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.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 12, 2012 |
In 2005, leaders of a gang that sold crack and other drugs near MacArthur Park decided to add a new business venture: extorting the vendors who crowd the streets each evening, selling clothes, pirated DVDs and electronics to supplement a hardscrabble existence. The new effort led to a bloody consequence in September 2007, when an 18-year-old tasked with gunning down a defiant vendor accidentally shot to death a 3-week-old infant. The baby's death triggered a large-scale crackdown on the clique that culminated with a two-month trial that began in March.
March 18, 2012 |
No taco stand was too small for Juan Arturo Vargas, alias "The Rat. " Every week, Vargas would shake down the businesses in Nicolas Romero, a working-class town an hour outside the Mexican capital. His take: anywhere from $25 to several hundred dollars. His leverage: Pay up, or your kids will get hurt. The Rat, police and prosecutors say, worked at the low end of a vast spectrum of the fastest-growing nonlethal criminal enterprise in Mexico: extortion. From mom-and-pop businesses to mid-size construction projects to some of Mexico's wealthiest citizens, almost every segment of the economy and society has been subjected to extortion schemes, authorities and records indicate.
November 27, 2011 |
Its name means "multitude," and it may be the biggest and most dangerous gang in the world, a thuggish army terrorizing Kenya with extortion rackets and gruesome punishments. Much about the organization called Mungiki is cloaked in myth and speculation, not least the estimate of sworn members -- some say 100,000, others say millions. Those claiming to be defectors, however, say the gang relies on strict discipline and tolerates no dissent. "If a member disobeys, they would cut that member's head off and put the head in public view at the place where they had a problem with the member," an alleged former member said in a statement to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 13, 2011 |
The surprise visit to Alberto Ruiz's house was swift. Dress quickly, he was told. You're going to boot camp. His parents, worried about his drug use and habit of skipping school, had followed a friend's advice and called Kelvin McFarland. Ruiz's behavior had earned him a spot in McFarland's Family First Growth Camp in Pasadena, a place with a reputation for breaking gang-bangers and drug addicts and turning them into law-abiding teens. A former Marine who likes to be called "Sgt.
October 22, 2011 |
The long-running political corruption probe that saw 11 lawmakers, lobbyists and government staffers convicted in Alaska wound up this week, along with its stories of drunken hotel meetings, sleazy bribery come-ons, and sex-for-drug deals with underage girls. For the first time in years, Alaskans will wake up with no tawdry political drama to relish on the front page. One person who will be happy to see the end of it is Bruce Weyhrauch, a Juneau attorney and former member of the state House of Representatives who spent four years fighting extortion and bribery charges - only to see the legal footings of the case against him turn to quicksand and evaporate, without much fanfare, into a minor misdemeanor charge.
October 8, 2011 |
The caller identified himself as a member of the Rastrojos drug gang, then threatened to kill the businessman unless he paid $250 a month in protection money. Seeing no alternative and not trusting the police to intervene, the owner of a small lumber concern quietly paid the monthly "vaccinations," as bribes are called here, until early last month, when the gang called to demand a much steeper payoff. That was the last straw. He joined the ranks of 10,000 residents of Tumaco who marched through the steamy streets last month to demand that the government do something about the thugs in this lawless Pacific port city who, thwarted by successful eradication efforts to reduce coca cultivation, have gone hunting for other sources of revenue.