Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tonight, Authors Denis O. Smith and Maxim Jakubowski discuss Sherlock Holmes on Crime Beat Radio

Denis O. Smith, author of The Mammoth Book of the New Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes: 12 Original Stories, and Maxim Jakubowski, author of The Mammoth Book of the Adventures of Professor Moriarty: 37 Short Stories about the Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes’s Nemesis, appear on Crime Beat Radio tonight.

Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Scorching Full Department of Justice Investigative Findings into Chicago Police Department @Chicago_Police

The Justice Department announced that it has found reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) engages in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The department found that CPD officers’ practices unnecessarily endanger themselves and result in unnecessary and avoidable uses of force. The pattern or practice results from systemic deficiencies in training and accountability, including the failure to train officers in de-escalation and the failure to conduct meaningful investigations of uses of force.

The city of Chicago and the Justice Department have signed an agreement in principle to work together, with community input, to create a federal court-enforceable consent decree addressing the deficiencies found during the investigation.

“One of my highest priorities as Attorney General has been to ensure that every American enjoys police protection that is lawful, responsive, and transparent,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “Sadly, our thorough investigation into the Chicago Police Department found that far too many residents of this proud city have not received that kind of policing. The resulting deficit in trust and accountability is not just bad for residents – it’s also bad for dedicated police officers trying to do their jobs safely and effectively. With this announcement, we are laying the groundwork for the difficult but necessary work of building a stronger, safer, and more united Chicago for all who call it home.”

“The failures we identified in our findings – that we heard about from residents and officers alike — have deeply eroded community trust,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “But today is a moment of opportunity, where we begin to move from identifying problems to developing solutions. I know our findings can lead to reform and rebuild community-police trust because we’ve seen it happen in community after community around the country over the past 20 years.”

“The findings in our report, coupled with the City of Chicago and Police Department’s commitment to work together with us, are an historic turning point and a major step toward sustained change,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois. “Implementing these findings is a necessary precursor to our long-term success in fighting violent crime in Chicago.”

On Dec. 7, 2015, Attorney General Lynch announced the investigation into the CPD and the city’s Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). The investigation focused on CPD’s use of force, including racial, ethnic and other disparities in use of force, and its systems of accountability.

In the course of its pattern or practice investigation, the department interviewed and met with city leaders, current and former police officials, and numerous officers throughout all ranks of CPD. The department also accompanied line officers on over 60 ride-alongs in every police district; heard from over 1,000 community members and more than 90 community organizations; reviewed thousands of pages of police documents, including all relevant policies, procedures, training and materials; and analyzed a randomized, representative sample of force reports and the investigative files for incidents that occurred between January 2011 and April 2016, including over 170 officer-involved shooting investigations and documents related to over 400 additional force incidents.

The department found that CPD’s pattern or practice of unconstitutional force is largely attributable to deficiencies in its accountability systems and in how it investigates uses of force, responds to allegations of misconduct, trains and supervises officers, and collects and reports data on officer use of force. The department also found that the lack of effective community-oriented policing strategies and insufficient support for officer wellness and safety contributed to the pattern or practice of unconstitutional force.

In addition, the department also identified serious concerns about the prevalence of racially discriminatory conduct by some CPD officers and the degree to which that conduct is tolerated and in some respects caused by deficiencies in CPD’s systems of training, supervision and accountability. The department’s findings further note that the impact of CPD’s pattern or practice of unreasonable force falls heaviest on predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods, such that restoring police-community trust will require remedies addressing both discriminatory conduct and the disproportionality of illegal and unconstitutional patterns of force on minority communities.

In the agreement in principle, the Justice Department and the city of Chicago agreed that compliance with the consent decree will be reviewed by an independent monitor. The agreement in principle provides a general framework for change, but the department will be doing community outreach to solicit input in developing comprehensive reforms. In the days ahead, the department will continue speaking to local authorities, officers and ordinary citizens to gather their perspectives about the challenges facing the city – and the changes needed to address them.  Comments from the public may be provided by email to Community.CPD@crt.usdoj.govEmail links icon.  

Throughout the department’s investigation, CPD leadership remained receptive to preliminary feedback and technical assistance, and started the process of implementing reforms. Under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Superintendent Eddie Johnson, CPD has taken a number of encouraging steps, including creating the Civilian Office of Police Accountability to replace IPRA; issuing a new transparency policy mandating the release of videos and other materials related to certain officer misconduct investigations; beginning a pilot program for body-worn cameras, to be expanded CPD-wide; and committing to establish an anonymous hotline for employees to report misconduct. While these and other measures are an important start to cooperative reform, a comprehensive, court-enforceable agreement is needed to remedy all of the department’s findings and ensure lasting reform.

