Friday, January 29, 2016

Learn from @TheSharkDaymond #PowerofBroke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage

The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage.

Daymond John has been practicing the power of broke ever since he started selling his home-sewn t-shirts on the streets of Queens. With no funding and a $40 budget, Daymond had to come up with out-of-the box ways to promote his products. Luckily, desperation breeds innovation, and so he hatched an idea for a creative campaign that eventually launched the FUBU brand into a $6 billion dollar global phenomenon.  But it might not have happened if he hadn’t started out broke - with nothing but a heart full of hope and a ferocious drive to succeed by any means possible.

Here, the FUBU founder and star of ABC’s Shark Tank shows that, far from being a liability, broke can actually be your greatest competitive advantage as an entrepreneur. Why?  Because starting a business from broke forces you to think more creatively.  It forces you to use your resources more efficiently. It forces you to connect with your customers more authentically, and market your ideas more imaginatively. It forces you to be true to yourself, stay laser focused on your goals, and come up with those innovative solutions required to make a meaningful mark.

Drawing his own experiences as an entrepreneur and branding consultant, peeks behind-the scenes from the set of Shark Tank, and stories of dozens of other entrepreneurs who have hustled their way to wealth, John shows how we can all leverage the power of broke to phenomenal success. You’ll meet:

  • Steve Aoki, the electronic dance music (EDM) deejay who managed to parlay a series of $100 gigs into becoming a global superstar who has redefined the music industry 
  • Gigi Butler, a cleaning lady from Nashville who built cupcake empire on the back of a family  recipe, her maxed out credit cards, and a heaping dose of faith 
  • 11-year old Shark Tank guest Mo Bridges who stitched together a winning clothing line with just his grandma’s sewing machine, a stash of loose fabric, and his unique sartorial flair

When your back is up against the wall, your bank account is empty, and creativity and passion are the only resources you can afford, success is your only option.  Here you’ll learn how to tap into that Power of Broke to scrape, hustle, and dream your way to the top.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How Joseph Charles Massino become Known as #TheLastDon

Born on Jan. 10, 1943 in New York City, Joseph Charles Massino is a former member of the Italian Mafia who was the boss of the Bonanno crime family from 1991 to 2004. During his 13 years running the crime syndicate, the powerful Massino was known as “The Last Don,” as he was the only New York mob leader at the time not in prison. However, he is perhaps best known as the first boss of one of the notorious five Mafia families to turn state’s evidence and cooperate with the government in prosecuting other Mafiosi. The ex-mobster entered the Witness Protection Program after his 2013 release from prison and his whereabouts are unknown.

One of three boys raised in Maspeth, Massino claimed he was a juvenile delinquent by age 12 and he was a high school dropout at age 15. He married Josephine Vitale in 1960, and soon began supporting his wife and three daughters through a life of crime, with brother-in-law Salvatore as one of his earliest associates.

By the late 1960s, the future Don was running a truck hijacking crew as an associate of the Bonanno family. He fenced his stolen goods and ran numbers from a lunch wagon which he used as a front for his illicit business. In 1975, Massino participated in a mob murder with brother-in-law Salvatore and future Gambino family head John Gotti. Two years after “making his bones” by killing for the mob, the Maspeth native became a made member of the Bonanno family. Joe Massino was on his way to the top of a criminal empire.

Following the 1979 murder of acting family boss Carmine Galante at a Brooklyn restaurant, Massino began jockeying for power with other Bonanno capos. Ever cunning and ready to use violence to serve his ends, he eliminated several key rivals in 1981. One capo who allegedly fell before The Last Don’s ambition was Dominick “Sonny Black” Napolitano, who allowed undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone to infiltrate his crew under the name Donnie Brasco. Upon hearing about the unprecedented breach of mob security, Massino said of the disgraced capo: “I have to give him a receipt for the Donnie Brasco situation.”

The mobster’s climb to the top would not be without pitfalls, however. In 1987, when some believe he was already the underboss, Massino and Bonanno family head Philip Rastelli were sent to federal prison on labor racketeering charges. Following Rastelli’s death in 1991, Joe Massino was named boss of the Bonanno family while still incarcerated.

Under his leadership, the Bonanno crime syndicate regained the prestige it lost following the FBI undercover operation, and by 2000, with many other Mafia leaders in prison, Massino was considered the most powerful don in the nation. His time at the top would prove short lived. In 2004, The Last Don was indicted for murder and racketeering based on the testimony of other made mobsters, including underboss and brother-in-law Salvatore Vitale. Facing the death penalty if found guilty, Massino agreed to turn against his former associates and testify as a government witness. Although initially sentenced to life in prison, in 2013 he was resentenced to time served.

A Joe Massino quote: “There are three sides to every story. Mine, yours and the truth.”

Thanks to Greater Astoria Historical Society.

Milwaukee Man Who Planned Mass Shooting is Arrested and Charged with Possession of Machineguns

Acting United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad and Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Shields of the FBI’s Milwaukee Division announced today that Milwaukee resident Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, 23, has been charged with possessing machineguns and a silencer.

According to the criminal complaint, Hamzeh had been under investigation since September 2015.  The investigation revealed that, in October 2015, Hamzeh planned to travel to Jordan, enter the West Bank, and conduct an attack on Israeli soldiers and citizens living in the West Bank.  Hamzeh later abandoned those plans and began to focus on conducting an attack in the United States.

According to the criminal complaint, Hamzeh has engaged in extensive conversations with two confidential sources (referred to here as CS-1 and CS-2).  Those conversations, which were in Arabic, were monitored, recorded, and translated by the FBI beginning in October 2015.

During those recorded conversations, Hamzeh explained that he wanted to commit a domestic act of violence and, earlier this month, he settled on a Masonic temple in Milwaukee as his target.

