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October 2022


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

News Story

A Lot At Stake As Prosecutors Plan to End Fraud Case Against Manafort

Paul Manafort

By Steve Neavling

A lot is at stake in the Paul Manafort trial that began last week.

A victory for special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling during the election, would give him more credibility as president Trump tries to chip away at his reputation and intentions.

A loss for Mueller would give Trump more ammunition in his quest to convince the public that the investigation is a “witch hunt.”

By Friday, Mueller’s prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case against Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who is accused of bank and tax fraud.

Prosecutor Greg Andres told U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III that the government will rest its case after calling about eight more witnesses to the stand, which is expected to happen by the end of the week.

Once the prosecution rests its case, Manafort’s lawyers will make their case that the Republican consultant did nothing wrong. It’s unclear how long the defense plans to take during the trial, which entered its second week on Monday.

Gang Land News: A Key Government Witness’s Next Home: Back Seat Of His 2011 KIA

Jerry Capeci is regarded as an expert on the mob. His website, Gang Land News, is a subscription-based website. This article was republished with permission.

By Jerry Capeci
Gang Land News

Lester Zullo was a key player in an almost comical Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight event when he ran with a violent Luchese family crew back in 1992. But nine years later, he had two serious problems: a federal indictment, and throat cancer. So he agreed to flip. He got a new identity in the Witness Protection Program, and quietly helped send a bunch of Luchese mobsters to prison for murder and racketeering.

The government never called him, but Zullo was all set to testify against NYPD rogue detectives, Louis Eppolitto and Steve Caracappa, the so-called Mafia Cops who carried out hits and fingered targets for Luchese underboss Anthony (Gaspipe) Casso.

But that was a long time ago. These days, mobster Joseph (Joey Flowers) Tangorra, and all the other wiseguys and mob associates who Zullo helped send to prison, have been released. And Zullo, 67, who was disabled when he joined Team America, is forgotten history, like water under the bridge, as far as the feds are concerned. His wife, also 67, is also disabled and suffers her own medical ailments. Their government funding — about $3100 a month — was cut off in June of 2014.

The move came after Zullo was assured — year after year — that wouldn’t happen, the ex-gangster told Gang Land. The couple have little to fall back on: Their savings from a malpractice award Zullo got for faulty laryngeal surgery to remove his voice box is almost gone.

Their disability and social security payments barely cover their rent. Their monthly rent where they’ve lived for 17 years is currently $1421. Their combined monthly income from disability and social security is $1740.

“In less than a few months,” Zullo rasped, speaking with the aid of a mechanical voice box, “we’ll be living in a car.”

Easy Decision

It wasn’t a difficult decision for Zullo to decide to cooperate. He and six others, including then-capo Tangorra, then-acting underboss Eugene (Boobsie) Castelle, and soldiers John (Big John) Castellucci and Scott Gervasi were hit with racketeering charges in December of 2000. At the time, Zullo had already been diagnosed with cancer and was suffering serious after-effects from having his voice box removed.

The feds were also looking to put him away as a shooter in the fouled-up hit he and Tangorra had attempted. Zullo, aiming at their target from the top step of a Brooklyn apartment building, mistakenly hit Tangorra in the back when Joey Flowers suddenly appeared at the bottom of the stairs. In hindsight, it’s obvious they were both at fault, but Zullo took the weight, likely because it was the wounded Tangorra who shot and maimed their victim. Within days of his arrest, according to court records, Zullo, who was indicted as “Lester Ellis,” a name he often used, pleaded guilty. He was released on bail, secured by an annuity he got for his malpractice award.

Read more »

FBI Agent Wounded, Suspect Killed, in Exchange of Gunfire in L.A.

By Steve Neavling

An exchange of gunfire wounded an FBI agent and left the suspect in a slaying dead during an attempted arresting Los Angeles on Tuesday morning.

LAPD officers fatally show the suspect, a man in his 70s, in the parking lot of a hotel about 11 a.m., the Los Angeles Times reports.

Police said the suspect opened fire on law enforcement with a handgun when they tried to garret him. Det. Meghan Aguilar, a spokeswoman for the LAPD, said police immediately returned fire.

The FBI agent was struck in the hand by shrapnel from a bullet and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

“He is undergoing surgery. He is in good spirits,” said FBI Special Agent Scott Garriola, who oversees the FBI’s hunt for dangerous fugitives in the L.A. region. “It was a gun battle.”

GSA May Have Lied to Congress about White House’s Involvement with New FBI Headquarters

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling

The GSA administrator who is overseeing the construction of a new FBI headquarters is accused of misleading Congress about the role the White House played in the project, the Washington Post reports, citing a soon-to-be-published report from the agency’s inspector general.

