Friday, January 31, 2020

DEA: Longest Cross-Border Tunnel Discovered In San Diego

The DEA released the below information:

SAN DIEGO – After a challenging multi-year, inter-agency investigation, utilizing technology capabilities, intelligence gathering, and community outreach, law enforcement partners on the San Diego Tunnel Task Force have exposed the longest illicit cross-border tunnel ever discovered along the Southwest border.

The tunnel originates in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico in an industrial area approximately one-half-mile west of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. Following the discovery in late August 2019, Mexican law enforcement identified the tunnel entrance and members of the SDTTF began mapping the tunnel from Mexico. Concealed by a small industrial building, the tunnel travels north into the United States, bending slightly west and extending an astonishing 4,068 feet from the border, with a total length of 4,309 feet – over three-quarters of a mile. The next longest tunnel in the United States, discovered in San Diego in 2014, was 2,966 feet long.

The tunnel, that is approximately five and a half feet tall and two feet wide, has an average depth of 70 feet from the surface. It includes an extensive rail/cart system, forced air ventilation, high voltage electrical cables and panels, an elevator at the tunnel entrance, and a complex drainage system.

“As efforts to strengthen security on our Southern Border increase, Mexican drug cartels are forced underground to smuggle their deadly drugs into the United States,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery. “The sophistication of this tunnel demonstrates the determination and monetary resources of the cartels. And although the cartels will continue to use their resources to try and breach our border, the DEA and our partners on the Tunnel Task Force will continue to use our resources to ensure they fail, that our border is secure, and that tunnels like this are shut down to stem the flow of deadly drugs entering the United States.”

SDTTF, an inter-agency unit consisting of agents from DEA, United States Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, and the United States Attorney’s Office, uncovered the location of the tunnel after months of investigations and tireless law enforcement efforts.

An offshoot from the main tunnel was discovered at approximately 3,529 feet into the United States. This offshoot traveled several feet then came to an end without breaching the surface. 

The main tunnel extended another city block, at which point agents discovered several hundred sand bags blocking the suspected former exit of the tunnel in the Otay Mesa warehouse district within the United States.

No arrests or seizures have been made in light of the discovery of this tunnel.

“I am thrilled that this high level narco-tunnel has been discovered and will be rendered unusable for cross-border smuggling. I am proud of the tremendous efforts of the Tunnel Task Force and our agents,” said USBP Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke. “The investigation continues, and I am confident that our hard work and dedication to uphold the law will lead to future arrests and seizures.”

 “I am thrilled that this high level narco-tunnel has been discovered and will be rendered unusable for cross-border smuggling. I am proud of the tremendous efforts of the Tunnel Task Force and our agents,” said USBP Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke. “The investigation continues, and I am confident that our hard work and dedication to uphold the law will lead to future arrests and seizures.”

“While subterranean tunnels are not a new occurrence along the California-Mexico border, the sophistication and length of this particular tunnel demonstrates the time-consuming efforts transnational criminal organizations will undertake to facilitate cross-border smuggling,” said HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Cardell T. Morant. “This discovery underscores the importance of the partnerships HSI has with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, United States Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Administration, and other regional agencies, as collaborative investigations and community outreach are key to combating this type of threat.”

Thursday, January 30, 2020

A Little Humor: What Johnny Wants To Be When He Grows Up

A teacher asked her class, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” 

Johnny spoke up first and said, “I wanna be a billionaire, go to the most expensive clubs, take the hottest ho with me, give her a Ferrari, an apartment in Hawaii, a mansion in Paris, a jet to travel through Europe, an Infinite Visa Card and have sex with her three times a day.”

The teacher was taken aback and not knowing quite what to do, she decided not to take notice of Johnny’s outrageous ambitions and moved on.

“And you, Susie? What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Susie replied, I wanna be Johnny’s ho.”

Note: The above photo is of Jay North, TV’s Dennis the Menace, and Jeannie Russell as Margaret. 

