Monday, December 10, 2018

The Anatomy Of Election Interference: John Podesta, Pizzagate & Child Protective Services


For those of you who have yet to understand what happens when an individual is accused of child abuse, by an anonymous source, based upon a manufactured falsehood, a child can be removed by Child Protective Services, put in Foster Care, and eventually adopted out after a flurry of fraudulent Medicaid billing, costing tax payers millions.

How would you feel if someone accused you of child abuse where you had no access to any civil justice in a court of law?

The latest and greatest term of moving a child from one place to another, against the will of the parents, is labeled as human trafficking.


Whether or not this was intentional to deflect from the stealin' of children, land and votes, is left to the FBI to produce their investigative findings, which may be centered in the Office of the Special Counsel as a possible violation of the FCPA, being a foreign, funded operation.

I do not like John Podesta and his rogue ass crew because they were all mean to my Sweetie.




Everyone deserves to have their voices heard, if only for the purposes of preserving the annals of history so it never happens again.

John Podesta Is Ready to Talk About Pizzagate - The former Clinton campaign chairman is among the victims still recovering from a vile conspiracy theory that ended in gunfire

WASHINGTON — John Podesta has given it a lot of thought and believes the best way to deal with the trolls is to ignore them. His wife, Mary, however, takes a different approach. When angry people call their home in the middle of the night, she has a conversation with them.

“She sits on the phone and talks to them, which is disconcerting actually to most of the people who are calling just to leave a nasty message on your voicemail,” Podesta says. “When somebody actually engages them and says, ‘Why are you doing this?’ they fold pretty quickly. But she has more patience for that than I do.”

Podesta is easily forgiven for having little time for his tormentors. Since 2016, he has been the victim of a deranged and viral conspiracy theory known as Pizzagate. The theory — which has its roots in the emails stolen from his personal account by Russian hackers and dumped online by WikiLeaks — claimed that Podesta was a pedophile and that he, Hillary Clinton and a Washington, D.C., restaurateur named James Alefantis ran a child sex-trafficking ring from the basement of Alefantis’ pizzeria, Comet Ping Pong.

On its face, Pizzagate was insane, with zero basis in reality. Yet in the frenzied days after Donald Trump’s election, it caught fire on social media platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Reddit and 4Chan, metastasizing into a story so twisted and bizarre that it radicalized online trolls and traumatized others who, through no fault of their own, had gotten sucked into the conspiracy.

Two years ago this month, Pizzagate reached its grim apex when a 28-year-old man stormed into Comet Ping Pong with a revolver and an AR-15 on a mission to save the “children.” Edgar Maddison Welch had binge-watched YouTube videos about Pizzagate and tried to recruit friends for his rescue mission. “Raiding a pedo ring, possibly sacraficing [sic] the lives of a few for the lives of many,” he texted one friend a few days before he got in his Prius and drove from his home in North Carolina to Washington. Customers and employees fled the restaurant as Welch fired several rounds into a locked closet full of computer gear, searching for the infamous child sex dungeon in Comet’s basement, which he never found — not least because the pizzeria doesn’t even have a basement. No one was hurt, and Welch surrendered to the police, hands on his head, in broad daylight in the street outside of Comet. He was later sentenced to four years in federal prison.

Even after the arrest, Pizzagate lived on. The day after Welch stalked into Comet, Michael Flynn, Jr., the son of Trump’s first national security adviser, tweeted: “Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story.” An Economist/YouGov poll in late December 2016 found that 46 percent of Trump voters and 17 percent of Clinton voters thought Pizzagate was real. A few months later, a small rally of Pizzagate believers took place outside the White House. Protesters have stood outside Comet carrying blown-up photos of Alefantis’ god-daughter taken from his social media accounts. Strangers online have threatened to torture, rape and kill him.

“I’ve been through a lot of Washington shit in my life,” Alefantis tells Rolling Stone. He grew up in D.C., and dated David Brock, the notorious conservative journalist turned Clinton loyalist, for 10 years. “This is not my first time at the rodeo,” he says. “I had never seen this volume of specific, directed attacks.”

In the two years since the shooting, our understanding of online conspiracy theories has grown, of how they take root and the people who believe and spread those theories. But what about the victims? What is it like to be on the receiving end? How do you fight back against a plainly false allegation that changes your life?

***
For four decades John Podesta has worked at the highest levels of American politics: campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton’s historic 2016 presidential run, chief of staff to President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, counselor to President Obama and adviser to senators and congressmen. But nothing could prepare him for Pizzagate.

Speaking about the conspiracy theory and its impact on his life for the first time, Podesta tells Rolling Stone that he learned about it the old-fashioned way: from the news. As Clinton campaign chair, he had spent the final month of the 2016 race locked in hand-to-hand combat with reporters about the contents of his personal emails, which WikiLeaks was releasing in periodic batches to damage Clinton’s chances. He didn’t have time to reflect on the hack, let alone notice the conspiracy theories bubbling up about him on websites like Reddit and 4Chan.

Searching for evidence of illegality or anything sinister in Podesta’s hacked emails, wannabe online sleuths decided that mentions of “pizza” were code for child pornography. An anonymous 4chan user posted a list of other supposed code words to search for in Podesta’s emails — “pasta” meant little boy, “ice cream” meant male prostitute, “sauce” meant orgy. Soon, the hashtag #Pizzagate appeared and spread like wildfire on social media.

James Alefantis, owner of Comet Ping Pong in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 5, 2018.
James Alefantis, owner of Comet Ping Pong
Washington, D.C., on December 5th, 2018. 
Podesta claims he wasn’t overly concerned about his emails getting released: their contents, he now says, were “relatively much ado about nothing.” It wasn’t until after the election that he realized those emails had become fuel for a horrific conspiracy theory. In his career, he says he had never been on the receiving end of something like Pizzagate. “It’s painful and crazy,” he says. “I’m pretty grizzled. One big difference is you’ve got somebody sitting in the Oval Office stoking the conspiracy. That’s pretty different than what I’ve experienced in my years in politics.”

