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Saturday, June 25, 2011

FBI Top Ten News Stories for the Week Ending June 24, 2011

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Washington, D.C. June 24, 2011
  • FBI National Press Office
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  1. Boston: Top Ten Fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger Arrested

    FBI agents arrested Top Ten Fugitive, James J. “Whitey” Bulger, and his companion, Catherine Greig, in California. Recent publicity produced a tip which led agents to Santa Monica, Calif., where they located the two. Full Story
  2. Seattle: Two Men Charged in Plot to Attack Seattle Military Processing Center
    Two men were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with terrorism and firearms related charges. The complaint alleges that Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif and Walli Mujahidh took possession of machine guns that they purchased and planned to use in an attack on the Military Entrance Processing Station. Full Story
  3. Headquarters/Multiple Field Offices: Department of Justice Disrupts International Cyber Crime Rings Distributing Scareware
    The Department of Justice and the FBI, along with international law enforcement partners, announced the indictment of two individuals from Latvia and the seizure of more than 40 computers, servers and bank accounts as part of Operation Trident Tribunal. The operation targeted international cyber crime rings that caused more than $74 million in total losses. Full Story
  4. New York: Man Charged with Murdering Members of U.S. Air Force in Germany

    Arid Uka, aka “Abu Reyyan,” was charged with murdering and attempting to murder United States Air Force personnel in Frankfurt, Germany, on March 2, 2011. Full Story
  5. Washington Field: Alexandria Man Charged with Shooting at Military Buildings in Northern Virginia
    Yonathan Melaku was charged with destruction of property and firearm violations involving five separate shootings at military installations in Northern Virginia between October and November 2010. Full Story
  6. Atlanta: Seven Indicted for Supplying Iran with U.S. Military Aircraft Components
    Seven individuals and five corporate entities based in the United States, France, the United Arab Emirates and Iran were indicted for their alleged roles in a conspiracy to illegally export military components for fighter jets and attack helicopters from the United States to Iran. Full Story
  7. Detroit: Former Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Divulging Federal Wiretap
    A former Hamtramck police officer, and federal DEA task force officer, Randall Hutchinson pled guilty to one count of providing notice of a federal wiretap to the former Downriver Chapter President of the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club during the FBI’s investigation into that organization. He is one of 91 indicted as part of the United States Attorney’s Office’s case against the Detroit Highwaymen. Full Story
  8. Newark: Hacker Pleads Guilty to Infiltrating AT&T Servers, iPad Data Breach
    Daniel Spitler, a computer hacker who helped write the malicious code behind a breach of AT&T’s computer servers admitted to conspiring to hack into the servers, steal information regarding iPad subscribers and publicize the crime. Full Story
  9. Phoenix: Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to $50 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme
    Brett Matheson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a $50 million mortgage fraud scheme based in Phoenix. Full Story
  10. Portland: Three Defendants, Including a CPA and an Attorney, Charged with Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering Related to Summit Accommodators

    Three individuals were indicted on charges of conspiring to defraud customers of their former business, Summit Accommodators, Inc. The fraud scheme took place from 1999 through 2008, and allegedly involved the misuse of over $44 million of customer funds, causing 91 customers to lose $13.7 million. Full Story
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How to Hide in Plain Sight: Cash is King When on the Lam


The name of "Gasko" is seen on an apartment directory, where fugitive crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger and his longtime companion Catherine Greig lived using the alias, in Santa Monica, Calif., Thursday, June 23, 2011. Bulger spent almost all of his 16 years on the lam in the same Santa Monica apartment complex, paying his rent in cash every month while he and his girlfriend hid from one of the biggest manhunts in U.S. history, the property managers said Thursday. The Boston mob boss was captured Wednesday near Los Angeles after 16 years on the run. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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Jun 25, 2011