On January 19, 2016, Hamzeh, CS-1 and CS-2 took a guided tour of the Masonic temple, during which they learned meeting schedules and where people would be located during meetings.  In a recorded conversation after they left the temple, Hamzeh, discussed his plans with CS-1 and CS-2.  In that conversation, Hamzeh reaffirmed his intention to commit an armed attack on the temple and discussed in further detail how they would carry out the attack.

Hamzeh said that they would need two machineguns so that they each would have one (Hamzeh indicated that one CS already had a machinegun), and also said that they would need three silencers:


  • “We want two machineguns, you now have one, so we want two more, and we need three silencers, that’s it.Find out how much all together these will cost, and then we will march.”
  • “We want two, like the machinegun you have. . . . And we need silencers. . . . Three, yes three silencers, and that’s it.”
  • “. . . each one has a weapon, each one has a silencer gun, the operation will be one hundred percent successful.I am telling you, to go without silencer gun, you will be exposed from the beginning.”


Hamzeh also explained to CS1 and CS2 that, when they executed the attack at the temple, one of the three of them would have to stay at the main door while the others went upstairs to kill the people who would be meeting there:


  • “one of us will stay at the door at the entrance and lock the door down, he will be at the main door down, two will get to the lift up, they will enter the room, and spray everyone in the room.The one who is standing downstairs will spray anyone he finds.We will shoot them, kill them and get out.We will walk and walk, after a while, we will be covered as if it is cold, and we’ll take the covers off and dump them in a corner and keep on walking, as if nothing happened, as if everything is normal.But one has to stand on the door, because if no one stood at the door, people will be going in and out, if people came in from outside and found out what is going on, everything is busted.”
  • “As long as the one on the door understands he has bigger responsibility than the others.For your information, he has to take care of everyone around him, the comers and the one that wants to go, he has to annihilate everyone, there is no one left, I mean when we go into a room, we will be killing everyone, that’s it, this is our duty, as for the one at the door, he must have 20/20 eye vision and always alert for all the traffic around him.”
  • “I am telling you, as I was saying, all three of us get in together, one will go, to the one that is staying at the reception . . . . If she was alone, it is okay, if there were two of them, shoot both of them, do not let the blood show, shoot her from the bottom, two or three shots in her stomach and let her sit on the chair and push her to the front, as if she is sleeping, did you understand?Then stay downstairs, the other two will take the lift to the third floor, go directly to the room, open the door, shoot everyone, move fast even avoiding the lift and take the stairs running down. . . . Using the stairs, the third one on the door will notice us coming down, we will go out together.No one sees anything and no one knows anything.We leave, as if there is nothing, no running, no panic, just regular walking.We’ll get three head covers with three holes in them. . . . we’ll get in all three of us together, the minute we get in, we shoot whoever is in front of us, and all have to be eliminated.One stays down and two will go up quickly.
  • “And we will eliminate everyone.”


Hamzeh also explained what his objectives were in committing the attack:


  • “I am telling you, if this hit is executed, it will be known all over the world. . . . Sure, all over the world, all the Mujahedeen will be talking and they will be proud of us. . . such operations will increase in America, when they hear about it.The people will be scared and the operations will increase, and there will be problems all over, because more than one problem took place, and this will be the third problem, this will lead to people clashing with each other.This way we will be igniting it.I mean we are marching at the front of the war.”
  • “They are all Masonic; they are playing with the world like a game, man, and we are like asses, we don’t know what is going on, these are the ones who are fighting, these are the ones that needs to be killed, not the Shi’iat, because these are the ones who are against us, these are the ones who are making living for us like hell.”
  • “Thirty is excellent.If I got out, after killing thirty people, I will be happy 100%. . . . 100% happy, because these 30 will terrify the world.”


Hamzeh made plans to purchase machineguns and silencers from two individuals who, unbeknownst to Hamzeh, were undercover FBI agents.  He met with them, along with CS-1 and CS-2, on January 25, 2016.  The undercover agents displayed the weapons and a silencer to Hamzeh, told him that the weapons were capable of automatic fire, and explained to him the functioning of the selector switch that allowed the weapons to fire automatically.  Hamzeh agreed to a price and paid it to the undercover agents, who then handed Hamzeh a bag containing two automatic weapons and a silencer.  Hamzeh carried the bag to the vehicle in which he had traveled to the meeting, and he placed the bag in the trunk of the vehicle.  He then was arrested and has been charged with illegally possessing machineguns.

Acting United States Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad said, “Samy Mohamed Hamzeh devised a detailed plan to commit a mass shooting intended to kill dozens of people.  He also said that he wanted this mass shooting to be ‘known the world over’ and to ‘ignite’ broader clashes.  It is difficult to calculate the injury and loss of life that was prevented by concerned citizens coming forward and by the tireless efforts of the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”

Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Robert J. Shields said “The arrest of Samy Mohamed Hamzeh is the result of a well-coordinated undercover law enforcement action, at no time was the public’s safety placed in jeopardy.  I would like to commend the efforts of the Joint Terrorism Task Force which includes our local and state law enforcement partners in thwarting an attack that could have resulted in significant injury and /or loss of life.”

U.S. Marshals Top Ten Fugitive, Richard William Kinnard II, Arrested by Task Force

U.S. Marshal Martin J. Pane announced the arrest of Richard William Kinnard II, a 25-year old man from York, PA, for homicide and other related crimes.

Deputy U.S. marshals and task force officers arrested Kinnard without incident in Tucson, AZ. The Marshals Service developed information that Kinnard had fled to Arizona and sent and investigative lead to the Marshals Service task force in Arizona. Kinnard was turned over to local authorities pending court proceedings and extradition back to Pennsylvania.

Lebanon City Police Department responded to a shooting in the 700 block of Reinoehl Street in Lebanon, PA on September 19. 2015. A warrant for Kinnard was obtained by the Lebanon City Police Department charging him with criminal homicide. Kinnard allegedly shot and killed Corey Bryan while the victim was working security at a local bar.

