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May 2021


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Justice Dept. Honors Robert Kennedy’s 50th Anniversary of Swearing in as Atty. Gen.

doj photo

By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — On Friday, the Justice Department took pause to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s Swearing-in as  Attorney General in a building named after him.

With Kennedy’s widow Ethel and daughter Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in attendance, along with some other notables,  Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. delivered remarks.

“To Mrs. Kennedy and the Kennedy family, to our distinguished guests, to my colleagues, and to those who have served and supported our nation’s Department of Justice – it is my pleasure, and my great honor, to welcome you to the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building,” Holder said.

“Today, we come together to celebrate the achievements and enduring contributions of our nation’s 64th Attorney General – a man whose legacy continues to guide us, whose memory continues to touch us, and whose example continues to inspire us.”

Atty. Gen. Kennedy with staff/doj photo

“For me, it is a tremendous privilege to be joined by so many former Department leaders who have made this a truly historic reunion. With us, we have former Attorneys General, and a cadre of Assistant Attorneys General, First Assistants, Administrative Aides, line attorneys, and support staff who worked alongside Attorney General Kennedy – in the Criminal Division, the Lands Division, the Antitrust Division, the Tax Division, the Civil Rights Division, and the Attorney General’s Office, among other components.

“I can still remember sitting in the basement of my childhood home in Queens, watching – on our little black-and-white television – the inauguration of a young, charismatic new President. That was January 20th, 1961 – half a century ago. I was in the fourth grade. And I can still recall my mother’s enthusiasm, my father’s pride, and my own sense and certainty that something exciting – something important – was happening.

“The following day was marked by another historical moment, when Attorney General Robert Kennedy was sworn in and – after Justice Department guards initially turned him away for lack of an ID card – was finally shown to his office on the 5th floor of this building.

“That was January 21st, 1961.

doj photo

“Attorney General Kennedy championed the cause of the least among us – and made our nation more just, more fair, and more humane.

“The lessons of his life inspired my own decision, after finishing law school, to come to work in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division – just as Robert Kennedy did shortly after he graduated from law school.”

To see more photos click here.

To read text of Holder’s speech click here.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial: Despite Emphasis on Terrorism, Justice Dept. Hasn’t Forgotten About the Mob

By Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Editorial Page

PITTSBURGH — American mobsters probably assumed they had a free ride after Sept. 11. East Coast crime families probably breathed easier after the Justice Department turned its attention toward foreigners whose names appeared on terror-watch lists.

For sure, the specter of international terrorism provided the FBI and other law enforcement agencies with bigger fish to fry than guys with nicknames like “Jack the Whack,” “Meatball,” “Lumpy,” “Mush” and “The Claw.” Still, as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder demonstrated last week, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally hauling in “small fry” to keep the nation’s more traditional crime figures on their toes.

On Thursday, 800 agents and officers from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and local police in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Florida arrested 110 suspected mob members, making it one of the biggest organized crime busts in recent memory.

To read more click here.


Charlotte FBI Agent Jerry Senatore — “Mr Relentless” — Dies at Age 46

Jerry Senatore/charlotte observer

By Allan Lengel

The Charlotte Observer noted of Jerry Senatore: “As a boy, Jerry Senatore turned to his mother after an episode of the TV cop show ‘Dragnet’ and proclaimed: ‘Mom, I am going to be an FBI agent one day’.”

Last week, Senatore, who spent 20 years in the FBI’s Charlotte Division — the last seven lead a SWAT team, died from non-Hodgkins lyphoma at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., the Charlotte Observer reported. He was 46.

The paper noted that his friends and colleagues referred to him as “Mr. Relentless,” because of his toughness to battle his disease and the way he went after criminals.

“Jerry was a natural-born leader and protector,” FBI special agent Jim Page of Raleigh, Senatore’s second in command on the SWAT team told the Charlotte Observer. “He cared for everybody. He invested in you… Whenever we were on a mission, he’d pull the team together and say: ‘OK guys, it’s 5:30 in the morning, it’s cold out and we’re going after a very bad man. There’s no place I’d rather be.’

“And he meant it.”

The funeral for the father of three is Monday.

To read more click here.

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

Teresa Chambers/gov photo

By Allan Lengel

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

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

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.”