Not Your Mothers Nigerian Scam: The New Face of Terrorism and it’s assault on America

We all heard the stories, gotten the emails and nodded our heads at the seemingly odd amount of overseas missionaries, dignitaries, and even Princes having a great deal of political turmoil and desperately needs YOU  to help them move their money out of the country before the “bad guys” get to it. Of course you are not expected to do all this altruistically. No, in fact there is great reward for those willing to offer their bank account information and some up front cash to help safely get the money to you and give to the owner, minus your seven digit cut.There was a time that all one had to fear was the loss of money and or pride from falling for such a scam and having to explain to friends and family why you are suddenly broke.

It wasn’t until recently that I once again found myself face to face with a much more disturbing and much darker reality. Once agin I found myself helping someone I didn’t know, to do what others refused to do, against someone I have no business challenging and it appeared that once again my chase would lead me into the world of terrorism.

It began with a series of emails and voice messages from a woman asking me to help her with a problem she was having with scammers. I get lots of similar calls and I find I have to pick and choose who I help, when I can. At the time I have been in a much needed hiatus from my show in an effort to work on personal and professional challenges to shifting my investigative focus to Terrorism and Cyber Crime.

I put this call with the stack of “no thanks” in my mailbox. Yet this woman was persistent and sounded more and more desperate and in some ways more insane. I continued to resist even answering to say no. Yet eventually this woman’s tone became more defeated and depressed. Something hit me. That voice that told me to stop avoiding the inevitable and do what’s right….despite my sinking feeling his will not be as simple as it should be.  I called her back.

Her name was Dr Jeri Danielle. She was a writer and poet and from her Linkedin Profile did not seem like the typical loon trying to sell me their latest conspiracy theory.

The short version of her story is was that she was in a series of coorospondences over about a 2 month period with an female soldier based in Iraq named Sharon Brown.  After building a string rapport and gaining Jeri’s trust and sympathy, she eventually confided that she has amassed some about of many while overseas but felt the danger was too much to avoid moving it to the US soon.  Jeri agreed to help her “friend”. Shortly before her “sudden death” she gave Jeri the name of a diplomat friend name “Michael Tomson” who would guide her through the process and get the money to her under the protection of his “diplomatic immunity”.

What follows is a brief account of what followed and what I discovered in the course of my investigation to help uncover who was behind a now months long extortion that has now cost her about $80k and no end in sight to the intimidating demands for more. She said she came after police ignored her, and the federal agencies she went to kept referring her to the IC3 website.

Had I not discovered what I discovered so quickly I too may have been just as incredulous as I’d imagine law enforcement was.

The front person appears to be a UK based operative who uses the name “Tomson Michael” and used this fake credential to gain confidence.

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Though again, her first contacts was a series of conversation with a supposed US soldier in Iraq named “Sharon Brown” using the email Sharon Brown–usmilsharon2@aol.com

After reviewing past emails and coaching her through a series of fake payment delays in an effort to get them to give up more information for me to work off of, it seemed the Cyber operations are run through Lagos, Nigera and local leg work like collection is done with Houston based operatives and possible some in the south.

Tomson told Jeri someone named Brian Okpala from the Red Cross will be meeting with here at some point and gave the following credential to further gain her confidence:

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She communicated with “Brian” via the following email address and phone number:
Okpala–ftke4@live.com 281-617-2878.

Her contacts with Tomson has been through the following numbers and email address. tommic00@yandex.com US-347-809-3510; In the UK–011-44-203-289-4952.

Most of the payments have been to this account: JP Morgan Chase, Account# 900176017 to be picked up by a Kristle McGill at a Houston Branch located 14400 Memorial Drive.

I told her to stop paying and to feign delays and difficulties on order to get alternate info from him to help me trace the source. As a result I was able to get the following additional info:

Wells Fargo: Account# 1487001396 to be picked up by Princewell Okoro
Barclays Bank (UK): Account# 33742504 to be picked up by Misrat Alabi

By following the Princewell lead I found the following.

