In 2007, the California attorney general filed a lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges, Everestâ€™s parent company. Californiaâ€™s complaint against Everest and Corinthian included a litany of allegations: falsified job placement statistics, aggressive and unethical sales practices, and a pattern of jobless graduates carrying mountains of debt.
But that case never went to trial: The lawsuit was immediately settled with no admission of wrongdoing on Corinthianâ€™s part. The company paid a $500,000 civil penalty and $4.3 million in restitution to students at campuses that had notched the worst violations. As of this year, according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on background, $3.4 million of that money has been paid out to 6,000 eligible students, for a total of approximately $560 each.
Six years later, a new California attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, filed a new lawsuit against Corinthian that was, for the most part, indistinguishable from the first complaint, detailing the same violations, alleging that the company had materially broken every agreement made in the previous settlement. The recent federal lawsuit, and those in Massachusetts and Wisconsin, trace similar lines.
The Department of Education began its own investigation into Corinthian in January, requesting details on everything from the companyâ€™s job placement rates to financial aid practices. In June, it claimed Corinthian was taking too long to respond completely, and temporarily cut off the schoolâ€™s access to the federal financial aid money that made up almost 90% of its revenue. Corinthian was so short on cash that even the 21-day delay sent them into a financial tailspin, threatening bankruptcy; the DOE eventually agreed to release the funds, but only on the condition that Corinthian would sell off or close all of its campuses within six months. The final list included only 12 schools that would be shut down; Corinthian plans to sell the other 85, likely to a private equity firm or a for-profit competitor.
But the lawsuits, investigations, and even the Department of Educationâ€™s forced shutdown are unlikely to result in any real change for the vast majority of Everestâ€™s current and former students. One of the deep ironies of Corinthianâ€™s collapse is that there are, experts say, effectively too many victims for there to be any reasonable way to compensate them, or to actually shut down the dozens of Everest campuses. It would cost the government billions to forgive the outstanding debt of former students, and any attempt to shut down Corinthianâ€™s schools would displace 70,000 current ones.
The lawsuit by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau seeks debt relief for students â€” but only on a tiny fraction of loans, those made directly by Corinthian, not the federal loans that make up the vast majority of studentsâ€™ debt. Lawsuits in California, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts may provide some restitution to former students in those states, but like the 2007 settlement, would do little more than chip away at studentsâ€™ loan tallies.
Corinthian Collegeâ€™s impending demise will likely work against former students, said Pauline Abernathy, the vice president of policy organization The Institute for College Access and Success. â€œThe issue is, if [the government] were to win a lawsuit, where would the money come from to compensate students?â€ Abernathy said.
Itâ€™s all but impossible that any real money will come from Corinthian. Corinthian is so cash-strapped that it has been selling off assets â€” even equipment belonging to its chain of automotive schools â€” just to stay afloat until it finds a buyer for its campuses. It is extremely unlikely, experts agree, that any state would be able to recover a substantial settlement from the company.
â€œThe chances are slimâ€ that former students will ever see any kind of meaningful debt relief, said Maura Dundon, senior policy counsel at the advocacy group Center for Responsible Lending.
In September, at a speech at NYU, Holder defended the lack of prosecutions of top executives on the grounds that, in the corporate context, sometimes bad things just happen without actual people being responsible. “Responsibility remains so diffuse, and top executives so insulated,” Holder said, “that any misconduct could again be considered more a symptom of the institution’s culture than a result of the willful actions of any single individual.”
In other words, people don’t commit crimes, corporate culture commits crimes! It’s probably fortunate that Holder is quitting before he has time to apply the same logic to Mafia or terrorism cases.
Fleischmann, for her part, had begun to find the whole situation almost funny.
“I thought, ‘I swear, Eric Holder is gas-lighting me,’â€‰” she says.
Ask her where the crime was, and Fleischmann will point out exactly how her bosses at JPMorgan Chase committed criminal fraud: It’s right there in the documents; just hand her a highlighter and some Post-it notes â€“ “We lawyers love flags” â€“ and you will not find a more enthusiastic tour guide through a gazillion-page prospectus than Alayne Fleischmann.