Podesta was only one strain of the conspiracy. Another thread formed around Alefantis and Comet Ping Pong. It appears to have begun with a 2008 email included in the WikiLeaks dump in which Alefantis asked Podesta if he would give a speech at an Obama fundraiser at Comet. From there, the trolls began mining every detail they could find about Alefantis and Comet, quickly concocting a parallel theory that said Alefantis, Podesta and Clinton ran a child sex-trafficking ring. Self-styled investigators claimed that symbols on Comet’s iconic sign (which had previously been used by a D.C. liquor store that had since closed) were linked to satanic rituals. They said a photo of an empty walk-in refrigerator was evidence of a secret kill room.

One day in November 2016, roughly a month before Welch’s attack, one of Alefantis’ young employees told him that a wild theory called Pizzagate was blowing up on Reddit. “What’s Reddit?” he asked.

Alefantis is a self-taught chef who never graduated from college and a self-made restaurateur well-known around Washington. (GQ named him one of D.C.’s 50 most powerful people in 2012.) He opened Comet more than a decade ago to be “a place of play and interaction,” as he puts it, where families could eat pizza and play ping pong and engage in real, substantive conversations with one another.

Alefantis told his staff that this Pizzagate thing would blow over after the election. Then Trump won, and the threats got worse. Violent messages poured into Comet’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, some of which Alefantis shared with Rolling Stone:

I will kill you personallyI truly hope someone blows your brains all over comet pizzaAre you scared yet? You should be motherfucker because were [sic] coming for youYou need to be raped killed and tortured like you do to children u sick fuck .. ur days of freedom are numbers u evil douche

The home addresses and phone numbers of Alefantis and his employees were published online. Comet would receive 150 menacing calls in a single day, Alefantis says, so he unplugged the phone. People reviewed Comet on Yelp and said there were chopped-up baby parts in their food.

As the threats became more violent, Alefantis repeatedly contacted the D.C. police and the FBI. He estimates he called the bureau three or four times and described a situation that, he admits, sounded insane. The FBI largely told him to call the police. “They were essentially like, ‘If you get a specific threat, let us know. Thank you, goodbye.'” When he asked what qualified as a specific threat, the FBI said, “A date and time when they’re going to come.” He says the local police visited Comet on multiple occasions but there was zero specific action taken by the police or the FBI as the threats escalated in the weeks after the election. (The FBI did not respond to a request for comment.)

At the same time the Pizzagaters barraged Comet, they attacked Alefantis personally. Strangers filmed his house and questioned his neighbors, he says. Any person or organization connected to him also got sucked in. A non-profit art gallery whose board he chaired received angry calls. Any trace of Alefantis’ life found in public records or social media — an old home address, an event he had attended — was used against him.

He came to see Pizzagate as a real-life video game played by the theory’s true believers. “These are people at home who want to investigate, and basically anything that’s available online is fair game to them,” Alefantis says. Sometimes, when he responded to the people making the threats, they would veer off into unexpected territory. “Some of those messages to me were, ‘How much do you pay your employees? Do you have health care?'” When he told them he did in fact offer health care, some responded, “Will you hire me?”

FILE - In this Dec. 4, 2016 file photo, Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C., surrenders to police in Washington. Welch, a man who police said was inspired by false internet rumors dubbed “pizzagate” to fire an assault weapon inside a Washington pizzeria pleaded guilty Friday, March 24, 2017, to two charges. (Sathi Soma via AP, File)
In this Dec. 4, 2016 file photo, Edgar Maddison Welch, 28 of Salisbury, N.C.,
 surrenders to police in Washington. Welch, a man who police said was inspired
 by false internet rumors dubbed “pizzagate” to fire an assault weapon inside a
Washington pizzeria pleaded guilty Friday, March 24, 2017, to two charges.
But the onslaught proved too much for him to handle on his own. Through a friend, he got in touch with Mike Gottlieb, a partner at the firm Boies Schiller Flexner. (David Boies, one of the firm’s founders, is the renowned litigator who has faced criticism for his work on behalf of Harvey Weinstein and the fraudulent blood-testing company Theranos.) Alefantis and Gottlieb met on a Friday in early December 2016, and Gottlieb agreed to take on Alefantis as a client. That Sunday, Welch walked into the restaurant, guns in tow. (Welch did not respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment.)

Alefantis wasn’t at Comet but rushed over when he heard about the gunman. The neighborhood was a crime scene: there were SWAT officers and yellow tape everywhere, and police had evacuated Comet’s employees to a fire station down the street. The workers at Buck’s Fishing and Camping, another restaurant Alefantis owned on the same block as Comet, were locked inside for their safety, as were the other people who worked at nearby businesses. “I really hope that all these people fanning the flames of this conspiracy theory would take a moment to contemplate what has gone on today and maybe to stop,” Alefantis, still in shock, told reporters later that day.

At the urging of his new legal and P.R. team, Alefantis reopened Comet on Dec. 6th, two days after the attack. A long line of customers waited to get in, and he stood at the front door to personally welcome them. He recalls seeing one of his best friends from high school in line with her young kids. Months later, Alefantis and the friend talked about that day. “She said, ‘The look on your face was Don’t come here,'” he recalls. “I asked her, ‘How did you feel?’ She was like, ‘I did not want to go there. It was so terrifying for me.'” But her kids wanted to go and so she took them. “That trauma exists,” he says, “not just for me, but for a whole community of people.”
***
After Comet was back up and running, Alefantis and his lawyers set out to stop the spread of Pizzagate. “For me, at some point, I was like: My name is totally destroyed,” Alefantis says. “I just didn’t want anyone to come shoot us up again.”

