Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Philadelphia City Leaders Condemn Police Officer Over False Accusation

It’s tough to be a cop in Philadelphia.

Not only must cops face gun-wielding criminals, they also face city leadership who rush to judgment against them. 

A. Benjamin Mannes at Broad + Liberty offers a piece and video that appears to vindicate a police officer accused of using a racial slur when confronting a suspect with a gun.

Last Friday, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw tweeted about “concerning behavior” regarding an arrest in which police officers surrounded a vehicle in a standoff with a suspect who was ultimately arrested for firearms and narcotics charges. Outlaw’s tweet was in response to a viral video on an anti-police Instagram page on which the person recording the video stated an officer used racial slurs when demanding the suspect comply with their orders. 

In response to the viral video, Outlaw placed the officer on desk duty pending an internal affairs investigation, stating to the Inquirer that he was “allegedly caught on video twice saying a racial slur during an attempted arrest of a person who had a gun.”

(Viewer notice: the videos contain strong language).

Within the next 24 hours, tweets from throughout Philadelphia’s elected political class seemingly condemned the officer’s behavior. However, despite Outlaw publicly placing the officer under investigation and stating her concern over the behavior in the video, sources within the Philadelphia Police Department leaked body-worn camera footage to Broad+Liberty as well as journalist Ralph Cipriano that clearly shows the officer never used a racial slur in the encounter. 

You can read the rest of the piece and watch the videos via the below link:

Ben Mannes: City leaders condemn police officer over false accusation (broadandliberty.com)

Russian National “Illegal” Charged With Acting As Agent Of A Russian Intelligence Service In The United States

 The U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Columbia released the below information: 

WASHINGTON – Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov (“Cherkasov”), 37, a national of the Russian Federation who operated as an “Illegal” agent for a Russian Intelligence Service (“RIS”) under the Brazilian alias of Victor Muller Ferreira, was charged today for acting as an agent of a foreign power, visa fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, and other charges stemming from his illegal activities in the United States. Cherkasov started acting as an Illegal agent in 2012 in Brazil using the Ferreira name, and he moved to the United States in 2018 after obtaining admission to a graduate school program at a University 1, a university located in the District of Columbia. Cherkasov is currently incarcerated in Brazil on fraud charges.     

According to a Criminal Complaint filed on March 24, 2023, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, between 2012 and April 2022. Cherkasov acted as an illegal agent of a RIS using a Brazilian cover identity. In October 2017, Cherkasov maintained his cover as a Brazilian national to apply to graduate programs in the United States, including University 1, and he obtained admission to University 1 at the behest of the RIS. Using that same fraudulent cover, Cherkasov fraudulently applied for, and obtained, a visa to enter the United States in 2017. In March 2018, Cherkasov obtained admission to University 1, and again fraudulently applied for, and obtained, a student visa to enter the United States. According to the complaint, after entering the United States, Cherkasov fraudulently opened bank accounts at a U.S. bank under the Brazilian alias Victor Muller Ferreira  and obtained a U.S. driver’s license from the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Cherkasov further made connections to persons of interest in the United States and maintained communications with his RIS handlers. While in the United States, Cherkasov obtained information about U.S. persons that he passed to his RIS handlers. Cherkasov obtained his graduate degree using the fraudulent Ferreira identity from University 1, and left the United States in or about May 2020.  Cherkasov continued his activities for the RIS after leaving the United States, and he continued to use his connections from University 1 to obtain information about U.S. foreign policy to provide to the RIS in 2021 and 2022. Cherkasov attempted to obtain employment at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, in April 2022. After being turned away by Dutch officials, Cherkasov returned to Brazil where he was arrested on fraud charges stemming from his use of the false Ferreira identity.

“When foreign adversaries, such as Russia, send undercover operatives into the United States, we will find them and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law,” said US Attorney Matthew M. Graves. “Such adversaries seek to operate in secret to undermine our national security in ways that could jeopardize the safety of our citizens. With our partners in the FBI, we will root out anyone who intends to do harm to the United States and bring them to justice.”

“For years, Cherkasov worked as an illegal agent for a Russian intelligence service and committed fraud against the United States,” said David Sundberg, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Today’s criminal complaint is a result of the hard work, determination, and collaborative efforts of the FBI and our international partners in a complex investigation holding him accountable for his attempts to collect intelligence on the United States at the behest of the Russian government.”

