There is no doubt that, in the broader sense, Swartz’s suicide was, in his family’s words, “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach”—a system that ought to be changed for everyone, not just loveable Ivy League nerds.
Swartz faced up to 35 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines. The charges were wire fraud, computer fraud and unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer.
Thirty-five years! For stealing data!
The average rapist serves between five and six years.
The average first-degree murderer does 16.
And no one seriously thinks Swartz was trying to make money—as in, you know, commit fraud.
No wonder people are comparing DA Ortiz to Javert, the heartless and relentless prosecutor in Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables.”
Defenders of the prosecution seem to think that anyone charged with a felony must somehow deserve punishment. That idea can only be sustained without actual exposure to the legal system. Yes, most of the time prosecutors do chase actual wrongdoers, but today our criminal laws are so expansive that most people of any vigor and spirit can be found to violate them in some way. Basically, under American law, anyone interesting is a felon. The prosecutors, not the law, decide who deserves punishment.
BARCELONA — “Kid Tiger” Sikowsky, fugitive American beer baron, who has sought in vain to find refuge in most European countries, was arrested here yesterday [Jan. 11]. Sikowsky says he not only was a member of Al Capone’s gang, but that Capone, Chicago hoodlum and vice racketeer, was under his orders. Undesirable because of his criminal activities in America, and wanted there for income-tax invasion, Sikowsky has been ordered out of one country after another. The arrested man was allegedly invited to Spain, where he attracted the attention of the police by the way he squandered money. He is expected to be expelled from Spain as he was from Andorra. “I’m no criminal. I only owe some income taxes, that’s all. And say — tell me anybody who doesn’t try to dodge his taxes, anyway.”
Wow! Remember that guy Vitaly Borker? We blogged about his crazy case back in 2010, he figured out how to game Google search with the realization that even bad comments elevated his site in Google rankings. It sounds like it was even worse than we know. Four years, plus three years of probation is a stiff sentence, but it might not be enough.
A Brooklyn man who terrified customers of his online eyewear store with threats of violence, including rape, was sentenced on Thursday to four years in federal prison and ordered to pay nearly $100,000 in restitution and fines.
Vitaly Borker, 36, who owned and operated DecorMyEyes from his home in Sheepshead Bay, pleaded guilty in May 2011 to charges of fraud and sending threatening communications. He admitted that he had scared dissatisfied customers with phone calls and e-mails, in some cases vowing rape, murder or dismemberment, according to prosecutors.
A handful of Mr. Borker’s victims were summoned to testify about calls and e-mails they had received, which turned out to include a threat to slice off the legs of one customer. Federal District Judge Richard J. Sullivan said, at the end of one day of testimony, that he found the victims credible and so disturbing that he revoked Mr. Borker’s bail, which had allowed him to live at home under restrictions.
In addition to four years in prison, Mr. Borker was told he would be on probation for three years after his release, during which he will not be allowed to use a computer. He was also told to receive psychiatric and substance-abuse counseling.
The U.S. needs to abolish the death penalty immediately. And yes, I realize this inmate wasn’t sentenced to death, but obviously the state often makes mistakes, consequently, wrongfully accused people shouldn’t have to lose their life.
Robert Dewey, a Colorado inmate sentenced to life without parole for murder, left jail today a free man after serving 18 years of his sentence. DNA testing, using a technology not available at the time of his conviction, proved he was innocent.
Dewey is the 290th person to be exonerated nationwide on the basis of DNA evidence proving factual innocence — meaning someone else committed the crime.
“I find that Mr. Dewey is factually innocent of the crimes of which he was accused of in this case,” the judge said, noting Dewey had spent more the 6,000 days behind bars. “Mr. Dewey is now again a free man.”
It is strange that Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar never prosecuted Jerry Sandusky on child-rape charges 13 years ago, some speculate, because Gricar was known for being fiercely independent and hard on crime.
But it is even stranger that we cannot ask Gricar why Sandusky was not put behind bars because the tough-as-nails district attorney disappeared in 2005. And though he was declared dead July of this year, his body has never been found.
“People ask why Ray did not prosecute, and I have no problem saying, because he clearly felt he didn’t have a case for a ‘successful’ prosecution,” Tony Gricar, Ray Gricar’s nephew , told The Patriot-News.
“… One thing I can say is that Ray was beholden to no one, was not a politician.”
This district attorney who had “a bitter taste in his mouth for the [Penn State] program, and its coach,” according to his nephew, and yet never prosecuted Sandusky, disappeared on April 15, 2005 after telling his girlfriend that he was going on a drive.
Ray Gricar’s car was found the next day in a Lewisburg parking lot and his laptop, sans hard drive, was found in the Susquehanna River, according to the Patriot-News.
Joe Paterno, social conservative and proud Republican, was allowed to remain coach of Penn State long enough to break the record of most victories because Penn State valued the contribution of the football program’s revenues more than raped children, and that is shameful. In the 2009-2010 school year alone, Penn State’s football program reported revenue of $70,208,584 ((as reported to the U.S. Department of Education)) and profits of $50,427,645! ((Of course, student/athletes don’t get any of that cash – all they get is free tuition, another scandal if you ask me)) That’s the reason Paterno wasn’t fired in 2002. Or rather, $700,000 reasons, give or take. (( roughly $70 million times ten years))
The university’s most senior officials were clearly seeking to halt the humiliating damage caused by the arrest last Saturday of the former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Mr. Sandusky had been a key part of the football program, but prosecutors have said he was a serial pedophile who was allowed to add victims over the years in part because the university he had served was either unable or unwilling to stop him.
Mr. Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span, and two top university officials — Tim Curley, the athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business — have been charged with perjury and failing to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations. Neither Mr. Paterno nor Mr. Spanier was charged in the case, though questions have been raised about if they did as much as they could to stop Mr. Sandusky.
On average, [the richest 68 college football programs] earned $15.8 million last year, or well over $1 million per game.
They posted that jump in combined profit even though revenue rose by only 6% to $2.2 billion. That means the schools had a combined profit margin of 49%, enough to make any pro team owner green with envy.
Increasingly lucrative broadcast deals and strong ticket sales have been driving revenue. And, of course, not having to pay your athletes gives big-time college football the ultimate business model.
After top Penn State officials announced that they had fired Joe Paterno on Wednesday night, thousands of students stormed the downtown area to display their anger and frustration, chanting the former coach’s name, tearing down light poles and overturning a television news van parked along College Avenue.
The demonstrators congregated outside Penn State’s administration building before stampeding into the tight grid of downtown streets. They turned their ire on a news van, a symbolic gesture that expressed a view held by many that the news media exaggerated Mr. Paterno’s role in the scandal surrounding accusations that a former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, sexually assaulted young boys.
“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for JoePa going down,” said a freshman, Mike Clark, 18, adding that he believed that Mr. Paterno had met his legal and moral responsibilities by telling university authorities about an accusation that Mr. Sandusky assaulted a boy in a university shower in 2002.
Demonstrators tore down two lamp posts, one falling into a crowd. They also threw rocks and fireworks at the police, who responded with pepper spray. The crowd undulated like an accordion, with the students crowding the police and the officers pushing them back.
“We got rowdy, and we got maced,” Jeff Heim, 19, said rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”
Really, clueless college students? You are rioting because a child molester-enabler was eventually fired, years after he should have been? Disgusting. Are football victories really that important to your self-worth? More than protecting kids from being raped? I hope for your sake, you don’t post any photos of yourself rioting in support of this creep: future employers might not think your logic skills are sound.
Tony Auth’s take on Penn State’s priorities
Update: Elizabeth Gettelman of Mother Jones concurs:
Penn State did the right thing tonight when it fired its storied football coach Joe Paterno (and its president, Graham Spanier). But it’s pretty little, and it’s way late. Joe Paterno remained Coach Paterno for nearly a decade after learning that his former defensive coordinator had allegedly raped a 10-year-old, and for nearly a year after a grand jury investigation confirmed as much. In fact, he stayed coach just long enough to become the winningest coach in Division I college football history, a record he achieved two weeks ago, 11 months after said grand jury investigation (see page 8 referencing December 2010 interviews). Had his complicit role come to light last December would Paterno have had a shot at his record-breaking victory? If present outrage would have held, and it should have, then no, he wouldn’t have coached at all this season.
The timing is probably not a coincidence, and it’s illustrative. This whole hellstorm was swept under the rug for so long because of the money machine that is college football, a successful program with a superstar coach and a sterling reputation is money in the bank, and when you’re Penn State that’s $50 million a year kind of money.
and Mike McQueary should be drummed out of the coaching business for his cowardice:
Penn State wide receivers coach Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed Jerry Sandusky performing a sexual act on a young child in a Lasch Football Building shower in 2002…and didn’t intervene.
This detail is in the grand jury report about the scandal surrounding Sandusky and Penn State University.
I’ll start this by saying my knowledge of the law is limited, but I understand the idea of an accessory. Usually, however, the person is a witness to murder. In this instance, McQueary was a witness to an alleged rape.
And he left.
These are all things that McQueary has admitted. He must feel terrible, being that he was 28 years old at the time and did nothing. However, the thought that he physically walked away from a rape is disgusting.
Weird, and I wonder why Scotland Yard is keeping 123 year old records secret?
Scotland Yard recently turned down a request to release the thick Victorian ledgers that contain the police reports, tips, clues and maybe a theory or two about Jack the Ripper. And that’s fueling a new round of speculation about Jack. Was he just a drifter who left London as authorities closed in, or could he — gasp! — have been a royal? Did police ever get close to figuring it out?
