US Navy contracts bought with hookers, Lady Gaga concert tickets

Oil change and filters adds up – for a couple of these

Nicknamed “Fat Leonard,” the gregarious Malaysian businessman is well known by U.S. Navy commanders in the Pacific, where his company has serviced warships for 25 years.

But prosecutors in court papers say Leonard Francis worked his connections to obtain military secrets by lining up prostitutes, Lady Gaga tickets and other bribes for a U.S. commander, in a scandal reverberating across the Navy…

Navy commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz passed confidential information on ship routes to Francis’ Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., or GDMA, according to the court documents.

Misiewicz and Francis moved Navy vessels like chess pieces, diverting aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships to Asian ports with lax oversight where Francis could inflate costs, according to the criminal complaint. The firm overcharged the Navy millions for fuel, food and other services it provided, and invented tariffs by using phony port authorities, the prosecution alleges…

So far, authorities have arrested Misiewicz; Francis; his company’s general manager of global government contracts, Alex Wisidagama; and a senior Navy investigator, John Beliveau II. Beliveau is accused of keeping Francis abreast of the probe and advising him on how to respond in exchange for such things as luxury trips and prostitution services. All have pleaded not guilty…

Navy spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby said Navy Criminal Investigative Service agents initiated their probe in 2010, but declined to comment further…

That same year, Misiewicz caught the world’s attention when he made an emotional return as a U.S. Naval commander to his native Cambodia, where he had been rescued as a child from the violence of the Khmer Rouge and adopted by an American woman. His homecoming was widely covered by international media.

Meanwhile, Francis was recruiting him for his scheme, according to court documents.

[Obviously, the relationship grew – ] Misiewicz would refer to Francis as “Big Brother” or “Big Bro” in emails from a personal account, while Francis would call him “Little Brother” or “Little Bro,” according to the complaint.

The company bilked the Navy out of $10 million in just one year in Thailand alone, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said…

The federal government has suspended its contracts with Francis…The defendants face up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery.

RTFA for all the gory details. Corruption and bribery has never disappeared from the heart of capitalism. They’re still referred to euphemistically as “sales aids”. All that changes over time, from company to corporation is a matter of degree.

If you believe that everyone has his price, the truth doesn’t matter. You just need to find the corruptible person who is willing to be bought. The exception that proves the rule.

Novartis sued for bribing pharmacies

Novartis marketing secret

Novartis AG was sued by the U.S. for alleged health-care fraud, saying the company paid kickbacks to pharmacies for switching transplant patients to its drug Myfortic.

The U.S. sued Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis in federal court in Manhattan yesterday, claiming it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks, disguised as rebates and discounts, to at least 20 pharmacies for switching patients to Myfortic from drugs sold by other companies. The scheme caused the Medicare and Medicaid programs to pay tens of millions of dollars in false claims, according to the government’s complaint…

The U.S. is seeking triple damages, restitution and civil penalties. In a statement yesterday, Bharara called Novartis “a repeat offender,” saying the company had settled kickback claims less than three years ago.

In September 2010, Novartis agreed to pay $422.5 million to resolve criminal and civil charges that it paid kickbacks and illegally promoted drugs for off-label uses. As part of the settlement, the company signed a five-year corporate integrity agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services, which required reforms including a compliance program relating to promotional activities. The 80-page agreement provided that Novartis may be excluded from participation in federal health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, for a “material breach…”

Maybe they wouldn’t be so quick to reoffend if the boss and a few of his flunkies were doing time?

Myfortic is an immunosuppressant drug used to help prevent organ rejection in kidney transplant patients. The U.S. claims that, from 2005 until the present, Novartis offered kickbacks to pharmacies that agreed to convince doctors to switch patients to Myfortic. The drug’s main competitors are Roche Holding AG CellCept and, since 2009, generic versions of CellCept, according to the government…

The U.S. said it told Novartis and other drug companies in 1994 that offering financial benefits to pharmacies for influencing doctors to switch patients from one prescription drug to another could violate the federal anti-kickback statute.

