Tag Archives: criminal defense news

FBI searches alleged Mafia member’s home in bid to crack 1990 art heist

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 1:10 PM

A suspected Connecticut mobster may be in on the largest art heist in U.S. history — a $500 million mystery that has remained unsolved for 26 years.

FBI agents returned to the Manchester home of Robert Gentile Monday, marking the third time they’ve raided the 79-year-old alleged mob member’s house.

Federal prosecutors believe Gentile — who is currently behind bars for illegally selling prescription drugs and possessing guns — knows about the 1990 theft at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Thirteen pieces of art worth an estimated $500 million were stolen and never recovered. The swiped haul included the only seascape legendary Dutch painter Rembrandt ever painted, several paintings by Edgar Degas and one by Johannes Vermeer, a Dutch artist who left behind just 31 known works.

No one was ever arrested.

Federal officials declined to say why FBI agents went to Gentile’s home Monday. Gentile’s lawyer, A. Ryan McGuigan, also declined to comment.

“The FBI is conducting court-authorized activity … in connection with an ongoing federal investigation,” said Kristen Setera, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Boston. “We will have no further comment at this time.”

Gentile has told authorities that he doesn’t know anything about the stolen paintings, and McGuigan has denied prosecutors’ allegations that Gentile is a made member of the Philadelphia Mafia.

But prosecutors said that locked-up Gentile has bragged about his knowledge of the paintings: He talked about the stolen works with at least three fellow prisoners at his Rhode Island jail, giving them information on who to call about the art and what code name to use.

Read Full Article – http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/fbi-searches-mafia-home-bid-crack-1990-art-heist-article-1.2623304

How an alleged mafia chief’s appetite for pizza led to his arrest

An alleged mafia chief’s appetite for pizza has cost him his freedom.

Roberto Manganiello, 35, an alleged boss in Naples’ notorious Camorra mafia in southern Italy, has been arrested by detectives disguised as pizza boys who delivered food to his home as he was watching a football match.

Mr Manganiello, one of Italy’s most-wanted crime bosses, had been on the run since 2013.

He was watching the Naples-Inter soccer match on Saturday with his girlfriend when the operation took place this weekend in Caserta, near Naples.

He has been sought since 2013 for two killings in 2004 that launched a clan feud. Police said he also ran a drug and extortion ring and he has been listed as one of “Italy’s 100 most dangerous criminals”.

Mr Manganiello was unarmed and did not resist arrest. A 30-year-old Neapolitan woman was arrested with him.

Angelino Alfano, the interior minister, said on Sunday the arrest was “the result of a high-level investigation” with coordination across several agencies.

It was reported by Germany’s Deutsche Welle that the investigation included at least 50 people working in a team tracking his movements.

Adding to Mr Manganiello’s humiliation, Milan defeated his home team 2-0, all but crushing Naples’ hopes of a first Serie A title in 26 years.

The Camorra is based in Naples and the surrounding region of Campania and has never been stronger than it is now, and is second only in wealth and ruthlessness to the ‘Ndrangheta mafia of Calabria, an expert on organised crime told the Telegraph earlier this year.

In the past, there were more than 100 semi-independent clans within the Camorra, often at war with each other.

In August 2011, Italian and Spanish police swooped on Salvatore D’Avino, then one of Italy‘s most wanted fugitives, as he was filling his car with petrol in a town on the Costa del Sol.

D’Avino, 39, alleged to be a member of the Camorra mafia, had been on the run for four years.

Sourced From – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/18/how-an-alleged-mafia-chiefs-appetite-for-pizza-led-to-his-arrest/

Don’t Change the Legal Rule on Intent

Congress is achingly close to passing broad, bipartisan legislation that would reform the federal criminal justice system. There is widespread agreement among liberals and conservatives that many parts of the system — particularly federal drug sentencing laws — are overly harsh and fall disproportionately on minorities.

So it is troubling that the whole enterprise may now be in jeopardy because of an unrelated issue: the dispute over whether prosecutors should be required to prove that corporate defendants knowingly violated laws protecting, among other things, the environment and public health and safety.

While most criminal laws require the government to prove “mens rea,” or intent on the part of the defendant, some do not, and the proposed change would apply indiscriminately to all of those. Ignorance of the law is generally not an excuse for breaking it, and it certainly should not be turned into an excuse when the action inflicts serious harm to large numbers of people or to the environment.

