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Archive for the ‘crime’ Category

6 Charged With Identity Theft Scheme Using Card Skimmers at Gas Stations

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Filling Up
Filling Up…

There has to be some better solution to the problem of gas station and ATM skimmers  other than paying cash inside the little gas station booth.

Six Florida residents are accused of using card skimmers at Chicago-area gas stations to commit identity theft to the tune of more than $200,000.

Charges of identity theft, financial institution fraud, theft by deception, conspiracy to commit a financial crime, computer fraud and mail fraud have been filed in Cook County

“This scheme is nearly impossible to detect by a customer, so it is critically important that people regularly monitor their bank and credit card accounts and report any unauthorized charges,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in the statement.

(click here to continue reading 6 Charged With Identity Theft Scheme Using Card Skimmers at Gas Stations – NBC Chicago.)

Impossible to detect! Well, what then? Apple Pay or other higher security transactions?

Written by Seth Anderson

March 19th, 2018 at 10:57 am

Posted in Business,crime

Tagged with ,

Equifax executive charged with insider trading before data breach made public

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Where all hopes sank
Where all hopes sank

Equifax shouldn’t be allowed to exist, there should be some sort of 3 Strikes law for corporations that are rogue entities like Equifax…

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged a former Equifax executive with insider trading, alleging that he profited from confidential information about a data breach at the company that compromised sensitive data of 143 million people to make a profit.

Jun Ying, former chief information officer of a U.S. business unit of Equifax, faces both civil and criminal charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

”Ying used confidential information to conclude that his company had suffered a massive data breach, and he dumped his stock before the news went public,” Richard R. Best, Director of the SEC’s Atlanta Regional Office, said in a statement.  ”Corporate insiders who learn inside information, including information about material cyber intrusions, cannot betray shareholders for their own financial benefit.”

(click here to continue reading Former Equifax executive charged with insider trading before data breach made public – The Washington Post.)

Everyone is going to have to deal with fallout from the Equifax debacle for years to come, meanwhile, they have not made amends.


Equifax Inc. said more U.S. consumers were affected by its large data breach last year than originally disclosed.


The company on Thursday said that it identified about 2.4 million U.S. consumers whose names and partial driver’s license information were stolen. The company said the consumers affected “were not in the previously identified” population of cyberattack victims.


That brings the total number of U.S. consumers whose personal information was compromised by the breach to 147.9 million, up from 145.5 million previously.

The company also reported fourth-quarter earnings rose 40%, to $172 million, beating expectations due to a benefit from the new U.S. tax law and revenue growth in international markets. The U.S. division of Equifax that works closely with banks and other lenders reported a drop in year-over-year revenue, while overall operating expenses rose 8% as the company deals with security improvements and litigation costs.



(click here to continue reading Equifax Identifies Additional 2.4 Million Affected by 2017 Breach – WSJ.)

Voyeurs and a Handful of Change
Voyeurs and a Handful of Change

Take away their business license, send the executives to jail, or even better, strip them of their citizenship and deport them.


Equifax, one of the three main consumer-credit data companies, is paid to spy on and compile all of your personal financial records. The company holds sensitive data on almost every aspect of our lives, yet hackers were able to get past their weak protection systems. This is because you aren’t a customer of Equifax; you are the company’s product. As a result, Equifax has no incentive to provide you with good services. In the wake of the hack, Equifax offered a credit-monitoring tool, but to use it consumers needed to sign an arbitration agreement that said they wouldn’t sue the company. (Equifax has since dropped this requirement after an outcry.)


These kinds of arbitration agreements replace courts with a private judicial system of company lawyers, and they have since metastasized across the entire economy. The CFPB recently finalized a rule that would outlaw these mandatory agreements by financial companies starting next year. Among other things, the rule would prevent Equifax from forcing people into arbitration after it goes into effect. Yet under an obscure congressional procedure, Republicans have the ability to repeal this rule with only 50 votes in the Senate. Though they might still do it, they’re having a harder time now, since they would be on the hook for any further abuses.


As reported by David Sirota, Equifax was one of the lead companies lobbying against the CFPB rule. But Equifax’s calamitous blunder, more than any white paper, demonstrates the need for strong new regulations to protect our personal data. If the rule survives, we can thank the companies whose own horrible gaffes demonstrated the need for it in the first place.



(click here to continue reading The Financial Industry Is Its Own Best Enemy | The Nation.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 14th, 2018 at 9:31 am

Posted in Business,crime

Tagged with ,

May issues ultimatum to Moscow over Salisbury poisoning

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Will this become a NATO thing? Prime Minister May is using specific language, will NATO have to respond as well?

Theresa May has given Vladimir Putin’s administration until midnight on Tuesday to explain how a former spy was poisoned in Salisbury, otherwise she will conclude it was an “unlawful use of force” by the Russian state against the UK.

After chairing a meeting of the national security council, the prime minister told MPs that it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. She warned that Britain would not tolerate such a “brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil”.

In a statement to the House of Commons that triggered an angry response from Moscow, the prime minister said the evidence had shown that Skripal had been targeted by a “military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia”. Describing the incident as an “indiscriminate and reckless act”, she said that the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, had summoned the Russian ambassador to Whitehall and demanded an explanation by the end of Tuesday.

Ministers on the national security council were told that the nerve agent used was from a family of substances known as Novichok. “Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at Porton Down, our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so, Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations, and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations, the government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal,” she said.


The prime minister said that left just two plausible explanations “Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”

Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said: “The United Kingdom has concluded that Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. And prime minister Theresa May stated today that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act. The use of any nerve agent is horrendous and completely unacceptable. The UK is a highly valued ally, and this incident is of great concern to Nato. Nato is in touch with the UK authorities on this issue.”

(click here to continue reading May issues ultimatum to Moscow over Salisbury poisoning | UK news | The Guardian.)

Also, I cannot believe that the US president has not commented upon this crime against one of America’s closest allies. If the terrorist who used this chemical weapon was from Syria, or anywhere with a predominantly Muslim population, Trump would be issuing a Twitter storm. But since it is most likely a Russian attack, Trump is silent. Is he scared? Is he happy that he isn’t the one poisoned? Or what exactly?

sub Hoc Floresco

Parliament Buildings London
Parliament Buildings London

First Site of Scotland Yard
First Site of Scotland Yard

Written by Seth Anderson

March 12th, 2018 at 8:54 pm

Posted in crime,News-esque

Tagged with , , ,

Martin Shkreli sentenced to seven years in prison

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You Finished Before We Were Done
You Finished Before We Were Done

Brief fu1, I bet footage of this tearful speech would be worth a lot to many, many news organizations…

A federal judge on Friday sentenced Martin Shkreli, the notorious former hedge fund manager, to seven years in prison for defrauding his investors.

