Saturday, September 19, 2020

Goodfellas: Celebrating The 30th Anniversary Of One Of The Greatest Crime Films

 Today is the 30th anniversary of the opening of the film Goodfellas. In my view, Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas is one of the greatest crime films ever made. 

The late film critic Roger Ebert reviewed the film in 1990. You can read his review via the below link:

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Martin Scorsese via the below link:

FBI: Combating The Iranian Cyber Threat: Republic At The Center Of Cyber Crime Charges In Three Cases

 The FBI released the below information:

Criminal charges announced this week against multiple alleged hackers in Iran show the breadth of the cyber threat emanating from that country and the FBI and partner agency efforts to neutralize it and hold the individuals accountable.

The hacks included cyber intrusions and fraud, vandalism of U.S. websites, and intellectual property theft from U.S. aerospace and satellite technology companies. In each of the cases, the suspects were believed to be operating at the behest of the Iranian government, or in support of it.

While the cases filed in federal courts in Boston, Alexandria, and Newark are separate and unique, prosecutors and FBI investigators said they send a message that hackers will face consequences regardless of distance and borders.

“No cyber actor should think they can compromise U.S. networks, steal our intellectual property, or hold our critical infrastructure at risk without incurring risk themselves,” said Executive Assistant Director Terry Wade of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch. “The FBI will continue to work with our partners to protect U.S. interests and to impose consequences on those cyber actors working on behalf of the Government of Iran in furtherance of their nefarious goals.”

On Tuesday, Behzad Mohammadzadeh, of Iran, and Marwan Abusrour, of the Palestinian territories, were indicted in Massachusetts on charges of damaging multiple websites as retaliation for U.S. military action in January that killed the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.

On Wednesday, Hooman Heidarian and Mehdi Farhadi, both of Iran, were charged in New Jersey in connection with a coordinated cyber intrusion campaign. Investigators allege that the pair, sometimes at the behest of the government of Iran, targeted computers in New Jersey and around the world.

In addition to stealing hundreds of terabytes of sensitive data, the defendants also vandalized websites, often under the pseudonym “Sejeal,” and posted messages that appeared to signal the demise of Iran’s internal opposition, foreign adversaries, and countries identified as rivals, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.

On Thursday, an indictment unsealed in Virginia charged Said Pourkarim Arabi, Mohammad Reza Espargham, and Mohammad Bayati, all living in Iran, with engaging in a coordinated campaign of identity theft and hacking on behalf of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

According the charges, the defendants’ campaign began back in 2015. At one time, they had a target list of more than 1,800 online accounts, including those of aerospace or satellite technology and international government organizations in Australia, Israel, Singapore, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The three allegedly used social engineering techniques to make contact with those on the target list and assume their identities online. This allowed the defendants to send messages to other unsuspecting individuals that contained malware hidden in links and documents. The malware allowed the hackers access to many additional computer systems.

Also Thursday, the FBI released the details of eight separate and distinct sets of malware used by a front company in Iran to raise awareness of the threat and provide tools to help companies defend their computer networks. The company, Rana Intelligence Computing Company, helped Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, target at least 15 U.S. companies along with hundreds of individuals and entities from more than 30 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. The investigation led to the U.S. Department of the Treasury issuing sanctions against Rana and 45 cyber actors.

The efforts were reflective of the FBI’s new cyber strategy, which is to impose risk and consequences on cyber adversaries—making it harder for both cyber criminals and foreign governments to use malicious cyber activity to achieve their objectives. The new strategy also emphasizes the role the FBI plays as an indispensable partner to federal counterparts, foreign partners, and private-sector partners. “We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help our partners do what they need to do,” said FBI Director Wray. “That means using our role as the lead federal agency with law enforcement and intelligence responsibilities to not only pursue our own actions, but to enable our partners to defend networks, attribute malicious activity, sanction bad behavior, and take the fight to our adversaries overseas.”

