Friday, October 23, 2009

Wiretaps & Bug Checks at Galleon

A week ago, Raj Rajaratnam, 52, of the Galleon Group, was arrested for alleged insider trader. Authorities said he made some $20 million on insider trading deals. The billionaire posted bail of a $100 million.

Mr. Rajaratnam says he's innocent. If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison.

The case evolves from FBI wiretaps. At first, it looked like the FBI got court-ordered wiretaps on Galleon's phones. If so, the FBI places the taps in the Central Office of the phone company, and routes the incoming and outgoing calls to FBI headquarters where they are monitored and recorded. If authorities tap the phones from the Central Office, there is no way the wiretap can be detected, even with the most sophisticated equipment. (There is a device sold on the Internet that claims to detect wiretaps downline at the Central Office, but it's claims are bogus.)

When performing wiretap and bug detection we tell people that if they think the Feds are listening to their phone calls we turn down the job. One time the owner of a chain of supermarkets called me. He wanted his office swept for bugs. Then he told me that IRS agents had raided his office the day before, and he thought that they might have left eavesdropping devices behind. I said, "I'm glad you told me that. We can't do the sweep."

Of course, the Feds don't always tap the phones. Sometimes they install electronic transmitting devices where they think they'll pick up something of interest. If you find and remove a government-placed eavesdropping device, you could possibly get charged with obstruction of justice. It's not worth accepting the job.

Now, it looks like a former employee of the Galleon Group got in caught herself for insider trading. When in trouble, some people cast the blame on another person. So, she agreed to work as an FBI informant. Published reports say that she taped four damning phone conversations with Mr. Rajartnam. Originally, I thought the FBI got a court-ordered wiretap on Galleon's phones. Now, it could be that she just installed a simple recorder on her phone, and recorded the conversations with Mr. Rajaratnam.

I always tell people, never say anything on the telephone that you don't want the world to know about. This includes cell phones, too.

Also, it's better not to break the law.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Charles Manson

Susan Atkins died in prison last week of brain cancer. Atkins, 61, belonged to the infamous Manson Family cult. She, along with others in the Manson Family, was in prison for killing 8 or 9 people. I met Atkins one time, as well as "Squeaky" Fromm, Patricia Krenwinkle, and Leslie Van Houten.

I met Manson earlier, in 1967. As an evangelical preacher (Yes, I've led a checkered past.), I was trying to convert lost souls for Jesus on Sunset Strip. One night I got into a debate with a guy who was also recruiting. Bearded, with a leather-brimmed hat, shoulder length hair that looked unclean, he was very intense.

I used to quote the Bible a lot. I tried that on him, telling him something that Jesus had said.

"I am Jesus, the son of God!," he retorted.

"Whoa!," I thought. This guy is nuts.

In trying to convert people, the law of averages applies, like a salesperson selling something. The more people you pitch to, the more you'll sell, or convert.

I decided to focus on other prospects, because I wasn't getting anywhere with this guy. I told him that my name was Skipp, and held out my hand. He shook it, and said his name was Charlie.

The next time I saw Charlie was on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.

When I met the "Manson Girls" a couple of years later, Manson had been arrested and was being held in the county jail in downtown Los Angeles. The so-called Manson Girls sat on the street holding a vigil just outside the jail. They had a Volkswagen bus that they slept in at night.

To supplement my income, I worked for the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. At lunch time I went on the street to talk to the Manson Girls. One day, they gave me a manuscript that Manson had written and signed. They said they smuggled it out of jail. They gave it to me to read, on the promise that I would return it.

Return it? I was afraid of those girls! Of course I would return it. First, though, I photocopied it, and returned the original. Somewhere I lost the photocopy. All I can remember today is that Manson didn't make any sense at all. Still, I wish I had retained it.

Susan Atkins became a born-again Christian in prison, as well as some of the others in the Manson Family. She tried to get paroled several times. Originally, she was sentenced to death, but the Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty for a while, so she was sentenced to life in prison.

When someone is sentenced, I think they should serve their full sentence. (I'm against the death penalty.) There should be no getting out for "good behavior." What about the time they misbehaved? That's what got them imprisoned. So what if they became a born-again Christian, or a devout Jew, or some other thing? Life is short. Eternity is long.

To contact me, or Sherlock Investigations, click here:

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Contact Sherlock Investigations:
Phone: 212-579-4302