The Chicago Syndicate: 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Former Chicago Cop and "Crime Syndicate on Wheels" Featured on America's Most Wanted

Eddie Hicks:
Former Chicago cop Sgt. Eddie C. Hicks swore to uphold the law throughout his 30 years on the force. But for nearly ten of those years, police say Hicks was part of a racketeering scheme in which he and his crew stole drugs from area dealers, only to sell the loot back to a local peddler. Now this disgraced ex-cop is on the run, and police need your help to bring him down.

A.T.F. Mongol Raid Update:
The notorious Mongols biker gang have been described as a "criminal syndicate on wheels." But this month, the gang was dealt a serious blow when federal agents infiltrated the organization's highest levels, and AMW was there as the bust went down.

Roger McCray:
Less than 48 hours after we told you about accused killer-arsonist Roger McCray, your tips led cops right to him in Seattle, Wash. McCray was wanted for setting his roommate on fire and leaving him to burn to death.

Unknown Kenneth Harris, Sr. Killer:
After nearly two months, Baltimore City police caught up with 19-year-old Charles McGaney and 20-year-old Gary Collins -- two men they say murdered beloved former Baltimore city councilman Kenneth Harris, Sr. But no one in the police department is celebrating yet, because a third suspect is still out there, and the manhunt is far from finished. Cops need help identifying the third man responsible for Ken's senseless murder.

Lorrie Trites:
For 10 years, investigators in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the FBI have been on the hunt for alleged child predator Lorrie Trites. For many years, AMW and investigators knew him only as Loren. The FBI says they've learned his actual name is Lorrie, and chances are he can't stay away from pools, he loves to swim -- and worse, the FBI says he loves to coach children.

George Navarro:
Melesio Martinez was known simply as "Daddy" to his two small children. His wife describes him as a hard-working construction worker who worked ten-hour days, and still had time to play and entertain his kids. That all changed one night in September 2001, when cops say the Martinez family went into a Granada Hills, Calif. liquor store and ran into George Navarro.

Ronald Young:
On Friday, Oct. 17, 2008, the Brea Police Department arrested Robert Young, who had been arrested before after an AMW tipster recognized him. He has been charged with First Degree Murder, as well as Conspiracy to Commit Murder, in the 1996 car bombing death of Gary Triano in Tucson, Ariz. Police are also looking for Pamela Phillips, Triano's widow, who they say may have been involved in the bombing.

Pamela Phillips:
Pamela Phillips, the ex-wife of the late Gary Triano, is wanted for Murder and Conspiracy to Commit Murder in the First Degree. Police say Phillips and her accomplice Ronald Young -- who has been apprehended with the help of AMW viewers -- worked together to orchestrate Gary's murder.

Garrison Colby:
In February 2008, Garrison Colby divulged to his wife a horrifying secret: he had been sexually abusing their son for six years. Colby was arrested and released with a ankle monitor, but he cut it off, and now he's on the run.

Richard Torres:
A 13-year-old's nightmarish ordeal began during the 2005 Thanksgiving holiday when cops say her mother's ex-boyfriend, 39-year-old Richard "Craig" Torres, molested and raped her at a Southern California hotel. Now, Sacramento Sheriff's detectives are determined to capture this accused sexual predator.

Rachel Walsh:
Cops say 48-year-old Rachael Walsh was camping alone at her Falls Creek, Idaho campsite on the weekend of August 16, 2008. However, the U.S. Postal worker's family became alarmed when they didn't hear from Rachael after she was supposed to return and went to her campsite looking for her. What they discovered was a mystery -- all of Rachael's belongings were untouched, her car was gone, and there were no signs of the missing mother of four.

Robert Bowman:
Since 1967, Ohio cops say Robert Bowman has literally gotten away with murder, but science -- and now the police -- finally caught up to the accused killer. Cops say DNA irrefutably ties him to the abduction, rape and murder of 14-year-old Eileen Adams in Toledo, Ohio some 40 years ago, and his time on the lam has come to an end, thousands of miles from the scene of the crime.

Jesus Munguia:
Jesus Roberto Munguia's rap sheet shows that the 32-year-old gang member is no stranger to the law. Authorities say he started stealing cars in California when he was just 15 years old, but Munguia soon fled to Nevada with his girlfriend and their kids. When Munguia's girlfriend had enough and left him, the FBI says he lured her back to his home and killed her, now adding murder to his long list of charges.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Prosecutors May Add Several Defendants to Mob Bombing Case

A federal prosecutor in Chicago says more indictments may be coming in the investigation of a bomb allegedly set off to scare a company out of competing with organized crime in the video gaming business.

Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Markus Funk told U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman today that the government may add several defendants to the two already charged in the February 2003 bombing.

The blast ripped apart the offices of C & S Coin Operated Amusements in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn.

Prosecutors say the mob has long had a monopoly on the $13 million a year video gaming business in Chicago's western suburbs. And authorities say it bombed the C & S offices to let the company know that it wouldn't be allowed to horn in on the illegal profits.

Monday, November 24, 2008

8 Members of the Lucchese Crime Family Arrested on Illegal Gambling and Narcotics Charges

FBI agents arrested eight members of New York's Luchese organized crime family Monday on illegal gambling and narcotics charges, the federal prosecutor said.

An acting "capo" in the Luchese family and seven others were nabbed, US Attorney Michael Garcia said.

Anthony Croce, the man described as the capo, faces a maximum sentence of five years prison if convicted on the gambling charges.

Three others face heavier sentences of between five and 40 years if convicted on cocaine distribution charges, the prosecutor said.

New York's five mafia crime families -- the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Luchese -- have taken big hits in the last decade as veteran leaders died and turncoats helped the authorities make strings of arrests.

This August, New York police arrested the alleged former capo of the Gambinos, John "Junior" Gotti. He is due to be tried in Florida on racketeering charges.

"Made" Mob Members Dwindle in Ranks

The ranks of the traditional "La Cosa Nostra" have been dwindling here in Rhode Island over the years. So much so, the face of the modern mob bust, like we saw last week, is a diverse cross-section of society.

The "Operation Mobbed Up" sweep netted two dozen people and crushed an alleged criminal syndicate run out of the Valley Street Flea Market. Among those arrested were several with ties to the Patriarca Crime Family.

In organized crime's heyday in Rhode Island, when Raymond L.S. Patriarca ran the show, investigators kept tabs on at least 22 "made" members of the New England crime family.

Rhode Island State Police Col. Brendan Doherty, a veteran mob investigator, tells Target 12 that right now, "There are about eight or nine people we allege are inducted members." Of those, some are what he calls "retired."

In fact, in the "Mobbed Up" bust from November 17, not a single defendant is a member of the Patriarca crime family. State Police say several -- including infamous mob muscleman, Gerald Tillinghast, and aging, wheelchair-bound Nicholas "Nicky" Pari -- are mob associates.

"The fact that a large group of associates was arrested and a made member was not arrested is not a reflection on the New England LCN," says Jeffrey Sallet, a supervisory special agent with the FBI's Organized Crime Unit in New England. He told Target 12 the LCN -- La Cosa Nostra, "our thing" -- has not "made" a lot of people, and many are mere associates.

The boss of a crime family approves letting in new members. Law enforcement sources tell Target 12 the head of the New England crime family is 80-year-old Luigi "Babyshanks" Manocchio. Sources say Manocchio keeps his inner circle small. Those men who've been identified by law enforcement sources as capo regime under Manocchio include:

* Robert "Bobby" Deluca, whom sources say is keeping a low profile after serving ten years on gambling charges. His parole is set to expire in 2009.
* Edward Lato, who recently escaped gambling charges after a State Police sting in 2006. Lato was released from federal prison earlier this year after a probation violation.
* Joseph Achille, who two years ago served a year at the ACI on a conspiracy charge.

Two longtime reputed mobsters are currently in prison: Capo regime Matthew "Matty" Gugliemetti -- serving time at Ft. Dix for drug violations -- and the infamous 67-year-old mobster, Anthony "The Saint" St. Laurent. He is serving five years for an attempted shakedown of two men over gambling debts.

So far the inner circle has come up clean in this latest round of organized crime-related busts. Col. Doherty says it may just be a new face to old crimes: "It's not quite as organized anymore. We have a lot of renegade factions out there."

Sallet tells Target 12 New England has the distinction of having the only crime family in the country with an active boss still on the street and not behind bars.

Thanks to Target 12

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Holiday Savings from On the Spot Journal for U.S. Subscribers

Subscribe, renew, or extend your subscription to OTSJ between now and January 3, 2009 at our special 20% Holiday Discount. Or purchase a gift subscription for only $37.50 (a 25% savings). Owing to our extensive printing and mailing costs these discounts are only being offered within the continental U.S.



