Thursday, March 31, 2022

A Little Humor: Three Things I Hate

 

Operation Fox Hunt: Man Charged With Transnational Repression Campaign While Acting As An Illegal Agent Of The Chinese Government In The United States

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

A Chinese national is charged in a criminal complaint, which was unsealed today in the Southern District of New York, with conspiring to act in the United States as an illegal agent of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

According to court documents, Sun Hoi Ying, aka Sun Haiying, 45, of the PRC, from at least February 2017 through February 2022, acted in the United States as an agent of the PRC government, without notifying the U.S. Attorney General as required by law.

“This case demonstrates, once again, the PRC’s disdain for the rule of law and its efforts to coerce and intimidate those it targets on our shores as part of its Operation Fox Hunt,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen. “The defendant allegedly traveled to the United States and enlisted others, including a sworn law enforcement officer, to spy on and blackmail his victims. Such conduct is both criminal and reprehensible.”

“The PRC government launched a campaign dubbed ‘Operation Fox Hunt,’ a global plot to repress dissent and to forcibly repatriate so-called ‘fugitives’ – including citizens living legally in the United States – through the use of unsanctioned, unilateral and illegal practices,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “We allege Mr. Sun, as part of that campaign, attempted to threaten and coerce a victim into bending to the PRC’s will, even using a co-conspirator who is a member of U.S. law enforcement to reinforce that the victim had no choice but to comply with the PRC government’s demands. Today’s charges reflect this office’s continued commitment, working hand in hand with our partners at the FBI, to combat transnational repression and bringing to justice those who perpetrate it.”

“The Chinese government takes advantage of our freedoms — freedoms they deny their own citizens — to advance their authoritarian regime, and calls uncomfortable truths about their behavior rumors and lies,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “There’s nothing false about seeing example after example of the Chinese government’s underhanded and illegal behavior here in the United States. I urge anyone to contact the FBI if you feel you’re a victim of the Chinese government’s illegal Fox Hunt activities.”

“As alleged, Sun Hoi Ying, acting at the direction of the PRC government, engaged in a range of activities designed to pressure individuals in the United States to return to the PRC to face charges brought by the Chinese government,” said Assistant Director in Charge Michael J. Driscoll of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “Our commitment to protecting the freedoms enjoyed by all United States residents is steadfast. Today's action is the latest example of our unwavering determination to combat transnational repression in all its forms.”

According to court documents, the FBI has been involved in an investigation of individuals who, working at the direction of the PRC government, have engaged in an international campaign, known alternatively as “Operation Fox Hunt” and “Operation Skynet,” to pressure individuals located in the United States and elsewhere to return to the PRC to face charges or to otherwise reach financial settlements with the PRC government.

As alleged, from approximately October 2016 through May 2017, Sun conducted operations in the United States on behalf of the PRC government to pressure, threaten and collect personal information regarding victims of Operation Fox Hunt. Among other things, as part of his operations and at the direction of the PRC government, Sun hired private investigators in the United States to gather personal information on Operation Fox Hunt targets, labeled as “fugitives” by the PRC government and provided some of that information to the PRC government.

According to the complaint, Sun provided 35 names to a private investigator (P.I.-1) working at a U.S. company (Firm-1) of individuals described as PRC fugitives, including Victim-1, who is a U.S. citizen that previously lived in the PRC, worked at a PRC-owned company, and was subsequently accused by the PRC government of embezzlement. As alleged, P.I.-1 conducted surveillance at Victim-1’s home and provided a report to Firm-1 and Sun. By June 2018, the PRC government had publicly disseminated personal identifying information of Victim-1 – including case details, a photograph and home address – on PRC-based news media websites.

While Sun was collecting information about Victim-1 for the PRC government, Victim-1’s daughter (Victim-2), who is a U.S. citizen and was pregnant at the time, was held against her will in the PRC for approximately eight months. In or about October 2016, Victim-2, her spouse and her minor child attempted to leave the PRC to return to the United States. However, Victim-2 was told by PRC customs officials and a PRC prosecutor (Prosecutor-1) that she could not leave and was subject to an “exit ban.” While Victim-2’s spouse and minor child were able to return to the United States, Victim-2 was told that, since Victim-1 had committed a crime, the “exit ban” on Victim-2 was a consequence of Victim-1’s fugitive status. The PRC prosecutor further told Victim-2: (1) that she would not be permitted to leave the PRC until she helped cause Victim-1 to return to the PRC to resolve Victim-1’s criminal case; (2) that Victim-2 was not to discuss the “exit ban” with the U.S. government; and (3) that the U.S. Embassy was helpless to address Victim-2’s status in the PRC. When Victim-2 explained to Prosecutor-1 that she was pregnant and wished to deliver her baby in the United States, Prosecutor-1 told Victim-2 she would deliver her baby in the PRC if the conditions were not yet met for the “exit ban” to be lifted.

