Thursday, December 25, 2008

Former Cop Suspected in Shootings Dies

Former Cop Suspected in Shootings Dies
Dec. 23, 2008

...A former Utah state trooper suspected in a series of roadway shootings earlier this week died on Christmas Eve, a hospital official said. Dallas police said they believe Brian Smith, above, killed at least one of the victims in a series of apparent random rush-hour shootings near Dallas. Smith shot and injured himself after a standoff with police.

The 37-year-old had been in critical condition on life support from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police say he shot himself in the head after a brief standoff early Tuesday, more than six hours after the roadway shooting spree ended...

Dallas police Lt. Craig Miller said authorities were working to confirm that Smith was the gunman in separate shooting deaths minutes apart Monday on a Garland street and a Dallas interstate.

Earlier Wednesday, police shut down the freeway to re-examine the scene of one of several of the shootings.

Officials said both police departments were waiting for ballistics tests to come back for possible matches of bullet casings...

Warrants for Smith's arrest had been issued in the Fort Worth suburb of Southlake, where authorities have obtained evidence linking him to two robberies in the past eight days. Both incidents involved thefts in which purses were stolen from women in vehicles parked at businesses near where Smith lived.

Police have tied Smith to the incidents through witness identification and video of him using a credit card belonging to one of the victims, Southlake police spokesman Mike Bedrich said.

Smith moved to Keller with his wife and children last spring, just months after his conduct came under scrutiny from the Utah Highway Patrol. His peace officer certification was revoked after he went on a drinking binge and threatened to kill himself.

In Utah, where Smith's problems as a trooper are just now coming to light, he's remembered as a good father who never lost his temper and coached youth soccer and basketball.

"This is a shock for everyone who knows Brian," said Michael Peterson, Smith's former bishop in the Mormon church. "Obviously, he was struggling with some things. But the Brian Smith that everyone around here knows would never have done any of these things."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

In this case, independent thinking worked better than blind obedience

21 December 2008
Deaths from Mumbai 'police error'
By Adam Mynott
BBC News, Mumbai

...A prominent Mumbai gynaecologist, Dr Prashant Mangeshikar, was trapped in the Taj Mahal hotel along with hundreds of other guests as gunmen stormed into the building, firing indiscriminately.

Terrified, he and others barricaded themselves into a room and waited.

Eventually, in the early hours of the morning, police officers made it through to where they were hiding and told people it was safe to leave the hotel because the gunmen were cornered on another floor.

Some went ahead but Dr Mangeshikar held back.

"I was a little suspicious that the police were actually sending these guys down a different route where the terrorists were supposed to be," he said.

"I refused to move away and the people who ran ahead of me, about 20 or 30 of them, all of them died."

A dress designer from the city says her aunt was shot dead and her cousin seriously wounded because they followed police instructions to try to leave.

The designer, Shilpa, described the police conduct as disgraceful.

They had no right, she said, to risk people's lives...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Anthony Pellicano gets 15 years for using illegal snooping to help clients gain advantage in court

Pellicano Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison
New York Times
December 15, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Anthony Pellicano, a private investigator whose client list once included many Hollywood stars, was sentenced on Monday to 15 years in prison for his role in an illegal wiretapping enterprise.

The sentence, from Judge Dale S. Fischer of Federal District Court, was in line with what prosecutors had recommended. Mr. Pellicano, 64, already in custody, was found guilty in two different trials earlier this year on 78 charges, including wiretapping, racketeering and wire fraud. He and his two co-defendants were also ordered to pay a fine of $2 million...

The investigation of Mr. Pellicano began when an entertainment journalist, Anita M. Busch, was threatened in June 2002 by an associate of the private investigator after she wrote damaging articles about Michael S. Ovitz, once a prominent talent agent.

The investigation into the threat, which uncovered Mr. Pellicano’s wiretapping, seized Hollywood’s imagination with courtroom testimony revealing stars like Chris Rock as the beneficiaries of Mr. Pellicano’s illicit trade and other stars like Sylvester Stallone the victims. Ultimately, however, few industry players were charged.

Mr. Pellicano still must contend with a number of civil lawsuits that were delayed during the criminal proceedings. Those cases largely involve victims of wiretapping seeking damages for incidents in which private conversations were recorded.

Ms. Busch spoke at the sentencing, bitterly outlining the suffering that she said Mr. Pellicano caused her. “I no longer had my career, my peace of mind,” she said...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wiretapper Anthony Pellicano gets 15 years

Update: Mr. Pellicano received a 15-year sentence.

