Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Whitey Bulger Foiled By X-Factor Carmen M. Ortiz, Legal Eagle William P. Callahan Confirms



US attorney rebuts Bulger claim of immunity

http://bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/06/26/attorney-comments-bulger-request-for-immunity-says-flemmi-tried-same-tactic-lost/QyktNVQn4JmEQMTMTwEpoJ/story.html

By Brian R. Ballou and Travis Andersen

“Being an informant in a criminal case does not in and of itself immunize you from crimes,” said US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, on James “Whitey” Bulger’s claim that an immunity agreement with the federal government shielded him from being charged with crimes.

A day after notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger claimed that an immunity agreement with the federal government shielded him from being charged with a host of crimes, US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said Tuesday that informants are not necessarily protected from prosecution.

“Being an informant in a criminal case does not in and of itself immunize you from crimes,” she said after an event in South Boston.

Ortiz said that former Bulger associate Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi had tried the same legal tactic, taking his claims all the way to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, which ruled against him. Flemmi had used the tactic in a case in which he was charged with extortion and racketeering.

She said, “Regardless of what representations [Bulger] may claim law enforcement made, there’s a particular case in the First Circuit, the Flemmi case, in which that same defense, I believe, was asserted a number of years ago. And the First Circuit held that being an informant, in and of itself, and certain representations by law enforcement agents does not provide sufficient or adequate immunity.”

Bulger’s lead attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., declined on Tuesday to respond to Ortiz’s remarks.

Carney said Monday that he intends to file a motion to dismiss all charges in a sweeping indictment against Bulger, which alleges that he participated in 19 murders, on the grounds that a “representative of the federal government” granted the gangster immunity for crimes he may have committed or intended to commit.

Carney also said Bulger’s immunity agreement is different from the one that Flemmi claimed to have, but he did not elaborate. Carney has not said who offered immunity to Bulger, but he pledged to identify that person in the dismissal motion.

In a separate filing Monday in US District Court in Boston, Bulger’s lawyers wrote that the immunity agreement “fully protects the defendant from prosecution for all of the crimes currently under indictment.” The indictment spans more than 20 years dating back to the 1970s.

William P. Callahan, a former federal prosecutor, said he doubts Bulger’s immunity argument will stand up in court.

“What Bulger has at best is a rogue [federal] agent patting him on the head and saying, ‘Hey, you’ve got immunity,’” said Callahan, who now runs Unitel, a New York-based security and investigative firm.

He said that in the federal system, only a judge can sign off on a US attorney’s request to grant someone immunity, and he is not aware of any cases in which informants were given carte blanche to commit future crimes.

“I’ve only heard about it being in the present and past tense,” Callahan said. “I’ve never heard of future immunity, not in recent years. Now maybe a long time ago, [but] I can’t imagine that happening, blanket immunity to go out and commit murder.”

Callahan said he cannot imagine any prosecutor making such an offer, but it is theoretically possible.

“Let’s take a rabbit out of a hat here and say [Bulger has] some crazy US attorney who said something and they can prove it,” Callahan said. “Then you might have some smoke.”

Relatives of Bulger’s alleged victims scoffed at the gangster’s immunity claim on Monday after a hearing on the case.

Carney is also seeking to have US District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns, the presiding judge on the case, recuse himself.

Stearns was a top prosecutor in the US attorney’s office during part of the period of the indictment, and Carney has indicated he may want to call him as a witness to ask about issues related to the immunity deal.

Trial is to begin March 4.

Also Tuesday, Stearns allowed The Boston Globe to intervene as a party seeking to lift a court order sealing discovery evidence in the case. He referred the matter to Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler for a report and recommendation, court records show.

Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Brian R. Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @globeballou. Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Whitey Bulger, More Fallout Than Hiroshima


A license to kill? Notorious gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger argues he has immunity granted by government

http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2012/06/25/james-whitey-bulger-seeks-recusal-judge-overseeing-his-case/0a7VY665C77YZ6zzTFVgHK/story.html

Notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger says he had a deal with the government that protected him from prosecution and that agreement still holds, meaning that the extensive federal case against him — which includes allegations of 19 murders -- should be dropped.

