The Chicago Syndicate

Thursday, February 20, 2020

11 Members of the Bloods 5-9 Brims Street Gang Arrested, Including a Former Bodyguard of @IamCardiB

Eleven members of the violent 5-9 Brims, a part of the Bloods street gang in Brooklyn, were arrested and charged in a major racketeering case that involved drug dealing, murder, assaults and financial frauds.

The indictment revealed that the people arrested, all of whom are Brooklyn residents, were involved in a violent criminal enterprise that made money though selling drugs, financial scamming, and maintained their power though acts of violence and murder.

The violence included attacks on various people from opposing gangs and bartenders at a Queens bar that they believed showed disrespect.

One of the indicted suspects — Jeffrey Bush, 35 — is facing assault charges in Queens while serving as the “muscle” for actress/rapper Cardi B at a Queens nightclub back in 2018.

“The 5-9 Brims is a violent criminal organization that has terrorized residents of Brooklyn and Queens by committing brutal acts of violence in public places, trafficking narcotics on the streets and defrauding victims through financial schemes,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue for the Eastern District.

Among those involved in the investigations included Homeland Security Investigations, New York, the New York City Department of Investigation, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosive and the NYPD.

“These violent street gangs simply want to make money with as little effort as possible, which is why they’re venturing into unique criminal territory for gangs such as credit card fraud while maintaining their tried and true drug trafficking and murder activity,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.

Officials say the gang was responsible for many crimes in Brownsville, Bedford Stuyvesant and East New York, among other parts of the borough and in the city.

 “Today’s take-down highlights our relentless work in stopping the violence carried out by large, established gangs and their ruthless offshoots,” stated NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea.

According to the indictment and other court filings, the 5-9 Brims is a set of the much larger Bloods street gang that operates in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and elsewhere. Gang members have committed acts of violence, including murder, robbery and assault, and engaged in drug-trafficking and fraud.

Between January 2012 and December 2019, the gang members committed crimes to further the interests of the gang, including earning money for the gang’s members, and enhancing the gang’s position with respect to rival criminal organizations.

During the charged period, the 5-9 Brims were feuding with a rival faction of the 5-9 Brims, known as the “Real Ryte,” whose members also operated in Brooklyn. The feud led to a series of violent confrontations and, as alleged in the indictment, during this period several members of the 5-9 Brims conspired to murder members of Real Ryte.

The indictment indicates that Marvin Pippins, 29, a purported 5-9 Brims member, allegedly shot and killed Sean Peart, a Real Ryte member, on Dec. 19, 2015 in broad daylight while the victim was sitting in his car in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

On Aug. 15, 2018, members of the 5-9 Brims carried out a violent assault against a bartender at Angels night club in Flushing, Queens, who had not shown proper respect for another member of the gang Yonette Respass,  who was serving a sentence in a federal prison at the time. Respass requested her younger female members, referred to as “drops,” to “pop that bottle” on the bartenders, stating “I want hands put on them. I don’t even want no talking.”

That night, Jeffrey Bush, 35, Louis Love, 29, Rodolfo Zambrano and three “drops” met at Angels where they lured one of their bartender targets across the bar. As members of the gang held her by the hair others beat her head and threw a bottle at her. Bush recorded the assault on his cell phone, and the video was sent to the gang member.

Throughout the period charged in the superseding indictment, members of the gang supplemented their illegal drug business by committing numerous financial frauds, including possession and use of stolen identities, fraudulent checks and access devices such as credit cards and bank account information.

Bush, Tyshawn Atkins, Louis Love,  Pippins, James Sease, Montel Shuemake and Rodolfo Zambrano are charged in the superseding indictment with racketeering conspiracy for agreeing to commit crimes on behalf of the gang, including drug trafficking, identification and access device fraud, as well as multiple acts involving murder.

Pippins is also charged with murder in-aid-of racketeering in a retaliatory act of gang-related violence for killing Sean Peart; Pippins, Sease and Shuemake are charged with conspiring to murder additional members of a rival faction of the gang. Bush, Love, Zambran Lane and Respass are charged with conspiracy to commit assault in-aid-of racketeering. A number of the defendants are variously charged with narcotics and firearms-related offenses.

