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Teresa Chambers to Return as U.S. Park Police Chief on Jan. 31

Teresa Chambers/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Ousted U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers will return to her old job on Jan. 31,  U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced.

Chambers was fired in 2004 for publicly voicing concerns about budget shortfalls and staff shortages which she said left citizens vulnerable to crime.

The Merit Systems Protection Board earlier this month ruled that she could have her job back, plus more than six years of back pay. It concluded that the evidence against her was weak, and that the Interior Department retaliated against her.

“It is a tremendous honor to return to the United States Park Police and to work alongside the men and women of that organization who have the privilege of serving the law enforcement profession while also serving our country,” Chambers said in a statement.

In announcing her official reinstatement, Salazar said that the current chief Sal Lauro has agreed to serve as a Senior Advisor to the Interior Department.

“In that position, Chief Lauro will work closely with Kim Thorsen, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Management to launch a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Department’s and Bureaus’ law enforcement activities and programs,” a press release said.

“Chief Lauro and Deputy Assistant Secretary Thorsen will provide recommendations to the Secretary, Assistant Secretary, and Bureau heads on how to strengthen law enforcement throughout the Department and its agencies.”

Feds Charge Washington State Man With “Blinding” Border Patrol Pilots With Flashlight

Retired ATF Official Bernie La Forest Pens 2nd Book

Bernie La Forest/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Bernie La Forest, who headed up ATF offices in Kansas City, Detroit, Phoenix and Los Angeles before retiring, has just penned his second suspense novel —  “In The Red Dragon’s Shadow.

The murder mystery is chock full of international intrigue and involves the ATF, Detroit Police, guns, radical Muslims from Iraq, Iran and China and assassinations. It was just released.

La Forest says the story in his latest book “reboots” a few years after the conclusion of his first book “Shadow Partners”, which was released in 2010.

La Forest, a former Detroit cop, retired from ATF in 1998 and then worked as a contractor for the agency on a gun trace project from 2002 to 2007.

The book is available on Amazon.com.

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Genovese Crime Family

At 93, Mob Underboss Who Knew Sinatra and Sammy Davis Gets Sentenced

John "Sonny" Franzese/wikipedia photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

The story line of Colombo family underboss John “Sonny” Franzese, 93, of New York reads something like this: He knew Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. He got booted from the Army in World War II for displaying homicidal tendencies. His son testified against him in trial last year. And the feds recorded him talking about hiding bodies — though he was never convicted of murder.

And now Franzese, a wiseguy’s wiseguy who a federal prosecutor said was responsible for the “glamorization of the Mafia over the past century,” could spend what’s left of his life in prison.

His grandchildren and daughter wrote gushing letters to the judge asking for leniency, but Franzese was sentenced on Jan. 14 in a Brooklyn federal court to eight years for shaking down Hustler and Penthouse strip clubs in Manhattan and a Long Island pizzeria for protection. He reportedly could become eligible for parole at age 100.

“He’s very resilient,” his attorney, Richard B. Lind, told AOL News, commenting this week on Friday’s sentencing. “He took it like a man.”

Franzese was the underboss — or the second in command — of the Colombo crime family, one of five Mafia families in New York. He got there by taking wrong turns every step of the way, authorities say.

“From a very young age, he has engaged in relentless and increasingly brutal violence, starting with an assault arrest at the age of 19 in 1938, then escalating to rape of a waitress in a garage in 1947 and armed bank robbery in 1967,” Brooklyn Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cristina M. Posa and Rachel J. Nash wrote in a court document last month, weeks before sentencing.

“Franzese’s violent nature manifested itself in other aspects of his life as well,” the prosecutors wrote.

He was discharged from the Army during World War II because he displayed “homicidal tendencies”, the prosecutors noted. In 1945, they wrote that his wife divorced him, alleging that he “habitually threatened to disfigure her with a knife.”

An Enforcer Who Led the High Life

Franzese rose through the ranks of the Colombo family and reportedly became a captain in the 1950s with a feared reputation as an enforcer. In time, media accounts had him hobnobbing with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. at the Copacabana nightclub in New York, and investing in the 1972 movie “Deep Throat.” His business interests as a mobster included the Manhattan entertainment industry and the Long Island rackets.

In 1967, Franzese was sentenced to 50 years for bank robbery. He was paroled 10 years later. Over the many years, he violated parole five times for associating with mobsters and returned to prison.

He was charged with only one murder. That was in 1966. He was arrested on charges of murdering a rival bookmaker and dumping the body in Jamaica Bay in New York with cement blocks chained to his feet, federal authorities noted in a court document. He was acquitted.

Still, federal authorities insist he was involved in “countless murders,” noting in a court document that he couldn’t keep track of them all, telling an associate in 2006 that he had “killed a lot of guys … you’re not talking about four, five, six, 10.”

On April 18, 2006, authorities noted in a document that he told the associate how to get rid of a body by dismembering the corpse in a kiddie pool and drying the severed body parts in a microwave before stuffing them in a commercial-grade garbage disposal.

In October of that year, he told the associate they would have nothing to worry about if they were patient when getting rid of a murder victim.

“Today, you can’t have a body no more. … It’s better to take that half an hour, an hour, to get rid of the body than it is just to leave the body in the street.”

The feds also had recordings of him instructing associates how to shake down businesses, saying in one instance, “If he don’t give it to you, leave ’em on the floor.”

In June 2008, while still in prison for parole violation, the underboss was indicted along with other associates on racketeering and extortion charges for shaking down strip joints and a pizzeria. He was released from prison in December of that year.

