25
November , 2017
Saturday

  Celebration to Recognize Great Achievements of African Americans   CHICAGO, IL – Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs ...
Nationwide (BlackNews.com) - Women-owned businesses are growing like crazy. They have grown faster ...
Celebrating their 50th Anniversary this October 9-23, the Chicago International Film Festival will ...
By Attorney Robert Clifford Senior Partner, Clifford Law Offices We don’t absolutely know who shot down ...
Brotherhood Chorale returns January 19 The Music Institute of Chicago honors the extraordinary legacy ...
President Barack Obama's statement: The Senate’s failure to confirm Debo Adegbile to ...
CHICAGO, IL - Twenty-five years in jail could have been the penalty for ...
By Marc Morial President & CEO, National Urban League As we celebrate the contributions of Black ...
Nationwide (BlackNews.com) -- The 2014 NBA Summer Internship Program is a hands-on opportunity ...
CHAMPAIGN, IL – Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today will urge stakeholders, lawmakers and the ...

Archive for the ‘Legal Matters’ Category

Disenfranchisement News: New Alabama Law Allows More People With Felony Convictions to Vote…and More News

Posted by Admin On June - 8 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

From: Marc Mauer, The Sentencing Project

Alabama

New law allows more people with felony convictions to vote

Governor Kay Ivey recently signed the Definition of Moral Turpitude Act, which could restore voting rights to thousands of Alabamians with felony records. Previously, Alabama law stripped people of their right to vote if they committed a “felony involving moral turpitude,” but the state never provided a definitive list of such felonies. Thus, the decision of who was allowed to vote varied from county to county and was essentially left up to the local registrars. The new law establishes a list of less than 50 crimes of moral turpitude and notably excludes low-level drug offenses like possession—the most common felony conviction in the state.

According to the New York Times Editorial Board, this law is a step in the right direction but still far from ideal. There is no plan for informing previously ineligible voters that they may now be able to vote. And more importantly, “there’s neither sound logic nor evidence to support the disenfranchisement of anyone with a criminal conviction. To the contrary, evidence suggests that keeping prisoners connected to their civic responsibilities makes it easier for them to rejoin society,” writes the Editorial Board.

Nebraska

Legislature fails to override governor’s veto of voting rights bill

The Legislature failed to override Governor Pete Ricketts’ veto of a bill that would have restored voting rights to people with felony convictions as soon as they have completed their prison, probation or parole sentence.  The current law, which was adopted in 2005, reduced the state’s indefinite ban on post-sentence voting to a two-year waiting period. The Legislature fell short of the 30 votes needed to override the governor’s veto with a 23-23 vote.

Gov. Ricketts said he vetoed the bill because it was unconstitutional, arguing that the Constitution must first be amended before voting rights can be restored. “While the legislature may restore certain privileges, such as driving privileges, to convicted felons, the legislature may not circumvent the Nebraska Constitution to automatically restore a voting right in state law.”

“I am shocked that in 2017 we are still fighting for basic fundamental rights such as voting,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha, after the governor’s veto. “I cannot accept that this overtly political action could succeed in suppressing the voices of many who have made a mistake, want to return to their homes and contribute to their communities by getting jobs and paying taxes.”

Florida

Samantha Bee takes on Florida’s harsh felony disenfranchisement laws

Comedian Samantha Bee criticized Florida’s lifetime ban on voting for people with felony convictions and the state’s overly complicated process to restore voting rights on her TBS show, Full Frontal. Bee sat down with Desmond Meade and Neil Volz (a Republican) of Floridians for a Fair Democracy, a group that is collecting 700,000 signatures to put a voting rights referendum on the 2018 ballot. The ballot measure would automatically restore voting rights to most individuals upon completion of their prison, probation or parole sentence. Meade and Volz emphasized that this is not a political issue and the state’s harsh laws impact individuals across the political spectrum. While the original version of the law was created in the 19th century to target African Americans and does disproportionately impact black people, it also affects over a million non-black residents.

