Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

10 Modern Criminals Who’ve Made a Killing

According to Gordon Gekko, a fictional criminal who made a killing, greed has "marked the upward surge of mankind." While in many instances that may be true, it has also produced some of the world’s slimiest creatures. The illegal activities of the following men (and woman) have had immense ramifications on the people surrounding them, producing fallout ranging from abrupt job loss to death. Each made a ton of money, but at high costs.

  1. Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, Mexican drug lord

    Ranked as one of the 60 most powerful people in the world according to Forbes Magazine, Guzman has accumulated a net worth of more than $1 billion through his control of large-scale cocaine shipments from Columbia to the US. During his younger years, he served as an apprentice to Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, the currently incarcerated former Mexican cartel leader who demonstrated similar ruthlessness. The ascension of his career has coincided with his ascension to the top of the FBI’s and Interpol’s most wanted list.

  2. Carlos Lehder, Colombian drug lord

    Cocaine became en vogue in the ’80s in part because of the work of Lehder, who organized its transport from Columbia to Florida using Norman’s Cay, a Bahamian Island that served as the empire’s headquarters. His plan to efficiently use small aircraft to smuggle larger quantities into the US expanded his wealth and the overall power of the cartel. He was eventually caught and extradited to the US in 1987, where he was sentenced to life without parole, later reduced to 55 years in exchange for his agreement to testify against former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.

  3. Griselda Blanco, Colombian drug lord

    Intimidating violence enabled Blanco to succeed at a man’s game, but it also led to her demise. During the mid-’70s, after immigrating to the US from Columbia with her husband Alberto Bravo, she quickly established a lucrative cocaine business in Queens. Once she was indicted, she returned to Columbia until the late ’70s, at which point she moved to Miami to take advantage of the area’s emerging affinity for cocaine. The ensuing violence during the Cocaine Cowboy Wars resulted in her fleeing to California to escape assassination attempts. There, she was arrested and imprisoned for a decade before being released and deported to Columbia.

  4. Dawood Ibrahim, Indian organized crime leader

    For almost 20 years, Ibrahim has been closely monitored by the US because of his role in the 1993 Bombay bombings and relationship with the late Osama bin Laden. His control of a complex value transferring system and involvement in narcotics trafficking has enabled him to contribute large sums of money to terrorist organizations. As with many wealthy organized crime leaders, Ibrahim has lived a lavish lifestyle in which, notably, he’s been personally entertained by famous Bollywood actors and singers.

  5. Semion Mogilevich, Russian organized crime leader

    The Russian Mafia is far-reaching and incredibly powerful, more so than any other crime organization in the world. Mogilevich, the 5’6, 290-pound head of the network, is more intelligent than your average crook, boasting a degree in economics. During the mid-’90s, he defrauded investors in YBM Magnex International, Inc, a Pennsylvania-based public company, resulting in a gain of $150 million for his organization. In 2008, he was arrested in Russia for tax evasion, but was released the next year.

  6. Brian Wright, Irish drug trafficker

    Britain’s wealthiest criminal, known as "The Milkman" because he always delivered, earned a fortune during the ’90s when he efficiently smuggled cocaine across the country, including three tons over the course of just two years. Wright was also involved in horse race fixing, bribing jockeys and doping race horses. His status and engaging personality enabled him to befriend celebrities while frequenting some of Britain’s best-known hot spots. In 2007, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for running his illegal empire.

  7. John Palmer, British timeshare swindler

    At his peak during the ’90s, Palmer amassed a fortune equivalent to just fewer than $500 million. Much of it came from timeshare developments in which he used high pressure tactics to convince timeshare owners to purchase second timeshares with the promise that Palmer and company would sale the first one at attractive rates. Of course, that never happened, and numerous customers, most of whom weren’t rich, lost lots of money in the process. In 2001, he went to prison for his misdeeds, serving half of an eight-year prison term. He returned to prison for fraud in 2007 and served an additional two years.

  8. Bernie Madoff, Ponzi scheme operator

    White collar criminals such as Madoff don’t use violence to gain power, but they certainly lie, cheat and steal. The stock broker and investment advisor introduced the term "Ponzi scheme" to the American public, as he defrauded billions of dollars from thousands of investors over the course of a few decades. The former NASDAQ chairman’s demise was initiated by own sons, who reported his activities to authorities immediately after he first revealed the secret to them — his son Mark later committed suicide in 2010. Bernie is currently serving a 150-year prison term.