According to the complaint, on or about Dec. 1, 2019, Sun also sought out, located and met with an Operation Fox Hunt target (Victim-3), in New York City, in coordination with a co-conspirator who is a local U.S. law enforcement officer. During the meeting, Sun threatened and pressured the victim, including by threatening that the PRC government would take certain adverse and retaliatory actions if the victim did not comply with the demands of the PRC government.

Sun is charged with one count of conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the Attorney General, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of acting as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the Attorney General, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew J.C. Hellman and Kyle A. Wirshba for the Southern District of New York are prosecuting the case, with valuable assistance provided by Trial Attorney Scott Claffee of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

The FBI’s New York Field Office is investigating the case.

A complaint is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

National Vietnam War Veterans Day 2022

Today is National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

You can watch a short video that briefly explains the Vietnam War via the below link:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Vietnam+War+explained&&view=detail&mid=76BD713A7E4381B2F7FC76BD713A7E4381B2F7FC&&FORM=VRDGAR&ru=%2Fvideos%2Fsearch%3Fq%3DVietnam


My late brother, Edward R. Davis (seen in the above photo), served in the U.S. Army at Chu Lai in South Vietnam in 1968-1969. 

And I served on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk on "Yankee Station" off the coast of North Vietnam in 1970-1971.

  

You can watch a video of the USS Kitty Hawk off Vietnam via the below link:


Sunday, March 27, 2022

Four Russian Government Employees Charged In Two Historical Hacking Campaigns Targeting Critical Infrastructure Worldwide

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

The Department of Justice unsealed two indictments today charging four defendants, all Russian nationals who worked for the Russian government, with attempting, supporting and conducting computer intrusions that together, in two separate conspiracies, targeted the global energy sector between 2012 and 2018. In total, these hacking campaigns targeted thousands of computers, at hundreds of companies and organizations, in approximately 135 countries.

A June 2021 indictment returned in the District of Columbia, United States v. Evgeny Viktorovich Gladkikh, concerns the alleged efforts of an employee of a Russian Ministry of Defense research institute and his co-conspirators to damage critical infrastructure outside the United States, thereby causing two separate emergency shutdowns at a foreign targeted facility. The conspiracy subsequently attempted to hack the computers of a U.S. company that managed similar critical infrastructure entities in the United States.

An August 2021 indictment returned in the District of Kansas, United States v. Pavel Aleksandrovich Akulov, et al., details allegations about a separate, two-phased campaign undertaken by three officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and their co-conspirators to target and compromise the computers of hundreds of entities related to the energy sector worldwide. Access to such systems would have provided the Russian government the ability to, among other things, disrupt and damage such computer systems at a future time of its choosing.

“Russian state-sponsored hackers pose a serious and persistent threat to critical infrastructure both in the United States and around the world,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “Although the criminal charges unsealed today reflect past activity, they make crystal clear the urgent ongoing need for American businesses to harden their defenses and remain vigilant. Alongside our partners here at home and abroad, the Department of Justice is committed to exposing and holding accountable state-sponsored hackers who threaten our critical infrastructure with cyber-attacks.” 

“The FBI, along with our federal and international partners, is laser-focused on countering the significant cyber threat Russia poses to our critical infrastructure,” said FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate. “We will continue to identify and quickly direct response assets to victims of Russian cyber activity; to arm our partners with the information that they need to deploy their own tools against the adversary; and to attribute the misconduct and impose consequences both seen and unseen.”

“We face no greater cyber threat than actors seeking to compromise critical infrastructure, offenses which could harm those working at affected plants as well as the citizens who depend on them,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia. “The department and my office will ensure that those attacking operational technology will be identified and prosecuted.”

“The potential of cyberattacks to disrupt, if not paralyze, the delivery of critical energy services to hospitals, homes, businesses and other locations essential to sustaining our communities is a reality in today’s world,” said U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard for the District of Kansas. “We must acknowledge there are individuals actively seeking to wreak havoc on our nation’s vital infrastructure system, and we must remain vigilant in our effort to thwart such attacks. The Department of Justice is committed to the pursuit and prosecution of accused hackers as part of its mission to protect the safety and security of our nation.”