The response from the social media companies ranged from helpful to utterly dismissive, Alefantis recalls. Even before he’d hired lawyers, Alefantis had gotten Yelp to suspend Comet’s page after his staff had reported the abusive reviews. Facebook was responsive to Comet’s complaints. YouTube, however, refused to so much as acknowledge its role in amplifying Pizzagate, saying they were just a platform, that they weren’t an arbiter of truth and falsity and told Alefantis to get back in touch if and when he could get a court order finding the videos that promoted Pizzagate to be defamatory.

“YouTube is a platform committed to allowing a wide range of free expression, but it is not and never has been anything goes,” a YouTube spokesperson tells Rolling Stone, adding that in the first half of 2018 the company removed more than 17 million individual videos that violated its policies.

The traditional crisis communications playbook proved useless. Media interviews and op-eds did nothing to quiet the conspiracists and, if anything, emboldened them. Alefantis’ lawyers and P.R. team booked him onto then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly’s show a few weeks after the attack. It didn’t help: Alefantis answered all of Kelly’s questions, but the interview just became more fodder.

 “We thought it was possible to show and tell the facts — to make sure that people could see with their own eyes that the crazy conspiracies were just false,” says Molly Levinson, a communications strategist who advised Alefantis. “But we quickly learned that in these kinds of situations any attention is bad attention, any public conversation becomes twisted and contorted and most likely has more of a negative than positive effect.”

The only real strategy, Alefantis realized, was a legal strategy. He would have to get aggressive with the loudest proponents of Pizzagate, people like Alex Jones, host of InfoWars, who had run multiple broadcasts with titles like “Pizzagate Is Real” and “Pizzagate: The Bigger Picture.”

Gradually, in the months after the gunman showed up, Jones and others seemed to bow to legal pressure and backed away from Pizzagate. On March 24th, 2017, Jones published online and read on-air a lengthy statement in which he apologized to Alefantis, announced that he had removed past broadcasts about Pizzagate and admitted that those stories were based on “an incorrect narrative.” Neither Alefantis nor his lawyers would further comment on any interactions with Jones or on any possible settlement.  

Podesta says he considered litigation as well. But suing the Pizzagaters would be extremely difficult given that he was a major public figure. He pushed back against the trolls on Twitter, but that didn’t make much difference, either. He found that the best course of action was doing nothing. “If I really spent my life trying to figure out what those people were saying, it would drive me nuts,” he says. “The only rational reaction to that is to deal with it when there’s something serious and right in front of you, but for the most part to try to ignore it.”

***

This past September, Alefantis traveled to New York City to attend a therapy session with his ex-boyfriend. Alefantis and his ex had broken up as Pizzagate was raging, but they had decided to see a therapist together. During their session, Alefantis assured his ex that, almost two years later, the nightmare had passed. “Things have moved on,” he recalls saying. “You’re safe. Everyone’s fine. It’s all over.”

After their session, they headed for the subway. A stranger approached Alefantis on the street and began taking pictures in his face and screaming at him.

“I’m going to my kid’s school right now!” the stranger said, apparently fearing for his child’s safety.
“Don’t engage, James,” his ex told him.

“Go call the police,” Alefantis said to the man, “and get the fuck away from me.”
Alefantis walked his ex to the subway station. The stranger followed Alefantis on foot before eventually leaving. “The guy’s basically chasing after me through the streets of New York,” he recalls. “He’s a Pizzagater. He recognized me. It still happens.”

Today, Alefantis says business at Comet is back to pre-Pizzagate levels. The angry phone calls and violent online threats have mostly subsided. You can still find plenty of disturbing tweets if you search for #Pizzagate or #CometPingPong on social media. But the worst of it appears to be over. Alefantis says he thinks the trolls just moved on to other things.

A restaurant in a smaller city, owned by someone with fewer connections, would’ve closed, he says. But the community of customers Alefantis had built up over the years rallied around him. Three brief phone calls and he had a meeting with one of the best attorneys in the country. “If this had been someone else or someone else’s restaurant, without 10 years of hard work and support behind us, without my understanding of how absurd the world can be and how difficult these things are, other people would have been taken down,” he says.

But the trauma remains. He’s been called the most despicable thing you can say to someone. Even in liberal circles, people jokingly refer to him as the Pizzagate guy. He’s figuring out what the ordeal means for his future. “Previous to this, I was out in the world and I had nothing but glowing Google hits and my restaurants were easily reviewed,” he says. “Now, it’s nothing but filth, basically. When I go into a business meeting or do a new venture or go into a new relationship with someone serious, there are major issues. It’s destroyed my name.”

Podesta, for his part, says Pizzagate seems to be largely over for him, to the extent online conspiracy theories ever really go away. He says his neighbors have chased away people walking up and down his block and acting suspiciously. After a Trump supporter sent pipe bombs to a number of prominent Democrats in October, Podesta resorted to poking and prodding his mail with a pen before opening it. President Trump still tweetsabout him, his messages amplified by an army of trolls at the ready. And the same backlash happens any time Podesta himself tweets about Trump, a move his staff has come to dread but something he won’t give up.

Pizzagate has left him with some pretty big scars, Podesta says, but he worries more about the victims of viral conspiracy theories who don’t have his thick skin. “As a person who’s pretty hardened by a lifetime in politics, I sometimes think, ‘Well, how would a normal person even begin to live with this?'”

Still, Podesta admits that the events of the past two years have left him less inclined to speak out. “You’re conscious about the notion that you are going to trigger a crazy response,” he says. “Sometimes you feel compelled to do it anyway. And I don’t do it for fun. I do it when I think something’s serious enough that I need to say something. And now I’m just a little bit more guarded it, and guarded about what appearances I accept.”

