Thursday, December 31, 2020

My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column: A Conversation With Carlos Vega, The Former Homicide Prosecutor Challenging Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner

Philadelphia Weekly ran my Crime Beat column on former homicide prosecutor Carlos Vega, who is running against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

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

Meet Carlos Vega - Philadelphia Weekly

Note: You can click on the above to enlarge.

That Was The Year That Was In Philadelphia: Ralph Cipriano On Apocalypse Philly - A Deadly D.A., Cowardly Mayor & Lightweight P.C.

 Ralph Cipriano (seen in the below photo) at looks back at 2020 and links to past posts: 

In this apocalyptic year, the citizens of Philadelphia had to endure a pandemic, recurring riots, and a record number of murders.  

They also had to put up with incompetent and corrupt leadership from a trio of top city officials. We're talking about our "reform" district attorney whose radical policies have repeatedly proved to be deadly; a lying and cowardly but politically correct mayor; and, last but not least, the P.C. mayor's "diverse" new police commissioner, who turned out to be a real lightweight. 

Cranking out an average of three stories a week, many of them scoops, Big Trial was the only local media outlet to hold our public officials accountable throughout the year by documenting their lies, incompetence, and corruption. 

It's a full-time job, but here in Philadelphia, official incompetence and corruption have deadly consequences. As of today, we're up to 494 murders this year, the highest number in 30 years. But that's not the whole story. 

As Big Trial has previously reported, the Philadelphia Police Department keeps a separate list of so-called "special assignments" that include "suspicious" deaths that may eventually turn out to be murders. As one veteran detective put it, "They're definitely cooking the books." As of today, that special assignment count -- known among the cops as "S" jobs -- was up to 170 cases. So who knows what our murder rate really is. 

As far as our corrupt city officials, let's start with District Attorney Larry Krasner.  

This man, bought and paid for with $1.7 million of billionaire George Soros's money, is a walking, talking perversion of what a district attorney should be. 

As D.A., Krasner sees the primary function of his office as doing favors for criminals. He doesn't give a damn about crime victims. And he hates cops, and has a lust for indicting them. 

In the past 12 months, Big Trial documented in 22 scoops the perverted way the D.A. runs his office. Here's what his office did for criminals, always at the expense of crime victims, who were often the most vulnerable among us, namely women and children. 

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

Apocalypse Philly: A Deadly D.A., Cowardly Mayor & Lightweight P.C. | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Goodbye To 2020

Dewey Smith at Military Humor and More's Facebook page offered the below:

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A Little Night Music: The Late, Great Dean Martin's 'The Things We Did Last Summer'

As in past Christmas seasons, I'll be listening to Christmas songs right up to New Year's Day.

One favorite Christmas album is ole Dino's. I love his cover of the Christmas classics.

One song I love is the pretty and somewhat sad ballad, The Things We Did Last Summer, but I'm not sure why this song is on the Christmas album, except perhaps due to the song mentioning winter.

You can listen to a remastered The Things We Did Last Summer via the below link:

The Things We Did Last Summer (Remastered) - YouTube

You can also listen to the entire Christmas album via the below link:

White Christmas - YouTube  

Monday, December 28, 2020

My Q&A With Legendary FBI Profiler John Douglas

 Counterterrorism magazine published my Q&A with legendary FBI profiler John Douglas. 

You can read the interview via the below magazine pages or the text below:

An IACSP Q&A With Former FBI Profiler John Douglas

 By Paul Davis

 John Douglas is a legendary FBI criminal profiler and the author of true crime books. He is considered a pioneer in the field of criminal profiling. 

He spent more than twenty-five years researching and profiling America’s most violent and dangerous criminals. After serving in the U.S. Air force, John Douglas joined the FBI in 1970. He served a SWAT team and was a hostage negotiator before he transferred to the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit in 1977. Later he taught hostage negotiation and applied criminal psychology at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia to new FBI Agents, field agents, and police officers from all over the United States.


With former FBI Special Agent Robert K. Ressler and Dr. Ann Burgess, John Douglas conducted a landmark study of predators, published in book form as “Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives,” and “Crime Classification Manual.”


John Douglas assisted police with investigative techniques and proactive strategies in hunting some of the most notorious criminals of our time. He has confronted, interviewed, and studied dozens of serial killers and assassins, including Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, Richard Speck, John Wayne Gacy, “Son of Sam” David Berkowitz and James Earl Ray. The interviews and study were conducted to understand their motives and methods.


John Douglas was the model for actor Scott Glenn’s FBI Agent Jack Crawford character in “The Silence of the Lambs.” The character Holden Ford in the Netflix series “Mindhunters,” based on his first book of the same name, is also based on John Douglas.


Since his retirement from the FBI, he has become an author, speaker and independent investigator. His most recent book is “The Killer’s Shadow: The FBI’s Hunt for a White Supremacist Serial Killer,” which is about Joseph Paul Franklin. Franklin was convicted of several murders and executed.

John Douglas was interviewed by Paul Davis, a regular contributor to the Journal.


