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Archive for September 2nd, 2011

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Death of J. Edgar Hoover

77-Year-Old Mobster Shot in Prison Multiple Times With Rubber Bullets By Guards

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The mob world is full of irony.

Jerry Capeci, mob expert, noted one of the latest on his website Gang Land News.

Capeci wrote that act  Colombo Crime boss Andrew (Mush) Russo,  77,  has spent half a century as a “made man” and never once got shot.

But that changed last week, Gang Land News noted, when an earthquake hit the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn where he’s housed.

Russo was on the phone checking to see if relatives were OK when he was shot in the back by as many as five rubber bullets fired by correction officers, Gang Land reported. He was also hit in the leg with a tear gas canister.

Capeci wrote that guards were having a hard time controlling inmates and convincing them to get back in their cells.

Gang Land wrote that guard initially refused to give Russo medical attention until the next day when he was taken to the Downstate Medical Center. He was treated for painful black and blue bruises, his attorney George Galgano told Gang Land News.

“The actions by the guards were truly outrageous,” said Galgano, who said that his client “was an innocent bystander.” The attorney said his client was not charged with any administrative violations.

“From what I can determine,” said Galgano, “the guards panicked and began firing into a large group of inmates who were not happy that they were being locked down in their cells while everyone else was being evacuated.”

Capeci noted: “If the guards managed to shoot an innocent bystander five times in the back, Gang Land dreads to think what they did to the real culprits.”

Secret Service Goes After Gypsy Family Accused of $40 Mil Spiritual Cleansing Fraud

 By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

An odd prosecution is taking place, the result of a Secret Service operation dubbed “Operation Crystal Ball.” Ten members of the family of the late Jimmy Marks, a leader in the Gypsy community, have been arrested in New York and Florida for fraudulently acquiring $40 million from victims seeking spiritual cleansing, reports KXLY.

Family members claimed to “confer with gods, spirits and even Michael the Archangel to cure diseases and break curses,” says the report. In return the accused asked for and received jewelry, gold and luxury cars, according to an Associated Press report. The scams go back 20 years, reports KXLY, even swindling a best selling author.

The suspects were named in a 61-charge indictment that included charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. The defense argues that the business was a legitimate part of the family’s Gypsy religion, which includes the ability to heal psychically.

The head of the family, Jimmy Marks, passed away as the result of a 2007 heart attack, reports KXLY.

To read more click here.

Emails Suggest White House Knew More About “Fast and Furious” Than Originally Thought

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

And now for more controversy about the failed ATF operation “Fast and Furious.”

The LA Times reports today that the White House knew more than previously thought about the program.

A Phoenix ATF supervisor specifically mentions the operation in at least one email to a White House national security officer, the Times reports, while two other colleagues at the White House were briefed on the Phoenix supervisor’s report. Senior administration officials deny the emails prove that anybody in the White House knew of the covert “investigative tactics.”

The three White House colleagues were identified as Kevin M. O’Reilly, director of North American Affairs for the White House national security staff; Dan Restrepo, the president’s senior Latin American advisor; and Greg Gatjanis, a White House national security official.

To read more click here.

Calif. Man Gets 6 Years for Tormenting Victims in “Sextortion” Case

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In the eyes of authorities, Luis Mijangos was a skilled computer hacker who went on the rampage and tried to extort sexually explicit videos from women and girls in what some referred to as a “sextortion” case.

On Thursday, Mijangos ,32, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, who lived in Santa Ana, Calif., was sentenced to 6 years in prison in Los Angeles federal court for his sinister crime.

Authorities said that FBI computer forensics experts determined that Mijangos infected more than 100 computers that were used by approximately 230 individuals, of which at least 44 were juveniles.

The affidavit in the case alleged that Mijangos infected computers around the world with a malicious computer code, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Mijangos then got his victims to download “the malware onto their computers by making the files appear to be popular songs,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated. “After the victims downloaded the malware, Mijangos was able to control their computers, allowing him to send instant messages containing malware from those computers to other people in the victims’ address books. These later victims thought they were receiving messages from friends or family members.”

Authorities said once he got into the computers, he searched for sexually explicit or intimate images and videos of women and girls in ” various states of undress or engaged in sexual acts with their partners.”

Mijangos contacted the female victims and threatened to distribute intimate images and videos to people in their contact list unless they made additional explicit videos for him.

He also told victims he could tell via their computers if they tried calling police, and threatened to release the videos and images if they called authorities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

On top of all of that, he also allegedly installed a “keylogger” on victims’ computers to record every key strokes on the infected computers and was then able to steal credit card numbers and personal identifying info to purchase merchandise, authorities alleged.

