January 25, 2022

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Justice Department Settles with Construction Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims

9 min read
<div>The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Priority Construction Corporation, located in Baltimore, Maryland.</div>
The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Priority Construction Corporation, located in Baltimore, Maryland.

More from: October 27, 2021

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  • Federal Court Enjoins Maryland Physician Assistant from Prescribing Opioids and Other Controlled Substances
    In Crime News
    A federal court in Maryland permanently enjoined a Baltimore-based physician assistant from prescribing opioids and other controlled substances, the Department of Justice announced today.
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  • Man Charged with Attempting to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization
    In Crime News
    A Washington man was arrested on Friday, May 28, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on criminal charges related to his alleged efforts to join Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization, in order to engage in violent acts of terrorism in the Middle East or the United States.
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  • Jersey/Swiss Financial Services Firm Admits to Conspiring with U.S. Taxpayers to Hide Assets and Income in Offshore Accounts
    In Crime News
    Strachans SA in Liquidation pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring with U.S. taxpayers and others to hide income and assets in offshore entities and bank accounts from the IRS, and was sentenced in accordance with the guilty plea, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna, and Chief James Lee of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
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  • Leader of Money Laundering Network Responsible for Laundering Millions of Dollars in Drug Proceeds Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison
    In Crime News
    The leader of a money laundering network was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for laundering tens of millions of dollars in drug proceeds on behalf of foreign drug trafficking organizations.
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  • Chief Financial Officer for Oklahoma Business Found Guilty of Employment Tax Fraud
    In Crime News
    A federal jury convicted a North Carolina woman on Oct. 22 of employment tax fraud.
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  • South Carolina Man Sentenced for Making a Bomb Threat to a Clinic and Lying to the FBI
    In Crime News
    Rodney Allen, 43, of Beaufort, South Carolina, was sentenced today in federal court in Jacksonville, Florida, to 24 months in prison. Allen previously pleaded guilty to one count of intimidating and interfering with the employees of an abortion clinic by making a bomb threat and one count of making false statements to a Special Agent with the FBI.
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  • Defense Department Linguist Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison for Transmitting Highly Sensitive Classified National Defense Information to Aid a Foreign Government
    In Crime News
    Mariam Taha Thompson, 62, formerly of Rochester, Minnesota, was sentenced today to 23 years in prison for delivering classified national defense information to aid a foreign government. As part of her March 26 guilty plea, Thompson admitted that she believed that the classified national defense information that she was passing to a Lebanese national would be provided to Lebanese Hezbollah, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
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  • Senior Bureau Official Nancy Izzo Jackson Travels to Amman, Jordan
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  • Secretary Blinken to Deliver a Foreign Policy Speech
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  • Texas Plastics Corporation Will Pay Nearly $3 Million for Violating Clean Air Act
    In Crime News
    Formosa Plastics Corporation, Texas, has agreed to pay $2.85 million in civil penalties and to improve its risk management program to resolve alleged violations of the Chemical Accident Prevention Provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at its petrochemical manufacturing plant in Point Comfort, Texas.