IACSP: I’ve enjoyed your books over the years, as well as the films based on your books and cases. I especially liked your current book, “The Killer’s Shadow,” as it was about one person primarily, a white supremacist sniper and serial killer named Joseph Paul Franklin. My first question is why did you become a criminal profiler?


Douglas: I was recruited by the FBI right out of the Air Force in 1970 at 25 years of age. I worked for seven years out in the field, working in Detroit and then Milwaukee. I was always interested in criminal personalities and understanding the motivation of why. So if I made an arrest, I’d have the guy in the back seat of the car and I’d ask him if he were willing to talk to me.

When I got to Quantico at 32, I was the youngest of all the agents. The Behavioral Science Unit had about eight or nine agents and I was assigned to teaching criminal psychology. We had road schools two weeks at a time going from one city to another. I told my partner, let’s go into the prisons and conduct these interviews of Ed Kempner, Charles Manson and David Berkowitz. We went into the prisons and conducted the interviews as I wanted to be a good instructor.

IACSP: How did you get involved in the Joseph Paul Franklin case?


Douglas: By 1980, when the Franklin case was popping up, David Kohl at headquarters in the Civil Rights Division called and said they identified Joseph Paul Franklin as this guy who had been shooting blacks and whites and attacking Jewish synagogues. They didn’t know where he was, so he asked me if the work we do with violent crime and serial killers would apply with a criminal like Franklin. I said I would give it a shot. It is really the criminal personality that you have to understand. There was a lot of pressure. I was trying to develop a new investigative tool, and now the Bureau wanted help on this case, and if I screwed this up, I’m was going to be shipped to Butte, Montana and to work on cattle rustling.


IACSP: What did you do initially?


Douglas: I did an assessment, a profile. In my interpretation, a profile is when you have an UNSUB, an unknown suspect, and you are analyzing the elements of the crime and the victim, getting information from the medical examiner, and demographics from the area where the crime took place. Why plus how equals who when you do an UNSUB case, but here we knew who he was. He was racial, and I was looking for strengths and weaknesses and vulnerabilities he may have. We had no idea where he was and that made it difficult. Criminals have comfort zones. Just as we like going to the same restaurant, a comfort zone for offenders is where they work and live, where they used to live, where there were happy times in their lives, but this guy was traveling around the country. The most difficult killers to capture are the mobile ones. There are more than 17,000 different law enforcement in the United States and there is not always a sharing of information, even from one county to another, no less from coast to coast.


IACSP: I read that Franklin financed his travels and killing sprees by robbing banks, right?

Douglas: Yes. Franklin was a successful bank robber. He got his early start in Mobile, Alabama, where he married two different young women and one had a young child. I believed that Franklin would be heading towards Mobile. Franklin did show up in Mobile and he went to a blood bank to make money, as he was afraid we had staked out the banks. He then traveled to Florida where he was apprehended.


IACSP: What was involved in your profiles of Franklin and others?


Douglas: We were involved with research with Boston College and we had a 57-page instrument that we used to ask thousands of questions. We saw patterns with them, pre-offense behavioral patterns, post-offense, and a triggering event. We saw an earlier childhood dysfunction in every one of these guys, including Franklin. We saw issues, problems and abuse. Franklin’s mother abused him, and his father really abused him. He was not allowed to socialize. He dropped out of school, started looking at Aryan Nation Brotherhood and Klu Klux Klan pamphlets. And he joined the groups and what he later told me was these guys “talked the talk, but don’t walk the walk.” Franklin believed the groups were infiltrated by the FBI. So he goes from group to another. He has this hatred towards interracial couples, Jews, blacks and his goal was to create a race war and hoped others would follow in his footsteps.


IACSP: Like Charles Manson?


Douglas: Franklin really admired Manson and he asked me about my interview with him.


IACSP: What crimes did Franklin commit in the beginning?


Douglas: The tipping point was when he was in a shopping mall parking lot and a black and white couple in a car cut him off. The passenger, a black man, got out of the car and Franklin shot and killed him and then killed the girl. It was an impulsive act, and he was surprised he didn’t get caught as there were witnesses. He changed his MO for the future. For the FBI, it became a civil rights case and no longer a domestic police cooperation case. It was going to be a full press to get the guy. I was taking information and analyzing it.


IACSP: Is there any difference between Franklin and a David Berkowitz or Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber?


Douglas: You start to see common denominators in the background. There is no mental illness or anything like that. You see early on in their childhood delinquency, signs of animal cruelty as an expression of hate, they are bullied upon and then became bullies. They are isolated and anti-social. Franklin read Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and “The Turner Diaries,” which justifies what he is about to do.


IACSP: What does Franklin have in common with Timothy McVeigh and other domestic terrorists?


