By Jim Smith
BOSTON – A brazen scam artist took exploitation of Irish students to a new level last week when he entered an apartment building in Brookline, found a set of keys to a vacant apartment, and ended up renting the apartment to three unsuspecting Irish students.
The bizarre chain of events began last Monday when George Moses, 25, of Cambridge allegedly told Jane Woodlock, Elizabeth Prior and Aoife O’Mahoney that he was an independent realtor and would sublease the vacant apartment to the students for the summer. The young women, here on a summer work visa, gave Moses $3,450 for the apartment later that day .
On Tuesday, the women returned from work to the apartment and discovered that their belongings had been removed by the building manager. When they learned that they were the victims of a cruel and costly hoax, the students contacted the Boston police.
Detectives Arthur O’Connell and Kevin Mullen of the Brighton station then devised a sting operation in which the women, all in their early 20s, contacted Moses on his cellular phone, asking him if he could find them a more suitable apartment. They agreed to give him an additional $750 for more desirable accommodations.
On Thursday, Moses was arrested at a street corner in Brighton while attempting to make the transaction with the students. On Friday, he was arraigned in Brighton District Court on charges of larceny over $250 and attempting to commit larceny. He is being held in jail on $30,000 cash bail set by Judge Albert Burns.
According to David Falcone of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Moses had 10 outstanding warrants at the time of his arrest last week. Those charges include forgery, writing bad checks, trespassing, resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer. He is due back in court at the end of July.
The students, who are reportedly reluctant to discuss their plight publicly, have been assisted by their friends and employers in obtaining housing and other forms of support.
In addition, the offices of the Irish Consulate in Boston and the Union of Students International Travel, which handles the J-1 visa program, are maintaining an active involvement in the case.
By Patrick Markey
Federal officials have opened a preliminary investigation into the allegations of exploitation surrounding the death of an Irish immigrant, Liam Mason, who was found hanged in a Bronx park last month.
Investigators from the US Department of Labor are looking into allegations that Mason was forced to work long hours for very little pay, and into the concerns about how employment practices may have contributed to the young man’s death, officials said.
Department of Labor officials are looking into the matter and communicating with other federal, state and local agencies and with worker organizations, David Saltz, a Department of Labor spokesman, said.
“There is a preliminary investigation to ascertain whether any labor violations have taken place because of allegations that these employees were not paid or not paid regularly,” said Dominick Denato, a wage and hour representative at the Department of Labor New Jersey office.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorneys Office for the District of New Jersey said the office would not confirm that any investigation was under way by their investigators.
Mason, 23, an immigrant from County Monaghan, hanged himself in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx four months after arriving in the United States. Friends of the dead man said he had been promised $600 to $1,000 a week to work on a New Jersey paving and cementing project by a man who recruited him in Ireland four months earlier.
After he and several other men were allegedly left without cash in their New Jersey motel, Mason stayed with friends from Monaghan in Yonkers. After a final failed attempt to get a flight home to Ireland, he returned from the airport to the Bronx, where he was found hanged from a tree branch two days later. Friends of Mason claim the subcontractor was Irish and was now back in Ireland.
Brian O’Dwyer, chairman of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, and Joe Jamison, director of the Irish American Labor Coalition, last week sent duplicate letters to federal officials urging them to investigate the allegations of exploitation. Last Friday in Washington, D.C., O’Dwyer and Jamison, along with other Irish American labor representatives, met with Marvin Krislov, solicitor for the Department of Labor, and John Frasier, acting administrator for the department’s wage and hour division.
Walter Kane, a representative of the Irish American Labor Coalition who also attended the meeting in Washington, said officials were also considering looking into how pervasive the problem of exploitation is in the Irish community. Department of Labor investigators were not concerned with the immigration status of victims, but rather in the labor regulations broken, he said.
Anyone with information on the Mason case or exploitation should contact Brian O’Dwyer at (212) 571-7100, Dominick Denato at the Department of Labor, District of New Jersey at (609) 989-2247 or the Irish American Labor Coalition at (212) 254-9271.
By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN – A joint Irish-British police operation foiled an attempted incendiary bomb attack Thursday on leading stores in London by dissident republicans, the first time the British capital had been targeted by them.
Four people were arrested in Ireland and six in London, three of them carrying primed incendiary devices, according to Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist squad. Three men, ages 25, 21 and 19, and one woman, 21, were charged Tuesday with conspiracy to cause explosions. All but the oldest man were also charged with possession of explosive substances. They are to appear in Woolwich court today.
