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August 2011


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for August, 2011

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Murder of the Last Montreal Godfather in 2010

Ouch! Feds Come Up Empty in Big Alabama Gambling Trial

Sen. Ross/gov photo

By Allan Lengel

Needless to say, it won’t be a happy weekend for federal prosecutor in Alabama who came up empty handed after a long, high profile trial.

The Wall Street Journal reports that an Montgomery, Ala. federal jury failed to convict any of the nine defendants in a corruption trial involving gambling legislation and businessmen, lawmakers and lobbyists. State Sen. Quinton Ross and lobbyist Robert Geddie were acquitted on all counts, the Journal reported.

The jury found others others not guilty on some counts and deadlocked on others. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson declared a mistrial on the undecided counts, and planned to schedule a retrial.

“We appreciate the jury’s service in this important public corruption trial. Our prosecutors will discuss next steps as we move forward in this matter,” said Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, in a statement quoted by the Journal.

Lewis Gillis, a lawyer for Ross, said the government’s case “has been gutted.”

“They didn’t have a single guilty verdict, armed with everything they had,” he said in the Journal report. To read more click here.

NASAQ Isn’t the Only Thing Going Down: Ex-Managing Director of NASDAQ Gets 3 1/2 Years for Insider Trading

By Allan Lengel

Donald Johnson, a former managing director of the NASDAQ Stock Market, was sentenced Friday to 3 1/2 years in prison for engaging in insider trading on multiple occasions using non-public information he obtained in his role as a NASDAQ executive, authorities said.

Johnson was also ordered to forfeit $755,066.

Johnson, 57, of Ashburn, Va., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga in Alexandria, Va.

He pleaded guilty on May 26 to one count of securities fraud and admitted that from 2006 to 2009, he purchased and sold stock in NASDAQ-listed companies based on material, non-public information, or inside information, that he obtained through his position as an executive at NASDAQ.

“Mr. Johnson’s insider status at one of our nation’s largest securities exchanges gave him access to highly sensitive information, which allowed him to anticipate the rise and fall of certain stocks,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.

“Armed with this insider information, Mr. Johnson made investing look easy. He pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars. But he did it by exploiting his trusted position to gain an unfair – and illegal – advantage in the market. Today’s sentence should leave no doubt in the minds of investors inclined to cheat that insider trading is a serious crime, with serious consequences.”

J. Edgar Film to be Released in November

DiCaprio as Hoover/ studio released photo on

By Allan Lengel

The film “J. Edgar” starring Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover will be released this Nov. 9,  according to the website and other film websites.

The film, directed by Clint Eastwood, also stars Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, Lea Thompson and Judi Dench.

The film is expected to stir controversy because of Hoover’s portrayal as being gay and having a romantic affair with FBI Associate Director Clyde Tolson, his constant companion and alter ego.

Some current and former FBI agents have expressed concern over the portrayal of Hoover as gay.

Nonetheless, FBI agents are expected to be among those who shell out the cash to see the film.

Not Everyone in Mexico Wants America’s Help in Battling Violent Cartels

By Allan Lengel

Not everyone in Mexico is happy with America helping the Mexicans battle the drug cartels.

Prominent Mexican poet and peace activist Javier Sicilia wants the Mexican government to explain the reported presence of CIA and DEA agents in Mexico, Fox News Latino reported.

Fox News reported that Sicilia made the demand at a press conference Wednesday a few days after the New York Times reported that a total of 24 CIA and DEA operatives were in the country investigating and training people.

Foreign Relations Secretary Patricia Espinosa and Government Secretary Jose Francisco Blake should appear before Congress “to explain the matter,” Sicilia said, according to Fox.

He said the presence of the CIA and the DEA is “illegal and unacceptable” and a violation of Mexico’s sovereignty.

High Ranking New England Mobster Was FBI Informant, Court Documents Show

By Allan Lengel

Mark Rossetti, a reputed capo in the New England Mafia, has been working all along as an FBI informant or “rat” as they say in the mob world.

The Boston Globe reports the revelation came out in court documents filed this week in Suffolk Superior Court. Rossetti was indicted last year on state charges of running a sprawling criminal enterprise of drug trafficking, gambling, and loan sharking.