He catches himself from sounding too woe-is-me. “I’ve had the honor of working for a president,” he says. “I can’t bitch too much about my life. It’s been pretty good.”

“The pizza’s still good at Comet, too.”

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Sunday, December 9, 2018

North Carolina Bladen County Board Of Elections Sounds Like Michigan Wayne County Board Of Elections

I wonder if North Carolina Bladen County Board of Elections is the sister governmental entity to Michigan Wayne County Board of Elections.

Probably not.

Perhaps we should ask Jonathan Kinloch.

Probably not.

He may be legally gagged, or not, but hey, what do I know?

I know the Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has yet to send me copy of her letter of certification of the 2018 Michigan Special Election that was transmitted to the U.S. Clerk of the House and accepted by the Speaker of the House.

I wonder if North Carolina Secretary of State has done the same.

I should ask.

Amid N.C. election fraud investigation, Bladen County board member resigns

Jens Lutz informed colleagues of his abrupt decision, saying “things have gotten way out of hand.”

WASHINGTON — The vice chairman of the Bladen County Board of Elections abruptly announced his resignation as the North Carolina State Board of Elections continues its investigation into potential election fraudin 9th Congressional District race there.

Jens Lutz informed his fellow board members and the executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections of his resignation in an email Friday evening because “things have gotten way out of hand.”

“Sometimes in life circumstances reach the breaking point especially when your (sic) trying to do the right thing. It becomes even more difficult when your family is drug into the drama plus your own party begins to attack you for compromising and common sense decisions,” Lutz wrote. “I regret having to do this but things have gotten way out of hand.”




Rural Bladen County has become the epicenter of the investigation into irregularities with absentee ballots involving third parties allegedly collecting handling them. It is illegal for anyone other than family members, legal guardians or official delivery people to turn in ballots.

The state board of elections has voted twice not to certify the election results of the ninth district congressional race between Democrat Dan McCready and Republican Mark Harris. After Election Day, Harris appeared to be the unofficial winner by 905 votes. The board has also stopped the certification of the results of several local in races in the district.

Since the board of elections announced its investigation, McCready has withdrawn his concession. Harris has said he would support a new election, which the board has the power to call for, if the investigation finds enough widespread fraud to call the results into question.

Central to the investigation is Bladen County resident McCrae Dowless, the county's soil and water supervisor, who was hired by the Red Dome consulting group to do work for the Harris campaign on grassroots and get-out-the-vote efforts. The names of Dowless, members of his family and other associates appear as signatures as witnesses on absentee ballots, according to documents released by the state board of elections. According to the personal accounts of some voters, some of those same individuals attempted to collected their absentee ballots, promising to submit them.

"Overall, I'm a Democrat, but I've never been one to stay where I'm not wanted,” Lutz told WECT. “It came to my attention yesterday that some in the Democratic party are not happy with me. I'm getting hit on both sides, including my own party. I just thought it was time to step down."

The state board plans to hold an evidentiary hearing by December 21 and under state law, it has the power to order a new election in a given contest if it determines there were enough widespread "irregularities or improprieties” to “taint the results of the entire election and cast doubt on its fairness.”

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Cocktails & Popcorn: Michigan Emergency Manager, Police & Voting Rights Are A Messy Mix

classic film drinking GIF
"Oh, this is going to be messy."
Do you know why I am just going to go wild and sip on a bit of shiraz for this one?

Every single one of these cities were under the authority of the Michigan Emergency Manager Law.

See, I am going to put it like this, just because I know the characters in this particular tale, they are feasting upon their own flesh because these municipal law enforcement jurisdictions have no clue of what is going on because no one told them anything for the simple fact that everyone was under an Emergency Manager, appointed by the Governor, advised by the Michigan Department of Treasury who was doing Andy.

Anyway, I was really waiting for something to come up about their public auctions or funding political campaigns.

I remember COBRA used to be busy, busy, busy doing lots of community outreach in Hamtramck.

I also know there is much more to the story because the article below, is true, trust me, I know.

The same thing that they were doing with Property Deeds is what they were doing to Vehicle Titles because it all started in child welfare.

For your viewing pleasure, I have left a report of a House Judiciary Report by the Democratic Committee Staff on the Emergency Manger Law just because I would like everyone to pay attention to the names of authority on that report, then, I want you to envision me sipping my shiraz while this plays out because this is going to get really messy.

You do know police are part of a city's election commission, unless a state and city puts up a "Legal Genius" (trademark pending) as one of those "attorney-client privileges" messy-messies.


FUN FACT! KEVYN ORR CAME OUT OF BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA AND ADVOCATED FOR VOTING RIGHTS

Detroit area police accuse each other of wrongdoing

Mike Moore
City of Ecorse Police Chief
Michael Moore
Meanwhile, Detroit assistant chief James White sent a memo last year to Highland Park's police chief, claiming an officer also was improperly logging stolen cars into the LEIN system. Highland Park officials have not commented on the allegation.

The three police departments worked together, along with Hamtramck, as part of the COBRA stolen car task force until the unit disbanded last year, following complaints by Detroit officials about how cops in Ecorse and Highland Park processed stolen vehicles.

Similar issues are raised in a Wayne County Circuit Court lawsuit filed by Ecorse officer Cornelius Herring, who alleges he was subjected to a hostile work environment for exposing the alleged wrongdoing by fellow Ecorse officers.

Herring says the officers did not alert citizens that their vehicles had been stolen, which allowed the vehicles to become Ecorse's property, to be auctioned off and then purchased by Ecorse officials. The city's police chief and mayor acknowledge they bought two of those vehicles for private use, although the chief and the city's attorney insist there was nothing improper about the transactions.