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Job Hunting: Hunter S. Thompson’s Guide To Writing A Great Cover Letter

I came across an interesting piece online about the late, great writer Hunter S. Thompson, one of my favorite writers. offers a letter that Hunter Thompson sent to an editor in 1958. 

Like his journalism, the query letter is uniquely Hunter Thompson. 

In 1958, Hunter S. Thompson was looking for work. He wrote to the Vancouver Sun newspaper.


October 1, 1958
57 Perry Street New York City


I got a hell of a kick reading the piece Time magazine did this week on The Sun. In addition to wishing you the best of luck, I’d also like to offer my services.

Since I haven’t seen a copy of the “new” Sun yet, I’ll have to make this a tentative offer. I stepped into a dung-hole the last time I took a job with a paper I didn’t know anything about (see enclosed clippings) and I’m not quite ready to go charging up another blind alley.

By the time you get this letter, I’ll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I’ll let my offer stand. And don’t think that my arrogance is unintentional: it’s just that I’d rather offend you now than after I started working for you.

I didn’t make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he’d tell you that I’m “not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person.” (That’s a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.)

Nothing beats having good references.

Of course if you asked some of the other people I’ve worked for, you’d get a different set of answers.

If you’re interested enough to answer this letter, I’ll be glad to furnish you with a list of references — including the lad I work for now.

The enclosed clippings should give you a rough idea of who I am. It’s a year old, however, and I’ve changed a bit since it was written. I’ve taken some writing courses from Columbia in my spare time, learned a hell of a lot about the newspaper business, and developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you’re trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I’d like to work for you.

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

FBI Director Wray: 'Antifa Is A Real Thing,' FBI Has Cases Against People Identifying With Movement

 Ronn Blitzer at reports on the FBI director testifying about Antifa. 

Director Chris Wray made clear that Antifa is not a made-up, right-wing conspiracy theory and that the FBI has cases involving those connected to it. Appearing at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Thursday, Wray explained that while Antifa is not an organization in the traditional sense, it is a movement and there have been suspects who claimed to be a part of it. 

"Antifa is a real thing. It's not a group or an organization. It's a movement, or an ideology may be one way of thinking of it," Wray said. "And we have quite a number -- and I've said this quite consistently since my first time appearing before this committee -- we have any number of properly predicated investigations into what we would describe as violent anarchist extremists and some of those individuals self-identify with Antifa." 

Wray's words were in response to Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., who claimed prominent Democrats have called Antifa a "fantasy." In July, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., had dismissed the idea of Antifa violence in Portland as "a myth that's being spread only in Washington, D.C." 

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Antifa via the below link: 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A Little Humor: The Mob Boss, The Lawyer And The Bookkeeper

A mob boss discovered that his bookkeeper had cheated him of out of two million dollars.

The bookkeeper was deaf and could not speak, so when the mob boss went to confront the bookkeeper, he brought along his lawyer who understood sign language.

The mob boss ordered the lawyer to ask the bookkeeper where the money was.

Using sign language, the lawyer asked the bookkeeper where the money was.

The bookkeeper responded in sign language that he didn’t know what they were talking about.

The lawyer looked back at the mob boss. “He says he doesn’t know what you’re talking about.”

The mob boss pulled out a gun and put it to the bookkeeper’s head. He told the lawyer to ask the bookkeeper once again where the money was.

Using sign language, the lawyer told the bookkeeper that the mob boss would murder him if he didn’t tell where the money was.

The bookkeeper was frightened for his life, so he told the lawyer in sign language that the money was in the trunk of his car.

The mob boss asked the lawyer what the bookkeeper said, and the lawyer replied, “He said fuck you. You don’t have the balls to pull the trigger.”

Note: The above photo is of Robert De Niro in Goodfellas.

FBI: Overview Of Preliminary Uniform Crime Report, January–June, 2020

The FBI released the below information:
The FBI’s Preliminary Uniform Crime Report, January–June, 2020, reveals overall declines in the number of violent crimes and property crimes reported for the first six months of 2020 when compared with figures for the first six months of 2019. The report is based on information from 12,206 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six months of comparable data for both years to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.