In addition to unsealing these charges, the U.S. government is taking action to enhance private sector network defense efforts and disrupt similar malicious activity.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has already released numerous Technical Alerts, ICS Alerts and Malware Analysis Reports regarding Russia’s malign cyber activities, including the campaigns discussed in the indictments. These are located at: https://www.cisa.gov/shields-up

  1. United States v. Evgeny Viktorovich Gladkikh – defendant installed backdoors and launched malware designed to compromise the safety of energy facilities

In June 2021, a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment charging Evgeny Viktorovich Gladkikh (Евгений Викторович Гладких), 36, a computer programmer employed by an institute affiliated with the Russian Ministry of Defense, for his role in a campaign to hack industrial control systems (ICS) and operational technology (OT) of global energy facilities using techniques designed to enable future physical damage with potentially catastrophic effects.

According to the indictment, between May and September 2017, the defendant and co-conspirators hacked the systems of a foreign refinery and installed malware, which cyber security researchers have referred to as “Triton” or “Trisis,” on a safety system produced by Schneider Electric, a multinational corporation. The conspirators designed the Triton malware to prevent the refinery’s safety systems from functioning (i.e., by causing the ICS to operate in an unsafe manner while appearing to be operating normally), granting the defendant and his co-conspirators the ability to cause damage to the refinery, injury to anyone nearby, and economic harm. However, when the defendant deployed the Triton malware, it caused a fault that led the refinery’s Schneider Electric safety systems to initiate two automatic emergency shutdowns of the refinery’s operations. Between February and July 2018, the conspirators researched similar refineries in the United States, which were owned by a U.S. company, and unsuccessfully attempted to hack the U.S. company’s computer systems.

The three-count indictment alleges that Gladkikh was an employee of the State Research Center of the Russian Federation FGUP Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics’ (Государственный научный центр Российской Федерации федеральное государственное унитарное предприятие Центральный научно-исследовательский институт химии и механики, hereinafter “TsNIIKhM”) Applied Developments Center (“Центр прикладных разработок,” hereinafter “ADC”). On its website, which was modified after the Triton attack became public, TsNIIKhM described itself as the Russian Ministry of Defense’s leading research organization. The ADC, in turn, publicly asserted that it engaged in research concerning information technology-related threats to critical infrastructure (i.e., that its research was defensive in nature).

The defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to cause damage to an energy facility, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, one count of attempt to cause damage to an energy facility, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher B. Brown and Luke Jones for the District of Columbia, in partnership with the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, are prosecuting this case. The FBI’s Washington Field Office conducted the investigation.

The U.S.-based targets of the conspiracy cooperated and provided valuable assistance in the investigation. The Department of Justice and the FBI also expressed appreciation to Schneider Electric for its assistance in the investigation, particularly noting the company’s public outreach and education efforts following the overseas Triton attack.

  1. United States v. Pavel Aleksandrovich Akulov, Mikhail Mikhailovich Gavrilov, and Marat Valeryevich Tyukov – defendants undertook years-long effort to target and compromise computer systems of energy sector companies

On Aug. 26, 2021, a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Kansas, returned an indictment charging three computer hackers, all of whom were residents and nationals of the Russian Federation (Russia) and officers in Military Unit 71330 or “Center 16” of the FSB, with violating U.S. laws related to computer fraud and abuse, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and causing damage to the property of an energy facility.

The FSB hackers, Pavel Aleksandrovich Akulov (Павел Александрович Акулов), 36, Mikhail Mikhailovich Gavrilov (Михаил Михайлович Гаврилов), 42, and Marat Valeryevich Tyukov (Марат Валерьевич Тюков), 39, were members of a Center 16 operational unit known among cybersecurity researchers as “Dragonfly,” “Berzerk Bear,” “Energetic Bear,” and “Crouching Yeti.” The indictment alleges that, between 2012 and 2017, Akulov, Gavrilov, Tyukov and their co-conspirators, engaged in computer intrusions, including supply chain attacks, in furtherance of the Russian government’s efforts to maintain surreptitious, unauthorized and persistent access to the computer networks of companies and organizations in the international energy sector, including oil and gas firms, nuclear power plants, and utility and power transmission companies. Specifically, the conspirators targeted the software and hardware that controls equipment in power generation facilities, known as ICS or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. Access to such systems would have provided the Russian government the ability to, among other things, disrupt and damage such computer systems at a future time of its choosing.

According to the indictment, the energy sector campaign involved two phases. In the first phase, which took place between 2012 and 2014 and is commonly referred to by cyber security researchers as “Dragonfly” or “Havex,” the conspirators engaged in a supply chain attack, compromising the computer networks of ICS/SCADA system manufacturers and software providers and then hiding malware – known publicly as “Havex” – inside legitimate software updates for such systems. After unsuspecting customers downloaded Havex-infected updates, the conspirators would use the malware to, among other things, create backdoors into infected systems and scan victims’ networks for additional ICS/SCADA devices. Through these and other efforts, including spearphishing and “watering hole” attacks, the conspirators installed malware on more than 17,000 unique devices in the United States and abroad, including ICS/SCADA controllers used by power and energy companies.

