Whitey Bulger's Girlfriend to Plead Guilty

Whitey Bulger’s longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, is set to enter a guilty plea today in federal court in Boston to multiple counts relating to her 16 years on the run with the notorious Boston gangster. The Bulger case has fascinated us for almost 2 decades after his flight to avoid prosecution just before his indictment in January 1995. Strangely, the Superseding Indictment to which Greig is pleading guilty does not mention that Bulger’s former FBI handler, John Connolly, was the one who tipped Bulger to his imminent arrest. Connolly was ultimately tried and convicted of that offense in 2002 and sentenced to serve 10 years in federal prison. Before he was released from federal custody, Connolly was convicted in the State of Florida of second degree murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.  

For decades, Bulger was suspected of leading the South Boston Winter Hill gang. The FBI ultimately conceded in federal court that at the same time that Bulger was under investigation, he was one of the Boston FBI's most productive confidential informants, delivering evidence to lock up top members of the Italian mafia.


Greig, who fled Boston with Bulger in 1995, will plead guilty to conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, conspiracy to commit identity theft, and identity fraud. She also agrees as part of her plea to forfeit any profits she receives from the story of her life with Whitey. The facts outlining Greig’s life on the run with Bulger are outlined in court documents. According to the New York Times family members of victims of Bulger’s crimes met with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston on Monday and were told that Greig could receive a sentence of as few as 2-3 years in prison.


Greig and Bulger were arrested last June in Santa Monica where they were living under assumed names. More than $800,000 in cash and a stash of weapons were recovered from their apartment. Bulger is expected to go on trial in November for having committed more than a dozen murders. Greig is not cooperating with the government in that prosecution.

Northwest Georgia Banks and Credit Unions Hit By Debit Card Fraud

Federal investigators are investigating an outbreak of debit card fraud in Northwest Georgia, according to a story by WCRtv in Chattanooga. Customers of the Bank of LaFayette, Cohutta Banking Company, and Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union in Chickamauga, LaFayette, Rossville and Trion in Northwest Georgia have reported having their accounts drained.

Authorities believe that the thefts may be connected and may be the result of the theft of information from the company which handles the debit card transactions. The affected banks and credit unions have issued statements regarding the thefts.


Georgia Resident Rogelio Hackett Pleads to Federal Hacking Charges

According to PCMag.com, Rogelio Hackett, Jr., a Georgia resident, has entered guilty pleas in Federal court in Virginia to a nine-year scheme involving more than 675,000 stolen credit card numbers and more than $36 million in fraudulent charges. The 26 year-old Hackett also allegedly sold the credit card information to others. He will be sentenced in July and faces a maximum of 12 years imprisonment.


Georgia, Atlanta, Identity Theft Hot Spots

The Federal Trade Commission has ranked Georgia 4th among the States and Atlanta 19th among cities for identity theft crimes, as reported in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The rankings are based on complaints received by the FTC in 2010.

Significant among Georgia's numbers are 2,882 complaints of government benefits or documents fraud; 911 complaints of bank fraud and 328 complaints of loan fraud.

Atlanta moved up substantially from its 2010 of 123 among major metro areas.

Alleged Identity Theft Ring Strikes Federal Reserve Chief Bernanke's Family

CNN reports that Shona Michelle Young was arrested in Miami on Monday. Young and 22 others face fraud charges on allegations that they operated an identity theft ring which defrauded others of more than $2.1 million. Young was allegedly carrying a fake New York state driver's license and Visa debit card, both in the name of Deborah L. Taverna, at the time of her arrest, and was found with wigs which she wore when cashing fraudulent checks,

The defendants are alleged to have obtained victim information through corrupt employees working at professional offices, stealing mail and picking pockets. The alleged conspirators allegedly used stolen check and credit and debit card information and identification to withdraw monies from victims' bank accounts.

The alleged operation's most prominent victim? Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke. Mr. Bernanke, through a spokesman, has acknowledged that the alleged identity theft ring has targeted a member of his family. Mr. Bernanke's wife's purse was stolen from a Washington, D.C., coffee shop last Summer, and contained a checkbook and credit cards.

Authorities became aware of the alleged ring in September 2007 after a FedEx office in Chicago refused to send a package by one of the alleged conspirators because they listed the shipping office as a return address. The suspect abruptly left the FedEx office, leaving the package behind, which was discovered to contain stolen personal checks, credit cards and debit cards and forged driver's licenses and military IDs. Federal agents later discovered that similar packages were being sent to alleged co-conspirators in cities including Washington; New York; Chicago, Illinois; and Miami, Florida.

