Knoxville Man Sentenced to Prison for Defrauding COVID-19 Economic Relief Programs

The Department of Justice announced this week a Knoxville, Tennessee man was arrested for defrauding COVID-19 economic relief programs. James Waylon Howell pled guilty to “engaging in more than $150,000 in fraud related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and to committing money laundering.” He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

“This prosecution highlights the Department of Justice’s commitment to aggressively prosecute those who have defrauded these important programs enacted to provide economic relief to those who have suffered financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said United States Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III.  “Fortunately, the quick and capable work of our federal partners permitted the recovery of a substantial amount of stolen funds.”

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Elizabeth Holmes Guilty on Four Counts of Fraud and Conspiracy

Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty Monday on four counts: three of wire fraud and one of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The jury remained deadlocked on three charges and found her not guilty on four other felony charges.

The former entrepreneur reportedly remained emotionless as the verdicts were read, The Associated Press stated. Her partner, Billy Evans, reacted similarly.

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Jordan Long of Beacon Center Tennessee Explains Waste or Fraud in the 2021 Pork Report

Friday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Director of Government Relations for the Beacon Center Tennessee, Jordan Long to the newsmakers line to discuss the annual 2021 Pork Report.

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Michigan Duo Charged with Unemployment Insurance Fraud, Allegedly Stole over $3 Million

Two Michigan residents were charged in criminal complaints for conducting an unemployment insurance benefit fraud scheme that stole millions.

The two defendants, Tauheed Wilder and Shuqueni Franklin, are alleged to have engaged in mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.

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Fraudsters Used Paycheck Protection Program Loans for Bentleys, Diamonds, Luxury Homes: Watchdog

woman on laptop with eye glasses and mug next to her

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.

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Georgia Thieves Targeting Elderly Victims in Identity Scheme Sentenced to Federal Prison

Two Georgia residents were sentenced to federal prison, following a scheme that sought to steal the identity of elderly individuals.

The two criminals, Durrell Tyler and DeShawn Johnson, both plead guilty to charges of access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.

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In Another Viral Speech, Rep. Schweikert Says It’s About Time to Declare the Pandemic over, and Exposes Fraud and Budget Gimmicks in ‘Build Back Better’

Just two weeks after his House floor speech on financial fraud in Congress went viral, Arizona Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) delivered another epic speech, this time focusing on COVID-19 and President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill. Schweikert said the country is about at the point to declare the pandemic over, and he slammed Biden’s “social spending plan” for “economic violence” against the working poor and “laced with budget gimmicks.”

Schweikert explained how the combination of several factors now means the pandemic is about over. Pfizer’s new antiviral medication, which is about to be approved by the FDA, is 89% effective and will be available to millions by January. There are at-home COVID-19 tests and multiple vaccines. He will be putting forth legislation shortly to address this developing situation.

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Arizona Rep. Schweikert’s House Speech on Fraud, Spending, and Running Out of Money Goes Viral

Rep. David Schweikert (R-06-AZ), known as the wonky numbers member of Congress, gave a speech on the House floor a few days ago about runaway spending in Congress that has gone viral with over 1.2 million views. It’s on Social Security and Medicare running out of money and how the U.S. is headed for a dystopian future if it’s not fixed. He addressed several myths and offered solutions.

He began saying he’s about to say some things most people don’t want to hear, “We call it math.” The biggest threat over the next couple decades facing the country is demographics. “Getting older isn’t Democrat or Republican, it’s going to happen to everyone.” But he says he’s been booed for telling people the truth. “You don’t raise money telling people the truth about what’s going on.” Referring to Congress, he said, “We live in a financial fantasy world in this place … there’s a fraud around here.” 

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Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Hosts Event That Educates People on How to Be Aware of Financial Fraud Schemes

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) held a FaceBook Live where they discussed how to be aware of financial fraud schemes. The group, hosted by PBS Book’s Fred Nahhat, discussed how to spot scammers, 

From 2020, Donna Lowry said that “the federal trade commission recorded more than 3.3 billon dollars lost to financial fraud schemes. It was up almost double from the year before.”

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Two Corporate Executive Parents Found Guilty in First College Admissions Scandal Trial

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.

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Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson Acquitted on 15 of 20 Federal Theft Charges

Katrina Robinson

Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) was acquitted on Monday on 15 possible fraud and embezzlement charges.

