- Man Sentenced for His Role in COVID-19 Relief Fraud Scheme
July 14, 2021A Wisconsin man was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for fraudulently seeking over $600,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
- Coin and Currency Production: Issues Concerning Who Should Provide Security
In U.S GAO NewsAugust 24, 2021The U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), which produce the nation’s coins and currency, provide their own security and have experienced some problems with theft by employees. Although security is necessary to carry out the agencies’ missions, their primary function is producing money. In light of these thefts, a congressional committee asked GAO whether the Mint and BEP should continue to provide their own security or whether the United States Secret Service should provide their security. Among the issues that GAO was asked to address were (1) how do the Mint, BEP, and other organizations that produce or handle large amounts of cash provide their security; (2) what thefts have occurred at the Mint and BEP and what steps have they taken to prevent thefts from recurring; and (3) what are the potential benefits and costs of having the Secret Service provide Mint and BEP security? The Mint said it generally agreed with the findings and conclusions that applied to the Mint. BEP and the Secret Service provided technical comments regarding the report, which GAO incorporated where appropriate, but had no overall comments on the report.The Mint and BEP use their own police forces to provide security. Eight of the 12 coin and currency organizations in the other G7 nations responded to our requests for information. Four organizations reported that they only used their own security forces; 2 organizations said they used their own security forces supplemented with contractor personnel; 1 organization said it used an outside agency to supplement its own security force; and 1 organization said that it used an outside agency to provide its security. Private businesses that handle large amounts of cash, such as banks and casinos, that we contacted said they used either their own security staff or contractor staff. The Mint and BEP have experienced some thefts by employees over the last decade. The Mint, which did not have records of security incidents that occurred more than 5 years ago, reported 74 incidents of theft involving about $93,000 from 1998 though 2002, while BEP reported 11 incidents of theft from 1993 through 2002 involving about $1.8 million. Both the Mint and BEP had threat assessments made of their facilities and processes and took corrective action to enhance security. The Secret Service said that if its Uniformed Division were charged with the responsibility of protecting the Mint and BEP, the two agencies could benefit from the Secret Service’s expertise in protection and criminal investigations. However, unlike Secret Service police officers, Mint and BEP security personnel are already familiar with the coin and currency production processes, which is a benefit in identifying security risks in these manufacturing facilities. Further, if the Secret Service protected the Mint and BEP, the government could incur additional costs because the Secret Service requires more training for its officers than the Mint and BEP police. The Secret Service police officers also are provided more costly retirement benefits than the Mint and BEP police.
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- Former Managing Director and Two Former Loan Officers Plead Guilty for Roles in Widespread Bank-Fraud Scheme
May 20, 2021The former managing director of residential lending and two former loan officers of a financial institution headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, pleaded guilty to participating in a years-long scheme to originate fraudulent residential-mortgage loans through the bank’s low-documentation Advantage Loan Program.
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- Blackstone Labs Founder Sentenced for Conspiracy to Sell Anabolic Steroids and Unlawful Dietary Supplements
January 27, 2022A South Florida man who founded a sports and dietary supplements retailer was sentenced today to 54 months in prison for conspiring to sell illegal anabolic steroids and other products marketed as dietary supplements that were unlawful under federal law.
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- California Man Sentenced to Life Followed by 30 Years in Prison for Federal Hate Crimes Related to 2019 Poway Synagogue Shooting and Attempted Mosque Arson
December 28, 2021John T. Earnest, a California man who entered the Chabad of Poway on April 27, 2019, opened fire and killed one woman, injured three others, and attempted to kill 50 others, was sentenced today in the Southern District of California to life followed by 30 years in prison for his crimes.
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- Sinaloa Cartel Money Launderer Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison
October 14, 2021A money launderer for the Sinaloa Cartel was sentenced yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for laundering approximately $15 million from the sale of methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin that were smuggled into the United States by the Sinaloa Cartel.
