September 22, 2021

News

News Network

Sheriff of Franklin County, Arkansas Found Guilty of Assaulting Two Individuals in Custody

9 min read
<div>A federal jury convicted the Sheriff of Franklin County, Arkansas today on two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.</div>
A federal jury convicted the Sheriff of Franklin County, Arkansas today on two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.

More from: August 9, 2021

News Network

  • The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations Announces Award for Worldwide Architectural and Engineering Support Services
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Small Business Administration: COVID-19 Loans Lack Controls and Are Susceptible to Fraud
    In U.S GAO News
    In April 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) moved quickly to implement the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides loans that are forgivable under certain circumstances to small businesses affected by COVID-19. Given the immediate need for these loans, SBA worked to streamline the program so that lenders could begin distributing these funds as soon as possible. For example, lenders were permitted to rely on borrowers' self-certifications for eligibility and use of loan proceeds. As a result, there may be significant risk that some fraudulent or inflated applications were approved. Since May 2020, the Department of Justice has publicly announced charges in more than 50 fraud-related cases associated with PPP funds. In April 2020, SBA announced it would review all loans of more than $2 million to confirm borrower eligibility, and SBA officials subsequently stated that they would review selected loans of less than $2 million to determine, for example, whether the borrower is entitled to loan forgiveness. However, SBA did not provide details on how it would conduct either of these reviews. As of September 2020, SBA reported it was working with the Department of the Treasury and contractors to finalize the plans for the reviews. Because SBA had limited time to implement safeguards up front for loan approval, GAO believes that planning and oversight by SBA to address risks in the PPP program is crucial moving forward. SBA's efforts to expedite processing of Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)—such as the reliance on self-certification—may have contributed to increased fraud risk in that program as well. In July 2020, SBA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported indicators of widespread potential fraud—including thousands of fraud complaints—and found deficiencies with SBA's internal controls. In response, SBA maintained that its internal controls for EIDL were robust, including checks to identify duplicate applications and verify account information, and that it had provided banks with additional antifraud guidance. The Department of Justice, in conjunction with other federal agencies, also has taken actions to address potential fraud. Since May 2020, the department has announced fraud investigations related to the EIDL program and charges against recipients related to EIDL fraud. SBA has made or guaranteed more than 14.5 million loans and grants through PPP and EIDL, providing about $729 billion to help small businesses adversely affected by COVID-19. However, the speed with which SBA implemented the programs may have increased their susceptibility to fraud. This testimony discusses fraud risks associated with SBA's PPP and EIDL programs. It is based largely on GAO's reports in June 2020 (GAO-20-625) and September 2020 (GAO-20-701) that addressed the federal response, including by SBA, to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. For those reports, GAO reviewed SBA documentation and interviewed officials from SBA, the Department of the Treasury, and associations that represent lenders and small businesses. GAO also met with officials from the SBA OIG and reviewed OIG reports. In its June 2020 report, GAO recommended that SBA develop and implement plans to identify and respond to risks in PPP to ensure program integrity, achieve program effectiveness, and address potential fraud. SBA neither agreed nor disagreed, but GAO believes implementation of this recommendation is essential. For more information, contact William B. Shear at (202) 512-4325 or shearw@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Department Press Briefing – February 24, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Sues Texas Over Senate Bill 8
    In Crime News
    Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced today that the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit to prevent the State of Texas from enforcing Senate Bill 8 (SB8), which went into effect on Sept. 1 and effectively bans most abortions in the state. The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that SB8 is invalid under the Supremacy Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment, is preempted by federal law, and violates the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity.
    [Read More…]
  • Designation of a United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Social Security Disability: Process Needed to Review Productivity Expectations for Administrative Law Judges
