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Saturday, August 13, 2022

The Andrew Nisbet Murder-For-Hire Case

     In 2006, 24-year-old Andrew Michael Nisbet began working as a golf instructor at the Las Positas Country Club in Livermore, California, a suburban community 45 miles east of San Francisco. He quickly became a popular and well-known golf coach. Within a few years Nisbet was promoted to Director of Instruction. During this period he taught pre-teen and teenage golfers from the bay area as well as from Michigan, North Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama.

     On December 7, 2013, the day before Mr. Nisbet was to receive the PGA's Northern California Section 2013 Junior Golf Leader Award, police officers showed up at the country club and took him into custody. An Alameda County prosecutor had charged Andrew Nisbet with 65 counts of child molestation that included lewd acts and oral sex with three of his former golf students during the period 2009 to 2012. The boys were between the ages twelve and sixteen.

     The alleged sex offenses took place in Nisbet's parked car at the country club, at his home and on out-of-town golfing trips. According to the criminal complaints, the coach bought his victims expensive golf equipment, took them to restaurants and showed them pornography on his computer. Whenever one of the boys rebuffed his advances the gifts and other perks would stop.

     Following his arrest, Andrew Nisbet reportedly confessed to the commission of lewd acts. He was booked into the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, California. The judge denied him bond.

     In late February 2014, from his jail cell the golf coach began exchanging letters with a man Nisbet hoped would murder his three accusers. In the correspondence Nisbet and the potential hit man discussed how much it would cost to kill the three murder-for-hire targets. He said he wanted them "taken care of."

     The solicited trigger man took Nisbet's letters to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. Shortly thereafter an undercover officer posing as a hit man visited Nisbet at the Santa Rita Jail. During these tape recorded conversations Mr. Nisbet provided the undercover cop with personal information about the targets of his homicidal wrath. The phony hit man told Nisbet he would make the murders look like robberies gone wrong.

     In April 2014, the Alameda District Attorney's Office charged the 32-year-old golf coach with three counts of solicitation of murder.

     In September 2014, Andrew Nisbet pleaded guilty to three counts of solicitation of murder. A month later an Alameda County judge sentenced him to 27 years in prison.

     Parents of the victims expressed dismay and disgust at the leniency of Nisbet's sentence. "This is a sick man who should never be released," wrote one of the parents.

The Jimmy Lee Dykes Hostage Case

      In 2011, shortly after moving into his rural house in Midland City, Alabama, a town of 2,300 not far from Dothan in the south east corner of the state, 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes began building his underground storm shelter. The retired truck driver and Navy veteran worked on the project every day between two and three in the morning for eighteen months. He stocked his underground sanctuary with food, wired it for electricity and moved in a TV set and other amenities.

     People who live near Mr. Dykes considered him a neighbor from hell. Paranoid, combative and violent, Dykes, pursuant to a variety of neighborhood disputes and feuds, had threatened to shoot people. He patrolled his property at night with a flashlight and a shotgun and had fired two shots at a pickup truck occupied by two people who reside in the area. As a result of that incident Mr. Dykes had a court appearance in nearby Ozark, Alabama where he faced a charge of menacing. If convicted of the misdemeanor he faced up to six months in jail.

     On Tuesday January 29, 2013, the day before his court appearance, Jimmy Lee Dykes became more than just an armed eccentric who hated people. At 3:40 in the afternoon he boarded a school bus near his house carrying twenty-two elementary school children. He pulled out a handgun and ordered the children out of the vehicle and grabbed a 6-year-old boy who was so frightened he fainted. When the bus driver, 66-year-old Charles Poland, Jr. tried to save the child  Dykes shot him four times. (Mr. Poland later died from his wounds.)

     From the hijacked bus Jimmy Lee Dykes took the boy to his underground bunker which became the site of an ongoing hostage standoff. A short time later the underground fort was surrounded by local, county and state police officers as well as a SWAT team and paramedic crews. FBI hostage negotiators also responded to the scene. Officers blocked-off several roads in the area.

     The abducted boy's parents were doubly concerned because the child required medication that had to be taken daily. At one point officers dropped the boy's medication into the bunker through a PVC pipe. Mr. Dykes assured the hostage negotiators that the boy was not injured.

