Ohio Speaker of the House indicted in $60 million bribery scheme

Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder, a Republican, was arraigned in U.S. District Court on Tuesday along with four associates on racketeering and conspiracy charges in connection with the largest bribery scandal in state history.

“Make no mistake, these allegations are bribery, pure and simple,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Chris Hoffman said at a press conference announcing the charges.

FBI agents had arrested Householder hours earlier at his rural Perry County farm as the alleged ringleader of what Hoffman described as “likely the largest bribery-money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio.”…

Four others were indicted: former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges; Householder adviser Jeffrey Longstreth; and two lobbyists, Neil Clark and Juan Cespedes…

The 81-page complaint describes a conspiracy connected to an Ohio law passed last year, which bailed out two nuclear power plants while simultaneously slashing subsidies for energy efficiency and renewables in the state. The law also pulled money from Ohio residents’ power bills, shuffling $150 million to the nuclear plants each year.

I imagine the procedure will be to get convictions for the slimeballs accepting the bribes. Then, to decide whether the “Captains of industry” running the power companies solicited these elected creeps…or the creeps solicited them…and word the charges accordingly.

Either way, I’d love to see them all sharing cells.

Pharma Billionaire Arrested – Charged with Bribing Doctors to Prescribe Opioids

❝ Insys Therapeutics Inc. founder John Kapoor is accused of helping fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic by bribing doctors to prescribe a powerful form of fentanyl to patients who didn’t need the potent drug.

Kapoor, 74, was arrested Thursday in Arizona and charged with racketeering conspiracy and other felonies. He’s scheduled to appear in a Phoenix court later in the day.

❝ Kapoor and other former Insys executives are also accused of defrauding insurance companies that were reluctant to approve payments for the drug by improperly getting prior authorization directly from the insurers and pharmacy benefit managers…

❝ The opioid epidemic is killing 175 people a day and costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars annually, according to the government. President Donald Trump plans to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency on Thursday.

Trump did so and – in classic Republican style – refused to allocate or ask for the appropriation of funds to do anything at all to fight this public health emergency. But, he had a chance to smile at the cameras and pretend he isn’t a fake president.

Ehud Olmert is the first Israeli Prime Minister sentenced to prison

Olmert enters prison
Click to enlargeOlmert on the leftMoti Milrod

Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert started serving a 19-month prison sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice on Monday, becoming the first Israeli premier to be imprisoned and capping a years-long legal saga that forced him to resign in 2009…

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say this about George W Bush? Trouble is – even the anti-government Tea Party-types won’t join the campaign. Ideology still overrules any sense of fighting for justice.

Zombies vs Vampires — legal battle between corrupt medical labs

Right now a dead, bankrupt and corrupt laboratory company is suing an active, morally bankrupt lab company. No matter who eventually wins the court battle all of us — patients, Medicare, insurance companies, not to mention our entire health and legal systems — will lose.

Health Diagnostics Laboratory is the zombie lab company. After raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in a few short years for its owners and others, HDL went out of business last year. The reason: the company’s business model was illegal and unethical.

The company bribed doctors to order unnecessary tests — lots of unnecessary tests. Then it told patients that they would not be billed for the tests. This is also illegal.

But in its heyday the company reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from Medicare and insurance companies.

True Health Diagnostics is the vampire lab company. When HDL went out of business this new company bought its remaining assets and adopted its business model of bribing doctors to order their tests and not collecting the patients’ portion of the bill. (Despite the company’s denials, True Health appears to have close connections with at least some of the major figures involved with HDL.)

Late last year the surviving legal remnant of HDL began efforts to collect from patients on some of the bills on which the company had promised, in writing, never to collect…

Patients panicked when they suddenly found themselves faced with thousands of dollars in bills. Naturally many of them called their doctors to complain, and many of the doctors complained to their True Health sales reps, since in many cases this was the same person.

True Health in turn panicked. It threatened to sue HDL. If doctors and patients believed that there was even a small chance that patients would be held responsible for thousands of dollars for their tests then their entire sleazy business model would topple like a house of cards. So the company sent letters to doctors, telling the doctors to tell their patients to ignore the letters.

