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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Full Details of the Plot by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to Murder Former National Security Advisor John Bolton

An Iranian national and member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was charged by complaint, unsealed in the District of Columbia, with use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire and with providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot.

According to court documents, beginning in October 2021, Shahram Poursafi, aka Mehdi Rezayi, 45, of Tehran, Iran, attempted to arrange the murder of former National Security Advisor John Bolton, likely in retaliation for the January 2020 death of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF) commander Qasem Soleimani. Poursafi, working on behalf of the IRGC-QF, attempted to pay individuals in the United States $300,000 to carry out the murder in Washington, D.C. or Maryland.

“The Justice Department has the solemn duty to defend our citizens from hostile governments who seek to hurt or kill them,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “This is not the first time we have uncovered Iranian plots to exact revenge against individuals on U.S. soil and we will work tirelessly to expose and disrupt every one of these efforts.”

“Iran has a history of plotting to assassinate individuals in the U.S. it deems a threat, but the U.S. Government has a longer history of holding accountable those who threaten the safety of our citizens,” said Executive Assistant Director Larissa L. Knapp of the FBI’s National Security Branch. “Let there be no doubt: The FBI, the U.S. government, and our partners remain vigilant in the fight against such threats here in the U.S. and overseas.”

“Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, through the Defendant, tried to hatch a brazen plot: assassinate a former U.S. official on U.S. soil in retaliation for U.S. actions,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia. “Iran and other hostile governments should understand that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will do everything in our power to thwart their violent plots and bring those responsible to justice.”

“An attempted assassination of a former U.S. Government official on U.S. soil is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI Washington Field Office. “The FBI will continue to identify and disrupt any efforts by Iran or any hostile government seeking to bring harm or death to U.S. persons at home or abroad. This should serve as a warning to any others attempting to do the same – the FBI will be relentless in our efforts to identify, stop, and bring to justice those who would threaten our people and violate our laws.”

According to court documents: 

  • On Oct. 22, 2021, Poursafi asked Individual A, a U.S. resident whom Poursafi previously met online, to take photographs of the former National Security Advisor, claiming the photographs were for a book Poursafi was writing. Individual A told Poursafi that he/she could introduce Poursafi to another person who would take the pictures for $5,000-$10,000. Individual A later introduced Poursafi to an associate (referred to in court documents as the confidential human source or CHS).
  • On Nov. 9, 2021, Poursafi contacted the CHS on an encrypted messaging application, and then directed the CHS to a second encrypted messaging application for further communications. Poursafi offered the CHS $250,000 to hire someone to “eliminate” the former National Security Advisor. This amount would later be negotiated up to $300,000. Poursafi added that he had an additional “job,” for which he would pay $1 million. Poursafi directed the CHS to open a cryptocurrency account to facilitate payment, but stipulated that the CHS would likely have to carry out the murder before he/she could be paid. He further explained to the CHS that if he/she was paid and the murder was not completed, Poursafi’s “group” would be angry. A later search of one of Poursafi’s online accounts revealed pictures of Poursafi wearing a uniform with an IRGC patch. During their communications, the CHS made several references to Poursafi being associated with IRGC-QF. Poursafi never denied his involvement with IRGC-QF.

  • On Nov. 14, 2021, the CHS asked Poursafi for help locating the former National Security Advisor. Poursafi subsequently provided the CHS with the target’s work address in Washington, D.C. According to results from the search of one of Poursafi’s online accounts, on Nov. 25, 2021, Poursafi took screenshots of a map application showing a street view of the former National Security Advisor’s office. One screenshot noted that the address was “10,162 km away,” which is the approximate distance between Washington, D.C. and Tehran, Iran.

  • On Nov. 19, 2021, Poursafi told the CHS that it did not matter how the murder was carried out, but his “group” would require video confirmation of the target’s death. The CHS asked Poursafi what would happen if the killing was attributed to Iran. Poursafi told the CHS not to worry and that Poursafi’s “group” would take care of it. Poursafi also advised the CHS to communicate about the plot in construction and building terms. For example, when the CHS asked Poursafi to specify how the murder was to be carried out, Poursafi told the CHS that he only asked the CHS to build a structure, but the method of construction was up to the CHS.

  • On Dec. 22, 2021, Poursafi sent the CHS a photograph of two plastic bags, each of which appeared to contain bound stacks of U.S. currency and a handwritten note beneath them that said, “[CHS’s name] 22.12.2021”.

  • On Dec. 29, 2021, Poursafi asked the CHS when the murder would be carried out and informed the CHS that his “group” wanted it done quickly.

  • On Jan. 3, 2022, Poursafi noted he was under pressure from “his people” to complete the murder and that Poursafi had to report any delays. The CHS asked Poursafi how many people were involved. Poursafi told the CHS that he only had to report to one person, but that there was a chain of command to whom his superior reported. That same day, Poursafi expressed regret that the murder would not be conducted by the anniversary of Qasem Soleimani’s death. He stated he was concerned that if it was not carried out soon, the job would be taken from Poursafi and the CHS. Poursafi counseled the CHS that if he/she used a “small weapon,” he/she would have to get close to the target, but if he/she used a “larger weapon,” he/she could stay farther away.

