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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Judgment Day for Bradley Manning; Rehab Racket
Aired July 30, 2013 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight, part two of our "Keeping Them Honest" series "Rehab Racket, clinical operators billing taxpayers for a bundle and how teenagers who don't need rehab at all say they are being recruited to help. As you will see, our investigation is getting results.
Also tonight, judgment day for Private 1st Class Bradley Manning. He leaked 750,000 classified documents and videos. The question is, though, how much damage did he really do?
Jeffrey Toobin, investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald come at this from two very different places. We will talk to them both tonight.
And, later, believe it or not, $136 million in stolen jewels was only the tip of the iceberg. We will go inside a heist gang some are blaming for that crime in Cannes and more than 300 other ripoffs, the gang known as the Pink Panthers. It's a fascinating look.
We begin though tonight "Keeping Them Honest" with part two in our special investigative series "Rehab Racket." We're talking about shady rehab clinics filing bogus claims for phantom patients.
It's happening in the state of California, but because it involves federal Medicaid funding, we're all paying for it, nearly $186 million in state and federal tax dollars over just the last two years. A yearlong investigation by CNN and the Center for Investigative Reporting lays it all out, unscrupulous operators billing the government for bogus clients and getting away with it, but maybe not much longer.
In the wake of our reporting, we learned today that 29 clinics have been temporarily suspended, cutting them off from state and federal money and there is a state senator who after seeing last night's report is now calling for a full audit of the program. We will talk to him shortly.
But, first, part two of the investigation, how teenagers say they were roped into the operation.
Drew Griffin tonight "Keeping Them Honest."
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside this drug rehab center in Southern California, teenagers from a group home are dropped off, but according to former employees of the Pomona Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center, many of the teens they saw come here over the years didn't have substance abuse problems at all.
A one-year investigation by CNN and the Center for Investigative Reporting found the drug Medi-Cal program in California which cost taxpayers more than half a billion dollars over the last six fiscal years is ripe with fraud and plagued with weak government oversight.
Victoria Byers said she was driven in a van every week with other teens while living in a group home to So Cal Health Services in Riverside, California.
VICTORIA BYERS, 22 YEARS OLD: We used to do drug tests to us, and we would sit in these classes. They would teach us not to do ecstasy or not to do this drug or whatever.
GRIFFIN: But Byers, now 22 years old, thought it was strange because she didn't have a drug problem.
BYERS: I told them, why should I be here? I have no drug issue. I had to go because all the other girls had to go and they couldn't leave me at the house by myself.
GRIFFIN: We obtained these documents showing where she signed her name. That's a requirement allowing rehab centers to bill the state and signatures meant money.
The more signatures, the more the Medi-Cal system reimbursed the clinic. Michael Murkich (ph) remembers the trips to So Cal Health Services as well. Murkich, now in college, says he also was driven in a van each week with other teens from a different group home.
(on camera): You have never abused alcohol or prescription drugs...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all.
GRIFFIN: So all the time you spent there for three years, three years, was a waste of your time and a waste of taxpayers' money?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, definitely.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): That doesn't surprise TaMara Shearer, a former manager at So Cal in Pomona with the same operator. She estimated that 30 percent of the teens didn't have a drug or alcohol issue, so counselors just made them up.
TAMARA SHEARER, FORMER SO CAL EMPLOYEE: It took an audit for me to know how deep it was, how deep a fraud was going on there.
GRIFFIN: Other whistle-blowers came forward and claimed that So Cal was creating drug fraud by labeling teens with fake addictions. (on camera): Riverside County officials told us they didn't have an easy way to prove So Cal was making up addictions, but the county pulled the clinic's funding anyway because so many of its clients were dropping out. That forced So Cal to shut down.
(voice-over): But the other clinic in Los Angeles County accused of similar practices remains open. Just last year, a county report on Pomona Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center found significant and serious deficiencies in the program.
The operator of both clinics is a man named Tim Ejindu who told the county his business is a pillar in our community. The fraud allegations, they came from disgruntled fired ex-employees.
Ejindu wouldn't tell us anything.
(on camera): Mr. Egypt?
TIM EJINDU, CLINIC DIRECTOR: Yes?
GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin with CNN.
EJINDU: And who are you?
GRIFFIN: I just told you. My name is Drew Griffin with CNN.
GRIFFIN: Wait a minute, now. Your former employees say that you are billing for county services you aren't providing, sir.