Gardai arrested a man and a woman in Dublin and two other men in Dundalk and Wexford.
The arrests were preceded by a search of a house in Dundalk that resulted in the seizure of documents, two shotguns, ammunition and a quantity of bomb-making components.
All those arrested in Ireland were released after being detained for questioning under the Offenses Against the State Act for two days.
Files in respect of three of them are being prepared for the director of public prosecutions.
A woman arrested in London was also released. Police in Britain can hold suspects for seven days without charge under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Security forces on both sides of the Irish Sea are concerned about cooperation between dissident groups since the Northern Ireland peace agreement in April.
The London bombing operation would have been their most ambitious move so far.
It is understood that some of those detained in London are students from universities in Dublin and Belfast who had traveled to London for summer jobs and had not been previously known to the security forces.
On April 2, a substantial car bomb was intercepted as it was about the board a ferry to Britain from Dun Laoghaire. It was believed to have been destined for the British Grand National race meeting at Aintree.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised the work of the British and Irish security forces in foiling the bomb attack.
“This has clearly been a very important and successful operation and further reflects the close cooperation that exists between the security forces in the United Kingdom and Ireland as together we defeat terrorism wherever it may exist,” he said in a statement.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern also congratulated the police and said the actions “provide further evidence of the extremely effective cooperation which is maintained between the security forces on both sides.”
The following are RUC statistics of Northern Ireland violence since the beginning of the Drumcree standoff on July 5 through Sunday:
Attacks on RUC/British Army: 598
Shooting incidents: 19
Bombing incidents: 44
Firebombs recovered by RUC: 2,237
Incidents of firebomb attacks: 621
Damage to homes: 137
Damage to other buildings: 155
Damage to vehicles: 453
RUC officers injured: 70
Number of plastic bullets fired: 751
Number of Catholic churches burned: 10
By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST – Ninety Catholic families were intimidated or burned out of their homes during the week, hundreds of RUC men were injured, and millions of pounds damage caused to tourism and the economy as Northern Ireland continues to reel from the Drumcree crisis.
Hundreds of Orangemen, meanwhile, remain encamped near Drumcree church in Portadown, protesting the Parades Commission decision to ban their annual march, which was to have been held almost two weeks ago.
As the Orangemen protest is joined nightly by thousands of their brethren, a low level of ethnic cleansing has been going on against vulnerable Catholic families, particularly in the eastern parts of Counties Antrim and Down, including Carrickfergus, Antrim town, Larne, Coleraine in County Derry and parts of Belfast.
One Catholic woman was forced to leave her home of 27 years after it was attacked by firebombs twice within a week. Protestant families who sheltered the Catholic neighbors were also intimidated and forced from home.
The village of Dunloy in County Antrim was besieged for a night by two thousand Orangemen who subsequently issued a military-style statement that they had “taken up positions” and “held” the village to show what they were capable of.
Local people armed with only hurley sticks were prepared to defend the area, but the Orangemen backed off when it became obvious villagers had been forewarned about their arrival.
Loyalists in both the UDA and UVF, the two main extreme Protestant paramilitary groups, were believed involved in widespread violence and intimidation during the week-long Drumcree siege. But they thrown themselves wholeheartedly behind the Orange protest, they would have brought Northern Ireland to a standstill, as they did in 1996, leading to a British government U-turn and forcing an Orange march down the Garvaghy Road.
It seems that although individuals were involved, the two main groups held back from outright participation in violence, for fear of losing their early prison release schemes.
The UDA is being blamed for gun attacks on members of the RUC in north and west Belfast, while the UVF was held responsible for a spate of blast bomb attacks at Drumcree and in Carrickfergus.
Every day of the week-long protest, hundreds of roads were blocked, with motorists advised to stay at home, cross-border trains canceled and no form of public transport in many areas after dark.
Neither group admitted breaking its cease-fire, with the Northern Ireland secretary, Mo Mowlam, threatening to postpone the prisoner-release schemes if they were proved to be involved.
The UDA, prompted by her warning, said any person found rioting would not be accepted onto its wings in the Maze jail, widely seen as an attempt to prevent its members being penalized for the violence.
The RUC-released film showing a gunman equipped with a long-barreled rifle firing at their lines under cover of darkness at Drumcree. The police also put on show catapults, lead weights, ball bearings and other missiles used against its members during the siege.
The UVF is the only group known to have pipe-bomb-making skills, and over 40 of these devices were hurled at the police and soldiers, night after night, in full view of international journalists and camera crews.
