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Archive for July 17th, 2009

Violin Thief Facing the Music After Stealing from LA Philharmonic Member

Carlo Tononi Violin/ lapd photo
A $65,000 Carlo Tononi Violin/ lapd photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A California man is finally facing the music.

Anthony Eugene Notarstefana, 45, of Long Beach, who had been in custody in France since 2007, was returned to Los Angeles Friday to face federal charges that he stole violins  from a member of the L.A. Philharmonic and tried to sell them in France, according to authorities.

A criminal complaint charges that Notarstefano, who was already a convicted burglar,  in early 2007 transported the stolen violins from California to Amsterdam and then to Paris where he tried to sell them.

Authorities said the violins were stolen in Hollywood from the home of violinist Mark Kashper in Dec. 2006 . He is charged with stealing a Carlo Tononi violin valued at about $225,000, a Jean Baptise Vuillaume violin worth about $65,000 and a Tourte bow worth about $30,000.

While attempting to sell the violins, a French music merchant researched the items, discovered they were stolen and notified authorities.  Notarstefano was detained on charges in France and finally extradited this week, authorities said.

The instruments were returned to the owner, authorities said.

Read Criminal Complaint

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Mexico Sending 5,500 Cops and Military Forces to Area to Fight Violent Drug War

After 12 federal Mexican agents were recently found tortured and dead, what choice was there but to call for a full court press? This drug war in Mexico is only going to get uglier. The U.S. has stepped up its effort to help, but it needs to step it up even more. More people are going to die on both sides of the border.

mexico-map21

By Ken Ellingwood
Los Angeles Times
MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities announced plans Thursday to send 5,500 police officers and military personnel to the western state of Michoacan to confront a violent crime syndicate offering some of the fiercest resistance President Felipe Calderon’s government has faced since launching its war on drugs 2 1/2 years ago.

About 1,000 extra police officers were deployed Thursday before officials outlined the broader buildup.

The move, which included providing helicopters and other equipment, represented a show of resolve in Calderon’s home state, a major drug-trafficking corridor where 16 police officers have been killed recently in well-coordinated attacks.

Following the assaults, police have patrolled in convoys and curtailed nighttime operations as a way to avoid further casualties.

One Mexican pundit said the recent aggressiveness by the drug-trafficking group La Familia was the equivalent of the surprise 1968 Tet offensive by communist forces in the Vietnam War.

Michoacan is a key front in the drug war.

For Full Story

Conservative Legal Group Wants House to Probe Rep. Conyers in Wake of His Wife’s Guilty Plea For Corruption

It appears John Conyers, who lives in Washington, and his wife who lives in Detroit, are apart far more than they are together. Does that mean Conyer’s didn’t keep tabs on his wife’s corrupt way? Either way, his wife’s activities have certainly cast a cloud over him. Is that enough to trigger a House ethics investigation? The prosecutors say they have nothing to suggest Conyers knew. Is that good enough?

Rep. John Conyers

Rep. John Conyers

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — A conservative legal foundation this week urged the House ethics panel to investigate Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) as new details emerged about his wife’s involvement in a Detroit bribery scheme.

Though Monica Conyers, a Detroit City Council member, pleaded guilty last month and admitted taking several thousand dollars in the scheme, charges filed Wednesday against one of her former top aides allege that the councilwoman took at least $65,000 from people seeking contracts from the council or a pension board on which she sat in 2006 and 2007.

Federal prosecutors in Michigan accuse Conyers and the aide of using their positions in government to engage in a “persistent and continuing pattern of extortion and bribery.” Prosecutors said last month that they had “no suggestion” the congressman was aware of his wife’s activities.

For Full Story

Louisiana Judge and 2 Lawyers Charged With Fraud

When it comes to public corruption charges in New Orleans, why are we not surprised? Fair or not, from an outsider’s view, public corruption seems to be part of the DNA in Bayou country.

