Category Archives: Investigations

Celebrity Private Plane Crashes

Jenni Rivera, the U.S.-born Mexican-American singer and her entourage were killed in a plane crash. A U.S. aviation investigation board confirmed that Ms. Rivera died in a Learjet 25 crash, which disintegrated on impact Sunday in rugged territory in Nuevo Leon state in northern Mexico.

Additionally, there have been several high-profile crashes involving Learjets, passenger aircraft popular with corporate executives, entertainers and government officials.

A Learjet carrying pro-golfer Payne Stewart and five others crashed in northeastern South Dakota in 1999. Investigators said the plane lost cabin pressure and all on board died after losing consciousness for lack of oxygen. The aircraft flew for several hours on autopilot before running out of fuel and crashing in a corn field.

Former Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker was severely injured in a 2008 Learjet crash in South Carolina that killed four people.

Additional details HERE.

While in the past several years, private aircraft use is certainly down in the world of Celebrities and High Net Worth Individuals, it still is the preferred method of choice.  As with every other method of travel in which an outside service provider must be brought in,  screening, consideration and due diligence must be made, and that means knowing the right questions to ask or having the right people on your team to ask them.



Saadi Gaddafi Bodyguard Outlines Escape

Mr. Gary Peters name has been attached to many story surrounding the fall of the Gaddafi family in Lybia, almost to the point where it reads like a Hollywood film.   I’ll say one thing for him, he’s standing by his client to the end.

via:  Lateline

EMMA ALBERICI: What exactly did Saadi Gaddafi ask of you?

GARY PETERS: Nothing was asked of me from Saadi Gaddafi. Ah, my concern and always is with all my clients is their safety, their well-being, their rite of passage, how they’re going to get there. The secondary is their families. The third is their associates. Beginning of 2011, I instigated or tried to begin a process of getting him or extracting him from Libya to a different destination. That was in 2011. Um, why? Because of how I knew how he felt about Libya, how I knew how he felt about the circumstances there, how I knew how he felt about his family. And then my thoughts and my feelings on his safety. Not willing to lose a friend. Not willing to lose a client. And also having feelings of the same way he does about the people of Libya.

EMMA ALBERICI: I’ll just pick you up on that point about knowing what Saadi Gaddafi was feeling. Can you articulate that for us?

GARY PETERS: He wasn’t happy with the situation in Libya. He wasn’t happy with the situation in Benghazi in February when there was a massacre in Benghazi. He had nothing to do with that. The media was reporting that he ordered this and ordered that. That’s rubbish. That’s garbage. He had nothing to do with that massacre. But – he went there because he was ordered to by his father to go and talk to the people. That’s why he went there in February. But the situation in Libya, for the people, for – everything that was happening, he was very distraught about that.

EMMA ALBERICI: You talk about extracting him from Libya; what was the plan?

GARY PETERS: The plan was to get him out of Libya and his family to another destination legally, somebody that would host him, some country that would host him and do everything legally. There was like paperwork, documentation, transportation, air transportation, property acquisition and ongoing security, so to speak. That was the plan. Now he never asked for this. This was done on our own bat to be presented to him to say, “OK, boss, you know, OK, Saadi, this is what I think should happen.”

For the full (and interesting) interview including video, click HERE.

See related HERE.

Houston Officers Disciplined for taking Photos with Celebrities

While the incident between a celebrities security and a male who happened to be a West Point Cadet has been commented on at length at several different places across the ‘net, I also want to mention another fire I saw brewing from the moment I watched the footage.  I’m speaking about the on-duty officers who stopped working long enough to take photos with the celebrity.  Unless they were clueless of the incident that occurred minutes before, I think there was a lapse in judgement, if nothing else from appearances sake. Best police scanner app helps to send correct data and notifications.

The Houston Examiner reports :

Two Houston Police officers have been disciplined for posing in pictures with a celebrity’s bodyguards after an airport scuffle that made national headlines.

