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All of Mugshots.com’s alleged co-owners arrested on extortion charges

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Thomas Keesee (left) and Sahar Sarid (right) were arrested in Florida on Wednesday and await extradition to California.

Palm Beach Sheriff's Office / Broward Sheriffs' Office

Two alleged owners of Mugshots.com—

Sahar Sarid

and

Thomas Keesee

—have been

arrested

in

south Florida

on a recently issued California warrant. The notorious website publishes mugshots and then demands payment for their removal.

On Wednesday, the attorney general of California brought criminal charges against not only Saried and Keesee, but also Kishore Vidya Bhavnanie and David Usdan. The quartet has been charged with extortion, money laundering, and identity theft.

Bhavnanie was arraigned by a Pennsylvania state judge also on Wednesday—his bail was reportedly set at $1.86 million. According to Tania Mercado, a spokeswoman for the California Attorney General's office, Usdan is also in custody.

"This pay-for-removal scheme attempts to profit off of someone else's humiliation," said Attorney General Becerra in a statement. "Those who can't afford to pay into this scheme to have their information removed pay the price when they look for a job, housing, or try to build relationships with others. This is exploitation, plain and simple."

In the same statement, Becerra's office said that these defendants "extracted more than $64,000 in removal fees from approximately 175 individuals with billing addresses in California. Nationally, the defendants took more than $2 million in removal fees from approximately 5,703 individuals for the same period."

<a href="http://Mugshots.com" rel="nofollow">Mugshots.com</a> did not respond to Ars' request for comment.

The 29-page affidavit provides a lengthy explanation of what prosecutors call a "business permeated with fraud."

The court filing provides numerous harrowing accounts of the lengths that people have gone to to try to get their embarrassing arrest pictures removed.

In one example, Jesse T. (his last name has been withheld in the official affidavit) of Sonoma County, California, was arrested and booked into the county jail on September 2, 2013. He was held for 12 days before being released and not charged with a crime.

Nearly a year later, Jesse found his booking photo on <a href="http://Mugshots.com" rel="nofollow">Mugshots.com</a>, a notorious site that has built up an entire business model around posting photos of anyone who has been arrested, then charging them hundreds of dollars to have the images removed.

Jesse told law enforcement that, after his arrest, he had applied for 100 jobs in construction, electrical, and manufacturing but got no response.

Finally, Jesse decided to call Mugshots.com's sister site: <a href="http://unpublisharrest.com" rel="nofollow">unpublisharrest.com</a>.

He dialed the 800 number, where "a man told him he needed to pay the $399."

Jesse told this unidentified man that this practice was illegal—the man laughed at him and hung up. Jesse persisted, called again, and told him that he had proof that he had been cleared of all charges. The man hung up again.

Finally, on July 23, 2016, Jesse called the number three times but only got a recorded message. Finally, at 8:08am, his own phone rang with an unlisted number. Jesse started recording the call.

"Hello?" Jesse said.

"—this third time tell you fucking bitch, we never answer your calls again you've been permanently published, faggot bitch," the man said.

"Hey, I'd like my stuff removed."

Then the call abruptly ended.

In a statement published to his own website, Sahar Sarid—who claims to live in Thailand—wrote that his "involvement with <a href="http://Mugshots.com" rel="nofollow">Mugshots.com</a> and related entities ended in December 2013."

He said that his prior role with the company was "limited" as an "unpaid consultant."

"Mugshots.com makes public arrest records easier to find," Sarid continued. "I support these ideas and ideals."

Despite his claim, the redacted affiant noted that, as recently as 2016, Sarid did not dispute the fact that he is the owner of <a href="http://Mugshots.com" rel="nofollow">Mugshots.com</a>.

Last year, the site's owners faced a civil lawsuit brought in federal court in Illinois.

As of this writing, <a href="http://Mugshots.com" rel="nofollow">Mugshots.com</a> continues to operate.

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acdha
2 days ago
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Couldn't happen to more deserving scumbags
Washington, DC
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IMHO

7 Comments and 16 Shares
"Ugh, TMI." "Yeah, that's some tantalizing meat info."
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6 public comments
Covarr
15 days ago
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I wholeheartedly cannot bring myself to pronounce PNG as "ping".
Moses Lake, WA
mooglemoogle
14 days ago
What monster does that?
bluegecko
13 days ago
I only just learned that not everyone does. Like in this comment thread. And just for the record, I've been on web since Mosaic was the best browser.
endlessmike
9 days ago
I do
endlessmike
9 days ago
My gf and I had an argument about how to pronounce GIF. I ended it by saying it wouldn't be an issue if animated PNGs had taken off
emdeesee
15 days ago
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HTH HAND
📌 Lincoln, NE ❤️️ Sherman, TX
tedder
15 days ago
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tabs after a period, lolol
Uranus
deezil
15 days ago
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I met someone once who called it SQULL. I should have punched them when I had the chance. Also, two periods.

*edit* And it's always been humble.
Louisville, Kentucky
NielsRak
15 days ago
Only one! Burn the witch!
Lythimus
15 days ago
I've found people who use two spaces will be much less consistent. They will rarely use 1, but 3 seems to be a common scenario.
mooglemoogle
14 days ago
I used to use two spaces. I learned that way. But I got peer pressured into switching to one at some point and it was much easier than I expected to switch. Now two looks weird to me.
digdoug
13 days ago
I started calling it "SQUEAL" long ago. But I also like to pronounce git with a soft-g
bluegecko
13 days ago
I do that, but only with My Squeal. Otherwise it's Microsoft Sequel, Squel Lite, and then just Postgres.
DivinuZ
11 days ago
In my *humble* opinion. Weapons from a more humble time (on the Internet).
alt_text_at_your_service
15 days ago
reply
"Ugh, TMI." "Yeah, that's some tantalizing meat info."
alt_text_bot
15 days ago
reply
"Ugh, TMI." "Yeah, that's some tantalizing meat info."
XPav
15 days ago
Gotta be faster there a_t_b

Get all caught up with The Avengers using this timeline

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It’s been a decade since the first Iron Man movie, and some 30 superhero characters later, we arrive at a two-parter Avengers finale. But maybe you lost track of everything that happened leading up to this point. Sonia Rao and Shelly Tan for the Washington Post got you covered with a filterable timeline. Focus on specific stories, characters, and franchises. Select “block spoilers” in case you still plan to watch something.