Ecorse Sgt. Geoffrey Howard also told his superior officers about the alleged LEIN improprieties, according to correspondence between attorneys and city officials. Although Howard also has filed a lawsuit claiming he was mistreated by department officials, the LEIN charges aren't included in his complaint, which alleges racial discrimination over how a coworker's social media post was handled.
Moore told The Detroit News he looked into the claims by Herring and Howard and found nothing wrong.

Moore also said Craig told him and other Ecorse police officials during a meeting in Ecorse police headquarters last year that they were improperly processing stolen vehicles.

"At that meeting, (Craig) started telling everyone they were doing things illegally," Moore said. "Someone tapped him on the shoulder and said, 'let's go out for a minute.' Then, when he came back, he backpedaled on everything he said. I don't know what was said outside the room, but he clearly realized he was out of bounds by saying we were doing illegal things."

Craig called Moore's account "nonsense."

"I would have never came out and told him that — especially if I thought they were involved in criminality," Craig said. "If I thought they were doing something illegal, I would've taken that to the FBI.

"Did I possibly say I had some concerns? I may have, but I don't even remember that," he said. "I dispute these allegations. I don't know what (Moore) is talking about."

Moore also claimed Parish last year asked Ecorse officers to give more work to Fiore's tow firms.

 "There were tow companies that were getting kickbacks, and they were upset that our officers weren't using those companies enough," Moore said. "(Parish) was here on behalf of (former Detroit police civilian deputy chief and department attorney) Celia Washington.

He wanted us to use (Fiore's) tow companies more often."

Washington was sentenced in April to a year in prison for taking bribes from Fiore, who also was convicted by federal authorities last year in a widespread corruption case.

Parish insisted his discussion with Ecorse police was about his investigation into how Ecorse officers weren't properly entering stolen vehicles into the LEIN system.

"There were several issues with how information was being put into LEIN by Ecorse officers," Parish said. "So I went there trying to get more information about their practices."

Parish said the notion that he would advocate for Fiore is "ridiculous," and pointed out that he testified against Fiore before the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners and in federal court, advocating for Fiore's companies to be banned from the Detroit police towing rotation.

The department in May adopted Parish's recommendation, suspending six tow companies city officials said were affiliated with Fiore, who was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for taking bribes in Macomb County.

Moore said he was concerned about Parish's visit. "We brought this to the feds and Michigan State Police," he said.

FBI spokesman Mara Schneider declined to comment. Michigan State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner said Ecorse officials asked about LEIN procedures, but that no specific allegations of wrongdoing were made.

"We checked with our detectives in Metro Detroit and no one has awareness of this matter," Banner said.

Ecorse police officers Herring and Howard in July brought separate lawsuits against the city of Ecorse, Mayor Lamar Tidwell and Moore. Herring's lawsuit says he was demoted from sergeant to officer in part because he “exposed Moore and a coworker for violation of LEIN procedures, possibly being a criminal offense."

Moore and city attorney Charles Wycoff insist the lawsuits are baseless, saying there were legitimate reasons for punishing both officers.

"These are two employees who are disgruntled because they were being disciplined," Moore said. "That's all this is. They both have a long record of disciplinary issues."

Barry Keller, attorney for Herring and Howard, said: "This isn't disgruntled employees. According to my client (Herring), stolen cars weren't being properly entered into the LEIN system."

According to Herring, the alleged scheme involved officers manipulating the LEIN system to hide recovered stolen vehicles from their owners until they became Ecorse property. The vehicles were listed in the system as abandoned, not stolen, and the owners were never notified, Herring said.

Under Michigan law, if the owner of an abandoned vehicle doesn't respond within 20 days after it's towed, the vehicles become property of the police department that oversaw their recovery. The vehicles are then scrapped, retained by the police department or auctioned off.

Herring said Ecorse's police chief and mayor ended up driving stolen vehicles that were towed from other jurisdictions and not properly entered into LEIN. Moore and Wycoff insisted the vehicles — the chief's 2010 Nissan Armada and the mayor's 2006 Chevrolet Trailblazer — were legitimately purchased.

Oakland University criminal justice professor Daniel Kennedy said officials purchasing vehicles that were confiscated in their own jurisdiction opens up questions of impropriety.

"My opinion is that (police and city officials) should try to avoid even the appearance of impropriety," Kennedy said. "The most important thing would be to make sure the (officials) had no advantage over other citizens in being able to bid for those vehicles, and that it was an open process."
Moore said a 2008 Cadillac Escalade, which was stolen in Detroit in 2016, kicked off the allegations about LEIN misuse.

"The issue which created this whole thing was one of our officers, (Cpl.) Kevin Barkman, recovered a vehicle in Detroit and put it in LEIN through the city of Ecorse," Moore said. "(Herring and Howard) are trying to say it was illegal for Barkman to put that car into LEIN using the Ecorse ORI (Originating Agency Identifier) number, because the vehicle was recovered in Detroit."

Moore acknowledged the stolen Escalade was initially logged into the LEIN system as an abandoned vehicle.

"Cpl. Barkman didn't have a report that the vehicle had been stolen," Moore said. "He found it on cement blocks with the window knocked out, so he listed it as abandoned. The Detroit ORI wasn't used because Barkman is deputized as a Wayne County sheriff, so he has countywide jurisdiction."

The SUV eventually was returned to the Detroit woman who owned it — "but the tow company (B&G Towing in Detroit, which has ties to Fiore, according to Detroit police) never told us the owner had picked it up," Moore said. "If they had, we'd have taken it out of LEIN immediately."

Six months later, the SUV was stolen a second time from in front of the woman's house on Detroit's east side, Moore said.

