October 21, 2021

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North Carolina Return Preparer Sentenced to Prison for Tax Fraud Scheme

17 min read
<div>A Kinston, North Carolina, woman was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for conspiring to file false tax returns for her clients.</div>
A Kinston, North Carolina, woman was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for conspiring to file false tax returns for her clients.

More from: June 8, 2021

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  • United States Reaches Agreement with Midwest Can for Clean Air Act Violations
    In Crime News
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement today that will require Midwest Can Company, one of the largest manufacturers of portable fuel containers in the United States, to pay a $1.7 million civil penalty to resolve Clean Air Act violations.
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  • IT Modernization: HUD Needs to Improve Its Estimation and Oversight Practices for Single-Family Housing
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found For the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Catalyst program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) substantially implemented leading practices for managing information technology (IT) requirements and risk management. The Catalyst program is intended to modernize the single-family housing loan life cycle and associated IT systems. Specifically, the department fully implemented two of four requirements management leading practices, and partially implemented the other two. For example, HUD established requirements and performed testing on all FHA Catalyst modules. However, the department did not document agreements among the project managers responsible for managing requirements or subject FHA Catalyst to an independent review to ensure modules were performing as expected. As a result, the FHA Catalyst program is at risk of not performing as intended or of not meeting requirements. In addition, HUD established a risk management plan, and identified and analyzed risks to FHA Catalyst. However, HUD did not develop contingency plans for the identified risks. Without established contingency plans, the department could be unprepared to handle a critical risk, should one occur. HUD developed cost and schedule estimates for the FHA Catalyst program that exhibited significant weaknesses in addressing leading practices for cost and schedule estimation and, therefore, were unreliable. According to GAO's Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide, the characteristics of a high-quality, reliable cost estimate are that it is comprehensive, well-documented, accurate, and credible. The FHA Catalyst cost estimate was unreliable because it partially addressed the “comprehensive” characteristic, minimally addressed the “well-documented” and “accurate” characteristics, and did not address the “credible” characteristic. For example, although the estimate included life-cycle costs, it did not include the cost of full-time government employees and infrastructure. Without a reliable cost estimate, the department faces an increased risk that the program will cost more than the planned $91.9 million. GAO's Schedule Assessment Guide states that a sound schedule estimate is comprehensive, well-constructed, credible, and controlled. The FHA Catalyst schedule was unreliable because it partially addressed the comprehensive, credible, and controlled characteristics, and did not address the well-constructed characteristic found in the guide. The absence of a reliable schedule estimate raises increased doubt that HUD will be able to complete the modernization by December 2023 as planned. Although HUD took early action to establish FHA Catalyst oversight and partially implemented four related categories of leading practices, gaps exist in the established processes to oversee the program. These gaps include a lack of fully defined roles and responsibilities, and the absence of measures to assess performance. Accordingly, HUD lacks assurance that oversight will be performed and that decision makers have the information needed to monitor the program. Why GAO Did This Study For many years, HUD has insured a portfolio of single-family mortgages worth over $1 trillion, relying on an outdated IT infrastructure and manual processes. HUD has made several unsuccessful attempts to modernize IT in the past, leaving it dependent on legacy systems. In April 2019, FHA and HUD's Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), initiated FHA Catalyst. GAO was requested to review HUD's single-family housing modernization program. This report examines (1) the extent to which HUD has implemented leading practices for managing requirements and identifying and mitigating risks for FHA Catalyst, (2) the reliability of the program's estimated costs and schedule, and (3) the extent to which HUD has established effective oversight for the program. GAO compared FHA Catalyst documentation on requirements, risk, cost, schedule, and oversight to leading practices identified in the Capability Maturity Model Integration, and GAO's guides on cost, schedule, and investment management. GAO also interviewed FHA and OCIO officials.
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  • Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty in False Returns Scheme
    In Crime News
    A Georgia woman pleaded guilty today to preparing false tax returns for clients.
