Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

The Magna Carta Caper

October 29, 2018

The Magna Carta Caper

In Wiltshire last week, a man was arrested for attempting to steal the 800-year-old Magna Carta on display at Salisbury Cathedral. The ancient document was unharmed, but its display case was heavily damaged. The criminal caper was foiled by Matt Delcambre, an American tourist from Louisiana, who tackled the hammer-wielding miscreant. “Back home he would have been hog-tied on the ground,” explained Mrs. Delcambre.

The alleged offender, free on bail, awaits his day in court, a right established by the Magna Carta.

More:

“Man Tried To Steal Magna Carta, 800-Year-Old Symbol Of The Law, Police Say,” Bill Chappell, NPR

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Image (“King John Adds a Digital Signature to the Magna Carta, 1215”)  by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Jamal’s Apple Watch

October 15, 2018

Jamal's Apple Watch
On Saturday, pro-government Turkish newspaper Sabah reported that Turkish officials have audio recordings of the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a US-based Saudi journalist who went missing on October 2nd after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul and is presumed dead at the hands of a Saudi hit squad. The newspaper claims that Khashoggi recorded his own death on his Apple Watch and transmitted the audio files to his iPhone, held by his fiancée on the street outside the consulate.

That’s a memorable but unlikely story. Smartwatches connect to cellphones via Bluetooth, and it’s doubtful a signal could travel that far, and the likely recording app only transfers audio files after the watch wearer turns it off, a hard task for the deceased. If Turkish agents have such recordings, it’s most likely because they have the Saudi consulate bugged, and they spread the watch story as cover.

Mr. Khashoggi was a permanent resident of the U.S., so maybe the American ambassadors to Turkey and Saudi Arabia can look into the matter. Oh wait, President Trump still hasn’t appointed anyone to those crucial diplomatic posts.

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Trump Family: Tax Scams All the Way Down

October 4, 2018

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The New York Times revealed a multi-million-dollar case of Trump family tax fraud last week. Poppa Fred Trump set up phony companies to funnel money to his progeny withour paying gift tax to the IRS — that is, to American taxpayers. He also routinely undervalued properties. Donnie Trump was “earning” $200,000 a year as a 3-year-old,  and was a millionaire by age 8. So much for the “self-made-man” myth. Donald Trump seems to have continued the chicanery with daddy’s money when he was full grown. No wonder he’s never revealed his personal tax returns, despite his campaign promises.

Times reporter Susanne Craig first looked at the financial papers of President Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, submitted to the Senate when she was nominated as a federal judge. An odd $1 million payment from a mysterious family-owned company stood out, and led to the Times investigation.

The charges were denied by a Trump family attorney, and of course Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied about them. President Trump called the Times story “old and boring,” but didn’t deny the story’s findings.Mr. Trump has been caught committing tax fraud before, and New York State tax authorities are looking into the new allegations.

More:

“Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father,” Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and David Barstow, New York Times

“Fred Trump’s Tax Scheme Was Quite Impressive,” Matt Levine, Bloomberg

“Republicans Rigged the System to Enable Crimes Like Trump’s Tax Evasion,” Harry Cheadle, Vice

“Trump’s Shady Accounting Playbook for the Hyper-rich,” Annie Lowery, The Atlantic

“The Trump Family’s Tax Dodging Is Symptomatic of a Larger Problem,” John Cassidy, The New Yorker

“How Times Journalists Uncovered the Original Source of the President’s Wealth,” Melina Delkic, New York Times

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Bill Cosby Lands In the Pudding

September 25, 2018

Bill Cosby Lands In the Pudding

Bill Cosby, a once-beloved entertainer now convicted of sexual assault and a registered sex offender, has been sentenced to 3 to 10 years in a Pennsylvania prison. Earlier, Mr. Cosby admitted obtaining Quaalude prescriptions in order to surreptitiously administer the sedative to women so he could have sex with them. Quaaludes, the “date-rape drug” of the Disco Era, were made a controlled Schedule 1 drug in 1985. Bill Cosby made a public service announcement for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids in 1990.

That’s not the only irony. Bill Cosby’s otherwise family-friendly 1960s comedy act had a routine where he described his teenage fantasy about slipping Spanish Fly, a legendary aphrodisiac, into women’s drinks so he could have sex with them. Nothing funny there, after all.

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He’s Number 1!

August 22, 2018

He's Number 1!

U.S. President Donald J.Trump has been implicated by Michael Cohen, his former attorney, in violating campaign finance law. In Mr. Cohen’s plea agreement, the unindicted co-conspirator in the White House is simply identified as “Individual-1.”

“Of all the things Trump has been called, ‘Individual 1’ may be the most damaging,” John Dickerson, CBS News

More:

“How Michael Cohen’s guilty plea implicates Trump,” Sam Baker, Axios

“Michael Cohen Attorney: ‘Donald Trump Directed Him To Commit A Crime,’” Matt Shuham, TPM Livewire

“With Michael Cohen’s Guilty Plea, President Trump Has Been Implicated in a Criminal Conspiracy,” Adam Davidson, The New Yorker

“‘He’s Unraveling’: Why Cohen’s Betrayal Terrifies Trump,” Michael Kruse, Politico

Related:

“Cohen Has ‘Knowledge’ of Ru,ssia Campaign Conspiracy, Lawyer Says,” Shannon Pettypiece,  Jennifer Jacobs , and Terrence Dopp, Bloomberg

“Is Donald Trump Above the Law?” James Risen, The Intercept

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Manafort: Guilty. Now for the next trial. Oh, and Michael Cohen.

