The Crimes We Were All Obsessed With: PART 2

Earlier this month we launched a series on the crimes that become a media spectacle and soak up much of the public’s attention — even though they don’t have much long-term relevance for any of us. Society has the tendency to focus on what seems most traumatic instead of what is most important (say, regional murders over war for example), which is why we want to explore what makes these criminals hold our attention. Here is the next batch of crazy people.

Drew Peterson’s wife disappeared in October 2007 — and it made the national news because Drew was an Illinois police officer. That probably wasn’t what gave the story the right flavor to turn into an overnight sensation. It was more likely that we were attracted to the fact that his third wife was also murdered four years earlier. In 2009, Drew was charged with two counts of murder for both his wives. He was sentenced to 38 years in prison after being found guilty of the first wife’s murder, but then sweetened the deal with another guilty verdict in 2016 after he tried to hire an assassin to take out the prosecutor who put him in prison.

Police arrested Nathaniel Kibby, a man who had kidnapped, imprisoned, and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl for nine months beginning in October, 2013. The trial demonstrated how Kibby had kept the young girl in a storage container until he became paranoid that the police were onto him — so he finally let her go, only to be arrested not long thereafter. He pleaded guilty in 2016 and was sentenced to up to 90 years in prison.

25-year-old Cheyanne Jessie was arrested for her parents’ murders within a day of reporting their disappearance. Investigators had discovered that Jessie had killed both in her father’s house nearly two months before she filed the initial report — but that she had transferred them to a storage container. Pro tip: they always find evidence when you move the bodies.

The Crimes We Were All Obsessed With

There are big crimes, and then there are big crimes — the ones that society is obsessed with as opposed to the ones that really matter. You know the type: OJ Simpson and Aaron Hernandez, Casey Anthony and Nathaniel Kibby, and the list goes on and on. You won’t recognize every name on this list, of course, but that’s what makes it so fun. These were the “biggest” crimes committed in recent living memory.

An entire family vanished without a trace on February 4, 2010 — at least for three years, when the bodies of Joseph McStay, his wife, and their two children were discovered in the desert. Police charged Joseph’s business partner with their kidnappings and deaths.

Another couple were found murdered on March 6, 2015 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (a popular vacation destination for those living on the East Coast). It only took the police three days to track down Alexander Turner (the couple’s son) and his girlfriend to charge them with the fatalities. Alexander pleaded guilty. 

Have you ever heard of the Slender Man? Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser confessed to the police that they had stabbed their friend, 12-year-old Payton Leutner, nineteen times because they were worried about becoming the Slender Man’s next victim (and you can look up this legend with a simple Google search). Although the pair of stabbers was arrested, they were found not guilty because of mental impairment.

Ohhhh, Casey Anthony — what a saga, and may the gods help you if you experienced it through Nancy Grace’s somewhat biased eyes. It was Casey’s mother, Cindy, who first called the police to report that Casey had stolen her car and a few dollars on top of that. Later, she made another call when she admitted that Casey’s daughter was also missing. It was six months later when two-year-old Caylee’s remains were finally located near the home. It was a shock to many when Casey was eventually found “not guilty” of the murder.

Biggest Crimes Of The Century? Trump Pardons All!

The investigation into President Donald Trump’s administration’s ties seems so long ago now — especially considering the administration’s scandals come about weekly — but it wasn’t so long ago that Robert Mueller and his colleagues arrested, charged, and prosecuted a number of individuals who failed to cooperate. Now, Trump seems intent on pardoning every single one. Officials associated with the investigation admitted that they expected Trump to do as much.

Michael Flynn is among the most notorious of those let off the hook so far. He was also the first big pardon. Flynn had been charged with obstruction of justice after lying to the FBI about backroom dealings with Russian diplomats. He pleaded guilty at first, then tried to withdraw the plea later.

George Papadopoulos served 14 days in federal prison for lying to the FBI, and was granted a full pardon. He was an important piece of Trump’s 2016 campaign and served as foreign policy adviser.

Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan collaborated with Paul Manafort on Ukraine, and was also charged with lying. He was allowed to go back to London after serving 30 days in federal prison. He was pardoned.

Speaking of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, he was one of the few prosecuted for more than just lying to the FBI (although he did that too). He was convicted for financial fraud. He was pardoned. 

Trump buddy Roger Stone was earlier granted clemency after serving part of his prison sentence for lying to the FBI. Trump later granted Stone a full pardon.

It has been long believed that Trump would pardon members of his own family, and that parade has commenced. His son-in-law’s father, Charles Kushner, was granted a pardon for 2004 charges related to tax evasion, witness tampering, and lying to the Federal Election Commission. His taxes had been filed after saying $6 million worth of political contributions were actually business expenses. Maybe he even saw them that way!

Famous Crimes And Criminals You Never Heard About

How comfortable are you with your neighbors? Possibly more comfortable than you should be, if this list is anything to go by — because there are probably dozens of uncaught serial killers operating in the United States, or so our most trust authorities say. Even those criminals who were caught have a lot to teach us about the ones that might elude capture, both through their own stories and also by divining the truth from a pack of lies. 

Darren Deon Vann was caught and charged for murdering a prostitute in 2014. Most everyone thought that would be the end of his story, which is why the news never gained much traction. Since then, though, he confessed to at least six more murders. And he wasn’t just a serial killer — he also was charged and convicted for aggravated rape more than a decade ago. For his serial activities, he faces the death penalty. 

Remember when the remains of four unlucky victims were found near a Connecticut strip mall back in 2015? Or how about the three other bodies that were found in that exact same spot in 2007? William Devin Howell was caught and charged with the entire lot of murders. Howell was such a dark figure that he called his getaway 1985 Ford Econoline his murder mobile. He was given away by a cellmate after he was caught and charged for manslaughter back in 2007.

Salvatore Perrone murdered several ethnically Middle Eastern shopkeepers during business hours in Brooklyn. It was possible he was envious of their success, as his own business — and his marriage — had failed. The evidence against him was so powerful that a jury took barely a half-hour to convict him of the three counts of murder. He was nicknamed “Son of Sal” but we bet you’ve never heard of him!

Part I: Who Are The Most Famous Copycat Killers?

This website is dedicated to the murderous psychopaths who have captured the national (and sometimes international) spotlight, for better or for worse. But sometimes, as bad as those criminals are, there are even crazier individuals who are captivated in exactly the wrong way. These lunatics turn into copycat killers. Once in a blue moon, the copycats are worthy successors to the original murderers. Here are the most famous copycat killers!

Daniel Bartlam. This guy is one of those really special killers who give politicians sufficient ammo when blaming violent video games for violent acts (because he liked them). He smashed Jacqueline Bartlam, his mother, in the head with a hammer, then set her on fire along with the rest of the house. But don’t worry — he helped the family and the dog escape their burning home.

He told investigators that a crook did the dirty deed. Unfortunately it took them all of two seconds to uncover the truth, thanks in large part due to the 14-year-old’s internet history. He had performed an online search on how to get away with the aforementioned crime. To make matters more transparent, he had also downloaded a number of videos of John Stape, a fictional character in the TV series Coronation Street

How did Stape kill his victims? Yep, he used his trusty ol’ hammer. The reclusively boyish Bartram was named the Coronation Killer for this peculiar obsession. He was sentenced to life in prison in February 2012. Potentially, he could be released after serving only sixteen years. 

Mark Twitchell. This nutcase is another guy who really liked TV psychopaths. The producers of popular dark dramedy Dexter probably never envisioned that the fictional/murderous protagonist would inspire any real-world murders, but alas — Dexter Morgan did exactly that. Although Twitchell had found his serial killing idol, he would never live up to the name. Twitchell only managed to commit a single murder before he was caught.

Twitchell wasn’t one for shame, either. He made a fake profile on a dating site in order to pose as a woman and lure a couple men to his kill room, where coincidentally he had already been making an actual movie about a serial killer. One of those men escaped.

He was another moron who left way too much obvious evidence behind. Like, don’t these guys even watch CSI: Crime Scene Investigation? One would think it’d be the first item on their list. Twitchell had a document called “SKConfessions” on his laptop. It read: “This story is based on true events. The names and events were altered slightly to protect the guilty. This is the story of my progression into becoming a serial killer.”

Before he was found guilty on a 1st degree murder charge, he tried to build a defense based on “blame the media.” He was put away for at least 25 years.

Stay tuned for “Part II” of the Looney Tunes.

The Infamous Life Of Jordan Belfort

Ever since the hit movie “The Wolf Of Wall Street” premiered in 2013, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, Belfort’s personal life and story has become rather infamous. Although he scammed investors out of $200 million, he may be even more well-known for the activities and debauchery of his private life.

Belfort At His Peak

At his peak, socially and financially, Belfort could be seen by many as a legend — amassing an immense fortune and lifestyle to accompany it. At the age 31, he already was a multimillionaire stockbroker, in possession of a helicopter, yacht, plane, and more. But how did he make all this money? Well, Belfort founded the company Stratton Oakmont, a stockbroker firm based on Long Island. His success came from his incredible sales tactics, reportedly able to sell anything to anyone. He was able to transfer these tactics to young brokers, many of them fresh out of school. He handed them a script to read and trained them in his program, allowing them to successfully cold-call potential investors. These practices, along with some illegal ones that will later be explored, allowed Belfort to earn $50 million a year. However, the numbers get even more insane. Allegedly, he once made $12 million in just three minutes! However, these astronomical figures did not come without a cost.