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Social Security Administration's (SSA) administrative law judges review, process, and adjudicate requests for hearings on disability benefits. In 2007, the agency set an expectation—which SSA reported was based on trend data and some regional managers' input—for judges to issue 500-700 dispositions (decisions and dismissals) each year, and the extent to which they have met this expectation has varied over time. SSA did not document the expectation-setting process in 2007, nor has it formally reviewed the expectation since. Judges in discussion groups held by GAO questioned the basis of the expectation and 87 percent of judges GAO surveyed (47 of 54) said the expectation was too high. The extent to which judges met the annual and related expectations has fluctuated over the years (see figure). Without periodic reviews, SSA cannot be assured that its expectations appropriately allow judges to balance productivity with other expectations, such as quality, given changing conditions over time. Administrative Law Judges Who Met or Exceeded SSA's Annual Productivity Expectation, Fiscal Years 2014-2020 Judges in selected hearing offices cited a variety of factors affecting their ability to meet the annual expectation. The top factor cited by judges GAO surveyed was the size of case files, which have increased five-fold on average since the expectation was established, according to SSA data. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced other factors in 2020, resulting in fewer hearings being conducted. SSA monitors judges' productivity and takes various actions when expectations are not met, ranging from informal conversations to formal discipline. In addition, judges in 11 of 13 discussion groups viewed telework restrictions as a consequence for not meeting expectations. Additionally, judges GAO surveyed reported feeling pressured to meet the expectations. For instance, 87 percent of judges surveyed (47 of 54) said that SSA placed too much emphasis on productivity, and some expressed concerns about their work quality and work-life balance. SSA officials said they do not formally seek feedback from judges on the expectations. However, without feedback or other gauges of pressure, SSA lacks information that could help it appropriately balance timely case processing while maintaining high-quality work and employee morale. Why GAO Did This Study SSA's approximately 1,350 judges play a major role in processing and adjudicating requests for hearings to help ensure individuals who do not agree with the determination on their claim for Social Security disability benefits receive due process. SSA receives hundreds of thousands of hearing requests each year and has historically had a large backlog. GAO was asked to review SSA's productivity expectations for its judges. This report examines (1) how SSA set productivity expectations for judges and the extent to which judges have met them over time, (2) reported factors affecting the ability of judges in selected offices to meet the annual productivity expectation, and (3) SSA's management of judges' productivity. GAO obtained and analyzed SSA data on judges' productivity from fiscal years 2005-2020; surveyed and held 13 virtual discussion groups with judges in six hearing offices selected for geographic location, average productivity, and average case size; reviewed relevant federal laws and agency policies and documents; and interviewed officials from SSA and the association representing judges.
    [Read More…]
  • Medicare Durable Medical Equipment: Effect of New Bid Surety Bond Requirement on Small Supplier Participation in the Competitive Bidding Program
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administers a competitive bidding program (CBP) to determine which suppliers may furnish certain durable medical equipment (DME) to Medicare beneficiaries in designated geographical areas. Specifically, suppliers submit bids to provide specified categories of DME items; CMS determines winning bids based on several factors, including the bid amount, and whether the estimated capacity of suppliers would meet the projected demand for those DME items in each area. Historically, winning suppliers could reject any contract offer to furnish CBP-covered items without penalty. This allowed them to help set CBP payment amounts without being held accountable for furnishing items at those amounts. However, beginning with round 2021—the most recent round of the CBP—bidding suppliers were required by law to obtain a $50,000 bid surety bond for each CBP area in which they submitted a bid. These bonds require a supplier to accept a contract offer when its bid amount is at or below the median of the winning suppliers' bids used to calculate the CBP payment amount offered for each product category. If it does not, the supplier forfeits the bond. GAO found that small suppliers successfully obtained contracts in CBP round 2021. For example, small suppliers accounted for 58 percent of the suppliers awarded contracts in round 2021. Slightly more than half of the bids small suppliers submitted resulted in contracts. Contract Awards by Supplier Size for the Round 2021 Competitions   Suppliers that bid Suppliers awarded contracts Size of bidders Number Percent Number Percent Small suppliers 383 60 207 58 Large suppliers 231 36 148 42 Unknown suppliers 24 4 0 0 Total 638 100 355 100 Source: GAO analysis of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data. I GAO-21-602 Notes: CMS defines small suppliers bidding as those generating $3.5 million or less in total gross Medicare and non-Medicare revenue annually, large suppliers as those generating more than that amount of revenue, and unknown suppliers as those whose entire bid was disqualified for a missing financial document and, therefore, did not advance to the evaluation process where a supplier's size is determined. CMS data suggest that bid surety bonds did not negatively affect small supplier participation in CBP round 2021. Specifically, the data show that the small supplier participation rate in round 2021 was comparable to that of the five prior CBP rounds. The data also indicated that only about 5 percent of small suppliers' bids were disqualified due to submission of invalid bid surety bonds. Representatives from two national DME industry trade organizations, as