U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto roughly split the difference between the 15 years prosecutors asked for and the 18 months sought by Shkreli’s defense team. Shkreli, 34, who delivered a tearful speech to Matsumoto apologizing for his conduct and pleading for leniency, did not react to the sentence.

(click here to continue reading Martin Shkreli sentenced to seven years in prison for defrauding investors – The Washington Post.)

Merchandise Mart Is Happy To See You
Merchandise Mart Is Happy To See You.

  1. follow up []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 9th, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Posted in crime

Tagged with

Yes Means Yes Can Be Murkier in Court

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You re One Sexy Mother Clucker
You’re One Sexy Mother Clucker…

Thinking back to when I was 17 in college, the standards and signals were certainly different. This young man might very well have raped the complainant, I don’t know the facts. Sexual assault is not a joking matter, and I’m not making light of this case, only observing how dramatically times and mores have changed from my era.  

But the jurors seemed to have come to the case with a different understanding of what it means to show consent, highlighting the divide between the standards of sexual behavior espoused in freshman orientation programs and campus brochures, and those that operate in courts of law.

One, speaking anonymously after the verdict out of hesitancy to speak for other jurors, said the panel members asked themselves whether there was “enough evidence to show that there could not have been consent. And we couldn’t get there.”

James Galullo, another juror, said he did not understand the outrage that the verdict had inspired on campus, among students who wrote angry opinion pieces for the campus newspaper or took to social media to denounce the outcome.

“I just think it’s lack of experience in the world,” Mr. Galullo, 61, said. “The jurors were all basically middle-aged. They were able to see their way through all the noise.”

Alexandra Brodsky, a lawyer at the National Women’s Law Center who graduated from Yale College and Yale Law School, said, “Schools have adopted consent as an educational tool, but that sometimes means we end up using words that mean different things in different contexts.”

“There are many forms of violence that would be condemned on campus, where a prosecutor would have trouble getting a jury to convict,” she added.

But even college students disagree on the language of consent. A 2015 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Washington Post found that 47 percent of current and recent college students said that someone undressing themselves signaled agreement to further sexual activity; 49 percent said it did not.

(click here to continue reading Yale Rape Verdict Shows How ‘Yes Means Yes’ Can Be Murkier in Court – The New York Times.)

If you were on a date, and someone took their clothes off in front of you, how is that ambiguous? What message are they sending by disrobing? 

All Nude
All Nude

Written by Seth Anderson

March 8th, 2018 at 9:15 pm

Posted in crime,News-esque

Tagged with , , ,

2017 Seychelles meeting was effort to establish back channel to Kremlin

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Imperia Russian vodka
Imperia Russian vodka…

Speculated in the press for a while, but good to know that Mueller is catching up.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has gathered evidence that a secret meeting in Seychelles just before the inauguration of Donald Trump was an effort to establish a back channel between the incoming administration and the Kremlin — apparently contradicting statements made to lawmakers by one of its participants, according to people familiar with the matter.

In January 2017, Erik Prince, the founder of the private security company Blackwater, met with a Russian official close to Russian President Vladi mir Putin and later described the meeting to congressional investigators as a chance encounter that was not a planned discussion of U.S.-Russia relations.

A witness cooperating with Mueller has told investigators the meeting was set up in advance so that a representative of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the countries, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

(click here to continue reading Mueller gathers evidence that 2017 Seychelles meeting was effort to establish back channel to Kremlin – The Washington Post.)

One wonders why any incoming administration would need to have a back channel to the Kremlin? Enough that multiple efforts to set it up have been discovered1

Remember Erik Prince:


Prince is best known as the founder of Blackwater, a security firm that became a symbol of U.S. abuses in Iraq after a series of incidents, including one in 2007 in which the company’s guards were accused — and later criminally convicted — of killing civilians in a crowded Iraqi square. Prince sold the firm, which was subsequently re-branded, but has continued building a private paramilitary empire with contracts across the Middle East and Asia. He now heads a Hong Kong-based company known as the Frontier Services Group.

Prince was an avid supporter of Trump. After the Republican convention, he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s campaign, the national party and a pro-Trump super PAC led by GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, records show. He has ties to people in Trump’s circle, including Stephen K. Bannon, now serving as the president’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos serves as education secretary in the Trump administration. And Prince was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December.



(click here to continue reading Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel – The Washington Post.)

225 W Randolph St Cyanotype
225 W Randolph St Cyanotype

Jared “dimpled slumlord” Kushner also tried to setup a back channel to the Kremlin, using the Russian embassy’s secure facilities. Strange, no?


Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.


Ambassador Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.


The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.

The State Department, the White House National Security Council and U.S. intelligence agencies all have the ability to set up secure communications channels with foreign leaders, though doing so for a transition team would be unusual.



(click here to continue reading Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin – The Washington Post.)

Why not have normal diplomatic communications with a supposedly hostile nation? What do the Trumpsters have to conceal about their relationships with Putin and the Kremlin? Why all the secrecy? 

Exc Corpse Notify
Exc Corpse Notify

And there was that weird computer server that connected Trump Tower to Alfa Bank for a still unexplained reason:


In late July, one of these scientists—who asked to be referred to as Tea Leaves, a pseudonym that would protect his relationship with the networks and banks that employ him to sift their data—found what looked like malware emanating from Russia. The destination domain had Trump in its name, which of course attracted Tea Leaves’ attention. But his discovery of the data was pure happenstance—a surprising needle in a large haystack of DNS lookups on his screen. “I have an outlier here that connects to Russia in a strange way,” he wrote in his notes. He couldn’t quite figure it out at first. But what he saw was a bank in Moscow that kept irregularly pinging a server registered to the Trump Organization on Fifth Avenue.


More data was needed, so he began carefully keeping logs of the Trump server’s DNS activity. As he collected the logs, he would circulate them in periodic batches to colleagues in the cybersecurity world. Six of them began scrutinizing them for clues.

The researchers quickly dismissed their initial fear that the logs represented a malware attack. The communication wasn’t the work of bots. The irregular pattern of server lookups actually resembled the pattern of human conversation—conversations that began during office hours in New York and continued during office hours in Moscow. It dawned on the researchers that this wasn’t an attack, but a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump Organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa Bank.

