There's so much to write about! I can't hit all the stories that demand our attention, so let's focus on this
Court filings indicate that Mueller is after twenty boxes of info that Paul Manafort stored somewhere in Virginia. Obviously, this material was kept off-site to prevent investigators from seeing it. In other words, this is the good stuff
I don't yet know how Mueller learned about the good stuff and where it was located. We do know that Manafort is trying a desperate legal maneuver
to keep it hidden.
The delightful thing about legal maneuvering is that it churns up paperwork -- documentation which can give us an insight into the otherwise-opaque Mueller probe. In this instance, the filings indicate that one of the boxes contains information about a strange figure named Jules Nasso.
This guy has quite a colorful history.
According to this 2002 NYT
story, actor Steven Segal once got into a contretemps with Nasso, who was tied in with the Gambino crime family.
Court filings and other government accounts painted a picture of Mr. Seagal's producer, Julius R. Nasso -- named in the indictment as a Gambino family associate -- turning to fearsome higher-ups in the mob to compel Mr. Seagal to abide by abandoned movie commitments or turn over millions for the missed profit opportunities.
Basically, Nasso really, really, really
wanted a credit on Segal's movies. Or else
In one of the more cinematic moments, people familiar with the case said, Mr. Seagal told investigators that in February 2001 he was visiting Mr. Nasso and his brother Vincent Nasso, also a reputed Gambino associate, in Brooklyn when he was ordered into a car to accompany both brothers and another reputed Gambino associate later charged in the case, Richard Bondi. After a switching of cars to throw off any pursuers, the journey ended at the Gage & Tollner restaurant in Downtown Brooklyn, where Anthony Ciccone, a reputed Gambino captain known as Sonny, and Primo Cassarino, a reputed family soldier, were waiting in a back room. It was here, people familiar with the case say, that the threat was made.
Not long afterward, people close to the investigation said, a tape recorder in one of the prime bugged locations, Brioso, a restaurant in Staten Island, picked up Mr. Ciccone and Mr. Cassarino chortling over scaring Mr. Seagal. "They were laughing about it, saying it was right out of the movies and 'if we only had guns in our belts, it would be really good,'" said a lawyer who heard the tape.
A month later, Mr. Seagal told investigators, he was visited unexpectedly at his home in Los Angeles by Julius Nasso, Mr. Ciccone and Mr. Cassarino, and that he subsequently paid Mr. Ciccone $700,000 through Mr. Nasso.
But in a court argument last month, prosecutors said the two men and the Nasso brothers were seeking to use Mr. Ciccone's position in organized crime to force the extortion victim -- who has not been named in court but has been identified by all sides as the actor -- ''to either pay money or include J. Nasso in the individual's film projects.''
When he's not a movie guy, Nasso is the proprietor of a "marine pharmaceutical supply company." This means he sells drugs and other medical supplies to ships.
Despite his loud protestations of innocence, Nasso ended up doing a stretch in prison
for extortion. After a year inside, he returned to making films.
According to Wikipedia, the movie bug first bit Nasso when he worked as an assistant to Sergio Leone during the making of Once Upon a Time in America
-- a film about gangsters, fittingly enough. I imagine that being bilingual helped Nasso, since Leone's English was always nearly-nonexistent.
Here's an interesting tidbit: Nasso then "participated in the development of two films: In God's Name and Saint Peter's Banker." Those are two books about the Vatican banking scandal; the movies were never made.
: Did you ever see the original hardback edition of Nicholas Pileggi's book Wiseguy
, which Martin Scorcese adapted as Goodfellas
? The dustjacket promises to tell the untold story of the Vatican banking scandal, but the text itself contains nothing about that topic. Odd. I suspect that something was cut from the manuscript at the last moment.)
In 2008, the NY Daily News published a story about Nasso
. How's this
for a "grabber" opening...?
Mobbed-up failed movie producer Julius Nasso remains a business partner in a Brooklyn pharmacy at the heart of a multimillion-dollar steroid scandal, his son said yesterday.
Julius Nasso Jr. told the Daily News his dad still has a piece of the business at Lowen's Pharmacy in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
"You must be looking for my dad, my father," the younger Nasso said when asked about its operations.
Nasso Sr.'s partner John Rossi, 56, shot and killed himself in the drug store Monday night before investigators could question him on the hundreds of prescriptions the business allegedly filled each day from online clinics and doctors across the country.
