Crimes and Their Punishments – Through the Ages

Punishments for Crimes through the ages – from the bizarre to outrageous, from the sublime to the ridiculous. We don’t know how lucky we are!

Many of us are apt to complain about sentences handed out by our Courts for crimes these days – too harsh, too lenient. But a quick look at some punishments for crimes through the ages, including in some countries today, we should really consider how much we really have to complain about.

Not only have punishments been truly shocking (and in some instances still are), but even some of the crimes are truly unbelievable.

Many Sydney criminal lawyers would have had their work cut out for them if some of these historical crimes were still on the statute books! Lucky for us that our complaints about the justice systems these days are limited to whether an offender should be given a jail sentence or community service, or whether a 2 year sentence is sufficient or whether 5 would have been better, and so on.

Thank goodness we don’t have to contend with crimes for which the penalty is being tortured to death by some truly unimaginable means. Criminal lawyers in Australia, as in Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and others, these days don’t have to plead for the type of mercy that offenders of times gone by had to. And of course, some of these barbaric practices do still exist today in other parts of the globe, as you can see below.

Some Crimes and Some Punishments You Won’t Believe

Take a look …

Crimes and Their Punishments

Suspect in reputed crime boss killing to waive extradition, lawyer says – CNN

Anthony Comello, 24, who is being held in a New Jersey jail, will be formally charged with murder when he’s extradited to the borough of Staten Island, where the killing happened, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said at a Saturday news conference.
Comello’s lawyer, Robert C. Gottlieb, said that his client will waive extradition when he appears in Ocean County court in New Jersey on Monday.
“The people who know him best, his family and friends, cannot believe what they are hearing,” Gottlieb said in a statement Sunday. “There is something very wrong here and we will get to the bottom of it.”
Anthony Comello Anthony Comello
Shea didn’t give details about how Comello became a suspect. He said Comello “has crossed paths in some limited circumstances with the NYPD” but wouldn’t say whether he has a criminal record.
Mafia don Frank Cali's killing is a reminder the mob is alive. Just not as flashyMafia don Frank Cali's killing is a reminder the mob is alive. Just not as flashy
“While we believe we have the shooter in custody for this incident, the investigation is far … from over,” Shea had said.
Cali’s killing does not appear to be mob related, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN on Sunday.
The source said that Comello had some kind of relationship with one of Cali’s family members, and the mob boss disagreed with the relationship. Comello took offense to that, the source said.
Cali, 53, was a high-ranking member of the Gambino organized crime family and was believed to be the acting boss, a law enforcement source confirmed.
He was found dead Wednesday night after being shot 10 times in the torso outside his Staten Island residence, the NYPD said.
Francesco "Frank" Cali is shown in federal custody in 2008. Francesco "Frank" Cali is shown in federal custody in 2008.
Cali was home with family members when a truck hit a car outside the residence, Shea had said earlier in the week at a news conference. He went out to see what happened and the suspect pulled out a gun and began shooting, Shea said.
It’s “quite possible” that the incident was staged to draw Cali outside and into a confrontation with the suspected shooter, Shea said.
When asked about Cali’s reputation as a crime boss, Shea said, “We are well aware of Mr. Cali’s past. That will be a part of this investigation as we determine what was the motive.”
Detectives have recovered a truck they think was involved but not the firearm used in the shooting, Shea said. Fingerprints on Cali’s vehicle will be compared to the suspect’s, Shea said.

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Philippines Officially Leaves the International Criminal Court – The New York Times


Philippines Officially Leaves the International Criminal Court

Protesting extrajudicial killings in Manila in August. The International Criminal Court has been investigating whether President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines committed crimes against humanity in his drug crackdown.CreditCreditJes Aznar for The New York Times
  • March 17, 2019

MANILA — The Philippines officially withdrew from the International Criminal Court on Sunday, after the country’s highest court declined to overrule President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to pull out from the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal.

Manila announced it was withdrawing from the court a year ago, but under court rules, the withdrawal could not take effect for at least 12 months. The Philippines is the second country to withdraw from the Hague-based body after Burundi, which left in 2017.

Romel Bagares, a lawyer for a coalition of rights activists who had asked the Supreme Court of the Philippines for an injunction against the move, said the Philippine withdrawal was “a terrible setback in the long fight against impunity in the country.”

“It is our last resort when our institutions fail,” Mr. Bagares said of the international court, “and they have grievously been failing in the last two years, with apparent government inaction on thousands of deaths arising from the president’s drug war.”

In withdrawing from the court last year, Mr. Duterte said that the Philippine government had enough mechanisms in place to ensure that the justice system functioned properly. He also insulted the court and threatened to arrest Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian lawyer and the court’s chief prosecutor, if she entered the Philippines.

The court has been conducting a preliminary inquiry into accusations that Mr. Duterte and other Philippine officials committed mass murder and crimes against humanity in the course of the drug crackdown. That inquiry stemmed from a complaint filed by a Filipino lawyer representing two men who said they had been assassins for Mr. Duterte in Davao, the southern city where Mr. Duterte became mayor in the late 1980s.

A second complaint was filed last August by relatives of eight people killed by police officers in the drug war; they also accused Mr. Duterte of murder.

In their Supreme Court motion, the rights activists said that withdrawing from the court would deprive Filipinos of “effective remedies” against genocide and other crimes against humanity.

The petitioners argued that “those who kill with impunity will only be further emboldened.”

When Mr. Duterte took office in 2016, he vowed to end the scourge of drugs and dump the bodies of slain addicts and dealers in Manila Bay. More than 5,000 people have been killed by the police in what are often described as drug raids. Rights groups say many more have been killed by unofficial militias.

The extrajudicial killings have met with condemnation from the international community and public anger in the Philippines. In November, three police officers were found guilty of murdering a teenager who was mistaken for a drug pusher, the first such convictions in the antidrug campaign.

Mr. Bagares said Mr. Duterte’s withdrawal from the court could have lasting consequences for human rights protections in the Philippines, which endured two decades of martial law under the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who died in exile in 1989.

“We have further emboldened forces of impunity by removing one of the last restraints holding them back,” Mr. Bagares said. “Philippine society will pay dearly for this.”

On Thursday, Mr. Duterte released a new list of 46 people he claimed were “narcopoliticians” and vowed that his drug war would be more bloody in his last three years in office.

It is separate from a list of 150 judges, local officials and police and military officers he released just months into office. Several mayors who were on that list have since been gunned down.

Human Rights Watch said the 46 new names were a “veritable hit list” meant to target Mr. Duterte’s political opponents.

Risa Hontiveros, an opposition senator, said Sunday that by withdrawing from the court, Mr. Duterte was trying to avoid international scrutiny of his drug war. But she said that would not stop the court from continuing its investigation.

“He can still be held liable for offenses committed while the Philippines was a signatory to the I.C.C.,” Ms. Hontiveros said.

Salvador Panelo, a spokesman for Mr. Duterte, said Thursday that as far as the government was concerned, the court no longer had the authority to investigate the Philippines.

He said that unlike Burundi, the Philippines had not had a case filed against it before quitting the court.

“They don’t have jurisdiction. If they don’t have jurisdiction, they cannot do anything against us,” Mr. Panelo said. “We are not bound by their rules.”


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Syrian Refugees Use Precedent Set in Rohingya Case to Try to Bring Government Officials Before the International Criminal Court – The Intercept

Syrian activists and lawyers are testing the bounds of international law, making two new attempts to bring the government of Bashar al-Assad before the International Criminal Court.

Syrian refugees in Jordan, through London-based lawyers, sent communications to the office of the ICC prosecutor, asking her to exercise jurisdiction over Syria based on a precedent set last year in a case involving Myanmar’s persecution of Rohingya Muslims. The communications are the latest push by Syrian civilians to hold accountable the government whose brutality upended their lives. In recent years, Syrian lawyers and human rights activists have experimented with rarely utilized aspects of international law, succeeding in getting European and American courts to weigh in on atrocities committed in Syria.

“Because of how politicized the war in Syria became, lawyers and those fighting for accountability really had to be creative,” said Mai El-Sadany, the legal and judicial director at the Washington-based Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. “The most recent ICC Article 15 submissions” — a reference to communications with the ICC on information about alleged international crimes — “are evidence of this, that there is space for creativity in the accountability space.”

“It is not possible for Syria to stabilize unless these criminals are held accountable.”