  9. Dennis Kozlowski, CEO of Tyco International

    With spending habits resembling an organized crime leader, Kozlowski did little to hide the $81 million in unauthorized bonuses he received from his company. His extravagances included a $2 million birthday party thrown for his wife in Sardinia disguised as a shareholder meeting, and a $30 million New York City apartment with, among other astoundingly pricey items, a $6,000 shower curtain. In 2005, he was found guilty of 22 of 23 counts of grand larceny and conspiracy, violating business law and falsifying business records, which garnered him a prison sentence of up to 25 years.

  10. Robert Allen Stanford, CEO of Stanford Financial Group

    Stanford Financial Group, run by Robert Allen Stanford, became yet another financial services casualty in 2009 when it was revealed that the company partook in an $8 billion savings fraud. The chairman lied about CD return rates and investments, documenting hypothetical investment results as historical data in what turned out to be another enormous Ponzi scheme. Currently awaiting trial, Stanford has transitioned from the friendly confines of his home in Antigua to the unfriendly confines of a prison in Houston.

10 Worst Cases of Police Brutality in History

Police have a civic duty to protect and serve individuals, but like most people who hold a great deal of authority, their powers are sometimes abused. Unfortunately, police brutality is a common occurrence around the world, and it’s often accompanied by several other examples of police misconduct. Out of the hundreds of police brutality cases that have gone to court and gone unreported, these are the 10 worst cases in history:

  1. Robert Davis

    Robert Davis, a retired elementary school teacher from New Orleans, was arrested and brutally beaten by police on suspicion of public intoxication. On the night of Oct. 9, 2005, just a little over a month after Hurricane Katrina, Davis returned to New Orleans to check on his family’s property and went to the French Quarter to buy cigarettes. There, he was attacked by four police officers who said he was belligerent and resisted arrest by not allowing them to handcuff him. The beatings were videotaped by an Associated Press producer, who was also assaulted that night. The officers were either fired or suspended for their involvement, but many of the charges against them were cleared.

  2. Frank Jude

    In 2004, 26-year-old Frank Jude was viciously beaten by several off-duty Milwaukee police officers as he was leaving a party. The group of men attacked Jude and his friend, Lovell Harris, claiming they stole one of the officer’s wallets that contained a police badge. Harris’ face was cut with a knife, but he was able to get free and run away. Jude was repeatedly punched and kicked, as well as stabbed in the ears with a pen. Even the on-duty officer who was called to stop the fight began stomping on Jude’s head. In the state trial, the jury acquitted the three officers charged. There was a great deal of community outrage and demand for a federal investigation. The federal grand jury convicted the three officers who were originally acquitted, but did acquit the fourth officer.

  3. Steve Biko

    Steve Biko was an anti-apartheid activist and leader of the black consciousness movement in South Africa. Biko was devoted to empowering black people and ending apartheid, but his message was cut short when the outspoken leader was arrested at a police roadblock under the Terrorism Act No 83 of 1967. While in police custody at Port Elizabeth, Biko was interrogated for a grueling 22 hours, which included torture and beatings that caused him to fall into a coma. While in prison, Biko suffered a major head injury and was allegedly chained to a window grill all day. Biko was then transported to another prison with hospital facilities in Pretoria, but died upon arrival. Even though police claimed that his death was caused by a hunger strike, it was later announced that he actually died from the head injuries he received in prison. The policemen involved in Biko’s beatings were denied an amnesty by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but they were also never prosecuted.

  4. Rodney King

    In 1991, a videotape circulated around the world of Rodney King being beaten by L.A.P.D. officers after they put an end to the 8-mile high speed chase. Once surrounded, King and his two friends were ordered to step out of the vehicle and lie face down on the ground. King refused to comply, but eventually got out of the car and resisted an arrest. Once King got physical with some of the officers, they shot him with a Taser gun to knock him to the ground. He was then beaten multiple times with a baton and kicked repeatedly. The video was a media sensation and it became one of the biggest police brutality cases in history. After the state trial, three of the four L.A.P.D. officers were acquitted and the jury didn’t reach a verdict for the fourth. The acquittals sparked the 1992 Los Angeles riots and eventually led to a federal trial where two officers were found guilty and the other two were acquitted.

