September 27, 2021

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Rip crew gets significant sentences for multiple violent crimes

15 min read
Three illegal aliens from Central America have been ordered to prison following their multiple convictions involving conspiracy to rob a drug dealer, drug trafficking, as well as firearms and immigration offenses

Read full article at: https://www.justice.gov July 23, 2021

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  • Department Press Briefing – March 19, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • State Department: Implementation of Grants Policies Needs Better Oversight
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Department of State (State) has established policies and guidance that provide a supportive environment for managing grants and cooperative agreements (grants). In addition, State provides its grants officials mandatory training on these policies and guidance, and routinely identifies and shares best practices. State's policies are based on federal regulations, reflect internal control standards, and cover topics such as risk assessment and monitoring procedures. State's policies also delineate specific internal control activities that grants officials are required to both implement and document in the grant files as a way of promoting accountability (see fig.). Key Internal Control Activities Required through a Grant's Life Cycle GAO found that inconsistent implementation of policies and guidance weakens State's assurance that grant funds are used as intended. Inadequate risk analysis . In most of the files GAO reviewed, grants officials did not fully identify, assess, and mitigate risks, as required. For example, officials conducted a risk identification process for 45 of the 61 grants that GAO reviewed. While grants officials identified risk in 28 of those 45 grants, they mitigated risks in only 11. Poor documentation . Grants officials generally did not adhere to State policies and procedures relating to documenting internal control activities. For example, 32 of the 61 files reviewed did not contain the required monitoring plan. Considerable turnover among grants officials makes documenting internal control activities particularly important. State's periodic management reviews of selected bureaus' and overseas missions' grant operations have also found that key documentation was frequently missing or incomplete and made recommendations to address the problem. However, State has not consistently followed up to ensure the implementation of these recommendations, as internal control standards require. State does not have processes for ensuring compliance with risk analysis and documentation requirements. Without the proper implementation of its internal control policies for grants management, State cannot be certain that its oversight is adequate or that it is using its limited oversight resources effectively. Why GAO Did This Study Grants are key tools that State uses to conduct foreign assistance. In fiscal year 2012, State obligated over $1.6 billion worldwide for around 14,000 grants to individuals and organizations for a variety of purposes, such as fostering cultural exchange and facilitating refugee resettlement. However, recent GAO and Inspectors General reports have identified challenges with State's management of these funds. This report examines (1) the policies and guidance that State has established to administer and oversee grants, and (2) the extent to which the implementation of those policies and guidance provides reasonable assurance that funds are being used as intended. GAO analyzed State's policies and guidance, and interviewed cognizant grants officials at 14 bureaus headquartered in Washington, D.C., and three overseas missions (Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Turkey). GAO also conducted file reviews for a sample of 61 grants totaling approximately $172 million. Selection criteria included total dollar value of grants in a country, geographic diversity, and balance among bureaus.
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  • U.S. Statement on the 25th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women
    In Women’s News
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  • Former Owner of Florida Produce Business Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion
    In Crime News
    A Florida man pleaded guilty today to tax evasion in federal district court in Fort Lauderdale. 
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  • Post-Government Employment Restrictions: DOD Could Further Enhance Its Compliance Efforts Related to Former Employees Working for Defense Contractors
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Situations in which senior and acquisition officials leave the Department of Defense (DOD) and go to work for defense contractors can lead to conflicts of interest and affect public confidence in the government. There are federal laws that place limitations on the employment of former DOD officials. The 14 major defense contractors GAO reviewed hired about 1,700 recent former DOD senior civilian and military officials, such as a general or admiral, or former acquisition officials (see table). 2019 Employment of Former Department of Defense (DOD) Personnel by the 14 Contractors GAO Reviewed Category of former DOD personnel potentially subject to post-government employment restrictions Number of personnel who left DOD service from 2014 through 2019 Number employed in 2019 by the 14 contractors GAO reviewed Military and civilian senior or acquisition officials 100,660 1,718 All other military and civilian employees 1,397,222 35,314 Total 1,497,882 37,032 Source: GAO analysis of DOD and Internal Revenue Service data. | GAO-21-104311 GAO found that DOD has improved certain practices to help ensure compliance with post-government employment (PGE) restrictions, including: processes for issuing and maintaining ethics opinion letters (written opinions DOD provides to its former officials seeking private sector employment), and training to increase DOD employee awareness about and understanding of PGE restrictions. In 2011, DOD modified its acquisition regulations to require that contractors—when submitting proposals in response to DOD contract solicitations—represent their employees' compliance with several PGE restrictions. DOD has not considered incorporating a recent restriction on lobbying activities into that regulation. DOD officials noted that the restriction was not identified for potential regulatory action when it was enacted, and they have not considered doing so. Instead, DOD has issued guidance to defense personnel informing them of their responsibilities. However, without assessing whether to update the regulation to require that contractors represent their employees' compliance with the lobbying provision, DOD may be missing an opportunity to create a shared sense of accountability between the employees and the contractors who hire them, and a means of ensuring that DOD does not do business with companies whose employees violate the lobbying restriction with their employers' knowledge. The 14 defense contractors GAO reviewed reported that they use various methods to comply with PGE restrictions. GAO found that the specific practices differed by type of contractor. Contractors that develop and produce weapon systems reported having more practices in place to promote compliance with PGE restrictions than did contractors that generally provide commercial products and services. Why GAO Did This Study Each year, civilian and military personnel leave DOD and go to work for contractors that do business with DOD. These individuals are potentially covered by laws restricting their new employment activities. The laws—some of which include penalties for violations—seek in part to protect against conflicts of interest and to promote public trust in the integrity of the government's decision-making processes, which facilitate the award of contracts worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually. The conference report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included a provision for GAO to update its 2008 report on major defense contractors' recent employment of former DOD officials. This report (1) identifies the extent to which major defense contractors employed potentially covered ex-DOD officials in 2019, and (2) examines practices DOD and contractors use related to contractors hiring former DOD officials. GAO reviewed and surveyed 14 selected defense contractors with obligations above a certain dollar threshold. GAO also reviewed DOD documentation, and interviewed agency officials and contractor representatives.
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  • Justice Department Announces Additional Distribution of More than $568 Million to Victims of Madoff Ponzi Scheme
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that the Madoff Victim Fund (MVF) began its seventh distribution of approximately $568 million in funds forfeited to the U.S. government in connection with the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS) fraud scheme, bringing the total distributed to over $3.7 billion to nearly 40,000 victims worldwide.
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  • Septuagenarian charged with manufacturing “ghost guns”
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  • Japanese Shipping Company Fined $1.5 Million for Concealing Illegal Discharges of Oily Water
    In Crime News
    Misuga Kaiun Co. Ltd. (MISUGA), a Japanese-based company engaged in international shipping, was sentenced yesterday in federal court before U.S. District Court Judge Paul G. Byron in Orlando, Florida.
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  • Readout of Roundtable Event with Attorney General Barr and Members of State and Local Law Enforcement in Cheyenne, Wyoming
    In Crime News
    On Thursday, August 13th, Attorney General William P. Barr visited Cheyenne, Wyoming to lead a roundtable discussion with over 30 Wyoming police chiefs, sheriffs and other members of state and local law enforcement. The Attorney General was joined by U.S. Attorney Mark Klaassen, DEA Acting Director Tim Shea and Interim Director of Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation Forrest Williams. The Attorney General in his opening remarks conveyed his gratitude for the critical work local law enforcement officers do every day to protect their communities.
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  • Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks on the Biden Administration’s Gun Crime Prevention Strategy
    In Crime News
    Good afternoon, Mr. President. It’s good to be here with you, with local elected and community leaders, and with representatives of law enforcement.
