A Pennsylvania federal prosecutor's office declined to say whether wiretaps or wired informants were used in the investigation of an ironworkers union in the Philadelphia area. Evidence gathered over the course of three years has been used to bring federal charges against 10 members of Ironworkers Local 401. Two of the accused individuals are business officials for the union.
It remains to be seen whether authorities will bring federal charges against an Altoona college student accused of possessing a weapon of mass destruction. According to police, the 19-year-old Russian national was under investigation for allegedly growing marijuana, but when officers entered the young man's residence, they found what they believed to be a bomb and other materials used to make explosives.
The U.S. Attorney's Office is filing a federal charge of arson on top of existing state charges in a reported arson case. The defendant is accused of setting fire to a liquor store in December after being refused service. If convicted of the federal charge, the man could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison.
Federal law enforcement authorities have made organized crime a priority over the years. One organization in particular, known as La Cosa Nostra or the mafia, has drawn the frequent and focused attention of the FBI. Amid much fanfare last week, Attorney General Holder announced that federal authorities had charged 127 individuals in 16 separate indictments who allegedly have connections with the mafia.
In our last post, we discussed possible irregularities with the Greg Brown's conviction of arson and murder charges stemming from the 1995 Bricelyn Street fire, which claimed three firefighters' lives. Brown has been serving three consecutive life sentences in prison since 1997, but is now challenging his conviction based on newly discovered evidence.
On Valentine's Day 1995, an early morning fire destroyed a rental home on Bricelyn Street. The Bricelyn Street fire destroyed the home, and killed three firefighters when they were trapped in a lower level room. They died of smoke inhalation after their air tanks ran out.