“The defendant reached an agreement with the Department of Justice through its agent during the 1970s. The immunity agreement fully protects the defendant from prosecution for all of the crimes currently under indictment,” Bulger’s attorneys said in a filing in US District Court in Boston today.

His indictment, the attorneys said, “directly violated the immunity agreement that the defendant had bargained for, had relied upon, and had been promised.”

Bulger, who is being held pending a November trial, was for decades a fearsome figure in Boston’s underworld, while at the same time serving as a prized informant with a cozy relationship with the FBI. Tipped off by a corrupt FBI agent, Bulger fled the area in 1995 and eluded a worldwide manhunt until he and girlfriend Catherine Greig were arrested last year in Santa Monica, Calif.

Bulger’s attorneys revealed some of their defense strategy today in a court filing calling for US District Judge Richard A. Stearns to recuse himself from the case because of his former service as a federal prosecutor.

The attorneys, J.W. Carney Jr. and Henry B. Brennan, said there was “corruption and misconduct” during the time the government had an immunity agreement with Bulger and that included the time during which Stearns was a prosecutor and headed the US attorney’s criminal division.

The attorneys said they planned to file a motion to dismiss on the grounds that Bulger had an immunity agreement. They said they also planned to seek an evidentiary hearing on that motion that could include questions for Judge Stearns himself.

“A court must hear Judge Stearns’ answers to questions at this hearing, such as, ‘Why, when you were Chief of the Criminal Division, did you not indict the defendant for these crimes or open an investigation into the FBI’s relationship with the defendant?’” the filing said.

Bulger’s attorneys had also sought to push back his November trial date. And US Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler agreed at a hearing today, setting the trial for March 4, 2013. Bowler emphasized, though, that Bulger will not get another continuance in the case.

After the hearing, Carney spoke outside the courthouse about the continuance and about Bulger’s proposed motion to dismiss. Steven Davis, whose sister was allegedly one of the 19 murdered by Bulger, said he was flabbergasted by Carney’s statements and needed a moment “so my tongue don’t fall to the ground.”

“So he was allowed to murder?” Davis said. “A lawyer’s claiming Whitey Bulger had immunity to murder with orders of the government. How do I feel?”

Davis said that while Bulger may have had some leeway as an informant, it certainly did not extend to murder. He also said Carney was grasping at straws. “I don’t think he’s capable” of trying the case, Davis said.

Tom Donahue, whose father was allegedly murdered by Bulger, also cast doubt on the gangster’s immunity claim. “I’m sure that immunity goes out window when you murder dozens of people,” Donahue said.

Some in Boston reacted with disbelief when Bulger’s status as an informant was revealed, first through newspaper reports then through extensive court hearings by US District Judge Mark Wolf.

But the documents filed in court today by the defense made no effort to hide a relationship between Bulger and the government, noting that “members of the Department of Justice, including the FBI, consistently provided information to the defendant in an effort to further his criminal enterprise.”

“Based on the assistance of the Department of Justice ... the defendant became arguably the most powerful organized crime figure in Boston,” the documents said.

The documents sought to call the evidentiary hearing to “establish evidence, both direct and circumstantial, to prove the issue of immunity.”

The defense filed in court a list of “potential witnesses and non-testifying individuals whose credibility must be assessed.”

The list included who’s who of former federal prosecutors, including former Gov. William F. Weld, a former US attorney; as well as former US attorneys Frank McNamara Jr., and Wayne Budd; and former acting US attorney Jeremiah O’Sullivan, who died in 2009. The list also included federal agents, as well as state and local police officers.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Once More Unto The Breach, Full Immunity, Clarify & Double Reward Offer, Then Carmen Get It !!



Public’s aid sought in ’90 Gardner Museum heist

Effort may resemble Bulger campaign

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/11/publics_aid_sought_in_90_gardner_museum_heist/?page=full

Federal officials investigating the 1990 Gardner Museum heist plan to launch a public awareness campaign similar to the one that led to last year’s arrest of James “Whitey’’ Bulger, in the latest sign that officials have sharpened their probe into the notorious theft, according to the US attorney’s office.