District Judge Wayne Cresap

Judge Wayne Cresap

By Chris Kirkham
New Orleans Times-Picayune
NEW ORLEANS –– More than two months after being arrested by the FBI in connection with a judicial corruption scheme, St. Bernard Parish Judge Wayne Cresap has been formally charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Two St. Bernard Parish lawyers were indicted along with him Wednesday.

Wayne Cresap, 62, was formally charged by the U.S. Attorney’s office on a bill of information along with St. Bernard Parish lawyers Victor J. “V.J.” Dauterive and Nunzio Salvadore “Sal” Cusimano.

According to the bill of information, Cresap allegedly took more than a thousand dollars in cash from each lawyer in exchange for allowing inmates to be released from the St. Bernard Parish Prison without putting up money for the bond.

For Full Story

Read Federal Charges

Philly Fed Prosecutors in Sen. Fumo Case Worked Like Dogs For 137 Count Conviction

Every big case takes extraordinary time and effort. But in Philly, the federal prosecutors who convicted ex-Sen. Vince Fumo may have been more intense than most. It obviously paid off with the a conviction on all 137 counts.

Ex-Sen. Vincent Fumo
Ex-Sen. Vincent Fumo

By Robert Moran
Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA –– They were the Brains and the Bulldog, and they were unyielding.

Every day court was in session during Vincent J. Fumo’s nearly five-month corruption trial, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert A. Zauzmer and John J. Pease were never spotted at any of the nearby lunch spots.

They spent their breaks in a windowless room at the federal courthouse, prepping witnesses and plotting strategy, FBI Agent Vicki Humphreys recalled.

“John and Bob’s work ethic is incredible,” she said.

“It was not unusual to get an e-mail from John before 7 a.m. and one from Bob at 2 or 3 in the morning,” former FBI Agent Kathleen T. McAfee said. Both agents led the Fumo investigation.

Zauzmer and Pease had to be uncompromising to take down Fumo, the former state senator from Philadelphia with a reputation as a relentless politician.

Zauzmer was the strategist. “He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met,” Pease said.

“You know you can’t outwork him,” Zauzmer said of Pease.

For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

N.C. U.S. Atty’s Probe into Dems May Be Keeping Him on Board

After the mess with the U.S. Attorney firings under the Bush administration, the Dems are reluctant to make it look as if they’re interfering with Justice. That’s good for U.S. Attorney George Holding who’s investigating some high profile Dems. If it weren’t for that, he might have been gone already.

U.S. Atty. George Holding

U.S. Atty. George Holding

By The Associated Press
BEAUFORT, N.C. – Having swapped his hip-holstered Blackberry for fishing pliers, the U.S. attorney for eastern North Carolina watches closely from the captain’s chair aboard the 45-foot “Jolly Mon” as his crew prepares for a day on the water.

The team scans satellite images, examines water temperatures, sharpens hooks, packs reels and tests rods.

“If you get a big fish on here,” George Holding says from his perch, “you don’t want anything to go wrong.”

He might as well be talking about his day job.

A Republican appointee left in charge for an unusually long time by a Democratic White House, Holding has planned investigations into some of the state’s top political figures, including two-time presidential candidate John Edwards and former Gov. Mike Easley and his wife.

For Full Story

Carnival Elation Ship Loses Elation: FBI Arrests LA Man For Murder of Wife on Cruise Ship

It’s not really clear how people think they can off a spouse on a cruise ship and have no one notice. Nothing like turning a whole cruise ship into a crime scene.

Carnival Elation Ship
Carnival Elation Ship

BY CNN
A Los Angeles-area man has been charged with murder in the death of his wife while on a cruise along the Mexican coast, an FBI spokesman told CNN sister network HLN.

Shirley McGill, 55, was found dead in her cabin on the Carnival Elation on Tuesday as the ship, after a five-day cruise to Cabo San Lucas, was heading back to its origination point of San Diego, California, authorities said.

Robert McGill, who is in his mid-50s, is charged with murder on the high seas, FBI Special Agent in Charge Keith Slotter told HLN.

To Read More

FBI Trains on Excavating Human Remains