Douglas: To use an analogy of a gun, the DNA is going to load the gun, but then it is going to be the personal life, the psychological experiences, how this person was raised, that will determine if they are going to pull the trigger. McVeigh’s parents divorced and he began to feel isolated. He gravitates to weaponry. He decided to join the Army. He did well as a sharpshooter, and he was assigned to an armored tank division during Desert Storm. But he became disenchanted in the way the war was being carried out. He wanted to become a Green Beret and he was accepted but he was not in good shape and he lasted only a couple of days and ends up being removed from the program and decides to screw it all. Back home, he saw what happened in Ruby Ridge, where one of our snipers took out Randy Weaver and his child. And then Waco, Texas, where little did anyone know at that time, McVeigh was there when the FBI came in with the tanks.


IACSP: McVeigh was in the compound?


Douglas: He was observing from afar and he was in the group of protestors and what he saw was the same tanks that he used in Iraq was now being used against our citizens. So those two actions reinforced his hatred of the government. He too is reading “The Turner Diaries” and other hate group pamphlets. So that was the triggering point for him and he teams up with Terry Nichols and one other guy and they targeted the federal building in Oklahoma City, hoping to take out FBI agents. He doesn’t really care about the children. He called it collateral damage. He hoped to get away, but the stupid ass had a vehicle without a license plate and the police brought him in for questioning and they tied him to the bombing.


IACSP: Killing the children in the day care in the federal building was truly terrible. What about Franklin?


Douglas: Franklin wanted to go into the military, and he wanted to be a police officer, but he had that bad eye. He had an accident with an old-fashioned shade with a spring in it and it hit him in the eye. He could have saved the eye had his mother taken him to a doctor. He developed cataracts and ended up being blind in the eye, but because of his over-compensation, he became a great shot and a sniper.


IACSP: Are the backgrounds of al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists different from someone like Franklin?


Douglas: There is a sense of alienation, a sense of isolation and they question their identity. You have the ethnicity and religion, and they feel the action of the group is going to empower them. They join the group and get a sense of brotherhood, a sense of belonging. The groups also give them a spiritual type of purpose. With those groups, you know who your enemy is. You know the hierarchy. You know who to target.


IACSP: How does the FBI deal with domestic terrorism?


Douglas: If you have a group like the Klan or the Aryan Nation, you have an organization where you can get informants and infiltrate them. Years ago, I worked a case on Los Macheteros, the Machete Wielders, in Puerto Rico. We went down there with a SWAT team and one of our agents got shot. We assessed the organization and thought this one person was the leader, but from our wiretaps, we saw another guy was getting all the calls and he was the actual leader.


IACSP: How can behavioral analysis aid law enforcement as well as the intelligence community?


Douglas: They can call upon Behavioral Sciences to do assessments of organizations and of people within the organizations. Also, when interrogating, we can assist with the proactive techniques we use. We can also show how we present information through the media, if you know the adversary is going to be listening. These are some of the tools in the toolbox.


IACSP: Thank you for speaking to us.

The Billion Dollar Bust: My Piece On The Historic Seizure Of One Billion Dollars In Cocaine Aboard a Ship In The Port Of Philadelphia

 Counterterrorism magazine published my piece on the billion dollar cocaine bust aboard a ship in Philadelphia. 

You can read the piece via the magazine pages above and below or the text below: 

The Billion Dollar Bust: An Historic Seizure of One Billion Dollars in Cocaine Aboard a Ship in the Port of Philadelphia

 December 21, 2020  

By Paul Davis

In September 10, 2020 Aleksandar Kavaja pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on a ship subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Previously, Vladimir Penda also entered a plea of guilty to the same charges. Both Kavaja and Penda are citizens of the Balkan country Montenegro.

The two sailors were crew members of the MSC Gayane. In the Port of Philadelphia on June 17, 2019 federal, state, and local law enforcement agents discovered approximately 20 tons of cocaine on the commercial ship. The cocaine has an estimated street value of $1.3 billion.

This was one of the largest drug seizures in U.S. history.

The U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, William M. McSwain, announced Kavaja’s guilty plea on September 10th. According to McSwain, Kavaja, the ship’s electrician, conspired with others to engage in bulk cocaine smuggling. He said that on multiple occasions during the ship’s voyage at sea, Kavaja and other crew members helped load huge quantities of cocaine onto the ship from speedboats that approached under cover of darkness and traveling at high speeds. Crew members used the Gayane’s crane to hoist cargo nets full of packaged cocaine onto the vessel and then hid the drugs in various shipping containers.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued a seize warrant for the ship and on July 4th, CBP executed the warrant and seized the MSC Gayane. At a press conference in Philadelphia on July 8, 2019, Casey Durst, the Director of Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), announced the record seizure.

“The MSC Gayane is the largest vessel seized in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s 230-year history and follows the record seizure of almost 20-tons of cocaine discovered on the vessel,” said Durst. “Seizing a vessel of this size is an unusual enforcement action for CBP but is indicative of the serious consequences associated with an alleged conspiracy by crewmembers and others to smuggle a record load of dangerous drugs through the United States. This action serves as a reminder for all shipping lines and vessel masters of their responsibilities under U.S. and international law to implement and enforce stringent security measures to prevent smuggling attempts such as this.”

The CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) led the multi-agency examination of shipping containers at the Philadelphia seaport.

