Thursday, August 31, 2017

U.S. Nuclear Engineer Sentenced To 24 Months In Prison For Violating The Atomic Energy Act

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

Szuhsiung Ho, aka Allen Ho, 66, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Taiwan, was sentenced today to 24 months in prison and one year of supervised release.  Ho was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.  The defendant pleaded guilty in January 2017 to conspiracy to unlawfully engage or participate in the production or development of special nuclear material outside the U.S., without the required authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in violation of the Atomic Energy Act.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney Nancy Stallard Harr of the Eastern District of Tennessee and Special Agent in Charge Renae McDermott of the FBI’s Knoxville Field Division made the announcement.

“Today, Allen Ho is being held accountable for enlisting U.S.-based nuclear experts to provide assistance in developing and producing special nuclear material in China for a Chinese state-owned nuclear power company. He did so without the required authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente. “Prosecuting those who unlawfully facilitate the acquisition of sensitive nuclear technology by foreign nations continues to be a top priority of the National Security Division.”

“The U.S. Attorney’s office is committed to working to ensure that sensitive and controlled technology is not illegally obtained and exported from the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Harr.  “Violations of our export control laws will be aggressively prosecuted in the Eastern District of Tennessee.”

“Theft of our nuclear technology by foreign adversaries is of paramount concern to the FBI. Along with our local, state and federal partners, we will aggressively investigate those who seek to steal our technology for the benefit of foreign governments,” said Special Agent in Charge McDermott.

An April 2016 indictment charged Ho; China General Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC), the largest nuclear power company in China and Energy Technology International (ETI), a Delaware corporation with these offenses.  At the time of his indictment, Ho was a nuclear engineer, employed as a consultant by CGNPC and was also the owner of ETI.  CGNPC specialized in the development and manufacture of nuclear reactors and was controlled by China’s State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.

According to documents filed in the case, beginning in 1997 and continuing through April 2016, Ho conspired with others to engage or participate in the development or production of special nuclear material in China, without specific authorization to do so from the U.S. Secretary of Energy, as required by law.  He assisted CGNPC in procuring U.S.-based nuclear engineers to assist CGNPC and its subsidiaries with designing and manufacturing certain components for nuclear reactors more quickly by reducing the time and financial costs of research and development of nuclear technology. In particular, Ho sought technical assistance related to CGNPC’s Small Modular Reactor Program; CGNPC’s Advanced Fuel Assembly Program; CGNPC’s Fixed In-Core Detector System; and verification and validation of nuclear reactor-related computer codes.

Under the direction of CGNPC, Ho also identified, recruited and executed contracts with U.S.-based experts from the civil nuclear industry who provided technical assistance related to the development and production of special nuclear material for CGNPC in China.  Ho and CGNPC also facilitated the travel to China and payments to the U.S.-based experts in exchange for their services.

This case was investigated by the FBI, Tennessee Valley Authority-Office of the Inspector General, DOE-National Nuclear Security Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from other agencies.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles E. Atchley Jr. and Bart Slabbekorn of the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Trial Attorney Casey T. Arrowood of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and Attorney Jeffrey M. Smith of the Appellate Unit in the National Security Division prosecuted this case. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The 'Dickens Of Detroit': ‘Justified’ Producers Developing Elmore Leonard Detroit Novels As TV Series

Elmore Leonard is one of my favorite writers, so I was pleased to read Nellie Andreeva's report at on the TV producers of Justified, which was based on an Elmore Leonard short story, who are planning to produce another TV series based on Elmore Leonard’s Detroit novels.

Justified executive producers Carl Beverly and Sarah Timberman are returning to the works of Elmore Leonard, optioning three of the late author’s praised Detroit novels as the basis for a new TV series targeted for cable and streaming networks.

Via their Timberman-Beverly production company, which is based at CBS TV Studios, the duo has optioned Unknown Man #89, Pagan Babies and Mr. Paradise and is actively exploring other Detroit novels by Leonard as well.

Written by Tod “Kip” Williams (Door in the Floor), the series adaptation is envisioned as focusing on one novel each season, with characters occasionally appearing in multiple seasons as they often did in Leonard’s novels. Additionally, novels may spawn related, but narratively original seasons, based on featured or tangential characters and storylines in the original books.

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

Note: I enjoyed Justified and I thought they did justice to Elmore Leonard. I’m looking forward to watching the new series, only I wish they had also optioned City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit, which is one of my favorite Leonard crime novels.  

Ron Previte, The Former Mobster Who Brought Down Three Crime Bosses, Dies at 73

Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia offers a piece at on Ron Previte, who died at 73.

Previte (seen in the above photo), a criminal who helped the FBI convict numerous organized crime figures in Philadelphia and South Jersey, was the subject of Anastasia’s true crime book, The Last Gangster.