The researchers had initially stumbled in their diagnosis because of the odd configuration of Trump’s server. “I’ve never seen a server set up like that,” says Christopher Davis, who runs the cybersecurity firm HYAS InfoSec Inc. and won a FBI Director Award for Excellence for his work tracking down the authors of one of the world’s nastiest botnet attacks. “It looked weird, and it didn’t pass the sniff test.” The server was first registered to Trump’s business in 2009 and was set up to run consumer marketing campaigns. It had a history of sending mass emails on behalf of Trump-branded properties and products. Researchers were ultimately convinced that the server indeed belonged to Trump. (Click here to see the server’s registration record.) But now this capacious server handled a strangely small load of traffic, such a small load that it would be hard for a company to justify the expense and trouble it would take to maintain it. “I get more mail in a day than the server handled,” Davis says.

Earlier this month, the group of computer scientists passed the logs to Paul Vixie. In the world of DNS experts, there’s no higher authority. Vixie wrote central strands of the DNS code that makes the internet work. After studying the logs, he concluded, “The parties were communicating in a secretive fashion. The operative word is secretive. This is more akin to what criminal syndicates do if they are putting together a project.” Put differently, the logs suggested that Trump and Alfa had configured something like a digital hotline connecting the two entities, shutting out the rest of the world, and designed to obscure its own existence. Over the summer, the scientists observed the communications trail from a distance.



(click here to continue reading Was a server registered to the Trump Organization communicating with Russia’s Alfa Bank?.)

  1. or alleged, or whatever []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 8th, 2018 at 10:19 am

Trump and Corruption

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What Are You Hiding Trump
What Are You Hiding, Trump?

If one had paid attention to Donald Trump over the years, either as a running joke, or as an example of crony capitalism run amok, one would have noticed his frequent skirting of ethical norms. I’ve always considered Trump to be a wanna-be gangster. Everything is permitted, as long as Donnie gets his beak wet. Sadly, in the 2016 election, Trump and his enablers were able to switch media focus onto other shiny objects: Hillary Clinton’s emails, “economic nationalism”, sexual misconduct and so forth. There could have been a thousand television segments aired in 2016 about Trump’s corrupt business practices in Panama, Vancouver, the Republic of Georgia, and wherever else, instead Trump was allowed to call in by telephone, guide the conversation, and get thousands of hours of free media coverage.

Trump has always been a swamp dweller, Bannon’s “Drain the Swamp” branding was ironic, but never based in reality. The Trump White House is filled with ethically challenged corrupt people of all levels of mendacity.

Anyway, can’t go backward. 

Ben Smith writes about Trump and Trump’s love of corruption…

When Donald Trump was elected, reporters and editors all over sat down to think through the possible reporting tracks on the Trump presidency: There was his new populist movement, his personality and family, his policy plans.

And then there was the corruption beat: Trump had a long history of enriching himself at taxpayers’ expense, and he and his circle did not come out of a tradition that knew the meaning of the term public service.

But a year ago, there was no reporting to do on the corruption story for a simple reason: The Trump administration hadn’t been around long enough.

Well, now it’s been around long enough.

And in recent weeks there has been an escalating series of stories about self-dealing, money flowing to cronies, and high-stakes policy decisions impossibly tangled with personal wealth. What Trump and his critics appear not to have realized is that this — not conspiracies, porn actresses, or divisive comments — is the starkest threat to his presidency.

That is another way of saying that what we typically call corruption isn’t a criminal matter. It’s a political one.

This is an axiom of politics: You can get away with horrible policy, bad leadership, and complicated conflicts of interest. But when you’re caught doing something easier to explain — sexually harassing staffers or stealing even modest amounts of money — you’re announcing your resignation.

Former Rep. Aaron Schock, for instance, is still fighting corruption charges — but his Downton Abbey–styled office made the appearance of corruption too easy to fight. Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. blew campaign funds on a Rolex, fur coats, and Bruce Lee memorabilia, and went to jail without even stealing any public funds. And while former secretary Tom Price dodged concerns about insider trading that could have been worth millions of dollars, expensive plane travel — mere thousands! — ended his career.

(click here to continue reading The Real Threat To Trump Isn’t Russia, Racism, Or Incompetence. It’s Corruption..)

Adam Davidson of The New Yorker:


Several news accounts have confirmed that Mueller has indeed begun to examine Trump’s real-estate deals and other business dealings, including some that have no obvious link to Russia. But this is hardly wayward. It would be impossible to gain a full understanding of the various points of contact between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign without scrutinizing many of the deals that Trump has made in the past decade. Trump-branded buildings in Toronto and the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan were developed in association with people who have connections to the Kremlin.

Other real-estate partners of the Trump Organization—in Brazil, India, Indonesia, and elsewhere—are now caught up in corruption probes, and, collectively, they suggest that the company had a pattern of working with partners who exploited their proximity to political power.

One foreign deal, a stalled 2011 plan to build a Trump Tower in Batumi, a city on the Black Sea in the Republic of Georgia, has not received much journalistic attention. But the deal, for which Trump was reportedly paid a million dollars, involved unorthodox financial practices that several experts described to me as “red flags” for bank fraud and money laundering; moreover, it intertwined his company with a Kazakh oligarch who has direct links to Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin. As a result, Putin and his security services have access to information that could put them in a position to blackmail Trump. (Sekulow said that “the Georgia real-estate deal is something we would consider out of scope,” adding, “Georgia is not Russia.”)



(click here to continue reading Trump’s Business of Corruption | The New Yorker.)

Trump Tax Chicken
Trump Tax Chicken

Matthew Yglesias of Vox:


The reality of Trump’s presidency has been just the reverse.


There is nothing blind about his finances — his business empire is merely managed on a day-to-day basis by his adult sons, with whom he is in regular contact and who also work as leading members of his political operation.


His daughter and son-in-law serve as high-ranking officials in the White House, he operates a hotel in the nation’s capital that serves as an informal headquarters for his administration, and he spends a majority of his weekends at his private resorts in Florida, Virginia, and New Jersey.


Some of the grifting that results from this is almost comical, as in the periodic stories about the Secret Service spending thousands of dollars at a time renting golf carts from clubs that the president owns.


But lining his pockets with vast sums of public money is the least of the problems with Trump’s conduct in this regard. The real issue is that by joining one of Trump’s private clubs, wealthy individuals are putting cash directly in the president’s pocket while also gaining access to him. Trump seems to regularly — and quite openly — poll Mar-a-Lago members for their thoughts on the issues of the day. But it’s also an opportunity for more subtle lobbying in unprecedented ways.



(click here to continue reading Trump’s corruption deserves to be a central issue in the 2018 midterms – Vox.)