During a midstream joint boarding, CBP, HSI, and U.S. Coast Guard personnel detected anomalies while examining seven shipping containers aboard the MSC Gayane, a 1,030-foot Liberian-flagged container ship. The boarding team escorted the ship to its berth in South Philadelphia and continued its inspection.

CBP officers offloaded truckloads of packages from the containers. A combined 15,582 bricks, totaling more than 35,000 pounds of a white, powdery substance, tested positive for cocaine. CBP seized the cocaine as well as $56,330 found on the vessel believed to be proceeds from illegal activity.

In addition to CBP and HSI, the multi-agency team consisted of U.S. Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Delaware State Police, and the Pennsylvania State Police.

“Because of our officers’ efforts, over 1 billion dollars of dangerous narcotics was taken off the streets,” said Durst. I have no doubt that our officers saved lives and significantly impacted transnational criminal organizations with this interception.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of U.S. borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.

HSI has broad legal authority to enforce a diverse array of federal statutes and investigate all types of cross-border criminal activity.

“This week’s cocaine seizure is a tremendous accomplishment that demonstrates the combined power of HSI’s collaboration with CBP, the Coast Guard and our state and local law enforcement partners,” said Marlon Miller, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Philadelphia. “Narcotics smuggling continues to pose a real and tangible threat to our communities, particularly when such activities are perpetuated by the crewmembers of a commercial vessel, as alleged in this investigation. HSI will continue to vigorously pursue investigations that target drug trafficking organizations engaged in the worldwide smuggling of dangerous narcotics.”

Captain Scott Anderson, the commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay and Captain of the Port, added, “The combined expertise, readiness, and responsiveness of this joint law enforcement team shows how training and cooperation prevents contraband from entering our ports and harming our communities. The seamless coordination between Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay, Coast Guard Investigative Services, Maritime Safety and Security Team New York, Coast Guard Stations Cape May and Philadelphia, and Joint Task Force-East, working alongside our federal, state, and local partners, amplifies our ability to interdict contraband on both the open seas and in our ports.”

Also in the shipping containers were wine, coated paperboard, vegetable extracts and dried nuts from Chile, carbon black from Colombia, and scrap metal batteries from United Arab Emirates. The containers were bound for Ireland, Nigeria, South Africa, Lebanon, India, and Haiti. The ship made port calls to Chile, Peru, Panama and the Bahamas prior to their arrival in Philadelphia.

The defendants face a maximum possible sentence of lifetime imprisonment “Over the past year, prosecutors in my office, in conjunction with our partner agencies, have been working non-stop to pursue justice in this case in order to protect our district and our country,” said McSwain. “We want to send a strong message to criminals around the world that Philadelphia is not a safe harbor for their deadly drug trafficking.”

Paul Davis is a regular contributor to the Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security Int’l and writes the monthly Threatcon column for the IACSP website.  

Sunday, December 27, 2020

A Look Back At Bob Hope Singing The Original 'Silver Bells' In 'The Lemon Drop Kid' Film

 I love Christmas songs and I’ll continue to listen to them this holiday season until New Year’s Day. 

I love many of the classic Christmas songs, which have been covered by the great old singers, such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and others.    

Silver Bells is one of my favorite Christmas songs. Many of the famous crooners, like Dean Martin, have covered the song, but few remember that it was the late, great comedian Bob Hope who first sang the song in the 1951 film, The Lemon Drop Kid. 

While most people remember Bob Hope for his wonderful USO shows for the troops and his TV specials, he was also a talented comic actor, starring with Bing Crosby in the “Road” film series, and appeared in several films based on Damon Runyon’s short crime stories, such as The Lemon Drop Kid.    

You can hear Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell sing Silver Bells from the The Lemon Drop Kid via the below link:

 Silver Bells - with Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell (from "The Lemon Drop Kid") - YouTube

You can also watch the film via the below link:


And you can read about the song and film via the below link:

Note: Damon Runyon is one of my favorite writers. In addition to The Lemon Drop Kid, I also like other films based on Damon Runyon stories, such as Guys and Dolls and A Pocket Full of Miracles 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

George Blake, Last In Line Of Cold War Spies Who Betrayed Britain, Dies at 98

 Reuters reports that British spy and traitor George Blake as died.

LONDON/MOSCOW (Reuters) - George Blake, who died in Russia on Saturday at the age of 98, was the last in a line of British spies whose secret work for the Soviet Union humiliated the intelligence establishment when it was discovered at the height of the Cold War.course,

 Britain says he exposed the identities of hundreds of Western agents across Eastern Europe in the 1950s, some of whom were executed as a result of his treason.

His case was among the most notorious of the Cold War, alongside those of a separate ring of British double agents known as the Cambridge Five.

Unmasked as a Soviet spy in 1961, Blake was sentenced to 42 years in London’s Wormwood Scrubs prison. In a classic cloak-and-dagger story, he escaped in 1966 with the help of other inmates and two peace activists, and was smuggled out of Britain in a camper van. He made it through Western Europe undiscovered and crossed the Iron Curtain into East Berlin.

