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Michigan Couple Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison in Extortion Attempt Involving Actor John Stamos

John Stamos

John Stamos

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Michigan man and woman convicted of trying to extort $680,000 from actor John Stamos were each sentenced to four years in prison Friday in U.S. District Court in Marquette in  Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The couple, Scott Edward Sippola 31, and Allison Lenore Coss,24, both of Marquette, Mi., were convicted following a four day jury trial in July.

Authorities said the two began sending Stamos emails in November 2009, saying they had compromising photos of him that they planned to sell to tabloids unless he forked over $680,000. Stamos went to the FBI.

On Dec. 2, 2009, both defendants were arrested near the K.I. Sawyer International airport in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, authorities said.

Authorities said Coss met Stamos in Orlando in April 2004 during a trip to Disney World. Authorities said Coss was a party with Stamos and about eight others.

Stamos told authorities they developed a friendship and communicated by email, and he testified in court that nothing improper happened at the party and he didn’t believe compromising photos existed.

The FBI never found compromising photos.

Arab-American Student Finds FBI GPS Device on Car; FBI Comes Knocking For It

santa claraBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ooops!

The publication WIRED reports that a student in  California, the son of an Islamic-American community leader, found a GPS device on his car during an oil change and the FBI came knocking to get it back.

The whole thing started last Sunday when Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old American born business marketing student at Mission College in Santa Clara, Calif., discovered the device while getting an oil change at Ali’s Auto Care, WIRED reported.

The mechanic saw a mysterious wire near the right rear wheel and exhaust and removed it, WIRED reported. A friend of Ali’s then posted a photo the the GPS device online, according to an interview with Ali.

Two days later, WIRED reported, the FBI came for the device and Afifi turned it over. Afifi said that comments from agents indicated he’d been under surveillance for at least three months, but Afifi added he’d done nothing to warrant the attention.

WIRED said San Francisco FBI spokesman Pete Lee declined to acknowledge the existence of the device, saying:

“I can’t really tell you much about it, because it’s still an ongoing investigation.”

mbObll

U.S. Marshals Service Joins Hunt for Whitey Bulger

Whitey Bulger

Whitey Bulger

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Now after 15 years on the lam, the U.S. Marshals Service has joined the hunt for 81-year-old mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, the Boston Globe reported.

A U.S. deputy Marshal has been assigned full time to the FBI-led Bulger Task Force, which is comprised of State Police, FBI agents, and state Department of Correction officers, the Globe reported.

U.S. Marshal John Gibbons issued a statement Thursday saying his agency “has a long-standing reputation as being expert fugitive investigators, and we look forward to providing the FBI with our assistance in this matter. It is our hope that this joint initiative will ultimately lead to the arrest of Bulger so he can face justice.”

Bulger, an FBI informant who is on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, vanished before his January 1995 federal racketeering indictment in Boston, the Globe reported. He later was charged with 19 murders.

Busted: Man Drove Around Washington With Fake Diplomatic Tags

diplomatic tagBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — To Nicholas Marino: Nice try.

On Thursday, the 24-year-old Washingtonian was sentenced here to two years probation, 240 hours of a community service and fined $500 for using fake diplomatic license tags.

Authorities say U.S. Secret Service police stopped him for speeding in his Mitsubishi SUV last Nov. 20 on 15th Street Northwest in Washington.

Marino told the officer he had diplomatic immunity because he was a diplomat at the Italian embassy. Officers checked and found that he was not a diplomat and that the “diplomatic tags” were not registered to the car and were not the property of the Italian embassy, authorities said.

Four Days later, Marino told investigators that he purhcased the fake diplomatic tags from a store kiosk in Kennesaw, Ga., which makes novelty plates.

Additionally, he found a picture of a Department of State seal on the Internet and affixed a copy on the back of his driver’s license, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Detroit Political Consultant Sam Riddle Gets 37 Months

Sam Riddle/facebook

Sam Riddle/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Detroit political consultant Sam Riddle, who created drama by defying court gag orders and posting comments on Twitter and Facebook, was hit Wednesday with a 37 months federal sentence for bribery and extortion, the Detroit News reported.

Riddle, 64, admitted bribing former Southfield City Councilman William Lattimore, tax evasion and extorting businesses when he worked for the now imprisoned Detroit City Council Member Monica Conyers, wife of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mi.) She was convicted on public corruption charges.

He vowed to return to politics and teach a new generation to avoid mistakes, the News reported.

“You can shackle my arms, you can shackle my feet, but you can’t shackle my soul,” he said, according to the News

Fed Jury Finds Corruption in Baltimore Docks

Just as portrayed in the HBO show “The Wire”, the docks in Baltimore need some cleaning up.

A character at the Baltimore docks in "The Wire"

A character at the Baltimore docks in "The Wire"

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper

BALTIMORE — A federal jury in Baltimore returned a guilty verdict on Sept. 30 against three union port workers, finding that they conspired to defraud their employer, the stevedoring company Ports America Baltimore, Inc., by submitting payroll information that caused them to get paid for time when they weren’t on the job.

The jury found that federal prosecutors proved that International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 953 members William Richard Zichos Jr., Dale Martin Kowalewski, and Joseph Ross Bell intentionally engaged in a mail-fraud conspiracy that, from 2004 to 2008, netted them nearly $42,000 in wages and benefits for work they did not perform.

The convictions are likely to send a strong message to waterfront workers that the practice, which was described during the trial as longstanding and commonplace, is illegal and can be successfully prosecuted.

“The evidence showed that the defendants used their positions as timekeepers to falsify their attendance reports and receive salary payments for lengthy periods of time when they were not at work, including many occasions when they were on vacation overseas,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement issued after the verdict.

To read more click here.

Afghan Prez’s Brother Claims DEA Note Shows “I am Innocent”

afghanistan mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of the Afghan president, claims a DEA note he has proves he’s an innocent man, the Washington Post reports.

The DEA says that ain’t necessarily so.

Ahmed Karzai, long rumored to be getting rich off Afghanistan’s opium trade said of the DEA letter, according to the Post:

“I think it’s wonderful. I always mentioned that I am innocent. Fortunately, now I have proof.”

But DEA spokesman Rusty Payne says the DEA, responding to a letter by Karzai’s attorney for information about his client, said it simply found no file identifying Karzai as subject of a DEA probe, the Post reported.

“This correspondence should not be construed as confirmation or denial of any ongoing investigation, simply that an administrative search did not identify Mr. Karzai as the target of an investigation,” Payne told the Post. “It is DEA’s policy not to confirm or deny any ongoing investigations.”

Congressman’s Wife Pleads Guilty in False Tax Return Case

Rep. John Tierney

Rep. John Tierney

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Under the category of “certainly can’t help husband’s re-election bid” comes the guilty plea of Patrice Tierney, who’s Democratic husband Rep. John F. Tierney is running for re-election in Massachusetts.

The Boston Globe reports that she pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Boston  to four counts of aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns for her brother, who is a federal fugitive facing illegal gambling and money laundering charges.

“I take full responsibility for what my part in this was,” Patrice Tierney told U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young, according to the Globe.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston charged that Patrice Tierney helped her brother, Robert Eremian “manage a bank account that collected more than $7 million in illegal gambling profits over seven years,” the Globe reported.

Authorities also alleged that she paid bills for his three children and ailing mother and gave a tax preparer information that resulted in a false tax return.

The Globe said Tierney’s brother ran a large-scale illegal gambling business in the United States from the early 1980s through the beginning of 2010.