Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Operational Guide for Preventing Targeted School Violence Released by @SecretService Releases

The United States Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center released another tool in support of the effort to end the prevalence of targeted violence effecting the Nation, the world, and most importantly – our schools.  ENHANCING SCHOOL SAFETY USING A THREAT ASSESSMENT MODEL – An Operational Guide for Preventing Targeted School Violence, was developed to provide fundamental direction on how to prevent incidents of targeted school violence.

The guide provides schools and communities with a framework to identify students of concern, assess their risk for engaging in violence, and identify intervention strategies to mitigate that risk.

The Secret Service created the National Threat Assessment Center in 1998 to focus on research, training and threat assessments related to various forms of targeted violence. Following the tragedy at Columbine High School in April 1999, the Secret Service partnered with the Department of Education to study 37 incidents of targeted violence that occurred at elementary and secondary schools.  The goal of that study, the Safe School Initiative (SSI), was to gather and analyze accurate and useful information about the thinking and behavior of students who commit acts of violence.  The findings of the SSI led to the establishment of threat assessment programs in schools – something the Secret Service remains fervently committed to.

“The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting tragedy served as the impetus to go beyond our past work and go in depth regarding the how - how do we solve this epidemic?” said Secret Service Director R. D. “Tex” Alles.  “The report truly is an operational guide and I am confident that if embraced and followed by our Nation’s communities and schools, that we will together reduce the occurrence of violence and the tragic loss of life.”

To ensure no school goes overlooked, the new guide is available to the public and for download at DHS.gov/school-safety-and-security and www.SecretService.gov.  The Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center will also be printing and distributing copies to schools across the country.

This report is not the end of the Secret Service’s work to prevent school shootings and targeted violence.  Work is currently underway to release an updated comprehensive study with an anticipated completion date in the spring of 2019.

Monday, July 16, 2018

5 Reputed Members of Colombo Crime Family Indicted for Racketeering, Extortion, and Related Charges

A 32-count indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging two inducted members and two associates of the Colombo organized crime family (the “Colombo family”) with racketeering, including predicate acts of extortion, extortionate collection, money laundering and illegal gambling.  The indictment also charges one inducted member of the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (the “Gambino family”) with extortionate collection and a related conspiracy.  The indictment relates to the defendants’ alleged criminal activities in Brooklyn, Staten Island and elsewhere between December 2010 and June 2018.

The defendants—Jerry Ciauri, also known as “Fat Jerry,” a member of the Colombo family, Vito Difalco, also known as “Victor” and “The Mask,” a member of the Colombo family, Salvatore Disano, also known as “Sal Heaven,” an associate of the Colombo family, Anthony Licata, also known as “Anthony Suits,” a member of the Gambino family, and Joseph Maratea, an associate of the Colombo family—were arrested arraigned before Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.

 “This investigation shows that members of La Cosa Nostra continue to prey on members of our community, enriching themselves and their criminal network by making extortionate loans and using threats of violence to collect,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “Rooting out traditional organized crime’s dangerous and corrupting influence continues to be a high priority for this Office and our law enforcement partners.”

“As alleged in the indictment, these defendants instilled fear in the hearts of their victims through threats of violence,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.  “These extortionate threats are the trademark of the mafia’s power, but in the end all it does is expose their weakness.  While criminal organizations such as La Costa Nostra continue to work hard to imbed fear and danger within our communities, the FBI New York Joint Organized Crime Task Force is working even harder to ensure the public’s safety and security.”

“The mob is certainly diminished, but it is not dead,” stated NYPD Police Commissioner O’Neill.  “These groups require our constant vigilance.  By working in close collaboration with our law enforcement partners in the FBI and the Eastern District, the NYPD will continue to ensure public safety through aggressive investigation and the dismantling of these types of organized-crime organizations.”

As alleged in the indictment and court filings, Ciauri is charged with making extortionate loans and with using extortionate means to collect debts from six victims, as well as laundering the proceeds of his loansharking business in order to conceal his involvement.

Disano is charged with using extortionate means to collect debts from three victims and with assisting Ciauri in laundering the proceeds.  On one occasion, Ciauri threatened to shoot a loansharking partner who had fallen behind making payments to Ciauri.  He subsequently recruited another associate to stalk that partner.  On another occasion, Ciauri enlisted an associate to slash a victim’s tires in the middle of the night.

Difalco is charged with making extortionate loans and with using extortionate means to collect debts from eight victims.  In one conversation, Difalco threatened a loansharking victim by telling him that he had a past history of setting on fire the cars of those who failed to make timely payments; Difalco told the victim, “Good things happen to me when I stay calm see like I was by your house the other day….  Four years ago, I would have put the Benz on fire.” 

Maratea is charged with using extortionate means to collect debts from five victims.  To ensure that Maratea and Difalco could find their debtors, Difalco and Maratea required debtors to provide a copy of their driver’s licenses and contact information.

