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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Federal Judge Not Interested in Being Pen Pals with Steven Mandell

Former death row inmate Steven Mandell may have been convicted of plotting to torture, murder and dismember a suburban businessman, but he wants the federal judge who oversaw his sensational trial to know he wouldn’t hurt a fly.

In an April 4 letter written from his jail cell and made public this week, Mandell claimed the only time he’d ever been remotely violent in his life was in an altercation with his girlfriend on Christmas Day in 1983 and that the domestic abuse charges were later dropped.

Mandell said in the three-page letter to U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve that prosecutors have conjured up a false picture of him as a dangerous threat to keep him in solitary confinement at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the federal Loop jail.

“I have never ever bothered anyone in my entire life. No one! Not a soul!” Mandell, a Chicago police officer decades ago, wrote in neat cursive. “There is NO danger. There NEVER was a danger.”

In a court hearing last week, St. Eve called the letter inappropriate and revealed that since his conviction in February Mandell had sent several other letters, including one to the Highland Park police. While details of that letter weren’t discussed, Highland Park was the site of a spectacular 2012 fire that killed restaurateur Giacomo Ruggirello. The blaze was labeled a possible arson, and last year Mandell’s lawyers mysteriously subpoenaed records about the investigation.

Mandell also sent a letter to U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur, who is presiding over a pending lawsuit alleging the FBI framed Mandell’s alleged partner, Gary Engel, in a 1984 kidnapping in Missouri.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu has told St. Eve that some of the materials sent by Mandell in the letters violated her protective order sealing certain information in the case. Bhachu said that if Mandell continued to send such materials he could face charges.

Last month, Mandell’s attorneys alleged in a court filing that he was simply expressing his “deeply held conviction” that the key informant in his case, Northwest Side real estate mogul George Michael, was involved in criminal activities that should be investigated.

Mandell claimed in the filing that prosecutors used his letters to justify returning him to the jail’s Special Housing Unit, where he is on 24-hour lockdown and has restricted access to email and other communications.

He was first placed in solitary confinement last fall after prosecutors alleged he tried to arrange Michael’s murder while in the jail’s general population. But prosecutors have denied any involvement in Mandell’s current placement in the jail.

Mandell, 63, was convicted Feb 21 on charges he plotted to kidnap, torture, kill and dismember Riverside landlord Steven Campbell. The jury acquitted him of a separate plot to kill an associate of a reputedly mob-connected strip club. Mandell faces up to life in prison.

Michael secretly wore a wire for the feds and pretended to go along with the plan to outfit a Devon Avenue storefront with an industrial sink, butcher table and other equipment needed to drain Campbell’s body of blood and chop it to pieces.

Years ago Mandell – who then went by the name Steven Manning -- had been sent to death row for the drug-related 1990 slaying of a trucking firm owner. After his murder conviction was overturned on appeal, he won a landmark $6.5 million verdict in his suit against the FBI. A judge, however, later threw out the verdict, and Mandell never collected a penny.

Thanks to Jason Meisner.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lloyd B. Lockwood to Serve 10 Years in Prison for Placing Pipe Bomb in Decatur

Senior U.S. District Judge Harold A. Baker sentenced Lloyd B. Lockwood, 47, of Bloomington, Illinois, to serve the statutory maximum 10 years in federal prison for placing a pipe bomb in a Decatur, Illinois mailbox in March 2011, as announced by U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis, Central District of Illinois.

On August 14, 2013, a jury convicted Lockwood for placing a pipe bomb in a mailbox at a Decatur home on March 30, 2011. Lockwood was charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device and being a felon in possession of a destructive device.

Lockwood was arrested and charged in the case in September 2012. He was released on bond with special conditions including home detention. In January 2013, U.S. Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal revoked Lockwood’s bond after Lockwood violated an order of protection filed against him in McLean county court. Lockwood has been detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since January 2013 and was remanded to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Joseph Tagler Charged with Stealing Eagle Market Makers Dividend Payments

An Oak Lawn man who allegedly used his position as a back office manager of a Chicago trading firm to steal or divert payments intended to go to the firm’s co-owners has been charged in a criminal complaint unsealed following his arrest. The charge was announced by Robert J. Holley, Special Agent  in Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI, and Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Joseph Tagler, 29, of the 5100 block of West 105th Street in Oak Lawn, was charged with one count of wire fraud, a felony offense, in connection with a transfer of $9,550 that occurred in January of this year. Tagler was arrested without incident by FBI agents at his residence and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila Finnegan, who released him on a $50,000 unsecured bond. No future court date has been set.

