Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Owner of American Collision & Automotive Center Sentenced to Prison for Hiring Hitman and Related Crimes

A Philadelphia business owner was sentenced to 271 months in prison for arranging a murder for hire that led to a shooting in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Ronald Galati, 64, was previously found guilty of all four counts in the indictment against him: conspiracy to commit murder for hire; conspiracy to possess and use a firearm during a crime of violence; murder for hire; and aiding and abetting the possession and use of a firearm during a crime of violence. Galati was convicted following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez, who imposed the sentence in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

Beginning sometime before June 2013, Galati began saying that he was going to kill Andrew Tuono. Galati told witnesses he would “kill him myself, I will strangle him, I will poke his eyes out” and “I am going to stab him right in the forehead with this thing,” referring to a pointed object. In June 2013, Galati, members of Galati’s family and associates had dinner with Tuono at a restaurant in Northfield, New Jersey. During dinner, Galati took Tuono into the kitchen and threatened to kill him.

Galati owned and operated American Collision & Automotive Center in Philadelphia, where Jerome Johnson, 46, also of Philadelphia, sometimes worked for him. Galati and Johnson approached two associates, Ronald Walker, 49, of Philadelphia, and Alvin Matthews, 47, of Brookhaven, Pennsylvania, and enlisted them to kill Tuono in a manner that would not implicate Galati. Galati promised to pay Walker $20,000 to shoot and kill Tuono.

Galati provided Johnson with several addresses associated with the intended victim. Johnson gave Matthews a Colt .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun he had obtained near 60th Street in Philadelphia. On Nov. 30, 2013, Johnson telephoned Walker and Matthews and arranged to meet them. Galati called Johnson and told him that Tuono was in New Jersey.

Johnson drove Walker and Matthews to the area where Tuono lived in Atlantic City. During the drive, Johnson told Walker and Matthews that if there was a woman with Tuono, she was not to be harmed. While in Johnson’s vehicle, Matthews gave Walker the gun Johnson had given Matthews the day before. Johnson then dropped Walker and Matthews off around the corner from Tuono’s home.

Walker and Matthews then stalked Tuono from an alley adjacent to the residence. When Tuono and a woman came out of the house, Walker and Matthews approached them and got Tuono’s attention. Walker shot Tuono multiple times. The victim was transported by ambulance from the scene of the shooting to Atlantic City Medical Center for emergency surgery, where he spent six days.

Walker and Matthews were arrested as they fled from the scene.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Rodriguez sentenced Galati to serve five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $15,427.94.

Walker, Matthews and Johnson have each pleaded guilty to related offenses and await sentencing.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

U.S. Marshals Complete Phase 2 of Operation Desert Snow

The Marshals Service has been diligently working with state and local law enforcement officers to arrest violent fugitives in all 33 counties in New Mexico. Operation Desert Snow has five phases which have already been implemented throughout the entire state of New Mexico. The operation is building partnerships between state, county, local and tribal agencies in order to develop an emergency response strategy throughout the entire state. Phases I and II have already been completed. Phases III, IV and V will be implemented on an established schedule throughout 2015.

Phase I began in the Farmington, New Mexico Four-Corners Area which extends to the Arizona border and encompasses the Navajo Nation. From December 11-14, 2014 the Marshals Service and several of its law enforcement partners began serving warrants in this region. During the two-day operation, law enforcement officers endeavored to serve more than 60 warrants. They were successful in arresting 22 fugitives. All of these fugitive cases targeted violent fugitives.

Phase II of the operation continued February 19-22, 2015, in the Southwest corner of the state, which includes Luna County, Sierra County, Dona Ana County, Otero County and Lincoln County. The Marshals Service and combined local law enforcement task force members endeavored to serve over 100 warrants. They were successful in arresting 24 violent fugitives and clearing 33 warrants in this two- day operation.

Phase III will soon commence throughout the Northern New Mexico area. This operation will focus on the violent offenders who continue to evade apprehension which will make the area safer by protecting the public from these repeat offenders. This opportunity will also offer the entire taskforce an advantage to gain a better understanding of the area’s critical infrastructure, and to survey nearby areas of national interest for potential threats.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Vito Corleone's Home from "The Godfather" is for Sale.

The Staten Island movie home of Vito Corleone in “The Godfather” is for sale.

The Staten Island movie home of Vito Corleone in 'The Godfather' is for sale.


Rated as one of the best movies of all time, “The Godfather,” the blockbuster crime film produced in 1972, ran away with the Oscars winning Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. The portrayals of an extended New York crime family by its cast of Marlon Brando, then unknown Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton showed the personal lives of the Mafia during their heyday years of the 1940s and 50s. Most of the movie’s scenes were filmed in New York City locations including Bellevue Hospital, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Calvary Cemetery and a 1930 Tudor that was the stately home of Vito Corleone.

