El Chapo’s drug trafficking conviction upheld by federal appeals court

Notorious drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s conviction on charges of running a multi-billion-dollar narcotics trafficking operation was upheld Tuesday by a federal appeals court in New York. 

In an opinion filed Tuesday morning, a three-judge panel for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a host of arguments Chapo’s lawyers raised in an effort to overturn his conviction. 

Potential juror misconduct was among the arguments raised by his attorneys after an unnamed panelist spoke to Vice News and claimed members of the panel had followed media coverage of the case during the trial. 

In an October 2021 appeal hearing, Chapo attorney Marc Fernich urged the panel to overturn the conviction because of the article. 

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, second from right, listens to his sentence via interpreter, July 17, 2019.
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman listens to his sentence via interpreter, July 17, 2019.
Elizabeth Williams via AP, File
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is serving his sentence at a “supermax” federal prison near Florence, Colorado.
AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File

In their opinion on Tuesday, the trio of judges said any possible prejudice the jury was exposed to was “harmless in view of the overwhelming evidence of Guzman’s guilt that was presented at his three-month long trial.” 

The judges added: “None of the allegations in the VICE News article shows that any juror was not impartial, harbored bias against Guzman, or was otherwise unfit to serve.” 

Chapo was sentenced to life in prison in July 2019 after being convicted in Brooklyn federal court on a slew of charges related to the industrial-scale drug trafficking operation he headed for years as leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. 

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman waves to his wife Emma Coronel Aispuro (R) in this court sketch during a sentencing hearing for Guzman in New York City, U.S. July 17, 2019
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was charged with running a multi-billion-dollar narcotics trafficking operation.
REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s conviction was upheld Tuesday by a federal appeals court.
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File

At his sentencing, Chapo railed against the judge’s decision not give him a new trial based on the apparent juror misconduct. 

“You didn’t want to question the jury, so what you did was you alleged the actions of the jurors were not important because there was a lot of evidence against me,” Guzman railed. “If that was the case, why did we go to trial? The jury was not necessary then. Why didn’t you just sentence me [immediately]?” he said through a translator

Chapo is serving his sentence at a “supermax” federal prison near Florence, Colorado, where he spends 23 hours a day confined to his cell.

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El Chapo allegedly whacked the men who forced him to pay $500K for long johns

As the billionaire head of the Sinaloa Cartel, El Chapo was used to paying exorbitant prices for everything he wanted. But even the mighty crime boss flinched when he was forced to shell out $500,000 for a pair of long johns.

The thermal bottoms were intended for his son, Ivan Guzmán Salazar, who was serving a three-year sentence for money laundering at the maximum security prison of La Palma (Altiplano) where his father himself had once been incarcerated in the early 1990s.

In the winter of 2007-2008, Ivan’s cell was so cold he asked through various intermediaries — “a corruption pipeline” — to get his father (real name: Joaquín Guzmán Loera) to send the underwear.

Ivan had relied on his dad in the past. In 2005, when he was arrested with three others and charged with double homicide in Jalisco state, he only faced accusations of money laundering “thanks to lawyers hired by El Chapo,” writes Mexican journalist Anabel Hernandez in her new book “Emma and the Other Narco Women” (Grijalbo Publishing), out Jan. 25.

El Chapo was charged $500,000 to send long johns to his son in the same prison where he himself had served time.
El Chapo was charged $500,000 to send long johns to his son in the same prison where he himself had served time.
AP

A few years later, when Ivan needed to keep warm in prison, El Chapo asked one of his fellow drug traffickers — Edgar “the Barbie” Valdez Villareal — to find out who he had to bribe at the maximum security prison to get his son some warm layers.

Ivan Guzmán Salazar (left, with his brother Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar) was doing time for money laundering when he asked his father for help.
Ivan Guzmán Salazar (left, with his brother Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar) was doing time for money laundering when he asked his father for help.
Twitter

“With one phone call, one of the soldiers found the right person,” writes Hernandez. “A guard at the prison could get the clothing to his son.”

El Chapo put out a hit on the soldiers who had scammed him over the long johns.
El Chapo put out a hit on the soldiers who had scammed him over the long johns.
Getty Images

The guard charged $100,000 for the favor, but out of greed the two soldiers who had made the contact decided to ask El Chapo for five times the amount. They offered to cut the Barbie in on the deal, but “because he knew who he was dealing with,” Barbie declined the offer, writes Hernandez.

