Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ricky Gervais: Let’s trick Trump into thinking he won and find a real president

Pennsylvania Man Charged In Alleged $35 Million Fraud Against Veterans’ Education GI Bill

NEWARK, N.J. – A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, man will appear in federal court today to face charges that he conspired to defraud millions from the Post 9/11 GI Bill, a federal education benefits program designed to help veterans who served in the armed forces following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
David Alvey, 49, is charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Special agents with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, arrested Alvey this morning in Maryland. He will appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher in Maryland federal court.
 “The Post 9/11 GI Bill was designed to provide educational opportunities to a generation of men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces following the attacks on 9/11,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “Alvey and others allegedly sought to pillage those well-earned benefits as part of a complex $35 million scam that targeted veterans and enrolled them in unapproved online courses without their knowledge. Rooting out fraud against the government is always a priority of this office, especially when the conduct exploits those who serve our country with such courage.”
“The allegations of fraud committed by David Alvey are extremely serious because not only did his scheme potentially harm the Department of Veterans Affairs, it also victimized our nations deserving veterans and their families,” Jeffrey G. Hughes, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General’s Northeast Field Office, said. “The VA’s education benefit program is meant to help our veterans who have selflessly made great sacrifices for our country and now are in need of VA assistance. Any fraud against this program directly impacts our nation’s heroes.”
According to the complaint unsealed today:
From November 2009 through August 2013, Alvey and others engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by obtaining tuition assistance and other education-related benefits under the Post 9/11 Education Assistance Act, more commonly known as the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides educational assistance to eligible veterans of the United States Armed Forces by paying for veterans’ tuition, housing costs, and other educational costs and fees as long as the courses of study meet certain criteria. Due to the fact that the tuition benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill are paid by the United States directly to the school, all entities involved in developing and administering the courses must be fully disclosed to the United States in order for the government to properly assess the courses for approval.
Over the course of the conspiracy, Alvey, operating largely through his own company, ED4MIL LLC (“ED4MIL”), partnered with a New Jersey university (the “University”), to obtain approval from the United States to receive tuition and other education benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill for several online non-credit training and certification courses. These courses were purportedly developed, taught, and administered by the faculty of the University, but were, in fact, actually developed, taught, and administered by undisclosed and unapproved sub-contractors of ED4MIL, including an online correspondence school located in Pennsylvania.
Alvey and others at ED4MIL developed marketing materials and a script to be used by ED4MIL salespersons at various military bases around the United States in order to market to and enroll thousands of veterans in the courses. These “field representatives” employed by ED4MIL traveled across the United States pitching the fraudulent courses to veterans using the marketing materials and script developed by Alvey and others at ED4MIL.  Field representatives were instructed to identify themselves to veterans as employees of the University, and were specifically told not to mention ED4MIL or the online correspondence school in which the veterans were actually enrolled. The marketing materials were emblazoned with the University’s insignia, and the field representatives wore t-shirts and handed out pens bearing the University’s name. The field representatives, and several other employees at ED4MIL, were also given University email addresses with which to communicate with the veterans.
Alvey and others then nominally enrolled the veterans in the University while simultaneously enrolling them in the unapproved online correspondence courses. Due to the fact that Alvey and others concealed the true source of the courses and the contract relationships between the University and ED4MIL, the veterans were unaware that the courses they were taking were actually being taught and administered by the online correspondence school.
Even though the University contributed no content or value to the courses whatsoever, the University charged the Post 9/11 GI Bill between ten and thirty times the prices charged by the online correspondence school for the same courses. While most courses at the correspondence school cost between approximately $600 and $1,000 in tuition, the University charged between approximately $5,000 and $26,000 per course. Over the course of the conspiracy, Alvey and others caused the United States to pay out over approximately $35 million in total benefits.
“The FBI’s stance on corruption and fraud is that of zero tolerance and therefore one of our highest priorities,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher. “Our job is to protect victims, especially our veterans who are on the front lines keeping our country safe, and these charges reflect our commitment to that goal.”
“Scams like this steal money from hardworking taxpayers and legitimate students – and in this case, our veterans – and that is completely unacceptable," Brian Hickey, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General's Northeastern Regional Office, said.  "OIG is committed to fighting student financial aid fraud and we will continue to aggressively pursue those that participate in these types of crimes."
The wire fraud conspiracy count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigation Division, Northeast field office,  under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey G. Hughes in Newark; the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark; and the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Hickey of the Northeastern Region, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Eskew of the Economic Crimes Unit, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jane Yoon and Lucy Muzzy of the Health Care and Government Fraud Unit, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jafer Aftab of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense Counsel: Judith Germano Esq., Montclair

Thursday, April 21, 2016

47 Despicable Senate Republicans Vote To Deny Aid To Flint’s Lead Poisoned Children

By Jason Easley 

 Senate Republicans forced a vote on an amendment today that would have denied federal aid to the poisoned children of Flint, Michigan. What is even more deplorable is that 47 Senate Republicans voted not help lead poisoned children. 