Big Ron Previte, the mobster-turned-government-witness whose cooperation brought down three crime bosses and changed the face of the Philadelphia mob, died last week after suffering a heart attack, according to family members and friends.

A former Philadelphia police officer who once said he learned the most about how to be a criminal while working as a cop, Previte was a larger-than-life figure who never tried to sugarcoat who he was or what he had done.

Six-foot tall and sometimes weighing 300 pounds, Previte (pronounced prev-i-tee) was an imposing and intimidating figure, but he also was a shrewd and astute underworld entrepreneur. He described himself as a "general practitioner of crime" and admitted his involvement in almost every mob gambit...with the exception of murder.

"If a guy owes me money and I kill him, how am I gonna get paid?" he asked, explaining that beatings, assaults and intimidation were part of his business, but murder was not.

Born in Southwest Philadelphia, Previte grew up in Hammonton, a South Jersey town that he loved. He opted not to go into the Witness Security Program after testifying in a 2001 racketeering trial that led to the convictions of Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and six co-defendants. Instead, he remained in South Jersey.

"Where am I gonna go?" he asked. "I like it here."

Previte wore a body wire for more than a year, recording conversations for the FBI while helping to make cases against Merlino and titular mob boss Ralph Natale. He often said wearing that wire on a daily basis was the most exciting time of his life.

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

You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of George Anastasia’s The Last Gangster via the below link:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Distorted View Of Concealed Carry: Opponents Of Reciprocity Blur The Difference Between Legal And Illegal Guns

The Washington Times published my piece on legal and illegal guns and the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.

Last month former Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief and former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey offered his view of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The bill will allow a qualified individual to carry a concealed handgun into or possess a concealed handgun in another state that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms.

According to the proposed legislation currently working its way through Congress, a qualified individual must: First, be eligible to possess, transport or receive a firearm under federal law; second, carry a valid photo identification document; and third, carry a valid concealed carry permit issued by, or be eligible to carry a concealed firearm in, his or her state of residence.

… Mr. Ramsey is against the bill, stating that it will have a disastrous impact on public safety and law enforcement. He has a number of concerns and he began his commentary citing the murder two years ago of Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson.

Officer Wilson entered a GameStop store to buy his son a gift and encountered two brothers holding up the store. Officer Wilson attempted to stop the armed robbery and protect the customers and store employees and he was shot dead by the two criminals.

What Mr. Ramsey omitted from his article is that the guns used to murder Officer Wilson were purchased illegally, carried illegally and discharged illegally. The two criminals did not possess a concealed carry license, as they are ineligible as convicted felons.

I respect Mr. Ramsey. I believe he was a good police boss. I interviewed him in his office at Police Headquarters in Philadelphia and I was impressed, but I disagree with his view on concealed carry and its perceived threat to police officers and the public.

Many people who are in favor of gun control — now called “gun safety” by advocates, as it sounds less dictatorial — often fail to differentiate between legal gun ownership and illegal guns used by criminals.

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

Monday, August 28, 2017

Chinese National Arrested On Charges Linked To OPM, Anthem Hacks

Andrew Blake at the Washington Times offers a piece on the arrest of a Chinese national suspected of being involved in the cyber hack of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and other organizations.

The FBI has arrested a Chinese national on charges involving the malware used to hack the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in 2014 and steal personal information pertaining to millions of federal government employees and contractors.

Yu Pingan, apprehended Monday at Los Angeles International Airport after flying in to attend a conference, was in federal court this week to face charges concerning Sakula, a sophisticated piece of malware used by the hackers who pulled off the historic OPM breach as well as the 2015 intrusion suffered by health insurance firm Anthem, among others.

He is charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking, the Justice Department confirmed Thursday.

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

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Christopher Columbus Deserves To Stay In His Rightful Place

Along with statues of Confederate soldiers and Frank Rizzo, the late Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner, there is a movement to discredit Christopher Columbus and remove his statue in New York City. 

It is unfair to judge the morals and actions of an historical figure from another century by 21st century standards. 

Yes, Christopher Columbus was responsible for actions that we would consider unconscionable today, but not by the standards of his century. He was a man of his time.

His accomplishments, discovering and documenting his voyages to the Americas, changed the world for the better. And for that he should be celebrated, in my view.

Laurence Bergreen, the author of Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504, offers a solid defense of Columbus in the New York Post.

Christopher Columbus has been coming under fire for decades, and lately Mayor de Blasio hasn’t ruled out scrapping the iconic 1892 statue of the explorer, in Columbus Circle, as a possible “symbol of hate.” But if Columbus were to come back to today, he would be dumbfounded by both the acclaim and condemnation he’s received over time in a land he never knew existed.