This Facebook account:

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Who in turn is friends with this person who happened to be in Houston where money was collected :

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Who in turn is friends with:

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But more disturbingly another account came up for this Brian Okpala (aka: Bryian Opahlar) as possibly belong to him:

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Since as far back as 2011, despite only recent news coverage, Boko Haram have been very active and it now well known they use these type of operations to fund their terrorist activities.

However all of this could be a coincidence….but I’ll leave that you you to decide.

After an additional 2 days of Thomson calling, and emailing Jeri to escalate his threats and demands for money and after a brief online exchange with this Tomson person in the UK to get him to see reason I finally ended the conversation after those two days with a coincidental public announcement of a sever hack 2 Days prior on JP Morgan Chase and how I would hate for his refusal to not let his greed to get him busted and do what’s right before it’s too late. (FTR I admit nothing other than it clearly could be coincidence I reference to him below).

This is the final letter I sent him (minus referenced graphics that are already posted above):

Hi again “Michael Tomson”

I heard about the cyber breach at Chase Bank. Weren’t we recently discussing one of the account you have there? Oh yes account#900176017, I believe amount a few other it seems. Interestingly it turns out even though the attacker got root on about 3 servers nothing was actually taken. Hmmm….some might think it was just a fluke, others intelligence gathering…..and some of the smarter ones, a warning. How smart are you?

Well at least you don’t have money at Wells Fargo. I mean their security is even worse than JP Morgan. Oh wait…oops, I spoke too soon these accounts look interesting, like this one here #1487001396.

Like I said before, I’m not a cop. I’m someone people call when no one else cannot or will not help them. However as you can see that can allow for a little more freedom to do what must be done to help some get back what is theirs and on occasion, justice served. You will return the money you stole. There are worse things than arrest to fear. As I said in a previous letter, you are likely more expendable and definitively more accessible to the ones you work for and funneling some money to (but we’ll get to that in a bit).

I told there weren’t enough servers in the Russia, Lagos, etc that you can hide behind to keep me from identifying and dealing with those that need dealing with. Even the UK won’t be much help ;) Again, you aren’t the only one with friends and contacts all over the globe.

However lets just start simple….like the local simpletons you have here locally doing your leg work.

Like this genius with horrible OPSEC
(See above photo of Okpala)

Which brings me to who we both know it best not be aware of the mess the sloppy work your little team and greed has gotten you into. Mr Okpahlar (aka Okpala) seems awfully helpful so far….and no one has even talked to him yet…

(see above photo of twitter account that appears in support of Boko Haram)

Ouch!!! Now there are some people I would not want thinking I compromised their money train or OPSEC. Especially if like you, were in easy reach :/

I wonder how long it would take Homeland Security to get what they need out of him….

I gave you a choice earlier to agree to payback the person I specify and keep this between us and we both move on or go ahead and test how serious and how capable I am to be a real problem for you…..just YOU and thus quickly making YOU a very big and public problem for certain people who will rightly assume simply dealing with YOU, not me is the least risky and costly option in protecting their interests.

Now you have your answer to your little test.

You should consider my warning about just a few of the accounts mentioned and about Okpahlar a courtesy and don’t push your luck and try to change things. Who knows what attention that might cause anybody or….agency possibly watching these things, given the recent security leaks that seems to be all around?

Tick Tock, “Michael Tomson”……….or however this is pronounced on the horrible forgery job….
(reference photo of fake Passport above)

As it stands, Tomson appears to have not be as threatening but still continues to contact Jeri.

In keeping with my word to Jeri to make sure her story is told and to “Michael Tomson” whom I promised I would make famous if he continued to terrorize women, I give you what you now read.

Where it will go from here who knows. This and much more was turned over to many friends and contacts in different areas of law enforcement and counter-terroism. I honestly don’t anticipate much trouble from “Tomson” in the future.

There is one more thing I wanted to share before closing. I have yet to verify this as a viable lead but just in case, I’m sharing anyway.

