Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Temple of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business

In the 1980sTemples of Chance, corporate America and junk bond kings usurped Mafia control of the casino industry. Now, with the spread of legalized gambling, a former vice is fast becoming a national pastime. Readers go gambling with five of the highest rollers in the world, find out about the dishonest underside of the industry, and how regulators are failing to stop corruption.

Temples of Chance.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Art of the Deal, Praise for @realDonaldTrump

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump lays out his professional and personal worldview in this classic work—a firsthand account of the rise of America’s foremost deal-maker.

“I like thinking big. I always have. To me it’s very simple: If you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big.”—Donald J. Trump

Here is Trump in action—how he runs his organization and how he runs his life—as he meets the people he needs to meet, chats with family and friends, clashes with enemies, and challenges conventional thinking. But even a maverick plays by rules, and Trump has formulated time-tested guidelines for success. He isolates the common elements in his greatest accomplishments; he shatters myths; he names names, spells out the zeros, and fully reveals the deal-maker’s art. And throughout, Trump talks—really talks—about how he does it. Trump: The Art of the Deal, is an unguarded look at the mind of a brilliant entrepreneur—the ultimate read for anyone interested in the man behind the spotlight.

Praise for Trump: The Art of the Deal

“Trump makes one believe for a moment in the American dream again.”—The New York Times

“Donald Trump is a deal maker. He is a deal maker the way lions are carnivores and water is wet.”—Chicago Tribune

“Fascinating . . . wholly absorbing . . . conveys Trump’s larger-than-life demeanor so vibrantly that the reader’s attention is instantly and fully claimed.”—Boston Herald

“A chatty, generous, chutzpa-filled autobiography.”—New York Post

Monday, May 23, 2016

Praise for @realDonaldTrump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention

The essential book to understanding Donald Trump as a businessman and leader—and how the biggest deal of his life went down.

Now, Barrett's classic book is back in print for the first time in years and with an introduction about Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Donald Trump claims that his success as a “self-made” businessman and real estate developer proves that he will make an effective president, but this devastating investigative account by legendary reporter Wayne Barrett proves otherwise. Back in print for the first time in years, Barrett’s seminal book reveals how Trump put together the biggest deal of his life—Trump Tower—through manipulation and deceit; how he worked with questionable characters from the mafia and city politics; and how it all nearly came crashing down. Here is a vivid and inglorious portrait of the man who wants now to be the most powerful man in the world.

In Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention, Barrett unravels the myth and reveals the truth behind the mogul’s wheelings and dealings. After decades covering him, few reporters know Trump as Barrett does. Instead of the canny businessman that Trump claims in his own books, Barrett explores how Trump exploited his father’s banking and political connections to finance and grease his first major deals. Barrett’s investigative biography takes us from the days of Donald’s lonely youth to his brash entry into the real estate market, and to the back room deals behind his New York, Atlantic City and Florida projects.

Most compellingly Barrett paints an intimate portrait of Trump himself, a man driven by bravado, obsessive self-regard, and an anxious ruthlessness to subdue his rivals and seduce anyone with the power to aid his empire. We see him head to head with an opponent as powerful as Pete Rozelle, ingratiating himself with the brooding governor on the Hudson, and fueling the Drexel engine driven by Michael Milken with hundreds of millions in fees—paid, ironically, by gaming companies to fend off Trump takeovers. We explore his complicated emotional and business relationship with his first wife, Ivana, and the use he planned to make of his mistress—and later, his second wife—Marla Maples as a “southern strategy” in his then contemplated presidential campaign. With interviews with scores of adversaries and former colleagues, we are given a privileged look at Trump the businessman in action—reckless as often as he is brilliant, reliant on threats as much as on charm, and ultimately a cautionary tale: is this the man we want to lead the world?


“Trump is a withering portrait of the most self-mythologized and promoted businessman of our era, an exhaustively researched and long-overdue antidote to Trump’s own books. It is a penetrating portrait of the age that spawned him and the many who aided and abetted his rise. Trump seems destined to be the definitive account of how Trump got ahead and why he fell. It is a sad story, with important lessons for us all.” —James B. Stewart, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Den of Thieves.

“Donald Trump surprises us again. Wayne Barrett’s Trump is a fresh, detailed, and vivid account of the tangled connections of money, politics, and power in our times.” —Nicholas Pileggi, author of Wiseguy.

Friday, May 20, 2016

4th Guilty Plea in #OperationFraudulentPain Investigation

United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Wisler Cyrius (35, Naples) pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each count. In addition, he has agreed to pay restitution to the victim automobile insurance companies and forfeit the proceeds of the offenses.

Cyrius is the fourth individual to plead guilty following the culmination of a two-year joint federal and state law enforcement investigation, dubbed “Operation Fraudulent Pain.” The investigation disrupted five unlicensed chiropractic clinics that had received more than $2 million in ill-gotten Personal Injury Protection (PIP) payments from automobile insurance companies. Anouce Toussaint (33, Naples) previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to launder money.  Garry Joseph (37, Naples) and Maria Victoria Lopez (44, Moore Haven) previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

According to the plea agreements, Tamiami Pain and Rehab LLC, First Choice Pain and Rehab Inc., Parkway Medical and Rehab LLC, T&C Consultants d/b/a Collier Chiropractic Center, and Immokalee Pain & Rehab LLC were unlicensed chiropractic clinics operating in Naples and Immokalee. At each clinic, conspirators paid licensed health care practitioners who, in exchange for payments, allowed their names to be listed on official documents as though they were the true owners of the clinics. The conspirators controlled the finances and oversaw and managed the clinics' day-to-day business, including the insurance billing practices.

According to his plea agreement, Joseph conspired to defraud automobile insurance companies of approximately $2 million from October 2012 to February 2015. He and a co-conspirator were the true owners of Parkway Medical and Rehab and Collier Chiropractic Center. They caused automobile insurance companies to be billed for claims that violated Florida law because the clinics were not properly licensed. They also submitted claims for unnecessary treatments and/or services that had not actually been rendered.

From June 2013 to February 2015, Cyrius and Toussaint conspired with others to solicit individuals to participate in staged motor vehicle accidents in exchange for compensation. The conspirators also sent automobile insurance companies claims for unnecessary services rendered to purported accident victims who had been paid to participate in the staged accidents. The conspirators also submitted claims to automobile insurance companies that were unlawful under Florida law because the clinics submitting the claims were not properly licensed. Cyrius and Toussaint used a shell corporation to conduct financial transactions designed to conceal the proceeds and to avoid reporting requirements.

According to her plea agreement, between October and December 2014, Lopez conspired with others to defraud automobile insurance companies. She had worked in billing and customer service at more than one clinic operated by her co-conspirators. Lopez was coached to mislead others about the true ownership of clinics and knew that non-health practitioners were directing medical treatments in order to maximize claims for payment. In addition, knowing that a patient had participated in a staged accident, Lopez coached that patient to receive medically unnecessary treatment. She directed another patient not to tell his insurance company that he was being compensated for receiving unnecessary treatment.

Joseph is scheduled to be sentenced on June 27, 2016. Toussaint and Lopez are scheduled to be sentenced on July 11, 2016. Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The United States will also seek a forfeiture money judgment from each defendant equal to the amount of proceeds obtained as a result of each offense.

A fifth individual, Nesly Loute, was also charged in Operation Fraudulent Pain. He is scheduled for trial in July 2016.

Fugitive Arrested by U.S. Marshals in Chicago

Maurice Graham Jr., 18, from Madison WI, was arrested in Chicago, IL by members of the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force. An arrest warrant had been issued pursuant to an investigation by the Madison Police Department where it is alleged that Graham was involved in a shooting that took place in Madison on May 01, 2016.

