle transnational criminal organizations, and today we’ll be proposing concrete ideas to follow through on President Trump’s directive.

So let me state this clearly. Under President Trump, the Justice Department has zero tolerance for gang violence. Transnational criminal organizations like MS-13 represent one of the gravest threats to American safety.  These organizations enrich themselves by pedaling poison in our communities, trafficking children for sexual exploitation and inflicting horrific violence in the communities where they operate. 

MS-13 has become a symbol of this plague that has spread across our country and into our communities.  There are over 30,000 members abroad with their headquarters in the El Salvadoran prison system.  According to the National Gang Intelligence Center, MS-13 now has more than 10,000 members in at least 40 states in this country – up significantly from just a few years ago. 

Because of an open border and years of lax immigration enforcement, MS-13 has been sending both recruiters and members to regenerate gangs that previously had been decimated, and smuggling members across the border as unaccompanied minors.  They are not content to simply ruin the lives of adults – MS-13 recruits in our high schools, our middle schools and even our elementary schools.

Just a few days ago, law enforcement believes that members of MS-13 murdered four young men and dumped their bodies in a park on Long Island.  Last month, it was two teenage girls in Los Angeles who were killed with machetes and baseball bats.  A few weeks ago, the FBI added an MS-13 member to their Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List for a suspected brutal murder with a baseball bat and screwdriver – all purportedly to earn his MS-13 tattoo.  Violence is an initiation rite. They’ve killed mothers alongside their children and vice versa.  They have gang raped and trafficked girls as young as 12 years old. 

We cannot allow this to continue.  We will secure our border, expand immigration enforcement and choke-off supply lines.  If you are a gang member: We will find you.  We will devastate your networks.  We will starve your revenue sources, deplete your ranks and seize your profits.  We will not concede a single block or street corner to your vicious tactics.

We recognize this will not be easy.  But the organizations here worked together to take down the Mafia and the Colombian cartels.  We can do it again.  It will require a commitment from not only all federal, state and local law enforcement, but from everyday Americans who refuse to allow the current gang violence to be the status quo any longer.

Let me add: Sanctuary cities dangerously undermine this process.  Harboring criminal aliens only helps violent gangs like MS13.  Sanctuary Cities are aiding these cartels to refill their ranks and putting innocent life – including the lives of countless law-abiding immigrants – in danger.

Today is just the beginning.  There will be much more in the coming weeks and months as we seek to eradicate these transnational criminal organizations. Under the Trump Administration and this Department of Justice, there will be no safe quarter for gangs and those that support them.   

Monday, April 17, 2017

Retiring The Colors On The Aircraft Carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

The U.S. Navy released the above photo and below caption:

NORFOLK (April 16, 2017) Sailors assigned to the color guard aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) retire the colors. Dwight D. Eisenhower is pierside during the sustainment phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP).

The U.S. Navy photo was taken by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew J. Sneeringer.

Note: You can click on the above photo to enlarge. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Clifton James, Sheriff In 2 James Bond Films, Dies at 96

The Associated Press reports that actor Clifton James (seen in the above photo), best known as the Southern sheriff in two James Bond films, has died. He was 96.

Although I liked Sean Connery's amusing asides in the early Bond films, I didn't care for Roger Moore's lighthearted approach to portraying Bond or the action-comedy films that evolved from the early Ian Fleming-based James Bond thrillers.

But having said that, I laughed at Clifton James’ portrayal of Louisiana sheriff J.W. Pepper, who appeared in Live and Let Die and The Man With the Golden.

In Live and Let Die, as Roger Moore was being chased by the bad guys in boats, one of the bad guys parked his car on a road near the water, waiting for Bond’s boat to pass. 

That’s when Sheriff Pepper pulled up. Pepper, overweight, a bit sloppy and with a mouth full of chewing tobacco, walked towards the bad guy and accused him of speeding.

The bad guy, somewhat dismissive of the old sheriff, started to pull out his gun, but Pepper beat him to the draw and had his service revolver out first.

You can watch the funny scene via the below link:

Clifton James, a decorated WWII veteran, also portrayed a more serious cop in The New Centurions, the film based on Joseph Wambaugh’s first novel.

He was a good character actor. RIP.

You can read the Associated Press piece on Clifton James via the below link:

Friday, April 14, 2017

Defendant In Murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry Arrested in Mexico

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

Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, who is charged with participating in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, was taken into custody by Mexican authorities in Chihuahua, Mexico on Wednesday based on a provisional arrest warrant issued at the request of the United States.

“The Department of Justice is pleased that the suspected killer of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry has been captured and will now face justice for this terrible crime,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

“We are grateful for the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. I especially want to commend the government of Mexico and specifically the Mexican Navy (SEMAR) and Mexico’s Office of the Attorney General (PGR) for their courage and their outstanding work in the daring operation that apprehended this dangerous defendant. To anyone who would take the life of an American citizen, in particular an American law enforcement officer, this action sends a clear message: Working closely with our international partners, we will hunt you down, we will find you, and we will bring you to justice.”

Osorio-Arellanes is one of seven defendants charged in the District of Arizona with murder and other crimes arising from the murder of Agent Terry on Dec. 14, 2010. Osorio-Arellanes will be transported to Mexico City for extradition proceedings.

With Osorio-Arellanes’ arrest, six of the seven defendants in this case are in custody:

Defendants Ivan Soto-Barraza and Jesus Lionel Sanchez-Meza were arrested in Mexico and subsequently extradited to the United States in 2014. They were convicted by a jury of first-degree murder and other offenses in December 2015 following a jury trial and were sentenced to life in prison.

Defendants Manuel Osorio-Arellanes and Rosario Rafael Burboa-Alvarez pleaded guilty to first-degree murder; Osorio-Arellanes was sentenced to 360 months in prison, while Burboa-Alvarez was sentenced to 324 months.  Defendant Rito Osorio-Arellanes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and was sentenced to 96 months in prison.

Defendant Jesus Favela-Astorga is a fugitive in Mexico. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service, and Mexican authorities are working to locate this defendant.

“Agent Terry gave his life protecting our country,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson for the Southern District of California. “While we cannot reverse this tragedy, we will not stop until justice is complete in this case.”

The case is being prosecuted by attorneys from the Southern District of California, Special Attorneys Todd W. Robinson and David Leshner. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is recused. The case was investigated by the FBI. The apprehension was a coordinated effort by the Mexican Navy (SEMAR), Mexico’s Office of the Attorney General (PGR), FBI,