Private Investigators In Virginia

PI Chatter Professional Investigators in Virginia

Archive for the ‘police’ Category

LAPD Fingerprint Mistakes–Review 1000 Cases

Posted by Bill on January 16, 2009

lapd_homepage_night_v3

 

 

Last year the LA Times reported, after an investigation, that six print analysts with the LAPD latent print section had made critical errors in their work.  The critical errors were caused by the unit’s being marred by inadequate training, antiquated facilities, poor supervision, careless handling of evidence and other shortfalls.

Unfortunately, LAPD does not have adequate funding to upgrade and modernize the fingerprint section.  A task force of prosecutors and LAPD personnel are reviewing cases to determine if the errors caused a wrongful conviction.

Read the whole story: Click Here

Bill Lowrance

www.lowrancelaw.com

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, law enforcement, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigator | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

FBI Kidnappings & Missing Persons Site

Posted by Bill on December 16, 2008

crime-fbi

Ron McKown sent this interesting link to the FBI Kidnapping & Missing Persons site.  Check it out here Kidnappings.

Bill Lowrance
www.lowrancelaw.com

www.informationinsightsinc.com

Posted in crime, FBI, Investigations, law enforcement, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Backwater Guards Indicted

Posted by Bill on December 6, 2008

blackwater-logoOnce again Blackwater security comes under scrutiny.  The Washington Post reports that five Blackwater security guards were indicted by a federal grand jury for a September 2007 shooting incident in which 17 Iraqi citizens were killed.  The guards worked as security contractors for the US State Department.

Read whole story Click Here

Bill Lowrance
www.lowrancelaw.com

www.informationinsightsinc.com

Posted in contracts, crime, FBI, Investigations, law enforcement, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Attorney Sentenced To Three Years In Pellicano Case

Posted by Bill on November 25, 2008

A prominent Los Angeles attorney was sentenced Monday to three years in federal prison and fined $250,000 for conspiring with Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano to wiretap billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s former wife.  See LA Times Story.  Christensen’s attorney argued for a sentence of confinement in Christensen’s Beverly Hills home.  Nice if you can get it.  The judge did not buy into this unique alternative sentencing, however.

Prosecutors said Christensen hired Pellicano to wiretap Kerkorian’s ex-wife, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, who was seeking $320,000 in monthly child support for her then-4-year-old daughter, to gain an edge in the high-stakes legal battle.

Remember professional investigators do not break the law to accomplish a job.  When you hire a private investigator you should emphasize that the investigator act in a legal and appropriate manner.  You do not want to go to jail, and you do not want to be in the headlines of the Washington Post.

Bill Lowrance
Attorney & Private Investigator
Lowrance Law LLC
McLean, VA

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Human Mystery From 1920

Posted by Bill on September 28, 2008

The Virginia Lawyers Weekly, VLW Blog,recently reported on this story that orginated from the Roanoke Times.

The great, Mountain Lake, in Giles County, VA, recently revealed human remains dating from the 1920s.  The lake has dried and receded somewhat.  Last Saturday, Timmy Dalton and his son Chris were walking the dried area of the lake looking for old bottles and other treasures.  Instead of treasure, they found human bones along with a belt buckle, a 1910 dime, a tooth and shoes. 

Read about this interesting mystery: Roanoke Times and Here

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA www.piava.org

Posted in crime, Investigations, law enforcement, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

GPS–New Surveillance Technique For Police

Posted by Bill on August 13, 2008

In a recent post we pointed out the Arlington County, VA, judge who ruled that the police using a GPS unit to track a person did not need to apply for a search warrant.  The police can just attach a GPS unit on a car and sit back to track a person’s movements in the automobile.

Today’s Washington Post has an excellent article on law enforcement’s use of GPS to track suspects.  Interestingly, the jurisdictions in the DC metro area use GPS units often.  Hey, it beats having to plan and carry out a physical, moving surveillance.  Think about it, though, do we want law enforcement to put a GPS unit on our automobile and track our movements?  Is there any protocol for police to follow before using the GPS?  Will the use of GPS devices be abused by law enforcement? 