She believes the proof is easily there for all the elements of the crime as defined by federal law â€“ the bank made material misrepresentations, it made material omissions, and it did so willfully and with specific intent, consciously ignoring warnings from inside the firm and out.
She’d like to see something done about it, emphasizing that there still is time. The statute of limitations for wire fraud, for instance, has not run out, and she strongly believes there’s a case there, against the bank’s executives. She has no financial interest in any of this, no motive other than wanting the truth out. But more than anything, she wants it to be over.
In today’s America, someone like Fleischmann â€“ an honest person caught for a little while in the wrong place at the wrong time â€“ has to be willing to live through an epic ordeal just to get to the point of being able to open her mouth and tell a truth or two. And when she finally gets there, she still has to risk everything to take that last step. “The assumption they make is that I won’t blow up my life to do it,” Fleischmann says. “But they’re wrong about that.”
Good for her, and great for her that it’s finally out. But the big-picture ending still stings. She hopes otherwise, but the likely final verdict is a Pyrrhic victory.
Because after all this activity, all these court actions, all these penalties (both real and abortive), even after a fair amount of noise in the press, the target companies remain more ascendant than ever. The people who stole all those billions are still in place. And the bank is more untouchable than ever â€“ former Debevoise & Plimpton hotshots Mary Jo White and Andrew Ceresny, who represented Chase for some of this case, have since been named to the two top jobs at the SEC. As for the bank itself, its stock price has gone up since the settlement and flirts weekly with five-year highs. They may lose the odd battle, but the markets clearly believe the banks won the war. Truth is one thing, and if the right people fight hard enough, you might get to hear it from time to time. But justice is different, and still far enough away.
The FBI in Seattle created a fake news story on a bogus Seattle Times web page to plant software in the computer of a suspect in a series of bomb threats to Laceyâ€™s Timberline High School in 2007, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in San Francisco.
The deception was publicized Monday when Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C., revealed it on Twitter.
In an interview, Soghoian called the incident â€œoutrageousâ€ and said the practice could result in â€œsignificant collateral damage to the public trustâ€ if law enforcement begins co-opting the media for its purposes.
The EFF documents reveal that the FBI dummied up a story with an Associated Press byline about the Thurston County bomb threats with an email link â€œin the style of The Seattle Times,â€ including details about subscriber and advertiser information.
The link was sent to the suspectâ€™s MySpace account. When the suspect clicked on the link, the hidden FBI software sent his location and Internet Protocol information to the agents. A juvenile suspect was identified and arrested June 14.
The revelation brought a sharp response from the newspaper.
â€œWe are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the U.S. Attorneyâ€™s Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,â€ said Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best.
â€œNot only does that cross a line, it erases it,â€ she said.
â€œOur reputation and our ability to do our job as a government watchdog are based on trust. Nothing is more fundamental to that trust than our independence â€” from law enforcement, from government, from corporations and from all other special interests,â€ Best said. â€œThe FBIâ€™s actions, taken without our knowledge, traded on our reputation and put it at peril.â€
An AP spokesman also criticized the tactic.
â€œWe are extremely concerned and find it unacceptable that the FBI misappropriated the name of The Associated Press and published a false story attributed to AP,â€ Paul Colford, director of AP media relations. â€œThis ploy violated APâ€™s name and undermined APâ€™s credibility.â€
Before we jump all over the FBI, it happens more than you think and has similar things happened recently in Saskatoon with false news stories planted in the media. Â That and the Seattle Times got itâ€™s outrage wrong. Â You donâ€™t need spyware to get an I.P. address.
The investigator who led the Department of Homeland Securityâ€™s internal review of the Secret Serviceâ€™s 2012 prostitution scandal quietly resigned in August after he was implicated in his own incident involving a prostitute, according to current and former department officials.
Sheriffâ€™s deputies in Broward County, Fla., saw David Nieland, the investigator, entering and leaving a building they had under surveillance as part of a prostitution investigation, according to officials briefed on the investigation. They later interviewed a prostitute who identified Mr. Nieland in a photograph and said he had paid her for sex.