It Pays to Play
It Pays to Play



An early Trump administration controversy that now seems almost quaint came when presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway used a television news appearance from the White House grounds to tout Ivanka Trump’s shoe brand. It wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but this kind of low-level legal violation keeps happening in the Trump era, right up to an apparent Hatch Act violation from Jared Kushner as he touted Brad Parscale’s appointment as campaign manager of the Trump 2020 reelection bid.


But the list gets longer and contains more serious violations:


US intelligence agencies have reports of multiple foreign governments discussing ways to use Kushner’s business interests to compromise his work for the federal government.

This week, four political appointees at the Commerce Department lost their jobs after they flunked background checks.

Even as Ben Carson’s tenure at the Department of Housing and Urban Development was facing an inspector general investigation over improper involvement of the Carson family in public business, Carson apparently demoted a career staffer after she objected to his plan to spend $31,000 on a dining set for his office.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was caught improperly accepting Wimbledon tickets and charging the public for his wife’s travel.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is flying first-class at public expense so he could avoid having unpleasant interactions with fellow passengers. T

hese kinds of problems will only grow worse the longer Trump’s own conflicts of interests are permitted to go unabated. Maintaining a high standard of ethical conduct across a sprawling bureaucracy overseen by dozens of political appointees is genuinely challenging, even when elected officials are trying to do it.


When the president of the United States doesn’t care about ethics and the predominant attitude of his co-partisans in Congress is that ignorance is bliss, corruption will grow like mushrooms in the shade.



(click here to continue reading Trump’s corruption deserves to be a central issue in the 2018 midterms – Vox.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 6th, 2018 at 11:13 am

Judge holds Martin Shkreli responsible for $10.4 million in losses

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Iron Cock Head
Iron Cock Head

Not sure anyone will get choked up about something or anything bad happening to Martin Shkreli or his smirk. 

A federal judge ruled Monday that former drug company CEO Martin Shkreli will be held responsible for $10.4 million worth of financial losses related to his time as head of Turing Pharmaceuticals.

Judge Kiyo Matsumoto rejected Shkreli’s argument that he did not cause any losses for investors because they eventually came out with a profit, Reuters reported. The total losses will likely play a factor in Shkreli’s sentencing on March 9.

Matsumoto ruled Shkreli should not get credit for the money that was repaid to investors because he only returned it after they became suspicious.

(click here to continue reading Judge holds Martin Shkreli responsible for $10.4 million in losses | TheHill.)

Speaking of Dirty Money, did you ever watch the Netflix 6 part series of the same name? Highly recommended…


Erin Lee Carr’s “Drug Short,” my candidate for a nonexistent Best in Show award, shows how big pharmaceutical companies jack up prices on lifesaving drugs, and how renegade short sellers with a pretense of social conscience get rich by trying to undermine companies they believe are spreading harm. The use of graphics in this one is particularly impressive; I’ve had short selling explained to me many times in the past, but I don’t think I ever really understood it on a fundamental level until Carr’s series laid it out.



(click here to continue reading Dirty Money Netflix Review.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 26th, 2018 at 4:59 pm

Posted in crime,Film,Suggestions

Tagged with ,

No matter whom he fires or pardons, Trump won’t be able to escape state attorneys general.

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I have been worried about this Trump pardoning business for a while.

Jed Handelsman Shugerman of Slate reassures me that even if Trump pardons Manafort, Kushner, and the whole crew, state attorney generals could still step in.

There are more and more signals that Donald Trump is exploring firing Robert Mueller and pardoning anyone and everyone in his circle. So what would happen next? The bottom line is that those moves would backfire spectacularly.

First, can Trump pardon himself? That’s surprisingly hard to answer. The constitutional text gives no answer, and the Constitutional Convention of 1787 debates aren’t particularly helpful. Some people cite the Latin phrase Nemo judex in causa sua (One can’t be a judge in his own case) as some kind of answer, but the pardon power is executive, not judicial, so a president isn’t formally a judge in his own case. Plus, we don’t live in Rome, even if the Latin sounds wicked smart. The bottom line is that the only significant barriers to self-pardons are politics (impeachment) and federalism (state powers).

Presidential pardons can’t apply to state prosecutions. That means state attorneys general, especially New York’s Eric Schneiderman, Washington, D.C.’s Karl Racine, and Delaware’s Matthew Denn should think about canceling their summer vacation plans. (Yes, Delaware. Go Google “quo warranto,” see this old post, or better yet continue reading.) And maybe they should open up some office space for Mueller and his A-Team when he inevitably gets fired for getting closer and closer to hard evidence of serious crimes.

The president cannot pardon people for state crimes. Even if Trump pardons, say, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a state prosecutor can bring charges under state law anytime. Similarly, Trump can be prosecuted under state law. President Richard Nixon’s attorney general concluded in 1974 that a sitting president can’t be indicted, but there is no constitutional text or precedent for such a conclusion—and it was obviously an interpretation that benefited Nixon. I think this is an open question.

(click here to continue reading No matter whom he fires or pardons, Trump won’t be able to escape state attorneys general..)


I’m not sure this is entirely convincing: there will be speculation regarding pardons until it actually happens, and until then we won’t know what will transpire. I don’t know if I trust Eric Schneiderman and Matthew Dean yet, but at least there is a possibility that America won’t end when Mueller indicts the Trump clan, and Trump pardons everyone…

Written by Seth Anderson

February 24th, 2018 at 12:43 pm

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with

Chicago to Trump Justice Department: Drop Dead

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Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice (London, U.K.)

The proper response would have been to send a flaming bag of poop along with returning the documents sent by Trump’s goons. The “My offer is this: nothing” response…

The city of Chicago has told federal officials it is complying with a request for documents related to the ongoing dispute over its “sanctuary city” status by sending the Chicago Police Department’s general orders and its immigrant welcoming ordinance, among other orders, brushing off what it calls “insinuations” of violating federal law.

The city’s letter to the federal government Friday was in response to a Department of Justice requests for records to Chicago, Cook County and other municipalities across the country that have not fallen in line with the new immigration policies of the administration of President Donald Trump.

The federal government had sought records showing local law enforcement agencies are sharing information with federal agents, and it threatened the loss of federal grants if they didn’t comply.

“The Department’s insinuations about Chicago’s compliance with federal law are especially puzzling given that it is the Department’s misguided policies against welcoming jurisdictions, like Chicago, that judges across the country repeatedly have found to violate the Constitution and federal law,” wrote Ed Siskel, corporation counsel in Chicago’s Department of Law.

(click here to continue reading Chicago fires back at feds’ request for ‘sanctuary city’ documents, questioning ‘integrity’ of Trump’s Justice Department – Chicago Tribune.)

zing! Love it…

Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary
Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary

and there’s more:

In a letter Friday on behalf of Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Siskel suggested the Justice Department’s efforts weren’t transparent.