In the second phase, which took place between 2014 and 2017 and is commonly referred to as “Dragonfly 2.0,” the conspirators transitioned to more targeted compromises that focused on specific energy sector entities and individuals and engineers who worked with ICS/SCADA systems. As alleged in the indictment, the conspirators’ tactics included spearphishing attacks targeting more than 3,300 users at more than 500 U.S. and international companies and entities, in addition to U.S. government agencies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In some cases, the spearphishing attacks were successful, including in the compromise of the business network (i.e., involving computers not directly connected to ICS/SCADA equipment) of the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation (Wolf Creek) in Burlington, Kansas, which operates a nuclear power plant. Moreover, after establishing an illegal foothold in a particular network, the conspirators typically used that foothold to penetrate further into the network by obtaining access to other computers and networks at the victim entity.

During the Dragonfly 2.0 phase, the conspirators also undertook a watering hole attack by compromising servers that hosted websites commonly visited by ICS/SCADA system and other energy sector engineers through publicly known vulnerabilities in content management software. When the engineers browsed to a compromised website, the conspirators’ hidden scripts deployed malware designed to capture login credentials onto their computers.

The conspiracy’s hacking campaign targeted victims in the United States and in more than 135 other countries.

Akulov, Gavrilov and Tyukov are charged with conspiracy to cause damage to the property of an energy facility and commit computer fraud and abuse, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Akulov and Gavrilov are also charged with substantive counts of wire fraud and computer fraud related to unlawfully obtaining information from computers and causing damage to computers. These offenses carry maximum sentences ranging from five to 20 years in prison. Finally, Akulov and Gavrilov are also charged with three counts of aggravated identity theft, each of which carry a minimum sentence of two years consecutive to any other sentence imposed.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott Rask, Christopher Oakley and Ryan Huschka forthe District of Kansas, and Counsel for Cyber Investigations Ali Ahmad and Trial Attorney Christine Bonomo of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting this case. The FBI’s Portland and Richmond field offices conducted the investigation, with the assistance of the FBI’s Cyber Division.

Numerous victims, including Wolf Creek and its owners Evergy and the Kansas Electric Power Cooperative, cooperated and provided invaluable assistance in the investigation.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.


Note: View the concurrent announcement by the Department of State of a $10 million reward for information leading to the arrest of a defendant or identification of other conspirators as part of its Rewards for Justice program.

View the concurrent announcement by the FBI, Department of Energy and Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of a  Joint Cybersecurity Advisory containing technical details, indicators of compromise and mitigation measures. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

My Crime Fiction: The 30-Day Detail

 The below crime fiction short story originally appeared in American Crime Magazine. 

The 30-Day Detail 

By Paul Davis

An aircraft carrier has been described as a floating small city due to her size and large crew. Small cites have crime, so it should not be a surprise that one will encounter crime aboard an aircraft carrier. There are assaults, thefts, drug trafficking, and even the occasional murder.

I thought of this after I spoke to a former sailor that I served with on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War.

James Green, who lives in North Philadelphia, emailed me and wrote that he read my crime column in the local newspaper. He wrote that he recognized my column photo, although I’ve aged somewhat since I was an 18-year-old sailor.

I remember Green well as we served together in the carrier’s vent shop when I was detailed there for 30 days after an altercation in the radio communication division. I responded to his email and gave him my phone number.

He called a day or so later and we spoke for an hour, laughing as we remembered our adventures on the aircraft carrier. Green said he had alcohol and drug issues after he got out of the Navy, but he married a good woman who eventually straightened him out. He worked as a car mechanic in a garage his older brother owned, and he had four great kids with his wife.

After Green hung up, I thought back to my time on the USS Kitty Hawk in 1971 when the 80,000-ton aircraft carrier was serving on “Yankee Station” in the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea off the coast of North Vietnam.

 

I was assigned to the Radio Communications Division, and I had an admin job in the Message Processing Center. The center was a hectic place, as we handled fast-flowing and fast-action highly classified war traffic and maintained radio communications between the carrier and our pilots as they flew combat sorties against the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong.

The center job was grueling and never-ending, and we worked long hours receiving, sending and processing traffic, but we knew this was a good job. There were far more dirty and dangerous jobs on the aircraft carrier.