United States Marshal Martin J. Pane stated, “The coordination and cooperation demonstrated by the fugitive task force law enforcement agencies in this case has directly led to a dangerous fugitive being taken off the streets. We will continue to work together to ensure victims of such violence have justice. It’s my sincere hope this arrest brings a measure of comfort to the victim’s family.”

“The arrest of Richard William Kinnard, Jr. is proof of how effective our relationships are with our federal and state law enforcement partners,” said Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Colonel Tyree C. Blocker. “I want to commend the deputies of the U.S. Marshals Service and other law enforcement officers for their dedication to Kinnard’s apprehension in Arizona today.”

Monday, January 25, 2016

Rita Crundwell Assets up for Sale

The U.S. Marshals are auctioning approximately 376 lots, many horse-related, once belonging to Rita Crundwell, the former comptroller of Dixon, Illinois, who was convicted of fraud in 2012 for stealing $53.7 million from the city over two decades. These are items that did not sell in two separate auctions held at the end of 2015, and opening bids have been lowered.

Rita Crundwell Assets up for Sale


The current online auction runs through Feb. 2 at www.txauction.com. Items for sale include jewelry, show and riding clothing, nine horse-show belt-buckle awards, cowboy boots, horse equipment, a Viking stainless steel grill, household items, artworks and a Yamaha scooter.

“Following the sale of these items we anticipate another restitution payment will be issued to the city of Dixon,” said Chief Inspector Jason Wojdylo with the U.S. Marshals Service Asset Forfeiture Division. “This may be the final opportunity to purchase property from this case.”

The two auctions held in late 2015 yielded $118,832, and a sealed bid auction for Crundwell’s large collection of trophies brought in $5,560.

Crundwell, 63, was one of the leading breeders of quarter horses in the U.S. She was sentenced to more than 19 years in federal prison in 2013 and is serving her sentence at Waseca Federal Correctional Institute in Minnesota.

Arrest Made after Drug Deal Gone Bad Ends in Murder #LoneStarFugitiveTaskForce

Joshua Eric Williams, 21, was arrested by members of the United States Marshals Service Lone Star Fugitive Task Force (LSFTF) in San Antonio, TX. An arrest warrant was issued pursuant to an investigation by the Converse Police Department (CPD), where it is alleged that Williams committed Capital Murder.

On December 23, 2015, members of the LSFTF initiated an investigation in locating and apprehending Williams. Through investigative efforts and extensive surveillance, task force officers located Williams hiding out in an apartment complex located in the 2500 block of Babcock Road, on the northwest side of San Antonio. Task force officers observed Williams walking through the parking lot of the apartment complex, identified themselves, made contact, and took him into custody without incident.

On December 1, 2015, Williams allegedly shot and killed a man in the parking lot of an apartment complex located in the 300 block of Converse Center Street, in Converse, TX. Reports stated that Williams and the victim were allegedly involved in a drug deal gone bad that resulted in Williams shooting, killing, and robbing the victim. Williams fled the scene in a getaway vehicle and subsequently struck another vehicle as he exited the apartment complex. After a thorough investigation by CPD Homicide detectives, a warrant was issued for Williams’ arrest. Williams remained a fugitive on the run until he was arrested.

Robert R. Almonte, United States Marshal for the Western District of Texas, stated, “Williams was on the run for quite some time, but our task force officers didn’t give up on the hunt, nor did they let him catch his breath. It was only a matter of time before our task force officers locked in on his location and affected the arrest.”

Reputed La Cosa Nostra Member Sentenced in #OperationExcalibur Criminal Case

An alleged member of the New England Family of La Cosa Nostra was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Boston for conspiring to traffic over 40 kilograms of marijuana from July 2013 to February 2014.

Louis L. DiNunzio, 29, of Medford, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti B. Saris to 18 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $10,000.  In September 2015, DiNunzio pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

In 2013, law enforcement initiated a long-term investigation, known as Operation Excalibur, into drug-trafficking, illegal gambling, extortion, and other criminal activity by the members and associates of the New England Family of La Cosa Nostra (NELCN).  DiNunzio allegedly was a member of the NELCN and is the son of former NELCN Boss Anthony DiNunzio, who is currently in federal prison for RICO conspiracy.  As part of the conspiracy, DiNunzio and others purchased large quantities of marijuana and shipped them via UPS under fictitious names to Massachusetts.

Earlier this month, two other alleged NELCN associates involved in the conspiracy were sentenced.  Joseph Spagnuolo-Kazonis, 30, of Boston, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $10,000.  John Woodman, 43, of Braintree, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, and ordered to pay a fine of $4,000 and to forfeit $5,000.

In additional cases arising from this investigation, Anthony Spagnolo, 67, and Pryce Quintina, 75, both of Revere, pleaded guilty in December 2015 to conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by extortion and will be sentenced in March 2016.  On Jan. 13, 2016, John Evans, 68, of Middleborough, and Joseph Petrucelli, 24, of Winthrop, pleaded guilty to conducting an illegal gambling business and will be sentenced in April 2016.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cook County Recorder of Deeds Clerk Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribe

A former clerk for the Cook County Recorder of Deeds pleaded guilty to accepting a cash bribe in exchange for preparing a back-dated deed on an Oak Park home and agreeing to record it with her office.

REGINA TAYLOR accepted the $200 bribe from an individual who purportedly wanted to add a relative’s name to the deed of a residence in Oak Park, according to a written plea agreement.  Unbeknownst to Taylor, the individual was actually an undercover law enforcement agent, the plea agreement states.

Taylor, 59, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to one count of honest services mail fraud.  The conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greater.

U.S. District Judge Sara L. Ellis scheduled a sentencing hearing for April 13, 2016, at 10:30 a.m.

According to the plea agreement, the fraudulent quit claim deed was created to add the purported relative as a fourth owner of the Oak Park property.  Taylor directed the undercover agent not to tell anyone that the three other individuals on the deed were deceased, according to the plea agreement.  Taylor then prepared the fraudulent deed and back-dated it by 18 months, confirming the purported relative as a grantee.