A new criminal investigation has also been launched into the encounter. Visit  to hire a highly experienced personal detective to solve your personal or corporate criminal cases.

West Point cadet Richard King, 23, is suing legendary R & B singer Patti Labelle after her bodyguards pounced on him in a videotaped scuffle on March 11th.    King said his career at the United States Military Academy at West Point ended because of the ordeal.

Video that was aired on news outlets worldwide showed three of Labelle’s bodyguards confronting King in an intense physical struggle in which King claims in his lawsuit that he was beaten, shoved, and assaulted.

Shortly after medics took him away, the surveillance video of the encounter shows at least one Houston Police officer embracing Labelle and posing for photographs near a pool of blood that King had left on the ground in the spot where he was confronted.

Sgt. David Johnson has been given formal notice that he is being transferred away from the HPD Airport Division as a result of his posing for pictures in this ordeal.   One HPD source involved in the case says Sgt. Johnson had gotten into trouble for the same thing in the past. (emphasis mine, ES) That source said Sgt. Johnson had been seeking autographs and photographs with other celebrities he encountered while patrolling the airport and escorting dignitaries through the airport, which prompted supervisors to warn him against similar encounters in the future.

For the full article click HERE.

It’s more the mentality than anything, and I take issue when it occurs on a protective detail in which the officer are involved.  In many cases law enforcement may be used in an official (or unofficial capacity) by Executive Protection Teams, however compensation for that isn’t intended to come in the form of an autograph or a picture.  Theres a time and place for everything, and more often than not, that request comes at moments that increase rather than limit the VIP’s exposure. Learn about integrated solutions to secure yourself.

As far as the rest of this story.  it’s unfortunate and one that i’m sure will be concluding in the courts.

Bodyguard Fights to Stay in US

Ran across an very interesting  article regarding Nikolaos Skokos, the bodyguard to international singer Celine Dion and his battle against the US Department of Homeland Security to obtain a  permanent Visa.   Mr. Skokos, a Canadian resident is petitioning to stay in America under a little known immigration policy that that allows “aliens of extraordinary ability” — whether they are scientists, artists, athletes or in this case Executive Protection Agents — to become permanent residents.  the challenge is that Mr. Skokos has had to prove that “extraordinary ability” to the US Government.


For the full story, click HERE.

What Happened to Lara Logans Security?

Security Professionals always look at incidents of violence perpetrated against public figures with a slightly different perspective than the general public.  Such was the case when I heard about the tragic story of CBS News Corespondent Laura Logan.  The journalist was a victim first of detention by the Egyptian authorities and following her release and return to the region a brutal assault by a mob.

The offical account goes as such:  The evening of the attack, Ms. Logan, 39, the network’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, was covering the celebrations in Tahrir Square in central Cairo with a camera crew and an unknown number of security staff members. The CBS team was enveloped by “a dangerous element” within the crowd, CBS said, that numbered more than 200 people. That mob separated Ms. Logan from her team and then attacked her.

I, as well as scores of my peers, have had first hand experience dealing with massive crows that are whipped into such a frenzy that you can feel the threat looming, so much so that it’s almost a tangible thing.  At that point, independent of even the clients wishes, a decision must be made to leave the area for the safety of the Protectee.  You might get chewed out or even fired later, but your client will live to tell the tale.  After initially hearing this story, the obvious question to me was, exactly how did her secuirty team become seperated from her?

While researching I stumbled upon outtakes of an interview Ms. Logan conducted with Esquire Magazine, conducted after the detention, but before the assault, that appeared to shed a little more light on the incident:

Esquire:  On whom she was traveling with:

Laura: “I’m not the only one going back, my producer is coming with me. And with my husband. We made this decision together. And with my boss.”