“Rather than being motivated by a sincere desire to reduce violent crime in Chicago and other cities, it is increasingly clear that the Department’s policies … are in fact a pretext for the Department’s true purpose: to demonize immigrants and penalize municipalities that refuse to fall in line with the Department’s unlawful demands,” he wrote.

Further, the city asked the federal government to respond to its own Freedom of Information request about what documents the government believes the law entitles it to receive regarding immigrant populations in local jurisdictions, saying the government’s requests have been unclear and “outright contradictory.”

Siskel’s letter also took issue with what he described as the federal government’s threat of “criminal action” against public officials who don’t comply with these requests.

“It should go without saying that, in a free democracy, the executive branch cannot threaten individuals with criminal charges for opposing the President’s policies,” Siskel wrote. “The Department’s threats against welcoming cities raises serious questions about the integrity of the Department’s decisions in this area.”

Written by Seth Anderson

February 24th, 2018 at 1:19 am

Trump Promotes Arming Teachers

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Scaring The Nation With Their Guns and Ammunition
Scaring The Nation With Their Guns and Ammunition

President Idiot’s latest suggestion is the suggestion of someone who gets most of his information from television or movies. Most veterans I’ve heard discuss this seem to universally think it a horrid abomination of an idea. Trained professionals hit the target 30% of the time or less (different folks have posited different numbers), but a high school teacher is going to protect kids from a massacre in a crowded school hallway? Laughable, except real people will die. And the teacher shortage is about to become acute – I’d guess many teachers would find alternative jobs before having to become soldiers in their own classrooms.

President Trump on Thursday intensified his calls for arming highly trained teachers as part of an effort to fortify schools against shooting massacres like the one that occurred in Parkland, Fla., last week, even as he denounced active shooter drills that try to prepare students to survive a rampage.

“I want certain highly adept people, people who understand weaponry, guns” to have a permit to carry concealed firearms in schools, Mr. Trump said during his second White House meeting in two days to discuss how to respond to the shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Teachers who were qualified to handle a weapon — Mr. Trump estimated between 10 percent and 40 percent — would receive “a little bit of a bonus,” he said, adding that he would devote federal money to training them.

(click here to continue reading Trump Promotes Arming Teachers, but Rejects Active Shooter Drills – The New York Times.)


A few Tweets on this topic I read yesterday from various folks…

So, yeah…

She s Not A Girl Who Misses Much
She’s Not A Girl Who Misses Much

Making schools a free-fire zone is ridiculous. Donald Trump doesn’t want guns in his own hotels/golf courses, but he wants Mrs. Hettenhausen to strap on a .45 before she starts her English class? And when is she training? Before 3rd period?


Donald Trump spoke in favor of gun rights at the National Rifle Association convention today, but security and staff at several of his prized hotels and golf courses told ABC News that guests are not allowed to carry guns there.

Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s posh Florida club, doesn’t allow guns, a hotel staff member told ABC News.

Trump National Doral, in Miami, Florida, doesn’t allow guns either, a security official told ABC News. The resort would “much rather not” have guns on the property, said a security official with the hotel, who noted that guns are “not to be carried on our property.”

“We’ve had guests that have brought them before,” he said, but those guns “had to remain in their safe the whole time in the room.”

A security worker at Trump National in Jupiter, Florida, said “no” when asked if guns were allowed on premises by citizens who are licensed to carry them. 

Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach County, Florida, also doesn’t allow citizens with concealed-carry licenses to bring their guns on the property, a golf-shop worker told ABC News.



(click here to continue reading Donald Trump Is Against ‘Gun-Free Zones’ But Guns Aren’t Allowed on Many of His Properties, Staff Says – ABC News.)


The original Trump plan was to have two armed, well trained and well paid security guards from Blackwater né Academi on either side of each and every child. They would escort the kid from home to class, then form a perimeter around the child. Taxpayer money will funnel directly into Eric Prince’s Seychelles Island bank accounts, and Trump would get a percentage.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 22nd, 2018 at 3:15 pm

Posted in crime,politics

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Mueller, Manafort and Federal Savings Bank

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Entrance to The Federal Savings Bank
Entrance to The Federal Savings Bank

Follow up on the local FSB bank in Fulton Market we wrote about a few months ago…

Federal investigators are probing whether former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort promised a Chicago banker a job in the Trump White House in return for $16 million in home loans, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News.

Manafort received three separate loans in December 2016 and January 2017 from Federal Savings Bank for homes in New York City, Virginia and the Hamptons.

The banker, Stephen Calk, president of the Federal Savings Bank, was announced as a member of candidate Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers in August 2016.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is now investigating whether there was a quid pro quo agreement between Manafort and Calk. Manafort left the Trump campaign in August 2016 after the millions he had earned working for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine drew media scrutiny. Calk did not receive a job in President Donald Trump’s cabinet.

The sources say the three loans were questioned by other officials at the bank, and one source said that at least one of the bank employees who felt pressured into approving the deals is cooperating with investigators.

(click here to continue reading Mueller asking if Manafort promised banker White House job in return for loans – NBC News.)

The Federal Savings Bank
The Federal Savings Bank

Bloomberg adds:


The Federal Savings Bank, where Calk is founder, chairman and chief executive officer, also got a “seven-figure” investment from a firm run by one of Trump’s closest friends, Howard Lorber, according to court testimony not previously reported.

Lorber is CEO of the Vector Group, parent company of the New York real estate powerhouse, Douglas Elliman Real Estate LLC. Last year, Trump described Lorber, who is also chairman of Douglas Elliman, as one of his two best friends. In 1996, Trump and Lorber were together in Moscow exploring business opportunities, accompanied by Bennett LeBow, the Vector Group’s founder and chairman.


Bennett LeBow in 1998Photographer: Chuck Robinson/AP Images LeBow is a longtime player in both the cigarette and real estate industries in Russia and Ukraine. Among his former business partners is Vadim Z. Rabinovich, a Ukrainian politician who was elected to parliament in 2014 as part of the pro-Russia party that employed Manafort before he signed onto Trump’s campaign.


The Vector Group made a “seven-figure” investment in Calk’s bank, according to a 2015 deposition by Calk; Lorber in a 2015 deposition put the figure at $2 million, though he wasn’t sure if the investment was made by Vector or Douglas Elliman. Neither of the men said when the investment was made.

Calk was little known in political circles, even in Chicago. He built a mortgage business in Kansas with his brother John by focusing on military veterans. He moved the bank’s headquarters to Chicago in 2014 after being promised millions in grants and tax credits from the city.

