Rustem Kazazi is a 67-year-old retired Albanian policeman who became a US citizen in 2010; last October, he boarded a flight from his hometown in Cleveland to Newark, planning to continue on to Albania.
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An NBC investigative journalism team and a security researcher went wardriving around the DC area with a cell-site-simulator detector that would tell them whenever they came in range of a fake cellphone tower that tried to trick their phones into connecting to it in order to covertly track their locations (some cell site simulators can also hack phones to spy on SMS, calls and data).
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A federal judge ordered Martin Shkreli, who was convicted of fraud last year, to forfeit $7.4 million. This forfeiture includes a Picasso painting, his $5 million bail posting, and the one-of-a-kind Wu Tang Clan album, "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin." Don't worry, though -- after he pays the fine he'll still have $27.1 million.
From Click on Detroit:
Shkreli was convicted of fraud for deceiving investors and misusing their money while he was a portfolio manager at a hedge fund. He faces sentencing at Brooklyn Federal Court on Friday, and could potentially get up to 20 years in prison.
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What to do with all that civil asset forfeiture? Why not erect a fake hotel sign outside the county jail and make a fake ad starring you? That's what Sherriff Rick Staly thought would be fun. Read the rest
Pharmadouchebro/Larval Trump Martin Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud in August and then sent to jail in September for putting a bounty on a lock of Hillary Clinton's hair.
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The Sackler Family are best known for philanthropy, but their real legacy is the opioid epidemic, which they engineered through their family firm, Purdue Pharmaceutical, which used a variety of front organizations that paved the way for massive overprescription of the company's painkillers, while covering up the flaws in the drug-testing for Purdue's products and the false claims about their safety and efficacy.
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Shaun Bridges is the disgraced ex-Secret Service Agent who pleaded guilty to stealing bitcoin from online drug dealers while he was investigating the Silk Road; he's serving a 71-month sentence and has just had two years added to it after he pleaded guilty to stealing more bitcoin after his guilty plea, while he was out on bail
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The Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS) is the NYPD's huge database where it stores ownership information on the millions in New Yorkers' property it takes charge of every year (including about $68m in cash and counting), through evidence collection and asset forfeiture. Read the rest
ICE have become house-flippers, using the notorious and discredited "civil asset forfeiture" process to steal houses from people they say were involved in crime, then selling the houses to fund their operations, and more seizures of more houses. Read the rest
Civil asset forfeiture allows police departments to confiscate and keep property they claim results from criminal activity, without having to prove that any criminal activity took place -- this turned into a national scourge, until cops were stealing more from Americans than burglars, until the Obama administration shut down the DoJ's enabling program in 2015. Read the rest
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, having been thrown under the bus by Donald Trump, has clearly run out of fucks to give, and so now he's not only reviving the feel-good anti-drug program that convinced kids to take drugs, not only directing fed cops to arrest people who take weed in states where it's legal -- he's also calling for more civil asset forfeiture, that being the polite name for the widespread, illegal practice of cops stealing your stuff and selling it off to fund off-the-books spending on surveillance gear and other goodies. Read the rest
Hey, remember how Bill Clinton doubled down on the War on Drugs, perfecting Reagan's haphazard and shoddily made race-war into a well-oiled incarceration machine that turned America into the world's greatest incarcerator, a nation that imprisoned black people at a rate that exceeded Apartheid-era South Africa? Read the rest
It took four years, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has finally ruled in favor of 72 year old grandmother Elizabeth Young, whose house was seized by the Philadelphia District Attorney under asset forfeiture rules when her son was caught selling $140 worth of marijuana to undercover agents.
Under civil forfeiture rules, cops and DAs get to steal property suspected of being the proceeds of a crime, then they sue the inanimate objects. The owners of the objects can hire lawyers to represent their property, while the taxpayers foot the bill for the state's side of the suit. If the government wins, it gets to keep the property or sell it and pocket the proceeds.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court blasted the DA for the seizure and reminded the state's lawyers and cops that they can only invoke civil forfeiture when there is good reason to believe that the property's owner "knew of and agreed to the crimes" in question.
The cop who bought the marijuana from Young's son is currently serving a 3.5 year federal prison sentence for planting drugs on suspects.
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Young is far from the only person to have her house seized by the Philadelphia D.A. for a minor drug crime that she didn't even commit. In 2013, Philadelphia police seized the house of Christos and Markela Sourovelis after their son was arrested for selling $40-worth of drugs outside of it.
The Sourovelis' sued, with assistance from the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice, a nonprofit law firm that has challenged asset forfeiture laws in several states.
Banks have to report deposits of $10,000 or more to the IRS, so some fraudsters "structure" their transactions as a string of sub-$10K payments that escape the regulatory requirement. Structuring is also illegal, and the IRS has the power to seize funds that the agency believes were part of a structuring scheme, under the discredited "civil fofeiture" process through which an inanimate object is sued for being the proceeds of a crime, and then the owner of that object has to prove that the object is "innocent." Read the rest
Civil asset forfeiture is the bizarre American practice of seizing peoples' property without charging its owner: instead the property is charged with being the ill-gotten gains of a crime, and if the owner doesn't pay their property's legal bills, the police get to keep or sell the property. Read the rest