GSA Administrator Emily Murphy downplayed the White House’s involvement while testifying before the House Appropriations Committee in April.

The GSA last year scrapped a plan to build a new FBI headquarters in the Washington suburbs in favor of building a smaller headquarters in downtown D.C., which would require some staff to relocate to Alabama, Idaho and West Virginia.

The inspector general’s report concluded that Murphy’s testimony “was incomplete and may have left the misleading impression that she had no discussions with the President or senior White House officials about the project.”

During the hearing, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., asked Murphy, “To your knowledge, was the president or anyone else at the White House involved in those discussions, either with your predecessors, people you’re working with now, or yourself?”

Murphy responded, “The direction that we got came from the FBI. It was the FBI that directed to GSA as to what its requirements would be. We obviously did coordinate, given that it is a substantial budget request, we coordinated that request with OMB to provide for funding but the requirements were generated by the FBI.”

The Post reports that Murphy had discussed the project with Trunmp, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and other White House officials

Some Congressional members accused Trump of intervening because his hotel is a stone’s throw from the FBI headquarters, and the president doesn’t want a competing hotel to replace the brutalist building.

Manafort’s Lawyers Tried to Discredit Star Witness Rick Gates During Fraud Trial

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling

Defense lawyers for Paul Manafort grilled the special counsel prosecutors’ star witness, Rick Gates, trying to discredit him as he testified against President Trump’s former campaign chairman.

Attorney Kevin Downing tried to make Gates look like an unreliable witness who agreed to testify for less time behind bars for crimes he admits he committed.

“You knowingly and intentionally lied?” Downing asked. 

Gates answered, “Uh, yes. I provided false information tot he special counsel office prior to my plea agreement.”

Downing said Gates led a “secret life” that included an apartment in London to hide an extramarital affair.

Gates, who served as a campaign aide to President Trump, also acknowledged “it’s possible” that he submitted person expenses to the president’s inaugural committee for reimbursement. In fact, Gates worked on the president’s inauguration after Manafort quit his job as the campaign chairman.

If convicted of bank and tax fraud, Manafort could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Gates is expected to continue testifying Wednesday.

Michael Cohen Under Investigation for Potential Tax- And Bank-Fraud

Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

By Steve Neavling

Federal prosecutors aren’t just investigating Michael Cohen over his working and personal relationship with President Trump.

Trump’s former lawyer also is facing scrutiny over potential tax fraud from his taxi-medallion business, the Wall Street Journal reports

Prosecutors in New York are trying to determine whether the company underreported federal tax returns over the past five years and whether Cohen obtained loans by inflating the values of his assets.

Bank employees also are under investigation for possibly allowing Cohen to obtain the loans for he which didn’t qualify or didn’t have the proper paperwork.

If charged with tax- and bank-fraud, Cohen could face a signifiant time behind bars, which has the potential to scare the lawyer into cooperating with prosecutors.

The charges would be similar to those filed against Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who’s on trial now.

Gates Testifies He Helped Manafort Violate Bank, Tax Fraud

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling

Paul Gates, a former campaign aide to President Trump, testified Monday that he helped his former business partner, Paul Manafort, commit bank and tax fraud.

At Manafort’s tax and bank fraud trial, Gates said he helped Manafort file false tax returns to conceal millions of dollars kept in foreign bank accounts.

Gates was testifying as part of a plea deal with special prosecutors, providing strong evidence against Manafort, the former chairman of Trump’s campaign.

If convicted, Manafort could spend the rest of his life behind bars on 18 counts of tax fraud and banking crimes.

Gates also testified that he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort.

During his testimony, Gates told prosecutors he helped Manafort violate the law by falsifying and doctoring documents and concealing tens of millions of dollars in foreign banks to avoid pay taxes on the income.

Today, Gates is expected to face tough questions from defense attorneys who have been trying to chip away at his credibility.

Significant Cuts to TSA Would Reduce Security at Time of Heightened Concerns about Terrorism

By Steve Neavling

President Trump’s administration says it wants to make Americans safer from terrorism, but the TSA is cutting about $300 million from its budget in 2020, according to internal documents obtained by CNN.

To save the money, the TSA would eliminate screenings at more than 150 small- to medium-sized airports, reduce the number of full-time air marshals, cut the workforce at TSA headquarters and eliminate 50% in reimbursements to state and local law enforcement agencies for use of their K-9 units.

The TSA did not comment for the story.

Congress would still need to approve the cuts, and some congressional members have already spoken out about the reductions.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, of New Jersey and the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the proposed reductions “could put at risk the safety of passengers and the security of our transportation systems.” 

“The intelligence is very clear that the threat to our transportation systems remains real, so I am baffled by this administration’s endless efforts to cut funding in this area,” Watson Coleman said in a statement.