(voice-over): Ejindu soon left without talking to us.
(on camera): Mr. Ejindu, if you have nothing to hide, why are you taking off?
(voice-over): We found case after case of rehab centers like Pomona with a history of problems that still are allowed to keep billing the state.
Tamara Askew is a former counselor at Pride Health Services, who claims she was told to bill for clients she didn't actually see.
(on camera): Did you have client lists?
TAMARA ASKEW, FORMER COUNSELOR, PRIDE HEALTH SERVICES: I had a client list. Yes. When I first got there, they gave me about 20 folders, 20 folders of clients that they had.
GRIFFIN: Did you ever account for the 20 cases that you had in your folders?
ASKEW: No, I never could because...
GRIFFIN: You couldn't find them?
ASKEW: Some were in jail. One was dead. A lot...
GRIFFIN: Wait a minute.
ASKEW: One was dead.
GRIFFIN: And still a client of this...
ASKEW: And still listed as a client.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): She says she confronted Godfrey Nwogene, the operator of Pride.
ASKEW: I told Godfrey, I said, look, I don't know how you want me to bill for clients I don't see or have. And he basically in a nutshell told me, how do you think these lights are going to get paid?
GRIFFIN: She says he then fired her.
(on camera): Would you describe what you have been through as anything more than just throwing away taxpayers' money?
ASKEW: It is, yes, just throwing away taxpayers' money.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): That was in 2009. Regulators have found severe deficiencies at Pride Health Services from 2005 until 2011 including evidence of ghost clients. Two years ago, the county uncovered what appeared to be fraudulent documentation used for billing, and a state auditor urged Pride be shut down.
Not only did Pride stay open, it got even more Medi-Cal money, more than a million dollars in a year. In its most recent investigation brought on by yet another employee accusing Pride of billing for ghost clients, county investigators found the allegations unsubstantiated. They couldn't prove it, but they did find the operation extremely troubling discovering missing paperwork, signed and dated medical waivers with no client information, and missing treatment plans.
Despite that poor review, Pride is staying open. If the county investigators couldn't find evidence of ghost patients, maybe they should do what we did, go there on a Wednesday, when they are closed for treatment, but apparently still billing. We saw no one entering the center on Wednesdays.
(on camera): Here. We're going to go in.
(voice-over): So we went in ourselves with hidden cameras.
(on camera): Do you have rehab going on today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. GRIFFIN: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays? Not Wednesdays?
There's no group on Wednesdays. Today is Wednesday. There is no group today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Even though it's closed for rehab, Pride has been billing for clients on Wednesdays, as these records show, including 60 on the day we went in with hidden cameras and found no clients there.
As for Nwogene, he told the county two years ago that Pride accepted responsibility for deficiencies. We went looking for Nwogene, seen in this police mug shot for an unrelated arrest in 2003.
(on camera): Hi, Drew Griffin with CNN. How are you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, how are you doing?
GRIFFIN: Is Godfrey in? OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Godfrey? He's actually not here at the moment.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Pride counselor Markeeta Jones (ph) denied any wrongdoing.
(on camera): We wanted to ask about an investigation we're doing about ghost patients, people signing names and faking signatures and billing the state and the county for treatment that's not happening. Do you know anything about that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't, because that's not going on at this office.
GRIFFIN: Godfrey has never asked you to sign a form that says all these patients came here and they aren't?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, sir, he did not.
GRIFFIN: Yes. And you do the counseling yourself?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I do. And I actually see live clients.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): As we waited for Godfrey Nwogene to show up, employees inside called police.
(on camera): They told us that the boss was coming. We have kind of been camped out here waiting for them to show up.
(voice-over): Then abruptly shut down for the day.
(on camera): Did he call back and say he's not coming? (voice-over): We never heard from anyone at Pride Health Services again.
COOPER: It's just unbelievable. I guess one thing that is most upsetting is that despite repeated times that the county and the state knows there is fraud going on, these things just stay open.
What we're finding is a lack of oversight at a much higher level that we'd like to get to the bottom of. I mean, the regulators, the inspectors, they are finding the fraud. Report after report, they are finding the problems.
GRIFFIN: The problem is nothing ever happens, and we can't seem to figure out why, who is it in authority that is allowing even after seeing the reports -- that is allowing these clinics to not only stay open, Anderson, to grow.
COOPER: I want to bring in California State Senator Ted Lieu.