The efforts come as the Syrian conflict enters its ninth year. On March 15, 2011, eight years ago yesterday, Syrians, inspired by the wave of protests sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, took to the streets in a “Day of Rage” demonstration. Within a few days, protesters around the country were calling for freedom, dignity, and political reforms. Later that month, activists in the southern city of Daraa toppled a statue of the late President Hafez al-Assad that stood in a city square. This past Sunday, hundreds of Daraawis marched once again, this time to protest the erection of a new statue of the former Syrian president.

In the intervening years, a mass anti-government uprising descended into a merciless war involving at least a half-dozen countries, each of which has contributed to Syria’s destruction. Few would dispute, however, that the Assad regime is responsible for most of the violence that flattened entire cities, uprooted millions of people from their homes, and killed — according to an estimate that is now three years old — 470,000 people.  

The scale of atrocities is unfathomable, yet the perpetrators have evaded accountability — and are gradually being welcomed back into the diplomatic fold. Some Arab states, which effectively blacklisted Assad in 2011, are slowly thawing their relations with the Syrian regime, while Russia, Iran, and China have invested in lucrative reconstruction contracts.

The victims of the war, however, have not been deterred from pursuing justice. One goal of their efforts, said Syrian human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni, is to send a strong message that core members of the Syrian regime should not be considered part of any transition period or political solution to the Syrian conflict. “The goal of our work is to block any attempt to rehabilitate war criminals and people who’ve committed crimes against humanity,” said al-Bunni, whose work with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights led Germany’s federal prosecutor to issue an international arrest warrant for Jamil Hassan, the head of Syria’s notorious Air Force Intelligence Directorate. “It is not possible for Syria to stabilize unless these criminals are held accountable.”

The International Criminal Court, which sits in the Hague in the Netherlands, is an international, intergovernmental tribunal created by the Rome Statute with the authority to investigate genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. Often referred to as a court of last resort, it hears cases when state courts are unwilling or unable to do so, or when the United Nations Security Council or individual states refer cases to the court.

The U.N. Security Council in 2014 floated a resolution to refer Syria to the ICC. China and Russia (Syria’s patron state), exercised their veto power to block that from happening. Because Syria has not ratified the Rome Statute, the court has no independent basis for jurisdiction. A ruling from the court last year, in a case pertaining to Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya, however, opened up a new possibility for those hoping to bring Syria before the ICC.

In September, ICC judges issued a pretrial ruling that said the court could exercise jurisdiction over the deportation of the Rohingya from Myanmar, which is not an ICC member state, to Bangladesh, which is. Deportation is a crime against humanity, and the court reasoned that one element of the crime — crossing the border — occurred in Bangladesh, thereby creating jurisdiction. The judges also ruled that the court could look into other crimes under the Rome Statute, such as persecution and other inhumane acts.

Based on that precedent, Syrians are arguing that the ICC has jurisdiction over deportations from Syria to Jordan, which is party to the Rome Statute and is home to more than 1 million Syrian refugees. The London-based Guernica Center for International Justice submitted an Article 15 communication to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on March 4, asking her to open an investigation into the forcible deportation of Syrians into Jordan. A group of lawyers, led by Rodney Dixon QC of Temple Garden Chambers, filed a similar communication on March 7, on behalf of 28 Syrian refugees in Jordan.

While the lawyers publicly announced their submissions, Article 15 communications are confidential and generally come to light only if the prosecutor decides to take some sort of action.

“Anyone can communicate with the court through Article 15 of the Rome Statute, the treaty that underpins the court, basically sending information to the court,” said Heidi Nichols Haddad, author of “The Hidden Hands of Justice: NGOs, Human Rights, and International Courts.” “It’s then up to the prosecutor to compile that information and decide whether to take it to a judge and move forward with a preliminary investigation.”

In a statement to The Intercept, the office of the prosecutor confirmed the receipt of the Syria-related communications. “As we do with all such communications, we will analyse the materials submitted, as appropriate, in accordance with the Rome Statute and with full independence and impartiality,” Bensouda’s office wrote. “As soon as we reach a decision on the appropriate next step, we will inform the sender and provide reasons for our decision.”

Jordan’s response could make all the difference.

Bensouda could either decline to take action or unilaterally decide to open a preliminary investigation. A third option would be to file a pretrial motion asking the court’s judicial chamber to rule on jurisdiction, as Bensouda did in the case of Myanmar. The court would ask Syria to respond and Jordan to weigh in. Last year, Bangladesh welcomed an investigation into the deportation of the Rohingya into its territory; with regard to Syria, Jordan’s response could make all the difference, cautioned al-Bunni, the human rights lawyer.

“The party that has to request an investigation is the government of Jordan, because it’s the one that’s suffered the harm,” he said. The question of jurisdiction could put Jordan in a quandary, caught between a just cause of helping Syrians’ quest for accountability and the geopolitical implications of helping to facilitate the prosecution of the head of a neighboring state. The Jordanian Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not return a request for comment.

The legal teams built their filings around interviews with Syrian refugees in Jordan, in addition to the massive trove of documentation of crimes in Syria from the last eight years.

“I actually think the case is stronger as far as Syria is concerned than it was as far as the Rohingya were concerned,” said Toby Cadman, an attorney at the Guernica Group, which submitted an amicus brief in the Rohingya case. He noted that the scale of displacement in Syria is much larger: About 5 million Syrians have fled their country since 2011, compared to about 730,000 Rohingya refugees.

“That’s not to underestimate the significance of what happened to the Rohingya,” Cadman said. “I think just that the way the conflict has been documented in Syria, we actually know a lot more about what’s happened [there] than what’s happened in Myanmar.”

While the lawyers focused their filings on the crime of deportation, following the precedent set by the Rohingya decision, they also laid out other potential crimes that have occurred in Syria — the use of chemical weapons, indiscriminate bombings of civilian centers, and torture — as well as the risks that refugees would face upon being returned to Syria, such as conscription and detention.

“I interviewed Syrians who did not have a choice to stay in Syria, and had no choice in returning.”

“I interviewed Syrians who did not have a choice to stay in Syria, and had no choice in returning, and that usually means you’re speaking to people who have been detained, or people who are in fear of detention,” said Ibrahim Olabi, a Syrian lawyer who is completing his legal training at Guernica. “I interviewed people who had nothing to do with the uprising and were picked up and detained and tortured, again, in the worst possible means.”

One Syrian interviewed by Dixon’s team said she saw a child blown into pieces by a projectile, “which is a moment seared into her memory,” according to an excerpt from an Article 15 communication that Dixon shared with The Intercept.

She states that when bombing campaigns started in her town, everything intensified. When her cousin decided to flee with his family, he was killed in a missile attack on a minibus and the bus was so burnt that her family could not identify his body. She described her grave fear for her life and the life of her family during the bombing campaigns which randomly targeted buildings around her and hit a school nearby. She decided to flee to Jordan when she heard that regime forces had “cleansed” another part of her town and were moving to her area. She said the regime forces were implementing a policy of cleansing and that she feared she and her family would be killed.

“It’s important to understand that in order to prove crimes against humanity, the prosecutor has to show that there is an attack on the civilian population,” said Dixon. “All of the other crimes that have occurred in Syria can be used by the prosecutor to prove that there has been an attack on the civilian population, of which these deportations are a part.”

That’s not to say that the ICC would necessarily be able to seek convictions in relation to those wider crimes, but the prosecutor would at least gather evidence of them. “That’s important because it gives those victims a voice and it gives the opportunity to a prosecutor to prove the wider pattern and policy of crimes,” Dixon said, “which would be very important for the record and can then be used, in this case, to file a case of deportation and the other crimes against humanity.”

There are limitations to the ICC’s ability to prosecute cases and hold perpetrators accountable. One clear example is that of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been wanted by the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur for a decade. Because the ICC does not have a police force, it needs cooperation from states who would be willing to execute an arrest. Al-Bashir, however, has traveled around the world, including to ICC member states, and remains a free man.

The legal maneuvering Syrians have done to try to bring their case before the ICC represents another limitation. Even when the evidence of potential crimes exists, investigations into crimes committed in states that have not ratified the Rome Statute are near impossible because of jurisdictional issues, and U.N. Security Council members are quick to use their veto power to block investigations into crimes potentially committed by their allies.