Read this Post article: Click Here

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

www.piava.org

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators, surveillance | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Arlington County, VA, Judge Approves Warrentless GPS Tracking

Posted by Bill on August 7, 2008

 According to the Arlington Connection newspaper, Arlington County Circuit Judge Joanne Alpert ruled that GPS TRACKING data that led to the arrest of a man suspected in a series of sexual assaults in Fairfax County and Alexandria is admissible in court even if the GPS device was used without a search warrant.

See whole story: Click Here

Bill Lowrance
President PIAVA
www.piava.org

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators, surveillance | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ACFE Webinar On Social Engineering

Posted by Bill on June 6, 2008

AFCE, the premier certified fraud examiners site, is having a webinar on social engineering.  Social engineering is getting information from people through various manipulative schemes–pretexting, phishing etc.  This webinar sounds like it should excellent for the professional investigator.  See AFCE Webinar

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

 

Social Engineering – The Foundation of Today’s Fraud Schemes

June 19, 2008 at 12:00 PM EDT
Duration: 100 minutes

Many fraudsters are adept at utilizing social engineering to successfully execute their schemes. The art of manipulating people, whether through pretexting, phishing, or other information-collecting techniques, is based on exploiting human weaknesses and decision-making biases to the direct benefit of the fraudster. This presentation will detail the elements and indicators of social engineering, provide examples of current social engineering schemes, review the risks entailed by these schemes and provide best practices for risk mitigation.

Learning Objectives:
• Understanding social engineering principals
• Identifying the red flags of social engineering attempts
• Possessing best practices and resources for related risk mitigation

Who Should Attend:
• Certified Fraud Examiners and other anti-fraud specialists
• Law Enforcement
• Loss prevention and security professionals
• Forensic accountants
• Internal and independent auditors
• Business managers and professionals assuming fraud deterrence or investigation responsibilities

Speaker

Jon McDowall, CFE, PCI, CIFI

Chief Executive Officer
Fraud Resource Group

Prices listed below reflect the Early Bird Discount and will end on June 12:
Member $99
Non-member $149

 

Posted in crime, fraud, Investigations, PI Chatter, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Surveillance Cameras-DC 5000 NYC 3000 Chicago 6000

Posted by Bill on May 1, 2008

 Smile because soon everywhere you travel, even through airports, you will be under surveillance.  Washington, DC, announced today implementation, Read Surveillance Camera Story, of an around the clock monitered camera surveillance system (up to 5000 cameras).  The camera feed will go to the central office of the DC Homeland Security to be monitored by people.  Of course, no one knows who will be monitoring, when, how or what.  Will some errant monitor peek into your apartment window?  There are serious concerns by some DC Council members about lack of planning, security and privacy.

The story points out that NYC and Chicago have 3000 and 6000 cameras, respectively, out there monitoring activity.  Right now most security cameras are pointed to public areas in various parts of the cities.  Will cameras soon be placed in residential neighborhoods?  Personally, I do not want one on my street.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

 

Posted in crime, Investigations, law enforcement, PI Chatter, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, surveillance | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Surveillance Photos & Privacy-What Is The Law

Posted by Bill on April 27, 2008

  Most private investigators conduct surveillance (see wikipedia surveillance) in various types of cases.  Probably the two most common types of cases needing surveillance are divorces and workers compensation cases.  Surveillance may play a role in many types of cases from crimes to background investigations.  

In a normal case, a private investigator will plan and organize a surveillance before actually going on site to begin.  To conduct a professional surveillance, the investigator must identify the subject, gather background information (names, addresses, car registration, friends names & addresses, hobbies etc), visit and map out the surveillance site, determine the best time and place for the job, check out equipment making sure it works, provide backup equipment and batteries and gather the essentials to carry while on the job.

In most cases, the investigator records the surveillance with digital photography, either still or video.  In every surveillance, the professional investigator will know and observe federal and state laws relating to a person’s privacy.  For example, in Virginia there is a law against stalking.  VA Code 18.2-60.3.