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  • Climate Resilience: Options to Enhance the Resilience of Federally Funded Roads and Reduce Fiscal Exposure
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found During the last decade, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) undertook targeted efforts to encourage states to enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads, such as by developing agency policy, providing technical assistance, and funding resilience research. GAO identified projects in four states that planned or made resilience enhancements using FHWA's resources. For example, Maryland used FHWA resources to raise a bridge by about 2 feet to account for projected sea level rise. Such efforts show the potential to enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads on a wider scale. GAO identified 10 options to further enhance the climate resilience of federally funded roads through a comprehensive literature search and interviews with knowledgeable stakeholders (see table). Some of these options are similar to recommendations made previously by GAO. Each option has strengths and limitations. For example, adding climate resilience requirements to formula grant programs could compel action but complicate states' efforts to use federal funds. Options to Further Enhance the Climate Resilience of Federally Funded Roads 1. Integrate climate resilience into Federal Highway Administration policy and guidance. 2. Update design standards and building codes to account for climate resilience. 3. Provide authoritative, actionable, forward-looking climate information. 4. Add climate resilience funding eligibility requirements, conditions, or criteria to formula grant programs. 5. Expand the availability of discretionary funding for climate resilience improvements. 6. Alter the Emergency Relief (ER) program by providing incentives for, or conditioning funding on, pre-disaster resilience actions. 7. Expand the availability of ER funding for post-disaster climate resilience improvements. 8. Establish additional climate resilience planning or project requirements. 9. Link climate resilience actions or requirements to incentives or penalties. 10. Condition eligibility, funding, or project approval on compliance with climate resilience policy and guidance. Source: GAO analysis of literature and interviews with knowledgeable stakeholders. | GAO-21-436 Implementing multiple options offers the most potential to improve the climate resilience of federally funded roads, according to knowledgeable stakeholders and GAO's analysis using the Disaster Resilience Framework , a guide for analyzing federal disaster and climate resilience efforts. This Framework states that integrating strategic resilience goals can help decision makers focus on a wide variety of opportunities to reduce risk. FHWA officials said that they likely would need additional authority from Congress to act on some, or a combination of, options and that the most effective way for Congress to ensure its priorities are implemented for any option is to put it in law. The most recent authorization of federal funding for roads covers fiscal year 2016 through fiscal year 2021, which ends on September 30, 2021. This provides Congress with an opportunity to improve the climate resilience of federally funded roads and better ensure they can withstand or more easily recover from changes in the climate. Providing FHWA with additional authority to implement one or more of the options could enhance the climate resilience of more—or all—federally funded roads. Why GAO Did This Study Changes in the climate pose a risk to the safety and reliability of the U.S. transportation system, according to the 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment. Congress authorized about $45 billion per year in federal funding for roads through 2021 and appropriated about $900 million per year in disaster assistance for fiscal years 2016 through 2020. In 2013, GAO included Limiting the Federal Government's Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks on its High-Risk List. Enhancing climate resilience—acting to reduce potential losses by planning for climate hazards such as extreme rainfall—can help manage climate risks. GAO was asked to review climate resilience efforts for federally funded roads. This report examines (1) FHWA's climate resilience efforts and (2) options to further enhance them. GAO reviewed FHWA documents and a non-generalizable sample of projects that used FHWA's climate resilience resources, analyzed the content of 53 reports and pieces of legislation to identify options, interviewed stakeholders and agency officials, and analyzed options and FHWA efforts using GAO's October 2019 Disaster Resilience Framework .
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  • European and Eurasian Affairs Assistant Secretary Dr. Karen Donfried and Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs Senior Bureau Official Matt Murray On the Secretary’s Upcoming Travel to France
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken to Embassy Copenhagen Staff
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Department of Justice Files Nationwide Lawsuit Against Walmart Inc. for Controlled Substances Act Violations
    In Crime 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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  • Texas Man Charged In $24 Million COVID-Relief Fraud
    In Crime News
    A Dallas-area man was charged in an indictment filed Thursday for his alleged participation in a scheme to file fraudulent loan applications seeking approximately $24.8 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
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  • Utah Man Posing As Medical Doctor To Sell Baseless Coronavirus Cure Indicted On Fraud Charges
    In Crime News
    Utah resident Gordon H. Pedersen has been indicted for posing as a medical doctor to sell a baseless treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19). According to the indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Salt Lake City late last week, Pedersen fraudulently promoted and sold ingestible silver-based products as a cure for COVID-19 despite having no evidence that his products could treat or cure the disease. Pedersen is also alleged to have claimed to be a physician and worn a stethoscope and white lab coat in videos and photos posted on the Internet to further his alleged fraud scheme.
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  • Fiji National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Readout of the Political Directors Small Group Meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Former Venezuelan National Treasurer and Her Spouse Charged in Connection with International Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme
    In Crime News
    A former Venezuelan National Treasurer and her spouse were charged in a superseding indictment filed Tuesday for their alleged participation in a previously indicted billion-dollar currency exchange and money laundering scheme. An alleged co-conspirator was previously charged in the original indictment.
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  • Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen’s Video Statement on the Seizure of the U.S. Capitol
    In Crime News
    Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen delivered the following video statement on the seizure of the U.S. Capitol:
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  • Vitol Inc. Agrees to Pay over $135 Million to Resolve Foreign Bribery Case
    In Crime News
    Vitol Inc. (Vitol), the U.S. affiliate of the Vitol group of companies, which together form one of the largest energy trading firms in the world, has agreed to pay a combined $135 million to resolve the Justice Department’s investigation into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to resolve a parallel investigation in Brazil.