He spent the rest of his life in the Soviet Union and then Russia, where he was feted as a hero.

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

George Blake, last in line of Cold War spies who betrayed Britain, dies at 98 | Reuters

You can also read my Washington Times On Crime column on George Blake via the below link:  

Paul Davis On Crime: Betrayal In Berlin: My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On Steve Vogel's interview With Cold War Spy George Blake 

Statement Of U.S. Attorney McSwain Regarding Court Ruling In Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial Society v. Kenney, Et Al.

 The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Pennsylvania released the below statement of U.S. Attorney William McSwain.

 PHILADELPHIA, PA – On Wednesday, December 23, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Nitza I. Quinones Alejandro issued a Memorandum Opinion on Plaintiff’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction.  Plaintiff alleged that the City had an unconstitutional policy of treating protests more favorably than other First Amendment-protected activity, such as parades.  While the Opinion denied the Plaintiff’s Motion, it did so on the basis that the City has abandoned its policy.

I want to congratulate the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial Society for successfully protecting the First Amendment rights of all Philadelphians.  Its lawsuit has achieved its purpose: the court has now confirmed that the City has abandoned its policy of favoring protests over other constitutionally protected speech, like parades. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office first objected to the City’s policy back on July 22, 2020, when I wrote a letter to City Solicitor Marcel Pratt.  In that letter, I outlined the various unconstitutional aspects of the City’s July 14, 2020 Special Events Moratorium and explained how the City could not “pick and choose” by banning parades or other First Amendment-protected activity while simultaneously allowing and supporting protests.  Unlike the City’s July 14, 2020 policy, the First Amendment does not discriminate.

Soon thereafter, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Society also objected to the City’s policy.  In response, the City “expressly rescinded the restrictions” in the July 14, 2020 policy, as the court explained.  Significantly, organizations may now “hold a parade without a permit, on equal footing with all other events, and without threat of being dispersed,” according to the court.

Thus, any organization that wants to express a message via an outdoor parade in Philadelphia can have at it – the City cannot and will not stop you.  And if the City attempts to return to the days of discriminating against certain types of speech, it will find itself right back in court.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas To Active Duty Military On Guard Around The World

Merry Christmas to U.S. military people on station and on guard around the world. 

I recall being on the USS Kitty Hawk on Christmas in 1970 as the aircraft carrier was on 'Yankee Station,' off the coast of North Vietnam. 

Although there was a Christmas truce with the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, they quickly violated the truce, as they had during past truces. So the carrier "turned to" and launched aircraft to attack aggressive communist forces in Vietnam and Laos. 

Although this teenage sailor worked long and hard on Christmas that year, the carrier offered a traditional Christmas dinner that was quite good. I was single then and I was looking forward to our upcoming visits to Olongapo in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan. 

But I remember the sailors aboard who were married men with children. They missed their families dearly on Christmas that year. 

So my thanks goes out to the sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines who are missing their families this year.     


A Little Humor: A Christmas Joke

 Three men die in a car accident on Christmas Eve. 

They all find themselves at the Pearly Gates waiting to enter Heaven. 

To enter Heaven, they must present something related to or associated with Christmas to Saint Peter or they will be rejected..

The first man searches his pocket, and finds some mistletoe, so he is allowed in. 

The second man presents a nutcracker, so he is also allowed in. 

The third man pulls out a pair of woman’s panties. 

Confused at this last gesture, St Peter asks, “How does this represent Christmas?” 

The man answers, “They’re Carol’s.”

My Crime Fiction: 'The Cop Who Busted Santa'

 As the Christmas season is here once again, I’d like to offer once again my short story, The Cop Who Busted Santa.

Some years back I wrote a short story called A Christmas Crime Story, which was about a mean, anti-Christmas cop who was later redeemed. You can read A Christmas Crime Story via the link at the bottom of the page. 

The below short story, which appeared originally in American Crime Magazine, is a prequel to A Christmas Crime Story.   

The Cop Who Busted Santa

By Paul Davis

I truly love the Christmas season. I love holiday lights, Christmas music, colorful church services, and gatherings of family and friends. I also love walking through shopping districts and watching people buying presents and celebrating the joyous holiday, despite the cold weather.

While walking along East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia this Christmas season, I came across John Snyder, a retired Philadelphia police officer. His large, pan-shaped head was now nearly bald, and his stocky frame held a few more pounds since I last saw him some years ago. He still displayed his gruff demeanor, but there was also a shy smile on his face. 

John Snyder was not known for his smile.

Back in the 1990s I had written several stories about Sergeant Snyder in my crime column in the local newspaper. Most of them were unflattering, but he never complained, and he still greeted me, albeit reluctantly, when I saw him at the 3rd police district in South Philly or at cop bars.

About that time Sergeant John Snyder became famous as “The Cop Who Busted Santa.” 

On Christmas Eve of that year, while patrolling the 3rd district in South Philadelphia, Snyder pulled over a driver who had performed what is known locally as “the South Philly Roll,” which is a deliberate failure to fully stop at a stop sign or traffic light. 