That’s what makes the various avenues Syrians are pursuing so significant. As of last March, more than two dozen cases had been filed in European courts regarding atrocities committed by the Syrian regime, rebel fighters, and the Islamic State and other fundamentalist militant groups. The family of Marie Colvin, an American journalist killed in 2012 while reporting from the city of Homs, sued the Syrian government in a U.S. district court; in January, the court found Syria responsible for killing Colvin.

Many of the cases in Europe were brought under a legal doctrine known as universal jurisdiction; application of the doctrine varies from country to country, but it essentially allows for courts to prosecute cases regardless of where the crime was committed or whether the accused party has any links to the prosecuting state.

The biggest success so far has been in Germany, where authorities last month arrested a former high-ranking Syrian intelligence officer and two others who are accused of crimes against humanity for torturing detainees in Syrian prisons. Other cases remain pending in France, Sweden, and Spain. (Cadman and al-Bunni have been involved with some of these cases.)

These attempts are possible in part due to an unprecedented level of documentation of crimes in Syria. The victims in some of the cases were identified from a trove of 28,000 photos of people killed in Syrian detention centers, smuggled out of the country by a military defector codenamed Caesar. The U.N. General Assembly, in December 2016, took the step of creating the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism to investigate crimes in Syria since 2011. The IIIM, as the body is known, does not have independent prosecutorial authority, but it exists to collect information that could later be provided to courts or tribunals with jurisdiction over the crimes. Last year, 28 Syrian nongovernmental organizations committed to collaborating with the IIIM on its work.

Groups like Guernica and the Syrian Legal Development Program, which Olabi founded as a law student in 2014, have trained Syrian lawyers and human rights activists on how to document atrocities in a way that would make the evidence admissible in court.

“What we’ve been doing, for example, is assisting [activists with] how to document in a legal way,” Olabi said of the Syrian Legal Development Program. “So we created witness interview questions for organizations, for example, that were documenting forced displacement, or helped an organization that’s working on chemical weapons, put it together in the legal framework, which then leads to all the different reports that we used in our Guernica submission.”

Syrians are making use of every tool at their disposal to hold perpetrators accountable under international law, yet many of them hope to see these crimes prosecuted in a post-conflict Syria some day.

“The prosecutions have to happen in Syria, absolutely,” said al-Bunni. “But we have to get there and prepare to have prosecutions in Syria, prepare for transitional justice in Syria; but to get there, we need to show that these people are criminals and no one should interact with them in any shape or form.”

As the Syrian regime cements its military victory, the prospect of a post-Assad state — or a period of transitional justice — is difficult to imagine. Until then, the mere process of pushing for accountability at every forum possible has a number of benefits, El-Sadany said.

“The fact that individuals who are once thought to never have been able to be held accountable are being held accountable or evidence is being collected, I think that is important in and of itself,” she said. “The process of participating in these cases, the process of documenting the evidence, the process of even speaking out loud about the violations that an individual or victim had to endure and who perpetrated those violations, that’s important from a documentation perspective; from a healing perspective for victims; for the memorialization and education perspective so that decades from now, the history of the Syrian revolution and the Syrian war isn’t rewritten.”

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Lawyer Referral Programs – WisBar


The State Bar offers participation in lawyer referral programs to attorneys interested in expanding their client base by getting matched with Wisconsin residents who need legal help.

The State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) connects attorneys with clients who are pre-screened for legal issue, geographic location, and ability to pay. Members of the public contacting LRIS are directed to services provided through three primary programs:

  • Lawyer Referral
  • Lawyer Hotline
  • Modest Means Referral

Lawyer Referral matches potential clients with attorneys for fee based representation and provides information on legal resources statewide. Lawyer Hotline provides brief answers to basic legal questions. The Modest Means Referral service matches clients whose income is too high to qualify for legal services and too low to afford standard legal fees, with attorneys who agree to make payment arrangements or accept lower than their usual fees. 

The Lawyer Referral Anti-Bias Pro Bono panel provides victims of hate crimes and harassment with referrals to attorneys who will provide a limited scope consultation at no-cost to help the caller determine their legal rights, resources for reporting hate crimes and harassment, and to get answers to questions on how to pursue their complaint with law enforcement and the criminal or civil justice systems.  LRIS has created a referral system where callers can quickly identify their issue and get referred to an attorney on a pro bono basis.


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Facebook says it will move to encrypted, auto-deleting messages — and warns that some countries might decide to ban it (FB)

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg gesture

  • Facebook says it will make messages auto-delete and encrypted by default.
  • In a blog post published Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company wanted to become a “privacy-focused communications platform.”
  • Zuckerberg said Facebook would also refuse to store user data in countries with records of human-rights abuses, even if it means Facebook’s services are banned as a result.

Facebook says it plans to move to encrypted, auto-deleting messages on its services by default as part of a broader strategic shift — even if the changes mean some countries decide to ban its service.

In a 3,000-word blog post published Wednesday on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company wanted to focus on being a “privacy-focused communications platform.”

The announcement came amid Facebook attempts to move past a string of damaging scandals around user privacy (as well as other issues), including the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the hack of tens of millions of users’ data.

“I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever,” Zuckerberg wrote. “This is the future I hope we will help bring about.”

As such, Zuckerberg said Facebook would encrypt users’ messages end to end, meaning Facebook itself, law enforcement, and anybody else can’t read them; make messages ephemeral, “so we won’t keep messages or stories around for longer than necessary to deliver the service or longer than people want them”; partially merge Facebook’s apps so users can message one another from any of them (a move first reported by The New York Times); and refuse to store data in countries “with weak records on human rights like privacy and freedom of expression.”

Facebook already end-to-end encrypts messages for WhatsApp by default and provides it as an opt-in feature for Messenger, as well as auto-deletes messages. But Zuckerberg said that would become the default for all of Facebook’s messaging products.

Privacy advocates are likely to hail the move, but it may prove controversial in other quarters. Some in law enforcement have repeatedly railed against the difficulties that end-to-end encryption can create for investigations. And Facebook’s inability to moderate encrypted chats on WhatsApp has led to organized disinformation campaigns ahead of Brazil’s presidential election and is said to have helped spread hoaxes that led to lynchings in India.

“I understand that many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform — because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“But we’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.”

Refusing to store user data in certain countries could frustrate some local governments, as the past few years have seen a push toward tech companies storing users’ data in the countries where those users reside. Zuckerberg acknowledged that the move may even get Facebook’s services banned in some parts of the world.

“Upholding this principle may mean that our services will get blocked in some countries, or that we won’t be able to enter others anytime soon,” he wrote. “That’s a tradeoff we’re willing to make. We do not believe storing people’s data in some countries is a secure enough foundation to build such important internet infrastructure on.”

It’s not clear exactly when all of this will happen. Zuckerberg didn’t give a concrete timeline, saying only that “over the next few years, we plan to rebuild more of our services around these ideas.”

Do you work at Facebook? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at, Telegram or WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

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Why Paying Bribes to Get Your Child Into College Is a Crime – The New York Times


White Collar Watch

Why Paying Bribes to Get Your Child Into College Is a Crime

Andrew E. Lelling, the United States attorney for the District of Massachusetts, announces indictments in a sweeping college admissions bribery scandal.CreditCreditSteven Senne/Associated Press

By Peter J. Henning

  • March 14, 2019

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All parents want their children to get into the best possible college. But paying bribes to have them admitted to elite schools as athletes, or having someone provide the answers for their standardized tests, clearly crosses the boundary into unacceptable conduct.

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors in Boston charged 33 parents and 13 coaches with engaging in a long-running scheme to get children into colleges by gaming the admissions process. Among those caught up in the case are the actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman; William E. McGlashan Jr., a partner at the private equity firm TPG; Gordon Caplan, the co-chairman of the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher; and Doug Hodge, the retired chief executive of Pimco.

But how is paying bribes or submitting falsified test scores to get a child into a private college like Georgetown or the University of Southern California a federal crime?

Mail and wire fraud statutes identify a scheme to defraud as including the “right of honest services.” That turns the dishonesty of getting your child admitted to their college of choice into a crime that is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The honest-services law had been a means to police corporate or official dishonesty without requiring proof of a benefit to the defendant. But in 2010, the Supreme Court, in the appeal of former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling, limited honest-services fraud to cases involving bribes and kickbacks.

