A Florida resident pleaded guilty to conspiring to falsify clinical trial data regarding an asthma medication, the Department of Justice announced today.
Lisett Raventos, 46, of Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida today to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Raventos was the site director, the director of clinical operations, and a study coordinator at a medical clinic named Unlimited Medical Research (UM Research) in Miami, Florida. In pleading guilty, Raventos admitted that from approximately 2013 to 2016, she participated in a scheme to defraud an unnamed pharmaceutical company by fabricating the data and participation of subjects in a clinical trial at UM Research. The clinical trial was designed to investigate the safety and efficacy of an asthma medication in children between the ages of four and eleven. Raventos admitted that she falsified medical records to make it appear as though pediatric subjects made scheduled visits to UM Research, took study drugs as required, and received checks as payment.
“Clinical trials help ensure that new drugs are safe and effective for the public, and this defendant undermined that process,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work hand-in-hand with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate and prosecute fraudsters who put personal profit before public health.”
“Fraud in the conduct of clinical trials is simply unacceptable, especially where the drug under investigation was meant to serve children and other vulnerable populations,” said U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida. “I thank our partners at the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, Miami Field Office, for their work in investigating this scheme.”
“Reliable clinical trial data is a foundation for FDA drug approval. Falsifying that data leaves consumers at risk of taking drugs that are neither safe nor effective,” said Special Agent in Charge Justin C. Fielder, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Miami Field Office. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who endanger the public health when they engage in conduct that might subvert the FDA approval process.”
Raventos pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom. Raventos is the first defendant to plead guilty in connection with the scheme. Three other defendants were charged along with Raventos, and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. When sentenced, Raventos faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Assistant Director Clint L. Narver and Trial Attorneys Joshua Rothman, Jocelyn Hines, and Kara M. Traster of the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch are prosecuting the case. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, Miami Field Office, investigated the case, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida has provided critical assistance.
- K-12 Education: Students’ Experiences with Bullying, Hate Speech, Hate Crimes, and Victimization in SchoolsBy Sam NewsNovember 24, 2021What GAO Found Students experience a range of hostile behaviors at schools nationwide, according to GAO's analysis of nationally generalizable surveys of students and schools. About one in five students aged 12 to 18 were bullied annually in school years 2014-15, 2016-17, and 2018-19. Of students who were bullied in school year 2018-19, about one in four students experienced bullying related to their race, national origin, religion, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. About one in four of all students aged 12 to 18 saw hate words or symbols written in their schools, such as homophobic slurs and references to lynching. Most hostile behaviors also increased in school year 2017-18, according to our analysis of the school survey. Hate crimes—which most commonly targeted students because of their race and national origin—and physical attacks with a weapon nearly doubled (see figure). Sexual assaults also increased during the same period. Hostile Behaviors in K-12 Public Schools, School Years 2015-16 to 2017-18 Nearly every school used programs or practices to address hostile behaviors, and schools' adoption of them increased from school year 2015-16 to 2017-18, according to our analysis of the school survey. About 18,000 more schools implemented social emotional learning and about 1,200 more used in-school suspensions. Additionally, 2,000 more schools used school resource officers (SRO)—career officers with the ability to arrest students—in school year 2017-18. SROs' involvement in schools, such as solving problems, also increased. The Department of Education resolved complaints of hostile behaviors faster in recent years, due in part to more complaints being dismissed and fewer complaints being filed. In the 2019-20 school year, 81 percent of such resolved complaints were dismissed, most commonly because Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) did not receive consent to disclose the complainant's identity to those they filed the complaint against. Complaints of hostile behaviors filed with OCR declined by 9 percent and 15 percent, respectively, in school years 2018-19 and 2019-20. Civil rights experts GAO interviewed said that in recent years they became reluctant to file complaints on students' behalf because they lost confidence in OCR's ability to address civil rights violations in schools. The experts cited, in part, Education's rescission of guidance to schools that clarified civil rights protections, such as those for transgender students. Since 2021, Education has started reviewing or has reinterpreted some of this guidance. Why GAO Did This Study Hostile behaviors, including bullying, harassment, hate speech and hate crimes, or other types of victimization like sexual assault and rape, in schools can negatively affect K-12 students' short- and long-term mental health, education, income, and overall well-being. According to Education's guidance, incidents of harassment or hate, when motivated by race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), or