Despite everything, Columbus has a claim to greatness. He was a peerless and fearless navigator, maybe the best ever, able to read the seas and skies with near-perfect understanding, and to make the first documented ocean voyages from Europe to the new world and back. This was at a time when sailing uncross the uncharted Atlantic was like going to the moon, only more dangerous.

It took an incredible amount of courage to sail over the horizon on a quest from which no one else had ever been known to return, and to endure unimaginable hardships along the way.

All earlier efforts to sail to the Indies, as Columbus called his goal, had failed, yet he managed to accomplish this feat not once, but four times, with a minimum loss of life. Along the way he discovered the powerful yet steady trade winds that proved immensely helpful to him and later explorers.

Furthermore, Columbus was a man of deep faith. His name meant “Christ bearer,” and he took his mission to bring Christianity to other parts of the world with the utmost seriousness, to the point of believing he heard God talking to him. For many people, that’s enough to justify his place in the annals of exploration, even if he never did anything else. But he did.

His voyages permanently changed the course of history. Thanks to them, Europe and the Americas were subsequently linked forever through a phenomenon described by Alfred W. Crosby in 1972, known as the Columbian Exchange. This was a vast transfer in both directions between the two continents. Potatoes, tomatoes, and maize all became transplanted from the Americas to Europe, transforming agriculture and cuisine. There was no tomato sauce in Italian cooking, and no chocolate in Switzerland before the Columbian Exchange.

Going the other way, horses, donkeys, pigs, cattle, cats, and dogs spread from Europe to the Americas, transforming economies there. All this was thanks to Columbus.

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

Staying Safe During And After Hurricane Harvey

Navy Live, the official blog of the U.S. Navy, offers information and safety tips for people in the path of Hurricane Harvey.

As Hurricane Harvey reaches the Gulf coast, we want to make sure all coastal Navy personnel and their family members know what to do before, during and after the storm.

You can read the tip sheet via the below link:

Friday, August 25, 2017

U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunters Track Harvey

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney offers the below piece:

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss., Aug. 25, 2017 — Hurricane Harvey began as a scattered collection of clouds drifting across the Atlantic Ocean and in just over a week it has developed into a Category 3 storm.

Members of the Air Force Reserve’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron based here, better known as the Hurricane Hunters, have been investigating Hurricane Harvey since Aug. 17. The data they’ve collected every day has contributed to the National Hurricane Center’s ability to determine the intensity of the storm and predict where it could go.

Hurricane Harvey is predicted to make landfall in the vicinity of Corpus Christi on the Texas coast late tonight or early tomorrow, according to news reports.

President Donald J. Trump and his senior staff are closely monitoring Hurricane Harvey and the preparedness and response efforts of state, local, and federal officials, according to a statement issued by the White House today.

Today, the president was briefed by Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor Thomas P. Bossert, and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, the White House statement said.

Yesterday, the president committed to providing assistance as appropriate during phone conversations with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, according to the statement.

Each 53rd WRS storm mission is flown in a WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft by a crew made up of at least two pilots, a navigator, an aerial reconnaissance weather officer and a loadmaster. Many of these Air Force reservists travel from around the country to be a part of the mission, and only a small percent of the squadron are full-time air reserve technicians. The rest are traditional reservists who show up when called upon and put their civilian jobs and home lives on hold to fly into storms.

Monitoring Harvey

During the 10 flights into Hurricane Harvey so far, the reservists have flown through the eye of the storm dozens of times. During each pass through the eye, the loadmaster releases a device called a dropsonde that measures wind speed and direction, temperature, dew point and pressure. Data collected transmitted to the NHC every ten minutes throughout the duration of the mission.

“The data we collect is essential to the NCH right now because the capabilities of satellites and drones are just not there yet,” said Air Force Maj. Kimberly Spusta, a 53rd WRS aerial reconnaissance weather officer. “To go into the center of the storm to get that data is critical, so the NHC can have the most accurate forecasts possible.”

Hurricane Harvey in particular is a quickly developing storm. After entering the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it took less than 24 hours for the system to grow from a tropical depression into a hurricane.

“As the Hurricane Hunters our data is time sensitive and critical for the NHC,” said Air Force Maj. Kendall Dunn, a 53rd WRS pilot. “This storm is rapidly intensifying. Between the last flight that landed and our flight taking off, the conditions have changed, so it’s important that we continue to send the NCH the most current and accurate data we can.”

Past Storms

Air Force Col. Robert Stanton, 403rd Wing vice commander, said that it’s important to take NHC watches and warnings seriously, because he’s seen, firsthand, the damage that a storm like Hurricane Katrina caused after it made landfall on the Gulf Coast in late August 2005.

