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Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Adam Fox Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison in Kidnapping Plot of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Conspiracy to Use Weapons of Mass Destruction

Adam Fox was sentenced to 16 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiracy to kidnap the Governor of Michigan and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property.

Fox, 39, of Wyoming, Michigan, and co-conspirator Barry Croft Jr., 47, of Bear, Delaware, were convicted by a federal jury in August 2022 during an 11-day retrial. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Fox and Croft intended to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer from her vacation cottage near Elk Rapids, Michigan, and use the destructive devices to facilitate their plot by harming and hindering the governor’s security detail and any responding law enforcement officers. They specifically explored placing a bomb under an interstate overpass near a pedestrian boardwalk. Croft was also convicted of possessing an improvised explosive device, which was a commercial firework refashioned with shrapnel to serve as a hand-grenade.

“Mr. Fox, and his confederate Mr. Croft, were convicted by a jury of masterminding a plot to kidnap the Governor of Michigan and to use weapons of mass destruction against responding law enforcement,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Today’s sentence reflects the Department of Justice’s unwavering commitment to protecting our elected officials, law enforcement officers, and dedicated public servants from criminal threats and violence — and to holding the perpetrators of such acts fully accountable under the law.”

“Today, Mr. Fox learned his fate. For his role in the plot to kidnap the Governor and trigger further violence, he will serve a long term in prison,” said Former U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge for the Western District of Michigan, appointed to oversee the trial. “Responding to domestic terrorism has been a priority for the Department of Justice since its founding. Rest assured: we will spare no effort to disrupt plots like these and hold those responsible accountable to the law.”

Fox is the third to be sentenced of four conspirators convicted in the plot. Croft is scheduled to be sentenced today.

Co-defendant Ty Garbin, 27, of Hartland, Michigan, pleaded guilty in January 2021 and initially received a sentence of 75 months, or over six years, in prison. The district court later reduced to a term of 30 months, or two and a half years in prison, after fully considering his cooperation at both trials. Kaleb Franks, 28, of Waterford, Michigan, received a term of four years in prison after pleading guilty and testifying at both trials.


Friday, December 16, 2022

Thousands of New Top Secret Files Released on the Assassination of JFK

The Biden administration released thousands of classified documents related to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination nearly 60 years ago.

The release of 13,173 documents is the government’s largest disclosure of records about the Kennedy assassination since 2018.

The records, posted online by the National Archives and Records Administration, add to tens of thousands of others released over the years. The National Archives said more than 97% of the records in its collection are now publicly accessible.

Investigators amassed five million pages of records related to the murder. Federal authorities have concealed a portion of them for decades over concerns they contained sensitive information.

JFK Assassination Records Released

Mr. Kennedy’s assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas in 1963 remains one of the most scrutinized moments in presidential history. For nearly six decades, conspiracy theorists have spun rumors that Oswald had accomplices even though federal investigators reported he had acted alone. Historians have wondered what happened in the moments leading up to the assassination— and many hoped the still-concealed documents could help unravel some of the mystery.

Congress passed a law in 1992 requiring the government to release all records related to the assassination within 25 years, unless the president determines the information would undermine intelligence, law enforcement, military operations or foreign policy.

The Biden administration said last year it wouldn’t release all remaining records as planned due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The White House said the agencies needed more time to determine what redacted information they could release.

Since then, they examined nearly 16,000 records that had previously been released with redactions. The Biden administration said in a memorandum Thursday that about 70% of those records could be released in their entirety.

The president blocked the release of some records until June 30, 2023, citing potential harm to national security.

A CIA spokesman said the little information that remains redacted in agency records within the collection consists of intelligence sources and methods—including some from as late as the 1990s.

Thanks to Jennifer Calfas and Suryatapa Bhattacharya


Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Whitey Bulger Killed after Inmates were Leaked Details of his Prison Relocation

Inmates at a West Virginia federal prison knew well in advance that convicted Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger was being transferred there and placed bets on how long it would be before the notorious FBI informant was killed, the Justice Department’s inspector general wrote in a withering report.

Bulger, 89 and in failing health, was bludgeoned to death with a padlock less than 12 hours after arriving at the U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton in October 2018, the violent capstone to his own murderous career and to what the watchdog’s report described as a series of management failures, flawed policies and bureaucratic ineptitude.

Federal Bureau of Prisons officials moved Bulger from a facility in Florida where he had lived for years following his 2013 conviction on a sprawling racketeering indictment that included involvement in 11 murders, as well as running a criminal enterprise of drug dealing, extortion, money laundering and gun running from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Prisons officials had been pushing for months to move the wheelchair-using Bulger from a secure unit at U.S. Penitentiary Coleman II due to what they described as safety and discipline concerns.

