Saturday, December 10, 2011
Saturday, July 09, 2011
Did Cindy Anthony negotiate with her conscience, her god and the defense to save daughter Casey’s life? Did she contact Casey’s lawyers, even though she was a witness for the prosecution, and offer testimony midway through trial to take the death penalty off the table?
Monday, June 27, 2011
|Jimmy "Henchman" Rosemond|
Saturday, June 04, 2011
New evidence in the murder of writer Susan Berman has come to light, causing the Los Angeles Police Department department to reopen the decades' old case.
New York magazine, where Susan once worked as a writer, is reporting that police are closing in on millionaire Robert Durst as their number one suspect. "We would like to question him," LAPD homicide detective Paul Coulter, the lead investigator in the Berman case, told the magazine. "We would love nothing more than to sit down with Durst and talk to him about this, There's nobody else we're looking at."
Susan Berman, daughter of Las Vegas mobster Davie Berman, was found murdered on Christmas Eve 2000 in her Benedict Canyon home. She had been shot in the back of the head with a single 9mm bullet. There was no sign of forced entry or a burglary, and police determined that someone Susan knew had killed her.
From the start Durst, who befriended Susan when they were classmates at the University of California, Los Angeles, was suspected in the killing. Durst has denied any involvement in Susan's murder.
Coulter told the magazine it's been difficult finding Durst so detectives can interview him. "He's like the silver fox," Coulter said. "He knows what's going on."
Friday, May 13, 2011
(Reprinted from ForbesWoman.com)
Wanna-be scammers sometimes jump out of the shadows to steal authors’ identities to pull off their dirty deeds. Case in point was my own recent encounter with a man who said he was developing the definitive biopic about Tupac Shakur.
That’s been done. Over and over. But no one’s quite hit the mark yet. So, I talked to Mr. Scam, who said he was a producer. The first red flag was his request that I do interviews for his documentary.
I’m used to being at the flip side of a reporter’s notebook, taking down interview notes and quotes. I’m also used to being on the lens side of the camera as the interviewee, especially when it comes to the Tupac story, because of my book, The Killing of Tupac Shakur, about the murder case.
What I’m not used to is being asked to do a producer’s work. They land the interviews, hire the video crew, nail down a studio and on-site locations for the interviews, and typically get on-air talent to conduct the interviews.
But scammer was eager. He didn’t stop calling. Or e-mailing. He wanted to get me immediately signed to a contract–for what, it wasn’t made clear. What did become clear was his burning desire to use my name as part of his project.
How to Spot a Scammer
Unlike other producers who have contacted me over the years, this one didn’t offer his background or even the name of his company. I learned that myself through a simple Internet search. A tap of the Google “send” button turned up a disturbing recent past. He’d been arrested and charged in a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme (think Madoff) bilking people and companies out of millions for investments in projects and land deals as illusory as the fabled swampland in Florida.
My scammer’s new con was the promise of a documentary that would never be made using an author’s name to lend it credibility. The author being offered the starring role in that scam was me. In the meantime, my personal predator had already been living large on the backs of others running an old-fashioned con.
FBI to Author – 'He’s Desperate – Give Him Wide Berth'
An FBI agent, when reached about the case, said the poser was desperate. He’d lost his house and had run out of cash. He was fund-raising his own support. The fed’s advice? “Stay away. And don’t get him angry. You don’t want to be in a confrontation with this guy.”
As business women, we all have to watch for red lights, green lights, and red flags. Not everybody is good at recognizing them. I’m a skeptic at heart. I’ve been in the business of crime news too long not to be. And it’s not just little fish that get fried. Even the big kids occasionally get scammed. Witness the recent porn site ad scam that AT&T and Verizon fell for.
Here’s how I protect myself from scammers. Recognize the red flags, do your research, and consult with law enforcement.
For Mr. Producer, I have some very public advice: Quit e-mailing, quit texting, quit calling. I know who you are and what you’re trying to pull. Don’t use my name to plan your crime.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Word on the street is that the campaign headquarters of Carolyn Goodman on Tuesday's election night in Sin City was peppered with mobsters. Old-time mobsters.
"At least 10 were there," the source said.
