Tag: Feds

12 Detroit School Principals Charged With Bribery By Feds

Feds Charge 12 Detroit School Principals With Bribery – USA Today

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In its latest crackdown on school corruption here, the federal government Tuesday dropped a legal bomb on 12 current and former principals, one administrator and a vendor – all charged with running a nearly $1 million bribery and kickback scheme involving school supplies that rarely were delivered.

Among those charged: Ronald Alexander, principal at Charles L. Spain Elementary-Middle School that’s scheduled to receive more than $500,000 in donations from TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Alexander’s charge, unrelated to DeGeneres’ announcement in February, is bribery for allegedly pocketing $23,000 money from Norman Shy in exchange for using the owner of Allstate Sales as a school-supply vendor, according to federal court records.

Shy, 74, of Franklin, Mich., is at the heart of the accusations. For 13 years, he is accused of paying $908,500 in kickbacks and bribes to at least a dozen Detroit Public Schools principals, scamming schools to the tune of $2.7 million with the help of those principals, prosecutors allege. Each defendant faces up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

The announcement came nearly two months after ex-principal Kenyetta Wilbourn Snapp, once hailed as a rising education star and turnaround specialist in city schools, pleaded guilty to bribery. Snapp admitted she pocketed a $58,050 bribe from a vendor and spent it on herself while working for the embattled Education Achievement Authority, a state-formed agency that was supposed to help Detroit’s most troubled schools.

News of the larger corruption case comes at a critical time as the state grapples with fixing the finances of the struggling Detroit district, the largest school system in Michigan. The schools have been under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager since 2009 and have accumulated an operating deficit of at least $515 million.

Last week, Michigan lawmakers passed $48.7 million in emergency financing to ensure that the school system doesn’t run out of cash early next month. They also put the district under the authority of a financial review commission.

“This is exactly why House Republicans were so adamant that strong fiscal oversight be a prerequisite to any additional state funding for Detroit’s corrupt and broken school administration,” state Rep. Kevin Cotter, a Republican from Mount Pleasant and speaker of the state House, said in a news release Tuesday. “And it is why we will continue to insist that strong financial and academic reforms be a part of any long-term solution to decades of DPS failures.”

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade announced the sweeping charges at a news conference, calling the case “a punch in the gut.”

She stressed that the charges have nothing to do with the schools’ existing financial troubles or the political debate surrounding whether the state should help the city’s struggling school system.

“Public corruption never comes at a good time,” McQuade said. “This case is not about DPS. It is not about emergency managers. It is about these 14 individuals who breached their trust.”

The charges stem from a 2-year-old audit of the Education Achievement Authority, she said. That audit raised red flags, including one that led to Snapp’s eventual indictment.

Snapp, who is set to be sentenced June 1, faces up to 46 months in prison for bribery. Another women, Paulette Horton, an independent contractor who was involved in a deal to provide tutoring services at two high schools, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit program bribery. The 60-year-old consultant admitted that she was the middleman who handed over bribes to Snapp.

Vendor Glynis Thornton also pleaded guilty in January, admitting she gave Snapp money in exchange for awarding her company the tutoring contract. In her guilty plea, Thornton explained how the scheme worked: Thornton would give an independent contractor the bribe money for Snapp, that contractor would meet Snapp at a bank, give her the money, and keep some for herself.

McQuade would not say whether Snapp’s cooperation led to any of the new charges, only that the Education Achievement Authority investigation revealed more evidence of Detroit school officials’ wrongdoing.

Vendor Glynis Thornton also pleaded guilty in January, admitting she gave Snapp money in exchange for awarding her company the tutoring contract. In her guilty plea, Thornton explained how the scheme worked: Thornton would give an independent contractor the bribe money for Snapp, that contractor would meet Snapp at a bank, give her the money, and keep some for herself.

McQuade would not say whether Snapp’s cooperation led to any of the new charges, only that the Education Achievement Authority investigation revealed more evidence of Detroit school officials’ wrongdoing.

Among those charged Tuesday was Detroit resident Clara Flowers, 61, an assistant superintendent in the schools’ Office of Specialized Student Services. She is charged with pocketing $324,785 in kickbacks from Shy for using him as a school-supply vendor.

The kickbacks came in the form of cash, gift cards and payments to contractors who put a new roof on Flowers’ house, painted it and did gutter work.

Flowers first used Shy sometime before 2009, when as principal of Henderson Academy she chose his company as that school’s school-supply vendor. She would continue to use Shy as a vendor when she became an assistant superintendent.

Shy maintained a ledger to keep track of how much money he owed Flowers in kickbacks, according to court documents. The two regularly met to discuss how much Flowers was owed for her favors, and Shy was careful not to get caught, disguising his payments to Flowers in a variety of methods.

The Free Press attempted to contact lawyers for all 14 defendants. Only one offered to comment.

Most were unavailable. Two declined comment, saying it was too premature to discuss the case.

“Let’s not rush to judgment. These are merely allegations,” said Doraid Elder, who is representing Stanley Johnson, 62. The former principal of Hutchinson Elementary-Middle School is charged with accepting $84,170 in kickbacks.

“I don’t want people to forget that he’s put over two decades of his heart and soul into giving kids the best education possible,” Elder said of Johnson.

Johnson ordered school supplies from Shy then submitted false invoices to DPS, which in turn paid for goods that were rarely delivered, according to court documents. Shy would secretly funnel money back to Johnson by issuing payments to sham companies that Johnson created to conceal the kickbacks, prosecutors allege.

Johnson is “obviously devastated by the charges,” Elder said.

“At times, he’s reached in his own pocket and paid for things to help get the kids certain resources that they normally would not be able to get,” Elder said. “He’s had decades of a stellar record. I’m sure this is not easy for the students, the parents nor the individuals charged.”

City school officials and the defendants are cooperating, McQuade said. They all were charged in a document known as an “information,” which is similar to an indictment but does not involve a grand jury.

Prosecutors often bring charges by way of an information in cases where the government believes a plea deal will be reached. McQuade would not comment on any prospective plea deals in this case.

The charges angered retired federal Judge Steven Rhodes, who is serving as the transition manager for Detroit Public Schools.

“I cannot overstate the outrage that I feel,” he said. The school system has suspended business with Shy and all of his companies.

School officials also have put new policies in place related to purchases, such as suspending all purchases by individual schools and requiring all school-based purchases to have central office approval.

“We want do whatever is necessary to prevent this from happening again,” Rhodes said.

The six principals who are current employees have been placed on unpaid administrative and replaced with new interim leaders, he said. The other principals already have left the district.

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Commie Swine Update: Feds Say Thousands Of Bernie Sanders Contributions Violated Campaign Finance Laws

Feds Flag Thousands Of Illegal Bernie Sanders Contributions – Washington Free Beacon

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Thousands of contributions to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign in January violated federal campaign finance laws, election regulators said on Thursday.

The Federal Election Commission sent a letter to the Democratic presidential candidate’s campaign committee on Thursday with a 90-page spreadsheet listing 3,457 “excessive, prohibited, and impermissible contributions.”

The campaign’s January financial disclosure filing listed contributions from foreign nationals and unregistered political committees, the FEC said. Other contributions came from donors who exceeded the $2,700 per-election limit.

“Although the Commission may take further legal action concerning the acceptance of [excessive or prohibited] contributions, your prompt action to refund the prohibited amount will be taken into consideration,” the FEC told the campaign.

Sanders’ campaign has relied on small-dollar individual contributions to a far greater extent than any other presidential campaign, including the Super PAC– and dark money-fueled efforts of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

The Vermont Senator and self-described socialist is running on a platform of transparency and campaign finance reform, contrasting his grassroots support with Clinton’s high-dollar donors and use of loopholes in federal election laws that allow her campaign to coordinate with outside groups that can accept unlimited contributions.

However, Sanders’ donors have also run afoul of federal campaign finance laws, and his financial disclosure reports have been riddled with errors.

The FEC sent a letter to the Sanders campaign earlier this month flagging an additional 1,316 “excessive, prohibited, and impermissible contributions” in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The commission also noted disbursements from the campaign that failed to include required documentation.

The Sanders campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some of the campaign’s legal problems stem from enthusiasm for Sanders’ candidacy from foreign nationals, many of whom have publicly revealed donations to the campaign in violation of U.S. election laws.

“I am German, live in Germany and just donated to Bernie Sanders’ campaign on BernieSanders.com simply using my credit card – Is this illegal in any way?” asked a user on the website Quora.

“UPDATE: Donation rescinded based on your answers,” the user later added.

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Connecticut High School Student Pledges Allegiance To ISIS – Feds Investigating

Student Says ‘ISIS’ In Pledge, Gets Pulled From High School – WTNH

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A 15-year-old high school student in Ansonia is under federal investigation for comments he made during class.

In a statement to News 8, the Ansonia Police Department said that; “The allegation is that the male was allegedly making pro-ISIS statements during the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Ansonia High School officials alerted police who passed the incident report on to the Department of Homeland Security. New Haven Civil Rights Attorney John Williams called the whole situation a shame.

“This is in my view exactly what the terrorists want,” Williams said. “They want to scare us so much that we become crazy and turn on each other.”

The Ansonia Superintendent of Schools also declined an on-camera interview, but released a statement that reads in part; “ …we did not deem the incident a legitimate threat to the safety of students or staff. Out of an abundance of caution, the incident was reported to the appropriate authorities. As far as the Ansonia Public Schools is concerned, the matter is resolved.”

