Category Archives: Criminal Litigation Services

THEN THEY CAME FOR ME

As a criminal investigator, I am sometimes called on to piece together the stories of those who cannot speak for themselves—the very young and the very old. I believe in the sanctity of life. A recent spate of cases I’ve worked, combined with an uptick in news coverage for these kinds of cases, has me worried. I wonder, are we heading down a slippery slope that will take us back in time to the dark days of the Holocaust?

criminal defense investigator

The inevitable question that is asked in abuse, neglect and death cases of the very young and very old is HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN?

The Holocaust Museum, in Washington DC is a haunting and often disturbing look back in history. It’s a physical place that endeavors to answer the question with relics and artifacts. It does so much more. It challenges us to look at ourselves.

First, it’s important to understand that the slippery slope I mentioned above doesn’t start with a widespread killing mechanism. The Nazis started with sorting humanity in Germany and growing those programs in the countries that were subsequently conquered. At first there were simple charts, genealogy in nature. Your life had value if you could “prove” your “purity.” Next came medical examinations of hair and eye color. Something as common as brown eyes, or dark hair could lower your status.

The Nazis then determined who could serve in the military, and that was mandatory. The non-pure were sorted into two groups: those who could work, and those who could not. Those who could not work, included the elderly, sick and disabled.  The year was 1939, the program was dubbed  “T4”. And ultimately 90,000 disabled where euthanized. A mere 80 years ago.

From that point, the killing machine was in full force.  We know the end of the story.  The “Final Solution” ultimately killed 11,000,000 people.  Of course we know the tragic plight of the Jews , estimated at 6,000,000 deaths.  But the killing spread from the disabled, and very young, Jews, then Roma “gypsies”, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, ex-convicts, and others who resisted occupation (political dissidents).  Add in the Soviet prisoners of war, and the number exceeds a staggering 17,000,000. And, remember, it started with “mercy killings” of the disabled. (The Nazis even produced a propaganda film in which a German man kills his sick wife to encourage ordinary people to join the “cleaning” of the German race.)

A growing number of countries, including the US, have legalized assisted suicide. Although on the surface it seems reasonable to allow people who suffer from physical pain and diminished quality of life to end their lives, there is a recent shift in the “right to die” movement.  People with treatable and manageable conditions such as depression are making petitions to die. Some European countries have dealt with cases of rapists and murderers who want to die rather than face prison.

Here in the US, we face some troubling realities.  We are living longer. Our elderly are covered by Medicare, and this government insurance program approves and declines medical procedures on our aging population. Two startling statistics arise in consideration of care: 1) 5% of patients at the end of life consume 50% of the costs for Medicare, and 2) in the last 6 months of life, it’s estimated almost 30% of a person’s lifetime healthcare costs are spent. Are we at the point where cost considerations are the slippery slope I’ve mentioned?

I’m concerned also about so-called partial birth procedures. At what point do those go from voluntary  and used to spare a mother’s life to compulsory? I can see in the not-so-distant-future when, again, costs could mandate these lives aren’t cost effective.

It’s easy to say, I’m young and healthy. My insurance wouldn’t do that. The US appears to be moving to “Medicare for All.” If, and when, we become a single payer system, will all life be valued and protected? Or will we begin sorting ourselves?

German pastor Martin Niemoller wrote a poem called “First they came…”  It’s been edited and changed over the years, and originally was written to criticize the German intellectuals who did nothing as the Nazis began purging unwanted populations.

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I am not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Now, replace the words I bolded, with words that describe yourself, your friends, your religion, your politics, your race, etc. It’s a haunting reminder from just the last century.  Let’s never look back on our society and ask, “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?”

I’m hopeful we can live in such a way that respects life. All we need do is live by the “do unto others” mantra, and vote for those representatives that will continue our collective respect for life. We must hold each other accountable for the least among us. I’ve already chosen to take a stand for the weak and broken in society. I’m hopeful you will stand with me.

Invisible Wall – Correction – A strong Social Barrier

The topic of a wall is on everyone’s mind right now. Regardless of anything the President and Congress build, make no mistake—we already have a wall. The wall I’m thinking of is a societal wall, and it’s massive yet invisible. This wall is a strong social barrier. It cannot be climbed, penetrated or tunneled under.