The Darker Side

Jordan Belfort’s rapid success did not come without a cost. In addition to engaging in illegal trading activities, his life was filled with other debauchery — both legal and illegal. Perhaps most notable was his excessive drug abuse. He preferred the powerful sedative known as Quaaludes, a recreational drug banned in many different countries. He was said to have ran out of Quaaludes during a hotel stay in London, and had his secretary in New York send him an emergency supply at four in the morning. However, Belfort was not alone in his drug indulgence, as many of the brokers at Stratton Oakmont (also know as Strattonites) used cocaine regularly.

Illegal Trading Practices

In addition to Belfort’s illegal personal practices, he employed illegal market manipulation techniques at Stratton Oakmont. Most common were “pump and dump” schemes, a technique where Stratton’s brokers would buy up a bunch of shares of a company for their clients, causing the stock price to rapidly rise or “pump.” At this point, Belfort would “dump” his personal shares on the market, causing the price to collapse and leaving his clients with nothing. Further, he engaged in money laundering, or the concealing of illegally obtained money. Usually, this was done by transferring money to foreign banks, or funneling in the money through legitimate businesses.

Overview

Overall, the story of Jordan Belfort and his firm Stratton Oakmont is certainly a memorable one. Riddled with crime and ethical dilemmas, it is truly unlike any other. However, in present day (after serving jail time), Belfort is reportedly a changed man. He is paying restitution to his victims, and serving as a dutiful father to his children.

Who Is Frank Abagnale?

Frank Abagnale currently works are a security consultant for the FBI academy. However, he is more famously known for his criminal activity in his youth. He is a former check forger, confidence trickster, swindler, and impostor. It’s claimed he assumed at least eight identities and became known as one of America’s most famous impostors. In addition, he escaped prison twice before reaching the age of 21. For his past crimes, he served less than 5 years in a prison before being offered employment with the federal government.

Some of his most famous impersonations include a physician, an airline pilot, a lawyer and a prison agent. With a goal of wanting to fly around the globe for free, he decided to obtain a Pan Am uniform and a fake employee ID. Abagnale then went one to forge an FAA pilot’s license and managed to fly over a million miles with commercial airlines over 250 flights.

Abagnale managed to get a job as a lawyer by forging a law transcript from Harvard University and passing the Louisiana bar exam at just 19. It took him three attempts and eight weeks of intensive studying to pass the bar exam. He also claimed he worked as a teaching assistant at BYU, but the university denies the claim.

Abagnale’s father was the victim of the first con he carried out. The con involved him using a gasoline card his father had given him to pay for gas to get to work to buy tires, car batteries, and other car parts. He then asked the gas station attendants to exchange the products he bought for cash. His father ending up having to pay a $3,400 bill, as Abagnale was just 15 years old.

Drawing on his former life as a criminal, Abagnale wrote four books: Stealing Your Life, The Art of the Steal, Catch Me If You Can and Real U Guide to Identity Theft. He is married to Kelly Anne Welbes and the couple has three children. In addition to working for the FBI academy, Abagnale also runs a financial fraud consultancy firm called Abagnale & Associates. Lots of people in America might know Abagnale from his numerous media appearances over the years.

You can learn more about Frank W. Abagnale at abagnale.com. On the site, you can also learn more about protecting yourself from ID theft, forgery, and embezzlement. The internet has made it easier than ever for criminals to carry out ID theft, so you need to arm yourself with knowledge so you don’t fall victim to the crime.

10 Interesting Facts About Bernie Madoff

Who is Bernie Madoff?

Bernard Lawrence Madoff, more commonly known as “Bernie” is a well-known American-financier that executed the largest Ponzi scheme ever. He defrauded countless investors that accounted for billions over a period of about 17 years.

Despite, his claims of generating steady and large returns through the investing strategy known as “split-strike conversion”, which actually does exist, Madoff deposited his client’s funds into one bank account, where he would pay out clients that wanted a cash out. He funded these redemptions in the way of attracting “new” investors. He failed to maintain this fraud when the markets took a sharp turn in the late part of 2008. Here are 10 interesting facts about Bernie Madoff.

Facts About Bernie Madoff

1. Bernard Lawrence Madoff was born on the 29 April 1938, in Rockaways section of Queens, N.Y.

2. He went onto graduate from Far Rockaway High School. He met Ruth Alpern in high school who later became his wife.

3. When he finished high school, he went to the University of Alabama for a year before he transferred to the Hofstra University. In 1960 he graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in political science.

4. He went to Brooklyn Law School briefly, before leaving to start his company known as Madoff Investment Securities in the year 1960. He used the $5,000 he had managed to save from repairing and installing sprinkler systems and from working as a lifeguard.