Violent Crime

  • When data from the first six months of 2020 were compared with data from the first six months of 2019, the number of rape offenses decreased 17.8%, and robbery offenses were down 7.1%. The number of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter offenses increased 14.8%, and aggravated assault offenses were up 4.6%.
  • The overall number of violent crimes decreased in four city population groups. Law enforcement agencies in cities with populations of less than 10,000 reported the largest decrease, 7.2%. Law enforcement agencies in cities with populations of 100,000 to 249,000 reported the smallest decrease, 0.3%.
  • Violent crime decreased in three of the four regions of the nation. These crimes were down 4.8% in the Northeast, 1.8% in the Midwest, and 1.1% in the West. However, violent crime increased in the South, 2.5%.

Property Crime

  • In the property crime category, offenses declined 7.8%. Larceny thefts were down 9.9%, and burglaries decreased 7.8%. Motor vehicle thefts increased 6.2%.
  • The overall number of property crimes decreased in all city population groups. Law enforcement agencies in cities with populations under 10,000 inhabitants reported the largest decrease, 14.2%. Law enforcement agencies in cities with populations of 250,000 to 499,999 reported the smallest decrease, 3.7%.
  • Property crime decreased 9.3% in nonmetropolitan counties and 7.3% in metropolitan counties.
  • Property crime decreased in all four regions of the nation. Reports of these offenses reflected declines of 10.3% in the Midwest, 9.3% in the South, 5.7% in the Northeast, and 5.3% in the West.


In the FBI’s UCR Program, arson offenses are collected separately from other property crimes. The number of arson offenses increased 19.2% in the first six months of 2020 when compared with figures for the first six months of 2019. All four regions reported increases in the number of arsons. Arsons were up 28.0% in the West, 16.4% in the Northeast, 15.7% in the Midwest, and 10.2% in the South.
Arson offenses rose 52.1% in cities with populations of 1,000,000 and over. Cities with populations under 10,000 experienced a 5.7% increase in arson offenses. Arsons increased 13.7% in nonmetropolitan counties and 11.6% in metropolitan counties.

Caution Against Ranking

When the FBI publishes crime data via its UCR Program, some entities use the information to compile rankings of cities and counties. Such rankings, however, do not provide insight into the numerous variables that shape crime in a given state, county, city, town, tribal area, or region. These rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that can create misleading perceptions that adversely affect communities and their residents. Only through careful study and analyses into the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction can data users create valid assessments of crime. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from states, metropolitan areas, cities, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of their population or student enrollment.

United States Attorney McSwain Delivers Remarks On The Ongoing Public Safety Crisis In Philadelphia

 The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Pennsylvania released the below:

PHILADELPHIA, PA – On September 14, 2020, United States Attorney William M. McSwain convened a press conference to announce charges against Khalif Tuggle and John Allen Kane, both of Philadelphia.  The United States Attorney’s Office stepped in to bring federal charges in both cases after the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office failed to handle the local criminal cases appropriately.  U.S. Attorney McSwain also spoke about the ongoing escalation of violent crime in Philadelphia and its causes.  He highlighted several local cases in which the defendants received shockingly lenient plea deals from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, returned to the streets and then allegedly committed murder.  These cases highlight an undeniable pattern of cause and effect in which the application of the District Attorney’s Office’s misguided policies produce violence and tragedy.
Good morning.  I am here today to announce that my Office has unsealed two criminal indictments charging two individuals, Khalif Tuggle and John Allen Kane, with committing serious federal crimes on the streets of Philadelphia.  Both cases are part of my Office’s continuing efforts to fight the tidal wave of violent crime in the City that is the unfortunate result of local criminal justice policies that coddle violent criminals.  These policies create a culture of lawlessness; they leave criminals emboldened; and they have inevitable consequences – one of which is a murder rate in Philadelphia that is the highest it has been in nearly 15 years.
The two indictments announced today are the latest efforts by my Office to serve as a counterweight to this chaos.  First, Khalif Tuggle, age 28, has been charged in a three-count indictment with carjacking, use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and murder in the course of using a firearm, all stemming from his alleged robbery, carjacking, and brutal murder of Thomas Petersen on January 24, 2017.  Tuggle allegedly fired a shot into Mr. Petersen’s chest, dragged him out of the car, threw him on the road, robbed him, and left him for dead while Mr. Petersen was screaming in pain.  Tuggle fled the scene in Mr. Petersen’s car, and Mr. Petersen died at Temple University Hospital after two Philadelphia Police Officers rushed him there from the crime scene.  If convicted on each count, Tuggle faces a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Second, John Allen Kane, age 53, has been charged in a one-count Indictment with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on January 17, 2018.  Kane allegedly possessed this firearm while on probation for committing his second homicide in Philadelphia.  If convicted, Kane faces a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
I would like to thank our law enforcement partners whose investigative work made these indictments possible.  From the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which investigated both cases, I want to thank John Schmidt, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division, and the law enforcement agents who investigated the cases. I also want to thank the Philadelphia Police Department for its assistance in both cases.  And thank you to Sal Astolfi, the Chief of the Violent Crime unit in my Office, and Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph Labar, Michael Miller, and Tom Zaleski, who are prosecuting these important cases. 
Both the Tuggle and the Kane cases are prime examples of how local criminal justice policies benefit violent criminals and harm crime victims.  After Mr. Petersen was murdered in cold blood on January 24, 2017, the Philadelphia Police charged Tuggle with first degree murder, firearms offenses, theft, and receipt of stolen property, and he was held without bail until trial.  As Tuggle sat in jail awaiting trial for first degree murder, he caught a big break – in January 2018, there was a change in leadership in the District Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia: the Krasner administration took over.  This new administration subsequently agreed not to prosecute Tuggle for either first or second degree murder, thus eliminating the possibility that he would serve a life sentence for killing Mr. Petersen.  Instead, the District Attorney’s Office permitted Tuggle to plead guilty to third degree murder, ostensibly because he agreed to cooperate with investigators to identify and prosecute his accomplice.
But the plea negotiations were a farce.  For one thing, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the most serious charges without bothering to negotiate a “floor” for the sentence -- a minimum term of years that Tuggle would be required to serve for murdering Mr. Petersen.  And incredibly, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to the deal without knowing whether the information Tuggle supposedly would provide would prove helpful, and without ensuring that Tuggle would actually identify his accomplice as promised.
In the end, he didn’t – and his accomplice remains on the loose.  In other words, Tuggle got a huge break for nothing.  The judge sentenced Tuggle to 13.5-27 years for third degree murder, and he will be eligible for parole in the state system in approximately ten years.  That sentence is a miscarriage of justice.  It is a cruel slap in the face to Mr. Petersen’s family – including his mother, Linda, and his sister, Heather, who are with us today for this announcement.  It is something that I am determined to fix.
If convicted on the federal charges, Tuggle faces the very real possibility of life in prison with no possibility of parole.
As for John Kane, as noted in publicly filed documents, the Philadelphia Police recovered a firearm in his possession after a traffic stop and placed him under arrest.  As a convicted felon, Kane was prohibited from possessing any firearms.  But he was not just any convicted felon – at the time of the traffic stop, he was on probation for committing his second homicide in Philadelphia.  But the District Attorney’s Office saw fit to voluntarily dismiss the charges against Kane on a technicality, and he walked free.  That is, until now: Kane has been arrested on the federal charge and is in federal custody.     
Armed murderers cannot be permitted to walk the streets of Philadelphia in the name of criminal justice reform.  The staggering homicide and shooting rates in Philadelphia are proof that the District Attorney’s radical experiment has failed.  Homicides, shootings, and serious violent crime have all skyrocketed in 2020 – from already intolerable levels that existed in 2019 and 2018.  There have been 316 homicides since the beginning of the year – a 32% increase as compared to this time last year.  The violence has been pervasive and it is destroying the soul of the City.  In the last month alone, 48 people have been killed and hundreds have been shot.  And the average age of the shooting victims is getting younger.  Tragically, the vast majority of the victims are racial minorities.  I can’t say it any clearer: the District Attorney’s policies come at the expense of minority communities. 
We can draw a straight line from these policies to the carnage on the streets.  My Office has examined the circumstances underlying many of the recent murder cases in the City and the inescapable conclusion is that a great number of these murders were made possible by the District Attorney’s Office’s willingness – indeed, its eagerness – to offer sweetheart plea deals to violent defendants.  Deals that allowed those defendants to quickly get back out on the street and kill.
On this adjacent chart are 10 examples of this sad state of affairs:
·         In October 2018, Michael Banks was arrested and charged with multiple counts, including a felony gun charge for possessing an unlicensed firearm.  Banks also had prior convictions, and yet in February 2019, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office gave him a plea deal in which the felony gun charge was dismissed, and he received only 3-9 months of incarceration for a misdemeanor gun charge and immediately went back out on the street.  Banks now stands accused of murdering a seven year-old boy in West Philadelphia last month, who was playing with a toy on his family’s porch when two groups of men began firing upon one another and shot the boy in the head.

