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Archive for May, 2009

Miami Feds Indict 11 Suspected Mobsters With Ties To N.Y. Bonanno Crime Family

Series May Be Gone, But the Mob Isn't

Series May Be Gone, But the Mob Isn't

The Sopranos tv series may have gone off the air, but the government says the traditional mob continues on.


By DON JORDAN
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Nearly a dozen Palm Beach and Broward county residents were indicted today (Thursday) after federal prosecutors outlined their alleged roles in a organized crime ring specializing in fraud, illegal narcotics, gambling and mob-style shakedowns.

The crew operated out of South Florida, but regularly reported and paid tribute to the powerful Bonanno Family, a New York City-based Mafia unit, according to the indictment from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami.

Boynton Beach resident Thomas Fiore, 46, is an associate of the Bonanno family and leads its South Florida operation, prosecutors said. Each of the 11 alleged criminals were indicted on federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, charges after a two-year undercover investigation.

The other defendants include Billie Robertson, 34, and Lee Klein, 39, both of Boynton Beach; Daniel Young, 57, and Guy Alessi, 81, both of Delray Beach; Kenneth Dunn, 44, and Nicholas Fiore, 49, both of Boca Raton; and Frank D’Amato, 48, of West Palm Beach. The indictment also included Coral Springs residents Pasquale Rubbo, 43, Joseph Rubbo, 45, and Marc Broder, 42.

None of the defendents are formally inducted, or “made” members of the Bonanno family.
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Columnist Skeptical About Feds Terrorist Convictions in Miami

miami-mapBy Leonard Pitts Jr.
Miami Herald Columnist

Like the Mounties, they finally got their men. And all it took was three years, three trials and millions of taxpayer dollars.

At that price, you’d like to feel a certain satisfaction from last week’s guilty verdict against five men from inner-city Miami who stood accused of conspiring with al-Qaida to launch terrorist attacks in this country. You’d like to feel you’d seen justice done. Instead, you are left with the nagging suspicion that all you’ve seen is justice miscarried.

Prosecutors say the seven men arrested at a Liberty City warehouse in June 2006 were a homegrown terror cell conspiring with an FBI informant they thought was an al-Qaida representative to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago and other sites. The feds made their case with secret recordings, testimony that the men swore an oath of allegiance to al-Qaida and photos of possible terror targets taken by the defendants.

But the defense said the seven were just the hapless members of a would-be religious sect who thought they had found a patsy who’d give them money as long as he believed they were planning a terrorist strike. All they wanted, they said, was cash — to finance their sect.

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Crackhead and Purse Snatcher Behind N.Y. Plot to Bomb 2 Synagogues and Shoot Down Military Aircraft

new-york-map

It’s dumbfounding to uncover these type of homegrown plots. Who knows how many other little groups there are out there.

By MICHAEL WILSON
New York Times
NEW YORK — They were four ex-convicts – one a crack addict, another whose most recent arrest involved snatching purses – and they gathered their terror tools as they went.

They bought cellphones, the authorities said; they bought a camera in a Wal-Mart to take photographs of the synagogues in New York City that they wanted to blow up. When their attempt to buy guns in Newburgh, N.Y., fell through – their gun dealer told them she had sold out – they drove downstate, buying a $700 pistol from a Bloods gang leader in Brooklyn.

After months of planning, the authorities allege, the men had their first real scare this month, driving to Stamford, Conn., to pick up a surface-to-air missile that was waiting for them in a warehouse. One of the men in the car believed they were being followed by law enforcement, so they returned to Newburgh, drove around until they were satisfied they were in the clear, then went back to Stamford for their missile and bombs.

They brought them back to Newburgh, locked them in a storage container, and celebrated, shouting, “Allah akbar!”

These details as told by the authorities describe a homegrown terror plot to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down a military aircraft in Newburgh. The outlines of the plan were fleshed out on Thursday, in court hearings, documents and interviews, as were bits and pieces of the checkered life stories of the four men charged in the plot.

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Computer Virus Strikes FBI and U.S. Marshal Computers

computer1Scary to think these agencies are so vulnerable. Looks like some IT folks have some work to do.

By DEVLIN BARRETT
Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Law enforcement computers were struck by a mystery computer virus Thursday, forcing the FBI and the U.S. Marshals to shut down part of their networks as a precaution.

The U.S. Marshals confirmed it disconnected from the Justice Department’s computers as a protective measure after being hit by the virus; an FBI official said only that that agency was experiencing similar issues and was working on the problem.

