How a carding kingpin got caught and dealt a death blow to the Broadway Grill

Broadway without the Broadway Grill?

It was a summer day in Las Vegas. Inside the Mandalay Bay Convention Center during the annual hacker-focused conference Black Hat, the cybersecurity crowd found refuge from the scorching sun. From the podium in front of the darkened room, Norman Barbosa, a computer crimes prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle, tried to clear the air with some humor.

“The original title to this presentation was nixed,” he said of his talk, titled Ochko123 – How the Feds Caught Russian Mega-Carder Roman Seleznev. “I wanted to go with Ochko123 – Why you shouldn’t use ‘Butthole123’ as the password to your hacking empire,” he quipped. It doesn’t work well.”

“Ochko” means butthole in Russian. That’s not what makes it amusing. Something else renders Roman Seleznev the butt of this joke: The fact that Seleznev’s mega-carding empire, built on brute force password attacks of local businesses’ poorly secured point of sale systems, was exposed by poor security as well. He just couldn’t resist using one of his favorite  passwords, Ochko123, on his laptop holding hundreds of thousands of stolen credit card numbers. Continue reading

Capitol Hill case at center of flap over judge’s cozy relationship with KOMO’s ‘Seattle is Dying’-themed coverage, political group — UPDATE

A call from the Seattle City Attorney for a municipal court judge to step down from his position leading the court over “apparent violations of the canons of judicial ethics” is also shining new light on Seattle media and activists who claim they are dedicated to shaping more accountable government in the city.

Pete Holmes and Anita Khandelwal, director of the Department of Public Defense, say in a letter released Wednesday that Seattle Municipal Court Judge Ed McKenna should step down as presiding judge and recuse himself from criminal cases after “predetermining harsh outcomes for defendants and advertising the sentencings to local media,” Crosscut reports.

The case at the center of the unusual courtroom activities has a Capitol Hill connection. The crime took place last November when an angry man punched a victim without provocation in the crosswalk at Broadway and Pine. The blow sent the victim’s headphones flying and left the shaken man with a swollen lip. It landed the assailant, Francisco Calderon, in jail and set in motion a bizarre episode in Seattle justice with a judge allegedly shaping his proceedings for a television reporter and a political group. Continue reading

By the Pound financial troubles extend off Hill as sibling bar and restaurant evicted in West Seattle

The trouble doesn’t stop on Capitol Hill for the family of businesses around the financially troubled and shuttered E Olive Way speakeasy By the Pound.

Partners and companies related to the shuttered bar concept evicted late last year over thousands of unpaid rent are also named in lawsuits related to West Seattle ventures Vine & Spoon and Alchemy which were also evicted over claims of unpaid rent to end the year. West Seattle Blog reports they “spoke briefly at the end of last week with an ownership representative who said they had a new investor who would assist them in reopening, and they promised to call us back to talk more about their plans.” Continue reading

Seattle moves to toss ‘driving while poor’ warrants

In an effort to help end the often unfair and inequitable cycle that can start from even the lowest level criminal conviction, the City of Seattle has asked that a few hundred warrants for non-violent crimes be tossed out.

“We’re acting to make Seattle a more just city, to recognize that our criminal justice system disproportionately impacts people of color, and to ensure that our officers can focus on the most violent offenders and protecting public safety,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement. “We must continue to challenge ourselves to discover and provide more effective alternatives to prosecution and incarceration.” Continue reading

Shuttered By the Pound deli speakeasy evicted over thousands in unpaid rent

There’s a bigger mess than the construction reportedly underway at the shuttered By the Pound deli and bar.

A King County Sheriff’s eviction notice has gone up on the venue’s locked E Olive Way door. Court records show the companies behind the project owe more than $75,000 in unpaid rent — plus daily rent of $317.24 for every day after Halloween they didn’t vacate the premise, and more than $1,600 in attorney’s fees and hundreds more in costs. Continue reading

Court upholds Seattle’s pro-renter cap on move-in fees

Kshama Sawant-driven cap on move-in fees that can be charged to renters in Seattle has been upheld by a King County Superior Court judge.