According to a 2016 article in the trade publication, National Mortgage News, about 90 percent of the bank’s lending at the time was directed toward single-family home purchases, most through the Veterans Administration.



(click here to continue reading Behind Manafort’s Loans, a Chopper Pilot Who Flew Into Trump’s Orbit – Bloomberg.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 22nd, 2018 at 10:47 am

Dennis Hastert accuser’s lawsuit invokes Monica Lewinsky, Anita Hill

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No Secrets To Conceal
No Secrets To Conceal…

Denny Hastert is a monster.

Why do sex crimes have a statute of limitations anyway? Murder doesn’t. What does it say as a society that we deem certain crimes not worth investigating if they didn’t happen last week? Granted, most victims physically survive sexual assault, but the emotional and mental scars can last a lifetime. 

A suburban Chicago man who sued former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert over a decades-old sexual assault allegation said he was “intimidated into silence” by the former politician’s power and how others involved in 1990-era political sex scandals were treated.

Attorneys for the man who filed the complaint allege in a recent legal motion that his apprehension was heightened by the public’s treatment of Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky after their stories became public.

“When coupled with the string of political sex scandals that broke in the 1990s, most notably Justice Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill and President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Hastert’s power and prior threats became daunting,” plaintiff attorney Kristi Browne wrote in a motion filed last week. “With the Clinton scandal in particular, it became apparent that making such accusations has the effect of defining one’s life, creating a shadow from which there is no escape.”

Browne said her client feared he, too, would be placed in a position of “having to defend himself.”

She wrote, “That neither of the aforementioned cases ever resulted in justice for the victim made the very idea of confronting Hastert futile.”

Hastert has never faced sex-related charges. Federal prosecutors said the statute of limitations for criminal charges on those allegations had long expired.

(click here to continue reading Dennis Hastert accuser’s lawsuit invokes Monica Lewinsky, Anita Hill – Chicago Tribune.)

 Sex and Violins

Denny Hastert shouldn’t be allowed to evade his criminal acts because he (allegedly) perpetrated them on a 4th grader.

The second suit, filed in May, alleges Hastert sodomized the accuser when he was in the fourth-grade in a bathroom stall in Yorkville in the early 1970s. He did not see his attacker’s face, but the accuser said he learned it was Hastert weeks later when the then-high school civics teacher threatened the boy if he reported the alleged rape.

The accuser said he reported the incident about a decade later, but Kendall County authorities protected Hastert, then a rising political powerhouse, rather than investigate his claim. He is seeking more than $50,000 from Hastert and Yorkville Community Unit School District 115.

“Hastert’s position as one of the most powerful men in America, coupled with his prior threats against plaintiff, further intimidated plaintiff into silence,” Browne recently wrote. “Finally, after Hastert retired from politics, and after evidence of his abuse of other boys came to light, (plaintiff) no longer feared reprisal.”

In a perfect world, Harvey Weinstein and Denny Hastert would share a jail cell for 20 years

Written by Seth Anderson

October 17th, 2017 at 9:05 am

Posted in crime,politics

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Federal Savings Bank and Paul Manafort

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The Federal Savings Bank
The Federal Savings Bank – FSB

There is a small brick building on the corner of Fulton and Elizabeth; on the third floor is the Federal Savings Bank. Unless you follow the news closely, you’ve probably never heard of this bank – it doesn’t advertise that I know of, nor does it maintain a high profile.

Federal Savings was born out of Generations Bank, a Kansas thrift bought by Calk and his brother John Calk in 2011. That bank, which had about $40 million in assets, was undercapitalized, facing regulatory restrictions and posting losses for five straight years, according to a 2012 story in ABA Banking Journal, an American Bankers Association publication.

Now headquartered on Chicago’s Near West Side, successor institution Federal Savings in 2012 said it was getting $18 million in tax breaks over 10 years from the state through the Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE, program as well as up to $4 million in training money from the city of Chicago.

The bank had 842 full-time workers as of the end of March. Steve Calk has said about 10 percent of the bank’s employees are veterans like him.

Federal Savings has three branches or loan production offices in Illinois: at its headquarters and in Lake Forest and Naperville, according to its website.

(click here to continue reading Report: Prosecutors demand records on Chicago bank’s loans to Paul Manafort – Chicago Tribune.)

Does that seem like a lot of employees for such a small bank? I wonder what they all do, and where they all fit? Who knows, I’m not a banking expert. Maybe many employees work remotely, or in Lubyanka Square?

Entrance to The Federal Savings Bank

Entrance to The Federal Savings Bank

Federal Savings Bank (FSB, not to be confused with the Russian FSB which is the successor organization to the KGB) is1 tight with the Donald Trump 2016 campaign, and with Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Tight enough that this small bank loaned 1/4 of its assets to Manafort to cover the payments on two of Manafort’s properties, despite his seemingly shaky credit (one property was in foreclosure after a loan default, the other property was not yet in foreclosure, but was also in default).

The Wall Street Journal reports:

New York prosecutors have demanded records relating to up to $16 million in loans that a bank run by a former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump made to former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The subpoena by the Manhattan district attorney’s office to the Federal Savings Bank, a small Chicago bank run by Steve Calk, sought information on loans the bank issued in November and January to Mr. Manafort and his wife, the person said. The loans were secured by two properties in New York and a condominium in Virginia, real-estate records show.

The Wall Street Journal reported in May that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had begun examining real-estate transactions by Mr. Manafort, who has spent and borrowed tens of millions of dollars in connection with property across the U.S. over the past decade. Investigators at both offices are examining the transactions for indications of money-laundering and fraud, people familiar with the matters have said.

The Journal reported that at the time of the loans from Federal Savings Bank, Mr. Manafort was at risk of losing a Brooklyn, N.Y., townhouse and his family’s investments in California properties being developed by his son-in-law, real-estate and court records show.

Mr. Calk was a member of Mr. Trump’s economic advisory panel who overlapped with Mr. Manafort on the Trump campaign. Messrs. Manafort and Calk knew each other before the campaign, a person familiar with the relationship has said.

The bank’s loans to Mr. Manafort equaled almost 24% of the bank’s reported $67 million of equity capital, according to a federal report. Around the time they were issued, Mr. Calk had expressed interest in becoming Mr. Trump’s Army Secretary.

(click here to continue reading New York Seeks Bank Records of Former Trump Associate Paul Manafort – WSJ.)