  • On Jan. 18, 2022, the CHS sent Poursafi publicly available information that suggested the former National Security Advisor might be travelling out of the Washington, D.C., area during the time Poursafi indicated he would like the CHS to carry out the murder. Poursafi told the CHS that he needed to “check something.” Within an hour, he told the CHS that the target was, in fact, not travelling. He then provided the CHS with specifics regarding the former National Security Advisor’s schedule that do not appear to have been publicly available.

  • On Jan. 21, 2022, Poursafi told the CHS that after successful completion of the first “job,” he had a second “job” for the CHS and informed the CHS that surveillance of the second target was complete. Poursafi said the information was gathered “from the United States,” not “via Google,” indicating someone working on behalf of the IRGC-QF had already conducted pre-operational surveillance on the second target in the United States.

  • On Feb. 1, 2022, Poursafi told the CHS that if he/she did not eliminate the target within two weeks, the job would be taken from the CHS. He also informed the CHS that someone checked the area around the former National Security Advisor’s home, and he believed there was not a security presence, so the CHS should be able to “finish the job.”

  • On March 10, 2022, Poursafi told the CHS he had another assassination job for the CHS in the United States, but to “keep [the former National Security Advisor] in the back of your mind.” Approximately one month later, Poursafi encouraged the CHS to accept this offer, explaining that if it was done successfully, Poursafi would be able to ingratiate himself with his “group” and regain the tasking to murder the former National Security Advisor.

  • On April 28, 2022, the CHS told Poursafi that he/she would not continue to work without being paid. Poursafi agreed to send the CHS $100 in cryptocurrency to a virtual wallet the CHS created earlier that day, to prove payment could be made. Later that day, the cryptocurrency wallet received two payments totaling $100.

If convicted, Poursafi faces up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000 for the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, and up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000 for providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot. Poursafi remains at large abroad.


The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir by John Bolton.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

DEADLY ASSOCIATES: A True Story of Murder, Survival, and Bringing Down the Chicago Mob

The book behind the 'DEADLY ASSOCIATES' docu-series on REELZChannel™!

Step into Chicago during the 1960s and ‘70s, where mobsters influence everyone from strip-club owners to Teamsters, aldermen, judges, and local police. It is a world where good men are corrupted by the irresistible lure of money and power, and families are shattered by lies, violence, and tragedy.

Danny Seifert, a street-smart and ambitious young man, follows his father’s example in his efforts to provide a good, comfortable life for his wife and children. Soon, however, his path leads him toward the dark heart of the Mob. His career choices eventually bring him to a point where he must choose between loyalty to the Mob and probable prison time, or coming clean to the FBI, testifying against Mob leaders and risking retaliation to himself and his family. He chooses the latter, which ultimately leads to his murder and decades of living in fear for his widow, Emma, and their children.

As they grow into men, Danny’s sons, Joe and Nick, take it upon themselves to find the man responsible for their father’s death and make him pay. In seeking retribution for Danny, will they also succumb to lives of crime, or will they follow the high road of law and justice all the way to the Family Secrets trial in 2007, one of the largest Mob trials in history?

Find out in DEADLY ASSOCIATES: A True Story of Murder, Survival, and Bringing Down the Chicago Mob, a meticulously researched and poignantly personal story of one family’s life inside and outside the Chicago Mob.


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Rumrunning in Suffolk County: Tales from Liquor Island #LongIsland #Books

Nicknamed "Liquor Island," Long Island was rumrunner's paradise during Prohibition.

Rumrunning in Suffolk County: Tales from Liquor Island.

With its proximity to major markets and coastal communities for easy transit, Suffolk County was awash in illegal hooch. Smugglers bringing cases of booze from offshore often secretly hid product temporarily in local garages and sheds, leaving a bottle as a thank-you.

Coded communication crisscrossed the county on shortwave radios arranging sales and logistics. Violence from criminal outfits disrupted previously quiet towns, as locals too often were swept up in dangerous unintentional engagements with bootleggers.

Pour one out and join author Amy Kasuga Folk as she recounts stories from Suffolk County's Prohibition era


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Details of Guilty Plea by Michael Stollery, CEO of TBIS, for Cryptocurrency Fraud #Crypto #Cryptocurrency #Cyber

The CEO of Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services Inc. (TBIS) pleaded guilty in the Central District of California for his role in a cryptocurrency fraud scheme involving TBIS’s initial coin offering (ICO) that raised approximately $21 million from investors in the United States and overseas.
Titanium Blockchain Infrastructure Services


According to court documents, Michael Alan Stollery, 54, of Reseda, California, was the CEO and founder of TBIS, a purported cryptocurrency investment platform, and touted TBIS as a cryptocurrency investment opportunity, luring investors to purchase “BARs,” the cryptocurrency token or coin offered by TBIS’s ICO, through a series of false and misleading statements. Although he was required to do so, Stollery did not register the ICO regarding TBIS’s cryptocurrency investment offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), nor did he have a valid exemption from the SEC’s registration requirements.