Walking up to the driver’s car window, Snyder was not amused by the driver, who was dressed as Santa Claus with a huge false white beard. He greeted Snyder with a hearty, but somewhat slurred, “Ho, Ho, Ho. Merry Christmas.”

“You ran that stop sign back there,” Snyder said in his low, gruff voice that more than one cop called his “bark.” 

George Jankowski, the man dressed as Santa, laughed loudly and his huge belly, which was his own and not costume stuffing, shook in the front car seat. 

“Oh, really,” Jankowski replied. “Sorry about that officer, but I’m on my way to an orphanage, here in my modern-day sleigh, to deliver toys for the poor, little orphans.”

“It’s sergeant, not officer, and there’s no excuse for running a stop sign,” Snyder declared. “Have you been drinking? Get out of the car.”

Jankowski cursed and struggled to get out of the car. 

“I’ve had a few, yeah, you know, it’s Christmas Eve.”

Snyder grabbed Jankowski and twirled him around and placed the man’s white gloves on the patrol car. He kicked his legs apart.

As a good number of people were out on the street that night, coming in and out of stores, bars and restaurants, a crowd gathered quickly and watched Snyder manhandle and search the man dressed as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

The crowd was aghast. One bystander full of holiday spirit – both faith-based and liquid – called out to Snyder, “Hey Officer Grinch! Leave Santa alone.”

Others began to complain as well, and several children began to cry. One man walked out into the street towards Snyder to reason with him. 

“Back off!” Snyder commanded. “Or I’ll place you under arrest too. I’ll arrest all of you people,” he barked to the crowd.

Snyder handcuffed Jankowski and squeezed the big man into the backseat of his patrol car. As Snyder drove off, he heard one bystander say sarcastically, "And a Merry, Merry Christmas to you too." 

If this event had happened these days, several people would have recorded the arrest on their cell phone and uploaded the video to the Internet. And the video would have gone viral, as they say, with millions of people viewing it.

As it were, several outraged people contacted the police and complained, and more than one witness contacted the press. The 6 o’clock TV news stations all ran the story with on-air interviews with the angry witnesses to the arrest. 

The daily newspapers followed up with the story on the front page and the story of the arrest of Santa on Christmas Eve appeared in newspapers and on TV and radio across the country on Christmas Day. The national press mocked Philadelphia and they all brought up an earlier story of Philadelphia sports fans who pelted Santa Claus with snowballs at a ball field. 

“So much for Philadelphia being the “City of Brotherly Love,” one national TV newscaster commented dryly. 

The TV 6 o’clock news reports on the arrests prompted a series of phone calls from the mayor, the police commissioner, a deputy police commissioner, a chief inspector, an inspector, and finally the 3rd district’s captain. 

The captain drove to the station from his home and released Jankowski, who was being held over for arraignment. The captain, along with the lieutenant, chewed out Snyder, but the sergeant held his ground and defended his actions. 

The captain reminded Snyder of his actions on the previous Christmas Eve. 

“You locked up a bunch of kids for just being merry, remember? And you locked up those newlywed tourists who only wanted you to take their picture,” the captain said. “What are you, a one-man Christmas joy-killer?”

Later that evening, Jankowski went on TV and told his story. He complained of police abuse and false arrest and said he was going to sue the city. He also said that while in police custody, he had to call his son and tell him to go and pick up the car, which had been towed on Snyder's orders, as the car had the presents for the orphaned children. 

Jankowski, dressed again as Santa, delivered the toys to the Catholic Orphanage on Christmas Day. He was accompanied by reporters and the story was carried widely across the nation as a positive story on Christmas.    

The day after Christmas Jack Ferrari, a 3rd district cop that I had gone out on a ride-along with and wrote about in my column, called and invited me to meet him at the Penrose, a South Philly diner.

He was on his lunch break with his partner in a booth and I slid in and joined them. 

Ferrari slipped me a piece of paper that had Jankowski’s name and phone number on it. The note also had Snyder’s phone number on it. I placed the note in my jacket pocket. 

Ferrari’s partner, an officer named Bill Hanson, said Snyder was a son of a bitch - but don't use my name, he added.  

“He’s a cheap and miserable bastard,” Hanson continued. “No wonder his wife kicked him out and even his kids won’t speak to him. And he wears boxing gloves at the bar.”


“He wears boxing gloves just so he can’t reach into his pocket and take out money to buy a guy a drink,” Hanson said. “OK, not really, but I’ve never seen him buy anyone a drink.”  

Ferrari noted, to be fair, that Snyder also never took a drink when other people were buying. He simply stood alone at the bar and nursed a beer or two.  

“Snyder is a tough sergeant, but when there is a shooting or altercation involving his officers, Snyder dives right in,” Ferrari said. “He also makes sure that higher-ups never mess with his guys. He took the heat for us many times,” Ferrari said.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Hanson agreed. 

