Most powerful sheriff in the country now faces 20 years in prison

❝ Once the most powerful sheriff in the United States, Lee Baca is now headed to prison.

A jury convicted the former Los Angeles County sheriff Wednesday on conspiracy charges stemming from his role in a cover-up of extensive civil rights abuses inside the county’s vast jail system.

❝ The scope of Baca’s actual conviction is much narrower than the departmental scandal that eventually chased him out of office in 2014, as dozens of his officers faced criminal charges.

❝ Baca’s own convictions tie back to one specific incident within a much longer saga of abusive and corrupt practices in the county jail system. Human rights lawyers had documented allegations of brutality and corruption inside Baca’s jails for years before federal investigators got involved. When Baca’s team discovered the investigators had an inmate informant, they hid the inmate from the FBI agents who were working with him and sent two people to confront the lead investigator at her home.

❝ Baca’s role in crafting and approving efforts to stymie an investigation put him in a legal box. But that’s akin to catching Al Capone for cheating on his taxes, considering the years of detailed reports on the culture of extreme and routine violence deputies used to maintain their authority within Baca’s jails.

❝ Baca, now 74, had initially sought to avoid trial entirely, copping a plea on lesser charges in exchange for a six-month sentence. A judge decided that the sentence was too light and refused to approve the deal.

Which is why continued vigilance over judges, how they are elected and/or appointed is critical. One of the last defenses against corruption and crime in a nation that often rewards criminal behavior with elective office. Worshipping the strong man syndrome.

Baca now faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

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Claiming a social security number is the “Mark of the Beast” not a good defense – so saith the IRS

A Pennsylvania man has been convicted of failing to file his income tax returns for 21 years because he considered using a Social Security number akin to using the “mark of the beast” spelled out in the Bible.

James Schlosser, who lives in the town of Bird-in-Hand, was convicted in federal court in Allentown…

Prosecutors say by failing to file the returns from 1994 to 2014 he didn’t report $2.3 million in income he earned as a salesman of medical equipment. Prosecutors say he funneled the money through foreign business trusts and corporations he registered in Nevada.

An attorney for the 59-year-old Schlosser didn’t immediately comment…He’ll be sentenced June 10 when he faces a maximum of five years in prison and $450,000 in fines.

Wonder if he’ll ask Trump for a pardon?

Feds join suit against UnitedHealth Group for overcharging Medicare million$

❝ The U.S. Justice Department has joined a whistleblower lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group Inc that claims the country’s largest health insurer and its units and affiliates overcharged Medicare hundreds of millions of dollars, a law firm representing the whistleblower said on Thursday…

❝ The lawsuit, filed in 2011 and unsealed on Thursday, alleges UnitedHealth Group overcharged Medicare by claiming the federal health insurance program’s members nationwide were sicker than they were, according to the law firm Constantine Cannon LLP.

The Justice Department has also joined in allegations against WellMed Medical Management Inc, a Texas-based healthcare company UnitedHealth bought in 2011…plus several more affiliates who say they can’t imagine why they’re accused of being co-conspirators.

❝ The lawsuit by whistleblower Benjamin Poehling, a former UnitedHealth executive, has been kept under seal in federal court in Los Angeles while the Justice Department investigated the claims for the past five years.

The wheels of justice in America grind exceedingly slow in those rare circumstances when they’re set upon corporate theft and fraud.

The ACLU got $24 million in donations this weekend — response to their courage!


Anthony Romero, ACLU head, on the streets, in the courts, all weekend

❝ In the weeks after the Nov. 8 election, when Donald Trump secured a surprise victory to become president of the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union received so much money in online donations — more than $15 million — that an official with the 100-year-old organization called the flood “unprecedented in our history.”…

…then Trump spent his first week as president signing executive orders and making good on some of his campaign promises, spurring massive protests across the country and the world — about women’s rights, the environment and what Trump calls his “extreme vetting” of travelers to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim nations…

❝ This weekend alone, the civil liberties group received more than $24 million in online donations from 356,306 people, a spokesman told The Washington Post early Monday morning, a total that supersedes its annual online donations by six times.

In an interview with CNN, the ACLU had a one-word reaction: “Wow.”

Having lived through a couple of attempts to bring fascism to power in the United States, I’m encouraged. Groups like the ACLU are usually a front-row target of lard-brained right-wingers like Trump and Bannon. Civil liberties – and their defenders – are an automatic target of creeps who front themselves as “strong leaders” and other code words for wannabe dictators.

Early days of McCarthyism,there were beaucoup folks with good intentions, civic understanding – and no guts – who would donate “cash only” to an organization of constitutional lawyers willing to fight for preservation of American standards. That folks have more courage – and greater willingness to drop their hard-earned buck$ on the barrel-head to support the fight for freedom is more than encouraging. It bodes well for the continuing battle.

Pyramid scheme conman didn’t trust banks — $20 million hidden in his mattress

telexfree-mattress

❝ US authorities have seized $20m in cash discovered in a bed frame under a mattress in a Massachusetts flat…The cash is believed to be linked to a $1bn pyramid scheme involving TelexFree, a company that claimed to provide internet phone services.

Investigators uncovered the cash while following a Brazilian man, who was charged in connection to the haul.

❝ Federal prosecutors say the defunct company swindled almost a million people worldwide out of about $1bn.

The US attorney’s office in Massachusetts tweeted a photo of the windfall of cash, which was found at the flat of Brazilian national Cleber Rene Rizerio Rocha, 28, in Westborough, Massachusetts.

Mr Rocha was arrested and charged with conspiring to commit money laundering.

A judge…ruled that Mr Rocha was a flight risk and held him without bail…

Crooks always think everyone else is a crook, too. 🙂

Women’s March on Washington more than double predicted size — more than showed for inauguration


Support demonstration in BerlinAP/Michael Sohn

9:40AM EST

A city official in Washington says the turnout estimate for the Women’s March on the National Mall now stands at 500,000 people. That’s more than double the initial predictions.

Kevin Donahue is Washington’s deputy mayor for public safety and justice. He says on Twitter that organizers of the march are increasing the turnout estimate to half a million.

There were early signs across Washington that Saturday’s crowds could top those that gathered on Friday to watch President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Keep on rocking in the Free World!