The complaint named five pharmacies that participated in the alleged scheme, including the outpatient pharmacy at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. Prosecutors said Novartis also negotiated with Walgreen in 2011 to switch patients using on-site Walgreen pharmacies at transplant centers and Walgreen’s mail- order division to Myfortic from CellCept and generic CellCept in exchange for payments. The complaint didn’t include whether any deal was reached.

After the Feds throw a few of the Fat Cats at Novartis into the Big Top – follow that up with those in charge at the pharmacy corporations who took the bribes.

In small-towns in every state, business as usual for Mexican cartels

Less than a mile off a county road in Ivanhoe near the Black River, federal drug agents and local authorities found exactly what their informant had promised.

“We saw what looked like, as far as you could see, marijuana plants,” said Drug Enforcement Administration agent Michael Franklin…

“The people we were really focusing on were not the guys tending the field. The guys bankrolling the field were the target,” he said. Those guys, according to the DEA’s source, were members of La Familia Michoacana, a Mexican drug cartel that the Justice Department says focuses primarily on moving heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine into the southeastern and southwestern United States…

Franklin said the case is one in a growing list of cartel-linked busts he is seeing in largely rural southeastern North Carolina. The area’s Latino population has grown considerably in the past 20 years, and authorities say cartel operatives use Latino communities as cover…

News of cartel machinations are common in cities near the border, such as Phoenix, and the far-flung drug hubs of New York, Chicago or Atlanta, but smaller towns bring business, too. In unsuspecting suburbs and rural areas, police are increasingly finding drugs, guns and money they can trace back to Mexican drug organizations…

In 2009 and 2010, the center reported, cartels operated in 1,286 U.S. cities, more than five times the number reported in 2008. The center named only 50 cities in 2006.

Target communities often have an existing Hispanic population and a nearby interstate for ferrying drugs and money to and fro, said author Charles Bowden, whose books on the Mexican drug war include “Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields.”

“I’m not saying Mexicans come here to do crime, but Mexicans who move drugs choose to do it through areas where there are already Mexicans,” he said.

Santa Fe says 15% of the county population is illegal. If they admit to that – you can presume it is more. That community is afraid to contact the police for obvious reason. They’re afraid of being shipped home to Mexico. Also – you tip off the local police you run the risk of cartel flunkies in the police department informing on you. The basic undocumentado Lose – Lose equation.

RTFA. Some parts will ring true and inform. I find it disjointed and repetitive of common knowledge on the streets of America. Anyone who travels this country already knows this stuff.

When I was still on the road fulltime in the early 1990’s I knew Las Vegas, NM, was a distribution center for drugs from Mexico. A few years later the city council hired an investigator to vet the police department and city officials and their involvement in gang activity. He quit after a few weeks – saying his efforts were only window dressing and city officials didn’t really intend to use his information to clean up the town.

Since then we’ve had a few really overt examples of corruption and complicity come to light – like the police chief and city council members in Columbus, NM, busted for running guns to the cartels. And on and on. North Carolina ain’t especially different nor is East Bumfart, Texas and probably a half-dozen small towns anywhere in any northern tier state.

Stupid laws governing drug use, corrupt and “moral” officialdom up to and including the highest elected officials are stock in trade for gangsters. As they were in early days of the Mafia. As they are today. None of this is a discovery.

Gangsters don’t stay in business without paying off cops and politicians. Part of the cost of doing business.

Will Berlusconi get jail time? We can only hope

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Italian prosecutors have asked a court to sentence former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to five years in prison if he is found guilty of corruption charges.

Berlusconi is charged with bribing a British lawyer, David Mills, to secure favorable testimony in legal cases. Prosecutors requested prison time as they summed up their case against him…and the three-judge court is expected to issue a verdict by late February.

The former premier’s lawyers have argued that the statute of limitations in the case has expired, and Mills’ conviction in the case was overturned in 2010. And even if convicted, the 75-year-old Berlusconi may never serve time due to appeals and his age — under Italian law, judges can suspend sentences for convicts over 70.

The 75-year-old Berlusconi dominated Italian politics for a decade and a half before resigning amid a financial crisis in November. He has survived a series of political, corruption and sex scandals over the years, involving allegations of embezzlement, tax fraud and bribery.