“We too are evaluating a network issue on our external, unclassified network that’s affecting several government agencies,” said FBI spokesman Mike Kortan. He did not elaborate or identify the other agencies.

Marshals spokeswoman Nikki Credic said the agency’s computer problem began Thursday morning. The FBI began experiencing similar problems earlier.

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Feds Takedown LA Area Gang Accused of Killing Sheriff’s Deputy and Involved in Hate Crimes

Fugitive Gang Member Arturo Flores/u.s. atty photo

Fugitive Gang Member Arturo Flores/u.s. atty photo

Federal authorities are calling this the largest gang takedown in U.S. history. Whatever the case, this gang was one nasty gang.

By The Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES –– Federal authorities today unveiled a sweeping racketeering indictment accusing a southern Los Angeles County street gang of a litany of crimes, including killing a sheriff’s deputy and committing hate crimes against African Americans in order to rid them from their turf.

The indictment, along with several related ones, charges more than 100 members of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang with murder, attempted murder, drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and witness intimidation. U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien, speaking at a news conference this morning, touted it as the “largest gang takedown in United States history.”

[Update at 12:20 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said the gang was named Varrios Hawaiian Gardens. The correct name is Varrio Hawaiian Gardens.]

The gang investigation began in 2005 after sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Ortiz was fatally shot while conducting an interview in Hawaiian Gardens, a gritty, largely Latino city east of the 605 Freeway and north of Long Beach.

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Obama Picks Duke Prof For Dept. of Justice Policy Office (BLT Legal Blog)

Ex-Assistant U.S. Atty. Charged in N.J. With Killing Witness

newark-map1Witnesses get bumped off in cases all the time. But usually one of the suspects isn’t a former federal prosecutor.

By DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI
New York Times
NEWARK – For prosecutors in New Jersey, much about the 2004 murder of Deshawn McCray was all too familiar: Yet another key witness in a major drug case had been shot dead before he could testify in court.

But there was one aspect of the killing that especially alarmed and infuriated prosecutors. They believed that a defense lawyer – a former prosecutor – had played a role in facilitating the murder.

The United States attorney has said that that lawyer, Paul Bergrin, relayed Mr. McCray’s identity to friends of one of his clients, a gang member who was facing life in prison on drug charges. The prosecutors said he had even met with members of his client’s gang in person to make clear what was at stake.

“No Kemo, no case,” Mr. Bergrin told the gang members, using Mr. McCray’s nickname, according to testimony in federal court this year.

Three months later, Mr. McCray was shot in the head by one of the gang members on a Newark street.

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FBI Dir. Robert Mueller Tells Congress Gitmo Detainees in U.S. Pose Risks

Robert Mueller III/file photo

Robert Mueller III/file photo

The testimony only helps create more questions than answers to this controversial topic.

By DEVLIN BARRETT
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON – FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress on Wednesday that bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States could pose a number of risks, even if they were kept in maximum-security prisons. Responding to FBI concerns, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration would not put Americans at risk.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller faced repeated questions about the prospect of transferring to the United States some of the 240 inmates currently held at the naval base in Cuba.

President Barack Obama has ordered the Guantanamo Bay detention center closed by January 2010, but that timetable may be in jeopardy. As Mueller testified, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to block funding for bringing detainees to the U.S., whether freed or imprisoned.

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EX-Assistant U.S. Attorney Charged in N.J. With Murdering

Chicago FBI Task Force to Feature Bank Robbers on Internet

On one hand you have to applaud the FBI in Chicago for doing this. On the other hand, you really have to ask: What took so long? For years, now federal and local law enforcement have passed up on using the Internet to help solve crimes. All the bureaus around the country have to do something like this now, rather than later.
By MIKE ROBINSON
Associated Press Legal Affairs Writer

fbi photo

fbi photo

CHICAGO — Bank robbers love being obscure. The last thing they want is to find themselves stars of the Internet.

Chicago’s FBI-led violent crimes task force, however, is launching a Web site designed to give this city’s bank robbers the prominence lawmen say they deserve.

The site www.bandittrackerchicago.com will feature photos taken by bank video cameras and other pictures of robbers if the FBI can get them, special agent in charge Robert Grant said Wednesday.

Getting the faces of robbers before the public is likely to produce tips for agents investigating holdups and alert bank workers to be watchful, Grant said.

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