The complaint, filed under seal, alleges that Tagler, a back office manager and member of the board of directors for Eagle Market Makers, stole a total of over $700,000 during a 26-month period and that the money was used for Tagler’s personal use, including the purchase of a property for himself and his brother-in-law in Walkerton, Indiana. The complaint further alleges that the scheme was discovered last month as one of the co-owners, identified in the complaint as Principal A, was preparing to file tax returns and noted that the amount he received in dividend payments was less than what it appeared he was paid in paperwork he received from the company.

According to the complaint, a bank account of Principal B, who had directed Tagler to close the account in November 2011, was used to fund wire transfers in July 2011 and again in March 2013 for the purchase of two real estate parcels in Indiana. Principal B told investigators that what appeared to be his signatures on the wire transfer requests were not his and that he did not authorize the transfers. The complaint alleges that the same account was also used to deposit funds in the amounts of approximately $323, 700 in 2012 and approximately $496,000 in 2013, which funds were primarily Principal B’s dividend checks, and that most of the deposited funds were withdrawn from the account through checks made out to “Cash.” The withdrawal checks appeared to be endorsed by Tagler signing Principal B’s name, according to the complaint.

With respect to Principal A, Tagler allegedly prepared a November 2012 dividend check for him but did not send the check to Principal A’s residence in Alabama, as he was supposed to do. Tagler allegedly forged Principal A’s signature, deposited the funds into a bank account, and then withdrew the funds in cash.

Mikel Mims and Simon Habbershaw Charged with Defrauding @SonyOpenTennis

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce the unsealing of an indictment alleging that two former employees of IMG Worldwide Inc. defrauded the company that runs the Sony Open Tennis tournament on Key Biscayne. Mikel Mims, 37, of Miami Gardens, and Simon Habbershaw, 41, formerly of Miami, were charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and substantive wire fraud charges. Mims was arrested and Simon Habbershaw remains at large.

Each defendant faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and five years in prison for conspiring to commit wire fraud.

According to the indictment, Mims and Habbershaw were employees of IMG Worldwide Inc. responsible for coordinating with sponsors and patrons for the delivery of tickets to the Sony Open Tennis tournament on Key Biscayne. The defendants are alleged to have told the printing vendor for IMG Worldwide Inc. that patrons and customers of IMG Worldwide Inc. had purchased more tickets than the patrons and customers had actually purchased. As a result, the printing vendor for IMG Worldwide Inc. printed extra tournament tickets that it delivered to the defendants. The defendants then told customers that purported patron and customers of IMG Worldwide Inc. had extra tickets for the tennis tournament that needed to be sold, stating that various companies had previously purchased too many tournament tickets. Between 2008 and 2013, Mims and Habbershaw sold these extra tournament tickets to patrons and customers of IMG Worldwide Inc. but instead used the proceeds of the sale of the additional tournament tickets for their own personal benefit and the benefit of others. The indictment seeks forfeiture in the amount of $407,409.

Mystery/Thriller Reveals Effective Ways of How #ToCatchaRat

Having the feeling of happiness whenever she sees her stories written and published, author Eileen M. Foti shares another masterpiece. Exciting readers, she tells a mystery/thriller that will bring everyone into the world of the mob. Heightening the level of suspense through each page, Foti reveals the effective ways of how “To Catch A Rat.”

A dead man was found in one of the famous stables in the area. As the police were investigating, they found out that the victim was the brother of the incumbent mayor of the city. Thus, it has been known that the mayor’s brother was killed. The day after the incident, the mayor himself was shot in his car. The day after the next, a shooting happened in a nearby racetrack. A string of unfortunate events seems to have struck the city.

Sergeant Finn is the one who handles the murder case; and he is well determined to uncover the mysterious death of the mayor’s brother. He will do all that it takes to find the culprit how muddy the investigation can get. As Sergeant Finn tries to solve the string of crimes, he will soon find out about the mob, Chicago with Big Joe and drugs, and money — all has got something to do with the series of incidences that sent shivers down the spine of every resident in the area. Now, Sergeant Finn has to connect the dots and expose the mind-boggling connection of the murders to the mob.