Mr. Nieland resigned after he refused to answer a series of questions from the Department of Homeland Security inspector general about the incident, the officials said.
A spokesman for the Homeland Security Departmentâ€™s inspector general said in a statement that he could confirm only that Mr. Nieland resigned in August. But the spokesman added that department officials â€œbecame aware in early May of this year of an incident in Florida that involved one of our employees.â€
â€œWhile the law prohibits us from commenting on specific cases, we do not tolerate misconduct on the part of our employees and take such allegations very seriously,â€ said the spokesman, William O. Hillburg. â€œWhen we receive information of such misconduct, we will investigate thoroughly, and, during the course of or at the conclusion of such an investigation, we have a range of options available to us, including administrative suspension and termination.â€
In an email message on Tuesday, Mr. Nieland said, â€œThe allegation is not true,â€ and declined to answer any questions.
FRANK BOURASSA IS AN AMUSED, easygoing man of 44 whose standard answer, when you ask him why he beat up such-and-such a person, or got stabbed by so-and-so, or committed this or that felony, is “I don’t know, I guess for fun.” On a website he recently launched, Frank describes himself as an “insane million making Master earner,” though he does not necessarily look like an insane million-making master earner. He is a shortish guy with a nocturnal, indoorsy complexion and a faux-hawk hairdo that sometimes looks fussed over but usually not. He has a big belly that started coming into focus a few years back, during his house arrest for a pot charge. He favors old T-shirts and complicated jeans with lots of pockets and zippers, which, actually, probably did set him back a buck or two. He drives an aging Mitsubishi Eclipse in which I think I counted three different apparatuses for affixing Oakley-style sunglasses to the flip-down visors. You see, an insane master earner who makes his millions by illegitimate means “can’t just drive around in a Ferrari,” Frank explained.
“If I need a luxury car, there are luxury cars I can use, but most of everything I buy, I have to go through somebody else. You have to have discipline, or otherwise you get caught. I’m a silent partner in many things.”
Frank’s self-image may be described as not merely healthy but hyperpituitary. When I asked him where he found the lunatic gumption not only to enter into the risky business of counterfeiting but to do so at the unheard-of scale of hundreds of millions of dollars, Frank replied with a shrug: “I can do anything I want. I can go to the moon. I’m good at figuring out stuff. I could do a heart transplant if I wanted to.”
Are we to take Frank at his word? Should he be allowed by NASA to attempt a lunar landing? Should he perform your father’s triple bypass? I will say only this: Do not discount someone who apparently launched a currency-fraud scheme so cunning that he was able to rook the Secret Service and the Canadian government and then walk away from the whole mess a free and wealthy man.
This is what he did.
WHEN MOST PEOPLE look at a dollar bill, we don’t see a material object; we see magicâ€”a totem embodying luck, labor, destiny, and one’s essential value compared with that of the guy next door. Or if we look at money practically and technically, we see such a profusion of security features as to make the notion of faking one a ludicrous impossibility. But as Frank began delving into the matter, his research bore out a simple but life-altering revelation: Limitless wealth was a craft project. Frank started loitering in counterfeiters’ chat rooms. He paid a few visits to the U.S. Secret Service’s website, which, handily, offers an in-depth illustrated guide to serial numbers, watermarks, plate numbers, and all the other fussy obstacles to the counterfeiter’s art. “It would be difficult, but obviously currency is made by human hands, so it would be physically possible to do,” Frank said. “But I thought, if I’m going to do this, I’ll go big or go home.”
Serious counterfeiters do not spend their money themselves but instead sell in bulk, and the going rate for a good bill, the Internet informed Frank, was 30 percent of face value. He reasoned that if he was going to put himself through the hassle and expense of buying supplies and so on, he should print enough in a single batch to leave himself set for life. He figured something in the $200 million range would suffice. It should be stated plainly that by the standards of most counterfeiters, printing $200-plus million is not going bigâ€”it is going insane. In fact, the hubristic volume of the operation would prove, in ways Frank did not intend, to be a major blessing in later days, when Frank’s fortune would take a turn for the worse.