Figuring that once I began contact, with these people, given my public personae and media work they would eventually be drawn to my linkedin profile to check me out and possibly contact me to try and SE (social engineer) me somehow. I hoped it would be the UK guy or one connected to help me close in on the network source.

It was in the midst of this that I was checked out and eventually connection requested by about 5 people but this guy (photo below) stuck out because he is in a totally different industry and not really appear to be a crime media fan. His name is Bruce Johnson Zelotes.

Here is his profile:

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What caught my attention most was:
1. He is in the UK
2. Uses a non business email
3. The email address suggests he uses a completely different name at times (mailto:beckettcharlie92@gmail.com).
4. The company he works for is Sonagol.
5. Despite his invitation to connect, he seems unwilling to communicate with me but apparently just wants to see what is written on my profile, as non connections have a limited view.

Still believing I was possibly dealing with a logistics/funding cell, I knew that if I was right, there still had to be a way to launder the money as it continues down the pipeline to Nigeria. It had to be a legal entity with international ties to avoid suspicion. Looking into Sonagol I found they are an oil industry company with headquarters all over, including one in Houston, Texas and apparent business ties to…..surprise, surprise…..Nigeria. Further inquiry into this company by anybody one can see where even more questions arise.

Again this could be all be coincidence but then……I leave it you to decide ;)

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To Whom Does Justice Belong, The People We Appoint Or The People Who Appointed Them?

Our nation was founded on the belief…no the conviction that justice cannot be had when it remains in the hands of the select few. However we do appoint representatives and agencies to seek that justice on BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE lest everyone decide on their own what is legal or not legal and go about exacting their own justice. The only thing more dangerous than the order of tyranny, is the chaos of vigilanteism.

Even when the results of our JUSTICE SYSTEM may seem unsatisfactory, it is indeed just that we either accept it or work within the system to change it so that similar results never occur again. However, what if that which we agree is illegal and indeed harming others is ignored by the ones we appoint and look to to pursue due justice? When we abide such a culture in our legal system are we submitting to their authority or affirming and ultimately adopting their complacency?

What if the people appeal to all the channels and move up and down the chains of command only to be told nothing will be done, are they protecting the people they work for or the people they were appointed to protect them from?

When people finally step up to fight and put down the villain(s) the powers that be refuse to despite their call by the people to do so, are you taking justice into your own hands or are you simply refusing to let it fall by the wayside?

If the powers that be try to stop you, telling you it is their “business” to do such things and have chosen to let the crimes and thus injustices continue and so should you, yet you still chose to do what they wont, who is ultimately seeking justice and who is ultimately acting against it?

When the people take up the power to stop the villains the powers that be wont in order to put an end to the crimes they are allowing, are the people robbing the authorities of power or are the people taking back a power that is rightfully theirs already in order to keep from being robbed from justice that is also theirs?

In the end who is ultimately responsible for protecting the people rights and seeing that the people have a just society?

These questions can only be answered by first answering, does justice and the power to gain and maintain it belong to the entities the people created and appointed or do these things belong to WE THE PEOPLE?

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Sir, I have a warrant…for your mind

I recently started a very interesting online discussion with an acquaintance after he had share the following article, (Link to original posting with article attachment). It related to a MA high court ruling that said a suspect must turn over the password to an encrypted computer despite claims that doing so would violate the 5th Amendment.  This is raises a lot of questions and an included analogy regarding a warrant demanding the combination of a safe as support for the MA decision raised even more. After doing some cursory research before responding to my acquaintance, I came to the following conclusions shared below. What are your thoughts on the matter? I assure you its not a matter that should be thought out lightly and by no means avoided. ;

Prima facie I would disagree with  the safe combination analogy but can see how one would be compelled by such reasoning, especially and non-critical mind or a legal one looking for a short-cut. However, that reasoning based on the safe combo analogy begs the question.

After taking a few minutes to do some research before answering your question, I did find a few interesting things. The article failed to site any case law or precedent but only pointed out that the combo was subject to a warrant, however a warrant is NOT case law and are challenged daily.