Pippins is not in custody at this time and is being sought by law enforcement and is considered armed and dangerous, officials say. Two additional 5-9 Brims members, Jose Battle and Brian Jackson, were arrested on a complaint charging them with financial fraud.

The arrests cap the slew of arrests in multiple boroughs. On Jan. 28, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance flanked by NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison announced the arrest of five men through “Operation Stone Cold,” which looked to stun the operation of an “iron pipeline” of firearms between New York City and Georgia, authorities announced on Tuesday. Police displayed 43 firearms confiscated through the operation — including many handguns, several revolvers and two high-powered assault weapons, one of which was equipped with a tube launcher that could potentially fire explosive rounds – many of these weapons were destined by street gangs.

On Feb. 8, Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez announced that two gangs from Brooklyn who were said to be responsible for at least 13 shootings, homicides and other crimes, were charged in a 122-count indictment after cops arrested 34 members and seized 16 guns. On Feb. 13, State Attorney General Letitia James announced a gun and drug trafficking ring operating in the Bronx and Manhattan was crushed by a combined law enforcement effort that resulted in seizure of 16 firearms and 250 grams of heroin.

Nearly every person arrested in all these cases are being held without bail, officials say, because they represent “a danger to the community.”

Thanks to Todd Maisel.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Only in Chicago: How the Rod Blagojevich Scandal Engulfed Illinois and Enthralled the Nation

The city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, and the nation at large were captivated by the arrest, trial, and general public embarrassment of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Shortly after Blagojevich's arrest in December 2008, award-winning Chicago Sun-Times federal courts reporter Natasha Korecki began writing "The Blago Blog" to capture the seemingly endless stream of surreal moments, shady political maneuvers, and salty sound bites emanating from the embattled governor, who was accused of trying to sell President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat, among many other acts in what prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald called Blagojevich's "political corruption crime spree."

Only in Chicago: How the Rod Blagojevich Scandal Engulfed Illinois and Enthralled the Nation, is derived from the best of Korecki's work on the Blagojevich scandal, weaving together years of reporting as well as never-before published details into one straightforward, fast-paced narrative. From the infamous audio tapes released of Blagojevich to the strange public relations campaign he and his wife, Patti, waged throughout the trial, this is one of the most bizarre true political tales ever told. In many people's minds, there was an unprecedented degree of obliviousness to the part played by the eventually impeached Illinois governor, especially given the explicit and seemingly damning audio evidence released to the public.

Korecki's reporting reveals inside information from the arrest, trial, and sentencing. Interviews with Blagojevich, his wife, and countless other sources offer lucid insight to this often baffling, frequently humorous, and occasionally tragic epic. Also embroiled in this scandal were some of the most infamous players in Chicago and Illinois's sordid political scene. But beyond the slew of backroom deal-makers who were sucked into the Blagojevich imbroglio, many Illinois Democratic leaders felt the scandal's toxic fallout seep dangerously near. President Barack Obama himself, while never accused of any wrongdoing, was interviewed by federal prosecutors, and union leader Tom Balanoff claimed Obama called him the day before he was to be elected president, giving him the green light to talk to Blagojevich about Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett's potential appointment to his Senate seat. Only in Chicago includes details about now-mayor Rahm Emanuel's discussions with Blagojevich as well. But the other powerful political figure who became most entangled with the scandal was since-resigned Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who is accused of offering Blagojevich $6 million for the Senate seat through an intermediary. The investigation was colored by the revelation that Jackson's mysterious months-long medical leave was due to his reported in-patient treatment at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder.

Only in Chicago: How the Rod Blagojevich Scandal Engulfed Illinois and Enthralled the Nation, is filled with incredible details from inside and outside the courtroom. Korecki is the authoritative voice on all things Blagojevich, having followed and reported on the story from its very beginning. Her story is focused and engrossing, and this book will prove to be one of the most important—and entertaining—accounts of this indelible scandal ever written.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

What Happened To Gennaro Colombo? #McMillionsHBO

Audiences watching HBO's new docu-series "McMillion$" may be astounded by the breadth of the conspiracy to defraud McDonalds of tens of millions of dollars –– while others may be more drawn to the colorful cast of characters who make up the scheme.

One of such these characters would be Genarro Colombo, who played a key role in helping fraud mastermind Jerome Jacobson pull off the $24-million scam of the Monopoly promotion game.