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and coordinated by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tejpal S. Chawla and Trial Attorney Heather Schmidt of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section prosecuted the case, with support from Paralegals Michael Watts and Mariela Andrade.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

From Russia With Love: A Look Back At Russian Assassins

Back in April of 2018 I wrote a piece for the Washington Times on a history of Russian assassins. 

You can read the piece via the below link or the below text:


How Russia's long history of assassinations can guide a Western response - Washington Times



In Ian Fleming’s 1957 thriller “From Russia With Love,” his finest novel in my view, a psychopath assassin named Donovan “Red” Grant is sent by Soviet intelligence to the West to kill British operative James Bond.

 

The late Mr. Fleming (seen in the below photo), a naval intelligence officer during WWII and a journalist who covered espionage cases both before and after the war, acknowledged that his thriller plots were fantastic, but yet, he added, that they were often based on the real world of intelligence. He said that on occasion a news story would “lift a corner of the veil” and reveal the real world of spies, assassins and commandos.


For example, Mr. Fleming noted the case of Russian assassin Capt. Nikoly Khokhlov, who was ordered to murder a Russian dissident in Germany in 1954. Khokhlov was equipped with an electrically operated gun fitted with a silencer and concealed in a gold cigarette case. The gun fired bullets tipped in cyanide, which were designed to lead a pathologist to rule the cause of death to be heart failure.

 

While today the United Kingdom, the U.S. and other Western nations condemn Russia for the attempted murder of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, the brazen poisoning and attempted murder of him and his daughter in the United Kingdom was by no means the first of its kind.

 

The Russians in the bad old days of the Soviet Union sent forth a good number of assassins to the West to murder Soviet “enemies of the state.” The Russian government under Vladimir Putin, himself a former KGB officer, appears to be carrying on the old tradition. 


"It has long been known that the Soviet state security service (currently the KGB) resorts to abduction and murder to combat what are considered to be actual or potential threats to the Soviet regime," stated a 1964 CIA report that declassified in 1993.  


Saturday, March 25, 2023

Loyalty: The New Crime Novel By Lisa Scottline

I’m looking forward to reading Lisa Scottoline’s new crime novel, Loyalty, which comes out next week.

I also look forward to interviewing her again in my On Crime column in the Washington Times. 

You can read about the new novel via the below link:

Loyalty – Lisa Scottoline 

You can also read my column on Lisa Scottoline’s previous novel via the below link: 

Paul Davis On Crime: The Aftereffects Of Crime On A Family: My Washington Times On Crime Column On Lisa Scottoline’s 'What Happened to the Bennetts' 

Friday, March 24, 2023

Ask Any Cop: Philly DA Krasner Is Soft On Crime

Broad + Liberty ran my piece on Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (seen in the above photo). 

You can read the piece via the below link or the below text:

Paul Davis: Ask any cop — Larry Krasner is soft on crime (broadandliberty.com)

"Is Larry Krasner a prosecutor or a social worker?” a disgruntled, veteran police officer asked me. “Is he a law enforcement officer or a political activist?”

The cop, one of many police officers who often contact me to vent, was upset about the District Attorney’s Violence Prevention Grant Initiative, which is Krasner’s response to gun violence and murder in Philadelphia. Earlier this month, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced the reopening of applications for grants. 

“Instead of giving tax money to former gangbangers, con artists and well-meaning but ineffective community groups, the DA should use that money to hire more prosecutors. Experienced and talented prosecutors, not like the group of rank amateurs and social workers he has now,” the cop said.    

On March 6th, Krasner’s office put out a press release that announced that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Community Engagement Team were re-opening the application process for the DA’s Violence Prevention Grant Initiative, “as the city heads toward the Spring and Summer months of 2023 — a time of year in which gun violence, and the tragedy that accompanies this public health and safety problem, typically increases.”

According to the press release, the Philadelphia Foundation, in partnership with the District Attorney’s office, has awarded nearly one million dollars in violence prevention funding to dozens of local community-based 501(c)(3) organizations since May 2021. The foundation intends to award $250,000 in additional grant funding during this latest round.

“Tackling our city’s gun violence crisis requires the use of all the tools in our toolkit: vigorous enforcement and prosecution of those who are driving the violence in our communities; expanded forensic science in order to strengthen investigations and prosecutions; and prevention,” Krasner stated. “My office is thrilled to continue awarding grants to properly vetted groups who are providing the supports necessary to address the root causes of violent crime.”