The movie home chosen for Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, was the longtime family home of Edward and Mary Norton in the Todt Hill neighborhood of Staten Island. It was recommended by Gianni Russo who grew up in the area and played the role of Vito’s traitor son-in-law, Carlos Rizzi. The Norton home was large, but unpretentious enough to blend in seamlessly with five neighboring homes to look like one big compound on movie screens during the 18 months of the film's production. “Godfather” fans will probably remember the home best for the movie’s opening garden party wedding reception for Vito’s daughter, Connie Corleone, while bobby-sox pop singer Johnny Fontane pleaded for the Godfather’s help to land a coveted Hollywood movie role. The home was also a good place for the Corleone family and associates to hunker down during the Mafia Wars.

Now for sale after a complete renovation in 2012, the 6,248-square-foot natural stone Tudor is sited on over a half acre of lawns, mature trees and landscaping that invites any size garden party and now enhanced further with an in-ground saltwater pool and infrared grill. No longer is the kitchen the small 1940’s-style where the cauldron of “Sunday gravy” simmered, but is now a modern day cook’s kitchen and breakfast room where friends and family gather in comfort. With five bedrooms and seven baths, the house is perfect for a large family and their guests with entertaining made easy in the formal rooms. There are also two offices, gym, playroom and two fireplaces. The basement features an English pub and man cave area with a game room, storage room with bath and four-car garage. Also a sound system, intercom, radiant heat, natural gas generator and, of course, a state-of-the-art security system.

The Staten Island home of the fabled Vito Corleone, seen around the world in the film “The Godfather” that grossed $245 million, is for sale after a complete renovation priced at $2.895 million. The listing agent is Connie Profaci of Profaci Realty in Staten Island, New York.

Vikings Exhibition Opens Today at the @FieldMuseum, Only US Stop on International Tour

What does the word Viking bring to mind? Ruthless warriors and merciless invaders? Or prosperous farmers, enterprising merchants, and caring families? Vikings, the latest exhibition at The Field Museum, explores the truth behind Scandinavia’s ancient—and infamous—seafaring raiders.

Opening February 27 and running through October 4, The Field Museum’s presentation of Vikings is the only US stop on an international tour. The exhibition was organized by the Swedish History Museum in Sweden, in partnership with Museums Partner in Austria. Major sponsors: Discover, Viking Cruises.

The exhibition transports visitors to the Viking Age (8th-11th centuries) brought to light through modern archaeological discoveries. Nearly 500 ancient artifacts—many never before seen outside of Scandinavia—reveal new insights into the legendary people characterized as heartless marauders.

Artifacts on display in the exhibition reveal glimpses into family and community, religion and rituals, travel and trade, aristocracy and slavery and the roles of women. The exhibition provides insight into the significance of Norse craftsmanship, the power of their mythology, and the symbolism of their ships. A highlight of the exhibition is the Krampmacken, a replica Viking ship from Sweden based on historical and archaeological sources.

The exhibition will also explore some of the misconceptions surrounding these early Scandinavians. Though there is a Viking helmet replica in the exhibition, visitors won’t find any horned helmets on display. In fact, no Viking helmet has ever been discovered with horns; this image emerged in the 19th century, popularized by authors and artists who romanticized Norse culture. Another myth is that the Vikings called themselves “Vikings.” Generally, the people of early Scandinavia named themselves after the farm, village, or region in which they lived. The word “Viking,” derives from Old Norse, and meant a trade ship or a raid. During the Viking era, people were not always out on these expeditions; most lived as farmers, merchants, and craftsmen.

Striking examples of Viking craftsmanship are on display including exquisitely wrought brooches, depictions of Norse gods, as well as gold and silver pendants—including the oldest known Scandinavian crucifix, highlighting the transition between Old Norse religious practices and Christianity.  Viking Age swords and other weapons will also be on display, highlighting the Vikings’ exceptional metal working technologies.

Vikings features a number of interactives, allowing Museum visitors to take part in the excavation of a virtual boat grave, spell a name in runes, explore Norse mythology, and play an early Scandinavian board game. Visitors can pick up an accurate replica of a Viking Age sword and test the weight and balance between handle and blade, discovering the skill it takes to master sword handling.

Vikings brings a new appreciation for the people remembered mainly for their plundering ways. And while raiding and pillaging were mainstays of their culture, Viking society was much more complex and multifaceted; Vikings were skilled craftsmen, successful merchants, and hard-working farmers. Like society today, no one thing defined the Vikings, and research continues to teach us how nuanced these northern people were.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Details on the Insufficient Evidence, Exonerating George Zimmerman from Civil Rights Charges

The Justice Department announced that the independent federal investigation found insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, officials from the FBI, and the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service met today with Martin’s family and their representatives to inform them of the findings of the investigation and the decision.

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a devastating tragedy. It shook an entire community, drew the attention of millions across the nation, and sparked a painful but necessary dialogue throughout the country,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Though a comprehensive investigation found that the high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution cannot be met under the circumstances here, this young man’s premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface. We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.”

Following the shooting, a team of some of the department’s most experienced civil rights prosecutors and FBI agents conducted a comprehensive, independent investigation of the events of Feb. 26, 2012. The federal investigation was opened and conducted separately from the state of Florida’s investigation of the shooting under local laws. Once the state initiated the second-degree murder prosecution, federal investigators began monitoring the state’s case and halted active investigation in order not to interfere with the state’s trial. Federal investigators provided reports of interviews and other evidence they obtained to the state’s prosecution team.