Drawing on cautionary news reports of failed counterfeiters, Frank sketched out a set of best-practice guidelines for his new concern. First, “don’t ever try to pass the money yourself. You want to be as far away as possible from where the money’s being spent.” Second, “don’t sell your stuff to anyone who’s going to be passing it locally. I knew from the beginning, I needed to sell my bills to Europe or Asia.” Third, resist the temptation to print big bills. “Do twenties. It’s stupid to try to pass hundred-dollar bills anymore. People look at them all day long, hold it up to the light and everything. Nobody looks twice at a twenty.” Fourth, don’t cheap out. Most of the people who try their luck at counterfeiting do so by breathtakingly broke-dick means, with stuff you can buy at Office Depot.
“Can you make bills on a $50 ink-jet? Sure, if you want to get busted right away,” said Frank. “All the security features in a bill are basically there to stop broke fucking-moron assholes who are trying to do their thing on an ink-jet. I knew if I wanted to succeed, my bills had to be as perfect as possible, as close as possible to the way the bills are actually made.”
I canâ€™t wait till the story of the entire counterfeiting ring comes out.
Long before the killing of Michael Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, which have brought with them countless images of heavily armored local authorities pointing guns at and firing tear gas and other nonlethal weapons at unarmed protesters, some were disturbed by what Washington Post journalist Radley Balko calls â€œthe rise of the warrior copâ€ â€” that is, the increasing tendency of some local police forces to rely on military-style gear and tactics, even in situations that appear devoid of any real threat to officersâ€™ safety.
The story of how this happened and the oftentimes tragic results have been well-told by Balko, the American Civil Liberties Union, and others. In short, thereâ€™s been a flood of drug-war and post-9/11 money that has helped outfit police departments, even towns where a single murder is an incredibly rare event, with gear that could help repel seasoned paramilitaries.
Whatâ€™s less clear is how this gear changes the psychological dynamics of policing and crowd control. Is it true, as many people are arguing online, that â€œWhen you have a hammer, everything looks like a nailâ€ â€” that is, that simply having military gear will make police more likely to act in an aggressive manner toward civilians? How does this change the relationship between police and civilians?
At the most specific level, these questions havenâ€™t been studied empirically. But a great deal of social-psychological research, as well as important anecdotal evidence from law-enforcement specialists themselves, suggests that militarized policing can greatly inflame situations that might otherwise end peacefully.
The so-called â€œweapons effectâ€ can partly explain whatâ€™s going on in Ferguson and elsewhere. The mere presence of weapons, in short, appears to prime more aggressive behavior. This has been shown in a variety of experiments in different lab and real-world settings.
â€œTheory underlying the weapons effect or similar kinds of phenomena would suggest that the more you fill the environment with stimuli that are associated with violence, the more likely violence is to occur,â€ said Bruce Bartholow, a University of Missouri social psychologist who has studied the weapons effect. Brad Bushman, a psychologist at Ohio State, agreed. â€œI would expect a bigger effect if you see military weapons than if you see normal weapons,â€ he said.
This isnâ€™t just about a link between visual stimuli like guns and violence, however. It also has to do with the roles people adopt, with how they respond to the presence of others who may â€” or may not â€” mean them harm. To a certain extent, if you dress and treat people like soldiers facing a deadly enemy, theyâ€™ll act like it.
â€œThis process isn’t necessarily good or bad, but depends on the extent to which the more militaristic role fits the situation,â€ said Craig Anderson, a psychologist at Iowa State, in an email. â€œWhen it doesn’t fit well, it is likely to lead to more judgment and behavior errors.â€ Maria Haberfeld, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice who has studied how police departments outfit themselves, said the dynamic could be particularly dangerous in the context of nonviolent protests like Ferguson (there was rioting and looting earlier this week, but there have also been widespread reports of nonviolent protests being broken up by police aggression).
