December 9, 2021

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Texas Vape Shop Owner Pleads Guilty to Unlawful Importation of Counterfeit Vaping Products

14 min read
<div>A Texas vape shop owner pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge relating to the importation of counterfeit vaping products, the Department of Justice announced.</div>
A Texas vape shop owner pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge relating to the importation of counterfeit vaping products, the Department of Justice announced.

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  • Government Performance Management: Key Considerations for Implementing Cross-Agency Priority Goals and Progress Addressing GAO Recommendations
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The enactment of the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) aimed to create an integrated, crosscutting federal performance planning and reporting framework. The act requires the establishment of 4-year outcome-oriented goals known as cross-agency priority (CAP) goals. CAP goals cover a limited number of mission and management areas, such as improving customer experiences with federal services. The next set of CAP goals is due no later than February 2022. GAO identified key considerations to facilitate CAP goal implementation, for example: Establish the goal: Establish a balanced set of outcome-oriented mission and management-focused goals that reflect the government's highest policy priorities. Identify goal leaders and contributors: Identify co-leaders and sub-goal leaders to facilitate leadership, continuity, and agency buy-in. Identify resources to support implementation: Dedicate resources to goal implementation, including funding, staffing, and technology. Use performance information: Focus on improving the quality and use of data to routinely assess goal progress and a shared commitment to continuous improvement. Report results: Develop communications strategies to help share success stories and outcomes of the goals. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and agencies have made notable progress in implementing 82 of 106 GAO GPRAMA-related recommendations made since 2012 (see figure). Status of GAO Recommendations Related to Implementation of the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, from Fiscal Year 2012-2021 as of July 2021 For example, OMB issued guidance to agencies to expand the use of data-driven performance reviews, and agencies took steps to report on the quality of their performance information. However, OMB and agencies have not fully implemented 24 GAO recommendations in areas such as creating an inventory of federal programs and improving the transparency of publicly reported performance information. Implementing remaining recommendations would help OMB and agencies more effectively manage performance. Why GAO Did This Study The nation faces unprecedented challenges that require the federal government to perform better, be more responsive to the American people, and achieve greater results. GPRAMA provides important tools that can help decision makers address crosscutting challenges facing the federal government. GPRAMA includes a provision for GAO to periodically report on the act's implementation. This report (1) identifies key considerations that can facilitate CAP goal implementation; and (2) assesses OMB's and agencies' progress in addressing GAO recommendations related to GPRAMA. To identify key considerations, GAO conducted focus groups with subject matter specialists with expertise in performance management and with White House Leadership Development fellows who had a role in implementing CAP goals. GAO also obtained views from OMB staff and reviewed information on OMB's role in CAP goal implementation. GAO also reviewed prior work on GPRAMA implementation. To identify progress made to address GAO recommendations, GAO reviewed actions OMB and agencies took since 2012.
    [Read More…]
  • MS-13 Member Sentenced to 35 Years’ Imprisonment for Racketeering Conspiracy and Other Violent Crimes
    In Crime News
    A Maryland man was sentenced yesterday to 35 years in prison for conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, murder and attempted murder in aid of racketeering, and other charges in connection with his La Mara Salvatrucha, aka “MS-13” gang, activities between 2015 and 2019.
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  • President of Commercial Flooring Company Pleads Guilty to Rigging Bids in Violation of Federal Antitrust Laws
    In Crime News
    Delmar E. Church Jr., the president and one of the principal owners of a Chicago-area commercial flooring company, pleaded guilty for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids and fix prices for commercial flooring services and products sold in the United States, the Department of Justice announced. The defendant is cooperating with the department’s ongoing investigation.
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Statements to the Press
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Condemning Ethiopia’s Plans to Expel UN Officials
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS and Attempting to Commit a Hate Crime
    In Crime News
    An Ohio man was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and attempting to commit a hate crime, for planning an attack on a synagogue in the Toledo, Ohio area.
