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Archive for May, 2019

The Secret FBI Files of Detroit’s Sopranos and the Links to Jimmy Hoffa

Featured_screen_shot_2019-05-16_at_4.16.01_pm_35861
Anthony Giacalone (left) and Vito Giacalone (Photo from Scott Burnstein)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Brothers Vito and Anthony Giacalone, reputed Detroit mobsters, had close ties to Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa in the 1960s — but that didn’t keep them from plotting to rob a safe in his Washington D.C. apartment, according to FBI files obtained by ticklethewire.com through the Freedom of Information Act.

The files, which cover the early 1960s for the Giacalone brothers, also show the FBI was concerned about the mob stepping up its gambling activities in Detroit and wondered if then-Mayor Jerome Cavanagh might be on the take.

Over many decades, when the Detroit mob was a force to be reckoned with, capos (captains) Vito (Billy Jack) Giacalone and brother Anthony Giacalone were often the public face of the local mob.

How they lived and did their criminal business figures prominently in the history of Detroit’s organized crime family, which has been diminished significantly by virtue of time and law enforcement’s action. Legit gaming at casinos replaced some of the traditional mob activities like backroom dice games and cards. And the Teamsters, now headed by James R. Hoffa’s son, have cleaned up their act and cut ties to the Mafia, which used the pension fund as its bank for decades.

But when the Giacalones and their colleagues operated at full strength in the mid-20th century, few gangsters were their equal.


Keith Corbett: “No one looks at them anymore.”

“The Giacalones were certainly the most public figures in the local La Cosa Nostra,” says Keith Corbett, who headed up the Organized Crime Strike Force in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit from 1990 to about 2005.

“In fact, it’s my impression that that was a bone of contention between people like Jack Tocco (a mob leader) who wanted them to maintain a low profile. That wasn’t their style.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric M. Straus, chief of the Violent and Organized Crime Unit, adds:  “Not only was there tension with Jack Tocco not wanting them to have a high profile, but the Giacalones were resentful that they did all the heavy lifting that exposed them periodically to lengthy prison sentences while others didn’t spend any time in jail.”

Vito Giacalone died in 2012 at age 88. Anthony Giacalone died in 2001 at age 82.

Today, the Detroit mob is a shadow of itself, involved in illegal sports gambling, loan sharking, narcotics, and some legitimate businesses, like sanitation, food supplies and restaurants. The members include offspring and relatives of the original gangsters. Authorities believe Vito Giacalone’s son, Jack “The Kid” Giacalone, 68, a twice-convicted felon, is allegedly one of the highest ranking figures in the Detroit mob.

The guy had a look

I took an interest in Vito Giacalone when I was a Detroit News reporter covering federal law enforcement and courts in the 1990s. I wrote a profile on him in 1994, just before Giacalone was to go off to prison. When I asked his attorney David DuMouchel if his client cared to comment for the story, he called him on the golf course. DuMouchel got back to me to and said Giacalone wouldn’t comment and wasn’t happy I was doing a story.

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Jerome Cavanagh was mayor from 1962-70/

I had two encounters with Giacalone. One was after he pleaded guilty in 1994 to the tax charge. As he left court, I asked for comment. He gave one of his trademark icy stares and walked to the elevator.

A few years before that, I was at the Golden Galleon bar behind The Detroit News on a Friday in December, after work, getting a beer with a colleague. I ran into an attorney who invited us into the back room to join the firm’s Christmas party. Giacalone was there, and when he learned we were reporters, he told the lawyer we should leave.

Some of the FBI files are heavily redacted and leave gaping holes in the story line. Still, what is there provides historical insight into the role the mob played in its heyday in Detroit in the 1960s.

The city’s organized-crime characters and activities were something out of a Scorsese film, running gambling, numbers and loan sharking. The brothers relied on Hoffa for favors ranging from using his private pilot to working on obtaining loans from the Teamster pension fund to invest in a Las Vegas hotel. It was also a time when the FBI and Attorney General Robert Kennedy had taken a keen interest in the mob and Hoffa, who was imprisoned in 1967 until mid-1971 for jury tampering and fraud.

Read more »

Roger Stone Mulls Lawsuit to Determine If He Was Under FBI Surveillance

Roger Stone on ABC’s “This Week.”

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Conservative provocateur Roger Stone is threatening to file a federal lawsuit to determine whether he was under FBI surveillance during the Trump campaign.

“We have strong reason to believe that Mr. Stone was among three advisors to candidate Trump who was under surveillance by the FBI during the 2016 presidential campaign,” Stone’s attorney Paul Jensen wrote in a May 20 letter to the federal government, The Hill reports.

Jensen’s assertion is based on a January 2017 story by The New York Times, which revealed that the FBI had been monitoring Donald Trump associates and the Russian government during the presidential election.

“Having exhausted our administrative remedies we are now contemplating a tort lawsuit as a means to force the government to disclose the facts in this serious matter and to determine if Mr. Stone’s 4th amendment rights were violated,” Jensen’s letter continued.

Stone, who was unable to substantiate his claims, has been charged with seven counts, including making false statements to Congress, obstruction a government investigation and tampering with a witness. He is awaiting trial.

Trump’s Crackdown on the Border Could Make Airports Less Safe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Transportation Security Administration, which protects America’s airports by screening passengers, could lose substantial funding to finance President Trump’s crackdown at the southern border.