Robinson’s charges stemmed from an investigation into the Memphis-based Healthcare Institute (THI), which the state lawmaker directs.

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Two Tennessee Women Convicted of TennCare Fraud Ordered by the Office of Inspector General to Repay State

According to the Tennessee Department of Finance & Administration, two convicted Tennessee women have been ordered by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to repay the State of Tennessee on charges involving TennCare fraud.

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Georgia Psychologist Indicted for Medicaid Fraud

Doctor with arms folded, holding stethescope

A Georgia man is facing a fraud charge after law enforcement officials said he stole more than $99,000 from the state’s Medicaid program.

The Georgia attorney general’s office said Gainesville psychologist Dr. Guy Jordan filed claims for therapy sessions that never happened. Jordan was indicted on Medicaid fraud and false statements charges by a Hall County Grand Jury.

“We will not stop protecting taxpayer dollars, and we thank the Hall County Grand Jury for their work on this case,” Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement. “We hope this indictment sends a clear message that tax dollars will not be abused.”

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Two Taxpayer-Funded Feeding Sites Not Feeding Children, Tennessee Officials Say

Open Door, Inc. and Alumni Music, Inc., both based in Shelby County, have been determined to not be using their federal Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) funds to provide meals to children, the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office asserted Wednesday.

A probe was conducted cooperatively by the Comptroller of the Treasury and the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) during summer 2020 to ascertain what nourishment the two companies were providing to minors. 

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Judge Stymies Feds’ Plan to Keep $85 Million in Raid Without Filing Criminal Charges

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.

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Ohio May Forgive Overpaid, Fraudulent Unemployment Payments

Woman on computer

Ohioans victimized by unemployment fraud or were overpaid unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic could be off the hook for repaying those funds, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

ODJFS Director Matt Damschroder said late last week if a waiver is approved, claimants will not have to repay money previously labelled as an overpayment and also could receive benefits that have been withheld because of an overpayment status.

Claimants should be notified soon of how to apply for a waiver and processing could begin later in the summer, Damschroder said.

“We understand the hardships that overpayments caused during what is already a very stressful time.” Damschroder said. “Our unemployment program is in a much better position than it was a year ago.”

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Maryland Announces over 500,000 New Potentially Fraudulent Unemployment Claims Since May

Larry Hogan

Maryland officials say they suspect over 508,000 new, potentially fraudulent unemployment claims have been filed since May.

The announcement Monday followed the state saying it has verified over 1.3 million fraudulent claims since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic.

The most common means of filing a fraudulent claim is identity theft, according to CNN.

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Michigan Senate Report Concludes Mailing of Unsolicited Ballot Applications Poses Risk of Fraud

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.

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Pension Bailout Agency Flagged for Contract Bribery, Fraud and Payments to Dead Americans

American flag with handcuffs and $100 bills

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.”

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Commentary: A Cautionary Tale of Unintended Consequences

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.

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Kemp Suspends Embattled Mayor After Fraud, Identity Theft Charges

Gregory Carswell Jr.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has suspended Waynesboro Mayor Gregory Carswell Jr. from office after the mayor’s indictment on felony fraud, forgery and theft charges.

Carswell, an evangelical pastor, was elected mayor of the city outside of Augusta in 2017. He was indicted in December on one count of identity fraud, one count of theft by taking, one count of theft by deception and one count of forgery in the second degree. Carswell announced May 17 he was taking a leave of absence as mayor because of his legal troubles and personal issues.

“Of course, you know we have legal issues that are going on, and we want to deal with those, and we want the citizens to have the full confidence and trust and knowing the people they elected are going to do the best things for them,” Carswell said at the May 17 city council meeting.

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Conviction of Disgraced Florida Democrat Overturned on Appeal

Corrine Brown

A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida Thursday won an appeal of her 2017 conviction for corruption, according to several reports. 

Former Democrat Rep. Corrine Brown, who represented Florida’s Fifth and Third Congressional Districts over a period of nearly 25 years, had her conviction overturned after the 11 Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the District Court wrongly dismissed a juror after learning that the “Holy Spirit” told him Brown was not guilty of the crimes. 

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Disparate Treatment in Two Fund-Raising Fraud Cases Renews Debate Over Dual Justice System

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.

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Crom Carmichael Discusses Two Interesting Stories Out of California Regarding Bad Government and Broken Constraints

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio to discuss two articles citing California’s bad government and Chinese infiltration.