Eastern State Penitentiary: A Bastion of Solitude
by Gregory A. Peduto

The Capture of Waxey Gordon
by John Conway

Roy Gardner: Last of the Old West Badmen
by Robert E. Bates

The Last Days of the Brady Gang
by Richard Shaw

Whiskey Women, Moonshining Mamas, and Bootlegging Babes
by Kate Clabough

Plus Officer Memorials, News & Events, Book Reviews, etc.

And much more, including our FBI Centennial issue!

At long last: A true-crime journal by a writer and long-time researcher with a phenomenal memory who locates and evaluates original sources instead of repeating the mistakes perpetuated in books that are based on earlier books. His contributors are scrutinized for accuracy, and into his clutches have been falling more and more descendants of prominent outlaws and gangsters, all pleased by his nonjudgmental accounts of their family's black sheep who are as much a part of history as...well, let's say J. Edgar Hoover, whose G-men brought them down.
-- William J. Helmer, author or coauthor of The Gun That Made the Twenties Roar, Dillinger: The Untold Story, Public Enemies, Baby Face Nelson, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and The Complete Public Enemy Almanac.

On the Spot Journal is a fascinating, informative true crime periodical for anyone who is intrigued by the "Public Enemy Era", when roving gangs of bank robbers and bootleggers criss-crossed America's landscape. The Journal's articles cover a vast range of topics, from the adventures of John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd to the early years of the Mafia. With its copious illustrations, Rick and Linda Mattix have done a wonderful job of creating an accessible yet detailed contribution to criminal history. As the underworld flip side of The Bonfire of the Vanities, On The Spot is a crucial resource for all those who are interested in the not-too-long ago era of bathtub gin, flappers, Tommyguns, and irresistible lawlessness.
-- Daniel Waugh, author of Egan's Rats: The Untold Story of the Prohibition-Era Gang that ruled St. Louis

On the Spot Journal is both an educational and fun resource on the early days of crime and crime prevention. The only one like it of its kind. The only thing more fun than contributing to it is reading it.
-- Patrick Downey, author of Gangster City: History of the New York Underworld 1900-1935 and Bad Seeds in the Big Apple: Bandits, Killers & Chaos in New York City 1920-1940

On the Spot certainly is. The articles are almost as good as being there when the incidents described took place. The magazine is a veritable history of crime in the United States with emphasis on organized crime and the John Dillinger era. I would recommend that every true crime fan subscribe at once. The articles are great, authentic and in luscious detail. The photos are a great addition to the text.
-- Arthur J. Bilek
Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice, Loyola University and author of The First Vice Lord: Big Jim Colosimo and the Ladies of the Levee


Recession Leads to Boom Time for Mob Loan Sharks

The worldwide economic downturn has opened the door for loan sharks to burrow ever deeper into Italy's vulnerable economy by preying on businesses that need quick cash and credit, according to a new report by a respected trade group.

Confesercenti, a business association that has tracked Mafia income for the past 15 years, found that the credit crunch has a particularly sinister side in a country of 58 million people that struggles with four large Mafia gangs -- the Cosa Nostra, 'Ndrangheta, Camorra and Sacra Corona Unita -- and other criminal enterprises.

In the past year, 180,000 firms in an economy dominated by small businesses apparently have succumbed to loan sharks, in part because they no longer can qualify for bank loans, according to a report released last week in Milan. "Shop owners are really falling into the trap," said Marco Venturi, head of the association that produced "Crime's Hold on Business."

"This is dangerous. Once you get into loan sharking, you can never really free yourself," Venturi said. "The rates are always increasing. It is debt adding upon debt."

Rome is the nation's biggest loan shark market, Venturi said, and cooperation with criminality is part of the unfortunate times. Italy—like the other 14 European countries that use the euro — has officially fallen into recession, and criminal gangs are poised to take full advantage.

Criminal groups account for about 6 percent of Italy's gross domestic product. The loan-shark business generates an estimated $60 million a year for all criminal enterprises. Major Mafia gangs reap about $15 million from the high-risk credit deals—but they also are "actively" trying to expand that role by seeking more borrowers, Venturi added.

Venturi said researchers found that some strapped-for-cash business owners promise to pay out as much as 500 percent interest to secure a loan. The minimum interest demanded by organized crime is about 30 percent, he said.

One of the most common Mafia demands on small businesses is for protection money—known as pizzo—which pulls in about $8 billion annually, the report said. But increasingly, organized crime is trying to squeeze financial cuts from tourism, the health-care industry, meat and food producers and any kind of business-related service, including a mobile phone provider.

The economic downturn is a loan shark's dream, Venturi said. Small-business owners see their livelihoods at great risk because of the financial crisis and are willing to do anything to avoid losing the family business, he said.

"The reality is Italy depends on its small businesses for vitality," Venturi said. "Now they are falling into the grip of criminals."

Thanks to Christine Spolar

Chicago Police Hold Summit with their Organized Crime Division

There are at least 80 gangs dealing drugs on the city's streets, protecting their business and territory with guns.

On Saturday, Chicago Police gang and tactical officers from across the city will meet to learn about the best ways to anticipate what these criminal organizations -- with an estimated 75,000 members -- are doing and how to dismantle their operations.

The summit follows Police Supt. Jody Weis' creation of a position for a new gang commander to lead department efforts to fine-tune intelligence-gathering. Officials said the summit, the first under Weis, will focus on practical matters such as getting search warrants, building cases against gangs that will stick in court and using confidential informants.

The conference was planned by the Organized Crime Division to share what officers working in the specialized gang investigations section know about tracking gang members.

"My gang investigators are different than the patrol officers working gangs on the street," said Cmdr. Leo Schmitz, who organized the conference. "People will walk out of this and say, 'I didn't know we could do that.' "

They'll also learn about state and federal resources and other tools to "look for the bad guy in different ways," Schmitz said.

Cook County judges and prosecutors will be on hand to advise the officers, who also will have time to talk to each other about trends in their districts.

Deputy Supt. Steve Peterson, who heads up Investigative Services, said the department also is examining how intelligence about gang crime is shared to find more efficient ways to get the information to the right people. Officials also hope the information gathered in the field will be more specific and will be shared more quickly.

"We're using it to anticipate where the problems may lie and eradicate problems before they happen,'' Peterson said. "The only way to do that is to get intelligence, as the foundation, and police it as a result."

Chicago Police began gathering real-time information on crime under Supt. Phil Cline, who opened the Deployment Operations Center to decide where to assign cops.

Peterson said the process is evolving to be more field-driven and decentralized.

Thanks to Annie Sweeney

On the Anniversary of JFK's Assassination, Questions Remain for Some Regarding the Mob's Role, If Any

Will we ever know for sure?

Saturday, marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Gunshots rang out at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, echoing around the world. Those shots still echo today for those who refuse to believe that one man – Lee Harvey Oswald – acted alone.

I tend to be among that group.

In the years since that day, a number of theories have been put forth that offer possible scenarios and perpetrators – from Fidel Castro, to Russians, to Mafia, to CIA operatives, to the military-industrial complex President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about – even the possibility that Lyndon B. Johnson stood to gain from Kennedy’s death.

Some question the mob's involvement in the assissination of President John F. KennedyFrom the earliest days following the Warren Commission Report, conspiracy theorists have picked it apart, finding flaws and omissions. According to some, the men who sat on that board of inquiry went in with the belief that Oswald was the lone assassin and set about to prove it, excluding any evidence to the contrary as irrelevant.

Anyone who investigates the Mafia or knows its inner workings understands the mind set of those involved in its illicit activities. For those who enter into agreements with that organization, betrayal means death. Reneging on a deal or failing to meet one’s obligations means suffering the wrath of an organization betrayed. Did Kennedy betray the Mafia?

It has been reported that Chicago mob boss Salvatore Giancana was instrumental in delivering Chicago to the Democrats in the 1960 election, which gave Kennedy the Illinois electoral votes and the presidency. But that wasn’t their only association, according to reports. If those reports can be believed, which records have been researched and confirmed by more than one source, Kennedy and Giancana shared a girlfriend, a young starlet in Hollywood. And, it has been well documented that the Mafia had a working relationship with the U.S. government, first during World War II at the New York docks to make sure ships were loaded without delay and later with the CIA.

Perhaps the thorniest problem for the Mafia was Robert Kennedy who, as United States Attorney General, went after organized crime with a vengeance.

So it begs the question – if the Mafia helped elect John Kennedy, did Robert Kennedy’s pursuit of the Mafia violate the mob’s rules of “fair play” necessitating the death of the president? And in so doing, did the Mafia have access to government assistance – not necessarily to assassinate Kennedy, but identification and access from operations gone by?