The plan comes amid stepped-up activity in the investigation: A grand jury has been activated and two houses have been searched within the past eight months.

The intensification of the investigation is apparently tied to the late Robert Guarente, a Mafia figure who has ties to the owners of the two houses and who has been a focus of the grand jury, according to police and FBI reports, and court records. Guarente’s home was also searched in 2009.

Officials are still finalizing plans for the public awareness campaign, but say it could go international and could, like the Bulger campaign, use billboards and television advertisements.

The campaign would reintroduce the public to the 13 stolen masterworks - including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and Manet - and try to solicit information concerning their whereabouts, officials said. The stolen art has been valued at as high as $500 million, and the heist is considered the biggest museum theft in history.

“We have made it clear that we will be zealous and chase any leads,’’ US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in an interview last week.

She said she could not discuss the nascent campaign in detail, but described it as part of “a very vibrant, ongoing investigation. It isn’t sitting on a shelf, that’s for sure.’’

Ortiz has said that the Gardner theft has become a priority of the FBI and her two-year-old administration, particularly since the capture last year of Bulger, the South Boston gangster.

Around the 20th anniversary of the heist in 2010, a second assistant United States attorney, Robert Fisher, was assigned to work alongside Brian Kelly, the head of the Boston US attorney’s public corruption unit, who has overseen the investigation for several years. Kelly and Fisher collaborate with the FBI and with Anthony Amore, the museum’s investigator and its head of security.

Investigators also continue to offer the possibility of immunity from criminal prosecution for any information about the paintings, and the museum has offered a $5 million reward for the recovery of the paintings in good condition.

Museum officials would not comment for this article. But Amore sounded optimistic recently at a lecture at the Plymouth Public Library when he said he believed the works will be found.

“It’s still like trying to find a needle in the haystack, but the haystack keeps getting smaller with each lead that gets investigated,’’ he said.

Over the past 22 years, the investigation into the heist has yielded little more than additional leads and speculation, but the recent searches have been at the houses of two men who knew Guarente, who was associated with Dorchester crime boss Carmello Merlino, one of the original suspects.

The investigation of Guarente is the most notable extension of the investigation since Merlino’s associates became targets 15 years ago.

Guarente, a Mafia figure who died in 2004 at age 65, apparently had ties to everyone publicly identified as a person of interest in the heist, according to court records, FBI reports, and State Police documents.

“He knew everybody,’’ said one person with knowledge of the investigation, who asked for anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly. “He knew all of these characters who just keep coming up.’’

Within the past year, the FBI has searched the homes of Anthony Carlo, a 62-year-old ex-convict living in Worcester who has a history of art theft, and Robert Gentile, an ailing reputed gangster who was living in Manchester, Conn.

In last week’s interview, Ortiz would not talk about specifics of the investigation, but said investigators are looking at new angles and taking new approaches, such as the ad campaign.

As she spoke about the case, Ortiz recalled seeing empty frames in the museum’s Dutch Room, where two priceless Rembrandts and a Vermeer used to hang. She said she thought, “It’s just like they were waiting for something to come home, like there was a vacuum there.’’

“It would be nice to put them back there,’’ she said.

The theft occurred in the early morning of March 18, 1990. Two men posing as police officers conned their way into the museum by telling the two security guards that they were responding to a report of a disturbance. The guards, who violated protocol by letting the officers in, were bound with duct tape. The thieves then spent 81 minutes taking the 13 masterworks.

None of the artworks have been recovered, though authorities in the late 1990s focused on Merlino, the owner of TRC Auto Electric, a car repair shop in Dorchester, and some of his associates.

A federal informant told authorities at the time that Merlino was going to try to negotiate the return of the artworks and FBI agents discussed a return with him directly. He never led authorities to the paintings, however.

Not long after that, Merlino and three underlings - including established criminals David Turner and Stephen Rossetti - were arrested for plotting to rob an armored car depot in Easton. They were sentenced to decades-long prison sentences. Merlino was still in prison in 2005 when he died at age 71.

All three argued that they were set up by an informant and that authorities were using the case as leverage to glean information about the Gardner heist. And all three have connections to Guarente, who is Rossetti’s uncle.