FBI: Leader Of Fraud Ring Sentenced - Protect Yourself From Business Email Compromise Schemes

The FBI released the below information:
A leader of an international criminal network that stole millions of dollars from two American businesses while pretending to be a legitimate vendor is now in prison.
Evaldas Rimasauskas was one of the orchestrators of the Lithuania-based business email compromise (BEC) scheme. Beginning in 2013, his employees regularly called the victim companies’ customer service numbers to glean as much information as they could about the companies. They asked for details like names of key employees and their contact information.
They also sent phishing emails that gave them access to the companies’ email systems—giving the fraudsters an even bigger trove of information about the victim companies.
“It was a big, sophisticated research effort,” said Special Agent Jonathan Polonitza, who investigated this case out of the FBI’s New York Field Office.
Armed with these details and two years of research, one of the fraudsters simply called the companies pretending to be a vendor. The caller told each company to change their bank account information for an upcoming payment.
The two companies wired several payments to the fraudulent accounts, adding up to more than $120 million.
And this is where Rimasauskas came in: He was in charge of setting up the fraudulent accounts and then immediately laundering the funds all over the world.
Luckily, the companies notified the FBI of the email intrusions. Investigators froze some of the funds before Rimasauskas and his associates could move the money. Rimasaukas had created a vast paper trail, including contracts, invoices, and other documents to try to make the transactions look legitimate.
But the FBI worked closely with partner agencies around the world to investigate Rimasaukas’ operation and bring him to the United States for prosecution. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges and was sentenced last December to five years in prison.
“Unfortunately, this is happening to a lot of companies because it’s a crime that can be committed from the other side of the world,” Polonitza said. “They also work very hard to remain anonymous.”
BEC is a growing crime—with a staggering price tag. Between 2013 and 2019, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received complaints of more than $10 billion in losses from the crime.
But there are things you can do to protect yourself and your business. And if you are victimized, it’s critical to notify law enforcement as soon as possible. In some cases, money can be recovered.
“It’s very important to be careful in opening any email attachments,” Polonitza said. “If something is suspicious, alert your company’s security. If you are a victim in a case like this, the sooner we know, the sooner we can help.”
If you or your company is affected by business email compromise, contact law enforcement immediately and file a complaint online with the IC3 at
Protect Yourself from BEC
The Internet Crime Complaint Center offers the following tips for both companies and individuals to stay safe from hackers looking to steal your money:
  • Use two-factor authentication to verify any changes to account information or wire instructions.
  • Check the full email address on any message and check the hyperlinks for spelling.
  • Never give login credentials or personal information in response to a text or email.
  • Monitor all financial accounts.
  • Keep all software and systems up to date. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson And His Wife Indicted In Wide-Ranging Fraud And Bribery Case Also Involving Former Universal Companies Executives:Councilman Johnson Accused Of Taking Bribes, Using Public Office To Benefit Universal (Yes, Yet Another South Philly Rep Indicted - See Link To My Crime Beat Column Below)