disability status can impede access to an equal education. In certain circumstances, these kinds of incidents may violate certain federal civil rights laws, which Education's OCR is tasked with enforcing in K-12 schools. GAO was asked to review hostile behaviors in K-12 schools. This report examines (1) the prevalence and nature of hostile behaviors in K-12 public schools; (2) the presence of K-12 school programs and practices to address hostile behaviors; and (3) how Education has addressed complaints related to these issues in school years 2010-11 through 2019-20. GAO conducted descriptive and regression analyses on the most recent available data for two nationally generalizable federal surveys: a survey of 12- to 18-year-old students for school years 2014-15, 2016-17, and 2018-19, and a survey of schools for school years 2015-16 and 2017-18. GAO also analyzed 10 years of civil rights complaints filed with OCR against schools; reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and documents; and interviewed relevant federal and national education and civil rights organization officials. GAO incorporated technical comments from Education as appropriate. For more information, contact Jacqueline M. Nowicki at (617) 788-0580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Justice Department Settles with Delivery Services Company to Resolve Retaliation ClaimBy Sam NewsJuly 15, 2021The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Around the Clock Dispatch Inc., a freight and delivery services company in Queens Village, New York.[Read More…]
- Couple Pleads Guilty to $1.1 Million COVID-Relief Fraud After Falsely Claiming to Be FarmersBy Sam NewsMarch 8, 2021A Florida couple pleaded guilty for their participation in a scheme to file four fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $1.1 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.[Read More…]
- Former Construction Company Owner Indicted for Defrauding Federal Program Intended for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small BusinessesBy Sam NewsMarch 17, 2021Today, a federal grand jury in San Antonio, Texas, returned an indictment charging the former owner of several companies in the construction industry for his role in a long-running scheme to defraud the United States.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Before Their MeetingBy Sam NewsSeptember 9, 2021
- Readout from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s Meeting on the One Year Anniversary of the January 6th Attack on the CapitolBy Sam NewsJanuary 6, 2022This morning, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland met with many of the Department of Justice employees who are assigned to the January 6th investigation[Read More…]
- Public Schedule – July 30, 2021By Sam NewsJuly 31, 2021Office of the [Read More…]
- Global War on Terrorism: Reported Obligations for the Department of DefenseBy Sam NewsAugust 24, 2021Since 2001, Congress has provided the Department of Defense (DOD) with hundreds of billions of dollars in supplemental and annual appropriations for military operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). DOD's reported annual obligations for GWOT have shown a steady increase from about $0.2 billion in fiscal year 2001 to about $139.8 billion in fiscal year 2007. To continue GWOT operations, the President requested $189.3 billion in appropriations for DOD in fiscal year 2008. Through December 2007, Congress has provided DOD with about $86.8 billion of this request, including $16.8 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. As of February 2008, Congress has not taken action on the remaining $102.5 billion. The United States' commitments to GWOT will likely involve the continued investment of significant resources, requiring decision makers to consider difficult trade-offs as the nation faces an increasing long-range fiscal challenge. The magnitude of future costs will depend on several direct and indirect cost variables and, in some cases, decisions that have not yet been made. DOD's future costs will likely be affected by the pace and duration of operations, the types of facilities needed to support troops overseas, redeployment plans, and the amount of equipment to be repaired or replaced. DOD compiles and reports monthly and cumulative incremental obligations incurred to support GWOT in a monthly Supplemental and Cost of War Execution Report. DOD leadership uses this report, along with other information, to advise Congress on the costs of the war and to formulate future GWOT budget requests. DOD reports these obligations by appropriation, contingency operation, and military service or defense agency. The monthly cost reports are typically compiled within the 45 days after the end of the reporting month in which the obligations are incurred. DOD has prepared monthly reports on the obligations incurred for its involvement in GWOT since fiscal year 2001. Section 1221 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 requires GAO to submit quarterly updates to Congress on the costs of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom based on DOD's monthly Supplemental and Cost of War Execution Reports. This report, which responds to this requirement, contains our analysis of DOD's reported obligations for military operations in support of GWOT through December 2007. Specifically, we assessed (1) DOD's cumulative appropriations and reported obligations for military operations in support of GWOT and (2) DOD's fiscal year 2008 reported obligations through December 2007, the latest data available for GWOT by military service and appropriation account.From fiscal year 2001 through December 2007, Congress has provided DOD with about $635.9 billion for its efforts in support of GWOT. DOD has reported obligations of about $527 billion for military operations in support of the war from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2007 and for fiscal year 2008 through December 2007. The $108.9 billion difference between DOD's GWOT