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November 2012


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Archive for November, 2012

FBI: Reputed Conn. Mobster Was Involved in Largest Art Heist in History

Steve Neavling 

The FBI believes a reputed Connecticut mobster who is expected to plead guilty today to weapons and prescription drugs charges was involved in the largest art heist in history, the Associated Press reports.

Although Robert Gentile, 76, hasn’t been charged in the 1990 St. Patrick’s Day heist, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham said the FBI suspects Gentile “had some involvement in connection with stolen property” related to the theft at Boston’s Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, the AP reported.

It’s unclear whether Gentile’s decision to plead guilty is part of a plea agreement tied to the theft of 13 pieces of art including masterpieces by Degas, Manet, Rembrandt and Vermeer that are valued at more than a half-billion dollars.

Gentile’s attorney, A. Ryan McGuigan, has maintained his client has no information on the heist, the AP wrote.

St. Patrick’s Day, tying up two guards and making off with 13 pieces of art including masterworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas and Manet worth more than a half-billion dollars.

New Surveillance Software Will Give FBI Agents Instant Information From Mobile Devices

Steve Neavling

A $1 billion facial recognition system for the FBI will allow agents to capture photos, fingerprints, iris scans and other biographical data from a mobile device such as a phone, Computer World reports.

The new technology is part of the Biometric Identification Tools Program, surveillance software that relies on biometric data and is expected to be unleashed in 2014.

The software is the latest effort to help agents track down elusive criminals, especially terrorists.

It’s designed to determine identities through tattoos, palm prints and eye scans.

Opinion: Former Justice Dept. Spokesman Says FBI handled Petraeus Investigation Properly

Matthew Miller is a partner at Vianovo. From 2009 to 2011, he was the Director of the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice.

By Matthew Miller
Since the news of CIA Director David Petraeus’s extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell broke last week, members of Congress have demanded to know why they weren’t informed of the relationship sooner. Some, including House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), have also insisted that the Department of Justice had an obligation to inform the president.

“Who knew what, when?” has become such a familiar talking point in Washington, that it rolls off the tongue anytime a new scandal breaks. But the desire for those in Congress, and even others on the president’s national security team, to be instantly briefed on ongoing FBI investigations conflicts with the longstanding rules governing criminal inquiries, which specify a much more narrow distribution of information. Those rules exist to protect both the integrity of investigations themselves and the reputations of people who become implicated in them, many of whom are never charged with a crime.

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Drunk Man Accused of Threatening Family Members of an FBI Agent

Steve Neavling

There’s an old, time-tested rule: Don’t make phone calls while you’re really inebriated.

Peter Joseph Persico apparently couldn’t help himself at a Florida bar when he called the FBI office in Albany and unleashed a torrent of profanity directed at an agent, the Albany Times Union reports.

Still fuming after he was indicted on cyberstalking charges stemming from tormenting a woman in Montgomery County in New York, Persico is accused of telling a federal agent over the phone, “Tell your mom I said hi. Tell your sister I said hi, too,” the Albany Times Union reported.

Persico’s attorney on Tuesday said his client was drunk and did not mean any harm.

But Senior U.S. District Court Judge Thomas McAvoy wasn’t impressed and denied Persico’s motion to toss the charges.


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Massive Explosion that Killed 2 in Indianapolis May Have Been Caused by Furnace

Steve Neavling 

A massive explosion in Indianapolis that killed two people and forced the evacuation of 200 others may have been caused by a faulty furnace, said the ex-husband of the woman whose house was at the center of the blast, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Local police said the cause of the fire won’t be known immediately because of the size of the blast.

Local, state and federal authorities continue to treat the explosion like a crime scene, the Star reported. The Star wrote that John Shirley, ex-husband of Monserrate Shirley, received a text from his daughter a little more than a week ago about a broken furnace at the house. “I bet you anything that’s why it happened,” he told the Star. Authorities believe natural gas played a role in the explosion.

David Petraeus Investigation Expands to Top US Commander in Afganistan

Steve Neavling

The ever-evolving investigation into CIA Director David Petraeus’ extramarital affair has expanded to the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, who is accused of inappropriate communication with the woman at the center of the scandal, Reuters reports.

The FBI uncovered up to 30,000 pages of communication, mostly e-mails, between Allen and Jill Kelley, who is a family friend of Petraeus and the impetus of the investigation.

The nature of the communication is unclear.

Asked whether it included classified information, a senior U.S. Defense official would only say, “”We are concerned about inappropriate communications. We are not going to speculate as to what is contained in these documents.”

The Defense Department’s Inspector General is investigating.

Anti-Terrorism Expert Advises Against Technology Upgrade to Detect Biological Attacks

Steve Neavling

 A top anti-terrorism for Homeland Security advised the agency to ditch a $3.1 billion upgrade of the nation’s system for detecting biological attacks because it would be unreliable, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Dr. Tara O’Toole, the agency’s undersecretary for science and technology, privately told Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that the new version of BioWatch – called Generation 3 – can’t be trusted to detect anthrax, smallpox, plague or other germs in a biological attack, the Times reported, citing scientists familiar with the issue.

O’Toole also said the money would be better spent on accelerating the distribution of medicine after an attack by establishing computer technology between hospitals, large HMOs and public health agencies.

“Her position is, ‘Kill it,'” said a federal scientist familiar with O’Toole’s discussions about Generation 3.

Napolitano has taken no public position on the issue.