I walked over to this bank a few weeks ago, and it is sort of strange, at least to me. FSB is an odd kind of bank, only on the third floor of 300 N. Elizabeth, with a building security employee that won’t let you go up unless you are a member of the bank, plus they won’t allow photography in the lobby. Reading through FSB’s Yelp reviews, they seem a little sketchy, sending out loan application letters to veterans almost to the degree of spam and many other complaints of incompetence and worse. Of course, Yelp reviews aren’t the most reliable, but still, this bank has a lot of unhappy (civilian) clients.

For instance:

Horrible experience. They send letters every week to advertise being part of the VA IRRRL program. If you look, you’ll notice the phone number is different in every letter. So, you can’t trace if there’s been any complaints about the number. The representative got very defensive when he couldn’t answer why the number is different and after I asked to speak with a manager, he said he’d take me off the mailing list and hung up on me. After I tried calling back with no answer, I received a call from someone who apologized, and though he was very nice and informative, I still believe this company is very deceptive. The first guy told me they are VA owned and operated when I asked if they are from the VA. He then said its because 95% of their loans are to veterans. THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEM VA OWNED! I just learned they used to operate under the name Chicago Bancorp and they have a lawsuit against them from 2014, and the owners’ names are the same as now.

(click here to continue reading The Federal Savings Bank – 27 Reviews – Banks & Credit Unions – 300 N Elizabeth St, West Loop, Chicago, IL – Phone Number – Services – Yelp.)

Makes one wonder how FSB is making a profit, suddenly, after years of not making profits. Maybe there are other sources of income besides veterans and tax dollars from the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago?

The property in Brooklyn seems to be in distress:

Reference to home values in the area suggests that the outstanding principal on the loan secured by the townhouse at 377 Union Street may exceed the market value of the property. Reports suggest that the property has been empty for the last 4 years and is currently in disrepair (link). The mortgage secured by the Bridgehampton property indicates that the borrower was required to deposit $630,000 as additional collateral.  The mortgage secured by 377 Union Street indicates that the borrower was required to deposit $2.5 million as additional collateral.

(click here to continue reading 377 Union | Paul Manafort | Who is Steve Calk, and What Does He Have to Gain From Helping Paul Manafort?.)

Caviar Russian
Caviar Russian

One final weird thought: the modus operandi for Russian money laundering schemes frequently use real estate as the anchor. What better way to wash one’s dirty money than paying more than a property is worth? The seller is happy, and now the money is in the banking system. Especially if the purchaser is an LLC company, with limited public information available as to the source of the money.

A former senior official said Mr. Mueller’s investigation was looking at money laundering by Trump associates. The suspicion is that any cooperation with Russian officials would most likely have been in exchange for some kind of financial payoff, and that there would have been an effort to hide the payments, probably by routing them through offshore banking centers.

(click here to continue reading Mueller Seeks to Talk to Intelligence Officials, Hinting at Inquiry of Trump – The New York Times.)

From USA Today we read:

Since President Trump won the Republican nomination, the majority of his companies’ real estate sales are to secretive shell companies that obscure the buyers’ identities, a USA TODAY investigation has found.

Over the last 12 months, about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were limited liability companies – corporate entities that allow people to purchase property without revealing all of the owners’ names. That compares with about 4% of buyers in the two years before.

USA TODAY journalists have spent six months cataloging every condo, penthouse or other property that Trump and his companies own – and tracking the buyers behind every transaction. The investigation found Trump’s companies owned more than 430 individual properties worth well over $250 million.

Since Election Day, Trump’s businesses have sold 28 of those U.S. properties for $33 million. The sales include luxury condos and penthouses in Las Vegas and New York and oceanfront lots near Los Angeles. The value of his companies’ inventory of available real estate remains above a quarter-billion dollars.

Profits from sales of those properties flow through a trust run by Trump’s sons. The president is the sole beneficiary of the trust and can withdraw cash any time.

(click here to continue reading Trump property buyers make clear shift to secretive shell companies.)

and from Bloomberg:

But the Justice Department inquiry led by Mueller now has added flavors. The Post noted that the investigation also includes “suspicious financial activity” involving “Russian operatives.” The New York Times was more specific in its account, saying that Mueller is looking at whether Trump associates laundered financial payoffs from Russian officials by channeling them through offshore accounts.

In that context, a troubling history of Trump’s dealings with Russians exists outside of Russia: in a dormant real-estate development firm, the Bayrock Group, which once operated just two floors beneath the president’s own office in Trump Tower.

One of Bayrock’s principals was a career criminal named Felix Sater who had ties to Russian and American organized crime groups. Before linking up with the company and with Trump, he had worked as a mob informant for the U.S. government, fled to Moscow to avoid criminal charges while boasting of his KGB and Kremlin contacts there, and had gone to prison for slashing apart another man’s face with a broken cocktail glass.

In a series of interviews and a lawsuit, a former Bayrock insider, Jody Kriss, claims that he eventually departed from the firm because he became convinced that Bayrock was actually a front for money laundering.

Kriss has sued Bayrock, alleging that in addition to laundering money, the Bayrock team also skimmed cash from the operation, dodged taxes and cheated him out of millions of dollars.

(click here to continue reading Trump, Russia, and Those Shadowy Sater Deals at Bayrock – Bloomberg.)

which makes this real estate transaction, a few blocks away2 from FSB’s West Loop HQ so eye-catching:

The record purchase price for a West Loop condo is set to more than quadruple, with a buyer agreeing to pay more than $5 million for a not-yet-built penthouse on Washington Street.

The asking price is about $5.6 million for the home, which is under contract. The listing agents declined to provide any details on the buyer, whom they referred to only as “he.”

Construction is scheduled to start next month, with the building ready for occupancy by summer 2018.

The penthouse prices astonished Baird & Warner agent Nicholas Colagiovanni, who sold the previous record-setter, a 2,400-square-foot loft at 1000 W. Washington, which closed this week at $1.2 million. It’s one of four condos sold in the neighborhood that have sold for $1 million or more so far this year.

(click here to continue reading West Loop contract under contract at over $5 million – Residential News – Crain’s Chicago Business.)

So a condo, in a building not even under construction yet, is worth 4 times more than the previously record holder for most expensive, one on the same block? One wonders what sort of business the purchaser is in. Do they speak Russian? Hmm.

If I was an investigator working for Robert Mueller, I’d take a closer look at this, and similar property transactions.

  1. or was []
  2. a ten minute walk, 15 via Google Maps []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 21st, 2017 at 1:53 pm

Leonard Peltier should be released in the interest of justice

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Exiled and Wandering
Exiled and Wandering

I was going to respond to the unsigned Chicago Tribune editorial titled, “Clemency for Leonard Peltier? Never”, but James Reynolds, former U.S. attorney did a better job, with less swear words.

