Friday, August 31, 2012

Where Does The Mob Keep Its Money?

THE global financial crisis has been a blessing for organized crime. A series of recent scandals have exposed the connection between some of the biggest global banks and the seamy underworld of mobsters, smugglers, drug traffickers and arms dealers. American banks have profited from money laundering by Latin American drug cartels, while the European debt crisis has strengthened the grip of the loan sharks and speculators who control the vast underground economies in countries like Spain and Greece.

Mutually beneficial relationships between bankers and gangsters aren’t new, but what’s remarkable is their reach at the highest levels of global finance. In 2010, Wachovia admitted that it had essentially helped finance the murderous drug war in Mexico by failing to identify and stop illicit transactions. The bank, which was acquired by Wells Fargo during the financial crisis, agreed to pay $160 million in fines and penalties for tolerating the laundering, which occurred between 2004 and 2007.

Last month, Senate investigators found that HSBC had for a decade improperly facilitated transactions by Mexican drug traffickers, Saudi financiers with ties to Al Qaeda and Iranian bankers trying to circumvent United States sanctions. The bank set aside $700 million to cover fines, settlements and other expenses related to the inquiry, and its chief of compliance resigned.

ABN Amro, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Lloyds and ING have reached expensive settlements with regulators after admitting to executing the transactions of clients in disreputable countries like Cuba, Iran, Libya, Myanmar and Sudan.

Many of the illicit transactions preceded the 2008 crisis, but continuing turmoil in the banking industry created an opening for organized crime groups, enabling them to enrich themselves and grow in strength. In 2009, Antonio Maria Costa, an Italian economist who then led the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, told the British newspaper The Observer that “in many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital” available to some banks at the height of the crisis. “Interbank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities,” he said. “There were signs that some banks were rescued that way.” The United Nations estimated that $1.6 trillion was laundered globally in 2009, of which about $580 billion was related to drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime.

A study last year by the Colombian economists Alejandro Gaviria and Daniel Mejía concluded that the vast majority of profits from drug trafficking in Colombia were reaped by criminal syndicates in rich countries and laundered by banks in global financial centers like New York and London. They found that bank secrecy and privacy laws in Western countries often impeded transparency and made it easier for criminals to launder their money.

At a Congressional hearing in February, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, a Justice Department official in charge of monitoring money laundering, said that “banks in the U.S. are used to funnel massive amounts of illicit funds.” The laundering, she explained, typically occurs in three stages. First, illicit funds are directly deposited in banks or deposited after being smuggled out of the United States and then back in. Then comes “layering,” the process of separating criminal profits from their origin. Finally comes “integration,” the use of seemingly legitimate transactions to hide ill-gotten gains. Unfortunately, investigators too often focus on the cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotics while missing the bigger, more sophisticated financial activities of crime rings.

Mob financing via banks has ebbed and flowed over the years. In the late 1970s and early 1980s organized crime, which had previously dealt mainly in cash, started working its way into the banking system. This led authorities in Europe and America to take measures to slow international money laundering, prompting a temporary return to cash.

Then the flow reversed again, partly because of the fall of the Soviet Union and the ensuing Russian financial crisis. As early as the mid-1980s, the K.G.B., with help from the Russian mafia, had started hiding Communist Party assets abroad, as the journalist Robert I. Friedman has documented. Perhaps $600 billion had left Russia by the mid-1990s, contributing to the country’s impoverishment. Russian mafia leaders also took advantage of post-Soviet privatization to buy up state property. Then, in 1998, the ruble sharply depreciated, prompting a default on Russia’s public debt.

Although the United States cracked down on terrorist financing after the 9/11 attacks, instability in the financial system, like the Argentine debt default in 2001, continued to give banks an incentive to look the other way. My reporting on the ’Ndrangheta, the powerful criminal syndicate based in Southern Italy, found that much of the money laundering over the last decade simply shifted from America to Europe. The European debt crisis, now three years old, has further emboldened the mob.