"The woman went to the Detroit precinct to report her vehicle was stolen, but the Detroit sergeant was unable to put it into LEIN as a stolen vehicle because it was still in our system as a recovered vehicle," Moore said. "The Detroit police sergeant called us and said the vehicle was still listed in the LEIN system as an abandoned vehicle."

Moore said Herring refused the Detroit sergeant's request to remove the vehicle from LEIN, for which he was charged with neglect of duty and insubordination, and demoted. His case is pending. Howard was reprimanded for smoking in the police station.

Flat Rock attorney David Grunow was retained by Ecorse to look into the allegations made by Herring and Howard. In a Feb. 23, 2018, letter to Wycoff, Grunow wrote that he'd interviewed the two officers about their claims.

Grunow's letter says Moore investigated the allegations of LEIN abuse "and found no justification for the complaint ... and found that there was insufficient evidence to discipline Cpl. Barkman."

Detroit police officials also have had problems with how Highland Park Cpl. James McMahon used the LEIN system. In a June 28, 2017, memo to Highland Park Police Chief Chester Logan, White, Detroit's assistant chief, wrote: "McMahon was not using the ... stolen vehicle recovery notification as required by ... LEIN.

"Several vehicle recovery notifications were being sent by Administrative Message, missing pertinent recovery information," White wrote, adding: "Corporal McMahon failed to reply or follow up when request for required missing information was sent to him.

"These failures raised some concerns within the Detroit Police Department, due to the fact that the ultimate outcome led to substantial tow fees to be paid by the citizens," White wrote.

federal lawsuit filed in August accuses McMahon and Hamtramck Officer Michael Stout of conspiring with Fiore to illegally seize vehicles to collect towing and impound fees.
Highland Park spokeswoman Marli Blackman did not respond to a request for comment.
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Former Attorney General Bill Barr Is The Next Attorney General With Impeccable Timing To Address Privatization In Trafficking Tiny Humans

Image result for bill barr
Bill Barr & The Father of Privatization
Well, this is interesting.

George H.W. Bush dies and Trump's advisors recommend nomination of Bill Barr.

Then there is a flurry of positions coming out pro, against, and even neutral on Bill Barr.

All I can say is that I think he is going to fall under that pesky "attorney-client privilege" thing no one is talking about.

Bill knows stuff.

Let us find out just what he knows, or what he is willing, or unwilling, to share.

He only issued one Advisory Opinion of his tenure, that has been published, but I am sure there are more, unless he did not issue any, relying upon other individuals in the Office of Legal Counsel, but hey, what do I know?

I only know that he was the Attorney General who oversaw the implementation of privatization, and it started with the children and the only thing he opined was on abortion which laid the foundation for ASFA.

Interesting.

https://www.justice.gov/olc/file/626871/download

https://www.justice.gov/olc/file/626876/download


Whitaker endorses William Barr as a 'law-and-order' choice for attorney general

Blumenthal: Danger Is That Bill Barr Will Commit A "Saturday Night Massacre In Slow Motion"


Rand Paul says he has concerns about William Barr, Trump’s pick for attorney general

Trump will nominate William Barr as next attorney general 

  • President Donald Trump announced Friday that he will nominate William Barr as attorney general.
  • Barr previously was attorney general during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
  • Barr, who would succeed acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, is "a terrific man, a terrific person, a brilliant man," Trump told reporters. The president fired AG Jeff Sessions in November.

President Donald Trump said Friday that he will nominate William Barr as attorney general — a position that Barr previously held during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

Trump called Barr "one of the most respected jurists in the country, [a] highly respected lawyer ... a terrific man, a brilliant man."

"I think he will serve with great distinction," the president told reporters at the White House.


If confirmed by the Senate, Barr would take over leadership of the Justice Department from acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.

Whitaker has been in that temporary role since last month when Trump effectively fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

President Donald Trump says he will nominate William Barr, former President George H.W. Bush's attorney general, to serve in the same role.

Trump has faced criticism ever since putting Whitaker in charge without getting Senate approval for him.

The temporary appointment also sparked worries that Whitaker would hamstring or even kill the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Muller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion by Trump's campaign.

Trump has repeatedly railed against that probe — most recently in a storm of angry tweets Friday morning. Trump had long been angry at Sessions for the appointment of Mueller as special counsel, which was set in motion when Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation because of his own contacts with Russians during the presidential campaign.

Trump told reporters that he "did not know" Barr until recently, "when I went through the process of looking at people."

"He was my first choice, from day one, respected by Republicans, and respected by Democrats," Trump said. "He will be nominated for the United States attorney general, and hopefully that process will go very quickly and I think it will go very quickly."

"I've seen very good things about him, even over the last day or so when people thought [Trump's AG nominee] would be Bill Barr."

Barr, who was last attorney general from 1991 to 1993, currently is of counsel in the Washington office of the high-powered Kirkland & Ellis law firm.

A year ago, when The New York Times reported on Trump's call for the Justice Department to investigate supposed wrongdoing by 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Barr said, "There is nothing inherently wrong about a president calling for an investigation."

"Although an investigation shouldn't be launched just because a president wants it, the ultimate question is whether the matter warrants investigation," Barr told the newspaper.

The Times reported at the time that Barr saw more reason to investigate Clinton's purported role in signing off on the purchase by Russia's atomic energy agency of a Canadian firm which holds a significant chunk of U.S. uranium production capacity than there was to probe possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Barr also told told The Washington Post in November 2018 that, "I don't think all this stuff about throwing [Clinton] in jail or jumping to the conclusion that she should be prosecuted is appropriate."

"But I do think that there are things that should be investigated that haven't been investigated," he said.

In 2017, Barr was asked by the Post about Trump's claims that Mueller's team of prosecutors is biased because some of them had contributed to political campaigns of Democrats.

"In my view, prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party," he told the Post. "I would have liked to see him have more balance on this group."