After giving the fraudulent deed to the undercover agent to have it stamped at the Village of Oak Park, the undercover agent gave Taylor $200 in cash, according to the plea agreement.  Taylor further directed the undercover agent to bring back the stamped copy of the fraudulent deed so that Taylor could officially file it at the Office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Chinese Communist Obtained U.S. Citizenship Unlawfully, Per Indictment

A Naperville man was charged in a federal indictment with obtaining citizenship or naturalization unlawfully, announced Michael J. Anderson, 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.

Lu Lin, 58, of the 4200 block of Colton Circle, Naperville, Illinois, was indicted Thursday on one count of 18 USC 1425(a), obtaining citizenship or naturalization unlawfully. Lin is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 21, 2016, at 9:30 a.m. in front of U.S. District Judge Edmund E. Chang.

According to the indictment, Lin, a Chinese citizen who became a naturalized United States citizen, reported on his application for naturalization he had never used any other names and had never been a member of or in any way associated with the Communist Party. Lin, however, had received an identification document containing his photograph but with the name Yung Yeung, the identity of which belonged to China’s Ministry of Public Security. Additionally, Lin was a member of the Chinese Communist Party from 1987 to 1997.

According to the indictment, Lin used the Ministry of Public Security identity to enter Hong Kong and obtain information which Lin provided to the Ministry of State Security. The Ministry of Public Security is China’s law enforcement agency and the national police force. The Ministry of State Security is China’s intelligence agency responsible for counter-intelligence, foreign intelligence, and political security.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2 School Board Members and Middleman Plead Guilty to Attempted Extortion

Two elected members of the School Board of Donna pleaded guilty for accepting bribes in connection with a services contract held by the Donna Independent School District (DISD). A private citizen who served as a middleman in the scheme also pleaded guilty, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Eloy Infante, 54, Elpidio Yanez Jr., 45, and Adrian Guerrero, 50, all from Donna, pleaded guilty today to attempted interference with commerce by extortion. Infante and Yanez are both members of the Donna School Board and Guerrero is a private citizen. Sentencing is set for March 22, 2016.

In connection with their pleas, the defendants admitted that from February to May 2015, they attempted to extort, and solicited and accepted bribes from, an individual whose company provided services to the DISD. Specifically, the defendants informed the individual that in order for his company to keep its services contract with the DISD, he needed to pay Infante and Yanez $10,000 each. Both Infante and Yanez admitted that they accepted partial payment of the bribes, and Guerrero admitted that he served as the middleman for one of the payments.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo J. Leo III and Trial Attorney Monique Abrishami of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Former Drug Kingpin, Plotted Jailbreak with Helicopter, Receives Additional 20-Year Sentence on Conspiracy Charges

Jamal Shakir, 42, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Nashville, to conspiracy and attempting to conduct a continuing criminal enterprise and was sentenced to twenty years in prison, announced David Rivera, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.  Shakir is already serving multiple, consecutive life sentences which were imposed in 2009.

This sentence stems from an indictment returned in September 2014 alleging that Shakir, while incarcerated at Nashville’s Criminal Justice Center and awaiting sentencing, attempted to engage in another continuing criminal enterprise and solicited further crimes, including planning his escape with the use of a helicopter, the murder of witnesses who testified against him, armed robberies, fire-bombings, and continued drug trafficking.

Shakir was convicted in 2008 after a lengthy jury trial in U.S. District Court in Nashville, Tenn., which involved a long and complex investigation and prosecution.  The crimes for which Shakir was convicted date back to 1994 and included several murders; conducting a continuing criminal enterprise; drug trafficking; money laundering; obstruction of justice; and firearms offenses.  In 2009 Shakir was sentenced to 16 terms of life in prison.

The Shakir investigation also led to an investigation of the Rollin’ 60s Crips Gang which resulted in convictions of about 30 individuals for various violent crime offenses.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

#WhiteDevil: The True Story of the First White Asian Crime Boss

White Devil: The True Story of the First White Asian Crime Boss. In August 2013, “Bac Guai” John Willis, also known as the “White Devil” because of his notorious ferocity, was sentenced to 20 years for drug trafficking and money laundering. Willis, according to prosecutors, was “the kingpin, organizer and leader of a vast conspiracy,” all within the legendarily insular and vicious Chinese mafia.

It started when John Willis was 16 years old . . . his life seemed hopeless. His father had abandoned his family years earlier, his older brother had just died of a heart attack, and his mother was dying. John was alone, sleeping on the floor of his deceased brother’s home. Desperate, John reached out to Woping, a young Chinese man Willis had rescued from a bar fight weeks before. Woping literally picks him up off the street, taking him home to live among his own brothers and sisters. Soon, Willis is accompanying Woping to meet his Chinese mobster friends, and starts working for them.

Journalist Bob Halloran tells the tale of John Willis, aka White Devil, the only white man to ever rise through the ranks in the Chinese mafia. Willis began as an enforcer, riding around with other gang members to “encourage” people to pay their debts. He soon graduated to even more dangerous work as a full-fledged gang member, barely escaping with his life on several occasions.

As a white man navigating an otherwise exclusively Asian world, Willis was at first an interesting anomaly, but his ruthless devotion to his adopted culture eventually led to him emerging as a leader. He organized his own gang of co-conspirators and began an extremely lucrative criminal venture selling tens of thousands of oxycodone pills. A year-long FBI investigation brought him down, and John pleaded guilty to save the love of his life from prosecution. He has no regrets.

White Devil explores the workings of the Chinese mafia, and he speaks frankly about his relationships with other gang members, the crimes he committed, and why he’ll never rat out any of his brothers to the cops.

Told to Halloran from Willis’s prison cell, White Devil is a shocking portrait of a man who was allowed access into a secret world, and who is paying the price for his hardened life.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Three Sinaloa Cartel Distributors Sentenced to Lengthy Federal Prison Terms

Three men who were sent by the Sinaloa Cartel to Lubbock, Texas, to distribute methamphetamine for the cartel were sentenced to lengthy federal prison sentences, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.