Perhaps the most well-known pursuit of truth was that of Jim Garrison, the new Orleans district attorney who worked to tie in so many of the unanswered questions surrounding Kennedy’s death. But he, too, failed to convince the America public when a jury returned a not-guilty verdict against those whom he believed to have had knowledge, motive and intent.

So many questions, so few answers. Those who might have known are long gone – even witnesses who saw things they perhaps should not have seen have died mysteriously and suddenly.

As time slips away, fewer and fewer people will care about the death of a president. Those who were there that day. Those who watched the events unfold will pass away, leaving only the pages of history to record the events of Nov. 22, 1963. Will anyone pick up the gauntlet and carry it forward, seeking the truth beyond a shadow of doubt?

Thanks to Mark Engebretson

Junior Says Tampa Trial is Not Fair

John A. "Junior" Gotti thinks it's just not fair for prosecutors to insist that his mob racketeering trial take place in Tampa.

Charles Carnesi, 1 of Gotti's attorneys, told a judge Thursday that having the trial in Tampa would put a "crushing burden" on the Mafia scion and his family financially, plus make if difficult to get defense witnesses here to testify.

Gotti - the son of former Gambino family crime boss John Gotti - wants the trial moved to New York.

Prosecutor Jay Trezevant argued that the indictment grew out of an investigation of the criminal activity of Gotti and members of his crew in Tampa, so it's proper to have the trial here.

Mobster Offers Only Pennies Per Hour in Restitution to Families of Victims

Prosecutors want James "Little Jimmy" Marcello to pay millions in restitution for the victims' lost lifetime earnings.

There were fourteen of them, killed in cold blood by the Chicago Mob. Federal prosecutors want James "Little Jimmy" Marcello to pay millions of dollars in restitution for the victims' lost lifetime earnings.

Lawyers for Mr. Marcello contend that he should only be responsible for paying funeral expenses of victims, under case law, and that he really shouldn't pay anything. And in a unique argument against the payment of any restitution, Marcello attorney Marc Martin states that certain mob murder victims would have been eventually been put in prison with measly income potential.

"The government's expert speculates as to the earnings potential and life expectancy of certain murder victims," wrote Mr. Martin in a motion filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. "The expert failed to take into account the victims' actual circumstances, i.e., their specific actual damages. For example, the evidence showed that Nicholas D'Andrea and Michael Spilotro were criminals. If they had been convicted and sentenced (Michael Spilotro was awaiting a federal criminal trial at the time of his death), their prison earning capacity would have been pennies an hour."

Marcello's lawyer also challenges whether convicted mob bosses should be on the hook for restitution for "victims for whom the jury did not reach a verdict during the special verdict phase (Henry Cosentino, Paul Haggerty, John Mendell, Vincent Moretti, Donald Renno, Nicholas D'Andrea and Emil Vaci). Restitution cannot be awarded for such persons. A conviction is a condition precedent for a restitution judgment," states Martin. "There is no authority for awarding restitution in instances where the jury fails to reach a verdict."

As a result, Martin says "Defendant James Marcello respectfully moves this Honorable Court to deny the government's request for restitution and/or order any lawful and equitable relief."

Marcello is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 17 by Judge James Zagel. Co-defendant's in the Operation: Family Secrets case will also be sentenced before Christmas. All are facing the prospects of lengthy stays in the penitentiary for their roles in a lucrative, decades-long Outfit enterprise.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nicky Scarfo to be Profiled by Biography Channel

FORMER Philadelphia mob boss Nicky Scarfo will be the subject of an hour-long Biography Channel special next month.

"We tried to paint the picture of not only the mobster, but who he was as a person," says Samantha Nisenboim, associate producer for Chicago's Towers Productions, which is behind the special. "That was difficult because he kept his personal life so private."

"Little Nicky," who's now 79, is a guest of the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta and did not participate in the special, which airs at 9 p.m. on Dec. 19. "We reached out to Nicky Scarfo, but the federal penitentiary intervened and wouldn't let him know," Nisenboim said last night.

Retired Philadelphia police captain Frank Friel, retired FBI agents Michael Leyden and James Darcy, and retired federal prosecutor Lou Pichini are among those who were interviewed for the special. An unidentified mob associate is also interviewed as were South Philadelphia author/historian Celeste Morello, who wrote the "Before Bruno" series about the Philly mob, and Inquirer reporter George Anastasia, who has written several books about Scarfo and the mob.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gmorrah Movie Review

A look at the sprawling and incredibly powerful Camorra crime family in Italy shows mostly the lurid details of conventional crime. The value of the film lies in exposing crime that is not business as usual

Based on Roberto Saviano's best selling book (sold a million+ copies in Italy) Matteo Garrone’s latest film centers on the underworld of Naples, Italy. Known as the Camorra crime family this empire of criminals is responsible for some 3,600 dead that the public knows of and probably more that are as yet undiscovered. There seems to be little the family is which the family is not involved and they always seem to find a way to make more money by doing things worse. Drugs, loan sharking and burying hazardous waste in farmland seem to be a few of areas in which they excel.

Italy's Official Submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Category of the 81st Annual Academy Awards (2009), the film is a fictional narrative of the leaders of organized crime, its underlings and its unwilling or unknowing participants in the general community. Although there are a few people who don’t cooperate, they appear to have a short life-span in the tough streets of Naples.

The film centers on five stories that illustrate the dynamics of organized crime. To the film’s credit, it is neither a “Godfather” story nor a “James Bond” story. One of the most surprising facts about the employees of organized crime is they are fairly normal people. They have no more greed or wish to hurt others than a professional politician or stock market broker. By and large they see their opportunities and they take them as capitalism allows. For example, Don Ciro is a Camorra employee who delivers payments to families whose relatives are in prison. He is the postman for the crime family’s welfare system. But when his organization declares war, his life is threatened along with all the others. It’s kill or be killed.

Most of the screen time goes to Marco and Ciro, nutty teenagers who take on the hobby of stealing from the crime family and arming themselves with machine guns. One of the moral failures of organized crime is its spread to young persons who simply don’t know better. They grow up with it like other kids grow up with baseball. By the time they can make a choice, it’s too late. Another story centers on Toto, a 13 year old with more brains than Marco and Ciro put together. The choices he makes to be a wise guy will scar him forever. The Camorra family ensures that he will be traumatized for the rest of his life.

The other two stories are the most interesting as they depict aspects of organized crime that are not as stereotypical and romanticized as, say, assassination and bank robbery. The first is illegal hazardous waste dumping and the second is copyright infringement. The truth is that “white collar” organized crime is far more destructive, and profitable, than conventional beating and killing.

For example, Roberto is a college graduate who goes to work for Franco in the waste disposal business. Hazardous waste is expensive to dispose of and Franco is good at finding ways to cut costs in getting rid of toxic heavy metal stews that turn normal people into brain damaged cripples and deform those yet unborn. Sometimes the materials are dumped into abandoned quarries that might take years to uncover. In other cases they are buried in land that will eventually be used to grow crops. The results are tragic.

Finally, Pasqaule is a successful tailor and creator of high fashion garments who is approached by a Chinese manufacturer of imitation high fashion. He is paid handsomely to teach offshore operations his trade secrets, the secrets his company uses to produce original styles. Is this even a violation of the law? Where does one draw the line between the methods of a craft and the protected ideas of an inventor?

If this film does nothing more than to refresh the memories of the general populace of the world about the creeping nature of organized crime it will be worth the price of its production and worth seeing. But the more we look into the faces of the crime families of the world, the more we see ourselves.

Thanks to Ron Wilkinson

The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes

Play The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes
It's an exciting mystery puzzle adventure game!

Chicago Crime Commission Names Top Crime-Fighting Award for Mitch Mars - #1 Enemy to the Mob

Mitchell Mars wasn't a household name, but he was public enemy No. 1 to the mob.

The typically soft-spoken and unassuming man, who as a federal prosecutor made battling Chicago's organized crime figures his life's work, transformed into a firebrand in front of a jury.

"Criminal cases are about accountability and justice, not only for the defendants, but also justice for our system, justice for our society and justice for the victims," Mars said last year during the successful Family Secrets mob trial. "Our system works. It is the greatest system in the world. But it only works when those who should be held accountable are held accountable."

The assistant U.S. attorney died of cancer just five months later. He was 55.

The Chicago Crime Commission will pay tribute to Mars tonight with its most prestigious crime-fighting award named in his honor. Michael Wolfe, the DuPage County criminal chief, will be the first recipient during a special ceremony at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.