Senator Lieu, how concerned are you that state and county auditors have been, as Drew said, finding evidence of fraud from these very clinics for years and yet these clinics have not only remained open, but they have increased in value?
TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA STATE SENATOR: I'm very concerned.
A few days ago, I talked to my chief of staff about actually increasing funding to rehabilitation clinics, because I believe they are a vital tool to preventing jail and prison overcrowding and reducing substance abuse. I was literally in the middle of writing my letter asking for more funding when the investigation came on and two things dawned on me.
The first was outrage. I was surprised at apparently how easy it was to commit fraud, and, second, I began very concerned that not only could I not request more funding, but if that we don't fix this fraud immediately, it would undercut the public support for this entire program.
COOPER: That's one thing that is so terrible because there are obviously people in need of rehab. It does help people and there are legitimate clinics out there, but without proper oversight, we don't know which ones are legitimate and not.
After seeing our reporting I know on the program last night you called for an audit on these drug rehab programs. What specifically do you want to see happen?
LIEU: So you're correct. This program has undoubtedly helped tens of thousands of people. Over 60,000 people were treated through Drug Medi-Cal.
But I have requested an audit because I want to get to the bottom of what has happened. It's to the state auditor, which is an independent audit agency separate from the executive branch. And I want to know how this happened for so long, how pervasive is the fraud, and more importantly, what can we do to change laws and regulations so the fraud doesn't occur in the future.
COOPER: I know now the state is reacting. So for, 29 clinics are temporarily suspended, but all that comes only after we told the state what we were finding, what Drew was finding. So can the people of California really trust the state audit? I guess that's the question.
LIEU: Well, I think it's a good step for the administration to suspend payment or shut down the clinics.
But I think it's important to have a separate audit agency independent from the department in charge to actually conduct the audit and find out who knew what when and why something was not done sooner. And how do we reduce the weaknesses in the system and what laws or policies may need to be changed.
COOPER: Drew, we're now seeing some of these clinics temporarily suspended, some of them shut down. Do you think the state is serious?
GRIFFIN: I think the state senator is on to something. I think it needs to be taken out of the agencies that have been overseeing this, to have an independent audit to look at the big picture of what is happening in terms of oversight, because again the auditors, the investigators found the fraud. Nothing was done.
That's the bottom line as far as our reporting. As for whether or not the state, these agencies, the health agency is now serious about it, tomorrow night you will see just how hard it was for us to find that answer, Anderson. And it was shocking for us to see state officials really refusing to address the problem and refusing to address us.
COOPER: And that's the thing, Drew. As we have seen in so many the investigations you have done whether there's these bogus charities that claim to be raising money for cancer and stuff and in fact are just giving money to fund-raisers, if you have nothing to hide, they should grant you an interview. It's like cockroaches scurrying when you turn on the lights. People are just running from you, jumping in their cars and taking off.
GRIFFIN: That's absolutely right. And keep in mind we're trying to find out what happened to our money.
GRIFFIN: Right, our money and these are state public officials paid for with our money. So it's not outrageous what we're asking here.
COOPER: Drew Griffin, appreciate it. Senator Lieu, I appreciate it.
Thanks. We will continue to follow your efforts as well.
We look forward to part three of Drew's interview -- his investigation tomorrow.
And quick reminder. You can make a difference. If you get a tip for Drew on this or any other subject, let him know and just go to CNN.com/investigate. Let us know what you think tonight on our report, and follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper.
Also ahead in this hour, some early answers in that mysterious outbreak that's made a lot of people sick to their stomachs. We will tell you which bug is to blame and how you can avoid it.
Also tonight, the other big story today, Private 1st Class Bradley Manning accused of the biggest security leak in U.S. history facing charges with aiding the enemy and life without parole. He hears from the judge today. We will you her verdict and a debate, including investigator reporter Glenn Greenwald, who says Washington's power brokers leak all the time and they never pay the price.
COOPER: The sentence hearing begins tomorrow for Army Private 1st Class Bradley Manning for the biggest leak of classified material in U.S. history, the military judge today acquitting him of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy for turning over three quarters of a million doctors and video to the Web site WikiLeaks.
The judge however did convict Private 1st Class Bradley Manning of numerous other counts, including violating the Espionage Act, so he's still facing of 136 years behind bars.
The Manning case obviously has touched off a furious debate over the actual harm Manning has done and whether the government initially overstated the damage. Like the NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Private 1st Class Manning has been called a traitor by some and a hero by others and frankly everything in between.
