Feature Articles

October 15, 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

TAIPEI: A heavily indebted Taiwan insurance salesman had two friends to chop off his left hand on Friday in a bid to collect on insurance policies totaling up to $645,000 police said. Huang Chun-ming, 35, was admitted to hospital and tried to pass it off as a gruesome attack by a teenage motorcycle gang.

     Police said they were suspicious because after combing the crime scene they could not find the missing hand.

     Police questioned one of Huang's friends, who admitted to committing insurance fraud because Huang had ran up gambling debts of about $200,000.

     Huang drank kaoliang, a strong Chinese spirit, before his friends chopped off his hand with a samurai sword, police said. They had to hack it more than once.

     Police later found Huang's missing hand at his home.

ATLANTA: A dancer who admits being paid to have sex with professional athletes and customers at a nude club allegedly run by organized crime will testify for the prosecution in a federal racketeering case.

     Jana Pelnis, who was a stripper at the Gold Club, pleaded guilty last Friday to reduced charges of aiding a racketeering conspiracy in return for her cooperation against fellow defendants, including club owner Steve Kaplan.

     The Gold Club trial is tentatively set for February. Kaplan and other club officials are charged with ties to organized crime, money laundering, credit card fraud, police corruption and prostitution. Prosecutors have said Kaplan paid his dancers to provide sexual favors to professional athletes and other high-spending customers.

LONDON: British police have arrested three men suspected of attempting a robbery in cyberspace of Internet bank Egg. Official say this is a sign that organized crime is turning to the computer rather than the gun in bank raids.

     Egg has 1.1 million customers. Bank officials said its security systems were never breached in the case and that no money was stolen. It said `fraudulent applications'' had been served on the bank but neither Egg nor the police would elaborate.

     Police say a criminal gang had made multiple, bogus applications for savings accounts and loans, prompting a six-month investigation which culminated in arrests.

     Officers of the National Crime Squad made the arrests on Tuesday morning in a raid on seven addresses northwest of London. The three men arrested were all in their 30s. Police confiscated computer equipment, documents, cash and drugs during the raid.

MIAMI: Reporter Milt Sosin, who began competing for news during journalism's golden ``Front Page'' era and was still scooping the competition as recently as the Elian Gonzalez case, has died. He was 92. He was the only U.S. reporter to get a sit-down interview with Mafia financier Meyer Lansky - and Lansky called him.

NEW YORK: U.S. District Court Judge David Edelstein, who presided over the Justice Department's antitrust action against IBM and the ongoing effort to rid the Teamsters union of corruption, died Saturday. He was 90.

     Edelstein was appointed by President Truman and served on the bench for 48 years, hearing cases until his death.

     Among his active cases was the landmark suit brought by the Justice Department against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 1988. He played an active role in efforts to monitor the union, and in June he rejected rules proposed by the department and the union concerning next year's Teamsters elections.

     Edelstein's other decisions in the Teamsters case included clearing the way in March 1999 for James Hoffa to take the helm of the union.

VANCOUVER BC: Starnet Communications International is facing a Canadian police investigation for gaming violations.

     On Aug. 20, 1999, Canadian police raided Starnet's Vancouver offices and executives' homes. The company's shares plunged 69 percent that day.

SAN FRANCISCO: The California Supreme Court has ruled Prosecutors cannot conceal the identities of essential witnesses in murder cases, even if identifying them would put them in danger.

     The decision was a setback for Los Angeles County prosecutors who sought to withhold the names of three witnesses to a 1993 jailhouse killing.

     Prosecutors said they feared the Mexican Mafia would have sought reprisals against the witnesses of the stabbing death of a Los Angeles County jail inmate.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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