Steve’s post earlier today is a great reminder of how over the last 200 years, free enterprise has led to an unprecedented explosion of wealth, individual liberty and creativity. Nothing in human history – putting aside for the moment the claims of religion – has enriched the human race to anything like the same degree. If human history has conclusively established any fact, it is that free enterprise is fantastically successful, while socialism is a pitiful failure. Think of North Korea, the USSR, Maoist China, Albania, East Germany, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, India until it wised up. The list goes on and on.
And yet… the siren song of socialism still lures suckers. Currently, Venezuela is learning the age-old lesson the hard way. But we can’t laugh at Venezuelans, when Bernie Sanders is a serious contender for our presidency and is far and away the campus favorite. How is it that socialism (or the urge toward socialism, anyway) can survive? It is the cockroach of ideologies, seemingly impervious to all efforts to kill it.
It may be helpful to think of socialism as a species of fraud. There are many types of fraud, but nothing new under the Sun. The same frauds that Venetian merchants guarded against persist today. The same con games that flourished hundreds of years ago still work. Charles Ponzi’s financial empire collapsed in 1920, and he was arrested and sent to prison. Yet hardly a month goes by without another Ponzi scheme being revealed. There is only one way in which a Ponzi scheme can end: in disaster. This is a mathematical fact. Yet people fall for them, over and over.
People seem to be drawn to fraud like moths to a candle. When I was in law school, I learned about a relatively ingenious fraud. Someone placed an ad in all of the major newspapers on the East Coast. All it said was: “Friday, March 31, is the last day to send in your dollar. P.O. Box 1234, New York, NY.” Many thousands of people sent in their dollars: they didn’t want to miss the deadline. The perpetrators of the scheme were prosecuted, but it was a close-run thing: what was the fraud? The court accepted the idea that the ad made an implicit representation that there was a benefit to be gained or an evil to be avoided by sending in one’s dollar, but it was a pretty skinny case.
In the realm of fraud, the wisdom of the ages is reflected in the adage that a fool and his money are soon parted. The same, I think, is true of socialism. Socialism is fraud writ large. It is a fraud perpetrated by the cynical and greedy on the ignorant and credulous, just like a Ponzi scheme. Only we can add: a fool and his freedom are soon parted.
Only under socialism could Fidel Castro become the richest warlord, relative to his subjects’ wealth, in recorded history. (And that was the least of his sins.) Only under socialism could Maria Gabriela Chavez, daughter of socialist tribune of the people Hugo Chavez, beloved by the American left, waltz off with a $4 billion fortune. But then, she was a piker: Chavez’s Minister of the Treasury stashed $11 billion in Swiss bank accounts.
Charles Ponzi’s mistake was that he should have gone into politics. He could have gone far as a socialist politician, and could have avoided prison.
Socialism is, I think, a species of fraud, but socialism is also much worse than that. A fraudster like Bernie Madoff will only take your money. A socialist will take your money, but that is just the beginning. When you give power to the power-mad, your freedom and human dignity, and perhaps your life, are soon forfeit. So socialism is a uniquely evil variety of fraud.
The bottom line, though, is that, just as the familiar types of fraud have endured for centuries even though they have repeatedly been exposed and are known to the well-informed, so socialism persists, and will continue to endure, as long as men and women fall for the lies and blandishments of the cynical, the greedy and the power-mad.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell awarded a rarely used open-ended sole-source contract to a firm whose corporate owners were embroiled in a $400 million fraudulent medical data scheme that cheated doctors and consumers, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
The company Burwell selected is Optum Labs, which is part of UnitedHealth Group’s Optum subsidiary. Andrew Slavitt, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), was formerly a top Optum executive at the time of the fraudulent database involved in the scheme. The database enabled insurers to pay dramatically lower reimbursements to doctors and patients for out-of-network care.
Optum and UnitedHealth Group settled the landmark fraud case with then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in 2009 and paid out a record $400 million. Optum Labs – which is one of nation’s largest medical data analytics companies – was not a party to the settlement.
Under the contract, Optum Labs will provide HHS with 160 million administrative claim records it accumulated over 20 years and 40 to 50 million electronic medical records it collected over the last seven years, according to Optum Lab spokesman Jeffrey Smith. Some of the records to be given to HHS are part of the database involved in the 2009 settlement, Smith says.
Cuomo – now New York’s Democratic governor – said at the time of the settlement that Optum and UnitedHealth Group had “ripped off patients” by rigging out-of-network reimbursements to providers and consumers. “Too many people have been hurt,” he said.
UnitedHealth Group’s insurance division, United Healthcare, is the nation’s biggest health insurance company and warned last month it may stop participating in Obamacare in 2017 due to unexpectedly large financial losses.
Slavitt left Optum to join CMS as deputy administrator and became acting administrator when Marilyn Tavenner stepped down after the troubled launch of Obamacare. Obama nominated Slavitt as the permanent administrator July 10, 2015, but a confirmation vote has yet to be taken in the Senate.
Slavitt was granted a rare “ethics waiver” by the Obama administration that permits him to rule on issues involving past employers. American Commitment, a conservative non-profit advocacy group, recently delivered to the Senate more than 20,000 letters it generated demanding rejection of Slavitt’s nomination.
It was clear from the beginning of the award process Burwell’s choice for the contract was Optum Labs. In a May 29 public notice, she declared the contract would be awarded without any competition, declaring, “this is a notice of intent, not a request for a quote. A solicitation will not be issued and quotes will not be requested.”
Optum Labs has hundreds of rivals. There are 971 health IT companies registered with the federal government under the same service code in which Optum Lab was awarded the account.
Burwell added in the May 29 notice that the sole-source contract also was a “blanket purchase agreement,” (BPA) which means the contract will provide continuous government orders without competing bidders. No dollar amount is specified for the contract.
Federal officials aren’t required by BPA procurement rules to issue any public notice or solicitation when the contract is up for renewal. The contract is for one year, with options to renew over the following four years. It started in September of this year.
“This seems like another example of the revolving door paying off for a contractor, and more proof that who you know might be more lucrative than what you know,” Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, tells TheDCNF.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, tells TheDCNF that “sole-source contracts by their nature raise questions about whether the taxpayers are getting the best deal.”
Grassley, chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and a senior member of the Senate Committee on Finance that oversees Obamacare, demands the administration justify its decision to offer Optum Labs a sole-source contract.
“The administration should be explicitly transparent about the reasons for any sole source contracts, and especially here where the firm getting the contract has been controversial,” Grassley tells TheDCNF.
“Companies would love to get that contract because it means that there won’t be any on follow-on competition and the agency will place their orders only with them,” says a 30-year senior procurement officer in an interview with TheDCNF.
The procurement officer who requested anonymity tells TheDCNF that “when they say ‘sole- source,’ that means they’re not going to look to other people. They’re not going to consider anyone else. They’re going to go straight to who they’re going to pick.” He requested anonymity because he is barred from speaking on the record due to his governmental post.
“A sole source BPA is an instrument that any company would be probably would be happy to have. Let’s not kid ourselves,” the procurement officer tells TheDCNF.
American Commitment president Phil Kerpen says “it’s rather remarkable that a division of Andy Slavitt’s UnitedHealth Group, Optum Labs, has now gotten an open-ended contract from HHS.”
Kerpen points to the ethics waiver that allows Slavitt to make decisions involving his former employers as an especially important factor in questioning the Optum Labs sole-source award.
“I think that certainly the perception of corruption is one reason why the unusual ethics waiver from the administration is so inappropriate. You now have a top executive of a company that does business every day, both as a regulated entity and as a vendor, with a top executive right there in the building,” Kerpen says.
CMS officials insist Slavitt is not involved in the Optum Lab contract. But an HHS spokeswoman refused to make public the memorandum of understanding between the department and Optum Labs.
The Optum Lab contract is with an obscure HHS operation called the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The House Appropriations Committee zeroed-out the agency in June. The bill is in the Senate awaiting action.
Republicans charge AHRQ duplicates many other agencies, including the National Institutes of Health for which congressional Republicans have increased funding.
Just as detractors of President Barack Obama’s healthcare power grab predicted in the midst of Democrat lawmakers shoving their unread law down the throats of the American people, the finished product is living up to expectations: it is filled with deceit, waste, misconduct, and “a big bowl of fraud,” according to several attorneys and investigators who spoke with the ConservativeBase.com’s editor.
Although non-profit, conservative watchdog groups have frequently reported corruption, misconduct, malfeasance and deception within the Obama administration’s signature program known as Obamacare, the Democrats and their news media partners found it relatively easy to dismiss the watchdogs’ reports by claiming a right-wing conspiracy.
However, when the Government Accountability Office (GAO) officials – who report to the U.S. Congress and are reputed to be nonpartisan at least when their reports prove the Democrats’ point of view – released their latest “indictment” of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on Friday, the majority of denizens in American newsrooms ignored the GAO’s disturbing report describing its undercover operation.
The PPACA requires the health-insurance marketplace to review application information to verify applicants’ eligibility for enrollment and to review eligibility for income-based subsidies or Medicaid for those claiming such entitlements. The verification process includes reviewing and validating information about an applicant’s Social Security number, if one is provided; citizenship, status as a national or lawful presence; and household income and family size.
GAO investigators reported that they tested application and enrollment controls for obtaining subsidized health plans available through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace (Marketplace) (for New Jersey and North Dakota) and two selected state marketplaces (California and Kentucky). Although 8 of these 10 fictitious applications failed the initial identity-checking process, all 10 were subsequently approved by the federal Marketplace or the selected state marketplaces.
According to GAO officials: “To perform our undercover testing of the federal and selected state eligibility and enrollment processes for the 2015 coverage year, we created 18 fictitious identities for the purpose of making applications for health-care coverage by telephone and online.18 The undercover results, while illustrative, cannot be generalized to the full population of enrollees. For all 18 applications, we used publicly available information to construct our scenarios.
“We also used publicly available hardware, software, and materials to produce counterfeit or fictitious documents, which we submitted, as appropriate for our testing, when instructed to do so. We then observed the outcomes of the document submissions, such as any approvals received or requests to provide additional supporting documentation.”
Four applications used Social Security numbers that, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), have never been issued, such as numbers starting with “000.” Other applicants had duplicate enrollment or claimed their employer did not provide insurance that meets minimum essential coverage. For 8 additional fictitious applicants, GAO tested enrollment into Medicaid through the same federal Marketplace and the two selected state marketplaces, and was able to obtain either Medicaid or alternative subsidized coverage for 7 of the 8 applicants:
* Three were approved for Medicaid, which was the health-care program for which GAO originally sought approval. In each case, GAO provided identity information that would not have matched SSA records. For two applications, the marketplace directed the fictitious applicants to submit supporting documents, which GAO did (such as a fake immigration card), and the applications were approved. For the third, the marketplace did not seek supporting documentation, and the application was approved by phone.
* For four, GAO did not obtain approval for Medicaid; however, GAO was subsequently able to gain approval of subsidized health plans based on the inability to obtain Medicaid coverage. In 1 case, GAO falsely claimed that it was denied Medicaid in order to obtain the subsidized health plan when in fact no Medicaid determination had been made by the state at that time.
* For one, GAO was unable to enroll into Medicaid, in California, because GAO declined to provide a Social Security number. According to California officials, the state marketplace requires a Social Security number or taxpayer-identification number to process applications.
According to officials from the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS), California, Kentucky, and North Dakota, the marketplaces and Medicaid offices only inspect for “supporting documentation that has obviously been altered. So if the documentation submitted doesn’t show such signs, it wouldn’t be questioned for authenticity.
The latest survey by Rasmussen Polling shows that only 32% of likely voters believe the government should require every American to buy or obtain health insurance. Most voters (56%) continue to oppose Obamacare’s insurance requirement, and this is the highest level of opposition in nearly two years. Twelve percent (12%) remain undecided.
Obamacare premium costs will soar 20.3 percent on average in 2016 instead of the 7.5 percent increase claimed by federal officials, according to an analysis by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The discrepancy is because the government excluded price data for three of the four Obamacare health insurance plans when the officials issued their recent forecast claiming enrollees would face only a 7.5 percent average rate increase in 2016.
When data for all four plans are included, premium costs will actually rise on average 20.3 percent next year. The 2015 Obamacare price hike was 20.3 percent.
The Obamacare program’s federal exchange operates in 37 states where officials declined to set up state-run exchanges. Officials in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare Services, which manages Obamacare, only calculated price changes for the health insurance program’s Silver plan, thus ignoring data for the Bronze, Gold and Platinum plans.
The CMS officials said they did so because the IRS uses the Silver plan as a “benchmark” for tax purposes. That approach, however, gave consumers an incomplete picture of what is happening in the health insurance marketplace through the Obamacare program.
The DCNF analysis reviewed price data for all four plans obtained from CMS, insurance companies, state insurance regulators and the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
The 20.3 percent figure is the average for all plans. Premium increases in some states will be much higher. In Utah, for example, some enrollees in an individual plan will face a 45 percent price jump. In Illinois, the highest price hikes for individuals in the federal exchange will be 42.4 percent. Some insurers in Tennessee will experience a 36.3 percent price rise.
Wayne Winegarden, a senior fellow in business and economics at the Pacific Research Institute, told TheDCNF that CMS 7.5 percent forecast number is “misleading and a meaningless statistic” that “isn’t actually relevant to any individual in any state. If you go across the four different metals, what happened in the Gold plan, what happened in the Platinum plan, what happened to the Bronze plan?”
Charles Gaba, a data analyst who tracks Obamacare trends and is an Obamacare supporter, reported earlier this year that Obamacare consumers in all 50 states will experience an average 14.4 percent increase. His analysis can be found on his web site, acasignups.net.
“I was hoping they would include all of the rates,” Gaba told TheDCNF. “I would love it ideally if they had all the medal levels.”
Gaba called the CMS price analysis, “fairly representative, but there’s the Gold, the Platinum, the Bronze, the catastrophic plan even, and there’s also a variety of Silver plans. So there are a bunch of different ones in addition to the benchmarks which they did not include.”
The difference between premium cost projections based only on the Silver plan and those that result from using all four plans can be dramatic. Silver enrollees in Pennsylvania, for example, will experience a 10.6 percent increase. Using all four plans, the average price hike for Obamacare enrollees is 20.3. Time Insurance Co. pulled out of Obamacare after state officials rejected its 61 percent increase request.
South Dakotans using Silver will pay 24.7 percent more this year. But among all exchange users in the state, the average increase will be 39 percent. Dakota Care hiked its Obamacare exchange prices 63 percent for 2016, while Blue Cross Blue Shield raised its rates by 43 percent.
In South Carolina, the Silver increase will be 10.8 percent, compared to 23.4 percent when all four plans are considering.
Some worrisome trends appear when specific Silver plan offerings are measured against other medal levels. The National Conference of State Legislators has begun tracking Obamacare price hikes by levels.
In Colorado, for example, Silver customers will see a 12.94 percent price hike. But Gold users will face a 20.33 rate increase and Platinum enrollees will see a 29.80 percent price rise, according to NCSL data.
Idaho Silver customers will have an 8.69 percent increase. But Bronze customers will face 11.03 percent rise and Gold will face 15.9 percent, according to NCSL. Idaho did not offer Platinum coverage for 2016.
The mainstream media was quick to embrace the 7.5 percent number, claiming it reflected the real- world experience of most Obamacare customers. The Washington Post’s Amy Goldstein reported in a story filed last Saturday that “the [CMS] analysis includes all plans being sold in the 37 states that will continue to rely on the federal exchange next year.”
In fact, Platinum, Gold and Bronze price changes were excluded from the federal analysis.
Thomas Miller a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told TheDCNF that CMS is “always trying to put the best face on things going forward.” But, he said, “you got your initial press release. Only a few people catch up with what might be the final results.”
Nowhere has there been so much hand-wringing over a lack of “affordable housing,” as among politicians and others in coastal California. And nobody has done more to make housing unaffordable than those same politicians and their supporters.
A recent survey showed that the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was just over $3,500. Some people are paying $1,800 a month just to rent a bunk bed in a San Francisco apartment.
It is not just in San Francisco that putting a roof over your head can take a big chunk out of your pay check. The whole Bay Area is like that. Thirty miles away, Palo Alto home prices are similarly unbelievable.
One house in Palo Alto, built more than 70 years ago, and just over one thousand square feet in size, was offered for sale at $1.5 million. And most asking prices are bid up further in such places.
Another city in the Bay Area with astronomical housing prices, San Mateo, recently held a public meeting and appointed a task force to look into the issue of “affordable housing.”
Public meetings, task forces, and political hand-wringing about a need for “affordable housing” occur all up and down the San Francisco peninsula, because this is supposed to be such a “complex” issue.
Someone once told President Ronald Reagan that a solution to some controversial issue was “complex.” President Reagan replied that the issue was in fact simple, “but it is not easy.”
Is the solution to unaffordable housing prices in parts of California simple? Yes. It is as simple as supply and demand. What gets complicated is evading the obvious, because it is politically painful.
One of the first things taught in an introductory economics course is supply and demand. When a growing population creates a growing demand for housing, and the government blocks housing from being built, the price of existing housing goes up.
This is not a breakthrough on the frontiers of knowledge. Economists have understood supply and demand for centuries – and so have many other people who never studied economics.
Housing prices in San Francisco, and in many other communities for miles around, were once no higher than in the rest of the United States. But, beginning in the 1970s, housing prices in these communities skyrocketed to three or four times the national average.
Why? Because local government laws and policies severely restricted, or banned outright, the building of anything on vast areas of land. This is called preserving “open space,” and “open space” has become almost a cult obsession among self-righteous environmental activists, many of whom are sufficiently affluent that they don’t have to worry about housing prices.
Some others have bought the argument that there is just very little land left in coastal California, on which to build homes. But anyone who drives down Highway 280 for thirty miles or so from San Francisco to Palo Alto, will see mile after mile of vast areas of land with not a building or a house in sight.
How “complex” is it to figure out that letting people build homes in some of that vast expanse of “open space” would keep housing from becoming “unaffordable”?
Was it just a big coincidence that housing prices in coastal California began skyrocketing in the 1970s, when building bans spread like wildfire under the banner of “open space,” “saving farmland,” or whatever other slogans would impress the gullible?
When more than half the land in San Mateo County is legally off-limits to building, how surprised should we be that housing prices in the city of San Mateo are now so high that politically appointed task forces have to be formed to solve the “complex” question of how things got to be the way they are and what to do about it?
However simple the answer, it will not be easy to go against the organized, self-righteous activists for whom “open space” is a sacred cause, automatically overriding the interests of everybody else.
Was it just a coincidence that some other parts of the country saw skyrocketing housing prices when similar severe restrictions on building went into effect? Or that similar policies in other countries have had the same effect? How “complex” is that?
An investigative blogger has accused Shaun King, a key figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, of misleading media icon Oprah Winfrey by pretending to be biracial in order to qualify for an “Oprah scholarship” to historically black Morehouse College. The blogger says King is white and has been lying about his ethnicity for years.
King is a high-profile campaigner against “police brutality” and “justice correspondent” for the liberal Daily Kos website who told Rebel magazine in 2012 that he was biracial, with the magazine reporting that he is the “son of a Caucasian mother and an African-American father.” He has also described himself as “mixed with a black family” on Twitter.
King has been lionised by the press, praised as hero of civil rights and social activism. He has written extensively about a childhood in which he was terrorised by “decades old racial tensions.” He claims to have been “the focus of constant abuse of the resident rednecks of my school.”
Yet, in recent weeks, rumours have been circulating about his ethnicity. A 1995 police incident report lists Shaun King’s ethnicity as white. And blogger Vicki Pate, who has been assembling forensic accounts of Shaun King’s background and family tree on her blog, “Re-NewsIt!,” has published her findings.
King’s case echoes that of Rachel Dolezal, a civil rights activist from Washington who claimed to be biracial while in fact being of caucasian origin. Dolezal continues to insist she “identifies as black,” despite her parents revealing that she is entirely white.
If Pate is right, Shaun King, who often uses black and white photographs of himself online rather than colour images, may have misled African-American hero Winfrey by applying for and accepting an Oprah Scholarship to the historically black Morehouse College. Oprah Scholarships are given exclusively to black men.
In his Daily Kos diary, King refers to himself as a “brother,” writing: “Oprah Winfrey paid my way through Morehouse. The leadership scholarship that I received from her is why I have a college degree today. Five hundred other brothers have the exact same story.”
Shaun King’s biography has attracted the attention of bloggers and journalists thanks to several bizarre inconsistencies in his public claims. He often struggles when asked to recall basic facts about his own life. For instance, in August 2014, King wrote on Twitter that he was father to three “black girls,” while, six months earlier, he claimed to be father to four.
It is of course possible that a family tragedy is responsible for the inconsistency, but the unexplained change in biographical details is not a one-off. In October 2009, King claimed to have endured four spinal surgeries. By February 2010, the number of surgeries had shrunk to three. There is also some confusion about when an alleged car crash may or may not have happened.
As it turns out, these explosive new racial allegations are just the latest in a string of controversies surrounding Shaun King: on July 21, a conservative blog reported that his account of a “brutal, racially-motivated beating” in 1995, which at least two reports have described as “Kentucky’s first hate crime,” did not match up with a police report from the case.
“King, 35, has related the story of the hate crime on his blogs and in his recent self-help book, seemingly to bolster his credibility as an activist and as a self-help guru,” wrote the Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross. “While King has said that he was attacked by up to a dozen ‘racist’ and ‘redneck’ students, official records show that the altercation involved only one other student.”
“And while King has claimed that he suffered a ‘brutal’ beating that left him clinging to life, the police report characterized King’s injuries as ‘minor,’” Ross reported.
This month, more details have emerged from King’s account that do not match up with the police report or eyewitness accounts from journalists who noticed that King’s public claims did not square with reality.
Remarkably, King’s own publication the Daily Kos, at which he is listed as a staff writer, ran a provocatively titled blog post in July of this year: “Is there something fishy about Shaun King?” The post alleged that people had been asking questions about King for some time and linked to the earlier Daily Caller report.
“While I know that it’s in a right-wing publication, there was something that prevented me from instantly dismissing the article… I’ve seen a number of people on Daily Kos complain that Shaun plays fast and loose with the truth,” wrote contributor Burt Miles. “So I started to do some digging on the Internet and found a lot of information which, if true, makes me very concerned about Shaun, his motives, and how his actions could reflect badly on this site and be used to smear the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Miles continued: “Is there anything to all this, or is it some kind of organized smear campaign? And, if it is a smear campaign, how does it involve so many different sites, publications and individuals?”
It was around the same time that Breitbart contacted Vicki Pate, who has been investigating King’s claims for several years. Pate provided key documents that appear to show that King has two white parents and that he has been lying to the public about his race.
One of them is his birth certificate, listing his parents as Naomi Kay Fleming and Jeffery Wayne King and a birth date of September 17, 1979 in Versailles, Kentucky. King had already told journalists his mother was white. So all that remained for Pate to determine was whether his father was white too.
King has always claimed that his father is black. But King’s father, Jeffery, is white, says Pate. She points to a man born 11 November 1955 in Campbell, Kentucky who has been the subject of multiple arrests, including for motoring and drug offences. That birth date would make him 23 at the time of Shaun King’s birth, the same age given on Shaun’s birth certificate.
The Jeffery Wayne King whose name and date of birth concord with Shaun King’s birth certificate is pictured below, in a 2007 police mug shot. Various documents give his name as “Jeffery” and “Jeffrey” Wayne King, names which are common variants of one another, but King Snr’s date of birth and place of residence is the same in all records.
What’s more, Pate says she has definitively linked the man pictured in these mugshots to Shaun King via Shaun’s brother, Kentucky Air Guard Russ King, who is also clearly caucasian. Finally, public records show only one J Wayne King in the state.
…………………………….Jeffery Wayne King in 2007
By 2015, Shaun King had finessed his account of growing up black and suffering discrimination. “I was raised in rural Kentucky,” he told the blog Generation Progress. “It was actually pretty rough. African Americans faced a lot of racism and discrimination growing up. I never really experienced overt racism myself until high school,” he claimed.
“I was put into a weird position when a huge group of students (who called themselves “rednecks”) hated me for no reason.”
We all know that people are the same wherever you go…
6:06 PM – 17 Aug 2015
King must have known while giving interviews as late as 2015 that Vicki Pate was tracking down his family history. But he continued to deliver craftily-worded answers to interview questions that gave the impression he was a person of color and that he had been the victim of hate crimes.
Neither is true, says Pate. She told Breitbart last night that King has never denied her accusations. “Shaun King has not denied the story to me, or anyone else, as far as I know,” she said. “Whenever it is mentioned on Twitter he simply blocks whoever is asking and reports them for ‘harassment.’ He did reply to one person but only to say, ‘Haters gonna hate.’ I myself have been suspended from Twitter just for posing the question.”
In a real-life story that seems taken out of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, a New York lawyer accused of fraud is actually asking for a trial by combat to settle a legal dispute.
Richard Luthmann says his bizarre request may sound ludicrous to most people, but it certainly isn’t against the law. He pointed out that the right to Trial by Combat was technically never outlawed in the state of New York, or anywhere else in America. “The common law of Britain was in effect in New York in 1776,” he told reporters “And the Ninth Amendment of the Constitution recognises the penumbra of those rights. It’s still on the books.” Historically, trial by combat was indeed a little-used but accepted aspect of English common law.
Luthmann, 35, feels that his request for a combat trial is fair, given that the legal dispute itself is silly and “baseless”. It started in 2013, when Luthmann represented the losing side in a lawsuit between two investment firms. His client, David Parker, was supposed to pay $550,000 to the opposition, but he disappeared without a trace. So the opponents decided to sue him instead, alleging the lawyer helped his client hide his assets in order to avoid payment.
After spending the past two years filing motions and countermotions against the other lawyer, Luthmann was at his wits’ end. “This is not a lawsuit anymore; this is an absurdity,” he told the New York Post. “So I will give them absurdity in kind.” That’s when he decided to make use of a loophole in the law and challenge them to a medieval-style duel to settle the matter.
In his brief, Luthmann asks “that the court permit the undersigned (Luthmann) to dispatch plaintiffs to the Divine Providence of the Maker for Him to exact His divine judgment once the undersigned has released the souls of the plaintiffs and their counsel from their corporeal bodies, personally and or by way of a champion.” Alternatively, he’s willing to settle for just having the case dismissed.
It sounds like a joke, but Luthmann is actually pretty serious about testing the power of the Ninth Amendment. “The judge may look askance at it, but I’m prepared to take it to the highest level,” he said. “I’d love to have a court determine whether we have those rights under the Constitution. This is a matter of honor.”
It’s highly unlikely that the judge will accept Luthmann’s request, but in any case, he’s prepared to go to combat dressed as Game of Thrones character Robert Baratheon. His weapon of choice – a warhammer.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Richard Chusid, feels differently about the issue. “It should be clear that we do not find the brief amusing and, we believe, neither will the court, both from a legal and ethical perspective,” he said.
You have to admit, seeing two lawyers fighting for their lives medieval style would be fun to watch.
The Velvet Rope Ultra Lounge went up in flames in 2012.
This week the former owner Frank Elliot was charged with arson and insurance fraud.
Elliot told local media he believed his establishment was targeted because it catered to a gay clientele
ABC 7 Chicago reported:
A bar owner admitted he set his gay nightclub on fire in Oak Park.
Frank Elliott pleaded guilty to arson and insurance fraud for the fire at The Velvet Rope Ultra Lounge in 2012.
Prosecutors said Elliott doused the bar in alcohol, wrote gay slurs on the wall, then lit it on fire.
He was sentenced to two years’ probation and has to pay back $107,000 to two insurance companies.
Shocking revelations show that at least four Clinton Foundation board of directors have either been charged or convicted of financial crimes, including bribery and fraud.
This newest, startling revelation is just one more of many in Peter Schweizer’s bombshell book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, the book that has sent the Hillary Clinton campaign and the media scrambling.
The book shows that there are many problems with the Clinton charity. In fact, the Clinton Foundation is so unlike a real charity that even charity watchdog group Charity Navigator refuses to rate the Clinton Foundation because of its “atypical business model.”
One of those problems is the fact that the Clintons put big donors and close pals on the board for reasons that are hard to fathom. In fact, at least four of these “board members” have either been charged or convicted of serious financial irregularities, crimes including bribery and fraud.
The most well-known of these board members is Vinod Gupta.
“Vinod Gupta, the founder and chairman of the database firm InfoUSA, was a major Clinton financial supporter who served as a foundation trustee,” the book says.
In 2008 he was charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for using company funds to support his luxurious lifestyle. He was alleged to have used more than $9.5 million in corporate funds to pay for personal jet travel, millions for his yacht, personal credit card expenses, and the cost of twenty cars. He settled with the SEC for $4 million.
Gupta also paid Bill Clinton a $3 million “consulting fee,” an act of misuse of corporate funds that brought shareholders to file a suit against him. The company eventually settled with shareholders to the tune of $13 million, Clinton Cash reports.
Another such person involved with financial irregularities is foundation trustee Sant Chatwal, who has convictions for illegal campaign financing, obstruction of justice, and a list of other charges.
Then there is trustee Victor Dahdaleh, who “was charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in Great Britain with paying more than 35 million pounds in bribes to executives in Bahrain to win contracts of more than 2 billion pounds,” the book notes.
Clinton Cash goes on to report that Dahdaleh “has worked for the American aluminum company Alcoa as a ‘super-agent.’ (The billionaire had his bail revoked in the case because he contacted prosecution witnesses.) Dahdaleh was found not guilty after the SFO offered no evidence against Dahdaleh because a key witness, Bruce Hall, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to corrupt but refused to testify. Alcoa ended up pleading guilty in the US case arising out of the transaction and settled with the US Justice Department for $384 million. Dahdaleh was not charged in the United States individually.”
Finally, there is current Clinton Foundation board member and trustee Rolando Gonzalez Bunster, who “has been named in a fraud case in the Dominican Republic involving his company InterEnergy. The charges were filed by the Dominican government’s Anti-Corruption Alliance (ADOCCO). In 2013, Bunster was charged along with officials of a government agency concerning alleged ‘ballooned’ fees charged to the government. The company dismisses the charges as ‘baseless allegations.’”
These are just a few of the troubling things that Clinton Cash reveals about the Clinton Foundation.
The man tasked with managing Connecticut’s welfare fraud investigations was charged with fraud himself Wednesday.
Lynwood Patrick Jr., 39, was arrested and charged with wire fraud after allegedly falsifying his assets and income to get federal financial aid for housing payments, the Hartford Courant reports.
A new federal investigative task force will look into the matter, and a conviction comes with a maximum sentence of up to 20 years.
Patrick allegedly created fake pay stubs and lied about his assets to help him qualify for the Making Home Affordable program, a federal program to help people pay for homes. He allegedly spread his money across several bank accounts and falsely claimed that his income had decreased.
Patrick’s bankruptcy attorney said he won’t discuss the case at this time.
If he’s lucky, he’ll get the same treatment as Internal Revenue Service employees, who have been cheating on their taxes in droves and not only keeping their jobs, but getting promoted.
CBS6 reporter Alix Bryan doesn’t like when people lend a hand to a business destroyed by the “diversity” mob under false pretenses, so she does what every supposedly “non-biased” media hack does, try and get it shut down on bogus fraud charges.
Her now deleted tweet:
Two more sent down the memory hole.
Alix Bryan, a social media employee with WTVR-TV, the CBS affiliate in Richmond, Virginia, is being investigated by station management for filing a false fraud report to GoFundMe against Memories Pizza, a spokesman told The Gateway Pundit on Friday.
Over $700,000 has been raised in just a few days to help the family-owned business that has temporarily shut down after being harassed by totalitarian gay-rights supporters outraged the store said in a gotcha TV interview that in theory it would not cater a gay wedding because of their religious beliefs.
Bryan posted to Twitter on Wednesday evening she was filing a fraud complaint with GoFundMe “just in case.”
“I have reported the GoFundMe for Memories Pizza for fraud. Just in case. http://www.gofundme.com/contact?t=donation_page_report&url=MemoriesPizza
When challenged for filing a fraud complaint based on no evidence, Bryan said “that is totally acceptable to do” and that had she looked in to the matter after she filed her complaint.
“Also, that is totally acceptable to do. I also did research afterward and contacted person who started fund. @LilacSundayBlog @CBS6”
Lawrence Billy Jones III, who started the GoFundMe page on Wednesday in coordination with Dana Loesch and other contributors to Loesch’s Blaze TV show, told Bryan on Twitter that she never contacted him.
“@alixbryan @LilacSundayBlog @CBS6 you didn’t contact me.”
Bryan describes herself on Twitter as an employee of CBS6
“I like to travel, ask questions, and help improve the world. 1/3 of a kick-ass web and social media team @CBS6 in #RVA. Opinions are my own, not employers.”
Bryan claimed her work has nothing to do with her involving her herself in the Memories Pizza story with a false report.
“My work has nothing to do with this. @LilacSundayBlog @CBS6”
Her employers at WTVR may beg to differ.
As of 5:30pm eastern time, over $800,000 has been raised online to offset the financial losses suffered by the proprietors of Memories Pizza.
Click HERE if you would like to make a donation to these innocent victims of leftist, anti-Christian bigotry.
The Justice Department indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) on corruption charges Wednesday, bringing the first criminal charges against a sitting U.S. senator since the botched prosecution of Alaska’s Ted Stevens seven years ago.
Mr. Menendez, 61 years old, has said he plans to fight any charges, which are the culmination of a two-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the relationship between the senator and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.
A federal grand jury in Newark handed down a five count indictment, charging Mr. Menendez with crimes including conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services fraud.
Dr. Melgen is already under investigation for possibly overbilling Medicare. The FBI has also probed whether Mr. Menendez used his position to try to help Dr. Melgen with his legal troubles and whether the senator sought to improperly aid Dr. Melgen’s business interests in a Dominican Republic port security company. Dr. Melgen’s lawyer has previously said the doctor acted appropriately at all times.
The probe began with an anonymous accusation about Mr. Menendez’s personal conduct while traveling with Dr. Melgen in the Dominican Republic in 2013. Investigators could never substantiate those claims, but the probe evolved into a far-reaching examination of the relationship between Dr. Melgen and the senator – a long friendship that included gifts, hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations, and travel together, according to people familiar with the case.
Shortly after the FBI investigation began, Mr. Menendez repaid Dr. Melgen $58,500 for two private flights to the Dominican Republic that the senator hadn’t listed on financial disclosure forms, Menendez aides have said. Aides called the initial failure to list the flights an oversight.
As news of potentially pending charges spread in recent weeks, Mr. Menendez has acknowledged receiving gifts from the doctor but said they were the result of a close friendship, not corruption, and pledged he wouldn’t back down. Mr. Menendez has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees over the last year, according to public filings.
A prolonged legal battle between the senator and the Justice Department could have broader political and foreign-policy repercussions at a time when Senate Democrats need every vote they can get to confirm Obama administration nominees and muster support for the White House’s foreign-policy moves.
The case is already testing the limits of the Justice Department’s ability to investigate members of Congress. Much lawmaker activity is protected by a constitutional provision that makes them immune from prosecution and civil suits when they are involved in “legislative activity.”
Lawyers in the case have already been sparring on the issue. Prosecutors sought to compel two Menendez staffers who claimed such privilege to testify before a grand jury about actions allegedly taken on behalf of Dr. Melgen, according to a sealed appellate court document that was briefly posted on a public website last month.
Prosecutors’ last attempt to charge a sitting senator – Mr. Stevens – went badly awry, casting a dark cloud over the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, which is also pursuing charges against Mr. Menendez. The Justice Department won a 2008 conviction against Mr. Stevens on charges he made false statements on government paperwork, allowing him to conceal tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts, including free home renovations. Just a week after that verdict, Mr. Stevens narrowly lost his re-election bid.
The next year prosecutors reversed course and asked for a judge to vacate the conviction, based on an internal review which found key information had been withheld from the defense. Mr. Stevens died a year later in a plane crash.
Since then, the Public Integrity Section has been overhauled and brought a number of high-profile cases. It oversaw the successful prosecution of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife on corruption charges. Last year, Rep. Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.), pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion and said he would resign. Still, the constitutional protections for Congress weren’t at play in those cases.
The charges come at the same time as Mr. Menendez, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is playing a key role in some major foreign-policy issues. He has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s overtures to Iran and Cuba and has urged it to get more aggressive in combating Russia’s moves in Ukraine.
Senate Democrats have no hard-and-fast rules requiring a lawmaker to step down from committee assignments or leadership positions when facing legal troubles.
If he declines to step down, Democrats would have to decide whether to force his ouster, Senate aides said. Democratic aides said such a decision would be unlikely to occur until members return to Washington from recess in two weeks, though any public statements from rank-and-file lawmakers could be a harbinger of how the caucus might vote.
Charges against Mr. Menendez would also put Senate Democrats and the White House in an awkward position on the nomination of Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to succeed Attorney General Eric Holder. Ms. Lynch is facing a tight vote to win confirmation and, should Mr. Menendez choose not to vote to confirm the woman who could oversee his prosecution, the White House would have to find another Republican to back Ms. Lynch or she risks being denied confirmation.
Irving immigration lawyer and Obama supporter, Sherin Thawer, was arrested on federal fraud charges and for forging applications of illegal immigrants.
Sherin Thawer was invited to the Obama White House last year to discuss immigration reform.
Meeting with the White House Policy Council today in Washington DC regarding #immigration reform.
12:03 PM – 11 Apr 2014
An Irving immigration lawyer was arrested Friday morning on federal fraud charges for allegedly forging visa applications for illegal immigrants she represented, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Sherin Thawer, 45, was arrested by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations at her Coppell home, authorities said.
She made her initial court appearance Friday and was released.
The seven-count indictment, issued earlier this week and unsealed on Friday, charges Thawer with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with immigration documents; one count of mail fraud; one count of transfer or use of the means of identification of another person; and four counts of aggravated identity theft.
Thawer represented immigrants who were applying for various visas to enter or remain in the U.S., officials said. That included U Nonimmigrant Status, known as a U-Visa.
To qualify for a U-Visa, an immigrant must have been a victim of a certain crime and helped law enforcement with the investigation or prosecution. Applicants must submit a form completed by the law enforcement agency that worked on the case.
Sherin Thawer is quite the Barack Obama supporter.
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price was arrested today as a result of a 13-count indictment which claims the powerful Texas Democrat took $950,000 in bribes. Wiley’s attorney, Billy Ravkind, confirmed that he was arrested early Friday morning and is in Federal custody. The indictment indicates Wiley received the bribes in the form of cash, cars and property and that he and his political operatives used the ill-gotten gains to commit tax and mail fraud. For the full indictment, please access the following link.
The indictment charges that, among other things, Price and his accomplices used his office and stature in a conspiracy to commit bribery concerning a local government receiving federal benefits, deprivation of honest services by mail fraud and aiding and abetting, conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service as well as subscribing to a false and fraudulent U.S. individual income tax returns.
“The indictment unsealed today alleges that for more than a decade, in a shocking betrayal of public trust, Commissioner Price sold his office on the Dallas County Commissioners Court in exchange for a steady stream of bribes,” U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldaña said.
John Wiley Price has been a lightning-rod for controversy for much of his political career for his bombastic and often racist statements. In 2013 he made headlines for getting into a very public battle with Dallas Country Sheriff Lupe Valdez over the promotion of a white man for a position previously held by a black woman. Perry argued that it would leave the seven-person command staff with only one African-American.
In February 2011 Price got into a a heated verbal exchange with Dallas lawyer Jeff Turner at a Dallas county commissioner’s meeting. Turner repeatedly called Price a ‘Chief Mullah’ and ‘tribal’, terms which Price took offense to and prompted him to ask Turner to speak to him in private. Price later stated that he interpreted “Mullah” as “Moolah”, similar to the racial epithet “Moulie.” The public confrontation resulted in a shouting match before Price asked out loud why all the speakers were white. When an audience member shouted, “You’ve asked respect of us. We demand respect from you,” Price said “All of you are white. Go to hell.” Price then exited the meeting and challenged the protesters to follow him outside. At this point security personnel ordered the court to be cleared.
John Wiley Price spent much of the 1980′s & 90′s as an “Al Sharpton of the Lone Star State,” leading numerous protests on racial-related issues. In 1991 during a protest, Price was accused of breaking the ankle of a white construction worker. In May 1992, Price was found not guilty of felony assault charges from the incident.
For twelve years, Price hosted a nightly radio show on KKDA’s “Talk Back, Liberation Radio.” According to his website, John Wiley Price continued in his crusade to educate the community by serving as host of Liberation Nation KNON 89.3 for more than six years thereafter.
Price’s colleagues indicted in the case include longtime executive assistant Dapheny Elaine Fain, political consultant Kathy Louise Nealy, and Nealy’s account manager Christian Lloyd Campbell. The face he showed to his constituents is one of a champion of the people, dubbing himself “our man downtown” on his web site. He also produced a promotional video as the investigations started, hitting on many standard Democratic Party themes.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Fain is expected to surrender to authorities Friday and that Nealy has been arrested. Campbell’s current status is not yet known.
“It erodes public confidence,” Diego Rodriguez, the lead agent in the FBI’s Dallas office, said of Price’s alleged activity. “The majority of public servants who work at the local, state and federal governments are honest.” Rodriguez added, “A small number have the agenda to “line their own pockets or those of friends and family and business partners.”
In June of this year the Dallas Democrat demanded that Texas taxpayers pay him “substantial monetary slavery reparations” to help him pay his legal bills while the FBI investigation ensued, which led to his arrest today on 13 counts of fraud.
A former Deputy Chief of Veterans Claims in the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs pleaded guilty Monday to extortion in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain over $1.4 million in veterans benefits.
The plea agreement was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Kim R. Lampkins of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General.
In January 2011, U.S. Army veteran David Clark, age 67, of Hydes, Maryland, retired from the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs as the deputy chief for veterans claims. Clark’s duties included submitting claims and documentation on behalf of veterans in Maryland who appointed the MDVA to represent them in obtaining federal benefits from the VA. Clark also submitted documents to the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation in support of veterans’ applications for property tax waivers.
According to his plea agreement, while serving at Deputy Chief of Claims, Clark fraudulently obtained VA compensation for himself and at least 17 others, by submitting false documents to the VA purporting to show that the claimants had been diagnosed with diabetes, and in some cases, that the claimant had served in Vietnam when they had not. The claimants paid Clark half of the retroactive lump sum payment they received in cash or some other amount of cash. These payments to Clark were made in unmarked envelopes, at MDVA offices in Bel Air; at the Fallon Federal Building in Baltimore; and at other locations.
In support of these claims, Clark submitted fake letters from doctors purportedly treating the veterans, which falsely stated that the claimants suffered from Type II diabetes. Clark used the names and addresses of real doctors who were unaware of his conduct. Each letter stated that the diagnosis of Type II diabetes had been made a year or more prior to the date of the letter, which entitled each claimant to a retroactive lump-sum payment. The letters also stated that the claimants were currently taking insulin, which increased the amount of compensation the VA paid the claimant.
Clark created counterfeit versions of a Defense Department form for himself and five others, which falsely stated that each had served in Vietnam. These forms also falsely stated that these individuals had received various awards and decorations for the Vietnam service, including that Clark himself had been awarded the Purple Heart Medal. These documents were submitted to the VA to provide false evidence that they qualified for compensation benefits for diabetes.
Clark also submitted false certifications to the SDAT, on behalf of claimants that owned homes in Maryland, that the filers were entitled to a property tax waiver due to a service-connected disability.
The false claims cost the government $1,151,219 and the loss from the property tax evasion is $255,555, for a total loss of $1,407,134, officials said.
Clark faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Clark has agreed to forfeit $1,407,134.
A sentencing date is scheduled for Nov. 17.
Eight other veterans have previously pleaded guilty to paying Clark cash to submit false documentation to receive VA benefits:
* John Bratcher, 56, of Conowingo, Maryland, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force
* Richard Genco, 71, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Navy
* Paul Heard, 65, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Navy
* George Kulla, 68, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Army
* Sandra Tyree, 65, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and former employee of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
* Kenneth Webster, 68, of Pasadena, Maryland, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and a former police officer with AMTRAK
* Raymond Sadler, 63, of Middle River, Maryland, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps
* Kenneth Williams, age 65, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
A million dollar donor to Obama’s 2012 campaign and 14 of his affiliates have been indicted for involuntary manslaughter and fraud but you probably won’t hear about it much in the mainstream media.
Here’s a local report:
Eric Lach of Talking Points Memo has followed the donor for a long time:
A California grand jury has indicted Kareem Ahmed, a major donor to President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and 15 of Ahmed’s associates in an alleged multimillion-dollar insurance kickback scheme.
Ahmed, the president and CEO of a company called Landmark Medical Management, is accused of masterminding the scheme and faces charges including conspiracy, insurance fraud, and, most dramatically, involuntary manslaughter, according to one of two sealed indictments issued by an Orange County grand jury both dated June 17 and obtained this week by TPM.
