January 27, 2022

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RGV attorney admits to detainee list bribery scheme

26 min read
A 40-year-old Weslaco attorney has entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery of a public official

Read full article at: https://www.justice.gov April 27, 2021

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    In U.S GAO News
    The finances of servicemembers and their families have been an ongoing concern of Congress and the Department of Defense (DOD), especially in light of more frequent deployments to support conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Adverse effects that may result when servicemembers experience financial problems include loss of security clearances, criminal or nonjudicial sanctions, adverse personnel actions, or adverse impacts on unit readiness. To decrease the likelihood that servicemembers will experience financial problems, DOD has requested and Congress has granted annual increases in military basic pay for all active duty servicemembers and increases in special pays and allowances for deployed servicemembers. The military has also developed personal financial management (PFM) programs to help avoid or mitigate adverse effects associated with personal financial problems. However, studies published in 2002 showed that servicemembers continue to report financial problems. This testimony provides a summary of GAO's prior work examining (1) the extent to which deployments have affected the financial conditions of active duty servicemembers and their families, and (2) steps that DOD has taken to assist servicemembers with their financial needs.DOD data suggests that deployment status does not affect the financial condition of active duty servicemembers, although some deployed servicemembers faced certain problems. Data from a 2003 DOD-wide survey suggests that servicemembers who were deployed for at least 30 days reported similar levels of financial health or problems as those who had not deployed. For example, of junior enlisted personnel, 3 percent of the deployed group and 2 percent of the nondeployed group indicated that they were in "over their heads" financially; and 13 percent of the deployed group and 15 percent of the nondeployed group responded that they found it "tough to make ends meet but keeping your head above water" financially. However, problems receiving family separation allowance and communicating with creditors may result in financial difficulties for some deployed servicemembers. Based on DOD pay data for January 2005, almost 6,000 of 71,000 deployed servicemembers who had dependents did not obtain their family separation allowance in a timely manner. Furthermore, problems communicating with creditors--caused by limited Internet access, few telephones and high fees, and delays in receiving ground mail--can affect deployed servicemembers' abilities to resolve financial issues. Additionally, some financial products marketed to servicemembers may negatively affect their financial condition. DOD has taken a number of steps to assist servicemembers with their financial needs, although some of this assistance has been underutilized. These steps include PFM training for servicemembers, which is required by all four military services. DOD also provides free legal assistance on purchase contracts for large items and other financial documents. However, according to the attorneys and other personnel, servicemembers do not make full use of available legal services because they may not take the time to visit the attorney's office or they fear information about a financial problem would get back to the command and limit their career progression. In addition, each service has a relief or aid society designed to provide financial assistance through counseling and education as well as financial relief through grants or no-interest loans. Some servicemembers in our focus groups stated that they would not use relief from a service society because they take too long, are intrusive, require too much in-depth financial information, or may be career limiting if the command found out. Servicemembers may use non-DOD resources if they do not want the command to be aware of their financial conditions or they need products or support not offered through DOD, the services, or the installation. Although DOD has taken these steps to assist servicemembers with their financial needs, it does not have the results-oriented departmentwide data needed to assess the effectiveness of its PFM programs and provide necessary oversight. Without an oversight framework requiring evaluation and a reporting relationship between DOD and the services, DOD and Congress do not have the visibility or oversight needed to assess the effectiveness of DOD's financial management training and assistance to servicemembers.
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    In Crime News
    Two providers of foreign-language services, Comprehensive Language Center Inc. (CLCI), based in the Washington, D.C., area, and Berlitz Languages Inc. (Berlitz), based in New Jersey, were charged with participating in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing, obstructing, and defeating competitive bidding for a multi-million dollar foreign-language training contract issued by the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2017, the Department of Justice announced today. 
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    In Crime News
    The wife of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, leader of the Mexican drug trafficking organization known as the Sinaloa Cartel, pleaded guilty today to charges related to international drug trafficking, money laundering, and a criminal violation of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (the Kingpin Act). 
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  • Missile Defense: Fiscal Year 2020 Delivery and Testing Progressed, but Annual Goals Unmet
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In fiscal year 2020, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) made progress toward achieving its delivery and testing goals for some of the individual systems—known as elements—that combine and integrate to create the Missile Defense System (also known as the Ballistic Missile Defense System). However, MDA did not complete its overall planned deliveries or annual testing. The figure below shows MDA's progress delivering assets and conducting flight tests against its fiscal year 2020 plans. Percentage of Missile Defense Agency Planned Deliveries and Flight Tests Completed for Fiscal Year 2020 Deliveries— In fiscal year 2020, MDA delivered many assets it had planned. Specifically, MDA was able to deliver 82 missile interceptors for 3 elements. However, MDA was not able to deliver all planned interceptors, including one originally planned for 2018 for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program, as the program experienced delays related to qualifying parts from a new supplier. Flight testing— MDA conducted two planned flight tests, but neither was successful. The issues were due to problems with non-MDA assets, but the agency was able to collect important data. In addition, COVID-19 restrictions also affected the planned schedule. However, the delays continue a trend of MDA's inability to conduct planned annual flight testing, resulting in assets and capabilities that are subsequently delayed or delivered with less data than planned. Ground testing— In fiscal year 2020, MDA continued to implement a new ground testing approach that the agency began in fiscal year 2019. In addition, MDA successfully completed three planned ground tests demonstrating defense capabilities for the U.S., U.S. forces and regional allies. However, MDA delayed two other ground tests to future fiscal years and expects disruptions in fiscal year 2021, in part due to ongoing COVID-19 disruptions. Cyber— Despite failing to meet annual operational cybersecurity assessments since 2017, MDA canceled its planned fiscal year 2020 operational assessments, instead taking steps to implement a new approach designed to improve cyber system requirements while streamlining cyber test planning. It is premature to assess whether this new approach will achieve its intended goals. Why GAO Did This Study For over half a century, the Department of Defense has funded efforts to defend the U.S. from ballistic missile attacks. This effort consists of diverse and highly complex land-, sea-, and space-based systems and assets located across the globe. From 2002 through 2019, MDA—the agency charged with developing, testing, integrating, and fielding this system of systems—received about $162.5 billion. The agency also requested about $45 billion from fiscal year 2020 through fiscal year 2024. In fiscal year 2020, MDA's mission broadened to include evolving threats beyond ballistic missiles such as defending against hypersonic missile attacks. With the inclusion of non-ballistic missile threats, the Ballistic Missile Defense System is in the process of transitioning to the Missile Defense System. Congress included a provision in statute that GAO annually assess and report on MDA's progress. This, our 18th annual review, addresses the progress MDA made in achieving fiscal year 2020 delivery and testing goals. GAO reviewed planned fiscal year 2020 baselines, along with program changes due to COVID-19 restrictions, and other program documentation and assessed them against responses to GAO detailed question sets and program and baseline reviews. GAO also interviewed officials from MDA and various Department of Defense Combatant Commands. We do not make any new recommendations in this report but continue to track the status of prior recommendations. For more information, contact John D. Sawyer at (202) 512-4841 or SawyerJ@gao.gov.
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