FBI’s Use of Fusion GPS Dossier Problematic

Since the release of the Nunes and Grassley memos, several readers of the Spingola Files have inquired about the nuances of obtaining warrants from a court to search for evidence or to eavesdrop on electronic communications.

Based on these memos, news reports, and statements of investigative journalists, we know that, in the summer of 2016, the upper echelon of the FBI sought to obtain a court order to eavesdrop and monitor four members of “the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials.” An application to conduct intrusive electronic surveillance of the Trump campaign was made to a secretive Foreign Surveillance Intelligence (FISA) court; however, the judge declined to sign the warrant, and instructed the FBI to “narrow its focus.”

To the chagrin of its judges, civil libertarians often refer to FISA courts as “rubber stamps.” From their inception in 1979 through 2015, FISA courts have rejected just twelve of 38,169 warrant requests.

One reason search warrants and court orders are rarely rejected by judges in FISA or civilian courts is the supporting documents — typically affidavits and/or sworn testimony — are thoroughly reviewed by prosecutors or other high-level government attorneys prior to judicial review. To have a search warrant or court order rejected during a judicial review is not only embarrassing, but an indication of ineptitude or jaundice on the part of the government attorney who signed-off on the application.

In law enforcement circles, an ethical investigator or prosecutor would take any additional requests for court orders pertaining to the same target(s) back to the judge who initially rejected the request. If, for some reason, the initial judge is unavailable, an ethical agent would advise the reviewing judge that the initial request for a court order had been denied. To do otherwise is called “judge shopping,” an unethical practice of seeking out judges with a reputation of giving greater consideration to the government. At this point, we do not know if the FBI took any subsequent request for court orders regarding the Trump team back to the initial judge.

This is where the FBI’s eavesdropping of the Trump transition team gets interesting. Based on the aforementioned memos, its seems the FBI sought to beef up its previously denied FISA court application with the Fusion GPS dossier, a document that contains “salacious” and “unverified” allegations pertaining to candidate Trump. We also know the FBI used a media report from Yahoo News in its affidavit at the FISA court. However, it appears the Yahoo News story consists of sourced information leaked to the news outlet by Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled much of the Fusion GPS “Trump dossier.” Steele’s services were underwritten by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

What we do not know is what the FBI told the FISA court during its application and renewal applications for an order to eavesdrop on Carter Page, an American citizen who had done volunteer work for the Trump campaign. Did the FBI tell the judge, in writing or verbally, that the Fusion GPS dossier was actually a document paid for by the Democrats? Did the FBI represent foreign national Christopher Steele as a credible, unbiased source? Did the FBI explain to the court that Steele leaked much of the information obtained from the Yahoo News article used in its affidavit?

Even more troubling are the details from the Grassley memo, which state “a friend of the Clintons,” and other “Clinton associates” passed information to Steele, which became a part of the Fusion GPS dossier. In other words, the Grassley memo alleges that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC, in effect, paid for and supplied some of the contents of an FBI affidavit used to monitor the Trump campaign.

Though many of the aforementioned questions have yet to be answered, a hunch tells me there is a FISA court judge out there who believes the upper echelon of the FBI, and possibly some high-ranking members of the DOJ, may owe him or her an explanation.

Vince Foster: Myths & Realities

Thanks to one of Donald Trump’s rambling blusters, the strange death of Vince Foster is back in the news. On several occasions, the soon-to-be GOP Presidential nominee’s shoot-from-the-hip first and walk the bullets back later-style of campaigning has become fodder for late night comedians. Yet, on occasion, Trump — like the blind squirrel Franklin Roosevelt once cited — can find a nut sometimes.

In regards to Vince Foster, creditable investigators agree that President Clinton’s Deputy White House Counsel was found dead on July 20, 1994 in Ft. Marcy Park, a small federal government common in Virginia, just across the river from the nation’s capital. It is at this point, however, that a consensus seems elusive.

