September 22, 2021

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Last defendant convicted in nationwide synthetic narcotics distribution

9 min read
A 47-year-old man will forfeit three real properties and pay a $5 million money judgement for running a multi-million dollar synthetic narcotics distribution network

Read full article at: https://www.justice.gov September 7, 2021

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  • Army and Marine Corps Training: Better Performance and Cost Data Needed to More Fully Assess Simulation-Based Efforts
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundOver the past several decades, the Army and Marine Corps have increased their use of simulation-based training--simulators and computer-based simulations. Historically, the aviation communities in both services have used simulators to train servicemembers in tasks such as takeoffs, and emergency procedures that could not be taught safely live. In contrast, the services' ground communities used limited simulations prior to 2000. However, advances in technology, and emerging conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to increased use of simulation-based training in the ground forces. For example, in response to increases in vehicle rollovers, both services began using simulators to train servicemembers to safely evacuate vehicles. The services are also collaborating in the development of some simulation-based training devices. For instance, according to Marine Corps officials, the service reused 87 percent of the Army's Homestation Instrumentation Training System's components in its own training system, achieving about $11 million in cost avoidance and saving an estimated 7 years in fielding time. The services are also taking steps to better integrate live and simulation-based training, developing technical capabilities to connect previously incompatible simulation-based training devices. The Army's capability is now being fielded, and the Marine Corps' is in the initial development phase.The Army and Marine Corps consider various factors in determining whether to use live or simulation-based training, but lack key performance and cost information that would enhance their ability to determine the optimal mix of training and prioritize related investments. As the services identify which requirements can be met with either live or simulation-based training or both, they consider factors such as safety and training mission. Also, they have cited numerous benefits of simulation-based training, such as improving servicemember performance in live training events, and reducing operating costs. Both services rely on subject matter experts, who develop their training programs, and after action reports from deployments and training exercises for information on how servicemembers may have benefited from simulation-based training. However, neither service has established outcome metrics to assist them in more precisely measuring the impact of using simulation-based devices to improve performance or proficiency. Leading management practices recognize that performance metrics can help agencies determine the contributions that training makes to improve results. Army and Marine Corps officials also generally consider simulation-based training to be less costly than live training and analyze some data, such as life cycle costs, when considering options to acquire a particular simulation-based training device. However, once simulation-based training devices are fielded, the services neither reevaluate cost information as they determine the mix of training nor have a methodology for determining the costs associated with simulation-based training. Federal internal control standards state that decision makers need visibility over a program's financial data to determine whether the program is meeting the agencies' goals and effectively using resources. Without better performance and cost data, the services lack the information they need to make more fully informed decisions in the future regarding the optimal mix of training and how best to target investments for simulation-based training capabilities.Why GAO Did This StudyThe Army and Marine Corps use live and simulation-based training to meet training goals and objectives. Service officials have noted benefits from the use of simulation-based training--both in terms of training effectiveness and in cost savings or cost avoidance. A House report accompanying the bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 mandated GAO to review the status of the military services' training programs. This report follows GAO's reports on the Navy and Air Force, and assesses (1) changes in the Army's and Marine Corps' use of simulation-based training, including efforts to integrate live and simulation-based training capabilities; and (2) the factors the Army and Marine Corps consider in determining whether to use live or simulation-based training, including the extent to which they consider performance and cost information. GAO focused on a broad cross-section of occupations (e.g., aviation, armor, artillery), and analyzed service training strategies and other documents; and conducted six site visits and interviewed service officials involved with training and training development for the selected occupations.
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  • California University To Pay $225,000 For Allegedly Violating Ban On Incentive Compensation
    In Crime News
    San Diego Christian College (SDCC), based in Santee, California, will pay $225,000 to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act for submitting false claims to the U.S. Department of Education in violation of the federal ban on incentive-based compensation, the Justice Department announced today.
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  • Justice Department Files Statement of Interest in Michigan Religious Schools’ Challenge to COVID-19 Closing Order
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today filed a statement of interest in federal district court in Kalamazoo, Michigan, arguing that the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution requires the state of Michigan to justify why it cannot provide exemptions to its school closing order for in-person instruction at religious high schools when it provides exemptions for trade and technical instruction in person, college sports teams, and other educational activities.