In addition, the department has been working with the city of Chicago as part of the Violence Reduction Network, a data-driven, evidence-based initiative that delivers strategic, intensive training and technical assistance. This assistance focuses on developing an overall violence reduction strategic framework; providing immediate technical assistance and expertise to CPD; analyzing high-crime neighborhoods for resource, social service and opportunity gaps; and assisting in building capacity in Chicago’s public safety offices.  And in 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois charged more illegal firearms cases in total, and more as a percentage of its overall cases, than it has in any year since 2004.

This investigation was conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois with the assistance of law enforcement professionals, pursuant to the pattern-or-practice provision of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Since 2009, the Special Litigation Section has opened 25 investigations into law enforcement agencies. The section is enforcing 20 agreements with law enforcement agencies, including 15 consent decrees and one post-judgment order. The division recently released a comprehensive report that provides an overview of the police reform work done pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which can be found at the following link:

For more information on the Civil Rights Division and the Special Litigation Section, please visit

Chicago Police Department Findings

Chicago Agreement in Principle

Chicago Police Department Findings Fact Sheet

Pattern or Practice Accomplishments Document

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tonight, @BurlBarer, and @FrankGirardot, authors of #BetrayalinBlue, appear on Crime Beat Radio

Burl Barer, and Frank Girardot authors of Betrayal in Blue: The Shocking Memoir of the Scandal That Rocked the NYPD, will appear on Crime Beat Radio.

Betrayal in Blue: The Shocking Memoir of the Scandal That Rocked the NYPD, is the story of perhaps the biggest corruption scandal in New York City history. Ken Eurell and his partner Michael Dowd were the two cops who ran the most powerful gang in New York’s dangerous 75th Precinct, the crack cocaine capitol of 1980s America. They formed a lucrative alliance with Adam Diaz, the kingpin of an ever-expanding Dominican drug cartel. The police exploded into the headlines with the arrest of Eurell, Dowd and their fellow crooked cops.

Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Assassinations & Firebombs on Rise as Mobsters Fight to be Boss, Hells Angels could be Winner

Once feared and respected within the underworld, Montreal's Mafia has become a shadow of its former self as rival clans battle each other to see which Mob boss will become the city's next godfather.The civil war within the Montreal Mob is being played out in a series of assassinations and, increasingly, firebombings of businesses linked to Mafia associates.

Police suspect Mafia activity was behind at least 13 firebombings in the greater Montreal region last year, almost double the seven they identified in 2015, said a communications officer for the Montreal police.

The latest case of Mafia-linked arson may have occurred Monday morning, when a strip mall in Laval's Vimont neighbourhood went up in flames. Police are describing the fire as "suspicious."

Among the four businesses that were destroyed was Streakz Coiffure, a hair salon owned by Caterina Miceli. Another one of Miceli's salons was firebombed last week.Miceli is married to Carmelo Cannistraro, who was arrested in 2006 as part of an RCMP-led crackdown on the Mafia.

RCMP documents submitted to Quebec's Charbonneau inquiry list Cannistraro as an associate of Frank Arcadi, one of the Mafia bosses in the Rizzuto clan.

The spate of firebombings has been accompanied by a series of grisly killings around the Montreal area, largely targeting those linked to Vito Rizzuto, the one-time godfather who turned the city's Mafia into one of the most successful organized crime operations in North America.

Rizzuto, known as the Teflon Don, pleaded guilty in an American court to racketeering charges in 2007 in exchange for a 10-year sentence in connection with the 1981 murders of three alleged gang leaders at a New York social club.He died of natural causes in 2013, 15 months after his release from a Colorado prison. Other members of his clan haven't been so fortunate. 

Last October, Vincenzo Spagnolo was shot to death at his home, also in Laval's Vimont neighbourhood. Organized crime experts say Spagnolo, 65, served as the right-hand man to Rizzuto. At the time, provincial police said Spagnolo's death appeared to be the result of a "settling of accounts" within the Mafia.

Last May Rocco Sollecito was gunned down while driving his BMW SUV through Laval.

He was suspected of acting as an adviser to Vito Rizzuto's son Leonardo, who allegedly took over from his father. The younger Rizzuto is currently behind bars, awaiting trial on gangsterism and drug-trafficking charges.