I left the diner and called Jankowski. He was still full of rage and he bent my ear over the phone for an hour. I also called Snyder to get his side, but he refused to talk about the incident.  

“No comment,” he barked over the phone.

I felt bad for Snyder, as he was one of those sad people who only felt sorrow and bitterness on Christmas. I hoped that he would someday discover true happiness, especially at Christmas. 

I published my “The Cop Who Busted Santa” column in the local paper later that week.

This incident was unfortunate, but it led to some positive actions. The Catholic orphanage received a lot of publicity and donations poured in. Jankowski sued the City of Philadelphia and received a substantial settlement, which he used to establish a Christmas charity fund.  

The incident also united a good number of people in their critical response to the well-publicized arrest of Santa. 

And, lo and behold, they also began to speak to each other and to their children of the true meaning of Christmas; joy, love, charity, and the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. 

And yes, I got a column out of it.

© Paul Davis 2018. 

You can read A Christmas Crime Story via the below link: 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Collection Of Great Spy Stories: My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On Otto Penzler's 'The Big Book Of Espionage'

 The Washington Times published my On Crime column on Otto Penzler’s Big Book of Espionage. 

I’ve loved spy thrillers since I was a teenager, and I’ve always loved short stories, so I was pleased that Otto Penzler has edited “The Big Book of Espionage Stories.”  

Otto Penzler, the president and CEO of and the owner of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, is the editor of previous fine anthologies, such as “The Big Book of Reel Murders: Stories That Inspired Great Crime Films” and “The Big Book of Pulps.”  

This collection of espionage stories covers WWI, WWII, the Cold War and beyond. Included is W. Somerset Maugham’s “The Hairless Mexican,” Eric Ambler’s “The Army in the Shadows,” Ian Fleming’s “For Your Eyes Only,’ Charles McCarry’s “The End of the String,” and other terrific spy stories. 

“Espionage has been called the second oldest profession, and with good reason,” Mr. Penzler writes in the introduction. “Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War,’ a famous textbook on waging an effective war, devoted a great deal of significance to espionage and the creation of a secret spy network. All warfare is deception, he stated, and “Be subtle! Be subtle!” he intoned, and “use your spies for every kind of business.” It was published in 510 BC. 

“The craft of espionage has fascinated people ever since stories were told, whether orally, on the printed page as journalism or fiction, or on a screen. The secrecy, manipulation, deception, and potential danger combine to produce an aura of romance and adventure to the enterprise. 

“Those who are actually involved in the world of espionage and counterespionage have quite a different view, recognizing and accepting the fact that it is mostly boring work, gathering information from technical journals, computers, overlong reports, and often self-serving memos, then analyzing the staggering mountain of information in order to filter out the tiny nuggets of data that may add a worthwhile grain of gold to a dossier that may never be used for any serious purpose.” 

But Mr. Penzler notes that once espionage stories get into the hands of creative authors, much of the dull work is ignored, and the more colorful work is highlighted and embellished. He writes that W. Somerset Maugham’s “Ashenden, or The British Agent,” the 1928 book of connected short stories about espionage in World War I, marked the birth of the realistic espionage story in which ordinary people are caught up in extraordinary circumstances. 

... “It can be no surprise that there is a long history of real-life espionage agents employing the secrets of their surreptitious trade, embellishing and fictionalizing them for the printed page,” Mr. Penzler writes. “W. Somerset Maugham, Ian Fleming, John le Carre, and Graham Greene had worked for the Secret Service, and so did Charles McCarry (1930–2019), who spent eleven years as a deep cover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency in Europe, Asia, and Africa.” 

Ian Fleming’s character James Bond, Mr. Penzler writes, has challenged Sherlock Holmes as the world’s most recognizable crime fighter. 

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

You can also read my spy story, Cat Street, via the below link:

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: "Cat Street"  

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Former Senior Libyan Intelligence Officer And Bomb-Maker For The Muamar Qaddafi Regime Charged For The December 21, 1988 Bombing Of Pan Am Flight 103

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

Attorney General William Barr, Director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, and Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, announced new charges against a former Libyan intelligence operative, Abu Agela Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, aka, “Hasan Abu Ojalya Ibrahim” (Masud), for his role in building the bomb that killed 270 individuals in the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on Dec. 21, 1988. 

“I would like to publicly and personally express my deepest thanks to the Lord Advocate of Scotland, James Wolffe, QC, for the tireless efforts of his dedicated prosecutors from The Crown Office and investigators from Police Scotland.  These charges are the product of decades of hard work by investigators and prosecutors who have remained resolute in their dogged pursuit of justice for our citizens, the citizens of the United Kingdom, and the citizens of the other 19 countries that were murdered by terrorists operating on behalf of the former Muamar Qaddafi regime when they attacked Pan Am Flight 103,” said William P. Barr, Attorney General of the United States.  “As to all the victims and the families, we cannot take away your pain from your loss, but we can seek justice for you. Our message to other terrorists around the world is this – you will not succeed – if you attack Americans, no matter where you are, no matter how long it takes, you will be pursued to the ends of the earth until justice is done.” 