  5. Sean Bell

    Sean Bell was killed by NYPD detectives who fired 50 times at the car Bell and his friends were riding in on Nov. 25, 2006. On the night of the shooting, a group of undercover officers were investigating a Queens, New York, strip club that was allegedly allowing prostitution. Bell was having his bachelor party at that club the same night. Following a confrontation that happened inside the club, one of the officers overheard Bell’s friend talk about getting his gun. In order to stop a shooting from happening, the officer confronted Bell and his friends while they were in the car and ordered them to stop. Bell started to drive off and the officer thought he saw a gun in the car, so he and the other police opened fire on the car. After the nonjury trial came to an end, the judge found all three detectives not guilty of manslaughter and assault.

  6. Timothy Thomas

    Timothy Thomas was tragically shot and killed by a Cincinnati police officer, who followed the young man down a dark alley and opened fire because he thought Thomas had a gun. The 19-year-old man had 14 open warrants at the time of the shooting, and, according to Officer Roach, he was given verbal commands to stop running but he did not comply. When Thomas began lowering his arms without instruction, Officer Roach opened fire and shot Thomas in the heart with a single bullet. There was no gun ever found on Thomas.

  7. Abner Louima

    Abner Louima is a Haitian immigrant who was brutally attacked and tortured by a white New York police officer on Aug. 9, 1997. NYPD officer, Justin Volpe, took Louima into the restroom of the 70th Precinct station house in Brooklyn and sodomized the young man with a broken broomstick and then put it in his face. In court, Volpe said that he thought Louima punched him in the head during a scuffle outside of a nightclub, but also admitted that he wanted to humiliate Louima regardless. Volpe left the police force and was sentenced to 30 years in prison, and Charles Schwarz was also sentenced to 15 years in prison for assisting Volpe in the assault. This incident brought greater awareness to the ongoing pattern of white New York police officers abusing black men and overstepping their authority.

  8. Robert Mitchell

    Robert Mitchell, a 16-year-old from Detroit, was tragically killed by police who said the teen was resisting arrest after a traffic stop. Police used a Taser gun on Mitchell who was running from his cousin’s car and into an abandoned house. The Taser gun that killed Mitchell sent 50,000 volts of electricity into him. Police defended their use of the non-lethal weapon was because the teen was resisting an arrest.

  9. Amadou Diallo

    An immigrant from Guinea, named Amadou Diallo, was shot and killed by New York police officers on the stoop of his apartment in February 1999. The four officers fired 41 times into the Bronx apartment building because they thought Diallo had a gun. The undercover officers said Diallo looked suspicious and thought he might have been assisting in a robbery or other criminal activity. Diallo didn’t follow the officers’ commands and when he reached into his pocket, the officers began shooting only to find out that he was unarmed and was holding his wallet in his hand. A year later, the four officers who shot Diallo were acquitted of second-degree murder and other charges.

  10. Kathryn Johnston

    Kathryn Johnston was tragically killed by two Atlanta police officers during a botched drug raid in 2006. The 92-year-old woman was alone inside her home when the officers burst in without warning. She fired at them with a handgun, injuring three of the men, and they fired back at Johnston, striking her five or six times. The officers were told by an undercover informant that he bought drugs from a dealer there named "Sam;" however, the man who claimed to be the informant said he never bought drugs at Johnston’s house. The two police officers involved in the shooting pleaded guilty to manslaughter and several other charges, and a third officer was also indicted in the murder case.

10 Key Players in the News of the World Scandal

The world needs enterprising journalists. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, for example, relentlessly pursued information that uncovered the true depth and severity of the Watergate Scandal, forever changing how America views its president.

Muckraking is an essential component of democracy, but when boundaries are crossed for merely trivial matters, like in the News of the World scandal, people are left wondering if boundaries truly exist. The much-publicized demise of the almost 168-year-old publication and crippling of media conglomerate News Corporation due to phone hacking — and other possible illicit tactics of information gathering — has produced a bevy of key players, including a few who are already paying the price for their deeds. Here are 10 you should know:

  1. Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corporation

    A highly divisive figure because of his political ideology, Murdoch’s possible downfall has energized his detractors and opponents, even prompting one to attack him with a foam pie during a hearing with British lawmakers. The 80-year-old claimed that he was unaware of the extent of the hackings and misled by his employees, even though a former editor told Reuters that Murdoch used to micro-manage his newspapers. According to the CEO, July 19 was "the most humble" day of his life.