Dozed Off During Son’s Testimony

At trial last summer, he hardly appeared like a man to fear. News accounts had him walking with a cane, being wheeled out of the courtroom in a wheelchair to go to the bathroom and sleeping during some of the testimony.

His son John Franzese Jr., 50, a former Colombo associate who became an FBI informant and wore a wire to record his father’s incriminating words, testified against him last June.

“I’m not talking about my father as a man,” he testified. “I’m talking about the life he chose. This life absorbs you. You only see one way.” During some of the testimony, The Associated Press reported the father dozed off at the defense table.

Franzese’s other son, Michael, became a major mobster on Long Island, but eventually settled down with a family and became a Christian motivational speaker. Michael said his father was “sick” that John “betrayed him,” according to the AP.

“He did it for money. There’s no other reason,” Michael said. His brother reportedly received $50,000 from the FBI for his cooperation.

The government alleged that Franzese requested to have his son killed after learning that he was cooperating with the government against Colombo members and associates.

Lind, Franzese’s lawyer, said he plans to appeal the conviction and sentencing, He told AOL News that Franzese “did not comment on [his son testifying] very much. He’s not a big talker.”

Last July 7, a federal jury in Brooklyn convicted Franzese and three other associates. He was taken back into custody.

His attorney, in a Dec. 3 sentencing memorandum, wrote that he hoped for a sentence “sufficient but not greater than necessary.” He noted that his client had a number of “serious maladies,” including gout, high blood pressure, impaired hearing, a heart condition, blindness in one eye, deep vein thrombosis, chronic kidney disease and urinary incontinence.

“As the foregoing should make abundantly clear, a sentence of more than two or three years is in effect a death sentence for defendant,” Lind wrote.

Meanwhile, Franzese’s relatives also asked for leniency in letters to U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, including his daughter Lorraine Scorsone, with whom he had lived with after getting out of prison in late 2008.

“In your wisdom, please allow him home arrest so that my family, my children and grandchildren can have closure in his last days and his death, ” she wrote Nov. 7 in a two-paragraph letter to the judge. “There is so little time left and we all have benefited from getting to know him in an intimate loving way for the past two years he has been living at my home. We beg for more time.”

The New York Daily News reported that at sentencing Cogan was concerned about giving him what amounted to a life sentence. The prosecution had asked for a sentence of up to nearly 16 years and showed little sympathy for the elderly mobster.

“He has never held an honest job for a day in his life. He’s essentially lived as a parasite off the hard work of others by shaking them down,” federal prosecutor Posa told the judge.

“He is largely responsible for the glamorization of the Mafia over the past century,” she said, according to the Daily News. “For him to die now as a criminal in jail is not an inappropriate response to the lifestyle he lived.”

Could Deep Budget Cuts Spell Doom for Agencies Like FBI and DEA?

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Could big Congressional budget cuts spell doom for agencies like the FBI and DEA?

Conservative Republicans on Thursday demanded dramatic cuts, the Washington Post reported. Specifically, members of the conservative Republican Study Committee said the GOP needs to keep a campaign pledge and immediately cut at least $100 billion from non-defense programs.

The Post reported that Democrats estimate that such deep cuts, if applied across the board,  could result in the firing of 4,000 FBI agents, 1,500 DEA agents and 5,700 federal correctional officers.

To read more click here.

Gotti Hitman Pleads Guilty to Arranging Murder of Executive Who Was Suspected Snitch

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

On Thursday, the day 127 people were charged in the largest Mafia roundup in FBI history, a hit man for the late mob Godfather John Gotti pleaded guilty in federal court in New York to arranging the Sept. 11, 1989 murder of a Staten Island businessman Gotti suspected was a snitch, the New York Daily News reported.

Joseph Watts, a member of the Gambino crime family,  admitted to plotting to kill Fred Weiss, a former Staten Island Advance editor and m0b-connected trash-hauling executive, who Gotti thought was cooperating with the FBI, the paper reported.

“I conspired and agreed with others to murder Fred Weiss to prevent him from cooperating with the government,” Watts told Federal District Judge Colleen McMahon, according to the Daily News.

The Daily News reported that Watts had put together a team of killers to take Weiss out. The paper reported that one hit team failed but another team didn’t the very next day.

To read more click here.

Read original indictment

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

127 Busted in Largest Mafia Roundup in FBI History

FBI's Janet Fedarcyk at Brooklyn press conference/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

Federal authorities Thursday announced what they called the largest mob roundup in FBI history: the indictment of 127 people, including key Mafia figures from the New York, New Jersey and New England crime families, on charges ranging from murder and racketeering to gambling, extortion and loan-sharking.

About 800 law enforcement members from the FBI, the Secret Service, the U.S. Labor Department, and state and local law enforcement Thursday arrested 121 people who were named in 16 indictments filed in different jurisdictions. Four others were already in custody, and one member of the Colombo family was arrested in Italy.

The indictments were aimed at all five New York crime families — the Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno and Luchese families — along with the New England Patriarca family and the New Jersey Decavalcante family.

“Today’s arrests mark an important and encouraging step forward in disrupting La Cosa Nostra operations,” Attorney General Eric Holder said at a press conference this morning in Brooklyn, N.Y. “But the reality is that our battle against organized-crime enterprises is far from over.”

Authorities said the indictments resulted from years of investigations, including the use of wiretaps and cooperating informants.

“These cases are the cumulative results of years of investigative work, including the development of key cooperating witnesses, a trend that has definitely been tilting in law enforcement’s favor,” said Janice Fedarcyk, head of the New York FBI. “The vow of silence that is part of the oath Omerta is more myth than reality today.”

To read more click here.

Read indictments