In addition to the Mills case, he also faces trial on charges that he hired an underage prostitute and later tried to pull strings to get her out of jail when she was arrested for theft.

Jail time for Berlusconi? Overdue.

Angry members of the Sun staff await Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch faces revolt from his own staff…after journalists angry at the arrest of five senior colleagues accused the company of throwing them to the wolves.

The 80-year-old media mogul is due to fly into Britain this week to address workers at his Wapping plant and reassure them of his commitment to his remaining UK newspaper titles. But he is likely to receive an angry reception after five more journalists on The Sun were arrested as part of Operation Elveden – the police investigation into allegations of bribery.

The arrests early on Saturday morning were the second batch in a fortnight and sources close to the investigation have indicated that they are unlikely to be the last.

Journalists at The Sun yesterday accused the company’s Management Standards Committee (MSC), which handed a huge amount of information to detectives, of allowing a “witch-hunt” to take place.

One angry journalist said the MSC were behaving like “reptiles” in order to protect the reputation of Mr Murdoch’s parent company in the United States.

Ten senior journalists on the paper have now been arrested and bailed as detectives probe allegations that they illegally paid police officers and other public officials for information. But staff at the paper said many of the allegations were “pathetic” and related to matters many years ago where reporters had bought drinks for contacts in the pursuit of legitimate stories…

One source at Wapping said: “There is a real feeling of anger, deepening anger but also defiance about what is going on. But there is not the mood for a strike, as people are loyal to the paper but perhaps not the people who run it…”

It has also now emerged that the Sun’s parent company News Corp could face an investigation by officials under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The law allows American companies to be fined hundreds of millions of dollars for illegal activities overseas.

It would be pleasant change in political practices on the part of governments in both the US and UK to offer Murdoch something more than a powder puff spank on his poo-poo. He probably owns more politicians in the British Parliament than Exxon-Mobil does in the US Congress.

Brooklyn Democrat pleads guilty in corruption case

Photo taken when Kruger was surrendering to the FBI
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

State Senator Carl Kruger, who for months had insisted on his innocence, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to federal corruption charges, admitting that he conspired to accept nearly $500,000 in bribes, which prosecutors have said supported a lavish lifestyle.

Mr. Kruger, an influential Democrat and 16-year legislator, stood before Judge Jed S. Rakoff in United States District Court in Manhattan and pleaded guilty to four of the five counts in the indictment against him. He sobbed and mumbled unintelligibly as he admitted his crimes. The charges included two counts of fraud conspiracy, for which he could face up to 20 years in prison each, and two counts of bribery conspiracy, which carry a maximum term of five years each…

The broad corruption investigation, which also resulted in the arrests of Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr., two hospital executives, a lobbyist and a developer, indicated that Mr. Kruger used the money to live beyond his means; a prime example of that, prosecutors said, was his mansion in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, where he lived with two gynecologist brothers and their mother…

And the schemes were lucrative, according to the charges. Mr. Kruger collected at least $1 million in bribes, the authorities initially said, in return for all manner of political favors, like helping hospitals seeking to merge, getting state money for real estate developers and even expanding the business hours of liquor stores. The bribes, according to prosecutors, financed a four-door Bentley Arnage and the Mill Basin home, which was originally built for a boss of the Luchese crime family…

Mr. Boyland, a Democrat, who was tried separately before Judge Rakoff last month, was acquitted of conspiring to take $175,000 in bribes in return for using his influence on behalf of a health care organization that operates hospitals in Queens and Brooklyn…

In September, another defendant, David P. Rosen, the former chief executive of the health care organization, MediSys, was convicted of conspiring to bribe Mr. Boyland — as well as Mr. Kruger and a third legislator, Anthony S. Seminerio, a Democratic assemblyman from Queens — in return for favorable treatment for MediSys.

Poisonally, I would throw away the key. This man crapped on the voters who elected him. He conspired to break the law to benefit medical corporations feeding off the healthcare of Brooklyn taxpayers.

