News Roundup

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that there has been recent controversy in Madison County following the sheriff’s office hiring a former Asheville police officer and the adoption of a politically charged resolution by county commissioners expressing support for law enforcement.  Keep reading for more on this story and other news.

Madison.  The Citizen-Times reported last month that several residents expressed concern during the public comment portion of a county commissioner’s meeting regarding the Madison County Sheriff’s Office decision to hire Anthony Sorangelo as a detective.  Sorangelo previously worked for the Asheville Police Department but was fired after being charged with assaulting a man who he had arrested in February 2020.

The misdemeanor assault charge against Sorangelo was dismissed earlier this year at trial by a district court judge at the close of the State’s evidence.  Following the dismissal, Sorangelo’s attorney told WLOS that Sorangelo had used force in response to being assaulted himself by the person he was arresting.  In the time between the incident and trial, Sorangelo had been fired from the APD for using excessive force in violation of department policy.

As the Citizen-Times reported in the article in the lead, the Madison County Board of Commissioners was criticized by some but praised by others for unanimously adopting a resolution expressing support for law enforcement and denouncing “leftist political movements and special interest groups” for demoralizing and impeding officers “from making difficult and instantaneous decisions.”

Bitcoin Recovery.  Last month the News Roundup noted the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack by a group called Dark Side that caused widespread gas shortages across the county.  This week it was reported that Colonial Pipeline paid the hackers millions of dollars in Bitcoin to recover the hijacked systems but, in an unexpected twist, the Justice Department had snatched the ransom back through digital maneuverings that have not been fully explained.

Cryptic Encryption.  There was bad news this week for folks who use have been relying for years on Phantom Secure and Anom encrypted message technology on cellphones to conduct criminal activity.  For the few who don’t know, cellphones accepted to be capable of particularly advanced encrypted communication commonly are sold on the black market.  A communication application called Anon, which hides its chat interface behind a calculator app, was touted for its secure messaging and relied upon by criminals around the world.  In its history, the service has handled more than 20 million messages in 45 languages.

As it turns out, the Anon network was run from its inception by the FBI in coordination with Australian police.  More than 800 people found that out the hard way this week after they were arrested in coordinated stings that the New York Times says spanned over a dozen countries.

It’s enough to make one nostalgic for decades past when reliable encryption devices that absolutely had not been hacked by the CIA were available for purchase from reputable Swiss company Crypto AG.

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