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  • Terrorist Attacks in Niger
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Humanitarian and Development Assistance: Project Evaluations and Better Information Sharing Needed to Manage the Military’s Efforts
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundThe Department of Defense’s (DOD) management of its key humanitarian assistance programs reflects both positive practices and weaknesses:Alignment with strategic goals. DOD aligns its humanitarian assistance project planning with the goals outlined in U.S. and departmental strategies, and has clearly established processes for implementing its projects.Interagency project coordination. DOD has taken steps to coordinate with the Department of State (State) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on projects, such as seeking concurrence on project proposals and embedding representatives from their agencies at its combatant commands, but coordination challenges remain.Poor data management. DOD does not have complete information on the status or actual costs of the full range of its Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid (OHDACA) projects. In addition, Humanitarian and Civic Assistance project data in DOD’s database differ from what DOD reports to Congress.Limited program evaluations. From fiscal years 2005 through 2009, DOD had not completed 90 percent of the required 1-year post-project evaluations for its OHDACA projects, and about half of the required 30-day evaluations for those projects, and thus lacks information to determine projects’ effects.Limited program guidance. DOD’s primary guidance for the OHDACA humanitarian assistance program is limited, is not readily accessible to all DOD personnel, and has not been updated for several years.Furthermore, DOD, State, and USAID do not have full visibility over each others’ assistance efforts, which could result in a fragmented approach to U.S. assistance. There are several initiatives under way to improve information sharing, including one directed by the National Security Council. However, no framework, such as a common database, currently exists for the agencies to readily access information on each others’ efforts. Moreover, the potential for overlap exists among agencies’ efforts in four areas: (1) health, (2) education, (3) infrastructure, and (4) disaster preparation. For example, both USAID and DOD are conducting health care projects in Yemen and building schools in Azerbaijan. Overlap may be appropriate in some instances, especially if agencies can leverage each others’ efforts. However, given the agencies’ information-sharing challenges, there are questions as to whether DOD’s efforts are an efficient use of resources since USAID serves as the lead U.S. development agency. State and USAID officials said that DOD’s humanitarian assistance efforts can be beneficial, especially when responding to disasters or supporting foreign militaries. However, officials said DOD’s efforts can have negative political effects, particularly in fragile communities where even small gestures, such as distributing soccer balls to a particular population, can be interpreted as exhibiting favoritism. While DOD’s funding for humanitarian assistance is small relative to the billions spent by State and USAID, its programs are expanding. Given interagency information challenges, the fiscally-constrained environment, and the similarity of agencies’ assistance efforts, DOD and the other agencies involved in foreign assistance could benefit from additional direction from Congress on DOD’s role in performing humanitarian assistance in peacetime environments.Why GAO Did This StudyIn recent years, the Department of Defense (DOD) has increased its emphasis and spending on humanitarian assistance efforts outside of war and disaster environments. From fiscal years 2005 through 2010, DOD obligated about $383 million on its key humanitarian assistance programs. Because civilian agencies, such as the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also carry out many assistance efforts, DOD’s efforts require close collaboration with these agencies. This report was conducted as part of GAO’s response to a statutory mandate and reviewed (1) DOD’s management of two key humanitarian assistance programs—the humanitarian assistance program funded through its Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid (OHDACA) appropriation and its Humanitarian and Civic Assistance program—and (2) the extent to which DOD, State, and USAID have visibility over each others’ efforts. To conduct this review, GAO analyzed funding and program information, and interviewed officials at DOD, State, USAID, nongovernment organizations, and 12 U.S. embassies.
    [Read More…]
  • Russian National Extradited to United States to Face Charges for Alleged Role in Cybercriminal Organization
    In Crime News
    A Russian national, residing in the Yakutsk region of Russia and in Southeast Asia, had his initial appearance in federal court today after his extradition from the Republic of Korea to the Northern District of Ohio to face charges for his alleged role in a transnational, cybercriminal organization.
