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Archive for August 24th, 2011

OYE! “Jewish Indiana Jones” Busted in “Save a Torah” Scam

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

OYE!

A man who billed himself as the “Jewish Indiana Jones”, and was the co-founder of “Save a Torah” charity, was arrested Wednesday by federal authorities on charges of defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan announced.

Authorities alleged that Manachem Youlus purported to “rescue” Torah scrolls lost or hidden during the Holocaust. A Torah is a holy scroll that connsists of the first five books of the Jewish scriptures.

Authorities alleged that Youlus, 50, of Wheaton, Md.,  duped the charity by fabricating detailed accounts of having found Torahs lost or hidden during the Holocaust in Europe, including in Auschwitz and the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and in other places around the world.  In some instances, authorities said, he simply bought torahs from other torah dealers.

He then used the false information to solicit  contributions to Save a Torah. He then embezzled the donations by diverting them into his personal accounts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleged. The charity lists an address in Rockville, Md., a suburb of D.C.

“Menachem Youlus called himself the ‘Jewish Indiana Jones,’ but his alleged exploits were no more real than those of the movie character he claimed to resemble,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

“He chose poorly in allegedly exploiting an excruciating chapter in Jewish and international history to perpetrate a brazen fraud that played on the heartstrings of thepeople for whom the painful memories of that period will never die.”

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With CIA help, NYPD Moves Covertly in Muslim Areas; Practice Raises Questions

By Adam Goldman
Associated Press.

In New Brunswick, N.J., a building superintendent opened the door to apartment No. 1076 one balmy Tuesday and discovered an alarming scene: terrorist literature strewn about the table and computer and surveillance equipment set up in the next room.

The panicked superintendent dialed 911, sending police and the FBI rushing to the building near Rutgers University on the afternoon of June 2, 2009. What they found in that first-floor apartment, however, was not a terrorist hideout but a command center set up by a secret team of New York Police Department intelligence officers.

From that apartment, about an hour outside the department’s jurisdiction, the NYPD had been staging undercover operations and conducting surveillance throughout New Jersey. Neither the FBI nor the local police had any idea.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NYPD has become one of the country’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies. A months-long investigation by The Associated Press has revealed that the NYPD operates far outside its borders and targets ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government. And it does so with unprecedented help from the CIA in a partnership that has blurred the bright line between foreign and domestic spying.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Fla. Feds Break Up $40 Million Pill Mill

OxyContin or Oxycodone/dea photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Thirty two people were busted– including 13 doctors — in what the head of the Miami FBI described as “the nation’s largest criminal organization involved in the illegal distribution of pain killers.”

The bust capped a three-year investigation dubbed “Operation Oxy Alley” that netted the players tens of millions of dollars in profit, authorities said.  In a related state case, authorities charged a doctor with first-degree murder after a Florida man died shortly after filling an illegal prescription.

Authorities on Tuesday  unsealed the federal indictment that targeted the illegal distribution of pain killers and steroids through pill mills operating in Broward and Palm Beach Counties in Florida, and through the Internet. The charges included racketeering conspiracy, money laundering and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.

The law enforcement agencies involved in the take down included the DEA, FBI and IRS and local police departments.

The indictment alleges that twin brothers Christopher and Jeffrey George operated, managed and financed four  pain management clinics in Broward and Palm Beach Counties: American Pain, Executive Pain, East Coast Pain and Hallandale Pain.

According to the indictment, from 2008 to early 2010, the defendants’ pill mills distributed approximately 20 million oxycodone pills and made more than $40 million from the illegal sales of controlled substances.

“These defendants showed a callous disregard for the well-being of their patients and the value of human life. For years, they distributed oxycodone and other controlled substances without regard to medical need, without individual treatment plans, and without physical examinations, ” Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said in a statement.