Over the course of the past week, Megyn Kelly has chided those who view Foster’s death suspiciously. Another Fox commentator, Howard Kurtz, purported that Foster left a suicide note and, thus, the case is closed. However, if Kurtz had done more than simply skim the surface, he would have learned that Reginald Alton, considered one world’s foremost document examiners, declared the note a forgery. Unfortunately, both commentators’ remarks affirm Obama administration speech writer Ben Rhodes’ perspective that only a few high profile media personalities do their own research and, instead, rely on “27-year-olds” with inadequate critical thinking skills.

Having spent 15 years conducting homicide investigations and having observed hundreds of dead human bodies in various states, the Vince Foster ‘suicide in the park’ narrative doesn’t pass the smell test. I base my professional opinion, in part, on a memo written by Miguel Rodriguez, an assistant U.S. attorney, who was the leader of Special Prosecutor Ken Starr’s team that probed Foster’s death.

In this memo, Rodriguez debunks the government-media depiction that Foster was “depressed,” and further noted that the deputy legal counsel’s involvement in the travel office scandal was minimal. According to those who spoke with Foster on the day he died, the attorney and Hillary Clinton confidant exhibited no signs of a man about to take his own life. It is, however, the state of the crime scene and some aspects of the investigation that raise red flags.

Vince Foster allegedly killed himself by placing a .38 caliber revolver in his mouth and pulling the trigger. Yet none of Foster’s teeth were chipped or broken and the gun supposedly used in the shooting was not Foster’s. Manufactured in 1913, the revolver’s frame housed two non-indigenous components and is, therefore, consistent with a “throw down” — an untraceable-type gun sometimes left at crime scenes. Since Foster owned and stored a different firearm at his personal residence, why would he defer to the relic pistol?

Even more troubling than the presence of a possible throw down-type firearm is the lack of blood, blood splatter, and brain material found at the scene. Typically, gunshot wounds to the head generate a large quantity of blood. Reports indicate that an exit wound was located in the rear of Foster’s head, which should have resulted in blood spatter and brain matter being ejected from his skull. Only a small amount of blood was found underneath Foster’s head and a smaller amount of blood was located on the right side of his shirt.

A forensic examination of the antique revolver recovered at the scene indicated that the firearm did not contain any fingerprints or fingerprint smudges; that, despite allegedly being placed in Foster’s mouth, the firearm contained no saliva; and that no blood was found inside the barrel of the gun. It is unclear whether investigators used a metal detector to search for the fatal round, which has never been recovered.

Rodriguez’s report also describes a second wound that was located on the right side of Foster’s neck. The District of Columbia Medical Examiner’s autopsy noted “the appearance of two crater-like indentations on the right side of the neck.” Based on his experience, Rodriguez attributed the marks to a stun-gun or a Taser “type weapon.” Unfortunately, quality crime scene photographs do not exist. Officers from the U.S. Park Police Service took Polaroid pictures at the scene, but every photograph taken with at least one, possibly two, 35mm cameras were “over exposed.”

Another key piece of physical evidence is Foster’s car. Investigators theorized that, based on the state of his body, Foster had been dead for about two hours when his corpse was discovered just prior to 6 p.m. But a key witness, Patrick Knowlton, who had been at the park at 4:30 p.m., told the FBI that Foster’s Honda was not present. Instead, a “Hispanic looking” man, who had occupied a brown car next to him, kept tabs on Knowlton as he entered the park to relieve himself.

Other physical evidence that serves to heighten suspicion was located on Foster’s body. “Blonde to light brown head hairs of Caucasian origin,” which did not belong to the deceased, were located on Foster’s “T-shirt, pants and belt and socks and shoes.” A semen stain, identified as Foster’s, was also found in the interior side of his boxer shorts.

Although these red flags (and numerous others not cited here) offer serious questions, conspiracy theorists discredit themselves by overreaching. Individuals stage or alter crimes scenes for a variety of purposes. One of the principal reasons for fudging or removing evidence at a crime scene is to protect the deceased, as well as his or her family, from the embarrassing circumstances surrounding a death. Based on the physical evidence, a likelihood exists that Vince Foster’s body may have been moved. At least one person noted that blood was observed inside the 6’4” Foster’s vehicle, and the front driver’s seat of the car had been moved forward to a point suggesting that the driver was about 5’8’.

Is it possible that an alleged a government cover-up is really an effort to prop up a convenient narrative? Could it be that repeating the line that there is nothing to see concerning Vince Foster’s death may simply be away to sweep some uncomfortable or highly embarrassing facts under the proverbial carpet? The odds are that we may never know.
Steve Spingola is a retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide lieutenant, an author, and an investigator for TNT’s Cold Justice

NSA Whistleblower Speaks Out: Claims NSA is Operating Outside the Law

The 29-year-old whistleblower that ripped open the NSA’s cover for an operation code named Prism—an intrusive surveillance system that scans the servers of almost 50 American tech companies to glean data on Americans—speaks out and explains why he leaked agency abuses to the media.

Edward Snowden accuses the NSA of “subverting the power of government” and said that he could wiretap anyone anytime.  Snowden debunks the “nothing to hide” mantra of the Big Brother, pro-government surveillance crowd.

Watch the interview:

In another article, the New York Times reports that several large high-tech American companies capitulated to government demands and provided data to the NSA, even though, as late as last Wednesday, several of these companies denied doing so.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

A Few Thoughts About Boston

Some observations about the terrorist acts on Boston—the second, not the first, successful attacks in the U.S. since 9/11.

People in this country react in bizarre ways. For example: gathering in a park and cheering after the second suspect was taken into custody, as if the US had won some type of international sporting event. I used the conclusion of this event as a somber moment to reflect upon the fact that two relative simpletons managed to terrorize an entire city, kill innocent civilians, and law enforcement officers.

As far as the lock down, call it 20/20 hindsight, but the tactic itself may have actually helped the suspect elude capture, as thousands of eyes remained inside. Ironically, once the “stay sheltered” ban was lifted, a set of eyes observed something suspicious. Plus, this tactic sends a message to other wannabe Jihadists that they can shutter an entire metro area with a few pressure cookers.

Certainly, the boots to the ground teams on the street did an outstanding job. However, I think this case merits a thorough, top-to-bottom policy review. Once again, all the high-tech fusion centers, NSA electronic listening, etc. failed to provide the intelligence needed to prevent the attack. The shoe bomber hopped aboard an airliner undetected; the underwear bomber successfully took a commercial flight, even though he was on the no-fly list (due to his name being misspelled by one letter); while a bombing in Time Square was prevented by a faulty detonation device and a vender who had spotted a suspicious SUV. In each of these instances, surveillance—as a means to prevent terror attacks—failed miserably.

So much for sacrificing liberty for security—a doctrine Benjamin Franklin warned against.

Sure, after the fact, video surveillance has proved valuable; although it appears private video footage broke the Boston case open. Moreover, during this investigation Americans learned that suspect #1 traveled overseas for six months, posted strange things on social media, and was red flagged by a foreign government (probably Russia), which asked the FBI to check into his activities. One would have thought suspect #1 would have been one of a hundred individuals fusion center operatives would have kept close tabs on.

So, the question needs to be asked: was the $500 billion our nation has spent since 9/11 to employ over 800,000 people and create a vast electronic intelligence apparatus worth the expense?

In the past, I have argued that surveillance does little to protect Americans.  It is like saying surveillance can prevent a homicide.  No doubt, if the police are proactive, officers can stop suspicious persons or investigate information that comes to their attention, but, at the end of the day, law enforcement generally locates the deceased, chalks out the body, erects crime scene tape, and attempts to find the perpetrator—all, of course, after the fact. If a person is intent on dying as a part of a terror attack, surveillance will do little besides enable investigators and the media to replay the blast.

What can the government do to prevent terrorism? Discontinue the surveillance of large swaths of the American populace, 99.999 percent of whom will never commit an act of terror, and, instead, focus our resources on those with a motive.  Think about it: how do the surveillance cameras mounted atop traffic control signals on 124th and Burleigh prevent acts of terrorism? Wasting taxpayer dollars to conduct surveillance of Americans diverts resources from the real problem: extremist groups and foreign nationals overstaying student visas that pose a real threat to this nation’s security.

As far as the media, they continue to report that this was the first terror attack since 9/11, which is simply regurgitating the government line.  Ft. Hood was a terrorist attack. As was the case in Boston, the assailant, Army Major Nidal Hasan, was radicalized from within and took his orders from a far. Classifying Ft. Hood as “work place violence” is akin to claiming that Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy is an immaculate conception.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

How Government Officials, Entrepreneurs & Stalkers Use ‘Back Doors’ to Monitor Your Movements

Over the course of the past year, SF has taken the mainstream media to task for its failure to inform the public about the ever expanding, post 9/11 surveillance state.

Libertarians and Constitutionalists argue that our federally elected officials used the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, committed by Islamic radicals, as a pretext to gut the Fourth Amendment protections of ordinary Americans. Some experts believe that since 9/11, the federal government has spent $350-$600 billion building a high-tech, domestic spying infrastructure designed to chronicle the day-to-day movements of virtually all individuals absent a suspicion of wrong doing.

Earlier this month, Fox News 6 in Milwaukee—to their credit—did an investigative segment on Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology.

While the Fox News 6 report does an excellent job explaining how police agencies use the technology, the segment failed to elaborate on how local, state and federal authorities plan to store and use the data captured by license plate readers installed on squad cars, bridges, toll roads, and poles along interstate highways.

At a 2010 National Institute for Justice Conference, Dale Stockton, a program manager for the Automated Regional Justice Information System in San Diego, addressed a panel of police officials and prosecutors concerning the politics of sharing ALPR data, and was recorded saying:

“We’re probably not going to have any centralized national giant bucket of license plate reader data. It probably wouldn’t stand the court of public opinion, and it’s probably something that, given where we are in the rollout cycle, wouldn’t easily be done, but we can develop regional sharing capability…”

What is this “regional sharing” initiative that Mr. Stockton describes?

“Regional sharing” is bureaucratic speak that makes use of a series of loopholes permitting law enforcement, in virtually any jurisdiction throughout the United States, to obtain the information collected by ALPRs specific to the date, time, and geographical location of any particular vehicle.

“Every law enforcement agency has a connection to Nlets,” Stockton told the conference attendees. “Nlets would serve not as a storage unit but as a pointer system, something akin to a Google, so that when you check a plate, Nlets would point you in the direction of where that plate can be found, and the result of that would be a query in one state by an investigator could give an indication of plates of interest in other states, and then that information can be pulled back in of a particular license plate.”

The Nlets network Mr. Stockton is referring to is the Web portal for the International Justice and Public Safety Network, an online, password accessible data base for authorized law enforcement users—an online file accessible to hackers.

Making “buckets” of data collected from the license plates of vehicles parked in supposedly public places or operated on public roadways is something voters, elected officials, and policy makers should openly and honesty debate. This discussion—one with huge privacy implications—can only occur when public officials—those who wish to use tax dollars to purchase the equipment and staff intelligence fusion centers—are straight forward and do not attempt to hoodwink the public and the mainstream media.

When it comes to ALPRs the issues that matter are data access, the security of the numerous data bases involved, and the length of time that the data is stored and/or available for retrieval.

In Minnesota, for example, information obtained by ALPRs is a public record.  Five organizations have filed an open records request for Minnesota’s entire 2.5 million records captured and stored in that state’s ALPR data base.

At least one of these organizations sells data to the public online. In other words, a stalker or anyone else seeking the dates, locations, and times of a particular individual would know the whereabouts of this person’s vehicle if captured by taxpayer funded ALPRs.

In Wisconsin, as the Fox News 6 report notes, an open records request made through a local police agency does reveal when and where a license plate was tagged by an ALPR.

To view a list of the Wisconsin law enforcement agencies making use of ALPRs, visit this link:

Sources claim that the Milwaukee Police Department currently has 15 squad cars outfitted with ALPRs, although none are currently attached to fixed locations within the city limits proper. Smaller police departments, such as Crivitz, Coleman, and Ripon, also have ALPRs, while larger jurisdictions—Madison, Eau Claire, and Waukesha—are in the process of applying for federal grants to cover the $15,000-$17,000 cost of a single ALPR unit.

Make no mistake about it: the annual trillion dollar deficits the federal government’s been racking-up since 2009 won’t stop local law enforcement agencies from applying for their share of ‘free money.’


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, is available at

Spingola’s soon-to-be-released book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is set for release in December 2012.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

Alleged ‘Voluntary Interview’ of Maker of Islamic YouTube Video is a Red Flag

First, it was former Marine Brandon Raub seized for a mental health exam, in the presence of federal agents, for posting lyrics from a heavy metal band and blasting the government on Facebook.  Now, federal agents have targeted the maker of the YouTube video Innocence of Muslims in order to deflect attention away from the administration’s failures to heed warnings about threats against the American diplomatic mission in Libya.

The First Amendment is sacrosanct in a functioning democracy.  These fundamental rights—freedom of speech and freedom of the press— foster a robust debate, keep government officials in check, and protect Americans from overzealous agents. 

Or do they?

Fox News legal analyst and former Judge Andrew Napolitano believes federal authorities are figuratively shredding portions of the Constitution. 

Whether it is far-reaching executive orders pertaining to immigration and control of the Internet, searches of homes absent a search warrant, consent or exigent circumstances, or the seizure of Americans for expressing their First Amendment rights, traditional American freedoms are under assault.

Judge Napolitano addresses some of his concerns in an interview with the Washington Times.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit


© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012

Why NSA is an Acronym for ‘Never Say Anything’

To view this article, please checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, available exclusively at in December of 2012.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit


© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012

Majority Report: is the Electronic Iron Curtain Call Upon Us?

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to in December 2012.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volume I, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit:


© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

Conviction in Phoenix Bombing Connects the Loose-Ends

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to in December 2012.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012



[1] Meyers, Amanada L. “Dennis Mahon Guilty and Daniel Mahon Acquitted in White Supremacist Bombing Trial.” February 25, 2012.  25 Feb. 2012.

[2] Meyers, Amanda L. “Victim of Ariz. Bombing Gives Emotional Testimony.” February 1, 2012.  25 Feb. 2012.

[3] White Supremacist Convicted of Phoenix Bomb Attack. February 25, 2012.  25 Feb. 2012.

[4] Shook, S., Delano, W. & Balch, W. Elohim City: a Participant-Observer Study of a Christian Identity Community.  Nova Religion.

[5] Michel, L. & Herbeck, D. American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh & the Oklahoma City Bombing. New York, NY. Regan Books, 2001.

[6] Jones S. & Israel, P. Others Unknown: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing Conspiracy.

New York, NY. Perseus Books, 1998.

[7] “Where there More OKC Conspirators? The Elohim City Connection.” 25 Feb. 2012.

[8] “Neo-Nazis Arrested in Mail Bombing.” Winter 2009.  25 Feb. 2012.

[9] Gubbe, Richard S. “Editorial: Ron Paul Speaks Out, wants to Repeal Part of Defense Authorization Act.” February 1, 2012. 25 Feb. 2012.

Digging-Up the Past: Attorneys Claim Gacy had Accomplices

Did John Wayne Gacy, the infamous masochistic serial killer of 33, act alone during his rampages in the 1970s? Two Chicago area defense attorneys, Robert Stephenson and Steven Becker, believe Gacy had an accomplice in at least three of the slayings[1]. These new allegations stem from an examination of Gacy’s travel records and the statement of one victim, who told investigators that another man was present as Gacy raped him prior to his escape.

 While in jail, Gacy told investigators that he was out of state when 16 of the 33 victims disappeared.  Yet  a total of 29 bodies were later discovered on his property—26 in the crawl space of his home, one under the floor of his garage, another under a barbecue pit, and a a stray below the joists to his living room[2]. After bodies saturated his property, Gacy dumped the remains of at least four others into the Des Plains River.

Attorneys Stephenson and Becker note that one of the suspected accomplices has passed away, but two men possibly parties to the crimes are still living.  “I definitely would not dismiss what they have said. It’s not out of left field. It’s well thought out,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, a former high-ranking commander with the Chicago Police Department, told

In today’s edition, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that a former girlfriend of a Gacy “pal” told police that her former boyfriend explained that he had dug trenches in Gacy’s crawl space and even new where some of the bodies were buried[3].

Illinois put Gacy to death by lethal injection on May 10, 1994.  Initially, his executioners botched the injection when an IV clogged.  The blinds to the death chamber closed for about ten minutes, at which time the deadly chemical was administered with a new IV[4]. A hardcore, unremorseful psychopath, witnesses report that Gacy’s last words were, “Kiss my ass.”[5]

It will certainly be interesting to see where this new information leads criminal investigators from Cook County.  Gacy often tortured his victims.  As investigators dug-up the crawl space to Gacy’s home, many of the remains still had ligatures around their necks.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012


[1] Pujol, Rolando. “John Wayne Gacy May have had Accomplices.” February 11, 2012.  16 Feb. 2012.

[2] Sullivan, T & Maiken, P.  Killer Clown: the John Wayne Gacy Murders.  Windsor Publishing Co., New York, NY, 1983.

[3] Main, Frank. “Women Tell of Links Between Gacy Friend and Victim.” February 17, 2012. 17 Feb. 2012.

[4] “Serial Killer Executed by Injection in Illinois.” May 10, 1994.  17 Feb. 2012.

[5] “Movie, Documentary Could be Adapted from Book by Gacy Lawyer.” December 21, 2011.  17 Feb. 2012.

Player’s Arrest Could Have Far Reaching Implications for NFL

Listening and reading the media commentary regarding the arrest of Chicago Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd is more than just entertaining—it is almost laughable.

Understandably, the story of Hurd’s arrest on serious federal drug charges is big news.  Huge stories fill a ratings book and sell newspapers.  But before commenting or writing about an arrest, these media professionals should perform their due diligence and get a grasp of the legal aspects relevant to the investigation.

Consider some of the questions raised by SB Nation “contributor” Bomani Jones as he thinks, in print, aloud:

“What happened to the marijuana?” Jones asks, before noting that Hurd went to claim $88,000 confiscated by police during a traffic stop but did not seek to reclaim the “weed.”

Even in Berkeley and Madison, marijuana remains a federally classified schedule one drug, which might explain Hurd’s alleged reluctance to stake a claim to the “weed.” Reading between the lines of various media reports it appears that investigators discovered trace amounts of marijuana on or inside a duffle bag, resulting the likely confiscation of a small amount of marijuana.  Cash, on the other hand, is legal tender and lawful to possess.

As stupid as this may sound to the average sports-minded talking head, asking for the cash could serve as a defense. Who in their right mind, a juror might reason, would ask for money back if the cash were proceeds of ill-gotten gains? Hurd makes a good, legitimate living playing football. What is so outrageous about a wealthy athlete possessing large amounts of cash? 

Media reports suggest that Tiger Woods spent good sums of money in various cities around the world during his alleged liaisons with women. Yet not one creditable news source has so much as suggested that Tiger was involved in criminal activity. The lifestyles of young, wealthy athletes are, for better or worse, much different from those of working stiffs, where a mechanic, grocer, and plumber live-and-die by the digits in their checkbooks not by the number of groupies in their hotel rooms.

In the criminal complaint, federal authorities allege that Hurd is more of a financier than hands-on drug dealer.  Investigators made use of a shadowy go-between, identified only by the initials T.L., as an intermediary between Hurd and larger drug suppliers. The purpose of the complaint is to show the probable cause required to arrest Hurd. The evidence needed to convict likely runs substantially deeper.  Rarely, if ever, will the federal government charge a high-profile defendant absent audio or video recordings illustrating the charged party’s involvement in a criminal conspiracy. 

Another interesting facet of this ongoing investigation is the possibility that other NFL players are somehow involved as either co-conspirators or customers of Hurd’s. 

The Huffington Post’s Andrew Brandt notes “…authorities claim to have a list (possibly in the double digits) of NFL clients that Hurd served.”

Hurd’s attorney disputes that a list of potential NFL customers exists. 

What is unusual in the Hurd case, however, is the pace of the investigation from its initiation in mid-July to an arrest just five months later. In most instances, agents of the federal government take years to affect arrests in drug conspiracies. Local law enforcement officers often gripe that while federal investigators spend years building big cases the targets remain involved in ongoing criminal activity directly affecting certain neighborhoods and communities. 

For whatever reason, authorities sought a quick resolution to the Hurd case.  It is only a hunch, but that “double-digit” list of potential NFL customers may be the reason. Federal prosecutors might be willing to let Hurd plead to a lesser offense—one where he serves five to ten years instead of 15 to 30—if he agrees to testify against other athletes.

To those sports-minded talking heads, here is one barometer to follow-up on. Keep an ear to the ground in an attempt to ascertain if any members of the Bears, Cowboys or other NFL teams, retain high-profile defense attorneys.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

 © Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

‘Bag Man’ a Symbol of Illinois Justice Run Amok

In a previous post, SF (Spingola Files) took a look at the “Punishers”—an alleged group of Milwaukee Police  Department (MPD) officers.  Citing an internal MPD report, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter John Diedrich strongly suggests that a rogue clique operated within the department’s ranks, even though Chief of Police Edward Flynn’s investigators consider the Punishers little more than an urban legend.

But 80 miles to Milwaukee’s south, an actual story of institutionalize police abuse has made headlines.

“Decades after young black men in Chicago first began claiming that a white policeman shocked, burned and suffocated them to get confessions,” the Associated Press reports, “ former officer Jon Burge is headed to federal prison.” 

As a Chicago Police Department commander, it is alleged that Burge used techniques that would make a seasoned Gitmo interrogator blush. 

The system, however, failed to charge Burge with criminal charges for torturing arrestees in the 1970s and 1980s.  Instead, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald charged Burge with two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury for providing false testimony in a civil lawsuit.  The plaintiff in the civil case, Madison Hobley, was convicted of starting a 1987 fire that caused the deaths of seven people, including Hobley’s wife and son.  

In court papers, Hobley contends that his interrogators—Chicago police detectives—attempted to suffocate him by placing a plastic cover over his head.  In the vernacular of its users, this highly illegal enhanced interrogation technique was apparently referred to as “bagging.” 

During testimony in the civil case, Burge denied any knowledge of prisoner abuse and claimed he never participated in such activities. The federal indictment charged Burge with lying about the torture that took place under his watch. 

Burge was subsequently convicted and, last week, sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.  U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow’s sentence was almost twice the time the recommend federal guidelines called for.  Lefkow then ripped the Chicago police hierarchy, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office and federal investigators at the time for failing to halt Burge’s bag men.

But prior to sentencing, Burge received support from former subordinates, some of whom claimed the former commander—drummed-off the police force in 1993—was a cop’s, cop who sought justice for victims of horrific crimes.

The harsh reality of institutionalized cases of police abuse, such as those sanctioned by Burge et al, serve only to discredit the police service, where detectives work long hours under difficult conditions to obtain the evidence lawfully needed to obtain criminal convictions.  The current practice of video taping confessions for serious crimes is a product of allegations of prisoner abuse.

Former Illinois governor George Ryan, who now, ironically, also calls federal prison home, took Burge’s conduct into consideration when he placed a moratorium on that state’s death penalty.

No doubt, the unjust murder convictions of Gary Gauger in McHenry County and the recent arrest of innocent off-duty police officer Brian Dorian in Will County for the ‘honeybee shootings’ paint a portrait of an Illinois criminal justice that is increasingly dysfunctional and in need of a top-down review.  Our neighbors to the south might want to use Burge’s sentence and Judge Lefkow’s harsh words a catalyst to overhall that state’s system of injustice.


Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders

If your organization is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files presentation The Psychology of Homicide.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Jacking-Up “Milwaukee Jack”

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice in Richmond, Virginia unsealed the indictments of 23 members of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club.  The charges alleged include acts of kidnapping, attempt murder, drug dealing, assault, and illegal gambling. One of the Outlaws under indictment is Jack Rosga, also known as “Milwaukee Jack,” the purported national leader of the Outlaws MC. 

The Outlaws consider themselves a motorcycle club, although many within law enforcement circles believe—since they sport colors, have bylaws, and maintain a hierarchy—this group is an organized crime outfit that meets the federal definition of a criminal enterprise. In the late 1990s, the federal government indicted and later obtained convictions of several members from the Outlaws Wisconsin chapters. The charges stemmed, in part, from at least three homicides.

The outlaw motorcycle idiom is a derivative of a July 4, 1947 Gypsy Tour motorcycle event held in Hollister, California.  Over 4,000 motorcycle enthusiasts, as well as a dozen motorcycle clubs, including the Booze Fighters, the Top Hatters, and the Pissed of Bastards of Bloomington, packed the Bolado racetrack near the city’s outskirts.

It was events in the town’s center, however, that forever etched the surly image of bad boy bikers in the minds of mainstream society.

Sponsored by the American Motorcycle Association (AMA), the number of bikers in attendance — almost the equivalent of Hollister’s population at the time — overwhelmed authorities. Over the July 4 weekend, fights, motorcycle accidents, and other acts of drunken hooliganism resulted in nearly 50 arrests and 60 injuries.  Soon, photos of intoxicated bikers filled newspapers and appeared in Life Magazine.

In response to the media attention, the secretary of the AMA, Lin Kuchler, said, “The disreputable cyclists were possibly one percent of the total number of motorcyclists, only one percent are hoodlums and troublemakers.”  Outlaw bikers quickly seized on the label and, to this day, proudly don “1%” patches and tattoos. 

The Outlaws MC is just one of a handful of large one-percent motorcycle clubs that dominate the global biker landscape. The Banditos, the Pagens, the Mongols and, of course, the Hells Angels (HAs)—the largest one-percent club in the world—round out these groups.  The Hells Angels are a club indigenous to California spun-off from the Pissed-off Bastards of Bloomington, an MC that was present during the Hollister fiasco.

In the past, Outlaws MC leaders from Wisconsin have maintained their prominence within their national organization due to the unwillingness of the Hells Angels to establish a presence in the badger state. The HAs have chapters in Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan — forming a virtual ring around Wisconsin.

In 2003, two residents of Madison became patch holders of the Rockford chapter of the Hells Angels. Within the law enforcement community, word spread that the HAs planned to open a Wisconsin chapter.  The Outlaws quickly established a Madison chapter. Before long, troubles between the Outlaws and the Hells Angels drew-in members of a non-one percent motorcycle club, the Madison based Capitol City (CC) Riders. When a member of the Hells Angels attempted to crash a party the CC Riders’ enforcer stabbed him.  Soon, HA members from Las Vegas and Minnesota descended on Madison. The trouble ended about a year later when the federal government indicted Hells Angels’ member Christopher Wilson on firearms charges. In the interim, prosecutors convicted a Hells Angels’ member of beating a CC Rider at a Madison tavern in an apparent retaliation for the earlier stabbing.

For readers interested in learning more about the biker subculture, checkout the Cozen Protocol (see the link on the right side of this page). Author Mitchell Nevin’s depiction of the fictional leader of the one-percent motorcycle club Nero’s Igniters is very enlightening, even though it serves as a backdrop for the outstanding e-book’s overall plot (for the necessary software to read Amazon Kindle books on your PC, click the link on the right of this page entitled “Free e-books to PC Download”).

From the looks of the media coverage concerning the indictment of “Milwaukee Jack” and his Outlaws colleagues, it is clear that several reporters need to pick-up Nevin’s book and bone-up on the biker subculture as well as street gangs in general.


Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010

Serial Killer in Plain Sight for All to See

To read this article, purchase The Best of the Spingola Files, coming to’s Kindle store in January 2012.

Steven Spingola is a retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, Wisconsin, 2010