Another El Chapo son, Edgar Guzmán Lopez, was later gunned down — by his father's hired killers — in a case of mistaken identity.
Another El Chapo son, Edgar Guzmán Lopez, was later gunned down — by his father’s hired killers — in a case of mistaken identity.
@fridaguzmanoficial/

El Chapo paid the full $500k to get his son a couple of T-shirts and thermal underwear, but then he began to investigate. When the Barbie told him what the soldiers had done, the Sinaloa leader dispatched a hit squad. The two men were tortured and killed, their bodies quartered and left on the outskirts of Mexico City’s international airport, according to Hernandez.

The new book "Emma and the Other Narco Women" reveals many stories about El Chapo and his family.
The new book “Emma and the Other Narco Women” reveals many stories about El Chapo and his family.

A few months later, Ivan was released but another son, Edgar Guzmán Lopez, was gunned down in a hail of bullets. The hit was ordered by El Chapo himself in what proved to be a case of mistaken identity.

And yet, this time, El Chapo was merciful.

“He pardoned the hitmen and there were no reprisals,” writes Hernandez. “The offense of having been charged $500,000 for the long underwear was a lot more serious than the assassination of his son.”

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El Chapo devoured Viagra, delivery meals and women in prison

When Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera landed in prison for the first time, he transformed himself into the king of the penal colony — ordering in meals, drugs and women on demand, according to a new book.

“During his years at Puente Grande [prison], El Chapo was a drug and sex addict,” writes Anabel Hernandez in “Emma and the Other Narco Women” (Grijalbo Publishing), out Jan. 25.

The Mexican journalist adds that El Chapo competed with fellow prisoner Hector Luis Palma Salazar, also a Sinaloa drug trafficker, to see who could last the longest during sexual acts and who could accumulate the greatest number of partners.

“They brought in prostitutes from outside, and when that was not possible they paid nurses, cleaners and cooks who worked in the penal system,” Hernandez writes.

El Chapo reportedly was able to fund his prison lifestyle thanks to money funneled in from a drug-dealer cousin.
El Chapo reportedly was able to fund his prison lifestyle thanks to money funneled in from a drug-dealer cousin.
AFP/Getty Images

The men also had sex with female prisoners who were incarcerated in the men’s section of the facility. Among El Chapo’s lovers was Zulema Yulia Hernandez, 23, who was serving time for robbery. El Chapo, then a married father of five, got her pregnant on at least two occasions and arranged for her to obtain abortions at the prison, according to Hernandez.

Among the drugs the cartel leader arranged to receive in prison: Viagra.
Among the drugs the cartel leader arranged to receive in prison: Viagra.
Bloomberg /Getty Images

Meanwhile, he ordered that an unnamed female prisoner who refused his advances be savagely beaten and raped.

Hernandez writes that the drug kingpin also had food from the best Mexican restaurants delivered to his cell, as well as — perhaps unsurprisingly, given his competition with Salazar — Viagra.

El Chapo, who began his life of crime in the 1970s as a driver for drug trafficker Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, landed in prison in 1993 for his role in the assassination of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, who was gunned down in the parking lot of the international airport in Guadalajara.

The Catholic bishop was caught in the crossfire between rival drug traffickers and mistaken for a drug lord.

El Chapo reportedly bribed prison guards to get his way.
El Chapo reportedly bribed prison guards to get his way.
AFP/Getty Images

In prison, Hernandez writes, El Chapo was able to pay for his lifestyle thanks to regular infusions of cash from his cousin, drug dealer Arturo Beltran Leyva. He also bribed federal guards at the Puente Grande high security prison in Jalisco, according to the book.

The cartel leader escaped in January 2001. The official version was that he left the prison in a laundry cart, but, according to Henandez, El Chapo left the building dressed as a policeman “with the complicity of many federal authorities.”

In 2019, he was sentenced to life on drug trafficking charges in the US and is now serving a life sentence at a maximum security prison in Colorado, where presumably Viagra isn’t available on tap.

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‘Johnny Pizza’ Porcello charged with illegal betting, loan sharking

He wanted the dough.

Reputed Genovese crime family associate John “Johnny Pizza” Porcello was indicted in Brooklyn federal court this week for running an illegal sports betting ring and overseeing a loan sharking racket, according to court documents unsealed Thursday.

Porcello, 59, raked in the cheese with co-defendant Ronald Seebeck, 56, in the loansharking scheme from September 2016 through August 2021, federal prosecutors charged.

The pair also ran a sports gambling ring of at least five people from 2020 through 2021 that produced more than $2,000 in profits on a given day, the indictment states.