Members of the U.S. Marshals Service Badgerland Fugitive Investigative Apprehension Squad initiated an investigation in locating and apprehending Graham at the request of the Madison Police Department. Through investigative efforts it was determined that Graham had left Wisconsin and fled to Chicago. Members of U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force in Chicago were able to locate and arrest Graham in Chicago without incident. Graham is currently being held in custody at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office where he awaits extradition back to Wisconsin.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Great @PappyVanWinkle @BuffaloTrace Whiskey Theft Caper

One February day in 2015, Mark Rutledge walked into his gym in Frankfort, Kentucky, looking for someone who knew how to get Pappy Van Winkle. It would not be easy. Only 7,000 cases of Pappy are filled each year; a bottle from the 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle reserve retails for $249, if you can find one, and Rutledge knew that a couple of his gym buddies worked at the distillery where Pappy was made. Pappy rarely makes it to liquor-store shelves, set aside instead for VIP customers or sold by lottery. A bottle of the latest 23-year-old sells for as much as $4,000 on the resale market. Rutledge, who was a manager at Intel, had recently impressed his friends and co-workers by taking them to a bar in Louisville that offered Pappy at $100 a shot. He was heading to a conference in Texas and wanted to bring some along.

At least he was in the right place: Bourbon doesn't have to be distilled in Kentucky, but 95 percent of it is, and Frankfort sits along a string of distilleries including Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, and Buffalo Trace, which makes nine of the 10 most expensive bourbons, including Pappy Van Winkle.

One of the guys at Rutledge's gym was a stocky, barrel-chested 45-year-old named Gilbert "Toby" Curtsinger, who worked at Buffalo Trace and told Rutledge he knew of a bottle of 20-year-old Pappy that could be had for $1,000. Rutledge was interested in that and more, should Curtsinger come across any. About a week later, Curtsinger came back with nine bottles of different vintages. Rutledge bought the lot for $3,000, and on March 11, boarded a plane to his conference with most of them in his luggage.

The same morning a detective in Frankfort received an anonymous text message: "You might be interested in whiskey being stolen in full barrels from Wild Turkey." While 5.7 million barrels of bourbon are currently aging in warehouses throughout Kentucky, they aren't often found in suburban backyards.

The detectives smelled the bourbon before they saw it. When they lifted a tarp behind a backyard shed, the officers discovered five oak barrels, each spray-painted to conceal identifying marks. The barrels turned out to be filled with premium bourbon distilled by Wild Turkey and had a combined value of about $30,000. The house belonged to Toby Curtsinger, who sat on his patio while detectives searched the house. They found 11 handguns, five rifles, three shotguns, a silencer, a half-dozen types of anabolic steroids, various drugs for erectile dysfunction, and a plastic bag of hypodermic needles. Curtsinger told the police he'd gotten the bourbon from a friend who worked at Wild Turkey. When they asked to see his phone, Curtsinger suggested they ignore any texts about selling Pappy. He assured them they were meant as jokes.

Curtsinger, his wife, Julie, and eight others were indicted on charges of operating a criminal syndicate that trafficked in bourbon and anabolic steroids. Both Curt­singers refused to comment on the case. (This account comes largely from court filings, including voluntary statements, evidence lists, police reports, and text messages.) Among those allegedly involved were truck drivers, cops, and security guards; they went by nicknames like Smoothie and Big Ticket. Three were distillery employees, and several had met playing softball. The Curtsinger Nine was sort of a bourbon country Ocean's Eleven.

Because Curtsinger worked at Buffalo Trace, people immediately wondered whether those indicted had been responsible for the infamous theft of some 200 bottles of Pappy 17 months earlier (Kentucky's Case of the Missing Bourbon ran a New York Times headline), but the barrels behind Curtsinger's home were from Wild Turkey, which hadn't reported anything missing, suggesting this was an even wider caper.

The police eventually recovered whiskey valued at more than $100,000, but they believed that was only the tip of the iceberg. The investigation rippled throughout greater Frankfort, revealing a web of theft that ensnared husbands and wives, fathers and sons, CrossFit instructors and jealous ex-girlfriends — and lots of locals with stolen whiskey on their shelves. Rutledge turned in his bottles to the police. (He was not charged with any crime.) One man burned his barrel, while another supposedly poured bottle after bottle after bottle down the sink. "Don't go light a match in the Kentucky River," one attorney told me. "It might light up on fire."

When Toby Curtsinger was born, in 1969, bourbon was in the dumps. The postwar gentleman's drink was giving way to booze that went better with cranberry juice and pink umbrellas. By 1976, vodka had become America's most popular liquor. Distilleries throughout Kentucky shut down or were sold. Business was so bad that the Van Winkle family resorted to hawking its whiskey reserves in porcelain decanters decorated with cheesy bird drawings.

When Julian Van Winkle III took over the company, in 1981, he was selling so little whiskey that he decided to try an experiment. Most bourbon spends between four and eight years inside a barrel. Van Winkle wanted to see what would happen if he let some of his sit in the barrel for, well, he wasn't quite sure how long.

Bourbon is, by legal requirement, distilled grain aged in new oak barrels. At least half of the grain must be corn, typically flavored with a kick of barley and rye. But Pappy, like Maker's Mark and others, also uses wheat, giving its bourbon a smoother taste with "a seemingly endless and evolving cascade that introduces notes of cigar box, sweet tobacco, leather, and dried tangerine."

That ode to the joys of Pappy came from the Beverage Testing Institute, which, in 1997, after Van Winkle had finally opened his barrels, handed his 20-year-old whiskey a 99 rating — the highest ever given to a bourbon. The timing of that rating couldn't have been better. The craft beer movement was reviving American tastes for alcohol with flavor, and bourbon presented itself as a sophisticated drink with a sheen of frontier authenticity. Today, distillers speak lovingly of the Mad Men effect. "When I was 21, if I went into a bar and said, '101 on the rocks,' people thought, 'He's a roughneck,' " says Eddie Russell, who recently joined his father as co–master distiller at Wild Turkey. "Nowadays a 25-year-old walks in and orders bourbon on the rocks? He's sophisticated."

No bourbon has become as cherished — and, in some opinions, overhyped — as Pappy. In 2002, to help keep up with demand, the Van Winkles contracted with Buffalo Trace to distill all six Pappy varieties: the 10, 12, 15, 20, and 23-year-old versions, plus a rye whiskey. But the demand still outpaces supply — after all, it takes 23 years to make 23-year-old bourbon. An app and a Twitter feed track Pappy sightings; even empty Pappy bottles can sell for $300. If you want the real thing, your best option just might be to steal some.

Toby Curtsinger grew up not far from Wild Turkey's distillery in Lawrenceburg, a town of 11,000 south of Frankfort and west of Versailles, which locals pronounce with a pair of hard l's. He started working at Buffalo Trace after high school, and moved to a house up the road from the distillery. With a shaved head and goatee, Curtsinger could strike an imposing figure, though he was well liked around Frankfort. He was an avid hunter who sent mass text messages urging friends to lobby against firearm restrictions — all the guns in his home had been purchased legally — but turned down hunting trips for his kids' baseball games and gymnastics meets. Curtsinger's modest house was decorated with a Welcome Friends sign on the porch, and the backyard had a swing set, a basketball hoop, and a trampoline with protective netting.

Curtsinger spent much of his free time at Capitol View Park, where he played on travel softball teams with names like Slidin' Dirty and Scared Hitless. He was a considerate teammate, sometimes bringing plastic jugs of whiskey for the team. Kevin Fox, a lawyer who played with Curtsinger, objected to the notion that every dugout had a Gatorade bottle of bourbon — "When you play softball, you drink beer" — but to others the idea didn't seem odd: One player had visited Buffalo Trace and watched as employees filled jugs with excess whiskey.

Curtsinger's job at Buffalo Trace was demanding — he often worked seven days a week, 10 hours a day — but distillery jobs are some of Kentucky's most desirable, with an average salary of $90,000. Yet most of those jobs are in the warehouse, and upward mobility can be difficult. "Guys start there and try to work their way up," Eddie Russell, Wild Turkey's master distiller, told me. "Once guys get here, they don't really leave." Over more than 20 years at Buffalo Trace, Curtsinger had worked his way to a senior position on the loading dock, but it wasn't necessarily clear where he might go from there.