Senior U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings sentenced Juan Carlos Pinales, 23, to 151 months in federal prison, Ramon Osvaldo Escobar-Robles, 25, to 78 months in federal prison, and Jesus Mario Moreno-Perez, 24, to 120 months in federal prison. Each pleaded guilty last year to one count of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and aiding and abetting.  Escobar-Robles and Moreno-Perez are in the U.S. illegally.

According to documents filed in the case, a joint investigation by the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office and the Lubbock Police Department revealed that the Sinaloa cartel had sent three individuals to Lubbock to distribute methamphetamine for the cartel. In June 2015, a search warrant was executed at their residence on Birch Avenue in Lubbock.

At the time the warrant was executed, the three defendants were home. The search by law enforcement yielded several containers or bags of suspected methamphetamine in the attic, to include:  two red Tupperware containers that contained a total of approximately 5.06 pounds of suspected methamphetamine, 19 clear plastic bags that contained a total of approximately 1.42 pounds of suspected methamphetamine, two clear plastic bags that contained a total of approximately 17.2 grams of suspected methamphetamine, and one clear plastic bag that contained approximately 31.2 grams of suspected methamphetamine; as well as a black pouch that contained approximately $3,783 in cash; numerous cell phones; money transfer receipts; and a spiral notebook that contained writings consistent with a drug ledger, showing amounts distributed to and owed by various persons.                                                

A DPS crime laboratory analysis confirmed that the substance in the two red Tupperware containers was, in fact, methamphetamine with a net weight of 1,797.92 grams and a purity level of at least 91.7%. All three defendants admitted they jointly possessed the methamphetamine found in the attic.

The Mafia: A Cultural History

What is it about Tony Soprano that makes him so amiableThe Mafia: A Cultural History? For that matter, how is it that many of us secretly want Scarface to succeed or see Michael Corleone as, ultimately, a hero? What draws us into the otherwise horrifically violent world of the mafia? In The Mafia: A Cultural History, Roberto Dainotto explores the irresistible appeal of this particular brand of organized crime, its history, and the mythology we have developed around it.
         
Dainotto traces the development of the mafia from its rural beginnings in Western Sicily to its growth into a global crime organization alongside a parallel examination of its evolution in music, print, and on the big screen. He probes the tension between the real mafia—its violent, often brutal reality—and how we imagine it to be: a mythical potpourri of codes of honor, family values, and chivalry. But rather than dismiss our collective imagining of the mafia as a complete fiction, Dainetto instead sets out to understand what needs and desires or material and psychic longing our fantasies about the mafia—the best kind of the bad life—are meant to satisfy.

Exploring the rich array of films, books, television programs, music, and even video games portraying and inspired by the mafia, this book offers not only a social, economic, and political history of one of the most iconic underground cultures, but a new way of understanding our enduring fascination with the complex society that lurks behind the sinister Omertà of the family business.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Very Rare Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Line Poster

A spectacular and very rare display poster, advertising the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific line and its connections with the newly completed transcontinental railroad.



Antique Railroad Poster - Circa 1880


The Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Railroad was formed in 1866 and by 1870 was a key part of the first trans-continental rail route, connecting with the Union Pacific Railroad at Omaha and Kansas City. The focal point is a vibrant three-color panel at top bearing the title and a map of the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific network. Below this many lines of colored type list destinations served by the railway and its connections, and there is a delightful cutaway view of a Palace Dining Car. The varied and energetic design communicates the excitement of a time when comfortable, high-speed transcontinental travel was still a novelty. This original antique poster, usually found only in museums, comes archivally matted and measures 21" x 13" at the printed border. This poster, a distinguished piece of history, is for a connoisseur of fine antique items. There may be some other minor repairs, staining or discoloration, which are commonly found on prints from the 19th century. The poster is nonetheless in extraordinary condition for such a rarity, with vibrant color and a dramatic appearance. Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from The Caren Archive.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

MS-13 "Player" Admits Plan to Kill Rival Gang Members and Witnesses

A Plainfield, New Jersey, man pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to engage in a racketeering enterprise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey and Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel of the FBI’s Newark, New Jersey, Division made the announcement.

Julio Adalberto Orellana-Carranza, aka Player, 27, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler of the District of New Jersey, who scheduled sentencing for May 4, 2016.  Orellana-Carranza remains detained pending sentencing.

According to court documents, MS-13 is a national and international gang with branches or “cliques” operating throughout the United States, including in Plainfield.  In connection with his plea, Orellana-Carranza admitted that he was a member of the Plainfield Locos Salvatrucha (PLS) Clique of MS-13 for a period of time continuing through at least August 2011.  Orellana-Carranza admitted that in June 2011, he and other members of the PLS clique plotted to kill rival gang members in Plainfield.  Orellana-Carranza also admitted that after local authorities arrested him for that plot, he and other jailed MS-13 members hatched a plan to intimidate and/or kill individuals they believed were cooperating with law enforcement in the prosecution of MS-13 members.              

Eleven other members and associates of the PLS Clique are scheduled for trial in front of Judge Chesler on Feb. 9, 2016.  The charges include several counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, extortion, witness retaliation and sexual assault.

Co-defendant Jose Romero-Aguirre, aka Conejo, pleaded guilty on Dec. 2, 2015.

Chicago Outfit Mob Etiquette

DO:
  • Ask for permission when starting a new criminal racket.
  • Always obey your capo (street crew boss).
  • Put the Outfit above everything, including family and God.


DON'T:

  • Take drugs.
  • Steal from the Outfit.
  • Talk of the Outfit to anyone outside the organization.


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Militia Man Heads to Prison after Guarding U.S. Border from Illegals #RustysRangers

A member of a citizen group known as “Rusty’s  Rangers” or “Rusty’s Regulators” has been ordered to federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm on two separate occasions, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Kevin Lyndel Massey, 49, of Quinlan, was found guilty Sept. 30, 2015, following a bench trial before the U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who presided over the trial, handed Massey a 41-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release.