Barr served in the CIA from 1973 through 1977. He later was on the White House domestic policy staff during the Reagan administration. He became an assistant attorney general in 1989.

After leaving the attorney general's post in 1993, Barr spent more than 14 years in top corporate legal positions, including as general counsel and executive vice president of Verizon Communications. He retired from Verizon in 2008.

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DOJ: Priest Charged with Sexually Abusing Filipino Boys


...and they all fell down....all of them.


Image: Rev. Kenneth Bernard Hendricks was arrested in the Philippines on Dec. 5, 2018. Hendricks is accused of sexually assaulting altar boys.
Kenneth B. Hendricks
CINCINNATI – An American priest from Cincinnati has been charged by a federal criminal complaint for allegedly sexually abusing minor boys.
Kenneth B. Hendricks, 77, of Cincinnati, was arrested Tuesday evening in the Philippines, where he currently serves as a missionary priest.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Steve Francis, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), announced the charges.
The government unsealed the criminal complaint today. According to that document and its supporting affidavit, on November 13, HSI received information regarding alleged sexual exploitation of multiple minor Filipino boys.
Information indicated that a Catholic priest – later identified as Father Hendricks – had been sexually assaulting the boys. Subsequently, several victims have been identified and provided statements to law enforcement.
For example, one victim said he had been sexually abused by the local parish priest since 2009, when the boy was approximately 12 years old. Another victim stated he was sexually abused by Hendricks beginning when the victim was seven years old.
One victim said he and Hendricks engaged in anal sex at least a dozen times and oral sex more than 30 times. Further, Hendricks allegedly inserted a hose and his fingers into the boy’s anus.
Another victim said he masturbated Hendricks’s penis approximately 40 times and that Hendricks did the same to the boy at least 60 times.
Victims said Hendricks began by kissing them and the contact escalated to touching their penises, oral and anal sex.
Hendricks allegedly had a number of minor boys residing with him. It is alleged he insisted they take baths together, and would molest the victims alone or with other boys. The priest allegedly warned the victims that if they told anyone they would all go to prison.
In a recorded conversation with one of the victims, Hendrick stated: “This will probably be the scenario is, there will be a meeting and then it will be decided, you know, what your parents want to do about anything. Do they want to try…want to press charges, uh, whatever see, but that’s between them and the Bishop, I have nothing to do with that. I just get the fallout afterwards.”
In the same conversation, Hendricks said: “they will decide, ask you what your decision is, what you’re going to do, whether there will be a case or not or whether, you know, a settlement, I don’t know. But as far as after that, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I really will have to probably really resign, retire now.”
Hendricks is charged as a United States citizen with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, which is a federal crime punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by HSI and the Assistance of the Philippines National Police, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys Christy L. Muncy and Timothy D. Oakley, who are prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
If you have information related to this alleged conduct, or believe you are also a victim, please contact HSI at 513-246-1461.

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Cocktails & Popcorn: Trump Fires John Kelly, Omarosa Still Denied Due Process

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"We shall forever be known as Mr. & Mrs. Messy Pants"
Can someone, please, enlighten me as to why no one is talking about Omarosa?

Seriously.

Trump fires his Chief of Staff and no one in the media has even mentioned the fact that Trump called her a dog and that she was secretly recording confidential meetings and dumping it in the media.

Seriously.


John Kelly’s exit raises concerns about White House future



Where is Omarosa?  Someone should interview her.  She deserves her day in House Judiciary Hearings of Impeachment. Yup. She can sit right next to Monica Lewinsky and me.  I will sneak in wine coolers and tiny bags of popcorn.

We want to hear from....

#OmarosaToo

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Saturday, December 8, 2018

DOJ: Four Defendants Charged in Panama Papers Investigation for Their Roles in Panamanian-Based Global Law Firm’s Decades-Long Scheme to Defraud the United States

Oh, I am so going to enjoy this when we get to Detroit.

I wonder if Janet Olszewski is related to the family.