In response to your Monday editorial “Clemency for Leonard Peltier? Never,” I was the United States attorney who supervised the prosecution of Leonard Peltier during the critical post-trial period. In December 2016, I wrote to President Barack Obama to support his clemency petition “as being in the best interests of justice in considering the totality of all matters involved.”

Although no trial is perfect, Peltier’s was unusually troublesome, particularly when viewed with the benefit of hindsight. The case against Peltier was a moving target, which shifted from a “deliberate ambush” theory in the earlier trial of Peltier’s co-defendants (who were found not guilty) to a “deliberate execution” at Peltier’s subsequent trial before a different judge, and then to an “accomplice” theory on appeal.

As an “aider and abettor,” according to the government’s theory, Peltier was guilty of the murders because he was present, and he had a weapon. It was a very thin case that likely would not be upheld by courts today. It is a gross overstatement to label Peltier a “cold-blooded murderer” on the basis of the minimal proof that survived the appeals in his case.

Following the conclusion of the appeals, Judge Gerald Heaney, an Eighth Circuit judge who sat on two of the appeals, took the extraordinary step of writing to the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs urging it to grant clemency to Peltier in 1991.

Considering all of the surrounding factors, including the prevailing worldview of the time, the FBI’s role in the creation of dangerous conditions on Pine Ridge, the manner in which the case was investigated and prosecuted and the extraordinary length of time already served, in my opinion, Peltier should be released in the interests of justice.

The government has gotten almost 41 years, and 41 pounds of flesh; Peltier is old and sick, and in my opinion, any more time served would be vindictive.

— James Reynolds, former U.S. attorney, Naples, Fla.

(click here to continue reading Leonard Peltier should be released in the interest of justice – Chicago Tribune.)

Exactly, Leonard Peltier has served long enough for a crime he probably didn’t even commit. 

Simply Because It Was True
Simply Because It Was True

A little neutral-esque background from Wikipedia:

Peltier fled to Hinton, Alberta, where he hid in a friend’s cabin. On February 6, 1976, he was arrested. In December 1976, he was extradited from Canada based on documents submitted by the FBI that Warren Allmand, Canada’s Solicitor General at the time, would later state contained false information.

One of those documents was an affidavit signed by Myrtle Poor Bear, a local Native American woman. She claimed to have been Peltier’s girlfriend at the time and to have witnessed the murders. But, according to Peltier and others at the scene, Poor Bear did not know Peltier, nor was she present at the time of the shooting. She later claimed that she was pressured and threatened by FBI agents into giving the statements. Poor Bear attempted to testify about the FBI’s intimidation at Peltier’s trial; however, the judge barred her testimony on the grounds of mental incompetence.

Peltier fought extradition to the United States, even as Bob Robideau and Darrelle “Dino” Butler, AIM members also present on the Jumping Bull compound at the time of the shootings, were found not guilty on the grounds of self-defense by a federal jury in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Peltier returned too late to be tried with Robideau and Butler, and he was subsequently tried separately. Peltier’s trial was held in Fargo, North Dakota, where a jury convicted Peltier of the murders of Coler and Williams. Unlike the trial for Butler and Robideau, the jury was informed that the two FBI agents were killed by close-range shots to their heads, when they were already defenseless due to previous gunshot wounds. They also saw autopsy and crime scene photographs of the two agents, which had not been shown to the jury at Cedar Rapids. In April 1977, Peltier was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

Doubts about legal proceedings

Numerous doubts have been raised over Peltier’s guilt and the fairness of his trial, based on allegations and inconsistencies regarding the FBI and prosecution’s handling of this case:

  • FBI radio intercepts indicated that the two FBI agents had been pursuing a red pickup truck; this was confirmed by the FBI the day after the shootout. Red pickup trucks near the reservation were stopped for weeks, but Leonard Peltier did not drive a red pickup truck. Evidence was given that Peltier was driving a Suburban vehicle; a large station wagon style sedan built on a pickup truck chassis with an enclosed rear section. Peltier’s vehicle was red with a white roof—not a red, open-tray pickup truck with no white paint. The FBI agents’ radio message said that the suspect they were pursuing was driving a red pickup truck, with no additional details. At Peltier’s trial, the FBI testified that it had been searching for a red and white van, which Peltier was sometimes seen driving. This was a highly contentious matter of evidence in the trials.
  • Testimony from three witnesses placed Peltier, Robideau and Butler near the crime scene. Those three witnesses later recanted, alleging that the FBI, while extracting their testimony, had tied them to chairs, denied them their right to talk to their attorney, and otherwise coerced and threatened them. Robideau said during an interview in the Robert Redford/Michael Apted film Incident at Oglala (1992), that “we approached” the agents’ cars.
  • Unlike the juries in similar prosecutions against AIM leaders at the time, the Fargo jury was not allowed to hear about other cases in which the FBI had been rebuked for tampering with evidence and witnesses.
  • An FBI ballistics expert testimony during the trial asserted that a shell case found near the dead agents’ bodies matched the rifle tied to Peltier. He said that a forensics test of the firing pin, which would have more definitively matched the gun to the cartridge case, was not performed because the gun was damaged in the fire. A less definitive test indicated that the extractor marks on the case and rifle matched. Years later, after an FOIA request, the FBI ballistics expert’s records were examined. His report said that he had performed a ballistics test of the firing pin and concluded that the cartridge case from the scene of the crime did not come from the rifle tied to Peltier. That evidence was withheld from the jury during the trial.
  • Though the FBI’s investigation indicated that an AR-15 was used to kill the agents, several different AR-15s were in the area at the time of the shootout. Also, no other cartridge cases or evidence about them were offered by the prosecutor’s office, although other bullets were fired at the crime scene.
  • During the trial, all the bullets and bullet fragments found at the scene were provided as evidence and detailed by Cortland Cunningham, FBI Firearms expert, in testimony. (Ref US v. Leonard Peltier Vol 9).
  • According to Peltier, when he appealed his first-degree murder conviction in 1992, the charge was illegally changed to aiding and abetting.
  • The U.S. Parole Commission denied Peltier parole in 1993 based on their finding that he “participated in the premeditated and cold blooded execution of those two officers.” But, the Parole Commission has since stated that it “recognizes that the prosecution has conceded the lack of any direct evidence that [Peltier] personally participated in the executions of the two FBI agents.”

(click here to continue reading Leonard Peltier – Wikipedia.)

Obama seems unlikely to commute Leonard Peltier’s sentence or pardon him, however, he should

Written by Seth Anderson

January 18th, 2017 at 10:42 am

Posted in crime,government

Tagged with ,