     Thirty-six hours into the standoff a hostage negotiator said, "Give up. You need to exit the shelter, put down any weapons you might have and approach the police. This isn't going to end itself. You need to come out and talk to us. We are not going away."

     On February 4, 2013 at three in the afternoon FBI agents stormed the bunker, killed the hostage taker and rescued the boy. 

Friday, August 12, 2022

The Pamela Phillips Murder-For-Hire Case

     In 1986, Gary Lee Triano, a well-known real estate developer in Tucson, Arizona made the mistake of his life when he married 28-year-old Pamela Phillips. Triano had made millions investing in bingo halls and slot-machine parlors in Arizona and California. He made his fortune before Congress authorized Native Americans to open full-blown gambling casinos.

     In 1992, when Triano was broke, his wife of six years divorced him. The couple had two children. Shortly after the breakup Pamela Phillips took out a $2 million insurance policy on her ex-husband's life. She moved to Aspen, Colorado where she began working as a real estate agent. It was there she met and began dating a 44-year-old man named Ronald Young.

     In 1994, Gary Triano, $25 million in debt, filed for bankruptcy. He told his girlfriend in July 1996 that someone had been following him.

     At 5:30 PM on Friday November 1, 1996, after playing a round of golf at the Westin La Paloma Country Club with his friend Luis Ruben, Mr. Triano climbed behind the wheel of his 1989 Lincoln Town Car. Eight minutes after pulling out of the country club parking lot the vehicle exploded and burst into flames. The blast killed Gary Triano instantly.

     Investigators determined that someone had wired a large black powder pipe bomb to Mr. Triano's car. Detectives interviewed the ex-wife and others but ended up with no suspects in the case A year later the case went cold.

     In November 2005, nine years after the car bombing murder of the ex-millionaire, Tucson detectives caught a break in the form of an anonymous tip. According to the tipster, Pamela Phillips had paid Ronald Young $400,000 to murder her ex-husband. The hit man had been compensated out of the $2 million life insurance payout that had gone to Phillips.

     FBI agents in Florida uncovered information connecting Ronald Young and Pamela Phillips in the Triano murder plot. The evidence included incriminating emails between the hit man and the mastermind, detailed records of their business transactions, meetings and even recorded telephone calls in which the two discussed the murder plot.

     Ronald Young, charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, went into hiding and became a fugitive.

     In September 2006 FBI agents raided Pamela Phillips' house in Aspen, Colorado. On her computer agents found evidence of her involvement in her ex-husband's murder. However, before she was taken into custody, the murder-for-hire suspect fled the country and took up residence in Austria.

     Gary Triano's two children, in November 2007, sued Pamela Phillips and Ronald Young for the wrongful death of their father. (The plaintiffs were awarded $10 million in damages two years later.)

     On October 2008, after Ronald Young was featured on the TV show "America's Most Wanted," FBI agents arrested him in California. The suspected hit man was now 66-years-old. Upon his extradition to Arizona the authorities booked him into the Pima County Jail. The judge set his bond at $5 million. Mr. Young pleaded not guilty to the charges of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder.

     A jury in March 2010 found Ronald Young guilty as charged. The judge sentenced him to life in prison without the chance of parole.

     In December 2010 government officials in Austria agreed to extradite Phillips to the U.S. on condition she would not, if found guilty, be sentenced to death. Prosecutors in Arizona agreed to this condition and the fugitive was sent home to face trial.

     The Pamela Phillips murder-for-hire trial got underway in February 2014 in Tucson, Arizona. Prosecutor Nicol Green portrayed the defendant as a cold-blooded gold digger who hired a former boyfriend to kill Mr. Triano for the life insurance money.

     Defense attorney Paul Eckerstrom painted his client as a victim of overzealous law enforcement. As a successful real estate agent in her own right, the lawyer claimed his client didn't need Triano's insurance money. Regarding the $400,000 she had paid Ronald Young, Eckerstrom characterized the transaction as payment for Young's help in various business ventures.

     In speculating who may have bombed Triano's Lincoln Town Car, attorney Eckerstrom said, "Gary Triano lived on the edge, the financial edge…He borrowed a lot of money from all sorts of people, many people who might be connected to organized crime."

     On April 8, 2014, the jury found Pamela Phillips guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. On May 22, 2014 the judge sentenced her to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Upon hearing her fate Phillips turned to the gallery and said, three times, "I'm innocent!" 

