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April 2011


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for April 21st, 2011

Column: Ex-ATF Official Offers Insights and Advice on Hunt for Nursing Student

James Cavanaugh was an ATF agent and supervisor for 33 years before retiring in 2010.

James Cavanaugh/atf photo

By James Cavanaugh

Tennessee is in the midst of a critical search for 20-year-old nursing student Holly Bobo. Holly was abducted from her home in a rural area of Tennessee during the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 13.

Holly’s father and mother had just previously left the house on their way to work and Holly’s brother Clint remained at home. Clint reported looking out the window and seeing Holly walking with a man in full camouflage holding her arm.

Reports are that Clint first thought that it was Holly’s boyfriend but later went outside and found some blood and called 911. Law enforcement officials city, county, state and federal came in mass to Parsons Tenn. to try to track down Holly’s abductor, and return Holly safely to her family.

Citizens from all around Tennessee and beyond have rallied to the search to help find Holly. One report had as many as 1100 volunteers searching the woods on foot horseback,  ATV’s and four-wheel drive vehicles. Clearly the response by law-enforcement and citizens to find Holly has been overwhelming.

I am familiar with his rural section of Tennessee. I started working with ATF in the area in 1976. Additionally,  I have worked on large scale and complicated and difficult cases where no suspects or easy answers were apparent. And I have a few observations and suggestions for law enforcement including the piecing together of a comprehensive time line chronicling the last 60 days of Holly’s life before she vanished.

Holly Bobo

But before I get to that, let me go on with more background on the case. The Tennessee Bureau of investigation has reported in excess of 250 leads and is doing all it can to coordinate and lead the search for Holly’s return home.  Given the nature of the case — no remains have been found and the search was quickly organized —  there exists at at least an even chance that Holly remains alive and is being held by her abductor.

The crime seems to have been carefully planned with the abductor placing a lot of time and effort into locating, surveilling and even stalking Holly.

Read more »

White House Drug Czar Wants to be Chicago’s Police Chief

Gil Kerlikowske/gov photo

By Allan Lengel

Could there be another possible defection from the Obama administration?

The White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, told the Associated Press that he’s applied for the vacant spot as police chief of Chicago, where former White House aide Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor.

Kerlikowske, the former police chief of Seattle, told AP he “wouldn’t have applied for it if I didn’t want it.”

Lindsay Lohan to Join Cast in Gotti Movie

Lindsay Lohan/wikipedia

By Allan Lengel

Actress Lindsay Lohan, who has garnered her share of media attention for her off-screen antics, becomes the latest big name to join the cast in the movie biopic on the Gotti family, the Associated Press reports.

AP reports that Lohan will play the wife of mobster John Gotti Jr. in the film “Gotti: Three Generations.” John Travolta will play John Gotti Sr. and Joe Pesci will play a Gotti deputy.

Lohan told AP she was honored to join the cast.

“I’m really excited to be back on set and clear up all the misinterpretations about me and show this is what I love to do,” Lohan told AP.

Portland Mayor Wants Cops to Rejoin FBI’s JTTF — Sort Of

U.S. Atty. Dwight Holton finds plan "unworkable"/doj photo

By Allan Lengel

The mayor of Portland, Ore., wants his police officers to rejoin the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force — sort of. He’s offering up conditions  some like. Others see them as being far too restrictive.

As you recall, the city pulled its cops out of the JTTF in 2005, citing concerns about spying on citizens and violating their rights, and breaking state and local laws. The then-mayor and police chief also were bothered that they hadn’t gotten security clearance and access to classified information.

But last November, after an FBI sting turned up a man who was plotting to blow up a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, some thought it was time to reconsider rejoining. Not all agreed. Some officials still protested.

So this week, Portland Mayor Sam Adams offered up a compromise. He wants to rejoin the JTTF with the condition that cops not get involved in the initial phase or assessment of the investigations unless there’s an imminent threat, the Oregonian newspaper reported.

Under the proposal, officers would get involved in full investigations once a credible threat is established, The Oregonian reported.

The Oregonian reported that U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton considers such a plan “unworkable.”

The Oregonian reported that Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard said he discussed the issue with the mayor a few weeks ago and wanted restrictions on what Portland cops would do on the JTTF squad.

“I did not want our police officers involved in sifting through what is or is not a threat,” Leonard said.

Mobster Who Put Hit Out for Late Crime Boss John Gotti Gets 13 Years

By Allan Lengel

Joseph Watts, a close associate of the late Gambino Crime family boss John J. Gotti, becomes the latest mobster to get a stiff prison sentence.

Watts,69, was sentenced Wednesday in Manhattan federal court by Judge Colleen McMahon to 13 years in prison for participating in “murder and assault conspiracies in order to maintain and increase his influence in the Gambino Family.” He was also ordered to forfeit $250,000.

He pleaded guilty in January after being charged with setting up the murder of a man the Gambino crime family boss John Gotti suspected of snitching.

“Today’s sentence should serve as a sober reminder that if you kill or harm an actual or potential government witness, no matter how powerful you may think you are, we will find you and send you to prison for a very long time,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.”

Authorities say Watts was close to the older Gotti, but never became a “made man”  because he was not Italian. He was, however,  made a Gambino family captain.

Authorities said that in 1989,  Frederick Weiss was a defendant in a case in federal court in Manhattan.

The Gambino crime family boss at the time, John J. Gotti,  suspected that Weiss was cooperating with the government because he got rid of  a lawyer who regularly represented Gambino Family members and associates. Gotti ordered Weiss killed.

Authorities said Watts put together a murder team to carry out the hit.

In September 1989, Watts and others went to  a house on Staten Island where they thought Weiss would be. Authorities said Watts assigned different Gambino members and associates to different tasks, including digging the grave  for Weiss’s body.

Watts  stood in the garage, holding a gun, waiting to shoot Weiss when he arrived. But Weiss never showed up.

So the next day, a different team of shooters killed Weiss outside his apartment building, authorities said.

Authorities said Watts also roughed up someone who refused to give back some investment money.

That all began while Watts was serving a prison sentence in connection with his 2001 conviction for money laundering. In prison, he met a fellow inmate who he admired for his stockpicking.

After the stockpicker got released from prison, Watts sent an emissary to deliver approximately $350,000 to $400,000 in cash to the man to invest, authorities said.

The investment failed.  In 2002,  Watts demanded his money back. The man returned some, but not all.

Watts started threatening the man.  On one occasion, Watts and another individual confronted the man in Manhattan and physically assaulted him, authorities said. On a  subsequent occasion, Watts threatened the man and physically shoved him against the wall.