The first of the two indictments accused Ahmed of developing topical cream formulas “based on the profitability of the ingredients,” and then giving doctors who treated workers’ compensation patients illegal financial incentives to prescribe the creams. The scheme, which ran from 2009-2013, also involved filing false claims with multiple insurance companies, the nine-count indictment alleges.
In an earlier report, Lach said that Ahmed told him, “I have the White House on notice,” when he found out the reporter was going to write an article about him, long before any indictment came down. Nice friends you got there, Obama.
Notice also the sweet photo of Ahmed with Michelle Obama:
Federal charges have been filed against dozens of people in Georgia who allegedly set up a scheme that funneled $18 million worth of food stamps through grocery stores in what a Department of Justice official is calling “one of the largest federal food program frauds ever.”
Fifty-four people were indicted for their roles in the massive fraud which involved the illegal purchase of WIC and food stamp benefits.
The fraud “allegedly involved the purchase of more than $18 million in WIC vouchers and Food Stamp benefits for cash through a number of purported grocery stores set up throughout Georgia.”
Another 34 defendants were indicted for selling their benefits. Through the WIC program, participants receive 3-month supplies of vouchers which can be exchanged for food at authorized stores. The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) provides food stamp benefits to low-income families.
It is illegal to sell WIC and SNAP benefits for cash, though that did not stop the 88 people involved in the scam.
“Many of the defendants allegedly canvassed low-income neighborhoods and solicited WIC and Food Stamp participants to illegally exchange their benefits not for food but for cash,” the DOJ’s charge reads.
After setting up grocery store operations throughout Georgia, the defendants bought the benefits for a fraction of their face value.
The defendants then allegedly laundered the $18 million they received from the scheme.
Another 34 defendants who were charged separately allegedly sold over $1,000 worth of WIC and food stamps for cash.
“This prosecution is one of the largest federal food program frauds ever brought,” said U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver in a statement.
The 54 defendants were charged with one count each of mail and wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. The charges carry a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The government seeks the forfeiture of $20 million in bank accounts and assets, including two luxury vehicles, a 2008 Mercedes Benz and a 2008 Land Rover. Defendants began appearing in federal court on Tuesday and will continue to appear on Wednesday.
An amnesty advocate that President Barack Obama’s White House publicly promoted as part of its “Champion of Change” series has been indicted in federal court on charges of fraud.
Bonnie M. Youn, who Obama’s White House touts on its website as “a recognized Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community leader in Georgia,” was indicted on three criminal charge counts in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division on April 1, according to publicly filed court documents.
The first indictment count alleges Youn committed perjury with regard to an alien illegally in the United States. The second indictment count alleges that Youn violated a federal immigration law that prohibits bringing illegal aliens into the United States and harboring them, alleging she did so “for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain.” The third indictment count alleges Youn illegally tampered with witness testimony, specifically alleging she influenced the illegal alien – whose identity is kept anonymous in the indictment – to provide false information about employment in the United States to federal agents.
The indictment, signed by U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates and two Assistant U.S. Attorneys, indicates that Youn’s alleged illegal activity began “on or about February 9, 2009,” just as President Obama took office at the beginning of his first term and before she was honored by the White House. The third indictment count says that the alleged witness tampering began on or about August 15, 2011.
An arrest warrant was filed for Youn Tuesday.
Youn is listed on the White House “Champions of Change: Immigration Reform” website. That site, which along with a page specifically about her remains on WhiteHouse.gov after she was indicted on these criminal charges related to the White House’s honoring of her, states she was awarded the title for being like Cesar Chavez. “The White House honors eleven people who embody the spirit of Cesar Chavez’s legacy and commit themselves to working in their communities to advocate and organize around immigration-related issues,” the White House says on the website that features Youn.
Youn’s bio on her WhiteHouse.gov page says she “has worked tirelessly to provide a voice for immigrants and AAPI communities.”
“She led teams that organized the 2013 Georgia AAPI Legislative Day, gathering the largest number of AAPIs in history at the State Capitol to meet and lobby elected officials,” the White House wrote. “In 2012, she worked closely with the White House Initiative on AAPIs to organize its Southeast Regional Action Summit at Emory University in Atlanta. The Summit brought together over 500 participants to meet federal agency officials, culminating in a town hall meeting discussing concerns about immigration, healthcare and mental health issues, small business, and housing needs. Her current passions are advocating for more AAPI judges and political appointees, challenging state legislation that disenfranchises immigrants, and creating a legacy of a sustainable AAPI Commission for Georgia.”
The White House also notes that Youn is a “principal” of her own law firm Youn Law Group.
According to a press release from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), Youn received the White House honor from President Obama in late March 2013. “Today, the White House honored 10 individuals with the Cesar Chavez Champions of Change Award,” the press release, dated March 26, 2013, reads. “Among the 10 honorees is Bonnie M. Youn, who is a member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).”
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is warning taxpayers to beware of phone calls from individuals who claim to represent the Internal Revenue Service, but in reality are trying to defraud them, in what it is saying is the largest ever scam it has seen to date.
“This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement. He noted that TIGTA has received reports of over 20,000 contacts and has become aware of thousands of victims who have collectively paid over $1 million as a result of the scam, in which individuals make unsolicited calls to taxpayers fraudulently claiming to be IRS officials.
“The increasing number of people receiving these unsolicited calls from individuals who fraudulently claim to represent the IRS is alarming,” said George. “At all times, and particularly during the tax filing season, we want to make sure that innocent taxpayers are alert to this scam so they are not harmed by these criminals. Do not become a victim.”
George urged taxpayers to heed warnings about the sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, noting that the scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.
The truth, TIGTA pointed out, is the IRS usually first contacts people by mail – not by phone – about unpaid taxes. The IRS also won’t ask for payment using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer, and the agency won’t ask for a credit card number over the phone.
“If someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from the IRS and uses threatening language if you don’t pay immediately, that is a sign that it really isn’t the IRS calling,” said George.
The callers who commit this fraud typically use common names and fake IRS badge numbers, TIGTA noted. The scammers also frequently know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security Number make the caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling, making the scam even more convincing. In addition, they tend to send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam, and call a second time claiming to be the policy or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim.
TIGTA said that if you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s what to do. If you owe federal taxes, or think you may owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions. If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to TIGTA at 800-366-4484. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.
TIGTA and the IRS are encouraging taxpayers to be alert for phone and e-mail scams that use the IRS name. The IRS said it will never request personal or financial information by email, texting or any social media. Taxpayers who received scam e-mails should forward them to email@example.com, but they should not open any attachments or click on any links in those emails.
Taxpayers also should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as a lottery sweepstakes winner) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.
For more information about tax scams, visit www.FTC.gov.