  2. James Murdoch, deputy COO of New Corporation

    The one-time rebellious son — who has two tattoos, dropped out of Harvard, and financially backed hip-hop record label Rawkus Records during his 20s — sat alongside his dad before the parliamentary committee, serving as little more than a sidekick as Rupert answered a majority of the questions. James has emerged as the highest-ranking Murdoch child in the company, and is considered a favorite to inherit the empire.

  3. Rebekah Brooks, CEO of News International

    Serving as editor of News of the World from 2000 to 2003, Brooks was present when missing 13-year-old schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked, a primary factor leading to the closure of the paper. During her final year at News of the World, she told the Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport that the publication made payments to police officers to obtain information. Brooks resigned from her position at News International on July 15, and she was arrested two days later.

  4. Les Hinton, CEO of Dow Jones & Company

    Rupert Murdoch was most saddened by the July 15 resignation of Hinton, who had spent more than five decades working for the media mogul as a journalist and executive. Well-liked by journalists within the company, he claimed to be ignorant about the details of the scandal, previously stating that Clive Goodman’s conduct (see below) was isolated.

  5. Glenn Mulcaire, private investigator

    Jailed in January 2007, Mulcaire resides in the middle of the scandal. The former striker for AFC Wimbledon was convicted for intercepting voicemail messages on royal aides’ and celebrities’ phones, including those of Prince William and Elle MacPherson. He drew the ire of the British public when he was accused of intercepting messages left for Milly Dowler and compiling the phone numbers of relatives of military personnel killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  6. Andy Coulson, editor of News of the World

    Coulson replaced Brooks as editor in 2003 and resigned in 2007 — he later served as Director of Communications for the Prime Minister from May 2010 to January 2011 — after the phone hacking convictions of Mulcaire and royal editor Clive Goodman. He recently reemerged as a key figure when emails were uncovered showing that he approved payments to police for information during his tenure. Arrested for his part in the scandal, he later posted bail and remains a free man.

  7. Neil Wallis, deputy editor of News of the World

    Known for his abrasive personality, Wallis is a tabloid legend, one whom Murdoch wanted on his side. He left News of the World in 2009 after six years with the paper, eventually becoming the managing director of a public relations firm while authorizing his own company, Chamy Media, to advise the Metropolitan Police. He was arrested on July 14 on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications.

  8. Clive Goodman, royal editor of News of the World

    Goodman’s column reporting on Prince William’s injured knee in 2005 initially caused suspicion about the paper’s news gathering methods, and he was imprisoned in January 2007 after he pleaded guilty to illegally intercepting phone messages from Clarence House. He was arrested again on July 8 due to allegations that he bribed police officers for information.

  9. Sean Hoare, reporter for News of the World

    Red flags were raised on July 18 when Hoare was found dead in his home in Hertfordshire, 10 months after he told the New York Times that Coulson, who has denied knowledge of phone hacking, "actively encouraged" it. A postmortem into his death, however, showed no third-party involvement.

  10. Sir Paul Stephenson, commissioner of Metropolitan Police Service

    Hiring Wallis as a consultant and accepting his offer of a £12,000 spa break at Champneys essentially ended Stephenson’s two-year reign as commissioner. Resigning July 17, he stated that his presence and questions regarding his integrity would distract the Metropolitan Police Service from its investigation into the phone hacking scandal. As he attempted to set the record straight during his final statement, he claimed that "there has been no impropriety" and that his "integrity is completely intact."

A History of the Death Penalty

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A Day in the Life of a Prisoner

Even though we consider this to be the "Land of the Free," the United States actually has 25% of the entire world’s prison population. Whether you want to devote your career to fighting crime or you are just a regular citizen getting called up for jury duty, it’s important to know what kind of fate awaits a prisoner after he’s had his day in court.

Most people get their facts about prison from movies: but given the huge number of people behind bars, our team of researchers set out to discover what exactly happens in prison. And the results were surprising. Below are some essential prison facts that every American should know.

