NY Gov. Cuomo’s top advisor sentenced to six years – Pickett/NYTimes
❝ Joseph Percoco, a former top adviser and confidant to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday in a case that cast a long and unflattering shadow over the Cuomo administration.
Mr. Percoco, 49, was convicted in March of soliciting and accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from executives of two companies with state business in return for taking official actions on the firms’ behalf.
❝ “I hope that this sentence will be heard in Albany,” Judge Valerie E. Caproni, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said before sentencing.
She said the case had reached to the highest level of the executive branch. “Frankly, it’s not surprising that the citizenry of this state have absolutely lost faith in their government.”
My question, of course, is…Anyone surprised?
• China…just committed $500 million to build a theme park in an Indonesian luxury mega-development that will also feature Trump Organization-branded hotels and a golf course. Days after the commitment was finalized, Trump announced that he wants to lift sanctions that have been imposed on a Chinese telecom company called ZTE, which did business with Iran…
• Qatar’s government has…reportedly met multiple times with representatives of Newsmax, the conservative media outlet run by Trump’s frequent Mar-a-Lago companion Christopher Ruddy, about a potential investment in the company. The reported negotiations have coincided with a shift in the Trump administration’s rhetoric about Qatar: After initially condemning the country for supporting terrorism, a condemnation that coincided with a Qatari decision not to invest in Jared Kushner’s company, the White House has now decided that Qatar is a trustworthy ally whose leader is, in Trump’s words, a “great friend….”
• Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, named the developer of a Trump-branded building in Manila as the country’s trade envoy to the U.S.
Actually, the headline should be “How many countries are working at bribing our fake president – that we know about?” The number grows every day, Professional journalists continue to ply their craft regardless of the small but powerful number of cable news pimps, tabloid flacks and payroll politicians working their runny butts off for populist scumbags. They may have won a few rounds. Chalk that up to ignorant voters.
The best army that generals of fascism ever have is uneducated voters. Still, even the dullest follower must recognize the economic and social losses resulting from their obedience to fear and bigotry shouted out at campaign rallies. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.
Billion$ floating around the world – why not take a taste?
❝ A federal judge in San Diego has sentenced a U.S. Navy captain caught in a $30 million bribery scandal to 46 months in prison, bringing to a close the case against the highest-ranking officer in the fraud scheme.
Captain Daniel Dusek, 49, pleaded guilty last year to a charge of conspiracy to commit bribery after admitting he accepted services from prostitutes, luxury hotel stays, alcohol and other gifts in exchange for giving classified information to the Singapore-based company Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
The firm headed by Malaysian businessman Leonard Glenn Francis, who has been dubbed “Fat Leonard,” held over $200 million in contracts to clean, stock and maintain U.S. Pacific Fleet ships.
❝ Francis has admitted to obtaining classified ship scheduling in exchange for bribes, which allowed him to make more money on his contracts by knowing when Navy ships would be available for servicing.
U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino in sentencing Dusek to 46 months in prison said his actions could have jeopardized national security…
❝ Francis and Glenn Defense Marine Asia pleaded guilty in January 2015 to bribery and fraud charges. The company overcharged the Navy more than $25 million, according to his plea agreement.
So far, 10 people, including seven naval officers have been charged in the scheme, including a Naval Criminal Investigative Services agent and two commanders. All but one have entered a guilty plea.
Three admirals, who are now retired, were also censured for their improper relationships with Francis and his company.
President Eisenhower knew what he was talking about when he characterized the military-industrial complex as one of the greatest dangers in modern America. This is only one facet of corruption codified by Congress and the federal budget.
Few days went by last year when New Hampshire nephrologist Ana Stankovic didn’t receive a payment from a drug company.
All told, 29 different pharmaceutical companies paid her $594,363 in 2014, mostly for promotional speaking and consulting, but also for travel expenses and meals, according to data released…detailing payments by drug and device companies to U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals.
Search for your own doctor on ProPublica’s updated Dollars for Docs database.