“There were so many people that thought because their home had made it through Hurricane Camille in 1969 that they were safe,” he said. “But even though Katrina was only a Category 3 storm and Camille was a [Category 5], the amount of water that she swept up the Gulf Coast was devastating.”

The 53rd WRS will continue to fly Hurricane Harvey and collect data until the storm makes landfall. 

To stay up to date on the most current forecast and tasked missions visit  

Note: In the above U.S. Air Force photo taken by Staff Sgt. Heather Heiney the sun sets just outside Hurricane Harvey during a flight into the storm by the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron’s Hurricane Hunters out of Keesler Air Force Base, Miss on, Aug. 24, 2017 

Happy 87th Birthday To The Great Scot Actor Sean Connery

Happy 87th birthday to Sean Connery, one of my favorite actors.

You can watch a short video of his life and work via the link to below:

My Washington Times Review Of Michael Connelly's 'The Late Show'

The Washington Times published my review of Michael Connelly’s The Late Show.

Crime novelist Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch crime series, offers a new character with Los Angeles Police Detective Renee Ballard in his latest and 30th novel “The Late Show.”

Consigned to the midnight shift in Hollywood — called the “late show” by the cops — as an unofficial punishment after she filed a sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor, Lt. Robert Olivas, Detective Ballard remains a sharp, feisty and dedicated investigator, but she’s stuck performing limited, unsatisfactory work for a once up-and-coming detective and a go-getter who likes to see things through.

As the novel begins the 32-year-old detective deals with a couple of cases that she liked to, needed to, see through to completion and insure that justice is done. But the first problem is her partner on the midnight shift, Detective Jenkins, who is happy with his night job, even volunteered for it, as he had a sick wife at home and he wanted to be home when she woke up in the morning.

 “It was their main point of contention in their partnership. They worked the midnight shift, the late show, moving from case to case, called to any scene where a detective was needed to take initial reports or sign off on suicides. But they kept no cases,” Mr. Connelly writes. “They wrote up the initial reports and turned the cases over to the appropriate investigative units in the morning. Robbery, sexual assault, burglary, auto theft, and so on down the line. Sometimes Ballard wanted to work a case from beginning to end. But that wasn’t the job and Jenkins was never inclined to stray one inch from its definition.”

… Like his Bosch crime novels, the Renee Ballard story is a realistic and largely accurate portrayal of cops working crime, and crime working cops. The novel reminds me somewhat of former LAPD Sgt. Joseph Wambaugh’s classic cop novels. 

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

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Mob Talk Sitdown 3: New Trouble For The Philly Mob

Veteran organized crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser discuss the FBI's elite Squad One looking into unsolved mob murders. They discuss whether there's a new cooperator and what it will take to make the Fed's case.

You can watch the video via the below link:

Fat Leonard Case: Former Assistant Chief Of Staff Of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet Charged In Massive Navy Corruption Scandal; Pleads Guilty To Bribery Conspiracy

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California released the below information on August 18, 2017:

SAN DIEGO – U.S. Navy Captain Jesus Vasquez Cantu (seen in the above U.S. Navy photo in sunglasses) admitted in federal court today that he accepted bribes in the form of parties and prostitutes while sneaking proprietary information to foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis and his Singapore-based firm, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

Twenty-eight individuals, including 21 current and former Navy officials and five civilian defendants, plus GDMA, the corporation, have been charged so far as part of the massive fraud and bribery investigation. Nineteen of these defendants have pleaded guilty. Nine defendants await trial.

Cantu, 59, of Silverdale, Washington, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and is scheduled to be sentenced on November 9, 2017 before U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino.

In his plea agreement, Cantu acknowledged that Francis took him and others out for drinks and dinners at posh restaurants, nightclubs and karaoke bars and paid for lavish hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes on numerous occasions in 2012 and 2013. Cantu admitted that he provided proprietary U.S. Navy information to Francis, and that he used his power and influence to help Francis and GDMA with their business.

“The number of U.S. Navy officials who participated in this conspiracy is astounding,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson. “Like so many others, this defendant sold out the Navy and his country for cocktails and karaoke. We are pressing forward in this investigation until we are certain that all involved have been held accountable.”

“The guilty plea of Jesus Cantu is another sad chapter in the largest fraud and corruption scandal in the U.S. Navy's history,” said Dermot O'Reilly, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, Office of Inspector General, Department of Defense. “While the conduct of the vast majority of U.S. Navy personnel is beyond reproach, the unfortunate truth is that for years Leonard Francis and Glenn Defense Marine Asia, compromised the integrity of numerous members of the U.S. Navy. This investigation continues, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and its law enforcement partners will relentlessly pursue those individuals involved in this massive corruption scandal.”

