USDOJ: Government Contractor Indicted for Bribing Public Official at @USAGM

 

Via DOJ:

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia returned an indictment charging a North Carolina man with engaging in a bribery and fraud scheme with a former contracting officer for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) (now known as the U.S. Agency for Global Media).

According to court documents, William F. Snow, 70, of Jamestown, worked for a government contracting firm that previously provided professional staffing services to BBG. Between late 2014 and late 2016, Snow, in addition to a BBG contracting officer and others, allegedly agreed to hire and pay the contracting officer’s relative for a job involving minimal work and which resulted in payments to the relative that totaled more than $68,000. In exchange, the BBG contracting officer took official actions that benefitted Snow, the contracting firm, and another executive, Rita Starliper, who previously pleaded guilty for her involvement in the scheme. In particular, the contracting officer took official action and provided preferential treatment that included the awarding of a professional staffing contract to the contracting firm that was worth millions of dollars and the steering of the procurement process to benefit Snow, Starliper, and the contracting firm.

Snow is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services mail fraud, one count of bribery, and three counts of honest services mail fraud. The defendant will make his initial court appearance on Dec. 28. If convicted, Snow faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services mail fraud, fifteen years in prison for bribery, and twenty years in prison for each count of honest services mail fraud. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber of the Eastern District of Virginia; Special Agent in Charge Elisabeth Kaminsky of the Office of Inspector General for the Department of State; and Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

The Office of Inspector General for the Department of State and the FBI are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Heidi Boutros Gesch of the Eastern District of Virginia and Senior Litigation Counsel Edward P. Sullivan, and Trial Attorney Jordan Dickson of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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A Plot To Injure Or Kill Myanmar’s Ambassador to The United Nations

 

Via USDOJ:

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the guilty plea of YE HEIN ZAW, a citizen of Myanmar, for his role in a conspiracy to assault and make a violent attack upon Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.  ZAW pled guilty today in White Plains federal court before U.S. District Judge Philip M. Halpern.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As he admitted in court today, Ye Hein Zaw participated in a plot to injure or kill Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations in a planned attack that was to take place on American soil.  Zaw now awaits sentencing for his crime.  I commend the tireless efforts of our law enforcement partners at all levels of government to ensure the safety of foreign diplomats and officials in the United States and bring the perpetrators of this plot to justice.”

According to the Information to which ZAW pled guilty, the complaint that was filed in this case, and statements made during court proceedings:

Between at least in or about July 2021 through at least on or about August 5, 2021, ZAW, a citizen of Myanmar residing in New York, conspired with others to injure or kill Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (the “Ambassador”).  During the conspiracy, a co-conspirator communicated with an arms dealer in Thailand (the “Arms Dealer”) who sells weapons to the Burmese military, which overthrew Myanmar’s civilian government in or about February 2021.  In the course of those conversations, the co-conspirator and the Arms Dealer agreed on a plan in which the co-conspirator would hire attackers to hurt the Ambassador in an attempt to force the Ambassador to step down from his post.  If the Ambassador did not step down, then the Arms Dealer proposed that the attackers hired by the co-conspirator would kill the Ambassador.

Shortly after agreeing on the plan, ZAW contacted the co-conspirator by cellphone and, using a money transfer app, transferred approximately $4,000 to the co-conspirator as an advance payment on the plot to attack the Ambassador.  Later, during a recorded phone conversation, ZAW and the co-conspirator discussed how the planned attackers would require an additional $1,000 to conduct the attack on the Ambassador in Westchester County, and, for an additional payment, the attackers could, in substance, kill the Ambassador.  In response, ZAW agreed, in substance, to pay the additional $1,000 and to try to obtain the additional money.

ZAW pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to assault and make a violent attack upon a foreign official, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

ZAW is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Halpern on May 10, 2022.

Read more:

First Extradition From Cameroon to US: Fugitive to Serve an 80-Year Prison Sentence

 

Via USDOJ:

In the first extradition from the Republic of Cameroon to the United States, a Texas man was extradited to Houston on Friday to serve an 80-year prison sentence he received in absentia four years ago after he pleaded guilty in two separate cases to conspiracy, health care fraud, money laundering, and tax offenses.

According to court documents, in November 2016, Ebong Aloysius Tilong, 57, of Sugar Land, Texas, and his wife, Marie Neba, went to trial on the conspiracy, health care fraud, and money laundering charges. The trial evidence and court documents showed that between 2006 and 2015, Tilong, Neba, and their co-conspirators used Tilong and Neba’s company, Fiango Home Healthcare Inc. (Fiango), to corruptly obtain more than $13 million by submitting false and fraudulent claims to Medicare for home health care services that Fiango’s patients did not need or receive. The trial evidence and court documents also showed that Tilong and Neba paid illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters to refer patients to Fiango, and that Tilong falsified and directed others to falsify medical records to make it appear as though Fiango’s patients met the Medicare qualifications for home health care. Additional evidence demonstrated that Tilong attempted to destroy evidence and blackmail and suborn perjury from witnesses. After the first week of trial, Tilong pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, three counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks, three counts of payment and receipt of health care kickbacks, and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

In June 2017, Tilong pleaded guilty in a separate case to two counts of filing fraudulent tax returns. In connection with this guilty plea, Tilong admitted that he created a shell company called Quality Therapy Services (QTS) to limit the amount of tax that he paid to the IRS on the proceeds that he and his co-conspirators stole from Medicare. According to Tilong’s plea agreement, in 2013 and 2014, Tilong wrote almost $1 million in checks from Fiango to QTS for physical-therapy services that QTS never provided to Fiango’s patients and deducted as business expenses. Tilong admitted that his tax fraud scheme caused the IRS a tax loss of approximately $344,452.

In August 2017, Neba was sentenced to 75 years in prison the Medicare fraud scheme at Fiango. The U.S. District Court scheduled Tilong’s sentencing for Oct. 13, 2017, but court records show that on the morning of his sentencing hearing, Tilong removed an ankle bracelet monitoring his location and failed to respond to phone calls from, or appear in, the U.S. District Court for his sentencing. On Dec. 8, 2017, the U.S. District Court sentenced Tilong in absentia to 80 years in prison for his role in the Medicare and tax fraud schemes.
[…]

In September 2021, the Republic of Cameroon President Paul Biya signed a decree ordering Tilong’s removal to the United States.

On Dec. 10, 2021, U.S. Marshals escorted Tilong from Cameroon to the United States.

The United States is grateful to the Government of Cameroon for its cooperation and support of this extradition request.

Read more:

Ex-@StateDept Employee Gets 12 Months, 1 Day in Prison For $156,950 Wire Fraud in Haiti

 

Via USDOJ:
Former State Department Employee Sentenced to Federal Prison for Embezzling more than $150,000 from Department of Defense

Charleston, South Carolina — Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart announced today that Roudy Pierre-Louis, 49, a citizen of Haiti and former State Department employee, was sentenced to more than a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to committing Wire Fraud.

Evidence presented to the court showed that from 2015 through August 2018, Pierre-Louis was an employee of the State Department who worked at the Embassy of Haiti as the sole budget analyst for the Security Coordination Office (SCO). In this role, Pierre-Louis was responsible for managing all lines of accounting for the State Department and Department of Defense (DoD) associated with the SCO, which included per diem cash advances for individuals travelling to United States Southern Command events. Pierre-Louis also was designated as the SCO’s Occasional Money Holder, allowing him to receive cash on behalf of other individuals who did not have full access to the Embassy in order to obtain cash advances for travel expenses, including, but not limited to, per diem, lodging, and air fare.

The Embassy maintained a vault, or “cash cage,” from which cash advances could be disbursed to employees providing documentation of supervisory approval. This cash cage was reconciled on a daily basis, as cash on hand along with approved disbursements were required to be reconciled and approved by a financial officer with the State Department in order to balance and replenish the cash supply.

Beginning in 2015 and continuing through at least August 2018, Pierre-Louis submitted fraudulent vouchers and supporting documents for cash advances in the names of Haitian Nationals that contained forged signatures of requesting and approving DoD supervisors.

Unaware of this fraud, the Department of State released these cash funds to Pierre-Louis, which were subsequently reimbursed by the Department of Defense. During the relevant time period, from 2015 to August 2018, Pierre-Louis embezzled at least $156,950 from his wire fraud scheme.

United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel sentenced Pierre-Louis to 12 months and one day in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision, and ordered that Pierre-Louis pay full restitution in this case. There is no parole in the federal system.

The case was investigated by the State Department Office of Inspector General’s Charleston, South Carolina Field Office, and the Major Procurement Fraud Unit of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.

Assistant United States Attorney Allessandra Stewart prosecuted the case.

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MSPB: Issues of performance and misconduct may overlap #precedentialdecision

 

This is a Precedential Court Decision for readers tracking precedence and types of cases.
Tribunal: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Case Number: 2021-1686
MSPB Docket Number: DE-0752-19-0297-I-2
Issuance Date: October 29, 2021
Adverse Actions; Performance and Misconduct; Harmful Error; Penalty/Frequently Repeated Offenses

The petitioner was a Passport Specialist for the agency, who in 2016 served a 3-day suspension for making inappropriate comments at work, and in 2018 served a 5-day suspension for failure to follow instructions and failure to protect personally identifiable information. Nevertheless, the petitioner received a fully successful performance rating for calendar year 2018.

On May 9, 2019, the agency removed the petitioner based on four charges:

(1) failure to follow instructions (eleven specifications), (2) failure to protect personally identifiable information (one specification), (3) failure to follow policy (five specifications), and (4) improper personal conduct (one specification). Some of this conduct occurred during the 2018 rating period.

The petitioner filed a Board appeal, and the administrative judge issued an initial decision affirming his removal. The administrative judge credited the agency’s distinction between issues of performance and misconduct, the former involving employees who “can’t do” and the latter involving employees who “won’t do.” Finding that the charges “presented an issue of misconduct more than performance,” the administrative judge declined to consider the 2018 performance evaluation as a rebuttal to the charges. He found that the agency proved its charges and established nexus and that the removal penalty was reasonable under the circumstances. The initial decision became final, and the petitioner sought judicial review.

Holding: Issues of performance and misconduct may overlap. The existence of a fully successful performance evaluation does not necessarily bar discipline for matters covered by that evaluation, but it still must be considered in determining whether the employee committed the offenses charged and the reasonableness of the penalty imposed.

1. The court explained that performance and conduct issues “may overlap.” In this case, the petitioner’s performance plan required that he follow instructions, and some of the specifications under the failure to follow instructions charge occurred during the period covered by the 2018 performance evaluation. Therefore, the administrative judge should have considered that evaluation in assessing that charge.

2. Nevertheless, the administrative judge’s failure to consider the 2018 performance evaluation did not constitute reversable error because the petitioner failed to show that it likely affected the outcome of the Board’s decision. The petitioner did not dispute that any of the events underlying the charges occurred, and five of the eleven specifications of failure to follow instructions occurred outside the 2018 performance year.

3. Even assuming that the administrative judge erred in failing to consider the 2018 performance evaluation in assessing the penalty, the petitioner did not show harmful error. First, the deciding official considered the evaluation in reaching his penalty determination, in the context of his thorough Douglas factor analysis. Second, even if the evaluation suggested that the 2018 specifications of failure to follow instructions were not serious in and of themselves, their seriousness was magnified in light of the petitioner’s prior discipline for similar infractions and his continued failure to follow instructions after the 2018 appraisal period ended.

Read in full here.

 

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US Embassy Belize: Resident Amcit Pleads Guilty in Crypto Laundering Service, Forfeits 4,400+ Bitcoins

 

This past summer, an Ohio resident who was apparently also a resident of Belize pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy arising from his operation of Helix, a Darknet-based cryptocurrency laundering service. The plea deal includes the forfeiture of more than 4,400 bitcoin, valued at more than $200 million.
Via USDOJ: Ohio Resident Pleads Guilty to Operating Darknet-Based Bitcoin ‘Mixer’ That Laundered Over $300 Million

An Ohio man pleaded guilty today to a money laundering conspiracy arising from his operation of Helix, a Darknet-based cryptocurrency laundering service.

According to court documents, Larry Dean Harmon, 38, of Akron, admitted that he operated Helix from 2014 to 2017. Helix functioned as a bitcoin “mixer” or “tumbler,” allowing customers, for a fee, to send bitcoin to designated recipients in a manner that was designed to conceal the source or owner of the bitcoin. Helix was linked to and associated with “Grams,” a Darknet search engine also run by Harmon. Harmon advertised Helix to customers on the Darknet to conceal transactions from law enforcement.

“By holding Harmon accountable, the department has disrupted the unlawful money laundering practices of these dangerous criminal enterprises,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Justice Department, together with our law enforcement and regulatory partners, will continue to take enforcement actions to identify and impede those who use illicit means for financial gain, as well as those who use the Darknet to facilitate and obscure their criminal conduct.”

“Darknet markets and the dealers who sell opioids and other illegal drugs on them are a growing scourge,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia. “They may try to hide their identities and launder millions in sales behind technologies like Helix. But the department and its law enforcement partners will shine a light on their activities, dismantle the infrastructure such criminal marketplaces depend on, and prosecute and convict those responsible.”

“Criminals may think they can mask financial transactions by using services like Helix to conceal the source of illicit funds,” said Assistant Director Calvin A. Shivers of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “The FBI and our state, local, federal and international law enforcement partners are working together every day in a complex and ever-changing digital environment to protect the American people from sophisticated money launderers and financiers.”

“The Darknet is driven in part by the criminal marketplaces which peddle their nefarious goods and services,” said Chief James C. Lee of the IRS Criminal Investigation. “But these marketplaces thrive in large measure because of the infrastructure that supports them. Harmon profited by facilitating the back-channel support of these marketplaces and helped criminals launder money they received via illicit activities. He then hid those funds from the government. He admitted his role today in these activities and will now be held accountable.”

“Harmon admitted that he conspired with Darknet vendors to launder bitcoin generated through drug trafficking and other illegal activities,” said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Today’s guilty plea demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to infiltrate and shut down the cryptocurrency money-laundering networks that support cyber-criminal enterprises.”

Harmon admitted that Helix partnered with several Darknet markets, including AlphaBay, Evolution, Cloud 9 and others, to provide bitcoin money laundering services for market customers. In total, Helix moved over 350,000 bitcoin – valued at over $300 million at the time of the transactions – on behalf of customers, with the largest volume coming from Darknet markets. Harmon further admitted that he conspired with Darknet vendors and marketplace administrators to launder such bitcoins generated through illegal drug trafficking offenses on those Darknet marketplaces.

As part of his plea, Harmon also agreed to the forfeiture of more than 4,400 bitcoin, valued at more than $200 million at today’s prices, and other seized properties that were involved in the money laundering conspiracy. Harmon will be sentenced at a date to be determined and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, a term of supervised release of not more than three years, and mandatory restitution. Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia accepted Harmon’s guilty plea and will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The IRS-CI Cyber Crimes Unit and the FBI’s Washington Field Office investigated the case, with valuable assistance provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio, the IRS’s Washington, Cincinnati and Oakland Field Offices, the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and Cleveland, Newark and San Francisco Field Offices, and the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.

The Belize Ministry of the Attorney General and the Belize National Police Department provided essential support for the investigation, coordinated through U.S. Embassy Belmopan. The investigation was coordinated with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which assessed a $60 million civil monetary penalty against Harmon in a parallel action.

Trial Attorneys S. Riane Harper and C. Alden Pelker of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher B. Brown of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia prosecuted the case. Additional assistance was provided by Trial Attorneys Emily Siedell and Brian Nicholson of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, former CCIPS Trial Attorney W. Joss Nichols and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Riedl of the Northern District of Ohio.

U.S. Embassy Moscow: A Scheme to Evade Taxes While Renouncing U.S. Citizenship Results in $500M+ Penalty

 

On October 29, USDOJ announced that Oleg Tinkov, aka Oleg Tinkoff, the founder of Russian Bank was sentenced for felony tax conviction arising from scheme to evade exit tax while renouncing his U.S. citizenship. Defendant Paid Over $500 Million in Taxes, Interest, and Penalties

The founder of a Russian bank was sentenced today for his felony conviction for filing a false tax return. As required under his plea agreement, prior to sentencing, Oleg Tinkov, aka Oleg Tinkoff, paid $508,936,184, more than double what he had sought to escape paying to the U.S. Treasury through a scheme to renounce his U.S. citizenship and conceal from the IRS large stock gains that he knew were reportable. This includes $248,525,339 in taxes, statutory interest on that tax and a nearly $100 million fraud penalty. Tinkov was additionally fined $250,000, which is the maximum allowed by statute, and sentenced to time served and one year of supervised release.

Tinkov was indicted in Sept. 2019 for willfully filing false tax returns, and was arrested on Feb. 26, 2020, in London, United Kingdom (UK). The United States sought extradition, and Tinkov contested on medical grounds. In public records, Tinkov has disclosed that he is undergoing a UK-based intensive treatment plan for acute myeloid leukemia and graft versus host disease, which has rendered him immunocompromised and unable to safely travel in the foreseeable future.

On Oct. 1, 2021, Tinkov entered a plea to one count of filing a false tax return. According to the plea agreement, Tinkov was born in Russia and became a naturalized United States citizen in 1996. From that time through 2013, he filed U.S. tax returns. In late 2005 or 2006, Tinkov founded Tinkoff Credit Services (TCS), a Russia-based branchless bank that provides its customers with online financial and banking services. Through a foreign entity, Tinkov indirectly held the majority of TCS shares.

In October 2013, TCS held an initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange and became a multi-billion dollar, publicly traded company. As part of going public, Tinkov sold a small portion of his majority shareholder stake for more than $192 million, and his assets following the IPO had a fair market value of more than $1.1 billion. Three days after the successful IPO, Tinkov went to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, to relinquish his U.S. citizenship.

As part of his expatriation, Tinkov was required to file a U.S. Initial and Annual Expatriation Statement. This form requires expatriates with a net worth of $2 million or more to report the constructive sale of their assets worldwide to the IRS as if those assets were sold on the day before expatriation. The taxpayer is then required to report and pay tax on the gain from any such constructive sale.

Tinkov was told of his filing and tax obligations by both the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and his U.S.-based accountant. When asked by his accountant if his net worth was more than $2 million for purposes of filling out the expatriation form, Tinkov lied and told him he did not have assets above $2 million. When his accountant later inquired whether his net worth was under $2 million, rather than answer the question, Tinkov filled out the expatriation form himself falsely reporting that his net worth was only $300,000. On Feb. 26, 2014, Tinkov filed a 2013 individual tax return that falsely reported his income as only $205,317. In addition, Tinkov did not report any of the gain from the constructive sale of his property worth more than $1.1 billion, nor did he pay the applicable taxes as required by law. In total, Tinkov caused a tax loss of $248,525,339, which he has paid in full with substantial penalties and interest as part of his plea, together with tax liabilities for other years.

Read in full here.

 

 

US Embassy Manila: USINDOPACOM Employee Pleads Guilty For Removal of Classified Material

 

Via USDOJ:  Woman Pleads Guilty to Unauthorized Removal and Retention of Classified Material

A Hawaii woman pleaded guilty today to one count of knowingly removing classified information concerning the national defense or foreign relations of the United States and retaining it at an unauthorized location.

According to court documents, Asia Janay Lavarello, 31, of Honolulu, admitted to having removed and retained numerous classified documents, writings and notes relating to the national defense or foreign relations of the United States without authority. While working as an Executive Assistant for the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii, Lavarello accepted a temporary assignment working at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. There, she had access to classified computers and documents, and attended classified meetings as part of her official duties. Court documents list several specific instances in which Lavarello mishandled classified material of the United States.

According to her plea, on March 20, 2020, Lavarello removed classified documents from the U.S. Embassy in Manila. She took the classified documents to her hotel room where she hosted a dinner party later that evening. Among the guests were two foreign nationals. During the party, a co-worker discovered the documents, which included documents classified at the SECRET level. Lavarello’s temporary assignment in the Philippines was ultimately terminated due to her mishandling of SECRET classified documents.

After Lavarello returned to Hawaii, investigators executed a search warrant at her government workplace. In her desk, investigators found a notebook containing Lavarello’s handwritten notes of meetings she attended while working at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The notes contained facts and information classified at the CONFIDENTIAL and SECRET levels. Investigators determined that Lavarello personally transported the documents to Hawaii, unsecured, and kept the classified notebook at an unsecure location until at least April 13, 2020.

Investigators also discovered that Lavarello included information from the classified notebook in a Jan. 16, 2020, email from her personal Gmail account to her unclassified U.S. Government email account. The information she transmitted over unsecure networks was classified at the SECRET level.

Lavarello pleaded guilty to the charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material and faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mohammed Khatib of the District of Hawaii and Trial Attorney Stephen Marzen of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.

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Adoption Agency Manager Pleads Guilty in Uganda and Poland Adoption Procurement Schemes

 

Via USDOJ:
Texas Woman Pleads Guilty to Schemes to Procure Adoptions from Uganda and Poland through Bribery and Fraud

A Texas woman who was a program manager at an Ohio-based international adoption agency pleaded guilty today in the Northern District of Ohio to schemes to procure adoptions of Ugandan and Polish children by bribing Ugandan officials and defrauding U.S. authorities.

According to court documents, Debra Parris, 69, of Lake Dallas, engaged in a scheme with others to bribe Ugandan officials to procure adoptions of Ugandan children by families in the United States. These bribes included payments to (a) probation officers intended to ensure favorable probation reports recommending that a particular child be placed into an orphanage; (b) court registrars to influence the assignment of particular cases to “adoption-friendly” judges; and (c) High Court judges to issue favorable guardianship orders for the adoption agency’s clients. In her plea agreement, Parris also admitted that she continued to direct the adoption agency’s clients to work with her alleged co-conspirator Dorah Mirembe, after knowing that Mirembe caused clients of the adoption agency to provide false information to the U.S. State Department for the purpose of misleading it in its adjudication of visa applications.

According to court documents, in a second scheme, after alleged co-conspirator Margaret Cole, the adoption agency’s Executive Director, learned that clients of the adoption agency determined they could not care for one of the two Polish children they were set to adopt, Parris and her co-conspirator took steps to transfer the Polish child to Parris’s relatives, who were not eligible for intercountry adoption. In her plea agreement, Parris also admitted that after the child was injured and hospitalized, Parris agreed with her co-conspirator to conceal their improper conduct from the U.S. State Department in an attempt to continue profiting from these adoptions.

Parris pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and commit visa fraud in connection with the Uganda scheme, and conspiracy to defraud the United States in connection with the Poland scheme. She is scheduled to be sentenced on March 9, 2022. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Trial against Cole is scheduled to commence on Feb. 7, 2022. Mirembe remains at large.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan for the Northern District of Ohio; and Acting Assistant Director Jay Greenberg of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division made the announcement.

If you believe you are a victim of this offense, please visit https://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/victim-witness-program or call (888) 549-3945.

The FBI’s Cleveland Field Office is investigating the case.

Trial Attorneys Jason Manning and Alexander Kramer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Chelsea Rice of the Northern District of Ohio are prosecuting the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs assisted in the investigation.

The Fraud Section has lead responsibility for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and Cole and Mirembe are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Who did @StateDept/BBG pay $9,033,600 for Title VII, Discrimination in Federal Employment?

 

The Treasury Department’s Judgment Fund pays court judgments and compromise settlements of lawsuits against the government. Federal agencies may ask the Bureau of the Fiscal Service to pay from the Judgment Fund for:
  • Most court judgments and Justice Department settlements of actual or imminent litigation against the government
  • Administrative claim awards (settlements by agencies at the administrative level, not involving a lawsuit)
According to Treasury, an agency may only ask for payment from the Judgment Fund if funds are not legally available to pay from the agency’s own appropriations. If another source of funds exists to pay the award, the Judgment Fund cannot be used even if the other source does not have enough money. In that case, the agency with the other source of funds must ask Congress to appropriate more money for that other source.
In most cases, the agency does not have to reimburse the Judgment Fund. However, reimbursement is required when the case comes under either the Contract Disputes Act or the No FEAR Act.
On October 7, 2021, an amount of $9,033,600.00 was sent from the Judgement Fund under Payment ID 062262021. The defendant agency is listed as the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG now USAGM) and the State Department. The database does not include the name of the complainant nor the docket number at the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia which is listed as having jurisdiction of this case. It lists the Principal Citation Code as 42-USC-2000e-16 with the Principal Citation Code Description as “Title VII, Discrimination In Federal Employment.”
The Principal Amount is listed as $9,033,600.00.
The database does not indicate if this payment involves a single complainant or multiple ones. Or if a gag order is included as a bonus.
For more information about the Judgement Fund, click here.

Related item:
5 CFR 724 – Implementation of Title II of the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002-Judgment Fund

 

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