John V. Gillies, head of the Miami FBI said :  “The significance of today’s takedown is that we have dismantled the nation’s largest criminal organization involved in the illegal distribution of pain killers. Up until today, efforts focused on the demand by targeting individual users. Today, we attacked the source and choked off the supply.”

Authorities alleged that the defendants operated the clinics as pill mills that offered patients prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances “without any legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional medical practice.”

Authorities said patients included addicts and traffickers seeking to buy large quantities of oxycodone and other drugs. Some traveled from such states as  Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.

The clinics hired security guards to try and control  fights and arguments that often erupted between patients waiting in the clinic lobbies for their physical examinations or prescriptions, authorities said.

The indictment stated that by  2010, the doctors involved in the operation were examining close to 500 patients a day at the American Pain Clinic alone.

Lastly, authorities alleged in the indictment that the racketeering defendants engaged in wide-ranging violence, including kidnapping, extortion, assault, aggravated assault with a firearm against  competitors and others suspected of  stealing or other acts of disloyalty.

Battle Heats Up — Gun Foundation Files Motion to Block ATF Gun Reporting Regulation Along Mexican Border

atf file photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The legal battle is heating up over an ATF regulation requiring gun dealers in states that border Mexico to report multiple gun sales of semi-automatic rifles capable of using detachable magazines.

The latest: The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in D.C. opposing the regulation, filed a motion this week asking a judge to issue a preliminary injunction to block the regulation that impacts 8,500 federally licensed firearms retailers along the Southwest border in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. The regulation impacts multiple guns sales within five consecutive business days.

The NSSF filed for a preliminary injunction, hoping to block the regulation while the lawsuit is heard. The regulation took effect Aug. 14.

The NSSF  alleges that the ATF regulation exceeds its legal authority under the Gun Control Act. ATF has pushed for the regulation, hoping to stem the flow of American guns into Mexico, where violent cartels have spun out of control.

NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane issued a statement on the organization’s motion, saying:

“A preliminary injunction will curtail an unlawful regulation by ATF that sets a dangerous legal precedent. If ATF can demand this information from these law-abiding retailers simply by sending a letter requiring it, then there is no record or report ATF cannot require of any licensee, anywhere in the country, simply because ATF had decided it wants to see the information.

“This is the proverbial ‘slippery slope.’ Our industry abhors the criminal misuse of firearms, whether on the streets of El Paso or in Juarez, Mexico. Though we can understand ATF’s motive is to try to curtail violence in Mexico, Congress simply has not granted ATF regulatory carte blanche.”

In a footnote, the motion says the guns targeted by ATF “include many of the most commonly used firearms for sporting purposes, including target shooting and hunting.”

The ATF letter notifying gun dealers of the regulation was sent on July 12  and took effect on August 14. Of the approximately 8,500 retailers that received the letters, 789 were NSSF members.

TheTruthAboutGuns.com has its own short editorial on the matter as well, generally siding with the NSSF, while Media Matters has taken a  more cautious approach, debunking claims Chuck Norris and other gun rights groups have fueled.

FBI Probes Threatening White Powder Letter Sent to Talk Show Host Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

More often than not politicians have been the beneficiary of mysterious letters with white powder. This time it was the flip late night talk show host Craig Ferguson who got one of those letters.

The Associated Press reports that the FBI is working with police to determine who sent a threatening letter with white powder to Ferguson in Los Angeles  from overseas. The white powder ended up being harmless.

AP reported that two people at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, where “The Late Late Show” is filmed, were temporarily isolated Tuesday after being exposed to the powder around 3 p.m. They were released after authorities determined the material was harmless.

After the deadly anthrax letters in 2001, the U.S. Postal Service set up sensors in postal processing facilities to detect biological agents like anthrax.  Scores of fake white powder letters have been mailed around the country since then, but none have been found to contain dangerous agents like anthrax.

2 Retired Mass. State Cops Said FBI Should Never Have Used Mobster As Informant in Wake of Whitey Bulger Case