The stalking statue prohibits engaging a person and placing the person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault or bodily injury.  The law provides an exception for law enforcement officers and private investigators licensed in Virginia.  The knowledgeable Virginia private investigator knows that his or her surveillance will not violate the stalking statute. 

In addition, Virginia has a statute prohibiting the unlawful filming, videotaping or photographing of another person (VA Code 18.2-386.1).  One of the principles of the statute is to protect ones reasonable expectation of privacy.  Under this statute, it is unlawful to photograph someone, without their consent, if the person is in a dressing room, bathroom, bedroom, or some other location where one expects privacy. 

So, it appears that surveillance photos are within legal parameters as long as such photos or video do not violate a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy.

Thanks to Legal Andrew.com we have some references to more reading on a photographers right to take photos, see Bert Krages Article, an article by Bert Krages, Portland attorney, and his book Legal Handbook for Photographers.

In the meantime, keep taking snaps legally.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc., McLean, VA

Posted in attorneys, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, surveillance | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

US Supreme Court Rules In VA Case–Search & Seizure

Posted by Bill on April 23, 2008

From VA Lawyers Weekly

The Issue: “Whether VA police officer violates the Fourth Amendment by making an arrest based on probable cause but prohibited by state law.”

A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that the illegality of a search under Virginia law does not require the suppression of evidence seized during the search.

Writing for the court in Virginia v. Moore, Justice Antonin Scalia said in that the high court long has held that probable cause to arrest justifies a search. Virginia is free to make exclusion of evidence seized in violation of Virginia Code Sect. 19.2-74(A)(1) a remedy for an arrest that is illegal under state law but allowed by the Fourth Amendment, Scalia said. The state has not done so, however, and the Fourth Amendment cannot be used as a remedy for an act that does not violate the constitution, he wrote.

The case from Portsmouth involved the arrest of David Lee Moore on a charge of driving without an operator’s license, a misdemeanor for which state law required his release on a summons. Although the attorney general’s office conceded that he was arrested in violation of state law, it contended that the search did not violate the Fourth Amendment because police had probable cause to search Moore. The search produced 16 grams of crack cocaine and $516 in cash. Moore was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc., McLean, VA

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Laptop Subject To Warrentless Search

Posted by Bill on April 22, 2008

  A federal appeals court, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled that a search of a laptop computer’s hard drive and contents is acceptable under the fourth amendment of the US Constitution even if special agents with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had no reasonable suspicion of a crime or criminal activity. 

The unlucky defendant in this case arrived at LA International Airport after a twenty-four hour flight from the Philippines.  A Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer saw the defendant standing in line and asked him where he traveled and the purpose of his travel.  The guy told CBP that he had been in the Philippines for three weeks visiting friends.  CBP found a laptop, flash drive, separate hard drives and several compact discs in his luggage.  Unfortunately for this guy, CBP booted the laptop and found a couple of files on the desktop labeled “Kodak Pictures” and “Kodak Memories.”  Being curious, the CBP officer opened the files finding images of what they believed was child pornography.

ICE agents were called in and they questioned the guy and examined his laptop for several hours.  ICE seized the laptop and equipment, but let the guy go on to his destination.  Two weeks later, he was indicted by a federal grand jury for various interstate child pornography charges.

The defendant argued reasonable suspicion was required to search his laptop at the border because it is distinguishable from other containers of documents based on its ability to store greater amounts of information and “its unique role in modern life.”   He argued that “laptop computers are fundamentally different from traditional closed containers,” and analogizes them to “homes” and the “human mind.” Arnold’s analogy of a laptop to a home is based on his conclusion that a laptop’s capacity allows for the storage of personal documents in an amount equivalent to that stored in one’s home. He argues that a laptop is like the “human mind” because of its ability to record ideas, e-mail, internet chats and web-surfing habits.

This was a great legal argument, but to no avail.  The Ninth Circuit did not buy it and correctly set out the law of border searches.  Almost anything goes except some bodily instrusions, but not all.