“Vigorous enforcement and prosecution, my foot,” the cop said, referring to the DA’s the press release. “Ask any cop, and they will tell you that Krasner is soft on crime. We arrest the bad guys, and the DA won’t prosecute them or cuts a sweet-heart deal for them. 

“Any cop will tell you, Krasner favors the crooks over cops. That’s why we have a high murder rate and so much gun violence in Philly. But he sure likes handing out tax dollars to community activist groups like most white, guilty, liberal politicians.”

As for the DA properly vetting the groups getting the generous grants, the officer scoffed and questioned the $392,000 given to the “Guns Down Gloves Up” youth boxing program. 

“This do-gooder group, formed by a police captain no less, is now under investigation for fraud. I think most of these community groups should be investigated thoroughly. Are they on the up and up, and do they actually prevent gun violence?”

As a former amateur boxer who began training in the ring as a pre-teen at the South Philadelphia Boy’s Club in the mid-1960s, I thought that the Guns Down Gloves up was one group that might be worthwhile. But according to the Philadelphia Inquirer in January, the city suspended the lucrative grant to Guns Down Gloves Up and eight Philadelphia police officers have been placed on restricted duty and had their firearms taken away.

And according to the Inquirer, the FBI is investigating the program after the newspaper reported that the police officers had improperly received tens of thousands of dollars in city antiviolence grant money. The police officer who founded the program, former 22nd District Captain Nashid Akil, was reportedly transferred due to chronic absenteeism. 

The Inquirer reported that the grant for Guns Down Gloves Up, awarded in December 2021 to Epiphany Fellowship Church and Villanova University, is the subject of several investigations. As the Inquirer noted, Guns Down Gloves Up was one of 31 programs that collectively received $13.5 million in what the city called Community Expansion Grants. It’s a part of a $155 million city effort to counter a historic surge in gun violence.

The Inquirer also reported that Captain Akil described the program as his, even though city employees are not eligible for city grants. Nearly $76,000 went to Akil and nine other Philadelphia Police Department staffers, according to financial records obtained by the Inquirer. The grant application specified Akil would not be paid.

The grant to Guns Down Gloves Up was suspended by the city in November, as the program was being investigated by the Philadelphia Police Department and the Office of the Inspector General.

“Some of these community groups do good work, I’m sure. But you know the best way to prevent violence in Philly?” the officer said to me. “Lock up the bad guys, prosecute them, put their butts in prison, and get them off the street.”

Paul Davis is a Philadelphia writer who covers crime.    

Thursday, March 23, 2023

A Look Back At Commander Ian Fleming: My Washington Times On Crime Column On 'Ian Fleming's War: The Inspiration of 007'

I’m watching A Spy Among Friends on MGM+, which is a true story about the British spy, traitor and KGB agent Kim Philby and his fellow British intelligence officer and friend, Nicholas Eliot. The series is based Ben Macintyre’s fine book. 

 

Fleming was also a principal character featured in the Netflix series Operation Mincemeat, another series based on a Ben Macintyre book. I find Ian Fleming’s wartime experiences as interesting as the fictional exploits of his iconic character James Bond.  

Back in December of 2021, I interviewed Mark Simmons, the author of Ian Fleming’s War: The Inspiration of 007, in my On Crime column in the Washington Times.

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

BOOK REVIEW: 'Ian Fleming's War: The Inspiration of 007' - Washington Times 

With the 25th James Bond film “No Time To Die” doing well in theaters, fans of the hugely successful film series may be interested in reading about the genesis of the most popular fictional character in cinema.  

Ian Fleming, the late, great thriller writer who created Bond, was a British naval intelligence officer in World War II, and much of what he experienced during the war found its way into his James Bond thrillers.

 

Mark Simmons, a former British Marine commando, journalist, and author, explores Commander Fleming’s wartime experiences and points out direct links between reality and the plots and characters in the Bond thrillers in his book, “Ian Fleming’s War: The Inspiration of 007.”

 

I reached out to Mark Simmons and asked him why he wrote the book.

 

“In 2018, I wrote `Ian Fleming and Operation Golden Eye: Keeping Spain out of World War II.’ In research for that book, I read the two main biographies of Fleming by Andrew Lycett and John Pearson, both of which only devoted a chapter or two to his wartime work. Yet there was a wealth of material on his time at naval intelligence, and I felt it deserved a book,” Mr. Simmons replied.

