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Archive for March, 2012

Column: A Tale of Union Racketeering or How I Learned to Love the Hobbs Act

Greg Stejskal

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.
 
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

Richard Debs was President of the United Auto Workers union local 1776. (No relation to Eugene V. Debs, the union organizer and socialist from the early 20th Century.) Debs had been the President of the local for 15 years in 1988. 1776 was the local representing the workers at the General Motors Willow Run assembly plant near Ypsilanti, Mich., where the Chevrolet Impalas were made.

Debs liked that job. And authorities suspected he was willing to harm people to keep it. But before I get into that, a little more about the Willow Run plant.

Willow Run was a massive industrial complex first developed by Ford during World War II to make the B24 Liberator bombers. At that time it was the largest assembly line facility in the world. At its peak it turned out a bomber every 55 minutes and was home to Rosie the Riveter. (The model for the iconic picture worked at the plant.)

After the war GM acquired the complex, GM expanded and converted it to an assembly plant and another plant to build the GM Hydra-matic transmissions.

During the waning halcyon days of the American auto industry, as president of a local, Debs had considerable power over a fiefdom that was comprised of all the workers at the assembly plant. Debs did not work at the plant, but rather administered the local from an office in a union building near the plant.

Because all GM plant jobs required UAW membership, Debs had the ability to influence hiring and to disperse jobs. He also had political power in the local community that derived from his position. There were also ample opportunities for corruption and graft to those so inclined.

Periodically UAW local officers have to stand for reelection, and there was to be an election in the spring of 1989. Debs was being challenged for the presidency by two other local members, Jesse Gray and Bob Harlow. Despite Debs 15 years as president, he was not universally well liked. Also he had recently been charged albeit acquitted in a Federal corruption case involving a local judge. (The judge and several others were convicted.)

In the fall of 1988, the FBI learned from a confidential informant (CI)that Debs had been attempting to hire some men to dissuade by violence Gray and Harlow from running against Debs. The source knew the identities of some of the men that had been approached by Debs, but he/she did not know whether anyone had agreed to Debs’ plan.

Read more »

FBI Agent Says Businesses Aren’t Taking Hackers Seriously Enough

By Tom Espiner
ZDNet Daily Newsletters

Businesses are not taking Anonymous and hacktivism seriously enough, according to an FBI special agent.

The youth of alleged Anonymous hackers, who are often teenagers or in their early twenties, has lead a number of businesses to dismiss the hacking group without taking into account the ramifications of a successful hack, FBI cyber-investigator Eric Strom told the RSA Conference 2012 in San Francisco on Wednesday.

“[Businesses] are taking it too lightly,” said Strom. “A lot of people think it’s a bunch of kids goofing around. In reality it’s not, [hacktivism] can destroy a business.”

To read more click here.

Australian Man Indicted on Charges of Exporting Military Related Equipment to Iran

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

At a time when Iran is not a very popular nation around the world, the feds have indicted an Australian man and his company on charges of conspiring to export sensitive military technology from the U.S. to Iran.

Fed authorities in D.C. on Wednesday indicted David Levick, 50, an Australian national, and his company ICM Components in Thorleigh, Australia, for trying to export components with applications in missiles, drones, torpedoes, and helicopters.

Levick, who is the general manager of ICM Components, remains at large and is believed to be in Australia, authorities said.

Authorities said that from March 2007 to about March 15, 2009, Levick and ICM solicited purchase orders from a representative of a trading company in Iran for U.S.-origin aircraft parts and other goods.

The person in Iran also operated and controlled companies in Malaysia that acted as intermediaries for the Iranian trading company.

Operation Smoke Screen Nets Over 100 Charges

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

More than 100 people were busted for a host of gun, drug and burglary charges in an operation run by ATF and local Macon, Ga.  authorities known as “Operation Smoke Screen”, reports reports WJBF.

The federal indictments charged  24 individuals with firearms offenses and another 85 defendants with with burglary, theft, firearm and drug charges.   The indictment capped a seven month operation.

The operation, which began in August of 2011 , resulted in the seizure of about $500,000 in property and the identification of individuals related to 104 burglaries, 12 car break-ins and 16 thefts.

“Operation Smoke Screen is a great example of the successes that can be accomplished through the collaborative efforts of federal and local law enforcement agencies working together to protect the public.  This operation serves as notice to the criminal element that if you traffic in stolen guns and other stolen items, law enforcement is watching and you will be prosecuted,” said US Attorney Edward J. Tarver.

To read more click here.

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