Thursday, June 30, 2022

‘Cryptoqueen’: Ruja Ignatova Added To FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List

 The FBI today announced the addition of Ruja Ignatova to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Ignatova is being sought for her alleged leadership of a massive fraud scheme that affected millions of investors worldwide. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to her arrest.

In approximately 2014, Ignatova and her partner founded OneCoin, a Bulgarian-based company that was marketed as a new virtual currency that would be the “Bitcoin killer.” Ignatova allegedly made false statements and representations about OneCoin to draw people to invest in OneCoin packages. According to investigators, Ignatova and her partner also promoted OneCoin through a multi-level marketing strategy that urged OneCoin investors to sell additional packages to friends and family.

Ignatova capitalized on the excitement surrounding cryptocurrencies to draw in new investors. While the company is said to have used many of the terms associated with virtual currencies, investigators believe that OneCoins were not mined in the way traditional to cryptocurrencies. In addition, the value of OneCoin was determined by the company rather than market demand. 

“OneCoin claimed to have a private blockchain,” said Special Agent Ronald Shimko, who is investigating the case out of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “This is in contrast to other virtual currencies, which have a decentralized and public blockchain. In this case, investors were just asked to trust OneCoin.”

Throughout the scheme, OneCoin is believed to have defrauded victims all over the world out of billions. Shimko said Ignatova targeted individuals who may not have fully understood the ins and outs of cryptocurrencies but were moved by Ignatova’s impressive resume and the marketing strategies used by OneCoin.

On October 12, 2017, Ignatova was charged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and a federal warrant was issued for her arrest. Investigators believe Ignatova may have been tipped off that she was under investigation by U.S. and international authorities. She traveled from Sofia, Bulgaria, to Athens, Greece, on October 25, 2017, and has not been seen since.

On February 6, 2018, a superseding indictment was issued charging Ignatova with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and securities fraud.

Shimko hopes that the publicity of the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list will bring more awareness to the case. “There are so many victims all over the world who were financially devastated by this,” Shimko said. “We want to bring her to justice.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

U.S. Attorney Romero Announces Arson Charges Against Philadelphia Man For Pizza Shop Fire That Resulted In Death of Firefighter

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

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Al-Ashraf Basem Khalil, 28, of Philadelphia, PA, was arrested on June 24, 2022, after being charged by Criminal Complaint with arson on June 23, 2022.  During a news conference held today with officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; and the Philadelphia Fire Department; First Assistant United States Attorney Nelson S. T. Thayer, Jr., detailed the charges outlined in the Complaint accusing the defendant of causing the arson at 300 W. Indiana Avenue in Philadelphia on June 18, 2022, which resulted in the death of Philadelphia Fire Lieutenant Sean Williamson. The announcement comes the day after funeral services were held for Lt. Williamson.

Specifically, the defendant has been charged with one count of malicious damage by means of fire of a building used in interstate commerce resulting in death, one count of aiding and abetting and willfully causing the same, and one count of making materially false or fraudulent statements. Khalil was arrested Friday afternoon at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, NY, by United States Marshals who thwarted Khalil’s efforts to leave the United States, getting as far as Jordan, until he was forced to return to face these charges. Khalil made his initial appearance before a United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of New York, where he was detained and ordered transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

As detailed in the Complaint, voluminous video surveillance recovered by investigators showed two suspects – minutes before the fire began in the early morning hours of June 18 – walk behind a dumpster and enter the basement doors of the property at 300 W. Indiana Avenue. The video surveillance further shows the two suspects leave the location about twenty minutes later, shortly after which smoke can be observed that gradually grows thicker emanating from the area of building.

On June 20, 2022, ATF agents interviewed the defendant, the owner of the property, as part of their federal investigation into the origin and cause of the fire. The Complaint alleges that Khalil provided false information about where he was at the time he learned of the fire, and that he stated that he had no plans to travel outside the U.S. in the next year. While he was being interviewed, agents noted that some of the defendant’s clothing appeared to be similar to one of the two suspects captured on the video surveillance footage.

Further, the following day on June 21, 2022, Khalil again met with investigators at their request, and later that day booked a flight from JFK airport to Amman, Jordan with a layover in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On June 22, 2022, the defendant left the United States on that flight.