Senate Republicans forced a vote on an amendment today that would have denied federal aid to the poisoned children of Flint, Michigan. What is even more deplorable is that 47 Senate Republicans voted not help lead poisoned children.
The Coates Amendment to the Energy and Water Agencies Appropriations Act failed by a vote of 48-49. All Senate Democrats, with the exception of Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO) voted against the amendment. Five Republicans Sens. Lisa Murkowski (AK), Bill Cassidy (LA), Rob Portman (OH), Lamar Alexander (TN) and Dean Heller (NV) joined with Democrats in voting against the amendment, but 47 Senate Republicans voted not to provide federal aid for children that were poisoned by the decisions of Michigan’s Republican governor.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid blistered Republicans for their vote:
Three of the four Republican cosponsors of legislation to help the people of Flint voted to eliminate the funding source today. It is a disturbing trend that Senate Republicans are regularly unable to fulfill their commitments. The Senate cannot function if senators do not keep their word.
Republicans have proven once again that they are willing to turn their backs on the people of Flint. Every time the Senate comes close to a bipartisan compromise to help children suffering from lead poisoning, Republicans find an excuse to back away. Today, Republicans voted to remove a funding source for legislation to tackle Flint’s water crisis without offering a single dime to clean their poisoned water. More than 100,000 people – including 9,000 children under the age of six – have been poisoned in the city of Flint, and it is unconscionable that Republicans would attempt to deny them the support they desperately need.
Sadly, Republicans are happy to attack clean energy programs to please the Koch brothers, but they remain unwilling to lift a finger to help the people of Flint. I call on Republicans to end this unwarranted obstruction and protect the people of Flint and millions throughout the nation.
The 47 Senate Republicans who voted for this amendment displayed a basic contempt for the American people that is proof of why Republicans should be voted out of the majority in November. It doesn’t get any lower than voting against helping poisoned children.
Democrats should keep the actions of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the 46 Republicans who voted for this amendment in mind the next time one of these Republicans demands federal aid after a flood, fire, or hurricane.
Senate Republicans have prioritized the Kochs over kids, which is why they should not be trusted with power in the United States Senate.

Bundy militants harassed locals for weeks ahead of standoff: ‘They’re not patriots — they’re thugs’


Anti-government extremists are awaiting trial for their armed takeover of an Oregon nature preserve — but the local sheriff said the gun-toting outsiders started causing trouble from the moment they arrived, about two months earlier.
Sheriff David Ward took over law enforcement duties in Harney County on Jan. 2, 2015 — one year to the day when armed militants led by Ammon Bundy began occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve as part of a broader campaign to roll back federal control of public lands.
Ward recounted his experience with the militants, many of whom are now jailed on a variety of felony counts in connection with the 41-day standoff, during a podcast interview with an eastern Washington sheriff, reported The Spokesman-Review.
“I’m sorry, folks — they’re not patriots, they’re thugs,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. “They are, in fact, the true tyranny.”
Ward knew little about Bundy, who’s now charged along with other family members in connection with an armed standoff in 2014 at his father’s Nevada ranch, until the Utah mechanic and other militants showed up in Burns and demanded a meeting Nov. 5 with the sheriff.
“It made me a little nervous about why these guys were in my community,” Ward said.
Bundy and Ryan Payne, an Army veteran from Montana, said they’d come to protest the prison sentencing of two local ranchers who set fire on public land as part of their own ongoing dispute with federal authorities.
Ward said the out-of-staters demanded that the sheriff go along with their plans to challenge the feds — or else.
Bundy came back Nov. 19 with 10 other men, most of them armed, and the militants posted other armed men outside Ward’s office.
The sheriff again told the militants that he would not support their plans because he said his duties included enforcement of court orders — which called for ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond to return to prison to finish serving their sentences.
Ward said the militants and their supporters then flooded his emergency dispatch center with so many complaints that dispatchers were unable to take 911 calls from locals, and he said the harassment didn’t stop there.
More and more militants and their supporters started arriving after Thanksgiving — including Blaine Cooper and Jon Ritzheimer.
They followed Ward, his deputies and their family members around and drove slowly past their homes, and they bothered residents who put up signs or social media posts criticizing the outsiders.
Bundy and some local supporters set up a “committee of safety,” which was apparently intended to serve as a shadow government, and talked about arresting public officials who failed to support their armed demonstration.
Ward said Cooper, who carried a lengthy felon record from Arizona, and Ritzheimer, a retired Marine who organized anti-Muslim rallies, stalked him and his family as they went Christmas shopping.
Ward, who served as an Army medic during combat overseas, said he didn’t like that so many of the militants lied about their military service, and he’s still upset that they put innocent civilians in danger.
“It was a very trying time,” Ward said. “I looked over my shoulder during that time more than I did in Afghanistan and Somalia.”
Knezovich said the anti-government militants’ actions were appalling.
“True patriots don’t do that to other Americans,” he said.