Stankovic’s earnings were certainly high, ranking her about 250th among 606,000 doctors who received payments nationwide last year. What was more remarkable, though, was that she received payments on 242 different days — nearly every workday of last year.
Reached by telephone Tuesday, Stankovic declined to comment.
That doctors receive big money from the pharmaceutical industry is no surprise. The new data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that such interactions are widespread, with not only doctors, but thousands of dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and chiropractors receiving at least one industry payment from August 2013 to December 2014.
What is being seen for the first time now is how ingrained pharmaceutical companies and their sales reps are in the lives of those who write prescriptions for their products. A ProPublica analysis found that 768 doctors received payments on more than half of the days in 2014. More than 14,600 doctors received payments on at least 100 days in 2014…
The doctor with the second-highest number of interactions with drug and device reps, John Fritz, of Jersey City, N.J., logged payments on 256 days last year. His payments totaled $232,003. Fritz was indicted in June for referring patients to a medical imaging company from 2006 to 2013 in exchange for about $500,000 in kickbacks. He was charged with fraud and bribery, according to a release from the state attorney general’s office. A woman who answered the phone at his office on Tuesday said he declined to comment.
Dr. Aaron Kesselheim said that to have such extensive contact with industry reps can indicate that doctors are getting their information about the drugs they prescribe from the companies that make them, and not from impartial sources. “There’s good evidence that that affects prescribing practices and physician behavior.”…
All told, 1,617 companies reported 15.7 million payments valued at $9.9 billion. Nearly all of those payments — 14.9 million — were classified as “general payments,” covering promotional speaking, consulting, meals, travel and royalties. They totaled $3.5 billion over the 17-month period.
There were far fewer research payments, 826,000, but they were valued at $4.8 billion. The remaining payments related to ownership or investment interests that doctors had in companies. Research and ownership payments are currently not shown in Dollars for Docs.
Keep on rocking in the Free World. And while you’re at it – keep your eyes and ears open for greater understanding of the depth of resistance, core motives for opposition, to affordable healthcare for Americans.
Follow the money.
The world governing body of football, Fifa, was plunged into an unprecedented crisis on the eve of its congress in Zurich after Swiss authorities arrested a string of officials in a dawn raid and opened criminal proceedings over the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
More than a dozen plainclothed officers descended on the five-star Baur au Lac hotel on Wednesday, where officials had gathered for Fifa’s annual meeting.
The arrests were made on behalf of US authorities, after an FBI investigation that has been ongoing for at least three years. The US Department of Justice said authorities had charged 14 officials, nine of whom are current or former Fifa executives. Those arrested in Zurich face extradition to the US…
Separately, Swiss federal prosecutors said they had opened criminal proceedings in connection with the award of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. These decisions have been shrouded in claims of bribery and corruption ever since the vote in December 2010.
The Swiss authorities seized “electronic data and documents” in a raid on Fifa headquarters. Bank documents had earlier been collected from various Swiss financial institutions. Police will question 10 members of the Fifa executive committee who took part in the World Cup votes. The 10, all still current members of Fifa’s ExCo, include senior vice-president Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s sports minister who is head of the country’s 2018 World Cup organising committee. The others are Angel Maria Villar Llona (Spain), Michel D’Hooghe (Belgium), Senes Erzik (Turkey), Worawi Makudi (Thailand), Marios Lefkaritis (Cyprus), Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast), Rafael Salguero (Guatemala) and Hany Abo Rida (Egypt).
In a statement, the Swiss attorney general’s office said the executives were being questioned on suspicion of “criminal mismanagement” and money laundering. It said the timing of the operation was deliberately co-ordinated with the arrests on behalf of the US authorities “to avoid any possible collusion” between suspects and because a large number of those involved in the voting for the two World Cups were present in Zurich, where Fifa president Sepp Blatter was expected to be re-elected for another four-year term on Friday.
At a later press conference at Fifa headquarters, spokesman Walter de Gregorio denied Blatter was in any way involved with either investigation and said blah, blah, blah, blah.