â€œMilitary equipment is used against an enemy,â€ said Haberfeld. â€œSo if you give the same equipment to local police, by default you create an environment in which the public is perceived as an enemy.â€ On the other side of these confrontations, this could have a negative effect on protesters. â€œWe live in a democratic country, and we believe that this is our right to go out and exercise the right to [free speech],â€ she said. â€œAnd when you go out there and exercise that right and suddenly you are faced with soldiers â€” even though these are not soldiers, but police officers looking like soldiers â€” then something is triggered, definitely.â€
Bushman said that meeting nonviolent protests with a militarized response is â€œreally a bad idea. I canâ€™t believe theyâ€™re doing it.â€ â€œItâ€™s just really bad for the officers because they feel more powerful, more invincible, more militaristic, ready to attack,â€ he said. â€œAnd also, I think it elicits a response from the observers that, hey, this is war, and people become defensive and they have a fight/flight response.â€ The adoption of masks themselves in a militarized setting, on the part of police or protesters, can also contribute to violence by triggering senses of anonymity and what psychologists call deindividuation. “There’s all kinds of evidence in social psychology that that will lead people to do things that they wouldn’t do if they could be identified,” said Bartholow.
All this militarization, said Bartholow, can be contrasted â€œagainst the old kind of beat-cop model where people in the neighborhood know the police officersâ€™ name and heâ€™s kind of everybodyâ€™s buddy in a sense.â€
How much of this is applicable in Saskatoon. Â The vision for the future of Toronto Police.
â€œWhat I see is the traditional model, which has outlived its utility and relevance,â€ Mukherjee said of a system that has historically relied on uniformed police officers heavily equipped with hardware, where the bulk of training is in use of force.
â€œThe need out there has changed,â€ he said, adding that 80 per cent of the work police are now called on to do isnâ€™t crime fighting per se. Officers are instead dealing with the safety of young people, domestic violence issues, and people suffering mental health issues.
Mukherjee envisions organizational shifts that could involve hiring youth workers, domestic violence workers and social workers. And that could even include taking guns away from some (or many) police officers.
â€œMy vision of the police organization is it is actually a network of many different services,â€ Mukherjee said. The human rights facilitator is keenly interested in the approach to policing in the United Kingdom, thought to be at the forefront of innovation.
These are not simple changes.
During Thursdayâ€™s interview, Mukherjee noted that two years ago he pushed for zero deaths in police interactions with the mentally ill and was told by top brass it was â€œimpractical.â€ (In a report released last week, retired judge Frank Iacobucci also called for a goal of â€œzero deaths,â€ one of several recommendations Blair said would â€œgather momentumâ€ and not dust.)
This would be a fascinating discussion to have because I see the Saskatoon Police force working in both ways. Â While I am not sure how much value the SWAT assault vehicle they have is, they do have a lot more hardware now than they did before. Â How much does a police force need? Â How much social work should they be doing? Â Interesting questions.
Just watch this. Â It doesnâ€™t matter whether you like sports or not, you just need to watch it. Â The bad news is that this kind of attitude goes beyond football, if you doubt me, read this sickening account of Floyd Mayweather that Deadspin published.
Researchers Ryan Copus and Hannah Laquer found that crime in Chicago â€” violent crime, drug arrests and property crime â€” all took a nosedive when there was a game on TV between 2001 and 2013.
The study, titled “Entertainment as Crime Prevention: Evidence from Chicago Sports Games,” was inspired by retired Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who, during the 2011 NFL lockout issued this challenge: “Do this research. … If we don’t have a season, watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up if you take away our game … [People have] nothing else to do.”
Lewis was mocked by social scientists, police and sports columnists who said there was no data to support the linebacker’s hypothesis that sports games on TV make Americans safer.
But Copus and Laquer, doctoral candidates at the University of California Berkeley Law School, say their research shows Lewis was on to something.
“We think our paper is pretty good evidence that Ray Lewis was right. Lewis claimed that an NFL lockout would lead to higher crime, and we find large decreases in crime during games, and no evidence of short-term increases before or after the game,” Copus said.
The study compared city by-the-minute crime stats during televised NFL, NBA and MLB games and non-game days. (They didn’t include Blackhawks games, but we’ll get to that later.)
“In general, we find substantial declines during games across crime types â€” property, violent, drug and other â€” with the largest reductions for drug crime,” Copus said.