The lesson learned is “do not break the law” and more importantly know that your laptop or other storage devices are subject to search when coming into the US from overseas.  In fact, the courts have ruled that you must turn over any password to allow a search.

Read the opinion Click Here

 Read a summary of the story and case Here at Law.com

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc., McLean, VA

Posted in crime, Investigations, PI Chatter, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fingerprint Evidence–Admissible?

Posted by Bill on April 8, 2008

   LLRX.Com, llrx.com, has posted a very good article on new legal challenges to fingerprint evidence.  The article is by Ken Strutin (JD, MLS) who is an experienced law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker.  Mr. Strutin is the Director of Legal Information Services at the New York State Defenders Association.

He lists many legal resources, case law and fingerprint standards located on the Web.  The next time you are confronted with potential fingerprint evidence think about admissiblibity of such evicence.

Click here Fingerprint Evidence

See a counter view at Reliability of Fingerprint Identification

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc., McLean, VA

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, police, private detective, private investigators, Research | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Surreptitious Sampling–Your DNA

Posted by Bill on April 4, 2008

dna.jpg  Ever had the feeling someone is following you?  It could be law enforcement agents or private investigators wanting to collect your DNA.  The police are “surreptitiously sampling” DNA from targeted suspects.  They will place the individual under surveillance waiting until the person throws away a DNA sample.  The sample could come from a discarded coffee cup, soda can, cigarette or Kleenex.  The police will collect the sample and extract the DNA comparing it to an unsolved case in which the individual may be a suspect.

“Police can take a DNA sample from anyone, anytime, for any reason without raising oversight by any court,” said Elizabeth E. Joh, a law professor at University of California, Davis, who studies the intersection of genetics and privacy law. “I don’t think a lot of people understand that.”

Read the entire NY Times Story here.

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, surveillance | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Oklahoma Supreme Court Reverses Closing Court Records

Posted by Bill on March 26, 2008

gavel-768279.jpg  The Oklahoma Supreme Court issued an order last week that would have restricted access to on-line court records and would have required that most identifying information be redacted from court filings.  The order was intended to prevent “identify theft,” although most identity theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission, is not a result of accessing court records.  The Court’s rule required that Social Security Numbers, dates of birth and addresses be excluded from public court records.

In Oklahoma the public reaction to such a restrictive rule was immediate and in opposition to the new rule.  Yesterday the Court reversed the proposed rule for further consideration.  The Enid Oklahoma News summarized the story yesterday and stated that “It appears the court did not fully realize or understand the overwhelming use of these records by all citizens of Oklahoma.”

The article pointed out two good reasons for the Court to reconsider its rule:

1.)  It would have been a giant leap backward in providing access to the public, and;

2.) The records are needed “for many users of such court documents to have access to identifier information, primarily birth dates. We can understand restricting access to Social Security numbers, but taking out birth date information could have led to people being misidentified for public information purposes.”  Click Here to Read Story

One significant item mentioned above is the lack of information in court records leading to “people being misidentified for public information purposes.”  As noted in a previous post yesterday, Virginia Court Records, the ability to identify persons involved in public court records is essential for all investigators, whether law enforcement or private security/investigators.  There are many reasons identification is so essential, but a major one is the right to due process of law and a fair trial.  In a criminal prosecution, the prosecuting attorney and the law enforcement authorities have all of the identifying information needed to locate witnesses, to interview witness and to obtain all background information on the alleged defendant.  If public or court records do not contain certain identifying data, criminal defense attorneys and private investigators are hindered in properly representing an accused.

PIAVA encourages the Virginia Supreme Court to consider the proposed changes in Virginia’s rules to restrict information in public court records, and allow identifying data to be included in the court records and filings.  If such data is not available the result will be, as the Enid News said, “people being misidentified for public information purposes.”
 

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Have Skype Vonnage? Security Issues

Posted by Bill on March 16, 2008

internt.jpg Think about it. You have e-mail, IM, VOIP, like Skype, Vonnage.  Who is listening or monitoring your conversations? Most of us would say “No one monitors my communications because I am not saying or communicating anyone wants to know about.”