- DHS and DOJ Announce Dedicated Docket Process for More Efficient Immigration Hearings
May 28, 2021Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a new Dedicated Docket process to more expeditiously and fairly make decisions in immigration cases of families who arrive between ports of entry at the Southwest Border. This new process should significantly decrease the amount of time it takes for migrants to have their cases adjudicated while still providing fair hearings for families seeking asylum at the border.
- North Carolina Return Preparer Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud Scheme
March 3, 2021A North Carolina return preparer pleaded guilty today to conspiring to defraud the United States.
- Antitrust Division Seeks Additional Public Comments on Bank Merger Competitive Analysis
December 17, 2021The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced today that it is seeking additional public comments until Feb. 15, 2022, on whether and how the division should revise the 1995 Bank Merger Competitive Review Guidelines (Banking Guidelines). The division will use additional comments to ensure that the Banking Guidelines reflect current economic realities and empirical learning, ensure Americans have choices among financial institutions, and guard against the accumulation of market power. The division’s continued focus on the Banking Guidelines is part of an ongoing effort by the federal agencies responsible for banking regulation and supervision.
- Overseas Real Property: Prioritizing Key Assets and Developing a Plan Could Help State Manage Its Estimated $3 Billion Maintenance Backlog
In U.S GAO NewsSeptember 15, 2021What GAO Found The Department of State’s portfolio of overseas assets and expenditures to operate them have grown, but State-allocated funding for maintenance has stayed nearly the same. For fiscal years 2015 through 2019, both the number and square footage of State’s assets increased 11 percent and operations expenditures grew 24 percent. However, maintenance and repair funding has remained nearly unchanged. For example, State’s allocation for Maintenance Cost Sharing—for projects collectively funded by State and tenant agencies overseas—was $399 million in fiscal year 2016 and $400 million in 2020. GAO found that more than one-quarter of State’s overseas assets are in poor condition according to State’s condition standard. Further, 20 percent (almost 400) of assets that State identifies as critical to its mission are in poor condition. Federal accounting standards recognize that what constitutes acceptable asset condition may vary by the importance of specific assets to agencies’ missions. However, State set a single acceptable condition standard of “fair” for all assets and did not consider whether some assets, like chancery office buildings, were more critical to State’s mission when estimating its $3 billion deferred maintenance backlog. Had State set a higher condition standard for critical assets, its backlog would be higher. By reassessing its condition standard, State could determine whether to adopt an approach that considers asset importance and that could help guide maintenance funding to key assets. Condition of U.S. Embassy Manila, Philippines – Left: Chancery Office Building; Right: Chancery Courtyard Showing Maintenance Issues, Including Mold and Water Damage State follows most, but not all, leading practices for managing deferred maintenance backlogs. Of the nine leading practices, GAO found that State followed five, partially followed three, and did not follow one. For example, State has goals, baselines, and measures for its facility management performance. However, State did not specifically request funding to address the backlog in its congressional budget requests. Officials said they had not found it necessary to specifically request such funding because they only determined that the backlog had substantially increased from $96 million in fiscal year 2019 to $3 billion in fiscal year 2020 after using a new methodology for estimating deferred maintenance and repair. In addition, State does not have a plan to address the backlog, but officials estimated it could take 30 to 40 years to eliminate the backlog with current funding levels. Developing such a plan with specific information on the funding and time frames needed to reduce the backlog would help decision makers better understand how funding levels affect backlog reduction. Why GAO Did This Study State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations operates and maintains over 8,500 owned and leased real property assets, including both buildings and structures. According to State, at least 60 percent of a building’s total lifecycle cost stems from operations and maintenance costs. GAO has reported that deferring maintenance and repairs can lead to higher costs in the long term and pose risks to agencies’ missions. GAO was asked to review State’s efforts to manage its operations and maintenance needs. This report examines (1) how operations and maintenance funding for overseas assets changed from fiscal years 2016 through 2020, (2) the condition and maintenance needs of State’s overseas assets, and (3) the extent to which State has followed leading practices to address its deferred maintenance backlog. GAO analyzed State data on operations and maintenance funding and asset condition, as well as documentation related to leading facility management practices. GAO also met with State officials in headquarters and in seven embassies.
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