IN Greece, as conventional bank lending has gotten tighter, more and more Greeks are relying on usurers. A variety of sources told Reuters last year that the illegal lending business in Greece involved between 5 billion and 10 billion euros each year. The loan-shark business has perhaps quadrupled since 2009 — some of the extortionists charge annualized interest rates starting at 60 percent. In Thessaloniki, the second largest city, the police broke up a criminal ring that was lending money at a weekly interest rate of 5 percent to 15 percent, with punishments for whoever didn’t pay up. According to the Greek Ministry of Finance, much of the illegal loan activity in Greece is connected to gangs from the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

Organized crime also dominates the black market for oil in Greece; perhaps three billion euros (about $3.8 billion) a year of contraband fuel courses through the country. Shipping is Greece’s premier industry, and the price of shipping fuel is set by law at one-third the price of fuel for cars and homes. So traffickers turn shipping fuel into more expensive home and automobile fuel. It is estimated that 20 percent of the gasoline sold in Greece is from the black market. The trafficking not only results in higher prices but also deprives the government of desperately needed revenue.

Greece’s political system is a “parliamentary mafiocracy,” the political expert Panos Kostakos told the energy news agency earlier this year. “Greece has one of the largest black markets in Europe and the highest corruption levels in Europe,” he said. “There is a sovereign debt that does not mirror the real wealth of the average Greek family. What more evidence do we need to conclude that this is Greek mafia?”

Spain’s crisis, like Greece’s, was prefaced by years of mafia power and money and a lack of effectively enforced rules and regulations. At the moment, Spain is colonized by local criminal groups as well as by Italian, Russian, Colombian and Mexican organizations. Historically, Spain has been a shelter for Italian fugitives, although the situation changed with the enforcement of pan-European arrest warrants. Spanish anti-mafia laws have also improved, but the country continues to offer laundering opportunities, which only increased with the current economic crisis in Europe.

The Spanish real estate boom, which lasted from 1997 to 2007, was a godsend for criminal organizations, which invested dirty money in Iberian construction. Then, when home sales slowed and the building bubble burst, the mafia profited again — by buying up at bargain prices houses that people put on the market or that otherwise would have gone unsold.

In 2006, Spain’s central bank investigated the vast number of 500-euro bills in circulation. Criminal organizations favor these notes because they don’t take up much room; a 45-centimeter safe deposit box can fit up to 10 million euros. In 2010, British currency exchange offices stopped accepting 500-euro bills after discovering that 90 percent of transactions involving them were connected to criminal activities. Yet 500-euro bills still account for 70 percent of the value of all bank notes in Spain. And in Italy, the mafia can still count on 65 billion euros (about $82 billion) in liquid capital every year. Criminal organizations siphon 100 billion euros from the legal economy, a sum equivalent to 7 percent of G.D.P. — money that ends up in the hands of Mafiosi instead of sustaining the government or law-abiding Italians. “We will defeat the mafia by 2013,” Silvio Berlusconi, then the prime minister, declared in 2009. It was one of many unfulfilled promises. Mario Monti, the current prime minister, has stated that Italy’s dire financial situation is above all a consequence of tax evasion. He has said that even more drastic measures are needed to combat the underground economy generated by the mafia, which is destroying the legal economy.
Today’s mafias are global organizations. They operate everywhere, speak multiple languages, form overseas alliances and joint ventures, and make investments just like any other multinational company. You can’t take on multinational giants locally. Every country needs to do its part, for no country is immune. Organized crime must be hit in its economic engine, which all too often remains untouched because liquid capital is harder to trace and because in times of crisis, many, including the world’s major banks, find it too tempting to resist.

Thanks to Roberto Saviano, a journalist and the author of the book “Gomorrah.” He has lived under police protection since 2006, when he received death threats from organized crime figures in Italy. This essay was translated by Virginia Jewiss from the Italian.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Did the Judge Grant a Favor in Sentencing Jerry "The Monk" Scalise?