August 22, 2018
Manafort: Guilty. Now for the next trial. Oh, and Michael Cohen.

Paul Manafort’s new LinkedIn photo.

Former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort has been found guilty of filing false income tax returns, failing to report his foreign bank accounts, and bank fraud, 8 counts in all, carrying a combined maximum penalty of 80 years in prison. The jury could not reach unanimity on the remaining 10 counts, and Judge T.S. Ellis declared mistrials on those, meaning prosecutors may ask for a new trial on those counts. Mr. Manafort’s next federal trial begins on September 17th in Washington DC on charges alleging he acted as an unregistered foreign agent and additional fraud charges. Paul Manafort is the fourth former Trump aide to be convicted of crimes charged by special counsel Robert Mueller.

In unrelated GOP crime news, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, pleaded guilty today to income tax evasion, making an unlawful corporate campaign contribution, bank fraud, and making an excessive campaign contribution, 8 counts in all. While combined penalties could  total as much as 65 years imprisonment, this plea deal means Mr. Cohen probably faces up to 5 years in prison. The plea agreement does not preclude him from providing information to special counsel Mueller, a deal that would involve sentence reduction. In his plea, Mr. Cohen said he made the illegal campaign payments – hush money – at the direction of a presidential candidate. Sentencing is scheduled for December 12th.

More:

“Michael Cohen says he worked to silence two women ‘in coordination’ with Trump to influence 2016 election,” Devlin Barrett, Carol D. Leonnig, and Renae Merle, Washington Post

“Why Donald Trump can’t distance himself from Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, in one tweet,” Dara Lind, Vox

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Manafort Trial Begins

July 31, 2018
Manafort Trial Begins

Paul Manafort’s new LinkedIn photo.

The first federal trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort begins today. This is his trial for money laundering, bank fraud, and related charges resulting from Mr. Manafort’s unregistered lobbying and consulting for Russia-backed candidate Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine’s 2010 presidential election.

In this trial, with one exception, we don’t expect to hear any references to the defendant’s role in Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, or his presence at the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russian operatives, but there are certain to be juicy details about the lavish lifestyle funded by Paul Manafort’s questionable gains.

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Supreme Court to Rod Blagojevich: Stay In the Slammer

April 18, 2018

Supreme Court to Rod Blagojevich: Stay In the Slammer

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, the incarcerated Chicago Democrat who tried to sell Barack Obama’s vacant senate seat after the 2004 election. “Blago,” a devoted Elvis fan, is probably all shook up. He’s serving a 14-year sentence, and won’t be sprung until May 2024.

More:

“U.S. Supreme Court again rejects hearing Rod Blagojevich’s appeal,” Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune

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Client Number Three

April 18, 2018

Client Number Three

After the FBI seized documents from his office, home, and hotel room, Trump fixer Michael Cohen is on trial in New York for as-yet unspecified federal crimes, most likely bank fraud and campaign law violations relating to his hush money payoffs to women on behalf of his adulterous clients Donald Trump and Elliott Broidy. Mr. Cohen isn’t much of a lawyer, but he’s had one more client, whose identity he tried to withholdJudge Kimba Wood wasn’t having it, and “client number three” turned out to be Sean Hannity, the vociferous defender of Donald Trump and Michael Cohen on Fox News. Hilarity ensued.

More:

“Yes, Sean Hannity was a legal client of Michael Cohen’s,” Philip Bump, Washington Post

“No Disclosure? No Problem. Sean Hannity Gets a Pass at Fox News.” Michael M. Grynbaum and John Koblin, New York Times

“Sean Hannity’s idea of ‘attorney-client privilege’ was right out of ‘Breaking Bad,’”  Kyle Swenson, Washington Post

“Sean Hannity’s Ties to Two More Trump-Connected Lawyers,” Rosie Gray, The Atlantic

“Michael Cohen and the Busting of the Trump Crime Family,” Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

“Trump Should Be Worried by Cohen Probe. Really Worried.” Noah Feldman,  Bloomberg View

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Top image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Michael Cohen Goes to Court Today

April 16, 2018

Michael Cohen, personal lawyer of Donald Trump, will be in U.S. District Court in New York this afternoon, trying to exclude thousands of documents seized by the FBI from the federal case against him. Mr. Cohen has been charged by Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami, not (as in the SNL skit above) Robert Mueller. Since Mr. Cohen has only one client, Donald Trump, the case against Michael Cohen is more of a present threat to Mr. Trump than the Mueller investigation. And since Michael Cohen serves Donald Trump in the capacity of bagman and fixer, not as a lawyer, attorney-client privilege does not apply. In any case, a lawyer abetting a client in criminal acts cannot hide behind privilege.

More:

“Trump advisers see Cohen probe as greater threat to Trump than Mueller: report,” Max Greenwood, The Hill

“What Exactly Was Michael Cohen Doing for Donald Trump?” David A. Graham, The Atlantic

“Trump Wants to Review Seized Michael Cohen Materials Before Federal Prosecutors,” Margaret Hartmann, New York Magazine

“Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency,” Adam Davidson, The New Yorker

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