"I am incredibly humbled by this award," said Wolfe, 49, of Warrenville. "If I could possibly be one-tenth the lawyer and person that Mitch Mars was, I would say my life is complete."

Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine is serving as keynote speaker. Dignitaries such as U.S. District Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan plan to attend.

Mars' wife and mother also will be in the audience.

Chicago Crime Commission Chairman J.R. Davis said Wolfe stood out among the nominees and was chosen for demonstrating professionalism, dedication and compassion in the administration of justice.

During his 24-year career, Wolfe prosecuted some of the suburbs' most heinous crimes. He worked 61 straight 12-hour days in 2006 as part of a team that put serial-sex killer Paul Runge on death row. Wolfe prosecuted three defendants serving life prison terms for the 1995 triple murder of a pregnant Addison woman, whose baby was cut from its womb, and her two other children.

One day after the last defendant's trial, he began his case against a drunken driver who killed four people, including three Naperville teens. Wolfe later co-authored legislation to toughen DUI penalties.

Most recently, Wolfe secured a death sentence against Eric Hanson of Naperville who killed his wealthy parents, sister and brother-in-law out of greed.

As criminal prosecutions chief, he juggles his own prosecutions while overseeing 65 assistant state's attorneys handling everything from traffic tickets to murder.

His boss, DuPage State's Attorney Joseph Birkett, nominated Wolfe. Birkett will attend tonight to see his criminal chief receive the award. "Mitch Mars was a straight-up guy who just wanted to make sure the job got done right," Birkett said. "And that's Mike Wolfe. Mike is a very hardworking, dedicated prosecutor who contributed greatly to our profession. He and Mitch Mars are cut from the same cloth."

Thanks to Christy Gutowski and Rob Olmstead

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Police Murder Trial Begins for Actor from The Sopranos

Lillo Brancato Jr, 32, appeared in six episodes of the mafia television series before his character, Matt Bevilaqua, was killed off. However, prosecutors argue that his mafia links continued when he befriended Steven Armento, a reputed member of the Genovese crime family who had been thrown out of the organisation over his drug addiction.

Brancato had enjoyed a promising film career after being "spotted", aged 15, on a New York beach by the casting director for A Bronx Tale, in which the young actor appeared with Robert de Niro. But his life reportedly took a nosedive as he was involved in two drug-related arrests and, finally, with the killing in 2005 of Daniel Enchautegui, a New York police officer.

Prosecutors allege that Brancato drove himself and Armento to the home of Mr Enchautegui's next-door neighbour, where they began stealing prescription drugs.

When confronted by the policeman, Armento shot him. Both Armento and Brancato were wounded.

Armento, 48, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced last week to life in prison without parole.

However, Brancato's lawyers claim his case is different. "Lillo didn't have a gun. Nor did he know anyone had a gun. Lillo wasn't burglarising anyone's home," said Joseph Tacopina, his lawyer. "It's a tragic case, it's tragic in a lot of ways. But that doesn't mean he's behind the crime."

Brancato denies second-degree murder and other charges in the trial, for which jury selection has begun.

Family and friends have said he is a good man with a drug problem, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He obviously had problems he kept well hidden, but that doesn't mean he should be held accountable for the actions of the man he was with, especially if that man was under the influence," said Chris Tardio, who also appeared in The Sopranos.

Thanks to Tom Leonard

18 Arrested as Police Use Backhoe Digging for Body of Mob Hit Victim

The Rhode Island State Police on Monday arrested 18 people allegedly connected to Mafia rings and used a backhoe to dig through an East Providence lot searching for the victim of a three-decade-old mob hit.

The dig for the body was called off around dark and was expected to resume Tuesday.

Some of those arrested allegedly had ties to the Patriarca crime family, which for years controlled organized crime in Providence and Boston. One alleged long-time Patriarca figure arrested Monday was Nicholas Pari, 71, of North Providence.

Investigators said he took counterfeit handbags and sneakers from undercover federal agents who infiltrated the ring, allegedly based out of the Valley Street Flea Market in Providence. In return, the agents got guns and drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and Vicodin, said State Police Lt. Col. Steven O'Donnell.

Pari previously was sentenced to seven years in prison for manslaughter in the 1978 killing of Joseph "Joe Onions" Scanlon, whose body was never found.

State Police officials said they were digging at an East Providence apartment complex for a victim killed by the mob about 30 years ago. Authorities would not say whether Scanlon was the victim they were seeking.

Pari was charged with racketeering, firearms violations and drug offenses. Pari did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. It was unclear Monday whether he had an attorney.

Detectives also arrested Gerald Tillinghast, 62, on drug and gambling charges. Tillinghast, released last year from prison for a mob-related killing, is accused of operating an illegal gambling and drug sales business. Tillinghast was ordered held without bail after a court hearing Monday afternoon, his attorney Paul DiMaio said. He was not asked to enter a plea.

"I just don't believe that he was involved," DiMaio said. "He's been trying to do the right thing. I know he was trying to find a job, find a chauffeur's license."

Other suspects are accused of fencing stolen goods, selling stolen jewelry and setting up heists and sales of catalytic converters, police said. All 18 men were being arraigned in Providence District Court on Monday.

Police said more arrests are on the way and that the sting would make it harder for older reputed mobsters to recruit younger would-be criminals.

"This I think will serve as a devastating blow to some of the older generation that have really been such a problem," Attorney General Patrick Lynch said at a news conference announcing the arrests.

Thanks to Hillary Russ

Monday, November 17, 2008

The New Face of Organized Crime?

Over time, some street gangs fade into obscurity.

MS-13 isn’t one of those.

The notorious Latin American gang has been around since the 1980s, and now some are calling them the new face of organized crime.

“These guys don’t have regular jobs. They don’t have alarm clocks. They don’t wake up and work hard like 95 percent of America. They are out there ripping off people and hurting people,” Deputy Alfredo Perez of the U.S. Marshals said.

On November 1, in a Washington, D.C. suburb called Silver Spring, three MS-13 gang members allegedly fired into a bus. Three teen passengers were hit. One of them, 14-year-old honor student Tai Lam, died. The story made headlines for days.

Police arrested the alleged shooter, Hector Hernandez, last week. But his fellow gang members, Gilmar Leonardo Romero and Mario Ernesto Milan-Canales, were on the run.

That is, until they were arrested Thursday morning in Houston.

“Just old-fashioned police work. We looked at the area where these gang members congregate and just set up surveillance,” Perez said.

Undercover investigators with the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force spotted Romero and Milan-Canales getting on a Metro bus at Fulton and Cavalcade.

“Those two individuals were the only passengers on the bus, and we effectively and safely took them into custody,” Perez said.

Hernandez is being held without bond in Silver Spring, because the government says he’s in the country illegally.

It’s unclear if Romero and Milan-Canales are illegal immigrants, too. But the U.S. Marshals Office said one thing was clear: MS-13 gang members in Houston were giving them room and board while they hid from the law.

Thanks to Jeff McShan

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bad Girls on America's Most Wanted

This week, America's Most Wanted hunts some of the most wanted "Bad Girls".

Tina Loesch and Skye Hanson: In 1998, Barbara Loesch was electrocuted and drowned in her hot tub. Two years earlier, her husband was gunned down while working his morning paper route. Cops believe their daughter and her gay lover may have been behind both deaths -- both for revenge, and for $525,000 in life insurance.
Most Wanted Bad Girls
Jacqueline LeBaron: The search for Jacqueline Tarsa LeBaron has continued for years, but agents have not given up the search. In fact, a new picture of the fugitive has surfaced, heating up the hunt for the woman Feds are calling a vicious killer.

Joey Offutt: When Pennsylvania State Police arrived at the scene of a house fire in Sykesville in the early morning hours of July 12, 2007, they weren't prepared for everything they were about to find. Once the fire was extinguished, some shocking details were revealed, and authorities are still struggling to answer all the questions left over from that day.

Sarah Pender: Since her expertly-executed prison escape on August 4, 2008, officials have been hot on the trail of Sarah Pender. Now, after a few short months on the lam, U.S. Marshals Service officials have turned up the heat on Pender, and she's the newest addition to their notorious 15 Most Wanted Fugitives List.

Heather Uboh: She's called herself Heather Uboh, along with at least 20 other aliases, and cops across the United States say this Nigerian is an accomplished scam artist, committing identity theft, wire fraud, larceny, passport fraud, forgery, and a variety of other deceptions in Texas, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Colorado and Michigan.

Lindsay Harris, Jessie Foster, Jodi Brewer, and Misty Saens: On May 23, 2005, police outside of Springfield, Ill., made a shocking discovery when they arrived at a crime scene and found a pair of severed legs. For three years, the Illinois State Police diligently worked the Jane Doe case, and their hard work paid off in May 2008 when an FBI report and a DNA comparison helped to identify the victim as missing person Lindsay Harris.