One of Chicago's most notorious mobsters was sentenced to federal prison Wednesday. But Jerry Scalise's sentence wasn't as long as it could have been.

In this Intelligence Report: Why a federal judge did a favor for Scalise's lawyer.

At the age of 74, Outfit legend Jerry "The Monk" Scalise has what federal prosecutors call an "unbroken history of criminal conduct." So, Scalise wouldn't seem to qualify for favors or special treatment by the justice system. But, Wednesday, that is just what he received when his lawyer asked for a favor in open court; and, even more surprising, received it.

Even as he was a special consultant on the Johnny Depp film about Dillinger, federal authorities say Jerry Scalise was plotting crimes for the Chicago Outfit.

The FBI had Scalise and his burglary crew under surveillance, and in 2010, the trio was arrested in mid-scheme. Scalise pleaded guilty to planning the take down of an armored car and a break-in at the home of a deceased Outfit boss.

Wednesday in court, prosecutors ticked off dozens of crimes Scalise has committed since 1960, including the 1980 theft of the 45-carat Marlborough diamond, still missing.

Assistant U.S. attorney Amarjeet Bhachu said Scalise did crimes for the thrill of hurting people and taking things, and requested a prison sentence of nearly 10 years.

Then Scalise's attorney Ed Genson asked for what he called "one favor for a man who probably doesn't deserve it": Mercy, the lowest legal sentence of eight years and 10 months.

Judge Harry Leinenweber, saying he probably shouldn't grant such a favor, did so anyway.

"It's unusual that I would ask," said Genson. "On the other hand, I don't usually step up for people who I've known for almost 40 years...Jerry Scalise is an extraordinarily exceptional man, exceptional family, he's erudite, he's gregarious, He's just an all-around good person. He's wasted his life. He knows it. This is sad for me because I'm fond of him. Hopefully he will have a few years out and make up for whatever he has done."

The I-Team asked Bhachu if he was surprised the judge granted the lawyer's requested favor. "Our response in court was that this is a man who is not deserving of mercy," said Bhachu. "He's a man who throughout his life has committed crimes and has appeared before any number of judges to be sentenced, and it seems from our position in court-- it seems somewhat incredible that you should be given mercy when you have devoted yourself over your life to the commission of criminal activity."

The rest of Jerry Scalise's mob crew is going to prison too. Wednesday, Robert Pullia received the same sentence as Scalise, after pleading guilty.

Previously, Art "The Genius" Rachel was convicted at trial and sentenced to about 8 and a half years.

Thanks to Chuck Goudie.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vice Presidential Nominee, Paul Ryan, Tied to Irish Mafia?

Forget Gangs of New York, the 'Irish mafia' has a new power base: Janesville, Wisconsin.

Home to representative Paul Ryan -- Mitt Romney's vice-presidential nominee -- this town of 64,000 people has suddenly been thrown into the spotlight as journalists the world over seek to get a handle on the new Sarah Palin. And, in anything that has been written, the Ryan family association with the so-called Irish mafia of Janesville invariably gets a mention. But as John Nichols -- a Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine -- explains, the Janesville mafia is not quite as sinister as it sounds.

"It's a slightly unfair term in that it's not like the Italian mafia," said Nichols. "It's not a criminal endeavour.

"Janesville was a factory town and a lot of Irish folks came there in the early years of the 20th Century to find jobs. Some of them started construction companies and, because they happened to be Irish, people started referring to them as the Irish mafia," he added.

The Ryan family -- owners of a major road-building company -- was just one of the families who fell under that umbrella.

"In general, you'd say they're known for business success," said Wisconsin state senator Tim Cullen, himself a member of one of the 'mafia' families. "But I think the big thing about being Irish for Paul is that he inherited a lot of the stereotypical Irish skills. He's a good-looking guy, he has a great smile and a great way of greeting people and talking with them," he added.

