Irish Gangster Whitey Bulger Captured in Santa Monica
Authorities at a multiagency news conference in Boston praised their own persistence and tenacity in the capture of legendary crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger, and credited public service announcements for leading them to the fugitive in Santa Monica.
The announcements were launched Monday and Tuesday in 14 markets across the country where Bulger and his companion, Catherine Elizabeth Greig, 60, had been spotted or had past ties.
Bulger, 81, who has been on the run for more than 15 years, fled Boston in late 1994 as federal agents were about to arrest him in connection with at least 19 killings, racketeering and other crimes that spanned the early 1970s to the mid-1980s. He headed an organized crime group that allegedly controlled extortion, drug deals and other illegal activities in the Boston area.
I haven’t really been keeping up with these as I have been busy swooping fly girls in Cartagena, and despite the description of the Heistman in the Hollywood heist, “The man, described as well dressed and with slicked-back hair”, and “smooth manner and debonair appearance” my ski mask has remained in my dresser drawer as of late.
Daring Heist at Poker Tournament in Germany
A heavily armed group stormed a poker tournament in a German luxury hotel Saturday afternoon and made off with a jackpot, a police spokesman said.
Several participants at the tournament in Berlin’s Grand Hyatt hotel were slightly injured when they panicked and fled following the daring afternoon heist, Carsten Mueller said.
German Poker Tournament Robbers Still on the Run
Mueller said four robbers in disguises forced employees to hand over money, and then managed to escape. Mueller declined to give details, including how much money the men got away with.
The jackpot for the tournament stood at euro1 million ($1.36 million), according to a European Poker Tour Web site. The EPT confirmed the heist on the event’s blog in an official statement, saying there had been ”an armed robbery executed by six men.” It was unclear why the number differed from the police count.
Four Seasons Robbery: Billionaire In Town For Oscars Robbed In Hotel
A well-dressed man who talked his way into a Florida sugar baron’s hotel room and stole tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry is believed to be the same person who pulled similar scams on a Mexican soccer team, a salsa band and an Israeli basketball team when they visited Los Angeles, police said Tuesday.
The man, described as well dressed and with slicked-back hair, posed as a Four Seasons hotel employee when he struck up a conversation in an elevator on Friday with Jose Pepe Fanjul and his wife, Emilia, according to police. Later that night, he showed up at the couple’s room and told them he needed to fix a problem with an air vent. After he left, they discovered more than $45,000 in jewels missing.
“I haven’t seen any pictures yet but I’ve had many calls and I’ve had a description, and his appearance and M.O. sounds very much like a man we’re calling Ricco Suave,” said police Lt. Paul Vernon.
Authorities gave him that nickname because of his smooth manner and debonair appearance, he said.
In a Hollywood-style heist, thieves cut a hole in the roof of a warehouse, rappelled inside and scored one of the biggest hauls of its kind — not diamonds, gold bullion or Old World art, but about $75 million in antidepressants and other prescription drugs.
The pills — stolen from the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. in quantities big enough to fill a tractor-trailer — are believed to be destined for the black market, perhaps overseas.
“This is like the Brink’s pill heist,” said Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business professor who studies the health care industry. “This one will enter the folklore.”
The thieves apparently scaled the brick exterior of the warehouse in an industrial park in Enfield, a town about midway between Hartford and Springfield, Mass., during a blustery rainstorm before daybreak Sunday. After lowering themselves to the floor, they disabled the alarms and spent at least an hour loading pallets of drugs into a vehicle at the loading dock, authorities said.
“Just by the way it occurred, it appears that there were several individuals involved and that it was a very well planned-out and orchestrated operation,” Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza said. “It’s not your run-of-the-mill home burglary, that’s for sure.”
Experts described it as one of the biggest pharmaceutical heists in history.
For 20 years, investigators have been chasing down hundreds of leads. They’ve interviewed countless witnesses all over the world, and still the central questions remain: where is the art and who did it?
What happened on March 18th, 1990 at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum? A a new portrait is now emerging about the famous heist, with some tantalizing details.
Investigators say at precisely 1:24 a.m., two men disguised as policemen knocked on the side door of the museum, saying they were called to look into a disturbance. The night watchman let them in.
Once inside, the thieves handcuffed both of the guards on duty, tied them up with duct tape and then, with free reign of the museum, they went to work.