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  • Afghanistan Security: Lack of Systematic Tracking Raises Significant Accountability Concerns about Weapons Provided to Afghan National Security Forces
    In U.S GAO News
    The Department of Defense (Defense), through its Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) and with the Department of State (State), directs international efforts to train and equip Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). As part of these efforts, the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC) and the Navy spent about $120 million to procure small arms and light weapons for ANSF. International donors also provided weapons. GAO analyzed whether Defense can account for these weapons and ensure ANSF can safeguard and account for them. GAO reviewed Defense and State documents on accountability procedures, reviewed contractor reports on ANSF training, met with U.S. and Afghan officials, observed accountability practices, analyzed inventory records, and attempted to locate a random sample of weapons.Defense did not establishclear guidance for U.S. personnel to follow when obtaining, transporting, and storing weapons for the Afghan National Security Forces, resulting in significant lapses in accountability. While Defense has accountability requirements for its own weapons, including serial number tracking and routine inventories, it did not clearly specify whether they applied to ANSF weapons under U.S. control. GAO estimates USASAC and CSTC-A did not maintain complete records for about 87,000, or 36 percent, of the 242,000 U.S.-procured weapons shipped to Afghanistan. For about 46,000 weapons, USASAC could not provide serial numbers, and GAO estimates CSTC-A did not maintain records on the location or disposition of about 41,000 weapons with recorded serial numbers. CSTC-A also did not maintain reliable records for about 135,000 weapons it obtained for ANSF from 21 other countries. Accountability lapses occurred throughout the supply chain and were primarily due to a lack of clear direction and staffing shortages. During our review, CSTC-A began correcting some shortcomings, but indicated that its continuation of these efforts depends on staffing and other factors. Despite CSTC-A's training efforts, ANSF units cannot fully safeguard and account for weapons and sensitive equipment. Defense and State have deployed hundreds of trainers and mentors to help ANSF establish accountability practices. CSTC-A's policy is not to issue equipment without verifying that appropriate supply and accountability procedures are in place. Although CSTC-A has not consistently assessed ANSF units' ability to account for weapons, mentors have reported major accountability weaknesses, which CSTC-A officials and mentors attribute to a variety of cultural and institutional problems, including illiteracy, corruption, and unclear guidance. Further, CSTC-A did not begin monitoring the end use of sensitive night vision devices until 15 months after issuing them to Afghan National Army units.
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  • Warfighter Support: Army’s and Defense Logistics Agency’s Approach for Awarding Contracts for the Army Combat Shirt
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundDuring the fiscal year 2007-12 timeframe, the Army applied statutory and regulatory requirements related to procurement for supplies to award contracts for the Army Combat Shirt. The Army applied these requirements, including those in the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Small Business Regulations, to award the following groups of contracts and to respond to demand for the combat shirt and the supply of manufacturers that could produce it:contracts awarded on a sole-source basis to 8(a) firms owned by an ANC or anIndian tribe in fiscal years 2007 and 2008 to respond to the urgent need for combat shirts because of an increase in warfighters being burned by improvised explosive devices in theater.contracts awarded to NIB and NISH nonprofit agencies representing industries for the blind and severely disabled, respectively, in fiscal years 2009 through 2012 to respond to the increasing demand for the combat shirts and the limited capacity of the 8(a) firms that were manufacturing the combat shirts under the existing sole-source contracts.a contract awarded on a competitive basis to an 8(a), ANC-owned firm in fiscal year 2011 to respond to the need for an additional source of supply to manufacture the combat shirts and to introduce competition as a means of reducing cost of the combat shirt.Since fiscal year 2011, DLA has been responsible for sustainment contracts for the Army Combat Shirt. According to DLA contracting officials, DLA plans to award contracts by March 2013 by applying statutory and regulatory procurement requirements, including the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Small Business Regulations.Why GAO Did This StudyFlame-resistant clothing has been typically used by warfighters to protect them in situations where they face serious exposure to fire or incendiary devices. Prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, Department of Defense (DOD) personnel wearing flame-resistant clothing were mainly aviators, fuel handlers, and combat-vehicle crewmembers. However, with the growing prevalence of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan, warfighters serving there have been exposed more frequently to the risk of fire-related injuries. To provide warfighters deploying into combat areas (including Iraq and Afghanistan) with a garment that can mitigate the risk of sustaining fire-related injuries, the Army procured the Army Combat Shirt, which is a flame-resistant, moisture-wicking shirt designed specifically to protect warfighters against burns and provide maximum comfort as well. Through the Army Program Executive Office Soldier-- the program manager responsible for the initial procurement of the Army Combat Shirt--the Army began procuring this shirt in fiscal year 2007 and through fiscal year 2012 has awarded over $310 million in contracts for the combat shirt. These contracts have been awarded to 8(a) firms and to the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and NISH nonprofit agencies. Beginning in fiscal year 2011, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) assumed responsibility for sustainment contracting of the Army Combat Shirt and began the process of soliciting proposals and awarding contracts for the combat shirts. Transferring clothing and textile program functions from a military service to DLA is part of DOD's process for managing the life cycle of the procurement of supplies. This report addresses a Congressional request that GAO examine the approach that the Army used to award contracts for the Army Combat Shirt and that DLA is using to prepare to award future ones.For more information, contact Cary B. Russell at (202)512-5431 or russellc@gao.gov.
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  • Opening Remarks at a Civil Society Roundtable
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Briefing With Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador Nathan A. Sales On Terrorist Designations of Al-Shabaab Leaders
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Assistant Attorney General Beth A. Williams Delivers Opening Remarks at the Federalist Society, Colorado Lawyers Chapter Panel Discussion: “Reviewing the Supreme Court’s 2019/20 Term”
    In Crime News
    Thank you for that kind introduction, Will, and for the invitation to join you today. Though I wish I could join you in person, even at this distance, it is a great pleasure to be here with you all.
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