The Department of Homeland Security is asking for $232 million from the TSA to fund increased security measures at the border, a controversial move that underscores the dramatic shifts in priorities after the 9/11 attacks.

Homeland Security is requesting the money in case Congress doesn’t support a $1.1 billion funding request, according to documents obtained by NBC News.

A DHS spokesman said the agency is “considering all options” to combat the influx of migrants at the southwest border.

“We will continue to work with our workforce to find dynamic solutions and funding to address this very serious problem. As part of this effort, it is our responsibility to explore fiscal mechanisms that will ensure the safety and welfare of both our workforce and the migrant population, which is also reflected in the supplemental request submitted to Congress,” said DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton.

Number of Migrants Held by ICE Reaches 52,000+ As Trump’s Crackdown Continues

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

More than 52,000 migrants detained by ICE are currently being held in facilities across the country as part of President Trump’s ongoing crackdown on undocumented immigrants, BuzzFeed reports.

The surge of migrants at the southern border has prompted ICE to request more space to handle the influx. 

The increase in detentions “have a direct correlation to border crossings,” an ICE official said. 

Under the Obama administration, the population in ICE custody was around 35,000. 

Activists said the latest detention figures are alarming. 

“What the administration is doing is operating entirely outside of the constraints imposed on them by Congress by jailing more and more people every week to now hit a breathtaking record,” said Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center. “The administration knows very well that this is needless cruelty and there are better alternatives that work and are cheaper and more humane.”

Walmart Shoppers Ran for Cover When FBI Task Force Used Flash-Bang Grenades

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Walmart shoppers were in for a scare Monday when they mistook flash-bang grenades as gunshots.

The FBI Street Task Force in Colorado used the flash-bang devices to help arrest three people.

Unaware of the task force’s presence, shoppers ran for cover.

“All of a sudden all these people started running down the aisle yelling, ‘Active shooter,’ shopper Edward Johnson told CBS4. “The Walmart employees herded us in the backroom and locked the door. We were in there for 15 min then they let us out,” Johnson said. “But, there were cops everywhere. Then, they started arresting a lady. It was absolutely the scariest situation I have ever witnessed.”

No more information was available late Monday.

Border Patrol Agent Accused of Assault Called Migrants ‘Subhuman,’ ‘Unworthy of Kindling for a Fire’

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent accused of striking a Guatemalan man with his government-issued vehicle in December 2017 and then lying about it blasted migrants as “disgusting subhuman shit unworthy of kindling for a fire,” new court documents allege.

Prosectors are trying to show that the text messages from Agent Matthew Bowen, 39, show his “great disdain” for migrants, The Arizona Republic reports.

Bowen, a 10-year veteran of the Border Patrol, also texted, “PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!”

In another text message to Agent Lonnie Ray Swartz, who was acquitted of manslaughter charges last year after shooting through a border fence in Nogales in 2012, Bowen called rock throwers “mindless murdering savages.”

Bowen was indicted by a grand jury in May 2018, accused of depriving the Guatemalan man of his civil rights and falsifying records.

Bowen’s attorney Sean Chapman is trying to prevent a jury from seeing the texts. If the judge permits the jury to see the texts, Chapman wrote that he’d argue that such language is “commonplace throughout the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, that it is part of the agency’s culture, and therefore says nothing about Mr. Bowen’s mind-set.”

Trump’s Pick for ICE Director Criticized Admin As ‘Heartless,’ ‘Devoid of Any Decency’

President Trump’s choice for ICE director, Mark Morgan

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s choice for ICE director had harsh words for his ouster as head of Border Patrol in 2017.

Then-U.S. Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan wrote in a 2017 email to then-acting Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Kevin McAleenan that the administration’s call for “me to leave immediately is heartless and void of any decency and compassion,” Axios reports.

McAleenan, who is now the acting Homeland Security secretary, received another email from Morgan, who wrote “I am being removed in the name of politics – and politics at its worst. … I will not have them believe I willingly left under these circumstances.”

Morgan wrote in another email, “This is wrong on many levels. I have questions but I need to process through a bit more.”

The emails didn’t make clear why Morgan was removed, and no reason was offered when he resigned.
But the National Border Patrol Council, the union for Border Patrol agents, said Morgan was inexperienced. According to an Axios source, Trump made the call after privately talking to NBPC President Brandon Judd.

In a strange turnabout, Judd told Politico that Morgan was the right person to head the agency, in no small part due to his experience at the FBI.

Jeffrey Rosen Confirmed As DOJ’s Second-in-Command Despite No Experience As Prosecutor

Jeffrey Rosen at the Senate confirmation hearing.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former Deputy Secretary of Transportation Jeffrey Rosen, who has no experience as a prosecutor, is now the second-in-command at the Justice Department.

The Senate voted along party lines Thursday to confirm confirm Rosen to replace former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the embattled official who initiated Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.

Rosen has never served in the Justice Department. He previously served as general counsel at the Department of Transportation and at the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush.

Democrats said they opposed Rosen because he lacks DOJ experience and refused during congressional testimony to pledge to release the full, unredacted Mueller report.

“We need a Deputy Attorney General who knows the Justice Department,,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement after Rosen’s confirmation. “Mr. Rosen simply does not have the qualifications for this critical assignment.”

Republicans praised Rosen for his “rock-solid reputation,” as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put it.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Rosen has “the experience, skills and the temperament we want in a deputy attorney general.”

Rosen was nominated by President Trump in February.