·      In November 2017, Francisco Reyes was arrested and charged with multiple drug offenses.  Despite his prior convictions – which include aggravated assault, robbery, and multiple other prior drug offenses – Reyes was given a plea deal in July 2018 in which the felony drug charge was dismissed and he received probation.  Only two days after he pleaded guilty and received probation, on July 5, 2018, Reyes allegedly murdered a 25 year-old man in Kensington.

·      In September 2018, Jerome Martin was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, which is a felony.  He had previously been convicted of felony drug dealing and possessing drug paraphernalia.  Somehow, Martin was given a plea deal in June 2019 in which he was sentenced to house arrest.  While on house arrest, in August 2019, he allegedly broke into a house and murdered a 23 year-old man, who is survived by many, including his newborn baby.

·         In February 2018, Keith Garner was arrested and charged with simple assault.  Despite having multiple prior felony convictions, Garner was given a plea deal in March 2018 to probation.  In November 2018, Garner executed four people in a West Philadelphia basement, and has been convicted of all four murders.

·         In March 2017, Timothy Sherfield was arrested and charged with numerous violent crimes, including two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of robbery, burglary, possession of an unlicensed firearm, and many additional misdemeanors.  In February 2018, he was given a plea deal in which the vast majority of these charges were dropped. Sherfield received a minimum sentence of less than one year.  This enabled him to be out on the streets and murder a 23 year-old man in April 2019.  The victim was inside a mini market at the time that he was gunned down in cold blood.

·         In May 2017, Tariq Gant was arrested and charged with a variety of violent crimes, including aggravated assault and firearm offenses.  But in February 2018, he was given a plea deal in which the vast majority of the charges were dropped.  Gant pleaded guilty to simple assault and resisting arrest, and received probation.  In September 2018, he allegedly murdered a 19 year-old young man in Germantown.  The victim is survived by his mother, who in addition to losing this son, also tragically lost another son who was gunned down earlier this year.

·         In October 2017, Jose Lugo was arrested and charged with felony drug offenses.  Despite having previously been convicted of numerous felony drug crimes and carrying a firearm without a license, he was given a plea deal in September 2018 in which he was immediately released.  Just months later, in February 2019, Lugo allegedly murdered a 24 year-old man.

·         In March 2018, Byron Taylor was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including felony possession of an unlicensed firearm.  Despite his prior convictions, he was given a plea deal in May 2019 in which the felony gun charge was dismissed and he received probation.  Almost immediately, in July 2019, Taylor allegedly shot and killed a 35 year-old man in Germantown.

·         In January 2018, Rasheed Malcolm was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including aggravated assault, simple assault, and recklessly endangering another person.  Despite his prior felony drug distribution convictions, he was given a plea deal in which all of these charges were dropped, and he was permitted to plead guilty to the summary offense of disorderly conduct.  By the end of the year, in December 2018, Malcolm allegedly murdered a 27 year-old man in the 6200 block of Market Street.