In the Line of Duty

Paul Starzyk: Sergeant Paul Starzyk was fatally wounded by a gunman holding a group of women and children hostage. The suspect, the husband of a Martinez, Calif. salon owner who was one of the people being held captive, also killed his wife's cousin before being shot to death by police.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ten Commandments of the Mafia

All things being equal, Tony Soprano probably had it right: “There is no Mafia!” the bear-like mob boss snapped to his inquisitive teen daughter, Meadow, in one of the first episodes of The Sopranos.

In the next breath, in a rare show of paternal trust, Tony allowed, “Some of my money comes from illegal gambling and whatnot.” But he insisted that he worked in waste management, which was true, in a way. Tony just had a hazy job description.

Somewhere in that father-daughter moment was the reality of the modern-day wise guy. There is no Mafia, never has been, but someone is still running the rackets in New Jersey and bodies still turn up in the Meadowlands.

Like so many real-life examples, Tony Soprano had a second family that came before his own wife and kids. Tony belonged to a secret social club, of sorts, referred to as “this thing of ours.” The biggest scam ever perpetrated by the Mafia was convincing its members that it never existed.

Mob life appears real in the new documentary Ten Commandments of the Mafia (Sunday, Discovery at 8 p.m.). Every good club has its rules.

A smart pickup from the U.S. Discovery channel, the program follows on a news story that drew headlines last year: In the hills of Palermo, Italian police swarmed the hideout of the allegedly highly ranked Mafia kingpin Salvatore Lo Piccolo, who was arrested with his son, Sandro, and two other reputed godfathers at a secret mob palaver. The film includes footage of the SWAT takedown; the cops wear ski masks to protect their identity.

The big news: In Mr. Lo Piccolo's belongings, police found a document, typed in plain Italian, supposedly detailing the 10 commandments of the Mafia. An initiation script of sorts, the document included the vow of admission into the Sicilian crime family: “I swear to be faithful to Cosa Nostra. If I should betray it, my flesh must burn, just as this image burns.” The sombre initiation ceremony has been depicted on The Sopranos and in movies dating back to The Valachi Papers.

In forensic fashion, the film parallels the list against true-crime stories, as related by law-enforcement officials and a fairly impressive lineup of felons.

The program includes interviews with former Colombo crime family capo Michael Franzese and one-time mob insider Henry Hill, whose life was chronicled in the 1990film Goodfellas. There are also interviews with former wise guys who prefer to keep their faces hidden. All the men are currently in the witness-protection program and would be considered “rats” in mob parlance.

The code itself is fascinating in its crudeness. Some of the rules are obtuse, and poorly penned. No. 10: “People who can't be part of Cosa Nostra are anyone with a close relative in the police, with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn't hold to moral values.”

Some of the commandments should be obvious to any respectable waste-management executive. No. 6: “Appointments must be respected.” Or No. 3: “Never be seen with cops.”

Revealing its old worldness, the list includes no less than three very important rules regarding the woman's place in the Mafia. No. 7: “Wives must be treated with respect.” No. 2: “Never look at the wives of friends.” And most tellingly, No. 5: “Always be available for Cosa Nostra, even if your wife's about to give birth.”

In between each commandment, the film explores the history of mob hierarchy and explains the titles of boss, underboss, captain and other mob rankings. Not so remarkably, the program confirms that most of the Mafia commandments seem to apply today, with the usual bending.

The Mafia has always held a convenient don't-ask-don't-tell policy. Members steal, cheat and murder in pursuit of monetary gain (were Mafia elders kidding with Commandment No. 9?: “Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families”), all the while pretending to adhere to an archaic code of honour. Perhaps most ludicrous is Commandment No. 8: “When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.” Even the Mafia rule on lying is a lie.

For that matter, mob code still forbids the dealing of drugs, but the Mafia allegedly controls the billion-dollar global drug trade. Says one former wise guy with a shrug in the shadows: “As long as you're bringing in bagfuls of money, you can break any rule you want.”

And imagine the money set to roll in with the release of The Sopranos: The Complete Series, which landed in stores on Tuesday. Retailing at around $300, the DVD collection tops the price previously set by box sets of Six Feet Under and Sex and the City. Will Sopranos fans shell out the money? Does Paulie Walnuts wear white loafers?

In keeping with the template created by The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (both films air around the clock this weekend on AMC, starting Saturday at 8 p.m.), The Sopranos is a fictional mob saga steeped in realness. The Emmy-winning series has only expanded its zeitgeist since ending in 2006, courtesy of marathon broadcasts on A&E. Even with trimmed scenes and freakin' language adjustments, The Sopranos is still the “greatest show in TV history,” according to Vanity Fair.

Like Tony himself, the box set is bulky and imposing. Packaged in a black box and housed in a hefty coffee-table-type book, the box set features all 86 Sopranos episodes on 33 discs. All six seasons have been made previously available in DVD box sets; the draw this time is the staggering assortment of extra features.

All told, the master collection boasts 31/2 hours of bonus materials. Along with the deleted scenes, episodic commentary and soundtrack CDs, the box set features an extended interview with creator David Chase conducted by Alec Baldwin; a documentary titled Supper with the Sopranos, wherein cast members discuss the contentious series finale; and a collection of Sopranos spoofs that appeared on The Simpsons, MADtv and Saturday Night Live.

The tastiest bonus feature is The Whacked Sopranos, an hour-long filmed version of an event held last year at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York. The lively panel discussion brings together five actors who came to untimely ends on the mob drama.

The unlucky group includes Steve Buscemi (Tony Blundetto), Vincent Pastore (Big Pussy) and Drea de Matteo, who went from playing the doomed moll Adriana to a lead role in the ill-fated Friends' spinoff Joey. “They killed me on HBO, and then I went to NBC to commit complete suicide,” de Matteo says. And none of the dearly departed seem particularly surprised that their respective demises barely registered with Chase, the real Godfather of The Sopranos. “It's not a big deal to me,” Chase says simply. “These are not real people.”

Thanks to Andrew Ryan

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Il sindacato di Chicago è ora disponibile in Italiano!

Il sindacato di Chicago è ora disponibile in italiano e in altre 34 lingue di tutto il mondo.

Si prega di utilizzare il nostro strumento di traduzione sul lato destro colonna.


FBI Director Robert Mueller Highlights FBI's Joint Task Forces with the Chicago Police Department

Whether investigating a terrorist plot against the U.S. hatched overseas or combating gang-related violence on our city streets, intelligence is key to keeping Americans safe.

That was FBI Director Robert Mueller’s main message as he spoke today in San Diego at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference.

Americans, according to Mueller, look to law enforcement to carry out multiple missions—“to dismantle gangs openly wreaking havoc on the streets while also detecting terrorist cells operating in secret….to investigate white collar crimes on Wall Street while also nabbing bank robbers on Main Street.” And regardless of jurisdiction, he said that “the reality for the FBI and for each of your departments is that we must accomplish all of these missions.”

How we do that? By working cooperatively to gather, analyze, and share intelligence across geographic and agency lines. Mueller emphasized that we have to “determine what we know, what we don’t know, and find ways to fill the gap.”

He acknowledged that while countering terrorism is the FBI’s top priority, it might not be the primary mission of some state and local law enforcement agencies, “especially those of you whose cities have experienced a spike in violent crime.” So during his remarks he highlighted intelligence tools the FBI uses to combat terrorists and spies that we’re also using to help fight crime at the local level.

For example:

  • Project PinPoint, a geospatial mapping technology that allows us to “combine and visually map crime data from a multitude of agencies—everything from shootings to sources, and from outstanding warrants to open investigations,” said Mueller. By merging the Bureau’s intelligence with that of our state and local partners, we’re better able to recognize crime problems and see patterns, as well as link crimes, develop additional tips and leads, and manage our resources.
  • COMPSTAT (which stands for “comparative statistics”), a management tool pioneered by local law enforcement that uses computers, statistics, and mapping on a regular basis, generating intelligence to keep agencies abreast of current crimes and crime trends. The FBI has begun using it to help us chart key threats in different regions of the country—both national security-related and criminal. The intelligence gleaned from the process helps to “re-direct our resources, re-task our current sources, and recruit new ones,” explained Mueller.
  • Joint task forces, including three specific ones with the Chicago Police Department focusing on gangs. Two take a more traditional approach, which is to gather intelligence over time that targets group leaders and dismantles gangs from the top down. But to make the streets of Chicago safer for residents right now, the third task force works on short-term cases to get those directly responsible for the violence off the streets. Gang cases worked by all three task forces are driven by intelligence. “Short-term investigations turn up intelligence that informs our long-term investigations,” said Mueller, “and vice versa.”