Now if a university coach or employee takes payment in exchange for improperly admitting a student who is not otherwise qualified, it can be a federal crime because it violates the honest services owed to the school. For the parents charged in the case, paying the bribe means that they are just as guilty for acting as an accomplice in the fraudulent scheme.

How do people go off the rails so easily by engaging in clearly dishonest conduct? The criminal complaint is replete with exchanges that show the parents had little regard for the possible criminality of what they were doing.

Mr. Caplan was quoted as telling a cooperating witness in the case: “I’m not worried about the moral issue here. I’m worried about the— if she’s caught doing that, you know, she’s finished.”

Another parent charged in the case, Jane Buckingham, is quoted as telling a confidential informant: “I know this is craziness; I know it is. And then I need you to get him into U.S.C., and then I need you to cure cancer and [make peace] in the Middle East.” Ms. Buckingham paid $50,000 to have someone else take the ACT exam for her son, according to the complaint.

Mr. Caplan, a lawyer, especially should have recognized that the conduct had crossed the line into criminality. But for Mr. Caplan, Ms. Buckingham and the other parents, getting their child into the best school seemed to override any concerns about ethics.

So why would otherwise law-abiding individuals flout the law?

The answer may lie in the fact that most white-collar crimes do not have an obvious victim. As a result, individuals can convince themselves that they have not really done anything wrong.

Gaming the system to get your child into a top-tier college is much the same. There is no easily identifiable victim, and applicants denied admission may well chalk up their rejection to the luck of the draw or the unknown factors that lead one college to turn away a prospective student and another to accept that person.

Of course, the action of the parents charged did cause actual harm, even if the victim is unaware of it. University admissions are largely a zero-sum game, so taking one slot means a worthy student was sent away. Not knowing who that person is does not lessen the harm.

Wealth can buy a lot of access. Paying bribes to sneak your child into a favored college, though, might result in short prison terms for some of the parents.


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Car-bomb fears and stolen prototypes: Inside Facebook's efforts to protect its 80,000 workers around the globe (FB)

facebook security 2x1

  • Facebook has a 6,000-person security army quietly protecting its tens of thousands of employees worldwide.
  • The challenges they face are immense — from stalkers to stolen prototypes, car-bomb fears, gang violence, and concerns about state-sponsored espionage.
  • Business Insider spoke with current and former Facebook employees about the wild hidden world of Silicon Valley corporate security.
  • Thousands of people turn up at Facebook’s offices every week to complain about their accounts, attempt to sneak in, ask for tours, or try to meet CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Defenses include plain-clothes officers with firearms to location tracking of blacklisted people, and there are rumors of a secret escape passageway.

When a disgruntled YouTube user opened fire with a semiautomatic pistol at the company’s California headquarters in April 2018, injuring three, the gunshots reverberated across Silicon Valley.

At Facebook, just a 30-minute drive away, the company sprang into action and quietly redoubled its defenses. The Menlo Park-based social-networking firm drastically upped the number of off-duty police officers who covertly patrol its halls in civilian clothes with concealed firearms. Few employees even know these officers exist, and the move spooked some of the workers who subsequently noticed them.

And it spent about $1 million to bolster its vehicle fleet with more than 30 new Toyota RAV4 hybrid SUVs for its security organization with which to patrol its Bay Area offices, only to leave them sitting in a garage for months, unused, as the company deliberated about how they should be branded. (It’s unclear whether they’re in action now.)

If it sounds like a small army, that’s because in many ways it is.

Silicon Valley’s founding principles of freedom and nonconformism created a province of open-plan offices and sprawling university-like campuses that have since been emulated throughout the corporate world.

But within Silicon Valley’s tech companies today, there’s a more hardheaded reality hiding just below this idyllic surface. At a time when tech brands and leaders have become objects of public fascination and, in some cases, outright hostility, and in the wake of the YouTube shooting, tech companies like Facebook have no choice but to erect ever-more sophisticated, and expensive, fortifications.

For shareholders it means shouldering ever heavier costs, often tens of millions of dollars, for the protection of top company executives and facilities security. Within Facebook, it means empowering a 6,000-person shadow workforce whose day-to-day experiences provide a revealing window into another side of Silicon Valley, far removed from app marketing plans and machine-learning conferences: a secret world of stalkers, stolen prototypes, car-bomb fears, earthquake-contingency plans, gang violence, and concerns about state-sponsored espionage.

Business Insider spoke with current and former workers in Facebook’s security organization and others familiar with the matter, obtained internal company documents, reviewed court documents, and surveyed publicly available information about how the company handles its security.

These sources described sophisticated logistical challenges in protecting tens of thousands of employees and contract workers every day — and an underlying tension between the techie ideals of openness and engineer freedom and the realities of protecting a high-profile and increasingly controversial multinational firm.

“As a security guy, you can buy Fort Knox tomorrow, but that’s not going to fly in a tech environment,” said a former member of Facebook’s security team. “You create policies and barriers and processes so you’re the friendliest you can be while as safe as you can be.” (Sources were granted anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about their experiences.)

Some of what Facebook’s security team deals with are prosaic issues, the kind you’d find at any major company: petty thefts, car accidents, and medical emergencies. But Facebook’s unprecedented influence on civil society and billions of people’s daily lives around the world means it also faces one-of-a-kind security challenges. People swarm to Facebook’s offices by the thousands, whether that’s to try to look around, attempt to give unsolicited pitches to company executives, or air grievances.

And then there’s one of the most important challenges of all: protecting Mark Zuckerberg.

facebook security car

Protecting the principal

When CEO Mark Zuckerberg first got 24/7 executive protection, there was a problem: He kept wandering off.

Sources said that in the early 2010s, the world-famous Facebook cofounder didn’t always keep the team — initially just one person — in the loop on his plans. He might decide on a whim to leave the office, or go for a jog, or to a bar, leaving his security staff scrambling to keep up.

“He was in his mid-20s … he was developing a platform he truly believed was good … at the time he didn’t grasp the concept that there were haters out there,” one source said.

Since then, however, Zuckerberg has grown more accepting of executive protection’s constant presence, according to insiders. His closely monitored patterns of life now far more closely resemble a head of state than a typical 34-year-old engineer, with the stricter security practices mirroring the increase in Facebook’s own fortifications over the years.

Armed executive-protection officers stand on constant guard outside his gated homes in the Bay Area (at least one of which also has a panic room). If he goes to a bar, his team will sweep through ahead of time to make sure it’s safe. They will vet any new doctors or trainers if he wants to take up a new hobby. He is driven everywhere, with the security team monitoring traffic and adjusting his route accordingly. (Back when he still drove, Zuckerberg was, in the words of one source, a “shitty driver.”)

During company all-hands meetings, members of Zuckerberg’s Praetorian Guard sit at the front of the room and are dotted throughout the crowd, just in case an employee tries to rush him. They wear civilian clothes to blend in with nonsecurity employees.

Zuckerberg historically hasn’t worked in a cordoned-off office like a traditional corporate executive. Instead, his regular desk is on the floor of Facebook’s open-plan office, just like everyone else — but protection officers sit near his desk while he works, in case of security threats. Facebook’s offices are built above an employee parking lot, but it’s impossible to park directly beneath Zuckerberg’s desk, because of concerns about the risk of car bombs.

He also has access to a large glass-walled conference room in the middle of the space near his desk, which features bullet-resistant windows and a panic button. There’s also a persistent rumor among Facebook employees that he has a secret “panic chute” his team can evacuate him down to get him out of the office in a hurry. The truth of the matter remains murky: One source said they had been briefed about the existence of a secret exit route through the floor of the conference room into the parking garage, but others said they had no knowledge of it. Facebook declined to comment on the rumor.

facebook zuckerberg guards

All told, there are now more than 70 people on the executive-protection team at Facebook, led by former US Secret Service special agent Jill Leavens Jones. Last July, Facebook’s board approved a $10 million security allowance for Zuckerberg and his family for the year.

And with good reason: The billionaire chief exec lives an extraordinarily public life, with 118 million followers on Facebook alone (making him both an icon of Facebook’s ideals and, increasingly, a magnet for public ire following his company’s recent scandals), and the threats he faces are severe.

He receives numerous death threats a week, and the security team actively monitors social media for mentions of him and his chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. The pair also have stalkers, who alternately declare their undying love for the execs or harbor worrying vendettas against them.

Zuckerberg and Sandberg are the only two Facebook execs with 24/7 protection, though others may get it for specific occasions like traveling. The pair have amusing security code names, which Business Insider is not publishing for security reasons.

The CEO has been forced to get restraining orders against people obsessively following and trying to contact him in multiple instances. In one notable incident, in 2015, a local, William Gordon Kinzer, repeatedly turned up outside Zuckerberg’s house over a period of weeks and aggressively harassed the security officers, according to court documents. “On May 30, 2015, at approximately 9:39 a.m., I was seated in my car … Kinzer stopped at the passenger side of my window, looked directly at me and yelled loudly, ‘Stay in your car like a good little monkey and obey the law,'” one security officer testified. “Kinzer then turned and walked away. Kinzer appeared angry and aggressive. I was concerned for my safety.”

Sandberg was once stalked by an employee who sent her a barrage of messages. Even after the employee was fired and blacklisted, she would still show up at campus occasionally, a source said. (Facebook declined to comment on this and many of the other incidents detailed in this story.) Such stalkers are classified as “BOLOs,” short for “Be On the Look Out,” a category of person barred from all Facebook property. If BOLOs use Facebook or the other apps the company owns, the security team may quietly use data drawn from these apps to monitor their location without telling them, as CNBC previously reported.

In one surreal episode, someone turned up outside Zuckerberg’s house with a love letter scrawled across the side of their truck, a source recalled. Security officers initially assumed it was directed at the CEO — but it was actually for the benefit of one of the housekeeping staff.

Pranks and political stunts are another concern: High-profile execs make prime targets, as Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates infamously discovered when he had a pie thrown in his face in Brussels in 1998. Any time Zuckerberg goes out in public, there are concerns he could be mobbed, and his appearances at events are carefully planned and mapped out.

People will also send unsolicited presents to his home — everything from cookies to a gift from a rabbi after the birth of one of his children. (These get sent to the security team for inspection; Zuckerberg doesn’t open them himself.)

In Facebook’s offices, things are less intense, but employees will still rush to get the seats at meetings closest to Zuckerberg. Executive-protection officers are instructed to be alert for employees and guests at the offices trying to take unauthorized photos of Zuckerberg, which is against the rules. Some employees, too, will try to give him gifts.

facebook stairwell and carpark

‘Move fast and break things’ isn’t always the best approach to security

Today, Facebook has 40,000 full-time employees, but its total workforce is far higher.

More than 80,000 personnel around the globe (including contractors and contingent workers who don’t necessarily get the same benefits as full-time employees) fall under the protection of the global security team’s protection, across 160-plus facilities ranging from engineering offices to data centers to content moderation centers, in more than 100 countries.

To handle this, the company has an army of security officers.

There are more than 6,000 people working in global security (500 of those are full-time employees, the rest contractors and contingent workers), with more than 1,000 security officers working at the Bay Area offices alone — patrolling on foot, in vehicles, with sniffer dogs, and on bikes (“Fox Units”). For context, Snapchat parent company Snap has only 3,000 employees total. Twitter has just under 4,000.

Among the third-party contractors it leans heavily on to provide security officers and intelligence analysts for its workforce are Allied Universal, G4S, and Pinkerton. Facebook also funds a Menlo Park Police Department substation near its offices, and works closely with local law enforcement and emergency services.

There are five key strands to Facebook’s security efforts. Most visibly, there are the global security services, Facebook’s legions of security officers (“blue shirts”) and its global security operations centers (more on those later). And there’s global security intelligence and investigations, which handles investigations and streams of intelligence.

Then there are the global security strategic initiatives, which look at risks as the business grows (Is this a high-risk area for expansion? Is building here really a good idea?); systems and technology (think keycards, security cameras, and the software that keeps it all humming along); and the executive-protection team.

Like the rest of Facebook, global security is a ravenous consumer of data, slurping up vast streams of intelligence, which range from open source information to third-party data streams, from media reports about breaking news events to dark-web marketplaces that might be selling the company’s intellectual property — and, of course, users’ posts on Facebook itself.

It’s an “intelligence-based organization,” trying to sift through a flood of noise to identify and mitigate issues ahead of time, and it identifies millions of “threats” to the workforce every year, from natural disasters to threats of violence against employees, of varying levels of credibility.

facebook reception desk 2

Atop it all sits Nick Lovrien, a former CIA counterintelligence officer who serves as Facebook’s chief global security officer. Lovrien, who worked to tackle foreign-fighter pipelines in the Middle East, credits the early-2010s upheaval in the region as opening his eyes to Facebook’s capabilities.

“I was in Iraq … we were doing missions, three, four a night, trying to cut [the foreign-fighter pipeline] off and during this time … it was the start of the Arab Uprising, and I saw the power of social media,” he told Business Insider in an interview.

(Lovrien in turn reports to John Tenanes, Facebook’s vice president of culinary, facilities, and security, who reports to chief financial officer David Wehner.)

Facebook “is the critical infrastructure for modern-day democracy, and that’s why we’re so focused on the integrity of the platform, the safety and security of that platform. What that does is bring unique risks to Facebook as well,” Lovrien said.

In short, protecting Facebook is a monumental task, and not always one that’s been made easier by the company’s internal philosophy.

Though it has moved away from it in recent years, Facebook was historically famous for its motto of “move fast and break things.” The company emphasized speed and initiative; if something didn’t quite work out, it could always be fixed later. But while this attitude might work effectively for developing apps, it doesn’t fly in the rigid world of physical security, sources said.

When Facebook built its new headquarters, some of its entrance points had to be locked up after the team realized they posed a security risk, allowing people to bypass the checkpoints at the main reception desks, a source said. Security projects could become derailed because an engineer didn’t like some aspect of it. Across the company, different teams took very different approaches to handling investigations, hiring people with varying levels of experience and qualifications (Facebook says it is “intentional about hiring people from non-conventional backgrounds” in addition to hiring traditional security professionals).

“I know Facebook’s culture is ‘we’re all friends and there’s no friction.’ The reality is sometimes security requires a certain amount of friction,” one source said.

Lovrien conceded this was the case but said Facebook has since evolved. “That’s an accurate statement in Facebook six years ago, when I first started,” he said. “Over the last six years we’ve really focused on taking those programs offline and introducing new security systems.”

Since then, Lovrien said, “I’ve been able to hire the strongest leaders that are out there, and the level of expertise that we have is just not found in any other corporation, so very proud of the teams that are here.”

In recent months Facebook has been faced with some allegations of racism in its workplace, stemming from an open letter shared by a former employee, Mark Luckie. Two former security officers also said they saw discrimination.

“I’ll give you a rundown,” one former officer said. “Black guards being given the shit posts. Blacks guards being passed over for promotions. Incidents where white drivers were given leeway in an accident when blacks under similar situations were strictly penalized. Uneven discipline regarding hair color and visible tattoos.”

Facebook says it sets clear guidelines for contracting firms it works with and jointly investigates any such allegations. Allied Universal, which provides security officers for Facebook in the Bay Area, said it “is committed to diversity and fostering an inclusive work environment. Our goal is to represent the many and diverse communities that we take pride in serving because a diverse population of security officers creates safer environments and stronger communities. To this end, we have comprehensive standards of conduct and a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, retaliation or harassment of any kind. At all organizational levels, we actively promote an inclusive culture to help expand opportunity for all in the communities that we help safeguard.”

Last August, Facebook’s security officers negotiated a union contract. But sources say some officers remain unhappy with the concessions it secured. And hiring new security officers can also be difficult because of ongoing low unemployment rate in the US — though that’s not unique to Facebook.

facebook gates

Facebook has its hands full keeping the masses out

Another key challenge for Facebook: managing guests, and keeping out people who aren’t supposed to be there.

The sheer scale of the number of people coming through Facebook’s doors is staggering. In June 2018, for example, the company had 140,000 invited guests globally, not including employees themselves — from job applicants to business-meeting attendees and friends of employees. (Nearly 54,000 of these visitors were at Menlo Park alone.) It had 1.5 million across the entire year.

But uninvited visitors also swarm to Facebook in astonishing numbers. The company has to turn away about 1,000 people from its offices every week (classified as “visitor turnaways, or VTAs): sightseers, people hoping to pitch the company on business proposals, and so on. And there’s a steady stream of angry users and protesters who come to cause a fuss.

Facebook’s security team sees dozens of “incidents” a day, which range from people angrily demanding to know why their accounts have been banned to internal issues like staff injuries requiring medical attention. If someone uninvited is hostile, they may be made a BOLO. Some are also classified as a person of interest, or POI.

Facebook would not say directly whether a journalist has ever been made a BOLO, or if the company has ever accessed the location data or other personal information of a journalist (whether a BOLO or not) as part of an investigation. “No person would be subject to the above-mentioned procedures without credible cause. A person — whether a journalist or not — would only be added to a list following an assessment that they constitute a credible threat to Facebook or its staff,” spokesperson Anthony Harrison said in an email.

“Our physical security team exists to keep Facebook staff safe. They use industry-standard measures to assess and address credible threats of violence against our staff and our company and refer these threats to law enforcement when necessary. We have strict processes designed to protect people’s privacy and adhere to applicable laws and regulations. Any suggestion our onsite physical security team has overstepped is absolutely false,” Harrison continued.

Business Insider previously obtained 911 call records from Facebook’s campus, which provided insight into the kind of extreme incidents that can occur: a mace attack on a security guard, a user who had been scammed after being told he’d “won the Facebook lottery,” an angry confrontation over a “non-injury accident,” and so on. But only a tiny fraction of incidents are severe enough to reach the point where 911 is called; the overwhelming majority are handled in-house. In April 2018, for example, there were more than 2,000 “incidents” at Facebook’s offices worldwide, 124 of which were medical incidents.

In one notable incident, in London in 2017, YouTubers were able to sneak into Facebook’s offices in the city and helped themselves to the free food and candy, subsequently making a video about their experiences. As a result, “when those individuals traveled to the US, we upstaffed and made sure every officer was aware of what they looked like in case they tried to access our buildings while they were here,” a source said.

At least one person has managed to sneak past security in an effort to pitch Zuckerberg on an idea and was discovered only after being noticed asking other employees for directions to the CEO’s desk. Another time, an outsider was turned away multiple times after lying about a meeting, only to be let in through a side door by an unwitting employee heading for lunch, a source said. The infiltrator picked up a Facebook-branded T-shirt to blend in, and was discovered only when they tried to survey Facebook employees.

facebook security parking lot

Controversy swirling around Chinese tech giant Huawei means concerns about corporate- and state-sponsored espionage have been headline news in recent weeks. Facebook has never detected anyone infiltrating the company to steal intellectual property or for political reasons, Lovrien said, but it is an issue that the security team worries about, and it has put countermeasures in place to try to “mitigate those potential risks.”

And in December, Facebook temporarily evacuated its headquarters after a bomb threat came in targeting the office. No one was hurt and no device was found. Lovrien declined to provide more information about the incident.

There will also occasionally be unauthorized drone flyovers, as pilots try to get a glimpse of what’s taking place inside Facebook’s hallowed walls.

The majority of activity isn’t malicious. Tourists also flock by the busload to the campus of Facebook, and other Silicon Valley firms, to try to get a glimpse of the world-famous companies or just get a photo next to the iconic thumbs-up sign, adding to the deluge of visitors the security team has to keep track of. (Ninety-nine percent of visitor turnaway is primarily tourists, Lovrien said.)

The company employs technological solutions to help them with all this. It uses license-plate scanners to check the vehicles of visitors, and see if they’re on any blacklists or belong to BOLOs — something that has helped identify stalkers prowling the grounds. And the company has explored using facial-recognition cameras to monitor who’s coming and going but says the tech hasn’t been implemented.

There’s also a Red Team, a “penetration testing” unit in the organization that tries to break into the company’s facilities in creative ways to test its defenses and keep security on its toes. Execs will sometimes be enlisted to help with these tests, swapping entry badges and attempting to gain access as someone else. (Facebook’s security officers are provided with photos of the company’s leadership so they can learn their faces, in much the same way lists and images of BOLOs circulate in preparation ahead of events.)

For the worst-case scenarios Facebook also has its off-duty officers armed with firearms, though their very existence remains unknown to many employees.

facebook reception desk 1

Facebook’s security nerve center needs to keep tabs on 80,000 people

In November 2015, when terrorists attacked the Bataclan theatre and other sites across Paris, Facebook’s GSOC sprang into action.

The GSOC — the global security operations center — is the nerve center of the social network’s physical-security infrastructure, monitoring threats, managing issues, and analyzing reams of data. A large room with dozens of computer stations and screens on the wall, it keeps tabs on all its employees’ overseas travel, and as the attack unfolded the team quickly worked to assemble data on Facebook employees in the area, to see if they were in harm’s way and asking them to check in with notification software Everbridge.

No Facebook employees were ultimately harmed in the attack, but it highlighted the GSOC’s role as a key node in Facebook’s efforts to keep its employees safe and secure, especially in times of crisis.

Open 24/7, the GSOC also employs its monitoring capabilities closer to home — keeping tabs on everything from video feeds of Zuckerberg’s home to local shootings or incidents that could affect Facebook employees in the area. One of the most significant day-to-day challenges it handles, Lovrien said, are issues caused by the weather — pointing to the recent deadly tornadoes in Alabama and the need to protect employees and facilities from them as a recent extreme example.

GSOC also has three outposts elsewhere in the world to provide round-the-clock coverage: one in London to cover EMEA; an Asia-Pacific base in Singapore; and a third in São Paulo, Brazil, for Latin America. And it produces the “Daily Brief,” a regular intelligence document that collates recent security issues, emerging issues, employees in high-risk locations, and other data points for company leadership. (Some investigations and research are also conducted by GSII, or global security intelligence and investigations.)

facebook GSOC

It also handles some Facebook user-focused features. It helps run Safety Check, Facebook’s feature that lets users mark themselves as safe to their friends after terror attacks, natural disasters, and other crises, including the Paris attacks in 2015, as well as the Amber alerts that go out on Facebook to help locate missing children, and Facebook’s blood-donation tool. There were more than 690 Safety Check activations throughout 2018, with more than 37 million users marking themselves safe as a result.

Global security has extensive plans and best practices for security incidents. Executive kidnapped? Notify law enforcement, get proof of life, contact the kidnap-and-ransom-insurance company, and go from there. Active shooter? Gather critical information about the location and description of the shooter, call law enforcement, send out emergency notifications, lock down or evacuate the buildings as necessary, and so on.

Unexpected package sent to an exec’s house? Get information about who dropped it off, make an incident alert, and send the package to the GSII without opening it. Media turned up outside Zuckerberg’s residence? Figure out who they are, why they’re there, send a mobile unit to meet them, and notify police if requested by management or the executive protection team.

Protocols like these are by no means unique to Facebook; they provide a clear agreed-upon framework to follow in times of crises. But they’re indicative of the disparate challenges Facebook now faces in protecting its global workforce, from civil disturbances to safely handling the firing of “high-risk employees.”

Facebook has to similarly prepare whenever it constructs a new facility: When it built its new Frank Gehry-designed headquarters in Menlo Park, the security threats it was forced to consider involved everything from the risk of earthquakes to the possibility of a plane from San Francisco International Airport falling out of the sky onto the campus, causing carnage.

Thefts, fights, after-hours trysts, and the challenges of managing Facebook’s workforce

And in an organization as large as Facebook, whose tens of thousands of employees rival the population of a small city, maintaining order means both protecting the perimeter from outside dangers and staying on top of inside threats.

When numerous employees’ headphones were disappearing a couple of years ago, the company installed a covert mobile camera to monitor desks, a source said. The sting operation caught an employee stealing them to sell online. A Facebook spokesperson said items are sometimes misplaced during office moves, and then misreported as thefts.

But Silicon Valley’s tradition of openness can complicate things, such as the time when an old prototype of an Oculus virtual-reality headset was stolen from a conference room. Facebook — like many companies — doesn’t have surveillance cameras inside its offices, and the enormous open-plan design of the office meant that the pool of suspects would likely be hundreds of people, with no way to narrow it down. There was nothing security could do; the prototype was never recovered.

“The business has identified that we really need that open office environment that promotes our collaboration, and so that’s the risk we’re willing to accept inside an office is that open office environment,” Lovrien said about Facebook’s approach to openness. “So what we then look at is how we mitigate that risk,” from proactively sifting through intelligence to putting physical checkpoints in place and manning the perimeter of the offices.

Facebook also provides employees with access to free vending machines that provide spare charging cables, headphones, computer mice, and other items — which can be another source of thefts. (Lovrien said these thefts are rare.)

facebook bikes

Employees sometimes try to use video-chat apps to give their friends virtual tours of the office, which is against the rules. And at least one employee was caught letting in tourists who wanted to take unauthorized tours of the facilities.

The fact that the office is open 24/7 also means there can be NSFW incidents. Employees are caught having sex in the offices about once every three months, on average. (HR may be alerted, but the couple aren’t typically fired.) On the other end of the spectrum, domestic disputes can have workplace consequences. At least one couple working at Facebook had a restraining order between them, forcing the two to work at different locations.

There’s one persistent problem that plagues security teams at companies around the world that is almost completely absent at Facebook: lunch thefts. That’s because Facebook provides an extensive selection of free lunches and snacks for all its workers.

Still, even cafeterias with free meals can have problems.

In August 2013, after Facebook’s beloved head chef died in a motorcycle crash, the company threw a blow-out party with free booze on a weekend to commemorate him. The memorial descended into chaos, with multiple fights breaking out among kitchen staff, which security staff believed were gang-related. The event culminated in one kitchen worker being beaten so badly on Facebook grounds they were hospitalised.

The assailant was subsequently blacklisted, but he continued to sneak onto campus to visit his mother who still worked there.

Do you work at Facebook? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at, Telegram or WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by email only please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

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Paul Manafort’s Prison Sentence Is Nearly Doubled to 7½ Years – The New York Times


Paul Manafort’s Prison Sentence Is Nearly Doubled to 7½ Years


President Trump’s former campaign chairman has been sentenced to a total of 7½ years in prison for a variety of federal crimes. It’s far less than he could have served.CreditCreditAlex Brandon/Associated Press
  • March 13, 2019

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday nearly doubled the prison sentence of President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, to seven and a half years, denouncing him as a man who “spent a significant portion of his career gaming the system.”

Minutes later, the Manhattan district attorney filed a raft of state criminal charges, including mortgage fraud, that could ensure that Mr. Manafort remains behind bars even if the president decides — as he has appeared to hint — to pardon Mr. Manafort for his crimes. Convictions for state crimes are not subject to federal pardons.

The proceedings amounted to a wrenching defeat for Mr. Manafort, 69, who came to his sentencing in a wheelchair because of gout and pleading for probation so he could spend his final years with his wife.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of United States District Court in Washington expressed scant sympathy for his plight. Rather, she closed out the highest-profile prosecution brought by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, with a blistering critique of Mr. Manafort’s character and a rapid-fire litany of his legal and ethical transgressions.

She said that Mr. Manafort had used his many talents as a strategist to evade taxes, deceive banks, subvert lobbying laws and obstruct justice — all so he could sustain an “ostentatiously opulent” lifestyle with “more houses than a family can enjoy, more suits than one man can wear.”

Ever since his initial bail hearing, she said, he had misled her and the prosecutors, part of what she called his determined efforts to obscure the facts. Even on his sentencing day, she implied, he appeared to be making a play for a presidential pardon by wrongly suggesting that he was merely the victim of overzealous prosecutors who had hoped to prove that the Trump campaign had conspired with the Russian government to tilt the 2016 election.

“The defendant is not public enemy No. 1, but he is also not a victim either,” Judge Jackson said.

She stopped short of giving Mr. Manafort the maximum 10-year term that she could have imposed, adding three and a half years to the nearly four-year term Mr. Manafort received last week in a related prosecution in Alexandria, Va. Explaining why she was not harsher, she cited guidelines intended to limit punishment in overlapping cases and the fact that Mr. Manafort’s effort to tamper with witnesses who could testify against him had been “nipped in the bud.”

Her attitude stood in stark contrast to that of Judge T. S. Ellis III of United States District Court in Northern Virginia, who said last week that Mr. Manafort had “led an otherwise blameless life” in sentencing him to 47 months for eight felonies, a punishment that some legal experts described as startlingly low.

In an apparent reference to Judge Ellis, Judge Jackson noted that she was bound strictly by the case in front of her. “What is happening today is not and cannot be a review and a revision by a sentence imposed by another court,” she said.

But she said the scale of Mr. Manafort’s crimes was remarkable. “It is hard to overstate the number of lies and the amount of fraud and the amount of money involved,” she said. “There is no question that this defendant knew better and he knew what he was doing.”

Outside the courthouse, Mr. Manafort’s lead lawyer, Kevin Downing, described Judge Jackson’s decision as “such a callous, harsh sentence that is totally unnecessary.” Mr. Downing, who was repeatedly interrupted by protesters, called it a “very sad day.”

Mr. Manafort’s defense lawyers had repeatedly suggested that their client would be a free man had he not worked for the Trump campaign for five months in 2016, implying that Mr. Mueller’s investigators pursued him for crimes unrelated to the campaign only because they hoped to use him as a steppingstone in the Russia inquiry.

Judge Jackson firmly dismissed that argument, noting that investigators often find evidence of unrelated crimes during inquiries, and that “the perpetrators uncovered that way do not get a pass.” She said the argument was aimed at “some other audience,” an apparent allusion to the White House, not at her.

The judge accused Mr. Manafort of a sleight of hand throughout the criminal proceeding against him, including wrongly inflating his assets in a bail hearing and exaggerating the harshness of his conditions in jail. She suggested that he had sought to outmaneuver prosecutors by agreeing to plead guilty to conspiracy and cooperate with them, then backtracking and lying to the special counsel’s office and a grand jury.

“Was he spinning the facts beforehand to get a good deal, or was he spinning them afterwards to protect others?” she asked. “We don’t know.”

Even Mr. Manafort’s apology for his crimes rang somewhat hollow, she said, because it appeared to be prompted by Judge Ellis’s criticism that he did not seem sufficiently contrite during last week’s sentencing.

Each of the conspiracy charges considered at Wednesday’s hearing carried a maximum prison term of five years. But because the underlying conduct for one conspiracy count was much the same as the bank and tax fraud scheme for which Mr. Manafort was convicted in Northern Virginia, Judge Jackson cut his punishment for that charge in half, to 30 months. “He cannot be sentenced for those components twice,” she said.

She sentenced him to 13 months on the second conspiracy charge, which involved obstruction of justice, saying his efforts to influence the testimony of witnesses had largely come to naught because the witnesses had rebuffed him.

In requesting probation, Mr. Manafort noted that he would turn 70 in two weeks and had already been stripped of his wealth. “Please let my wife and I be together,” he said. “I am a different person than the one who came before you in October 2017,” when he was first indicted.

Much of the hearing in Washington focused on Mr. Manafort’s violations of the law requiring foreign lobbyists to disclose their activities in the United States — probably because the other charges had been aired at length in the Virginia case.

Andrew Weissmann, the lead prosecutor, said Mr. Manafort and others, at his behest, secretly lobbied for the government of Viktor F. Yanukovych, the pro-Russian president who led Ukraine from 2010 to 2014. Former European politicians and other members of Mr. Manafort’s team presented themselves as independent experts, disguising their true client.

“This deliberate effort to obscure the facts undermines our political discourse,” Judge Jackson said.

[Read how Mr. Manafort’s sentence compares to other white-collar criminals.]

Judge Jackson tends to be relatively lenient on convicted criminals who appear before her. In the five years that ended in 2017, she handed down an average prison sentence of 32 months, below the Washington district’s average of 46 months and the nationwide average of 47 months, according to court data maintained by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

But she also has gone out of her way to make clear that being well connected earns no chits in her court. “She knows who commits white-collar crime,” said Heather Shaner, a Washington lawyer who represented an embezzler in her court. “And she thinks it’s perfectly fine to punish them if they commit a crime and hold them to a higher standard because they have the education, and because they have the wealth.”

The prospect that Mr. Trump could pardon Mr. Manafort has hung over the proceedings for many months. Late last year, Mr. Trump said that he “wouldn’t take it off the table.” More recently, he said, “I don’t even discuss it.”

Asked again after Wednesday’s sentencing, Mr. Trump said: “I have not even given it a thought, as of this moment. It’s not something that’s right now on my mind.” He added, “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort,” saying “certainly, on a human basis, it’s a very sad thing.”

He said again that the special counsel’s investigation was “a hoax.” In remarks that appeared aimed at the president, Mr. Downing said outside the courthouse that “two courts have ruled no evidence of any collusion with the Russians.”

In fact, Judge Jackson and Judge Ellis simply noted that the evidence against Mr. Manafort was not related to Russia’s election meddling.

The new charges filed in New York, in an indictment secured by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., were apparently meant to ensure that Mr. Manafort would be punished even if he was pardoned. They were rooted in the same financial fraud that led to Mr. Manafort’s downfall in federal courthouses. He is charged with falsifying business records to obtain millions of dollars in loans from two banks.

“No one is beyond the law in New York,” Mr. Vance said. He said his investigation had “yielded serious criminal charges for which the defendant has not been held accountable.”

While a spokesman for Mr. Manafort said he had no comment, some legal experts predicted that Mr. Manafort would challenge the new charges on the grounds of double jeopardy.

Noah Weiland contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on of the New York edition with the headline: Sentence Adds Time in Prison For Manafort. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe


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Facebook is reportedly under criminal investigation over deals that gave Apple, Amazon, and other companies access to user data (FB)


  • Facebook is under criminal investigation over data-sharing deals it signed with Apple, Amazon, and other major tech companies, reports the New York Times. 
  • The partnerships, first reported in June, gave those outside companies to data including friends lists, contact information, and even private messages — and not always with the user’s consent.
  • Most of those partnerships have ended over the last two years. 
  • Facebook tells the Times that it is cooperating with investigators.

Federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into data-sharing deals struck between Facebook and makers of mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets, reports the New York Times

Under the terms of those deals, which the Times reported about in June, Facebook allowed device makers including Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft to access personal user data, including friend lists, contact information, and sometimes even private messages — and not always with the user’s consent, the report alleged. 

According to the New York Times report, a grand jury in New York has already subpoenaed information on these types of deals from at least two smartphone and other device manufacturers involved. 

“We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously,” a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”

News of the criminal investigation is the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the 2-billion member social networking giant. Facebook has been struggling to rehabilitate its public image amid revelations that it allowed Cambridge Analytica to improperly access the personal data of many of its users and the growing evidence of how its social network has been used to spread misinformation during the 2016 US Presidential elections.

Facebook’s stock declined 1.5% in after hours trading on Wednesday. 

As if to underscore the company’s challenges, Facebook’s social network suffered one of the worst technical outages in its history on Wednesday, leaving users and advertisers unable to access the site for much of the day. 

Focus of the criminal inquiry is unknown

Facebook is already facing the prospect of multi-billion dollar fines to settle privacy investigations by the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies. But a criminal investigation would raise the stakes significantly.

Wednesday’s Times report, which cited anonymous sources, said it was not clear what exactly the grand jury inquiry  overseen by federal prosecutors is focused on, or when it began.

In December, following the Times report, Facebook said in a blog entry that these partnerships were necessary to enable certain social features in outside apps, like logging into a Facebook account from a Windows phone, or sharing what Spotify song you were listening to via Facebook Messenger. 

“To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC,” wrote Facebook in that blog post.

Most of those partnerships have ended over the last several years. 

The United States Department of Justice declined to comment on the report. 

SEE ALSO: Facebook and Instagram go down for hours in major outage — and it says it’s not being DDoS attacked

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The 5 Most Iconic Moments of All Time from 'Criminal Minds' – Study Breaks

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Action packed, complex and filled with memorable characters, “Criminal Minds” has been successful since it first aired back in 2005.

In celebration of the fact that it’s coming up on its final season, here are some of the most iconic moments from all the past seasons of the “Criminal Minds.”

1. Henry’s Birth

The birth of Jennifer Jareau’s first child was a monumental moment in the show, as now her newborn son has stolen the spotlight. It all starts from the Season 3, where Agent Jareau first discovers that she got pregnant by William LaMontagne, which resulted in a temporary leave from the BAU. Henry was born the following season, stealing hearts from the audience and Jaraeu’s fellow co-workers.

Throughout the seasons, Henry’s presence causes Jareau’s maternal instincts to kick in, as in a case with child poisoning in the episode “Amerithrax,” and being taken hostage and hospitalized in the episode “Run.” Despite such challenging situations, Henry’s presence created a wonderful shift in the plot of the show.

2. Haley’s Death

Haley Hotchner was formerly married to a hardheaded agent Aaron Hotchner. They separated during Season 3 when Aaron prioritized his work over his family, leading Haley to take their son Jack with her.

Haley’s death occurred during Season 5, in an episode titled “100,” and many longtime fans would agree that this is one of the most heartbreaking moments in the entire show. In this episode, Haley and Jack are being targeted by a serial killer George Foyet.

Foyet manipulates Haley by posing as a fake police officer over the phone, and then holds them hostage while talking to Aaron on the phone, who is racing against the clock, trying to get to them before it is too late. Unfortunately, Foyet shoots Haley in the neck as Jack hides upstairs, creating emotional chaos within the team of agents who are overhearing everything that is happening.

The reason this sequence of events was so memorable is because the audience witnessed the usually stoic Aaron Hotchner in tatters, clutching his ex-wife’s body and sobbing, an image that is hard to get out of the mind. Finally, Aaron safely secures Jack and manages to move on with his life, albeit shakily after these events.

3. Garcia Gets Shot

Everyone’s favorite quirky technical analyst Penelope Garcia has had her fair share of memorable moments on “Criminal Minds.” Usually, Garcia is not in the front lines alongside the other agents of the BAU; being the technical analyst, she works from behind the scenes back at the headquarters, getting the others information they need as fast as possible.

In the episode “Lucky,” an unsuspecting Garcia was shot by killer Jason Clark Battle, who managed to get close to the analyst by manipulating her to go on a date with him.

No one ever suspected Garcia to be a target for any of the criminals, as she usually never has a chance to interact with them given her position. To make matters even worse, she ended up being attacked again after being released from the hospital, proving that no one is truly safe in this business. However, to the audience’s relief, Garcia was able to take down the killer later on with the help of Agent Jareau.

4. The “Death” of Emily Prentiss

Agent Emily Prentiss was a bit of a newcomer to the show, but she still managed to fit right in given her skill on the field and knack for translations. Her determination to work alongside the BAU in their missions was noticed by the fellow workers, which is why her abrupt death in Season 6 was shocking for everyone.

To give a bit of background, the BAU had been warned that serial killer Ian Doyle had escaped from a North Korean prison, and was currently on the loose. Prentiss is warned that Doyle is coming after her, and takes as many necessary precautions as she can, including bugging her room and setting up booby traps around her home.

Unfortunately, Doyle manages to get his hands on her and keeps her hostage while recounting his horrible experiences in North Korea. What he doesn’t realize is that Prentiss has set up a ploy that has the BAU locked in on their location, and that they were on their way to save her. Enraged at the deception, Doyle attacks Prentiss, and in a scuffle manages to stab her in the stomach before escaping. The rest of the BAU are told that Prentiss did not survive the attack.

Having such a major character of “Criminal Minds” killed off like that was a huge blow to the fandom. However, it is revealed later on that Prentiss had faked the whole thing and was laying low in order to remain off of Doyle’s radar and to protect the rest of the BAU. Things were back in order, although it took some time to get there.

5. Agent Reid’s Addiction

Spencer Reid has had quite a few moments throughout the longtime series, between his socially awkward quips and his extreme intelligence. One of the most dire memories is that of Reid being held hostage by schizophrenic criminal Tobias Hankel.

This time, the criminal came up with a new torture: injecting with Dilaudid, which is a highly addictive drug that is usually used to treat severe pain. After being repeatedly injected, Reid developed an addiction to the drug. Drug addiction reached its highest level when, after Hankel was killed, Reid started going through his pockets for the remaining vials of the drug to pocket for himself.

Reid struggled with the addiction for a bit longer, often hiding in bathrooms and empty rooms to inject himself away from the others. However, it could not be hidden forever, and his fellow agents found out and encouraged him to get help. Reid was able to get clean after attending a support group, even going as far as to refuse certain types of painkillers to avoid the urge once more.

While the show is soon coming to an end, there will always be these moments that bring the fandom together to reminisce and look over. CBS is currently planning the filming for the 15th season of “Criminal Minds,” which is set to be released between 2019 and 2020.

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