Back in June of 1999, Oscar Goodman was elected mayor of this gambling mecca.At the time, he said he was proud of his past: "I'm not ashamed of anything." During Goodman's tenure as mayor, he changed his popular "mouthpiece" moniker to "America's Happiest Mayor."
On Tuesday, his wife won 37 percent of the vote, with Chris Giunchigliani coming in second, inching closer to her husband's aspirations for her.
Whisperings, however, at the Goodmans' election-night party, according to the source, were that Carolyn might have been able to pull off an early first in the primary based on name recognition, but when it comes to winning in the run off, it won't be as simple.
"I am running against a name, let’s put it that way," Chris recently told The Washington Post." But I think the public recognizes that the time for that type of leadership style has passed."
Now it's up to the voters. Chris, 57, and Carolyn, 72, will face each other again on June 7 in a run-off election.
Photos courtesy of the candidates' campaign websites and philly.com.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Reprinted from Women in Crime Ink
|Credit: Wikipedia Commons|
odman, a former criminal defense attorney and self-described “mouthpiece for th
e mob,” spent 35 years defending the nation’s most notorious underworld figures. His clients included mobsters M
eyer Lansky, Anthony "Tony The Ant" Spilotro and Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, the latter two
portrayed in the film Casino by
actors Joe Pesci and Robert DeNiro. Goodman, also in the film
, played himself–a lawyer for the mob.
Saturday, March 05, 2011
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Nineteen years long years after the death of her husband, Barbara Susan Kogan was indicted for the murder of her husband, but not until she had spent every penny of the insurance payout, the last of which went toward her defense.9I’ve spent the last year piecing together this book. It’s titled THE MILLIONAIRE'S WIFE: The True Story of a Real Estate Tycoon, his Beautiful Young Mistress, and a Marriage that Ended in Murder. And while it is my eighth book, it is one of the toughest I’ve ever written.
True crime books, my friend and colleague Kathryn Casey recently reminded me, are not easy to write. As a journalist, I’ve been trained to chase the story, go to the scene, find sources, get documents, land interviews--anything and everything to flesh out the story. True crime books take real perseverance, especially in cases that are about to go to trial and when those on either side of the case are skittish about talking.
I was scheduled to interview Barbara, with her attorney, before her arrest. But, soon after, a warrant for her arrest was issued and her attorney instead arranged for her surrender. It was disappointing, and, while difficult, I love a challenge, plus I was lucky.
After I went on a radio show and talked about the case and after posting or two an article updating the case on Women in Crime Ink, family members on both sides of the case contacted me. I also was able to speak several times with the deputy district attorney as well as three defense attorneys. And a generous reporter who had covered the crime 19 years early shared with me what he recalled. And a doorman at George’s building, where George had been killed nearly two decades earlier, was particularly helpful and walked me through the crime scene. Several people at the courthouse were helpful as well, as were a couple of NYPD police officers. And E.W. Count, a crime writer in New York City, on two occasions became my eyes and ears in a Manhattan courtroom.
For the research part of books, I approach them in the same way I do news stories--digging for clues, links, and, especially, documentation and confirmations via paperwork and those I interview. For every book, I invariably contact mortuary personnel and verify college degrees with universities; this case was no different. Thank goodness the records were fairly easy to find, despite the passage of time. Fact-checking our own stories is part of the deal.
For newspaper and magazine articles, I got into Lexis-Nexis to pull up the original articles and, at the same time, stumbled on some relevant federal court documents. Early on, writer/author Sue Russell pulled a couple of articles from Lexis-Nexis for me. After that, I did pay-as-you-go searches (a great service for research). The one thing, however, I could not find was George Kogan’s obituary. I knew there had to be one, and, ultimately, getting creative with search words (“slaying” instead of “murder” worked in this case), I found it. It was a real prize, because it was loaded with the detail I had been looking for--when and where George was buried, who officiated, who attended, and who did not.
When it came to police and court records, that got tricky. As soon as Barbara appeared in court, I filed a Freedom of Information Act form; it was ignored. So, with the help of attorneys, a defendant’s family members and a journalism student working on a class paper (and whose professor was friends with the defense), I was able to get the complete court files, trial transcripts, copies of depositions, a transcript of a surveillance telephone conversation, statements from witnesses from the scene of the crime, a list of witnesses and evidence, and a roster of jurors.