  

How would you describe Ian Fleming?

  

“He was a man embedded in his time the 1930s-1950s, and the highlight of his life was his wartime role in naval intelligence, even more so than becoming a bestselling author.” 

 

How did Ian Fleming’s WWII experiences in naval intelligence inspire his James Bond novels? 

 

“As I explain in the book, all the Bond stories are rooted in WWII, and 007 often refers to the war,” Mr. Simmons said.

 

What primary intelligence operations was Ian Fleming directly or indirectly involved in?

  

“The list would be rather large, to say the least. Operation Golden Eye, which involved keeping Spain neutral, was one of the main ones. Another was the creation of the OSS in the United States, the forerunner of the CIA, which he had a hand in.”

  

Ian Fleming assembled an intelligence-gathering commando group known as the 30 Assault Unit. What major successful operations did 30 AU accomplish?  


“Two examples spring to mind among several, on Sicily they captured Italian Air Force Ciphers which led directly to safer missions for RAF bombers. And in northwest Europe, they captured German radar coding which led to a virtual blackout of German radar for several weeks,” Mr. Simmons said.

  

Ian Fleming’s biographers state that he was a desk man rather than a man of action like Bond. But as you note in your book, Mr. Fleming did serve in the field at various times and did, in fact, face a measure of danger.

 

“Fleming’s trips to Spain, Portugal and North Africa were probably the nearest he came to being a secret agent in the field,” Mr. Simmons said. “While certainly in France in 1940, he came under fire during the retreat to Bordeaux and the evacuation there.”

  

I noted that Commander Ian Fleming was aboard a British Navy destroyer off the coast of Dieppe, France, in August of 1942 during “Operation Jubilee,” the disastrous amphibious landing that involved his 30 AU commandos in their first raid.

 

What aspects of Ian Fleming’s war can you most directly link to his Bond novels?  


“Probably “Casino Royale” is the most obvious, which directly came out of Fleming’s time in Portugal and gambling at the Estoril Casino. “Moonraker” was heavily influenced by operations with 30 AU against the V1 and V2 rocket sites they came across as Europe was liberated from the Nazis,” Mr. Simmons said.

  

Did one person inspire James Bond, or did Mr. Fleming create Bond with several commandos and intelligence officers in mind? Did he also infuse Bond with some of his own personality, tastes and views?

  

“007 shared many of Fleming’s traits. As far as the influence of other people is concerned, Fleming remained rather reticent on this point.”

  

Are the James Bond novels and films relevant today?

  

“Ian Fleming’s Bond books are very much of their time, but still remain very readable, a testament to his skill as a writer,” Mr. Simmons said. “As to the films, I am no expert, and after Sean Connery stopped playing 007, I confess to losing interest. Although I always felt George Lazenby did a pretty good job in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.’”

  

Fans of the Bond films will enjoy this well-researched and fascinating look back at Ian Fleming. I also suggest they read Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, which are darker and more complicated than the films.

 

• Paul Davis’ On Crime column covers true crime, crime fiction and thrillers.




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


Paul Davis On Crime: My Piece On The 30 Assault Unit, The British WWII Commando Group Created By Ian Fleming, The Creator Of James Bond 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Former Navy SEAL And Author Jack Carr’s Take On Famed Author Louis L’Amour, Born On This Day: ‘Nothing Short Of Brilliant'

Jack Carr, the former Navy SEAL who wrote The Terminal List and other thrillers, offers a piece at FoxNews.com on the late author Louis L’Amour. 

Louis L’Amour, the "laureate of the lariat," was born on this day in History, March 22, 1908. 

 

A veteran of World War II, L’Amour worked as an elephant handler, miner, merchant seaman, animal skinner, lumberjack and professional boxer along his journey. 

His breakout novel, "Hondo," was published in 1953. 

It was his novelization of the screenplay and film of the same name starring John Wayne based on L’Amour’s 1952 short story "The Gift of Cochise." 

"Hondo" was published the day the movie hit screens with a blurb from John Wayne stating that "Hondo" was the finest Western he had ever read. 

 

During his lifetime, Louis L’Amour published over 100 works, including "Last of the Breed," one of the four novels that directly influenced my own thriller, "Savage Son." 

