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Archive for January 14th, 2013

Who Is Mobster Tony Zerilli And What Does He Really Know About Hoffa?

A reporter helps mobster Tony Zerilli out of the car.

By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT –– He was son of Joseph Zerilli, Detroit’s top mobster.

Anthony Joseph Zerilli, who went by the nickname “Tony Z,” followed his dad’s career path, rising to top spot in the local Mafia before heading to prison in 1974 for his hidden interest in two Las Vegas casinos. When he resurfaced on the outside five years later, he had been dethroned and demoted to a “capo” (captain) role.

Now frail, moving about with a walker, and residing in a senior community on Van Dyke in Sterling Heights, the 85-year-old is suddenly in the spotlight, having told a New York TV reporter that he knows what happened to Teamster President James Riddle Hoffa and where he’s buried.

“I’m dead broke,” he also told NBC 4 New York reporter Marc Santia, formerly of WDIV in Detroit, in an interview aired Sunday. “My quality of life is zero.” He’s also in failing health.

Zerilli told Santia that Hoffa is buried in northern Oakland County, but he had nothing to do with the 1975 disappearance. A source tells Deadline Detroit that the property in Oakland Township belonged to a top-ranking mobster.

Zerilli said people intended to move the body to a northern Michigan hunting lodge, but never did. He gives no names.

The NBC 4 correspondent says Zerilli came forward in hopes of profiting from publicity and showing he had nothing to do with Hoffa abrupt disappearance outside a Bloomfield Township restaurant on July 30, 1975.

One thing is clear, Zerilli is talking to more than just the media.

To read more click here.

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NCAA Shouldn’t Ignore Steroid Problem

The author (right) Greg Stejksal and late Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

In the summer of 2004, a Senate sub-committee, chaired by Senators Charles Grassley and Joseph Biden held a hearing regarding the prevalence of steroids in sports. I had helped arrange for two of the witnesses who testified at this hearing.

One was Curtis Wenzlaff, a convicted steroid dealer, who had supplied steroids to Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Wenzlaff had been prosecuted as part of an FBI undercover operation (UCO) targeting illegal distribution of steroids, codenamed Equine.

It was the late Michigan football coaching legend, Bo Schembechler, that urged our FBI office in Michigan to initiate our steroid UCO in 1989. Schembechler was concerned not only about the prevalence of steroids in college football, but indications that performance-enhancing drugs were being used by high school players as well.

During the ’04 hearing, Wenzlaff testified that the short-term incentives for using steroids were perceived by young competitive athletes to be far greater than the potential health risks later in life – the classic Faustian bargain. Wenzlaff testified that among other incentives, athletes would readily use PEDs if the end result were securing a multi-million dollar playing contract.

The other witness I arranged to appear was the “Mystery Man,” which the Daily News dubbed in their coverage of the hearing. The mystery witness was never identified, wore a hood as he entered the hearing room, and had his voice modified electronically. He was a 4-year football player from a prominent Division-I program, whose last season was 2003. The mystery witness testified that “it became evident that many players on my team were using steroids at some time during their career.” One player was supplying seven to eight other players, according to the witness. He also testified that he knew of players on other Div-I teams using steroids.

The NCAA had already begun to recognize there was a problem; in 1996 the NCAA instituted random, year-round testing with relatively stringent penalties for positive tests – a one-season suspension for a first positive test and permanent ineligibility for a second. The tests are, in theory, unannounced, but athletes can often know up to two days’ in advance. (Steroids are generally clear of a individual’s system within 24-72 hrs. Anabolic steroids are a specific type of steroid that promotes muscle growth, and not all steroids are anabolic. Steroids referred to in this column are anabolic.) The NCAA’s current position is that steroid use is no longer a problem with college athletes. In support of their conclusion they point to less than 1% failure rate on their tests.

In a recent Associated Press article about the continued use of anabolic steroids in college football, the report relied on research that catalogued weight gain of different football players. Extraordinary weight gain by athletes can be an indication of steroid use. Citing training experts, the report said, “Adding more than 20 or 25 lbs. of lean muscle in a year is nearly impossible through diet and exercise alone.” The report also relied on interviews of players who admitted to steroid use or knew of other players using steroids.