You can watch the segments using the links below:

https://youtu.be/TODP7c9BwXw

National

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights holds hearing on collateral consequences

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently held a hearing to address the significant hurdles people with felony convictions face when they reenter society. The hearing explored a range of issues including: long-lasting effects of incarceration, recidivism, and racial disparities; barriers to voting and jury participation; and barriers to public housing, employment, public benefits and other basic needs after incarceration.

In his testimony, Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project’s described the troubling impact felony disenfranchisement policies have on individuals with felony convictions and our democracy as a whole. “Felony disenfranchisement policies run counter to public safety objectives by creating a group of second-class citizens,” said Mauer. “In order for people to successfully transition home from prison they need to establish or renew connections with the world of work, family, peer groups, and the broader community. Participation in the electoral process is one means by which citizens can affirm their connection to the broader community and play a constructive role in public policy debates.”

At Issue: Defining How Police Use Force

Posted by Admin On May - 31 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
Vol. 2, Issue 43: Chicago’s Criminal Justice Playbook
Invisible Institute: The View From The Ground

By Curtis Black

 

A new use-of-force policy announced by Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson last week – after months of public comment on two previous drafts ­– removed a requirement that officers use the least amount of force necessary that was in the original version. Officers are now mandated to use force that is reasonable, necessary, and proportionate.

The new policy was welcomed by Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, chair of the mayor’s Police Accountability Task Force, and by Independent Police Review Authority administrator Sharon Fairley. Appearing at a press conference with Johnson, community activist William Calloway called the new policy “a big win.”

Craig Futterman of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic at the University of Chicago said the rules were “watered down” and represented “a significant retreat” from the original draft. The original proposal was issued while the Chicago Police Department was under federal investigation – and before a new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, indicated the Justice Department is not likely to pursue a consent decree.

The new policy shows that CPD “is incapable of reform by itself,” and underscores the need for court supervision, Futterman said.

The new policy falls short of goals stated in a reform plan issued by CPD in March, Futterman has argued. That document stated that use-of-force policies would make clear that an officer may resort to physical force only when no effective alternative appears to exist, and must restrict the amount of force to that which is necessary; in addition, it said, new policies would require officers to “de-escalate situations as soon as practicable.”

The new policy advises officers to use de-escalation tactics “when safe and feasible”­ – language that’s been criticized as “too vague” when adopted elsewhere, according to the New York Times. In Cleveland, where police are operating under a federal consent decree, a proposed force policy would “require, rather than suggest, de-escalation efforts,” the Times reported.

A “key change” in the new policy restricts officers from shooting at fleeing persons unless they pose an immediate threat, the Chicago Tribune reported. Last year the Tribune reported that foot chases were involved in more than a third of police shootings from 2010 to 2015.

Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham said the department does not need new force policies, adding that “people do not have the right to resist arrest.”

Language in the final policy has been criticized by civil rights and government watchdog groups in the Police Accountability Collaborative, which previously called on CPD to “clarify that de-escalation is an integral part of effective policing tactics,” strengthen the requirement that officers give medical aid to wounded suspects, and reinstate a broader duty for officers to intervene when they witness unreasonable force.

The new policy will be implemented in the fall, after all CPD officers have undergone a four-hour training session, the Tribune reported.

Guevara rejects immunity offer

Former Det. Reynaldo Guevara has refused an offer of immunity by state and federal prosecutors, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, and prosecutors want a judge to compel Guevara to testify in a hearing for two men who say their murder confessions were coerced by the detective.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said it “remains confident that [Gabriel] Solache and [Arturo] Reyes were not wrongfully convicted,” according to a court filing.

Guevera has been named in over a dozen wrongful conviction lawsuits, and the convictions of several men whom he investigated have been overturned.