I shan’t wander off into the scumbag details, now. RTFA. The tale is global. Corruption, bribery, payoffs, money laundering, kickbacks and profit from all of the above fill in the broad strokes of an outline of FIFA history for the last couple of decades. Money remains the most useful tool of corruption.
I am no longer shocked. Cynicism is not a necessity, it is a result. It is derivative.
I recommend following The GUARDIAN through the coming days unraveling the corruption that is FIFA. No one in the world of journalism has struggled longer and harder to bring that sporting body to a principled change.
Two of the “3 men in a room” — NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver
One day after charging one of New York’s leading lawmakers with exploiting his office to obtain millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York delivered a stinging condemnation of the culture of corruption in Albany and said the system was set up to breed misdeeds.
The prosecutor, Preet Bharara, speaking at the New York Law School on Friday, castigated how deal-making has long been done in Albany — by “three men in a room” (the governor, the State Assembly speaker and the State Senate majority leader), who work in secret and without accountability to decide most vital issues.
For decades, state government has essentially been controlled by the three leaders. When they emerge from their private meetings, issues are usually settled, with no cause for public debate.
Mr. Bharara said this structure could lead to the kind of corruption outlined in the criminal complaint unveiled on Thursday against Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who has been the Assembly speaker for two decades.
If the charges are proved true, he said, then “at least one of the proverbial three men in a room is compromised.”
If that is the case, he said, “then how can we trust that anything that gets decided in Albany is on the level?”
By concentrating power in the hands of so few, he said, good people are discouraged from running for office because they know they will have little influence on important matters…
…Mr. Bharara compared the culture in Albany to Wall Street, where he has aggressively pursued insider trading prosecutions.
Rather than trying to work for a greater good, he said, many people focused on where the line is between legal and illegal, and then steered as close as possible to that border without crossing over.
Such a mentality, he said, is a recipe for trouble…
…He urged voters to get angry, to demand change. “My hope is that in bringing the case,” he said, “there will be reform.”
“That almost happened with the Moreland Commission,” Mr. Bharara said, referring to the anticorruption panel established by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that was looking at lawmakers’ behavior when the governor shut it down…
And that governor, Andrew Cuomo was one of those “3 men in a room”. Which just may have provided his reason for shutting down the commission investigating New York State corruption.
I doubt he counted on Preet Bharara getting a court order requiring everything from the Moreland Commission to be turned over to the US Attorney — much less carrying the investigation through to the indictment of the man who has been State Assembly speaker for more than 20 years, Sheldon Silver.
Most people associate FIFA, the organization that oversees international soccer, with the quadrennial joy of the World Cup. But as the 2014 tournament begins next week in Brazil, FIFA is plagued by levels of corruption, graft and excess that would shame Silvio Berlusconi…
FIFA was founded in 1904 in Paris as a simple rule-making committee that aimed to regulate the guidelines for a new, rapidly expanding sport when played between nations. Because it was founded in Paris, the organization took its acronym, FIFA, from the French: Fédération Internationale de Football Association. What began as an effort to make sure that practices like punching one’s opponents would not be seen as a legitimate part of the game, morphed over time into one of the most successful and disreputable organizations in the history of sports.
Under the iron-fisted leadership of Sepp Blatter, FIFA has been steeped in rotating scandals for so long, it’s difficult even to imagine its not being immersed in one public relations crisis or another. Mr. Blatter succeeded his mentor, the similarly scandal-plagued João Havelange in 1998. Under his stewardship, FIFA officials have been accused of financial mismanagement, taking bribes and projecting a level of sexism and homophobia that seems to come from another century…
FIFA is supposed to police match-fixing, yet a New York Times investigation revealed that only six people on its staff of 350 are responsible for that enforcement. It is supposed to monitor corruption, but it’s not clear it does. There have long been allegations that bribes secured the 2022 World Cup for Qatar.