Mobster's run almost textbook case of evasion


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SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) -- Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger did almost everything right in evading capture for 16 years.
The notorious mobster's run from the law was remarkable for its longevity, which was due mainly to the unremarkable new identity he built for himself while on the lam.
He adopted an unassuming lifestyle, paid for everything with cash, didn't drive a car, limited his social contact to small talk and adhered to the code of silence from the mob life he left behind. When federal agents tracked him to his lair this week, it was only after targeting the one part of his past that Bulger didn't leave behind - his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig.
By all accounts, the two did little to ever arouse suspicion, posing as two retirees holed up in a bland white 1970s apartment complex in Santa Monica amid other buildings of the same era.
Although Bulger - who fled Boston in 1995 after a retired FBI agent who had recruited him as an informant tipped him to a pending indictment - was believed to have millions of dollars stashed in secret accounts, and investigators found $800,000 hidden in the apartment, the couple didn't live lavishly. They paid $1,145 cash several days in advance each month for a rent-controlled unit, while newer neighbors paid more than twice as much. Greig shopped at a 99-cent store.
Occasionally, they splurged, even while remaining discreet.
Andrew Turner, the general manager of Michael's, recognized pictures of the fugitives this week as the couple who dined occasionally at table No. 23 at the upscale institution. He had a record of them paying their $190 tab in cash for a meal that included Grey Goose vodka cocktails, foie gras, steak and lobster, topped off by wine, in September 2009 - the month Bulger turned 80. The couple kept to themselves and were unassuming, Turner recalled.
"This guy was just nice, mild and meek, milquetoast in a little apartment in Santa Monica," said Bill Keefer, a retired U.S. marshal who supervised the witness protection program in Los Angeles, Hawaii and Long Island, N.Y. "This guy should have been a supervisor with the marshal's witness protection program. He did an outstanding job, the louse."
Bulger, now 81, has been linked to 19 murders, including the strangling of an associate's girlfriend who knew he was a snitch and the murder of a man shot so many times his leg was almost severed from his body.
His flight in 1995 was big news at the time. In addition to Bulger's indictment for racketeering along with other major mob figures, questions were raised about his ability to always be one step ahead of the law and because his brother, state Senate president William Bulger, was one of Massachusetts' most powerful politicians.
His fugitive status only grew when the FBI was forced to acknowledge in court two years later what had been long-whispered in law enforcement: the Boston FBI bureau had a corrupt relationship with its informants and looked the other way as they knocked off associates. A Bulger lieutenant testified in 2002 that Bulger boasted that he had corrupted six FBI agents and more than 20 Boston cops, keeping them loyal with Christmas envelopes stuffed with cash.
Between the time of his flight and settling on the West Coast, Bulger had about two years to reinvent himself.
In the fall of 1995, the couple checked into a hotel as "Mr. and Mrs. Tom Baxter," according to an FBI affidavit unsealed this week. They spent time on New York's Long Island and lived six weeks in a two-bedroom apartment in the fishing village of Grand Isle, La., in 1996.
It's not clear how far they roamed, but their travels ended in this sun-splashed beach city about 15 years ago when they moved into unit 303 of the Princess Eugenia apartments as Charles and Carol Gasko.
As they reinvented themselves, Bulger and Greig stuck to a low-key lifestyle that didn't invite attention. They didn't appear to have visitors, never spoke of family and limited conversations to superficial chit chat.
Neighbors said they stuck close to home, walking to the nearby Third Street Promenade, the city's outdoor mall, or strolling along the Palisades Park, a ribbon of grass and trees that runs along a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean a few blocks from home.