NCIS Director Andrew Traver said of today’s events, “Captain Cantu, like others caught up in the GDMA scandal, dishonored his sworn oath of office. NCIS, in concert with our partner agencies, remains resolved to following the evidence wherever it may lead, to help hold accountable those who choose personal gratification over duty and professional responsibility.”

According to his plea agreement, Cantu served in the Navy until 2014. During the time he was accepting bribes from Francis in 2012 and 2013, Cantu was the deputy commander, Military Sealift Command (MSC) Far East in Singapore. He oversaw the MSC ships that provided logistical sustainment to Navy ships operating in the Seventh Fleet.

Cantu also admitted in his plea agreement that, in 2007, when he was the Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics for the Commander of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet aboard the USS Blue Ridge, he and others participated in a bribery conspiracy with Francis. Cantu and other members of the conspiracy accepted more than $135,000 in meals, entertainment, travel and hotel expenses, and the services of prostitutes from Francis; in exchange, they worked together to help Francis as issues important to his business arose.

Cantu’s 2007 conduct described in the plea agreement is related to the March 2017 indictment of nine high-ranking Seventh Fleet U.S. Navy officers. Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless and others are accused of conspiring with Francis, trading military secrets and substantial influence for sex parties with prostitutes, extravagant dinners and luxury travel. The others include Captains David Newland, James Dolan, Donald Hornbeck and David Lausman; Colonel Enrico DeGuzman; Lt. Commander Stephen Shedd; Commander Mario Herrera and Chief Warrant Officer Robert Gorsuch. Their cases are pending.

The U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet represents a vital piece of the United States military’s projection of power as well as American foreign policy and national security. The largest numbered fleet in the U.S. Navy, the Seventh Fleet comprises 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft and approximately 40,000 Sailors and Marines. The Seventh Fleet is responsible for U.S. Navy ships and subordinate commands that operate in the Western Pacific throughout Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands, Australia, and Russia and the Indian Ocean territories, as well ships and personnel from other U.S. Navy Fleets that enter the Seventh Fleet’s area of responsibility. The USS Blue Ridge is the command ship of the Seventh Fleet and houses at-sea facilities for Seventh Fleet senior officials.

The other current or retired Navy officials charged so far in the fraud and bribery investigation are U.S. Navy Admiral Robert Gilbeau; Captain Michael Brooks; Captain Daniel Dusek; Commander Michael Misiewicz; Commander Jose Luis Sanchez; Commander Bobby Pitts; Commander David Kapaun; Lt. Commander Gentry Debord; Lt. Commander Todd Malaki; Petty Officer First Class Daniel Layug; NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Beliveau; and Paul Simpkins, a former DoD civilian, who oversaw contracting in Singapore.

All have pleaded guilty. On Jan. 21, 2016, Layug was sentenced to 27 months in prison and a $15,000 fine; on Jan. 29, 2016, Malaki was sentenced to 40 months in prison and to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Navy and a $15,000 fine. On March 25, 2016, Dusek was sentenced to 46 months in prison and to pay $30,000 in restitution to the Navy and a $70,000 fine; and on April 29, 2016, Misiewicz was sentenced to 78 months in prison and to pay a fine of $100,000 and to pay $95,000 in restitution to the Navy. Beliveau was sentenced on October 14, 2016 to 12 years in prison and to pay $20 million in restitution; Simpkins was sentenced on December 2, 2016 to 72 months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $50,000, to forfeit $450,000 of the proceeds of the criminal activity, and to pay $450,000 in restitution to the U.S. Navy; Gilbeau was sentenced on May 17 to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay a $100,000 fine and $50,000 in restitution to the Navy; and Brooks was sentenced on June 16 to 41 months in prison and ordered to pay a $41,000 fine and $31,000 in restitution to the Navy. Sanchez, Pitts and Kapaun await sentencing.

Also charged are five GDMA executives – Francis, Alex Wisidagama, Ed Aruffo, Neil Peterson and Linda Raja. All have pleaded guilty; Wisidagama was sentenced on March 18, 2016 to 63 months and $34.8 million in restitution to the Navy; Peterson and Raja were extradited from Singapore in 2016 and sentenced on August 11 to 70 months and 46 months in prison, respectively. Francis and Aruffo await sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California and Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Take An Ernest Hemingway-Inspired Trip to Key West

Back in 1978 I ventured to Key West, Florida with some friends. I was lured to the Keys as I love the sea, swimming, scuba diving, boating, drinking in island bars and tropical weather.

I was also keen on visiting Key West as I was and am a Hemingway aficionado. I grew up reading Ernest Hemingway’s novels and short stories and I wanted to see his old Key West home, which is now a museum.