Porcello, of Yonkers, and Seebeck, of Tuckahoe, both pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in Brooklyn federal court and were released on bond, a spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office said.

If convicted, they face a maximum of 20 years in prison on the loan sharking charge and five years for the gambling ring.

Shovel in front of burning wood and flames in fireplace of ready to use traditional italian brick pizza oven
John Porcello was known for his reputed ties to the Genovese family mob.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Porcello, who previously owned a pizzeria in the Bronx, was busted by the feds in 2011 as part of what was billed at the time as the largest mob bust in US history.

The pizzaman was rounded up with 13 fellow wiseguys connected to the Genovese family that year, including several mobsters in the family’s leadership.

Porcello copped to one loan sharking conspiracy count and was sentenced to 13 months in prison, according to court records.

A red hot pizza oven.
John “Johnny Pizza” Porcello used to own a pizzeria in the Bronx.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Attorneys for Porcello and Seebeck did not immediately return request for comment.

This article was originally posted here

New book reveals El Chapo is still legally married to his first wife

El Chapo’s wife, former teen beauty queen Emma Coronel Aispuro, is not actually his wife at all, it seems.

Although they wed on her 18th birthday in July 2007, to this day the imprisoned drug-cartel leader remains legally tied to his first wife, a social worker he married in 1977.

In the new book “Emma and the Other Narco Women” (Grijalbo Publishing), out Jan. 25, Coronel Aispuro insists to author Anabel Hernández that she and El Chapo were married under “the law of the divine.”

But the 64-year-old kingpin — real name: Joaquín Guzmán Loera — is still wed to Alejandrina Salazar, with whom he has five children. Hernandez, a Mexican journalist, verified their marriage as recently as last year.

That didn’t stop El Chapo from bribing a local priest in Sinaloa, Mexico, to conduct a religious ceremony for him and Coronel Aispuro, now 32.

The cartel leader was not divorced from his first wife when he bribed a priest to conduct a ceremony with Aispuro.
El Chapo was not divorced from his first wife when he bribed a priest to conduct a ceremony with Emma Coronel Aispuro.
AP
The couple have 10-year-old twin girls together.
El Chapo and Coronel Aispuro have 10-year-old twin girls together.
Rashid Umar Abbasi

The “bride” told Hernandez that they had a small celebration afterward with their families in attendance. But guests at the wedding called the party — attended by members of the country’s army, as well as local politicians and the governor of Sinaloa — “enormous.”

During their courtship, Coronel Aispuro, who is the mother of 10-year-old twin daughters with El Chapo, claimed she had no idea what her beau did for a living — even though he was a fugitive with his face on wanted posters across the country.

“It’s only after it came out in the news that we had gotten married that I started to figure out what was going on with him, although I didn’t really give it that much importance,” Coronel Aispuro told Hernandez about discovering that her new husband was one of the world’s most wanted criminals. “I was all of 18 years old after all.”

Emma Coronel Aispuro told author, Anabel Hernandez that she and El Chapo were married under "the law of the divine."
Emma Coronel Aispuro told author, Anabel Hernandez that she and El Chapo were married under “the law of the divine.”
Getty Images
Aispuro was a teen beauty queen when she and El Chapo met.
Aispuro was a teen beauty queen when she and El Chapo met.

The drug lord also had nine children with different mothers, including Griselda Guadalupe López Pérez, who is often reported to be his second “wife.” The women were all older than Coronel Aispuro and wanted nothing to do with her, writes Hernandez.

Coronel Aispuro, who was sentenced to three years in prison last year for helping her husband run the cartel, told Hernandez that she is extremely devoted to El Chapo. For months during her husband’s trial in Brooklyn federal court, thee leggy brunette sat in the courtroom everyday.

But the devotion was a legal tactic ordered by his team of attorneys to make the brutal drug lord appear like a committed family man and less like a murderous thug, according to Hernandez.

The new book "Emma and the Other Narco Women" contains many stories about the couple.
Anabel Hernández new book “Emma and the Other Narco Women” contains many stories about the couple.

El Chapo is serving a life sentence at a maximum security prison in Colorado.

This article was originally posted here

Book reveals surprising reason El Chapo fell for his much-younger wife

Enchiladas have always been the way to El Chapo’s heart.

Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the former leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, once fell in love with a prison cook when he was first sent to jail in 1993 because she served up “enchiladas suizas” the way his mother made them — in the Sinaloan style, smothered in tomato sauce and cream and oozing melted cheese.

