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June 2021


How to Become a Bounty Hunter


FBI Cracks Nut in Illinois Bank Heist: Cuts Trapped Robber Free From Duct

Shoshanna Utchenik

Bank robber Charles Estell, 38, of Illinois, spent the night trapped in a duct before police cut him free and arrested him, reports CBS News.

Estell must have watched all the right movies to help plan his weekend bank heist. Problem is, he was more Charlie Chaplin than Sean Connery in his execution.

The FBI alleges that Estell dropped into the suburban Chicago bank through the roof Saturday by cutting through 6 inches of concrete, says CBS. He then tied up bank employees at gun point, and stuffed his backpack with 100,000 bucks.

He then ran to a roof of a neighboring office building, broke a window and cut his hand. Investigators spent hours looking for the aspiring 007, who  left  trail drops of blood.

The thief, wearing a wig of dreadlocks, had stuffed himself into a tight duct and become immobilized.

Michael Kaufmann, division chief of the Oak Lawn Police, notes Estell was lucky to get caught, “because if they’d never found him, he could’ve died in there.”

To read more click here.

Fed Field Trip, Destination: Italy

Shoshanna Utchenik

The U.S.  feds met with Italian law enforcement counterparts in Italy last week to make sure everyone was on the same page on organized crime.

The summit gave the FBI and several federal prosecutors from the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s office a chance to connect the dots with Italian officials on current investigations and operational matters, reports the NY Daily News.

All five New York crime families maintain ties to the old country, but the Gambinos are the most actively linked. Italian police were essential to the 2008 takedown of 62 Gambino members. They also played an important part in the 2011 roundup of more than 100 mobsters in the U.S., says the Daily News.

The NY Feds took the opportunity while abroad to attend Italian Judge Giovanni Falcone’s anniversary memorial service. Falcone was assassinated 20 years ago by a roadside bomb planted by the mob.

To read more click here.

Weekend Series on Crime: Ex-FBI Agent Ali Soufan

Exciting Ride for Head of Detroit FBI: Going to Head Crime Commission

Andy Arena

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — On Christmas day in 2009, Andrew Arena, head of the Detroit FBI, made a beeline to the airport to deal with a young Nigerian man — aka The Underwear Bomber — who tried to blow up an airliner.

“He slipped up and gave us some stuff,” Arena explained of the valuable global terrorism information the bomber gave up during the interrogation. ” I can’t get into because it’s still classified. We exploited a lot… We got some key stuff.”

Arena was directly involved in the decisions about the interrogating the bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, including when to read him the Miranda warning, an issue that would later become a “political football” in Washington.

Some conservative Republicans like Michele Bachman were highly critical, insisting the FBI shouldn’t have read the Miranda warning to a terrorist because it may have stifled the flow of valuable information. Many Democrats defended the FBI and Justice Department, which delayed reading the rights, but ultimately did after six hours. The Obama administration claimed it got plenty of valuable information about the plot and terrorism around the world.

“People used the national security issue for political purposes,” he said of the partisan bickering in Washington. “Yeah, that did bother me.”

Arena is a personable man who speaks fondly of his native Detroit. In his FBI office on Michigan Avenue downtown, he sat down earlier this month with Deadline Detroit reporter Allan Lengel to discuss his 24-year-career in the FBI, including the last five as head of the Detroit office.

Arena officially retired on May 31. He’s will take over as director of the newly formed Detroit Crime Commission. The commission, he says, will try unearthing corruption and other crime and try to fill some gaps law enforcement hasn’t been able to address. He says the business people funding the commission were shy about having their names in the press.

To be sure, his five years have been eventful.

Besides the Underwear Bomber, he’s gone after corruption in city hall, resulting in an indictment of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is set to go to trial in September. Arena’s agents have also doggedly pursued corruption involving Wayne County government.

What will happen to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano?

“I don’t know,” he says. “We’ll see where the facts take us.”

He had to deal with his fair share of controversy, including the fatal shooting of an imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was killed by his agents during a raid in Dearborn in 2009 after the imam, according to agents, pulled out a gun and fired, killing an FBI dog.

With all the many successes in court — and there were plenty — it wasn’t always perfect. Recently, a federal judge dismissed charges that a militia known as the Hutaree was plotting to revolt against the government and kill cops. The judge simply didn’t buy the case, saying their talk was protected by free speech. Two members ended up pleading guilty to gun charges.

It was an embarrassment to the government. Arena says he and U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade strongly disagreed with the ruling.