The defendants face charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The alleged leader of the ring,  Clyde "Big Head" Gray, pled guilty in July and faces up to 30 years in prison. Two other defendants have entered guilty pleas, and three remain at large.

Former Government Informant Allegedly Perpetrates Largest Identity Theft in U.S. History

The past year has been truly record breaking in terms of the magnitude of the crimes making headlines, most notably arch-Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, attorney scam artist Marc Dreier and the New Jersey public corruption scandal. Now the criminal record-setting has happened again in the area of identity theft. A federal grand jury in New Jersey has indicted Albert "Segvec" Gonzalez and two unnamed Russian co-conspirators for hacking into Heartland Payment Systems, a New Jersey-based credit card processing company, as well as Hannaford Brothers, 7-Eleven and two unnamed national retailers, as reported in Wired magazine. Gonzalez was a former informant for the U.S. Secret Service who was awaiting trial with 10 others on charges brought in 2008 for hacking into TJX, OfficeMax, Dave & Busters restaurant chain and other companies. Gonzalez and his co-conspirators are alleged to have stolen more than 130 million credit card and debit card numbers.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Erez Liebermann stated that the conspirators' alleged actions constituted the largest data-breach and identity-theft case in U.S. history. The defendants face a maximum of 30 years in prison and potential millions in fines or restitution.

Another Reversal in the Supreme Court

In Flores-Figueroa v. United States, No 08-108, in a rare 9-0 shutout, Justice Breyer writing for the Supreme Court addressed and resolved the aggravated identity theft statute as follows:

The question [presented by 18 U. S. C. §1028A(a)(1)] is whether the statute requires the Government to show that the defendant knew that the “means of identification” he or she unlawfully transferred, possessed, or used, in fact, belonged to “another person.” We conclude that it does. . . We conclude that §1028A(a)(1) requires the Government to show that the defendant knew that the means of identification at issue belonged to another person.

Now, the discussion between the ellipses gets pretty dense, and although I am not a student of Justice Breyer's writings consider these lilies:

In ordinary English, where a transitive verb has an object, listeners in most contexts assume that an adverb (such as knowingly) that modifies the transitive verb tells the listener how the subject performed the entire action, including the object as set forth in the sentence. Thus, if a bank official says, “Smith knowingly transferred the funds to his brother’s account,” we would normally understand the bank official’s statement as telling us that Smith knew the account was his brother’s. Nor would it matter if the bank official said “Smith knowingly transferred the funds to the account of his brother.” In either instance, if the bank official later told us that Smith did not know the account belonged to Smith’s brother, we should be surprised.

Of course, a statement that does not use the word “knowingly” may be unclear about just what Smith knows. Suppose Smith mails his bank draft to Tegucigalpa, which (perhaps unbeknownst to Smith) is the capital of Honduras. If the bank official says, “Smith sent a bank draft to the capital of Honduras,” he has expressed next to nothing about Smith’s knowledge of that geographic identity. But if the official were to say, “Smith knowingly sent a bank draft to the capital of Honduras,” then the official has suggested that Smith knows his geography.

Similar examples abound. If a child knowingly takes a toy that belongs to his sibling, we assume that the child not only knows that he is taking something, but that he also knows that what he is taking is a toy and that the toy belongs to his sibling. If we say that someone knowingly ate a sandwich with cheese, we normally assume that the person knew both that he was eating a sandwich and that it contained cheese. Or consider the Government’s own example, “ ‘John knowingly discarded the homework of his sister.’ ” Brief for United States 9. The Government rightly points out that this sentence “does not necessarily”imply that John knew whom the homework belonged to. Ibid. (emphasis added). But that is what the sentence, as ordinarily used, does imply.

Everyone got that? Justice Scalia wrote a concurrence just to throw a few written punches at his colleagues.  He stuck to a more plain English analysis.

New State/Federal Secure I.D. Initiative IDs Identity Thieves... and Illegals

     In the ever-increasing cooperation between federal and state authorities, especially in the immigration sphere, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue has authorized a Secure Identity Initiative, under which United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Department of Drivers Services combine resources to investigate identity theft offenses. The first person to fall in the Secure I.D. Initiative was Mr. Al Amin Patni, a Pakistani national, who was living in Marietta, Georgia. Mr. Al Patni was previously deported from the United States and subsequently re-entered the country. However, when Mr. Patni used another person's Social Security number to open a checking account, he was discovered in a joint investigation by ICE and GBI agents under the Initiative. Mr. Patni has been indicted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia for misuse of a Social Security number, aggravated identity theft and illegal reentry.