At no time, either day or night, was there any overt RUC or British Army presence at the Orange encampment. On Thursday, 20,000 Orangemen and supporters massed there from around County Antrim, the largest attendance of the week.
They crowded down at the 20-ft wide flooded trench, dug out by the British Army, yelling abuse and threats at police and soldiers. Shouts of “traitors,” “sell out to the IRA,” “cowards” and “you are no Ulstermen” are only the more repeatable.
On Thursday night, the sky was riven by huge blasts and at least four policemen were injured, one seriously. The following day more than 100 plastic bullets were fired to keep the Orangemen at bay.
Twenty people were taken to hospital with injuries, including a 21-year-old woman student who lost an eye. When hand-to-hand fighting broke out on the barricade blocking their path to Garvaghy Road, two arrests were made.
The Garvaghy Road resembled an armed camp, with long lines of massive British Army vehicles patrolling day and night and checkpoints at each end. Loyalists would sporadically mount roadblocks, preventing people getting to work or to shops.
More than 50 U.S. and other international observers worked around the clock, equipped with two-way radio contacts, monitoring loyalist and police/army activity. The accents of Boston, New York and New Jersey, in particular, could be heard throughout the week.
The observers were lodged with local families and proved invaluable to the Garvaghy Road Residents’ Committee in providing a buffer zone of neutral witness – and calling for assistance at time of high tension.
David McNarry, a leading Orangeman and member of its Grand Lodge “strategy committee,” caused uproar when he claimed on British radio that the Order “if it had a mind to” could “paralyze” Northern Ireland within hours.
A convoy of 100 cars bringing food, diapers and provisions to Garvaghy Road was ambushed by loyalists close to Portadown and two women and a man injured when a cudgel was thrown through a car window.
RUC men and women who were recognized at the main battlefield in Drumcree were also targeted. A policewoman whose car was set on fire was forced to leave the home she’d lived in for 30 years in Carrickfergus.
New loyalist paramilitary groups, hitherto unknown, sprung up. they are mostly believed to be flags of convenience for loyalists who didn’t want to risk the prisoner release scheme.
There were claims by the “Ulster Loyalist Action Force,” the “Ulster Protestant Association” and the “Protestant Freedom Fighters” who are believed to exist in name only. The “Orange Volunteer Force” was also resurrected and is believed to be behind arson attacks on Catholic churches.
By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST – Black flags of mourning, black balloons and a somber, resentful silence awaited Orangemen as they crossed the River Lagan into the Nationalist Lower Ormeau Road district on Sunday, July 12.
Catholic residents had voted to stage a “peaceful dignified protest” on one side of the road only, without any attempt to block the parade’s path, as a gesture of respect to the three Quinn brothers, who were killed earlier in the day after a loyalist firebomb attack of their home in Ballymoney.
Heavy rain began pelting down as the Orangemen crossed the Lagan bridge into the area and continued as they marched down to Havelock Bridge, toward the Protestant Donegall Pass area.
Placards reading “March of Shame” were held up, and banners showing the Red Hand of Ulster symbol were pinned to buildings, bearing the caption: “The red hand of Ulster is dripping with innocent blood.”
Orange tunes were forbidden by the Parades Commission between the two bridges, but it did not escape the residents’ attention that at the very moment the first band reached the edge of the area, it struck up “The Sash” at full volume. The second band played “No Surrender,” also at full tilt.
The RUC had swamped the area 28 hours before the march was due to take place, only allowing residents through. There was great anger that, once again, residents were being hemmed in to facilitate an unwanted Orange parade.
After a meeting with local people, however, when assurances were given that no attempt to prevent the parade taking place were given, the blockade was lifted.
John Gormley, a spokesman for the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community, said that their gesture was a “one off” in respect to the grief of the Quinn family, and was not a precedent for allowing the parade to proceed.
He said in the future, the LOCC would oppose parades that did not have the residents’ consent and once again called for dialogue between his group and the Orange Order, who refuse to meet them.
Gormley said he was proud of the people of the area for their forbearance and dignity in the face of Orange provocation and pledged to continue campaigning for dialogue during the year ahead.
A spokesman for the Orange Order in Ballynafeigh, which had been represented at the Drumcree standoff, said the Order fully intended to press for the right to march down the Lower Ormeau in future years.
The weekly Saturday evening Irish community Mass at St. Teresa’s Church in Sunnyside, Queens, will be dedicated this week to the three Quinn brothers. The Mass begins at 7:30. The church is at 44th Street and 50th Avenue.