Still, what might drive a man with a wife and two kids, who's worked some two decades for the same company, to start stealing from his employer? The simple explanation might be that bourbon prices were soaring and that stealing it was pretty easy. Buffalo Trace has 450 employees spread across 440 acres, and more bourbon aging in its 15 warehouses than at any time since the 1970s. On a recent visit, I wandered around unaccompanied, in and out of various buildings, without anyone asking me whether I should be there. One employee told the police he would sometimes walk off the job with a few bottles of Pappy, while another said the cage where bottled Pappy was kept had a faulty hinge that could be removed. A third employee said he'd loaded pallets with random bourbons surrounding a hidden case of Pappy, which he rode off with while another employee fudged the inventory numbers.

Curtsinger started small. According to the investigation, around 2008 he began lifting bottles from display cases at the distillery. As a precaution, he would casually ask co-workers about security cameras around the facility. Curt­singer could be a generous colleague, loaning cash to co-workers but then asking that they repay him in stolen bottles. Eventually he got bolder: One night Curtsinger loaded more than 50 cases of Eagle Rare onto a pickup truck that was so weighted down it bottomed out on his driveway when he got home.

Curtsinger had no trouble finding interested buyers. He sold some of the Eagle Rare for $27,000 and found other customers on the softball diamond. One paid him for a barrel by writing a check for "softball hitting lessons."

Curtsinger gave customers enough deniability to believe the bourbon they were buying was legitimate, telling them it was excess inventory, unfit for bottling or set to be discarded for tax purposes. He often made deliveries wearing a green Buffalo Trace shirt.

Business was brisk, but there were only so many bottles of Pappy to be found, and eventually Curtsinger started stealing entire barrels, each containing the equivalent of around a hundred bottles. Sometimes he filled plastic barrels with whiskey, marked them for destruction, and then drove them off the lot himself. Twice he loaded several stainless steel barrels — used to hold whiskey that's done aging but not yet ready for bottling — into the back of his black Silverado and drove past a security guard he'd paid to look the other way.

The barrel business was so good that Curtsinger soon enlisted several friends to help expand his sales reach. A softball buddy started making sales in Lexington and the tonier suburb of Georgetown. One barrel ended up at a home on the 18th hole of the Cherry Blossom golf course; another wound up near the Tennessee border, where it was later found, empty, serving as a lawn ornament. It was a Pappy barrel, which meant that, when full, it could have been worth more than $100,000.

"$$$$$$$ son!!!!" Curtsinger texted Mark Searcy one day in the fall of 2014. A customer had just placed an order for eight barrels, and it was Searcy's job to get them ready. Searcy was a friend of Curt­singer's, four years his senior with thin white hair and graying stubble, who worked as a driver at Wild Turkey. While Curtsinger's access to Buffalo Trace's barrel warehouses was limited, Searcy could get into all 18 of Wild Turkey's rickhouses, where more than 500,000 barrels were aging. Part of Searcy's job involved loading an 18-wheeler with barrels and shuttling them between the distillery and a cluster of warehouses 30 miles away. Once a barrel went into the warehouse, the distillery more or less ignored it for years.

Curtsinger would place orders for a specific number of barrels, and Searcy would simply pick them up. "It looks as if this other ol' boy just might go [for] the four barrels," Curtsinger texted Searcy. "If you get the opportunity to get'm, then get'm!" Whenever he could, Searcy would load his truck and make a detour to a relative's farm, where he'd roll several barrels along an aluminum ladder and into a barn.

Curtsinger occasionally helped with the heavy lifting, but his primary job was sales, which leaves a question: How the hell did one man make off with 500-pound barrels all by himself? Searcy offered a possible answer in a text to his girlfriend: "I have taken a lot of steroids that's for animals." (Searcy did not agree to be interviewed.)

One thing can be said of most every member of the Curtsinger Nine: They weren't scrawny. Most pushed or exceeded 200 pounds, and Julie Curtsinger, the smallest among them, is a competitive CrossFitter who owns a gym in town. Her husband worked out at a two-story strip-mall gym, where his workout buddies included Mike Wells, a Frankfort policeman with a shaved head and the body of a middle linebacker. (Wells was not one of the original nine suspects and has not been charged in this case.)

Wells and Curtsinger occasionally played softball together, and at some point they apparently decided their slugging percentages could use a boost. They started placing large orders for anabolic steroids from Hong Kong. Some of the steroids were for personal use — Wells, ironically, was the department's D.A.R.E. officer — but Curt­singer also started ordering them for others. In February, Curtsinger stepped out of dinner with his wife at a historic restaurant south of Frankfort to sell two bottles of steroids and two of testosterone — which is not to say he isn't a romantic. When Julie texted one day to say she was thinking of him, his response was "I'm ordering you some anavar and primobolan" — two anabolic steroids — "so I was thinking of u first."

By 2015, Curtsinger's criminal cool began to fray. At Buffalo Trace, he snapped at a co-worker who had moved a pallet of Pappy that Curtsinger had set aside. The tension was wearing on his relationship with Searcy as well. The previous fall, as the holidays approached, Curtsinger had been relentless in his quest for more barrels:

"Think you'll have any luck soon?"
"Checking on barrel situation."

When Searcy didn't respond, Curtsinger sometimes forwarded the messages again. Two days before Thanksgiving, he prodded Searcy three times. "Maaaan got some fools biting."

Searcy was overwhelmed. He was helping to care for his ailing father, and working two jobs — shuttling barrels both over and under the table — seemed to be wearing on him. One day his girlfriend confronted him to ask why they hadn't been having sex. Searcy said he was too exhausted. To add to his full plate of complications, he had to deal with her soon-to-be ex-husband, to say nothing of his own jealous ex. On the same day that Curt­singer sent more barrel demands ("This dude wants 4 for sure and maybe 6"), Searcy's ex sent Searcy a string of explicit come-ons, all of which he ignored.

The next day, Curtsinger amended the order: "This fool wants a total of 8 now if you can get them!" Meanwhile, Searcy's ex continued to harass him, threatening to destroy his new relationship.

It was all too much. In February, Searcy told Curtsinger he wanted out. Curt­singer later told authorities that Searcy couldn't keep five recently acquired barrels at his house any longer, because Searcy feared that his girlfriend's estranged husband would alert the police. So Curtsinger moved the barrels to his backyard and started scrambling to find a buyer. As he waited to sell one of the barrels to a local real estate developer, the police showed up.

From one angle, Curtsinger, Searcy, and their crew were simply Robin Hoods, reclaiming America's native liquor from the faceless foreign conglomerates that now run many of Kentucky's most famous distilleries. Save perhaps Curtsinger, no one in the Great Bourbon Syndicate was getting rich. He gave his middle­men as little as $100 or $200 per sale and paid at least one accomplice in Percocet and Adderall. His barber, who had stored barrels for him in a barn he owned, said that he was supposed to be paid with a barrel of his own, but Curtsinger never gave him one.

It did not take long for Curtsinger's ad hoc syndicate to collapse. Several deputies spent hours searching his home while Curtsinger sat on the porch alerting his accomplices. (The trail of digital evidence later made connecting the dots even easier for the police.) Searcy's girlfriend called Mike Wells, the police officer, saying she thought Searcy might be suicidal. Both Searcy and Curtsinger had tried to delete incriminating messages from their phones, but the attorney general's Cyber Crimes Unit recovered enough data to link suppliers, sellers, and buyers. Four accomplices have already taken plea agreements and may testify at trial. The others, including Toby Curtsinger and Searcy, have pleaded not guilty and are still awaiting trial.

No one knows, or at least is saying, who texted the tip that brought down Curt­singer and Searcy — "Obviously Toby Curt­singer made somebody mad" is all Sheriff  Pat Melton will say — but most local speculation rests on one of the characters from Searcy's messy personal life. Wells resigned from the Frankfort police, and the mayor has called for an inquiry into the department's possible involvement. The original Pappygate theft remains an open investigation, and according to a person who had spoken with the Van Winkles, the family was so upset about the thefts that they were considering voiding their contract with Buffalo Trace.