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  • Louisiana Man Indicted for Attempted Murder of a Gay Man and Plot to Kidnap and Murder Other Gay Men
    In Crime News
    A Louisiana man was indicted and charged today in federal court in the Western District of Louisiana on six counts, including hate crime, kidnapping, firearm and obstruction charges.
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  • Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with French President Macron
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Military Pay: Army National Guard Personnel Mobilized to Active Duty Experienced Significant Pay Problems
    In U.S GAO News
    In light of the recent mobilizations associated with the war on terrorism, GAO was asked to determine if controls used to pay mobilized Army Guard personnel provided assurance that such pays were accurate and timely. This testimony focuses on the pay experiences of Army Guard soldiers at selected case study units and deficiencies with respect to controls over processes, human capital, and automated systems.The existing processes and controls used to provide pay and allowances to mobilized Army Guard personnel are so cumbersome and complex that neither DOD nor, more importantly, the mobilized Army Guard soldiers could be reasonably assured of timely and accurate payroll payments. Weaknesses in these processes and controls resulted in over- and underpayments and late active duty payments and, in some cases, large erroneously assessed debts, to mobilized Army Guard personnel. The end result of these weaknesses is to severely constrain DOD's ability to provide active duty pay to these personnel, many of whom were risking their lives in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, these pay problems have had a profound impact on individual soldiers and their families and may adversely impact on decisions to stay in the Army Guard. For example, many soldiers and their families were required to spend considerable time, sometimes while the soldiers were deployed in remote, hostile environments overseas, seeking corrections to active duty pays and allowances. The pay process, involving potentially hundreds of DOD, Army, and Army Guard organizations and thousands of personnel, was not well understood or consistently applied with respect to determining (1) the actions required to make timely, accurate pays to mobilized soldiers, and (2) the organization responsible for taking the required actions. With respect to human capital, we found weaknesses including (1) insufficient resources allocated to pay processing, (2) inadequate training related to existing policies and procedures, and (3) poor customer service. Several systems issues were also significant factors impeding accurate and timely payroll payments to mobilized Army Guard soldiers, including (1) nonintegrated systems, (2) limitations in system processing capabilities, and (3) ineffective system edits.
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  • Fifth Anniversary of the Arbitral Tribunal Ruling on the South China Sea
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Justice and Interior Departments Take Next Steps in Implementation of Not Invisible Act
    In Crime News
    The Departments of Justice and the Interior today announced next steps in the implementation of the Not Invisible Act, including the publication of a solicitation for nominations of non-federal members to join a Joint Commission on reducing violent crime against American Indians and Alaska Natives to address the long-standing missing and murdered indigenous persons crisis. 
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  • The United States Urges an End to Violent Demonstrations in Honiara, Solomon Islands
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Iranian Nationals Charged with Conspiring to Evade U.S. Sanctions on Iran by Disguising $300 Million in Transactions Over Two Decades
    In Crime News
    A federal criminal complaint unsealed today charges 10 Iranian nationals with running a nearly 20-year-long scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on the Government of Iran by disguising more than $300 million worth of transactions – including the purchase of two $25 million oil tankers – on Iran’s behalf through front companies in the San Fernando Valley, Canada, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.
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  • McAllen man who threatened partner sent to prison for narcotics distribution
    In Justice News
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  • Local residents arrested in large-scale poly-drug case
    In Justice News
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  • Justice Department Invests $2.6 Million to Mitigate Violent Crime and Support Public Safety in Disruption Efforts
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced awards from the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) totaling $2.6 million to four jurisdictions to disrupt and mitigate threats of violence.  The funds support state and local prosecutors and investigators who seek expertise from mental health and threat assessment experts to identify these individuals and prevent violent acts.
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  • Military Personnel: Reserve Component Servicemembers on Average Earn More Income while Activated
    In U.S GAO News
    Since September 2001, the Department of Defense (DOD) has relied heavily on the reserve component primarily in support of ongoing contingency operations for the Global War on Terrorism, which is now known as the Overseas Contingency Operation. As of February 2009, approximately 691,000 reserve servicemembers have been activated in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, with many of these servicemembers being called for multiple deployments or extended for more than one year. This increased use of the reserve component servicemembers has led to questions by Congress about whether reserve component servicemembers might be experiencing a decline in earnings as a result of extended and frequent activations. Citing the nation's increased reliance on the reserve component, Congress mandated in 2002 that we review compensation programs available to reserve component servicemembers serving on active duty. In September 2003, we reported that DOD lacked sufficient information to determine the need for compensation programs and recommended that DOD obtain more complete information on the magnitude of income change, the causes of any such identified change, and the effect of income change on retention. The results of DOD's 2004 Status of Forces Survey of Reserve Component Members showed that about 51 percent of reserve component servicemembers responding to the survey reported that they had experienced a decline in earnings while activated. However, our 2003 report noted that survey data are questionable primarily because it is unclear what survey respondents considered as income loss or gain in determining their financial status. The Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 20056 directed DOD to conduct a survey to determine the extent to which such members sustained a reduction in monthly income during their active duty service compared to their average monthly civilian income during the 12 months preceding their mobilization. DOD was also required to include a survey question that would solicit information regarding the likely effect that a reoccurring monthly active duty income differential while serving on active duty would have on the servicemember's decision to remain in the armed forces. The Secretary was required to analyze the data and to submit a report, containing the results of the survey, results of the required analysis, and any recommendations the Secretary considered to be appropriate regarding alternatives for the restoration of any lost income.Although most reserve component servicemembers in response to surveys conducted in 2004 and 2005 reported earnings losses when activated, DOD-sponsored technical studies determined that for calendar years 2004 and 2005, on average, reserve component servicemembers earned more income while serving on active duty than they had earned as civilians before being activated. In 2008, RAND Corporation (RAND) produced its most recent technical study on the effect of activation on reserve component servicemembers' income, which compared survey responses with pay reported to the Social Security Administration and with military pay records. RAND determined that on average, reserve component servicemembers experienced a net gain of approximately $1,400 a month in 2004 and approximately $1,600 a month in 2005, after activation. However, RAND found that reserve component servicemembers in three enlisted military occupations--sonar operator, general; investigations; and military training instructor--earned less income on average after activation in 2005 than they earned before activation in 2004. Further, the study also identified 48 enlisted military occupations and 14 officer occupations for which more than 20 percent of sampled reserve component servicemembers experienced any earnings loss after activation. RAND noted that these identified occupations represented 18 percent of activated enlisted members and 31 percent of activated officers. Seniorlevel reserve component servicemembers and officials from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs told us that they concurred with RAND's findings. The studies cited underreporting of military earnings by omitting tax-free earnings as the main reason for the difference between the self-reported income amounts in survey responses and the studies' analysis of military pay and civilian earnings. Importantly, after 2005, Congress passed several pieces of legislation providing additional compensation and financial protections to deployed servicemembers, including benefits provided under the Reserve Income Replacement Program, to help alleviate income loss by reserve component servicemembers activated for frequent or extended periods. Although DOD has not yet provided its report to Congress determining whether income loss while serving on active duty has an effect on a servicemember's decision to remain in the reserve component, we found no correlation between attrition rates and income loss in the military occupations identified by RAND as having over 20 percent of reserve component servicemembers who experienced a decline in income when activated. Even though over 70 percent of reserve component servicemembers responded in the 2004 Status of Forces Survey of Reserve Component Members that both income loss and insufficient pay would be reasons to leave the service, these responses were not provided by military occupation, and subsequent Status of Forces Surveys did not include questions specifically gauging reserve component servicemembers' opinions on whether insufficient pay or income loss constituted reasons for leaving the service. DOD has not determined whether attrition can be attributed specifically to income loss. In discussions with Reserve and National Guard personnel officials, they told us that reserve component servicemembers leave the service for many reasons other than income loss, such as length of deployment, frequency of deployment, and degree of support from employers and family members.
    [Read More…]

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