Thursday, February 17, 2005

A day after we posted the lockdown at Pelican Bay, Andy Furillo writes about more lockdowns in the Feb. 16, issue of the Sacramento Bee. We already mentioned the Bay lockdown that allegedly uncovered a plot by the Eme to kill three correctional officers. Furillo adds that "skinhead" inmates at New Folsom (we're assuming the AB here), were also planning to attack or kill COs at that institution. This was planned as a retaliation for the November '04 shooting death of inmate Wade Shiflett. Shiflett was shot while he was in the process of attacking another inmate.

And there was supposed to be another plot on COs in Chino, this one organized by the EAST COAST CRIPS.

If you accept all this, it appears that every major ethnic group in the California prison system is pissed off about something and ready to take it out on the COs. Prison officials are saying that there's no connection between these alleged plots. The ethnic gangs each had their own reason for the planned attacks.

It's pointless to speculate what's going on behind the walls. These three plots could be a big coincidence or the beginning of a general resistance movement sparked by prison conditions. We'll update if we hear more.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

We're a little late on this one. Two days, late. But we waited until we had something more than the bare bones reported in the press about the lock down in Pelican Bay. What the CDC has released to the public is that they uncovered a plot to assassinate three corrections officers and the prison would stay locked down until they complete the investigation. The LA Times didn't report who planned to do the hits or why.

We still don't know why but we've been reliably informed that the plotters are all Eme brothers. So far, prison officials have confiscated four prison-made weapons (we assume they're shanks) but COs are looking for at least ten more. It sounds like there was a snitch in the mix.

With the information we have in hand, we're not ready to believe that there actually was a conspiracy to kill three COs. It's possible, of course, but it doesn't seem to make sense. First of all, greenlighting COs is bad, bad, bad for business. The whole institution is locked down. Virtually all communications, except with lawyers, is banned. All privileges are suspended and pretty much the entire system grinds to a halt. Plus consider the aftermath of three greenlights on COs. Talk about a shit storm of heat directed like a flamethrower at every shot caller and camarada. There doesn't seem to be much percentage in it for the plotters.

So if it wasn't an aborted plot, what was it? One possible scenario that comes to mind is that POs were handed misinformation by somebody who suddenly found himself in the hat and needed immediate PC. He comes up with a wild story, he's put in PC and starts debriefing. Whether his story is true or total bullshit doesn't matter. He shot his mouth off and that qualifies him for PC. Maybe it was even misinformation he was "ordered" to provide to get POs to put some enemy under the microscope.

Another possibility is that POs used the pretext of an assassination plot to go after somebody that needed going after but didn't want to make it look like they were targeting this particular person or persons. So POs do a general lockdown, toss everything and everybody and come up with what they were looking for in addition to all the other stuff they find in the course of searches. It's been done before in prison and on the street.

The scenarios, while not infinite, can get fairly extensive. And practically anything you can think of already has a precedent. If we've learned anything about the pinta and the people who live there is that truth is way stranger than fiction.
We don't generally cover non violent crime on these electronic pages, but I just came across a new book that just floored me. Don't let the title, GOD WANTS YOU TO ROLL, throw you. It's got nothing to do with religion. What it has to do with is one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated in American history. And it started right here in Los Angeles. Compton, to be exact.

Written by JOHN PHILLIPS III, GWYTR tells the tale of two friends from Compton, ROBERT GOMEZ and JAMES NICHOLS, both still in their teens when they got the idea for the scame. By cunning and force of personality, they managed to convince thousands of victims that GOMEZ had inherited a vast fortune worth $411 million. Part of that inheritance was in the form of cars that ostensibly belonged to GOMEZ's adopted father, a devout Christian.

The way GOMEZ told his tale to church groups was that the hundreds of cars in the collection were earmarked by his late adopted father for Christians, church-going folks who believed in Jesus and miracles. The cars were tied up in probate but victims were told they could sign up, for a fee ranging from $1000 to $10,000, to reserve a car and to cover the shipping and registration expenses. The cars ranged from beaters to Maseratis and Bentleys.

To make a long story short, Gomez and Nichols took in over $21 million over a few years for cars that never existed.

If this story wasn't absolutely true, nobody would believe it as a work of fiction. It's impossible to imagine that thousands of otherwise smart, legitimate and sometimes even dubious people could be so sucked in by a story supported by nothing more than "legal" forms purchased for $1.99 from Staples. This is an amazing read. A real page-turner as they say. I was up until 3:00 AM.

Unlike most of the criminals we discuss in inthehat, Gomez and Nichols weren't hooked up with any neighborhood. They were independents. And they never used a gun, knife or a fist to collect the kind of money that big,violent criminal enterprises can only dream about. And they never spilled a drop of a victim's blood. The most powerful weapons thesse two scam artists used were the victims' faith and, frankly, their greed. You know what they say about something that sounds too good to be true. Apparently, none of the victims paid any attention to that old saw.

Ultimately, Gomez and Nichols caught 20-year sentences for the fraud but the ride that landed them in prison is worth reading about. Frankly, the kind of money generated by drug dealing, murder and extortion pales in comparison to the kind of money that can be made by using your head. We wouldn't be surprised if this book isn't already on some film producer's desk waiting for a production deal from a studio. It'll make an awesome movie. Another CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.