Now, a new book reveals that El Chapo, 64, was won over by his current wife, leggy 32-year-old Emma Coronel Aispuro, after she cooked him her own enchilada recipe while the two were dating in her home state of Durango.

El Chapo met Coronel Aispuro in 2006 at a country dance near her hometown in La Angostura. She claims that she had no idea he was the feared leader of the Sinaloa Cartel and a fugitive from justice. “He never bought me huge gifts or other big things,” Coronel Aispuro told Mexican journalist Anabel Hernandez for the book, “Emma and the Other Narco Women” (Grijalbo Publishing), out Jan. 25. “He won people over with his way of being…He never put on airs. He acted like any normal person.”

"Maybe El Chapo was looking for his mother in all the women he knew," a new book claims — including his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro.
“Maybe El Chapo was looking for his mother in all the women he knew,” a new book claims — including his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro.
Getty Images

Although she was still a minor in a traditional rural family, her parents allowed her to go out on dates with El Chapo, who took her to regional dances. “We danced and talked,” Coronel told Hernandez. One day, she cooked him his favorite dish, and El Chapo knew he had found the woman of his dreams

“Maybe El Chapo was looking for his mother in all the women he knew,” Hernandez writes.

The way to drug lord El Chapo's heart, apparently, is through his stomach.
The way to drug lord El Chapo’s heart, apparently, is through his stomach.
REUTERS

El Chapo was born to an impoverished family in La Tuna, in a remote region of Sinaloa state. The eldest of six children, he only went as far as the third grade in school before he was forced to earn money for his family. His father took him along to the family’s small marijuana plantation when he was seven years old to help him plant seeds. His mother, a homemaker, cooked for the family.

El Chapo fell for his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, after she made enchiladas suizas just like his mama did.
El Chapo fell for his wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, after she made enchiladas suizas just like his mama did.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

During El Chapo’s trial in Brooklyn federal court it emerged that Coronel Aispuro had aided her husband’s escape from a high security prison in Mexico and helped him deliver messages to the Sinaloa cartel. She was tried in a DC federal court last year, and sentenced to three years behind bars. Meanwhile, El Chapo’s mother, Maria Consuelo Loera Perez, 93, remains devoted to her son, who is currently serving a life sentence for drug trafficking and murder at a maximum security facility in Colorado.

When he was detained at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Correctional Center two years ago, Loera Perez received clearance from US authorities to visit him. She said she was hoping to bring along his favorite dish.

El Chapo's mom, Maria Consuelo Loera, got clearance to give her son his favorite dish in a US prison two years ago.
El Chapo’s mom, Maria Consuelo Loera, got clearance to give her son his favorite dish in a US prison two years ago.
AFP/Getty Images

“He loves enchiladas,” she told Mexican reporters when the humanitarian visa came through in June 2019. She also thanked Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for personally intervening in her mission.

This article was originally posted here

Baltimore Crime Lord Used Business Relationship With Puffy Combs To Throw 500 Parties, Funnel Illegal Gains From Drug Empire

January 15, 2022 — According to court testimony, former Baltimore drug kingpin Richard (Smitty) Byrd held an exclusive contract to hold parties and rap concerts with hip hop mogul Sean (Puff Daddy) Combs whenever Combs visited Maryland. The business relationship resulted in more than 500 events, many of which Byrd would use to wash drug proceeds, per Byrd’s own testimony at the trial of his one-time attorney last year.

The Jamaican-born Byrd, 48, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 26 years in federal prison for running what the DEA called one of the biggest wholesale marijuana and cocaine operations in Baltimore history. Authorities seized 1,000 pounds of weed and 26 kilos of coke in an April 2013 raid. His indictment landed a year later in the spring of 2014.

Byrd laundered his drug money through a business called Loc Marketing, the name behind the celebrity-filled shindigs and music concerts he hosted in coordination with Combs, the man who practically single-handedly pioneered the hip-hop revolution that took over the music industry in the 1990s and has yet to stop its momentum in pop culture and on the Billboard charts. During his testimony late last year, Byrd also spoke of partying with rap luminaries Drake, Nelly and Young Jeezy.

A rapper, producer, label head and fashion designer, Combs, 52, has been linked to notorious gangland figures in the past, specifically the Crips street gang and the Black Mafia Family, the biggest African-American organized crime group in the United States between 1990 and 2005. Combs’ dad, Melvin, was involved in the Harlem dope game of the 1970s, doing business with legendary heroin dons Nicky Barnes and Frank Lucas before being killed.

