Monday, September 17, 2018

"You cannot believe in God and be Mafiosi" - Pope Francis @Pontifex ‏

Pope Francis has urged mafia members to stop blaspheming against God and to embrace love and service. He was paying homage to Father Giuseppe Puglisi who was shot dead by the mafia in Sicily 25 years ago.

The Pope warned the "brothers and sisters" that they could not "believe in God and be Mafiosi" - a reference to the fact that many mafia members are regular worshippers. Pope Francis has previously called for the excommunication of mobsters.

On Saturday morning, the Pope addressed the faithful at Palermo's Piazza Europa and will later visit Puglisi's parish in the working-class neighbourhood of Brancaccio.

The priest was renowned for working with young people to keep them away from drugs and the mafia.

The Pope said Sicily needed "men and women of love, not men and women 'of honour'", referring to the code mobsters use to define themselves.

"A person who is a Mafioso does not live as a Christian because with his life he blasphemes against the name of God," Pope Francis said, before pleading: "Change, brothers and sisters! Stop thinking about yourselves and your money... Convert yourselves to the real God."

Father Puglisi was shot dead on the doorstep of his home on his birthday, 15 September, in 1993. His murder came at a time when mafia violence against opponents of their influence was of particularly grave concern.

Puglisi was declared a "martyr" who was "killed by hatred of the faith" by Pope Francis' predecessor Benedict XVI in 2012. He was beatified five years ago. Beatification is the penultimate step to sainthood in the Catholic Church.

Last month, Pope Francis visited Ireland where he asked for forgiveness for members of the Catholic Church who "kept quiet" about clerical child sex abuse.

Thanks to BBC.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Cadillac Frank Salemme, Former Mafia Don, Faces Life Sentence for 1993 Murder of Steven DiSarro

Twenty-five years after South Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro was strangled and buried in an unmarked grave, a former Mafia don and a local plumber are scheduled to be sentenced Thursday for the slaying.

Former New England Mafia boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, 85, and Paul M. Weadick, 63, face mandatory life sentences for killing DiSarro in 1993 to prevent him from cooperating in a federal investigation targeting the mobster and his son.

After the pair were convicted in June, DiSarro’s son, Nick, said he was grateful to the jury for giving his family justice after so many years. “This is the end of such a long road,” he said. “To close this book is just a really important step for our family.”

The convictions followed a five-week trial in US District Court in Boston that was a flashback to a bygone era, when the Italian La Cosa Nostra and James “Whitey” Bulger’s Irish mob were the region’s most feared criminal groups.

DiSarro was a businessman who bought the Channel, a now defunct rock ‘n’ roll club on Necco Street, in the early 1990s. Salemme and his son had a hidden interest in the club and were being targeted by federal and state investigators at the time.

On May 10, 1993, DiSarro, a 43-year-old father of five, disappeared after his wife saw him climb into an SUV outside their Westwood home. His whereabouts were a mystery until the FBI found his remains two years ago, buried behind an old mill in Providence.

Salemme, who became a government witness himself six years after the killing of DiSarro, was in the federal witness protection program when DiSarro’s hidden grave was discovered in 2016, leading to his arrest.

The government’s star witness during the trial was Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, who is serving a life sentence for 10 murders. He testified that he dropped by Salemme’s Sharon home on May 10, 1993, and saw Salemme’s son, Frank, strangling DiSarro while Weadick held his legs and Salemme looked on.

Salemme’s son died in 1995.

Flemmi said Salemme told him that he knew DiSarro had been approached by federal agents and feared he would cooperate in a federal investigation targeting him and his son.

Two former Rhode Island mobsters, brothers Robert DeLuca and Joseph DeLuca, testified that they helped bury DiSarro’s body after Salemme personally delivered it to Providence. Last month, Robert DeLuca was sentenced to 5½ years in prison for lying to investigators about DiSarro’s murder when he initially began cooperating with authorities in 2011. He only revealed details of the crime after a drug dealer led authorities to DiSarro’s remains.

Salemme is one of Boston’s last old-school mobsters, a criminal turned federal witness whose many former associates are now dead or in prison.

He survived the gang wars of the 1960s — a decade during which he admittedly killed eight people and was convicted of maiming an Everett lawyer by blowing up his car.

He spent nearly 16 years in prison for that attempted murder and became a “made man” after his release in 1988. The following year, he was shot in the chest and leg outside a Saugus pancake house by a renegade mob faction and survived to become boss of the New England Patriarca crime family.

In 1995, Salemme was indicted in a sweeping federal racketeering case, along with Bulger, Flemmi, and others. Four years later, after learning that Bulger and Flemmi were longtime FBI informants, Salemme began cooperating with the government and helped send retired FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. to prison.