Steroid use by college football players affects the integrity of the game. It gives those players and their teams a competitive advantage, and it also puts pressure on other players and their teams to use steroids. This “arms war” mentality filters down to high school players thinking they have to use steroids to play at the next level.

Some football programs, while not explicitly, encourage steroid use. Some schools do testing in addition to the NCAA testing. But it is not required to report positive drug test results and penalties vary and are not nearly as stringent as those imposed by the NCAA. This leads to a patchwork of testing with some schools trying to eliminate steroid use and others just making a show of addressing its use.

I think the resolution should be that NCAA institute a much more rigorous testing regimen. That would mean more random testing, and testing for just cause (based on extraordinary weight gain and/or symptoms of steroid use).The NCAA can afford the increased costs associated with these measures. With the NCAA conducting all the testing, it will insure the testing and penalties are uniformly applied.

I saw firsthand what happened when MLB ignored warnings about prevalence of steroid use in baseball in the mid-‘90s. I hope the NCAA doesn’t repeat their mistake.

Column: NCAA Shouldn’t Ignore Steroid Problem

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. This column first appeared in the New York Daily News.

The author (right) Greg Stejksal and late Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

 
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

In the summer of 2004, a Senate sub-committee, chaired by Senators Charles Grassley and Joseph Biden held a hearing regarding the prevalence of steroids in sports. I had helped arrange for two of the witnesses who testified at this hearing.

One was Curtis Wenzlaff, a convicted steroid dealer, who had supplied steroids to Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Wenzlaff had been prosecuted as part of an FBI undercover operation (UCO) targeting illegal distribution of steroids, codenamed Equine.

It was the late Michigan football coaching legend, Bo Schembechler, that urged our FBI office in Michigan to initiate our steroid UCO in 1989. Schembechler was concerned not only about the prevalence of steroids in college football, but indications that performance-enhancing drugs were being used by high school players as well.

During the ’04 hearing, Wenzlaff testified that the short-term incentives for using steroids were perceived by young competitive athletes to be far greater than the potential health risks later in life – the classic Faustian bargain. Wenzlaff testified that among other incentives, athletes would readily use PEDs if the end result were securing a multi-million dollar playing contract.

The other witness I arranged to appear was the “Mystery Man,” which the Daily News dubbed in their coverage of the hearing. The mystery witness was never identified, wore a hood as he entered the hearing room, and had his voice modified electronically. He was a 4-year football player from a prominent Division-I program, whose last season was 2003. The mystery witness testified that “it became evident that many players on my team were using steroids at some time during their career.” One player was supplying seven to eight other players, according to the witness. He also testified that he knew of players on other Div-I teams using steroids.

Read more »

Opinion: FBI Needs Hackers to Combat Computer Crimes

Wired
Opinion

Just imagine if all the applications and services you saw or heard about at CES last week had to be designed to be “wiretap ready” before they could be offered on the market. Before regular people like you or me could use them.

Yet that’s a real possibility. For the last few years, the FBI’s been warning that its surveillance capabilities are “going dark,” because internet communications technologies — including devices that connect to the internet — are getting too difficult to intercept with current law enforcement tools. So the FBI wants a more wiretap-friendly internet, and legislation to mandate it will likely be proposed this year.

But a better way to protect privacy and security on the internet may be for the FBI to get better at breaking into computers.

Whoa, what? Let us explain.

To reach more click here.

New Federal Law to Help Police Collect DNA of Suspects Upon Arrest

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A new federal bill will help some states begin collecting DNA from suspects upon arrest, the Associated Press reports.

The money, which will be awarded to select states who apply for a share of the $10 million grants, would be used as start-up funds, the AP wrote.

Perhaps no one more than Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pledged to begin collecting DNA on arrested suspects.