According to court records, “Rusty’s  Rangers” or “Rusty’s Regulators” consisted of citizens who mounted armed patrols in the Rio Grande area allegedly in search of and to possibly apprehend aliens attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. On Aug. 29, 2014, law enforcement agents were pursuing suspected illegal aliens in heavy brush when they encountered an individual of the group. A Border Patrol agent allegedly perceived him as a threat and discharged his weapon, but did not strike the armed citizen.

Massey, following the shooting, arrived in the area armed with a .45 caliber pistol and a 7.62 x 39 mm rifle. According to court records, he was thereafter identified by law enforcement who learned of his prior criminal history which included burglary. Because of this criminal history, Massey is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

The court heard that Massey was later arrested Oct. 20, 2014, outside a motel in Brownsville. At the time, according to trial testimony, he was armed with a .45 caliber pistol, while another .45 caliber pistol was thereafter located in his motel room. At that time, more than 2600 rounds of ammunition were seized in connection with the search of his truck and motel room.

Massey will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Was Lefty Rosenthal a Double Agent for the FBI and the Chicago Mob?

Retired FBI agent and author Gary Magnesen has changed his mind.

He no longer believes the late U.S. District Judge Harry Claiborne was leaking materials from FBI search warrant affidavits to the mob in the early 1980s, as he wrote in his 2010 book, "Straw Men: A Former Agent Recounts how the FBI Crushed the Mob in Las Vegas."

He thinks Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal was a double agent, providing information to the FBI, then turning around and telling the Chicago mob what agents would be doing.

That way the good guys and the bad guys ended up protecting him while he played them.

In Magnesen's opinion, "Oscar Goodman, The Outfit and the FBI were all duped by the master oddsmaker and manipulator, Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal." Goodman was Rosenthal's attorney.

One example of Rosenthal's double agent role came to be known as "the Cookie Caper" and proved to be a huge embarrassment to the FBI in January 1982 during an investigation into skimming at the Stardust.

Rosenthal, as a top echelon informant, provided information to the FBI about how millions of dollars were skimmed and transported from the Stardust when businessman Allen Glick owned four Las Vegas hotels between 1974 and 1979, but Rosenthal actually ran them. The ownership changed, but the skimming continued until the Boyd Gaming Group bought the hotels in 1985. Glick was just a front, a straw man, for the mob. But he testified against the mob in the Kansas City trials in 1985, portraying himself as an unwitting victim.

Rosenthal neither testified against the mob nor was indicted in the skimming investigations.

Rosenthal told the FBI how the money was moved from the Stardust to the Chicago mob.

Magnesen detailed how agents watched as Stardust casino manager Bobby Stella carried a grocery bag from the casino on Tuesday afternoons and met Phil Ponto, another Stardust employee, and gave him the paper bag, which he took to his apartment. On Sundays, agents watched as Ponto would put the bag in his car trunk and drive to church. Afterward, he traveled to another store parking lot and met Joe Talerico, a Teamster, who put the bag in his trunk.

Talerico then flew to Chicago via Los Angeles and met with mob boss Joseph Aiuppa in a restaurant. After dinner, the much traveled bag landed in Aiuppa's trunk.

Mob money on the move wasn't enough to build a case. The FBI applied for a search warrant for Talerico's car, and Claiborne gave his approval. Magnesen now believes Rosenthal tipped the mobsters about the upcoming search. In January 1982, agents moved in, only to find cookies and a bottle of wine. No cash. Plenty of embarrassment.

In "Straw Men," Magnesen suspected that the judge, who committed suicide in 2004, was leaking information from FBI search warrant affidavits.

Another time, based on Rosenthal's information, agents decided to bug the executive booth at a Stardust restaurant, Aku Aku, hoping to catch Stella talking about the skim. Again, they sought approval from Judge Claiborne. Once the listening device was installed, the executives talked about innocuous subjects. Women. Weather. Golf. Almost as if they were taunting the FBI, Magnesen said.

Who leaked the information about the Aku Aku bug and Talerico's travels is akin to the other never-answered question: Who planted the bomb under Rosenthal's car in October 1982?

Theories are rampant. It's almost a trivial pursuit question for locals to theorize on who did it. Was it Spilotro, who had an affair with Rosenthal's wife, Geri? Was it the Chicago Outfit? Once again, Magnesen has a theory.

He believes it was ordered by Nick Civella, the Kansas City mob boss, who was tired of all the trouble Rosenthal had been creating in Las Vegas with his TV show and his seemingly endless quest for a gaming license. "Civella was dying of cancer and didn't care what Chicago thought about Lefty," Magnesen wrote in an email summary of his views. The bombing was 1982, Civella died in 1983.

Magnesen said he interviewed mob figure Joe Agosto a few weeks before he died in August 1983. Agosto said he had told Civella in 1977, "That Lefty. He's getting out of hand. He's stirring up dirt all over Vegas. He's dangerous. He could cause big problems with his big mouth and his TV show."

My favorite story of the bombing was from retired UPI Correspondent Myram Borders, who was driving home from the UPI office and passed Tony Roma's restaurant on Sahara Avenue. She heard a boom and saw Rosenthal's car blow up. She quickly turned into the parking lot.

"He scrambled out of the car and was jumping up and down patting his clothes. His hair was standing straight up … I didn't know if it was because of his recent hair transplant or the explosion that made it stand up so straight," she wrote in an email. "When I ran up and asked him what was going on, Lefty said 'They are trying to kill me.' When I asked who, he shut up."

Rosenthal died a natural death in 2008 in Florida. He was 79.

Magnesen said he wouldn't have said these things publicly about Rosenthal, but now it is widely known that Rosenthal was an informant. (I was the first to report it after his death.)

Of course, when Rosenthal cooperated with author Nick Pileggi for the book "Casino," he didn't reveal his informant status. Nor did that make it into the 1995 movie.