The 15 year-old student is now at an alternative school. Williams – who is not involved in this case – calls this a clear violation of the student’s First Amendment rights to free speech. He said the teenager is being punished for the content of his words.

“It’s pure speech. Not like the proverbial shouting fire in a crowded theater. No harm to anybody, except to himself, because he looks silly.”

According to the minutes from the school board meeting, the student’s mother calls the decision to investigate her son “irrational and impulsive.”

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Obamanomics Update: Feds Take In Record $3,248,723,000,000 In Tax Revenues; Still Run $438,899,000,000 Deficit

$3,248,723,000,000: Federal Taxes Set Record In FY 2015; $21,833 Per Worker; Feds Still Run $438.9B Deficit – CNS

The federal government took in a record of approximately $3,248,723,000,000 in taxes in fiscal 2015 (which ended on Sept. 30), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today.

That equaled approximately $21,833 for every person in the country who had either a full-time or part-time job in September.

It is also up about $212,927,100,000 in constant 2015 dollars from the $3,035,795,900,000 in revenue (in 2015 dollars) that the Treasury raked in during fiscal 2014.

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Even as the Treasury was hauling in a record $3,248,723,000,000 in tax revenues in fiscal 2015, the federal government was spending $3,687,622,000,000. So, the federal government ran a deficit of $438,899,000,000 for the fiscal year.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total seasonally adjusted employment in the United States in September (including both full and part-time workers) was 148,800,000. That means that the federal tax haul for fiscal 2015 equaled about $21,832.82 for every person in the United States with a job.

In 2012, President Barack Obama struck a deal with Republicans in Congress to enact legislation that increased taxes. That included increasing the top income tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, increasing the top tax rate on dividends and capital gains from 15 percent to 20 percent, and phasing out personal exemptions and deductions starting at an annual income level of $250,000.

An additional 3.8 percent tax on dividends, interest, capital gains and royalties – that was embedded in the Obamacare law – also took effect in 2013.

The largest share of fiscal 2015’s record-setting tax haul came from the individual income tax. That yielded the Treasury $1,540,802,000,000. Payroll taxes for “social insurance and retirement receipts” took in another $1,065,277,000,000. The corporate income tax brought in $343,797,000,000.

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Feds Forcing Certain States To Require Passports At Airports For Domestic Flights

If You Live In These States You’ll Soon Need A Passport For Domestic Flights – Zero Hedge

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To comply with the 2005 Real ID Act, which the U.S. government has been slowly implementing for the past decade, citizens in a number of different U.S. states will now be forced to obtain a passport if they want to board an airplane – even for domestic flights.

The Department of Homeland Security and representatives with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have declined to comment on why certain states have been singled out, but starting in 2016, residents of New York, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and American Samoa will need a passport to fly domestically. All other states will still be able to use their state-issued driver’s licenses and IDs – for now, at least.

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s guidelines on enforcement of the Real ID Act,

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on December 20, 2013 a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act (the Act), as passed by Congress, that will implement the Act in a measured, fair, and responsible way.

Secure driver’s licenses and identification documents are a vital component of our national security framework. The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government ‘set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.’ The Act established minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, no sooner than 2016, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

States and other jurisdictions have made significant progress in enhancing the security of their licenses over the last number of years. As a result, approximately 70-80% of all U.S. drivers hold licenses from jurisdictions: (1) determined to meet the Act’s standards; or (2) that have received extensions. Individuals holding driver’s licenses or identification cards from these jurisdiction may continue to use them as before.

Individuals holding licenses from noncompliant jurisdictions will need to follow alternative access control procedures for purposes covered by the Act. As described below, enforcement for boarding aircraft will occur no sooner than 2016.”

According to the fine print, not all 50 states have driver’s licences that meet the Real ID requirements, which could possibly explain why the aforementioned regions will not qualify in 2016. However, there is no specific mention of what the requirements actually are.

The Real ID act has been controversial since its initial proposal over ten years ago and is seen by many as a massive violation of privacy. One of the primary reasons it has taken the government so long to roll this program out is that the program is wildly unpopular and creates heavy backlash every time it appears in the news.

The tightening of the Real ID restrictions are seemingly intended to push people towards attaining the newly issued “enhanced ID,” which adds more unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy to the already tedious process involved in identification applications.

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Feds Cover Up Rampant Crime In $1.6B Job Corps Program

Govt. Covers Up Rampant Crime In $1.6 Bil Antipoverty Job Program – Judicial Watch

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The U.S. government’s $1.6 billion vocational program for at-risk youth was created decades ago to end poverty by offering poor teenagers free job training, but it’s a seriously mismanaged hotbed of violence rife with violent crimes that are routinely covered up by officials in charge.