I used to watch all of the Marvel movies, but then I had kids. I’ve seen one in five years. So this is right up my alley.

Tags: , ,

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dianaschnuth
23 days ago
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I haven't gone through the whole timeline yet, but this looks perfect to prep for Infinity War.
Toledo OH
schnuth
23 days ago
That's pretty sweet.

When the mortar crumbled on this D.C. building, a dark history was revealed - The Washington Post

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About two months ago, one of the workers renovating the old Italian Embassy building at 16th and Fuller streets NW was surprised when part of the exterior wall started to crumble as he cleaned it. He was even more startled by what he found behind it: an engraving in Latin and a battered pair of bas-relief sculptures of . . . well, what exactly?

The Latin was the easy part: “AEDES AD MCMXXV AERE PVBL EXSTRVCTA” translates as “a building constructed with public funds in 1925.”

The sculptures were a little tougher. Whatever they were, they looked as if someone had taken a pickax to them in an attempt to obscure their original form. But if you know a little about Roman history, Italian history or world history, you can tell what they are — or were: bundles of wooden rods bound around an ax blade.

They are fasces. From them, we get the word fascism.

It took a while for Mill Creek Residential, the developer transforming the former embassy into 22 luxury apartments, to figure out exactly what it had. They knew that the building had been constructed three years after Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, took office. Mussolini’s name is on some of the original documentation. But the building’s plans had no reference to the inscription and sculptures.

“One photo had something over there, but we certainly didn’t know anything specifically,” said Sean Caldwell, senior managing director at Mill Creek. They thought maybe there was a time capsule secreted in the wall.

The best-known symbol from World War II is probably the swastika, appropriated by Nazi Germany from East Asian culture. But Mussolini was around before Adolf Hitler. How did fasces become a symbol of fascism?

They started in ancient Rome as a symbol of authority. Bundles of sticks around ax blades were borne by officials called lictors who worked for chief magistrates. These attendants carried the fasces to remind Romans of the power of the magistrates and the state.

When Mussolini came to power in 1922, he began appropriating cultural and architectural elements of Italy’s past, hoping to link his own rule with the glory that was Rome. Chief among these were the fasces.

Fasces weren’t carved only on public buildings in Italy There are 12 fasces on the Justice Department’s building in downtown Washington. They also adorn the side of Memorial Bridge over the Potomac.

The wall behind the rostrum in the U.S. House of Representatives has a bronze sculpture of fasces — a reference, according to the chamber’s website, to the new philosophy of democracy that the Founders envisioned for America: “Like the thin rods bound together in fasces, the individual states achieve their strength and stability through their union under the federal government.”

So, fasces aren’t necessarily fascist, though given the date of these ones, said Jan Nelis, a scholar in Brussels who studies Italian fascism, they must refer to Mussolini.

They certainly seem to have riled someone. The panel, set in a blind window, had been covered in mortar, or “parged.” And before that happened, the fasces apparently were smashed.

It’s impossible to say for sure, but it appears someone didn’t like what they represented. It reminded me of that scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when the Nazi eagle and swastika are miraculously burned from the crate holding the Ark of the Covenant.

“Correcting” fascist architecture is not unprecedented in Washington. According to Kim Prothro Williams, an architectural historian in the District’s Historic Preservation Office, the old Spanish Embassy building on the other side of 16th Street NW now has blank panels where you’d expect to see decorative elements.

“During Franco’s reign, carvings were added to the building that were later destroyed or covered over,” she wrote in an email.

What do the Italians themselves do with fascist symbols? John C. McLucas, a professor of Italian and Latin at Towson University, wrote in an email that “the overwhelming majority of them were removed or defaced when the regime fell, but the survivors are generally left intact now as elements of a period decor.”

The old Italian Embassy is a historic landmark, so some thought must be given to what happens next.

Said Joe Muffler, vice president of Mill Creek: “We’re in conversation with the Historic Preservation Review Board to talk to them about how we treat this. We don’t think it’s our responsibility to cover up a piece of history.”

And you know what they say about history: If you don’t want to repeat it, don’t forget it.

(Thanks to reader Tom Swegle for pointing me toward this fascinating story.)

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acdha
25 days ago
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Washington, DC
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#1718 – Tour

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#1718 – Tour

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acdha
26 days ago
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Washington, DC
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so this happened (one in an ongoing series)

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Since last week, I’ve been working on the season finale of The Big Bang Theory, and today we shot Amy and Sheldon’s wedding.

It was an incredible day, and I am still in disbelief that I got to be in multiple scenes with Kathy Bates, Laurie Matcalf, Jerry O’Connell, Brian Posehn, Lauren Lapkus, Teller, Courtney Henggeler, and this guy, who is not only one of the kindest people I’ve ever worked with, but is also from a science fiction franchise, just like me!

All of my dumb jokes aside, Mark Hamill is exactly as awesome and professional and funny as I had always hoped he would be, and he will go down in my Life Book as one of my childhood heroes who I was delighted and honored to meet (and work with OMG I GOT TO ACT WITH MARK HAMILL).

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dianaschnuth
25 days ago
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Crusher and Cockknocker, together at last...
Toledo OH
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