THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist

  • Stay tuned for THIEF! book signings, media interviews and other THIEF! events
  • Media Reviews posted periodically
  • Mobwriter comments on true crime events and books

THIEF! character, Vince Eli

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Internet Gambling...Encouraging News

This story appeared In Reuters Internet News:

Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:06pm EST

Treasury, Fed delay Internet gambling ban 6 months
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve on Friday delayed the implementation date for a new Internet gambling payment ban for six months, a move that gives lawmakers time to overturn it or end confusion over illegal practices.

In a joint statement, the Treasury and Fed said the December 1 implementation date for the law passed in 2006 would not be achievable for some financial institutions. They set a new compliance deadline of June 1, 2010.

"Commentators expressed concern that the act and the final regulation do not provide a clear definition of 'unlawful Internet gambling,' which is central to compliance," the two agencies said.

In addition, they said certain members of Congress have "expressed an intent to consider legislation that would allow problematic aspects of the act to be addressed."

The 2006 law, which cost European Internet gambling companies billions of euros in lost market value, prohibits credit card, check, and electronic fund transfer payments by U.S.-regulated financial institutions in connection with "unlawful Internet gambling."

But rather than define what types of gambling are illegal online, the bill relied on existing federal and state laws to answer that question. It also still allowed any online horse race betting permissible under the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978.


Congress passed the anti-gambling legislation in 2006, when Republicans still controlled both the House and Senate. The final regulations issued to enforce the ban were issued by the Treasury and Fed just before former President George W. Bush left office in January.

Representative Barney Frank, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, in October urged a 12-month delay in the implementation because of confusion over what kinds of online gambling were illegal under the bill.

Frank's committee in September 2008 passed a bill to overturn the ban, but the full House never acted on the measure. Frank earlier this year reintroduced the bill, which would effectively overturn the ban and create a framework for the Treasury to license Internet gambling operators, collect taxes from them and enforce rules for transparency.

On Friday, Frank praised the Treasury and the Fed for delaying the regulations, which he said would "curtail the freedom of Americans to use the Internet as they choose" and put unrealistic burdens on financial institutions.

"This will give us a chance to act in an unhurried manner on my legislation to undo this regulatory excess by the Bush administration and to undo this ill-advised law," Frank said in a statement.

Frank has scheduled a hearing next Thursday on the legislation, dubbed the "Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act."

The six-month delay will allow banks to establish policies and procedures to require gambling businesses to document the legality of their activities, the Treasury and Fed said.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Economics 101: Where is Las Vegas Going?

It's no secret that many states are facing bancruptcy. A November 2009 Pew Center Report states that Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and California (with its IOUs to pay bills), are barreling toward economic disaster.

Why do some states suffer more than others? According to the Pew Report, states that tend to rely heavily on one type of industry (tourism for instance) have a history of persistent budget shortfalls and other internal problems which make it difficult to implement major changes such as tax increases.

So where is this line of reasoning going? Well, California has long been considering legalizing gambling (aside from Indian casinos), in order to tap into the multi-billion dollar revenues the state could collect, ostensibly targeting the money for education and debt reduction. Read here for Californians responses to this issue:

It's no secret that a large portion of Las Vegas's gambling revenue comes from California. But what if California legalizes gambling? There goes a reliable source of income.

In response to the headline: Las Vegas gambling plummets--What does it mean for the city?, posted on the blog site,, readers comment re the impact of other states legalizing gambling across the board: ttp://

This next year should be telling. I'd like your take on the issue: Where is Las Vegas going?

All reasonable comments will be published below.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Gangsters of Miami: The Magic City

GANGSTERS OF MIAMI: True Tales of Mobsters, Gamblers, Hit Men, Con Men And Gang Bangers from the Magic City

Rising from a swampy flatland a little more than a century ago, Miami has grown to become a trend-setting metropolis known for tourism, fashion, nightlife and style. Miami is also the city of Hollywood's "Scarface" Tony Montana, television's Miami Vice and popular culture's "Cocaine Cowboy." Ron Chepesiuk's Gangsters of Miami (Barricade Books, November 2009) digs beyond the headlines and fantasy to provide a close up look at the real role that mobsters, gamblers, hit men, drug lords, con men and other gangsters have played in making America's youngest city also one of its most fascinating.

Known as the Magic City, Miami has always been the home for a colorful variety of gangsters. They include the notorious smugglers of the Prohibition era, such as Gertrude Lythgoe, Bill McCoy, James Horace Alderman, the Ashley Gang, and Red Shannon; famous mobsters like Al Capone and Meyer Lansky who helped make Miami a gambling Mecca, the Cuban Mafia and its syndicate, La Compania, led by godfathers Jose Battle Sr. and Jr.; the marijuana traffickers of the early and mid 1970s, most notably the legendary Black Tuna Gang; drug lords of the Medellin and Cali cartels and master minds of the cocaine explosion, such as Griselda Blanco, the so-called Black Widow Blanco, Pablo Escobar, the "King of Coke" and Gilberto and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela; the Russian Mafia with colorful characters like Ludwig "Tarzan" Feinberg, who came to America after the fall of the Soviet Union; and the street gangs that plagued Miami after the advent of crack cocaine in the mid 1980s, led by such vicious gang bangers as Anthony "Little Bo" Fail and Corey "Bubba" Smith.

The book also provides details of headline making cases and characters like the tourist murders of the early 1990s, the Operation Swordfish money laundering investigation; the Yahweh Ben Yahweh investigation, the Don Aronow and James Callahan murders, the Andrew Cunanan murder of noted fashion designer Gianni Versace, and the rise and fall of Chris Paciello, the so-called "King of South Beach." Gangsters of Miami also investigates the police and governmental corruption that has plagued the Magic City since its early days.

Gangsters of Miami is a lively and well-documented account of Miami's gangs and gangsters, showing that fact can be more riveting than fiction. The praise for the book has been lavish:

Steve Morris, Publishers of the New Criminologist web site, said "Chepesiuk's aptitude for revealing the inner workings of organized crime within a community is once again on display here as the reader is cast into Miami's bloody underbelly. A remarkable achievement by the author."

Scott M. Dietche, author of The Silent Don: The Criminal Underworld of Santo Trafficante Jr. calls the book "one of the most complete looks at crime in South Florida."

Lew Rice, Former Special Agent in Charge, DEA and author of DEA Special Agent: My Life on the Front Line hailed Gangsters of Miami as a "must read for anyone interested in an historical and colorful account of crime in the Magic City."

Ron Chepesiuk, an award-winning investigative journalist, has been described as "the master of high octane journalism." He is the author of Gangsters of Harlem and Black Gangsters of Chicago, Drug Lords, a Fulbright Scholar, an adjunct professor in the journalism department of UCLA's Extension Division and a consultant to the History Channel's Gangland documentary series. He has also been interviewed by the Biography Channel, Discovery, the History Channel, Black Entertainment Television, and NBC's Dateline.

Monday, November 2, 2009

HARRAH'S Hard Times

In my last blog I mentioned the decline in Las Vegas revenues. Here's further news on the topic in this Associated Press story:

"The world's largest casino company said Tuesday that it lost $1.6 billion during the third quarter as fewer people gambled, fewer groups visited and the value of its assets fell.

The loss at privately held Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. for July through September reflected a $1.33 billion drop in the value of its assets.

Harrah's $1.6 billion quarterly loss included a $1.05 billion loss from operations plus the cost of interest expenses and taxes. It said its operations income would have been $278.4 million if it hand't written down the value of its assets."

We visited the Paris which was located right across from our suite. Sure looks great on the outside.