appropriations and reported obligations can generally be attributed to certain fiscal year 2008 appropriations and multiyear funding for procurement; military construction; and research, development, test, and evaluation from previous GWOT-related appropriations that have yet to be obligated, and obligations for classified and other activities, which are not reported in DOD's cost-of-war reports. Of DOD's total cumulative reported obligations for GWOT through December 2007 (about $527 billion), about $406.2 billion is for operations in and around Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and about $92.9 billion is for operations in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, the Philippines, and elsewhere as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The remaining about $28 billion is for operations in defense of the homeland as part of Operation Noble Eagle. DOD's reported obligations for Operation Iraqi Freedom have consistently increased each fiscal year since operations began. The increases in reported obligations for Operation Iraqi Freedom are in part because of continued costs for military personnel, such as military pay and allowances for mobilized reservists, and for rising operation and maintenance expenses, such as higher contract costs for housing, food, and services and higher fuel costs. In contrast, DOD's reported obligations for Operation Noble Eagle have consistently decreased since fiscal year 2003, largely because of the completion of repairs to the Pentagon and upgrades in security at military installations that were onetime costs, as well as a reduction in combat air patrols and in the number of reserve personnel guarding government installations. In fiscal year 2008, through December 2007, DOD's total reported obligations of about $34.8 billion are about one quarter of the total amount of obligations it reported for all of fiscal year 2007. Reported obligations for Operation Iraqi Freedom continue to account for the largest portion of total reported GWOT obligations by operation--about $28.1 billion. In contrast, reported obligations associated with Operation Enduring Freedom total about $6.6 billion, and reported obligations associated with Operation Noble Eagle total about $49.6 million. The Army accounts for the largest portion of reported obligations for fiscal year 2008 through December 2007--about $27.2 billion, nearly 11 times higher than the almost $2.5 billion in obligations reported for the Air Force, the military service with the next greatest reported amount. Reported obligations for procurement account for about 27 percent of reported obligations, or about $9.4 billion. Of the $43.6 billion provided to DOD for procurement in fiscal year 2007, approximately 21 percent, or $9.1 billion, has yet to be obligated and remains available in fiscal year 2008.[Read More…]
- GSA Online Marketplaces: Plans to Measure Progress and Monitor Data Protection Efforts Need Further DevelopmentBy Sam NewsSeptember 28, 2021What GAO Found The General Services Administration (GSA) is testing the concept of using online marketplaces where purchase card holders at federal agencies can easily buy commercially available products. In June 2020, GSA awarded contracts to three platform providers in what it calls the commercial platforms program. Through the program, 13 participating federal agencies can purchase products up to the micro-purchase threshold (generally $10,000). The three platforms vary, but all have characteristics that serve the needs of government purchase card holders. See table. Selected Online Platform Characteristics Platform characteristic Amazon Business Fisher Scientific Company L.L.C. Overstock Government Tailored commercial site for government platform No Yes Yes Promotes own products Yes Yes No Ability to restrict sale of prohibited products/suppliersa Yes Yes Yes Ability to designate preferred products/suppliersa Yes Yes Yes Source: GAO analysis of platform providers' information. | GAO-21-104572 aSuspended or debarred contractors are examples of prohibited suppliers. Preferred products or suppliers include environmentally sustainable products or small businesses. GSA has established initial metrics for measuring program implementation, but it has not yet created a comprehensive plan with goals or clear time frames for assessing program progress. For example, GSA stated that it will track how sales are distributed across the three platforms, but it has not identified a goal of what percentage of sales across them is appropriate or the time frame to achieve that goal. As the program progresses, GSA can start to change its focus from testing the commercial platforms program concept to measuring progress. Establishing a comprehensive plan that outlines goals and time frames for each metric will better position GSA to measure if the program is being implemented successfully or if the program needs changes before it is ultimately expanded government-wide, as is the current plan. GSA developed a plan to oversee each platform provider's compliance with requirements to protect government and supplier data. But it did not address some areas of compliance, and some actions within the plan may not effectively prevent unauthorized activity. For example, the data protection requirement prohibits providers from using third-party supplier data for pricing, marketing, or other activities. GSA's monitoring plan states that it will track sales of products supplied by the providers and compare them to products from third-party suppliers. However, this approach does not clearly demonstrate whether a provider violated the data protection requirement. By including specific actions, such as regular reviews of providers' policies in its monitoring plan, GSA will be better positioned to ensure that providers comply with the requirements to protect supplier or government data from unauthorized use. Why GAO Did This Study In fiscal year 2018, Congress directed GSA and the Office of Management and Budget to establish and implement a program for agencies