In the end, the successful use of intelligence depends heavily on these kinds of cooperative relationships. Added Mueller, “When we all bring some pieces of the puzzle to the table, we can put the picture together much faster.”

Godfather's Luxury Villa Converted to Restaurant and Bed and Breakfast

A LUXURY villa once owned by one of the Mafia's most ruthless godfathers reopened yesterday as a restaurant after being seized by the police.

Godfather's Luxury Villa Converted to Restaurant and Bed and BreakfastLovers of traditional Sicilian cuisine are expected to flock to the three-acre estate that used to belong to Salvatore 'the Beast' Riina.

The lavish property and its grounds have been turned into a farm-holiday restaurant and bed and breakfast.

Roberto Maroni, the interior minister, said the villa's transformation would boost the fight to convert not just property but also "consciences".

He added: "I hope this will be the start of a reaction in hearts and minds to achieve the final objective of definitively defeating the Mafia and giving this magnificent land back to honest citizens."

Almost £480 million worth of property has been confiscated in the province of Palermo this year alone, he said.

The villa was converted by the Pio La Torre Co-operative, named after a famous anti-Mafia land reformer shot dead in 1982. The manager, Floriana Di Leonardo, said it would be able to feed 90 people and had 16 rooms for anyone to stay over "if they've had a bit too much".

Riina unleashed a bloody assault on the state in the early 1990s, killing two anti-Mafia judges. He was caught in 1993.

Thanks to Nick Pisa

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Simple Resume Error Costs Chicago's Organized Crime Division Head Consideration for Police Chief

The newly appointed acting head of the organized crime division for Chicago Police has been dropped from consideration for a top police job in Arizona because of inconsistencies on his resume.

Lt. Ernest Brown, who had applied for the job of police chief in Buckeye, Ariz., insists the resume flap was a simple error on his part.

Brown said he submitted an old resume that listed him as assistant deputy superintendent, a title he lost last spring when Supt. Jody Weis made several command-level changes.

"I was working off a [computer] disc with several resumes,'' Brown said. "I applied electronically."

Brown, a 26-year veteran, was demoted to lieutenant of Area 1's robbery and burglary division under the changes Weis made.

He said when Buckeye officials came to Chicago to interview him, he did not hide his new position. He told them he was a commanding officer in the detective division and brought them to Area 1.

"I have an exemplary career,'' Brown said. "Everything on my resume is 1,000-percent legit.''

Officials from the city of Buckeye did not return calls late Friday.

Chicago Police officials defended Brown's new position, saying he had a proven track record of working with the community and as an innovative crime-fighter.

Steve Peterson, deputy superintendent of investigative services, said Brown reduced gas station holdups as commander of the Grand Crossing district by helping to get better lighting, video surveillance and wrought iron fencing for owners.

"He is a competent, dedicated member of the department . . . with a keen awareness of gang, gun and drug issues affecting the city,'' Peterson said.

Peterson refused to discuss Brown's job application in Arizona or whether officials knew about it.

Thanks to Annie Sweeney

FBI Cleans Up the "Trash Czar" and The Waste Management Industry

He was dubbed the “trash czar” by the media—James Galante, businessman and majority owner of 25 trash companies that controlled about 80 percent of the trash, or carting, industry in Connecticut and parts of eastern New York. But earlier this summer, Galante’s reign ended when he pled guilty in federal court after a long-term multi-agency investigation of wrongdoing in the waste-hauling industry. Thirty-two others—including Galante’s employees, his accountant, a silent partner with ties to New York organized crime, and a high-ranking member of the Genovese crime family—were also charged in the case and have all pled guilty.

James Galante was the 'Trash Czar' Until the FBI Cleaned Him Up.Galante was operating what’s known as an illegal “property rights system”—when carting companies affiliated with organized crime groups assert they have a monopoly over certain “stops,” or customer accounts (mostly commercial and municipal customers in this case). These companies collude with one another to divvy up the stops, fix prices, and rig contract bids. They also pay a so-called “mob tax” to keep their piece of the action.

The result is a loss of competition and higher prices for customers. And woe to the carting companies that try to compete legally in this type of marketplace. They find their trucks and other equipment vandalized, their employees threatened or assaulted by mob muscle, and their economic livelihood at stake.

The FBI's case began in February 2003, after Galante sent a threatening note to another trash company over a disputed contract. The company contacted the FBI's New Haven office, and they decided to introduce an undercover agent into the mix. The agent started working as the victim company’s “strategic marketing planner,” with oversight over new trash hauling contracts that put him in direct contact with Galante and his people. Later, the undercover agent was actually hired by Galante as a salesman.

During the operation, which also included extensive use of court-authorized wiretaps, the FBI discovered more than 40 refuse companies working within the property rights system. They identified links between Galante’s enterprise and organized crime. They collected mounds of evidence against Galante and other members of his criminal enterprise. And because they intercepted phone calls containing threats against individuals and companies, they were able to warn intended victims.

Public corruption also reared its ugly head. For a property rights system to work, a criminal enterprise needs the help of corrupt local government and/or law enforcement officials. And so it was in this case—also charged were a former mayor, a federal drug agent, and a Connecticut state trooper who unlawfully accessed the FBI's National Crime Information Center database to check a license plate for Galante.

Special thanks to the FBI's partners who worked with them on this case—the Ansonia, Milford, and New Haven police departments; the Connecticut State Police; the Connecticut Department of Corrections; the Internal Revenue Service; the Department of Labor; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Marshals Service.

Part of Galante’s plea agreement involves the full forfeiture of his companies, which were valued at up to $100 million. The federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies who worked with the FBI will be receiving millions of dollars in forfeiture proceeds. And one other note: because of the case, a new state agency in Connecticut now oversees the refuse hauling industry and requires background checks on trash companies.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

American's Most Wanted on The Chicago Syndicate - 11/08/08 Episode

Roy “Bubba” Massey
Cops say notorious bad boy Roy "Bubba" Massey led Arkansas State Police on a high speed chase that ended in a fiery crash before he was taken into custody.
America's Most Wanted in Partners with The Chicago Syndicate
Russell McCollum
Police say Russell Victor McCollum appears to be a responsible, straight-laced guy; cops in Tennessee say he's anything but.

Joseph Roman
New York City Det. Kenny Kearns had mixed feelings about pursuing his latest fugitive, Joseph Roman, because Roman once worked in his family's restaurant in the Bronx. "The streets got him," Kearns says, and in turn, cops say Roman got involved in a murder.

Candido Peraza
Cops in Ontario, Calif. are determined to bring Candido Renteria Peraza to justice for the fatal hit-and-run of 7-year-old Nathan Sitompul. Cops say a drunken Peraza struck Nathan, who was riding his bike at the time. Peraza stopped, but when he saw Nathan struggling to get to his feet, Peraza took off, running over Nathan again.

James Perry
Cops want accused North Carolina drug slinger James Ricky Perry off the streets and back behind bars. They say Perry has been dealing since the 1980s, and not even a stint in the slammer could change his ways.

Humberto Fortanelli
Police say Humberto Fontanelli and his cellmate David Ray escaped from a Fordyce, Ark. prison on New Year's Eve 2007. Cops picked up Shannon Ray four days later, but say that Fortanelli is still on the run. AMW sat down with Ray and got a first-hand look at exactly how the escape went down, and where his co-partner in crime, Humberto Fortanelli, could be hiding out.

Shannon Ray
Dental floss and razors might have gotten David Ray out of jail, but they weren't enough to keep him out. Ray was arrested in the early morning hours of January 4, 2008 by cops in Memphis, Tenn.

Unknown Melissa Witt Killer
On January 13, 1995, cops in Arkansas made a gruesome discovery in the Ozark Mountains: the body of beloved Forth Smith teenager Melissa "Missy" Witt, brutally murdered. Now, John Walsh and the AMW team are working to hunt down a killer.

Unknown Ann Pressly Killer
Cops in Arkansas are searching for the unknown suspect who beat a television anchorwoman to death. Anne Pressly, 26, died nearly a week after she was beaten in her home, and as a precautionary measure, cops have distributed pepper spray to local television news personalities who may be targeted as well. Police say the pepper spray was donated by an anonymous donor.

Anthony Forgione
Okaloosa County Sheriff's Deputy Anthony Forgione, 33, was shot and killed by a suspect who had barricaded himself inside a Fort Walton Beach home. Cops say the suspect, Mark Rohlman, was committed for a mental evaluation, but left and hid inside his childhood home with a shotgun. Deputy Forgione entered the home with the Sheriff's Office Special Response Team when he was fatally wounded by the suspect's gunfire, according to police.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Has the Russian Mafia Stolen Over 500,000 Bank and Credit Card Accounts?