Let's talk about it with senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and only on 360 Glenn Greenwald, investigative journalist and columnist for Britain's "Guardian" paper. He broke the Snowden story.
Jeff, let me start with you. What's your reaction to the verdict?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I thought it was a good verdict. I think the charge of helping the enemy was excessive and I think it was good the judge acquitted him of that charge, but I think what Manning did was appalling.
I think he betrayed his fellow members of the military and he betrayed the Foreign Service and he should be going to prison and he will be.
COOPER: Glenn, I know you disagree.
GLENN GREENWALD, "THE GUARDIAN": I do.
I think the verdict and I also think that Jeff's comments kind of underscore what a lot of people really hate about Washington, which is that if you're sufficiently rich and powerful and well-connected in Washington, the laws don't apply you and you don't get punished. The only people who do are people like Bradley Manning.
The theory that the government used, one of which was not successful, but many of which were, was that he engaged in espionage and helped the enemy because the material that he caused to be published on the Internet ended up being helpful to Osama bin Laden.
Bob Woodward has written book after book after book and has become extremely rich by publishing secrets way more sensitive than anything Bradley Manning ever published. Nothing that Manning ever published was top-secret, unlike what Bob Woodward publishes, and yet nobody would ever talk about Bob Woodward the way that Jeffrey Toobin just did or his sources because he's in good standing in Washington. His sources are high-level officials in the White House.
They leak out tame. Washington is nothing about leaks and yet, the only people that get punished for it are people that are marginalized in Washington and that's a broader reflection of how the law is abused.
COOPER: Jeff, you do have people leaking all the time for political reasons.
TOOBIN: You do have some leaking going on. And we could have a debate on case-by-case basis.
But Bradley Manning released 700,000 cables, including the life's work of a lot of Foreign Service officers that risk their lives and the people they talk to risk their lives to talk to American officials, and the idea that Bradley Manning has the right and it was somehow justified in releasing this material, I think is just completely wrong.
And, you know, Bob Woodward is a separate story and unrelated, as far as I'm concerned.
COOPER: Glenn, does the government in your opinion have any right to any form of secrecy, secrecy in their diplomatic cables, secrecy in the foreign policy discussions that go on in embassy overseas? Because those are the things that were in a lot of the cables that Bradley Manning released.
GREENWALD: The government has limited rights to secrecy, but it's so wildly abused.
The idea -- the argument that people made when these diplomatic cables were released was there is nothing really significant or newsworthy or new in these cables. Well, then why were they all marked secret? The reason is because the government just reflexively marks everything secret.
And the thing I find most bizarre is that anybody that would go into the field of journalism or call themselves a journalist who would call for the prosecution and imprisonment for decades of a source like Bradley Manning who as I said didn't publish anything top-secret the way that most sources for large media outlets in America do all the time, it's baffling.
What Bradley Manning did is the job of journalist, which is to bring transparency to what the government is doing, and even the Pentagon admits that its early claims about how he has blood on his hands and there was all this damage was overly stated. He released very low-level secrets that informed the world about the U.S. government and harmed nobody.
TOOBIN: But it's not up to Bradley Manning to make the decision to disclose this. The people that wrote those cables have devoted their lives to trying to make the world a better place, particularly Foreign Service officers.
Maybe you disagree about that, Glenn, but I admire the Foreign Service a great deal, and I trust their judgment about what is a secret a lot more than I do Bradley Manning's.
And, look, Jeff, you can make that argument in every leak case. People back in the 1960s said Daniel Ellsberg was a traitor. Who was Daniel Ellsberg to decide what should be leaked to the American public? I trust U.S. generals way more than some Daniel Ellsberg who I never voted for.
And yet what Daniel Ellsberg did was expose systematic lies on the part of the U.S. government. In the Bush years, people said whoever told Dana Priest of "The Washington Post" that the Bush administration had secret CIA prisons or whoever told "The New York Times" that Bush administration was spying without warrants, what right did they have to disclose secrets?
This is how journalism, investigative journalism works, Jeff, is that people inside the government with a conscience come forward when they find out things their government are doing that are wrong and they disclose it to the world through media outlets and journalism.
If you think that's criminal, you're essentially calling for the end of investigative journalism is. That is what investigative journalism is about.
TOOBIN: I appreciate your education to me of what journalism is, but releasing 700,000 cables in a completely blunderbuss way is not the same as the work of Dana Priest and Bob Woodward.