Panama Papers US Charges - The Clients
What the Panama Papers tell us about the
 clients in the latest bombshell charges
Four individuals have been charged in an indictment unsealed today in the Southern District of New York with wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering and other offenses in connection with their alleged roles in a decades-long criminal scheme perpetrated by Mossack Fonseca & Co. (“Mossack Fonseca”), a Panamanian-based global law firm, and related entities.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York, Chief Don Fort of IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York made the announcement today.
Ramses Owens, 50, a Panamanian citizen; Dirk Brauer, 54, a German citizen; Richard Gaffey, 74, a U.S. citizen, of Medfield, Massachusetts; and Harald Joachim Von Der Goltz, 81, a German citizen, have been charged in an 11-count indictment.  Owens, Gaffey and Von Der Goltz are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit tax evasion, one count of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering conspiracy.  Owens and Brauer have been charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.  Gaffey and Von Der Goltz are additionally charged with four counts of willful failure to file an FBAR.  Von Der Goltz has been additionally charged with two counts of making false statements.
Three of the four defendants named in the indictment have been arrested.  Brauer, who worked as an investment manager for Mossfon Asset Management, S.A. (“Mossfon Asset Management”), an asset management company closely affiliated with Mossack Fonseca, was arrested in Paris, France, on Nov. 15.  Von Der Goltz, a former U.S. resident and taxpayer, was arrested in London, United Kingdom, on Dec. 3.  Gaffey, a U.S.-based accountant, was arrested in Boston, Massachusetts earlier today.  Owens, a Panamanian attorney who worked for Mossack Fonseca, remains at large.   
“Law firms, asset managers, and accountants play key roles enabling entry into the global financial system,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “The charges announced today demonstrate our commitment to prosecute professionals who facilitate financial crime across international borders and the tax cheats who utilize their services.” 
"As alleged, these defendants went to extraordinary lengths to circumvent U.S. tax laws in order to maintain their wealth and the wealth of their clients,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Berman.  “For decades, the defendants, employees and a client of global law firm Mossack Fonseca allegedly shuffled millions of dollars through offshore accounts and created shell companies to hide fortunes.  In fact, as alleged, they had a playbook to repatriate un-taxed money into the U.S. banking system.  Now, their international tax scheme is over, and these defendants face years in prison for their crimes.”
“The unsealing of this indictment sends a clear message that IRS-CI is actively engaged in international tax enforcement, and more investigations are on the way,” said IRS-CI Chief Don Fort.  “IRS-CI specializes in unraveling these intricate offshore tax schemes and following the money around the globe wherever it may lead.  Cases like this help maintain the public’s confidence in our tax system by letting them know that we investigate and prosecute those who evade their tax obligation.”
“Today we announce the indictment of four individuals who allegedly defrauded the U.S. government through a large scale, intercontinental money laundering and wire fraud scheme, associated with Mossack Fonseca and its affiliates,” said HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez.  “HSI’s El Dorado Task Force, together with the IRS, built a case that uncovered an alleged complex trail of offshore shell corporations and bogus foundations used to disguise the beneficial ownership of huge amounts of money.  These efforts reflect the commitment of U.S. law enforcement to follow that trail and apprehend these criminals regardless of where they are in the world.”
According to the indictment, from at least in or about 2000 through in or about 2017, Owens and Brauer conspired with others to help U.S. taxpayer clients of Mossack Fonseca conceal assets and investments, and the income generated by those assets and investments, from the IRS through fraudulent, deceitful, and dishonest means.  To conceal their clients’ assets and income from the IRS, Owens and Brauer allegedly worked to establish and manage opaque offshore trusts and undeclared bank accounts on behalf of U.S. taxpayers who were clients of Mossack Fonseca.  Owens and Brauer allegedly marketed, created, and serviced sham foundations and shell companies formed under the laws of countries such as Panama, Hong Kong, and the British Virgin Islands, to conceal from the IRS and others the ownership by U.S. taxpayers of accounts established at overseas banks, as well as the income generated in those accounts.  As structured by Mossack Fonseca, the sham foundations typically “owned” the shell companies that nominally held the undeclared assets on behalf of the U.S. taxpayer clients of Mossack Fonseca.  The names of Mossack Fonseca’s clients generally did not appear anywhere on the incorporation paperwork for the sham foundations or related shell companies, although the clients in fact beneficially owned, and had complete access to, the assets of those sham entities and accounts.
In furtherance of the scheme, and in exchange for additional fees, Owens and Brauer allegedly provided support to clients who had purchased the sham foundations and related shell companies by providing corporate meeting minutes, resolutions, mail forwarding, and signature services.  Moreover, Owens and Brauer are alleged to have purposefully established the bank accounts in locations with strict bank secrecy laws, which impeded the ability of the United States to obtain bank records for the accounts.  Owens and Brauer also allegedly instructed U.S. taxpayer clients of Mossack Fonseca about how to repatriate funds to the United States from their offshore bank accounts in a manner designed to keep the undeclared bank accounts concealed.  Among other things, Owens and Brauer instructed clients to use debit cards and fictitious sales to repatriate their funds covertly, the indictment alleges.
Von Der Goltz was allegedly one of Mossack Fonseca’s U.S. taxpayer clients.  At all relevant times, Von Der Goltz was a U.S. resident and was subject to U.S. tax laws, which required him to report and pay income tax on worldwide income, including income and capital gains generated in domestic and foreign bank accounts.  U.S. citizens, resident aliens, and permanent legal residents with a foreign financial interest in or signatory authority over a foreign financial account worth more than $10,000 are required to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, commonly known as an FBAR, disclosing the account.  Von Der Goltz is alleged to have evaded his tax reporting obligations by setting up a series of shell companies and bank accounts, and hiding his beneficial ownership of the shell companies and bank accounts from the IRS.  These shell companies and bank accounts allegedly made investments totaling tens of millions of dollars.  According to the indictment, Von Der Goltz was assisted in this scheme by Owens and by Gaffey, a partner at a U.S.-based accounting firm.  In furtherance of Von Der Goltz’s fraudulent scheme, Von Der Goltz, Gaffey, and Owens are alleged to have falsely claimed that Von Der Goltz’s elderly mother was the sole beneficial owner of the shell companies and bank accounts at issue because, at all relevant times, she was a Guatemalan citizen and resident, and — unlike Von Der Goltz — was not a U.S. taxpayer. 
As alleged in the indictment, Gaffey, in addition to assisting Von Der Goltz evade U.S. income taxes and reporting requirements, also worked closely with Owens to help another U.S. taxpayer client (“Client-1”) of Mossack Fonseca defraud the IRS.  Client-1 allegedly maintained a series of offshore bank accounts, which Mossack Fonseca helped Client-1 conceal from the IRS for years.    The indictment further alleges that, upon the advice of Owens and Gaffey, Client-1 covertly repatriated approximately $3 million of Client-1’s offshore money to the United States by falsely stating on Client-1’s federal tax return that the money represented proceeds from the sale of a company.  After Client-1 repatriated approximately $3 million in this manner, approximately $1 million still remained in Client-1’s offshore account, the existence of which remained hidden from the IRS.  
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 
The investigation was conducted by IRS-CI and HSI with significant assistance by the Justice Department’s Tax Division and the FBI.  The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and law enforcement partners in France and the United Kingdom secured the arrests of the defendants located overseas.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Michael Parker and Parker Tobin of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Justice Department and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah E. Paul, Nathan Rehn, Kristy Greenberg and Andrew Adams of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit and Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit, with substantial support from previous co-counsel, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Marie Blaylock of the Western District of Kentucky.

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