Researchers at RSA's FraudAction Research Lab discovered one of the largest stolen data caches ever. Over the last 30 months a trojan virus, known as Sinowal, Torpig and Mebroot by various anti-virus companies, has stolen 270,000 online banking account credentials and 240,000 credit and debit account numbers. The virus is so sophisticated that it changes constantly to avoid detection by anti-virus programs, in fact, a test of the most recent virus showed that only 10 out of 35 security applications were able to detect it.

Sinowal works by hiding in the Master Boot Record of computers waiting till its victims visit one of 2700 bank and e-commerce sites where it displays new fields in to the existing website to capture personal and private information such as Social Security numbers, account numbers and passwords.

At this point it is not apparent who is behind the attacks but there is some interesting, if not revealing, evidence that suggests the Russian Mafia may be behind this crime.

Sinowal was tied to the Russian Business Network in its early days. The Russian Business Network was a hosting company in St. Petersburg, Russia that was disbanded last year after media pressure due to thier cyber-crime friendly policies and clients. With 500,000 stolen identities and accounts from at least 27 countries it is interesting that none were from Russia. Additionally, one of the Sinowal web servers also contained a spoof of the U.S. Marshals Web Site with bogus wanted posters for famous Russian people such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Leonid Brezhnev, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin and Vladimir Putin. What's more interesting is that these names were also the user names for gang members that logged in to this illegal web server.

Is all this proof? No, but that will be difficult to obtain. It does lead to a high level of suspicion though. Identity Theft Labs has stated previously that we fully expect large criminal organizations to become involved in identity theft, if they haven't already, because it is profitable and low risk. The Russian Mafia has already taken their operations in the U.S. in to other non-traditional income streams such as insurance fraud and personal injury lawsuits. Can identity theft really be far behind or have they already entered this criminal market? It may not be proven but the odds say that they have already hatched their master plan.

Thanks to Identity Theft Labs

Organized Crime Increasing Activity on the World Wide Web

Research findings from Microsoft Corp.'s (NASDAQ: MSFT) latest Security Intelligence Report indicates that organized crime activity on the Internet is increasing and more general awareness and education should be increasing as well.

Mohammad Akif, national security and privacy lead for Microsoft Canada, explains the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report is conducted semi-annually, with its most recent volume spanning the six-month period from January 1 to June 30, 2008. Data is collected by analyzing over 450 million unique computers around the world, in addition to utilizing other security and vendor Web sites, such as the National Vulnerability Database
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the report, Akif said, is realizing that organized crime on the Internet continues to increase.

“As the operating system (OS) becomes harder to attack, hackers and criminals are moving to the application layer,” Akif said. “In the last six months, 90 per cent of the vulnerabilities that were disclosed affected applications, whereas only 10 per cent affected the OS.”

Akif said the majority of today's malicious activities are driven by a motive for financial gain. As such, in Canada, he said the rise of malware or potentially unwanted software (PUS) is increasing. To put things into perspective, Akif said for the first six months of the year, there were 72 per cent more distinct computers found in Canada that reported malware or PUS, compared to findings from the last report.

The top two categories that were reported for disinfected machines in Canada were Trojan downloader and droppers at 24.7 per cent, and Adware at 23.2 per cent. PUS ranked third, coming in at 21.8 per cent. In Canada, Akif said the top threat is Zlob, a Trojan downloader and dropper. Zlob, he explains, takes advantage of Internet users by opening up pop-up boxes that appear to be official, but in fact, aren't.
“These will be boxes like, ‘You have spyware, so click here for free software to get your computer clean,'” he said. “Depending on the intensity and severity of this, your computer can then be breached and compromised. We saw 86,000 variants of Zlob in the last six months and we feel the reason this number is so high is because there's a financial upside to it.”

PUS is also another problem for users to be cautious of, Akif said. PUS will notice end-user buying patterns and behaviour on the Internet. In Canada, this PUS is better known as ZangoSearchAssistant. By monitoring end-user purchasing habits and online behaviour, reports are then sent back to servers, which in turn store and sell the information to companies that can then solicit messages out to try to make money.
The key to solving these vulnerability problems, Akif said, is to raise general awareness levels. Akif said some people aren't educated about, or are simply unaware of security practices they could use to protect themselves and their workplace and information.

“Customers should be enabling a firewall, enabling automatic updates with Windows Vista, Windows Server and Windows XP, and they should also be installing up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware programs,” he said. “Users should also not go to Web sites they don't trust and should uninstall software they don't frequently use.”
To further help educate the market on security practices, Microsoft is currently in the process of updating its partner portal and is working to get programs such as its Hack and Defend workshops in place. Hack and Defend, Akif said, is a workshop designed for Microsoft partners and customers.

“This is a free workshop that Microsoft is conducting for partners to come in and see how some of these attacks are being conducted,” he said. “We show them what can be done to protect against and to prevent them from happening. These workshops will be conducted in the Q3, February and March 2009 timeframe. We're still figuring out which cities we'll have these workshops in, but we'll also have them available as Web casts for customers to participate in too.”

Thanks to Maxine Cheung

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"What're you going to do now, tough guy?"

A jailed reputed mobster was charged on Monday with the 1977 slaying of a gangland rival who used his last words to taunt him in a motel parking lot.

"What're you going to do now, tough guy?" Giovanni "Coca Cola" Larducci asked when Michael Coppola's gun jammed during the New Jersey confrontation on Easter 1977, prosecutors said.

Coppola has bragged to cooperators that he responded by pulling out another pistol from an ankle holster and shooting Larducci dead, prosecutors said.

The slaying was recounted in court papers alleging Coppola also infiltrated and shook down a labor union for the Genovese organized crime family.

Coppola pleaded not guilty on Monday in federal court in Brooklyn to murder, extortion and other charges.

Defense attorney Henry Mazurek said outside court that the evidence against Coppola is flimsy. His client, he said, was "more than optimistic about beating these charges."

Coppola, 62, was arrested last year after becoming one of New Jersey's most-wanted fugitives. He went underground in 1996 with the help of his wife to duck a court order requiring him to submit a DNA sample in the Larducci slaying.

Over the next 11 years, the couple used various aliases while splitting time between an apartment in Manhattan owned by a Genovese associate and a home in San Francisco, prosecutors said. Following Coppola's capture in New York, investigators said they discovered a book in his apartment titled "The Methods of Attacking Scientific Evidence

A DNA sample taken from Coppola last year was compared to that from hair found on a hat left at the motel parking lot. The FBI analysis found that "Coppola could not be excluded as the source of the hair," court papers said.

Coppola already was serving time after pleading guilty to charges related to his flight. If convicted of the new charges, he faces life in prison.

What Happens to Chicago's Top Mob and Corruption Fighter After the Presidential Election?

Despite the national media's childlike fantasy that Illinois is something like Camelot—where the knights rise to power without staining their shining armor—we're still neck deep in corruption and sleazy pay-to-play politics.

The Chicago Outfit, though wounded, still reaches out to friendly pols. The bipartisan Illinois Combine that runs things isn't finished, though a Republican boss was indicted last week. The Democratic half of the Combine, Chicago's Daley machine, is now poised to leverage the awesome power of the White House. And what the machine wants is control of the federal hammer in its backyard.

Readers keep asking me the same question: Will the next president keep Patrick Fitzgerald as the U.S. attorney in Chicago?

I really can't say. What are political promises worth from politicians with debts to pay? But here's what I do know. There is no story more important to the people of Chicago and of Illinois than the future of Fitzgerald, who has systematically hunted down the corruption.

Corruption the Chicago Way doesn't only waste money and burden taxpayers. This isn't only about isolated instances of graft and amusing, earthy rapscallions. That is a cartoon. The reality is that Illinois political corruption is an infection that spreads. The people either are numbed and deny it, or they feel pressured to suck up to their overlords. That's not American. That's positively Medieval.

That's how important this is. Both John McCain and Barack Obama have promised to keep Fitzgerald here.

"If we lose him, we lose everything," said a Chicago FBI agent wise in the ways of Chicago politics and its symbiosis with the Chicago mob. "I can't imagine it happening. He's the guy who pulls the trigger on all these investigations. If it happens, if they get rid of him, forget it."

Fitzgerald, brought here as an independent with no political connections and no ambitions to run for governor or knock down seven figures at a law firm, has done more in a few years than could have been imagined.

A corrupt former Republican governor in prison. A Democratic governor with a creeping case of feditis that appears to be politically terminal. City Hall patronage bosses convicted. And the leaders of the Chicago mob are scheduled for sentencing in December, which means the Outfit is in no mood to play the enforcer for their favored politicians.