GREENWALD: How about Daniel Ellsberg?
TOOBIN: Well, Daniel Ellsberg also wrote the Pentagon Papers.
He disclosed what he wrote, which is very different than Bradley Manning disclosing hundreds of thousands of cables he didn't even read, much less write.
GREENWALD: You didn't know that he didn't read them.
COOPER: Jeff, Glenn makes an interesting point, and it is an accurate point, that when this was all revealed, you had politicians up and down saying he has blood on his hands. You had people in the Obama administration saying this is causing cataclysmic damage, long- term damage to national security.
And then later on in testimony, secret testimony that was revealed in Reuters and other news outlets, they basically all kind of said you know what, it was embarrassing but it really didn't really amount to much.
TOOBIN: I have no doubt that the government officials here overstated the amount of danger, but that doesn't mean there was no danger. That doesn't mean that we don't know fully what the danger was, including the risk to -- the fact that many people may not talk to government officials anymore as a result of these kind of disclosures.
COOPER: Jeff, what legal president do you think this sets, if any, for Edward Snowden?
TOOBIN: A big one. I think Snowden will be confirmed in his desire to stay out of the United States because I think their situations are very parallel in terms of the amount of disclosure that went on, and I think he's likely to face exactly this kind of prosecution and exactly this kind of result and sentence.
COOPER: Jeff, what do you make the way that Bradley Manning was treated, the way he was held, the conditions under which he was held early on?
TOOBIN: That, as far as I'm aware, was an appalling over -- it was too much done. It was inappropriately harsh conditions, but that doesn't justify the underlying behavior that led to the case either.
COOPER: Glenn, you posted on Twitter today. You said "So weird how most people who claim I would respect Snowden's act if he hadn't fled don't apply that to Bradley Manning."
Explain what you mean.
GREENWALD: It's interesting.
So many people love to start off the sentence by saying of course we need more transparency, and yet they always somehow find a way to attack whistle-blowers. People say, if Snowden hadn't fled, I would respect him and yet Bradley Manning didn't flee and yet most of the people attacking Snowden attack Bradley Manning.
Or look what Jeff said earlier. Manning is wrong because he didn't read all the documents that he leaked. I can assure you with 100 percent certainty that every single document Edward Snowden turned over to us he very carefully read before he gave them to us, because they're all incredibly detailed filed systems and every single document is filed according to topic.
If what Jeff is saying is true, which is my problem with Bradley Manning is that he didn't read all the documents, unlike Daniel Ellsberg, he should be praising Edward Snowden, and yet he isn't. He's been a harsh critic of Snowden. It seems like people always contrive excuses to attack anybody that brings transparency to the government unless they are powerful officials in Washington, in which case it is OK.
TOOBIN: I'm not talking about powerful officials. I'm talking about Foreign Service officers who are on the street in every capital in the world and small cities around the world trying to gather information, report it to their superiors.
The idea that Bradley Manning is the only one or Edward Snowden is the only one who has a conscience and who is decent and has the right to disclose the work of all these people is just palpably absurd to me, Glenn.
COOPER: Glenn Greenwald, good to have you on and Jeffrey Toobin as well. Thank you.
GREENWALD: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, as always, for more on the story, you can go to CNN.com.
Just ahead, an incredible jailbreak caught on camera. Check this out. An armed robbery suspect takes a phone call and then hurls himself through an open window and hightails to a getaway car -- how the audacious escape played out and why authorities think the fugitive had help. We have details ahead.
COOPER: The search is on for a man whose escape from an Arkansas jail was caught on video. Officials say the inmate conspired with several other people to plan the escape, right up to the woman waiting in a getaway car. Gary Tuchman has the story.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This man is about to escape from jail. And the ease with which he does it is breathtaking. His name is Derek Estelle. He's 33 with an extensive rap sheet: theft, burglary, breaking and entering.
This past March, he had to be tear-gassed out of an empty apartment after he allegedly stole a vehicle and wrecked it in Garland County, Arkansas. And that brings us to the jail. He was here awaiting a court day on his latest charges.
He's on the phone, but not necessarily talking to anybody. It's the beginning of his escape plan.
DEPUTY SCOTT HINOJOSA, GARLAND COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: There were only two deputies in the room at that time, and at that time, it's actually also our visitation, Sunday visitation of inmates.
