US Embassy Malaysia: Extradition to U.S. For Smuggling Scheme Involving 1500 Protected Turtles

 

Via USDOJ: Foreign National Sentenced for Money Laundering Funds to Promote Turtle Trafficking

A Chinese citizen was sentenced today to 38 months in prison and one year of supervised release on a federal money laundering conviction.

Kang Juntao, 25, of Hangzhou City, China, had previously pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Camden, New Jersey, to financing a nationwide ring of individuals who smuggled at least 1,500 protected turtles, valued at more than $2,250,000, from the United States to Hong Kong. The court also ordered Kang to pay a $10,000 fine, equaling the total assets he held in the United States.

From at least June 12, 2017, to Dec. 3, 2018, Kang recruited a network of poachers, shippers and middlemen to illegally obtain and export turtles. He sent money through U.S. banks, including one in New Jersey, to pay for the turtles and their shipments. He arranged for the turtles to be sold illegally in the Chinese pet market for thousands of dollars each.

Kang had never entered the United States, but the U.S. money laundering statute provides jurisdiction when someone outside of the country passes more than $10,000 through the U.S. financial system to promote specified unlawful activities, such as smuggling wildlife.

In furtherance of the United States’ request for provisional arrest with a view to extradition, the Royal Malaysia Police arrested Kang when he traveled to Kuala Lumpur on Jan. 23, 2019. Kang was extradited to the United States to stand trial in the District of New Jersey in December 2020 pursuant to the extradition treaty between the United States and Malaysian governments.

“The Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute those who finance and profit from illegal wildlife trafficking, even if they do so from abroad,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

“The extradition of a foreign national who had never set foot on American soil for financing a turtle-trafficking ring in the U.S. sends an important message: those who exploit imperiled wildlife for profit will be brought to justice,” said Assistant Director Edward Grace for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. “This investigation illustrates the global reach of the Service’s Office of Law Enforcement made possible by close coordination with partners, including the government of Malaysia, and our resolve to stop international wildlife trafficking from source to consumer.”

The United States, Malaysia, China and approximately 181 other countries are signatories to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES is an international treaty that restricts trade in species that may be threatened with extinction.

Kang trafficked in five turtle species protected by the treaty. The eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina), the Florida box turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri) and the Gulf Coast box turtle (Terrapene carolina major) are subspecies of the common box turtle (Terrapene carolina) and have been listed in CITES since 1995. The spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) is a semi-aquatic turtle listed in CITES as of 2013. The wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) has been protected under CITES since 1992. The turtles are worth on average between $650 to $2,500 each in the Asian market. Female turtles with rare markings have been sold for as much as $20,000.

Kang sent money via PayPal, credit cards or bank transfers to the United States to purchase turtles from sellers advertising on social media or reptile trade websites. These suppliers then shipped the turtles to middlemen across five different states. The middlemen were typically Chinese citizens who entered the country on student visas. Kang paid and instructed these intermediaries to repackage the turtles in boxes with false labels for clandestine shipment to Hong Kong. The turtles were inhumanely bound with duct tape and placed in socks so as not to alert customs authorities. Neither Kang nor his associates declared the turtles to U.S. or Chinese customs or obtained the required CITES permits.

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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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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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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.

@USAGM: Hostile Work Environment and Sex-Based Discrimination Found

 

