Posts tagged with "Crime"

Explosion illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Nashville Christmas Bombing

By Hannah DiPilato

Christmas morning had a horrific start for Nashville, Tennessee when a bomb went off at 6 a.m. Friday morning. 

Planted in an RV that was parked on the street, the bomb left excessive damage for the city; over 40 buildings were impacted. The most bizarre part was the fifteen-minute evacuation warning that played before the bomb erupted. This gave the surrounding area time to evacuate in order to prevent death and injury.

The police are currently investigating the situation and believe it was a suicide bombing. Human remains have been recovered from the scene of the incident, but no fatalities have been confirmed yet. So far, three injuries have been recorded due to the blast, but all are in stable condition. 

A tip released to law enforcement about the vehicle involved in the bombing has led agents to Antioch, a town just southeast of Nashville, to search a home. According to FBI spokesman, Jason Pack, they are conducting “court-authorized activity,” but have not reported who resides in the home. Law enforcement has received 500 leads and tips that are now being investigated. 

Douglas Korneski, FBI special agent in charge of the Memphis Field Office, was unable to identify any potential suspects at a press conference held on Saturday afternoon. However, as of now, police have identified one person of interest. 

One possible motive of the attack could be the destruction of the nearby AT&T building which caused major problems for cell service in many southern states. Korneski said the FBI is, “looking at every possible motive that could be involved,” when asked about the AT&T building being a possible target.

Mayor John Cooper has enforced a curfew in the downtown area until Sunday as a preventative measure until investigators can learn more about what occurred. The downtown area, and heart of Nashville tourism, was shut down so investigators could comb through the remains from the explosion.

Many residents of the area reported hearing gunshots at approximately 5:30 a.m. on Christmas morning. The white RV responsible for the explosion was parked directly in front of 166 Second Ave. North, which is the AT&T transmission building. 

The eerie message projecting from the van said, “This vehicle will explode in 15 minutes,” according to Betsy Williams, a resident that lived nearby the scene. The message repeated for a minute and then proceeded to count down from 15 minutes. At approximately 6:30 a.m. the recording changed as the time inched closer to the threat of an eruption. “If you can hear this message, evacuate now,” the voice boomed, minutes from when the street was blown up. 

Six police officers that were on the scene immediately began evacuating homes after hearing the message. No officials suffered serious injuries, one officer was knocked over by the force of the blast and another officer suffered from hearing loss. 

The investigation for answers continues into Saturday night and law enforcement is working hard to keep Nashville safe in the coming days. Korneski said the investigation will take time because “the investigative team is turning over every stone.” 

Graffiti and art article illustrated by Gabrielle Archuleta for 360 magazine

Graffiti Art: Hobby, Art, or Political Statement

It is perhaps deliberately that this has been framed as a loaded question, is graffiti art considered to be art? But this takes us directly to the heart of the matter, what constitutes something being art is very truly on the eye of the beholder. But some serious debates are surrounding this topic.

Terminology

The term graffiti itself is problematic. Consider this article about prominent Chicago artist Dont Fret, he is referred to as a street artist. This distinction offers a more constructive spin on the entire artform, as street art is a more creative and acceptable term. You can see how celebrated the artist is from the article as he is lauded by a city official.

Criminality

Should we be considering graffiti, or street art, a crime? Well, technically it is, but only in some circumstances. The crux of the matter comes down to permission. If you paint, draw, or write anything on a surface without permission of the property owner, then by the letter of the law, it would be considered illegal vandalism. Would this result in prosecution in reality? This mainly depends on the owners’ attitude since much of the art is done either with permission or in abandoned spaces, the level of prosecution these days seems to be low in most areas. What of art on publicly owned buildings? This is a subject of hot debate as it brings politics into it (more on that later).

Should we Encourage it?

Is it an art form that should be encouraged? You could encourage young people to use it to express themselves. Take an art class, equip them with some Dang Paint and find an area to let them give it a go. Many art schools and colleges have whole courses on graffiti art as a legitimate medium. Reputation still holds it back for some more conservative folks, but it is steadily gaining momentum as a serious and respected medium.

Part of the City

In many places, grafitti art has become a defining feature of the city and its culture. High-quality street art can be stunningly beautiful and show much of the culture and history of a place when done well. Take the series of stunning murals in Glasgow, Scotland that is now a famous feature that residents and visitors to the city rightly marvel at. 