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  • Military Training: Army and Marine Corps Face Challenges to Address Projected Future Requirements
    In U.S GAO News
    The Army's and Marine Corps' major training facilities--Army and Marine Corps combat training centers and Army mobilization training centers--have focused on training units for counterinsurgency missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. As troop levels decrease in Iraq and increase in Afghanistan, larger numbers of forces will be training for Afghanistan. To meet future requirements, the services plan to adjust training to train forces on a fuller range of missions. The House report to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 directed GAO to report on any challenges the Department of Defense faces as it adjusts training capacities. GAO assessed the extent to which the Army and Marine Corps have (1) made adjustments at their major training facilities to support larger deployments to Afghanistan; and (2) developed plans to adjust training capacity to meet future requirements. GAO analyzed service training guidance, future training requirements, and related plans, and interviewed headquarters officials and personnel from the services' major training facilities.Due to similarities in training requirements, the Army and Marine Corps did not need to make significant adjustments at their major training facilities to support the shift in operational priority from Iraq to Afghanistan. While the Army had to adapt training scenarios to more closely resemble the operating environment in Afghanistan, it did not have to adjust trainers, training ranges, and mock towns and villages as these are the same regardless of whether forces are preparing for missions in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Since the summer of 2009, the Marine Corps had withdrawn most of its forces from Iraq and shifted the focus of training at its combat training center to exclusively train forces for missions in Afghanistan. Like the Army, the Marine Corps noted that, because of similarities in training requirements, it had to make few adjustments beyond changing some cultural role players and signs in mock towns and villages to support its shift in focus from Iraq to Afghanistan. The Army and Marine Corps face several challenges as they plan to broaden the scope and size of training rotations to meet future training requirements. The Army projects capacity shortfalls at its combat training centers as it seeks to train brigade combat teams to meet future requirements for both ongoing operations and full-spectrum operations--offensive, defensive, and stability operations. The Army has identified the need to conduct 36 to 37 annual training rotations for its brigade combat teams by fiscal year 2011; the centers can currently conduct 28 rotations a year. The Army is developing an exportable capability, expected to increase its capacity by 6 rotations each year when it reaches full operational capability in 2013. However, this will not be sufficient to meet the total projected requirements. To address the gap, the Army plans to give priority to deploying units. The Army has not completed an assessment to determine its full range of options for meeting future brigade combat team training requirements, or the risks associated with not conducting the desired number of training rotations. The Army's force generation model calls for smaller reserve-component units to train for both ongoing and full-spectrum operations, but the Army has not finalized its training strategy for these reserve-component forces. The Army has identified training requirements and locations where deploying forces will train for ongoing operations, but it has not determined where or when it will train its reserve-component contingency forces for full spectrum operations. The Army has the capacity to train 86,000 reserve-component personnel at its seven mobilization training centers each year. It is also conducting enhanced training at other locations, which could expand capacity. Until the Army finalizes its reserve-component training strategy it will not be able to determine whether it can leverage existing resources to meet future training requirements, or whether any excess reserve-component training capacity exists. In the future, the Marine Corps plans to expand training to allow larger numbers of forces to train together, but it lacks sufficient space at its combat training center. It is considering alternatives for acquiring land, ranging in size from approximately 131,000 to 200,000 acres, and expects to reach a decision by fiscal year 2012. GAO recommends the Army develop a risk-assessment and mitigation plan to address gaps in training capacity, and assess how it can maximize existing resources to conduct reserve-component training called for under its force generation model. DOD generally agreed with our recommendations.
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  • Responding to the PRC’s Destabilizing and Irresponsible Behavior in Cyberspace
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • The United States Targets Foundations Controlled by Iran’s Supreme Leader
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • U.S.-ROK Director General/Deputy-Level Consultation Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Meet the People Behind NASA’s Perseverance Rover
    In Space
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  • Disaster Response: Agencies Should Assess Contracting Workforce Needs and Purchase Card Fraud Risk
    In U.S GAO News
    The efforts of selected agencies to plan for disaster contracting activities and assess contracting workforce needs varied. The U.S. Forest Service initiated efforts to address its disaster response contracting workforce needs while three agencies—the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the U.S. Coast Guard, and Department of the Interior (DOI)—partially addressed these needs. The Environmental Protection Agency indicated it did not have concerns fulfilling its disaster contracting responsibilities. Specifically, GAO found the following: USACE assigned clear roles and responsibilities for disaster response contracting activities, but has not formally assessed its contracting workforce to determine if it can fulfill these roles. The Coast Guard has a process to assess its workforce needs, but it does not account for contracting for disaster response activities. DOI is developing a strategic acquisition plan and additional guidance for its bureaus on how to structure their contracting functions, but currently does not account for disaster contracting responsibilities. Contracting officials at all three of these agencies identified challenges executing their regular responsibilities along with their disaster-related responsibilities during the 2017 and 2018 hurricane and wildfire seasons. For example, Coast Guard contracting officials stated they have fallen increasingly behind since 2017 and that future disaster response missions would not be sustainable with their current workforce. GAO's strategic workforce planning principles call for agencies to determine the critical skills and competencies needed to achieve future programmatic results. Without