This did not sit well with HDL, which then sued True Health…

I have no idea how the legal issues here will be resolved. I don’t know if patients who were promised they would never receive a bill can be held responsible for those bills because those promises were illegal. This kind of situation is exactly why we have so many lawyers but so little justice.

But I do know this: the one thing missing in the battle of the zombie lab versus the vampire lab is justice.

The responsible figures — the HDL leaders, its salesmen, and, especially, the doctors who ordered and profited from all these unnecessary tests — are not being held responsible. Many of the same doctors and salesman who participated in the earlier HDL scheme are now participating in the True Health scheme…

We’ll probably never know how many hundreds of millions of dollars were made by the HDL executives and salesmen and the doctors who participated in their scheme. And unless people start going to jail there will be no incentive to stop more schemes like this. Civil suits, by the government or by private insurance companies, will simply be viewed as the cost of doing business.

Gotta love self-regulating, self-policing crafts, trades, industries. Seems to me a great deal of what is involved here is plain and simple fraud. Some of it must have crossed state lines. If states won’t act responsibly – well, that’s why we have federal attorneys.

FBI investigation into FIFA bribes now includes FOX


What a brother act!Foto-net

A sports marketing company that was described in a sweeping indictment this month as retaining contracts because of the “support” of corrupt soccer officials has longstanding ties to the U.S. entertainment company 21st Century Fox, according to securities filings and other government documents.

The description of T&T Sports Marketing Ltd in the indictment signals that U.S. prosecutors have intensified their focus on media companies and what they might have known about any bribes…

When prosecutors announced their corruption investigation of world soccer’s governing body FIFA in May, they spoke in court papers about “an array of broadcasters and advertisers” but otherwise did not specifically address their role.

21st Century Fox listed T&T as a subsidiary last year in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Its investment in the company stretches back to 2002, government documents from the United States and Argentina showed…

T&T, which is registered in the Cayman Islands, does not have a listed telephone number and it was unclear if it has employees of its own

The Dec. 3 indictment said three executives “affiliated” with T&T bribed at least 15 high-level soccer officials to support the company’s exclusive worldwide broadcasting rights for events such as the Copa Libertadores, a major South American club tournament. The three executives were at the time with Argentine sports marketing firm Torneos y Competencias, the indictment said…

The indictment does not explain how T&T benefited from retaining the broadcasting contracts. T&T is not a broadcaster itself, but by obtaining broadcasting rights, it could resell them to major broadcasters.

21st Century Fox, which is led by media baron Rupert Murdoch, ended up with the rights to broadcast the Copa Libertadores and other tournaments…

Mere ownership in a subsidiary or affiliate involved in bribery would not be enough, however, for prosecutors to charge a major media company. There would need to be evidence the company knew or was willfully blind.

According to the indictment, T&T was owned in part by Argentina’s Torneos and in part by “a group of investors that included an affiliate of a major broadcasting company headquartered in the United States whose identity is known to the grand jury.” The description does not go beyond that.

Today, only two companies own shares in T&T. A Fox affiliate owns 75 percent and Torneos owns 25 percent, according to Torneos.

If it walks like a Rupert, quacks like a Rupert, it’s probably a Rupert.

The US Is an “oligarchy with unlimited political bribery” says former president

Former president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday on the nationally syndicated radio show the Thom Hartmann Program that the United States is now an “oligarchy” in which “unlimited political bribery” has created “a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.” Both Democrats and Republicans, Carter said, “look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves.”

Carter was responding to a question from Hartmann about recent Supreme Court decisions on campaign financing like Citizens United.

HARTMANN: Our Supreme Court has now said, “unlimited money in politics.” It seems like a violation of principles of democracy. … Your thoughts on that?

CARTER: It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over. … The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody’s who’s already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who’s just a challenger.

Just in case you feel good about the snow job we get on a daily basis from the leaders of the two old parties in the White House and Congress. They fill the air with blather and bluster about our constitutional tradition, free speech in action, the benefits we enjoy as a free people.

