March 4, 2013 |
Just because it's nutty doesn't mean it's illegal. That's one lesson to be gleaned from the release of Whitney Houston's FBI file. The FBI looked into three episodes in Houston's life - two involving ardent fans, and one concerned with possible extortion - between 1988 and 1999, according to the 128-page document posted online Monday. In all three cases, investigators eventually determined that no crime had occurred. PHOTOS: A Grammy salute to Whitney Houston That said, the activities didn't fall solidly in the "normal" category either.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 27, 2013 |
A former Cudahy councilman was sentenced Monday to three years in federal prison for his role in an extortion and bribery case that authorities say exposed widespread corruption in the southeast Los Angeles County city. Osvaldo Conde is the last of three officials to be sentenced in the federal case. U.S. Atty. Joseph Akrotirianakis recommended that Conde receive seven years in prison. "We sought a higher sentence for him because he was the leader of the criminal activity in which all defendants were involved," Akrotirianakis said.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 28, 2012 |
From a prison cell outside California, an inmate known as "Evil" was making himself known on Ventura County's streets. Martin Madrigal, 39, was squeezing drug profits from street gangs for the prison-based Mexican Mafia, according to a grand jury indictment released Tuesday. He was so feared that rival gangs cooperated on extortion schemes, drug deals and violent crimes, according to law enforcement officials. The 35-count indictment portrays Madrigal as a powerful figure representing an efficient and merciless organization that law enforcement officials believe has been operating for decades, largely from behind bars, calling shots among street gangs.
November 16, 2012 |
In 1954, psychologist Benjamin Karpman wrote a prescient book about "sexual offenders" in the United States. Karpman focused especially on homosexuals who were drummed out of government jobs on the grounds that their sexual orientation made them security risks. If you were gay, the argument went, you were susceptible to blackmail by communist spies. But the real problem lay in the taboo on homosexuality, which paved the way for exactly the kind of extortion that the government feared.
November 8, 2012 |
BOGOTA, Colombia - Colombian authorities launched an intensive manhunt for members of a drug-trafficking gang suspected in the massacre of 10 peasants in the northern state of Antioquia, apparently for not paying extortion money. The killings occurred Wednesday night at a farm in Santa Rosa de Osos township, about 175 miles north of the capital, Bogota. Antioquia Gov. Sergio Fajardo said on his website that the farmworkers, nine men and a woman, were killed by a grenade thrown by gang members who have been fighting over a nearby drug-trafficking corridor.
November 2, 2012 |
The Times' editorial board weighed in again Friday on Proposition 30, trying to remind voters about the cuts looming for schools, higher education and other state programs if the measure fails. More than 20 readers quickly pushed back, arguing that Sacramento already is killing the state with taxes and that lawmakers should learn to live within their means. That's the same argument you'll hear from some quarters about any proposed tax increase. But readers made another, more distinctive point about this measure, which Gov. Jerry Brown put together to help close the state's nagging budget gap. By giving voters the choice between a tax increase and more cuts to schools, they contended, Brown is committing extortion at the ballot box. Here's how a reader identified as "Retired LASD" put it: "Will the scare tactics by these sleazy politicians never cease?
October 23, 2012 |
A 26-year-old Pittsburgh man allegedly sought $15,000 from the personal assistant of retired Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward after threatening to release evidence that the former Super Bowl MVP had paid for sex with a woman. "It's called buying silence, brother," suspect Joshua Van Auker allegedly told Raymond Burgess, Ward's assistant. It's also called extortion, and Van Auker now faces a preliminary hearing on two felony counts of it following his arrest last week after allegedly selling Burgess so-called evidence that Ward had paid for a "physical relationship" with Van Auker's girlfriend.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 12, 2012 |
Federal authorities Thursday named Mara Salvatrucha MS-13, the ruthless Latin American gang born three decades ago on the streets of Los Angeles, as a "transnational criminal organization," becoming the first street gang to join the list. The designation gives the U.S. Treasury Department the power to freeze any financial assets from the gang or its members and prohibits financial institutions from engaging in any transactions with members of the group. Officials said the move is designed to reduce the flow of gang money within the United States and across the border.
August 23, 2012 |
Federal agents have arrested a man suspected of issuing death threats to a slew of business titans, including film mogul Harvey Weinstein, and demanding that they send millions to an offshore bank account. The news was first reported by The Smoking Gun website . The suspect, identified as 25-year-old Vivek Shah, an actor living in West Hollywood, was arrested on Aug. 10 at his parents' house in Illinois. According to a sworn affidavit from Postal Inspector Joshua Mehall, Shah had been sending threatening letters to Weinstein -- co-chairman of the Weinstein Co. -- and four other moguls, in June and July.
July 16, 2012 |
In keeping with the Ministry's rich tradition of covering beefcake, congratulations may be in order for Anthony Mackie. The 32-year-old actor is reportedly in talks to play Falcon, a super pal of Chris Evans' Captain America in Marvel's sequel "Captain America: The Winter Soldier. " While there's no official word on the deal, Falcon boasts talents such as telepathically communicating with birds and taking flight with the help of a special suit, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Mackie broke out alongside Jeremy Renner in 2008's "The Hurt Locker," and turned heads with the 2011 cover of Vanity Fair's Hollywood issue. He's got "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" in theaters, but Mackie's next turn will likely generate just as much heat as his potential induction into the Marvel universe: He'll be flexing guns alongside Mark Wahlberg in "Pain and Gain.