"This is everything that's come in," Melton told me one afternoon as he walked proudly among more than a dozen barrels being stored in the basement of his office. The bottles of Pappy, which Melton, like many Kentuckians, had never tasted, were locked in evidence, protected by Bubble Wrap. Because no one can guarantee what is in the barrels the police have recovered, most of the bourbon is likely to be destroyed. But the joke around the courthouse is that a lawyer representing one individual has come up with a creative fee structure. If they manage to get any of the bourbon back from evidence, all the lawyer asks from his client is that he get to keep a couple of bottles.

Thanks to Reeves Wiedeman.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How Al Capone's Successors Built a National Syndicate & Controlled America

He was dubbed with one of the all-time greatest gangland nicknames, The Fixer. The tag fit Sidney Korshak like a calfskin glove.

Born to immigrant parents, Korshak beamed his bright light on a law career and - with the connections of several underworld mentors - got his start representing wiseguys against criminal charges. But his real value to the Chicago Outfit, as the inheritors of Al Capone's criminal empire came to be called, was as a labor consultant and negotiator.

With Korshak in the foreground, Gus Russo's "Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers" tells the story of how a tightknit claque of mostly Russian Ashkenazi Jews rose from the rough-and-tumble rackets to seats of influence and power in some Fortune 500 companies.

In their heyday, around 1960, the gang had long tentacles in Hollywood, controlled an interest in the Hilton hotel chain and held sway over ally Jimmy Hoffa's Teamster's union. That's to say nothing of their outright, if well-hidden, ownership of several Las Vegas casinos, including the Desert Inn - the high roller's haunt where Frank Sinatra made his Sin City debut.

Organized crime's ultimate objective is to make the lucre go in filthy and come out clean, through investments in legitimate businesses. In this, the Supermob had no equal.

Their most sophisticated scheme involved buying property that Japanese-Americans were forced to sell during World War II. Korshak, his cronies and their man inside the Roosevelt administration's Office of Alien Property, turned this land grab into a dandy cash-washing machine. Their exertions were so diabolically intertwined with legal maneuvers that the exact details have eluded two generations of investigators.

The complete story, the author admits, is still unknown. This complex trail is also difficult to follow, and though germane to the work, makes for some glacially paced reading.

When he wasn't perverting a union or arranging a sweetheart loan, Sidney's activities were far more entertaining. The Fixer hustled Dean Martin out of Chicago in one piece after Dino's roving eye locked on the moll of one of the Outfit's boys. Korshak also hot-wired a hooker-filled hotel room with an infrared camera, blackmailing a Senate investigator into going easy on his Chi-town pals.

"Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers" is chocked with anecdotes like this. The gangland gossip and Hollywood scuttlebutt ultimately outweigh Russo's dissection of Byzantine financial chicanery, and in the end, the book adds up to an exhaustive Who's Who of the dark power players of 20th century America.

Thanks to Peter Pavia

Friday, May 13, 2016

Transgender Mafia Boss, Giovanna Arrivoli, Murdered After being Brutally Tortured

A transgender mafia boss was brutally tortured and then murdered after going missing for three days.

Giovanna Arrivoli, 41, was born a woman but underwent gender reassignment to become a man.

He was killed in Melito di Napoli, near Naples in southern Italy's Campania region.

Police said Arrivoli had been forced to kneel and had then been shot three times, twice in the head, in an execution-style killing. His body was found half buried in a ditch in remote countryside.

Local media reported that it appeared that he had been tortured before he was killed.

Police had been looking for him since his fiancée reported him missing three days earlier.

Arrivoli was the owner of a local café bar, named Blue Moon, which is rumoured to be a stronghold of the local Pagato Amato mafia crime family.

Local media report that it was where the family drew up their plans and decided who would live and who would die.

Arrivoli was reportedly a high-ranking boss within the family and police have interviewed other members about his death.

Local media reports a wide range of speculation over the reason for his death, ranging from an unpaid drug debt to an attack by a rival clan.

Arrivoli was unusual in the macho world of the mafia in that he was born female but was accepted as a man. He said he had always felt male. He had surgery to have his breasts removed and dressed and acted as a man.

Arrivoli, who was released from a jail term for drug dealing in 2012, was planning to marry his girlfriend.

Thanks to Ruth Halkon.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mass Mafia Bust #ProjectClemenza

The RCMP is carrying out a series of arrests in the Montreal area in what the Mounties are calling the third and last phase of an investigation into the Mafia in Montreal that began several years ago.

Included among the people the RCMP arrested Wednesday is Liborio (Pancho) Cuntrera, 47, a man who police sources have described as a potential leader within what remain's of the Rizzuto organization.

Cuntrera is the son of Agostino Cuntrera, a member of the Rizzuto organization who was gunned down in St-Leonard in 2010 when the Mafia clan was under pressure from rivals. While the Rizzuto organization was under pressure to relinquish control of the mob in Montreal, the older Cuntrera remained loyal to the Rizzutos. Liborio Cuntrera also represents the second generation of a group of well known wealthy international drug smugglers known in many parts of the world as the Cuntrera-Caruana organization.

Cuntrera was not arrested on Wednesday because he is currently on vacation. According to sources familiar with the investigation, Cuntrera is currently in Italy, has been in contact with the RCMP and has agreed to turn himself in when he returns to Canada in a few days, one source said.

One man named as a target in the investigation is Martino Caputo, a 42-year-old man who is serving a 12-year prison term in Kingston for his role in a cocaine smuggling conspiracy to bring a tonne of the narcotic into Canada once a month. Caputo also faces charges in Ontario related to a murder carried out in that province back in 2012.

In February 2004, Crivello was sentenced to a three-year prison term for holding a person against their will and aggravated assault.

According to decisions made by the Parole Board of Canada, Crivello hired a group of men to collect $60,000 that he believed had been stolen from him. Three men were held against their will and beaten while Crivello watched and demanded to know what happened to his money. One of the victims suffered injuries that required surgery.

While he was before the parole board, in 2005, Crivello admitted that he had been involved in drug trafficking from the age of 17.

Another man who was arrested Wednesday, Frank Iaconetti, 48, has also done time in a federal penitentiary. In 1999, he pleaded guilty, in a U.S. District court in Massachusetts, to being part of a conspiracy to distribute cocaine. According to court documents filed in that case, on March 15, 1998, Iaconetti brought $250,000 in cash to undercover agents for what what supposed to be a down payment 100 kilograms of cocaine destined for Canada. When he was sentenced in 1999, a judge was told there was very little evidence that Iaconetti knew details about the actual drug transaction. At the time, Iaconetti said he agreed to deliver the money to deal with a serious addiction to gambling that caused him to ask that he be banned from the Montreal casino.

According to a statement issued by the RCMP Wednesday morning, the arrests are the third part of Project Clemenza, an investigation into the drug trafficking activities of various Mafia clans. Project Clemenza had to be put on hold because while it was underway the RCMP uncovered evidence related to the murder of Salvatore Montagna, a Mafia leader from New York who was one of the leaders in the attempt to wrestle power away from the Rizzuto organization about six years ago.

In a sign of how long Project Clemenza was delayed because of Montagna's murder, the charges filed at the Montreal courthouse against Liborio Cuntrera and Marco Pizzi, 46, of Montreal North, date back to 2011. Both men are alleged to have been involved in a conspiracy to traffick in cocaine between Sept. 28, 2011 and Oct. 6, 2011.

An RCMP spokesperson told reporters that 15 people were targeted in Wednesday's operation and that the investigation probed drug smuggling and drug trafficking.

"The network imported cocaine through the United States and used its contacts in the commercial ground transport industry," the spokesperson said. "The investigation demonstrated that this (network) transported large quantities of cocaine. The American and Canadian authorities have seized more than 220 kilos of cocaine and placed their hands on (more than $2 million). The impact of this operation on organized crime is significant and will have an affect on drug smuggling activities in the Greater Montreal region."