“Whenever there is a fire in our city, the brave men and women of the Philadelphia Fire Department put their lives on the line to protect us. Intentionally causing a fire and deliberately putting firefighters and innocent victims in harm’s way is truly unconscionable,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “We are grateful to all of the investigators on this case who moved rapidly to determine the origins of the fire, identify a suspect, and return him to U.S. soil so he can answer these charges before the court. And while we mourn the loss of Lt. Williamson, we are grateful for his life and his service to our city, and hope that by seeking justice in this case we honor his memory.”

“ATF is dedicated to investigating and preventing violent crime,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “Arson, just like gun crime, can have serious consequences and as alleged in this case, caused the death of a beloved public servant. Our team of investigators and dedicated prosecutors will continue to seek justice for the victims of these violent acts.”

“The phenomenal effort between U.S. law enforcement agencies and our international partners in quickly capturing this fugitive while attempting to flee to the Middle East demonstrates our global reach and unwavering commitment to justice,” said U.S. Marshal Eric Gartner. “Our hope is that this rapid capture will provide some measure of comfort to the family of Lt. Sean Williamson and the Philadelphia Fire Department.”

“We respond to more than 3,500 structure fires annually, and the majority are unintentional. However, intentional fires are still a problem: last year, more than 650 incendiary incidents were investigated by our Fire Marshal's Office in close partnership with the Philadelphia Police Department and ATF,” said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel. “This incident demonstrates the tragic consequences of arson. Our thoughts remain with Lt. Williamson’s family, friends and PFD colleagues as this case moves forward and justice is served.”

If convicted, the defendant faces a mandatory minimum term of seven years in prison if, as here, personal injury results to any person. If death results to any person, including a public safety officer performing duties, the statute carries a maximum penalty of life in prison or the death penalty.

The case was investigated by ATF Philadelphia and the ATF’s National Response Team, the Philadelphia Fire Department Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Philadelphia Police Department, with significant assistance provided by the Philadelphia Department of Licenses & Inspections, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the Diplomatic Security Service in Amman, Jordan and Dubai, UAE, and INTERPOL Washington. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jeanine Linehan and Sarah Damiani. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Black Ops CIA Shadow Warrior: My Q&A With Legendary CIA Counterterrorism Officer Ric Prado

Counterterrorism magazine published my Q&A with CIA legend Ric Prado. 

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

My Q&A with CIA Legend Ric Prado


Enrique “Ric” Prado is a paramilitary, counterterrorism, and special/clandestine operations specialist, with a focus on international training operations and programs. He is a 24-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where he served as an Operations Officer in six overseas posts. He was Deputy Chief of Station and “Plank Owner” of the original Bin Ladin Task Force/Issues Station under Senior Analyst Michael Scheuer, as well as Chief of Station in a hostile Muslim country. He also served as Chief of Operations in the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center (CTC) during the September 11th attacks, where he helped coordinate CIA/CTC’s special operations (SPECOPS) activities with the National Security Council and FBI, as well as with elite U.S. military representatives from Delta Force and SEAL-Team Six, then detailed to CTC/CIA. He retired as Senior Intel Service-2 (SIS-2, Major General equivalent at CIA).


Ric Prado spent his first ten years at CIA as a paramilitary officer in Special Operations Group/Special Activities Division (SOG/SAD, Ground Branch) which is CIA’s “special operations force.” His service included 36 months in Central America jungles as the first CIA officer living in the anti-Sandinista “Contra” camps. Subsequently running counterterrorism/insurgency operations in Peru and in the Philippines. Other key positions included head of the CIA’s Korean Operations and Chief of CIA Liaison in Seoul, ROK. He is fluent in his native Spanish and once held a 2+ level in Japanese.


His military training and qualifications include Airborne, SCUBA, Advance Combat Medical Rescue, S.E.R.E., Mountain Climbing, and Jungle Survival under the auspices of the US Air Force elite Pararescue Teams (1971-1976). CIA training included: Ops/Case Officer certification training (The Farm), Counterterrorist Operations, Advanced Tradecraft Course, Free-Fall parachuting, Draeger close-circuit (Combat Diver’s 1984 and SEALS 2003), Korean Ops, and numerous CT driving and weapons-related courses. Ric Prado is also a graduate of the elite Henk Iverson’s Lone Operator course (2018).


Ric Prado retired from the CIA in 2004. He is now co-owner of Camp X, Special Operations Lone Operator Training Group and continues his service training and supporting the “SPECOPS” Community as Subject Matter Expert (SME) at the SWCS’ ASOT (Advanced Special Operations and Techniques) and ASOT Managers Course, Dragon Warrior, Emerald Warrior, among others.