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El Chapo’s granddaughter launches singing career

El Chapo’s granddaughter is ready to hit the big time — the teenage singer recently became a finalist on a nationally televised reality show in Mexico.

Frida Sofia Guzman Munoz, 16, became one of three finalists on “Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento,” the Mexican equivalent of America’s Got Talent in November, according to press reports. Although she did not win the competition, the reality show has boosted her nascent career as a singer of regional Mexican ballads.

She is the daughter of Edgar Guzman Lopez, a favorite son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. El Chapo, who headed up the Sinaloa Cartel, is serving a life sentence for murder and drug-trafficking at a Colorado prison.

Guzman, whose stepfather is the son of retired Mexican boxing legend Julio Cesar Lopez, rocketed to national prominence when she sang the Mexican national anthem during a boxing event in Durango in 2020.

Guzman first rose to national prominence in 2020.
Guzman first rose to national prominence in 2020.
Instagram/@F r i d a G u z m a n

In addition to singing Mexican regional music, Guzman also works as a model and lives in the US, according to press reports. Her Instagram page, which boasts more than 81,000 followers, features videos of the young singer in concert in glamorous outfits.

Guzman also loves to box, a skill she acquired from her step-father, Julio Cesar Lopez Jr., a professional boxer who held the World Boxing Council’s middleweight title from 2011 to 2012. Guzman’s mother married Chavez Jr. after the murder of Guzman’s father in 2008.

El Chapo
El Chapo, seen above in 1993, is currently serving a life sentence.
AFP via Getty Images

Edgar Guzman Lopez was one of El Chapo’s favorite sons and chosen successor. But he died in a gun battle in a shopping center parking lot in Sinaloa’s capital Culiacan in May 2008.

Authorities recovered 500 bullet casings from AK-47s after the the shoot-out, which according to press reports was a case of mistaken identity. Guzman Lopez was mistaken for Arturo Beltran Leyva, the head of the rival Beltran Leyva cartel.

El Chapo was reportedly so distraught after his son’s murder that he bought up all the roses in the city of Culiacan — more than 50,000 — for the funeral, according to Mexican news reports.

This article was originally posted here

The Detroit Mob & The Mormon Church: Motown’s “Flamingo” Fleeced Mafia Figure Allen Hilf For 1.5 Mil As He Sat Helpless Behind Bars

January 14, 2022 — Former Detroit mob mega-bookie Allen (The General) Hilf was robbed of more than one million bucks when he served federal prison time for a sports gambling bust in the late 1980s. The culprit: his own gun-mol wife, Virginia Hill, a Mormon-born Las Vegas dancer, stripper and aspiring actress.

The case of the missing 1.5 million dollars made it front of the Utah Supreme Court, although not on Hilf’s accord. And at the end of the day, the court acknowledged Virginia Hill pilfered the cash from her ex-husband by liquidating his assets and emptying a joint banking account, but allowed her to keep it anyway.

Hilf, one of the biggest bookmakers in the United States at his peak, died of kidney failure in 2014 at age 73. He was a longtime member of the Detroit mafia’s Giacalone crew and at the end of his life acted as as the top adviser to reputed Tocco-Zerilli crime family boss Jack (Jackie the Kid) Giacalone. His only marriage during his life was to Virginia Hill, who he met in Vegas and mobsters in Detroit nicknamed the Flamingo after famous slain Jewish mob figure Benjamin (Bugsy) Siegel’s gal-pal Virginia “The Flamingo” Hill (no relation), portrayed by actresses Dyan Cannon and Annette Bening in television and film roles, respectively.

Like her earlier namesake, Hilf’s Virginia Hill was a woman unafraid of using her feminine wiles to get ahead in the world and ultimately get rich. Bugsy’s Virginia was born and raised in Alabama, but the General’s Flamingo was raised Mormon in

Utah.

Hill began plotting her escape from Hilf when he was sent to prison for 18 months in 1987. She consolidated the cash she grabbed from Hilf’s stash spots, safety deposit boxes and bank accounts and took off for Las Vegas in 1989, right after Hilf got home from the can but before he could realize what she had done. The amount of the money-jack has been estimated between $2,000,000 and $5,000,000, according to sources and court documents.

