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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 93,033

About Me

Retired/disabled middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Gov. Ron DeSantis declares state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Dorian and eases fuel restrictions

Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded an emergency declaration Thursday to cover the entire state, with the latest forecast showing Hurricane Dorian slamming into Florida’s East Coast at Category 4 strength.

DeSantis’ order broadens Wednesday’s emergency declaration for 26 counties to cover all of Florida’s 67 counties.

“If you’re in the path of this storm anywhere on the East Coast of Florida, make your preparations," DeSantis said Thursday afternoon. "Take action.”

DeSantis said he spoke with President Donald Trump Wednesday night.

“He assured me the federal government would be with us every step of the way,” DeSantis said.

Read more: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/weather/hurricane/fl-ne-desantis-hurricane-updates-20190829-ugb3vpq2a5dkdekuvdh6qc76du-story.html
(South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Tennessee Health Care Executive Sentenced To Prison For Role In $4.6 Million Kickback Scheme

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – August 29, 2019 - A Tennessee health care executive was sentenced to 42 months in prison yesterday for her role in a $4.6 million kickback scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General's (HHS-OIG) Atlanta region, Special Agent in Charge John F. Kihn of the U.S. Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Southeast Field Office and Director David Rausch of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Brenda Montgomery, 71, of Camden, Tennessee, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William Campbell, Jr., of the Middle District of Tennessee. Judge Campbell also ordered Montgomery to forfeit $595,676.80. Montgomery pleaded guilty on Jan. 7, 2019, to one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute, and seven counts of violating the anti-kickback statute.

As part of her guilty plea, Montgomery admitted that she agreed to pay John Davis, the former CEO of Comprehensive Pain Specialist (CPS), illegal kickbacks in exchange for his arranging for Medicare referrals for durable medical equipment (DME) ordered by CPS employees. Davis agreed to arrange for referrals of DME for Medicare beneficiaries from the providers he supervised in exchange for kickbacks equaling 60 percent of the Medicare proceeds. In addition, Montgomery and Davis took a number of steps to conceal their illegal agreement, including making kickback payments through a nominee, creating and filing false tax documents, and, for Davis, intervening as CEO to prevent the owners of CPS from obtaining their own Medicare DME supplier numbers that would have allowed CPS to bill for its own Medicare DME orders.

Beginning in or around May 2015, Montgomery renegotiated her illegal agreement with Davis to further obscure their personal contract from Medicare and from CPS owners and employees, the court found. From approximately May 2015 until approximately November 2015, Montgomery agreed to pay Davis $200,000 for the sham purchase of a shell entity known as ProMed Solutions, LLC (ProMed). Montgomery again sought to renegotiate the sham transaction with Davis after she complained that her referrals from CPS had been lower than expected. Montgomery ultimately paid $150,000 for ProMed. The true purpose of this payment was to induce Davis to continue driving CPS referrals to CCC Medical.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdtn/pr/tennessee-health-care-executive-sentenced-prison-role-46-million-kickback-scheme

Treyton Thomas Sentenced to 262 Months' Imprisonment for Multi-Million Dollar Investment Fraud

Treyton Thomas Sentenced to 262 Months' Imprisonment for Multi-Million Dollar Investment Fraud Scheme and Income Tax Evasion

RALEIGH – Robert J. Higdon, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, announces that today, United States District Judge James C. Dever III sentenced TREYTON LEE THOMAS, age 63, to 262 months’ imprisonment for wire fraud and 60 months’ imprisonment for income tax evasion, to run concurrently. Judge Dever also ordered THOMAS to pay approximately $7.3 million in restitution to the victims of the investment and bank fraud schemes, the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Attorney’s Office and to forfeit an additional $7.3 million to the United States.

On November 22, 2016, THOMAS was charged in a 21-Count Indictment with wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. This Indictment charged THOMAS, who represented himself as a successful Harvard educated investment advisor, with defrauding his father’s used car warranty company, NC&VA Warranty of Roxboro, N.C., several of its customers, his wife, and his father-in-law. THOMAS claimed he was conservatively investing their money in U.S. Treasury Bills. Instead, through an on-line brokerage firm, THOMAS used these funds to conduct risky trades in the commodities and futures market. To conceal this fraud scheme, THOMAS provided these victims and various financial institutions with false information and fabricated bank and brokerage statements. To obtain additional funds, the Indictment charged THOMAS with using the same false information and fabricated statements to defraud financial institutions out of approximately 1.9 million dollars in loan proceeds. In addition to losing the victims’ money in risky trades, the Indictment charged THOMAS with spending more than 1.6 million dollars to pay personal expenses.

On March 15, 2018, THOMAS was charged in another Indictment with six counts of income tax evasion for the calendar years 2010 through 2015 and two counts of failing to disclose his interest in and authority over foreign bank accounts. According to court records, THOMAS failed to file United States Income Tax Returns (Forms 1040) or pay taxes for two decades. To conceal his income, THOMAS used offshore entities, in the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Nevis, and employed individuals from offshore corporation management companies to act as his nominee in numerous business ventures. These foreigners opened and managed bank accounts through which THOMAS moved the victims’ funds in and out of the United States. Additionally, THOMAS created fake or “ghost” employees to make it appear that he operated a large, successful investment fund. To conceal his own identity, THOMAS used aliases or variations of his given name.

The Court agreed with the Government that THOMAS had attempted to obstruct justice and was not entitled to a reduced sentence for acceptance of responsibility even though he pled guilty. Several victims spoke at the sentencing hearing, describing the financial and emotional toll THOMAS’ crimes had caused.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ednc/pr/treyton-thomas-sentenced-262-months-imprisonment-multi-million-dollar-investment-fraud

FPL: We're ready to restore power, but prepare for outages

The state’s largest utility said Thursday morning it had assembled a team of 5,000 workers who are ready to fix downed power lines. By Thursday evening, the number had ballooned to 13,000.

At FPL’s staging area in Riviera Beach, the company has stockpiled 4,000 transformers and hundreds of trucks.

FPL spokesman Bryan Garner said the company has learned from past storms and has continued to upgrade its system, in part by burying overhead wires.

“We believe the investments we’ve made, both through hardening the grid and undergrounding power lines, will pay off for customers in terms of shorter restoration times,” Garner said. “It’s a lot easier to restring wire than to stand up a new pole.”

Read more: https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20190829/fpl-wersquore-ready-to-restore-power-but-prepare-for-outages

Former CEO Of Live Well Financial Charged In $140 Million Bond Fraud Scheme

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the arrest of MICHAEL HILD, the founder, former chief executive officer, and controlling shareholder in Live Well Financial, Inc. (“Live Well”). HILD’s arrest was in connection with a scheme, from in or about September 2015 through in or about May 2019, to fraudulently inflate the value of a portfolio of bonds owned by Live Well in order to induce various securities dealers and at least one financial institution into loaning more money to Live Well – through repurchase (“repo”) agreements and collateralized loans – than they otherwise would have had they known the actual value of Live Well’s bond portfolio. The scheme allowed Live Well to grow its bond portfolio exponentially, from approximately 20 bonds with a stated value of $50 million in 2014 to approximately 50 bonds with a stated value of $500 million by the end of 2016. In May 2019, in conjunction with an effort to wind down the company, Live Well wrote down the value of its portfolio by approximately $141 million.

In addition, Mr. Berman announced today the unsealing of charges against ERIC ROHR, the former chief financial officer at Live Well, and DARREN STUMBERGER, the former head trader at Live Well, for their participation in the scheme. Both ROHR and STUMBERGER have pled guilty and are cooperating with the Government.

HILD was arrested in Richmond, Virginia, this morning. HILD will be presented and arraigned later today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. HILD’s case is assigned to United States District Judge Ronnie Abrams. ROHR’s case is assigned to United States District Judge Edgardo Ramos, and STUMBERGER’s case is assigned to United States District Judge J. Paul Oetken.

On August 28, 2019, the Government obtained a post-indictment restraining order restraining assets – including various real properties and business interests in the Richmond area – owned directly or indirectly by HILD and, as alleged, purchased with proceeds of the scheme.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, Michael Hild orchestrated a scheme to deceive Live Well’s lenders by fraudulently inflating the value of its mortgage-backed bonds by over $140 million. This allegedly enabled Live Well to borrow money well over the value of the collateral it put up. In turn, Hild used these ill-gotten funds to gain control of the company and increase his own compensation by nearly 700 per cent, while exposing lenders cumulatively to $65 million in unsecured loans to the company, which is now in bankruptcy.”

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/former-ceo-live-well-financial-charged-140-million-bond-fraud-scheme

Former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain Charged In 16-Count Indictment for Kickback and

Former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain Charged In 16-Count Indictment for Kickback and Bribery Scheme Involving Contract for Privatization of Work Release Program in St. Tammany Parish

NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that RODNEY J. STRAIN (a/k/a Jack Strain), age 56, from Abita Springs, Louisiana, was charged today by a federal grand jury in a 16-count Indictment with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, soliciting a bribe, and offering a bribe in violation of 18 U.S.C. ' 371 (Count 1), honest services wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1343, 1346, 2 (Counts 2-13), and soliciting and receiving bribes, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666(a)(1)(B) (Counts 14-16) for his role in the privatization and operation of a work release program that operated in Slidell, Louisiana between 2013 and 2016.

According to court documents, STRAIN, who was the Sheriff of St. Tammany Parish from about 1996 to 2016, discussed with his two close associates and St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office employees, David Hanson and Clifford “Skip” Keen, about Hanson and Keen becoming owners of a work release program in Slidell, Louisiana that STRAIN had decided to privatize. Because STPSO rules prohibited employees from “participating in a transaction in which he has a personal substantial economic interest of which he may be reasonably expected to know involving the governmental entity,” Hanson and Keen would have had to resign from STPSO if they wanted to assume ownership and control of the Slidell work release program. Consequently, STRAIN, Hanson, and Keen discussed ways to allow Hanson and Keen to maintain their employment and still profit from the Slidell work release program. Ultimately, STRAIN, Hanson and Keen agreed to make Keen’s adult son (J.K.) and Hanson’s adult daughter (B.H.) owners of the Slidell work release program, with the understanding that J.K. and B.H. would funnel much of the profits to Hanson and Keen. Hanson and Keen agreed to give regular payoffs to STRAIN and his selected family members from the funds they received. This understanding was based partly on STRAIN having previously required Keen to kickback to STRAIN half of the money Keen earned from a previous work release program.

STRAIN, Hanson, and Keen agreed that they needed to find another individual to actually operate the Slidell work release program because J.K. and B.H. lacked the education, training, experience, and funding to do so. They decided on an individual referred to in the indictment as “Person 2,” to whom Hanson presented a series of conditions. They mandated that J.K. and B.H. would each own forty-five (45) percent of the Slidell work release program and would each receive forty-five (45) percent of the profits, while Person 2 would only own ten (10) percent, receive ten (10) percent of the profits, and receive a salary. Person 2 would be responsible operating the Slidell work release program and for providing the capital necessary to initiate the program. On or about May 1, 2013, J.K., B.H., and Person 2 entered into an operating agreement that created St. Tammany Workforce Solutions, LLC, in which J.K. and B.H. each had a forty-five percent ownership interest and Person 2 had only a ten percent ownership interest.

On June 4, 2013, STRAIN entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement (“privatization agreement”) on behalf of STPSO with St. Tammany Workforce Solutions, LLC, a corporation designed to operate the Slidell work release program. Although J.K. and B.H. were merely straw owners who neither operated, oversaw, or administered the Slidell work release program, Person 2 was required to pay J.K. and B.H. salaries in addition to their ownership disbursements. Person 2 was also directed to pay a younger relative of STRAIN’s, referred to in the indictment as “Person 3,” who was also an employee at STPSO, approximately $30,000 per year for a no-show job at the Slidell work release program.

During the time St. Tammany Workforce Solutions, LLC operated the Slidell work release program, J.K. and B.H. received at least $1,195,000 from St. Tammany Workforce Solutions, LLC in the form of ownership disbursements, salary payments, and occasional lump sum miscellaneous payments. J.K. and B.H. converted the majority of the money they received from St. Tammany Workforce Solutions, LLC to cash, much of which they transferred to their fathers, Keen and Hanson.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-edla/pr/former-st-tammany-parish-sheriff-jack-strain-charged-16-count-indictment-kickback-and

Former Government Consultant Pleads Guilty to Bribery and Fraud Scheme

WASHINGTON – John Woods, a consultant and independent contractor for a company that did business with the District of Columbia Department of Human Resources, pled guilty to charges that he paid more than $140,000 in bribes to a former D.C. government employee and that he stole payments on city contracts that should have gone to his employer.

John Woods, 57, of Sterling, Va., pleaded guilty on August 23 to one count of wire fraud in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. As part of his guilty plea, Woods agreed to pay restitution to the victim in the amount of $564,910.23. The Honorable Dabney L. Friedrich scheduled sentencing for December 16, 2019.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Timothy M. Dunham, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, FBI Washington Field Office, and District of Columbia Inspector General Daniel W. Lucas.

According to the statement of offense submitted at the plea hearing, Woods worked as a consultant for a firm identified in the court documents as “Company A.” The firm had agreements with the District of Columbia Department of Human Resources (DCHR) to provide organizational skills training courses and human resources consulting to various D.C. government agencies. Woods was Company A’s main point of contact with DCHR and handled the submission of invoices.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/pr/former-government-consultant-pleads-guilty-bribery-and-fraud-scheme

Doctors, pharmacists among 41 busted for massive Houston-area pill mill scheme

More than three dozen doctors, pharmacists, clinicians and so-called patients were arrested Wednesday after federal authorities uncovered a massive alleged "pill mill" operation throughout Houston.

Federal prosecutors charged 41 people in the alleged scheme, which they said helped supply drug dealers across the country with hundreds of thousands of illegally dispensed prescription drugs.

Under the scheme, people pretending to be patients in pain went to see a doctor, who was in on the plan and would write a prescription for either oxycodone, hydrocodone or carisoprodol (sometimes all three, known as the "Houston Cocktail" to the feds).

Sometimes the patients would bring the prescriptions to chain pharmacies, but they more often brought the prescription to a pharmacy whose employees were in on the scheme. Once the pills were in hand, they were turned over to someone who had a network of dealers across the country – sometimes as far away as Boston – for illegal sale.

Read more: https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Doctors-pharmacists-among-41-busted-for-massive-14395675.php

DNC to recommend scrapping Iowa, Nevada virtual caucus plans

DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Democratic National Committee will recommend scrapping state plans to offer virtual, telephone-based caucuses in 2020 due to security concerns, sources tell The Associated Press.

The final choice whether to allow virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada is up to the party's powerful Rules and Bylaws Committee. But opposition from DNC's executive and staff leadership makes it highly unlikely the committee would keep the virtual caucuses, leaving two key early voting states and the national party a short time to fashion an alternative before the February caucuses.

The state parties had planned to allow some voters to cast caucus votes over the telephone in February 2020 instead of showing up at traditional caucus meetings.

Iowa and Nevada created the virtual option to meet a DNC mandate that states open caucuses to more people, but two sources with knowledge of party leaders' deliberations say there are concerns that the technology used for virtual caucuses could be subject to hacking.

Read more: https://www.star-telegram.com/news/politics-government/national-politics/article234539987.html
(Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

820 new Texas laws go into effect in September. Here are some that might affect you.

by Matthew Watkins, Texas Tribune

This Sunday, 820 new laws passed during the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature will go into effect. They range from the huge — a $250 billion two-year budget — to the symbolic — a number of bills to rename parts of Texas highways. Here's a sample of several that will impact Texans' lives:

The 2020-2021 budget: The state's two-year budget calls for spending roughly $250 billion on priorities including public school funding, teacher salaries and early childhood intervention programs.

The "Born Alive Act": This law, House Bill 16, requires doctors to treat a baby born alive in the rare instance of a failed abortion attempt.

A new smoking age: This new law, Senate Bill 21, will raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Defunding abortion providers: This measure, Senate Bill 22, will prohibit state and local governments from partnering with agencies that perform abortions, even if they contract for services not related to the procedure.

Read more: https://www.texastribune.org/2019/08/29/new-laws-texas-september-2019-what-you-need-know/
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