The Globe reported that two lower-level players in Rossetti’s alleged crime ring filed the papers as part of a legal strategy in their own case.

The Globe reported that the papers do not identify Rossetti by name, but “he can be clearly identified through descriptions of his conversations with his FBI handler, and through a State Police organizational chart of his alleged crime ring, the Rossetti Criminal Organization.”

The Globe reported “that State Police recorded more than 40 conversations between Rossetti and his FBI handler in the spring of 2010, through a wiretap on Rossetti’s FBI-issued phone, according to the court documents. In the conversations, they discussed other Mafia figures and the possible role of Rossetti’s cousin in the 1990 art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, as well as Rossetti’s debt collections. According to the documents, it was during these conversations that State Police discovered Rossetti was an FBI informant.”

Pa. Judge Gets 28 Years in “Kids-for-Cash” Scandal

Judge Ciavarella

By Allan Lengel

Common Pleas Judge Mark A. Ciaverella of Luzerne Co., Pa., in one of the more shameful displays of judicial digression, got lucrative kickbacks from private juvenile detention centers after sending scores of children there, some who should have not been incarcerated.

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik II in Scranton, Pa., sentenced Ciaverella to 28 years in prison in the “kids-for-cash” scandal and ordered him to pay about $1.2 million in restitution. He also ordered him off to prison immediately.

Ciavarella and his co-defendant, Judge Michael Conahan, were charged in the scandal in 2009. They ended up entering a guilty plea, but Judge Kosik rejected it because the defendants did not appear to accept responsibility for their conduct. Ciavarella’s  sentence on Thursday was about four times greater than what he would have gotten under his plea.

As a result of the scandal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed roughly 5,000 convictions Ciavarella issued between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.

Authorities alleged that Ciavarella and fellow judge Michael Conahan took more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers. They also extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities’ co-owner.

Authorities said Ciavarella sent children to the private lockups, some as young as 10, and many of them first-time offenders convicted of petty theft and other minor crimes.

In February, after an 11 day trial in Scranton, a federal jury found Ciavarella guilty on 12 of 39 counts: racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, four counts of honest services mail fraud, and four counts of filing false income tax returns. The jury also found that Ciavarella should forfeit $997,600, the sum he received from Robert Mericle, the developer who built the juvenile detention facilities.

Ciavarella testified at trial, claiming that the payments he received from Mericle were “finders fees” or “honest money” with no connection to Ciavarella’s actions as a judge, and denied that he received payment from Robert Powell, owner of the facilities.

The evidence established that Judge Conahan closed the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention Facility when he was chief judge and helped arrange the financing for the private facilities; that Ciavarella, as juvenile court judge, sent juveniles to those facilities; that both men obstructed efforts to question the county’s use of the facilities and their financial relationships with Mericle and Powell; and both judges used bank accounts, straw parties and real estate vacation property to hide and launder payments received from Mericle and Powell.

Mericle and Powell have pleaded guilty pursuant to plea agreements and are awaiting sentencing. Conahan pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in April 2010. He did not testify at trial and has not been sentenced.

Ciavarella and Conahan resigned from the bench in 2009.

Ex-FBI Agent Mike Mason Expresses Concern About Sabotage in Verizon Strike

Mike Mason/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel

Ex-FBI official Mike Mason, who heads up security at Verizon, is voicing concern about the strike by company workers on the east coast that has resulted in the sabotage at some facilities including a police department and hospital.

“I consider that an unpatriotic act,” Mason, a former executive assistant director of the criminal division  at the FBI, told the Associated Press. “These cuts aren’t just affecting a faceless, monolithic company.”

The AP reports that Verizon has discovered 90 acts of sabotage since the strike began last week involving 45,000 landline employees from Massachusetts to D.C.  The FBI is involved in the investigating the matter.

An FBI spokesman said the agency is involved in the probe.

“Because critical infrastructure has been affected, namely the telecommunications of both a hospital and a police department, the FBI is looking into this matter from a security standpoint as part of our security efforts leading up to the 9-11 anniversary,” Special Agent Bryan Travers said in an email, according to AP.

Candice Johnson, a union spokeswoman from the Communications Workers of America, said:

“CWA does not condone illegal action of any kind, and instructs its members to conduct all strike activities in accordance with labor law.”