At one point, I was under the dubious supervision of Gerald Hobbs, a newly promoted 3rd class Radioman, which was the Navy equivalent to an Army buck sergeant. Hobbs, who hailed from Baltimore, was a pug ugly guy over six feet tall and on the hefty side. He was crude and obnoxious, and not very bright. He was disliked by most of the guys in the division.

His sour personality did not improve after he was promoted. With his new “crow” stitched on the left sleeve of his blue chambray uniform shirt, Hobbs became even more obnoxious. 

One day while working in the message center, the pressure got to Hobbs and he screamed at me, ordering me to work faster. He puffed up his chest and acted tough as he was older, taller and had about fifty pounds on me. I was not impressed, and I suppose I gave him a dirty look.  

“I’m a petty officer now and don’t you ever forget it,” Hobbs declared. 

“I looked up petty in the dictionary and it’s defined as small and unimportant,” I said. “And your photo was next to the definition.”  

This angered Hobbs and he shoved me. 

Bad move on his part. 

As I had been training as a boxer since I was 12 years old at the South Philly Boy’s Club, my instincts kicked in and I threw a straight right to his mouth. He dropped to the deck and laid semi-conscious next to the two teeth that I had knocked out of his head. 

Bad move on my part.   

I had punched out a petty officer in the message center in front of two officers, two chiefs and a number of assorted petty officers. Chief Helm rushed over and ordered me to go the division’s supply office and wait there for him.   

As I waited for the chief, I knew I fucked up. I was worried that I would be sent to the carrier’s brig. The brig was run by Marines, and they had a reputation of being brutal to sailors. I recalled talking to a guy I met in Olongapo who had also struck a petty officer. He told me that he served 30 days in the brig. He said that on his first day in the brig, he was handcuffed behind his back and thrown in a cell. Two Marines entered the cell and asked him if he was a tough guy. Without waiting for a response, the Marines beat him severely.  

As I was pondering my fate, Chief Helm came in.  

“What’s the matter with you? You think I don’t want to punch one of those kid officers in the mouth every day? You just can’t do it.”   

Chief Helm told me that he went to see the division commander. He explained to the commander that Hobbs had shoved me, although that was no excuse for me to punch him. We were both wrong. Chief Helm said he put in a good word for me.  

“Who’s Davis?” the chief said the commander asked him. “Is he the kid who tells all those jokes?”  

“Yes,” the chief replied. 

“No charges or the brig for him,’ the commander ordered. “Get him a 30-day detail out of the division and give Hobbs a talking to. Tell him from me that he’s lucky that I don’t bust him back to a seaman.”  

Although I was happy that I avoided a 30-day stretch in the carrier’s brig, I was not happy about being kicked out of the division. Although I was only a seaman, lower than whale shit, as the saying goes, I felt I was doing important work in the vital communications center. 

Chief Helms told me he arranged for me to be detailed for 30 days to the ship’s vent shop. He knew the petty officer in charge. I packed my sea bag and reported to the vent shop. I was greeted by Roscoe Davis, the 1st class petty officer who ran the shop. He was a hulking, jovial black guy with an ample gut protruding over his belt.

 “I’m Roscoe,” he said. “Welcome aboard.”

He gathered around the other guys in the shop and as we had the same last name, Roscoe introduced me as his “illegitimate white boy son.” I laughed.  

I was asked by one of the guys where I was from. 

“South Philly,” I replied. 

James Green, a tall and lean black guy from North Philly, laughed.  

“South Philly? Is you I-Talian?” he asked. 

“I’m half Italian.” 

“Shit,” he said to the other guys. “These I-Talian South Philly boys are bad-ass, motherfucking Mafia gangsters”  

Rather than lecture this seaman on stereotyping Italians, I said nothing, allowing the guys in the shop to believe that I was a hoodlum. The fact that I was detailed to the vent shop because I punched out a petty officer added to that somewhat exaggerated image. 

Roscoe teamed me with Green and called us “the Philly boys.”  

Each day we went around the ship and pulled out the 4x4 air filters from the ventilation system and replaced them with clean ones. We took the dirty filters back to the shop and soaped them up and blasted them with a water hose. The removal and cleaning of the air filters was on a rotational system that Roscoe controlled. 

Pulling out the filters and replacing them was a dirty job, but we worked an eight-hour day, unlike my eight on/eight off shift work in the radio division. I grew to like the job and I liked Roscoe, Green, and the other misfits in the vent shop. 

I soon discovered that Roscoe ran illegal card games aboard the carrier. He also smuggled aboard cases of booze from Subic Bay and then sold the bottles at a good profit. He reminded me of the rascal military characters portrayed in movies and on TV series like Sergeant Bilko and McHale’s Navy. McHale’s Navy, in fact, was one of the reasons I joined the Navy.   

I was a fair poker player and I sat in on Roscoe’s games. Many of the people I played against were poor poker players, so I made a few bucks on my down time. I always gave Roscoe a small cut of my winnings, as he ran the games, just as I used to give a small cut to the mob guys who ran the card games back in South Philly.  

Roscoe took the money, shoved it into his dungaree pocket and said, “My man.”  

On most days, Roscoe locked the shop’s door after working hours and we broke out the booze and partied.  

Another seaman in the vent shop was Leman Knox, a skinny guy with a serious case of face acne, which he always picked at. He was also constantly scratching himself. Having known drug addicts from my old neighborhood, I knew he was a heroin addict.  

Knox was one of those stupid white guys who spoke and acted like a black street guy. Knox thought this made him cool. He called the black guys “bros.” Most of the black guys did not consider his act an homage. They thought he was an ass and mostly ignored him.  

Green, who possessed a great sense of humor, thought Knox was funny. He did a fine burlesque of Knox acting like a “brother.” He often performed his impression of Knox in front of the guys in the vent shop, and it always brought on great laughter. One day, Green did his impression in front of Knox himself. While everyone was laughing, Knox was clueless and asked what was so funny.     

Green told me that Knox actually went to the “Jungle” in Olongapo during the carrier’s previous visit to Subic Bay in the Philippines. The “Jungle” was the section of the wide-open sin city that black sailors frequented. The black sailors preferred to be segregated and did not take kindly to white sailors intruding on their territory.  

Knox, who must have thought he was an honorary black guy, visited a bar in the Jungle and was promptly beaten by several black sailors. Fortunately for Knox, the heavily armed shore patrol happened to enter the bar and disrupted the beating. Knox was bloodied and stunned as the shore patrol took him to the base hospital. 

Green also told me that Knox sold heroin aboard the ship. He said Knox was working with a Filipino drug dealer in Olongapo. Knox supported his own habit by selling the drug to other sailors while we were at sea off the coast of Vietnam. Green said that if Roscoe found out, he would boot Knox out of the shop. 

When two drug addicts overdosed on the heroin Knox sold them, the Naval Investigative Service (NIS) was called in to investigate. One of the sailors died from the overdose. The other recovered. The NIS civilian special agent stationed aboard the carrier interrogated the surviving sailor, who gave up Knox as his dealer.  

Knox was arrested and told by the NIS agent that he would be charged with the murder of the drug addict. Knox then gave up his Filipino dealer in Olongapo and his many customers aboard the ship. He named Green among his customers, and he named me. 

I was summoned to the NIS agent’s office. I sat down across from him, and he passed a sheet of paper across the desk to me. He ordered me to sign it. 

“Do you mind if I read it first?” 

The document was a confession that I was a drug user and addict. 

“Sign it and you’ll get a general discharge.” 

I pushed the paper back across the agent’s desk.  

“I’m not a drug addict,” I told the agent. “I don’t do heroin and I won’t sign that.” 

“Suit yourself,” the agent said. “But if we discover that you are using heroin, you will go to prison.” 

I got up and left the office. 

As I walked back to the vent shop, I thought of what my father, a WWII Navy chief and UDT frogman, would do if I came home with a drug users’ general discharge. I imagined he would break my neck.  

Green told me that he signed the document, although he was not a drug addict. He was just happy to receive the general discharge and get out of the Navy and go home.  

I tried to talk him out of it, calling him a non-hacker. I told him that an honorable discharge was far preferable. But Green wanted out of the Navy quick, and he saw this as his way.  

Thankfully, there was no blow-back on Roscoe due to Knox being his subordinate. Like me, Knox had been a disciplinarian problem, and he was detailed to the vent shop. For some reason, Knox did not tell the NIS agent about Roscoe’s extracurricular criminal activities. Perhaps he was afraid that Roscoe would kill him.  

After Green left the carrier, I was teamed up with another seaman as my 30-day detail was coming to an end. Returning to the vent shop one day with dirty filters, Roscoe handed me the phone. Chief Helm was on the line, and he asked me if I was ready to come back to the division. I hesitated, but then said yes.

Roscoe shook my hand.

“If you ever fuck up again, you’ll be welcome back here,” Roscoe said.                       


Upon my return to the radio communications division, I was greeted with handshakes and back slaps. Hobbs, I was told, was assigned to the other duty section, so we would no longer work together. 

Hobbs was still disliked by most of the guys and some of them told me that they wished they had been there when I punched him out.  

The event was summed up nicely by a sailor who hated Hobbs.   

 “Someone now has 30 Teeth and a different attitude.” 

© 2022 By Paul Davis

 

Note: You can read my other crime fiction short stories via the below link:

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction Stories

Friday, March 25, 2022

Snake Island Sailors Who Told Russian Ship ‘Go F–k Yourself’ Freed In Prisoner Swap

At the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russians told the handful of Ukrainian sailors defending Snake Island to surrender.

In response, one of the sailors told the Russians to go fuck themselves. Initial reports stated the Ukrainian sailors were killed, but later reports stated the sailors were taken prisoner.

Emily Crane at the New York Post reports that the sailors were released in a prisoner exchange.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Snake Island sailors who told Russian ship ‘go f--k yourself’ freed (nypost.com)

You can also read my post of the sailors via the below link:

Paul Davis On Crime: Bold Ukrainian Sailor Spoke For The Rest Of The World When He Told Russians To 'Go F**k Yourself' 

Ned Buntline: Meet The Novelist Who Was Lynched By An Angry Mob And Lived To Tell The Tale

As a crime reporter and columnist for a good number of years, I received my share of hate mail and I’ve been confronted in public a couple of times by irate readers.  

But unlike an earlier writer from Philadelphia, I’ve never been lynched. 

Peter Carlson at Historynet.com offers a good piece on Ned Buntline (seen in the above photo), the author of dime novels that told tall tales about the lives of Wild West pioneers and lawmen.     

Ned Buntline is the only American novelist who was lynched by an angry mob and lived to tell the tale, although he much preferred telling fictitious tales that made him seem heroic.

In 1846, Buntline, 23, was in Nashville, Tennessee, trying to raise money for his magazine, Ned Buntline’s Own, and romancing a local teenager. Her husband, Robert Porterfield, took umbrage and fired a pistol at Buntline. Porterfield missed, fired again, missed again. Buntline shot back, killing Porterfield. When the publisher was arraigned, a mob of Porterfield’s friends invaded the courtroom, shooting. A bullet pierced Buntline’s chest. He fled the courthouse into a nearby hotel, the horde in pursuit. Cornered on the third floor, Buntline leaped out a window. Police picked the stunned, bleeding writer off the ground and carried him to jail. Porterfield’s pals broke into the hoosegow, hauled Buntline out, and hanged him from a storefront awning. But somebody cut the rope and cops hauled Buntline back to confinement. 

Newspapers reported that Buntline died that night. They were wrong. He lived another four decades, during which he published a scandal-sheet newspaper, blackmailed brothel owners, led an anti-immigrant movement, incited two riots, spent a year in prison, married six women, and wrote more than 300 pulp adventure novels.

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

Meet the Novelist Who Was Lynched By An Angry Mob and Lived to Tell the Tale | Historynet


Serial Armed Bank Robber Sentenced To More Than 25 Years After Attempting To Murder Pennsylvania State Trooper During Arrest

 The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Christopher Larue, 44, of Lansdale, PA, was sentenced to 25 years and one day in prison, five years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $7,500 fine by United States District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter for committing an armed bank robbery in Bucks County and then nearly killing a Pennsylvania State Trooper in Montgomery County directly thereafter.

In October 2021, the defendant pleaded guilty to one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence and one count of armed bank robbery. According to court documents, in the early morning hours of October 19, 2020, Larue entered QNB Bank in Perkasie, PA, wearing dark clothing and a black mask as employees were arriving for work. The defendant brandished a firearm and robbed the bank of over $11,000 in U.S. currency. He then fled in his vehicle. A GPS tracking devices hidden with the stolen money quickly led Pennsylvania State Police to the defendant, who had driven to his job site in Conshohocken, PA. When the State Police arrived and attempted to arrest him, Larue pointed a gun at the head of a trooper and pulled the trigger, but the gun mis-fired and troopers were able to handcuff Larue. In and around the defendant’s work locker, investigators found the stolen money, additional ammunition, and the clothing and mask Larue wore during the robbery.

Larue previously served over 12 years in federal prison after being convicted in 2009 of five additional bank robberies and was on supervised release at the time of this offense.

“This sentencing is especially poignant during a week when we have lost two Pennsylvania State Troopers who were bravely executing their duty in the face of extreme danger,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “In this case, the defendant acted with complete disregard and callousness for the lives of the Pennsylvania State Troopers and the bank employees whom he threatened with a firearm. But for a mis-fired gun, the outcome could have been yet another tragic loss of life. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will not tolerate this kind of violent lawlessness.”

