October 18, 2021

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Three Defendants Sentenced to Prison in Multi-State Dog Fighting Conspiracy

12 min read
<div>Three defendants have been sentenced for their roles in an interstate dog fighting network across the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey.</div>
Three defendants have been sentenced for their roles in an interstate dog fighting network across the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey.

More from: October 7, 2021

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  • Fake Title – Maintenance (4/18)
    In U.S GAO News
    GAO Email Notification Test We are testing our notification distribution process for GAO reports. If you are able to read this information the link contained in the email notification link worked. Please confirm that you received the email notification from GAOReports@gao.gov and used the link to access the prepublication site by contacting Andrea Thomas at thomasa@gao.gov (202) 512-3147 John Miller at millerj@gao.gov (202) 512-3672 Thank you
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  • North Carolina Return Preparer Indicted for Tax Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury sitting in Greenville, North Carolina, returned an indictment charging a North Carolina tax preparer with conspiracy to defraud the United States and with preparing false returns for clients, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
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  • Political Donor Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Lobbying and Campaign Contribution Crimes, Tax Evasion, and Obstruction of Justice
    In Crime News
    A venture capitalist and political fundraiser was sentenced today to 144 months in federal prison for falsifying records to conceal his work as a foreign agent while lobbying high-level U.S. government officials, evading the payment of millions of dollars in taxes, making illegal campaign contributions, and obstructing a federal investigation into the source of donations to a presidential inauguration committee. Imaad Shah Zuberi, 50, of Arcadia, California, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, who also ordered him to pay $15,705,080 in restitution and a criminal fine of $1.75 million.
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  • Senior State Department Official On Security Implications of the Climate Crisis in Advance of Secretary Blinken’s Participation in the UN Security Council Open Debate on Climate and Security
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  • Department of Justice and Partner Departments and Agencies Conduct Coordinated Actions to Disrupt and Deter Iranian Malicious Cyber Activities Targeting the United States and the Broader International Community
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  • Telecommunications: FCC Has Implemented the Lifeline National Verifier but Should Improve Consumer Awareness and Experience
    In U.S GAO News
    As of June 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) required consumers nationwide to use the Lifeline National Verifier (Verifier), a centralized process and data system, to check their eligibility for Lifeline. Because consumers who participate in certain federal benefits programs qualify for discounted phone and internet service through Lifeline, the Verifier checks state and federal benefits databases to verify consumers' eligibility. The Verifier also includes a manual review process for consumers to submit documents proving their eligibility if they cannot be found in a database. As of November 2020, the Verifier had connections with databases in 20 states and 2 federal agencies. GAO found that although consumers in states without state database connections had the same likelihood of actually meeting eligibility requirements as consumers in states with such connections, they were less likely to be found eligible for Lifeline through the Verifier (see figure). Average Eligibility Determination for New Lifeline Applicants in States with and without State Database Connections to the Lifeline National Verifier, June 2018 through June 2020 FCC coordinated with state and federal stakeholders to implement the Verifier. However, stakeholders told GAO that many eligible consumers are not aware of the Verifier or Lifeline. Consumers may lack this awareness because FCC's consumer education planning did not always align with key practices, such as developing consistent, clear messages and researching target audiences. As a result, eligible consumers may not apply for Lifeline. Moreover, while FCC originally envisioned tribal governments and organizations assisting residents of tribal lands with the Verifier, it has not provided them with quality information to effectively do so. Although FCC reported that the Verifier is meeting its goal of improving the consumer experience, GAO found that the manual review process, which FCC used to determine the eligibility of more than half of applicants in many states, is challenging for consumers. However, FCC does not collect complete information on consumers' experience with this process, and thus is limited in its ability to identify and address the challenges consumers face. Such challenges likely contributed to eligible consumers giving up on their applications. For example, we found that more than two-thirds of applicants who underwent manual review between June 2018 and June 2020 did not complete their applications. FCC's Lifeline program discounts phone and internet service for eligible low-income consumers. In 2019, FCC authorized $982 million in support for 6.9 million eligible consumers. FCC created the Verifier with the stated goals of reducing fraud and costs and improving the consumer experience. The Verifier includes an online application, connections to state and federal benefits databases, and a standardized manual review process. GAO was asked to review FCC's implementation of the Verifier. This report examines: (1) the status of the Verifier; (2) FCC's coordination with stakeholders and efforts to educate consumers and facilitate tribal stakeholders' involvement; and (3) the extent to which the Verifier is meeting its goals. GAO reviewed FCC orders and documentation; analyzed Verifier performance and Lifeline subscriber data; interviewed FCC and other agency officials, and selected industry, state, tribal, and consumer stakeholders; and surveyed state officials. Stakeholders were selected to obtain a variety of non-generalizable viewpoints. GAO is making six recommendations, including that FCC develop a consumer education plan, provide quality information to tribal organizations, and collect information on consumers' experience with the manual review process. FCC agreed to take steps to address all of GAO's recommendations. For more information, contact Andrew Von Ah at (202)-512-2834 or vonaha@gao.gov.