When the movie came out, Rosenthal said, "The way you saw it in the movie is just the way it happened."

Well, not exactly. He left a few historical holes.

Thanks to Jane Ann Morrison.

Monday, January 04, 2016

How a 16-year-old white boy rose to become a Chinese mafia boss #WhiteDevil

Down on his luck and with nowhere no turn, 16-year-old John Willis made a phone call that would transform his life.

With his father long gone and his mother dead, he was taking steroids to beef himself up and convince the owner of a club in Boston that he was 18 and therefore old enough to be a bouncer. After helping a young Asian man called Woping Joe out of a fight at the club, he was handed a card with a phone number and told to ring it if he ever needed help.

Days later, with just 76 cents to his name and nowhere to sleep, he found himself dialing the number for a lift. Just minutes afterwards he was picked up by two BMWs car packed with young, Chinese men. At the time he was just looking for a warm meal and a roof over his head, but a decade later he would be the Chinese mafia's number two, known as Bac Guai John - or White Devil.

The FBI say he is the only man to reach anywhere near the top of the Chinese mafia, which usually keeps itself to itself and rarely mixes with crime syndicates of other ethnicities. But the Ping On gang took to bright-eyed Willis, who quickly picked up Chinese in two different dialects - Cantonese and Toisanese - as well as Vietnamese, after a family took him in.

He realized he had to learn the language quickly, not only because a lot of the people he dealt with on a day-to-day basis did not speak English but also because he needed to have a grasp of Chinese to pick up women.

After listening in on conversations, as well as watching Chinese films and listening to Chinese music, he soon had a convincing accent, Vice reported.

He started out as a small time loan collector, ensuring those higher up in the gang were never left out of pocket by their clients. But his loyalty and diligence soon saw him rise through the ranks until he was the chief bodyguard to Bai Ming, who was high up the chain of command in Boston's Chinese mafia.

According to Bob Halloran, who interviewed the gangster - who is currently in prison - for his book White Devil: The True Story of the First White Asian Crime Boss, Willis' role would see him check Ming's car for bombs and collect money from underground gambling dens. He would do whatever it took to finish a job and his success saw him become Ming's right-hand man. Ming was only sixth or seventh in command at the time, but after a few arrests here and some gangland killings there, he suddenly found himself at the helm of the mafia - with the White Devil as his number two.

Willis did time in prison in the 90s and came out with connections in the marijuana trade. He was warned away from drugs by other members of the mafia - who largely made their money from gambling, massage parlors and prostitution - but carried on selling narcotics because of the vast profits he made.

Soon, however, he was dealing cocaine and eventually moved into dealing oxycodone, trafficking it from Florida to Boston and also selling it in Cape Cod. He is thought to have shifted 260,000 pills in a racket worth $4million, but he told investigators it was worth at least 10 times that.

Willis - who was branded in court as 'the kingpin, organizer and leader of a vast conspiracy' - was eventually caught by the police and, in 2013, was jailed for 20 years.

Halloran says Willis' greatest regret is not the lives he damaged as part of the mob or through trafficking drugs, but is the fact he can no longer see his Vietnamese-American girlfriend and her daughter.

According to Rolling Stone, Willis was with his lover Anh Nguyen on her daughter's ninth birthday when his crimes finally caught up with him. They had met in 2005, when he approached and told her in English that she was 'drop-dead gorgeous'. She thought he was just 'a white kid with an Asian fetish', but fell for him after hearing him break up a fight in Chinese.

For a member of the mob, Willis' life was relatively stable, but as he lay in bed with Nguyen in March 2011, his empire of fast cars, speedboats and beachside homes in Florida was about to come crashing down. He had kept his life of organized crime separate from his family life - only admitting to his girlfriend that he was a gangster after she questioned cuts on his hands - but even she had to accept a plea of tampering with a witness when Willis, who is now 44, faced trial.

While it is unheard of for a white teenager to rise to the top of the Chinese mafia, it is not surprising that a troubled child growing up in Dorchester, a suburb of Boston, in the 1970s wound up in the wrong company.

Notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger also grew up in Dorchester. He infiltrated the Boston office of the FBI and bought off agents who protected him. Some feared he would never be caught and he was soon placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List - at one point he was only second to Osama Bin Laden. Bulger fled Boston in 1994 and remained a fugitive until he was captured in Santa Monica, California, in 2011. He was convicted of participating in 11 murders while running Boston's Winter Hill Gang for two decades and is now serving two life sentences.

Thanks to Ollie Gillman .

Did Frank Sinatra Try to Have Woody Allen Whacked Over Treatment of Mia Farrow?

Few people ever saw Frank Sinatra’s sensitive side, complained his ex-wife Mia Farrow. She called it the ‘wounding tenderness’ — so deeply felt it hurt him to express it — which only came out publicly when he sang.

He had also, the actress gushed, a ‘child’s sense of outrage at any perceived unfairness and an inability to compromise’.

It was this ‘powerful sense of Sicilian propriety’, as she carefully termed it, that landed him in fights. And it may, a new book reveals, have prompted what must be one of the most shocking episodes in the singer’s turbulent life.

Twenty-four years after their unhappy two-year marriage ended, Farrow turned to Sinatra — who remained a close friend — in 1993 after discovering her boyfriend, Woody Allen, was having an affair with her young adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn.

Farrow was involved in a vicious custody battle in which she accused the filmmaker of sexually abusing another of her adopted daughters, seven-year-old Dylan. The controversy continues to this day, with Allen denying the adult Dylan’s allegations that he abused her.

Sinatra’s solution, it is now claimed, certainly showed off that ‘Sicilian propriety’. He tried to have the Oscar-winning director of Annie Hall rubbed out by the Mafia.

The allegation was made to David Evanier, author of Woody: The Biography, a new biography of the actor and director.

It has long been rumoured that Sinatra had threatened to punish Allen over his treatment of his ex-wife. Farrow testified in 1993 that she had told a therapist one of her ex-husbands had offered to break Allen’s legs.