Politics

Politics often, but not always, plays a big part in street art or graffiti art. Take the world-famous Banksy, no-one even knows who he or she is, but many of the pieces are political, showing a real flavor of social commentary. These pieces have sparked more social debate in the last couple of decades than any traditional artform as they reach ordinary people who would never have considered visiting an art gallery. Other more overtly political examples can be seen in communities with a much more overt political struggle, the murals on display in Northern Irish communities, on both sides, are excellent examples.

Kaelen Felix Illustrates a Drug Article for 360 MAGAZINE

Oregon Decriminalizes Drugs

By Justin Lyons

This year’s election will go down as a legendary one in the history of the United States of America, and for some of the bigger fights, the country still doesn’t have an answer.

Where answers do exist seem to be in propositions and measures, and the big winners are those hoping for the decriminalization of drugs. Mississippi, New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and Arizona all approved the legalization of recreational marijuana.

The biggest victory for those in favor of drug decriminalization probably came in Oregon, where the penalty for small amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs was lessened.

According to Ballotpedia, Oregon’s Measure 110 would reclassify the possession of controlled substances such as those listed above from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E violation, which would result in a $100 fine or the necessity of a “completed health assessment.”

The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission estimated that convictions for possession would decrease by 90.7%.

Addiction recovery centers conduct the health assessments, which will include a screening from a certified alcohol and drug counselor and must be completed within 45 days of the Class E violation.

The funds for the assessments and the recovery programs will come from the Oregon Marijuana Account and money the state of Oregon saves from reductions in arrests, incarceration and official supervision. The recovery centers will provide treatment 24 hours per day along with health assessments, intervention plans, case management services and peer support and outreach.

The possession quantity of the now decriminalized drugs to be classified as a Class E violation are as follows: one gram of heroin or less, two grams of cocaine or less, two grams of methamphetamine or less, one gram or five pills of MDMA or less, 40 or fewer user units of LSD, less than 12 grams of psilocybin, fewer than 40 user units of methadone and fewer than 40 pills, tables or capsules of oxycodone.

A person carrying more than the specified amounts may face a misdemeanor with less than a year imprisonment, a $6,250 fine or both.

According to Yes on Measure 110, more than 125 Oregon-based organizations endorsed the measure, including Oregon Chapter of the American College of Physicians, Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon School Psychologists’ Association and Law Enforcement Action Partnership.

Ballotpedia also said the Democratic Party of Oregon, Multnomah Democrats and Working Families Party of Oregon support the bill, right alongside 11-time-GRAMMY-Award-Winning artist John Legend.

The measure is to be implemented no later than Feb. 1 of 2021.

REFINERY29 × QUIBI’S “LAST LOOKS” OUT NOW

LAST LOOKS, narrated by Dakota Fanning and produced by Refinery29, is a true crime series investigating the real crimes that have gripped the fashion industry, proving there’s a dark side to glamour

‘Murder, Designed by Gucci,’ follows Patrizia Reggiani and the high-profile arranged murder of her husband, the heir to the esteemed Gucci brand

WATCH EPISODES HERE

CLIP 1: Gucci Murderess Intro

CLIP 2: Gucci Murderess Conclusion

The series will cover 6 crimes stories that focus on the life of each subject, charting the sequence of events that led to the crime, while also exploring broader thematic questions about society and culture. Filmed in the cinematic Neon-noir style, LAST LOOKS will feature in-depth interviews, evocative recreations and immersive timelines that shed light on the real victims of these fashion crimes. 

STREAMING TODAY ONLY ON QUIBI

There will be new chapters available every weekday until November 4, 2020 only on Quibi.

Watch the official trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgqfE2yLwbA

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Violence Spikes in Major Cities

By Eamonn Burke

Last month, 65 people were shot in New York City and 87 in Chicago over the course of the 4th of July weekend. Six children were killed that weekend as well. The holiday may have been a peak in homicides, but numbers of shootings and deaths have been trending upward as the nation handles a pandemic and a historic recession. The amount of shootings in NYC from January to July exceeded the total for the entire year of 2019. Other major cities are experiencing high rates of gun violence as well, such as Philadelphia, where more than 240 people have been killed this year and which now has the 2nd highest homicide rate in the nation. Chicago saw a violent July, with 584 shootings and 105 deaths. Even smaller cities like Pheonix and Omaha are seeing rises.

