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Tag: national news

Church of Scientology Faces Controversy Over Latest Abuse Allegations

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

The Church of Scientology, which boasts such members as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, is once again steeped in controversy, thanks to a magazine article that cites numerous allegations of abusive behavior and gross misconduct.

Author Lawrence Wright writes in The New Yorker magazine that ex-members told him of physical and psychological abuse and how the church brought “escapees back” through emotional, spiritual or psychological pressure and physical force if necessary.

The church did not immediately respond today to AOL News for comment but denied the allegations in a statement, according to NBC News.

The New Yorker also says the allegations have been the subject of an FBI probe. In December 2009, FBI agent Tricia Whitehill of the Los Angeles, who worked on the human trafficking squad, flew to Florida to interview former members of the church in the agency’s Clearwater office about “abuse,” the magazine reported. The church’s spiritual headquarters is based in Clearwater.

The author cites two sources in the FBI who “assured me that the case remains open.” However, a federal law enforcement source told AOL News the investigation has fallen short and no criminal charges are expected to be filed. Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, declined comment.

To read more click here.

Modern Mobsters Still Follow Dad into the Mafia

John Gotti Jr./youtube

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

The historic mobster roundup that collared more than 120 people in the New York region last month provided a snapshot of the Mafia of today: murder, gambling and extortion; big bosses and small fries; “made guys” and associates. But what it didn’t show was the pervasive nepotism that still exists in organized crime — only one son with a father with alleged ties to a crime family was arrested that day.

Even so, organized crime experts say the mob of the 21st century, just like the one in the 20th century, is still a magnet for the younger generation.

Father John J. Gotti

“Unfortunately, there’s still quite a few sons in the business,” David Shafer, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Organized Crime Branch in New York, told AOL News. “Hollywood has glamorized the business with shows and movies like ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Goodfellas.’

“But it’s not a glamorous lifestyle. A lot of wise guys and associates aren’t living the luxurious lifestyle and living in a mansion like Tony Soprano.”

Adds Andrew DiDonato, a former associate of the Gambino crime family: “There’s still a ton of nepotism in organized crime. Nepotism still runs wild.”

To read more click here.

Fed Agents Misbehavin in 2010

ATF Agent Steven Campbell/u.s. marshals service photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — Thousands of federal law enforcement agents work their tails off to put crooks behind bars. But on occasion, some of the very same folks who carry a gun and a badge and slap the cuffs on the bad guys end up stepping over the line. Way over the line.

AOL News thought it was worth looking back at some of the more notable of these incidents from 2010:

Loose Cash: Steven Campbell, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, could have at least waited until no one was looking. But no. In October, Campbell caught the attention of some agents during a drug raid at a suburban Cleveland home. Why? Agents say they saw him stuffing his pants full of cash. When confronted, he allegedly told agents to get a search warrant. While they sat him down and cuffed him, bundles of cash started falling out of his pants, according to court records.

Temper, Temper: Dallas FBI agent Carlos Ortiz let his temper get the best of him. He pleaded guilty Dec. 15 to charges that he plotted to kill his estranged wife, an FBI analyst and his boss. Earlier in the year, Ortiz was placed on leave after his wife accused him of domestic violence. Then in August he was fired after investigators learned that he had called a friend about buying a sniper-type rifle and talked about killing his wife and his boss, Robert Casey Jr. The friend, a former law enforcement type, called the FBI.

To read more click here.