well as six of their small supplier members, told GAO that the new bid surety bond requirement did not create a barrier for small suppliers, as bid surety bonds were accessible to small suppliers and reasonably priced. However, some of these representatives reported other factors may affect small suppliers' future participation in CBP rounds, such as concerns related to small suppliers' ability to provide items at rates that are competitive with larger suppliers. Why GAO Did This Study To achieve Medicare savings and address fraud concerns, Congress required that CMS, in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), phase in a CBP for certain DME product categories in designated geographical (or CBP) areas. CBP Round 2021 began on January 1, 2021, and included two product categories (off-the-shelf knee braces and off-the-shelf back braces) in a total of 235 CBP area and product category combinations (known as competitions). CMS estimated that round 2021 will save Medicare more than $600 million over the 3-year contract period. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 included a provision for GAO to evaluate the effect of the new bid surety bond requirement on small supplier participation in the CBP. CMS defines small suppliers as those generating $3.5 million or less in total gross Medicare and non-Medicare revenue annually. This report describes 1) the extent to which small suppliers participated in CBP round 2021 and 2) what is known about how the bid surety bond requirement and other factors affected or may affect small supplier participation in the CBP. GAO reviewed bidding process and contract award data; interviewed CMS officials; and interviewed representatives from two national DME industry trade organizations, including six of their small DME supplier members, that GAO selected based on their familiarity with the CBP and the new bid surety bond requirement. HHS provided technical comments on a draft of this report, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact Michelle B. Rosenberg at (202) 512-7114 or rosenbergm@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • 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.
    [Read More…]
  • Department of State Offers Reward for Information to Bring Guinea-Bissau Narcotics Trafficker to Justice
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against the State of Alabama for Unconstitutional Conditions in State’s Prisons for Men
    In Crime News
    Today, the Justice Department filed suit against the State of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Corrections. The complaint alleges that the conditions at Alabama’s prisons for men violate the Constitution because Alabama fails to provide adequate protection from prisoner-on-prisoner violence and prisoner-on-prisoner sexual abuse, fails to provide safe and sanitary conditions, and subjects prisoners to excessive force at the hands of prison staff. 
    [Read More…]
  • Two Men Charged in Ecuadorian Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme
    In Crime News
    Criminal complaints have been unsealed charging two Ecuadorian citizens for their alleged roles in a bribery and money laundering scheme involving Ecuador’s public police pension fund (ISSPOL).
    [Read More…]
  • NASA’s TESS, Spitzer Missions Discover a World Orbiting a Unique Young Star
    In Space
    The newly discovered [Read More…]
  • [Protest of Navy Methods for Obtaining Information About Commercially Available Shotguns and Ammunition]
    In U.S GAO News
    A firm protested a Navy announcement to obtain information about commercially available shotguns and ammunition, contending that the announcement was ambiguous, capricious, and unduly restrictive. GAO held that it would not consider the protest, since the announcement was for information purposes only and did not involve the issuance of a solicitation or the award or proposed award of a contract. Accordingly, the protest was dismissed.
    [Read More…]
  • Queens Acupuncture Clinic Owner Charged with Tax Crimes
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Brooklyn, New York, returned an indictment on June 4, charging a New York City woman with conspiring to defraud the United States and aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false tax return.
    [Read More…]
  • Jury convicts Laredo man on cocaine charges
    In Justice News
    A Laredo federal jury [Read More…]
  • Bankruptcy Filings Fall Sharply for Second Straight Quarter
    In U.S Courts
    Despite continued high unemployment related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, personal and business bankruptcy filings fell 21.1 percent for the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2020, according to statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
    [Read More…]
  • South Padre Island man heads to prison following the discovery of more than 22K pornographic images
    In Justice News
    A 68-year-old local man [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Calls on San Francisco Mayor to End “One Congregant” Rule for Places of Worship to Comply with the Constitution
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department today sent a letter to the San Francisco mayor explaining that the city’s policy of only allowing a single worshiper in places of worship regardless of their size, while allowing multiple patrons in other indoor settings including gyms, tattoo parlors, hair salons, massage studios, and daycares, is contrary to the Constitution and the nation’s best tradition of religious freedom.
    [Read More…]
  • Ethiopia Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken Virtual Remarks to Embassy Kyiv Staff
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
Network News © 2005 Area.Control.Network™ All rights reserved.