Each of the defendants faces a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment on the racketeering, money laundering and extortionate collection offenses.  The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime & Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth A. Geddes and Mathew S. Miller are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendants:

  • JERRY CIAURI (also known as “Fat Jerry”) Age:  59 Brooklyn, New York
  • VITO DIFALCO (also known as “Victor” and “The Mask”) Age:  63 Brooklyn, New York
  • SALVATORE DISANO (also known as “Sal Heaven”) Age:  48 Brooklyn, New York
  • ANTHONY LICATA (also known as “Anthony Suits”) Age:  49 Brooklyn, New York
  • JOSEPH MARATEA Age:  42 Brooklyn, New York

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Good Mothers: The Story of the Three Women Who Took on the World's Most Powerful Mafia #Ndrangheta

The electrifying, untold story of the women born into the most deadly and obscenely wealthy of the Italian mafias – and how they risked everything to bring it down.

The Calabrian Mafia—known as the ’Ndrangheta—is one of the richest and most ruthless crime syndicates in the world, with branches stretching from America to Australia. It controls seventy percent of the cocaine and heroin supply in Europe, manages billion-dollar extortion rackets, brokers illegal arms deals—supplying weapons to criminals and terrorists—and plunders the treasuries of both Italy and the European Union.

The ’Ndrangheta’s power derives from a macho mix of violence and silence—omertà. Yet it endures because of family ties: you are born into the syndicate, or you marry in. Loyalty is absolute. Bloodshed is revered. You go to prison or your grave and kill your own father, brother, sister, or mother in cold blood before you betray The Family. Accompanying the ’Ndrangheta’s reverence for tradition and history is a violent misogyny among its men. Women are viewed as chattel, bargaining chips for building and maintaining clan alliances and beatings—and worse—are routine.

In 2009, after one abused ’Ndrangheta wife was murdered for turning state’s evidence, prosecutor Alessandra Cerreti considered a tantalizing possibility: that the ’Ndrangheta’s sexism might be its greatest flaw—and her most effective weapon. Approaching two more mafia wives, Alessandra persuaded them to testify in return for a new future for themselves and their children.

A feminist saga of true crime and justice, The Good Mothers: The Story of the Three Women Who Took on the World's Most Powerful Mafia, is the riveting story of a high-stakes battle pitting a brilliant, driven woman fighting to save a nation against ruthless mafiosi fighting for their existence. Caught in the middle are three women fighting for their children and their lives. Not all will survive.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Where the Mob Bodies, Bootleggers and Blackmailers are Buried in the Lurid History of Chicago’s Prohibition Gangsters

In 1981, an FBI team visited Donald Trump to discuss his plans for a casino in Atlantic City. Trump admitted to having ‘read in the press’ and ‘heard from acquaintances’ that the Mob ran Atlantic City. At the time, Trump’s acquaintances included his lawyer Roy Cohn, whose other clients included those charming New York businessmen Antony ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno and Paul ‘Big Paul’ Castellano.

‘I’ve known some tough cookies over the years,’ Trump boasted in 2016. ‘I’ve known the people that make the politicians you and I deal with every day look like little babies.’ No one minded too much. Organised crime is a tapeworm in the gut of American commerce, lodged since Prohibition. The Volstead Act of January 1920 raised the cost of a barrel of beer from $3.50 to $55. By 1927, the profits from organised crime were $500 million in Chicago alone. The production, distribution and retailing of alcohol was worth $200 million. Gambling brought in $167 million. Another $133 million came from labour racketeering, extortion and brothel-keeping.

In 1920, Chicago’s underworld was divided between a South Side gang, led by the Italian immigrant ‘Big Jim’ Colosino, and the Irish and Jewish gangs on the North Side. Like many hands-on managers, Big Jim had trouble delegating, even when it came to minor tasks such as beating up nosy journalists. When the North Side gang moved into bootlegging, Colesino’s nephew John Torrio suggested that the South Side gang compete for a share of the profits. Colesino, fearing a turf war, refused. So Torrio murdered his uncle and started bootlegging.

Torrio was a multi-ethnic employer. Americans consider this a virtue, even among murderers. The Italian ‘Roxy’ Vanilli and the Irishman ‘Chicken Harry’ Cullet rubbed along just fine with ‘Jew Kid’ Grabiner and Mike ‘The Greek’ Potson — until someone said hello to someone’s else’s little friend.

Torrio persuaded the North Side leader Dean O’Banion to agree to a ‘master plan’ for dividing Chicago. The peace held for four years. While Torrio opened an Italian restaurant featuring an operatic trio, ‘refined cabaret’ and ‘1,000,000 yards of spaghetti’, O’Banion bought some Thompson submachine guns. A racketeering cartel could not be run like a railroad cartel. There was no transparency among tax-dodgers, no trust between thieves, and no ‘enforcement device’ other than enforcement.