5. His reputation and prominence started to grow and he went onto help pioneer electronic-trading. He also testified in front of congressional committees about financial matters, along with serving as a chairman on the board for the Nasdaq Stock Market.

6. He was also an avid golfer who belonged to several exclusive clubs.

7. His sons, Mark and Andrew were made senior employees in his company. They both turned their dad into the federal authorities in 2008, when the Ponzi scheme was made public.

8. The scheme was estimated at around $65 billion and is suggested as the largest in Wall Street history.

9. At the time of receiving charges for the fraud, he owned yachts in New York, Florida and the Mediterranean, a $7 million penthouse based in Manhattan, a villa situated on the French Riviera, a mansion based in the Hamptons, and a 56-foot boat that he named “The Bull.”

10. The 11 counts of theft, money laundering, perjury and fraud ended with Madoff being sentenced to 150-years in prison.

If you are a victim of a similar scheme, it is important that you speak with an medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Sometimes, these schemes are not only tried in a criminal court, but a civil as well.

The Top Mobsters of All Time

Being a member of the top ten mobsters of all time is the hall of fame for members of organized crime families. Many of the gangsters that made this list were considered pioneers of heir craft. Often, these criminals brought in well over 100 million dollars annually. These guys made it to the top of their profession and some of them changed the game forever.

The Top Five Mobsters of All Time

Recently, National Crime Syndicate performed a survey to uncover who the public views as the top ten mobsters of all time. 200 people voted and here are the results:

1.Lucky Luciano

Lucky Luciano claimed the number one spot on this list and deservedly so. After taking out New York mob bosses, Sal Maranzano and Joe Masseria, Lucky restructured the entire New York crime organization. He broke New York into five families, giving each family territory and putting an end to the bloodshed.

2.Carlos Gambino

Carlos Gambino might have been the most low-profile gangster of all time. Carlos ruled his family for over 20 years. During Gambino’s reign, the family was estimated over $500,000,000 a year. The mob boss never had an attempt made on his life and only served 22 months in prison over his lifetime.

3. Frank Costello

Mr.  Costello was a true mobster cinderella story. The gangster rose from the bottom of the family to the top of what is known today as the Genovese Crime Family. Frank Costello was known for his relationships with politicians and was said to run the democratic party in the 1940s. Costello’s run s the boss of the family almost came to an abrupt end, but he was ablet o talk his way out of being murdered by future boss Vito Genovese.

4. Meyer Lansky

Meyer Lansky was one brought into the mob life for his impeccable knowledge of business and finance. The Jewsih born mobster was a founding member of the national crime syndicate. Lansky became well-known for the idea of using foreign accounts to launder money. By 1970, Meyer was worth an estimated $300,000,000.

5. Tony Accardo

Tony Accardo was once the boss of the crime family that controlled all of Chicago. He was virtually untouchable, only spending one night in jail over an 80+ year career in organized crime. Accardo rose through the ranks as a hitman for Al Capone and was said to be part of the infamous Valentine’s Day Massacre.

 

Celebs Accused of Sexual Assault

We live in a changing world. The U.S. is experiencing a surge of charges against alleged sexual predators, and women are standing up against their assailants in droves. You would think those who live in the public eye would be less prone to commit these crimes, but unfortunately, the opposite seems true. Here are a few celebrities accused of sexual assault.

Kevin Spacey was recently accused of sexual assault by a list of at least fifteen men. Anthony Rapp made the first accusation, alleging that Spacey had advanced on him when he was only 14 years old. Spacey made history by becoming the first person to find a bad time to come out of the closet. He responded to the accusation by denying he had any memory of the incident, then elaborated on his interest in men. Matters have only grown worse for Spacey ever since.

Although no charges have been levied, James Franco was recently accused of sexual misconduct by actresses formerly under his direction. Many have asserted that Franco is also guilty of assault, but these are still only rumors. He has previously been accused of trying to hook up with a seventeen year old girl through Instagram and texting, although these accusations have not been verified either.

“X-Men” director Bryan Singer has been accused of rape more than once of the last few years. In 2014, Michael Egan accused Singer of drugging and raping him when he was underage in the 90s. Most recently, he was accused of rape by Cesar Sanchez-Guzman, who was only 17 at the time of the incident. So far, no charges have been filed.

Jeffrey Tambor was recently accused of making sexual advances on a transgender actor on the show “Transparent”, on which he plays the role of a transgender woman. He denies any form of predation.

Louis C.K. stands accused of sexual misconduct that may go as far back as fifteen years. According to comedians Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, Louis pleasured himself in front of them after they accepted his invitation to meet them in his hotel room. He has been accused by other women as well, and has admitted that these allegations are truthful. He has expressed remorse for his actions.