The crisis appears to have plateaued recently when four youths participating in the program, known as Job Corps, brutally murdered a fellow student in a Miami, Florida job training center. The area’s mainstream newspaper reported that the Job Corps students confessed to luring a 17-year-old to the woods, where he was repeatedly hacked with a machete and forced into a shallow grave as he lay mortally wounded. The sickening details came right out of the police report. Months earlier a murder occurred at a Job Corps facility in St. Louis, Missouri.

The recent crimes are part of a much broader problem within the Job Corps, which serves about 60,000 low-income students ages 16-24 at 125 centers nationwide. The Department of Labor (DOL) administers Job Corps, which has also been plagued with fraud and corruption over the years, and insists it has a strict policy forbidding any kind of violence or illegal drugs. The reality is however, that crime is rampant at local centers around the country and seldom do cases get reported or adequately investigated. Often officials sweep incidents under the rug or downplay them to prevent the offenders from getting booted out of the taxpayer-funded program.

In fact, earlier this year a scathing DOL Inspector General report blasted the agency for failing to take action involving lax enforcement of Job Corps disciplinary policies that had been well documented in previous investigations. The “continuing deficiencies” have allowed “potentially dangerous students in the program,” investigators wrote, further revealing that an astounding 35,021 serious misconduct incidents occurred at 11 centers alone. In many cases serious infractions were not reported or were improperly downgraded to lesser infractions, the agency watchdog found. They include assault, illegal drugs and fighting among the students.

For instance, at a North Carolina center a violent physical altercation landed one student with enough injuries to require hospitalization yet the crime was downgraded and no disciplinary action was taken, in violation of established rules. At an Oklahoma center a student struck another student in the head with an object yet remained enrolled as if nothing ever happened, even though the injury required five stitches. At a Pennsylvania facility a student was busted with drugs on the Job Corps property yet faced no consequences. There are many more examples in fact, 51 students who should have been automatically discharged, remained in the program. Not surprisingly, they went on to commit other crimes, the IG confirms in its report.

Some of the Job Corps centers are operated by independent contractors, but many are directly run by the U.S. government which makes the violations all the more outrageous. For instance, of 47 centers that retained 177 students who should have been discharged for disciplinary reasons, eight were federally operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The public funds wasted to keep the 177 thugs enrolled could have been used to house and educate other at-risk youth who are more committed to be in the program, the DOL watchdog points out.

Job Corps has been in trouble for more than just covering up serious crimes over the years. There has also been fraud involving the waste of public funds and abuse of prepaid debit cards as well as unscrupulous contract practices. Last year a federal audit identified nearly a quarter of a million dollars in questionable personal purchases made by staff and students on government debit cards. A separate probe determined that Job Corps doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in questionable contracts and failed to keep proper documentation for others worth tens of millions of dollars.

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Feds Refuse To Name Official Who Misused Government Computers, Tampered With Evidence And Threatened A Witness

Watchdog: Senior Official Let Household Watch Porn On 7 Government-Owned Computers – Daily Caller

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An unnamed high-ranking Department of Commerce official kept at least seven government-issued computers at her home where somebody used the equipment for months to view pornography and web sites featuring racial slurs.

Then, when the department’s Office of Inspector General began investigating, she tampered with evidence and proposed disciplining an employee who cooperated with the investigation, according to a new OIG report.

Federal taxpayers also funded her “wasteful foreign travel,” and a full eight-hour workday when she only worked about 20 minutes.

“The investigation revealed a troubling pattern of conduct that was abusive of government resources and evidenced a disregard for conservation of such resources, as well as misconduct by senior official in response to the OIG’s investigation,” the report said.

The IG refused to identify the individual’s name or position, or clarify who viewed and downloaded pornography and racial slurs.

“Our report speaks for itself,” said spokesman Clark Reid, citing privacy concerns for not disclosing the senior executive’s name or title. A department spokesman declined to comment.

The senior-level official kept two desktop computers, three laptops and two iPads at her home for at least six months and allowed members of her household access, “which resulted in inappropriate use of such equipment to view and/or store pornographic, sexually suggestive, and racially offensive materials,” the report said.

She also inappropriately booked a flight abroad, “permitting her to seek reimbursement from the government for the expenses associated with her own personal, non-official travel plans.” Investigators calculated that cost taxpayers about $1,365.

Investigators also found “numerous” discrepancies in her attendance record, including a day when she claimed she worked an eight-hour day via telework, but evidence suggests she worked about 20 minutes.

What happened next created more work for federal investigators.

“This included evidence that the senior official failed to comply with a preservation order issued by the OIG, which resulted in impeding the OIG’s access to information and materials relevant to its investigation, as well as credible evidence that the senior official’s belief that one of her subordinates cooperated with the OIG’s investigation was a significant factor in senior official’s proposal to take disciplinary action against the subordinate,” the report said.

“This evidence is deeply troubling to the OIG as it calls into question Senior Official’s compliance with her obligations as a government employee.”

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