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When I was an Assistant District Attorney at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office I was assigned to the Citizen Complaint Unit.  While occasionally someone with a real complaint would walk through the door, the CCU was essentially a clearing house for all the wackos of the Bronx.  Among them was a gentleman who daily sent a 10 page typewritten letter to the office complaining about how the NYPD was tracking his every movement and listening to his “brain coversations” by means of the NYPD satellite.

Well, it appears this gentleman may have moved up in the world and set his sights on Apple and the Mafia.  According to a 124 page Complaint filed in a U.S. District Court in Missouri against Apple and a group of other defendants, including the F.B.I., the St. Louis County Police Department, and an auto mechanic, Apple conspired with the Italian Mafia to affix special receivers to an iPod shuffle McKenna purchased on eBay and an iPod mini purchased in an Apple Store that were allegedly used by the Mafia to transmit threatening messages to the iPods.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog describes these messages:

First there was the time in 2008 where recordings of Mafia members saying “I’m going to kill him” were played in unison with a song on McKenna’s iPod mini. The most serious message was apparently transmitted not only to his iPods, but also to an iBook G4, a PowerBook G4, and three vehicles including his mother’s Honda Accord.

The “message” consisted of the word “herpes” being inserted into the song “Still Tippin'” by hip-hop/rap artist Mike Jones. Mr. McKenna alleges that this was done “to humiliate, degrade, and cause emotional distress” to him. While apparently the Mafia was using the messages to coerce McKenna into doing fashion modeling for them in New York City.

This has all the halmarks of a typical Bronx CCU case.  The photo above encapuslates my advice under the circumstances.  Wrap the receiver (in this case, an iPod) in aluminum foil to deflect the incoming radio waves.  And try to keep those brain conversations to a minimum… 


Joel B. Rothman represents clients in intellectual property infringement litigation involving patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, defamation, trade libel, unfair competition, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and commercial matters. Joel’s litigation practice also includes significant focus on electronic discovery issues such as e-discovery management and motion practice relating to e-discovery.