Monday, January 29, 2018

BLOOMBERG: Soon-to-Be-Deported Activist Wins ‘Freedom to Say Goodbye’

Soon-to-Be-Deported Activist Wins ‘Freedom to Say Goodbye’

NYU Law Student, Brittany Castle from the  Sanctuary Coalition argues the case for Ravi Ragbir  before Federal Judge Katherine Forest

A Manhattan federal judge didn’t mince words in slamming the Trump administration’s handling of an immigration activist’s arrest for deportation as resembling the actions of "regimes we revile as unjust."
 "We are not that country; and woe be the day that we become that country under a fiction that laws allow it," U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest wrote in an opinion Monday in releasing Ravi Ragbir so he can get his affairs in order and say goodbye to his family before being deported to Trinidad & Tobago.

Judge Katherine Forrest speaking from bench, far left.
Courtroom art by Aggie Whelan Kenny 
Ragbir, who is subject to a 2006 order of deportation based on a felony wire fraud conviction, originally came to the U.S. on a visa in 1991 and is married to a U.S. citizen. Forrest, who was appointed to the bench in 2011 by President Barack Obama, said the government was "unnecessarily cruel" in arresting him at a check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, then putting him on a plane to a jail cell in Miami.
"There is, and ought to be in this great country, the freedom to say goodbye," Forrest said. "That is, the freedom to hug one’s spouse and children, the freedom to organize the myriad of human affairs that collect over time. It ought not to be -- and it never has before been -- that those who have lived without incident in this country for years are subjected to treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust, regimes where those who have long lived in a country may be taken without notice from streets, home and work."

Friday, January 19, 2018

Louise and David Turpin arraignment courtroom drawings

13 captive siblings forced to shower once a year, strangled, subject to frequent beatings: Prosecutor

-- Prosecutors revealed grisly details in a press conference Thursday about the captive siblings case out of California.-- The brothers and sisters were subject to repeated beatings, including strangulation, and were punished by being chained up, often for weeks or months at a time, prosecutors said.-- The victims weren't released from their chains even to go to the bathroom and were only allowed to shower once a year, according to prosecutors.-- The children were rescued Sunday after a 17-year-old escaped and alerted authorities to what was happening.-- Prosecutors said the teen plotted the escape for more than two years.
Courtroom sketch of Louise and David Turpin by Mona Edwards

Courtroom drawing of Louise and David Turpin by Bill Robles
The California parents accused of starving and shackling their 13 children allegedly forced them to shower only once a year, never took them to a dentist, and strangled and beat them routinely, prosecutors said Thursday.
David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment after their children were found Sunday at their home. The Riverside County Sheriff's Office described the residence as "dark and foul-smelling."
The Turpins both entered not guilty pleas on all counts Thursday. Their next court date was set for Feb. 23.
The children were rescued Sunday after one of the children -- a 17-year-old girl -- allegedly escaped through a window and called 911. Responding officers said the teen was slightly emaciated and "appeared to be only 10 years old."
"It took great courage for her to do that after all those years, and that's all she knows," Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said of the escape in an interview with ABC News. "She obviously has the personality that she's going to risk herself for others and she did that and she managed to get out. And we're very glad that she did. I don't know how long this would have continued and I don't know what the end result would have been."

Thursday, January 18, 2018

NEW YORKER: The Women Who Took on the Mafia

The Women Who Took on the Mafia

Family loyalty made the Calabrian Mob strong, but its treatment of women was its undoing.


The prosecutor Alessandra Cerreti believed that discontented Mafia women could bring down the organization.
Audio: Listen to this story. To hear more feature stories, download the Audm app for your iPhone.

In Calabria, Lea Garofalo’s disappearance required no explanation. The local Mafia, known as the ’Ndrangheta, had a term for people who simply vanished: lupara bianca, or “white shotgun,” a killing that left no corpse. Residents of Pagliarelle, the mountain village where Garofalo’s family lived, added her name to a list of victims who were never to be mentioned again. In three decades, thirty-five local men and women had been murdered in Mafia vendettas, including Garofalo’s father, her uncle, and her brother.