I brought along my paperback copy of Hemingway's novel, To Have and Have Not, a crime and sea story set in Key West. 

I had a wonderful time in Key West and I’d love to visit again with my wife.

So I was interested in a piece by Kim Brown Seely at on Key West and Hemingway. 
“In the early winter of that year I rented a flat in a town that looked across the sea and the Gulf Stream to Cuba. In the front yard of the flat there were palmettos and palms, tall and thin in the sun, and the shade was cool and quiet and lovely in the heat. Bikes went by the house and down the road and the riders' voices stirred the leaves on the trees. There were chickens in the road and small white lights on the fence and the bikes scattered the chickens not to mention the cats,” Ernest Hemingway.

You will start writing like this (and thinking like this and even dreaming without commas), I discovered, rereading Hemingway in Key West. It's a lovely experiment. Hemingway says things are lovely a lot, and they are. "It's the best place I've been any time, anywhere," he wrote of the Florida Island. "Flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms … Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks."

Lured by the myth of the man, I packed up The Old Man and the Sea and took a sort of reverse literary pilgrimage from my home near Ketchum, Idaho (where Papa spent his final days), to the southernmost tip of the continental United States, where he lived from 1928 to 1939. Like legions of writers before me, I packed books, notebooks and pens, shorts … but mostly books. Seeking traces of the colossal writer, I rented a cottage with a 1930s vibe, including lazy ceiling fans and a vintage 1939 palm garden framing mustard yellow shutters. After I traded snow boots for flip-flops and had some coffee at the table in the garden while turning pages that felt like old friends, I remembered why I've always loved Hemingway.

RELATED: The 15 Best Things to Do in Key West

Hemingway wrote all or part of five books, a play, and two of his most famous short stories in Key West. It was also here that he forged his macho image: fishing, drinking, carousing. What is it about this laid-back subtropical town? I wonder, happily walking the few short blocks from my cottage to Salute! On the Beach, a funky shack alleged to be a writer's hangout. I don't see any writers (at least none I recognize), just boisterous lunchgoers at open-air tables drinking mojitos. The view looks straight to Cuba, 90 miles across the Straits of Florida, and sitting here it's easy to envision Papa fishing aboard his beloved Pilar or, later, writing at his desk at Finca VigĂ­a, the home he built outside Havana when Key West grew too crowded for him.

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

You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of Hemingway's letters below:

And you can read my Crime Beat column on Hemingway and crime via the below link:

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Is Someone Hacking Our 7th Fleet? Navy To Investigate After USS John S McCain Collision

Are the recent U.S. Navy 7th Fleet ship collisions due to our Navy ships being hacked by an adversary? Russia? China? North Korea? Iran?

Or are the collisions simply due to an eight-year degrade of military standards, where Obama’s top policy leaders were far more interested in forcing social change than warfighting, and sailors attended far more sensitivity and other social-awareness training than ship handling training? We shall see.

Edmund DeMarche at offers a piece on the U.S. Navy looking to a possible cyber-attack and other reasons for the collision.

A top U.S. Navy admiral on Monday called for a swift and thorough investigation into Monday's collision of the USS John S. McCain into an oil tanker near Singapore-- marking the second deadly mishap that occurred in the Pacific in the past three months.

Adm. John Richardson ordered an operational pause in all the fleets around the world while the Navy works to determine the factors behind the collision. Richardson tweeted that the Navy will conduct a wide investigation, including a review into the possibility of "cyber intrusion or sabotage."

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

Note: The above U.S. Navy photo shows the damaged USS John S. McCain. 

'Victory Will have A Clear Definition': President Trump Unveils New Afghanistan, South Asia Strategy

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21, 2017 — President Donald J. Trump unveiled an expansive new strategy for South Asia aimed at bolstering American security.

The new strategy encompasses Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, the Central Asian nations and extends into Southeast Asia. He stressed the strategy will not have artificial timelines built into it.

Trump spoke before a crowd of hundreds of service members at Conmy Hall at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.

Trump said the American people are frustrated by the nation’s longest war in Afghanistan, calling it a war without victory. The new strategy, he said, is a path toward victory and will step away from a policy of nation building.

The new strategy, Trump said, is a result of a study he ordered immediately after he was inaugurated in January. The strategy is based on three precepts.

“First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives,” Trump said. “The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory. They deserve the tools they need and the trust they have earned to fight and to win.”

No Hasty Exit

Trump said the second precept is that a hasty exit from Afghanistan would simply allow terrorists to flood back into that country and begin planning attacks on America and its allies and partners.

The third precept, he said, concerns the threats emanating from the region, which are immense and must be confronted.

“Today, 20 U.S-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the highest concentration in any region anywhere in the world,” the president said. “For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen.”