Rossetti said last year in court records seeking a new trial that authorities investigating the Gardner heist targeted him because they were interested in Guarente.

Rossetti and Turner have long denied having any knowledge of the paintings. Their lawyers have said the possibility of a lesser jail sentence, and the reward, would be a strong enough incentive for them to cooperate if they did have information.

Guarente, who has a criminal history dating back to the 1960s, was also connected to local Mafia figures Francis “Cadillac Frank’’ Salemme, and Robert Luisi Jr. who had ties to the Philadelphia Mafia.

Guarente, according to the person familiar with the investigation, had ties to others whose names have been mentioned as persons of interest in the Gardner probe: He was friends with George Reissfelder, who died of a cocaine overdose not long after the robbery and who frequented Merlino’s shop; Guarente knew Robert Donati, one of the first potential suspects named.

More recently, in October, authorities searched the Worcester home of Carlo, whom Guarente associated with through Merlino’s crew.

Investigators apparently found nothing conclusive in that search or in the search of Guarente’s home in 2009, but his widow, Elene, confirmed to the Globe that she told investigators that her husband gave a painting to Gentile.

Elene Guarente has given conflicting accounts of what she told authorities, and she has told the Globe that the painting she discussed with authorities does not appear to be one of those stolen from the Gardner.

Still, investigators’ interest in Guarente’s relationship with Gentile is apparently strong enough that they searched Gentile’s home in Manchester, Conn., last month.

Gentile, 75, faces drug charges in federal court in Connecticut, and the application for the search warrant was related to that case.

But his lawyer, Ryan McGuigan, has maintained that the drug charges are a ruse, that investigators are using the case to pressure his client for information about the Gardner thefts.

Martin Leppo, a lawyer who has represented Connor, Merlino, and Turner, also confirmed that one of his clients was asked last July to testify before a grand jury investigating the heist.

Leppo was able to have the subpoena quashed, but the client agreed to meet with investigators, including Kelly.

And, according to Leppo, Kelly asked about the list of people tied to the heist: Merlino, Turner, Rossetti, Reisfelder - and Guarente.

Art Hostage Comments:

If Authorities are really serious this time about recovering the Gardner art then two simple things will make sure it happens.

First, make the Immunity full and with no strings attached, meaning the person stepping forward does not have to reveal anything about the Gardner Heist or subsequent handling of the art and all they have to do is give a location where the art can be found.

Art Hostage suggests, and has done for the last decade, a Catholic Church Confession Box as location for the recovery of the Gardner Art.

Second, the reward offer has to be specific and not have any "Good condition" attached as we already know the Gardner art was cut from their frames and has already suffered damage.

Furthermore, a tariff of a reward for each individual stolen Gardner artwork should be made public as all the Gardner Art is not held together.

Up until now both immunity and reward offer have strings attached that makes them not worth the paper they are not even written on.

Furthermore, the reward offer was increased from $1 million-$5 million all the way back in 1997 so why not double the reward offer to $10 million?

Until the immunity offer is full without any need to testify before the Grand Jury and no questions are asked of the person stepping forward, only a fool would step forward.

Until the reward offer is without conditions only a fool would step forward seeking what is currently "Fools Gold"

Will be interesting to see if these questions are asked or will the media whores still play the sycophant game.

As to the current whereabouts of the Gardner art, Robert Wittman the revered Iconic ex FBI Art Crime Team Boss believes some Gardner art is held by Corsican Mafia figures within the Brise de Mer, the Valinco gang, the Venzolasca gang.

Alex Boyle, the respected Art Historian believes some of the Gardner art is held by Jean Marie Messier & Carmen Thyysen, wife of the late billionaire Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza via a deal brokered by the New York Art Dealer Andrew Crespo.