Cook County settles lawsuit over probation officer raids

Cook County is paying $110,000 to settle two federal civil rights lawsuits charging its probation officers teamed up with Chicago police and the FBI to conduct illegal searches, the Chicago Tribune reports. Chicago police officers and an FBI agent remain defendants in the lawsuit.

In a related development last week, Chief Judge Timothy Evans fired Deputy Chief Probation Officer Phillip Loizon. Evans acted three years after a Tribune investigation found that probation officers under Loizon’s command had allegedly planted drugs, stolen money, and worked with other agencies to conduct warrantless searches.

Another call for Daley to testify in Burge case

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s testimony is needed to clear up conflicting accounts of how he handled torture allegations while he was State’s Attorney, according to a filing in a wrongful conviction lawsuit. The lawsuit is by Stanley Wrice, whose murder conviction was overturned in 2013 when a judge ruled that detectives under former Cmdr. Jon Burge beat a confession out of him.

In two previous Burge-related cases, the city settled lawsuits after Daley was ordered to give depositions but before he testified. Daley is also currently a defendant in a lawsuit by Alonzo Smith, whose murder conviction was vacated in 2015 based on evidence that he was tortured by Burge associates. Daley’s deposition in that case was scheduled for January but was postponed after his attorney raised concerns about an unspecified medical condition.

In the Chicago Reader ten years ago, John Conroy reviewed Daley’s responses to questions from a special prosecutor and listed 20 questions he’d like Daley to answer.

Judge, lawyers tussle in murder case retrial

Cook County Judge Diane Canon will continue to preside over the retrial of Malvin Washington, despite repeated efforts by defense attorneys, who say Canon is biased against their client, to have a new judge named.

Washington’s 2004 conviction was overturned by an appellate court which ruled Canon’s instructions to the jury in that trial were inadequate.

Washington’s attorneys have said Canon has called them names and characterized a key defense witness as a fraud. The matter “came to a bizarre head” last week, according to the Chicago Tribune, in what the Chicago Sun-Times called a “rambling lecture” in which Cannon accused defense attorneys of wishing her dead and urged Washington to get different attorneys. He declined her suggestion.

In 2015, Canon acquitted then-Cmdr. Glenn Evans of shoving his gun down a suspect’s throat, despite the alleged victim’s DNA being found on the gun’s barrel. Canon dismissed the victim’s testimony as lacking credibility.

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Madigan & 14 Attorneys General Urge Department of Justice to Rescind Harsh New Sentencing Guidelines

Posted by Admin On May - 22 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

 

Coalition Calls on Attorney General Sessions to Reverse Sentencing Guidance

 

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined with 14 of her counterparts from around the country to call on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind harsh new instructions for Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors to seek long sentences for offenders. The attorneys general urged Sessions to adopt data-driven approaches to criminal justice policy that are better for public safety, more fiscally sound, and more just than mandatory minimum sentences for low-level offenders.

 

In a letter sent to Sessions, Madigan and the attorneys general write that “there is a strong and bipartisan national consensus that the harsh sentencing practices reflected in the new DOJ policy announced last week do not increase public safety, and that consensus is supported by strong data.”

 

Additionally, they say that “the new DOJ policy runs contrary not only to this consensus, but also to basic principles of equal justice and sound fiscal policy.”

 

“Pursuing the toughest criminal penalties against defendants is an outdated approach that has not lowered recidivism rates or reduced crime,” Attorney General Madigan said. “We need the Justice Department to be at the forefront of implementing proven policies to reform our criminal justice system in ways that lower prison populations and make our communities safer.”

 

Joining Madigan in sending today’s letter were attorneys general from: California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

 

A copy of the letter can be found here.

 

Up to $10 Million Reward Offered for Information on the Leader of the al Nusrah Front

Posted by Admin On May - 10 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

The FBI is seeking information on the leadership of the al Nusrah Front (ANF), a foreign terrorist organization, to include information on Muhammad al-Jawlani. Today, the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program announced a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of Muhammad al-Jawlani.

