The Chicago Syndicate

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Is the Trump Organization a Mafia Family? #RICO #OrganizedCrime #Trump

Prosecutors appear to be treating their investigation of former President Donald Trump's business empire as if it were a mafia family, according to several reports out this week.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is likely considering criminal charges centered around the idea that the Trump Organization is a "corrupt enterprise" under a New York state racketeering statute resembling the federal RICO law — an abbreviation for the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which was passed in 1970 to crack down on pervasive organized crime — several legal experts and former prosecutors told Politico.

"No self-respecting state white-collar prosecutor would forgo considering the enterprise corruption charge," longtime New York City defense attorney Robert Anello said. "I'm sure they're thinking about that."

The law, known colloquially as "little RICO," kicks in if prosecutors can establish that an organization or business has committed at least three separate crimes — a "pattern of criminal behavior," in legal parlance. A sentence under the statute can result in up to 25 years in prison — with a mandatory minimum of one year.

Vance has even hired a veteran mob prosecutor and expert in white-collar crime, Mark Pomerantz, to bolster his team, the New York Times reported in February.

Trump himself has a long history with several prominent New York City mob families — building his signature Trump Tower in Manhattan with help from a concrete company run by Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno and Paul Castellano, who at the time were bosses of the Genovese and Gambino families, Business Insider reported.

And just like in the investigations that put Salerno and Castellano behind bars, it appears prosecutors are hoping to rely on the testimony of "family" members like Trump Organization CFO Alan Weisselberg, one of the company's longest-tenured employees. His former daughter-in-law, Jennifer Weisselberg, is cooperating with Vance's investigation and says she believes her ex-husband's father will flip on Trump due to his age and aversion to spending any time in prison.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who recently agreed to join forces with Vance on her separate investigation of Trump's business dealings, has also forced Trump's son, Eric, to sit for a deposition interview, according to the New York Times. But the decision to pursue racketeering charges carries its own risks, and many legal experts say prosecutors are better off seeking straightforward indictments on specific crimes that are easier to litigate.

"Why overcharge and complicate something that could be fairly simple?" Jeremy Saland, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan DA's office, told Politico. "Why muddy up the water? Why give a defense attorney something that could confuse a jury and be able to crow that they beat a charge in a motion to dismiss?"

Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and blasted the investigations as politically inspired "witch hunts."

Thanks to Brett Bachman.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Bomber Mafia by @Gladwell #TheBomberMafia

In The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War, Malcolm Gladwell weaves together the stories of a Dutch genius and his homemade computer, a band of brothers in central Alabama, a British psychopath, and pyromaniacal chemists at Harvard to examine one of the greatest moral challenges in modern American history.

Most military thinkers in the years leading up to World War II saw the airplane as an afterthought. But a small band of idealistic strategists, the “Bomber Mafia,” asked: What if precision bombing could cripple the enemy and make war far less lethal?

In contrast, the bombing of Tokyo on the deadliest night of the war was the brainchild of General Curtis LeMay, whose brutal pragmatism and scorched-earth tactics in Japan cost thousands of civilian lives, but may have spared even more by averting a planned US invasion. In The Bomber Mafia, Gladwell asks, “Was it worth it?”

Things might have gone differently had LeMay’s predecessor, General Haywood Hansell, remained in charge. Hansell believed in precision bombing, but when he and Curtis LeMay squared off for a leadership handover in the jungles of Guam, LeMay emerged victorious, leading to the darkest night of World War II. The Bomber Mafia is a riveting tale of persistence, innovation, and the incalculable wages of war.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Multiple Chicago Shooting Weapons Traced to 3 Fort Campbell Army Soldiers Connected to Illegal Gun Pipeline

Federal agents arrested three Fort Campbell soldiers in connection to an illegal gun pipeline to Chicago after guns found at a mass shooting scene in Chicago were traced to Middle Tennessee purchases, the Nashville U.S. Attorney's office announced.

Demarcus Adams, 21; Jarius Brunson, 22; and Brandon Miller, 22, all enlisted members of the U.S. Army stationed in Clarksville face multiple federal charges in the case. Guns traced to the trio have been connected to multiple shootings including a late March attack that left one person dead and multiple other people wounded in Chicago’s Southwest Side.

All three soldiers were arrested by ATF agents and agents of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, said Acting U.S. Attorney Mary Jane Stewart for the Middle District of Tennessee.

Each solider is charged with transferring a firearm to an out-of-state resident; making false statements during the purchase of a firearm; engaging in the business without a firearms license; wire fraud; money laundering; and conspiracy to commit Title 18 offenses, according to a criminal complaint.

Investigation of the firearms began March 26 when Chicago police responded to the mass shooting incident. The shooting took place on the 2500 block of W. 79th Street, court documents show.

Multiple firearms were recovered from the shooting scene and five of the firearms were found to have been recently purchased from Federal Firearms Licensed dealers in Clarksville, court documents show.

Further investigation, the complaint continues, identified Adams, Brunson and Miller as the majority purchasers of these firearms.

A broader investigation into firearms transaction records determined that since September 2019, the three men had purchased 91 firearms from multiple federal firearms dealers in Clarksville; Oak Grove, Kentucky; Hopkinsville, Kentucky; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; and Paducah, Kentucky.

The majority of the firearms, the complaint continues, were purchased over the last five months.