In Washington, Arena was a highly regarded bureau official, and while he was stationed there after Sept. 11, 2001, he briefed FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III regularly on terrorism. Arena also pushed back when the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney were pressuring the FBI to find a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

In the book –“The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al Qaeda” — author Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent, writes of Arena, who at the time, was chief of the International Terrorism Operations Section:

Prior to the Iraq war, when there was a lot of pressure on the FBI from the White House to produce a “link” between Saddam Hussein

and al-Qaeda, the 9/11 Team’s assessment, again and again, was that there was no link. The White House didn’t like that answer, and told the bureau to look into it more and “come up with one.” Andy refused, and in an exchange (now famous among bureau agents), he told Robert Mueller: “Sir, in the FBI, we present facts. We don’t manufacture reasons for White House wars.” The director agreed, and the message went back that the assessment wouldn’t be changed.

The following is an interview with Arena, which has been trimmed for brevity. The questions have been edited for clarity.

Deadline Detroit: Tell me about the Detroit Crime Commission. What’s your core mission?

Arena: I think we’re looking at what are the gaps in law enforcement. First and foremost we’re gong to be looking at criminal enterprise, public-corruption-type investigations. As the FBI, I can’t go out and look at all these not-for-profits that people are using to funnel money through. Unless I’ve got reasonable suspicion that they’re using it for criminal activity, I can’t look at it. As a private entity I can do whatever the hell I want.

To read the full interview click here.

Gangster Whitey Bulger Started Snitching as Early as 1950s

Whitey Bulger/fbi

Shoshanna Utchenik

Crime never pays, but working as an informant for the FBI sure seemed to for Mobster “Whitey” Bulger. That’s why he started snitching early… as early as the 1950s reports the Boston Globe.

Arrested with his girlfriend Catherine Greig last June after 16 years on the lamb, 82-year-old Bulger may not have changed much over the years. The Boston Globe recounts that “Whitey” was first motivated to collaborate with authorities to protect his girlfriend at the time, Jacqui McAuliffe, one of a string of loyal thrill-seekers endowed with movie-star good looks but short on morals.

The story begins after McAuliffe had traveled to Indiana with Bulger to rob a bank. Accomplice Carl Smith turned them in, meaning McAuliffe would also face charges as an accomplice. That’s when the cornered Bulger chose to squeal on fellow bank robber Richard Barchard in exchange for his girlfriend’s immunity. That first deal worked, and in 1956 McAuliffe got to go back to cutting hair in Boston while the chivalrous Bulger served a 20-year sentence for the Indiana heist.

Barchard, now 81, told the Globe he had no hard feelings about being turned in by his partner in crime. “All I know is that Whitey and I were friends. We committed a crime. We paid for doing the crime. He went his way and I went mine.”

To read more click here.

FBI Sting Snares White Supremacist Who Threatened Prez: Faces Gun Charges

By Allan Lengel

An FBI sting snared a white supremacist in Virginia who posted threats about President Obama on a hate-website.

Douglas Story tried buying an illegal fully automatic machine gun from an undercover agent, Fox 5 reported.

Story alleged paid the agent to convert a rifle into a machine gun.

To read more click here.


New Head of North Fla. FBI is a Rising Star

Michael Steinbach/ fbi photo

By Jim Schoettler
Florida Times-Union

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On his first day at work, Mike Steinbach sat at a Chicago Denny’s drinking coffee, reading a newspaper and covertly protecting a nearby federal witness from a possible hit attempt by the mob.

“I thought, ‘Holy moly.’ This is a pretty good deal,” Steinbach said. “I knew I had made the right [career] choice.”

The undercover surveillance assignment was Steinbach’s welcome to the FBI.

Seventeen years later, after adding the capture of a serial killer, an interview with a 9/11 facilitator and breaking bread with Israelis and Palestinians to his many accomplishments, Steinbach has arrived in Jacksonville.

To read the full story click here.


FBI Announces Android Version of Popular Child ID App

fbi photo

Shoshanna Utchenik

Friday, May 25 was National Missing Children’s Day in the U.S. and in observance, the FBI announced the release of a new version of its Child ID App for Android mobile phones.

The popular iPhone version of the same app has been downloaded 121,000 times since its 2011 launch.

The free app allows immediate access and sharing of lost kids’ profiles between parents and authorities. The new app can be downloaded for free through Google Play, and the iPhone version is available via iTunes.