As a whole, homicides are up 24% in the nation since last year. Data shows homicides and shootings trending upward sharply since late May in major cities across the US. However, as a national study shows, gun violence was creeping upward even before the pandemic began.

President Trump blames the rise in violent crime to “radical” Democratic politicians , such as Major Bill DeBlasio, despite signs that this is a bipartisan issue. DeBlasio himself blames the shootings on the virus, among other factors such as the BLM protests and faults in the criminal justice system that have recently been exposed. The Council on Criminal Justice also concluded that the virus is the root issue, and that it must be stopped first in order to reduce homicides. A chart of homicides in Chicago does in fact show a major spike after the beginning of the protests, and the BLM protests in 2014 and 2015 had a similar effect on gun violence. However, further analysis of police data instead points to a decrease in gun-related arrests as a potential cause, as well as the increase in gun purchases in recent months.

Police say that many of these crimes are gang related, and a shortage of staff due to the virus have made it harder to crack down on crime. DeBlasio was adamant about getting back on top of the gun crisis through the courts: “Our courts not only need to reopen, they need to reopen as fully and as quickly as possible.” Chief administrative judge Lawrence Marks fired back, saying the blame of courts was “false, misleading and irresponsible.”

A strange finding amongst this gun crisis is that rates of other crimes such as burglaries have not followed the same trend, and have even decreased in some cases. As this is extremely odd, it’s possible that it’s a matter of what is getting reported given the complications of COVID-19 and the BLM protests on policing.

Vehicles in the Bronx torched. Image by Vaughn Lowery of 360 MAGAZINE.

Man Burning Cars in Bronx

By Eamonn Burke

Multiple people awoke in the Bronx neighborhood of Belmont to find their vehicles torched on Thursday morning, all within blocks of each other. One victim of the burnings sent a video of the man to News 12, in which he can be seeing looking around and subsequently lighting a spark on the car. Police are actively searching for the suspect.

Roger Stone Commuted By Trump

By Eamonn Burke

Last Friday, President Donald Trump shocked the political world by commuting the sentence of his long time friend and former consultant to the president Roger Stone.

Stone, convicted in 2019 of seven charges related to Roger Mueller’s investigation of the 2016 election, was scheduled to report to a Georgia prison today until Trump set him free. He was set to serve a 40 month term with two years probation and a $20,000 fine. Stone has requested to delay the start date earlier on Friday but was denied, a ruling which was overpowered by Trumps pardoning.

Prosecutors of Stone accused him of hiding evidence about tampering from Russia in the 2016 election and lying to Congress, but White House secretary Kayleigh McEnany insists that “Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax” and that “There was never any collusion between the Trump Campaign, or the Trump Administration, with Russia.” According to her, Trump reasons that Stone deserves fair treatment and a chance to clear his name.

This comes after months of pressure from Stone’s allies and even Stone himself to pardon his sentence. It also follows many tweets from Trump that hinted at this commutation, calling it a “Witch Hunt”. Many were outraged, however, inflicting many Democrats and some Republicans including Senator Mitt Romney, who reflected the feelings of many in a tweet:

“Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.”

Meanwhile, Stone’s attorney tells Fox News that Stone is “honored” by this “act of mercy”.

Crime, Vaughn Lowery, Allison Christensen, 360 MAGAZINE

Snapped: Betty Broderick

Oxygen, the network for high-quality true crime programming, takes a deep dive into the story that captivated a nation, the case of La Jolla socialite Betty Broderick, in  “Snapped: Betty Broderick,” premiering Wednesday, July 15, at 8PM ET/PT. Convicted of murdering her ex-husband, Dan Broderick and his new wife, Linda Broderick on November 5, 1989, “Snapped”  investigates the tale of a woman scorned, a shattered family, and a violent double-murder. For a sneak peek, please visit: https://www.oxygen.com/snapped/season-25/videos/the-case-of-betty-broderick. 

“Snapped: Betty Broderick,” depicts  the shocking details of the heinous murders of Betty’s ex-husband, Dan, and his new wife, Linda, along with the investigation, and trial that led to Betty’s 32-years-to-life sentence. Through in-depth interviews with former detective, Terry Degelder, friends of Dan Broderick, Betty’s attorney Jack Farley, and the author of Forsaking All Others: The Real Betty Broderick Story, Loretta Schwartz-Nobel, the episode delves into the history of Betty and Dan’s relationship and its ultimate demise. Taking a different perspective, the special aims to unravel the age-old question: Had Betty Broderick been plotting a murderous attack all along against a husband who took her for granted for years, left her for a younger woman, and put her through a vicious custody trial—or did she just snap?