As most know the Stare Decisis principle when applied to case law most applicable when it applies the decision of of higher court versus that of a lower court. That being said I found no US Supreme Court decision that would support the reasoning or even a safe combo analogy. If anything I found the opposite, an a 1988 ruling found in Jon Doe v The United States 487 U.S. 201 (108 S.Ct. 2341, 101 L.Ed.2d 184).   That case refers to a suspect being forced to sign consent forms to access bank account. The ruling supported the US.  In both the opinion and statements of dissent they used the safe analogy, however it did not decide on that specific situation in  the case. I believe that such a case in a supreme court would not be so cut and dry when the statement Justice Stevens, in his dissenting remarks comes into play;

“A defendant can be compelled to produce material evidence that is incriminating. Fingerprints, blood samples, voice exemplars, handwriting specimens, or other items of physical evidence may be extracted from a defendant against his will. But can he be compelled to use his mind to assist the prosecution in convicting him of a crime? I think not. He may in some cases be forced to surrender a key to a strongbox containing incriminating documents, but I do not believe he can be compelled to reveal the combination to his wall safe—by word or deed” (http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/487/201)

So the questions that will have to be answered that is not addressed in the above case, are does the safe analogy in that 1988 case apply here since in and of itself was an analogy and not a ruling and does not that analogy beg the question?  Add to that, in both statements both agree the contents of ones mind should be defended by the 5th and that what the majority decided was that signing a consent form is not such an item.

All this should lead to the ultimate question, I’d imagine the Justices will have to answer. Though it is affirmed that signing a form may not be considered turning over the contents of ones mind, can he same be said about turning over a memorized password?

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Vol 8, No 1 (2014): Perspectives on Terrorism

behindtheyellowtape:

Great blog here. Be sure to check them out. Lots of great resources by top minds in the field.
I’m both flattered and honored they sought fit to include my recent article in their suggested links.

Originally posted on The Osint Journal Review:

Table of Contents
Introduction to the Issue

Welcome from the Editors

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Alex P. Schmid

Articles

Perspectives on Counterterrorism: From Stovepipes to a Comprehensive Approach

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Ronald Crelinsten

Analysing Terrorism from a Systems Thinking Perspective

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Lukas Schoenenberger, Andrea Schenker-Wicki, Mathias Beck

Evidence-Based Counterterrorism or Flying Blind? How to Understand and Achieve What Works

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Rebecca Freese

View original 172 more words

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How Has September 11 Come To Symbolize A New Era of Terrorism?

The following is my response to an essay question posed to me by my professor in a Study of Terrorism course I am currently in the middle of.  I decided to share it with you as I felt it not only answers the question well but also articulates my growing concerns as I continue to study and report on this “War on Terror” we are in the midst of as a nation and international community. 

I felt it was a good beginning to my desire and plan for BTYT to have an increased focus on terrorism and to investigate, analyze and report on the people and politics involved. 

How Has September 11 Come To Symbolize A New Era of Terrorism?

The September 11 attack became a symbol of a new era of terrorism in a number of ways.
First it clearly proved the accuracy of a predicted trend toward asymmetrical warfare tactics used by terrorists (Martin 2014). This essentially turned the dynamic between terrorists and government from that of criminal and law enforcement agency to opponents in a war. This was indeed seen as a war as shown by the birth of the term “war on terrorism”.

However unlike a war between two sovereign nations this was a war between a tangible
entity, the government and an intangible phenomena, terrorism. Which raises new questions about what are the rules of engagement and how is victory determined (Martin 2014)?

Another clear indicator that a new era had indeed been entered, was the change of tone in how terrorism and our responses to it shifted from that of preserving a citizens safety to preserving a nations security and in some ways its sovereignty. This is clearly indicated by the establishment of the Patriot Act.

These above changes alone has been enough to cause understandable worry and debate
among citizens and government. While protecting the safety and rights of a citizen can at times require just as much aggression as we may see today from those in government and law enforcement, such aggression was tempered by the underlying intention to protect the rights of all citizens with her victim or perpetrator.