He was admitted to the federal witness protection program and was living in Atlanta as Richard Parker when his past came back to haunt him. The discovery of DiSarro’s hidden grave in 2016 led to Salemme’s arrest for murder.

Thanks to Shelley Murphy.

MS-13 "Homeboy" Sentenced to Prison for RICO Conspiracy Involving Murder

An MS-13 member was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Boston for racketeering conspiracy involving the murder of a 16-year-old boy in East Boston.

Rigoberto Mejia, a/k/a “Ninja,” 32, a Salvadoran national, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 330 months in prison and five years of supervised release.  Mejia will be subject to deportation upon completion of his sentence. In April 2018, Mejia pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy.

During the multi-year investigation of MS-13, Mejia was identified as a “homeboy,” or full member, of MS-13’s Trece Locos Salvatrucha (TLS) clique. Evidence further showed that on Jan. 10, 2016, Mejia and three other MS-13 members murdered a 16-year-old boy whom they believed to be a member of the rival 18th Street gang. Mejia’s alleged co-conspirators stabbed the victim multiple times while Mejia shot the victim.

Mejia is one of 49 defendants who have been convicted as part of this ongoing prosecution. Sixteen of those defendants, including Mejia, have been held responsible for racketeering conspiracy involving murder. Forty of the 49 convictions, including Mejia, were the result of guilty pleas prior to trial. Nine other defendants were convicted after trial.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb Found Guilty of the Murder of Robert Franks in Chicago in #CrimeofTheCentury #OnThisDay

On May 21, 1924, two brilliant, wealthy, Chicago teenagers attempted to commit the perfect crime just for the thrill of it. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb kidnapped 14-year-old Bobby Franks, bludgeoned him to death in a rented car, and then dumped Franks' body in a distant culvert.

Although they thought their plan was foolproof, Leopold and Loeb made a number of mistakes that led police right to them. The subsequent trial, featuring famous attorney Clarence Darrow, made headlines and was often referred to as "the trial of the century."

Who Were Leopold and Loeb?

Nathan Leopold was brilliant. He had an IQ of over 200 and excelled at school. By age 19, Leopold had already graduated from college and was in law school. Leopold was also fascinated with birds and was considered an accomplished ornithologist. However, despite being brilliant, Leopold was very awkward socially.

Richard Loeb was also very intelligent, but not to the same caliber as Leopold. Loeb, who had been pushed and guided by a strict governess, had also been sent to college at a young age. However, once there, Loeb did not excel; instead, he gambled and drank. Unlike Leopold, Loeb was considered very attractive and had impeccable social skills.

It was at college that Leopold and Loeb became close friends. Their relationship was both stormy and intimate. Leopold was obsessed with the attractive Loeb. Loeb, on the other hand, liked having a loyal companion on his risky adventures.

The two teenagers, who had become both friends and lovers, soon began committing small acts of theft, vandalism, and arson. Eventually, the two decided to plan and commit the "perfect crime."

Planning the Murder

It is debated as to whether it was Leopold or Loeb who first suggested they commit the "perfect crime," but most believe it was Loeb. No matter who suggested it, both boys participated in the planning of it.

The plan was simple: rent a car under an assumed name, find a wealthy victim (preferably a boy since girls were more closely watched), kill him in the car with a chisel, then dump the body in a culvert.

Even though the victim was to be killed immediately, Leopold and Loeb planned on extracting a ransom from the victim's family. The victim's family would receive a letter instructing them to pay $10,000 in "old bills," which they would later be asked to throw from a moving train.

Interestingly, Leopold and Loeb spent a lot more time on figuring out how to retrieve the ransom than on who their victim was to be. After considering a number of specific people to be their victim, including their own fathers, Leopold and Loeb decided to leave the choice of victim up to chance and circumstance.

The Murder

On May 21, 1924, Leopold and Loeb were ready to put their plan into action. After renting a Willys-Knight automobile and covering its license plate, Leopold and Loeb needed a victim.

Around 5 o'clock, Leopold and Loeb spotted 14-year-old Bobby Franks, who was walking home from school.

Loeb, who knew Bobby Franks because he was both a neighbor and a distant cousin, lured Franks into the car by asking Franks to discuss a new tennis racket (Franks loved to play tennis). Once Franks had climbed into the front seat of the car, the car took off.

Within minutes, Franks was struck several times in the head with a chisel, dragged from the front seat into the back, and then had a cloth shoved down his throat. Lying limply on the floor of the back seat, covered with a rug, Franks died from suffocation. (It is believed that Leopold was driving and Loeb was in the back seat and was thus the actual killer, but this remains uncertain.)

Dumping the Body

As Franks lay dying or dead in the backseat, Leopold and Loeb drove toward a hidden culvert in the marshlands near Wolf Lake, a location known to Leopold because of his birding expeditions. On the way, Leopold and Loeb stopped twice. Once to strip Franks' body of clothing and another time to buy dinner.