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  • Military Equipment: Observations on the Transfer of Excess Humvees to Foreign Governments
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Excess High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV)—commonly pronounced Humvees—are among thousands of items that the Department of Defense (DOD) can transfer to foreign governments at their request through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. Twenty-three countries, primarily from the Middle East and Africa, requested 16,005 Humvees for the 7-year period GAO reviewed. DOD approves such requests if it determines: excess U.S. inventory is available at the time of the request, the request aligns with U.S. foreign policy objectives, such as using the vehicles to help combat terrorism, and the U.S. industrial base will not be adversely affected by the transfer. For example, DOD approved a country's request for excess Humvees for border security, counter-smuggling, and counter-terrorism efforts. DOD approved nearly half of the total Humvees requested for fiscal years 2012 through 2018 (see figure). However, DOD has halted further approvals since the start of fiscal year 2017 due to concerns expressed by the Humvee manufacturer and language in the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (2018 NDAA) and conference report that generally says Humvees must be modernized at no cost to DOD. Humvees Approved as Grants through the Foreign Assistance Act, Compared to Total Requested (by fiscal year transfer was requested) Note: The Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act generally requires Humvees be modernized prior to transfer. GAO found that DOD considered the Humvee manufacturer's perspectives on proposed transfers and generally took steps to mitigate concerns about transfers that could siphon potential business from the manufacturer or compete with its sales efforts. Further, GAO found that generally, when the manufacturer objected to a transfer, the manufacturer withdrew its objection after receiving business opportunities to repair or upgrade vehicles for DOD or a requesting government's fleet. DOD officials also noted that most of the countries requesting Humvees through the EDA program find it cost-prohibitive to purchase new Humvees directly from the manufacturer. As a result, these countries rely on EDA Humvees to sustain their military fleets. Why GAO Did This Study DOD can declare defense equipment as excess to U.S. military needs and make it available for transfer as a grant or sale to foreign governments. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 authorizes these transfers as grants provided that they do not adversely affect the U.S. national technology and industrial base, among other things. In this regard, transfers pursuant to the Act must not limit U.S. companies' ability to sell new or used defense equipment to countries requesting the transfer. The 2018 NDAA generally requires that Humvee transfers be modernized with a new powertrain and armor prior to being transferred. The Act also generally requires GAO to report on proposed and completed Humvee transfers and the process to determine if transfers will adversely affect the industrial base. This report provides information on (1) excess Humvees requested and approved during fiscal years 2012 through 2018 and (2) how the Humvee manufacturer's perspectives on the proposed transfers have been addressed by DOD as part of the determination of any adverse industrial base effects. GAO analyzed the latest DOD data on EDA Humvee transfers from fiscal years 2012 through 2018; reviewed DOD policies, guidance, and documents to gain insight into the process for determining industrial base effects of proposed transfers; and interviewed agency officials and Humvee manufacturer representatives. For more information, contact Marie A. Mak at (202) 512-4841 or makm@gao.gov.
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  • Clinical Researchers Sentenced in Connection with Scheme to Falsify Drug Trial Data
    In Crime News
    A federal judge sentenced a Florida nurse practitioner and a Florida woman to prison terms today in connection with their participation in a conspiracy to falsify data related to clinical drug trials.
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  • Indiana Man Pleads Guilty to Lacey Act Violations
    In Crime News
    An Indiana man pleaded guilty today to three felony counts of illegally harvesting American paddlefish and its roe.
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  • Presentation of the Sherman Award to the Honorable Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg
    In Crime News
    Welcome to the Conference Center of the historic Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building. It is an honor to present the Sherman award to Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg this afternoon. We’re joined today by Judge Ginsburg’s wife Deecy and many of Judge Ginsburg’s colleagues and admirers. We’re particularly honored by the presence of Justice Gorsuch, a champion of liberty, who in his short time on the Supreme Court has reconfirmed his reputation for brilliance, clarity of thought and expression, and for holding the government to its word, whether in the statutes that it enacts or the treaties that it makes. I also welcome the distinguished guests who are with us virtually.