However when that underlying intention is replaced by a need to protect the government’s security and sovereignty, that aggression is no longer tempered but in many ways fueled. This in turn leads to the personal rights of the citizens being protected to fade into the background leading to many complaints (many justified) of rights being trampled and raising the question of how far is too far when acting in defense of your government.

If this alone wasn’t enough to inspire worry, anger and fear, then how much more are those emotions magnified and aggression further encouraged by the third and possibly most disturbing change indicating we are indeed in a new era of terrorism.

Terrorism has been the source of concern by government and its citizens for centuries.
However there has always been a certain solace taken by what was believed to be a core axiom in our understanding of terrorism (Hoffman 2002). Brian Jenkins articulated this axiom best when he observed that “terrorists want a lot of people watching and listening and not a lot of people dead” (Jenkins 1975). This conventional wisdom however was wiped clean by Osama bin Laden on September 11 (Hoffman 2002) . It now became clear to many that terrorists want a lot of people watching and listening AND a lot of people dead.

These above-mentioned shifts changed everything. Not just for America but for the
international community at large.

America has served as both a symbol of strength and conscience for many nations. Their example has been and continues to be emulated or debated. Regardless of which, America continues to influence and shape many nations and their interactions within themselves and with one another.

However these two virtues of strength and conscience are now clearly at war with each other and further complicating the above-mentioned underlying questions of what rules to guide our actions in this new kind of war and what does victory look like?

If by some miracle terrorism is eradicated from the earth but the cost was a nation that demanded we forever give up many of the rights we fought and died for and enjoy today; then who has won?

If we have raised bar of strength in both deed towards people and example to the world yet lowered the bar of conscience, then what has been won?

How different will the world be when our message of democracy and freedom is among the casualties suffered in this “war on terror”?

How terrifying, rather, how tragic would it be if future generations look back at this point in history and clearly see a nation who fought and bled and even died out of refusal to surrender even a shred of their rights and freedom to national sharia only to have instead surrendered all or most of both to national security?

This “war on terror” is very real, and very complicated. The stakes have never been higher because this “war on terror” is now being fought on two fronts; the terror within our borders and the terror within our hearts….. And the world is watching.

Works Cited

Hoffman, Bruce. “Rethinking Terrorism and Counterterrorism Since 9/11.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 25.5 (2002): 303-16. Print.

Jenkins, Brian Michael. International Terrorism: A New Mode of Conflict. Los Angeles, CA: Crescent Publications, 1975. Print.

Martin, Gus. Essentials of Terrorism: Concepts and Controversies. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2014. Print.

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Backgound Story On Stephen Rakes

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By Joey Ortega and Sharon Branco

During our last broadcast on the Whitey Bulger case, we discussed the mysterious death of Shephen Rakes. Rakes was at one point set to testify for the prosecution to give an accounting of a claim that Whitey Bulger extorted Rakes to sell his liquor store to him.  However days before his death Rakes was informed that his testimony would not be used . It was our inquiry into this and his death that lead to even more questions and twists and turns that continues to define this case.  Her is what we have learned thus far.

  • In 1983, Stephen Rakes and his wife at the time, Julie Rakes, now Julie Dammers, were owners of  a liquor store in South Boston. They purchased a run down gas station in South Boston and turned it into a liquor store, at 295 Old Colony Ave. They had some construction work done on the property and opened in time for Christmas…the place was called Stippo’s Liquor Mart.  Stippo was a nickname for Stephen.
  • the story goes that Bulger and Weeks extorted Rakes to sell him the liquor store.  Bulger/ Flemmi and Weeks then made the liquor store their office and changed the name of course to the South Boston Liquor Mart.  90% of the story is true, but there was no extortion, it was a story spun by Rakes to get more money out of Bulger this is backed up by a 1999 document describing U.S. v. Stephen M. Rakes case#96:CR10131-001 (below) Image
  • According to Julie, she reached out to her uncle and Detective, Joseph  Lundbohm for help. Lundbohm said he knew of an FBI agent who may be able to help. That agent was John Connolly.
  • According to Julie, after the meet Lundbohm Reports to Julie that Connolly said he could help but would need her to wear a wire. She understandably refused.
  • Soon after Whitey summoned Stephen Rakes and informed him that he was aware of the feds being contacted and that he better drop the matter.