Another of the men arrested Wednesday was Hansley Joseph, 36, a wel-known member of a Montreal street gang who was often seen interacting with Mafia-tied drug traffickers during Project Colisee, a major investigation into the Mafia that had a huge impact on the Rizzuto organization a decade ago. In 2007, Joseph received a two-year prison term for his role in a drug trafficking network that operated in northern Montreal.

The case brought against Joseph and about two dozen other men in 2005, was significant because it represented one of the first times in Canada that gangsterism charges were brought against street gang members.

According to a decision made in the case in 2007, Joseph was part of a group known as the "Dope Squad" and frequently supplied cocaine to a group known as the Pelletier St. gang that sold crack on Pelletier St., near the corner of Henri Bourassa Blvd.

Thanks to Paul Cherry.

State Senator and @TheDemocrats Official Charged in Vote Buying Scheme

A Pennsylvania State Senator and a Pennsylvania Democratic Party Official were charged in a federal indictment for their involvement in a bribery and fraud scheme related to the 2011 election for Democratic Ward Leader for Philadelphia’s Eighth Ward.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division made the announcement.

Lawrence “Larry” Farnese, 47, and Ellen Chapman, 62, both of Philadelphia, were charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and violations of the Travel Act.  According to the indictment, at the time of the alleged illegal conduct, Farnese was a Pennsylvania State Senator and a candidate for Democratic Ward Leader of the Eighth Ward and Chapman was a member of the Eighth Ward Democratic Committee.

The indictment alleges that from May to December 2011, Farnese and Chapman devised a bribe scheme in which Farnese paid $6,000 to a college study-abroad program for Chapman’s daughter in exchange for Chapman’s agreement to use her position with the Eighth Ward Democratic Committee to support Farnese in the upcoming ward leader election.  According to the indictment, Chapman had originally intended to support a different candidate in the ward leader election.  The indictment also alleges that Farnese made the $6,000 payment using campaign funds and disguised the true purpose of the payment by falsely listing it as a “donation” on the campaign’s finance report.

18 Genovese Crime Family Members Arrested on 8-Count Indictment including Conspiracy to Commit Murder

Eighteen members and associates of the Genovese crime family — one of New York’s most notorious organized crime syndicates — were charged Thursday with an eight-count indictment that includes conspiracy to commit murder, federal officials said.

Robert Debello (aka “Old Man”), Steven Pastore, Ryan Ellis (aka “Baldy”), Salvatore Delligatti (aka “Jay” or “Fat Sal”), Luigi Romano (aka “Louie Sunoco”) and Betram Duke (aka “Birdy”) were among those arrested in the law enforcement sweep carried out in Nassau County and New York City, officials said.

Of the 18 defendants charged in the indictment, 17 were in custody late Thursday, including 13 who were arrested as part of a coordinated takedown by FBI agents, NYPD detectives and members of the Nassau County Police Department earlier in the day, federal officials said.

“This racket was as old as La Cosa Nostra,” NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said in a written statement. “From murder for hire to extortion and gambling, there wasn’t a scheme that was off limits to these soldiers and associates of the Genovese family. The mob may be diminished, but it’s not dead, and it requires our continued vigilance.”

Among their numerous alleged crimes, the defendants are accused of extorting businesses, running protection rackets, and operating a sports betting and bookmaking operation that earned thousands of dollars a day, officials said.

In 2014, several of the men conspired to murder an unidentified victim “for the purpose of gaining entry to and maintaining and increasing position” in the Genovese family, court records show.

Officials did not release any details about the murder for hire plot or the attempted murder charge, nor did they specify who were the targets.

The indictment — unsealed Thursday in Manhattan federal court — charges several of those arrested with racketeering conspiracy, attempted murder, extortion conspiracy, operating an illegal gambling business, illegal use of firearms, and other crimes, officials said.

The charges stem from the Genovese family’s alleged involvement in a racketeering scheme carried out between 2008 and 2016, court records show.

Several of the men charged Thursday are from Long Island, including Scott Jacobson, 31, of Old Bethpage, Frank Celso, 50, of West Hempstead, Michael Vigorito, 35, of Massapequa, Spyro Antonakopoulos, 31, of Elmont, and Jonathan Desimone, 34, of Huntington, officials said.

Attorneys for the accused, who were to be arraigned in federal court Thursday, were not identified.

Nassau County police and prosecutors also helped with the investigation, officials said.

“With today’s charges, we strike an important blow against the Genovese Crime Family,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a written statement. “Whether you are an old school made member of the mob or a young street criminal looking to join it, the message today is clear: the life of a mobster is a dead-end street that ends nowhere good.”

Thanks to Kevin Deutsch.

"Grandpa," "Lazy Eye," "Fat Sal," "Baldy," and "Birdie," among 17 Reputed Members of Genovese Crime Family Arrested

More than a dozen members and associates of the Genovese crime family were arrested early Thursday on federal criminal charges, sources told NBC 4 New York.

Seventeen defendants, with nicknames like "Grandpa," "Lazy Eye," "Fat Sal" and "Birdie," were named in an eight-count indictment accusing them of racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, operating an illegal gambling business and illegal use of firearms.

The suspects charged Thursday allegedly ran an illegal gambling operation, made murder threats and conspired to commit murder to futher the illegal operation, the indictment alleges.

The alleged mobsters known as Grandpa, Baldy and Fat Sal conspired together to kill someone in 2014, the indictment states. They did so, according to the charges, to be welcomed into the Genovese family and to increase their positions in the ranks of the operation.

Defendants known as Fat Sal, Lazy Eye, Grandpa, Zeus and others also allegedly ran a large-scale illegal bookmaking and sports betting operation, the indictment states. The gambling operation raked in more than $2,000 a day, the suit says.

Sources said 14 of the suspects were arrested Thursday as FBI agents, NYPD detectives and Nassau County police conducted raids in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Bronx and Nassau County.

Those arrested were expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan later Thursday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

6 MS-13 Gangsters Convicted of Multiple Murders and Attempted Murder

Six members of the street gang La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, were convicted by a federal jury for their roles in three murders and one attempted murder in Northern Virginia, among other charges.

“These violent gang members brutally murdered three men and attempted to murder a fourth,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Extreme violence is the hallmark of MS-13, and these horrific crimes represent exactly what the gang stands for. This was a highly complicated, death penalty eligible case with 13 defendants and more than two dozen defense attorneys. To say I am proud of our trial team and investigative partners is an understatement. I want to thank them for their terrific work on this case and for bringing these criminals to justice.”

“The defendants terrorized our local communities with senseless, depraved acts of threats, intimidation and violence,” said Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “They murdered in the name of MS-13, but as this jury’s verdict makes clear, no gang can protect them from facing justice for their crimes. This verdict sends a clear message that the FBI will hold violent gangs and murderers fully accountable for their actions.  I would like to thank the agents, analysts and prosecutors for their tireless efforts to eradicate gang violence in our communities.”