Ric Prado is the author of “Black Ops: The Life of a CIA Shadow Warrior.”


He was interviewed by Paul Davis.


IACSP: I enjoyed reading “Black Ops.” I found it most interesting. Why did you write the book?

Prado: I never thought of being an author, much less a best-selling author. As you know, the book made the New York Times Best Seller list at number seven. I kind of grew weary of the reputation that my agency has, mostly in Hollywood and in most novels. The CIA is the most maligned and misunderstood federal agency in the U.S. Government. My colleagues are always described as immoral and corrupt, and as maniacal assassins like the fictional character Jason Borne. We have 137 stars (representing the death of CIA personnel in the line of duty) on the Wall of Honor at the agency, and we are a small organization compared to the Army the Navy and the Air Force. Some of these people I personally knew. It kind of bothered me that their grandchildren will learn about the agency and their grandpas, not to mention my own grandson, primarily from Hollywood. That was the primary reason I wrote the book. To try to put a realistic spin not only on the kind of operations that we do, but on the kind of people that we have in our ranks. Patriots. People who have dedicated their lives, mostly anonymous, to this country. The second part is communism. I am Cuban born. I lived under communism and my wife lived under communism. We saw what communism did to our first country. So I wanted to write a book about my efforts to counter and fight communism in my different incarnations.

IACSP: For many Americans, the CIA appears to be unapproachable and unknowing. This can lead to misconceptions. As you noted, most people only know about the CIA from spy thrillers. When I was in the Navy and later as a Defense Department civilian employee doing security work, I received CIA training and regular briefings, and as a writer, I’ve interviewed a good number of CIA officers here for the Journal. The CIA officers I’ve known are dedicated government employees serving America. Books like yours, it seems to me, can go a long way to counter misconceptions.

Prado: When I do public speaking, one of the questions I always ask is to name me two movies that represents the CIA in a positive way. There is always one person who will say Jason Borne, and then I’ll say, a maniacal assassin with 17 personalities who is being hunted down by the CIA is a good movie about the CIA?

IACSP: There are terrorist organizations, transnational criminal organizations, and rogue nations, and the Jason Borne movies choose to make the CIA the bad guy. Silly. I thought Tom Clancy’s novels were fairly realistic, would you agree?

Prado: Tom Clancy’s books were always very realistic. I have several of his books and “Without Remorse” is one of my favorite novels.

IACSP: One of my favorites as well. Did you see the poor film adaptation?”

Prado: It was awful.

IACSP: Do you think Cuba will ever be free of communism now that Fidel Castro, the bastard, is dead?

Prado: We have one more bastard Castro, which is Raul. He is retired, but he is still the power. I honestly believe if we play our cards right in this country, we can entice change in Cuba. Stick and carrot. Sanctions, sanctions, sanctions. If you do this, we’ll do that. I want to go back to Cuba and visit my grandfather’s grave, their house. That is one of my dreams.

IACSP: Many people, even today, view the Contras as gun and drug traffickers and brutal thugs. You offer a different view in your book, although you encountered some bad apples. How would you describe the Contras?

Prado: Of all my assignments, I would put my Contra experience as number one for three reasons. The first reason is as a Cuban kid, fresh off the banana boat, working for CIA and now I’m the only man allowed to be at the camps training these folks. Striking back at the very same animal that destroyed my family in my first country. There was a visceral satisfaction of the operations we did. It became politized at home, but the greater majority of the Contras had personal reasons for joining, as they explained to me at campfires – they burned my church down, they kicked out my priest, they raped my daughter, they conscripted my underage son. It was all personal. When I was in front of Congress later on, I was able to voice those opinions and observations. The Contras were a class act of people and I’m still in touch with two or three of them.

IACSP: You also write about your time in the Philippines from 1990 to 1992. I was a frequent visitor to the Philippine during the Vietnam War when I served on an aircraft carrier. The Philippines has a dual threat in the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and the Islamic terrorist organizations, yet one does not read or hear much those threats.