Esquire: On the precautions they’d be taking:

Laura: “We’ve made sure that the Egyptian embassy in the U.S. knows we’re going. They’re fully aware of it. They know what our purpose is, that we’re journalists. We’ve made every effort to try and get media accreditation before we left, but the embassy said because of the backup they couldn’t [get it to us], so they’re trying to help us on the ground. There are no surprises here this time. It is a better plan. Again, it’s not foolproof, you know?”

Esquire: On worrying about a repeat scenario:

Laura: “Sure, of course you can never discount [that], it would be foolish to discount that possibility.”

Esquire: On traveling with private security:

Laura:No. We are not. It’s been so chaotic. I think we do have a security person on with us now, on our team, but I haven’t had a chance to even address that.” (emphasis mine ~ES)

While in no way placing the blame of the assault on Laura Logan herself, I do think at least at the time of the interview, security was an afterthought.   There may or may not have been a trained agent from the states with her, and if there was, his available resources may have been minimal.  It is also likely that a local(s) could have been used, at which point the vetting process could have been anywhere on the scale of “bad” to “very bad’.  It is also possible that none of this was the case and the network provided Mrs. Logan with an equipped team of seasoned security professionals qualified to go into a potential hot spot with their primary responsibility of protecting their client — not of making sure she got an award winning news story.  It’s possible, but based off of my personal experiences, unlikely.

This is a story i’ll be following with great interest, and it is my hope that corporations placing their employees in hostile situations overseas begin to recognize the value of being proactive with security.  Sadly, Laura Logan has paid a high price for that lesson.

~Elijah Shaw

Judge Dismisses Shooting Case Against Blackwater

A federal judge dismissed charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in a controversial shooting in a busy Baghdad square two years ago in a ruling that sharply criticized the tactics of Justice Department prosecutors handling the case.

The judge, Ricardo M. Urbina of the District’s federal court, found that prosecutors and agents had improperly used statements that the guards provided to the State Department in the hours and days after the shooting. The statements had been given with the understanding that they would not be used against the guards in court, the judge found, and federal prosecutors should not have used them to help guide their investigation. Urbina said other Justice Department lawyers had warned the prosecutors to tread carefully around the incriminating statements.

The five Blackwater guards — a sixth has pleaded guilty — were indicted in December 2008 on manslaughter and weapons charges accusing them of killing and injuring unarmed civilians.

Federal prosecutors have said the guards killed 14 Iraqis and wounded 20 in an unprovoked blaze of bullets and grenade explosions. The guards’ attorneys have said their clients fired in self-defense after being shot at by insurgents.

The incident, which badly strained U.S.-Iraqi relations, was the most serious one involving private security contractors in recent years, and it raised questions about using such guards in war zones. It so badly stigmatized Blackwater that the company renamed itself Xe Services.

For the full story click HERE.

Auditors Question TSA Over (mis)use of Funds

The Washington Post Reports – The Transportation Security Administration spent about $30 million on devices that puffed air on travelers to “sniff” them out for explosives residue. Those machines ended up in warehouses, removed from airports, abandoned as impractical.

The massive push to fix airport security in the United States after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, led to a gold rush in technology contracts and services like for an industry that mushroomed almost overnight. Since it was founded in 2001, the TSA has spent roughly $14 billion in more than 20,900 transactions with dozens of contractors.

In addition to beefing up the fleets of X-ray machines and traditional security systems at airports nationwide, about $8 billion also paid for ambitious new technologies. The agency has spent about $800 million on devices to screen bags and passenger items, including shoes, bottled liquids, casts and prostheses. For next year, it wants more than $1.3 billion for airport screening technologies.

But lawmakers, auditors and national security experts question whether the government is too quick to embrace technology as a solution for basic security problems and whether the TSA has been too eager to write checks for unproven products.

“We always want the best, the latest and greatest technology against terrorists, but that’s not necessarily the smartest way to spend your money and your efforts,” said Kip Hawley, who served as the head of the TSA from 2005 until last year. “We see a technology that looks promising, and the temptation is to run to deploy it before we fully understand how it integrates with the multiple layers we already have in place like using a watch list, training officers at every checkpoint to look for suspicious behavior and using some pat-downs.”