A total of 13 defendants were charged in this case. Of those, six defendants went to trial and were convicted of all charges. Six defendants pleaded guilty prior to trial, and one defendant was severed from the case and will have a separate trial at a later date.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, on Oct. 1, 2013, Jose Lopez Torres, Jaime Rosales Villegas and others drove to Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge to murder a fellow gang member.  However, one of the gang members in the car had not only alerted police to the murder plot, he also made recorded phone calls and wore a body wire to a meeting where the gang members, including Pedro Anthony Romero Cruz, who participated from prison on a contraband cell phone, planned the murder. The gang members’ vehicle was under surveillance that night, the victim had been warned to not be at school, and the informant was wearing a body wire.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, on Oct. 7, 2013, Torres, Omar DeJesus Castillo, Juan Carlos Marquez Ayala, Araely Santiago Villanueva, Jose Del Cid, and three others murdered fellow gang member Nelson Omar Quintanilla Trujillo. The gang believed Trujillo was a snitch, and so the gang members lured him to Holmes Run Park in Falls Church, and brutally killed him by stabbing him with knives and slashing him with a machete. When they were done they buried Trujillo in a shallow grave.  Several gang members returned a short time later and, with the assistance of Alvin Gaitan Benitez, reburied the body of Trujillo.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, on March 29, 2014, Castillo, Benitez, Christian Lemus Cerna, Manuel Ernesto Paiz Guevara, Villanueva, Del Cid, and one other murdered Gerson Adoni Martinez Aguilar, a gang recruit, for breaking gang rules.  Like Trujillo, the gang members lured him to Holmes Run Park and killed him. They stabbed him repeatedly, cut off his head, and then buried him in a shallow grave.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, on June 19, 2014, Jesus Alejandro Chavez, Del Cid, and Genaro Sen Garcia murdered Julio Urrutia. Several gang members including Chavez, who had been released from prison eight days earlier, were out looking for rival gang members when they approached a group of young men, flashed their gang signs, and challenged them about their gang affiliation. During the exchange Chavez pulled out a gun and shot Urrutia in the neck at point blank range.

Each defendant convicted at trial faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison when sentenced.  Villegas and Cruz face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the conspiracy to commit murder charge, in addition to a consecutive minimum sentence of 10 years in prison for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.  Villegas also faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the attempted murder charge. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sidney Korshak and The Mafia's Shadow Men

In their quest to assemble fragments of the past into a coherent explanation for why things happened as they did, historians tend to take one of two paths.

Some stick to the deeds of kings, presidents and famous military commandersSupermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers, agreeing with Thomas Carlyle that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men." Others contend that the engines of history are really to be found in the anonymous multitudes, whose collective needs and capabilities determine the overarching economic, technological and social realities that shape the world and its future. And then there is a third notion, usually discredited but always seductive, that history is the product of a different breed of great men: the kind who plot their schemes in dark shadows and keep their identities secret. Such a man was Sidney Korshak.

For someone who never got convicted of so much as jaywalking and evaded public notice for nearly his whole life, Korshak had serious clout with powerful men. Having launched his legal career by representing the heirs to the Capone mob in Chicago, he was the kind of man who could come to Las Vegas during a Teamsters conference and have Jimmy Hoffa tossed out of the presidential suite so he could occupy it himself. His occasional mistress, Jill St. John, the 1960s Hollywood "It" girl, would reportedly turn down Henry Kissinger's invitations to the White House by saying, "Sorry, I have an invitation from someone more important." His preternatural abilities as a Hollywood fixer have been credited with enabling the production of "The Godfather," in which the non-Italian consigliere character played by Robert Duvall is thought by some to be based on Korshak. Together with men such as entertainment mogul Lew Wasserman, tax lawyer Abe Pritzker and real estate speculator Paul Ziffren, Korshak represented the clean face of a dirty business, according to "Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers," Gus Russo's book. He was the bridge between Mafia hoodlums and the white-collar world.

Russo, an investigate reporter who has written about the Chicago Outfit in depth before, sets out here to tell the story of the mostly Jewish lawyers who were recruited by Italian mobsters and eventually came to surpass their original paymasters in money and power. He begins in Chicago's West Side, home to Russian Ashkenazic Jews who had fled the late 19th century pogroms and were determined to protect themselves from becoming victims again. "They were always aware that their wealth and position in society could be noticed and another pogrom would ensue. Thus they worked surreptitiously, choosing to focus on the substrata of a business or event." In an era when Jews were barred from the white-shoe firms, where they might otherwise have made lucrative careers, these often brilliant men became integral parts of the Mafia's attempts to extend their westward reach into legitimate enterprises, ranging from casinos to hotel chains to real estate to the Hollywood studios. In the process, Russo contends, the underworld laid its tentacles on many great men of the more famous variety -- especially in California, where the Chicago Outfit's front men played significant roles in the careers of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, among others.

Drawing heavily from FBI case files and countless interviews, Russo opts for thoroughness rather than a breezy prose style to make his case. The weight of evidence can make the book slow going at times, but it adds up to a compelling picture of the exercise of power in the 20th century. As a labor negotiator who eschewed written notes and mysteriously solved seemingly intractable problems with one or two phone calls from the table of his favorite Los Angeles bistro -- often reaping sweetheart deals for management from unions that had been infiltrated by hoods -- Korshak sat at the center of a wide, corrupt and stupendously profitable web. And while it can be hard to work up much outrage over the details of labor racketeering, stock swindles and real estate fraud, the human costs of such things can be heartbreaking. Russo's chapter on the shameless plundering of the assets of imprisoned Japanese Americans during World War II, presided over by a bevy of Korshak's associates, is particularly stirring.

As an exercise in history, "Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers" is a worthwhile contribution to our understanding of the "American century." Holding back from wild-eyed conspiracy theories, Russo documents unsettling connections between yesterday's underworld and a corporate oligarchy that has never been more ascendant than it is today, partly because it has adopted some of the same schemes with a still greater degree of sophistication. The conditions that spawned Korshak and his ilk have changed considerably, but only to be replaced by the likes of Enron and WorldCom. How many new Korshaks are thriving among us now, taking care to leave behind no paper trail? People like to say that history is written by the victors. What happens when the real winners have burned all their notes?

Thanks to Trey Popp

Thursday, May 05, 2016

48 Reputed Members of Gangster Disciples Indicted on Federal Racketeering Charges

Forty-eight alleged members of the violent Gangster Disciples Gang – including the top leaders in Tennessee and Georgia – have been charged in two indictments and accused of conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise that included multiple murders, attempted murder and drug crimes.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney John A. Horn of the Northern District of Georgia, U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III of the Western District of Tennessee, Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson of the FBI’s Atlanta Division and Special Agent in Charge A. Todd McCall of the FBI’s Memphis Division made the announcement.

A 12-count indictment was returned by a grand jury on April 27, and unsealed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Georgia.  Thirty individuals were taken into custody and two remain at large.  A 16-count indictment was returned by a grand jury on April 22, and unsealed in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Tennessee.  Fifteen individuals were taken into custody and one remains at large.  

“It is the very of core of law enforcement’s mission to ensure that everyone feels safe in their homes and neighborhoods, and it is a hard reality that many people across our country simply do not enjoy this basic sense of security because of gangs like the Gangster Disciples,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “That is why it is so significant that today’s indictments charge top leaders within the Gangster Disciples.  There are a lot of people out there willing to join gangs, and eager to get easy money from criminal activity.  But there are far fewer people with the wherewithal to lead organizations like the Gangster Disciples.  These are the people who keep gangs like the Gangster Disciples alive, year in and year out, generation after generation.  Cases like these make a difference, and I want to thank all the law enforcement and U.S. Attorney Office and Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecutors who worked so hard to build this case.”

“Atlanta has historically been resistant to the incursion of these national gangs, but unfortunately today’s indictment shows how this landscape has changed in just the last few years, as the Gangster Disciples are only one of several gangs that now boast a strong foothold,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn.  “These charges show how a national gang like Gangster Disciples can wreak havoc here and in communities across the country, with crimes that run the gamut from murder to drug trafficking to credit card fraud.  Within Georgia, the leadership of the Gangster Disciples resided mostly in metro Atlanta, yet the reach of the crimes committed extended into far south and west Georgia.  We hope this indictment warns the leaders of these gangs that Atlanta is not a good place to do business.”

“As the indictment alleges, the Gangster Disciples flooded communities throughout the southeast and beyond with large amounts of drugs, and ruthlessly used fear, intimidation, and even murder to promote and protect their nationwide criminal enterprise,” said U.S. Attorney Stanton.  “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to eliminate the terror gang members inflict upon our communities, and will exhaust every available resource, including the federal RICO statute, to bring them to justice.  Dismantling violent gangs at the highest levels remains a priority for the U.S. Attorney's Office.”