By Eileen Murphy
Well, all eyes were on Dalkey and Sorrento House last week, where some deep-pocketed schnook anonymously forked out _6 million for a house. Though real estate agents might crow about the location, location, location, to us it’s just a semi-detached townhouse with a nice view. But as they say in da Bronx, it takes all kinds of nuts to make a fruitcake . . .
Speaking of real (expensive) real estate, we see that dancer Michael Flatley has also signed on the dotted line, and has bought himself a swanky mansion in the Little Venice section of London. The Lord of the Dance is set to become the Lord of the Manor, having plunked down _4.7 million for the four-story, nine-bedroom house that boasts a steam room, billiards room, underground garage and something called a “swimming pool complex.”
Though one assumes that the pervious tenants left the house in “move-in” condition, Flatley is apparently as much a perfectionist when it comes to his house as he is onstage. The fleet-footed star is spending _1 million on renovations and redecorating – he’s installing a dance studio and having the indoor pool rebuilt. We hear that he joked with the builders about having the swimming pool building designed to lower mechanically to the ground; it took them a while to figure out that he was kidding. We think the sight of all that cash made them a bit lightheaded.
Rumors abound that Flatley got in the top bid for the house over other big stars like Madonna, Barbra Brolin (nee Streisand) and tennis ace Boris Becker. If they play their cards right, maybe he’ll invite them for tea.
The London design world is buzzing about Flatley’s plans for the house. The dancer supposedly wants a very modern look, with lots of marble floors and stereo speakers – all the better for dancing when the mood strikes him.
The house has a fittingly showbiz history attached to it. It seems that England’s King Edward VII used to house as a bachelor pad, and it was there that he wooed American actress Lily Langtry. And we think it’s a sure bet that royalty will again be hanging around these hallowed halls, looking to woo another famous American. One never knows . . .
Those of us who are fans of the BBC series “Ballykissangel,” a charming comedy/drama set in a rural Irish village, have been having a hard time of it lately – at least, those of us who’ve been trying to watch it on WNJN, a New Jersey public television station. Though we’re sure Fr. Clifford would counsel us to be patient, we’ve come to the end of our rope, and are becoming rather, er, PBS-ed off.
Though scheduled for Sunday evenings at 8, the show is often pulled – without warning – by the station to make way for more popular programming during its frequent fund-raising drives. Calls to the station yield apologies and sympathy, but not much else. Though Fr. Peter might be able to turn the other cheek, we feel this calls for Assumpta-like raving . . .
The decision to pull BallyK seems strange, given the show’s popularity on other stations and its growing audience. Other stations, like WYBE TV-35 in Philadelphia, have built fund-raisers around the show. The show is doing well in the New York area, where it is broadcast on WLIW Channel 21. We can only suggest that WNJN move the show out of its Sunday night spot to a less “prime” time, which might be less frustrating for everyone.
Those who haven’t yet caught BallyK fever can check out the show on WLIW Wednesday evenings at 9 (rebroadcast Tuesdays at midnight); on WYBE (Philadelphia and western New Jersey) on Friday evenings at 9 (rebroadcast Saturdays at 7 p.m.), and on PBS stations throughout the country – check local listings. If you love the show and are a member of a public television station, make sure you let them know. They rely on viewers like you.
Silver and gold
Though we’ve always assumed that the lads in U2 were as rich as Croesus, apparently they’re not quite as well off as they’d like to be. No, it’s not time to start passing the hat after every gig, but they could use a little sound financial advice.
It seems that the boys’ investors have sunk money into some crappy – make that ill-advised – projects: German bowling alleys, laser-shooting games, hotels, the PopMart tour . . . er, scratch that last one.
To get their money affairs in order, the boys have hired Alan Grubman, a New York-based financial powerhouse, as their punt-watcher. He will make all the band’s major investment decisions, as he does for other clients, like Mariah Carey and Billy Joel, neither of whom is clipping coupons.
U2, known for their trust in and loyalty to old friends, will also retain the services of their longtime advisor, Ossie Kilkenny. He will audit the band’s accounts and handle investments for the individual members.
Over the years, the band has earned approximately $500 million – more than the Rolling Stones or even Michael Jackson. Yet, for all their earnings, the band members are not as wealthy as one would assume. Noted a management source who was quoted in the Times of London, “If you look back at their earnings over the past 20 years and ask what they have to show for being the world’s leading band, you have to conclude that they have nice houses and that is about it.”