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  • Immigration Detention: ICE Should Enhance Its Use of Facility Oversight Data and Management of Detainee Complaints
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other DHS entities use, in part, inspections to oversee detention facilities and address identified deficiencies. As shown below, in fiscal year 2019, most of ICE's 179 facilities that housed adults for over 72 hours underwent inspections by contractors or its Office of Detention Oversight, while smaller facilities conducted self-assessments. ICE also conducted onsite monitoring at facilities. Further, two DHS offices conducted inspections related to certain aspects of facilities. ICE collects the results of its various inspections, such as deficiencies they identify, but does not comprehensively analyze them to identify trends or record all inspection results in a format conducive to such analyses. By ensuring inspection results are recorded in a format conducive to analysis and regularly conducting comprehensive analyses of results, ICE would be better positioned to identify and address potential trends in deficiencies. Detention Facility Oversight by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Entities at 179 Facilities, Fiscal Year 2019 ICE and DHS entities have various mechanisms for receiving and addressing detention-related complaints from detainees and others. However, while some of these entities conduct some analyses of the complaint data they maintain, ICE does not regularly analyze detention-related complaint data across all of its relevant offices. By regularly conducting such analyses, ICE could identify and address potential trends in complaints. Additionally, ICE does not have reasonable assurance that Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) field offices—which oversee and manage detention facilities—address and record outcomes of detention-related complaints referred to them for resolution, or do so in a timely manner. For example, GAO's analysis of data from one referring office—the Administrative Inquiry Unit—indicated that for certain noncriminal complaints the unit refers, ERO field offices did not provide resolutions back to the unit for 99 percent of referrals. Without requiring that ERO field offices record any actions taken on, and the resolutions of, detention-related complaints, ICE does not have reasonable assurance that field offices are addressing them. ICE is the lead agency responsible for providing safe, secure, and humane confinement for detained foreign nationals in the United States. ICE has established standards for immigration detention related to complaint processes, medical care, and other areas. The joint explanatory statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, includes a provision for GAO to review ICE's management and oversight of detention facilities and detention-related complaints. This report examines ICE and other DHS entities' mechanisms for (1) overseeing compliance with immigration detention facility standards and how ICE uses oversight information to address any identified deficiencies; and (2) receiving and addressing detainee complaints, and how ICE uses complaint information. GAO analyzed documentation and data on inspections and complaints at facilities that held detainees for over 72 hours during the last 3 fiscal years—2017 through 2019; visited 10 facilities selected based on inspection results and other factors; and interviewed officials. GAO is making six recommendations, including that ICE ensures oversight data are recorded in a format conducive to analysis, regularly conducts trend analyses of oversight data and detention-related complaint data, and requires that ERO field offices record the resolutions of detention-related complaints. DHS concurred. For more information, contact Rebecca Gambler, (202) 512-8777) or gamblerr@gao.gov.
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  • Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Nevada to End Discriminatory Policies Against Inmates with HIV and Inmates with Disabilities
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today reached a settlement agreement with Nevada to ensure that inmates with HIV are not illegally segregated or otherwise discriminated against on the basis of HIV status and that inmates with disabilities are provided an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) programs.
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  • Military Housing: DOD Has Taken Key Steps to Strengthen Oversight, but More Action Is Needed in Some Areas
    In U.S GAO News
    In 1996 Congress provided DOD with authorities enabling it to obtain private-sector financing and management to repair, renovate, construct, and operate military housing. DOD has since privatized about 99 percent of its domestic housing. The Department of Defense (DOD) has made progress in addressing weaknesses in its privatized housing program, and GAO has identified additional opportunities to strengthen the program. GAO reported in March 2020 on DOD's oversight and its role in the management of privatized housing. Specifically, GAO found that 1) the military departments conducted some oversight of the physical condition of privatized housing, but some efforts were limited in scope; 2) the military departments used performance metrics to monitor private developers, but the metrics did not provide meaningful information on the condition of housing; 3) the military departments and private developers collected maintenance data on homes, but these data were not captured reliably or consistently, and 4) DOD provided reports to Congress on the status of privatized housing, but some data in these reports were unreliable, leading to misleading results. GAO made 12 recommendations, including that DOD take steps to improve housing condition oversight, performance indicators, maintenance data, and resident satisfaction reporting. DOD generally concurred with the recommendations. As of February 2021, DOD fully implemented 5 recommendations and partially implemented 7 recommendations. DOD should also take action to improve the process for setting basic allowance for housing (BAH)—a key source of revenue for privatized housing projects. In January 2021, GAO reported on DOD's process to determine BAH. GAO found that DOD has not always collected rental data on the minimum number of rental units needed to estimate the total housing cost for certain locations and housing types. Until DOD develops ways to increase its sample size, it will risk providing housing cost compensation that does not accurately represent the cost of suitable housing for servicemembers. GAO recommended that DOD review its methodology to increase sample sizes. GAO has also determined, in a report to be issued this week, that DOD should improve oversight of privatized housing property insurance and natural disaster recovery. GAO assessed the extent to which the military departments and the Office of the Secretary of Defense exercise oversight of their projects' insurance coverage. GAO found that the military departments have exercised insufficient