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10 Most Controversial Prisoner Pardons in History

Every day, thousands of prisoners seek forgiveness and a lessening of their penalty through the appeals process. Those who are forgiven for their offense and released of their punishment have been granted a pardon, which is typically ordered by a head of state such as a president, monarch or church authority at the federal level and by a governor or a pardon board at the state level. The criminal justice system gives prisoners the right to appeal their convictions and bring justice to the defendant, but every once in a while some controversial pardons make their way through the cracks. Here are the 10 most controversial prisoner pardons in history:

  1. Roger Clinton, Jr.: If the name Roger Clinton sounds familiar that’s because he is the half-brother of former President Bill Clinton. In 1985, Roger Clinton was arrested and pleaded guilty for cocaine-related charges. He served more than a year in prison and was controversially pardoned more than a decade later by his brother, Bill Clinton. After his criminal record was erased, he was charged with drunk driving and disorderly conduct in two unrelated incidents.
  2. Aslam P. Adam: Aslam P. Adam was a Pakistani drug trafficker who was convicted of conspiracy to posses and distribute $1 million worth of heroin. Adam served eight years of his 55-year federal prison sentence, but was controversially pardoned by former President George H.W. Bush two days before he left office in 1993. The pardon came as a shock to all, but Bush never gave an explanation for his peculiar actions.
  3. Marc Rich: In 1983, billionaire financier Marc Rich was indicted for tax evasion and charged with 51 counts of tax fraud. The commodities trader was also in trouble for running illegal oil deals with Iran during the hostage crisis, therefore violating a US trade embargo with Iran. During his prosecution, Rich fled to Switzerland and was surprisingly pardoned by former President Bill Clinton, who claimed Rich’s charitable donations in the Middle East helped bring peace to the area.
  4. George Steinbrenner: In 1974, George Steinbrenner, the longtime owner and managing partner of the New York Yankees, was charged with 14 criminal counts for obstruction of justice and conspiring to make illegal contributions to President Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign. Steinbrenner was pardoned by President Ronald Reagan for the election law case, in which he was fined $15,000 but never served jail time. The caveat was that Reagan required Steinbrenner to admit to the crime in order to receive the controversial pardon.
  5. Caspar Weinberger: Caspar Weinberger served as Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan and was one of six individuals involved in the Iran-Contra Affair. Weinberger was suspected of participating in the transfer of U.S. anti-tank missiles to Iran, and was charged with two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice in 1992. Weinberger was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush, which stopped the legal proceedings against those involved, including the president who was also a former member of the Reagan administration. This pardon led to the Iran-Contra cover-up conspiracy.
  6. Elliot Abrams: Elliot Abrams is a former assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, who was convicted of two misdemeanor charges for withholding secret government information from Congress, concerning the support of Nicaraguan contra rebels. In 1991, Abrams was sentenced to two years of probation and 100 hours of community service. One year later, President George H.W. Bush pardoned Abrams and he was later appointed to another special assistant position by President George W. Bush.
  7. Richard Nixon: President Richard Nixon was controversially pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford, a year after his resignation. In 1974, President Ford announced the pardon on live television and explained his reasons for forgiving any crimes he may or may not have committed. Essentially, Ford wanted to put an end to the Watergate scandal and bring some relief to the Nixon family, but many believe the men had previously agreed to the pardon when Nixon resigned. Nixon continued to proclaim his innocence until the day he died, and his pardon may have been the reason why Ford lost the 1976 presidential election.
  8. Mark Felt and Edward Miller: Mark Felt and Edward Miller are known as the highest-ranking convicted criminals in the FBI because of their involvement in the 1978 invasion of Vietnam protesters’ homes and offices during the Nixon presidency. The unwarranted break-ins were done to notify the FBI and President Nixon of any suspicious activities and stop any terrorist influences among the draft dodders. Although Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department advised against it, the former president pardoned Felt and Miller for their criminal convictions. Reagan’s reasoning for the pardon was that the men were acting on an honorable mission to protect the nation.
  9. Jimmy Hoffa: Jimmy Hoffa was a labor union leader and president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union who was convicted of jury tampering, attempted bribery, and fraud in 1964. During his 13-year prison sentence, President Nixon pardoned the labor union leader under the condition that he step down as the Teamsters’ president and not manage any labor organization until March 1980. In return, Hoffa supported Nixon’s re-election campaign, but may have defied his wishes by trying to reunite with the Teamsters before his disappearance in 1975.
  10. Patty Hearst: Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst, was convicted of bank robbery in 1976, after she was allegedly kidnapped by an urban guerilla group called the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) who organized the San Francisco bank robbery. Although Hearst’s defense attorney claimed she was abused and brainwashed by the group, she was still found guilty of bank robbery. Hearst was sentenced to seven years in jail and served two before she was freed by Jimmy Carter, who commuted her sentencing. President Bill Clinton gave her a full pardon in 2001 and it became of one his most controversial presidential pardons.