Hill left Vegas months later and went to stay with her uncle in St. George, Utah, where he belonged to an offshoot of the Church of Latter Day Saints called the Apostolic United Brethren. A number of AUB church goers broke off to form their own polygamy sect and tried to persuade her to give them $1.5 million dollars to purchase a plot of land for a new church commune. Instead, she gave them $40,000 to help them in their efforts. Hill left the rest of the money hidden in her uncle’s house in St. George and returned to Vegas.

When Hill went to Utah dip into the buried nest egg in 1991, the money was gone. It somehow made its way from her uncle’s polygamy camp back to the leaders of the AUB church. AUB president Owen Allred used the over $1.5 mil on paying off property loans, purchasing a car lot in Salt Lake County and luxury vehicles for Allred and other AUB influence peddlers.

Hill filed a federal lawsuit, that at first was tossed out of court and then reinstated by Utah’s highest court. In 2003, Hill won her suit and a judgement of $1.8 million. An appeals court judge voided the payout on the grounds that Hill had “dirty hands” in obtaining the funds in the first place. It was Hill who had the last laugh though and the state’s high court once again ruled in her favor, saying it didn’t matter how she got the money into her possession and that because she was defrauded of the cash, she was entitled to it back plus damages.

This article was originally posted here

Stranger Things In The D: Matouk Roman Case Marks Twelfth Anniversary, Only Alleged Witness To Disappearance Found Dead In Detroit

January 13, 2022 — Just a month removed from the strange passing of the only alleged witness in the case, the disappearance and death of Metro Detroit housewife JoAnn Matouk Romain marks its 12th anniversary this week. The Matouk Romain case was the focus of an Unsolved Mysteries episode on Netflix back in the fall of 2020 and Channel 4 won Emmy awards for its coverage of the case last year.

The 55-year old Matouk Romain vanished after attending a church service in swanky Grosse Pointe Farms on the night of January 12, 2010 and wasn’t found until almost three months later when Canadian fishermen came across her floating dead body in near pristine condition on the Ontario, Canada side of the Detroit River. The “Grosse Pointes” are an affluent cluster of neighbourhoods resting on Lake St. Clair, just to the east of the Detroit city limits.

The Matouk family was at war with each other in the years preceding her death over a wine-store and real estate fortune estimated between $10,000,000 and $20,000,000. The cause of death was immediately ruled a suicide by drowning despite the fact that an independent autopsy conducted by pathologists at the University of Michigan ruled that there was no water in her lungs at the time she stopped breathing.

Matouk Romain feuded with her first cousin, Tim, a decorated cop and lead investigator for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, in the weeks leading up to her going missing and told friends and those closest to her that she feared for her life. On January 7, 2010, Matouk Romain had a face-to-face meeting with members of federal law enforcement, per sources. What was discussed at this meeting remains unknown.

Tim Matouk denies any culpability in the disappearance and death of JoAnn Matouk Romian. He did an interview with both Unsolved Mysteries last December and with Dateline Detroit this week offering his side of the story and refuting the allegation that he ever threatened Matouk Romain’s life. Art gallery owner and former high school football star Paul Hawk signed an affidavit claiming to have seen a man resembling Tim Matouk standing next to JoAnn Matouk Romain near the banks of Lake St. Clair around the time she vanished. Hawk’s allegations came under scrutiny for first identifying Matouk’s brother John as the man he had seen that night and maintaining a questionable timeline in relation to the time the sun set on January 12, 2010.

Hawk, 55, was found dead in his Grosse Pointe Woods home December 8, 2021. His cause of death is unclear, although initial reports stated that no foul play was suspected. Hawk was one of the greatest running backs in Grosse Pointe South High School history and played at Western Michigan and briefly at the University of Michigan. Hawk’s step brother, Tony Volpe, died suddenly in November.

Matouk Romain’s children and brother John have accused their cousin of murdering their mother and the Grosse Pointe Police Department of covering it up, allegations dismissed by federal judges in civil litigation seeking damages of $100,000,000. Grosse Pointe was long known as Ground Zero for Detroit’s Italian mafia, with all the dons of the crime family building an enclave known as “The Compound” on Middlesex Road in the 1930s.

Local mob shot callers began moving further north and then west in the 1990s and 2000s. One of those questioned in the case was an alleged mob-connected bookmaker tied to a number of members of the Matouk family, including John, who had a gambling debt with the bookie. The Matouks are of Syrian descent.

If anyone has information on what Matouk was meeting with the FBI about or why she was in fear for her life, which leads to arrests, they can collect the award as well. Information to claim the $200,000 reward can be sent to infor@ScottLewisPI.com or phoned into 855-411-LEWIS.

This article was originally posted here