Farrow’s lawyer stopped her answering a question about which husband made the offer (the choice was between Sinatra and conductor Andre Previn). ‘It was a joke,’ Farrow reassured the court. But Len Triola, a concert producer, says the singer Frankie Randall, a close friend of Sinatra, confided to him that, ‘livid’ over Allen’s behaviour, Ol’ Blue Eyes went a lot further than making an idle threat.

‘Frank wanted him f***ing clipped. Taken out. That’s what he wanted,’ he told Evanier. ‘Frank loved Mia. He spoke to three people every day’ — his wife, his daughter Nancy and Mia.

According to Randall, Sinatra — whose close links with the Mob are well-documented — tried to call in a favour from his Mafia contacts, only to find he was asking too much.

Sinatra didn’t have ‘the juice’, the power with the men in charge, said Mr Triola. ‘The boys wouldn’t sanction it for him. The guys Frank dealt with, the old-timers, reputable people who aren’t with us any more or [are] in jail, wouldn’t sanction that. It would set a bad precedent.’

Triola says he heard it ‘from many guys’ that Sinatra ‘really wanted him [Allen] offed’. But for all his reported sway with the Mob bosses who flocked to see Sinatra perform and partly financed his early career, they wouldn’t be budged.

‘They’re not ethical people to begin with, but they’re not just going to kill a movie director because he cheated on a guy’s ex-wife,’ said Mr Triola.

Sinatra ‘hated’ Allen, and it wasn’t just that he had cheated on Mia. Mr Triola recalls a story going round at the time that Allen had based the character of Lou Canova, a washed-up singer in his film Broadway Danny Rose, on Sinatra. That alone would surely have been enough to have the volcanically temperamental crooner spitting with rage. Allen was ‘nervous’, said Mr Triola.

Nervous is an adjective long attached to Allen, who has played the fast-talking neurotic in film after film. He is the wimpy, sex-starved nerd who usually gets the girl out of sympathy rather than any sexual attraction. But the real Allen, Evanier’s book reveals, was an amoral womaniser who shamelessly betrayed a string of women before he got round to cheating on Mia Farrow with her daughter.

Growing up in a Jewish neighbourhood of Brooklyn, he had been shy and awkward with girls. He inherited an unsociability from his parents, who found so little to talk about they once went for months without exchanging a word. Alienated from them, Allen said he would eat every meal alone in a house with no books or music.

He had an especially rocky time with his mother, a temperamental, humourless woman who would hit him. Old friends believe that relationship would colour the difficult ones he had with other women. He met his first wife, a sweet-natured, petite brunette named Harlene, in 1953 when he was 18 and she was 15. She was his first proper girlfriend. Both were virgins when they married two years later.

They argued a lot — Allen was immensely competitive, even reading her text books when she did a philosophy course and hiring himself a tutor in the subject.

Considerable success as a stand-up comic in the early Sixties was the turning point of Allen’s life. Aged 24, he started an affair with a vivacious 21-year-old actress, Louise Lasser.

He divorced Harlene in 1962. She got virtually nothing financially from their five-year marriage, although he was soon earning $250,000 a year as a performer and comedy writer.

As soon as they had split up, Allen would start ridiculing a generic comic ‘wife’ with vicious jokes in his act in clubs and on TV. In their final divorce settlement, one of her terms was that he stop making jokes about her.

Even David Evanier, an ardent fan of Allen, admits the comic has got off extremely lightly over his mistreatment of women — largely because he is funny about it. Allen appears to feel no remorse about his behaviour toward the opposite sex, he says.

He has never ‘acknowledged the pain’ he caused Mia Farrow by letting her find explicit pictures of Soon-Yi in his office. ‘In fact, he acts indifferent and blind to the issue.’

A friend of Allen puts it more strongly, telling the author: ‘There’s no feeling of guilt in him or of conscience.’

His natural shyness has not stopped him chasing women. While away from Louise Lasser in Paris, where he was working on the first film he wrote, What’s New Pussycat?, he took a fancy to one of the film’s costume designers, Vicky Tiel.

Allen and the director had a bet. Whoever bought Vicky the birthday present she liked most would get to sleep with her on the night of her 21st birthday. Allen won, giving her a pinball machine and it appears Tiel, who liked them both, agreed to honour the bet.

The following day he waited for her in bed at the George V Hotel, but she stood him up after getting a better offer from a handsome man she met over lunch. Allen was ‘devastated’, she said, but still managed to use the episode in his film, Manhattan, in which a woman recounts falling in love with a man over lunch in London.

Allen married Ms Lasser in 1966, the workaholic performing two stand-up shows on the day of their wedding. Although Evanier believes they genuinely loved each other, it was a rocky marriage thanks largely to Lasser suffering from depression.

By 1969, Allen was cheating again, with a young Diane Keaton, whom he had cast in his stage show Play It Again, Sam. Louise had a mental breakdown after learning of his infidelity, although she insists she looks back on their marriage with fondness.

Whether or not she is speaking out of jealousy as the spurned wife, Ms Lasser believes Allen never actually found Keaton sexually attractive. She says that while she herself was — like Allen — Jewish and had the kind of body Woody ‘craved’, the tall, all-American Keaton didn’t do it for him.

‘He was not greatly attracted to her in a sexual sense,’ she said. ‘He has a great sexual appetite and she had one too, but for some reason he didn’t have it with her.’

The relationship was complicated by Keaton’s bulimia and Allen’s neuroses (he screamed in a restaurant when she scraped her fork on her plate) but still lasted three years.

Although Evanier says ‘it would seem there were actually few sexual sparks’ between them, he believes this may explain why they have stayed close friends, with Keaton starring in many of his best films.

On the set of the 1977 film Annie Hall, in which Keaton took the lead role, Allen — now in his 40s and no longer attached to her — met 17-year-old Stacey Nelkin and started another affair, his first with a girl much younger than he was.

Thanks to Tom Leonard.