Interesting, this murder mystery will delight all aficionados of action, adventure and crime solving premises, and maybe teach them a thing or two on how “TO CATCH A RAT.”

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Illinois House Passes Legislation to Prevent the Destruction of Firearms

The Illinois House of Representatives passed House Bill 4860, with House Amendment 1, by an 88 to 6 vote. Sponsored by state Representative Brad Halbrook (R-110), HB 4860, as amended, provides law enforcement agencies with the option to sell confiscated firearms at public auction rather than destroying or keeping them for agency use. HB 4860 now goes to the Senate where it will await a committee referral.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Specifics on Guilty Plea of SAC Capital Management Companies Accepted

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that S.A.C. CAPITAL ADVISORS L.P. (SAC Capital LP), S.A.C. CAPITAL ADVISORS, LLC (SAC Capital LLC), CR INTRINSIC INVESTORS LLC (CR Intrinsic), and SIGMA CAPITAL MANAGEMENT LLC (Sigma Capital) (collectively, the SAC Companies), which are responsible for the management of a group of affiliated hedge funds (collectively the SAC hedge fund or SAC), were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Laura T. Swain. The District Court accepted the guilty plea entered by the defendants on November 8, 2013, and approved the parties’ plea agreement. The court imposed a sentence that included a criminal fine of $900 million (which is not tax-deductible), a statutory maximum five-year term of probation for each of the SAC Companies, the condition that the SAC hedge fund terminate its investment advisory business, effectively closing the hedge fund to outside investors; and a requirement that the defendants, and any successor entities, employ the compliance procedures necessary to identify and prevent insider trading; and that the defendants retain an independent compliance consultant, who will review, revise, and report to the government on those compliance procedures. Together with the settlement of the civil forfeiture action, which was approved by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan on November 6, 2013, the SAC hedge fund is required to pay an additional $1.184 billion financial penalty on top of the $616 million the SAC Companies have already agreed to pay to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “After due consideration, the court has accepted the guilty plea and imposed sentence on SAC, including the payment of $1.184 billion in financial penalties. Today marks the day of reckoning for a fund that was riddled with criminal conduct. SAC fostered pervasive insider trading and failed, as a company, to question or prevent it. So far, this office has successfully convicted eight SAC employees of insider trading, and when so much criminal conduct takes place within one institution, it is appropriate to impose criminal liability on the institution itself. Today’s sentence affirms that when institutions flout the law in such a colossal way, they will pay a heavy price.”

As alleged in the Indictment, the forfeiture complaint filed against the funds, other court documents filed in the case, and statements made during the guilty plea and sentencing proceedings:

From 1999 through at least 2010, numerous employees of the SAC Companies obtained and traded on material, non-public information that they were not permitted to have (inside information) or recommended trades based on such information to SAC portfolio managers (SAC PMs) or the SAC owner. Specifically, the Indictment charges the SAC Companies with insider trading offenses committed by numerous employees, occurring over the span of more than a decade and involving the securities of more than 20 publicly traded companies across multiple sectors of the economy. As charged in the Indictment, the systematic insider trading engaged in by SAC PMs and Research Analysts was the predictable and foreseeable result of multiple institutional failures. The failures alleged included hiring practices heavily focused on recruiting employees with networks of public company insiders, the failure of SAC management to question employees about trades that appeared to be based on Inside Information, and ineffective compliance measures that failed to prevent or detect such trading, particularly prior to late 2009.

At the guilty plea hearing on November 8, 2013, the SAC Companies pled guilty to all five counts in the indictment and admitted that the six employees who had previously pled guilty to insider trading engaged in that criminal conduct while acting within the scope of their employment of the SAC Companies and for the benefit of the firm. The plea agreement does not provide immunity from prosecution for any individual and does not restrict the government from charging any individual for any criminal offense and seeking the maximum term of imprisonment applicable to any such violation of criminal law. In fact, since the time of the guilty plea and prior to the sentencing, two additional SAC portfolio managers, Michael Steinberg and Matthew Martoma, were convicted of insider trading after separate jury trials.

Indeed, the total criminal fine imposed by the Court exceeded a Sentencing Guidelines range that was, in turn, based on all of the illicit profits gained and losses avoided resulting from all of the insider trading alleged in the Indictment. Neither the criminal fine nor the forfeiture amount to be paid in the civil forfeiture case can be claimed as a tax deduction or credit by the SAC Companies or their owner.