The Seattle City Council approved legislation capping fees in fall 2016 but the new law has been tied up in court by a lawsuit brought be the pro-landlord Rental Housing Association of Washington group.

Under the measure from the District 3 representative, landlords can only charge tenants the first full month’s rent upon move-in and need to allow tenants to pay the security deposit, non-refundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent in installments.

The legislation was driven by research conducted by the Washington Community Action Network, an advocacy organization working on housing justice, conducted a survey study on Seattle’s housing crisis. Researchers found almost 90% of respondents said that the biggest barrier to moving into more affordable housing was the prohibitively expensive up-front fees a landlord can charge a new tenant.

It’s not clear what’s next for the cap law. The landlord advocacy group hasn’t said yet if it plans to appeal the ruling.

 

Sawant campaign to ‘Save the Showbox’ at heart of $40M lawsuit

The Kshama Sawant-championed Seattle City Council decision to “save the Showbox” by surgically sliding the 1st Ave venue under the historical protections of the Pike Place Market has the city staring down the barrel of a $40 million lawsuit and an embarrassing reversal of the ordinance.

While District 3 and Capitol Hill representative Sawant is mentioned by name only once in the 22-page suit, her political effort to stymie the planned sale and redevelopment of the property owned by strip club magnate Roger Forbes is front and center in the suit:

When politicians cater to populist calls – whether those calls are “lock her up,” “build the wall,” “ban Muslims,” or “Save the Showbox” – civil and other rights are placed at risk. Populism, and politicians’ desires to appease their loudest constituents and generate headlines must, however, yield to the rule of law. Luckily for those who prefer protection of civil, constitutional and property rights, the courts exist to preserve, protect and enforce the rule of law.

About the D3 council member herself, lawyers at the Seattle-based Byrnes, Keller, and Cromwell firm representing the property — set to be acquired by Canadian developer Onni Group to build a 44-story apartment building after demolition of the Showbox — say Sawant’s actions were an “Appearance of Fairness” violation: Continue reading

With Twilight Exit’s new thing on Rainier, there’s only one Union

Dark and drinky inside the Twilight Exit (Image: CHS)

Fans of Capitol Hill food+drink drama, settle down. Thanks to Central District classic joint the Twilight Exit, there won’t be any litigative battle over the name chosen for Capitol Hill’s newest gay bar.

Commenters on CHS and social media have asked about whether there might end up being confusion between Capitol Hill’s new Union and Union Bar in Hillman City.

We can happily report there will be very little to no confusion — Union Bar is becoming Twilight Rainier.

 

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Twilight owner Stephan Mollmann confirms that the five-year-old Hillman City bar is now in the Twilight family.

The original Twilight Exit moved from E Madison to E Cherry in 2008. Today, a six-story apartment building stands at the original site across from the 22nd/Madison Safeway. Mollmann also opened The Neighbor Lady at 23rd and Union in 2011.

Hate crime charge in Pike/Pine shattered glass stabbing attack

A 35-year-old man has been charged with a hate crime in the Sunday, July 22nd stabbing attack on two men during an altercation at 12th and Pine.

CHS previously reported on the attack here. The King County Prosecutor’s office has charged Caster Kwak with one count of malicious harassment.

According to police, the suspect stabbed one of his victims with broken glass as they wrestled in a fight started when Kwak saw the man and another man holding hands while crossing the street at 12th and Pine and started calling the men faggots. Continue reading

Fake FBI agent busted for $130K Central District robbery and string of crimes pleads guilty

A Lake Stevens man charged in a string of fake FBI agent robberies including a $130K rip-off in the Central District pleaded guilty last week to seven federal felonies and now faces up to 20 years in prison.

Investigators say Steven Fisher “used fake credentials in the names of fictional characters or famous fraudsters” to commit his crimes. In a January 2017 robbery reported on by CHS at the time, investigators say Fisher claimed to be a Federal Bureau of Investigations agent investigating a suspicious transaction at 23rd and Jackson’s Red Sea FinanceContinue reading