N'drangheta mafia defendants in Brooklyn Federal Court in 2014     Link to indictment
 Garofalo, born into the ’Ndrangheta,, had eloped with a cocaine smuggler named Carlo Cosco when she was sixteen. The next year, they had a daughter, Denise, and Garofalo implored Cosco to leave the Mob. Instead, a few years later, she witnessed her husband and his brother kill a man in Milan. “You don’t live,” she once said, of the constrained existence of an ’Ndrangheta wife. “You just survive in some way. You dream about something, anything—because nothing’s worse than that life.” In desperation, Garofalo collaborated with prosecutors to put Cosco in jail. For thirteen years, she and Denise moved from one small town to another, in and out of witness protection, as his men pursued them. One night, she looked outside the window of the apartment where they were staying and saw that her Fiat had been set on fire.
By 2010, the Italian state had enough evidence from years of surveillance to suggest that the ’Ndrangheta—whose name, pronounced “n-drahng-ghe-ta,” was derived from a Greek word meaning “honorable men”—was running seventy per cent of the cocaine trade in Europe. Other investigations indicated that it brokered arms deals with criminals, rebels, and terrorists around the world, including fighters on opposing sides of the Syrian civil war; extorted billions of euros from businesses; and swindled the Italian state and the European Union out of tens of billions more, particularly through contracts for roads, ports, wind and solar power, and even the disposal of nuclear waste, which it dumped at sea off Somalia. The bosses ran an empire that operated in fifty countries, from Albania to Togo, linking a Mob war in Toronto to a lawyer’s assassination in Melbourne, and vast real-estate investments in Brussels to a cocaine-delivering pizzeria in Queens called Cucino a Modo Mio (“I Cook My Own Way”).


Monday, January 15, 2018

Hong Kong official pleads not guilty to bribing Kutesa

Hong Kong official pleads not guilty to bribing Kutesa

A former Hong Kong government official has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribing Uganda's Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa, in exchange for oil rights for a Chinese energy company.
The official, Chi Ping Patrick Ho, 68, and a former foreign minister of Senegal, Cheikh Gadio, were arrested in November last year and charged with money laundering and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. 
Ho appeared again before U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest in a Manhattan court and pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday January 8.

Kutesa reportedly received a bribe of $500,000 (about Shs 1.8 billion) from Ho to seal a scheme that was reportedly hatched in the halls of the United Nations in New York, when he served as the president of the U.N. General Assembly.
Ho reportedly wanted Kutesa to connect the said energy company to the president of Uganda Yoweri Museveni and thereby assist the company to obtain lucrative opportunities in Uganda's energy sector and in the banking industry. It turns out the 'investors' had their eyes on Crane bank, before its takeover by the central bank.
Ho is also accused of bribing President Idriss D├ęby of Chad with $2 million "in exchange for securing business advantages" for the conglomerate in its effort to obtain oil rights in the country without facing international competition.
Gadio the conduit for the offer was compensated with $400,000 wired through New York, United States prosecutors told court on Monday.

Federal prosecutor Douglas S. Zolkind, told court that there is voluminous evidence to be shared with Ho's lawyers. The evidence includes thousands of documents consisting of emails and attachments from more than 10 accounts that prosecutors received warrants to search.
He also estimated that multiple thousands of pages of bank and financial and wire records relating to multiple different entities would need to be shared, along with about seven boxes of paper documents and information from 11 phones, four computers, a camera and other equipment seized during a search of the energy organization's offices in Virginia.
It also includes data from two cellphones, an iPad and multiple USB drives seized from Ho; records from three iPhones, a Samsung phone, and multiple USB drives and SIM cards seized from Gadio.
The volume of information is so great, Judge Forrest said, that "my guess is that it will be a year" before the start of the trial.