oversight, and that the Office of the Secretary of Defense has not regularly monitored the military departments' implementation of insurance requirements. Without establishing procedures for timely and documented reviews, the military departments cannot be assured that the projects are complying with insurance requirements and assuming a proper balance of risk and cost. The draft of this report, which GAO provided to DOD for official comment, included 9 recommendations, 2 of which DOD addressed in January 2021 by issuing policy updates. The final report's 7 remaining recommendations, including that the military departments update their respective insurance review oversight procedures, will help strengthen DOD's oversight of privatized housing, once implemented. DOD concurred with all of the recommendations. Congress enacted the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) in 1996 to improve the quality of housing for servicemembers. DOD is responsible for general oversight of privatized housing projects. Private-sector developers are responsible for the ownership, construction, renovation, maintenance, and repair of about 99 percent of military housing in the United States. GAO has conducted a series of reviews of MHPI, following reports of hazards (such as mold) in homes, questions about DOD's process to determine the basic allowance for housing rates, which is a key revenue source for privatized housing, and concerns about how DOD ensures appropriate property insurance for privatized housing projects impacted by severe weather. This statement summarizes 1) steps DOD has taken to strengthen oversight and management of its privatized housing program, and work remaining; 2) actions needed to improve DOD's BAH process; and 3) actions needed to enhance DOD's oversight of privatized housing property insurance. The statement summarizes two of GAO's prior reports, and a report to be issued, related to privatized housing. For this statement, GAO reviewed prior reports, collected information on recommendation implementation, and interviewed DOD officials. In prior reports, GAO recommended that DOD improve oversight of housing conditions; review its process for determining basic allowance for housing rates; and that the military departments update their housing insurance review oversight procedures. For more information, contact Elizabeth A. Field at (202) 512-2775 or fielde1@gao.gov.
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  • Designation of Former Prosecutor General Dobroslav Trnka of the Slovak Republic for Involvement in Significant Corruption
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  • Tennessee Man Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violations for Series of Church Arsons
    In Crime News
    A Tennessee man pleaded guilty today to civil rights violations for a series of church arsons.
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  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Peruvian Foreign Minister Wagner
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  • Follow-up on 2011 Report: Status of Actions Taken to Reduce Duplication, Overlap, and Fragmentation, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found GAO’s specific assessment of progress as of February 10, 2012, showed that 4 (or 5 percent) of the 81 areas GAO identified were addressed; 60 (or 74 percent) were partially addressed; and 17 (or 21 percent) were not addressed. Enclosure I presents GAO’s assessment of the overall progress made in each area. GAO applied the following criteria in making these overall assessments for the 81 areas. We determined that an area was: “addressed” if all actions needed in that area were addressed; “partially addressed” if at least one action needed in that area showed some progress toward implementation, but not all actions were addressed; and “not addressed” if none of the actions needed in that area were addressed. As of February 10, 2012, the majority of 176 actions needed within the 81 areas identified by GAO have been partially addressed. Specifically, 23 (or 13 percent) were addressed; 99 (or 56 percent) were partially addressed; 54 (or 31 percent) were not addressed. Streamlining federal efforts, reducing government costs, and enhancing revenue collections can offer financial and other benefits. Today, and concurrently with this report, GAO issued its second annual report to Congress in response to the statutory requirement that GAO identify federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives with duplicative goals or activities. That report identifies 51 additional issue areas and numerous actions within those issue areas that, if implemented, may further improve programs’ effectiveness and efficiency, achieve cost savings, and enhance revenues. Opportunities exist for the Congress and federal agencies to continue to address the identified actions needed in our March 2011 and February 2012 reports. Collectively, these reports show that, if the actions are implemented, the government could save tens of billions of dollars annually. A number of the issues are difficult to address and implementing many of the actions identified will take time and sustained leadership. Why GAO Did This Study In March 2011, GAO issued its first annual report to the Congress on potential duplication, overlap, and fragmentation in the federal government. The report also identified opportunities to achieve cost savings and enhance revenues. We identified 81 areas—which span a wide range of government missions—with a total of 176 actions that the Congress and the executive branch could take to reduce or eliminate unnecessary duplication, overlap, and fragmentation or achieve other potential financial benefits. We also presented areas where programs may be able to achieve greater efficiencies or become more effective in providing government services. In many areas, we suggested actions— identifying some new options, as well as underscoring numerous existing GAO recommendations—that policymakers could consider. This status report provides an overall assessment of progress in implementing actions for the 81 areas, as well as an assessment of each of the 176 suggested actions. As of February 10, 2012, the Congress and the executive branch had made some progress in addressing the majority of the 81 areas that we identified, including the implementation of all actions in 4 areas; however, additional steps are needed to fully implement the remaining actions to achieve associated benefits. GAO suggested a wide range of actions for the Congress and the executive branch to consider, such as developing strategies to better coordinate fragmented efforts, implementing executive initiatives to improve oversight and evaluation of overlapping programs, considering enactment of legislation to facilitate revenue collection, and examining opportunities to eliminate potential duplication through streamlining, collocating, or consolidating program efforts or administrative services. For more information, contact Janet St. Laurent at (202) 512-4300, or stlaurentj@gao.gov and Zina Merritt, at (202) 512-4300 or merrittz@gao.gov.