The head of FIFA’s own independent governance committee (which was recently disbanded) suggested holding a new vote for the right to host the 2022 World Cup. And the European football federation’s representatives to FIFA have threatened to protest against Mr. Blatter when he declares his intention this week to seek yet another term as FIFA’s head…
Finally, the world is seeing FIFA for what it is: a stateless conglomerate that takes bribes while acting as a battering ram for world leaders who want to use the majesty of the World Cup to push through their development agendas at great human cost.
People don’t have to be displaced and workers don’t need to die for soccer. The World Cup can be staged in countries with existing stadiums and infrastructure. Moreover, the secret bidding process for host countries must end so that soccer isn’t abused for economic and political ends.
It is past time to abolish FIFA. It is like a gangrenous limb that requires amputation before the infection spreads and the beautiful game becomes decayed beyond all possible recognition.
Soccer is worth saving. FIFA needs to take its ball and go home.
The British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline will no longer pay doctors to promote its products and will stop tying compensation of sales representatives to the number of prescriptions doctors write, its chief executive said Monday, effectively ending two common industry practices that critics have long assailed as troublesome conflicts of interest.
The announcement appears to be a first for a major drug company — although others may be considering similar moves — and it comes at a particularly sensitive time for Glaxo. It is the subject of a bribery investigation in China, where authorities contend the company funneled illegal payments to doctors and government officials in an effort to lift drug sales…
Under the plan, which Glaxo said would be completed worldwide by 2016, the company will no longer pay health care professionals to speak on its behalf about its products or the diseases they treat “to audiences who can prescribe or influence prescribing,” it said in a statement. It will also stop providing financial support directly to doctors to attend medical conferences, a practice that is prohibited in the United States through an industry-imposed ethics code but that still occurs in other countries. In China, the authorities have said Glaxo compensated doctors for travel to conferences and lectures that never took place.
On one hand, what should we think of doctors who have been taking these bribes – for that is what they are – to influence which pharmaceuticals they prescribe?
On the other hand, perhaps we have simply come to a place and time where pharmaceutical companies are assured of a massive portion of public spending on drugs and medications by the number of politicians they own?
I can get deals on tanning beds for members of Congress, too
The former Countrywide Financial Corp., whose subprime loans helped start the nation’s foreclosure crisis, made hundreds of discount loans to buy influence with members of Congress, congressional staff, top government officials and executives of troubled mortgage giant Fannie Mae, according to a House report.
The report, obtained by The Associated Press, said the discounts — from January 1996 to June 2008 — were not only aimed at gaining influence for the company but to help mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Countrywide’s business depended largely on Fannie, which at the time was trying to fend off more government regulation but eventually had to come under government control.
Fannie Mae was responsible for purchasing a large volume of Countrywide’s subprime mortgages. Countrywide was taken over by Bank of America in January 2008, relieving the financial services industry and regulators from the messy task of cleaning up the bankruptcy of a company that was servicing 9 million U.S. home loans worth $1.5 trillion at a time when the nation faced a widening credit crisis, massive foreclosures and an economic downturn.
“Documents and testimony obtained by the committee show the VIP loan program was a tool used by Countrywide to build goodwill with lawmakers and other individuals positioned to benefit the company,” the report said…That’s Congresstalk for BRIBES!
Some of the discounts were ordered personally by former Countrywide chief executive Angelo Mozilo. Those recipients were known as “Friends of Angelo…”
Among those who received loan discounts from Countrywide, the report said, were:
—Former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.
—Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D.
—Mary Jane Collipriest, who was communications director for former Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah…
—Former Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Calif…
The report said those who received the discounts knew the loans were handled by a special VIP unit.
IMHO this still all rolls back to 1994 and Newt Gingrich’s contract on America. Since that grand election of good ol’ boys from the GOP, the value of loot floated through Congress by lobbyists and the corporate bosses they front for has increased 1000%. Republicans changed the rules. Both Republicans and Democrats hopped on the gravy train.
There’s a straight line that can be drawn from Newt’s “reforms” and Fannie Mae as an example of the corruption that spills from the garbage can labeled CONGRESS.