“In our view, no BOP inmate’s transfer, whether they are a notorious gangster or a nonviolent offender, should be handled like Bulger’s transfer was handled in this instance,” DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote.

At least 100 prison employees were aware of the coming transfer and some of them spoke openly about it in the presence of inmates, at least one of whom predicted in an email to his mother that the crime boss would be killed because of his notoriety as a government informant.

Three men—Fotios “Freddy” Geas, 55 years old, Paul J. DeCologero, 48, and Sean McKinnon, 36—were indicted in August, nearly four years after the killing, on charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Prosecutors alleged Geas and DeCologero struck Bulger in the head multiple times, causing his death. All three have pleaded not guilty.

The killing added to a list of troubles facing the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which in recent years has struggled with misconduct, staffing shortages and the coronavirus pandemic, among other problems. Attorney General Merrick Garland in July named Colette Peters, a former top corrections official in Oregon, to lead the beleaguered agency.

In a response Wednesday, Ms. Peters said the agency agreed with the report and had already begun implementing many of its recommendations.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has “initiated several improvements to its medical transfer system including enhanced communication between employees involved in the process, multiple trainings for personnel, and technological advancements,” the agency said in a statement.

Mr. Horowitz’s investigation didn’t find evidence of any federal criminal violations or that employees acted “with a malicious intent or an improper purpose.” But it referred at least six employees for possible discipline.

Prisons officials had sought Bulger’s transfer from Florida after he threatened a nurse there. To hasten the move, the inspector general’s report said, staff repeatedly tried to play down his medical troubles to broaden the list of facilities where he could be placed.

The staff ultimately ignored guidance from health officials who said Bulger should remain in a facility where he could receive greater care and failed to mention Bulger’s numerous heart-health incidents when making the final transfer request, which the agency’s medical director approved.

Officials also neglected to subject Bulger to an intelligence assessment that would have determined if he should be separated from certain organized-crime figures within the prison, despite his well-documented leadership of South Boston’s Winter Hill Gang. Instead, employees at Hazelton told the inspector general they viewed Bulger as “non-gang affiliated,” and a manager volunteered to take Bulger into his unit despite the presence of at least one other former organized crime associate in that portion of the prison.

Geas, who is already serving a life sentence for the 2003 killing of the leader of the Genovese crime family, has a known disdain for Federal Bureau of Investigation informants and was sent to solitary confinement after the killing, law-enforcement officials told the Journal shortly after Bulger was killed. Officials have described him as a Mafia hit man.

Bulger’s violent demise added a new layer of intrigue to his long life of crime and complicated relationship with the federal government. Prosecutors said Bulger acted as a secret FBI informant and fled Boston in late 1994 after being tipped off about the pending indictment against him by his former FBI handler.

Bulger was on the lam for 16 years before his 2011 arrest, when he and his girlfriend were found living under fake names in a rent-controlled Santa Monica, Calif., apartment with $822,000 hidden in the walls.

Thanks to Sadie Gurman.


Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Giovanni's Ring: My Life Inside the Real Sopranos #DeCavalcanteCrimeFamily #NewJersey #OperationCharlieHorse

The story of a former FBI undercover task force officer who spent years penetrating New Jersey's DeCavalcante crime family, the criminal organization known to law enforcement as “the real Sopranos

Giovanni's Ring: My Life Inside the Real Sopranos, is the story of “Giovanni Rocco,” a New Jersey police officer, known undercover as “Giovanni Gatto,” who was the mysterious agent at the epicenter of Operation Charlie Horse, a federal undercover operation that ultimately brought down ten members and associates of New Jersey’s DeCavalcante Mafia family, the criminal organization known as “the real Sopranos.”

Giovanni spent nearly three years working his way into the DeCavalcante hierarchy. He was so convincing in his role that capo Charlie “the Hat” Stango eventually assigned him the task of killing Luigi “the Dog” Oliveri, a troublesome made member of the crime family. That lethal assignment brought the undercover operation to an end in March 2015, and the resulting string of high-profile arrests eviscerated the criminal organization.

Giovanni’s Ring is not simply a chronicle of Giovanni Rocco’s adventures in the murky and dangerous Mafia world he inhabited, but also a fascinating window into the psychological struggles that such a life inevitably entails.


Thursday, December 01, 2022

Operation Crypto Runner Targets Networks Laundering Money Stolen from Fraud Victims via Cryptocurrency #Crypto #Cryptocurrency #Bitcoin #FTX

According to unsealed court documents, 21 individuals have been charged for their roles in transnational money laundering networks, including those that laundered millions of dollars stolen from United States fraud victims through romance scams, business email compromises, technical support schemes, and other fraud schemes.