McMillions on HBO: FREE Sneak Peek.

Although Jacobson kicked off the scheme by stealing winning game pieces from his workplace and distributing them to friends and family, authorities alleged his connection with Colombo helped him take the scheme to another level –– especially aided by Gennaro's connections to an infamous Mafia family active in New York City: The Colombo Crime Family.

The Colombo Family is one of New York City's "Five Families," vast criminal enterprises which were established by the Mafia in 1931, according to The New York Times. The Colombo Family is the youngest of the five organizations and was responsible for dozens of murders and criminal rackets in the NYC area for decades. The family was started in 1928 by importer Joe Profaci and quickly rose to become a feared presence in the underworld – with hands in various criminal enterprises like extortion and protection rackets, an historical overview of the Family from The New York Post reported.

Colombo's membership in the Family is confirmed by his wife Robin and his brother Frank Colombo in the documentary. Robin talks about his connections to a godfather named "Uncle Dominic" who was served as Gennaro's main point of contact with the Colombo organization and who helped Gennaro find various jobs and cons to work on.

The Family itself was also known for various colorful gangland figures like “Crazy Joe” Gallo, who kept a mountain lion in his New York apartment, the Post reported, and Gregory “The Grim Reaper” Scarpa, an informant and hitman who the FBI believes killed perhaps over 100 people according to investigation records.

Gennaro's family insists he was also something of a lively figure in his field of work. "Take Marlon Brando and Joe Pesci and put them together ... you'd probably end up with my brother," Frank Colombo recounted about Gennaro in the documentary. Giving further thought to the subject, Frank later describes his brother as a mix between Al Capone and Rodney Dangerfield.

In 1995, Gennaro meets and forges a partnership with Jacobson, The Daily Beast recounted. He was allegedly referred to Jacobson's scheme to fix the McDonalds Monopoly game by his connections in organized crime. "Uncle Dominic" was the person who linked Gennaro to Jacobson, according to Frank. But Robin also tells the filmmakers that Dominic died soon after allegedly linking the two men together –– dodging a question on how Dominic died. Likewise, it is not made clear if Uncle Dominic is a pseudonym for some other figure of prominence in the Colombo organization.

After linking up, Gennaro helped Jacobson establish a network of "recruiters" to pass along the winning Monopoly pieces he was stealing from his workplace, according to The New York Times.

In exchange for finding recruits to claim the prizes, Jacobson and his associates like Gennaro would take a cut from these recruits. Robin recounts that her husband flew around the country picking the winners and Frank recalling that his brother would create various agreements depending on the prize amount, usually involving upfront payments for the winning piece.

Frank describes his brother as having a vaguely threatening aura that helped him compel his recruits to follow his commands. One of the winners, Gloria Brown, recounts how Gennaro even pressured her into taking out a new mortgage on her house in order to get upfront money for the winning game piece. "My life was in danger," Brown said. "I almost felt kidnapped."

Though even Gennaro himself stepped into the spotlight by using a stolen game piece to "win" a Dodge Viper.

Reporter Jeff Maysh had even uncovered an old McDonalds commercial featuring Colombo touting a win for a new car –– arraigned by Jacobson. The advertisement is also featured in "McMillion$."

His wife Robin said in the documentary "that commercial ... that almost cost him his life" going on to describe him as a "ham."

The series itself helps accentuate Gennaro's larger-than-life personality by talking about into his management of a night club known as the Church of The Fuzzy Bunny – at first a gentleman's club that he then attempted to turn into a religious establishment that prominently featured scantily clad women.

Robin explains she met Gennaro in 1995 and "the chemistry was crazy," she told the filmmakers –– describing the marriage as a rebellion against her "strict" family while displaying her excitement in talking about Gennaro's ties to organized crime.

However, Robin contends that Jacobson is the true "Uncle Jerry" that was behind the scam – after briefly confusing the documentarians while frequently using "Uncle Jerry," to refer to Jacobson, and Jerry, referring to her husband. But Gennaro himself would not ultimately be around for the collapse of the scheme. Just three years after meeting Jacobson, Gennaro would be involved in a horrific car crash in Georgia that sent him into a comatose state. Doctors turned off his life support two weeks later, according to The Daily Beast, and Jacobson soon moved on to find new accomplices.