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of PA released the below link:
PHILADELPHIA— First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced this morning that former Universal Community Homes Chief Executive Officer and Board President Abdur Rahim Islam, 62, of Philadelphia, PA; former Chief Financial Officer and Secretary of Universal’s Board Shahied Dawan, 68, of Philadelphia, PA; Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, 46, and his spouse, political consultant Dawn Chavous, 40, both of Philadelphia, PA; were charged today in a twenty-two-count indictment alleging a wide-ranging racketeering conspiracy and related crimes including bribery, honest services fraud, multiple counts of wire fraud, and tax offenses.
The charges were announced at a press conference held by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams, FBI Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Christian Zajac, and IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Guy Ficco.
According to the Indictment, the charges stem from criminal schemes orchestrated by Islam and Dawan through Universal Companies which included thousands of dollars in bribe payments to public officials and the misappropriation of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Universal. The Indictment, summarized briefly below, describes the various schemes.
“As alleged in the Indictment, Universal Companies, including its real estate and education arms, constituted a RICO enterprise, hijacked by the defendants Islam and Dawan to engage in a pattern of criminal activity that spanned two states and several years. In pursuing their criminal objectives, Islam and Dawan bribed public officials, including Johnson, with Universal’s funds, and hid those bribes as consulting fees paid through Chavous’ consulting firm,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams. “These charges are based on a pattern of activity which violates multiple federal and state laws including mail fraud, honest services mail fraud, honest services wire fraud, wire fraud, obstruction of justice, bribery, and use of an interstate facility in aid of racketeering.”
“What we have here is four people pretending their motives were purely civic-minded, when, in fact, they were unlawfully conspiring to enrich themselves,” said Christian D. Zajac, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “As alleged in the indictment, Abdur Rahim Islam and Shahied Dawan stole nearly half a million dollars from Universal — money for themselves, and to use as bribes to further their financial pursuits. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson accepted their payoffs and based his official actions on those bribes, with Dawn Chavous providing him cover. The FBI is committed to fighting public corruption at every level, and we would ask anyone with knowledge of wrongdoing by public officials to call the FBI, or share the information online at”
“IRS-Criminal Investigation is proud to have provided its financial expertise in this investigation,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Guy Ficco. “We, along with our law enforcement partners and the Department of Justice, are committed to aggressively investigating individuals who engage in corruption, tax fraud, or other types of white-collar crimes.”
Bribery and Honest Services Fraud in Philadelphia
Islam and Dawan are charged with engaging in a corrupt scheme in which Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and his spouse, Dawn Chavous, received payments in excess of $66,000 in exchange for Johnson using his public office to take official actions to benefit Islam, Dawan, and Universal, including but not limited to: introducing and voting upon spot zoning legislation related to the Royal Theater, a property formerly held by Universal, and blocking reversion to the City of Philadelphia of another property held by Universal after it failed to develop the property pursuant to its agreement with the City of Philadelphia;
Bribery and Honest Services Fraud in Milwaukee
Islam and Dawan are also charged with engaging in a corrupt scheme in which Michael Bonds, the former president of the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) Board of Directors, received approximately $18,000 in exchange for Bonds using his official position to take a series of official actions advantageous to Islam, Dawan, and Universal, including but not limited to: advocating for and voting in favor of Universal’s expansion of charter school operations in Milwaukee, motioning the MPS Board to lease MPS property to Islam, Dawan, and Universal, motioning the MPS Board to approve more favorable lease terms to the benefit of Islam, Dawan, and Universal, and voting in favor of the more favorable lease terms;
Theft and Embezzlement at Universal
Also according to the Indictment, between 2010 and 2016, Islam drew significant sums of money from Universal in the form of bonuses and travel or expense reimbursements, in addition to his annual salary. Although Universal’s Board of Directors was charged with reviewing and approving Universal’s financials and major initiatives on a quarterly or annual basis, defendants Islam and Dawan used their positions as CEO and CFO, respectively, to pay themselves bonuses without the approval or knowledge of the Board. Islam and Dawan paid themselves annual five-figure bonuses even while Universal was hemorrhaging money due to the failed charter school expansion in Milwaukee.
The Indictment also alleges that Islam and Dawan used Universal’s funds to pay Islam excessive, inflated, or outright fraudulent reimbursements for “travel” or other purported “business expenses.”  Islam would pad his “expenses” related to the operation of Universal, including its charter schools, with a variety of personal expenses that should not have been reimbursed. For example, Islam submitted his personal car insurance, political contributions, personal vacations, and gym memberships as “business expenses,” which were reimbursed by Universal and also not included as income on his IRS Forms 1040. Islam’s “reimbursements” were reviewed and approved by Dawan outside the standard procedures for Universal and without proper and detailed supporting documentation. Islam and Dawan also authorized Islam to receive large sums of “pocket money” or per diem from Universal. In total, Islam and Dawan stole approximately $463,000.
If convicted as charged, the defendant face the following statutory maximum sentences:
·         Islam: 303 years’ imprisonment; 3 years supervised release, a $4,350,000 fine, and a $2,100 special assessment;

·         Dawan: 285 years’ imprisonment; 3 years supervised release, a $3,750,000 fine, and a $1,500 special assessment;

·         Johnson: 40 years’ imprisonment; 3 years supervised release, a $500,000 fine, and a $200 special assessment;

·         Chavous: 40 years’ imprisonment; 3 years supervised release, a $500,000 fine, and a $200 special assessment.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division conducted this investigation. The FBI and IRS received assistance from the Department of Education Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Eric L. Gibson and Mark B. Dubnoff are prosecuting the case. Trial Attorney Ivana Nizich of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section in the Department of Justice provided assistence.                                                                   
An Indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

You can read about previous prosecuted Philadelphia politicians via the below link to my Crime Beat column:

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Former Philadelphia Zoning Board Of Adjustments Chairman Sentenced To More Than One Year In Prison For Theft, Tax Fraud

The US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania released the below information:
PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Dr. James E. Moylan, 57, a Philadelphia chiropractor and the former Chair of the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustments, was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, $52,898 restitution to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union Local 98, and $77,885 restitution (plus penalties and interest) to the IRS by United States District Court Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl for stealing civic funds and filing false federal income tax returns. 
The defendant was charged by Indictment in January 2019 with 17 counts of wire fraud and four counts of filing false federal income tax returns.  In October 2019, Moylan pleaded guilty to all charges, admitting that he defrauded both Local 98 and a related entity – 298, Inc., a non-profit organization – of more than $50,000 in funds which he claimed he would use for community support and education, but which he actually used to pay his personal mortgage and business expenses. Moylan also filed false federal income tax returns for the years 2012 through 2015, in which he underreported more than $200,000 in income and claimed false business expenses.  
“Moylan knew what his responsibilities were as a public official and as a taxpayer, and he ignored them for his own personal benefit,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams. “In doing so, he cheated a non-profit organization meant to benefit the entire community, and he cheated all taxpayers by lying to the IRS. This office and our partners will continue aggressively investigating and prosecuting fraudsters who choose to line their pockets rather than operate honestly.”
“Mr. Moylan’s failure to pay his fair share of taxes is a slap in the face to honest and law-abiding citizens who do not shirk their tax obligations,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Guy Ficco. “The sentence he received today underscores our relentless pursuit of those who would attempt to defraud America's tax system.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Paul L. Gray, Frank R. Costello, and Bea Witzleben. 
Note: You can also read the Philadelphia Inquirer piece on the sentencing via the below link: 

Otto Penzler, The Champion Of Crime Stories: My Washington Times On Crime Column On The Noted Editor And Publisher

The Washington Times published my On Crime column on Otto Penzler.

I’ve often been told that short-story collections don’t sell, which is disheartening, as I love short stories and 10 of my crime-fiction short stories have appeared in online magazines.

Otto Penzler, the president and CEO of and the owner of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, disagrees with that notion, as his anthologies of short stories sell quite well.

He is the editor of a good number of anthologies, such as “The Big Book of Reel Murders: Stories That Inspired Great Crime Films,” which I reviewed here, as well as “The Big Book of Pulps,” “The Big Book of Female Detectives,” “The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories” and “The Big Book of Jack the Ripper.” He also edits “The Best American Mystery Stories of the Year” series, the “Best American Crime Reporting” series, and other collections.

Otto Penzler has for decades been the champion of crime stories. The Mystery Writers of America presented him with two Edgar Awards, one for his “Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection” in 1977 and another for “The Lineup” in 2010. The Mystery Writers of America also presented him with the Ellery Queen Award in 1994 and the Raven, the organization’s highest non-writing award, in 2003.

I asked Otto Penzler how “The Big Book” series began. 

“It started when a British publisher asked if I could do a collection of pulp stories,” Mr. Penzler recalled. “He said do one on detectives. I barely started and he said do another one on women in pulps, and then while you’re at it, do one on villains. I produced three books and each one was about 500 pages. My agent saw these and said we should get an American publisher. The editor of Vintage liked the books and wanted to make them into one big book. He published the first “Big Book,” “The Big Book of Pulps.”

Otto Penzler said the book was so successful that his editor asked him to next edit “The Big Book of Black Masks Stories.”

“The ‘Big Books’ are a terrific bargain,” Mr. Penzler said. “It is like buying six books.”

I asked him how he selected the stories for his anthologies.

“I’ve been doing this for more than 50 years. I’ve been a reader, a collector, an editor, a publisher, and a book seller,” Mr. Penzler said. “I’ve read voraciously for many years and my collection is nearly 60,000 volumes of first editions of mystery, thriller, espionage and suspense.

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

You can also read my reviews of books Otto Penzler edited via the below links:

Monday, January 27, 2020

Cold War Spying In The Spy Capitol Of The World: My Washington Times Review Of 'Betrayal In Berlin'

The Washington Times ran published my review of Betrayal in Berlin:

As a teenager in the 1960s, I was a devoted reader of spy thrillers by Graham Greene, Ian Fleming, Len Deighton, Donald Hamilton, John le Carre and others. The spy thrillers led me to read about the Cold War and true espionage stories. 

Later, while serving in the U.S. Navy in Scotland in the mid-1970s, I went on leave and visited Berlin. As a student of espionage, I was drawn to Berlin, as the German city was the spy capital of the world at the time. I visited the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, and the bars where criminals and spies gathered to drink, eat and swap secrets.

Steve Vogel’s “Betrayal in Berlin: The True Story of the Cold War’s Most Audacious Espionage Operation” took me back to Berlin, although the historical events of this story take place in 1955-56.

Mr. Vogel opens his book with what was known in intelligence lore as “Black Friday,” when the Soviets changed their cryptographic systems in 1948.

Since 1943, Mr. Vogel explains, the U.S. had been intercepting and decrypting secret Soviet radio communications, which gave American officials a comprehensive understanding of the Soviet military and intelligence agencies.

The U.S. Army Security Agency was producing valuable intelligence in a program call VENONA. VENONA exposed Soviet spies such as Klaus Fuchs, who gave up atomic secrets to the Soviets, and Donald Maclean, the first of the British Cambridge spy ring to be suspected. But then the Soviets stopped using UHF radio and began to communicate with Moscow via landlines.

American investigators believed it was a routine systems upgrade, but they later learned that VENONA had been betrayed by two Soviet spies. One was William Weisland, a Russian linguist working for the Army Security Agency. The second spy was Harold “Kim” Philby, a British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) officer who was the liaison to the CIA and FBI in Washington.

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

Saturday, January 25, 2020

FBI: The Bureau And The Great Experiment: How Prohibition Fueled Bootleggers, Mobsters, And Corruption

The FBI provided a look back at Prohibition:
For some, it was the start of a “great experiment” that would free society from the ills of demon alcohol. For other Americans, it was a time to mourn the loss of an integral part of their lives and social cultures.
For another group—those willing to violate the law—Prohibition was a chance to grow rich and live the high life at the expense of law and order. 
A century ago this January, the Volstead Act authorized the federal government to ban the manufacture and sale of intoxicating beverages.
The Bureau of Investigation (BOI)—the FBI’s predecessor—had already been investigating certain liquor-related matters. During World War I, the Bureau helped enforce the Selective Service Act, which included sections aimed at keeping American soldiers dry so they would be fit for fighting. In the Alaskan territories, the BOI worked with Canadian law enforcement to intercept smuggled booze. And as the Volstead Act started to go into effect, it pursued these new criminal violations as well.
As Prohibition really kicked off, the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Internal Revenue took over enforcement duties, supported by BOI where the Bureau of Internal Revenue was stretched thin.
By the end of the first six months of Prohibition, BOI special agents had conducted investigations that led to the arrests of 269 people for violations of federal prohibition laws and reported an additional 334 possible violators to the Bureau of Internal Revenue for further investigation.
Over the next several years, the BOI found that prohibition violations often involved other crimes. In one case, the Detroit Field Office investigated a Michigan sheriff’s office where four deputies and two former deputies participated in a fake raid to steal bootlegged alcohol for themselves. Bureau agents secured their arrest—and a large supply of contraband booze smuggled in from Canada. All the deputies received fines and jail time.
The Bureau’s emergency role in enforcing the Volstead Act also led to significant cases. In Savannah, over the course of 1922, more than 50 agents were called in to investigate a large-scale conspiracy to violate prohibition laws. By the summer of 1924, 142 people had been sentenced for criminal violations related to the case.
The BOI also found that when they investigated the ownership of cars seized in bootlegging operations, some of the cars had been stolen. And of all the criminal matters linked to prohibition, fugitives were the most significant concern as the Bureau worked with the U.S. Marshals and others to track bootleggers who went on the lam.
Impersonation of a federal officer was another problem as criminals would sometimes represent themselves as federal officers to extort money or otherwise threaten their fellow-criminals or members of the general public. A few deeply corrupt individuals, like Gaston Means, used their legitimate connections to the federal government to conduct criminal work.
Means had a long record of unsavory and unlawful actions even before Prohibition—he was accused of spying for Germany, he was suspected of murdering a widow and forging her will (which left him a sizable inheritance), and he was a close and shady confidant of U.S. Attorney General Harry Daugherty.
With this connection, Means became a Bureau agent in 1921 and was soon using his position to extort significant sums of cash from bootleggers in return for promises of using his influence to get them out of jail. When J. Edgar Hoover took over in the Bureau in 1924, Means was shown the door. He came back to the Bureau’s attention in 1932, though, when he swindled a wealthy Florida woman. His false promise to her to find Charles Lindbergh’s son, who was kidnapped in March of that year, landed him in to jail.  
In 1927, Congress moved prohibition enforcement to the Department of Justice, creating a Bureau of Prohibition that stood apart from the Bureau of Investigation. Although better organized, this new law enforcement body struggled to keep up. Too many people wanted a drink, too many people were willing to supply that drink, and too much violence and corruption followed.
Prohibition agents like Eliot Ness sought to bring down the bootleggers but had limited success. Despite Ness’ famed hunt for Al Capone, it was the IRS that arrested the notorious bootleg king of Chicago. The Bureau played a minor, but important, role in the matter, too.
At the end of 1933, Congress passed the 21st Amendment to repeal prohibition. The Bureau of Prohibition, with its more than a thousand investigators, was no longer needed. The attorney general considered integrating them into the Bureau of Investigation, but Hoover convinced him that such a move would destroy the BOI and the work it had made to reform itself since the problematic days of the mid-1920s.
And Ness? Like his fellow prohibition agents, Ness was offered the chance to apply to Hoover’s Bureau. And, like his fellow-agents, he was told that he would have to start as a new agent and complete the extensive required training.
Ness, understandably, wanted to enter BOI in a leadership role, but when he was overheard trying to see if political supporters in Washington would back his plea, Hoover marked his application "unacceptable." 

You can also read my Washington Times review of a book about Prohibition and Eliot Ness via the below link:  

A Little Humor: I'm A "Seenager"

It just occurred to me.

I’m a “Seenager,” as in senior teenager.

I have everything I ever wanted as a teenager, only some 60 years later.

I don’t have to go to school. 

I don’t have to work. 

I go to bed when I want. 

I get up when I want. 

I get an allowance, be it Social Security or a federal, city or corporate pension. 

I have my own pad. 

I don’t have a curfew. 

I own a car. 

I have ID that gets me in bars. 

I have a beautiful woman on my arm. 

I have regular sex. 

Who knew life would be so good when we grew old?

Note: The above photo is of the late comedian George Burns.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Former FBI Agent And Podcaster Jerri Williams Interviews Former FBI Agent Q. John Williams About 'The Irishman,' Frank Sheeran

Jerri Williams (seen in the above photo), a former FBI special agent and author of crime fiction, produces a true crime podcast. 
In her latest podcast she interviews Q. John Tamm (seen in the below photo), a retired FBI special agent who worked in the Philadelphia FBI office on the labor racketeering squad.
He investigated Frank Sheeran, the subject of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, and doubts that Frank Sheeran murdered Jimmy Hoffa and Crazy Joe Gallo.  
You can listen to the podcast via the below link:
You can also read my Washington Times On Crime column on Frank Sheeran via the below link:

Former NYPD Detective Sonny Grosso, Whose Work Inspired ‘The French Connection,’ Dead At 89

The New York Post reports that former NYPD detective and TV and film producer Sonny Grosso has died.

Former NYPD detective Sonny Grosso, whose police work with partner Eddie Egan was used as the plot for the classic 1971 cop flick “The French Connection,” died Wednesday. He was 89.
Grosso’s death was confirmed by his longtime friend, and former NYPD captain, Ernie Naspretto.
Grosso died in Manhattan after battling a long illness, Naspretto said.
“He had a good run,” Naspretto said of his friend.
Grosso’s foray into Hollywood began with “The French Connection”, as he and Egan consulted on the film and served as the real-life inspiration for fictional detectives Popeye Doyle and Buddy Russo.
He went on to become a prolific producer and consultant for television and movies, working on shows such as “Kojak,” “Night Heat” and “Baretta.” 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

My Washington Times On Crime Column: A Look Back At Joseph Wambaugh's 'The Onion Field'

The Washington Times ran my On Crime column that offered a look back at Joseph Wambaugh’s classic true crime book, The Onion Field. 

Joseph Wambaugh, a former LAPD detective sergeant and the author of classic police novels such as “The New Centurions,” “The Blue Knight” and “The Choir Boys,” turns 83 on Jan. 22.

Mr. Wambaugh has also written classic true crime books such as “Echoes in the Darkness” and “The Blooding,” but he said he was born to write one true crime book in particular, “The Onion Field.”

Mr. Wambaugh had published two novels prior to “The Onion Field.” Still a working cop, he took a three-month leave of absence to write “The Onion Field.” He read thousands of pages of court transcripts, and he interviewed more than 60 people involved with the case.

The 1973 book tells the tragic true story of an LAPD officer named Ian Campbell who was murdered in an onion field in 1963, as well as the sad aftermath of Karl Hettinger, his surviving partner who suffered psychologically from the ordeal. The book also covers the arrest, trial and conviction of Gregory Powell and Jimmy Smith, the two criminals who kidnapped and murdered the young officer.

The two plainclothes officers pulled over Powell and Smith, who were committing armed robberies. Powell got the drop on Ian Campbell and placed a gun in his back. He ordered Karl Hettinger to hand over his gun, and the officer did so reluctantly. The two criminals then drove the two officers to an onion field in Bakersfield, where Ian Campbell was shot and killed. Karl Hettinger escaped by running through the onion field.

The LAPD brass released a memorandum that essentially branded Hettinger a coward for giving up his gun. They made him attend roll calls and repeatedly tell his story to the assembled cops. 

I asked Mr. Wambaugh what compelled him to write a non-fiction book about the case?

“This case always fascinated me because I was on the job when it happened,” Joseph Wambaugh told me. “I’d seen Karl Hettinger around police headquarters, and he looked like such a sad guy. When he got fired from the police department for shoplifting, I thought it must have some relationship to the kidnapping. So I had it in the back of mind and after my success with the first two books, I started talking to people and I was off and running with it.”

You can read the rest of the column below or via the below link:

Note: Below are photos of Karl Hettinger, Ian Campbell and Jimmy Smith and Gregory Powell:

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The FBI released the below information:

Preliminary statistics show overall declines in both violent and property crime in the first half of 2019 compared to the same time frame the previous year, according to FBI crime statistics released today.
The Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report covers January through June 2019. It contains data from more than 14,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide that voluntarily submitted information to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
According to the report, all categories of violent crime offenses decreased between the first half of 2018 and the first half of 2019, including:
  • Robbery (-7.4 percent)
  • Rape (-7.3 percent)
  • Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter (-3.9 percent)
  • Aggravated assault (-0.3 percent)

Property crime also declined during the same period, specifically:
  • Burglary (-11.1 percent)
  • Motor vehicle theft (-6.7 percent)
  • Larceny-theft (-4.2 percent)

The full Crime in the United States, 2019 report will be released later this year.

Full Report 

A Little Humor: Medical School Exam

While waiting for his wife to be x-rayed, an elderly man struck up a conversation with a young doctor.

The elderly man recalled when he took the entrance exam to attend medical school many years before.

“One of the questions asked us to rearrange the letters PNEIS into the name of an important human body part which is most useful when erect,” the elderly man said.

“Those who answered “spine” are doctors today,” said the elderly man. “The rest of us are just hanging around telling jokes.”

Note: The above photo is Groucho Marx in Horse Feathers.   

Monday, January 20, 2020

Mob Talk 37: Former FBI Agent Disputes 'The Irishman,' An Open Letter To The Mob From A Former Mobster, And Other Organized Crime News

Veteran organized crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser offer their take on the Martin Scorsese film The Irishman and whether the film offers an aucurate version of the murder of Jimmy Hoffa in their Mob Talk 37.

They offer the view of a former FBI agent who shadowed alleged Jimmy Hoffa triggerman Frank Sheeran for year. They also discuss the open letter to the Mob from a former Genovese associate turned cooperator who now thinks the Mob is attempting to murder him. 

And they discuss a young associate of reputed Philadelphia Cosa Nostra boss Joey Merlino, who is taking some heat with a superseding indictment. 

You can watch Mob Talk 37 via the below link: 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Tale Of Crooks, Drugs, Prostitution And Murder: My Washington Times Review Of "Many Rivers To Cross'

The Washington Times ran my review of Peter Robinson’s Many Rivers To Cross.

Peter Robinson’s fictional character Detective Superintendent Alan Banks has been the protagonist of a long series of popular crime novels, beginning with 1987’s “Gallows View.” 

Originally a detective working in London, Banks grew disillusioned with the big city and transferred to a fictional English town near Yorkshire called Eastvale.

Mr. Robinson’s detective character and stories were adapted for a British TV series called “DCI Banks,” which aired on British TV from 2010 to 2016.

Banks has moved up the ranks to become a detective superintendent, and in “Many Rivers To Cross” he and his squad must investigate the murder of a teenage boy left in a trash can, what the British call a “rubbish bin.”  

“Banks put on his thin latex gloves, slowly opened the bin and recoiled from what he saw there: a boy’s body with his knees tucked under his chin, curled up, almost like a fire victim,” Mr. Robinson writes. “But it wasn’t a pugilistic position, and there had been no fire; the boy had been deliberately crammed into the bin.”

The rubbish bin belonged to an elderly retired nurse who told Banks that she didn’t know the boy and didn’t how he ended up in the bin outside of her house.

Banks’ investigating team consisted of Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot and Detective Constable Gerry Masterson. They discovered a bit of cocaine in the boy’s pocket, and after a medical examination they learned the boy had been stabbed to death. He was identified as a Syrian immigrant who had managed to travel to England all on his own,

The police later investigated another victim not far from the boy in the bin. Howard Stokes, a down-and-out diabetic and heroin addict in a wheelchair was found dead by two young boys who were playing in an abandoned house in a housing area being cleared for redevelopment.

Banks interviews a wealthy property developer named Connor Clive Blaydon, whom the coppers call “dodgy.” Although he had no criminal record, his partners in redevelopment deals are well-known to Banks. His partners are Timmy and Tommy Kerrigan, a pair of brothers who are local “villains,” as the British call criminals.

“Timmy and Tommy Kerrigan were, on paper at least, owners of the old Bar None nightclub, now renamed The Vaults, just across the market square from where Banks and Joanna were sitting, along an amusement arcade, also on the square. They were crooks and thugs, suspected of involvement in drug dealing and prostitution, but Banks and his team had never been able to find enough evidence to charge them with anything,” Mr. Robinson writes. “Timmy was suspected of an unhealthy interest in teenage girls, whereas Tommy was gay and preferred young boys. Tommy also had a sadistic streak and a nasty temper, ready to explode at a moment’s notice."

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

A Little Night Music: Euge Groove's 'Rain Down On Me'

You can listen to the smooth jazz sound of Euge Groove's sax in Rain Down On Me, featuring Peter White, via the below link:

"Euge Groove has a knack for memorable melodies and for coaxing the max out of his sax - it growls, hits impossibly low notes and always sounds like it's the way the instrument was meant to sound," All About Jazz.