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  • Rebuilding Iraq: Reconstruction Progress Hindered by Contracting, Security, and Capacity Challenges
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (DOD) has relied extensively on contractors to undertake major reconstruction projects and provide support to its deployed forces, but these efforts have not always achieved desired outcomes. Further, the Iraqi government must be able to reduce violence, sustain reconstruction progress, improve basic services, and make a positive difference in the daily lives of the Iraqi people. This statement discusses (1) factors affecting DOD's ability to promote successful acquisition outcomes on its contracts for reconstruction and for support to deployed forces in Iraq, (2) the deteriorating security situation and the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces, and (3) issues affecting the Iraqi government's ability to support and sustain future reconstruction progress. The testimony is based upon our work on Iraq reconstruction and stabilization efforts, DOD contracting activities, and DOD's use of support contractors spanning several years. This work was conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.The challenges faced by DOD on its reconstruction and support contracts often reflect systemic and long-standing shortcomings in DOD's capacity to manage contractor efforts. Such shortcomings result from poorly defined or changing requirements, the use of poor business arrangements, the absence of senior leadership and guidance, and an insufficient number of trained contracting, acquisition and other personnel to manage, assess and oversee contractor performance. In turn, these shortcomings manifest themselves in higher costs to taxpayers, schedule delays, unmet objectives, and other undesirable outcomes. For example, because DOD authorized contractors to begin work before reaching agreement on the scope and price of that work, DOD paid millions of dollars in costs that were questioned by the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Similarly, DOD lacks visibility on the extent to which they rely on contractors to support their operations. When senior military leaders began to develop a base consolidation plan, officials were unable to determine how many contractors were deployed and therefore ran the risk of over- or under-building the capacity of the consolidated bases. U.S. reconstruction efforts also continue to be hampered by a security situation that continues to deteriorate. Although the number of trained and equipped Iraqi security forces increased to about 323,000 in December 2006 and more Iraqi Army units have taken the lead for counterinsurgency operations, attacks on coalition and Iraqi security forces and civilians have all increased. Aggregate numbers of trained and equipped Iraqi forces, however, do not provide information on the capabilities and needs of individual units. GAO has made repeated attempts to obtain unit-level Transition Readiness Assessments (TRAs) without success. This information is essential for the Congress to make fully informed decisions in connection with its authorization, appropriations, and oversight responsibilities. As the U.S. attempts to turn over its reconstruction efforts, the capacity of the Iraqi government to continue overall reconstruction progress is undermined by shortfalls in the capacity of the Iraqi ministries, widespread corruption and the inability to fund and execute projects for which funds were previously budgeted. Iraqi government institutions are undeveloped and confront significant challenges in staffing a competent, nonaligned civil service; using modern technology; and managing resources and personnel effectively. For example, according to U.S. officials 20 to 30 percent of the Ministry of Interior staff are "ghost employees" whose salaries are collected by other officials. Further, corruption in Iraq poses a major challenge to building an effective Iraqi government and could jeopardize future flows of needed international assistance. Unclear budgeting and procurement rules have affected Iraq's efforts to spend capital budgets effectively and efficiently, according to U.S. officials. At the Ministry of Oil, for example, less than 1 percent of the $3.5 billion budgeted in 2006 for key enhancements to the country's oil production, distribution, and export facilities, had been spent as of August 2006.
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  • Justice Department Settles with Florida’s Volusia County School District to Protect Students with Disabilities from Classroom Removals and Other Discrimination
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today a settlement agreement with Florida’s Volusia County School District (VCS) to address the district’s systemic and discriminatory practices that punish students with disabilities for their disability-related behavior and deny them equal access to VCS’s programs and services.
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