Prado: They are two different animals, but similar in their destructive capabilities. When I was there, the NPA was in Manila and all the major cities, and we were providing incredible training to the Filipinos. I worked with the Philippine Constabulary, the Navy and the Army. I love the Philippines. They are warm, loving people until it is time to fight, and they are pretty good at it. I respect that. When I was there, they were on the brink of losing to the NPA. The Islamic terrorist group Abu Sayyaf down south was just coming up and they have gotten more radical. They are really just a bunch of bandits. We did a lot of damage to the NPA and also to Abu Sayyaf, because we had all kinds of maritime platforms that we gave the Navy to cover 7,000 islands. I was the liaison guy. Going to all these places once a week, I was meeting with commanders, offering training, getting the intelligence, and noting what they needed. It was very rewarding.

IACSP: You later worked in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC). Can you give us an overview of the CTC prior to and after 9/11?

Prado: The Counterterrorist Center was started by Dewey Claridge, one of my mentors, in 1986. He was bigger than life. I loved him until the day he died. My first CT assignment was to a Latin American country that I cannot mention, in 1998, two years after the center started. I recruited a terrorist, and I did all kind of stuff. The CTC was small back then, 50-60 people. It kept growing as the need kept growing. I came back in 1995 when they asked me to open up the bin Laden task force, “Alec Station.” I was the deputy chief of station working the bin Laden account and the chief was Michael Scheuer, an analyst. I went back as the chief of operations in May of 2001. The 9/11 attack happened was shortly thereafter.

IACSP: Your account in the book of the CIA officers working around the clock during the attack and post-attack was very interesting. I was stationed at a naval base in Philadelphia on 9/11, and we didn’t know if and where there would be another attack after the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. I recall that it was a harrowing time. Certainly, the CIA was a possible target.

Prado: The CIA was evacuated, but most of the folks at the CTC stayed behind. I slept in my office for the first three days. So did dozens and dozens of my colleagues. After being the chief of operations, I came back with a very robust program, and I briefed Vice President Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice. It was approved, but we were never allowed to deploy. We were hearing all this chatter going on before 9/11. We knew it was al Qaeda and we were seeing their communications diminish and we were seeing people that we had under surveillance disappear. These were all clues that they were planning something big. I told CIA Director Tenet that if I had this program a year before 9/11, I would have gone out and neutralized three different al Qaeda senior support guys. That would be put the brakes on everything because they would have thought they were penetrated. That was the whole concept of the program. When I saw the program wasn’t going to ever really sail, I decided to retire on an operational high note. I spent the last three years in the CIA leading some of the best people I ever worked with, snooping and pooping all over the world, which not too many SIS-2 level guys get to do. Operationally, that was my high. If they weren’t willing to let me do what I do best, which was even approved by the White House, then to hell with it. Maybe it’s time for me to do something else, and I did.

IACSP: The Russian invasion of Ukraine is dominating the news now. You’ve said that the U.S. could do more to help the Ukrainians. What more can be done?

Prado: I think the world needs to do more to help the Ukrainians, not just the United States. Global security should be a team sport. The UN is pretty feckless. What amazes me is that we were “surprised,” quote unquote, that Putin invaded Ukraine. As soon as he took power, he said I am going to reconstitute the Soviet Union. He did two invasions before this one. I was really shocked that no one saw this coming. That’s what communism is. That’s what they did in Cuba, Vietnam and Venezuela. As far as helping the Ukrainians, my belief is that we were helping them for several years before this crisis. We were preparing them militarily, preparing them for stay-behind operations, preparing them for guerilla operations, and training them on the conventional use of missiles and other weapons. The Ukrainians have proven to be incredible fighters, but we should have opened up every warehouse we have with tanks, planes and missiles and ask our allies to do the same. The other thing is to shut down every nickel that goes to Russia. Instead of gradually choking, choking and choking, break their neck, without having to fight them directly.

IACSP: I like to think that our support of Ukraine is a bit of payback for the Soviet support of the Communist North Vietnamese and Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

Prado: I hope that people read my book, because I honestly believe it will help people understand what the most secretive but capable agency does, how well it does it, and the patriotic ethos of the people that we have in our ranks.

IACSP: Thank you for speaking to us and thank you for your service.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Ralph Cipriano: Philly Inquirer Censors The News To Prop Up D.A. Krasner

Ralph Cipriano at knocks the Philadelphia Inquirer for the liberal newspaper's censoring news to support Philly's radical DA, Larry Krasner.

At the Philadelphia Inquirer last week, the newspaper marshaled all of its resources to support one of its progressive heroes, District Attorney Larry Krasner.