Leading the charge to change the standard are the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by David and Charles Koch, who have also supported the wider criminal-justice reforms.

If the new provision becomes law, corporate actors could avoid prosecution by claiming, as they commonly do now, that they didn’t know what they were doing was illegal. And corporations that now go to great lengths to train employees on their legal responsibilities would have far less incentive to do so.

The proposed provision would require that prosecutors prove that a defendant “knew, or had reason to believe, the conduct was unlawful,” if a “reasonable person” would not have had reason to believe it was unlawful. This confusing standard would create endless litigation as the government and defendants argued over how, exactly, to meet it in each new case.

If anything, it is still too hard for prosecutors to go after corporate bad actors who endanger the health and safety of the public or the environment. And when they do bring charges, they’re generally doing so with good reason. A University of Michigan study examining almost 700 prosecutions brought under federal environmental laws between 2005 and 2010 found that virtually all involved one or more of the following: repeat violations of the law, deceptive or misleading conduct, a refusal to follow regulations at all, or actions that caused significant harm to the environment or to public health.

It is true that many federal laws are sloppily drafted, and some may need to be re-examined and rewritten. But a broad, sloppy fix is not a solution, especially when it is pushed through without meaningful deliberation.

Bipartisan agreement on any major legislative package is a rare and fragile thing these days. Congressional leaders should not allow the proposed “mens rea” provision to scuttle criminal-justice reforms the nation desperately needs.

 

Suge Knight, Katt Williams Plead Not Guilty in Robbery Case

  • By ANTHONY MCCARTNEY, AP ENTERTAINMENT WRITER

LOS ANGELES — Oct 27, 2015, 5:00 PM ET

Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight and comedian Katt Williams pleaded not guilty Tuesday to robbery charges filed against them after a celebrity photographer accused them of taking her camera last year.

The pair appeared briefly in a Los Angeles courtroom Tuesday and entered the pleas, which needed to be re-entered because a judge determined two weeks ago that they should stand trial for the September 2014 incident in Beverly Hills.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen on Tuesday admonished Knight because the Death Row Records co-founder had held up a sign conveying a happy birthday message to his son for cameras during his last court appearance two weeks ago.

“If he does it again, I will shackle his hands to a chair,” Coen said. Knight, 50, acknowledged he understood the judge’s warning.

Coen has taken a hard line with Knight, who had a series of medical episodes in court and refused to leave his cell for one hearing, prompting the judge to sign an order to have him forcibly brought to hearings if necessary.

Knight’s attorney denies the Death Row Records co-founder was involved in taking photographer Leslie Redden’s camera last year, just days after he was wounded in a nightclub shooting. His attorneys have cited the wounds as causing some of his courthouse medical episodes.

Attorney Thomas Mesereau said Oct. 13 that threats Knight made toward Redden were attempts to get her to not shoot photos of his young son.

“The only evidence that exists is he didn’t want his son photographed,” Mesereau said. “Any father would have acted as he did.”

Redden recorded a verbal confrontation with Knight on a camera hanging from her neck, but the device did not capture the physical struggle over her professional camera.

Knight remains jailed on $10 million bail in a separate murder case filed after he ran over two men outside a Compton burger stand in January, killing one and seriously injuring an adviser to the film “Straight Outta Compton.” Knight’s lawyers have said he was fleeing armed attackers when he hit the men.

Knight has pleaded not guilty and already been ordered to stand trial in that case, but no trial date has been set. Coen set a Dec. 11 court hearing to get an update on the case.

Knight was a key player in the gangster rap scene that flourished in the 1990s, and his Death Row Records label once listed Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg among its artists. He lost control of the company after it was forced into bankruptcy.

He faces potential life sentences if convicted in either case because of prior convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun.

Williams, 44, has starred in several comedy specials and appeared in films such as “First Sunday” and “Friday After Next.”

The next hearing in the robbery case is scheduled for Nov. 30. No trial date has been set.

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This story has been corrected to show that Knight is being held on $10 million bail in a murder case, not without bail.

Full Article – http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/suge-knight-katt-williams-due-back-los-angeles-34753983

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

Satanist Awaiting Murder Trial Found Dead of Apparent Suicide in North Carolina Jail

Chris Thompson