Private eye faces sentencing in wiretapping case
Victims tell judge Pellicano's actions affected their lives
December 15, 2008

LOS ANGELES – Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano isn't the only person imprisoned as a result of his wiretaps of the rich and famous. His victims say they have never been able to free themselves from the emotional and financial fallout caused by his crimes.

A former reporter says she has nightmares about being hunted and raped. A mother copes with her daughter being mocked by other kids and their parents. An actress who once appeared in a popular television series says she has found little work since.

They are among the victims who submitted letters to the federal judge who is scheduled to sentence Pellicano today. The former private investigator is in custody after being convicted of a total of 78 counts, including wiretapping, racketeering and wire fraud, in two separate trials this year.

Federal prosecutors have recommended in court documents that Pellicano, 64, serve nearly 16 years in prison for running a criminal enterprise and becoming a “high-priced thief who fraudulently obtained prominence through the harm that he wantonly inflicted on others.”

Their letters give a glimpse into the anger, disgust and hardship his victims say they have endured since Pellicano combed through their lives.

Former Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch says she no longer is a journalist and has nightmares about being hunted because of the harassment she faced from Pellicano. Busch found a dead fish with a rose in its mouth on her car, along with a sign reading “stop,” in June 2002 after she wrote a series of unflattering articles about one-time superagent Michael Ovitz, a Pellicano client.

Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, the former wife of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, said her privacy has been destroyed. Prosecutors said Pellicano and Kerkorian's attorney, Terry Christensen, bugged her phone conversations to disprove her claims that the MGM mogul was the father of her young daughter. DNA tests later showed movie producer Steve Bing was the biological father.

Christensen was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wiretapping and sentenced to three years in prison.

Bonder Kerkorian said her daughter “has faced cruel comments, sly whispers and been openly ridiculed by students and parents at her school.”

Linda Doucett, who was a regular on “The Larry Sanders Show,” also chimed in, saying in her letter she has been unable to work as an actress and support herself and her son since taking part in a lawsuit filed by her former boyfriend, comedian Garry Shandling, against his former talent manager Brad Grey, now the head of the Paramount studio. Pellicano worked for Grey on the suit.

In late 2003, she said she received a call threatening her son's safety from someone she presumed to be Pellicano. Prosecutors never proved Pellicano or someone at his direction was the caller.

[But cops would never snoop illegally for private reasons, would they? They would. For four years Santa Barbara Sheriff Commander Sam Gross has been protecting deputy Michael Carlson for very similar activities to those of Anthony Pellicano.]

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Police Chief indicted in boy's machine gun death

Police Chief Indicted for Boy's Uzi Death
Associated Press
Dec. 4, 2008

Three men, including a small-town police chief, were indicted Thursday on involuntary manslaughter counts in the gun-fair death of an 8-year-old who accidentally shot himself in the head with an Uzi that a prosecutor said he never should have been allowed to handle.

The club where the fair was held also was charged. The fair had promised shooters would have certified instructors in an advertisement, but District Attorney William Bennett said the child, Christopher Bizilj, was supervised by an uncertified 15-year-old boy.

As his father watched, 8-year-old Christopher Bizilj died after accidentally shooting himself with an Uzi gun at a Massachusetts gun fair in October. A police chief and the men who brought the gun to the demonstration were indicted for involuntary manslaughter and other charges on Thursday.

Christopher, of Ashford, Conn., lost control of the 9mm micro submachine gun as it recoiled while he was firing at a pumpkin Oct. 26 at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club in western Massachusetts.
Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury was charged because he owns the sponsor of the gun fair, COP Firearms & Training...

Bennett said prosecutors know of at least four children, including Christopher, who fired automatic weapons at the fair. He added that Fleury had wrongly assured Guiffre and Spano that it was legal for children to use the Uzi under Massachusetts law...

"It's all legal & fun — No permits or licenses required!!!!" reads the ad, posted on the club's Web site...

The ad also said children under 16 would be admitted free, and both adults and children were offered free .22-caliber pistol and rifle shooting.

Christopher's father was 10 feet behind him and reaching for his camera when the child fired the weapon.

Bennett said Charles Bizilj (pronounced bah-SEAL') had selected the compact weapon for his 4-foot-3, 66-pound son to fire after he was assured it was safe. He had thought the Uzi's small size made it safer, but the opposite was true, the prosecutor said.

"Although it might appear a heavier or longer weapon would be more dangerous, the small size of the weapon together with the rapid rate of fire made it more likely that an 8-year-old would lose control and the muzzle of the weapon would come close to his face, which is what happened here," he said.

The father was not charged because he was a layman and based his decision on information from others who should have known it was too dangerous, Bennett said. The 15-year-old boy who was supervising Christopher with the Uzi also will not be charged, he added...