More of the story will be illuminated in HBO's "McMillion$," which is currently airing on HBO.

Thanks to Connor Mannion.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Details on the Guilty Plea by Martin Sandoval, the Former Illinois State Senator, on Federal Bribery and Tax Offense Charges

Former Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval pleaded guilty in federal court in Chicago to bribery and tax offenses included in an information filed in federal court.

Sandoval, 56, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to one count of federal program bribery, which is punishable by a maximum sentence of ten years in federal prison, and one count of willfully filing a false income tax return, which is punishable by up to three years. As part of a plea agreement, Sandoval has agreed to fully and truthfully cooperate in any matter in which he is called upon by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The government requested that Sandoval’s sentencing be delayed until his cooperation is complete. U.S. District Judge Andrea R. Wood did not immediately set a sentencing date.

The guilty plea was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI; Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago; and Andrea Kropf, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Department of Transportation-Office of Inspector General in Chicago. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher J. Stetler and James P. Durkin.

Sandoval admitted in the plea agreement that he solicited and accepted financial and other benefits from an individual affiliated with a Chicago-area red-light camera company, in return for Sandoval using his official position as a state senator to block legislation harmful to the red-light-camera industry. Sandoval also admitted that he engaged in corrupt activities with other public officials and accepted money from other individuals in return for using his official position to attempt to benefit those individuals and their business interests. Sandoval admitted accepting more than $250,000 in bribes as part of criminal activity that involved more than five participants.

In addition to the bribery, Sandoval admitted that he willfully caused his accountant to file income tax returns that Sandoval knew underrepresented his income for the calendar years 2012 through 2017. Sandoval admitted in the plea agreement that his tax offenses caused a total loss to the IRS of at least $72,441, and a loss to the Illinois Department of Revenue of at least $13,384.38, which he has agreed to pay.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Did the Gambino Crime Family Hire a Mafia Ninja to Stalk Jeffery Epstein?

Jeffery Epstein told police that a man dressed in traditional ninja garb was stalking him during his house arrest. This man was also in the mafia and had ties to the Gambino crime family according to Epstein and his lawyer.

Documents obtained by The Sun reveal that Epstein's lawyer shared this information in a letter to the State's Attorney's Office while asking to modify his client's probation.

Jack Goldberger said that Epstein's security "intercepted a person who was dressed in black like a ninja and hiding in some bushes." The security guards then chased down the man to his car and take down his license details, explained Goldberger. A search of that info then allegedly revealed that man was in the mafia and had strong ties to the Gambino crime family.

The State's Attorney's office sent a measured reply to Goldberger while fuming about the fact that he would even ask to have Epstein's sentence modified in internal emails. In one of these emails, a member of the office states that Epstein got "the deal of the century."

Goldberger was also the man behind the biography of Epstein that was sent to officials during negotiations for that plea deal. Included in that was a testimonial from Ghislaine Maxwell, among others. "My experience of Jeffrey, is of a thoughtful, kind generous loving man, with a keen sense of humor and a ready smile - a man of principles and values and a man of his word," Ghislaine is quoted as saying in a document obtained by The Sun. "If he made a promise, he would always follow through. In fact, I never saw him break a promise."

This testimonial was included in a 15-page biography of Epstein that was sent to Alex Acosta, who was the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida at the time.

"He is disciplined in business and conscientious," said Ghislaine, at a time when over 40 minors had come forward with allegations of sexual abuse. "A man always quick to help someone who is down, or to offer an opportunity to someone to pursue a dream or a goal."

The testimonial seemed to work in the end, and Epstein managed to get off with what a member of the State's Attorney's office called "the deal of the century."

Ghislaine was never seen with Epstein after he made his plea deal, but was remained a fixture on the New York social scene. That all changed in 2015 when she was sued by Virginia Roberts for defamation after denying claims of sexual abuse. She then went completely off the map earlier this year following Epstein's latest arrest, and has not been seen in months.

Twelve years after that case, many of the victims are still seeking closure and have pursued lawsuits against the pedophile, who took his own life in August. Those women are now getting a helping hand too from officials at the island territory where a number of them suffered their alleged abuse.

Epstein's estate is being sued by multiple women as well as the Virgin Islands, with the latter hoping to seize or force the sale of his two island properties and other holdings in the US territory.

Thanks to Chris Spargo.

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