Well, not quite it. They also have the Clarence Hotel, the Kitchen nightclub and lots of Dublin real estate. They’ve also sunk at least a few million punts into Bono’s extensive sunglass collection.
If you have family or close friends in Ireland, get on the phone and tell them to lock up the children and any stray livestock. The sickest, most twistedest and disgustingly funny American import since “Dallas” is winging has hit the airwaves in Ireland. We refer, of course, to the animated show “South Park,” which makes “Beavis and Butthead” look like “The Smurfs” by comparison.
By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN – The tenacity of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds has paid off after he won the right at the Court of Appeal in London to a new libel trial against the Sunday Times after the marathon 1996 hearing when he was awarded zero damages by the jury – later changed to one penny by the judge.
As he was facing huge legal costs, many friends had urged Reynolds to seek to settle the case but he was determined and he now intends to pursue the matter saying he does not want to be recorded in history as “a devious liar.”
Before departing for a delayed holiday with his family in Portugal, a jubilant Reynolds said there was no question of a settlement.
“If you believe strongly enough in something as I did on this, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t go ahead with it. I don’t think the office of Taoiseach in Ireland should be the subject of such wild, untrue allegations of telling lies. Which I didn’t.”
By Patrick Markey
She might not wear a trilby and a knee-length trenchcoat, but Orla Walsh has more in common with the fictional private detective Mike Hammer than the casual observer might notice.
Working out of her small home office in Queens, the Dublin-born Walsh’s private investigation company, Walsh Consulting Services Inc., offers a selection of sleuthing services from background checks to investigating limping insurance scammers.
Despite her profession’s glamorous image, it’s been a struggle for Walsh to establish herself in a business often fraught with legal pitfalls and tough competition from large companies whose ranks are filled with well-connected former cops.
Armed with a computer, a fax machine, some video equipment and a sprinkling of city contacts, WCS has started making headway, picking up a steady client base here and, in some cases, in Ireland, Walsh said.
Almost 10 years ago, Walsh little realized she would one day be trawling through New York City’s underbelly tracking down paper trails left by fraudsters. Arriving from Dublin in 1986 looking for a new start, she worked in restaurants as a means of getting by. But a chance meeting at the restaurant led to a part-time position at a detective agency run by Irishman John O’Rourke, a former investigator with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
“I fell into,” she said. “I’ve always been curious, seeing more into things. At the time I wanted to go into law and this is a cross between the legal side and law enforcement.”
After a stint at another agency, Web Securities, Walsh had completed the three-year full-time investigative work and the exams necessary for a P.I.’s state-issued license and was on the way to starting up her own company. WCS came to life in January this year.
For an average of $50 to $60 an hour, Walsh now provides background checks on civil and criminal cases, finds witnesses for civil and criminal cases, conducts background checks on companies and possible employees, and investigates real estate residency claims.
Recently, she says, more cases can be worked out simply with a few taps on a computer keyboard. Industry pricing for investigations ranges from $40 for smaller companies to somewhere in the $250 an hour range for larger detective agencies, she said.
For technical work, such as electronic sweeps for debugging offices, and polygraph testing, Walsh sub-contracts out to experts in those fields, including a roster of former NYPD and DEA investigators.
But, she says, chasing straying husbands or tracking overly amorous wives is not for her.
“I don’t do marital stuff, I don’t touch it,” she said. “You don’t hear the full story, and often you end up getting so personally involved. You don’t know if you doing the right thing.”
One of the more lucrative aspects of the business has been surveillance for defense attorneys in insurance cases. More often than not, injuries are not quite what they seem.
“That can be quite fruitful. About 85 percent of the time, you find out people are scamming,” she said.
In the legal world, where women are increasingly stepping up the corporate ladder, Walsh believes being a woman has been an advantage. Communication between attorney and investigator can be smoothed by a better understanding of some of the issues involved, she said.
Working in a profession that is often criticized for its sleazy associations, Walsh said investigators need a confident understanding of law and of the legal entanglements an investigation can led to.
“I want to stay ethical. Some people let down their guards when the money looks good. You have to be careful,” she said. “You have to know the legal issues. A lot of people don’t keep up with the regulations.”
But more than that, it is an eye for detail that can make or break an investigator.
“Getting results, getting a result on someone,” she said of what drives her on in the investigating profession.
“You can spend thousands on a case and it’s the little piece of information can get a person, that can be the crucial part of the case,” she said.
WCS can be contacted at (718) 424-8380.