After a trio of suburban Republicans in the state House of Representatives launched a drive to impeach Krasner, the Inquirer responded last week with a barrage of censorship and propaganda aimed at propping up Krasner, while the shootings and murders in this town continued unabated. 

The Inquirer's multi-pronged attack began on Tuesday when the three house members, joined by state Rep. Martina White, another Republican from Northeast Philadelphia, held a press conference on the steps of the State Capitol in Harrisburg that featured a rainbow coalition of two dozen crime victims protesting against Krasner.

It made for compelling drama. Julio Moran talked about his mother, Gladys Coriano, a religious woman barely five feet tall, and how she was shot to death by an abusive ex-husband who had repeatedly violated a protection order by stalking, harassing and attacking her. 

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

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Military Contractors Indicted For $7 Million Procurement Fraud Scheme

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

A federal grand jury in the Northern District of Georgia returned an indictment charging military contractors with an alleged fraud scheme involving government contracts totaling over $7 million.

The three-count indictment charges Envistacom LLC, its President Alan Carson and a vice president Valerie Hayes, and the owner of another company, Philip Flores, each with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of major fraud.

“Collusion and fraud undermine competition in the procurement process to the detriment of U.S. taxpayers,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Investigating and prosecuting criminal activity remains a top priority for the Department of Justice and all members of the Procurement Collusion Strike Force.”

“The United States relies upon its contractors to be honest and forthright in their dealings,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan for the Northern District of Georgia. “When they allegedly provide false information to obtain contracts, they harm the American taxpayer and the integrity of the system. We will diligently work to bring such companies and their executives to justice.”

“The indictment of these individuals demonstrates the resolve and dedication of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and our investigative partners in protecting the integrity of the Department of Defense contracting system,” said Special Agent in Charge Cynthia A. Bruce, Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Southeast Field Office. “Contractors who circumvent the contracting process for their own personal gain will be thoroughly investigated and held accountable for their fraudulent actions.”

“Such alleged activity by government contractors who provide services to the Army will not be tolerated,” said Special Agent in Charge L. Scott Moreland of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division’s (Army CID) Major Procurement Fraud Field Office. “We will continue to investigate allegations of this nature and do everything in our power to see that persons responsible are held accountable and brought to justice.”

According to the indictment, from at least September 2014 through at least November 2016, the defendants and others conspired by preparing and procuring purported “competitive quotes” from other companies, which were sham quotes that were intentionally higher than the proposal prices and/or price quotes from Envistacom and Flores’ company to ensure the sole-source awards. The conspirators also concealed that the defendants prepared the independent government cost estimates and other procurement documents for the award of these contracts and made false statements, representations and material omissions to federal government contracting officials regarding these estimates being legitimate independent cost estimates and the sham quotes being “competitive.”

The maximum penalty for conspiracy to defraud the United States is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum penalty for major fraud is 10 years in prison and a fine of $1 million, or, if the gross loss to the government or the gross gain to a defendant is $500,000 or greater, a fine of $5 million. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other relevant factors.

The charges are the result of a federal investigation conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal II Section, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, Army CID and DCIS.

Anyone with information in connection with this investigation should contact the Antitrust Division’s Complaint Center at 888-647-3258, or visit

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. 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

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Indictment Unsealed Charging Terrorism, Fraud, Identity Theft And Immigration offenses

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

HOUSTON – A 24-year-old former Iraqi refugee has been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery and Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division (DOJ-NSD).

Abdulrahman Mohammed Hafedh Alqaysi made his initial appearance in federal court today. Also charged are his cousin Mohammed (aka Moe) Amer Faisal Al Qaysi, 26, another former Iraqi refugee, and Hami Jamshid aka Jamshid Ahmadzai, 32, a naturalized U.S. citizen. Hafedh Al Qaysi, Faisal Al Qaysi and Jamshid resided in Richmond, Houston and Sugar Land, respectively.

Law enforcement took them into custody June 16 on the charges contained in a sealed nine-count superseding indictment, returned April 26. The indictment was unsealed as the three appeared in court today.

Hafedh Al Qaysi did unlawfully and knowingly conspire and agree with others known and unknown to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to the charges. The Secretary of State has defined ISIS as a foreign terrorist organization.

Hafedh Al Qaysi is also charged with three counts of making a false statement in a naturalization application. The indictment alleges that he falsely answered “no” when asked if he had ever been a member of or in any way associated, either directly or indirectly, with a terrorist organization, or if he was ever a part of any group or ever helped any group, unit or organization that used a weapon against any person or threatened to do so.

The naturalization application also asks whether the applicant had ever committed, assisted with or attempted to commit a crime or offense for which they were not arrested. Hafedh Alqaysi, Faisal Al Qaysi and Jamshid all falsely answered “no” to that question, according to the indictment.

The indictment also alleges that Jamshid procured citizenship or naturalization unlawfully.

The three men face additional charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Beginning on or about Jan. 1, 2015, through on or about March 10, 2017, they conspired together to devise a scheme to defraud and to obtain money and property by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises. The indictment alleges that Hafedh Alqaysi also committed aggravated identity theft in relation to that scheme.  

If convicted, Hafedh Al Qaysi faces up to 20 years in federal prison for the material support count as well as well as a mandatory two years for the identity theft which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed. Making a false statement in a naturalization application and procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully carry possible penalties of five and 10 years, respectively. All three also face up to 20 years for the conspiracy to commit wire fraud, upon conviction.

The FBI conducted the investigation with the assistance of Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani is prosecuting the case along with DOJ-NSD Trial Attorney Joshua Champagne.  

Monday, June 20, 2022

A Little Humor: Assuming African Command

In 1876, a British Royal Army Colonel arrived at a remote base in Africa and met the colonel he was to replace. 

The departing colonel told his replacement there were no major concerns at the base. The natives were not restless, and his young captain actually ran the small base. 

The colonel called for the captain. 

The new colonel was shocked when the captain walked in. The “young” captain was wrinkled, hunched over, bald, toothless, walked with a limp and was covered in open sores. 

The departing colonel told the captain to tell the new colonel about himself. 

“Well, Colonel, I graduated with honor from Sandhurst, and I was assigned here in…” 

"No, no, Captain. The colonel can read all of that in your file,” the departing colonel said. 

“Tell him about the day you told the local witch doctor to "Go fuck himself."

Note: The above photo is of British actor Michael Caine in the film Zulu.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Happy Father's Day To All The Good Dads

Note: The above photo is of my late father, Edward M. Davis, me, and my late brother, Edward R. Davis.  

The bottom photo is of my daughter Brittany and me in the pool at a resort in Jamaica in the early 1990s. 


Thinking Of My Late Father On Father's Day

I'm thinking of my late father, Edward M. Davis (seen in the above photo with my late mother, Claire) on this Father's Day. 

He died in 1976 at the age of 57 from cancer.  

He had a tough life. He was cutting down trees in the Civilian Conservation Corp at age 16 during the Depression. He joined the U.S. Army at 17 and guarded the Panama Canal from bandits and terrorists. 

He left the Army, married my mother, helped raise my older brother Billy and my sister Jane. 

He left his wife and young children and joined the U.S. Navy during World War II.

He became a chief and a member of the Navy's elite Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) - the forerunner to the Navy SEALs - and served as a combat frogman in the South Pacific against the Imperial Japanese. 

He came home after the war and he and my mother had two more children, my older brother Eddie and me. 

He worked as a lineman until he was electrocuted on a pole. He almost died, but he was a tough man and he recovered. He later worked as a union electrician.

He was a proud WWII Navy veteran, a proud American, and a patriot.   

He was a good father, and he taught his sons to be good fathers.

He died too young, but he lived a full life.

I think of him often.        

Saturday, June 18, 2022

The Real CSI: Garry Gurroldo, Retired Philadelphia Police Officer, On Chazz Palminteri Podcast

I enjoy watching Chazz Palminteri's podcast, as he always has on interesting guests and there are always interesting conversations. 

I found his latest podcast to be especially interesting, as he had on Garry Gurroldo (seen in the above screenshot), a retired CSI Philadelphia police officer. 

In addition to his fascinating stories about his time in CSI, Gurroldo, like me, a South Philadelphian, spoke of places in South Philly most familiar to me, such as the old 1970s club, The Loft and The Twin Smoke Shoppe.

I hung out at The Loft, a great club, when I was a young man, and I often visited The Twin Smoke Shoppe and enjoyed a fine cigar with my late friend, Mark Tartaglia, a retired Philadelphia detective who recently died. 

You can listen to the podcast via the below link:

The Real CSI with Garry Gurroldo - Chazz Palminteri Show | EP 69 - YouTube    

I interviewed Chazz Palminteri in 2016 for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News when he performed his outstanding one man show, A Bronx Tale, in Atlantic City.

My wife and I, along with my friend Mark Tartaglia and his wife Donna, met Chazz Palminteri backstage after his brilliant performance.

You can read my Q&A interview with Chazz Palminteri below:


Father's Day Weekend

My late father told us the same awful, corny jokes over and over during our childhood.

And I've carried on that dubious tradition with my own children and grandchildren, telling them the same jokes (and some new ones) repeatedly.     

Friday, June 17, 2022

Ralph Cipriano: Man Bites 2 Cops, But DA Wonders If He Had Criminal Intent

Ralph Cipriano reports on an incredible story of a man who assaulted, bit and punched Philadelphia police officers. but was not charged by one of radical DA Larry Krassner's woke" assistant district attorneys at his popular blog Bigtrial.

... McNissins also bit Officer Hasley on the left arm and was punching and kicking her while the cops were trying to cuff him. Officer Hasley raised her metal baton and struck McNissis on the legs. As other officers were called to the scene for assistance, McNissins continued to fight.

McNissins, whom the cops said was probably high on narcotics, was finally placed in cuffs and shackles and taken to the hospital. Officer Byrd was left with a bloody mouth and a bite mark on his right thigh and pain in his left hand. Officer Hasley had a bite mark on her left forearm and pain in her right thumb, wrist and forearm.

Yep, it was a simple case until it went to the D.A.'s office for prosecution. First, the D.A.'s office under Larry Krasner denied the cops a warrant to search the premises. And then Assistant District Attorney Neil Pladus, a rookie in the D.A.'s charging unit, decided not to prosecute McNissins.

Why? Because ADA Pladus, a 2021 Georgetown Law grad who was hired by Larry Krasner last September, conducted his own investigation. And after reviewing the body camera footage and all of the discovery in the case, rookie ADA Pladus concluded "in the interests of justice. . . It is impossible to say that the defendant bit and flailed at the officers with any level of criminal intent."

 Why? Because, ADA Pladus wrote, the suspect "was incoherent during the entire encounter."

To make matters more puzzling, ADA Pladus just might be a former cop. But if he's a former cop that Larry Krasner would hire as an ADA, you know he has to be a woke progressive. 

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

Note: Ralph Cipriano is a local treasure. You can only read about such outrageous stories in Philadelphia at his website.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Gambino Crime Family Associate Convicted By Federal Jury In Murder and Robbery Of Brooklyn Man: Defendant Shot His Longtime Friend In The Back Of The Head And Stole The Assets Of The Victim’s Loan Business

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

Anthony Pandrella, an associate of the Gambino organized crime family, was convicted today by a federal jury in Brooklyn of all three counts in an indictment charging him with the Hobbs Act robbery and murder of 77-year-old Vincent Zito and unlawful use of a firearm.  The verdict followed a one and a half-week trial before United States Chief District Judge Margo K. Brodie.  When sentenced, Pandrella faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Keechant Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the verdict.

“Today’s verdict has found that the defendant is a cold-blooded killer who shot his elderly friend in his home, execution-style with a bullet in the back of the head, to avoid returning a large sum of money he was holding for the victim,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “In addition to the brutal betrayal, the defendant also robbed luxury watches from the victim’s loan business.  I commend the FBI special agents and the NYPD detectives who solved the case and brought Pandrella to justice.”

Mr. Peace also expressed his thanks to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for their assistance on the case.

“Today’s conviction underscores that no one – including associates of organized crime – is above the law,” stated Commissioner Sewell. “Because of the outstanding work of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District and our law enforcement partners at the FBI, this defendant’s callous disregard for human life will not go unanswered. I thank and commend everyone who worked on this case and helped us hold this violent criminal accountable for his actions.”

The evidence at trial proved that Zito was running an illegal loansharking business and had been told by Pandrella that he was “hot,” meaning that he was under investigation by law enforcement.  Zito had given Pandrella $750,000 from the business to hold for safekeeping, but when he tried to collect the money back from Pandrella, the defendant failed to return it.  On the morning of October 26, 2018, Pandrella went to the Sheepshead Bay home of Zito and while there, shot his friend of more than 30 years in the back of the head at close range.  Pandrella also stole expensive foreign-made wristwatches that the victim was holding as collateral for a customer’s loan.  Pandrella was captured on security camera footage entering and leaving Zito’s residence at the time of the murder and robbery.  After leaving the victim’s residence, Pandrella went home and additional security video from his neighborhood showed that the defendant changed his shoes and clothing, and removed the driver’s side floor mat of this vehicle so it could be cleaned.  Zito’s body was discovered by his 11-year-old grandson upon returning home from school.  The murder weapon was recovered at the scene and Pandrella’s DNA was found on the trigger and grip of the firearm.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime & Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys M. Kristin Mace and Matthew R. Galeotti are in charge of the prosecution.

A Little Humor: Tickets For Tonight

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Philadelphia Man Sentenced To 15 Years For Blowing Up An ATM During Spring 2020 Civil Unrest

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

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that David Elmakayes, 26, of Philadelphia, PA, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and three years of supervised release by United States District Court Judge Chad F. Kenney for using an explosive device to damage an ATM machine and for illegally possessing a firearm.

The defendant was charged on June 18, 2020, with malicious damage of property with an explosive device and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, charges which were the result of an incident that occurred during a period of civil unrest and protests in Philadelphia in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. In addition to the largely peaceful protests, incidents of looting, burglary, arson, destruction of property, and other violent acts occurred.

On the night of June 3, 2020, the defendant used an explosive device to heavily damage an automated teller machine on the sidewalk at 217 East Westmoreland Street in North Philadelphia. When he was arrested a short time later, police discovered that had three more explosive devices in his possession, as well as a .32 caliber pistol and other firearms.

“This defendant took advantage of a volatile situation on the streets of Philadelphia to commit a dangerous act that could have injured many people,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Damaging property with an explosive device and illegally carrying a firearm are federal crimes which our Office will aggressively prosecute. Elmakayes will now spend 15 years in prison for these crimes.”

“This defendant possessed and recklessly used an explosive device which had the potential to cause significant damage and injure countless people,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Office. “ATF is committed to protecting our communities from harm and working with our law enforcement partners to disrupt violent activity.” 

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joseph A. LaBar

Monday, June 13, 2022

A Little Humor: Racist Or Not?

An overly sensitive oriental man was insulted when a white man next to him at a crowded bar asked him if he knew karate, judo or any other martial art.

"Why do you ask that? Because I'm Japanese?"

"No," the man replied. "I ask because I'm not too happy about you picking up my beer and drinking it."     

Two Men Charged With Illegally Trafficking Almost 60 Guns Into Philadelphia From South Carolina

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

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Terrance Darby, 41, of Philadelphia, PA, and Ontavious Plumer, 32, of Due West, South Carolina, were charged by Superseding Indictment with gun trafficking offenses in connection with their scheme to straw purchase and transport across state lines almost 60 firearms.

Specifically, the defendants were charged with unlicensed dealing and transport of firearms, and conspiracy to engage in unlicensed dealing of firearms and to make false statements to a federally licensed firearms dealer. Darby was also charged with drug trafficking and gun possession stemming from his possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl, and unlawful possession of two firearms in his home in November 2021.

According to the Superseding Indictment, between November 2020 and February 2021, the defendants conspired with at least four other individuals to illegally straw-purchase almost 60 firearms from federally licensed gun shops in South Carolina, then transport these firearms via car into Philadelphia. Darby would allegedly place orders for firearms with Plumer, who would then direct co-conspirators to straw purchase firearms and transport them to Darby and his co-conspirator in Philadelphia.

This Superseding Indictment is the third set of charges brought by this Office in the last two months targeting the illegal trafficking of firearms from southern states into Philadelphia, a large northeastern city, a fact pattern which is known as the ‘iron pipeline.’ In April 2022, multiple defendants were Indicted in two federal cases involving the unlawful trafficking of approximately 400 firearms up the ‘iron pipeline’ into the city.

“Earlier this year, the Justice Department announced strategies to fight violent crime, including cracking down on firearms trafficking and the ‘iron pipeline,’ and our Office announced the indictment of fourteen people engaged in that that black-market business. With today’s charges, we have shut off yet another valve to stem the flow of guns into Philadelphia,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Our Office is working with urgency and determination to get guns off the streets of our city.”

“At a time when our communities have seen a spike in violent gun crime, it is more important now than ever that we hold those accountable for criminal actions,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “The diligence of our local, state, and federal partners prevented more guns from circulation into the community, as the indictment alleges.”

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Jeanette Kang.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.