·         In June 2018, Maalik Jackson-Wallace was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including felony possession of a firearm without a license.  The District Attorney’s Office then selected him to participate in its Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program (ARD) – a diversion program in which defendants can avoid a conviction if they comply with certain conditions.  This diversion allowed Jackson-Wallace to walk away free.  He was then arrested with a second illegal firearm while in the program, but the District Attorney’s Office did not move for him to be taken out of ARD at that time.  In June 2019, Jackson-Wallace allegedly murdered a 26 year-old man in the Frankford section of Philadelphia.    

Each of these cases is its own separate tragedy, with terrible ramifications that extend in many directions.  And these ten cases only scratch the surface of the devastation that is being wrought by the District Attorney’s policies.  The cases are merely examples – there are many others like these, in which violent defendants who should not be on the street are committing murder or other violent crimes.  Furthermore, these are cases that have led to murder arrests.  Most homicides in the City do not even result in an arrest, so it is chilling to think of the number of unsolved murders that have likely been committed by violent criminals who do not belong on the street – and are only there because the District Attorney put them there.
As I have said before, everybody in Philadelphia deserves to live in a safe neighborhood – regardless of race or income level.  We won’t get there by treating violent criminals like they are victims, or by undermining law enforcement.  We must have the courage and the will to enforce the law – and to hold criminals accountable.  The future of our City depends upon it.  We must put the law-abiding residents of this City first.  Thank you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Richard Sorge And Agent Sonya: A Legendary Spy's Unusual Recruitment In 1930S Shanghai

I’m currently reading Ben Macintrye’s Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy. 

One of the most interesting historical characters in his book on espionage history is Richard Sorge (seen in the above photo). offers an excerpt from Agent Sonya about Richard Sorge.

Ian Fleming once described Richard Sorge as “the most formidable spy in history.” Despite being German and communist, and approaching middle age, in 1930 Sorge bore a distinct resemblance to the fictional James Bond, not least for his looks, appetite for alcohol, and prodigious, almost pathological, womanizing. Even Sorge’s sworn enemies acknowledged his skill and courage. After China, Sorge would move on to Tokyo, where he spied, undetected, for nine years, penetrating the innermost secrets of the Japanese and German High Commands and alerting Moscow to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. When he met Ursula, Sorge was just setting out on his espionage career in the Far East, a journey that would lead, eventually, to a place in the small pantheon of spies who have changed the course of history.

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

Another interesting book on Richard Sorge is Gordon V. Prange's Target Tokyo: The Story of the Sorge Spy Ring.

Monday, September 14, 2020

My Q&A With Former Police Chief Mike Chitwood

Counterterrorism magazine published my Q&A with former police chief Mike Chitwood.

You can read the interview above and below:

Behind The Black Mask: My Piece On The Threat From Antifa

Counterterrorism magazine published my piece on the threat from Antifa.

You can read the piece above and below:

‘Doctor Dealer’ Explores Radio Host’s Bizarre, Motorcycle Gang-Linked Death

Raquel Laneri at the New York Post offers a piece on Doctor Dealer: A Doctor High On Greed, a Biker Gang High On Opioids, and the Woman Who Paid the Ultimate Price, the new true crime book by veteran reporters George Anastasia and Ralph Cipriano.

In May 2012, April Kauffman — beloved Atlantic City radio host and veterans-rights advocate — was found shot to death in the home she shared with her husband, Dr. James Kauffman.

Six years later, Freddy Augello, a former leader of the notorious motorcycle gang the Pagans, was convicted in her murder. Augello maintains he is innocent. 
Yet it turned out Augello had ties with Dr. Kauffman, a prominent endocrinologist — and a drug trafficker who prescribed his biker “patients” opioids for them to sell on the street. 
“Doctor Dealer,” a new book by crime reporters George Anastasia and Ralph Cipriano, tells the story of April Kauffman’s bizarre death and how the doctor would stop at nothing in his quest for money and power — not even killing his wife.