The court further imposed a series of non-financial penalties on the SAC Companies that include the following:

  • The SAC Companies will no longer accept third party investor funds and will terminate operations as an investment adviser.
  • The SAC Companies were each sentenced to a five-year term of probation—the maximum allowed by law—with a provision to end probation earlier if the SAC Companies cease operating entirely. The terms of probation require, among other conditions, that the SAC Companies employ appropriate compliance measures to identify and prevent insider trading. Additionally, the insider trading compliance measures of the SAC Companies and any related entities trading securities will be reviewed by an independent compliance expert who will direct the SAC Companies to correct identified deficiencies and who will report to the United States Attorney’s Office as to the progress of the corrective measures undertaken.

Full Details on Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, of the #SinaloaCartel, Guilty Plea and Cooperation with US Feds

A high-level member of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico pleaded guilty a year ago to participating in a vast narcotics trafficking conspiracy and is cooperating with the United States, federal law enforcement officials announced.  A written plea agreement with the defendant, Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, was made public in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Zambada-Niebla, 39, pleaded guilty on April 3, 2013, before U.S. District Chief Judge Ruben Castillo.  Zambada-Niebla was arrested in Mexico in 2009, and he was extradited to the United States in February 2010.

Zambada-Niebla remains in U.S. custody and no sentencing date has been set.  Under the plea agreement, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison¸ a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, and a maximum fine of $4 million.  If the government determines at the time of sentencing that Zambada-Niebla has continued to provide full and truthful cooperation, as required by the plea agreement, the government will move to depart below the anticipated advisory federal sentencing guideline of life imprisonment.  In addition, Zambada-Niebla agreed not to contest a forfeiture judgment of more than $1.37 billion.

“This guilty plea is a testament to the tireless determination of the leadership and special agents of DEA’s Chicago office to hold accountable those individuals at the highest levels of the drug trafficking cartels who are responsible for flooding Chicago with cocaine and heroin and reaping the profits,” said Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.  Mr. Fardon announced the guilty plea with Jack Riley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Zambada-Niebla pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute multiple kilograms of cocaine and heroin between 2005 and 2008.  More specifically, the plea agreement describes the distribution of multiple tons of cocaine, often involving hundreds of kilograms at a time on a monthly, if not weekly, basis between 2005 and 2008.  The guilty plea means that there will be no trial for Zambada-Niebla, whose case was severed from that of his co-defendants.  Among his co-defendants are his father, Ismael Zambada-Garcia, also known as “Mayo,” and Joaquin Guzman-Loera, also known as “Chapo,” both alleged leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel.  Zambada-Garcia is a fugitive believed to be in Mexico, and Guzman-Loera is in Mexican custody after being arrested this past February.

Zambada-Niebla admitted that between May 2005 and December 2008, he was a high-level member of the Sinaloa Cartel and was responsible for many aspects of its drug trafficking operations, “both independently and as a trusted lieutenant for his father,” for whom he acted as a surrogate and logistical coordinator, the plea agreement states.  Zambada-Niebla admitted he was aware that his father was among the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel since the 1970s and their principal livelihood was derived from their sale of narcotics in the United States.

Zambada-Niebla admitted that he participated in coordinating the importation of multi-ton quantities of cocaine from Central and South American countries, including Colombia and Panama, into the interior of Mexico, and facilitated the transportation and storage of these shipments within Mexico.  The cartel used various means of transportation, including private aircraft, submarines and other submersible and semi-submersible vessels, container ships, go-fast boats, fishing vessels, buses, rail cars, tractor-trailers, and automobiles.

Zambada-Niebla “subsequently assisted in coordinating the delivery of cocaine to wholesale distributors in Mexico, knowing that these distributors would in turn smuggle multi-ton quantities of cocaine, generally in shipments of hundreds of kilograms at a time, as well as on at least one occasion, multi-kilogram quantities of heroin, from Mexico across the United States border, and then into and throughout the United States, including Chicago,” according to the plea agreement.

On most occasions, the Sinaloa Cartel supplied this cocaine and heroin to wholesalers on consignment, including to cooperating co-defendants Pedro and Margarito Flores, whom Zambada-Niebla knew distributed multi-ton quantities of cocaine and multi-kilogram quantities of heroin in Chicago, and in turn sent payment to Zambada-Niebla and other cartel leaders.  Zambada-Niebla also admitted being aware of, and directly participating in, transporting large quantities of narcotics cash proceeds from the U.S. to Mexico.