The main reason: both criminals and police love sports to distraction.
“Potential offenders are distracted by the game,” Copus said.
“We don’t think other explanations can account for that. So, for example, the fact that potential victims are inside watching the game could explain why we don’t see as much violent crime, but we don’t think it’s a very good explanation for the reductions in property crime.”
And when it comes to game-time declines in drug arrests, Copus said the research suggests that police are willing to wait until after the game to make arrests.
“Police officers might be more lax on a big game day, but it’s hard to rigorously test the theory,” Copus said. “We do see particularly large reductions in drug crime that we think are probably in part due to police officers taking it a little easy on drug crimes during games.”
The researchers didn’t pick Chicago as its test case due to our city’s reputation for shootings that earned the nickname “Chiraq.”
“We ended up using data from Chicago mostly because [police] make their by-the-minute criminal incident reports publicly available. Most cities don’t,” Copus said. “Plus, Chicago is a city known for caring about its sports teams.”
And the sports team Chicagoans collectively care about the most â€” Da Bears â€” had the biggest positive effect on crime, especially on Monday Night Football, the study found.
When the Bears won Monday night games, total crime citywide dropped 17 percent. That’s second only to the Super Bowl, which posted a 26 percent decrease in total crime, including a 63 percent dip in drug arrests, according to the analysis.
For months, dozens of HarperCollins staff â€” sales, marketing, publicity, and legal â€” have managed to keep a potentially explosive new book almost entirely quiet. The Most Dangerous Animal of All, by Gary L. Stewart, is being published tomorrow but still has no cover art on the publisher’s website. It hasn’t gotten any press. As of 1:30 p.m. today, its Amazon sales rank was #140,113.
The book’s official plot summary is intriguing, but lacks specifics:
An explosive and historic book of true crime and an emotionally powerful and revelatory memoir of a man whose ten-year search for his biological father leads to a chilling discovery: His father is one of the most notorious-and still at large-serial killers in America.
Not mentioned in the summary: Stewart, a vice-president at a cleaning company in Baton Rouge, alleges that his father was the Zodiac Killer, who is believed to have killed at least five people in Northern California, and famously sent letters and cryptograms to Bay Area newspapers. The murders were never solved.
Stewart reached the conclusion that his father was the serial killer after twelve years of research, Tina Andreadis, a publicist at HarperCollins, told me today.
Approximately fifteen months ago, B.G. Dilworth Agency brought a proposal for the book to HarperCollinsâ€™s Michael Signorelli (an editor who has since left for Henry Holt). It was acquired within a week or two, for an amount HarperCollins declined to disclose. â€œIt was a standard acquisition process,â€ another publicist told me, â€œexcept for the NDA.â€ Stewart was paired with writer Susan Mustafa, a veteran of the true crime genre.
The book â€” 367 pages, including the index â€” was vetted by HarperCollins lawyers, including Fabio Bertoni, who is now general counsel at The New Yorker. â€œOur lawyers felt it was legally sound,â€ said Andreadis.
I asked if HarperCollins had reached out to the San Francisco Police Department, which investigated the cases. Andreadis said they had not. According to the book, she said, the department â€œknew more than theyâ€™re willing to admit.â€
The Illuminati-sounding Drinking Water Inspectorate found traces of the drugâ€™s metabolized form, benzoylecgonine, at four inspection sites, peed out by coked-up Brits and not completely removed during water plantsâ€™ â€œintensive purification treatments.â€ The scientists also found trace amounts of caffeine, epilepsy medication, and pain-killer ibuprofen.
Steve Rolles, from the drug policy think tank Transform, told The Sunday Times that the findings were an indication of the scale of the use of the drug in Britain today. â€œWe have the near highest level of cocaine use in western Europe,â€ he said. â€œIt has also been getting cheaper and cheaper at the same time as its use has been going up.â€
According to the charity DrugScope, there are around 180,000 dependent users of crack cocaine in England, and nearly 700,000 people aged 16-59 are estimated to take cocaine every year in Britain.