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  • Defense Headquarters: Guidance Needed to Transition U.S. Central Command’s Costs to the Base Budget
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found GAO analysis of U.S. Central Command's (CENTCOM) and its service component commands' data shows considerable increases in the number of authorized positions over the past decade. The Department of Defense (DOD) is planning reductions, but the extent of these reductions has not been finalized. The number of authorized military and civilian positions at CENTCOM grew about 70 percent from almost 1,590 in fiscal year 2001 to almost 2,730 in fiscal year 2013, primarily driven by increases in the number of positions within CENTCOM's intelligence directorate and its theater special operations command. However, focusing solely on trends in authorized military and civilian positions provides an incomplete picture of the personnel dedicated to CENTCOM because the command relies heavily on temporary personnel and contractors to augment its headquarters. GAO analysis of CENTCOM's data found that the command headquarters had about 550 temporary personnel, who officials stated are primarily responsible for supporting the command's operations in Afghanistan and do not fill any permanent authorized positions, and 1,100 contractor personnel in fiscal year 2013. Additionally, GAO found that authorized military and civilian positions at CENTCOM's Army and Marine Corps service component commands had also increased. In response to the Secretary of Defense's direction to reduce headquarters spending, DOD is planning to decrease personnel at CENTCOM and its service component command headquarters. For example, CENTCOM is planning to reduce its total authorized positions by 353 positions from fiscal years 2015 through 2019. As DOD's headquarters reduction efforts continue and contingency operations in Afghanistan wind down, the department has recognized that CENTCOM and its service components' have enduring headquarters costs that are expected to continue after ongoing operations end, but the majority of the costs to operate and support CENTCOM, two of its service component commands, and its theater special operations command headquarters are funded with overseas contingency operations appropriations. For example, CENTCOM's Marine Corps service component command funded $34 million out of a total of $42 million in headquarters costs in fiscal year 2013 with overseas contingency operations appropriations. CENTCOM and its components have determined some of these costs are enduring and expected to continue after the end of contingency operations, such as for Isa Air Base in Bahrain, but the military services have not transitioned or developed a time frame to transition these enduring costs to DOD's base budget. DOD's base budget contains the department's priorities for allocating resources. DOD officials stated that the department has not issued guidance that addresses how to fund these costs or established a time frame for when to transition them from DOD's overseas contingency operations budget to its base budget because DOD is waiting on decisions about future military involvement in Afghanistan. Officials also stated that the constrained fiscal environment has contributed to the department's reluctance to transition overseas contingency operations costs to DOD's base budget. However, without guidance that addresses how to pay for enduring headquarters costs funded by overseas contingency operations appropriations and a time frame to transition these costs to DOD's base budget, DOD may not be able to fully resource these activities once the funding decreases or ceases. Why GAO Did This Study CENTCOM is one of six geographic combatant commands that DOD operates to perform its military missions. CENTCOM's geographic region is composed of countries located in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central and South Asia. CENTCOM and each of its service component commands' headquarters are composed of military and civilian personnel and receive millions of dollars in funding each year to accomplish assigned missions. GAO was mandated to review CENTCOM's resources. This report (1) identifies trends in personnel devoted to CENTCOM and its service component commands since fiscal year 2001 and any steps DOD is planning to take for reducing personnel in the future, and (2) assesses how DOD funds CENTCOM and its service component commands' headquarters costs. GAO analyzed data on authorized positions, temporary personnel, and headquarters costs for CENTCOM and its service component commands from fiscal years 2001 through 2013. GAO also interviewed DOD officials about commands' resources and plans for funding headquarters costs.
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  • Justice Department Files Retaliation Lawsuit Against Wilson County, North Carolina, Emergency Communications
    In Crime News
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  • Two Georgia Correctional Officers Indicted for Civil Rights and Related Offenses for Assaulting Inmates
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Macon, Georgia, returned a 4-count indictment against former supervisory correctional officer Sergeant Patrick Sharpe, 29, and former correctional officer Jamal Scott, 33, of the Valdosta State Prison (VSP) for their roles in using excessive force against inmates incarcerated at the facility.
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  • Readout of Attorney General William P. Barr’s Visits to Chicago and Phoenix
    In Crime News
    This week, Attorney General William P. Barr traveled to Chicago, Illinois, and Phoenix, Arizona, to announce updates on Operation Legend and the results of Operation Crystal Shield, respectively.
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  • Jury Convicts Medical Equipment Company Owners of $27 Million Fraud
    In Crime News
    A federal jury convicted Dallas area owners and operators of two durable medical equipment companies Thursday of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to pay and receive health care kickbacks and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
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    In Crime Control and Security News
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