The United States and its allies and partners are committed to defeating these terrorist groups, Trump said.

“Terrorists who slaughter innocent people will find no glory in this life or the next,” he said. “They are nothing but thugs and criminals and predators and -- that's right -- losers.”

Trump added, “Working alongside our allies, we will break their will, dry up their recruitment, keep them from crossing our borders, and, yes, we will defeat them, and we will defeat them handily.”

In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States will work to stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America, Trump said.

“And we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us, or anywhere in the world, for that matter,” he said.

Conditions-Based Strategy

Trump emphasized the strategy will be conditions based and not set to a timetable. “I've said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end military options,” the president said. “We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on. America's enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.”

Trump said the new strategy will involve all aspects of American power, employing diplomacy, economic might, intelligence and military power to advance American interests and ensure the safety of the homeland and American allies and partners.

The United States, he added, will continue to support the Afghan government and its military.

“Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future, to govern their society and to achieve an everlasting peace,” Trump said. “We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.”

Trump said Pakistan is a major concern, and he said Pakistan must stop providing safe havens for terrorists who rest and refit for actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan,” the president said. “It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.”

Pakistan Must Change

Trump noted that Pakistan has worked with the United States in the past, but the nation’s policies must change.

“No partnership can survive a country's harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials,” Trump said. “It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order and to peace.”

Trump said India will be a key component in any strategy in the region, and the president wants to work with India’s leaders to provide more economic assistance and targeted development to the people of Afghanistan.

“We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

The president pledged that service members will have the rules of engagement they need to take swift, decisive actions. “I have already lifted restrictions the previous administration placed on our warfighters that prevented the secretary of defense and our commanders in the field from fully and swiftly waging battle against the enemy,” he said. “Micromanagement from Washington, D.C., does not win battles. They're won in the field, drawing upon the judgment and expertise of wartime commanders, and front-line soldiers, acting in real time with real authority, and with a clear mission to defeat the enemy.”

‘Victory Will Have a Clear Definition’

The president described what he believes victory will look like. “From now on, victory will have a clear definition: Attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaida, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge,” he said.

NATO allies and global partners like Australia will support the new strategy and have already pledged additional troops and funding increases, the president said.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he has directed Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to prepare to carry out the president’s strategy. “I will be in consultation with the secretary general of NATO and our allies -- several of which have also committed to increasing their troop numbers,” Mattis said in a written statement. “Together, we will assist the Afghan security forces to destroy the terrorist hub.”

The president concluded his speech speaking directly to service members in the hall and around the world.

“With our resolve, we will ensure that your service and that of your families will bring about the defeat of our enemies and the arrival of peace,” Trump said. “We will push onward to victory with power in our hearts, courage in our souls and everlasting pride in each and every one of you.” 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Crime Prevention: Social Security Administration Offers Scam Alerts

The Social Security Administration is offering a web page on scams.

Social Security is committed to protecting the information and resources entrusted to us, including your personal information and investment. However, scam artists might try to trick you into sharing your personal information or money. We’re here to help you identify and report these kinds of schemes.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has a new web page with tips on how to protect yourself from theft schemes, how to report scams, and recent fraud advisories. This is in response to an ongoing phone scheme, where individuals receive a call with a recorded message claiming to be from the OIG.

You can visit the scam web page via the below link:

Colin Pitchfork Should Stay In Prison Until He Is 'Too Old To Be A Threat', Says Joseph Wambaugh, Who Wrote Best-Selling Book On The Case

The British newspaper the Leicester Mercury offers a piece on novelist Joseph Wambaugh’s reaction to an English murderer’s possible release.

Double-killer Colin Pitchfork (seen in the above photo) remains dangerous and should be kept in prison “until he’s too old to be a threat”, according to an American author (seen in the below photo) who wrote a best-selling account of his crimes.

Joseph Wambaugh’s 1989 book, The Blooding, told how Pitchfork was brought to justice for raping and murdering Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, both 15, thanks to revolutionary DNA fingerprinting. 

Pitchfork, the Leicester Mercury reported last week, is now deemed ready to take unescorted days out from the open prison where he is currently being held.

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

10 Missing, 5 Injured After USS John S. McCain Collides With Merchant Ship

The U.S. 7th Fleet released the below information:

SOUTH CHINA SEA, Aug. 21, 2017 — Ten sailors are missing and five others were injured after the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore today, U.S. 7th Fleet officials said.

Four of the injured sailors were medically evacuated by a Singapore Armed Forces helicopter to a hospital in Singapore for non-life-threatening injuries, officials said. The fifth injured sailor does not require further medical attention, they added.

The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time -- 5:24 p.m. EDT Aug. 20 -- while the ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore.