After the firearms were purchased, Miller would provide them to people he was associated with in Chicago, investigators claim in the criminal complaint. On Friday, prosecutors say, a federal search warrant was executed at the Clarksville home of Miller and Adams.

There, 49 empty firearms cases were discovered — many of them matched to firearms recovered by the Chicago Police Department at the scene of recent shootings and homicides, the complaint noted.

All three soldiers were slated to appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Nashville.

The government has asked that at least one, Miller, be detained pending trial, court documents show.

Prosecutors claim Miller led the effort to transport the guns and noted he is currently facing court martial proceedings through the military base related to an alleged sexual assault.

Court documents go onto show agents noted on April 7, Miller and a different Chicago area code phone number had the following text exchange:
  • From Miller: “We gotta hold this shit together ima still play the back role g I ain’t never turning my back on gang whatever got going on y’all ina door wit me stand on business ima stand on my business to make sure mfs got what they need.” 
  • From Chicago phone number: “Sayless." 
  • Later on the same day; from Miller: “We gone win this *war* we losing the battle but this a marathon not a race.” 

Miller "faces significant civilian and military justice charges and has very few, if any, connections to the Middle District of Tennessee, the defendant would pose a significant flight risk if he were released," they argued in the motion to detail.

If convicted, under federal law, the men each face up to 20 years in prison.

Thanks to Natalie Neysa Alund.

Monday, May 10, 2021

The Vatican Creates Working Group to Study Expelling the Mafia from the Catholic Church

The Vatican’s human development office has created a working group on the topic of the expulsion of criminal organizations from the Catholic Church.

The group was created in honor of Rosario Livatino, a Catholic judge killed by the mafia in Sicily in 1990, who was beatified in the Cathedral of Agrigento May 9.

The eight-member group will study the excommunication of the mafia, offering support to bishops around the world, according to a press release announcing the initiative from the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.

Giuseppe Pignatone, president of the Vatican City State Tribunal, will be a member of the group. Pignatone is an Italian magistrate who served as deputy public prosecutor in Palermo and then public prosecutor in the cities of Reggio Calabria and Rome, where he oversaw the arrests and trials of a large number of people belonging to organized crime organizations.

Other members of the anti-mafia working group are philosopher Vittorio V. Alberti; Italian politician and former president of the Antimafia Commission Rosy Bindi; anti-mafia activist Fr. Luigi Ciotti; author and ex-mafia rehabilitation activist Fr. Marcello Cozzi; Greek Catholic priest Fr. Ioan Alexandru Pop; and prison chaplain Fr. Raffaele Grimaldi.

Grimaldi has served as a prison chaplain for more than 20 years and helped rehabilitate the man behind the 1990 murder of Bl. Rosario Livatino. Antonio Gallea, then 20 years old and a leader of the Agrigento-based Stidda, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder.

In 2015, the court granted Gallea parole for good behavior and Grimaldi supported the ex-mafia boss’ reform and reintegration into society.

Gallea also gave testimony during the diocesan phase of Livatino’s beatification cause but was arrested in February on accusations that he is again leading the Stidda.

Grimaldi was saddened to learn that the man he had known for 11 years may have returned to criminal activity. “It is a great disappointment, I had given him all my trust,” Grimaldi said, according to Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference. “But that doesn’t change our mission. I do not give up. Paths to rehabilitation and reintegration must always be offered to inmates. A story like this cannot put all those who really want to make a path of change in a bad light,” he said.

The priest said: “I followed him spiritually, he came to Mass and to prayer meetings. He asked me for advice and I as a spiritual father did everything for him. I am a priest, I must give strength to resume the journey. That’s why I’m so disappointed now. But I’m praying for him.”

On the day of Rosario Livatino’s beatification, May 9, Pope Francis called the young judge “a martyr of justice and faith.”

“He always placed his work ‘under the protection of God’; for this, he became a witness of the Gospel until his heroic death. May his example be for everyone, especially magistrates, an incentive to be loyal defenders of the law and liberty,” the pope said at the end of his Regina Caeli address.

Livatino worked as a prosecutor in Sicily dealing with the criminal activity of the mafia throughout the 1980s. He confronted what Italians later called the “Tangentopoli,” the system of mafia bribes and kickbacks given for public works contracts.

At the age of 37, he served as a judge at the Court of Agrigento.

He was driving unescorted toward the Agrigento courthouse when another car hit his vehicle, sending him off the road. He ran from the crashed vehicle into a field, but was shot in the back and then killed by more gunshots.

Today a plaque on the highway marks the spot where Livatino was killed. It reads: “Martyr of justice.” On Dec. 21, Pope Francis elevated this title when he recognized the judge as a martyr killed “in hatred of the faith.”

Thanks to Hannah Brockhaus.

Monday, April 19, 2021

#OnThisDay in 1995, Domestic Terrorists and Anti-government Extremists, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, Bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma City bombing was a domestic terrorist truck bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States, on Wednesday, April 19, 1995.
Perpetrated by anti-government extremists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the bombing happened at 9:02 am and killed at least 168 people, injured more than 680 others, and destroyed more than one-third of the building, which had to be demolished. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 cars, causing an estimated $652 million worth of damage. Local, state, federal, and worldwide agencies engaged in extensive rescue efforts in the wake of the bombing. The Federal Emergency Management Agency activated 11 of its Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces, consisting of 665 rescue workers who assisted in rescue and recovery operations. Until the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Oklahoma City bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United States other than the Tulsa race massacre. It remains one of the deadliest acts of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.

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