But the question remains, who is behind the biggest art heist in history? Over the years there have been wild theories. Was it a fugitive mob boss? An eccentric art collector? Or just the work of local criminals?
“There are so many good suspects, it’s like an Agatha Christie novel where everybody’s sitting in the living room and everyone has a particular motive as to why they committed the crime,” says Kelly.
On the case for eight years, Kelly says DNA testing is now in play, but he won’t reveal details.
The Boston Globe reports that investigators may be analyzing the duct tape used to silence the guards. If there’s sweat on the tape, there’s a possibility of a DNA match, and the break investigators have been hoping for all these years.
The FBI has taken out ads, placing billboards on the highway, offering a $5 million reward for any information that leads to the safe return of the artwork.
There are two crimes in the matter: the actual theft of the artwork, for which the statute of limitations ran out in 1995.
And then, there’s the second crime: possession of stolen art. There is no statute of limitations on that, which is why the U.S. Attorney’s Office is now offering immunity. Prosecutors say if someone comes forward with the art, all will be forgiven.
“Here are the top ten scams that are currently trying to relieve unsuspecting consumers of their hard-earned money. These have been categorised into two groups. The first five are those that try and fool people into sending money directly to the bad guys – pretending to be in trouble, a job offer, a favour etc known as 419 or advance fee fraud.
“The second five detail scams whose purpose is to steal personal credentials and computer data to convince the bank to send money. Here, at least, most banks will return the lost funds to consumers unless the bank can prove they were reckless.”
1. Social Networking scams
Fraudsters hack a social networking account, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or Bebo, and then contact friends and family of claiming that they are in trouble and need money to be sent immediately to a specified address.
2. Prediction scams
This scam arrives in the form of an e-mail that provides the results of a football game taking place the following day, at no cost. The next day the receiver discovers that the prediction is true. Over the next couple of weeks further e-mails are sent providing results that also turn out to be correct.
Following a number of e-mails, another one is sent offering the recipient the chance to buy the results of future games for a hefty sum. The trick is that most of the people who received e-mails would have had a wrong result and so fallen out of the process. But statistically, a small proportion of all the people involved would have received e-mails with the correct results each time.
3. Economy-related scams
Prying on those in financial trouble, these scams can be performed via internet, telephone or post and include a range of financial help and offers such as loan and debt consolidation, fix-your-credit-rating, repossession assistance, phoney advance loans and mortgage foreclosure rescue schemes.
4. “It’s me” scam
This is a scam that has been prevalent in Asia but is now being seen in the West. The fraudster calls an elderly person declaring that their granddaughter has been in a road accident. Cries for help are screamed down the phone line and the fraudster informs the person that money needs to be sent immediately to cover the medical costs.
5. The “offer you can’t refuse”
This involves the sale of a product for which the fraudster provides an overpayment in the form of a cashier’s cheque, usually stolen, and asks for the excess to be transferred back. This can also occur when targets are offered a job, for example, to earn 20% commission. They receive a £10,000 cheque and are then asked to deposit it and return £8,000. The cheque later bounces, by which time the £8,000 is already in the hands of the bad guys.
Members of a group of Mexican drug traffickers have been indicted in the murders of nine people in the San Diego area — including two victims whose bodies were dissolved in acid, authorities announced Thursday.
The group of 17 men also collected hundreds of thousands in dollars in ransom payments for kidnappings, the indictment alleged. Victims were abducted by men dressed in police uniforms and wearing badges while walking down the streets or in their driveways, then held in rented homes and sometimes killed, authorities said.
“Los Palillos” gang — “The Toothpicks,” in English — operated in the late 1990s and early 2000s in Tijuana, Mexico, as a cell of the Arellano Felix cartel, named for one of Mexico’s most notorious drug trafficking families, said Mark Amador, a deputy district attorney. The gang of U.S. and Mexican citizens moved to the San Diego area around 2002 to deal in marijuana and methamphetamine after a leader was killed in a feud inside the Tijuana-based cartel.
Nine of the 17 men indicted by a San Diego County grand jury on charges including murder, kidnapping and robbery were in custody, and the others were at large. Authorities said three other men tied to the ring were recently killed in Tijuana.