Click HERE for full story.

FAA Loses 100,000 Planes???

The Federal Aviation Administration is missing key information on who owns one-third of the 357,000 private and commercial aircraft in the U.S. — a gap the agency fears could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers.

The records are in such disarray that the FAA says it is worried that criminals could buy planes without the government’s knowledge, or use the registration numbers of other aircraft to evade new computer systems designed to track suspicious flights. It has ordered all aircraft owners to re-register their planes in an effort to clean up its files.

About 119,000 of the aircraft on the U.S. registry have “questionable registration” because of missing forms, invalid addresses, unreported sales or other paperwork problems, according to the FAA. In many cases, the FAA cannot say who owns a plane or even whether it is still flying or has been junked.

Full stop.  I think this one is worth repeating:  “the FAA says it is worried that criminals could buy planes without the government’s knowledge, or use the registration numbers of other aircraft to evade new computer systems designed to track suspicious flights”… This of course is just my opinion, but I think the emphasis should be less on if I have a soda in my bag going thru the airport scanner and more about the exact location and ownership of OVER ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND PLANES!?!

For the full amazing story click HERE.

Private Security Remains in Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has abandoned plans to scrap private security firms in the country by mid-December, the interior ministry says.

Fifty-four private security firms have been dissolved in recent weeks in a drive to clamp down on the industry.

But interior ministry officials said most of the 52 mainly Afghan firms remaining would retain their licences.

Private security firms provide guards at everything from diplomatic missions, aid agencies and supply convoys.

…In August, President Karzai gave private security companies four months to end operations in Afghanistan following concerns that some contractors empowered warlords and power brokers operating outside government control.

But recently aides to the president have advised him that the move to disband the network completely was ill-advised, as the security forces could not fill the gap.

“Their future operations will continue in accordance with the law and regulations in place,” an interior minister told a news conference in Kabul.

He said some of the 52 firms still operating remained under criminal investigation and could face closure; a list of banned companies would be announced on 17 December.

Mr Farahi said that those which remained would have to follow tighter rules. They would have to wear uniforms and would not be allowed to stop vehicles or block roads for security reasons.

For the full story, click HERE.

See previous:  Ban for Afghan Private Security Contractors

SO first the crackdown, and then the reshuffle.  It will be interesting to see how this continues to play out both through official and back channels.  ~ES

New Airport Scanner Screening Disaster

The controversy about the new full-body scanning systems implemented by the TSA is heating up the airwaves.  While no one is opposed to increased security, disaster stories like the one below show why public opinion is weighed heavily against the new procedures which subjects you a full body pat-down and has been charged with incidents like the one that happened in Australia to the woman who is actually now using for sexual assault.

And then of course, there’s this:

The airport screener arrested for assaulting a coworker who taunted him about the size of his private parts after his genitalia was exposed by a full-body scanner told police that he snapped after being subjected to “psychological torture” by fellow Transportation Security Administration employees who repeatedly asked him, “What size are you?”

In a handwritten statement given to cops following his May arrest, Rolando Negrin, 45, described the fallout after he walked through a high-tech “whole body image” scanner during a training session for TSA workers at Miami International Airport. Negrin’s statement to Miami-Dade Police Department officers,excerpted here, was obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request.

Negrin wrote that, despite his pleas, coworkers would not cease mocking him after the scanner gave them a revealing look.  For the full story click HERE.

For those in the Executive Protection industry charged with protecting our clients image as well as their well-being the new procedures are a cause for concern.   While the word “Private Jet” is thrown around quite a bit, the reality of it is more often than not VIP travel on commercial airlines and as such are subject to the same security screenings.   It will be interesting to see how our industry rises up to address these challenges.  ~ES