Then, the reading began. I pored through documents. It became a matter of learning who the characters and players were--and there were lots. Because two defendants were charged three years apart, it made the story more complicated. So I tried to boil it down and tell the story chronologically, as it had unfolded.
Deciding where to start a book is always a challenge. With The Murder of Biggie Smalls (a k a Notorious B.I.G., I began with Biggie, at age 15, sitting in a Brooklyn police precinct, crying for his mother after an officer detained Biggie and a friend for questioning to see if they were witnesses to a murder in a Bed-Stuy neighborhood. To me, that scene at the precinct spoke volumes about Biggie, whose real name was Christopher Wallace. He was not the street thug, like Tupac Shakur, who came of age on the mean streets of the Jungle housing project in Oakland, Californai. Biggie, conversely, was a mama’s boy, and his mother was a school teacher who sent Biggie to Jamaica every year to spend the summer with his grandfather, an ocean away from Brooklyn.
In Murder of a Mafia Daughter, after I went to victim Susan Berman’s Beverly Hills home, in Benedict Canyon, and met a neighbor who’d been the one to alert police that something was awry next door, I began the book with the neighbor awakening to Susan’s dogs running loose, on Christmas Eve morning, in his front yard.
With the Kogan case, after traveling to New York City several times, the way the killer stalked George as he made his way home from a neighborhood market became a vivid picture to me, and I began the book with the morning he died.
I love the cover of this book, because it captures the feel of that fateful morning. So, it is with pride and pleasure that I give you, the reader, a sneak peek at the cover of The Millionaire’s Wife, released here, on Women in Crime Ink. When the book comes out later this year, I’ll give you a heads up.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
|The Kingston Trio, circa 1960|
I called Nick to set up an interview, and he invited me to his Coronado home. Once there, we sat down in his family room, surrounded by Kingston Trio memorabilia and musical instruments. His then-girlfriend was there too. My sister Cordelia, brother-in-law Bob, and I attended the group's reunion concert, part of a two-dozen cities tour, this one held at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at the Aventine, outside on the tennis courts.
Backing the band was the San Diego Chamber Festival Orchestra. Our seats were up front and you could see the emotion in the band members' faces as they performed. "When we go into a ballad and the orchestra comes in behind us, tears come to my eyes," Nick told me. "It's powerful -- not just three guys standing on a stage with their guitars."
So it was with surprise and pleasure this week to see The Kingston Trio receive a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award for their work. It was long overdue and well-deserved. They were a pioneering folk group and leaders of the ’50s folk revival best known for the chart-topping songs "Tom Dooley," as well as "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "Tijuana Jail."
What struck me about Nick, who played a tenor guitar, was his enthusiasm for the group's music, even after all those years. He strummed his guitar during a break in the interview. In the room was memorabilia from the days when the group was in its heyday. A couple of The Kingston Trio members switched off over the years, but Nick Reynolds, Bob Shane and John Stewart were the best-known lineup. I saw Nick again a few months later at the Honolulu, Oahu, airport, when we coincidentally ran into each other while waiting at the gate for a flight back to San Diego.
Nick didn't live to see the group's Grammy honor. He passed away in 2008 from chronic heart disease. Bob Shane, the only surviving original member, accepted the award on behalf of The Kingston Trio. Nick would have been proud.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Now, Sambalatte is the new “Cheers” and the place to hang out in Vegas.
Since it opened last fall, it's been embraced by the community, and the media have discovered it as well, including The New York Post, the local NPR affiliate, Fox 5, and a Brazilian TV station. Haute Living ranked Sambalatte No. 1 in its Top 5 coffee shops in Las Vegas. Word is spreading all over Twitter and Facebook too. And Seven magazine wrote, because of the micro-roasted varieties, “this just might be the freshest, most distinctive cup of coffee you’ve ever had in Las Vegas.”
Owners Sheila and Luiz have taken the time to not only focus on the brews, but on customers too by offering quiet attention and friendly smiles, and creating a cheerful atmosphere for people to stop in for their morning organic java and French pastry or sit at a table and sip while reading the paper. They’ve created an upscale boutique coffee lounge with a welcoming atmosphere that’s tough to beat. There’s a European feel about the place, found mostly in coffeehouses in New York and San Francisco.