In 2011 al-Jawlani, also known as Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, and Abu Muhammad al-Golani, established ANF. In 2013, al-Jawlani, as a leader of ANF, pledged the organization’s allegiance to al Qaeda and its leadership. In 2016, al-Jawlani claimed that the ANF was changing its name to Jabhat Fath Al Sham, or “Conquest of the Levant Front,” which has also been known as Jabhat al-Nusrah, Jabhet al-Nusra, The Victory Front, and al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant.

The U.S. State Department designated ANF as a foreign terrorist organization under the Immigration and Nationality Act and a specially designated global terrorist entity. In May 2013, al-Jawlani was named a specially designated global terrorist, by the U.S. State Department, blocking all his property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons from dealing with him.

The FBI is seeking information on the leadership of the al Nusrah Front (ANF), a foreign terrorist organization, to include information on Muhammad al-Jawlani.

Al Jawlani in a 2016 interview

On July 24, 2013, the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al Qaeda Sanctions Committee placed al-Jawlani on its list of sanctioned terrorists, making him subject to an international asset freeze, travel ban, and arms embargo.

Individuals with information regarding ANF leadership, to include al-Jawlani, are asked to contact the FBI or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate. Individuals also may submit a tip on the FBI’s website by visiting tips.fbi.gov or on the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice website at rewardsforjustice.net. Tips can remain confidential.

Source: FBI

Rounding up Foreign Lottery Scammers

Posted by Admin On May - 10 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

In the past, we’ve told you about a group of Jamaican scammers who called people in the US with phony prize, sweepstakes and lottery offers. Just last week, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that eight Jamaicans were extradited to the US and now are in custody in North Dakota. These eight people were charged with using a lottery scam to trick at least 90 people out of more than $5.7 million dollars.

This case is part of a law enforcement operation that has taken years of work by the FBI’s Bismarck office, the US Postal Inspection Service, the US Attorney’s Office, DOJ, and the government of Jamaica – which arrested this group last year. Here at the FTC, we want to make sure you know how to spot these scams – and tell us when you spot them.

Why do foreign lottery scams work? Because these scammers play on our hopes for good fortune. After all, who doesn’t want to win the lottery? But, if you get a call or letter offering a chance to play – or saying you’ve already won a foreign lottery, know this:

  • Playing a foreign lottery is illegal. Both by phone and by mail.
  • Never pay for a prize. And never wire money (or give the numbers from a prepaid card or gift card) to anyone who asks you to. These are sure signs of lottery scams.
  • Buying even one foreign lottery ticket means your name gets added to lists that scammy telemarketers buy and sell to each other. You’ll get lots more calls and letters with scam offers.

If you get mail that looks like a foreign lottery, give it to your local postmaster. And remember: you can help the FTC fight these scammers by telling us when you spot a foreign lottery offer.

Former Rutherford County Sheriff Sentenced On Federal Corruption Charges

Posted by Admin On May - 9 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Former Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold, 41, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., was sentenced today to 50 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, after pleading guilty earlier this year to fraud and corruption charges, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith of the Middle District of Tennessee and Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

 

Arnold was indicted in May 2016 and in January 2017, he pleaded guilty to wire fraud, honest services fraud and extortion under color of official right. These charges resulted from an investigation into his role in the formation and operation of the electronic cigarette company, JailCigs, LLC. In his plea, Arnold admitted to using his official position as Sheriff of Rutherford County to benefit JailCigs by allowing the company’s electronic cigarettes to come into the Rutherford County jail as non-contraband and be distributed by county employees; taking steps to disguise his involvement in the company; and misrepresenting the benefits that Rutherford County was supposedly receiving from JailCigs. Additionally, Arnold admitted that he personally received over $66,000 from the company, and that he lied about his income from, and knowledge of, JailCigs when he was confronted by local media in April 2015.

