Feature Articles

September 2000

Round Up The Usual Suspects

By John William Tuohy

John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washingon, D.C.

compiled by John William Tuohy

CLEVELAND: Rep. James A. Traficant has refused to turn over documents subpoenaed by federal prosecutors because he fears the materials may be incriminating, his spokesman said.

     ``I wouldn't classify this as an admission of anything,'' spokesman Paul Marcone said Tuesday. ``These were documents that could potentially be used against him. He is simply exercising his rights'' against self-incrimination.

     A public corruption probe has led to more than 70 convictions, including a judge, a prosecutor, a sheriff and a Traficant aide. The Ohio Democrat has repeatedly said he expects to be indicted because of his suspected ties to organized crime. He denies any wrongdoing.

     Traficant was acquitted in 1983 on charges he accepted mob bribes, but he lost a US Tax Court case in 1987 stemming from the same issues.

     He complied with a December subpoena that requested his telephone, payroll and rent records.

WASHINGTON DC: The US Senate has passed legislation aimed at combating the growing and lucrative trade in women and girls who are sold into slavery for sexual exploitation.

     The bill passed unanimously.

     Intelligence agencies estimate some 50,000 girls and young women are transported illegally each year to the United States alone and forced into prostitution or slave labor.

     The legislation would intensify US anti-trafficking efforts, strengthen prosecution and punishment of offenders and provide protection and assistance for victims to allow them to testify against their persecutors.

     Companion legislation is moving through the House of Representatives, and supporters are confident President Clinton will sign the bills into law this year.

     US lawmakers said they hoped the American legislation would serve as a model for other nations and prompt them to join a global crackdown on the trade in human beings.

     Many criminal groups are already active in the sex trade, have the ability to smuggle people between continents and are increasingly making use of the Internet to market and sell women, mainly from poor countries.

BOSTON: The owner of a Revere fuel company pled guilty yesterday in federal court to defrauding the IRS and criminal contempt. United States Attorney Donald K. Stern announced today that Irving Paul Wolinksy pled guilty before to a scheme to defraud the US Internal Revenue Service as well as a charge of criminal contempt.

     According to federal prosecutors, had the case proceeded to trial the Government would have shown that Wolinsky skimmed and failed to report as income approximately $500,000 in checks made payable to Quality Fuel and Transportation, Inc., in Revere, Massachusetts, a petroleum delivery business that he owned, and Columbia Oil, a home heating oil company that he also owned. Wolinsky converted the checks to cash at a local check cashier and used the money for his own personal benefit and to make under the table cash payments to his employees.

     In 1994, Wolinsky was called before a grand jury investigating organized crime matters. Although he was presented with a lawful order of immunity, Wolinsky refused to testify and thereby committed criminal contempt.

PALERMO, SICILY - A court in Sicily has acquitted seven-time former Italian Premier Giulio Andreotti of consorting with the Mafia, absolving him in a case viewed as a trial of the political system that ran Italy for four decades after World War II.

     Andreotti, who served in 34 governments and continuously in parliament since creation of the postwar Italian republic, was accused of doing favors for Sicily's Mafia in exchange for votes. A three-judge panel in the Sicilian capital of Palermo declared him innocent, sparing the 80-year-old the possibility of up to 15 years in prison.

     The most riveting accusation of the 4-year-old trial alleged Andreotti exchanged a ``kiss of honor'' with Sicily's boss of bosses, Salvatore ``Toto'' Riina, in a secret meeting in the 1980s.

     Andreotti always contended that he was framed by mobsters who wanted revenge for his government's crackdowns on organized crime.

     The prosecutors' case had depended mainly on testimony from a total of 27 Mafia turncoats - chiefly Baldassare Di Maggio, whose information helped capture Riina himself in 1993.

     Di Maggio's credibility had been shaken in the closing weeks of the trial when he admitted killing a man while under state protection.

     Di Maggio, who received a $300,000 ``bonus'' under the witness-protection program, had his benefits stripped away.

PRAGUE: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation will open an office in Prague to help fight organized crime and terrorism in the region.

     The branch will have about ten members of staff and will be opened ``very soon.'' said director Louie Freeh.

BRUSSELS: A Belgian judge has charged at least five managers at Kredietbank Luxembourg SA with tax and accounting fraud. The move brings to 20 the total number of former and current employees at Kredietbank and Belgian sister company KBC Bancassurance facing charges in a probe into money laundering at the Luxembourg bank.

TORONTO: To make the Canada a less attractive hub for global criminal activity, the province of Ontario plans to introduce tough legislation this fall that would allow police to seize the assets of individuals believed to be engaged in organized crime before they are convicted of an offense.

     Because property rights are not entrenched in the Canadian Constitution, it is possible to seize assets before criminal judgments are reached, the attorney general argued.

     At present, people facing criminal charges would be able to move assets out of the country before a conviction is obtained, thereby allowing illegal activities to continue without disruption.

     Money laundering estimated at about C$17 billion ($11.5 billion) a year is done annually in Canada, half of that in the province of Ontario, he said.

     The government said it is considering a system whereby police would be able to seize assets and freeze bank accounts of suspected organized criminals as part of a search warrant, granted by a judge to obtain evidence.

     Organized criminals have also used Canada as a landing point for illegal Chinese immigrants on their way to the U.S., with nearly 600 people detained last summer after arriving on Canada's Pacific Coast.

LONDON: A futuristic mafia drama set on a spaceship and starring celluloid greats Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe would be the greatest movie ever, according to a survey by online retailer

     Eight million votes were cast to choose the top 100 movies from the database of almost 240,000 films.

     Dramas were the post popular genre, with ``The Godfather'' topping the individual movie poll.

LONDON: Britain's top law enforcers will publish an assessment of the threat posed by organised crime to the country, a government official said.

     It is the first time the National Criminal Intelligence Service will unveil its annual ``Strategic Threat Assessment'' to the public, the official said. In previous years, it has been treated as a classified document.

     John Abbott, director of NCIS will host a morning press conference. He has estimated organised crime in Britain generates around 50 billion pounds a year.

     It is estimated that about 50 gangs operate into Britain transporting people from China, the Indian sub-continent and the former Soviet Union.

     The NCIS report is also likely to focus on Russian organised crime, particularly over money laundering, with gangsters from the former Soviet Union suspected to filter billions of dollars through the City of London each year. With the explosion of the Internet, NCIS has also been involved in drawing up plans to fight cyber-crime.

WASHINGTON DC: Justice Department officials defended its "Carnivore" e-mail scanning program in front of a House panel, saying it is "narrowly focused" and they have used it just 25 times in two years, including 16 times so far this year. "Discriminating between users' messages on the Internet ... is exactly what Carnivore does," said Donald Kerr, assistant director at the FBI. "It does not search through the contents of every message and collect those that contain certain key words like 'bomb' or 'drugs.' It selects messages based on criteria expressly set out in the court order, for example, messages transmitted to or from a particular account or to or from a particular user."

     Attorney General Janet Reno has ordered an independent review of the system to determine whether it infringes on privacy rights. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the department for all documents related to Carnivore.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

Past Issues

Copyright © 2000 PLR International