Jack the Ripper slit the throats of five women in London’s squalid Whitechapel district in 1888. The murderer used almost surgical precision.
Retired homicide detective Trevor Marriott is the latest sleuth to try to unmask the killer. Marriott believes Jack was a German sailor. And he says he’s oh, so close to proving it.
Our erosion of civil liberties continues apace, the police increasingly don’t even bother to get warrants before they put you in their surveillance net. For instance, in the case of suspect Antoine Jones, the police installed a GPS tracking device on his (or his wife’s) Jeep.
Jordan Smith reports on this troubling case:
When are electronic or other forms of surveillance of an individual considered a search under the Fourth Amendment — thus requiring a valid warrant to conduct such surveillance in a manner that protects the individual from “unlawful search and seizure”?
How the U.S. Supreme Court answers that question, in a case on its docket for the term starting in October, will have far-reaching implications for the power of government and for the privacy of individuals, according to lawyers and privacy rights advocates.
If the Court holds that warrants are not required for this type of surveillance, it could mean “the technological death of the Fourth Amendment,” warns Arkansas-based attorney John Wesley Hall, a leading Fourth Amendment expert…
The officers obtained a judicial warrant providing for a 10-day tracking period inside the District of Columbia. However, they actually installed the device after the 10-day window had expired — the reasons have not been brought out in court — and they did so while the Jeep was parked in a public lot in Maryland. The GPS data provided a 24/7 record of all of Jones’ movements in the Jeep over the next month — including, at times, the movements of his wife and family.
I’d be very surprised if the Roberts Court rules against the police, shocked in fact. Even the fact that some gun rights organizations have filed briefs decrying this destruction of the Fourth Amendment will probably not sway the Court, if history is any guide.
As Leckar1told the Crime Report, a beeper is a “simple sense-augmenting device,” while a GPS tracking device, designed by the government for military use and only made available since 2000 for civilian applications, is “not sense augmenting; it’s sense supplanting.”
And that is one of the main reasons that in order to pass the Fourth Amendment’s legal standard a warrant is needed to conduct GPS surveillance, Leckar argues. The “D.C. Circuit was correct to hold that pattern information is dramatically more intrusive than mere information about an individual’s discrete journeys,” his brief argued. “Indeed, the distinction between discrete bits of information and patterns of conduct is well-accepted.”
To privacy and Fourth Amendment advocates, the distinction is crucial.
In a brief supporting Jones before the D.C. Circuit, the Electronic Freedom Foundation and the ACLU, and which they are expected to revive before the Supremes, argued that GPS technology now gives police extraordinary new powers to remotely track individuals over long periods in both public and private realms.
“Without a warrant requirement, an individual’s every movement could be subject to remote monitoring, and permanent recording, at the sole discretion of any police officer,” the brief said. Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, and several other conservative groups have already filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court urging it to restore “the Fourth Amendment to its original text and purpose.”
veteran attorney Stephen Leckar, who represents Jones [↩]
The phone-hacking crisis enveloping the News of the World intensified on Tuesday night after it emerged that Scotland Yard has started to contact the relatives of victims of the 7 July 2005 attacks to warn them they were targeted by the paper.
The revelation that bereaved family members may have had their mobile phone messages intercepted by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator employed by the paper, in the days following the 2005 London bombings will heap further pressure on the title’s owner, News International, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
Graham Foulkes, whose son David was killed in the attack at Edgware Road tube station, confirmed that he had been contacted by officers from Operation Weeting, the Met’s investigation into phone hacking. He said they had told him his mobile phone number, ex-directory landline number and address had been found in records made by Mulcaire that were recovered from the investigator’s office in south London.
Foulkes’s solicitor, Clifford Tibber, who represents several families who had relatives killed in the terrorist attack, said the news had “come as a terrible shock” to them as they prepared to mark the sixth anniversary of the bombings this week.
The news capped a dramatic day of unfolding developments in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
Police officers are turning their attention to examine every high-profile case involving the murder, abduction or attack on any child since 2001 – in response to the revelation that journalists from the tabloid newspaper hacked into the voicemail messages of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Officers have already told the parents of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the girls killed in Soham in 2002 by Ian Huntley, that their mobiles had been hacked. Documents seized by the Metropolitan police in a 2006 raid on Mulcaire’s home show he targeted Leslie Chapman, the father of Jessica Chapman.
Of course shady banks are involved in the worldwide spam scourge, otherwise there wouldn’t be any money generated for the spam-meisters sending their poorly crafted herbal viagra emails. What’s interesting is that there are so few banks involved.
For years, a team of computer scientists at two University of California campuses has been looking deeply into the nature of spam, the billions of unwanted e-mail messages generated by networks of zombie computers controlled by the rogue programs called botnets. They even coined a term, “spamalytics,” to describe their work. Now they have concluded an experiment that is not for the faint of heart: for three months they set out to receive all the spam they could (no quarantines or filters need apply), then systematically made purchases from the Web sites advertised in the messages.