It has as much legitimate content as the average infomercial on network TV sold as filler in between fictional cop shows, comedies about fools and so-called reality TV. If you believe any of it – you are the fool.

Jimmy Carter continues to get my vote as the leading ex-president over the last century. He has the courage to tell the truth about everything from our phony foreign policy to criminal behavior in Congress.

Internal corruption is what the Border Patrol really needs to crack down on


John Carnett/PopSci

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, is vulnerable to “systematic corruption” by drug cartels, smugglers and other criminals, and investigations of its internal abuses are “chronically slow,” according to a Homeland Security Department report that reveals glaring problems in the agencies that police the nation’s borders.

The abuses are so widespread that Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, should add nearly 350 criminal investigators to target internal corruption and the use of excessive and unnecessary force against migrants, the report concludes. That would boost the internal affairs roster by nearly 166%.

Arrests of border agents and customs officers “far exceed, on a per capita basis, such arrests at other law enforcement agencies,” the…report notes.

“Until this is reversed, [Customs and Border Protection] remains vulnerable to corruption that threatens its effectiveness and national security,” warns the report, which was requested by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

The scathing assessment by the Homeland Security Advisory Council, an independent group that reports to Johnson, also is the latest to slam the Border Patrol for lack of accountability for hundreds of shootings by agents…

In May, the Customs and Border Protection internal affairs office absolved dozens of Border Patrol agents of criminal misconduct in 64 shooting incidents between January 2010 and October 2012, including 19 that resulted in deaths. The Justice Department is still considering charges in three other cases.

Yup. They investigated themselves.

Critics along the Southwest border and in Mexico long have argued that the Border Patrol operates with little transparency or accountability.

Indeed, one of the report’s recommendations is that agents and officers “must wear visible name tags identifying their last name on all uniforms at all times,” a practice that critics say is often ignored. A video posted online of a 21-year-old woman in New York state being Tased at a roadside checkpoint last month shows a Border Patrol supervisor wearing a green tactical vest with no visible name tag…

Vicki B. Gaubeca, co-chair of the Southern Border Communities Coalition…said the report showed how Customs and Border Protection “falls short of law enforcement best practices” and needed to change.

She said the recommendations would help change the Border Patrol “culture of ‘we need to do our job at whatever cost and the only life that seems to be valued is the life of the agent'”…

Understand that this service is probably hiring folks who don’t qualify for TSA. Doesn’t that inspire confidence?

Prison, indictment, no problem in Illinois primary

In the Illinois primary elections, today, candidates on Chicago’s Democratic ballot will include someone who served a prison term for bribery, another who is due to go on trial on bribery charges this spring and a third charged with bank fraud.

“It’s a terrible indictment” of the local political culture, said Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman who teaches at University of Illinois at Chicago. “There is still a patronage-based political army on the West Side of Chicago.”

Political experts say all three candidates are either guaranteed victory or heavily favored to win.

The candidates include Isaac “Ike” Carothers, a former Chicago alderman who was sentenced to 28 months for bribery and tax fraud, and is now running for commissioner of the Cook County Board. He was released from prison in late 2011.

Derrick Smith, a state representative, was expelled by the Illinois House in 2012 after he was charged with taking a $7,000 bribe, but then won his seat back and is now running for re-election. His trial date has been set for the spring.

A third candidate, state Representative La Shawn K. Ford, has been charged with bank fraud for alleged actions before he was elected a legislator in 2006. He is running unopposed in his primary…

Chicago, the state’s largest city, ranked first in the nation in public corruption over the past three decades and has had 1,531 public corruption convictions since 1976, according to a 2012 analysis of U.S. Department of Justice statistics…

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, both Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle have urged voters not to back the younger Carothers. They have endorsed another candidate, attorney Blake Sercye.

But both Smith and Ford have the backing of powerful state House Speaker Michael Madigan.

It’s been a long time since I lived in Chicago…but I recall standing offers from alley mechanics to get me any car I wanted. Cheap. Stolen, of course. I could pick out model, color, options. It would come with license and title.