Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Huntington Man Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Brother's Veteran's Benefits
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Huntington man pled guilty yesterday to embezzling over $80,000 of his brother’s Veteran’s benefits. The case was investigated by the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
David Washington, 55, was appointed his brother's fiduciary to receive and manage benefits from the Department of Veteran's Affairs. Washington failed to submit accounting reports, which led investigators to question his management. Washington later admitted to mismanagement, including spending his brother's benefits for his own personal expenses. The total amount misappropriated was over $81,000.
“Our veterans have sacrificed enough and have earned every dollar this country provides them through benefit programs,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “It’s despicable to think that anyone, much less a family member, would steal benefits from a veteran for their own personal use.”
Washington faces up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced in February 2019. United States District Court Judge Robert C. Chambers presided over the plea hearing. Assistant United States Attorneys Gabe Wohl and R. Gregory McVey handled the prosecution.
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Government Contractors Found Guilty in $11 Million Veteran Set-Aside Fraud Scheme
Company and owner fraudulently misused “service-disabled veteran-owned small business” status to defraud the Department of Veterans Affairs and Army Corps of Engineers
SAN DIEGO, CA – A federal jury today convicted Andrew Otero and his company, A&D General Contracting, Inc. (“A&D”), on charges that they fraudulently obtained $11 million in federal contracts specifically set aside for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.
The evidence demonstrated that Otero had no military experience. Yet Otero (on behalf of A&D) and veteran Roger Ramsey (on behalf of Action) participated in a conspiracy to defraud the government by forming a joint venture (“the JV”) – and falsely representing that Action and the JV qualified as service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (“SDVOSB”). Based on the false claim to SDVOSB eligibility, the conspirators fraudulently obtained approximately $11 million in federal government construction contracts or task orders with the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) and the Army Corps of Engineers (“ACE”).
As proven at trial, the fraudulent conspiracy involved set-aside contracts that could only be bid upon by legitimate service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses – a designation that did not apply to Otero or A&D. To appear qualified, Otero and Ramsey initially executed an agreement to create the JV (“the JV Agreement”), which stated that Ramsey’s company (Action) would be the managing venturer, employ a project manager for each of the set-aside contracts, and receive the majority of the JV’s profits.
However, as proved at trial, six months later, Otero and Ramsey signed a secret side agreement that made clear the JV was ineligible under the SDVOSB program. For example, the side agreement said the parties created the JV so that A&D could simply “use the Disabled Veteran Status of Action Telecom” to bid on contracts. The side agreement also stated that A&D – not Action – would run the construction jobs. They also agreed that “A&D will keep 98% of every payment; Action Telecom will receive 2% of every payment.”
In addition to the secret side agreement, the evidence demonstrated several ways in which the JV did not operate as a legitimate SDVOSB, but was essentially controlled by Otero and A&D. For example, although Ramsey (a service-disabled veteran) nominally served as president of Action and the JV, he actually worked full-time for another telecommunications company. Otero and A&D, not Ramsey, controlled the day-to-day management, daily operation and long-term decision making of the JV. Among other things, Otero and A&D appointed an A&D employee as the project manager for every contract and task order.
“Our nation strives to repay the debt of gratitude we owe to our veterans by setting aside some government contracts for veterans with service-related disabilities,” said United States Attorney Adam Braverman. “These unscrupulous contractors abused this program through a cynical and illegal ‘rent-a-vet’ scheme. They are now being held fully accountable for robbing truly deserving vets of important economic opportunities.”
All four defendants are also facing civil charges in United States v. Otero, et al., Case No. 15CV0441-JAH, a case alleging violations of the false claims act based on the similar misconduct.
The defendants were ordered to appear before U.S. District Judge John Houston for sentencing on February 19, 2019 at 10:30 a.m.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rebecca Kanter and Aaron Arnzen.
A&D General Contracting, Inc., Santee, California
Andrew Otero El Cajon, CA
Criminal Case No. 17CR0879-BEN
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Count 1: Conspiracy to defraud and commit offenses (18 U.S.C. § 371)
Maximum penalties: 5 years’ imprisonment; 3 years’ supervised release; a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greatest; and a mandatory special assessment of $10
Count 2-4: Major fraud against the United States (18 U.S.C. § 1031)
Maximum penalties: 10years’ imprisonment; supervised release; a fine of $1,000,000 per count ($5,000,000 total); and a mandatory special assessment of $100
Counts 5-7: Wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343)
Maximum penalties: 20 years’ imprisonment; a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greatest; and a mandatory special assessment of $100
10, 14: False statements (18 U.S.C. § 1001)
Maximum penalties: 5 years’ imprisonment; a fine; and a mandatory special assessment of $100
Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General
Monday, November 26, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Man Who Lied About Combat Service for Second Time Sentenced to Federal Prison
Charleston, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Keith R. Hudson, 71, of Charleston, South Carolina, was sentenced to six months in federal prison and six months of home confinement for receiving $197,237 in benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after falsely claiming to be a veteran.