 

In addition to his prison sentence, Senior U.S. District Judge Marvin E. Aspen of the Northern District of Illinois (sitting by designation in the Middle District of Tennessee) ordered Arnold to pay $52,500 in restitution to Rutherford County and to forfeit $66,790, an amount equal to the commission payments he received from sales at the Rutherford County jail, plus the additional payments Arnold obtained that should have been paid to the county general fund. Judge Aspen also ordered Arnold to serve a three-year term of supervised release following his prison sentence.

 

Co-defendants, former Chief Administrative Deputy Joe L. Russell II, of Rutherford County, Tennessee, and John Vanderveer, of Marietta, Georgia, pleaded guilty on Jan. 20 and Jan. 30, respectively. Vanderveer is set to be sentenced on September 6, 2017 and Russell is set to be sentenced on September 8, 2017.

 

 

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cecil W. VanDevender, of the Middle District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Mark J. Cipolletti of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case was investigated by special agents from the FBI and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Source: FBI

Massive Strike Against Violent Street Gangs in San Diego County Results in Federal Charges Against 140-plus Gang Members and Associates in Less Than Three Months

Posted by Admin On May - 9 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
Sixteen members and associates of Escondido-based Diablos street gang are charged with firearms and methamphetamine trafficking in most recent case

SAN DIEGO, CA – A crackdown on violent street gangs in San Diego County over the last 75 days has resulted in federal charges against more than 140 gang members and associates, many of whom are accused of terrorizing neighborhoods with shootings, robberies and other violent crimes.

 

More than 60 firearms and 30 pounds of methamphetamine, plus cash and other illicit drugs were seized by law enforcement during the course of four long-term gang investigations that culminated this spring with various indictments charging crimes such as racketeering, money laundering and gun, drug or sex trafficking.

 

“This is an unusually large number of gang members arrested in a very short period of time,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson. “The sheer number of arrests illustrates that gangs are a significant problem in this county. But it also underscores our enormous commitment to use every tool we have to attack this problem and restore communities to families who should not have to live in fear in their own homes.”

 

The most recent charges, unsealed this week in federal court, involve the prosecution of 16 members and associates of the Escondido-based Diablos street gang. The defendants are facing various drug trafficking offenses.

 

According to court records, in the last year the Diablos gang has been responsible for more than 25 gang-related shootings, multiple attempted murders, dozens of armed robberies, multiple instances of witness intimidation and the widespread distribution of narcotics and firearms in North San Diego County.

 

This investigation helped to identify and locate Dionicio Torrez, a Diablos gang member, as the suspected shooter of Cathy Kennedy, who was fatally wounded by gang gunfire March 7 as she drove home from church in Escondido.

 

The case involved a total of 13 wiretaps, the interception of over 20,000 telephone calls and text messages and the seizure of approximately 13 pounds of high-quality methamphetamine and 10 rifles and handguns, including 4 AR-15 type rifles, an AK-47 rifle, an SKS rifle and 2 handguns, one of which had an obliterated serial number.

 

The Diablos Enterprise claims control of the eastern and north central areas of Escondido. The approximate boundaries of the territory they claim is Lincoln Avenue to the north, Grand Avenue to the south, Midway Drive to the to the east and Escondido Boulevard to the west. There are approximately 311 documented members of the Diablos Enterprise and an additional 400 individuals who are “associates” of the Diablos Enterprise.

 

The four proactive gang cases involved months of federal wiretaps, extensive surveillance and scores of undercover drug and gun buys. Defendants were charged with crimes ranging from money laundering and racketeering to heroin, methamphetamine, firearms and sex trafficking.

 

“When members of criminal street gangs are arrested during joint operations, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office reviews their criminal histories and coordinates with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine where a defendant would be most appropriately prosecuted,” said Chief Deputy DA Summer Stephan, who oversees the DA’s Gangs Division. “In essence, we collaborate to get the most effective bang for our prosecutorial buck and make sure justice is served, whether that happens on the state or federal side.”