“Christopher Larue aimed a loaded gun at a state trooper’s head, asked him if he wanted to die that day, and repeatedly pulled the trigger. It was very nearly a tragedy, but thankfully the weapon didn’t fire,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “That was just after Larue had held three bank employees at gunpoint during a robbery — and that was after a previous string of bank robberies for which he’d served time. This is a dangerous serial offender who needs to be off the street. The FBI will continue working with the Pennsylvania State Police and all our law enforcement partners to keep violent criminals like Larue from committing further harm.”

The case was investigated by the Perkasie Borough Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michelle L. Morgan.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Contractors Indicted For Rigging Bids On Subcontract Work And Defrauding U.S. Military Bases In South Korea

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

A federal grand jury in the Western District of Texas returned an indictment charging two South Korean nationals for their roles in a conspiracy to restrain trade and a scheme to defraud the United States in connection with operation and maintenance work for U.S. military installations in South Korea.

According to the indictment, Hyun Ki Shin and Hyuk Jin Kwon were officers of a South Korean construction company that performed subcontract work on U.S. military installations in South Korea. Kwon was also a part owner of the company. Beginning at least as early as November 2018, Kwon and Shin, along with others, conspired to rig bids and fix prices for subcontract work, and defrauded the U.S. Department of Defense in order to obtain millions of dollars in repair and maintenance subcontract work at U.S military installations in South Korea.

“Bid rigging, price fixing and fraud are crimes,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “We will not stand by as criminals engage in illegal conduct to harm our military instillations overseas.”

“By allegedly rigging bids with their competitors, the defendants cheated to obtain U.S. Army-funded repair and construction subcontracts,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Park of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division’s (Army CID) Major Procurement Fraud Field Office-Pacific. “U.S Army CID Special Agents remain on guard to investigate and hold individuals accountable who corrupt the integrity of the Army's procurement process.”

“The defendants allegedly conspired to fix prices and rig bids for repair and maintenance work at U.S. military bases,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “These actions are not only illegal, but they fundamentally violate the tenets of fair trade. This indictment shows that the FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to investigating schemes intended to defraud others, even those devised on foreign soil.”  

The seven-count indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas charges Kwon and Shin with one count of conspiracy to restrain trade and six counts of wire fraud. This indictment is the first in an ongoing investigation into bid rigging and price fixing for operation and maintenance work for U.S. military installations in South Korea.

The maximum penalty for conspiracy to restrain trade under the Sherman Antitrust Act is 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of $1 million. For the wire fraud counts, Kwon and Shin face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime, or twice the loss suffered by victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The charges are a result of a federal investigation conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal II Section, Army CID and the FBI, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.

Anyone with information in connection with this investigation is urged to call the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal II Section at 202-598-4000 or visit https://www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.html.

In November 2019, the Department of Justice created the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF), a joint law enforcement effort to combat antitrust crimes and related fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grant and program funding at all levels of government – federal, state and local. In fall 2020, the Strike Force expanded its footprint with the launch of PCSF: Global, designed to deter, detect, investigate and prosecute collusive schemes that target government spending outside of the United States. To learn more about the PCSF, or to report information on market allocation, price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct related to defense-related spending, go to https://www.justice.gov/procurement-collusion-strike-force.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Charming Shelter Dog Story In ‘Rescued by Ruby’ Trailer From Netflix


 My wife and I enjoyed an interesting film on Netflix last night. 

As we are both dog lovers, we thoroughly enjoyed Recued by Ruby. The film is about an incorrigible dog who is rescued from a shelter by a state trooper who dreams of joining the K-9 unit with his new dog.

 

The film is based on a true story.

 

Alex Billington at usatribunemedia.com offers the below commentary and a link to the film’s trailer.

 

“I have faith in you, you just need to have faith in yourself.” Netflix has revealed the first official trailer for a charming feel-good dog movie titled Rescued by Ruby, about a fluffy shelter dog finding its connection with a frigidity state trooper. How adorable. It’s actually based on a true story! Made for Netflix, this seems like the kind of stuff that Disney used to drop straight-to-VHS. Chasing his dream to join an elite K-9 unit, a state trooper named Dan partners with a fellow underdog: clever but naughty shelter pup Ruby. As you can see in the trailer, she seems to be a Border Collie – not the usual German Shepherd or Doberman K9 dogs, but that’s all good! She seems awesome enough anyway. This stars Grant GustinScott WolfKaylah ZanderCamille SullivanTom McBeath, and Sharon Taylor. Who doesn’t like a dog movie?! At least the dog is real in this one, and it seems wholesome enough, though completely obvious in every single way.

 

You can read the rest of the piece and watch the film’s trailer via the below link:


Charming Shelter Dog Story in 'Rescued by Ruby' Trailer from Netflix - USA Tribune Media 

 

Note: Below is a photo of the real Ruby and her K-9 handler: