This week’s Golden Horseshoe goes to the Small Business Administration for millions in Paycheck Protection Program loans it issued to fraudsters who used the money to purchase luxury homes, high-priced jewelry and expensive cars, including a Bentley and two Lamborghinis, according to a watchdog report.
The Paycheck Protection Program had the highest percentage of cases of criminal activity of all the pandemic relief programs, according to the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee’s recent Semiannual Report to Congress.
“A total of 14 OIGs have indictments/complaints, arrests, and/or convictions from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021, related to the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response,” PRAC reported.
Two corporate executive parents whose children attend prestigious universities were found guilty in federal court Friday for bribing university staff to rig the admissions process, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Gamal Abdelaziz, former chief operations officer of Wynn Resorts Development and John Wilson, a private-equity financier and former chief financial officer of Staples, who were tried together in federal court, each spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to falsify their childrens’ academic and athletic records to gain admission to the University of Southern California (USC), Stanford and Harvard as athletic recruits with the help of scandal ringleader and admissions consultant Rick Singer.
The two men were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit bribery involving a school that receives federal funds, the WSJ reported. The jury also found Wilson guilty of aiding and abetting in fraud and bribery and filing a false tax return.
The feds faced another setback in their quest to keep $85 million in assets seized in a raid without charging hundreds of safe deposit box renters with a crime.
U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner issued a preliminary injunction July 16 in a lawsuit by several customers of Los Angeles-based U.S. Private Vaults (USPV), who alleged the FBI denied them due process by providing civil forfeiture notices that lacked “any legal basis” for seizing the contents of each box.
Republican lawmakers in Michigan released a report Wednesday concluding there was no widespread fraud in the state’s November election, debunking many speculations, but they pointedly warned that the mailing of unsolicited absentee ballot applications creates “a clear vulnerability for fraud that may be undetected.”
“The serious, potential outcomes of these vulnerabilities versus the minor effort to request an application make a strong and compelling necessity to not provide such applications without a request from a voter – as was standard practice until this past year,” the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee concluded. “Therefore, the committee recommends the Michigan secretary of state discontinue the practice of mailing out unsolicited applications.”
The committee also recommended that the state strengthen voter ID requirements, not weaken them like Democrats in Congress have proposed, as the practice of absentee or not-in-person voting grows.
This week’s Golden Horseshoe award goes to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the nation’s pension bailout agency that is still reeling from revelations its chief of contracting engaged in a bribery scheme that steered $4.8 million in fraudulent business to a vendor in return for more than $1 million in personal benefits.
The bribery scheme involving the now convicted director of PBGC’s Procurement Department was possible because the agency suffered from several vulnerabilities, including reduced competition among vendors, missing legal reviews and sole-source contracts that evaded bidding designed to get taxpayers the best bargain, the PBGC’s inspector general reported.
“His actions were enabled by internal control weaknesses; specifically, inadequate oversight of PD procurements and a lack of a control mechanism to ensure that PD sent all requisite contract actions for legal review,” the inspector general reported. “Although PBGC began requiring that more contract actions receive legal review after the PD Director resigned in February 2020, it does not have a mechanism to ensure PD complies with this requirement.”
For as long as politicians have been passing legislation, there have been measurable consequences to that legislation – both intentional and unintentional. Usually, the final impact is not known for years after a law is passed. We could write a book predicting problems with the proposed federal bill, H.R.1, the so-called For the People Act, but the state of Connecticut has given American taxpayers a timely preview of the burdens and waste we can expect from just one of the bill’s many government mandates. Specifically, the requirement that states must mail out ballot applications to all registered voters will unnecessarily spend, and ultimately waste, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
The 2020 elections in Connecticut provide a cautionary preview of this proposed requirement in H.R. 1 to send absentee ballot applications (ABR) to every registered voter. Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill (pictured) did exactly that, spending $7.1 million in federal taxpayer money sending out unsolicited ABRs for the primary and general elections. A total of 3.6 million applications were mailed, yet only 865,000 were converted to actual votes. That’s a cost of $8.20 per ballot returned – by any measure, a poor yield on that investment.
The sad irony about this waste of taxpayers’ money is that the applications were available to voters free of charge either at town halls or on the State of Connecticut website. One had only to pick up the form in person or download and print it in the comfort of his own home. Other states have similarly convenient options for obtaining ABRs and provide for ballot applications to be requested online, by email or by phone. Citizens in these states take responsibility for their right to vote, and the states facilitate their doing so, rather than mandate it.
Just a few short weeks apart, the U.S. Justice Department settled two major fund-raising cases involving foreign money injected into American elections.
In February, a longtime Democratic bundler named Imaad Zuberi, who also donated to Donald Trump’s inauguration, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and millions in fines in a criminal information that alleged he routed foreign money into U.S elections, sometimes through straw donors.
Last week, Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, 75, a large donor to the Clinton Foundation, got a fine, no prison and deferred prosecution for allegedly routing his foreign money to straw donors to help Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and some GOP congressional candidates. An associate also made a secret loan to Obama-era Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who failed to disclose the assistance.
A review of drop box ballot transfer forms reveals that Cobb County violated the Rules of the State Election Board for Absentee Voting that requires absentee ballots from drop box locations be “immediately transported” to the country registrar.
Specifically, the Rules of the State Election Board of the Georgia Election Code Chapter 183-1 for Absentee Voting states, “The ballots from the drop box shall be immediately transported to the county registrar and processed and stored in the same manner as absentee ballots returned by mail are processed and stored.”
The Trump campaign alleges that massive voter fraud, especially perpetrated by computer software, is responsible for the widely published figures indicating Joe Biden won the presidential election. Consensus has spread from the Left, through the Republican establishment (e.g. the Wall Street Journal) to honest Tucker Carlson, that the Trump team has presented no proof and, absent that, must concede. But even the few who adhere to that consensus honestly do so based on neglect of law, facts, and even of the English language.
For Trump’s highly paid lawyers, there is no excuse whatsoever to submit to that expectation.
Two Michigan residents have been charged in a criminal complaint for their alleged role in defrauding $1.8 million in unemployment benefits from the state.
Jermaine Rose, 41, is an employee of the State of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency whose duties include processing and verifying the legitimacy of unemployment insurance claims. Beginning in May, Rose allegedly used his employee access to authorize payment on hundreds of fraudulent claims, specifically overriding “fraud stops” on claims that had been flagged by the state computer system as potentially fraudulent.
The State of Michigan is investigating whether new employees of the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) are stealing funds from jobless residents, multiple media outlets report.
The workers are accused of stealing and charging clients to receive their benefits more quickly, WDIV reported. This is happening even as Michigan is among several states experiencing fraudulent claims being submitted, and they temporarily stopped payments.
Criminals are seizing on a surge in job losses to steal unemployment benefits from Americans nationwide. This complicates an already tough situation for millions of financially strapped Americans and overwhelmed state unemployment offices.
While there’s no exact measure of how many fraudulent claims have been made, states from Washington to Maine say they’ve seen an increase and numerous federal agencies are working to fight it.