TUCHMAN: Estelle starts running, jumps through a window that he knew would be open, and lands in the public lobby. Watch it again. It looks like a bad cartoon.
He's then followed by a guard, who was caught off guard, and the chase begins. Estelle sprints as fast as he can to the parking lot, and so do the deputies. But there's a car waiting. Estelle gets in it. The car allegedly driven by a woman named Tamara Upshaw, who is now in serious legal trouble, too.
The deputy got up to the car as it was pulling out and hit the passenger window, but they got away. This is the car. It was later located without its occupants.
So how did this happen? How did a man now considered armed and dangerous get out of jail in less time than it takes to run a 50-yard dash?
First, there's the phone call. Inmates are allowed to be on that phone, which is in a good place for a potential escape, close to that open window. Then there's this man, William Harding. He was visiting the jail, and the sheriff's office says he's partly responsible.
HINOJOSA: Mr. Harding asked one of the deputies a question, and at that time they turned their back to go get the information.
TUCHMAN: Harding turned into a sacrificial lamb, because while Estelle ended up free, Harding who was free, is now in comedy. Police think Harding and the driver of the getaway car aren't the only ones part of the plot.
HINOJOSA: Seems to be well thought out. Evidently there were several individuals involved.
TUCHMAN: But authorities aren't saying much more than that. As everyone here tries to figure out how something that's supposed to be so hard was made to look so, so easy.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: A hundred and thirty-six million dollars in jewels stolen in broad daylight? And the notorious Pink Panther is to blame. The director of a new documentary called "Smash and Grab," all about this gang, talked with five members of the Pink Panther, and she joins me with her take on the brazen heist, ahead.
COOPER: A car crashed into a daycare center. The impact and the incident that caused it all, when 360 continues.
COOPER: "Crime & Punishment." Police in Southern France are scouring surveillance tapes for clues in that brazen jewelry heist we told you about last night. The thief made off with $136 million in jewels from the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel in Cannes, the same hotel where Alfred Hitchcock's iconic movie, "To Catch a Thief," was filmed.
It happened in broad daylight. Police suspect, obviously, it was a professional job. It's the third gem theft in Cannes since May, and it came just days after a member of a notorious gang, called the Pink Panther jewel thief gang, escaped from a Swiss prison. He's the third Pink Panther to bust out of prison in just the last three months.
Now, according to Interpol, the gang is linked to more than 340 robberies in 35 countries.
The Pink Panthers are nobody for their daring and their speed. In 2007, they drove into cars into a Dubai shopping mall and threw the window of a jewelry store. And in less than a minute, they made off with jewelry worth millions of dollars.
A new documentary about the Pink Panthers opens in New York this week. It's called "Smash and Grab." The director, Havana Marking, managed to get five of the gang's roughly 200 members to open up about their crimes and the elaborate smuggling networks they use to fence their loot. She joins me now.
The documentary is fascinating. You tracked down five of the Pink Panthers. What was it like meeting them?
HAVANA MARKING, FILMMAKER: Each one was different. I mean, each personality is different and each was in a different scenario.
One was, I had to go to a deserted war memorial. I wasn't allowed to take a mobile phone. I had to go on my own. And I had to sit and wait for eventually a car would come and pick me up. And things like that.
So there were scary moments. But then there were also some moments that were also extraordinarily relaxed, and I couldn't understand that they weren't more paranoid about...
COOPER: What interested you about this group?
MARKING: It's no coincidence that they all come from the same kind of time and place. They were absolutely straight, clear historical reasons why that part of the world, the Balkans was completely criminalized.
COOPER: Right. MARKING: And why people, in a sense, were forced to turn to smuggling and crime in Europe, which then they were so good at it, it snowballed to a global came.
COOPER: You interviewed, in the documentary, one of the members, A guy named Mike. He talks about what the group's like. I want to play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have a badge that says Pink Panther on it. We're a network of teams working together, and as soon as I was involved I became a part of the network. Everybody had their specific job to do, you understand? So we all depend on each other. Those in the circle are called family. You get tips from your own supervisor, but there's also a wider chain of command.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It took authorities a long time to figure out the operational structure. Do they still, I mean, have a clear -- I mean, do they have a completely clear idea of how it worked?
MARKING: They are a sort of contemporary crime gang. They're -- they're much more flexible than your traditional sort of -- the traditional idea of a mafia. There isn't a straightforward hierarchy. And the numbers grow and shrink depending on what's happening right there. They can disappear and then they can reappear in different parts of Europe. They have sort of hubs all over the place.