Zambada-Niebla also admitted that he and his father, as well as other members of the Sinaloa Cartel, “were protected by the ubiquitous presence of weapons,” and that he had “constant bodyguards who possessed numerous military-caliber weapons.”  Zambada-Niebla also admitted that he was aware that the cartel used violence and made credible threats of violence to rival cartels and to law enforcement in Mexico to facilitate its business.

Could William Bradford Bishop Jr, Newest Member of FBI's Most Wanted List, Be Hiding in Plain Sight?

Although William Bradford Bishop, Jr. traveled extensively overseas through his job with the U.S. Department of State and spoke several foreign languages, investigators believe he may have assumed a new identity and be hiding in plain sight in the United States.

William Bradford Bishop Added to FBI Top Ten List

Even an experienced traveler might find it difficult to maintain a new identity in a foreign country, said Steve Vogt, special agent in charge of our Baltimore Division. “If you’re a U.S. citizen it’s usually easier to hide in this country,” he explained. “Americans overseas tend to stand out.”

“The reality is, he could be anywhere,” Vogt added. “But we don’t want people to assume that he’s out of the country and overlook the fact that he might be living in their community. People might see someone who looks like him and think, ‘It couldn’t be him.’ Well, it could be him,” Vogt said. “That’s why we need the public’s help.”

Vogt doesn’t dismiss the possibility that Bishop died years ago, but currently there is no proof either way. “If he’s dead, so be it,” Vogt said, “but until we know for certain, we will not stop searching for him.”

William Bradford Bishop Added to FBI Top Ten List

William Bradford Bishop, Jr., wanted for the brutal murders of his wife, mother, and three sons in Maryland nearly four decades ago, has been named to the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

A reward of up to $100,000 is being offered for information leading directly to the arrest of Bishop, a highly intelligent former U.S. Department of State employee who investigators believe may be hiding in plain sight.

William Bradford Bishop Added to FBI Top Ten List

On March 1, 1976, Bishop used a hammer to bludgeon his family, including his three boys, ages 5, 10, and 14. Investigators believe he then drove to North Carolina with the bodies in the family station wagon, buried them in a shallow grave and set them on fire. The last confirmed sighting of Bishop was one day after the murders at a sporting goods store in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where he bought a pair of sneakers.

“Nothing has changed since March 2, 1976 when Bishop was last seen except the passage of time,” said Steve Vogt, special agent in charge of our Baltimore Division. Vogt has teamed with local Maryland law enforcement officials to apprehend Bishop, a man described by investigators as a “family annihilator.”

“There is no indication that Bishop is dead,” Vogt said, explaining that the area where the bodies were discovered was searched extensively, and hundreds of individuals were interviewed at the park where the abandoned station wagon was later discovered, and there was no trace of Bishop.

The FBI, along with the Montgomery County Police Department, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, and the Department of State formed a task force last year to take another look at the Bishop case and to engage the public in locating him. As part of that effort, a forensic artist created a three-dimensional, age-enhanced bust of what the fugitive may look like now, at the age of 77.

Naming Bishop to the Top Ten list is expected to bring national and international attention to the case in a way that was impossible decades ago. “When Bishop took off in 1976, there was no social media, no 24-hour news cycle,” Vogt said. “There was no sustained way to get his face out there like there is today. And the only way to catch this guy is through the public.”

“If Bishop is alive—and there is every chance that he could be,” said Tom Manger, chief of the Montgomery County Police Department and a member of the task force, “we are hopeful someone will call with the tip we need to catch him.” Manger added, “When you have a crime of this magnitude, no matter how long ago it occurred, the police department and the community never stop trying to bring the person responsible to justice.”

“No lead or tip is insignificant,” Vogt explained. “If Bishop is living with a new identity, he’s got to be somebody’s next-door neighbor.” Vogt, a Maryland native who remembers when the murders happened 38 years ago, echoed Manger’s sentiments about never giving up trying to locate the fugitive. “Don’t forget that five people were murdered,” he said. “Bishop needs to be held accountable for that.”

We need your help: If you have any information concerning William Bradford Bishop, Jr., contact your local FBI office, the nearest law enforcement agency, or the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You can also submit a tip online.