Opening Sambalatte was a good move, choosing a corner of Boca Park Fashion Village that has an almost-village feel to it, with a waterfall, a meandering walkway and greenery. The place caught on quickly.
Like “Cheers” and its characters, who regularly hung out for the camaraderie, Sambalatte has become the place to be, where everybody knows your name. You can smell the fresh-roasted aroma before you walk in, and, somehow, the world seems better for it.
Take a virtual tour, with this video, and see for yourself:
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Congrats to Matt on a successful signing, and a good time with old friends.
Photo of Matt courtesy of JJ Wylie.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Still, it's tough to keep this one off the front pages, after a New York college student, according to a report in the New York Daily News, sued a Las Vegas escort service claiming the prostitute he hired did not stay with him for the agreed-upon amount of time.
Hubert Blackman would like his $275 back, plus an additional $1.8 million for his trouble and damages for what he has called a "tragic event."
Blackman claims in his suit against Las Vegas Exclusive Personals that, during a vacation to Las Vegas last December, he paid $155 for a stripper to visit his room at the Stratosphere Hotel and paid an additional $120 to have her perform a sex act on him, the News reported. She did a strip dance and performed a sex act, but left after 30 minutes.
Upon his arrival home in New York City, he filed his suit in Manhattan Federal Court claiming that “an escort did an illegal sexual act on me during her paid service to me” and “I almost had gotten arrested.”He's also claiming he now needs medical treatment for a mental condition related to the incident.
But Blackman, in his suit, said he paid the woman to stay with him for an hour. The problem arose when she left after just 30 minutes. So he called the escort company and requested his money back. When they refused to give him a refund, he then called Las Vegas Metro Police, only to have officers threaten him with arrest because prostitution is illegal in the city.
It may be illegal in the city, but it's overlooked in hotel rooms, where hotel staff are very much aware of the comings and goings of high-priced escorts and paying visits to guests' hotel rooms. It's a lucrative business, and an old one, in Strip and downtown hotels. The phone books and online directories are full of so-called escort service companies.
Blackman, who said the woman suggested the sex act, claims he was unaware of the law.
Sunday, January 09, 2011
|Credit: Wikipedia Commons|
A couple weeks ago, I sat down with CNN's anchor/reporter Ted Rowlands and producer Michael Cary to talk about the Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls murders. Here is Anderson Cooper's resulting blog post.
According to witnesses, both were passengers in vehicles, stopped at busy intersections, but police never received solid leads to arrest a suspect for either of the seemingly targeted shootings.
With Shakur bleeding in the passenger seat, Knight made a U-turn, driving over a street median, and ultimately coming to a stop blocks away.
Las Vegas bicycle police nearby, who heard the shooting, followed Knight’s vehicle. The white Cadillac sped away.
Cathy Scott, who was one of the first reporters on the scene and author of The Killing of Tupac Shakur, tells CNN the failure to secure the actual scene of the shooting and interview witnesses immediately doomed the investigation. Las Vegas police said witnesses were not forthcoming with detailed information.
One theory is that the shooting was payback for a fight caught on casino surveillance video three hours before the shooting. The man who was beaten that night, Orlando Anderson, told CNN a year later that he had nothing to do with the crime. Eight months after that interview, Anderson was killed in what police described as a gang shoot-out in Los Angeles.
Six months after Shakur’s shooting, Smalls came to California to promote an upcoming album entitled “Life After Death” and told a San Francisco radio station that he wanted to “squash” rumors of the East Coast-West Coast battle.
The main theory behind Smalls’ shooting: payback for the slaying of Shakur six months earlier.
Retired Los Angeles Police Detective Russell Poole, who worked on the Smalls’ case, tells CNN that he believes Suge Knight was behind the murder, even though the Death Row Records’ boss was serving time on a probation violation at the time.
Reggie Wright Jr. told CNN he had nothing to do with either murder, and Suge Knight has repeatedly said he had nothing to do with the crime.
Both the Los Angeles and Las Vegas police departments say the investigations are still open.
Sunday, January 02, 2011
Adriel Hampton's review of The Big Book of Social Media: Case Studies, Stories, Perspectives is now out on Creating Government 2.0 and Social Media site -- and it's a good one.