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Ballot Transfer Forms Show Cobb County Violated Georgia Election Rule Requiring Absentee Ballots from Drop Boxes ‘Be Immediately Transported to the County Registrar’

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 county 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.”

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Commentary: Fraud, Evidence, Proof, Power

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.

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Crom Carmichael Weighs in on Tenney-Brindisi Race and Notes Big Change in the Republican Party

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to weigh in on the ongoing Upstate New York House race and how the Republican Party will be very different.

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True the Vote Requests Election Data from Michigan Departments

A voters’ rights organization aimed at protecting American elections has requested data from several Michigan departments to determine the possibility of illegal votes counted in the 2020 election.

True the Vote, which is aimed at ensuring election integrity, has requested data from the Michigan Department of State, Michigan Department of Corrections and Wayne, Washtenaw and Ingham Counties.

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Two Michigan Residents Charged with Defrauding $1.8 Million in Unemployment Scam

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.

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Michigan Investigates Alleged Shakedown By Unemployment Agency Workers Accused of Stealing Benefits

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.

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Criminals Stealing Unemployment Benefits as Claims Surge

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.

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EXCLUSIVE: King of Boston Talk Radio Howie Carr Chats with Leahy About Elizabeth Warren’s Nerve in Speaking to Native Americans After Falsifying Heritage

  On Thursday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Leahy chatted with good friend Howie Carr, known as the king of Boston talk radio, about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s recent speech…

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State Sen. Dickerson, Others in Pain Management Business Sued By United States, Tennessee for Allegedly Committing $25M in Medicare, TennCare Fraud

  State Sen. Steven Dickerson (R-TN-20) is among those being sued by the federal government and Tennessee over alleged Medicare and TennCare fraud totaling at least $25 million. The United States and Tennessee on Monday filed a consolidated complaint in intervention alleging violations of the False Claims Act and the…

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Feds Plan to Add State Rep. Dickerson to Pain Management Company Fraud Lawsuit, Reports Say

  A federal judge has granted prosecutors’ requests to intervene in whistleblower complaints against Comprehensive Pain Specialists (CPS), and Tennessee Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-TN-20) is being added as a defendant, multiple media outlets report. Judge Aleta Trauger of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee granted…

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Lawyer Avenatti Charged in California with US Fraud, Tax Crimes

Lawyer Michael Avenatti was charged with 36 counts of fraud, tax evasion, identity theft and other financial crimes in an indictment made public by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles on Thursday. The indictment came about three weeks after Avenatti, best known for representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in her…

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RNC Slams Elizabeth Warren as ‘Total Fraud’ Amid 2020 Presidential Speculation

by Henry Rodgers   Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called Sen. Elizabeth Warren a “total fraud” Monday, the day the Massachusetts Democrat announced she was forming a presidential exploratory committee. In a fiery statement from the RNC, McDaniel called out Warren for her “phony claim to minority status,”…

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Missouri Federal Grand Jury Indicts 14 in Home Health Care Scam

A fraud scheme perpetrated on taxpayer-funded Medicare and Medicaid began to unravel with an anonymous tip alerting officials “that some Iraqis were fraudulently receiving home care services,” says a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report from earlier this month. Investigators examined billing records from several home health care companies that provide services to the…

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Russian Nationals Indicted in North Carolina on Immigration Fraud, Murder for Hire Charges

Five Russian nationals were indicted on Wednesday in the Eastern District of North Carolina, according to a Department of Justice press release. The five are charged with “federal crimes stemming from a bribery and kickback scheme, including money laundering, immigration fraud, and a subsequent murder for hire plot.” Leonid Teyf, 57,…

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Lancaster County Will Be Pennsylvania’s First Investigative Target Under New Program to Tackle Welfare Fraud

The Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General and the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office announced last week that they are joining forces to tackle welfare fraud, specifically food-stamp fraud. Commonly referred to as the food-stamp program, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has increasingly become a concern among law-enforcement officials.…

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Attorney General Sessions Announces Charges For 601 People In Largest Health Care Fraud Bust In History

by Steve Birr   Federal officials are charging 601 people, including more than 100 medical workers, for fueling opioid addiction in the largest bust of health care fraud in U.S. history. The Department of Justice revealed the charges Thursday, which were brought as part of an annual effort to dismantle…

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