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  • Colorado Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime After Unprovoked Stabbing of Black Man
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    A Colorado man pleaded guilty today to a federal hate crime for stabbing a Black man from Ontario, Oregon while the man was sitting in a fast-food restaurant.
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  • Justice Department Settles with New Jersey-Based Staffing Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims
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    The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement with Collabera, Inc., a Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based information technology (IT) staffing agency.  The settlement resolves the department’s claims that Collabera violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) when it discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens.
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  • Human Trafficking: Oversight of Contractors’ Use of Foreign Workers in High-Risk Environments Needs to Be Strengthened
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Current policies and guidance governing the payment of recruitment fees by foreign workers on certain U.S. government contracts do not provide clear instructions to agencies or contractors regarding the components or amounts of permissible fees related to recruitment. GAO found that some foreign workers—individuals who are not citizens of the United States or the host country—had reported paying for their jobs. Such recruitment fees can lead to various abuses related to trafficking in persons (TIP), such as debt bondage. For example, on the contract employing the largest number of foreign workers in its sample, GAO found that more than 1,900 foreign workers reported paying fees for their jobs, including to recruitment agencies used by a subcontractor. According to the subcontractor, these fees were likely paid to a recruiter who assisted foreign workers with transportation to and housing in Dubai before they were hired to work on the contract in Afghanistan (see figure). Some Department of Defense (DOD) contracting officials GAO interviewed said that such fees may be reasonable. DOD, the Department of State (State), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have developed policy and guidance for certain contracts addressing recruitment fees in different ways. However, these agencies do not specify what components or amounts of recruitment fees are considered permissible, limiting the ability of contracting officers and contractors to implement agency policy and guidance. Sample Recruitment Paths for Foreign Workers on a U.S. Government Contract in Afghanistan GAO found that agency monitoring, called for by federal acquisition regulations and agency guidance, did not always include processes to specifically monitor contractor efforts to combat TIP. For 7 of the 11 contracts in GAO's sample, DOD and State had specific monitoring processes to combat TIP. On the 4 remaining contracts, agencies did not specifically monitor for TIP, but rather focused on contractor-provided goods and services, such as building construction. In addition, some DOD and State contracting officials said they were unaware of relevant acquisitions policy and guidance for combating TIP and did not clearly understand their monitoring responsibilities. Both DOD and State have developed additional training to help make contracting officials more aware of their monitoring responsibilities to combat TIP. Without specific efforts to monitor for TIP, agencies' ability to implement the zero tolerance policy and detect concerns about TIP is limited. Why GAO Did This Study Since the 1990s, there have been allegations of abuse of foreign workers on U.S. government contracts overseas, including allegations of TIP. In 2002, the United States adopted a zero tolerance policy on TIP regarding U.S. government employees and contractors abroad and began requiring the inclusion of this policy in all contracts in 2007. Such policy is important because the government relies on contractors that employ foreign workers in countries where, according to State, they may be vulnerable to abuse. GAO was mandated to report on the use of foreign workers. This report examines (1) policies and guidance governing the recruitment of foreign workers and the fees these workers may pay to secure work on U.S. government contracts overseas and (2) agencies' monitoring of contractor efforts to combat TIP. GAO reviewed a nongeneralizable sample of 11 contracts awarded by DOD, State, and USAID, composing nearly one-third of all reported foreign workers on contracts awarded by these agencies at the end of fiscal year 2013. GAO interviewed agency officials and contractors about labor practices and oversight activities on these contracts.