 

Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum stated, “Dismantling violent gangs is a continuing priority for the FBI. We share an unwavering commitment with our law enforcement partners to address the dangerous threat facing our communities today. The impact of our recent gang cases clearly demonstrates our focus and determination to strike at gang related enterprises and to eliminate the terror these groups inflict on our neighborhoods.”

 

“Our communities are safer because of ATF’s expanded efforts to target and dismantle criminal gangs and organized criminal enterprises that use firearms and violent acts to further their illegal gains,” said ATF Los Angeles Field Division Special Agent in Charge Eric Harden. “ATF and its partners are dedicated to carrying out our mission by ridding our communities of these gang members and associates who shatter families and destroy lives.”

 

“Our agency plays a unique role in federal law enforcement’s resolve to dismantle the criminal gang enterprises terrorizing our streets. Our agents target the profit and financial gains of these organizations, following the money in an effort to disrupt these organizations and restore order to our communities,” stated Special Agent in Charge R. Damon Rowe for IRS Criminal Investigation. “We are proud to provide this financial expertise as we work alongside our law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice.”

 

The success of these cases is due to the collaborative effort of our federal, state and local partners working in task forces in order to leverage resources provided by the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), which are federal anti-drug programs. The OCDETF program was created to consolidate and coordinate all law enforcement resources in this country’s battle against gangs, major drug trafficking rings, drug kingpins and money launderers.

Source: FBI

Smith County Husband and Wife Sentenced in Health Care Fraud Conspiracy

Posted by Admin On May - 8 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

TYLER, Texas – A Smith County couple has been sentenced for health care fraud violations in the Eastern District of Texas announced Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston.

 

Gerard Dengler, 61, and Suzanne Dengler 52, of Tyler, Texas, pleaded guilty on Jan. 10, 2017, to conspiring to commit health care fraudand were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield. Gerard Dengler was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison. Suzanne Dengler received a sentence of five years of probation. The Denglers were also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $161,695, which represented the loss to Medicare.

 

According to information presented in court, the Denglers owned and operated Elite Lab Services, a clinical diagnostic laboratory based in Tyler. As a Medicare provider, the company would bill Medicare for laboratory services provided to nursing homes located throughout east Texas, including the mileage associated with providing those services. Beginning in April 2014, Gerard and Suzanne Dengler conspired to fraudulently increase route mileage that Elite Lab used to calculate the travel allowances billed to Medicare. From April through October 2014, the company then sought reimbursement from Medicare for mileage that included the falsely inflated amounts.

 

Under federal statutes, the Denglers each face up to 10 years in federal prison at sentencing and have already agreed to pay restitution in excess of $160,000, which represents the loss to Medicare. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

 

The criminal investigation arose from a civil qui tam action filed by former Elite Lab employee Karen Malcolm. In her complaint, Malcolm alleged, among other things, that Elite Lab and the Denglers submitted false claims to Medicare from approximately 2010 through 2014. The United States intervened in the action for purposes of settlement. The Denglers and Elite Lab agreed to pay the United States $3.75 million to settle the lawsuit. As a result of the settlement, Elite Lab will be excluded from participating in Medicare for eight years; Gerard Dengler will be excluded for 10 years; and Suzanne Dengler will be excluded for eight years. The settlement also resolved a separate civil lawsuit in which the United States sought to forfeit funds and property obtained by the Denglers and Elite Lab through their fraudulent conduct.

 

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General, the Texas Office of the Attorney General – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas. The criminal case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank Coan and Nathaniel Kummerfeld and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken McGurk. The civil settlement was negotiated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Russ. The civil forfeiture action was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Wells.

 

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), the Texas Office of the Attorney General – Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (OAG-MFCU), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth C. McGurk and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld.