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

Jack Carr’s take on famed author Louis L’Amour, born on this day, March 22: ‘Nothing short of brilliant' | Fox News 


You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine Q&A with Jack Carr via the below link:  

Paul Davis On Crime: My Q&A With Jack Carr, Retired Navy SEAL And Author Of The Thriller 'The Terminal List' 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Public Safety Alert: DEA Reports Widespread Threat Of Fentanyl Mixed with Xylazine

The DEA released the below public safety alert:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the American public of a sharp increase in the trafficking of fentanyl mixed with xylazine. Xylazine, also known as “Tranq,” is a powerful sedative that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved for veterinary use.

“Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has every faced, fentanyl, even deadlier,” said Administrator Milgram. “DEA has seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 of 50 States. The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that in 2022 approximately 23% of fentanyl powder and 7% of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.”

Xylazine and fentanyl drug mixtures place users at a higher risk of suffering a fatal drug poisoning. Because xylazine is not an opioid, naloxone (Narcan) does not reverse its effects. Still, experts always recommend administering naloxone if someone might be suffering a drug poisoning. People who inject drug mixtures containing xylazine also can develop severe wounds, including necrosis—the rotting of human tissue—that may lead to amputation.

According to the CDC, 107,735 Americans died between August 2021 and August 2022 from drug poisonings, with 66 percent of those deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco Cartel in Mexico, using chemicals largely sourced from China, are primarily responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl that is being trafficked in communities across the United States.

FDA recently communicated to health care providers about the risks to patients exposed to xylazine in illicit drugs. A copy of that communication can be found here: FDA alerts healthcare professionals of risks to patients exposed to xylazine in illicit drugs.

Monday, March 20, 2023

A Look Back At Hemingway At War

 I recently had a discussion with a friend about the late, great writer, Ernest Hemingway. 

 

 

 

 

 

HEMINGWAY AT WAR: ERNEST HEMINGWAY’S ADVENTURES AS A WORLD WAR II CORRESPONDENT

By Terry Mort

Pegasus, $27.95, 304 pages

 

As a Hemingway aficionado since my early teens, I’ve read all of Ernest Hemingway’s novels, short stories, his letters and most of the biographies written about him. I’ve also read collections of his journalism, including the six articles he wrote as a war correspondent for Collier’s magazine during World War II. 


Since his suicide in 1961, there has been a steady stream of books about Hemingway, whom many suggest may be the greatest and most influential writer of the 20th century.   



Saturday, March 18, 2023

A Look Back At The South Philly Mob: My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On George Anastasia's History Of Philadelphia Organized Crime

With the recent death of South Philly mob legend Chickie Ciancaglini, I've been thinking about an earlier era of the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra crime family.

Perhaps the best book on that era is George Anastasia’s Blood and Honor.

You can read my 2020 Washington Times On Crime column on Blood and Honor below:

In a previous column, I wrote about Frank Sheeran, the late Philadelphia criminal who was portrayed by Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s Netflix film, “The Irishman.” Although I don’t subscribe to Sheeran’s claim that he murdered Jimmy Hoffa and his other boasts, I liked the film. 

I especially liked the film as it featured organized crime figures from South Philadelphia, where I grew up. Readers have contacted me and asked how to learn more about the South Philly-South Jersey Cosa Nostra crime family. I responded by suggesting that they read George Anastasia’s true crime books, “Blood and Honor,” “The Goodfella Tapes” and “The Last Gangster.”

 

Jimmy Breslin said George Anastasia’s “Blood and Honor: The Scarfo Mob, the Mafia’s Most Violent Family” was the best gangster book ever written. Mr. Anastasia, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, covered the rise and fall of the Nicodemo “Nicky” Scarfo Philadelphia Cosa Nostra crime family in the 1980s.

 

With Mr. Anastasia’s knowledge from years of covering the mob and his interviews with Nick Caramandi, a Scarfo mob soldier turned government witness, “Blood and Honor” offers the backstory of the murder of South Philly-South Jersey mob boss Angelo Bruno (portrayed by Harvey Keitel in “The Irishman”) and the eventual rise of Scarfo. The book details the schemes, the internecine mob war and the many murders ordered by Scarfo.

       

I interviewed Philip “Crazy Phil” Leonetti, Scarfo’s nephew and underboss who became a government witness. He described his uncle as smart, devious, calculating and psychopathic. He said his uncle enjoyed committing murders.