The Pyle Mansion Fire

     Donald Pyle and his wife Sandra lived on Childs Point Road in Annapolis, Maryland in a 16,000 square-foot waterfront mansion. The massive house, built on an eight-acre tract of land, featured seven bedrooms and as many bathrooms. Mr. Pyle, the chief operating officer of ScienceLogic, an information technology company located in Reston, Virginia, had grown up in Baltimore County north of the city. The 55-year-old had attended Delaney High School and graduated from the University of Delaware. Prior to accepting the position at ScienceLogic, Donald Pyle had been the chief executive of IT companies in Pittsburgh and Annapolis.

     At three-thirty in the morning of Monday January 19, 2015, firefighters responded to what turned out to be a four-alarm fire at the Pyle mansion, a massive house referred to by neighbors as "The Castle." By the time 85 firefighters brought the blaze under control at seven that morning the $6 million dwelling had been reduced to rubble in what had been an extremely hot fast-moving fire.

     Although rescue personnel were unable to immediately sort through the debris due to heat and unstable structural conditions, investigators believed Mr. and Mrs. Pyle and their four visiting grandchildren, all uncounted for, had died in the fire.

     The search for bodies and evidence of the fire's cause and origin--traces of accelerants, multiple points of origin and abnormal burn patterns--was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and investigators with the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office. Bomb and arson dogs as well as cadaver canines augmented the fire scene inquiry.

     Construction of the mansion had been completed in 2005 before the state mandated home sprinkler systems. Had it been otherwise, the fire damage might have been minimal.

     On Wednesday evening January 21, 2015, fire investigators accompanied by a cadaver dog located the bodies of two people. Preliminary reports indicated the remains belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Pyle. The charred bodies were sent to the Maryland State Medical Examiner's Office for identification and autopsy. Fire investigators wanted to know, among other things, if the couple had been alive at the time of the fire.

     According to media reports, there had been no police activity at the residence prior to the fire. Moreover, there was no record of lawsuits, financial trouble or marital discord associated with the family.

     The four missing children, Wes 6, Charlotte 8, Katie 7, and Lexi 8, were the offspring of Mrs. Pyle's two sons from a previous marriage. On Thursday January 22, searchers found two more bodies. The next day the authorities recovered the remains of another child. Searchers located the sixth and final body on Monday, January 26, 2015.

     The exterior of the Pyle mansion was built of stone in the tradition of a castle. Stone was used in the construction of the dwelling's interior as well. The fast development of the inferno, the extreme heat and the total destruction of the structure required an answer to how, in the context of an accident, the fire had started.

     Following an extensive fire scene investigation the authorities, months after the tragedy, determined that the source of the fire involved a corroded electrical outlet near the Christmas tree. The heat from the electrical short ignited the skirt beneath the tree. Flames shot up the 15-foot Frazer fir and spread quickly along the ceiling. Investigation revealed that while Mr. Pyle tried to extinguish the blaze his wife tried in vain to save the grandchildren. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Talking Parrot Murder Case

     In 2015, Martin "Marty" Duram and his wife Glenna resided in Sand Lake, Michigan, a village of 500 in the southwestern part of the state. In their mid-forties, the couple had been married 15 years. They each had children from previous marriages.

     According to their children, and people who knew them, the Durams, both quick tempered, argued a lot over money. They had a so-called love-hate relationship.

     Glenna Duram liked to gamble at local casinos. In 2010 she lost $75,000 to the slot machines. In April 2015 Mr. Duram learned to his shock and dismay that their house was in foreclosure. Glenna Duram, instead of paying their bills, had gambled the money away.

     On the night of May 13, 2015, police and emergency personnel were summoned to the Duram house following a shooting. Officers found the couple in their bedroom lying next to each other. Mr. Duram had been shot five times. He lay dead among six shell casings. Mrs. Duram had a superficial head wound and was conscious.

     When asked by the police who shot her and her husband, Glenna Duram said she didn't know. She also became combative when paramedics tried to take her out of the house for medical treatment. She kept yelling, "Why are you doing this to Marty."

     Police officers at the scene found no evidence of forced entry, and nothing had been taken from the house. Mr. Duram was found clutching a clump of hair. Officers also discovered, in the living room, three manila envelopes containing suicide notes signed by Mrs. Duram and addressed to her children. In these notes she apologized for being such a disappointment.