It turned out that 95 percent of the credit card transactions for the spam-advertised drugs and herbal remedies they bought were handled by just three financial companies — one based in Azerbaijan, one in Denmark and one in Nevis, in the West Indies.
The researchers looked at nearly a billion messages and spent several thousand dollars on about 120 purchases. No single purchase was more than $277.
If a handful of companies like these refused to authorize online credit card payments to the merchants, “you’d cut off the money that supports the entire spam enterprise,” said one of the scientists, Stefan Savage of the University of California, San Diego, who worked with colleagues at San Diego and Berkeley and at the International Computer Science Institute.
And you probably already realized this, but there is a lot of spam sent out, cluttering our email boxes with come-ons for boner pills and Cialis rip-offs…
Spam has proved notoriously difficult to defeat over the years, despite sophisticated filtering technologies and legal investigations and convictions. Seven years after the famous prediction by Bill Gates, then chairman of Microsoft, that spam would be eradicated in just two years, about 90 percent of all e-mail is spam.
An earlier study undertaken by the scientists showed that a single commercial spam e-mail campaign generated three messages for every person on the planet. That same study revealed that to sell $100 worth of Viagra, a spam provider needed to send 12.5 million messages.
Not that surprising, really. Only would become surprising if anything ever came of it, especially since Mayor Daley is no longer mayor.
In the annals of Daley administration scandals, the name Duff still ranks high.
The politically connected Duff family — campaign supporters of Mayor Daley — won about $100 million in city business, in part through what prosecutors said were bogus claims that they deserved breaks that are set aside for women-owned businesses. Those claims unraveled as James M. Duff pleaded guilty in 2005 to fraud and racketeering, among 33 federal charges.
Daley knew the Duffs, went to their parties, benefitted from their campaign fund-raisers — but downplayed his ties to the family, which, during his tenure, got city cleanup and janitorial work from City Hall at Taste of Chicago, O’Hare Airport and the Harold Washington Library Center,among other lucrative city business.
For anyone keeping score, newly released FBI files show that agents who were keeping tabs on the late John F. “Jack” Duff Jr. — the family patriarch who was an ex-con, disgraced union boss and self-described pal of the late Chicago mob boss Anthony Accardo — had a source who told them “it was common knowledge that Jack Duff Jr. and Mayor Daley were close friends and that Jack Duff Jr. had direct access to the mayor.”
The FBI files on Jack Duff, who died in 2008 at 82, were released to the Better Government Association in response to a federal Freedom of Information Act request. That law allows the release of certain law enforcement files after a person’s death.
LONDON — The story so far: Clive Goodman, a journalist for Rupert Murcoch’s English tabloid, the News of the World, was sent to prison in 2006, along with a private detective, Glenn Mulcaire, for hacking into the voice mail messages of Prince William and Prince Henry. News International, the U.K. newspaper-owning subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corporation, has consistently claimed that the phone-hacking was confined to a single rogue reporter, but evidence uncovered by the Guardian and New York Times has suggested otherwise.
Last Friday, James Murdoch told PBS’ Charlie Rose that News International had defused a reputation crisis over allegations of widespread illegal phone hacking at the News of the World newspaper: “You talk about a reputation crisis—actually the business is doing really well. It shows what we were able to do is really put this problem into a box.”
But the lid has not stayed on the box and the contents have spilled over the sides. Rupert Murdoch has now tried to put that box into yet another one by issuing a blanket apology and offering a compensation fund for a select number of victims. Again, the lid does not seem likely to stay put. News International’s announcement of the apology on Friday amounts to a complete reversal of policy by Rupert Murdoch and his top brass. Until now the management of News International has always argued that a single rogue reporter had been engaged in phone hacking. But the recent arrests of a former senior News of the World executive and the paper’s chief reporter—both of whom have been bailed till September pending further developments—and a court order requiring the release of internal e-mails has given the lie to that strategy.
The former Labour minister Chris Bryant, who is suing News International, said that it is “a pretty extraordinary moment . . . when a national newspaper, which has been saying for years and years that there was just one rogue reporter, that it was all very regrettable, and that there were very few victims, owns up to a massive degree of criminality at the newspaper.”
I have a guarantee from someone up high in the Yamaguchi-gumi that they won’t touch my family. Their word is pretty solid. It’s a gentleman’s agreement that they’ll only kill me, which makes me feel better.
This lack of cooperation was partly responsible for an astonishing deal made with the yakuza, and for the story that changed my life. On May 18, 2001, the FBI arranged for Tadamasa Goto — a notorious Japanese gang boss, the one that some federal agents call the “John Gotti of Japan” — to be flown to the United States for a liver transplant.