History shows us that governors are expendable, but mayors are not. In this city's fantastic history of corruption, a mayor has never gone down. Chicago mayors are like the queen bee, and all other bees protect her, because she lays the magic eggs. Without the eggs, what's the point of public service? After years of climbing, Fitzgerald is getting close to the hive.

McCain has no loyalty to the Republican half of the Combine, which backed Mitt Romney, who made it clear he would dump Fitzgerald if elected. But McCain was unequivocal in his support for Fitzgerald and said the prosecutor should remain where he is, fighting political corruption in Illinois, not promoted up or out.

"I'd keep him. I'd keep him," McCain said last November when I asked him at a session with the Tribune's editorial board, of which I am not a member. "I think he has done a good job and I think the American people are crying out for having this corruption cleaned up."

Obama, meanwhile, talks reform. But he's backed by the Chicago machine. And Obama's own longtime friend and real estate fairy, Tony Rezko, has been convicted of corruption and is believed to be preparing to talk to the feds.

Mayoral brother Bill Daley has been rumored for a Cabinet post in an Obama administration, and is expected to be on the transition team if Obama is elected. Bill Daley will look to protect his brother first. Although Bill is a thoughtful politician, somehow I just don't see the phrase "Barack, we've gotta keep Pat Fitzgerald" on Billy's lips in the personnel meetings.

Another Chicago connection, U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Tomczak), is being rumored as a possible White House chief of staff. Emanuel would also look first to protect the mayor. Washington Beltway reporters won't tell you this, because they must figure that what happens in Chicago stays in Chicago, but a few years ago, Emanuel was elected with the help of a massive patronage army of stooges on the City Hall payroll who pounded the precincts.

The fellow who directed this army for Emanuel is the corrupt former city water boss Donald Tomczak. He now sits in federal prison in Duluth, Minn., while Emanuel prepares to reform us all. It was Fitzgerald's office that put Tomczak away.

Back in March, Obama visited the Tribune's editorial board. He said that if elected president, he would keep Fitzgerald in place.

"I still think he's doing a good job," said Obama. "I think he has been aggressive in putting the city on notice and the state on notice that he takes issues of public corruption seriously."

Does your wanting to keep Fitzgerald in the job threaten any other political entities here in Chicago?

"I can't speculate on that," Obama said then. "I can't."

But you can.

Thanks to John Kass

Monday, November 03, 2008

Was Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal a Snitch?

Back before he was mayor of Las Vegas, when he was the city's leading mob attorney, Oscar Goodman insisted he didn't represent snitches.

He represented Frank Rosenthal. Now that Rosenthal is dead, three former law enforcement sources with first-hand knowledge confirmed what was long suspected. Lefty Rosenthal was an FBI informant, whether his attorney knew it or not.

While Rosenthal was alive, no one would confirm it. Nobody wanted to be the one who got Lefty whacked. After he died of a heart attack in his Florida home Oct. 13 at the age of 79, it is confirmed Rosenthal was a "top echelon" informant, someone with firsthand knowledge of the top ranking mob bosses.

Rosenthal's code name was "Achilles," one source said. Was it a sly reference to the handsome Greek warrior who was invincible except for his heel? Or was he simply a heel? Sure beat the code name his mob buddies used when discussing him -- "Crazy."

I couldn't confirm exactly when he started informing to the FBI, but the relationship was lengthy and useful. His information helped the FBI develop a lot of organized crime and casino skimming cases.

Rosenthal was an informant even before the 1982 bombing of his Cadillac outside Tony Roma's restaurant on Sahara Avenue, one source said. After the bombing, the FBI tried to convince Rosenthal to enter the Witness Protection Program, but he refused.

Later, he told the Chicago Tribune he rebuffed the offer to become a federal witness. "It's just not my style. It doesn't fit into my principles." Instead, in 1983 he left Las Vegas, which had been his home since 1968, moving first to California, then Florida.

"He talked about everything and everyone, whether he had first-hand knowledge, like he did at the Stardust, or second- and third-hand knowledge like at the Tropicana," one source said.

Nobody had a definitive answer as to why Rosenthal would become a Chatty Cathy.

One source said Rosenthal was an expert handicapper. "He was a smart guy, he could see people were going down. As an oddsmaker, this was his chance to bet both sides of the game."

A second source said it was speculation, but "he may have felt he needed a way out at some point, and he knew cooperation was one way to get out."

Rosenthal was from Chicago, but since he was Jewish, he wasn't a made member of the Chicago Outfit, but he was a close mob associate. From childhood, he was friends with another mob watchdog, Anthony Spilotro, which ended with Spilotro's affair with Rosenthal's wife, Geri, the tale fictionalized in the movie "Casino."

When the mob needed someone to watch over its Las Vegas casino interests, Lefty was the man. From 1974 until 1979, San Diego businessman Allen Glick was the casino owner, but Rosenthal, despite his ever-changing titles, was the smooth operator.

Although federal officials claimed millions were skimmed from Glick's casinos, Rosenthal was never indicted. Nor did he testify against Midwest mob leaders as Glick did during the trial in Kansas City, which ended with mob boss convictions in 1986.

Las Vegas was an open city for the mob. No one organized crime family controlled all the casinos; different families shared the booty. The Chicago mob through the Argent Corp. had a foothold in the Stardust, Fremont, Hacienda and Marina.

The Tropicana was the playground of the Kansas City mob.

The boys in Detroit staked out the Aladdin.

The Dunes had ties with St. Louis mobsters.

Milwaukee bosses arranged for Glick's $62 million in loans from the Teamsters Union pension funds to buy Las Vegas hotels, then insisted Glick hire Rosenthal.

The indictments were many, so were the convictions. Despite the extensive wiretapping, Rosenthal was never charged, even though authorities described him as the man who "orchestrated the skim at the Stardust."

Inevitably, some of his buddies figured he wasn't charged because he was informing on them to the FBI. The late Joe Agosto -- entertainment director at the Tropicana and the Kansas City mob's guy on the scene -- was wiretapped in 1978 telling a Missouri mobster Rosenthal was "a snitch" who would "bite the hand that feeds him."

In John L. Smith's book "Of Rats and Men," Goodman said Kansas City mobster Nick Civella thought Rosenthal had become too friendly with the FBI. Civella called Goodman, his own attorney, and asked whether Rosenthal was crazy, apparently a code term for untrustworthy. "No, I don't think he's crazy," Goodman answered. "If I had agreed with Civella, Rosenthal would have been killed. I didn't know it at the time, but I apparently saved his life," Goodman told Smith.

Goodman started representing Rosenthal in 1971 after Rosenthal was indicted on illegal betting charges. In 1975, a Las Vegas federal judge dismissed the indictment against him, saying the wiretap was illegal and should have been an investigative tool of last resort.

That same year, Sheriff Ralph Lamb submitted an affidavit to help Rosenthal restore the rights he lost after pleading no contest in North Carolina to trying to change the point spread for a college basketball game with a bribe in 1960. The sheriff said he had known Rosenthal for five years and "he has evidenced the highest integrity and his reputation for truth and veracity in the Las Vegas community is unexcelled. Mr. Rosenthal is among the most respected persons in the Las Vegas gaming community."

Contrast that with Glick's Kansas City trial testimony 10 years later about a 1974 meeting with Rosenthal in the Stardust coffee shop. Glick said Rosenthal told him: "You're not my boss. And when I say you're not my boss, I'm talking not just from an administrative position, but your health. If you interfere with what's going on here, you will never leave this corporation alive."

As one of the recipients of the Rosenthal Glare, I can vividly imagine how those words were delivered.

Goodman represented Rosenthal for decades, fighting to keep him licensed to operate the Argent casinos. Higher courts ultimately overturned Rosenthal's victories in lower courts. Gaming regulators put him in the Black Book.

Throughout his life, Rosenthal denied being an FBI informant, but said it wasn't for want of trying by the FBI.

In 1976, Rosenthal told gaming officials that in 1960, when he was working in horse racing in Miami, J. Edgar Hoover sent an agent who asked him to provide information about gambling throughout the country. He said the agent promised him "near total immunity, except murder."

In 1977, he claimed he was the victim of harassment because he refused to supply information to the FBI.

As recently as 2006, when asked why he never snitched, Rosenthal said, "It all comes down to style and doing what you feel comfortable with. I never talked about or testified against anyone and never will."

He may not have testified, but he definitely talked.

As far as Goodman not representing snitches, one knowledgeable source said, "I think he represented more than one, whether he was aware of it or not."

Thanks to Jane Ann Morrison

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