Criminal Investigations

I bump up against this wall, too.  As a court-appointed Private investigator for criminal defendants, I see a part of society that most never will. I work for the sick, tired, poor and uneducated. Most of my clients came from unimaginable squalor, and continue to live in poverty and hopelessness that’s hard to grasp.  I see how their children suffer from the sins of their mothers and fathers. Make no mistake. The people I represent are considered a menace to society. They are desperate but gave up have stopped looking for jobs long ago. They hit the invisible wall, time and time again. At some point, their lives took a turn. I ask myself what keeps them there?

Long ago, I came up with a prayer, a mantra of sorts to help me stay focused. “Help me help myself so that I may help others.”

There is loud clamor to the south of our boarders. It extends deep into the lives of the people I’m hired to assist in criminal cases. As I peel back the layers of the lives of my clients, all I see is chaos. Eventually, though, most of the children and adults will be forced into crimes, gangs, prostitution and mental conditions. They have no hope in their native countries! But what about here, in the greatest nation? Should they have hope here?

Migrants, be they immigrants or refugees, want for a better life.  Some say we are a country of immigrants and that we have a special duty to those new residents. Others say no. That’s this bigger invisible wall I’m talking about.

Here is the question I ask often: Do we have an obligation to provide them with a place in America and give them opportunity to participate in the dream?

I figured that they want a better life and deserve a chance. That could, and should happen before they meet me. These are lost and forgotten residents.  Hidden, perhaps, behind the invisible wall.

Why don’t we do something? 

The courts and commissioners know who’s here, yet nothing is done. Their priorities are elsewhere, could be south, or making sanctuary cities helping immigrants.

That leaves us.  We must do, individually, what we can.

As they have for generations, I hope the legal migrants continue coming to American for a better life.  Also, I hope that we can help our forgotten citizens meaningfully participate in our society.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be criminals

vm escape
Let’s put this simply to begin: you don’t want your children to search the deep web or dive in the dark net. These would be, generally speaking, bad things.
In recent years, though, it’s gotten progressively easier to hide on the dark web. The code for The Onion Router (TOR) is getting a revamp in 2017, with the goal being stronger encryption — and letting administrators easily create full dark net sites that can only be discovered by a long string of essentially-unguessable characters. This could signal a next generation of hidden services. In the past, some of these sites have used a .onion address and declared that to hidden service directories. Now, it appears there will be an unique cryptographic key, and said key will be given to TOR hidden service directories. It’ll be a way for the dark net to become a bit easier to stay dark.
In the context of all this, how do you best protect your family? While some dark net sites are primarily in existence to avoid censorship in countries like China, there is a lot of non-family-friendly material on the dark web. You don’t want your children seeing a good portion of this content. How do you ensure that?
There is a fine line in these discussions, because it does involve some monitoring of your children’s activity online — and some parents don’t want to cross that line. But because of an increasing amount of pedophiles and illegal drugs on the dark web, vigilance is crucial. Some approaches include:
  • Be aware of what your kids search for/talk about with their friends
  • Check with their school to see how Internet research is being taught and monitored
  • Use the right software and trackers (I can be asked about some good options if you’d like)
  • Talk to them about the different types of content one comes across on the web
  • Explain to them explicitly what the dark web is vs. the “normal” web
  • Talk to them about the realities of cyber-bullying, which often occurs in dark web formats
Also bad, although less-discussed: many students use the dark web to cheat their way through high school, so have realistic discussions with your kids about what is happening in all their classes and how they view it contextually. If they don’t have good answers or backgrounds about what they’re learning, ask how they’re completing some of their work. If they stumble over those answers, there’s a chance dark web sites might be involved — and then you know it’s time to look at their histories.

Do users have a reasonable expectation of privacy on TOR?