"He has all the Irish political skill. He's a 'hail fellow, well met' with the gift of the gab. All the clichés that people want to bring into play, he's got them all," agreed Nichols. But just how important is that connection today?

"They're old-school Irish in Janesville," said Nichols. "They like their St Patrick's Day parties. It's a very Catholic town and the people take their Irish connections pretty seriously ... but I wouldn't paint it like some neighbourhoods in New York or Chicago."

"[Ryan] played on his Irish ancestry a lot when he first ran for office," said Cullen, referring to an early campaign ad which showed the then 28-year-old Ryan walking among the tombstones of his ancestors in Janesville. "But he did that to associate himself with Janesville. He hadn't been in Wisconsin from the age of 18 to when he came back to run, so that TV ad was more about identifying him with the Ryan family history in Janesville," he added. And it worked. Ryan became one of the youngest ever members of the House of Representatives and has been re-elected with ease ever since.

Now one of the most influential Republicans in Congress (not to mention the pride and joy of his party's most conservative wing, the Tea Party) Ryan has made a name for himself as a man with a plan for the economy, and a very strict ideological take on government supports such as social security, Medicare and Medicaid.

"He's very conservative and just has complete faith that the free market system has all the answers," said Cullen who, despite coming from the other side of the divide, still speaks fondly of him.

So what would Ryan make of modern-day Ireland?

According to Cullen, there's little chance that he would approve of our "European-style" government. "Almost all his views are the antithesis of the social welfare system. He talks about not letting America become Greece, and you could almost substitute Ireland for Greece," said Cullen.

Regardless of what happens on election day in November, however, Cullen believes Ryan has been catapulted to a higher level in US politics for the rest of his career.

"If he comes out of this thing with a fairly good national reputation and Romney loses, Ryan will be the frontrunner for the 2016 presidential race," he said.

Thanks to Niamh Sweeney.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mara Shalhoup Discusses "Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family" on Crime Beat Radio

Mara Shalhoup, journalist, discusses her riveting book about Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family on August 30th on Crime Beat Radio.

On the air since January 28, 2011, Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Crime Beat is currently averaging 130,000 listeners plus each week, and the figure is growing. Crime Beat is hosted by award-winning crime writer and documentary producer Ron Chepesiuk ( and broadcast journalist and freelance writer Will Hryb.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Julie Davis on Crime Beat Radio Tonight!

Julia Davis, a former Customs and border protection agent and a national security whistleblower, discusses her case against the Department of Homeland Security, as well as national security issues, tonight on Crime Beat Radio.

On the air since January 28, 2011, Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Crime Beat is currently averaging 130,000 listeners plus each week, and the figure is growing. Crime Beat is hosted by award-winning crime writer and documentary producer Ron Chepesiuk ( and broadcast journalist and freelance writer Will Hryb.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shadowbosses: Government Unions Control America and Rob Taxpayers Blind

Shadowbosses: Government Unions Control America and Rob Taxpayers Blind tells a story of intrigue, drama, and corruption and reads like an organized crime novel. But it is actually a true story of how labor unions are infiltrating our government and corrupting our political process. This compelling and insightful book exposes how unions have organized federal, state, and local government employees without their consent, and how government employee unions are now a threat to our workers' freedoms, our free and fair elections, and even our American way of life. And, Mallory Factor reveals what's coming next: how unions are targeting millions of Americans--maybe even you--for forced unionization so that unions can collect billions more in forced dues and exert an even greater influence over American politics. A chilling expose, Shadowbosses is also a call to citizen action against those who really hold power in America today.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia

Cosa Nostra vividly reconstructs the stories of the men and women who have lived and died in the mafia's shadow. It explains how the mafia began, how it responds to threats and challenges and how it maintains its grip on the society where it was born. Cosa Nostra takes us inside the thought-processes of the mafia's leaders and foot soldiers, its friends and its foes. Its cast of characters includes Antonino Giammona, the first man with a claim to the title 'boss of bosses'; Emanuele Notarbartolo, the honest and courageous banker who in 1893 became the mafia's first 'eminent corpse'; New York cop Joe Petrosino who underestimated the Sicilian mafia and paid for this with his life, and Bernardo 'the Tractor' Provenzano, the current boss of bosses who has been in hiding in Sicily since 1963.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chicago Mob Challenged by Organized Crime Gangs from Eastern Europe

Organized crime wears a new face in Chicago — and the retiring special-agent-in-charge of the area’s FBI office says many times, it speaks a foreign language.

At the same time, the FBI’s Robert Grant said, the “Family Secrets” trial did not de-fang the Chicago Outfit.

“It’s like a cancer in remission,” or a bully who’s lost a few teeth, Grant said during the taping of Sunday’s WBBM Newsradio “At Issue” program, which airs at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Grant said Eastern European-based organized crime has moved quickly into Chicago and now draws as much manpower and attention from his office as the Mafia.

“Fifteen years ago, we had two organized crime squads (in Chicago) focused strictly on the Outfit,” he said. “Now we have one that, a part of their apparatus is focused on the Outfit, but the other is focused almost exclusively on Eastern European organized crime activity.”

The Outfit, he said, has always been locally run, and has focused most of its illegal activities — gambling, prostitution, juice loans and the like — locally. Not so with these new gangs.

“Some of the actors are here in Chicago. A lot of the actors are in foreign countries,” he said.

Much of that is cyber and financial crime, he said. Grant said the FBI uses much the same techniques that it has in the past with locally-based organized crime and corrupt politicians, including wiretaps and hidden microphones, but said translating can sometimes be a problem. And he said the differences in laws can make it difficult to work with foreign law enforcement, no matter how good their intentions.

“When they pick up an organized crime figure and don’t have a place to put in in a witness protection program or they don’t have the ability to plea down their sentence in return for intelligence and cooperation that affects their ability to get inside of organized crime,” he said.

Grant said in some former Soviet-bloc countries, the distrust of clandestine agencies runs high because of the abuses of the KGB and similar organizations.

That is not to say that the problem is exclusively one with roots elsewhere.

Grant said street gangs also pose a growing problem and said the FBI continues to work closely with local law enforcement. He said that in all, more than 100 of the 500 agents in his office are devoted to organized crime activity.

Grant has headed the Chicago field office of the FBI for more than seven years, but will be stepping down Sept. 3 to work with the global security team at the Walt Disney Co., where he will assess security threats and recommend responses.

Thanks to "At Issue".

Saturday, August 04, 2012

The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior: The Intersecting Lives of Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the World They Shaped

The Renaissance was a child of many fathers—none more important than the three iconic figures whose intersecting lives provide the basis for this astonishing work of narrative history: Leonardo Da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli and Cesar Borgia. Each could not have been more different. They would meet only for a short time in 1502 but the events that transpired, would significantly alter their perceptions—and the course of Western history.

In 1502, Italy was riven by conflict, with the city of Florence as the ultimate prize. Machiavelli, the consummate political manipulator, attempted to placate the savage Borgia by volunteering the services of Da Vinci as Borgia's chief military engineer. That autumn, the three men embarked together on a brief, perilous, and fateful journey through the mountains, remote villages and hill towns of the Italian Romagna—the details of which were revealed in Machiavelli's often-daily dispatches and Da Vinci's meticulous notebooks.