In May 1924, O’Banion framed Torrio for a murder and set him up for a brewery raid. In November 1924, Torrio’s gunmen killed O’Banion as he was clipping chrysanthemums in his flower shop. Two months later, the North Side gang ambushed Torrio outside his apartment and clipped him five times at close range.

Torrio survived, but he took the hint and retreated to Italy. His protégé Alphonse ‘Scarface’ Capone took over the Chicago Outfit. The euphemists of Silicon Valley would call Al Capone a serial disrupter who liked breaking things. By the end of Prohibition in 1933, there had been more than 700 Mob killings in Chicago alone.

On St Valentine’s Day 1929, Capone’s men machine-gunned seven North Siders in a parking garage. This negotiation established the Chicago Outfit’s supremacy in Chicago, and cleared the way for another Torrio scheme. In May 1929, Torrio invited the top Italian, Jewish and Irish gangsters to a hotel in Atlantic City and suggested they form a national ‘Syndicate’. The rest is violence.

Is crime just another American business, a career move for entrepreneurial immigrants in a hurry? John J. Binder teaches business at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and has a sideline in the Mob history racket. He knows where the bodies are buried, and by whom. We need no longer err by confusing North Side lieutenant Earl ‘Hymie’ Weiss, who shot his own brother in the chest, with the North Side ‘mad hatter’ Louis ‘Diamond Jack’ Allerie, who was shot in the back by his own brother; or with the bootlegger George Druggan who, shot in the back, told the police that it was a self-inflicted wound. Anyone who still mixes them up deserves a punishment beating from the American Historical Association.

Binder does his own spadework, too. Digging into Chicago’s police archives, folklore, and concrete foundations, he establishes that Chicago’s mobsters pioneered the drive-by shooting. As the unfortunate Willie Dickman discovered on 3 September 1925, they were also the first to use a Thompson submachine gun for a ‘gangland hit’. Yet the Scarface image of the Thompson-touting mobster was a fiction. Bootleggers preferred the shotgun and assassins the pistol. Thompsons were used ‘sparingly’, like a niblick in golf.

Al Capone’s Beer Wars is a well-researched source book. Readers who never learnt to read nothing because they was schooled on the mean streets will appreciate Binder’s data graphs and mugshots. Not too shabby for a wise guy.

Thanks to Dominic Green.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

7 Members #Crips Street Gang Indicted for Drug Trafficking

A seventh defendant, Tysheim Warren, was arrested in connection with a nine-count indictment filed in federal court in Brooklyn, also charging Javier Blackett, John Paul Balcazar, David Maldonado, Hassan McClean, Kevin Raphael and Andrew Rose with crimes stemming from their participation in a drug-trafficking organization that distributed more than 400 grams of crack cocaine in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens/Flatbush neighborhoods of Brooklyn.  The indictment was returned by a grand jury on May 10, 2018.  Blackett, Maldonado, Raphael and Rose were arrested on May 15, 2018.  Balcazar was arrested on May 18, 2018, and   McClean was arrested on May 22, 2018.  They were arraigned and ordered detained pending trial.  Warren was arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold and ordered detained.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.

According to the indictment and court filings, the defendants’ drug-selling operations centered around several residential buildings approximately three blocks southeast of the Prospect Park ice skating rink.  Since March 2017, members of law enforcement made numerous controlled purchases totaling more than 400 grams of crack cocaine from the defendants’ organization and intercepted, pursuant to court order, communications discussing their distribution of significantly more narcotics.  Blackett, a member of the Eight Trey set of the Crips street gang, was the leader of the organization; Raphael was one of his principal suppliers; and Balcazar, Maldonado, McClean, Rose and Warren were workers.

“The residents of Brooklyn are entitled to streets that are free of the dangerous drugs the defendants were allegedly selling,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “This Office, together with our law enforcement partners, will continue to work tirelessly to put drug dealers out of business and hold them accountable for their crimes.”

“These dealers are alleged to have operated very close to a place where families go, where children play and where people find sanctuary in the city,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.  “When doing business with gang members and drug dealers, violence inevitably follows and innocent people could have been caught up in it.  The FBI Metro Safe Streets Task Force works every day to protect the community from these dangerous gang members and preventing them from proliferating their deadly drugs.”

 “The NYPD’s efforts to eradicate drug trafficking are greatly strengthened by our close partnerships with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District,” stated NYPD Commissioner O’Neill.  “I commend everyone involved in this case, particularly the investigators who put themselves directly in harm’s way.  Those who illegally deal in narcotics should be prepared for the full weight of our nation’s best law enforcement professionals to bear down upon them.”

If convicted of the conspiracy charge, the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and up to life in prison.  The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.

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