Evidence presented to the court showed that Hudson falsely claimed that he was entitled to VA benefits because he was a veteran who had been in combat in Vietnam. He even went so far as to claim that he had received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.
Hudson has committed the same crime in the past. In 2005, he was prosecuted in Connecticut for the falsely claiming to be a veteran in order to claim VA benefits. He was placed in pretrial diversion. He moved to Charleston, South Carolina, and in 2012 he applied to the VA in Charleston for benefits. He used the same falsified form from the Department of Defense, (a DD-214, “Report of Separation from Active Duty”) and claimed that he was in the Navy and saw combat as a medic, suffering wounds and other trauma. He claimed that he served from August 1, 1967, through October 31, 1971.
This was all a fraud. Hudson was never in the military. He never served in the United States Navy, nor did he ever see combat in Vietnam.
Hudson asked for a probationary sentence, claiming poor health and noting his age, previous bypass surgeries, and cancer. United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel denied Hudson’s motion for probation and instead sentenced him to 1 year of confinement, in a split sentence. Six months of the confinement is to be served in federal prison, and six months is to be served as home confinement. Hudson was also ordered to pay $297,237 in restitution.
U.S. Attorney Lydon emphasized the importance of this case for our country and for our community. “This is an egregious crime,” she said. “This Defendant trampled on the memory of those who have bravely served our country and suffered harm protecting us. Hudson not only stole from the taxpayers by taking benefits he did not earn, he also stole directly from veterans who served our nation and protected our freedom. Every minute of time he spent with a VA doctor or a staff member is a minute he stole from a real veteran. He took resources that the VA just cannot afford to spare. We are grateful to the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General for their investigative work on this case.”
Kim Lampkins, the Special Agent in Charge for the Veterans Administration Office of Investigations Criminal Investigations Division, said, "Those who defraud the VA harm all veterans. VA benefits are intended solely for those who have protected this nation’s freedoms. We investigate individuals who commit fraud against the VA and are dedicated to defending veterans who genuinely earned our support."
The case against Hudson was investigated by the VA Office of Inspector General and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sean Kittrell of the Charleston office.
Monday, November 19, 2018
There aren't enough doctors or nurses for veterans, according new Department of Veterans Affairs data. The Veterans Health Administration, the branch of the agency that provides healthcare for about 9 million vets, has some 40,000 job vacancies.
The biggest shortages are in highly urban cities or rural areas, according to Stateline. The problem is worst in Delaware, Montana, and Colorado, where more than 20 percent of those jobs are unfilled. Utah, Oklahoma and Maryland also have high vacancy rates.
The trend is similar across the rest of the U.S. healthcare industry, too. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected we’d see 1.09 million nursing job openings by 2024.
But experts say it's hard to recruit medical and dental staff for VHA jobs in particular. The hiring process is long, and the pay is lower compared to the private sector.
Lawmakers hope they can help fix this problem with the Mission Act, which President Donald Trump signed in June. It included funding so Veterans Affairs can budget for raises and forgive student loans to help recruit new workers. Until then, though, facilities with high vacancy-rates will likely still see wait times for appointments as long as 30 days — nearly five times as long as the wait at VA hospitals with the lowest vacancy rates.
Is Sex Work?
A U.S. Marine Colonel was about to start the morning briefing to his staff. While waiting for the coffee machine to finish its brewing, the colonel decided to pose a question to all assembled. He explained that his wife had been a bit frisky the night before and he failed to get his usual amount of sound sleep. He posed the question of just how much of sex was "work" and how much of it was "pleasure?"
A Major chimed in with 75-25% in favor of work.
A Captain said it was 50-50%.
A lieutenant responded with 25-75% in favor of pleasure, depending upon his state of inebriation at the
There being no consensus, the colonel turned to the PFC who was in charge of making the coffee. What was HIS opinion? Without any hesitation, the young PFC responded, "Sir, it ha
s to be 100% pleasure." The colonel was surprised and, as you might guess, asked why.
"Well, sir, if there was any work involved, the officers would have me doing it for them."
The room fell silent.
Sunday, November 18, 2018
A woman pulled into the gas station to get some gas and went to pay inside. As she was walking in, she noticed these two cops watching a customer who was smoking while pumping gas. She saw him and thought, "is this man drunk, stupid, or just crazy?!!
With the police standing right there! Anyway, she went inside and paid. As she was walking out, she heard someone screaming, looked and saw the man's arm was on fire! He was swinging his arm and running around going... crazy!
She went outside, and the two officers literally had to take him to the ground and they put the fire out! Then they handcuffed him and threw him in the police car.
Being the person that she was she asked the cops what they were arresting him for. This cop looked her square in the eyes and said ... "WAVING A FIREARM IN PUBLIC."
Saturday, November 17, 2018
Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came up to the very elderly widow and asked, 'How old was your husband?' '98,' she replied....'Two years older than me'. 'So you're 96,' the undertaker commented.. She responded, 'Hardly worth going home, is it?
Reporters interviewing a 104 year old woman: 'And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?'
the reporter asked... She simply replied, 'No peer pressure.'
The nice thing about being senile is you can hide your own Easter eggs and have fun finding them.
I've sure gotten old! I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes. I'm half blind, can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia. Have poor circulation; hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92. Have lost all my friends. But, thank God, I still have my driver's license.
I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape, so I got my doctor's permission to join a fitness club and start exercising. I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over.
My memory's not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory's not as sharp as it used to be.
Know how to prevent sagging? Just eat till the wrinkles fill out.
It's scary when you start making the same noises as your coffee maker.
These days about half the stuff in my shopping cart says, 'For fast relief.'
The Senility Prayer: Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
The US Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Communications Commission are teaming up to combat illegal robocalls targeting all Americans, including American vets and their families.
Unwanted calls account for more than 200,000 complaints to the FCC each year – a big number, but one that pales in comparison to the millions of robocalls being made each day. The calls interrupt dinners and family time, they flood landline and mobile phones, and they frequently solicit money for fake charities, including ones claiming to support America’s veterans, and even claiming to be representatives of Veterans Affairs.
Together, the FCC and VA urge everyone to maintain awareness of robocalls. Here are some quick tips on how to protect yourself:
• Don't answer calls from unknown numbers. Scammers may spoof their caller ID to display a fake number that appears to be local. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
• Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother's maiden names, or passwords in response to unexpected or suspicious calls.
• Be sure to set a password for all voice mail accounts to avoid being hacked.
• Register your number on the Do Not Call List to block calls from legitimate telemarketers.
• Ask your phone company about call-blocking tools and services for your landline phone, and check for helpful apps that you can download to your mobile phone.
Finally, during the month when America celebrates its veterans, we suggest reaching out to fellow veterans -- especially the elderly, who are known to be particularly vulnerable-- -- and help spread the word about robocall fraud.
For more tips and other useful information, visit: fcc.gov/robocalls.
Monday, November 12, 2018
Thanos has continued in his decimation of the Marvel Universe, but unlike many of them to be magically brought back to life, this one will not be.
It is a sad day indeed. So many wonderful memories, so many wonderful stories, another great one gone; I've Made Mine Marvel for almost 60 years, thanks for my wonderful 70 year childhood.
Sunday, November 11, 2018
Those of you who are placing Christmas lights/decorations in your yards, can you please avoid anything that has Red or Blue flashing lights together? Every time I come around the corner, I think it's the police and I have a panic attack. I have to brake hard, toss my bourbon, fasten my seat belt, throw my phone on the floor, turn my radio down, and push the gun under the seat. All while trying to put my clothes back on.
It's just too much drama, even for Christmas. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.🎄
(Please keep this up and pass on this post like I did...😉) I hope you got a giggle !
Thursday, November 8, 2018
The Subjugate by Amanda Bridgeman
Two troubled homicide detectives race to find a serial killer in a town filled with surgically reformed murderers, in this captivating near-future SF thriller.
In a small religious community rocked by a spree of shocking murders, Detectives Salvi Brentt and Mitch Grenville find themselves surrounded by suspects. The Children of Christ have a tight grip on their people, and the Solme Complex neurally edit violent criminals – Subjugates – into placid servants called Serenes. In a town where purity and sin, temptation and repression live side by side, everyone has a motive. But as the bodies mount up, the frustrated detectives begin to crack under the pressure: their demons are coming to light, and who knows where that blurred line between man and monster truly lies.
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
Terminus by Tristan Palmgren
Operatives from an advanced alien culture struggle to survive in medieval Italy, in the SF sequel to the astonishing Quietus.
The transdimensional empire, the Unity, has dissolved. Its rulers and agents have been exiled, stranded across a thousand planes of existence. Empires don’t die gladly. The living planarship Ways and Means has ended the Black Death ravaging medieval Europe, but it has bigger plans for Earth. Someone is trying to kill former Unity agent Osia. Spy-turned-anthropologist Meloku becomes a target, too, when she catches the planarship hiding the extent of its meddling. While they fight to survive, Fiametta – Italian soldier, mercenary, and heretical preacher – raises an army and a religious revolt, aiming to split her world in half.
Available from your favorite bookseller,Angry Robot Books.