accounting for disaster response contracting activities in workforce planning, these agencies are missing opportunities to ensure their contracting workforces are equipped to respond to future disasters. The five agencies GAO reviewed from above, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), collectively spent more than $20 million for 2017 and 2018 disaster response activities using purchase cards. GAO found that two of these six agencies—Forest Service and EPA—have not completed fraud risk profiles for their purchase card programs that align with leading practices in GAO's Fraud Risk Framework. Additionally, five of the six agencies have not assessed or documented how their fraud risk for purchase card use might differ in a disaster response environment. DOI completed such an assessment during the course of our review. An Office of Management and Budget memorandum requires agencies to complete risk profiles for their purchase card programs that include fraud risk. GAO's Fraud Risk Framework states managers should assess fraud risk regularly and document those assessments in risk profiles. The framework also states that risk profiles may differ in the context of disaster response when managers may have a higher fraud risk tolerance since individuals in these environments have an urgent need for products and services. Without assessing fraud risk for purchase card programs or how risk may change in a disaster response environment, agencies may not design or implement effective internal controls, such as search criteria to identify fraudulent transactions. The 2017 and 2018 hurricanes and California wildfires affected millions of people and caused billions of dollars in damages. Extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and intense due to climate change. Federal contracts for goods and services play a key role in disaster response and recovery, and government purchase cards can be used by agency staff to buy needed items. GAO was asked to review federal response and recovery efforts related to recent disasters. This report examines the extent to which selected agencies planned for their disaster response contracting activities, assessed their contracting workforce needs, and assessed the fraud risk related to their use of purchase cards for disaster response. GAO selected six agencies based on contract obligations for 2017 and 2018 disasters; analyzed federal procurement and agency data; reviewed agencies' policies on workforce planning, purchase card use, and fraud risk; and analyzed purchase card data. FEMA was not included in the examination of workforce planning due to prior GAO work. GAO is making 12 recommendations, including to three agencies to assess disaster response contracting needs in workforce planning, and to five agencies to assess fraud risk for purchase card use in support of disaster response. For more information, contact Marie A. Mak at (202) 512-4841 or makm@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Canadian National Charged with Alien Smuggling Conspiracy and Attempting to Bring Aliens to the United States
    In Crime News
    Cooperation efforts between United States and Turks and Caicos Islands law enforcement authorities culminated in today’s extradition to the United States of a Canadian national who has been charged with alien smuggling offenses.
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  • Federal Debt Management: Treasury Quickly Financed Historic Government Response to the Pandemic and is assessing Risks to Market Functioning
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In response to COVID-19, in March 2020 many investors rapidly sold their Treasury securities for cash. This led to a severe liquidity disruption when prices fell and transaction costs rose for Treasury notes and bonds in the secondary market. The Federal Reserve acted quickly to support market functioning, including purchasing trillions of dollars of Treasury securities. This market disruption highlighted risks to the Treasury market. For example, growth in federal debt and regulatory changes may reduce broker-dealers' willingness and ability to intermediate trades (facilitate purchases and sales) of Treasury securities for investors. In April 2021 Treasury initiated an interagency effort to examine options that could help mitigate future disruptions in the market. Following the market disruption, Treasury quickly raised trillions of dollars to fund the federal response to COVID-19. It dramatically increased its issuance of bills—including adding regular, weekly auctions of cash management bills, which have historically been issued irregularly to cover near-term financing gaps. The bills were met with strong investor demand. For example, GAO found almost no difference between cash management bill and other bill yields during this time. Monthly Gross Issuance of U.S. Treasury Bills, Notes, and Bonds Note: Notes and bonds includes Treasury Floating Rate Notes and Inflation Protected Securities. Due to the uncertainty created by COVID-19, Treasury maintained a historically high operating cash balance of around $1.6 trillion. Its stated policy is to hold a level of cash generally sufficient to cover one week of outflows. However, other factors not explicitly reflected in its policy informed how it managed the cash balance during COVID-19. Market participants told GAO that they were unclear about all of these factors. They said that understanding the level and trajectory of the cash balance is important because it affects market expectations for the size of Treasury issuance, supply of bank reserves, and short-term lending rates—all of which inform their business strategies and support market functioning. Additionally, uncertainty about the size of the cash balance can lead to volatility in financial markets. This, in turn, can affect Treasury's borrowing costs. Why GAO Did This Study The federal government's fiscal response to the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased the government's borrowing needs. Treasury borrows money needed by issuing Treasury securities. The ability to borrow large amounts of money quickly and cheaply is especially important during a crisis, when government spending tends to increase and revenues tend to decrease. Any disruptions in investor demand for Treasury securities or the functioning of the Treasury market can have costly implications for the federal government and taxpayers. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report on its monitoring and oversight efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report examines (1) how the cost and liquidity of Treasury securities changed during COVID-19; (2) actions Treasury is taking to mitigate future disruptions; and (3) the actions Treasury took to finance the federal government's response to the pandemic. GAO analyzed data on Treasury securities; reviewed agency and market research; and interviewed market participants across key financial sectors (e.g., broker-dealers, banks, mutual and money market funds), market experts, and Treasury and Federal Reserve officials.
    [Read More…]
  • Couple Who Falsely Claimed to be Farmers Sentenced in $1.1 Million COVID-Relief Fraud
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