He also hacked into victims’ boyfriends email account, posed as the boyfriends and asked them to create to create pornographic videos for him, authorities said. After that, he contacted the victims — using an alias — and threatened to distribute the explicit videos if they didn’t send him more.

As if that wasn’t enough, on occasion he was able to access webcams to catch victims in intimate situations.

Authorities said Mijangos told FBI agents that he hacked into the computers, but did so on behalf of husbands and boyfriends to see if the women were cheating on them.

“We now live in a world gone digital, relying on our personal computers for everything from banking, to learning, to intimate communications with friends and family,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. in a statement.  “Mr. Mijangos invaded the sanctity of many personal digital worlds and used intimate content to victimize and prey upon unsuspecting victims.”

Added Steven M. Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, stated: “The sentence imposed on Mr. Mijangos is appropriate based on the chilling impact his behavior had on scores of young women. The FBI has seen a rise in similar cases based on the exploitation of emerging technologies by criminals, and it’s my hope that this sentence serves as a warning for victims of Internet predators to advise law enforcement or a trusted source when threatened, and always refrain from sending compromising photographs via cyberspace.”

Authorities said during Thursday’s sentencing hearing, two sextortion victims described how they were subjected to “nightmare” situations. One young woman said that before Mijangos victimized her she had been a victim of domestic violence, “and I want to tell you, there’s no difference.”

In sentencing Mijangos, Judge George H. King said: “This was nothing short of a sustained effort to terrorize victims.”

 

Fed Prosecutor Emory Hurley Deserves Some Blame in ATF’s “Fast and Furious” Operation

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

There seems to be plenty blame to go around when it comes to the ill-thought out “Operation Fast and Furious”, ATF’s program that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hope of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.

Some have already taken a hit as a result. ATF Director Ken Melson just stepped own. So did Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke.

But someone who deserves a fair share of the blame in the mess appears to be Arizona’s  Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley, who was the point man in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Operation Fast and Furious. He has since been transferred from the criminal to the civil division.

Sources tell ticklethewire.com  Hurley let guns walk and prevented agents from stopping and questioning some straw purchasers and seizing weapons. Agents were frustrated and angry with Hurley.

Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley, in a Sept. 1 letter to Acting Arizona U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel, pointed the finger at Hurley as well. The letter was posted on the CBS News website.

“Witnesses have reported that AUSA Hurley may have stifled ATF agents’ attempts to interdict weapons on numerous occasions,” the letter said. “Many ATF agents working on Operation Fast and Furious were under the impression that even some of the most basic law enforcement techniques typically used to interdict weapons required the explicit approval of your office, specifically from AUSA Hurley.”

“It is our understand that this approval was withheld on numerous occasions.

“It is unclear why all available tools, such as civil forfeitures and seizure warrants, were not used in this case to prevent illegally purchased guns from being trafficked to Mexican drug cartels and other criminals..

“We have further been informed that AUSA Hurley improperly instructed ATF agents that they needed to meet unnecessarily strict evidentiary standards merely in order to temporarily detain or speak to suspects.”

Hurley did not comment through a spokesman for his office.

(See story below for more on Hurley).

 

Az. U.S. Attorney’s Office Tried to Cover Up Murder Link in “Fast and Furious”, Congressional Members Say

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The controversial ATF program “Operation Fast and Furious” continues to generate plenty controversy.

The latest: CBS News reports that Congressional investigators say the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona tried covering up a link between Fast and Furious and the murder in Arizona of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December.

Two assault rifles from the operation were found at the scene of Terry’s murder. The FBI was unable to make a determination whether the weapons were used in the murder.

The operation encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of the tracing the assault weapons to the Mexican cartels. The problems was that ATF lost track of many of the weapons, some which ended up at crime scenes on both sides of the border.

CBS reports that a letter by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif) to Arizona’s Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel said Assistant U.S Attorney Emory Hurley, learned almost immediately that guns allowed onto the street in his case, had been recovered at Terry’s murder.

“(I)n the hours after Agent Terry’s death,” says the letter from Grassley and Issa, Hurley apparently “contemplated the connection between the two cases and sought to prevent the connection from being disclosed.” The Justice Department recently transferred Hurley out of the criminal division into the civil division, CBS reported.

Read Congressional Letter to Acting U.S. Atty. in Az. 

 

Movie: A Black FBI Agent Goes to Ireland and Encounters Some Racism in a Comedy “The Guard”