This lead to claims that Connolly gave Bulger a heads up. BTYT contacted Connolly for comment and he responded Julie’s uncle Lundbohm called Connolly and asked to meet with him.  They met at a restaurant called Linda Mae’s in Boston.  John told me the place was a hang out for cops. It was a nice place to eat, it just was popular with the cops off duty to grab a quick good meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Lundbohm knew other cops would see him with Connolly and word would get back to Bulger.  He wanted to scare Bulger and have the FBI look like the boogie man.

What further muddied the waters in trying to find out for sure what did or did not happen was the questionable background of Detective Lundbohm who would later be accused of a number of crimes, including racketeering.

It stood to reason that the prosecution maybe grew concerned that the amount of conflicting evidence and weak credibility gave them cause to pause and reconsider including him and his accounting in an already complicated case with a number of convoluted twists and turns that seem to come right out of a Mario Puzo novel .

To date we don’t know for sure how Rakes died. Let alone why but given what we now know, it seems nothing can be taken for granted. It would at first glance seem tempting to go with a “he got wacked” scenario but given that their were too many reasons to doubt that story and the fact that he was removed from the witness list prior to his death, it does not make sense to assume such a dramatic conclusion.

If one was to kill a witness for Bulger’s sake, why not go after one who will actually testify and may in fact influence the jury? Yet there were rumors that Rakes had a bombshell to add that may damn Whitey. Whether that is or whether it was even true, we may never know.

Regardless, we will continue to follow Rakes’ death investigation and kep you apprised of what we learn.

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THE MEET AT THE MERIDIAN

ImageBy Sharon Branco

 

Stephen Flemmi was Whitey Bulger’s criminal partner in the Winter Hill Gang.  Stephen and Whitey were also FBI informants.   Were Bulger and Flemmi told they would not be prosecuted for certain crimes?  Bulger’s early pre-trial defense claim was that he had immunity, and he was given that immunity by former organized crime strike force federal prosecutor Jeremiah T. O’Sullivan.   Did Bulger and prosecutor O’Sullivan have a meeting?  Investigative reports confirm they did. Strike Force Attorney (Assistant United States Attorney) O’Sullivan contacted Connolly and requested to meet Bulger and Flemmi. O’Sullivan’s primary concern being that, by protecting Bulger and Flemmi from prosecution for their criminal activities in their RICO case, he might be placing the life of the key Race-Fix case witness (Anthony “Tony” Ciulla) in danger. Former Agent Connolly then set up the “meet” for the Meridian Hotel, right across the street from O’ Sullivan’s office in the McCormick Federal Building. At the meeting which Flemmi did not attend, Bulger gave his word that no harm would come to Ciulla from them, pointing out that they had no control over others who might want to harm the witness. O’Sullivan said that Ciulla’s relocation should prevent retaliation from the others, and his real concern was him (Bulger) and Flemmi.

 

More importantly, O’Sullivan assured Bulger that he and Flemmi could continue to operate their gambling and loan shark business as cover for their FBI informant activities in reporting on the New England Mafia – but that violence could not be tolerated and such conduct would be subject to prosecution. Bulger agreed this was fair.

 

Government witness, Stephen Flemmi, confirms this meeting at the hotel between O’Sullivan and Bulger sometime in 1979. Flemmi was debriefed and interviewed several times from Sept 16, 2003 thru October 2004. He was interviewed by Mass State Police detective Lt Stephen Johnson, and DEA agent Dan Doherty.

 

Flemmi 10/29/02, DEA-6, Pg. 74, Par 160:

 

Flemmi also noted that he and Bulger were going to meet directly with 0′ Sullivan to discuss the situation, but that this gathering was cancelled for some unknown reason. FLEMMI SAID THAT BULGER ACTUALLY MET (STRIKE FORCE ATTORNEY) 0’SULLIVAN AT A LATER DATE IN A HOTEL, AND ALTHOUGH HE (FLEMMI) WAS SUPPOSED TO GO HE DID NOT.