U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston of the Eastern District of Texas, William Smarr, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s (USSS) Dallas Field Office, and Inspector in Charge Thomas Noyes of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced Operation Crypto Runner, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation into transnational cryptocurrency money laundering networks that facilitate the movement of fraud proceeds from victims in the United States to foreign criminal organizations.

“These defendants orchestrated highly organized and sophisticated schemes to launder fraud proceeds through cryptocurrency,” said U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. “Today’s announcement sends a clear message that money laundering networks that service fraud schemes targeting American victims, especially the elderly, will not be tolerated, and those operating such networks will be held accountable. By acting as domestic money launderers for foreign co-conspirators, these defendants played indispensable roles that allowed foreign actors to reach from overseas to target victims in communities across the United States.”

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the investigative capabilities of the Secret Service and highlights the success of our collaborative efforts through Operation Crypto Runner to dismantle and disrupt transnational money laundering networks,” said William Smarr, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Dallas Field Office. “These arrests are just the beginning. We are committed to bringing each of the remaining perpetrators to justice.”

“These cases stem from a multi-year operation initiated in the Eastern District of Texas by Postal Inspectors and the Secret Service,” said Thomas Noyes, Inspector in Charge of the Postal Inspection Service’s Fort Worth Division. “Cybercrime has become an all-too-common way for foreign criminal actors to prey on Americans. Interagency cooperation is essential to be effective in disrupting organized crime. I commend the exceptional work of our law enforcement partners and emphasize our agency’s ongoing commitment to combatting fraud and money laundering schemes.”

To date, the Operation has disrupted more than $300 million in annual money laundering transactions, seized and forfeited millions in cash and cryptocurrency, and identified thousands of victims.

Some of the schemes alleged in the indictments include the following:

  • U.S. v. Zenobia Walker, 6:20-CR-91-JCB/KNM (11/19/2020)
    Zenobia Walker, 65, of Temple Hills, Maryland, pleaded guilty on January 6, 2022, to conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on November 2, 2022. Walker was involved in a scheme in which she received cash by mail, money orders, wire transfers, and cashier’s checks obtained from victims of romance scams and from victims of other fraud schemes. The funds were deposited into Walker’s personal bank accounts and withdrawn and deposited into other bank accounts in order to exchange the funds for cryptocurrency. Between December 2019 and September 2020, Walker exchanged $308,800.00 for cryptocurrency on behalf of her foreign co-conspirators.

  • U.S. v. Tulasidas Konda, 6:20-CR-31-JDK/JDL (4/23/2021)
    Tulasidas Konda, 57, of Amelia Court House, Virginia, pleaded guilty on May 5, 2021, to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Konda led and organized a multi-year money laundering conspiracy involving the laundering of criminal proceeds derived from various scams. Konda’s organization opened bank accounts and mailboxes that were used to receive and transact victim funds, received the victim funds, engaged in subsequent financial transactions, routinely structured in amounts under $10,000 in an effort to evade reporting requirements and to conceal the nature and source of the criminal proceeds, and moved the criminal proceeds to foreign co-conspirators. Konda’s organization routinely exchanged the criminal proceeds for cryptocurrency and directed the cryptocurrency to wallets under the control of their foreign co-conspirators. In the course of the operation, Konda was personally responsible for laundering $4,172,061.58 in criminal proceeds.

  • U.S. v. Deependra Bhusal, 6:21-CR-32-JDK/JDL (4/23/2021)
    Deependra Bhusal, 46, of Irving, Texas, pleaded guilty on April 30, 2021, to conspiracy to commit money laundering and was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison on April 6, 2022. Bhusal was a key member of the Konda Organization. In the course of the operation, Bhusal was personally responsible for laundering $1,437,358.99 in criminal proceeds.

  • U.S. v. Lois Boyd, et al., 6:21-CR-43-JDK/KNM (6/16/2021)
    Lois Boyd, 76, of Amelia Court House, Virginia, pleaded guilty on June 14, 2022, to a violation of the Travel Act. Boyd, also a member of the Konda Organization, is alleged to have conspired with others to receive victim money derived from a variety of fraud schemes and launder the proceeds through cryptocurrency. Boyd routinely structured deposits in order to avoid transaction reporting requirements and to conceal the nature and source of the criminal proceeds. Boyd and others in the Konda Organization exchanged the criminal proceeds for cryptocurrency and directed the cryptocurrency to wallets under the control of their foreign co-conspirators. In August 2020, Boyd and others traveled to Longview, Texas, where they attempted to exchange more than $450,000 for Bitcoin.