     The dead man's parents, Lilian and Chuck Duram, told the authorities they believed Glenna Duram had murdered their son during a violent argument. At this point the police suspected a failed murder-suicide. When questioned again by the police after she had fully recovered from her head wound, Glenna Duram still claimed to have no memory of the shooting.

     Soon after the murder, Christina Keller, Mr. Duram's ex-wife, took custody of Bud, the former couple's 20-year-old African Gray parrot. In late May 2015, Bud began squawking in voices that sounded like a man and a woman arguing. In the man's voice, Bud said, "Don't f…ing shoot!" Christina Keller video taped the parrot's crime scene re-creation for the police.

     In July 2017, a Newaygo County jury, after deliberating a day and a half, found Glenna Duram guilty of murdering her husband in the first degree. A month later the judge sentenced her to life in prison.

     While Bud didn't take the stand for the prosecution, Christina Keller testified on the parrot's behalf.  

Donald Harvey: America's Worst Angel of Death

     In 1975, after working briefly as a hospital orderly in Lexington, Kentucky, 23-year-old Donald Harvey took a job with the Veteran's Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. As the years passed, a pattern emerged. When Harvey was on duty, patients died. Finally, after ten years, and the deaths of more than 100 patients on his watch, the orderly was fired. He was terminated because several hospital workers suspected he was poisoning patients under his care. After Harvey left the medical facility the death rate plummeted. Terminating Donald Harvey turned out to be good medicine, at least at the VA hospital.

     Shortly after his firing Mr. Harvey was hired across town at Drake Memorial Hospital where the death rate began to soar. As he had done at the VA facility, Donald Harvey was murdering patients by either lacing their food with arsenic or injecting cyanide into their gastric tubes. The deaths at Drake Memorial, like those at the VA hospital, were ruled as naturally caused fatalities. While suspicions were aroused, it was hard to imagine that this friendly, helpful little man who was so charming and popular with members of his victims' families could be a stone-cold killer.

     As clever and careful as Harvey was, he made a mistake when he poisoned John Powell, a patient recovering from a motorcycle accident. Under Ohio law, victims of fatal traffic accidents must be autopsied. At Powell's autopsy an assistant detected the odor of almonds, the telltale sign of cyanide. This was fortunate because most people are unable to detect this scent. The forensic pathologist ordered toxicological tests that revealed that John Powell had died from a lethal dose of cyanide. Donald Harvey had been the last person to see Mr. Powell alive, and John Powell would be the last person he would murder.

     The Cincinnati police arrested Mr. Harvey and searched his apartment where they found jars filled with arsenic and cyanide and books on poisoning. Notwithstanding this evidence, the Hamilton County prosecutor believed that without a confession there might not be enough evidence to convince a jury of Harvey's guilt. The suspect, on the other hand, was worried that if convicted he would be sentenced to death. So the serial killer and the prosecutor struck a deal. In return for a life sentence Donald Harvey confessed to the murders he could remember. Over a period of several days he confessed to killing, in Kentucky and Ohio, 130 patients.

     When asked why had he murdered all of those helpless victims, the best answer Harvey could muster was that he must have a "screw loose." Forensic psychologists familiar with the case speculated that the murders had given Harvey, an otherwise ordinary and insignificant person, a sense of power over the lives of others. Harvey pleaded guilty to several murders and was sentenced to life.

     On March 28, 2017, Donald Harvey was found severely beaten in his cell at the Toledo Correctional Institution at Toledo, Ohio. Two days later, the 44-year-old died from his injuries. In May 2019, fellow inmate James Elliott was charged with Mr. Harvey's murder.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Actor Lillo Brancato's Role In A Police Officer's Murder

     In 1993 a 17-year-old actor from the Borough of Yonkers in New York City named Lillo Brancato Jr. starred with Robert DeNiro in the movie "A Bronx Tale." Brancato, in 2000, appeared as a minor character in the HBO series "The Sopranos."

     On December 10, 2005, Brancato and an accomplice, Steven Armento, broke a window at an unoccupied home in Pelham Bay Queens. The 29-year-old actor and Armento were looking for drugs.