The many contributors who make up the anthology, Hampton says, are "the product of 20 media conferences."
Indeed. I spoke at three of those conferences and loved every minute of them. But little did I know that a book would follow. A big book.
I learned about Bob Fine's first Twitter conference, beginning mid-2009, when my sister, Cordelia Mendoza, spoke at the first Cool Twitter Conference, held at Croce's Restaurant & Jazz Bar in the heart of downtown San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. How cool was that, to have the conference at Croce's? The energy in the room, Cordelia tweeted, "was contagious." I was more than curious. So I contacted Bob and signed on for the next conference.
|Bob Fine and Cordelia Mendoza|
Well, when he invited me to speak at the CTC conference at The Playwright Tavern in New York City's Theatre District, I couldn't resist. I was going to be in the city just before the conference, so I added a couple of days to my trip to attend. Again, how cool was that? Bob had an uncanny knack of being able to land hip venues-for-a-day as the conferences winded their way from city to city.
A few months after the Cool Twitter Conferences had finished its run, Bob invited me to contribute to his Big Book of Social Media.
Nothing Bob Fine does is small, including this book, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise that he had a big, ambitious idea to incorporate many of the people who had spoken at his conferences -- tweeters, Facebookers and social media hounds from all walks of life who were successfully using new media in a variety of ways. As an author, I know what it takes to put together a book. My sister, too, was invited to write a chapter for the book about how she uses social media to help spur sales at Cottage Antiques, her shop in Ocean Beach, a coastal town in San Diego. With so many contributors, would it actually happen?
But Bob, just like he had with the conferences, pulled it off, and The Big Book, as Hampton writes in his review, "collects the best thoughts of an amazing cast, from marketers to true-crime novelists to activists and small business owners."
Hampton quotes from my sister's chapter, which is titled Something Old, Something New: "Antique store owner Cordelia Mendoza writes of 'broadening the market for antiques through social engagement,' going far beyond the typical listing of for-sale items to photograph, blog and tweet changes in displays, unusual inventory and visits by prominent customers."
Combine 42 of the best-of-the-best who spoke at the Cool Twitter Conferences, as well as at the Cool Gravity Summit last year, roll them into The Big Book of Social Media, and it's a star combination
Thanks, Bob, for a great run of better-than-cool conferences and an even cooler Big Book of Social Media. I'm proud to be a part of it.
Friday, December 31, 2010
Here is this year's glorious winner: 1. When his 38-caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California, would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.
And now, the honorable mentions:
3. A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his car during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle to find a woman had taken the space.
Understandably, he shot her.
4. After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting from Harare to Bulawayo had escaped. Not wanting to admit his incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered everyone waiting there a free ride. He then delivered the passengers to the mental hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies. The deception wasn't discovered for three days.
5. An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from serious head wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked how he received the injuries, the lad told police that he was simply trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving train before he was hit.
6. A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer -- $15.
7. Seems an Arkansas guy wanted some beer pretty badly.. He decided that he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. The liquor store window was made of Plexiglas. The whole event was caught on videotape.
8. As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a man grabbed her purse, and ran. The clerk immediately called 911 and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher. Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the car and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which, he replied, "Yes, officer, that's her. That's the lady I stole the purse from."
9. The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at 5 a.m., flashed a gun and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away. [*A 5-STAR STUPIDITY AWARD WINNER]
10. When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motorhome parked on a Seattle street by sucking on a hose, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to the motorhome near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline, but he'd plugged his siphon hose into the RV's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges, saying it was the best laugh he'd ever had.
In the interest of bettering mankind, please share these with friends and family, unless, of course, one of these individuals by chance is a distant relative or long, lost friend. In that case, be glad they are distant and hope they remain lost. Remember: They walk among us, they can reproduce, and they do!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
|Credit: Wikipedia Commons|
That afternoon, I went to Payless Shoes, and the clerk there said the thief showed my driver's license to make the $88 credit purchase. And it was the bank employee who told me, because the card was used for credit (my pin number wasn't in my wallet and the person did not use it as an ATM card), that it's identity theft.
Reprinted with permission from Women in Crime Ink.