Basically, this operation had to do with internet sales of steroids and other questionable drugs over the internet. For more background on this scandal, go here
. The authorities seem certain that Rossi's suicide really was a suicide, even though the death was awfully
convenient, and even though others suspected otherwise.
Rossi, 56, was viewed as a potentially powerful witness for authorities probing the snowballing steroid scandal.
"Rossi had information that could take down a lot of people," a law enforcement source said.
One Rossi business partner, a source speculated, was "hiding under a bed somewhere, convinced it's not a suicide and they're coming for him next."
In 2016, Nasso became embroiled in the behind-the-scenes troubles surrounding the film Accidental Love
. In this instance, he apparently was the victim.
Nasso is interviewed in this YouTube video
Now, I told you all of the above in order to prepare you for the really
Manafort, Nasso -- and nukes
. This Politico story
from 2017 discusses the Manafort/Nasso link. Before you hit the link, a word of warning: This stuff gets real complicated really fast, which is why everyone (including yours truly) tended to ignore that article when it first appeared. That laziness was a mistake -- maybe a BIG mistake.
Basically, it's the tale of a Republican congressman who became involved with a very strange business called EuroTech, which sold nuke stuff.
Repeat: Nuke stuff. From Russia. To America.
Yes, you read that right.
Florida House freshman Don Hahnfeldt ran a company in the early 2000s that hired Manafort — President Donald Trump’s former campaign chief who was recently indicted — to try to sell Russian-developed nuclear containment foam to the U.S. Energy Department. At one point, a Manafort-directed company bought more than 2 million shares of company stock.
The story of the now-defunct, Virginia-based EuroTech Ltd. doesn’t just involve Russia — it’s also ingrained with other obscure plot elements worthy of the silver screen, including officials with known ties to the mafia and an untraceable cash flow from Cayman Island investors, according to thousands of pages of regulatory filings.
More on EuroTech...
EuroTech was founded in 1995 as a “technology transfer” company that aimed to, in part, to commercialize “previously ‘classified’ technologies...developed by prominent research institutions and individual researchers in the former Soviet Union and in Israel.” Its initial goal was to sell those technologies in Central Europe, Ukraine, Russia and North America.
Somewhere along the line, Manafort set up a front company called John Hannah, LLC. This same company appears in Mueller's indictment
In 2001, John Hannah bought 2.5 million shares of EuroTech stock.
In short and in sum (and I hope I have not misread anything), Manafort was hired to lobby on behalf of a company devoted to selling Russian tech -- including nuclear materials -- to America. Basically, he was supposed to talk the Dubya administration into buying this stuff. At some point, Manafort decided to buy into the firm in a major way. Presumably, he would not have done so unless he felt that a sale was imminent.
Here comes the Nasso connection...
On the same date as the John Hanna LLC stock sale, 500,000 EuroTech shares were bought by another notable investor: Julius Nasso.
Manafort’s firm and Nasso both purchased and sold EuroTech stock the same day. They collectively sold 1.5 million shares of stock in September 2001, two months after the original purchase, to “three individuals and one corporation,” according to SEC documents that don’t name the recipients.
The sale came during a year Manafort and Nasso would become business partners. In January 2001, Nasso helped launch Manhattan Pictures Intl., a Manhattan movie distribution company. The partnership helping build the company included “media and political strategist Paul Manafort of international business/financial company Davis Manafort,” reported Variety, a trade publication covering Hollywood and the movie industry.
Obviously, there's much we don't yet know. How and when did Manafort and Nasso get together? Why did a "marine pharmaceutical" guy -- and a movie producer, and a Gambino associate -- want in on a company like EuroTech?
I don't know. All I know is that the Nasso material is part of the "crown jewels" that Manafort hid in that storage unit. This story is an iceberg: The biggest part remains unseen.
This is blue sky conjecture on my part, but:
Was EuroTech purely in the business of selling hardware
? In today's world, that seems unlikely, because most hardware has a software component. But if there was a software component to EuroTech's nuclear material...
Well. The malware possibilities seem obvious.
Ponder that. And as you do, ponder this
: What was the nature of Israel's involvement?
(By the way: Mueller took down the Gambino family -- which, many years ago, was represented by one Roy Cohn.)