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

Sunday, September 13, 2020

PJ O’Rourke: This Is Why Millennials Adore Socialism

The New York Post offers an excerpt from the funny and clever conservative writer P.J. O’Rourke’s new book, A Cry from the Far Middle: Dispatches From A Divided Land.  

America’s young people have veered to the left. Opinion pollsters tell us so. According to a November 2019 Gallup poll, “Since 2010, young adults’ positive ratings of socialism have hovered near 50 percent.” A March 2019 Axios poll concurs, saying that 49 percent of millennials would “Prefer living in a socialist country.” And The Hill puts it more strongly, citing an October 2019 YouGov Internet survey in a story headed, “7 in 10 Millennials Say They’d Vote for a Socialist.”

Traditional liberalism still exists. In a March 2018 Pew Research Center study of Americans aged 22–37, 57 percent called themselves “mostly” or “consistently” liberal.

But “mostly” or “consistently” liberal may not be enough for young voters. This was evident in the 2018 congressional elections. Ten-term incumbent congressmen Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) and Joe Crowley (D- NY) were as mostly consistently liberal as they come. And they were kicked to the curb in Democratic primaries by leftists Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

What’s the matter with kids today? Nothing new. A large portion of the brats, the squirts, the fuzz-faced, the moon calves, the sap-green, and the wet behind the ears have always been “Punks for Progressives.”

As soon as children discover that the world isn’t nice, they want to make it nicer. And wouldn’t a world where everybody shares everything be nice? Aw … kids are so tender-hearted.

But kids are broke — so they want to make the world nicer with your money. And kids don’t have much control over things — so they want to make the world nicer through your effort. And kids are very busy being young — so it’s your time that has to be spent making the world nicer.
Young Bernie Sanders fans think wealth is limited to what arrives at the 7-Eleven with the Hostess deliveryman.

For them. The greedy little bastards. Kids were thinking these exact same sweet-young-thing thoughts back in the 1960s, during my salad days (tossed green sensimilla buds). Young people probably have been thinking these same thoughts since the concept of being a “young person” was invented.

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

Saturday, September 12, 2020

My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On 'Ian Fleming's Inspiration'

The Washington Times ran my On Crime column on Ian Fleming’s Inspiration.

In 2006, the year of the Ian Fleming Centenary celebration, Corinne Turner of Ian Fleming Publications stated, “There will be a broad range of events and publications designed to celebrate the life of this literary legend and to examine his legacy. The program includes a major exhibition featuring never-before-seen material and events will reflect Fleming’s passions and experiences in the worlds of art, literature, journalism, sport, motoring and travel.”

Ms. Turner added that the Ian Fleming Centenary presented an exciting opportunity to celebrate an extraordinary life. That extraordinary life, as a World War II British naval intelligence officer, a world-traveling journalist and the author of the James Bond thrillers, led Edward Abel Smith (seen in the bottom photo) to write “Ian Fleming’s Inspiration: The Truth Behind the Books” (Casemate).

The book interested me as I’ve been an Ian Fleming aficionado since my teenage years in the 1960s, when I saw the first James Bond film “Dr. No” and went on to read Fleming’s more complex and darker James Bond novels.

I reached out to Edward Abel Smith and asked him why he wrote the book. “After finishing my first book about a group of individuals who saved thousands of Jews before the outbreak of war, I wanted to find another topic to write about. I grew up loving the Bond films and then more recently the Bond books, so I was interested to learn about their creator,” Mr. Smith replied.

“When I started to read more about Fleming, I instantly started to link in my head his life experiences to those in his books. From there, when I saw that no book existed which told his life in this way, I decided to pitch the idea to publishers.”

Mr. Smith said that Fleming would sit behind his desk in the Admiralty and think up the most fantastical and bizarre plans of how to help the war effort. He said the difference then was that he would make most of these plans a reality and his dreamed-up ideas would be carried out by commandos.