The ship headed under its own power to Changi Naval Base, 7th Fleet officials said, and no fuel or oil was visible on the water’s surface near the ship.

Assistance From Singapore

Search and rescue efforts are underway in coordination with local authorities. In addition to tug boats out of Singapore, RSN Fearless-class patrol ships RSS Gallant and RSS Resilience, Singaporean navy helicopters and the Singaporean Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark are in the area to render assistance.

An MH-60S helicopter from the amphibious assault ship USS America is in the area providing search and rescue assistance. An additional MH-60S helicopter and MV-22 Osprey are expected to arrive soon, officials said.

Alnic MC is a Liberian-flagged 600-foot oil and chemical tanker with a gross tonnage of 30,000. Initial reports indicate damage to USS John S. McCain's port side aft. Damage control efforts continue while the extent of damage is being determined, officials said, and the incident will be investigated. 

Super Hornet Air Power Demonstration

In the above U.S. Navy photo an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the "Tomcatters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 breaks the sound barrier above the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) during an air power demonstration.

The ship and its carrier strike group are returning home from a seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.

The above photo was taken by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage.  

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

Researchers Find Wreckage Of USS Indianapolis

The Navy News Service offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2017 — Civilian researchers led by entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul G. Allen have announced they have found the wreck of the World War II cruiser USS Indianapolis, which was lost July 30, 1945.

This is a significant discovery, officials said, considering the depth of the water in the area in which the ship was lost: more than 18,000 feet. About 800 of the ship's 1,196 sailors and Marines survived the sinking, but after four to five days in the water -- suffering exposure, dehydration, drowning and shark attacks -- only 316 survived.

The wreck was located by the expedition crew of Research Vessel Petrel, which is owned by Allen, 2,000 feet below the surface, resting on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean.

"To be able to honor the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling," Allen said. "As Americans, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the crew for their courage, persistence and sacrifice in the face of horrendous circumstances. While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming."

Ship Sank in 12 Minutes

The ship was lost in the final days of World War II when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the early morning hours of July 30, 1945. It sank in 12 minutes, making it impossible to send a distress signal or deploy much of its life-saving equipment. Prior to the attack, the Indianapolis had just completed a secret mission delivering components of the atomic bomb used in Hiroshima that ultimately would help to end the war in the Pacific.

"Even in the worst defeats and disasters, there is valor and sacrifice that deserves to never be forgotten," said Sam Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command. "They can serve as inspiration to current and future sailors enduring situations of mortal peril. There are also lessons learned -- and in the case of the Indianapolis, lessons re-learned -- that need to be preserved and passed on, so the same mistakes can be prevented and lives saved."

Others have searched for Indianapolis in the past. Among the elements that made this effort different was Allen's recent acquisition and retrofit of the 250-foot R/V Petrel with state-of-the-art subsea equipment capable of diving 3 and a half miles.

Culmination of Lengthy Effort

"The Petrel and its capabilities -- the technology it has and the research we've done -- are the culmination years of dedication and hard work," said Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for Allen. "We've assembled and integrated this technology, assets and unique capability into [an] operating platform, which is now one amongst very few on the planet."

The other key factor in the discovery was information that surfaced in 2016 when Dr. Richard Hulver, historian with the Naval History and Heritage Command, conducted research that led to a new search area to the west of the original presumed position. Hulver's research identified a naval landing craft that had recorded a sighting of Indianapolis hours before it was torpedoed. Using that information, the research team developed a new position and estimated search, which was still a daunting 600 square miles of open ocean.

Allen-led expeditions have also resulted in the discovery of the Japanese battleship Musashi in March 2015 and the Italian World War II destroyer Artigliere in March of this year. His team also was responsible for retrieving and restoring the ship's bell from the HMS Hood for presentation to the British navy in honor of its heroic service. Allen's expedition team recently was transferred to the newly acquired and retrofitted R/V Petrel specifically for continuing exploration and research efforts.

Surveying Wreckage Site

The 13-person expedition team on the R/V Petrel is surveying the full site and will conduct a live tour of the wreckage in the next few weeks, officials said.

Their work is compliant with U.S. law, respecting the sunken ship as a war grave and not disturbing the site, officials added. USS Indianapolis remains the property of the U.S. Nav,y and its location will remain confidential and restricted by the Navy. The crew of the R/V Petrel has collaborated with Navy authorities throughout its search operations and will continue to work on plans to honor the 22 crew members still alive today, as well as the families of all those who served on the highly decorated cruiser.

The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy's contributions through the nation's history, and it supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. The command is composed of many activities, including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archaeology, Navy histories, 10 museums, the USS Constitution repair facility and the historic ship Nautilus.