Walker planned to spend $7.2 million on the effort, which would include collecting DNA from anyone arrested for a felony and certain sex offenses. Adults would be subject to DNA collection for an arrest on misdemeanors, the AP writer.

STORIES OF OTHER INTEREST

Could it Be Moderate Lead Exposure is a Primary Cause of Crime? Maybe

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Perhaps you, like me, have blithely assumed declining crime rates are due to some wonderfully fortunate combination of social factors.

Not so, says Kevin Drum in a fascinating, recent article in Mother Jones. Citing dozens of crime causality studies, he makes a provocative and convincing case that a generation of children’s exposure to lead has spiked violent crime far more than any other social factors.

The quadrupling of lead emissions into the atmosphere by leaded gasoline in the mid-20th century was followed, 20 years later, by a startlingly similar increase in the crime rate in the ‘60s through the ‘80s. Likewise, when the former declined after the Clean Air Act removed lead from gasoline, so did the latter in a statistical curve suggesting strong correlation, if not causation. Studies in other countries seem to reaffirm this hypothesis.

And Drum asserts that the remaining detritus of lead in the soil and the environment will continue to influence the crime rate until radical and expensive action is taken to remove it. These expenditures, however, will be more than offset by a multi-fold financial benefit in lower health and crime costs, he believes.

Much of the heavy lifting on this issue has been done by Amherst College Professor Jessica Wolpaw Reyes who compared Massachusetts kids’ 1990 lead exposure with their 2000 test scores and behavior problem records. She found even moderately elevated blood lead levels could be responsible for increased adult aggressiveness and violent criminal behavior. Reyes hypothesizes that it may also cause a tendency toward impulsive behavior, ADHD, substance abuse and a host of other social ills.

Unlike most of her colleagues, Professor Reyes writes with a minimum of unexplained geek-speak that is clear enough for even federal pensioners to understand.

Ah, when I think of all the times my case agents and I worked into the night on evidence when all we really needed was a simple blood test to present in court. All kidding aside, though, I would not be surprised if some imaginative defense attorney used high-lead blood levels as defense in a criminal trial — no doubt more plausible than Twinkies, particularly in the sentencing phase of a capital trial.

Drum’s article has stirred up a you-know-what storm of debate among economists and statisticians regarding the methodological validity of the studies he relied upon. An even more contentious wrangling has ensued in response to his clarion call for the U.S. to spend $400 billion in the next two decades to eliminate lead from the environment.

This storm of articles, blogs and essays tosses about terminology such as meta-analysis, regression methods and cohort studies and has generated a feeding frenzy in the many fields involved — neurologists, economists, statisticians, and public health experts. The flurry of debate over the fine points of statistical method and points far finer still seems to obscure the common sense reaction to Drum’s article and Professor Reyes’ studies to the point of immobilizing appropriate response.

Amid the semantic sorties, however, there has not been a single comment by the profession whose job it is to protect the public from crime — law enforcement. Not only are we are not on the sidelines in this contest, we aren’t even in the stadium.

Perhaps we are down the street in some sports bar casually watching others toss this ball around.

Maybe the lead/crime correlation is not causation. Maybe the decline in crime is permanent. Personally, I doubt both propositions. The studies on the effects of even low levels of lead exposure on kids’ sensitive brains seem convincing enough to justify a much higher priority for researching the issue.

Crime and the causes of crime will continue to be a defining issue in this country for generations to come and the lead/crime debate demands more than scientific research alone can deliver. We must broaden the discussion to include a larger perspective, especially from law enforcement leaders.

Why shouldn’t a Presidential commission be convened with representatives from a wide range of disciplines to take a comprehensive and meaningful look at the relationship between the present lead levels in the environment and future criminal activity?

The issue is too important for law enforcement to take a sideline seat, watching while scientists and statisticians parse it to death. Law enforcement needs to assume a leadership role in analyzing and coordinating the views of other disciplines, injecting a healthy dose of real world common sense into the debate.

Perhaps we can make the issue so understandable it can even be understood by moronic politicians. After all, the prevention of crime is our bailiwick — and our responsibility.