The tiny town of Latta, S.C., found itself embroiled in scandal last week after Mayor Earl Bullard fired police chief Crystal Moore. Moore alleges that her firing was nothing more than a vindictive display of homophobia by Bullard, who became mayor in December 2013. After loyally serving Latta for more than two decades without incident, the openly gay employee suddenly found herself at odds with a new boss who opposes gay rights. Seven reprimands laterâ€”the only reprimands she had received during her time on the force, all issued on the same dayâ€”Moore was out of a job. This is what can happen when your new boss is anti-gay.
During a secretly recorded phone call, Bullard said that he would rather have a drunkard look after his children than an openly gay individual. (If youâ€™re concerned with Bullardâ€™s privacy, he claimed he would say this to anyone directly.) In perhaps the most damning part of the call, Bullard states, â€œI’m not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it.â€ Other councilmembers have alleged that Bullardâ€™s intention to fire Moore was formed even before he took office.
I hope those who view former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich as the victim of a vengeful mob are paying attention. In South Carolina, we have a police chief who was allegedly terminated for her sexual orientation. Where is the outrage over Mooreâ€™s firing?
Â There are more than 300 of them in New York â€” violent crews of dozens of 12- to 20-year-olds with names such as Very Crispy Gangsters, True Money Gang and Cash Bama Bullies.
Police say these groups, clustered around a particular block or housing project, are responsible for about 40 percent of the cityâ€™s shootings, with most of that violence stemming from the smallest of disses on the street, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
â€œItâ€™s like belonging to an evil fraternity,â€ said Inspector Kevin Catalina, commander of the New York Police Departmentâ€™s gang division. â€œA lot of it is driven by nothing: A dispute over a girl or a wrong look or a perceived slight.â€
The trend of smaller, younger crews has also been seen in Chicago and Northeast cities over the last few years as police have cracked down on bigger, more traditional gangs, experts said. While the Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings still exist, operating such money-making schemes as drug dealing, their members are usually older and understand the timeworn mantra of organized crime: violence is bad for business.
Not so for the crews, whose recklessness prompted former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly in 2012 to launch an initiative to confront the crews dubbed Operation Crew Cut.
Investigators now focus on gathering intelligence about specific crews â€” understanding their activities, allegiances and feuds, which they glean through traditional street policing and trolling of social media sites, cellphone photos and even recorded jailhouse calls.
Police have also stepped up arrests of the most active crew members. In Manhattan, prosecutors set up an internal email alert system that notifies them when crew member are arrested, even on minor charges, and provides beyond-the-rap-sheet details for bail arguments. The prosecutor might mention that the person was a suspect in another crime or had made threats on Facebook, for instance.
In a recent case in Harlem, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. says a 2009 killing kindled years of vendetta attacks, including three killings and 30 shootings. Sixty-three people were rounded up, and at least 62 entered guilty pleas, including crew members so young that one told another to â€œmob upâ€ after school.
â€œThe evidence was very powerful,â€ said Robert Anesi, who represented a 19-year-old who pleaded guilty to attempted murder and conspiracy charges in the case last week. â€œThey had such access to social media and they knew who the players were.â€
NYPD statistics show gang arrests are up citywide nearly 14 percent from 2013 â€” and more than 28 percent from two years ago. Shooting incidents citywide are about the same as they were last year, with 282 recorded so far, and are down by nearly 23 percent from two years ago.
Still, crew-related violence persists despite record dips in overall crime in New York City over the last few years. The most notable recent case came in March when investigators say a 14-year-old member of the Stack Money Goons shot a .357 revolver at a rival member of the Twan Family on a crowded bus in Brooklyn. The bullet instead killed an immigrant father who was working two jobs to support his family.
â€œWhen you ask young adults, â€˜Why? Why did you shoot that young man?â€™ Probably 80 percent of the time the answer is: He disrespected me,â€ said Kai Smith, an ex-con-turned-businessman who runs a gang-diversion program in city high schools.
Morris Bodnar, who has represented Hells Angels in Saskatchewan, said the idea of such a blanket declaration is just “posturing” by the provincial government.
“This has nothing to do with justice; it has to do with politics,” Bodnar said in an interview Friday.