     Daniel Enchautegui lived next door to the house Brancato and Armento were breaking into. The 28-year-old New York City patrolman with three years on the force had just arrived home following his 8  PM to 4 AM shift. When the officer heard the sound of breaking glass he called 911 and went outside to investigate. It was 5:15 in the morning.

     Steven Armento, when confronted by Enchautegui, shot the officer in the chest. Enchautegui returned fire, wounding both of the intruders. Physicians at the Jacobi Medical Center pronounced the police officer dead.

      Lillo Brancato and Steven Armento were tried separately for the officer's murder in 2008. A jury found Armento guilty of first-degree murder. A judge in 2009 sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole.

     At Lillo Brancato's trial, the defendant admitted breaking into the house with Steven Armento to score drugs. Mr. Brancato also testified that he was going through heroin withdrawal that day.

     Pursuant to the felony-murder doctrine, if a person is killed during the commission of a felony, all of the participants of the crime can be held culpable for the death. Under the law, the fact Mr. Brancato wasn't the one who pulled the trigger did not exempt him from legal culpability for the officer's killing.

     The jury acquitted Brancato of burglary and felony-murder. They did find him guilty of attempted burglary. The judge sentenced Mr. Brancato to ten years in prison, but gave him credit for the three years he spent in jail awaiting his trial.

     Lillo Brancato, on December 31, 2013, after agreeing to a five-year period of parole that included a ten PM curfew, walked out of the Hudson Correctional Facility.

     Brancato's early release angered members of the New York City Police Department as well as relatives of the slain police officer. In speaking to reporters a spokesperson for the New York Patrolman's Benevolent Association said: "It is our firm belief that Lillo Brancato is guilty of the murder of police officer Daniel Enchautegui even though he was only convicted of attempted burglary."

     Enchautegui's sister, Yolanda Rosa, said, "I'm still upset that Brancato was not convicted of murder and that he did not serve enough time."

    In 2018, Lillo Brancato starred in the Netflix documentary, "Wasted Talent," a film that chronicled his time in prison, his decision to get off heroin and his struggle to redeem himself.

The Thomas Gilbert Jr. Golden Boy Murder Case

     Thomas Gilbert Jr. had all of the advantages in life but one--mental health. His father, a managing partner in a successful New York City hedge fund firm, sent him to an expensive prep school in Massachusetts and later to his alma mater, Princeton University. Upon his son's graduation from Princeton, Thomas Gilbert Sr. paid for the young man's high-end apartment in Manhattan's fancy Chelsea neighborhood. The ivy league golden boy also received a family allowance of $1,000 a week.

     Early in 2014, frustrated with his son's inability to stand on his feet financially, Thomas Gilbert Sr. cut the 28-year-old's weekly allowance to $800. By the end of that year, young Mr. Gilbert's allowance had dwindled to $300.

     On January 4, 2015 Thomas Gilbert Jr. showed up at his parents' posh Turtle Bay Manhattan apartment. He informed his mother Shelley that he needed to talk to his father about business. To get his mother out of the apartment, he sent her on an errand to fetch him a sandwich and a Coke.

     Upon Shelley Gilbert's return to the apartment with the sandwich and soft drink, she found her husband on the floor with a fatal gunshot would to his head. The handgun used to kill the victim was resting on his chest.

     Homicide detectives with the New York City Police Department acquired surveillance camera footage showing Thomas Gilbert Jr., about fifteen minutes after his mother found her dead husband, leaving the apartment building wearing a hoodie and carrying a gym bag.

      Not long after the fatal shooting in the Gilbert apartment, detectives arrested Thomas Gilbert Jr. for the murder of his father.

     The Thomas Gilbert murder trial got underway in Manhattan in late May 2019. The issue wasn't whether the son had shot his father to death, but whether or not, at the time of the shooting, the defendant was legally insane. (Legal insanity is not the same as clinical insanity. To be legally insane the defendant must be so mentally impaired he or she was unable to distinguish right from wrong. This is such a high bar few defendants claiming the defense succeed in proving it.)

     In an effort to establish the insanity case, defense attorneys put on the stand the therapist who had been treating the defendant. According to this witness the defendant suffered from "paranoid thoughts" and had been prescribed anti-psychotic medication.

     The prosecution did not deny that the defendant had a mental problem. The prosecutor argued, however, that notwithstanding the defendant's mental condition, he was sane enough to know that shooting his father to death was an act of criminal homicide.