  • U.S. v. John Khuu, 6:22-CR-62-JCB/JDL (5/18/2022)
    John Khuu, 27, of San Francisco, California was named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury charging him in a money laundering conspiracy. According to the indictment, Khuu is alleged to have conspired with others to launder the proceeds of his drug trafficking organization through cryptocurrency. The defendant allegedly distributed counterfeit pharmaceutical pills and other controlled substances on dark web markets to customers across the United States. Customers paid for their purchases by transferring cryptocurrency, usually Bitcoin, from their dark web market customer accounts to one of Khuu’s vendor accounts. Khuu and his co-conspirators traded the Bitcoin for U.S. currency and laundered the proceeds through hundreds of transactions and dozens of financial accounts. During the course of the conspiracy, Khuu and his co-conspirators allegedly laundered more than $5,350,000.00. On August 17, 2022, Khuu was also charged by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of California in a two-count indictment charging him with unlawful importation of a controlled substance.

  • U.S. v. Randall V. Rule, et al., 6:22-CR-64-JDK/KNM (5/18/2022)
    Randall V. Rule, 71, of Reno, Nevada, and Gregory C. Nysewander, 64, formerly of Irmo, South Carolina, were named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury charging them with money laundering conspiracy, money laundering, and a conspiracy to violate the Bank Secrecy Act. According to the indictment, Rule and Nysewander are alleged to have conspired with others to launder the proceeds of wire fraud and mail fraud schemes through cryptocurrency. The defendants converted funds from romance scams, business email compromises, and real estate scams, and other fraudulent schemes into cryptocurrency and sent the cryptocurrency to accounts controlled by foreign and domestic co-conspirators. The defendants and their co-conspirators made false representations and concealed material facts, in order to avoid discovery of the fraudulent nature of deposits, wires, and transfers, such as providing instructions to co-conspirators and victims to label wire transfers as “loan repayments” and “advertising.” The defendants also made false representations and concealed material facts when completing account opening documents and when communicating with financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges. During the course of the conspiracy, Rule, Nysewander, and their co-conspirators allegedly laundered more than $2.4 million. Rule and Nysewander are also charged with willfully violating the money services business requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act.

  • U.S. v. Sharena Seay, 6:22-CR-110-JDK/JDL (8/17/2022)
    Sharena Seay, 37, of Jacksonville, Florida, was named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury charging her with money laundering. According to the indictment, Seay is alleged to have laundered the proceeds of her drug trafficking operations through cryptocurrency. The defendant allegedly supplied alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP), which is often called “flakka,” and similar synthetic cathinones, such as Eutylone or alpha-PiHP. Seay distributed alpha-PVP and other controlled substances to various customers across the United States. Customers who purchased controlled substances from Seay paid for their purchases with cash. Seay laundered the cash proceeds through cryptocurrency in order to purchase more controlled substances on the dark web and to conceal her criminal activity. During the course of the conspiracy, Seay allegedly laundered more than $1.2 million.

  • U.S. v. Fnu Ankush, et al., 6:22-CR-111-JCB/KNM (8/17/2022)
    Fnu Ankush, 35, of Fishers, Indiana, Jenisha Katuwal, 40, of Fishers, Indiana, Sukhwinder Sandhu, 44, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Inder Singh, 37, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mukul Khanna, 37, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Satinder Singh, 36, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ramneek Singh, 28, of Levittown, New York, Muninder Singh, 52, of Fairfax, Virginia, Sandeep Heir, 43, of Fresno, California, and Rachel Mullins, 36, of Jacksonville, Florida, were named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury charging them in a wire and mail fraud conspiracy. According to the indictment, the defendants facilitated technical support schemes by creating a financial infrastructure in the United States that involved establishing shell companies with names intended to resemble names of legitimate companies. The defendants opened and controlled business bank accounts in the names of the shell companies in order to facilitate the computer tech scheme. The defendants also established websites for many of the shell companies in order to make the shell companies appear legitimate. Then, through false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, and concealment of material facts, the defendants and their co-conspirators persuaded victims to deposit, wire, or transfer funds into designated bank accounts or to mail funds to designated addresses.

These efforts are part of Operation Crypto Runner, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

In October 2017, the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) was signed into law. The EAPPA’s purpose is to increase the federal government’s focus on preventing elder abuse and exploitation. Subsequently, the Department of Justice launched the Elder Justice Initiative (EJI). Through the EJI, the Department has participated in hundreds of criminal and civil enforcement actions involving misconduct that targeted vulnerable seniors. The Department has conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country. The EJI website contains useful information, including educational resources about prevalent financial scams so you can guard against them.

In August 2020, the Eastern District of Texas announced its own initiative, in partnership with law enforcement and private financial institutions, to identify and prosecute transnational elder fraud. This EDTX initiative is designed to combat these criminal organizations, both foreign and domestic, as well their networks of associates and money mules who launder the stolen funds.

The investigations arising from the operation are being conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and are being led and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld and L. Frank Coan, Jr., with assistance from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the Department’s Office of International Affairs.

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