“Today's Gangster Disciple arrests across nine states merely marks the first wave of the FBI’s strategic campaign to dismantle this violent criminal organization,” said Special Agent in Charge Johnson.  “The Gangster Disciples are a highly organized and ruthless gang that recognizes no geographical boundaries, and its members have far too long indiscriminately preyed upon and infected the good people of our communities like a cancer.  The FBI’s Safe Streets Gang Task Forces recognize no boundaries either, and we are committed to identifying, disrupting and dismantling the most violent gangs that seek to harm our communities.  The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, are committed to seeing this campaign through, and once and for all putting an end to the Gangster Disciples' reign of violence.”

According to court documents, the Gangster Disciples is a national gang active in more than 24 states with a highly organized structure including board members and governor-of-governors who each controlled geographic regions; governors, assistant governors, chief enforcers and chiefs of security for each state or regions within the state where the Gangster Disciples were active; and coordinators and leaders within each local group.  To enforce discipline among Gangster Disciples and adherence to the strict rules and structure, members and associates were routinely fined, beaten and even murdered for failing to follow the gang’s rules.

The scope of the Gangster Disciples’ crimes is wide-ranging and consistent throughout the national operation.  The RICO conspiracies charged here include attempted murder, narcotics trafficking, extortion, firearms crimes, obstruction of justice and other crimes in furtherance of the Gangster Disciples enterprise and to raise funds for the gang.  In Georgia, for example, the Gangster Disciples brought money into the gang through, among other things, drug trafficking, robbery, carjacking, extortion, wire fraud, credit card fraud, insurance fraud and bank fraud.

The gang protected its power and operation through threats, intimidation and violence, including murder, attempted murder, assault and obstruction of justice.  It also promoted the Gangster Disciples enterprise through member-only activities, including conference calls, birthday celebrations of the gang’s founder, the annual Gangster Ball, award ceremonies and other events.

The gang also provided financial and other support to members charged with or incarcerated for gang-related offenses and members who were fugitives from law enforcement were provided “safe houses” in which to hide from police.  To introduce the criminal nature of the Gangster Disciples to a new member, older members and leaders in the various local groups ordered newer members to commit crimes, including murder, robbery and drug trafficking.  Further, Gangster Disciples members would teach other members how to commit certain crimes, including frauds and would provide drugs on discount to other Gangster Disciples members for resale.

The Atlanta RICO conspiracy indictment names the following defendants and their alleged roles within the Gangster Disciples:
  • Shauntay Craig, 37, of Birmingham, held the rank of Gangster Disciples board member;
  • Alonzo Walton, 47, of Atlanta, held at different relevant times the positions of governor of Georgia and governor of governors, the latter position controlling Georgia, Florida, Texas, Indiana and South Carolina;
  • Kevin Clayton, 43, of Decatur, Georgia, was the chief enforcer for the state of Georgia;
  • Donald Glass, 26, of Decatur, served as a first coordinator of the eastside group of the Gangster Disciples;
  • Lewis Mobely, 38, of Atlanta, was an enforcer;
  • Vertious Wall, 40, of Marietta, was a first coordinator for the Macon Gangster Disciples group;
  • Adrian Jackson, 37, of San Jose, California, was the national treasurer for the Gangster Disciples;
  • Terrence Summers, 45, of Birmingham, held at different relevant times the positions of governor of Alabama and governor of governors for Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida;
  • Markell White, 43, of Atlanta, was a regional leader in Macon;
  • Ronald McMorris, 34, of Atlanta, was first coordinator of the Atlanta group;
  • Perry Green, 29, of Decatur, was a member of the Gangster Disciples and acted as enforcer of a Gangster Disciples group;
  • Dereck Taylor, 29, of Macon, was a member of the Gangster Disciples and acted as security for a Macon group;
  • Alvis O’Neal, 37,of Denver, was a senior member of and money launderer for the Gangster Disciples;
  • Jeremiah Covington, 32, of Valdosta, Georgia, was a first coordinator for the Valdosta region;
  • Antonio Ahmad, 33, of Atlanta, was the chief of security for the state of Georgia;
  • Eric Manney, 39, of Atlanta, was a member of the Gangster Disciples and stored multiple guns at his house;
  • Quiana Franklin, 33, of Birmingham, served as treasurer for the state of Alabama;
  • Frederick Johnson, 37, of Marietta, was a chief enforcer for a Gangster Disciples group;
  • Charles Wingate,25, of Conyers, Georgia, was chief of security for a Covington, Georgia group;
  • Vancito Gumbs, 25, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, was a member of the Gangster Disciples while at the same time serving as a police officer with the DeKalb County Police Department;
  • Thomas Pasby, 42, of Cochran, Georgia, was a member of the Gangster Disciples;
  • Denise Carter, 41, of Detroit, was a member of the Gangster Disciples;
  • Carlton King Jr., 25, of Cochran, was a member of the Gangster Disciples;
  • Kelvin Sneed, 26, of Cochran, was a member of the Gangster Disciples;
  • Arrie Freeney, 32, of Detroit, was a member of the Gangster Disciples;
  • Myrick Stevens, 26, of Madison, Wisconsin, was a member of the Gangster Disciples;
  • Curtis Thomas, 45, of Cochran, was a member of the Gangster Disciples;
  • Yohori Epps, 36,of Marietta, was a member of the Gangster Disciples; and
  • Michael Drummound, 49, of Marietta, was a member of the Gangster Disciples.

In addition to the RICO conspiracy, Glass and Mobely are each charged with committing or attempting to commit murder in aid of racketeering and using firearms during those crimes.  Mobely, Glass, Craig, O’Neal, Covington and Travis Riley, 35, of Wichita, Kansas are also charged with various drug distribution crimes and Mobely and Glass are further charged with related firearms crimes.  Walton, Ahmad and Laderris Dickerson, 45, of Chicago, are also charged with carjacking and Walton and Dickerson are charged with a related firearms offense.

The Memphis RICO conspiracy indictment names the following defendants and their alleged roles within the Gangster Disciples:
  • Byron Montrail Purdy, aka “Lil B” or “Ghetto,” 37, of Jackson, Tennessee, served as Gangster Disciples leader in Tennessee;
  • Derrick Kennedy Crumpton, aka “38,” 32, of Memphis, served as Gangster Disciples leader in Tennessee;
  • Demarcus Deon Crawford, aka “Trip,” 32, of Jackson, served as leader of security in Tennessee;
  • Henry Curtis Cooper, aka “Big Hen,” 36, of Memphis, served as leader of security in Tennessee;
  • Rico Terrell Harris, aka “Big Brim,” 43, of Memphis, served as leader of security in Tennessee;
  • Shamar Anthony James, aka “Lionheart,” 37, of Memphis, held the rank of governor of a region in Memphis;
  • Demario Demont Sprouse, aka “Taco,” 35, of Memphis, held the rank of chief of security of a region in Memphis;
  • Robert Elliott Jones, aka “Lil Rob” or “Mac Rob,” 36, of Memphis, held the rank of governor of a region in Memphis;
  • Denton Suggs, aka “Denny Mo” or “Diddy Mo,”40, of Memphis, held the rank of chief of security in a section of Memphis;
  • Santiago Megale Shaw, aka “Mac-T,” 23, of Jackson, was a member of the security team or blackout squad in Jackson;
  • Tarius Montez Taylor, aka “T,” 26, of Jackson, was a member of the security team or blackout squad in Jackson;
  • Tommy Earl Champion Jr., aka “Duct Tape,” 27, of Jackson, held the rank of chief of security of Jackson;
  • Cory Dewayne Bowers, aka “Bear Wayne,” 32, of Jackson, was associated with the Gangster Disciples and acted as a member of the security team in Jackson;
  • Gerald Eugene Hampton, aka “G30,” 30, of Jackson, held the rank of assistant chief of security and was a member of the security team’s blackout squad in Jackson;
  • Daniel Lee Cole, aka “D-Money,” 37, of Jackson, acted as assistant governor and assistant education coordinator for the Gangster Disciples in Jackson; and
  • Tommy Lee Wilkins (Holloway), aka “Tommy Gunz,” 28, of Memphis, was a member of the security team in Memphis.                                                                     
In addition to the RICO conspiracy, all 16 defendants are charged with a cocaine-distribution conspiracy, and Crawford, Shaw, Taylor, Champion and Bowers are charged with seven counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering and using a firearm during the commission of those offenses.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Chicago Mob Infamous Locations Map

You can click on the blue place markers to expand the section for information on each location. Feel free to nominate additional addresses for inclusion.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

High-Ranking Russian Officials Suspected of Mafia Ties, Have Warrants Issued for their Arrest by Spain

Spanish authorities have issued an arrest warrant for several high-ranking Russian officials suspected of mafia ties in the country, the Rosbalt.ru news website reported Tuesday.