Greig was the more outgoing of the two while Bulger was sometimes cranky and reclusive. Barbara Gluck, a tenant down the hall, described Greig as sweet and lovely. They would chat pleasantly until Bulger barked at Greig to stop talking with her.
"It was like she was hanging on to a time-bomb," Gluck said. "At one point, she said, `He has a rage issue.'"
Others said the couple went out of their way to ingratiate themselves while also maintaining a distance.
Bulger, once known for kind acts in South Boston that were in sharp contrast to the viciousness of his alleged crimes, helped a young mother carry grocery bags to her apartment and offered a flashlight to a building employee at night. The couple sent a sympathy card when a property manager's father died. They left gifts of fruit for an elderly resident. Greig befriended dog owners on the street.
"They were good neighbors," said Catalina Schlank, 88. "I will miss them."
Bulger's wealth helped him maintain independence from family or former criminal allies who might have given away his location, said retired FBI agent Scott Bakken, who worked the Bulger case for a short time in 2002. With a $2 million bounty on his head, Bulger had little incentive to touch base with anyone in his old South Boston neighborhood, particularly after it became clear he had broken the code of silence and ratted on rivals and allies alike.
"Here you have somebody who is far more sophisticated than some 18-year-old who killed someone in a drive-by," said Bakken, the FBI agent. "To be a successful fugitive you have to cut all contacts from your previous life. He had the means and kept a low profile."
The couple melted into the background in Santa Monica, a sunny, beachside playground that attracts aging sunbirds, families and a hip younger set to its wide beaches and famous pier punctuated by a colorful Ferris wheel, shops and food shacks.
The dynamic city of nearly 85,000 just miles from Los Angeles may also have been an ideal location to hide in plain sight, said Jack Cluff, a former U.S. marshal in Idaho who was involved in the deadly standoff with fugitive white separatist Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge and helped bring in the 1970s Russian spy Christopher Boyce.
Many fugitives get caught because they hole up in a remote location where locals get curious or where they get cabin fever and spill their story to the wrong person, Cluff said. Others are brought down by informants or because they've run out of money and connections - problems Bulger didn't have because of his wealth and fearsome reputation back home.
While Bulger had several fake identifications, he didn't have a car to run the risk of a traffic violation or accident that might lead to the discovery of his true identity.
His thick white beard had also dramatically changed his appearance from his Boston days and the photos the FBI circulated publicly for years.
"You see him on TV compared to what he looks like really and man, I'll tell you what, he's going to walk right past me and I'd never blink an eye at him," Cluff said. "He'd really changed, with the full beard and what have you."
In the end, however, there was one way in which Bulger was like almost every other fallen fugitive. About 85 percent of apprehended fugitives are brought down by a girlfriend or former girlfriend, Cluff said.
After many failed efforts to net the couple, including searches in 19 countries and a campaign to reach out to plastic surgeons who may have altered their appearances, the FBI this week tailored their latest campaign at Greig, 60, who is wanted for harboring a fugitive.
Public service announcements were aired during programs aimed at women that asked for information leading to Greig's whereabouts. They pointed out that Greig, a dental hygienist, was known to frequent beauty salons and have her teeth cleaned once a month.
The ads weren't aired in Los Angeles, but news coverage produced a tip that led agents to the Gasko apartment. A call was placed to Bulger telling him someone had broken into his on-site storage unit.
He fell for the ruse. When Bulger went to check on his property, agents were there to take advantage of his first misstep in long a run from justice.
"I always used to say, `If I don't catch `em today, I'll catch `em tomorrow," Keefer said. "But to go 15 years, that's really, really a `wow' thing.'"
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Hoag reported from Santa Monica, Flaccus reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer Greg Risling in Los Angeles contributed to this report.




