Letters to the Editor

Cleaning Up the Cash; A Group Hug; Burning Bush; Correction

Cleaning Up the Cash

Quote, unquote: I am the San Francisco assistant district attorney interviewed by Matt Smith referenced in the article entitled "Dirty Money" (Oct. 31). The article misquoted me. I did not tell Mr. Smith that I "considered money-laundering prosecutions the purview of federal, not local, authorities." In fact I told him that I am currently prosecuting a major multimillion-dollar money-laundering case against two defendants. I even spelled the defendants' names for him so he could spell them correctly for his article. (I further told him that our office was interested in prosecuting additional cases involving money laundering and more prosecutions will be forthcoming.) Please print this letter to set the record straight.

John V. Carbone Jr.
Assistant District Attorney
San Francisco District Attorney's Special Prosecutions Unit

Editor's note:Notes taken during the referenced interview reflect that Mr. Carbone said the following: "Based on my experience, money laundering has traditionally been a crime exclusively investigated and prosecuted by federal authorities. I am sure there are several reasons for that, not the least of which is that all these reports go to the IRS, and the IRS determines who gets investigated and prosecuted. There are state statutes dealing with laundering of money and structuring of deposits to avoid currency transaction reporting requirements.

"We, in our office, are at a disadvantage in investigating these crimes because we don't routinely get the SARs [Suspicious Activity Reports]. Unless during the course of another type of criminal investigation we come across these violations, we wouldn't be included in the investigatory loop.

"To my knowledge our Police Department doesn't have a specialized [money-laundering] unit. We have dealt with it only collaterally as a result of a lack of investigatory capability."

I believe that Matt Smith correctly summarized the gist of Mr. Carbone's statements. I also believe Mr. Carbone when he says his office is involved in some money-laundering prosecutions.

Block party: We at the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods were delighted to provide Matt Smith with our hospitality at CSFN's 29th (not 20th) annual dinner ("Dirty Money," Oct. 31). Few local reporters take the time to research and write thoughtful articles about neighborhood issues these days, and we appreciate Matt's skill and interest, even when we don't all agree with him. CSFN represents 34 neighborhoods, i.e., 34 different points of view. Matt now knows that we are a federation of diverse perspectives, that we are tolerant of diversity of opinion and are by no means a homogenized special interest group. Mayor Jerry Brown's remarks were not directed at us, as Matt implied. Rather, they were delivered in honor of us, because he well knows that neighborhood organizations are the backbone of participatory democracy, even in San Francisco.

Barbara Meskunas
Executive Vice President
Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods

Western Addition

A Group Hug

The idea to do a stupid bullshit article got shot down in the editors' meeting: Hey, you will have to excuse the terrible grammar and punctuation; I go to a public high school in Houston. Anyway, I just want to say thank you for not writing a stupid bullshit article about the Distillers ("Appetite for Resurrection," Music, Oct. 31). They have been my favorite band ever since I first heard them, and it means a lot to see them getting some positive attention.

Nic Fox
Cypress, Texas

Burning Bush

What we heard: "Your column was fine": For a one-joke waste of ink, your silly column was just fine ("Osama Was Here," Matt Smith, Oct. 17). And, of course, you had every right to write it. But I've got a couple of questions for you: Toward the end there, in your big finale, why did you call George Bush all those nasty names? You had already said in your bitingly satirical prose that free speech wasn't the issue when economic forces threaten the jobs of editorial writers. OK, got it. So you weren't just making a point. Perhaps you really believe all your snipes.

I didn't vote for George Bush, and I never thought he would make much of a president, but I also never presumed to read his mind or to know how he feels at any given moment, or how he felt on Sept. 11. Do you really knowthat Dubya is a coward? Do you have some inside information to support the name-calling?

The only sword your pen might be mightier than is the kind that skewers the cherries in a Shirley Temple.

Geoff Amidei
Bologna, Italy

Check our Web site for the Midwestern, middle-aged contractor chat group: I just had to let you know how much I enjoy [Matt Smith's] writing. "Osama Was Here" is very patriotic, original (using geology to track the chief evildoer), informative, and the last four paragraphs -- blunt-force true. Please keep up the good work, knowing that your audience includes at least one Midwestern, middle-aged, white, male, small-business-owning general contractor for whom you speak quite well.

Joseph Shea
Milwaukee, Wis.

You scored well in the essay but need improvement in reading comprehension: Your piece on Osama is disgusting. People like you glorified communism in Russia until it folded onto itself thanks to those who defended you and everyone else on this side of the Iron Curtain. I've been on the other side of that curtain and I know what it's like there, an experience you will never fathom with your shallow leftist mind.

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