Via EEOC Appeal Nos. 2019005498 & 2020003512
Hostile Work Environment and Sex-Based Discrimination Found.
Both Complainants worked as International Broadcasters for the Agency’s International Broadcasting Bureau, Voice of America (VOA).  Complainants filed separate EEO complaints alleging, among other things, that the Agency subjected them to a hostile work environment and discrimination based on sex, including denying them promotions, and modifying their television anchor duties.  At the conclusion of the investigations for both complaints, the Agency issued two separate decisions which both concluded that Complainants failed to prove their claims.  The Commission consolidated the matters on appeal, given that the underlying facts were the same in both complaints.  The Commission determined that Complainants both established a prima facie case of discrimination based on sex because they were replaced by male anchors, and all the recipients of the promotion were males.
The Commission then found that the Agency failed to meet its burden to articulate legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its decisions.  Several responsible management officials failed to provide detailed and supported statements regarding the removal of anchor duties and the denial of promotions.  For example, one of the responsible management officials repeatedly provided vague statements that were often not supported by the record, or provided statements that were refuted and/or contradicted by other management officials.  Moreover, when given several opportunities to clarify his statements by the EEO Investigator, the official failed to substantively respond.
The Commission stated that, even if it determined that the Agency’s explanation was sufficient to meet its burden, Complainants still established, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the Agency’s explanations were pretextual.  The Agency was ordered, among other things, to retroactively promote Complainants with appropriate back pay and benefits, reinstate pertinent television and/or radio duties, investigate Complainants’ claims for compensatory damages, and provide training to the responsible management officials.  Madlyn F. & Lashawn C. v. U.S. Agency for Global Media, EEOC Appeal Nos. 2019005498 & 2020003512 (Feb. 9, 2021).

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Related posts:

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.

 

 

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.

EEOC: Request to Repay a Debt For Overpayment of $103,321 Is Not Reprisal

 

EEOC Appeal No. 2020001986

The issue is whether Complainant established that the Agency discriminated against him in reprisal for prior protected EEO activity when it requested that he repay a debt.

At the time of events giving rise to this complaint, Complainant worked in a temporary position as a Regional Federal Benefits Officer at the Agency’s U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico. Complainant stated that he served in this position from October 3, 2010, through August 3, 2013. Report of Investigation (ROI) at 62. Complainant returned to the Social Security Administration (SSA), effective August 3, 2013. ROI at 40.

Complainant stated that the Agency continued to pay his full salary from August 3, 2013, through August 3, 2014, which was in addition to his regular salary from the SSA. ROI at 65. On August 20, 2014, the Agency signed the Notification of Personnel Action (“SF-50”) on the Termination of Complainant’s appointment, effective August 3, 2013. ROI at 97.

On October 13, 2015, the Agency informed Complainant that it had completed its review of his account and determined that Complainant was overpaid by a gross amount of $128,894.94, and that Complainant needed to repay a net amount of $103,928.94. ROI at 110-13. On November 1, 2015, Complainant submitted a request for a waiver of the entire debt. ROI at 105-09. On November 6, 2015, the Agency informed Complainant that his request was under review, and that the debt collection was suspended pending the review. ROI at 120.

On March 28, 2019, the Associate Comptroller (AC) issued a decision denying Complainant’s request for a waiver of the debt because he was not eligible for a waiver under 5 U.S.C. § 5584. AC noted that the overpayment was caused by an administrative error, but it did not relieve Complainant of his responsibility to repay the debt. AC determined that the correct amount of the overpayment was $103,321.00. ROI at 145-53. On May 13, 2019, the Agency approved Complainant’s request for an installment payment plan of $1,501.00 per month for 49 months, with a final payment of $1,453.04. ROI at 94-95.

On May 17, 2019, Complainant filed an EEO complaint alleging that the Agency discriminated against him in reprisal for prior protected EEO activity (Case No. HQ-13-0804-SSA)2 when as recently as April 10, 2019, he was requested to repay a debt stemming from his assignment in Mexico.3
[…]
AC stated that a waiver may not be granted if there exists an “indication of fraud, misrepresentation, or lack of good faith on the part of the employee” and that fault was considered to have existed if the employee knew, or should have known, through an exercise of due diligence that an error occurred but failed to take action, under 5 U.S.C. § 5584. AC stated that Complainant indicated that he received every Earnings and Leave statement from August 2013 through August 2014, while no longer working for the Agency. AC stated that an employee is responsible for verifying the accuracy of the Earnings and Leave statements and reporting errors in a timely manner. ROI at 882.
[…]
While Complainant stated that he believed that the payment was possibly a means to allocate remedies for his prior EEO complaint, Complainant did not prevail on his complaint and was not awarded any remedies. As such, we find that Complainant did not establish that the Agency retaliated against him for his prior protected EEO activity when it requested that Complainant repay a debt stemming from his assignment in Mexico.

Based on a thorough review of the record and the contentions on appeal, including those not specifically addressed herein, we AFFIRM the Agency’s final decision finding that Complainant did not establish that the Agency discriminated against him in reprisal for prior protected EEO activity when it requested that he repay a debt.

 

Click to access 2020001986.pdf

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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

 

Related posts:

 

 

EEOC Reverses @StateDept Dismissal of Reasonable Accommodation Complaint Over Housing Assignment

 

 

Via EEOC Appeal No. 2021001832:
At the time of events giving rise to this complaint, Complainant was employed as a Criminal Investigator, GS-1811-13, with the Department of Justice – Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Caribbean Division – Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles Country Office, and stationed at the Department of State’s (hereinafter Agency or State) U.S. Consulate – Curaçao. On January 6, 2020, Complainant filed an equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaint against State alleging he was discriminated against based on his disability (asthma and association with his minor son with asthma who was part of his household) and reprisal for prior protected EEO activity under the Rehabilitation Act (requesting reasonable accommodation) when:
1. he was denied reasonable accommodation regarding his housing assignment in Curaçao; and
2. his assignment to US Consulate Curaçao was terminated on September 13, 2019.
State conducted an EEO investigation and then issued a FAD dismissing the complaint for failure to state a claim because Complainant was not a State employee, it had no decisionmaking authority on him, and it took no action “independent” of the DEA, Complainant’s employing agency. On appeal, Complainant submits a State regulation which indicates the Chief of Mission (Ambassador or Consul General) has full responsibility for the direction, coordination, and supervision of all U.S. executive branch employees in their country, with exceptions that do not apply here. We note that in his investigatory statement, the Consul General at Curaçao stated he was responsible for overseeing the activities of the DEA at his post, including Complainant, and that DEA asked if he would concur with curtailment (terminating the tour), which he did.
Additional details:

Complainant repeatedly articulated his view that State discriminated against him. See e.g., EEO complaint, at Bates No. 4; Affidavit A, at Bates Nos. 59, 60, 71; Rebuttal letter by Complainant’s former counsel writing Complainant “rebuts… that [the Consul General’s] actions to curtail… his assignment at… Curacao was at the request of DEA” at Bates No. 200; Complainant’s appeal statement that, “State was unilaterally responsible for the denial of a request for reasonable accommodation with respect to complainant’s housing assignment on September 13, 2019 (claim #1) and complainant’s assignment to… Curacao was broken on September 13, 2019 (claim #2)…. At no point in time did any individual from [DEA] request to break the… assignment at… Curacao or deny [my] request for a reasonable accommodation.”

Under a plain reading of 29 C.F.R. § 1614.106(a) – and this Commission’s own case law – Complainant’s belief alone is enough to enable him to file a discrimination claim with State. See e.g., Pion v. OPM, EEOC Request No. 05880891 (Oct. 18, 1988) (pointing out that the forerunner to current 29 C.F.R. § 1614.106(a) had once been amended precisely to guarantee the right of complainants “to bring a complaint against any agency they believed engaged in discriminatory conduct”); Warren v. OPM, EEOC Request No. 05950295 (Aug. 17, 1995) (ruling that “[i]n the present case, although [complainant] is clearly an employee of the Department of Agriculture, the Commission finds that the complaint was properly made against [OPM], the agency which allegedly discriminated against [him]”); Koch v. OPM, EEOC Appeal No. 01A13849 (Dec. 21, 2001) applying all the above cited cases. Thus, on these particular facts, State had no right to reject complainant’s complaint on the grounds that it was filed with the wrong agency.
[…]
The Agency is ordered to process the remanded claims, as redefined herein, from the point processing ceased. This means the Agency shall, within 10 days from the date of this decision, shall again notify Complainant that he has the option to request a hearing before an EEOC Administrative Judge (AJ) or an immediate FAD within 30 days of receipt of the notice in accordance with 29 C.F.R. § 1614.108(e). 2 If Complainant requests a FAD without a hearing, the Agency shall issue a final decision on the merits of the claim within sixty (60) days of receipt of his request.
[…]
Failure by an agency to either file a compliance report or implement any of the orders set forth in this decision, without good cause shown, may result in the referral of this matter to the Office of Special Counsel pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 1614.503(f) for enforcement by that agency.

Full decision is available to read here (PDF).

Click to access 2021001832.pdf

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