My only regret is that the scumbags who lobbied the healthcare changes to drug regulations through Congress for George W. Bush – before officially going to work for the Pharmaceutical industry – aren’t going to be sharing a cell with Kruger.

Mexico’s attorney general fires hundreds for corruption

Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales

Less than four months in office, Mexico’s attorney general has overseen the firing of 140 police officers and investigators and has more than 280 others under investigation.

Attorney General Marisela Morales told reporters this week that 424 personnel were in dismissal proceedings, and a report obtained by CNN confirmed that 140 have already been let go. The shake-up at the attorney general’s office, which plays a pivotal role in the country’s fight against the drug cartels, is the most public show of transparency in recent history.

The last time there was a purge at the agency, known by its Spanish initials PGR, was 2008, when 35 agents belonging to the anti-organized crime unit were fired. Some 600 agents were fired between then and March of this year, but those personnel changes were made quietly.

Eighteen officials were fired because they face criminal charges for things such as organized crime, murder, robbery and extortion, the report said. Another seven were let go because they were convicted of crimes such as kidnapping, murder and extortion…

“These are positive steps that they are taking to clean up the police force,” Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told CNN.

The PGR has been notoriously ineffective because of penetration from organized crime, Selee said, and for that reason a question worth asking is if they are firing the right people. Is the agency capable of finding and rooting out the bad apples?

A majority of those already fired belonged to the federal ministerial police — the agency whose officers gather evidence to use in trials. Because of that key role, theirs is a unit ripe for cartels to target with bribes, Selee said…

Nice to see this level of transparency over the firing of officials and bureaucrats. I guess it will help.

I hope it will help. The Mexican people can use all the help they can get.

A website in India for whistleblowers on bribery

Imagine if you had to pay a bribe to see your newborn baby, get your water supply connected or obtain your driving licence. It’s an everyday fact of life in India – but campaigners are now using people power and the internet to fight back.

“Uncover the market price of corruption,” proclaims the banner on the homepage of

It invites people to share their experiences of bribery, what a bribe was for, where it took place and how much was involved.

Launched in August, the site gives Indians a chance to vent their frustrations and shine a spotlight on the impact of corruption on everyday life.

“I did the driving test correctly but still the official said I was driving too slow, I realised his intention so gave him 200 Rupees and got the thing done,” is a typical example of a posting…

The website was the brainwave of Ramesh and Swati Ramanathan, founders of a not-for-profit organisation in Bangalore called Janaagraha which literally means “people power”.

“Bribery is routinely expected in interactions with government officials”, Swati Ramanathan told me, “to register your house, to get your driving licence, domestic water connection, even a death certificate.”

Having lived in the US and the UK for several years, they were dismayed on their return to see how widespread corruption had become and decided to do something about it…

The website has evolved into a consumer comparison site where people can also get information and advice in different languages on how to avoid paying bribes…

So far, nearly 10,000 bribe experiences have been reported across 347 cities and 19 government departments…

Twenty senior officers have been cautioned, and technology is now being introduced to minimise the opportunities for bribe-taking.

Bravo! One of the best uses of enforced transparency in government.

You can’t count on politicians to volunteer transparency; but, you certainly can give it to them – whether they want it or not.

Dumb crook of the day

Mahaveer Kankariya asked the dumb question

Two New York Diamond District wholesalers were already awaiting sentencing for hiring men to dress up as Hasidic Jews and rob their store at gunpoint in an insurance fraud. That’s when one of them reportedly asked a bail bondsman if they could bribe their way out of trouble.

According to the New York Post, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice threw Atul Shah and Mahaveer Kankariya back in jail last week after one of them asked, “Is there any way I can bribe the judge?”

Prior to the reported blab, both men were allowed to remain free pending sentencing.

Shah, 49 and Kankariya, 43, were charged Feb. 23 with grand larceny, insurance fraud and falsifying business records in connection with the bogus gunpoint robbery at their Midtown jewelry store on New Year’s Eve 2008.

Investigators became suspicious after the robbery when they discovered that the two owners had taken out a new insurance policy just before the heist.

Both men could face up to 15 years when sentenced April 29.

And maybe a bonus for the advice on bribery. I hope.