State Duma deputy Vladislav Reznik from Putin's ruling "United Russia” party was among the 12 Russian citizens targeted by Spanish authorities. Several other prominent Russian officials also appear on the list, including General Nikolai Aulov, deputy director of the Federal Drug Control Service and former KGB colleague of Vladimir Putin; and former deputy chairman of the Investigative Committee Igor Sobolev.

Prosecutors claim that Reznik and Aulov both had dealings with Tambov mafia chief Gennady Petrov, who moved part of the gang's operation to Spain from St. Petersburg in 1996.

Sobolev is suspected by law enforcement agencies of informing the crime group of police actions in exchange for lavish gifts. Investigators say they have evidence of the group's involvement in arms trafficking, drug smuggling, extortion, bribery, and money-laundering.

All three men deny the charges.

Mafia leader Petrov was arrested and detained in Spain in 2008 and 2010, but released on bail on both occasions. In 2012, he received permission to leave the country for a brief visit to Russia but never returned.

Charges were filed against 26 Russian and Spanish defendants in December 2015, but they failed to attend court when requested in January of the following year.

Spain does not try defendants in absentia.

The police investigation has so far seen officers seize assets worth more 15 million euros ($17.3 million) belonging to alleged Russian organized crime groups. One of the prosecutors involved in the case, Jose Grinda, described Russia as a “virtual mafia state” in a leaked diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Madrid in 2010.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has described the prosecutors' allegations to journalists as "total nonsense," telling the Bloomberg news agency that the claims were "beyond the realm of reason."

3 Predator Set Gang Members Sentenced For Their Roles In Police Impersonation Robberies

Ringo Delcid, a member of the violent Predator Set street gang operating primarily in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, was sentenced to 130 months of imprisonment for conspiring to commit two Hobbs Act robberies and for the use of a firearm in connection with one of those robberies.  Last month, two other members of the gang were also sentenced for their roles in these crimes:  Steele was sentenced to 130 months’ imprisonment for his participation in both robberies, and Hall was sentenced to 96 months’ imprisonment for his participation in one of those robberies.  All three defendants were convicted following their previously-entered guilty pleas.

The sentence was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Diego G. Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York Field Office; and William J. Bratton, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD).

The convictions resulted from a series of police impersonation robberies committed in 2013.  On January 16, 2013, Steele and Delcid committed a home invasion robbery of a narcotics trafficker in Brooklyn.  Posing as undercover police officers, the defendants gained access to the residence and proceeded to tie up the trafficker’s girlfriend and twelve-year-old son and ransack the apartment.  On July 10, 2013, Steele, Hall, Delcid, and others attempted to rob another narcotics trafficker by carrying out a traffic stop while posing as undercover police officers, complete with a rental car modified to look like a police car.  The robbery was thwarted when real NYPD officers arrived at the scene and the defendants fled.

At a hearing on April 14, 2016, U.S. District Judge I. Leo Glasser found that Steele and Hall also conspired to commit a September 27, 2014, armed robbery in which the victim was shot in the leg after he withdrew money from a check-cashing establishment in East Flatbush.  The evidence at the hearing established that Steele and Delcid had accumulated an arsenal of weapons in a storage unit in Brooklyn, including three firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and three homemade silencers, all of which was seized by law enforcement.

“The defendants’ crimes were carefully planned, brazenly executed, and demonstrated a complete disregard for the safety for their victims and the community,” stated United States Attorney Capers.  “By impersonating police officers, the defendants took advantage of their victims’ trust in law enforcement; their actions also undermined the operation of legitimate law enforcement officers.  The sentences imposed appropriately reflect the seriousness of their crimes and demonstrate our commitment to keeping our neighborhoods safe.”  Mr. Capers expressed his grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Violent Crimes squad and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Division for their cooperation and assistance in the investigation.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Rodriguez stated, “Delcid not only intruded on a residence but he also intruded on the trust the public has with police when he and his coconspirators posed as police officers to commit violent crimes.  Serious offenses like this warrant serious sentences and today’s sentencing of Delcid is no exception.”

“These gang members committed gunpoint robberies, violating the public’s trust by impersonating police officers and, in one case, preying upon a woman and child,” said Police Commissioner Bratton.  “I would like to thank the members of the NYPD, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s office whose work has led to lengthy prison sentences for the defendants.”

The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI

The never-before-told full story of the history-changing break-in at the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, by a group of unlikely activists—quiet, ordinary, hardworking Americans—that made clear the shocking truth and confirmed what some had long suspected, that J. Edgar Hoover had created and was operating, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, his own shadow Bureau of Investigation.

It begins in 1971 in an America being split apart by the Vietnam War . . . A small group of activists—eight men and women—the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI, inspired by Daniel Berrigan’s rebellious Catholic peace movement, set out to use a more active, but nonviolent, method of civil disobedience to provide hard evidence once and for all that the government was operating outside the laws of the land.
The would-be burglars—nonpro’s—were ordinary people leading lives of purpose: a professor of religion and former freedom rider; a day-care director; a physicist; a cab driver; an antiwar activist, a lock picker; a graduate student haunted by members of her family lost to the Holocaust and the passivity of German civilians under Nazi rule.

Betty Medsger's extraordinary book, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI, re-creates in resonant detail how this group of unknowing thieves, in their meticulous planning of the burglary, scouted out the low-security FBI building in a small town just west of Philadelphia, taking into consideration every possible factor, and how they planned the break-in for the night of the long-anticipated boxing match between Joe Frazier (war supporter and friend to President Nixon) and Muhammad Ali (convicted for refusing to serve in the military), knowing that all would be fixated on their televisions and radios.

Medsger writes that the burglars removed all of the FBI files and, with the utmost deliberation, released them to various journalists and members of Congress, soon upending the public’s perception of the inviolate head of the Bureau and paving the way for the first overhaul of the FBI since Hoover became its director in 1924.  And we see how the release of the FBI files to the press set the stage for the sensational release three months later, by Daniel Ellsberg, of the top-secret, seven-thousand-page Pentagon study on U.S. decision-making regarding the Vietnam War, which became known as the Pentagon Papers.
At the heart of the heist—and the book—the contents of the FBI files revealing J. Edgar Hoover’s “secret counterintelligence program” COINTELPRO, set up in 1956 to investigate and disrupt dissident political groups in the United States in order “to enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles,” to make clear to all Americans that an FBI agent was “behind every mailbox,” a plan that would discredit, destabilize, and demoralize groups, many of them legal civil rights organizations and antiwar groups that Hoover found offensive—as well as black power groups, student activists, antidraft protestors, conscientious objectors.

The author, the first reporter to receive the FBI files, began to cover this story during the three years she worked for The Washington Post and continued her investigation long after she'd left the paper, figuring out who the burglars were, and convincing them, after decades of silence, to come forward and tell their extraordinary story.

The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI is an important and riveting book, a portrait of the potential power of non­violent resistance and the destructive power of excessive government secrecy and spying.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Chicago Gun Shootings Stats for 2016 through April 30th, #MurderCapitalUSA

For the time period from January 1, 2016 to April 30, 2016, the City of Chicago saw the following # of shootings:

Shot & Killed: 187

Shot & Wounded: 969

Total Shot: 1156

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