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Recovery Propaganda Can't Hide Reality: Economy Expected to Have Major Slide in Months Ahead

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Forecasts for Growth Drop, Some Sharply


Saturday, 25 Jun 2011
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A drumbeat of disappointing data about consumer behavior, factory sales and weak hiring in recent weeks has prompted economists to ratchet down their 2011 economic forecasts to as little as half what they expected at the beginning of the year. 
Two months ago, Goldman Sachs projected that the economy would grow at a 4 percent annual rate in the quarter ending in June. The company now expects the government to report no more than 2 percent growth when data for the second quarter is released in a few weeks.
Macroeconomic Advisers, a research firm, projected 3.5 percent growth back in April and is now down to just 2.1 percent for this quarter.
Both these firms, well respected in their analysis, have cut their forecasts for the second half of the year as well. Then this week, the Federal Reserve downgraded its projections for the full year, to under 3 percent growth. It started the year with guidance as high as 3.9 percent.
Two years into the official recovery, the economy is still behaving like a plane taxiing indefinitely on the runway. Few economists are predicting an out-and-out return to recession, but the risk has increased, with the health of the American economy depending in part on what is really “transitory.”
During the first press conference in the central bank’s history two months ago, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke used the word to describe factors — including supply chain disruptions after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and rising oil prices — that were restraining economic growth in the first half of the year.
Earlier this week, Mr. Bernanke confessed that “some of these headwinds may be stronger and more persistent than we thought,” adding, “we don’t have a precise read on why this slower pace of growth is persisting.”
Economists say the unexpected shocks from Japan and the Middle East in the first half of the year go only partway toward explaining the deceleration. Many worries remain: housing prices have continued to fall, hiring is weak, wages are flat, growth in emerging economies like China and India is slowing and the debt crisis in Europe could have ripple effects.
What’s more, government stimulants like the payroll tax cut and the extension of unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. With the underlying economy undeniably tepid, economists are concerned that further shocks to the system could knock the country off its slow upward trajectory.
“The likelihood of a negative surprise is bigger than the likelihood of a positive surprise,” said Jerry A. Webman, chief economist at OppenheimerFunds.
There was a glimmer of hope on Friday when the government reported that orders for appliances and other equipment from manufacturers were higher than expected in May. And the Commerce Department edged up its estimate of growth in the first three months of the year to 1.9 percent, from 1.8 percent.
The slow place of the economy’s expansion is not entirely surprising, though it is clearly painful for those who are out of work and whose homes are worth far less than a few years ago. Many economists, most prominently Kenneth S. Rogoff and Carmen M. Reinhart, have emphasized that recovering from a financial crisis takes much longer than from a normal cyclical recession.
Jan Hatzius, the chief United States economist at Goldman Sachs, said that in fact, households appeared to be paying down debt largely as expected. “Most of the things that looked like they were improving six months ago still look like they are improving,” he said.
Analysts generally expect the economy to pick up in the second half as supplies from Japan come back and car production resumes at some temporarily idled plants. “Parts producers are getting back online a lot quicker than anybody had thought,” said Ben Herzon, a senior economist at Macroeconomic Advisers. The firm is forecasting 3.5 percent overall economic growth in the second half of the year, though that is down from its projection at the beginning of the year of 4 to 4.5 percent.
Consumer spending has been lukewarm as people have cut back elsewhere to cover for higher prices at the pump. Although gas prices have eased in the wake of the International Energy Agency’s announcement that it would release some emergency stockpiles of oil, there is no guarantee prices won’t climb again as turmoil in the Middle East continues. In the meantime, customers remain wary.
“A lot of the factors that will give us a boost in the second half are largely temporary and will run their course at some point,” said David Greenlaw, chief United States economist at Morgan Stanley.
At Young Ford, a car dealership in Charlotte, N.C., David McKinney, operations manager, said that while sales had perked up in the spring, buyers were now holding back. “The psychology is going to take a little while to work through,” he said. He added that consumers were having a hard time obtaining satisfactory loan terms.
Many consumers, he said, were simply afraid to make big commitments while uncertainty hung like a haze over the economy. “We need to let the middle class catch the rabbit,” he said. “Tell them they can go to work 50 hours a week, go to the beach and send their kids to the college and they’ll just keep chasing the rabbit. But now they’re not even sure their job will be there.”
Economists are waiting to see whether the disappointing Labor Department report of hiring in May — which showed that employers added just 54,000 jobs, hardly enough to keep up with normal population growth, much less dent the unemployment rate — was an anomaly or the sign of a significant stall.
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