“Today’s announcement should remind the world that when Americans are harmed, the FBI and the United States government will never stop pursuing justice for our citizens, no matter where that takes us, how long it takes us to get there, or how difficult the road might be,” said FBI Director Chris Wray.  “Without the thoroughness and professionalism of our FBI personnel, the Department of Justice, our Scottish partners, and the people of Lockerbie, we never would have found the trail that led us to the men responsible for this attack.  We will never forget the loved ones who were lost, and we remain committed to continuing our work to achieve justice for the victims and their families.” 

“Today’s unsealing of criminal charges in the Pan Am 103 case is monumental on several fronts,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin for the District of Columbia.  “First, the criminal complaint against the alleged ‘bomb maker’ signifies that the work of federal prosecutors never ends, even after several decades, until all criminal actors are held accountable.  In addition, these charges remind the public of the horrific effect that acts of terrorism continue to have on victims and their families.  The bombing of Pan Am 103 was historic in that it was, until the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the largest terrorist attack on U.S. civilians in history.  It also remains the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United Kingdom – for all of these reasons we will never forget and the D.C. United States Attorney’s Office will continue to seek justice for all of the Pan Am 103 victims and their loved ones.”  

December 21, 1988 

Pan Am Flight 103 exploded into pieces almost instantaneously when a bomb in the forward cargo area exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, at 7:03 p.m. local time at an altitude of 31,000 feet after 38 minutes of flight.  The plane had taken off from London-Heathrow and was en route to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. 

Citizens from 21 countries were killed, of that number 190 Americans perished, including 35 Syracuse University students as they were returning home to the United States for the holidays after a semester studying abroad.  43 victims were from the United Kingdom, including 11 residents of Lockerbie, Scotland, who perished on the ground as fiery debris from the falling aircraft destroyed an entire city block where homes had peacefully stood just minutes earlier.  This international terrorist attack, planned by and executed by Libyan intelligence operatives, was considered the largest terrorist attack on both the United States and the United Kingdom before the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.    

Immediately after the disaster, Scottish and American law enforcement undertook a joint investigation that was unprecedented in its scope, and in November 1991, it led to criminal charges in both countries, charging two Libyan intelligence operatives, Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi (Megrahi) and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah (Fhimah) with their roles in the bombing. 

The criminal complaint filed today charges Masud with destruction of an aircraft resulting in death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 32(a)(1) and (a)(2), as well as destruction of a vehicle by means of an explosive resulting in death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(i).  The charges in criminal complaints are merely allegations, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Criminal Complaint Allegations 

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, the External Security Organization (ESO) was the Libyan intelligence service through which Libya conducted acts of terrorism against other nations and repressed the activities of Libyan dissidents abroad.  Masud worked in various capacities for the ESO, including as a technical expert in building explosive devices from approximately 1973 to 2011.     

According to the affidavit, Masud participated in the “Lockerbie airplane bombing,” among other plots against the United States and the west, including but not limited to, the April 5, 1986, bombing of the LaBelle Discotheque in West Berlin, Germany.  Two U.S. service members were killed in that attack and scores of others left seriously injured or permanently disabled.  

Planning and Executing the Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, in the winter of 1988, Masud was summoned by a Libyan intelligence official to meet at that official’s office in Tripoli, Libya, where he was directed to fly to Malta with a prepared suitcase.  He did so, where he was met by Megrahi and Fhimah at the airport.  After Masud spent approximately three or four days in the hotel, Megrahi and Fhimah instructed Masud to set the timer on the device in the suitcase for the following morning, so that the explosion would occur exactly eleven hours later.  

According to the affidavit, the suitcase used by Masud was a medium-sized Samsonite suitcase that he used for traveling.  Megrahi and Fhimah were both at the airport on the morning of Dec. 21, 1988, and Masud handed the suitcase to Fhimah after Fhimah gave him a signal to do so.  Fhimah then placed the suitcase on the conveyor belt.  Masud then left.  He was given a boarding pass for a Libyan flight to Tripoli, which was to take off at 9:00 a.m.

Three or four days after returning to Libya, Masud and Megrahi met with a senior Libyan intelligence official, who thanked them for a successful operation.  Approximately three months after that, Masud and Fhimah met with Qaddafi, and others, who thanked them for carrying out a great national duty against the Americans, and Qaddafi added that the operation was a total success.  

Of the 270 lost in the bombing, 190 were Americans on the aircraft.  Forty-three from the United Kingdom were lost, including eleven lives on the ground in Lockerbie.  The remaining victims were from the following countries: Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago.  The Department of Justice expresses its profound appreciation to the Scottish government as well as its dedicated commitment to seeking justice for all the victims of the alleged crimes.   

Investigative Team 

The United States side of the joint investigative team is led by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, along with prosecutors from the National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.  There are many agents from the FBI and prosecutors from the Department who have worked on this case over the years.  

Contact Information 

Victims of this crime and their families can contact the Department of Justice via e-mail at, or by telephone at +1 (202) 252-7045.