In a book that is at once a gripping adventure story and a trenchant analysis of how men make history, The Artist, the Philosopher and the Warrior limns each man's personality, their interactions, and the forces that shaped their world. Superbly written, meticulously researched, here is a work of narrative genius—whose subject is the very nature of genius itself.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Eugene Mullins, Former Cook County Official, Indicted on Kickback Charges

A former Cook County official was indicted on federal charges for allegedly fraudulently steering four county contracts, each just under $25,000, to four acquaintances and then soliciting a portion of the contract payments as a kickback from each of them, totaling approximately $34,700, federal and state law enforcement officials announced today. Eugene Mullins, who was director of the Cook County Department of Public Affairs and Communications between March 2008 and November 2010, was arrested today after being indicted on fraud and corruption charges. The four individuals who allegedly received county contracts and returned a portion of the payments to Mullins were each charged with misprision of a felony for allegedly concealing Mullins’ alleged fraud and kickback crimes.

Mullins, 48, of Chicago, was charged with four counts of wire fraud and four counts of soliciting kickbacks in a 12-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury yesterday and unsealed today when he appeared in U.S. District Court. He pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance. A status hearing was scheduled for 8:45 a.m. on September 5, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve.

The four co-defendants were not arrested and will be arraigned later on dates to be determined before Judge St. Eve. They are: Gary Render, 43, of Chicago; Michael L. Peery, 51, of Chicago; Clifford Borner, 45, of Chicago; and Kenneth Gregory Demos, 50, of Oak Park. Each was charged with one count of misprision of a felony.

The arrest and charges were announced by Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney; Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Patrick Blanchard, Cook County Inspector General. The charges stem from a joint state and federal corruption investigation that resulted previously in pending state charges against Carla Oglesby, a former Cook County official, who allegedly also illegally steered county contracts under $25,000.

Between January 2010 and January 2011, Mullins allegedly used his county position to submit and cause others to submit false documents to the county to assist the four co-defendants in obtaining professional and managerial service contracts and payment from the county. Mullins then solicited the individuals who obtained contracts for payments from the contract proceeds for his own benefit, the charges allege. Mullins also allegedly steered contracts under $25,000 to two other individuals who later returned the checks they received from the county in full and were not charged.

According to the indictment, county contracts for professional and managerial services under $25,000 required approval only by the county purchasing agent and did not require approval by the county Board of Commissioners. In 2010, Mullins’ public affairs and communications department, as well as other county departments, had access to federal funds and county money to promote awareness and increase response rates by county residents for the 2010 U.S. Census, to promote awareness and assist residents impacted by floods in 2008, and to promote and increase energy efficiency and conservation.

At various times in 2010, the indictment alleges that:

  • Mullins schemed to fraudulently steer a $24,980 disaster grant contract to Render, who returned $9,000 to Mullins;
  • Mullins schemed to fraudulently steer a $24,985 energy grant contract to Peery, who returned $12,000 to Mullins;
  • Mullins schemed to fraudulently steer a $24,995 census contract to Borner, who returned $5,000 to Mullins; and
  • Mullins schemed to fraudulently steer a $24,997 census contract to Demos, who returned $8,700 to Mullins.
Mullins also allegedly steered two additional census contracts for $24,995 and $24,390 to two other individuals whom he solicited for a portion of the proceeds, and in both instances, those individuals returned their uncashed checks to the county. In each instance, Mullins allegedly told the individuals who received the contracts that he could arrange for another company to perform portions of the work in exchange for a portion of the county payments they received. In fact, the money that Mullins received from the individuals was not used to arrange for any other companies to perform the work. Instead, it was used for Mullins’ own benefit, according to the indictment, and Render, Peery, Borner, and Demos performed little or no work for the county.

As part of an effort to conceal the scheme in late 2010 and early 2011, Mullins allegedly advised the contract recipients to falsely deny the circumstances surrounding the contracts if questioned by investigators. For example, he advised Peery not to say anything about the cash payment to Mullins and advised Borner to claim ownership of the invoice submitted in support of his census contract, the charges allege.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $34,700 from Mullins.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lindsay Jenkins, Sarah Streicker, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Blakey, chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison: each count of soliciting kickbacks carries a maximum of 10 years in prison; and misprision of a felony carries a maximum of three years in prison and all counts carry a $250,000 maximum fine. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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