Once it was dark, Leopold and Loeb found the culvert, shoved Franks' body inside the drainage pipe and poured hydrochloric acid on Franks' face and genitals to obscure the body's identity.

On their way home, Leopold and Loeb stopped to call the Franks' home that night to tell the family that Bobby had been kidnapped. They also mailed the ransom letter.

They thought they had committed the perfect murder. Little did they know that by the morning, Bobby Franks' body had already been discovered and the police were quickly on the way to discovering his murderers.

Mistakes and Arrest

Despite having spent at least six months planning this "perfect crime," Leopold and Loeb made a lot of mistakes. The first of which was the disposal of the body.

Leopold and Loeb thought that the culvert would keep the body hidden until it had been reduced to a skeleton. However, on that dark night, Leopold and Loeb didn't realize that they had placed Franks' body with the feet sticking out of the drainage pipe. The following morning, the body was discovered and quickly identified.

With the body found, the police now had a location to start searching.

Near the culvert, the police found a pair of glasses, which turned out to be specific enough to be traced back to Leopold. When confronted about the glasses, Leopold explained that the glasses must have fallen out of his jacket when he fell during a birding excavation. Although Leopold's explanation was plausible, the police continued to look into Leopold's whereabouts. Leopold said he had spent the day with Loeb.

It didn't take long for Leopold and Loeb's alibis to break down. It was discovered that Leopold's car, which they had said they had driven around all day in, had been actually been at home all day. Leopold's chauffeur had been fixing it.

On May 31, just ten days after the murder, both 18-year-old Loeb and 19-year-old Leopold confessed to the murder.

Leopold and Loeb's Trial

The young age of the victim, the brutality of the crime, the wealth of the participants, and the confessions, all made this murder front page news.

With the public decidedly against the boys and an extremely large amount of evidence tying the boys to the murder, it was almost certain that Leopold and Loeb were going to receive the death penalty.

Fearing for his nephew's life, Loeb's uncle went to famed defense attorney Clarence Darrow (who would later participate in the famous Scopes Monkey Trial) and begged him to take the case. Darrow was not asked to free the boys, for they were surely guilty; instead, Darrow was asked to save the boys' lives by getting them life sentences rather than the death penalty. Darrow, a long-time advocate against the death penalty, took the case.

On July 21, 1924, the trial against Leopold and Loeb began. Most people thought Darrow would plead them not guilty by reason of insanity, but in a surprising last minute twist, Darrow had them plead guilty.

With Leopold and Loeb pleading guilty, the trial would no longer require a jury because it would become a sentencing trial. Darrow believed that it would be harder for one man to live with the decision to hang Leopold and Loeb than it would be for twelve who would share the decision. The fate of Leopold and Loeb was to rest solely with Judge John R. Caverly.

The prosecution had over 80 witnesses that presented the cold-blooded murder in all its gory details. The defense focused on psychology, especially the boys' upbringing.

On August 22, 1924, Clarence Darrow gave his final summation. It lasted approximately two hours and is considered one of the best speeches of his life.

After listening to all the evidence presented and thinking carefully on the matter, Judge Caverly announced his decision on September 19, 1924. Judge Caverly sentenced Leopold and Loeb to jail for 99 years for kidnapping and for the rest of their natural lives for murder. He also recommended that they never be eligible for parole.

The Deaths of Leopold and Loeb

Leopold and Loeb were originally separated, but by 1931 they were again close. In 1932, Leopold and Loeb opened a school in the prison to teach other prisoners.

On January 28, 1936, 30-year-old Loeb was attacked in the shower by his cellmate. He was slashed over 50 times with a straight razor and died of his wounds.

Leopold stayed in prison and wrote an autobiography, Life plus 99 Years. After spending 33 years in prison, 53-year-old Leopold was paroled in March of 1958 ​and moved to Puerto Rico, where he married in 1961.

Leopold died on August 30, 1971 from a heart attack at age 66.

Thanks to Jennifer Rosenberg.

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodard is Officially Released Tomorrow #Crazytown


With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward, one of the most revered and well-respected journalists in American history, reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence.

Fear: Trump in the White House, is the most intimate portrait of a sitting president ever published during the president’s first years in office.

The book details aides of Trump as they try to deal with Trump's behavior. According to the book, aides took papers off of his desk to prevent him from signing them. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly referred to Trump as an "idiot" and "unhinged", while Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Trump has the understanding of "a fifth or sixth grader," and John M. Dowd, formerly Trump's personal lawyer, called him "a fucking liar" telling Trump he would wear an "orange jump suit" if he agreed to testify to Robert Mueller in the Special Counsel investigation.

The book is based on hundreds of hours of recorded interviews with firsthand sources, contemporaneous meeting notes, files, documents and personal diaries".

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