COOPER: Do they all know each other?
MARKING: Most of them tend to come from two particular cities. Most of them grew up together in different parts of Montenegro and Serbia, and they all seem to have forged those connections during those conflict periods of the '80s and '90s in the Balkans.
COOPER: Is there somebody at the top?
MARKING: People talk about, you know, an originator of the Panthers, but it's -- he was -- I don't think he would see himself as some sort of boss figure. There are people that are more experienced than others, and there are people that have been doing it for longer.
COOPER: There's more I want to play from the same person we heard from before, Mike.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know why people spend money on diamonds, you know? I don't know, aside from showing off. I have a Rolex as a souvenir, but diamonds? No, they don't attract me. You know, for me diamonds mean cash, nothing else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's interesting he keeps a Rolex as a souvenir from one of the heists. Are they -- are they rich?
MARKING: I would say that, again, it comes down to the individual. There are some that have sensibly managed to invest their money into real estate or something like that. And they like to show off themselves as kind of Robin Hoods, that they're bringing money back into their economy where the government isn't.
But I think an awful lot of them also invest money back into, say, the heroin trade, and a lot of it is just spent gambling and playing, essentially.
COOPER: The diamonds, I guess, are the -- probably the easiest thing or one of the easier things to sell, because diamonds are -- you can take them out of the settings and things like that. But some of these other things that they steal are less easy.
MARKING: Yes. I mean, diamonds are their main -- their main currency. And they -- I mean, they steal watches, as well, and things like that. But essentially, diamonds are the key thing that they are most professional at and do the best at, mainly because they've got incredible connections to diamond centers like Antwerp. There's a huge European center of diamond trading.
I was lucky enough to meet a contact of the Panthers called Mr. Green who is a fence. And he's the person who they take the diamonds to. He gets them recut. He creates completely new sort of certificates of origin for them, and is able to -- he has the connections to then sell them back into the clean market.
COOPER: It's obviously too soon to tell with this latest robbery that took place in Cannes.
COOPER: Do you have any sense of it? Does it have the hallmarks of something they might be involved with?
MARKING: It absolutely -- you know, if it was discovered to be a Panther or...
MARKING: ... it wouldn't be surprising at all.
Also, I mean, there are very few people in the world that would know what to do with diamonds that valuable. And where are they -- how are you going to suddenly resell them? How are they going to disappear? It's -- if we don't see diamonds suddenly being found somewhere, chances are, it's a Panther robbery.
COOPER: It's fascinating. Thank you so much.
MARKING: Thank you.
COOPER: Ahead tonight, a medical mystery partially solved. Officials identify the bug they say is responsible for turning a whole lot of stomachs. We'll be right back.
COOPER: New information tonight about that train derailment in Spain. Details ahead.
COOPER: "RidicuList" just ahead. But first, Isha Sesay joins us again for a "360 Bulletin."
ISHA SESAY, "RIDICULIST" Human error and equipment failure are likely to blame for the explosion at a propane gas plant in central Florida last night. Amazingly, only eight workers were injured. It took firefighters three hours to put the blaze out. Residents said it felt like bombs were going off.
New details about last week's deadly train derailment in northwestern Spain. Officials say the driver was on the phone with railway staff when Court (ph) when the train crashed. He's been charged with 79 counts of homicide. Officials also said they report the train was going 95 miles per hour when it derailed on a curve. That's nearly twice the speed limit for that curve.
Health officials in Nebraska and Iowa linked pre-packaged salad mixes to severe stomach bug outbreaks to 108 Iowans and 78 Nebraskans in mid-June.
State and federal authorities are trying to determine where it was sold and under what brand. They don't know yet if the salad is linked to a wider outbreak of food poisoning affecting 15 states.
A new GAO report on TSA workers found that misconduct cases rose 26 percent over the last three years, more than 3,000. Twenty percent dealt with violating security standards, such as allowing travelers with luggage to bypass screening.
And in Kansas City, three children and one adult suffered serious injuries when an SUV slammed into a car outside a daycare center, pushing the car through the front wall of the building. Two children were trapped inside the building for a time but were rescued -- Anderson.