A Thai court on Tuesday rejected a U.S. request to extradite a Russian arms dealer who allegedly sold weapons to dictators and warlords around the world, raising the prospect that he could be freed by the weekend.
The unexpected ruling in favor of Viktor Bout was welcomed by Russia. The United States, which had mounted the sting operation that led to his arrest at a Bangkok hotel, said it was “mystified” by the court’s decision.
Bangkok Criminal Court Judge Chittakorn Pattanasiri said Thai prosecutors have 72 hours to indicate whether to appeal, and, if not, Bout will be set free. If an appeal is filed, Bout will be held pending further proceedings.
The 42-year-old Bout, who has denied any wrongdoing, jumped up from his seat upon hearing Tuesday’s ruling and hugged his crying wife. He flashed a victory sign to TV cameras as he was escorted from the courtroom by guards.
Six months ago, I received an odd phone call from a man named Jake DeSantis at A.I.G. Financial Products—the infamous unit of the doomed insurance company, staffed by expensively educated, highly paid traders, whose financial ineptitude is widely suspected of costing the U.S. taxpayer $182.5 billion and counting. At the time A.I.G. F.P.’s losses were reported, it became known that a handful of traders in this curious unit had sold trillions of dollars of credit-default swaps (essentially unregulated insurance policies) on piles of U.S. subprime mortgages, but its employees hadn’t yet become the leading examples of Wall Street greed. And so this was before Jake DeSantis and his colleagues found themselves suburban-Connecticut outcasts, before their first death threats, before the House of Representatives passed a bill because of them (taxing 90 percent of their large bonuses), before New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo announced he was going after their paychecks, and before Iowa senator Charles Grassley said that A.I.G.’s leaders should follow the Japanese example and “either do one of two things, resign or go commit suicide.”
DeSantis turned out to be a friend of a friend. He’d called because he didn’t know anyone else “in the media.” As a type he was instantly recognizable: a “quant,” a numbers guy who was allowed to take financial risks because of his superior math skills, but who had no taste for company politics or public exposure. He’d grown up in the Midwest, the son of schoolteachers, and discovered Wall Street as a scholarship student at M.I.T. The previous seven years he’d spent running A.I.G. F.P.’s profitable stock-market-related trades. He wasn’t looking for me to write about him or about A.I.G. F.P. He just wanted to know why the public perception of what had happened inside his unit, and the larger company, was so different from the private perception of the people inside it, who actually knew what had happened. The idea that the employees of A.I.G. F.P. had conspired to maximize their short-term gains at the company’s longer-term expense, for instance. He and the other traders had been required to defer about half of their pay for years, and intertwine their long-term interests with their firm’s. The people who lost the most when A.I.G. F.P. went down were the employees of A.I.G. F.P.: DeSantis himself had just watched more than half of what he’d made over the previous nine years vanish. The incentive system at A.I.G. F.P., created in the mid-1990s, wasn’t the short-term-oriented racket that helped doom the Wall Street investment bank as we knew it. It was the very system that U.S. Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, among others, had proposed as a solution to the problem of Wall Street pay.
Even more oddly, the public explanation of A.I.G.’s failure focused on the credit-default swaps sold by traders at A.I.G. F.P., when A.I.G.’s problems were clearly broader. There was the mortgage-insurance unit in North Carolina, United Guaranty, that had taken on all sorts of silly risks in the past two years, lost several billion dollars, and replaced their C.E.O. There were the fund managers at A.I.G., the parent company, who had blown nearly $50 billion on trades in subprime mortgages—that is, they had lost more than A.I.G. F.P., whose losses stood around $45 billion. And there was a pattern: all of this stuff had happened since 2005, after an accounting scandal forced C.E.O. Maurice “Hank” Greenberg to resign. Greenberg, who had headed A.I.G. since 1968, was a bullying, omnipotent ruler—one of those bosses who did not so much build a company as tailor it to his character and render it incapable of being run by anyone else. After he was forced out, Greenberg said, “The new management wanted to prove that they could continue to grow without former management” and so turned a blind eye to all sorts of risks. So how come most of the senior management at A.I.G. was left in place by the U.S. Treasury after the bailout? Why were officials, both public and private, so intent on leading others to believe all the losses at A.I.G. had been caused by a few dozen traders in this fringe unit in London and Connecticut?