On January 26, 2017, I testified in Federal court as an expert witness for the defense in a case.
The testimony was regarding The Onion Router (TOR), Dark Net, and Playpen.  The case involved Network Investigative Technique (NIT); the FBI had engaged in their Operation Pacifier, wherein, a Search and Seizure Warranted allowed FBI to seize and operate the server that hosted Playpen.  The FBI had then employed NIT to place Malware on the computer of visitors to the server that hosted Playpen.
I’ve testified in other cases before, but this was an interesting one because it brought up a lot of questions that are paramount for the current era. Namely: when a computer user uses TOR, do they have an expectation of privacy? Is that legally relevant? And should the general public look at TOR and assume an expectation of privacy?
Ultimately, the judge in this case (and others) said that users don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy on TOR. VICE explained this in a recent article too. The judge’s ruling was, in part, predicated on the idea that users give their IP address to connect to TOR; thus, the judge said, the IP address is “public information that … eventually would have been discovered.”
Now, the law is one of the slower-moving entities in terms of reacting to, and understanding, technology. I’ve seen this for years. In true form, then, they missed the boat on the TOR ruling. Users do reveal their IP address via a guard node when they log on, yes. But then TOR bounces data around the globe via different nodes, so no ISP can correlate which IP address is visiting which site.
You can technically identify a specific TOR user with advanced traffic correlation protocols, but to do so you’d have to control a massive number of nodes. It’s virtually impossible. The judge’s ruling seems to indicate that the government would have found another way to get IP addresses from TOR users, but then doesn’t talk about how that could have possibly happened. In fact, in this case the only reason the FBI was using NIT to begin with was because it couldn’t find another way to determine the true users of hidden sites.
I’m not going to come out and say that I’m a huge fan of TOR — some legitimately bad stuff happens on there hourly. But TOR users should have a legitimate expectation of privacy, and the general public should assume that expectation as well. Part of this is because people don’t understand how TOR works, and part is because of hyper-sensitivity these days around privacy issues as mobile and digital continue to scale globally. But there absolutely should be a legitimate expectation of privacy on TOR networks.

Dedicated and Fully Committed Criminal Litigation Services Help Defendants Resolve Their Case

Anyone can be charged with a crime he did not commit and face criminal prosecution. Though the US Constitution does have provisions deeming an accused not guilty until his “crime” is proven beyond reasonable doubt it does not always work that way. An accused has the right to a speedy trial according to Amendment VI and Amendment V safeguards him against self-incrimination. An accused may remain silent during questioning. Amendment IV prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. All these protections notwithstanding an accused may be convicted purely on the basis of circumstantial evidence, especially in cases where digital evidence is involved. Prosecution may not be able to unravel digital evidence or may simply ignore it. It is for the defendant to hire a competent attorney well versed in getting to the root of the matter and even being able to unravel digital data and present it in a form that stands up as compelling evidence disproving the accusations and circumstantial evidence against the defendant.

Technology is here since quite some time. However, attorneys are more focused on various aspects of the law and may be quite unfamiliar with handling digital data, especially in instances of cyber crimes such as Ponzi schemes, bank frauds and white collar crimes. This is where services of an expert in computer and digital forensics prove to be invaluable.

Litigation, whether civil or criminal, is a drawn out and expensive affair. If, at the end, a wrongly charged defendant loses, he stands to spend time in prison, pay a hefty fine or both. In addition, his reputation is besmirched and he loses his social standing as well as his job. If convicted, once returned to society he cannot regain his previous status. He is marked forever. This may never have happen if he had the benefit of expert investigative assistance. Employing experts in examining witnesses, compiling testimony, unraveling digital data and even appearing on the witness stands can turn the tables in favor of the defendant.

One such organization committed to helping wrongly accused defendants is ICFECI. Dan James, an expert in computer forensics and a certified fraud examiner powers ICFECI and pursuance of its goals to provide investigative and adequate representation of defendant services under Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 3006A. If any one is embroiled in a criminal case as accused and has retained a lawyer for criminal litigation services then ICFECI provides indispensable investigative support that will help the lawyer defend the case for his client. Dan has a BS in criminal justice, is a licensed private investigator and has a wealth of experience in conducting investigations as well as compiling evidence. He and his team of experts at ICFECI diligently pursue every lead in order to prepare a rock solid defense. ICFECI’s expertise in computer and digital forensics proves especially invaluable in cases where digital data is involved. An individual may be wrongly involved through indirect, circumstantial inferences by authorities but Dan and his team unravels digital data to disprove such allegations.

Computer forensics is but one part of compiling evidence to support defendants by ICFECI criminal litigation services; examining witnesses and pursuing a paper trail as well as appearing on the stand as an expert witness are the other aspects. ICFECI and its team never give up even if the case appears to be hopeless. People wrongly accused of crimes have trusted ICFECI and have been acquitted.