COOPER: Isha, thanks. In tonight's "American Journey," if you thought there was nothing left to say about the naming or Britain's newest royal baby, well, think again. It turns out that Prince George of Cambridge is opening a window into a very American view. Here's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The royal decision to call the new baby George is playing well in the U.K. where that name is popular with many parents. But on this side of the pond...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not in a million years. FOREMAN: ... one expectant mom after another at New York's Prenatal Yoga Center told us George would never make their list of baby names chosen with elaborate care.
LESLIE PALTI GUZMAN, EXPECTANT MOTHER: I think it's important, because it's something that you'll carry your whole life, that, you know, reflects on your personality.
FOREMAN: A hundred years or so ago, George was a hugely popular name in America. But these days, according to the Baby Name Wizard Web site, it is barely on the charts, despite two recent presidents named George and a movie star, too.
Laurel Wattenberg runs the Web site based on her book.
LAUREL WATTENBERG, FOUNDER, BABY NAME WIZARD WEB SITE: We've really seen a revolution in American baby naming that no one wants to see ordinary. What you hear a lot is, "I don't want my daughter to be one of four Jennifers in her class." But while parents want kids to stand out, the kids are still perfectly happy to fit in.
FOREMAN: So while some families may cozy up to pop culture names, like Catniss from "The Hunger Games," many others are striking a delicate balance, choosing something not too traditional but not utterly avant garde. NameBerry.com says the most popular girl's names last year were Sophia, Emma and Isabella. The most popular boy's names: Jacob, Mason and Ethan.
(on camera): But here is the thing: None of these names is as popular as the most popular names once were, because we are collectively choosing from a much wider pool of possibilities.
(voice-over): Perhaps the only thing that remains constant, picking the right name is still not easy.
JAMIE PATTERSON, EXPECTANT MOTHER: If it's a boy, I have Jack Henry. If it's a girl, I have a list, like, 18 miles long, so I don't know.
FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN.
COOPER: The "RidicuList" is next.
COOPER: Ah, yes. Time for "The RidicuList." And tonight, we have the mysterious case of the surprise lawn ornament that showed up at a woman's yard in Georgia.
Now I'm not talking about a tasteful little garden gnome or some plastic pink flamingos or anything like that. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a giant Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket appeared in this lady's yard. That's right, a seven-foot-tall KFC bucket. The woman was driving past her house when she spotted the extra- large, extra-crispy relic of finger-licking goodness and figured she just had to be imagining it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought for sure that I was hallucinating. So I called my teenagers who were at home and checked to -- had them go outside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, sure enough, she wasn't dreaming. The thing was actually there. But why? That's the question. She had no idea where it came from or who it belonged to. Was it a message from Colonel Sanders himself from behind the grave? Could it be a sign from above?
Nope, her landlord just happens to collect vintage signs and bought the bucket and had it dropped off on her property.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That bucket right there, if you had noticed it, it don't say KFC. It says Kentucky Fried Chicken. That bucket's probably 40 years old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I did not notice that.
So the landlord plans to kick the bucket up a notch by mounting it on a pole for permanent display. How about that? Suddenly, the giant plastic snow globe your neighbor puts on his lawn around Christmas time doesn't seem so bad, doesn't it? See, that's one benefit of living here in New York City: we don't have yards. So we don't have to worry about the obtrusive signage of poultry franchises.
Oh, wait. We kind of do. Cue the "Seinfeld" clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY SEINFELD, COMEDIAN: Wow, Kenny Rogers Roasters, finally open. Look at the size of that neon chicken on the roof.
What's going on in there?
MICHAEL RICHARDS, COMEDIAN/ACTOR: What?
SEINFELD: That light?
RICHARDS: Oh, the red. Yes, the Chicken Roasters sign. It's right across from my window.
SEINFELD: Can't you shut the shade?
RICHARDS: They are shut. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I have to say, the Georgia woman who now has an unexpected view of a giant KFC sign is handling the situation very well. Simply put, she's not sweating buckets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Too often we need something to laugh about. And so I put it on Facebook and told them that I'll bring chicken to the next potluck. Maybe we'll get giant mashed potatoes next to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As she points out, there are other benefits to being "that lady with the gigantic chicken bucket in her yard." Who needs GPS when you have KFC?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's unusual, but it makes really good landmarks when people come to our house. You can just say come down to the giant, you know -- the giant KFC bucket and turn right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That is what I call the power of positive thinking in action. When life throws you a curveball in the form of a seven-food- tall fast-food memorabilia in your front yard, just make the most of it. I think we just learned the original recipe for happiness. We can cross that one off our bucket list on "RidicuList."
That's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.