For more information, visit here.

360 Magazine, Drugs, Pills, "Piracetam" by Arenamontanus is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Coronavirus Slams Drug Cartels

By Jason Tayer

Now that the coronavirus has essentially inhabited every region around the world, countless businesses and industries have taken major financial hits. Not only have legal industries been suffering from the pandemic, but underground, illegal trade systems have also been experiencing declines. Specifically, drug cartels, illicit powers over the production and sale of narcotics, traveling between the Mexico-U.S. border are undergoing a significant collapse stage.

These drug cartels are primarily suffering from a lack of resources along with means to make drugs in the production phase. According to the Washington Post, many of the chemical precursors used to manufacture these narcotics are supplied by China, and specifically from the city of Wuhan. With previous, open trade systems halting and borders closing over the past 2-3 months, it is no surprise that global and local drug trade has been negatively affected. Even within different Latin American cities and countries, drug transportation is slowing at considerable rates. While drug cartels slow production, criminal investigators can now take advantage of this time to try to shut down many drug cartels.

Government officials may gain more traction than ever in terms of seizing drug money and honing in on busting certain drug cartels. According to NBC News, cash seizures have more than doubled this year around the Los Angeles area. Again, without as much contact and access to China’s criminal gangs, many Latin American drug cartels are less able to launder money and utilize bank wires in a clean, less traceable manner.

On the contrary, the National Post suggests that stress and anxiety within the U.S. are actually leading to increased demand for narcotics such as meth and fentanyl. This increasing demand is outgrowing meth withdrawal treatment programs, and obviously not meeting the current supply of these drugs, so the industry is subsiding from both sides.

360 MAGAZINE, illustration

The (Predictable) Rise of Internet Crimes During the Coronavirus Lockdown

Everyone be careful! Don’t let the boredom of home-sheltering entice you to commit a fatal mistake. Don’t use your computing device (computer, tablets, phone etc.) to engage in criminal activity. Don’t access your spouse’s phone or email without permission, don’t let frustration or anger cause you to send harassing or threatening messages to others, don’t think online sports betting is legal, and most certainly, let the draconian penalties of incarceration for accessing child pornography sites or illegally infringing copyrighted materials be strident warnings to stay clear.

We are speaking about Internet crimes today with renowned federal criminal defense attorney Dr. Nick Oberheiden. Attorney Oberheiden represents clients who are facing investigations for alleged Internet crimes conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies in cases across the United States.

Q. Dr. Oberheiden, just to start easy, what exactly are Internet crimes?

A. The concept of online crimes (or Internet crimes) has changed over time. Originally, Internet offenses were considered those that could only be committed with the help of a computer such as hacking someone else’s computer system. Today, the general definition of online crimes has broadened to include any offense that was committed with the help of a computer irrespective of whether a computing device was essential or not. Drug trafficking and prostitution are two such examples. Technically, in order to sell drugs or to agree to illegal prostitution, you don’t necessarily need a computer. People have dealt with drugs and engaged in prostitution forever face-to-face on the street. However, nowadays an increasing number of these types of offenses and transaction also include the utilization of cell phones and computing devices when it comes to organizing deals and selecting people for criminal conspiracies, which can add more severe penalties at sentencing. When computing devices are a platform to commit a crime, you can consider the underlying offense an Internet crime.

Q. So, under this definition, blackmailing and extortion or electronic harassment would also count as Internet crimes?

A. Yes, that’s correct. Anytime someone uses a computer to do something illegally, that’s considered on online offense. To be clear, to use these verbal attack offenses, we all enjoy the freedom of speech under the First Amendment; however, the First Amendment does not protect any and all types of speech. Hate speech, intentional harassment, and using speech for extortion or blackmailing do not enjoy constitutional protection and can be prosecuted as felonies. So, for example, if you write an email or post something on the Internet that has the potential to be interpreted as a threat towards someone else, announce or insinuate violence, request money or anything else of value if one of your conditions is not met, or you call a person names— your behavior may fall quickly within the scope of unlawful conduct. So, when emotions are broiling, don’t use the Internet to express your anger and don’t attack the dignity or safety of another person in any electronic (or non-electronic) format.