Source: FBI

‘Playpen’ Creator Sentenced to 30 Years

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

Dark Web ‘Hidden Service’ Case Spawned Hundreds of Child Porn Investigations

The creator and lead administrator of what was believed to be the world’s largest child pornography website—with more than 150,000 users around the world—was sentenced this week to 30 years in prison.

Steven W. Chase, 58, of Naples, Florida, created a website called Playpen in August 2014 on the Tor network, an open network on the Internet where users can communicate anonymously through “hidden service” websites—where criminal activity is not uncommon. Chase ran the Playpen website, where members uploaded and viewed tens of thousands of postings of young victims, indexed by age, sex, and the type of sexual activity involved.

The case—and the thousands of follow-up investigations it has launched—is unprecedented in its scope and reach, FBI officials said. It represents the Bureau’s most successful effort to date against users of Tor’s hidden service sites. And it has opened new avenues for international cooperation in efforts to prosecute child abusers around the world.

“We were only able to pull it off with a lot of support from our international partners and field offices,” said Special Agent Dan Alfin, who investigated the case as part of the Bureau’s Violent Crimes Against Children section.

The case opened shortly after Steven Chase launched Playpen in the summer of 2014. The FBI, which has numerous investigations involving the dark web, quickly became aware of the site, but “given the nature of how Tor hidden services work, there was not much we could do about it,” Alfin recalled.

That is, until December 2014, when Chase slipped up and revealed Playpen’s unique IP address—a location in the U.S. The gaffe was noticed by a foreign law enforcement agency, which notified the FBI.

“From that point we took normal investigative steps—seized a copy of the website, served search warrants for e-mail accounts, followed the money—and everything led back to Steven Chase,” said Alfin. Chase was sentenced Monday in North Carolina in connection with engaging in a child exploitation enterprise and multiple child pornography charges. His sentencing follows those of two co-defendants who were also administrators on the website—Michael Fluckiger, 46, of Indiana, and David Browning, 47, of Kentucky—who were each given 20-year prison terms earlier this year.

Arresting Playpen’s administrators, however, was only the beginning. In January 2015, the FBI, in partnership with the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, launched Operation Pacifier—an effort to go after Playpen’s thousands of members. Using a court-approved network investigative technique, agents uncovered IP addresses and other information that helped locate and identify users. Investigators sent more than 1,000 leads to FBI field offices around the country and thousands more to overseas partners, Alfin said.

Arrests and other enforcement actions have occurred in countries far and near. Europol, the European Union’s agency for law enforcement cooperation​, reported arrests, along with Israel, Turkey, Peru, Malaysia, Chile, and the Ukraine. International agencies critical to the investigation included CNCPO Polizia Postale e Comunicazioni of Italian State Police​, the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency, and New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs.

Even some countries where law enforcement cooperation has been historically limited were, in this case, especially helpful in pursuing the FBI’s leads on former users and contributors to Chase’s Playpen site.

“Members of his enterprise who were raping children, who were producing child pornography all around the world—those cases continue to be indicted and prosecuted,” Alfin said.

In addition to taking down the website, the ongoing investigation, as of May 4, 2017, has produced the following results:

  • At least 350 U.S.-based individuals arrested
  • 25 producers of child pornography prosecuted
  • 51 hands-on abusers prosecuted
  • 55 American children successfully identified or rescued
  • 548 international arrests, with 296 sexually abused children identified or rescued.

The Playpen site has been down for more than two years. But similar sites continue to operate and proliferate on the dark web.

“It’s ongoing and we continue to address the threat to the best of our abilities,” said Alfin. “It’s the same with any criminal violation: As they get smarter, we adapt, we find them. It’s a cat-and-mouse game, except it’s not a game. Kids are being abused, and it’s our job to stop that.”

Source: FBI

New Report Finds Record Number of People Serving Life in U.S. Prisons

Posted by Admin On May - 5 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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