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  • Overseas Contingency Operations: Alternatives Identified to the Approach to Fund War- Related Activities
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Selected Department of Defense (DOD) components use coding and other internal control activities to separately account for overseas contingency operations (OCO) and base amounts in their operation and maintenance (O&M) accounts during budget execution. To record and track OCO and base amounts separately, the military services, U.S. Special Operations Command, and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency use coding in their financial systems. These DOD components also have instituted some internal control activities to help ensure separation of OCO amounts. For example, Army and Defense Security Cooperation Agency officials stated that the financial systems they use incorporate system controls that automatically maintain the categories of funding, such as OCO, designated during allotment through subsequent actions to ensure the OCO coding remains throughout budget execution. GAO identified at least four alternatives to the processes used to separate funding for DOD's OCO and base activities: Move enduring costs to the base budget. DOD could request funding for enduring costs—costs that would continue in the absence of contingency operations—through its base budget rather than its OCO budget. Use specific purpose language. Congress could use legally binding language in the annual DOD appropriations acts to specify the purposes—programs, projects and activities—for which OCO amounts may be obligated. Create separate appropriation accounts. Congress could create separate appropriation accounts for OCO and base funding. Use a transfer account. Congress could appropriate funds for OCO into a non-expiring transfer account. DOD would fund OCO with its base budget and later reimburse its base accounts using funds from a transfer account. Implementing these alternatives would require Congress and DOD to take action in different phases of the budget process (see figure). Alternatives for Funding for DOD's OCO and Base Activities in Phases of the Budget Process Each alternative includes tradeoffs that Congress and DOD would have to consider to strike the desired balance between agency flexibility and congressional control. The alternatives, and GAO's summary of their positive and negative aspects identified by questionnaire respondents, could be a reference for Congress and DOD as they consider potential changes to processes for separating the funding of amounts for OCO and base activities. Why GAO Did This Study Since 2001, DOD has received more than $1.8 trillion in OCO funds. DOD defines “contingency operations” as small, medium, or large-scale military operations, while “base” activities include operating support for installations, civilian pay, and other costs that would be incurred, regardless of contingency operations. Congress separately appropriates amounts for base and OCO activities into the same appropriation accounts and directs how funds are to be spent by designating amounts in conference reports or explanatory statements accompanying the annual appropriations acts. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 included a provision for GAO to report on the feasibility of separating OCO expenditures from other DOD expenditures. This report (1) describes internal controls that selected DOD components use to separately account for OCO and base amounts during budget execution and (2) identifies and examines alternatives that Congress or DOD could use to separate funding for OCO and base activities. GAO reviewed documentation of DOD internal controls for separating OCO and base amounts in the O&M account, interviewed financial management officials, and, among other things, conducted a literature review to identify alternatives that Congress or DOD could use to separate funding for OCO and base activities. Also, GAO administered a questionnaire to DOD and non-DOD officials to identify positive and negative aspects of these alternatives. For more information, contact Elizabeth Field at (202) 512-2775 or fielde1@gao.gov.
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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 and homeland security, GAO was asked to determine if controls used to pay mobilized Army Guard personnel provided assurance that such pays were accurate and timely. GAO's audit used a case study approach to focus on controls over three key areas: processes, people (human capital), and 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, largely erroneous debt assessments to mobilized Army Guard personnel. The end result of these pay problems 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 financial impact on individual soldiers and their families. For example, many soldiers and their families were required to spend considerable time, sometimes while the soldiers were deployed in remote, combat 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 a significant factor impeding accurate and timely payroll payments to mobilized Army Guard soldiers, including (1) non-integrated systems, (2) limitations in system processing capabilities, and (3) ineffective system edits.
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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.
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  • The China Initiative: Year-in-Review (2019-20)
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    On the two-year anniversary of the Attorney General’s China Initiative, the Department continues its significant focus on the Initiative’s goals and announced substantial progress during the past year in disrupting and deterring the wide range of national security threats posed by the policies and practices of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government.
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