Leonardo's brother, Nick Jr., and grandfather, Nicolo, were shot dead in 2009 and 2010 respectively. 

​In the early days of the bloodletting, it was unclear to observers who was behind the violence: street gangs, the Hells Angels and Mafia clans from outside the city were all tossed around as possibilities. But Pierre de Champlain, a former organized-crime analyst for the RCMP, increasingly believes the violence is coming from within the Montreal Mafia's own ranks.

The Rizzutos, originally from Sicily, took charge of the Mafia after wrestling power away from the Cotronis, from Calabria, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Nicolo Rizzuto managed to successfully transfer the crown to his son, Vito. Under their leadership, de Champlain said, Montreal became an important hub in the international drug trade, a way-station for cocaine on its way to the U.S. But Vito's death created a vacuum. And the ongoing violence is a sign no one has been able to establish himself as a strong leader in his place, someone capable of earning the respect of the various factions within the Mob.

"We may suspect at the moment that the so-called Calabrian faction has an advantage because the Sicilian factions have been severely hit with casualties over the last years," de Champlain said.

"So you might think that the Calabrian factions might be behind these fires, but that doesn't mean the Sicilians are not responding to this."

As the war wages within the Mafia, if indeed that is what's happening, other organized crime groups have been able to reassert themselves.

This has notably been the case with the Hells Angels, which — after being weakened by police arrests and internal conflicts of their own — have emerged once again as a force within Quebec's underworld.

"There is no war against them, and they are not at war with anyone," de Champlain said.

"The longer their war goes on, the more the Mafia is weakened."

Thanks to Jonathan Montpetit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Six Members of Violent Chicago Street Gang, the Hobos, Convicted on Federal Racketeering Conspiracy Charges

A federal jury convicted six members of a Chicago street gang known as the Hobos of participating in a criminal organization that engaged in narcotics distribution and committed murders, attempted murders and armed robberies.

The verdicts were rendered after a 15-week trial in federal court in Chicago. In convicting the six defendants of racketeering conspiracy, the jury found the Hobos were a criminal enterprise that robbed from other drug dealers, retaliated against rival gangs, and violently prevented witnesses from cooperating with law enforcement. For nearly a decade the gang engaged in murders, attempted murders, robberies and narcotics distribution, primarily on the south and west sides of Chicago.

Federal, state and local authorities uncovered the gang activity through an extensive investigation conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the Chicago High Intensity Drug Task Force (HIDTA). The Task Forces have been responsible for disrupting some of the Chicago area’s most sophisticated drug-trafficking organizations.

The verdicts were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Eddie T. Johnson, Chicago Police Superintendent; and James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. The Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Corrections and Illinois Secretary of State Police provided assistance.

Convicted of racketeering conspiracy were GREGORY CHESTER, of Chicago; ARNOLD COUNCIL, of Chicago; PARIS POE, of Chicago; GABRIEL BUSH, of Chicago; WILLIAM FORD, of Chicago; and DERRICK VAUGHN, of Chicago.  Council, Bush, Poe and Vaughn were also convicted of committing murder in aid of racketeering.  Poe was convicted of committing murder to obstruct justice, and the jury convicted Council of using a firearm during a robbery of a clothing store.  The jury also convicted Ford on a gun charge and a drug charge.

The convictions carry maximum sentences of life in prison. U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr. scheduled sentencing hearings for June 23, 2017.

The guilty verdicts bring to ten the total number of Hobos convicted in the case. Four members of the gang, including Chester’s cousin, pleaded guilty prior to trial. An eleventh Hobo was identified in the indictment as a coconspirator, but he died before the charges were brought.

Evidence at trial revealed the Hobos were comprised of members from other street gangs that were once rivals. The Hobos allied together in order to more profitably distribute narcotics, accumulate wealth, and establish control of territories on the south and west sides of Chicago. The Hobos were violent and ruthless, often using high-powered guns and assault rifles. Members of the gang shared the wealth with each other, buying luxury items and taking trips to Hawaii and Florida. Although the Hobos lacked a traditional hierarchy, Chester was recognized as its leader. From 2004 to 2013 the Hobos engaged in narcotics trafficking, home invasions and armed robberies, often of rival drug dealers.

When the Hobos learned that individuals were cooperating with law enforcement, the gang resorted to murder in order to prevent it. In 2006 Council and Poe fatally shot Wilbert Moore, whose cooperation with Chicago Police had led to state gun and drug charges against Council. In 2013 Poe shot and killed Keith Daniels after Daniels cooperated with the federal investigation that led to these convictions.