to buy products through online marketplaces to, among other things, enhance competition and expedite the procurement process for certain commercial products. It also directed GSA to include in related contracts certain requirements to protect government and supplier data from unauthorized disclosure and use. A House report accompanying the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 included a provision for GAO to review GSA's ability to monitor providers' compliance with data protection requirements. This report examines GSA's implementation of the commercial platforms program, the extent to which GSA is measuring program progress, and GSA's oversight of platform providers' efforts to protect data from unauthorized disclosure and use. GAO reviewed GSA's program guidance, and the three commercial platform providers' contracts, policies, and practices. GAO also reviewed GSA's plan for measuring metrics and oversight and interviewed GSA officials and platform representatives about data protection and monitoring policies and practices.[Read More…]
- K-12 Education: School Districts Need Better Information to Help Improve Access for People with DisabilitiesBy Sam NewsJuly 30, 2020Two-thirds of U.S. public school districts have schools with physical barriers that may limit access for people with disabilities, according to GAO's survey of district officials. Barriers, such as a lack of accessible door hardware and steep ramps, can make it challenging for students, teachers, and others with disabilities to use public school facilities (see fig.). In 55 schools across six states, the most common areas with barriers GAO observed were restrooms, interior doorways, and classrooms. GAO also observed barriers related to safety and security. For example, for security, some schools had installed double-door vestibules with limited maneuvering space that could trap people who use wheelchairs. Examples of Doorway and Auditorium Barriers GAO Observed in Schools Note: Barriers presented in this figure potentially limit physical access for people with disabilities, but taken alone, would not necessarily establish whether a legal violation has occurred. An estimated 70 percent of districts had large-scale renovations, small-scale upgrades, or accessibility evaluations planned in the next 3 calendar years, but frequently cited funding constraints as a challenge to these efforts. Districts also identified the need to prioritize projects that keep buildings operational, such as roofing and heating projects. In addition, GAO's survey, observations during site visits, and interviews with national disability groups revealed a tension between making safety and security upgrades and improving physical accessibility. The Department of Justice (Justice) has not provided technical assistance on physical accessibility in schools, and GAO's surveys indicate such help is needed. Justice has authority to provide information on interpreting the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), including for public schools, and it has provided technical assistance regarding other public facilities, such as stadiums. In addition, Justice, along with the Department of Education (Education) and other federal agencies, recently launched a new website on school safety, but it does not include specific information on how to improve accessibility of public school facilities or provide information on ADA requirements in the context of school safety upgrades. Without such information, federal agencies may miss opportunities to help ensure that people with disabilities have safe and secure access to public school facilities. National reports have raised concerns about the physical accessibility of public school facilities for people with disabilities. These facilities serve important roles as schools, voting locations, and emergency shelters, among other things. GAO was asked to examine the physical accessibility of public school facilities. This report examines the extent to which (1) school districts have school facilities with physical barriers that may limit access for people with disabilities, (2) districts plan to improve the accessibility of school facilities and the challenges they face, and (3) Justice and Education assist districts and states in improving school facilities' physical accessibility. GAO conducted a nationally representative survey of school districts; surveyed states and the District of Columbia; examined 55 schools across six states, selected for variation in size and other characteristics; reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and guidance; and interviewed federal, state, and school district officials, and national disability groups. GAO recommends that Justice work with Education to (1) provide information specific to accessibility of public school facilities and (2) provide information on federal accessibility requirements in the context of public school safety and security. Justice neither agreed nor disagreed with GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact Jacqueline M. Nowicki at (617) 788-0580 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Border Security: Observations on Costs, Benefits, and Challenges of a Department of Defense Role in Helping to Secure the Southwest Land BorderBy Sam NewsAugust 31, 2021What GAO FoundThe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 mandated that GAO examine the costs and benefits of an increased Department of Defense (DOD) role to help secure the southwest land border. This mandate directed that GAO report on, among other things, the potential deployment of additional units, increased use of ground-based mobile surveillance systems, use of mobile patrols by military personnel, and an increased deployment of unmanned aerial systems and manned aircraft in national airspace. In September 2011, GAO reported that DOD estimated a total cost of about $1.35 billion for two separate border operationsOperation Jump Start and Operation Phalanxconducted by National Guard forces in Title 32 status from June 2006 