Stollery admitted that, to entice investors, he falsified aspects of TBIS’s white papers, which purportedly offered investors and prospective investors an explanation of the cryptocurrency investment offering, including the purpose and technology behind the offering, how the offering was different from other cryptocurrency opportunities, and the prospects for the offering’s profitability. Stollery also planted fake client testimonials on TBIS’s website and falsely claimed that he had business relationships with the Federal Reserve and dozens of prominent companies to create the false appearance of legitimacy. Stollery further admitted that he did not use the invested money as promised but instead commingled the ICO investors’ funds with his personal funds, using at least a portion of the offering proceeds for expenses unrelated to TBIS, such as credit card payments and the payment of bills for Stollery’s Hawaii condominium.

Stollery pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 18 and faces up to 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Court Upholds Convictions of Nicky Scarfo Jr, Reputed Lucchese Crime Family Member, and Associate Salvatore Pelullo #Racketeering #Conspiracy #Fraud #MoneyLaundering

A member and associate of the Lucchese organized crime family, along with two Texas brothers, have had their convictions upheld for a criminal takeover that drained over $14 million from a Dallas mortgage firm in less than a year. The four claimed what they did was just "normal, run-of-the-mill" business practices, but it was more like typical Mafia practices.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announced Nicodemo S. Scarfo, 57,
Nicky Scarfo Jr.
of Galloway, N.J., a member of the Lucchese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (LCN), and Salvatore Pelullo, 55, of Philadelphia, an associate of the Lucchese and Philadelphia LCN families, were convicted on July 13, 2014, of all counts against them. Two other defendants, William Maxwell, 63, of Houston, Texas, and his brother, John Maxwell, 70, of Irving, Texas, were also convicted.

The four defendants were convicted for their respective roles in the takeover and subsequent looting of FirstPlus Financial Group, a publicly held mortgage company based in Dallas. The defendants used extortionate threats to take control of the company, causing a loss of more than $14 million and leaving more than 1,000 shareholders with investments that had been rendered worthless. Scarfo and Pelullo were each sentenced to 30 years in prison; William Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison; and John Maxwell was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Originally, the four men, according to court filings, sought to legitimately invest in the company. There was just one problem. They didn’t have the money to do so.

Enter Jack Draper, a high-ranking employee at FirstPlus who had been fired. Draper had griped about his firing to Jack Roubinek — the two having become acquainted while employed at FirstPlus — and to William Maxwell. Roubinek was trying to put a group together to purchase FirstPlus.

Those three were joined by David Roberts, a mortgage broker from Staten Island, and Pelullo for a meeting in Dallas, where Draper, “bearing a grudge,” told the group he was willing to “divulge all” and falsely accuse the FirstPlus board and CEO Daniel Phillips of financial and personal improprieties (including a purported sexual assault and impregnation of a personal assistant who was paid off with company funds).

The threats had their intended effect. The appeals court decision said Phillips met with William Maxwell and Pelullo, who indicated the allegations would be dropped if Phillips and the FirstPlus board handed the business over to them.

“Evidently, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse,” the decision author quipped. “Phillips swiftly persuaded the entire board to give up their positions rather than try to engage in what would be a messy and expensive fight with Pelullo’s group.”

The four partners in crime then set about installing associates into key positions as executives and board members. FirstPlus was then used to buy companies tied to Pelullo and hire other companies as consultants for exorbitant fees. The appeals said the four viewed FirstPlus as their own personal retirement fund, but quickly blew through over $14 million.

The quartet’s greed came to light when Scarfo attempted to take over the Philadelphia branch of the Lucchese crime family. The FBI stumbled upon the FirstPlus scheme and seized the four men’s assets (including a yacht, Bentley, and private plane) in May 2008. They would be indicted in October 2011 and convicted in July 2014.

Scarfo’s, Pelullo’s, and William Maxwell’s defenses hinged on the proposition that they had simply been engaged in standard, run-of-the-mill business practices. John Maxwell, for his part, claimed he had been in the dark as to the others’ malfeasance, the appeals court decision said.

The government rebutted those narratives, telling jurors: “Is this how legitimate businessmen conduct themselves? The answer to that is overwhelmingly no. Legitimate businessmen don’t lie, they don’t cheat, they don’t steal.”

In a consolidated appeal, the defendants challenged almost every aspect of their prosecutions, including the investigation, the charges and evidence against them, the pretrial process, the government’s compliance with its disclosure obligations, the trial, the forfeiture proceedings, and their sentences.

The appellate court decision, written by Circuit Judge Kent A. Jordan and joined by Circuit Judges Thomas L. Ambro and Stephanos Bibas, affirmed the jury’s guilty verdicts on all of the underlying crimes, including participating in a Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and firearms offenses. It also affirmed the prison sentences.

Thanks to Keith Griffin.


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