“They don’t have to protect the public from Hells Angels. Hells Angels are very seldom in trouble.”
Bodnar has repeatedly disputed that the Hells Angels are a criminal organization. He said a small number of members may be involved in drug dealing or violence, but they are acting as individuals and are often expelled from the organization if they are caught up in the law.
Why the gang fits the bill as a criminal organization:
- Evidence from numerous Canadian trials shows the Hells Angels are structured to ensure conformity to their rules, prevent infiltration by rivals and police and to maintain an effective criminal network. Courts have found that chapters are not independent entities but instead conform to rules and work collectively to meet the broader objectives.
- Membership in the Hells Angels consists of full patch members, prospective members, hang-arounds, official friends, and associates.
- Full-patch members seek to insulate themselves from police and rivals by using subordinate members and associate gangs to commit crimes and protect gang assets. Membership is an incremental process over years to test a recruit’s loyalty and prevent infiltration by police or rival gang members. Internal Hells Angels records show that photos and information about potential new members are distributed across the country to try to identify unwanted members.
- The colours of the Hells Angels are formed by the term “Hells Angels,” the clubâ€™s death head logo and red and white lettering. These items have been trademarked in numerous countries. Only a full-patch member can wear the Hells Angels logo and vote on club issues and strategies. Courts have noted the “power of the patch” worn by the Hells Angels, since it has been used to intimidate and create fear from the public and gang rivals. As a result, some courts have declared items displaying these identifying colours to be forfeited as offence-related property.
- Clubhouses are the base for each Hells Angels chapter. Courts have found they are generally fortified and equipped with security measures. Courts have ordered Hells Angels clubhouses forfeited as instruments or proceeds of crime in Ontario (Toronto, Thunder Bay and Oshawa), Halifax and Quebec. Several other clubhouses, including one in Winnipeg, have been seized pending criminal property forfeiture applications. Manitoba and Saskatchewan have also used provincial laws to order the removal of fortifications from Hells Angels clubhouses as they are a public safety threat.
- Hells Angels and their associate groups have been found with counter-surveillance equipment designed to detect police listening devices, sensitive justice documents on gang rivals and information about police investigators.
- The Hells Angels use subordinate “puppet” criminal organizations to commit crimes and advance their interests. This also helps to identify potential new members of the Hells Angels. For example, several members of one of the Manitoba Hells Angelsâ€™ support clubs, the Zig Zag Crew, have moved up to become full members. Gang wars in Quebec, Manitoba and Ontario have highlighted the roles played by these associate groups. Manitobaâ€™s Zig Zag Crew and Redlined gangs have been convicted for drug and other crimes in support of the Hells Angels.
- Courts in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba have found the Hells Angels to be a criminal organization in dozens of individual criminal prosecutions. Hells Angels have a long record of violence in Canada including the murder of two justice officials in Quebec in 1997, a gang war with the Rock Machine in Quebec that resulted in an estimated 150 murders over the course of a decade, and extensive drug trafficking and related crimes in Manitoba.
Conrad Black, who was convicted in the U.S. and served a prison sentence there, has been removed from the Order of Canada effective immediately, says the Governor General.
Black has also been stripped of his honorary position in the Privy Council of Canada, at the recommendation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The announcement came in a terse release by Gov. Gen. David Johnston late Friday.
A spokeswoman for the Governor General, Marie-Pierre Belanger, says an advisory council met Friday afternoon to make its recommendation to Johnston.
The council’s members include the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, and Wayne Wouters, the clerk of the Privy Council, Canada’s top public servant.
Friday’s announcement means Black can no longer attach the initials O.C., and P.C., to his name. Belanger also said Black must return the insignia of the order.
“The insignia of the Order of Canada remain the property of the Order at all times,” she said.
“They are presented in trust to members of the Order, as a visible sign of their appointment and a mark of esteem. When an appointment ends, whether through death or through an ordinance made by the Governor General, the insignia reverts to the Order.”
You know what upsets me. Â After he lost his business empire, spent millions on lawyers, and was sued for whatever is left, Black still has a much higher net worth then yours truly.