Shortly after Zimmerman’s acquittal in state court on July 13, 2013, federal investigators resumed active investigation. Federal investigators reviewed all of the material and evidence generated by the state of Florida in connection with its investigation and prosecution of Zimmerman, including witness statements, crime scene evidence, cell phone data, ballistics reports, reconstruction analysis, medical and autopsy reports, depositions, and the trial record. Federal investigators also independently conducted 75 witness interviews and obtained and reviewed the contents of relevant electronic devices. The investigation included an examination of police reports and additional evidence that was generated related to encounters Zimmerman has had with law enforcement in Florida since the state trial acquittal. In addition, federal authorities retained an independent biomechanical expert who assessed Zimmerman’s descriptions of the struggle and the shooting.

The federal investigation sought to determine whether the evidence of the events that led to Martin’s death were sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman’s actions violated the federal criminal civil rights statutes, specifically Section 3631 of Title 42 of the U.S. Code or Section 249 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, as well as other relevant federal criminal statutes. Section 3631 criminalizes willfully using force or threat of force to interfere with a person’s federally protected housing rights on account of that person’s race or color. Section 249 criminalizes willfully causing bodily injury to a person because of that person’s actual or perceived race. Courts define “willfully” to require proof that a defendant knew his acts were unlawful, and committed those acts in open defiance of the law. It is one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law.

The federal investigation examined whether Zimmerman violated civil rights statutes at any point during his interaction with Martin, from their initial encounter through the fatal shooting. This included investigating whether there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman violated Section 3631 by approaching Martin in a threatening manner before the fatal shooting because of Martin’s race and because he was using the residential neighborhood. Investigators also looked at whether there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman violated Section 3631 or Section 249, by using force against Martin either during their struggle or when shooting Martin, because of Martin’s race.

“Although the department has determined that this matter cannot be prosecuted federally, it is important to remember that this incident resulted in the tragic loss of a teenager’s life,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “Our decision not to pursue federal charges does not condone the shooting that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin and is based solely on the high legal standard applicable to these cases.”

After a thorough and independent investigation into the facts surrounding the shooting, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of these statutes. Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed. This decision is limited strictly to the department’s inability to meet the high legal standard required to prosecute the case under the federal civil rights statutes; it does not reflect an assessment of any other aspect of the shooting.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Revolutionary New Shooting Technology now Available in USA

UTM RBT has announced the new Civilian Target Ammunition and Kit are now available to the public on their website www.utmworldwide.com, after revealing the new consumer product at SHOT Show, Las Vegas, NV in January. The CTA product line product utilizes core technology only previously available to Military, Law Enforcement and Professional Training Organizations.

UTM Reality Based Training (UTM RBT) has made the Civilian Target Ammunition (CTA) Target Shooting Kit and Ammunition for AR-15 Style weapons available for pre-orders on their website. “Due to the demand we expected and have seen since making the product available, customers may not receive their ammunition and kits for up to 60 days, although we are striving to ensure that orders are delivered as soon as possible, with many having already been delivered,” says Tony Lambraia, UTM RBT, USA Chief of Operations. “We feel that this is a product that will revolutionize the industry because of its realism, educational and training benefits for novice to professional shooters across the board. For nearly a decade, the U.S. Military, Special Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies have been using our products for training, in their operational weapons and making this core technology available to all consumers will address many of the issues facing the Firearms and Shooting industries today, such as safety, accurate and reliable alternatives to live fire, ammunition shortages and environmental concerns - it just seemed like a natural step.”

“Most people know us as the manufacturer of the safest, most accurate and reliable Force-on-Force (FOF) products and innovative training solutions for Law Enforcement and Military. The Civilian Target Ammunition is based on the same basic core technology used in all of our training ammunition, to include the UTM RBT Man Marker Round (MMR), but is designed entirely for Target use ONLY. It is not designed or intended for Force-on-Force (shooting opponents) like the MMR. We replaced the soft plastic energy dissipating cruciform dome, containing the marking compound in the MMR projectile, with an aluminum projectile covered with a hard plastic dome - making the CTA unsuitable for FOF. The 5.56/.223 CTA round is perfect for short range target use with an accuracy of 1.18in at 32 yds. The round is only powered by primers, making it quiet (113db) - allowing you to practice with your own AR-15 style weapon without the restrictions of a live fire range. It is a great tool for training new shooters on the AR/M4 platform as a practice aid or as a prelude to live fire. For more experienced shooters, they are able to train with their own converted weapon on more advanced skills that are not typically permitted on a public live fire range, like the use of 360° targets, moving and shooting, shooting steel, immediate action drills etc. It is a great training tool for any level of shooting enthusiast - from simple target shooting fun to complex gun competitions or CQB (Close Quarter Battle) type training on targets,” says Steven Didier, UTM RBT, International Chief of Operations.

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