 

SHORTLY BEFORE INDICTMENTS WERE ISSUED ON THE CASE, BULGER WAS TOLD BY CONNOLLY THAT HE (BULGER) AND FLEMMI WOULD NOT BE PROSECUTED. FLEMMI NOTED THAT AT A LATER DATE S/A CONNOLLY DIRECTLY CONFIRMED TO HIM (FLEMMI), ALL OF THE ABOVE INFORMATION THAT HE HAD RECEIVED FROM BULGER, REGARDING THE RACE FIX INVESTIGATION. FLEMMI ALSO TOLD CONNOLLY TO THANK O’SULLIVAN FOR O’SULLIVAN’S INTERCESSION. FLEMMI ADDED THAT THERE IS NO QUESTION IN HIS MIND THAT THE SOLE REASON, THEY (BULGER AND FLEMMI) WERE NOT INDICTED AND CONVICTED ON THE RACE FIX CASE, WAS BECAUSE OF THEIR INFORMANT STATUS.

 


 

 Flemmi, consistently, throughout ALL of his interviews and testimony, MAINTAINS THAT HE AND BULGER WERE AUTHORIZED TO ENGAGE IN NON-VIOLENT GAMBLING AND LOAN SHARKING AS COVER FOR THEIR INFORMANT ACTIVITIES ON BEHALF OF THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT!

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Update on Bulger Trial – Prosecution Rests

ImageBy Sharon Branco

After 30 days of testimony and 62 witnesses, Assistant United States Attorney, Brian Kelly finally said, “at this time, the United States rests its case against Mr. Bulger.”    Bulger’s defense attorneys will present his defense beginning on Monday.   There are 15 witnesses Bulger’s defense plans on calling, 7 on Monday and 8 on Tuesday.    Will notorious Irish gangster Whitey Bulger take the stand in his own defense?   Defense attorney J.W. Carney stated to the court, the decision will be made sometime Monday.

The prosecution ended its case against Mr. Bulger with details of his capture in June 2011.  FBI agent, Scott Garriolla from the FBI’s Los Angeles Fugitive Task Force office explained to the jury how Bulger was tricked into a peaceful surrender.   Garriolla stated Bulger was cooperative showing the agents that came to arrest him all his guns, knives, fake ID’s, and hide outs in the apartment he shared with longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig.

Garriolla asked Bulger if he intended to use the guns for a shootout with cops.  Bulger stated no because he was concerned a stray bullet may hit someone.  Bulger asked for future consideration and leniency for his girlfriend in exchange for  his cooperation that day.    Bulger’s defense pointed out that the FBI office was only 3 miles from Bulger’s apartment!

Quid Pro Quo

Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi was Bulger’s criminal partner for 20 years.  He was also a FBI informant like Bulger.   He pled guilty in 2003 to 10 murders. He’s been in jail for 17 years.

Flemmi stated that he was an FBI informant and so was Bulger.  Flemmi testified that his relationship with the FBI was  “quid pro quo.”   Bulger’s defense attorney said isn’t that Latin for “rat?”   Flemmi answered back, “I don’t like that word, and Mr. Bulger doesn’t like it either.”  Bulger  looked up at that comment.

Defense was able to bring out of Flemmi that he lied in prior testimony before the grand jury and that while he was sitting in jail it crossed his mind that the government was looking for him to give up FBI agents.  Defense read off a list of FBI agents, then prosecutors objected.    Flemmi admitted he lied about John Connolly in the past about giving them (Flemmi and Bulger) information that led to murders. But Flemmi insisted he was not lying now.  FLemmi said Connolly gave us information and we acted on it.  The fact is Flemmi has given varying testimony in the past.  Why should the jurors believe him now.  Defense brought out that Flemmi had every incentive to lie.  He was spared the death penalty in OK and FL.  He was moved to better living conditions in prison.   Flemmi admitted he had a sexual relationship with his step-daughter.   Regarding the murders of two females, Debra Hussey and Debra David, Flemmi stated Bulger told Flemmi they both had to go, Bulger’s defense attorney said Flemmi killed Debra Hussey to prevent avalanche of sexually predator behavior from being revealed.

Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi were not the first FBI informants that killed and they will not be the last.

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Irish Gang Wars: Quick Backgroud

I order to add some context to the Whitey Bulger case we are following we felt a short history lesson in its roots and that of organized crime in New England would be helpful.

The Irish Gang Wars

ImageBy Sharon Branco

The Irish gangs and the New England Mafia co-existed in the early 60’s but the peace between the Irish gangs wouldn’t last

Charlestown, Massachusetts 1961.  Charlestown is a historic town, one of the oldest Boston neighborhoods located north of Boston on the banks of the Boston Harbor and Mystic River.   The USS Constitution, a.m. “Old Ironsides,” is docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard and the Bunker Hill Monument is to the north.  On Halloween afternoon in 1961, the residents of Charlestown would be witnesses to a new historic happening, but this incident left no landmark to visit, it was the beginning of the Irish gang wars.

It was two o’clock on Halloween afternoon when Bernie McLaughlin of the McLaughlin Brothers gang walked towards Richards Bottled Liquors.  Casually observing the flurry of activity in the vicinity of a local utility street opening.  With the distraction caused by jackhammers and backhoes, he failed to notice a man with a yellow hard-hat emerging out of the other end of the gaping hole in the street.

Bernie was caught off guard, the man wearing  the hard-hat was Buddy McLean, from the McLean gang.   Buddy turned sharply and headed purposefully for Bernie.  Bernie desperately yelled, “Buddy, wait….hold it….we didn’t know….we woulda never…” 

Buddy didn’t want to hear no explanation.

“Tell it to the devil,” McLean yelled back as he pumped a slug from his .45 automatic weapon into Bernie’s eye socket and cheekbone.   He back-peddled along a sidewalk and fell to the ground from the impact.  McLean pumped more slugs into McLaughlin until he no longer moved.  A car pulled up and McLean jumped in and sped away.

Blood leaked from McLaughlin’s body  onto the sidewalk and into a nearby gutter.  The Boston police would estimate that close to sixty people witnessed the execution, but true to the Charlestown code of silence, nobody saw a thing.

The McLean gang  – They were from the Winter Hill section of Somerville, Massachusetts.  Headed by James “Buddy” McLean and Howard “Howie” Winter.  They were primarily hijackers, took part in the sale of untaxed cigarettes, loansharking and bookmaking.  They did not handle contract hits for the Mafia that was the McLaughlin domain.

The McLaughlin gang – Charlestown, Massachusetts.  George McLaughlin, Bernard “Bernie” McLaughlin, and Edward “Punchy” McLaughlin.  They ran most of the gambling at nearby Charlestown and much of the Boston waterfront.  They were also handling contract “hits” for the Mafia.

The McLaughlin’s were the Mafia’s useful, lethal idiots.  Local Irish hoodlums  didn’t trust the McLaughlins or the Mafia, but they would never admit it.  The term “hits” was actually coined in the Boston underworld of the 1950’s to describe the number of “contract” murders the McLaughlins carried out.

The Irish gang wars were a fairly welcomed war to the New England Mafia.  The New England Mafia was headed by Mafia Boss Raymond Patriarca who ran his business from his office on Atwells Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island.  His underboss was Jerry Anguilo located in Boston.   The New England Mafia controlled 70% of the organized criminal activity in New England during this period including the bulk of the gambling and loansharking but it wasn’t 100%.

Patriarca, along with Anguilo and Mafia capo Peter “Big Peter” Limone agreed that their strategy in the Irish gang wars would be: support both sides in the gang wars with guns, money and conversation.  The undisciplined, and super-violent Irish gangs would do the work for them.  When they killed each off, the Mafia would step in and take over.

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