“A lot of his plans — for example Operation Ruthless and Operation Tracer — were so farfetched it is amazing that they ever got the go ahead from his bosses. Therefore, having dreamed up real plans which seemed fictional, it was natural for him to write these down in later life,” Mr. Smith said. “So James Bond could play out his dream of not only sending men on dangerous and daring missions, but actually taking part himself.”

… I spent a grand week with my wife at Ian Fleming’s Jamaican villa Goldeneye (seen in the below photo) in the 1980s, when the villa and grounds were still as rustic as when he lived there and wrote the James Bond novels. How inspirational, I asked, was Goldeneye?   

“Jamaica was his oasis and a place where he was able to run away from his real life for a few months per year. When you read his letters, you see a real upbeat in his tone when he is there,” Mr. Smith said. “Given that Bond spends more time in Jamaica than anywhere else abroad in the books, I think Fleming would have struggled to bring to life other such exotic locations, as he would not have had the same intimate knowledge or love for them.”

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Commander Ian Fleming’s WWII experiences via the below link:

Friday, September 11, 2020

A Look Back At The 9/11 Terrorist Attack On The Pentagon & The World Trade Center

On the anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, one can read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, above and below:

You can also read my Crime Beat column on a NYPD commissioner’s after-action report on the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center via the below link: 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Can Italy Defeat Its Most Powerful Crime Syndicate, The 'Ndrangheta?

Rachel Donadio at the Atlantic offers a piece on the Italian organized crime group the ‘Ndrangheta.

The airport at Lamezia Terme, Calabria, in the toe of Italy’s boot, was built in the 1970s and has not aged well. The cement facade is punctuated by rows of round windows that resemble oversize portholes. The parking lot is poorly paved. Beyond it rises an unfinished concrete tower, open to the elements and
I was there one day last year to meet Nicola Gratteri, the chief prosecutor for nearby Catanzaro, a small city high in the hills of central Calabria. Gratteri has dedicated the past three decades of his life to fighting a Calabria-based organization known as the ’Ndrangheta—the richest, most powerful, and most secretive criminal group in Italy today. (Pronounced en-drahn-get-ta, the word essentially means “man of honor”; it is believed to be derived from the Greek andragathía, or “heroism.”)
Sicily’s Cosa Nostra has been romanticized by the Godfather movies. The Neapolitan Camorra has become widely known through the film and TV series Gomorrah. But the ’Ndrangheta, the least telegenic and most publicity-shy of Italy’s Mafias, is the most aggressive.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Diana Rigg, Star Of ‘The Avengers,’ 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service,' and ‘Game of Thrones,’ Dies at 82

As a teenager in the 1960s I had quite a crush on actress Diana Rigg, who appeared on the British TV series The Avengers. I also loved her in her role as James Bond’s doomed wife Tracy in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

I also loved her performance alongside George C. Scott in 1970's The Hospital

I most recently saw her outstanding performance as Lady Olenna Tyrell, “The Queen of Thorns,” in Game of Thrones.  

So I was saddened to read that Variety has reported that Diana Rigg has died.

Diana Rigg, the Tony and Emmy winner who splashed into the world of television with her commanding turn as intelligence agent Emma Peel on “The Avengers” in the 1960s and played Lady Olenna Tyrell on “Game of Thrones” decades later, died Thursday at her home in England. She was 82.

Rigg was a venerable figure in Britain’s entertainment industry who worked incessantly on stage, TV and film. She famously thumbed her nose at convention in her private life and in later years seemed to enjoy her status as a grande dame. Having a key role in the biggest TV series of the past decade was a fitting career capper for Rigg.

On HBO’s “Game of Thrones” Rigg recurred as Olenna Tyrell, also known as the Queen of Thorns, beginning with the third season in 2013. She was Emmy nominated for guest actress in a drama for her work on the show in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

“She was a beautiful kind and generous human being that enhanced the lives of all that knew her as well as a great actress. She leaves a great void in my heart,” said Lionel Larner, Rigg’s longtime friend and talent agent.

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

Note: The top photo is of Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the above photo is of Diana Rigg in The Avengers.