     In late June 2019, the Manhattan jury found Thomas Gilbert Jr. guilty of second-degree murder, a conviction that could put the 34-year-old in prison for life.

     Cases like this are difficult because it is impossible to know the degree to which the defendant's mental illness played in the murder. Was he driven by his sickness or was he simply a spoiled jerk?
     In August 2019, the judge sentenced Thomas Gilbert Jr. to 30 years to life.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

The First Date From Hell

      In 2012, Mr. Efren Molina experienced a similar version of what Clint Eastwood and Michael Douglas experienced in the classic film thrillers, "Play Misty For Me" (1971) and "Fatal Attraction" (1987). In both movies Eastwood and Douglas scored quickly with women they didn't know who turned out to be violent psychopaths who reacted badly to rejection.

     On Tuesday evening, November 20, 2012, 39-year-old Efren Molina, a week after meeting Jillian Martone, took the 35-year-old out to dinner in Boca Raton Florida. It was their first date. Following food and drinks the couple returned to Molina's apartment.

     Shortly after midnight things turned ugly when Martone referred to herself as Molina's girlfriend. Taking exception to that characterization of their relationship, he corrected her. She flew into a rage. Molina asked his date to leave the apartment, but instead of stomping out of the place Martone allegedly punched him in the face, then tried to stab him with a kitchen knife.

     After disarming the furious woman, Molina told Martone to leave his apartment. She refused. Molina and his roommate had to drag the screaming woman down the stairs and out of the building. Moline returned to his apartment and called the police.

     Before the police arrived at the apartment complex Jillian Martone threw two rocks that smashed Molina's window. When officers with the Boca Raton arrived at the scene they found a hysterical Martone still outside Molina's building.  After questioning Molina and Martone the police took the woman into custody.

      Jillian Martone was charged with aggravated assault with intent to kill, battery and burglary. (Why burglary? Once she refused to leave the apartment she became an intruder.)

     This was not the first time Jillian Martone had run afoul of the law. In January 2011 she had been arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct and causing a public disturbance. Three months later, the police took her into custody on charges of DUI and possession of a harmful drug without a prescription.

     While first dates are risky and don't always turn out well, not many end up with bloody faces, broken windows and hysterical women being hauled off to jail on charges of aggravated assault. It could have been worse. Who knows what would have happened had there been a second date. (The disposition of this case is not on the Internet. In all probability the charges were dropped in exchange for some kind of mental health treatment.)   

The Stripper Club Credit Card Scam

     Dr. Zyadk Younan, a cardiologist from Homdel New Jersey, refused to accept responsibility for $135,000 in credit card debt he had supposedly incurred in early 2014 at a strip club in Manhattan New York called Scores. Dr. Younan claimed that strippers at Scores had spiked his drinks with drugs to incapacitate him while they swiped his credit card without his authorization or knowledge. Had the physician's credit card tab not been so outrageously high, his claim of victimhood may have fallen on deaf ears.

     In the spring of 2014, DEA agents and officers with the NYPD launched an undercover investigation into Dr. Younan's allegations. As it turned out, it seemed the doctor and several other club patrons had been drugged and ripped-off.

     According to the results of the investigation, strippers from Scores and the RoadHouse Gentleman's Club in Queens conducted fishing expeditions at bars in Manhattan and Long Island looking for potential credit card victims. They began looking for patrons they could drug and rip-off in September 2013. The suspects allegedly set up club dates with these men, encounters that led to spiked drinks and credit card fraud. Once the suspects dropped the stimulant methylone, commonly known as molly, or the tranquilizer ketamine into their targets' drinks, they were able to take advantage of their drug addled customers.

     According to investigators, the suspects believed that if challenged, their victims could be blackmailed into silence. According to reports, some of these men were actually blackmailed by members of the credit card scam.

     On June 11, 2014, police officers and federal agents arrested four strippers and the manager of Scores on charges of grand larceny, assault and forgery. At their arraignments in Manhattan, all of the suspects, including club manager Carmine Vitolo, and the suspected ringleader, Samantha Barbash, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    In January 2015, following his conviction, the judge sentenced Scores manager Carmine Vitolo to three years in prison. Four months later Samantha Barbash pleaded guilty in return for a probated sentence. Outside the courthouse the stripper gave photographers the finger.