Charlie Hill, Dick Ellis and Mark Dalrymple believe some Gardner art is held by Irish Republicans via a deal with Whitey Bulger.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, "Charles Sabba closes his lecture on the Gardner Robbery at Salmagundi Club with a message to all operators in the art underworld

"...This is going to be on the web and its bound to be viewed by some in the art underworld. So I want to speak directly to people who steal art and commit art crimes. You need to trust me! But dont trust because I am a cop! Cops, agents, security experts, and lawyers lie. They are allowed to lie to get you to talk. Like when you and a co-defendant are being interrogated and they tell you your pal rolled on you even tho he didn't say a word. They are lieing to get you talking. They can tell you there is a reward even if there isn't and they can tell you there is an immunity even if you wont get it."

"...Don't trust me because I am a cop. You need to trust me because I am first and foremost an artist and I am dedicated to art. You should contact me and you will find fair and consistent treatment. First off, I want to put you into an art historical context by painting your portrait. I want to paint your portrait and you will receive one as a gift of thanks for taking the time to pose, either you can sit for the painting or I can photograph you and work from the photo, depending on your time restraints and schedule. After we work together as artist and sitter and break bread for lunch and have a few drinks afterwards and we get to know each other you will realize Im not out to hurt anybody, I'm only in it to protect the art. Art is my life. Art is what gives life meaning. Art is a secular faith to me and in spite of Youngworth's cold , hard words that the Gardner art will not be recovered now in our lifetimes, I am going to keep the faith it will. So my closing words are keep the faith! The faith is art! "

(Photos: the 1st photo above was taken at the Leo Koenig Gallery located at 545 W. 23rd Street, New York; the 2nd photo was taken at the Grounds For Sculpture located in Hamilton Township, N.J.).

The artist/ art theft gumshoe Charles Sabba is sending the open invitation to all involved in the art underworld to have their portraits painted in oil on canvas. Sabba is approaching these portraits as an artist, not a law enforcement official, in a neutral, non-threatening manner. Sabba's desire is to place his sitters in an art historical perspective by painting there portraits. While many writers and film experts have documented the world of art theft and the art crimes arena in articles, books and film, Charles Sabba is the first and only visual artist to delve deeply into "visual investigations" of this mysterious and remote area of the art world. His open invitation goes out to all people involved in the art crimes arena, such as art thieves, fences, smugglers, forgers, fraudsters, as well as all art detectives, agents, art loss adjusters, dealers, collectors and reporters, to name a few. To date he has had the following notable people pose for his portraits: the esteemed veterans of art theft investigation Bobby "The Art Cop" Volpe and Scotland yard's Richard Ellis, NYPD art theft Detective Mark Fishstein, Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley, Det. Ian Lawson, Det. Michelle Roycroft, Chris Marinello of the Art Loss Register, the ex-forger, now the U.K.s greatest artist, John Myatt, the former antiquities smuggler Michel Van Rijn, the sophisticated art loss adjuster Mark Dalrymple, the former U.S.D.O.J. Prosecutor and Director of Unitel William Callahan, Paul
aka "Turbo" aka "Art Hostage" Hendry, two of New England's mot notorious art thieves Myles Connor and William Youngworth, the Security Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Anthony Amore, the ABC Primetime investigative reporter Jill Rackmill, and the art dealer with a penchant for art theft investigation, Alexander Boyle, to name only a few. Most police, agents, and bounty hunters go out on the hunt for men and women and place them in bracelets and drag them down town. Sabba hunts men and women with only one mission: to place them into an art historic perspective by painting their portraits. Art theft and art crimes are indeed an important part of art history and the involved persons and their stories must be documented for future generations. He is now very interested in contacting and painting the portraits of Robert Mang (Saliera), Gerald Blanchard, Jack Roland "Murf the Surf" Murphy, all of the involved parties in the Scream Caper, all involved parties in the Madonna with Yarnwinder Caper, to name a few.

You may contact Charles Sabba to have your portrait painted at:
sabba@yourbrushwiththelaw.com
You may view many of Sabba's portraits and art works here:
You may learn more about Sabba's visual investigative antics here:
You may view Sabba's scholarly dissertation on Bohemia and the Bohemian artists and poets who inhabited it here:

During the Salmagundi lecture, Charles Sabba revealed new and never before revealed info about who committed the Gardner Art Museum robbery. This lecture will be posted on the Your Brush With The Law You Tube channel for viewing soon.