Q. Is there a heightened risk of committing Internet offenses during this Covid-19 pandemic when we are sheltered at home?

A. I think so. When in-person interactions vanish, online offenses will rise. Keep in mind that many Internet crimes occur in the context of social tensions like divorces and family unrest. Spouses sometimes think that accessing their husband’s or wife’s computer or phone to take a quick peak if they can find evidence of an affair or hidden financial details is legitimate detective work. It is not! The fact that you are married makes no difference because being married does not include an implicit or explicit permission to invade your partner’s privacy. Similarly, some people may feel tempted to turn a blind eye to legal boundaries because they think that Internet crimes are “invisible” and thus not detectable. Almost every convicted child pornography offender started with that mindset. The truth is, the FBI has specialized task forces that can trace pretty much any of your visits to any website no matter what codename you use and no matter where you are. Just recently, to give you an example, I represented a client a huge international bitcoin fraud case spanning virtually every state within the United States as well as offshore islands. Admittedly, it took law enforcement months to link all the pieces and actors, but, in the end, the case resulted in a dozen of arrests and a plethora of criminal charges. Don’t put yourself into such a position. Don’t be naïve. I always tell clients: whether online or offline, assume that an FBI agent and your parents are watching what you are up to—so, act accordingly.

Q. In addition, what are some of the most common Internet crimes you see the FBI and the Department of Justice are prosecuting?

A. Chief focus of federal authorities are two types of Internet crimes: crimes committed for commercial gain or to cause corporate harm, and, in a category of its own, child pornography. To give you an example in the first category. I recently represented an individual who out of frustration of being fired accessed his former employer’s data system and literally erased the entire company network files—from his living room. Federal prosecutors don’t like when someone use access information or technology skills to cause harm. Whether it is hacking, phishing, spoofing or wagering on sports events over the Internet, I know from countless criminal defense cases that the Justice Department is very determined to take you down especially when there are real victims like in the case of defrauding and obtaining money through false or fraudulent pretenses. If you use the Internet to defraud seniors or create some form of a crime scheme, the FBI might very well knock at your door in the near future. This is particularly true when it comes to protecting minors. Federal prosecutors and federal agents are absolutely relentless when it comes to child pornography and prostitution involving minors. In fact, child pornography cases represent approximately twenty percent of all federal prosecutions. If you stand convicted for inducing, let alone, coercing a juvenile to engage in sexual conduct, don’t expect mercy.

Q. What are the penalties for Internet crimes?

A. Unlike some other countries, U.S. penal codes do not recognize “one” online crime. The penalties depend on the alleged offense someone commits. So, for example, if you access your wife’s cell phone without her or against her permission, you could be charged as a felon under 18 U.S.C. 1030. The exact outcome would depend on many factors such as the frequency, how you would use the accessed information, your criminal background and much more. Even if you escape imprisonment, you should wonder yourself if it is worth risking being a “felon” for acting stupidly in this one hot moment. Contrast this to, for instance, child pornography. The most lenient outcome in child pornography cases, that is any form of child sexual exploitation, you can expect is five years in federal prison with sentencing outcomes routinely reaching twenty years and more of incarceration.  

Q. Despite these extreme penalties, why do Internet offenses continue to rise?

A. I think it is the idea that because you act in seemingly protected anonymity, you are not in the public but in a private area without any witnesses, no one can find or identify you. Of course, that’s only partially true. It is correct that Internet offenses typically don’t have any witnesses especially when compared to, let’s say, a bank robbery or other offenses that are predicated on human visibility. However, every time you use the Internet whether you are searching for something or whether you are visiting a website, you leave traces. Specialized detectives and computer crime experts from the FBI absolutely have the ability to identify you—perhaps not always right away, but if you are in the United States and the FBI is pursuing your case, chances are high that you will get caught eventually.

Even though each of the 50 U.S. states have some version of online crimes in their penal codes, almost all prosecutions involving Internet crimes and computer offenses are federal in nature. That means the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Justice are leading the prosecutions, often in connection with the investigators from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies. In general, penalties for federal felony violations are not just more severe, but, also, if you are convicted, you don’t have the option of parole. In other words, if a federal judge orders you to 10 years in federal prison, you can’t expect to be released after half or two-third of the time; parole does not exist under federal law. Typically, in the federal justice system, ten years means serving ten years.