to July 2008 and from June 2010 through September 30, 2011, respectively. Further, DOD estimated that it has cost about $10 million each year since 1989 to use active duty Title 10 forces nationwide, through its Joint Task Force-North, in support of drug law enforcement agencies with some additional operational costs borne by the military services. Agency officials stated multiple benefits from DODs increased border role, such as assistance to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Border Patrol until newly hired Border Patrol agents are trained and deployed to the border; providing DOD personnel with training opportunities in a geographic environment similar to current combat theaters; contributing to apprehensions and seizures and deterring other illegal activity along the border; building relationships with law enforcement agencies; and strengthening military-to-military relationships with forces from Mexico.GAO found challenges for the National Guard and for active-duty military forces in providing support to law enforcement missions. For example, under Title 32 of the United States Code, National Guard personnel are permitted to participate in law enforcement activities; however, the Secretary of Defense has precluded National Guard forces from making arrests while performing border missions because of concerns raised about militarizing the U.S. border. As a result, all arrests and seizures at the southwest border are performed by the Border Patrol. Further, DOD officials cited restraints on the direct use of active duty forces, operating under Title 10 of the United States Code in domestic civilian law enforcement, set out in the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. In addition, GAO has reported on the varied availability of DOD units to support law enforcement missions, such as some units being regularly available while other units (e.g., ground-based surveillance teams) may be deployed abroadmaking it more difficult to fulfill law enforcement requests.Federal officials stated a number of broad issues and concerns regarding any additional DOD assistance in securing the southwest border. DOD officials expressed concerns about the absence of a comprehensive strategy for southwest border security and the resulting challenges to identify and plan a DOD role. DHS officials expressed concerns that DODs border assistance is ad hoc in that DOD has other operational requirements. DOD assists when legal authorities allow and resources are available, whereas DHS has a continuous mission to ensure border security. Further, Department of State and DOD officials expressed concerns about the perception of a militarized U.S. border with Mexico, especially when Department of State and Justice officials are helping civilian law enforcement institutions in Mexico on border issues.Why GAO Did This StudyDHS reports that the southwest border continues to be vulnerable to cross-border illegal activity, including the smuggling of humans and illegal narcotics. Several federal agencies are involved in border security efforts, including DHS, DOD, Justice, and State. In recent years, the National Guard has played a role in helping to secure the southwest land border by providing the Border Patrol with information on the identification of individuals attempting to cross the southwest land border into the United States. Generally, the National Guard can operate in three different statuses: (1) state statusstate funded under the command and control of the governor; (2) Title 32 statusfederally funded under command and control of the governor; and (3) Title 10 statusfederally funded under command and control of the Secretary of Defense.This testimony discusses (1) the costs and benefits of a DOD role to help secure the southwest land border, including the deployment of the National Guard, other DOD personnel, or additional units; (2) the challenges of a DOD role at the southwest land border; and (3) considerations of an increased DOD role to help secure the southwest land border.The information in this testimony is based on work completed in September 2011, which focused on the costs and benefits of an increased role of DOD at the southwest land border. See "Observations on the Costs and Benefits of an Increased Department of Defense Role in Helping to Secure the Southwest Land Border," GAO-11-856R (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 12, 2011).For more information, contact Brian J. Lepore at (202) 512-4523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Birta Bjornsdottir of RikisutvarpioBy Sam NewsMay 21, 2021
- Foreign Assistance: Reporting of Defense Articles and Services Provided through Drawdowns Needs to Be ImprovedBy Sam NewsAugust 23, 2021Since 1961, the President has had special statutory authority to order the "drawdown" of defense articles--such as aircraft, vehicles, various weapons, and spare parts--and services or military education and training from Department of Defense (DOD) and military service inventories and transfer them to foreign countries or international organizations. Drawdowns give the President the ability to respond to U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives, such as counternarcotics efforts, peacekeeping needs, and unforeseen military and nonmilitary emergencies, by providing military assistance without first seeking additional legislative authority or appropriations from Congress. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency's reports to Congress on the costs and delivery status of drawdowns are inaccurate and incomplete. Two principal problems contribute to the agency's inability to meet the reporting requirements. First, its information system for recording drawdown data is outmoded and difficult to use--service drawdown reports are in different formats, and any conversion errors have to be manually corrected. Second, the services do not regularly provide updates to the agency on drawdown costs and deliveries, and available information sometimes does not get into the system. Drawdowns benefit the United States and foreign recipients primarily by providing the President the flexibility to address foreign policy and national security objectives quickly. Drawdowns also allow the President to provide defense articles and services to improve foreign recipients' capability to conduct military and police missions in support of U.S. foreign policy. Other benefits cited include improved military-to-military relations between the U.S. military services and the foreign recipients and expanded markets for U.S. defense firms. According to U.S. and foreign military officials, the use of drawdowns presents some concerns. Because drawdowns are used to quickly address U.S. national interests and emergencies, the costs associated with a drawdown, such as refurbishment and transportation, are not budgeted for by the services and are not reimbursed.[Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Santi Dewi of IDN TimesBy Sam NewsDecember 16, 2021
- Office on Violence Against Women Announces Awards to 11 Indian Tribal Governments to Exercise Special Domestic Violence Criminal JurisdictionBy Sam NewsDecember 8, 2021The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) today announced awards to 11 Indian Tribal governments to support them in exercising special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction (SDVCJ). The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) recognized the authority of tribes to exercise SDVCJ over certain defendants, regardless of their Indian or non-Indian status, who commit crimes of domestic violence or dating violence or violate certain protection orders in Indian country.[Read More…]
- Opening Remarks at the Virtual Leaders Summit on ClimateBy Sam NewsApril 22, 2021
- On Today’s Terrorist Attacks in KabulBy Sam NewsAugust 28, 2021
- North Carolina Return Preparers Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud the IRSBy Sam NewsDecember 3, 2020Two Durham, North Carolina, return preparers pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin of the Middle District of North Carolina.[Read More…]
- Ohio Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist OrganizationBy Sam NewsNovember 1, 2021An Ohio man, who was scheduled to start jury trial today, pleaded guilty Friday evening to one count of attempting to provide material support – himself, as personnel – to foreign terrorist organizations, namely ISIS and ISIS Wilayat Khorasan (ISIS-K).[Read More…]
- Crumbling Foundations: Extent of Homes with Defective Concrete Is Not Fully Known and Federal Options to Aid Homeowners Are LimitedBy Sam NewsJuly 30, 2020As of December 2019, at least 1,600 homes in Connecticut had confirmed pyrrhotite but the total number of affected homes is likely higher. According to one estimate, 4,000–6,000 more homes in Connecticut could develop crumbling foundations due to pyrrhotite. Affected homeowners may face total remediation costs of $150,000 or more and drops in property values of 25 percent or more. Connecticut established funding to provide homeowners with up to $175,000 towards the cost of foundation replacement, but affected homeowners are typically responsible for about one-third of total repair costs (which can include costs for replacing driveways and porches damaged during foundation replacement). Current funding is expected to assist 1,034 homeowners. Pyrrhotite Damage to a Basement and a Home Being Repaired Due to Pyrrhotite Damage GAO found that highly affected towns lost more than $1.6 million in tax revenue in 2018 due to lost assessment value of the houses affected by pyrrhotite, but town officials told us the losses have not yet significantly affected their budgets. However, officials were concerned that pyrrhotite could have long-term effects on their towns if the number of affected homes increased or homes were not remediated. GAO also found that homes located in highly affected towns and built when pyrrhotite-containing concrete was used sold for significantly less, on average, than similar homes in less-affected towns. Stakeholders told GAO that defaults and foreclosures related to pyrrhotite have been limited to date. Some federal funds have already been used for pyrrhotite testing and GAO identified eight additional federal programs that could be used to help mitigate financial impacts on homeowners. However, most of these programs have eligibility or funding restrictions that limit their potential for this purpose. Stakeholders with whom GAO spoke suggested other federal responses—in particular, declaring pyrrhotite damage a major disaster or establishing a federally backed insurance product. However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency determined that pyrrhotite damage did not qualify as a natural catastrophe, and a federally backed insurance program may not be feasible since it would serve a small population with high expected costs. Certain homes built in northeastern Connecticut and central Massachusetts between 1983 and 2015 have concrete foundations containing the mineral pyrrhotite. Pyrrhotite expands when it is exposed to water and oxygen and, over time, concrete foundations containing pyrrhotite may crack and crumble. The Explanatory Statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 included a provision for GAO to study the financial impact of pyrrhotite. This report describes (1) what is known about the number of homes affected by pyrrhotite in the region; (2) the financial impact of pyrrhotite on homeowners; (3) the financial effects on towns, local housing markets, and the federal government; and (4) federal options to mitigate pyrrhotite's financial impact on affected homeowners. GAO analyzed data from state, local, and private entities about the extent of pyrrhotite in foundations and associated costs, and federal actions taken in response to pyrrhotite. GAO also interviewed federal, state, and local officials; homeowners; and other stakeholders such as banks and real estate agents. For more information, contact John Pendleton at (202) 512-8678 or email@example.com.[Read More…]