Well, some businesses or others may have communications that should remain private.  Some security experts recommend that you maintain a land line telephone for better security rather than using a VOIP like Skype, Vonnage or others.  VOIP, e-mail and IMs are subject to intercepts.  Here are two articles outlining security features and who and how can intercept your communications. 

VOIP News
Top Security Threats-2008

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in crime, fraud, Investigations, PI Chatter, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, surveillance | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Private Investigator Still Missing In Iran–Bob Levinson Find Him

Posted by Bill on March 13, 2008

levinson_primary.jpg  kishmap_1.jpg  Bob Levinson lived in Florida and worked as a private investigator.  On March 9, 2007, he disappeared.  Bob was working on a cases that took him to the Iranian resort island of Kish.  On March 9th, Bob checked out of his hotel, and his wife and children have not heard from him since.

Bob retired from a career as a Special Agent with the FBI in 1998.  He ran a small private investigation firm, and he often had cases involving international work.  That is why Bob was in Iran.  He was investigating a case and following leads that took him there.  The US State Department and the FBI made official inquiries to the government of Iran, but the Iranian government says they do not know anything about Bob’s disappearance.  The State Department and the FBI continue on with their investigation, but they have developed no information about Bob’s disappearance or whereabouts. 

Christine Levinson, Bob’s spouse, and the oldest of their seven children travelled to Iran a few months ago looking for Bob.  They met with government officials, passed out fliers and talked with anyone who came into contact with Bob.  All was to no avail, however, Bob is still missing. 

If anyone has information about Bob Levinson, please call the nearest FBI office.

Details about Bob and the disappearance are on a web page Click Here helpboblevinson.com.

Latest news articles Click Here and Click Here

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Posted in attorneys, crime, FBI, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PI Chatter, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Colorado Private Investigator Arrested Using Tracking Device

Posted by Bill on March 7, 2008

gps_tracking_diagram.jpg  According to a news article in the Summit Daily News, a private investigator from Glenwood Springs, CO, was arrested Thursday after placing a tracking device on a car.  The tracking device was for a divorce case the investigator was working.  A witness saw the investigator crawl under an SUV and then drive away.  The witness called the police who found the device attached under the SUV. The police treated the unknown device as a bomb, evacuating the area and calling in the bomb squad.   Read the whole story Click Here See also Denver TV News

Some people use GPS tracking devices.  The devices are place in a concealed area of a vehicle.  The location of the vehicle is available via computer from a remote location–say in your office.  The use of these GPS tracking devices is questionable from a legal point of view.  PIAVA does not recommend using such devices; nor authorizes such use.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc. McLean, VA

Posted in crime, Investigations, law enforcement, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, surveillance | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Latest Intrigue On Pellicano’s Trial

Posted by Bill on March 1, 2008

justice.jpg  The US Attorney’s office filed a pre-trial document on Friday in prelude to the Pellicano trial next week.  The LA Times ran this story Click her for story  and See latest March 19 story 

As you may remeber Pellicano is Hollywood’s PI who got into serious trouble for doing illegal wiretaps, threats, guns, explosives–you name it.  The indictment speakes for itself.  

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc.
McLean, VA

Posted in attorneys, crime, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PI Chatter, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pellicano–Hollywood’s PI Trial Soon

Posted by Bill on February 20, 2008

justice  L.A. lawyer Terry Christensen to be tried separately from Pellicano

By Greg Krikorian
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

February 20, 2008

Prominent Los Angeles entertainment attorney Terry N. Christensen will be tried separately from private investigator Anthony Pellicano and his other co-defendants, a federal judge ruled Tuesday, just days before Hollywood’s big wiretapping trial was set to begin. The decision by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer removes the only marquee name from the list of defendants in the long-awaited trial, which is slated to start Feb. 27 with jury selection.  Read Whole StoryBill LowranceBill Lowrance President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc.
McLean, VA

Posted in attorneys, crime, FBI, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »