Friday, October 31, 2014

Government Contractor, Its Owner, And Two Employees Charged In Multi-Million-Dollar Fraud Scheme

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA—Devos Ltd., doing business as Guaranteed Returns (“Guaranteed Returns”), in Holbrook, NY, its Chief Executive Officer, Dean Volkes, and two others were charged by indictment, unsealed today, in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud customers, including the government. Volkes, 51, of Port Jefferson, NY, Donna Fallon, 50, of Miller Place, NY, and Ronald Carlino, 66, of Deer Park, NY, are all charged in a conspiracy to obstruct justice and were arrested this morning, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger.

The indictment alleges that more than $116 million worth of drug products had been returned for refund and more than $14 million of those drugs belonged to federal government agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration. Other victims include numerous hospitals, pharmacies, and long-term care facilities.

Fallon serves as Chief Financial Officer for Guaranteed Returns and Carlino is an Information Technology employee. All four defendants are charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by concealing and destroying records involved in a Defense Department investigation, six counts of obstruction of justice, and three counts of lying to federal agents about those records. Volkes, Guaranteed Returns, and Fallon are also charged with money laundering conspiracy. Volkes and Guaranteed Returns are charged in 18 counts of wire fraud, 14 counts of mail fraud and one count of conversion of government property.

According to the indictment, Guaranteed Returns was in the business of managing the returns of pharmaceutical products for healthcare providers, including the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Veterans Administration. Manufacturers of pharmaceutical products frequently allow expired drugs to be returned for a refund. Guaranteed Returns handled this process for healthcare provider clients in exchange for a fee based on a percentage of the return value.

The indictment charges that Guaranteed Returns promised its clients that it would hold the clients’ “indate” (not yet expired) drug products until they expired, and then return them on the clients’ behalf, in exchange for a fee. Instead, according to the indictment, Guaranteed Returns, at the direction of CEO Dean Volkes, stole a significant portion of the “indate” drug products that it received from its clients; returned the drugs to the manufacturers; and kept the resulting refund money for itself and Dean Volkes.

The indictment further alleges that during the course of the scheme, a federal grand jury sitting in this district began investigating the diversion of funds under a contract with the DoD. During that investigation, an agent from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service met with Dean Volkes and served him with a grand jury subpoena requiring Guaranteed Returns to turn over records related to the DoD contract. Volkes and other Guaranteed Returns employees stated that they would comply with the subpoena. Instead, it is charged that with the help of Donna Fallon and Ronald Carlino, they destroyed some records and concealed others, and then lied to the investigating agents about why the records were not produced.

“The defendants in this case found a way to defraud the government, hospitals, pharmacies, and long-term care facilities by exploiting the system for returning expired drugs to pharmaceutical companies,” said Memeger. “My office will continue to aggressively prosecute and seek to recover illegal proceeds from those who use our precious health care dollars to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else.”

“Fraud against the government amounts to stealing from American taxpayers, in service of pure greed,” said FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Edward J. Hanko said. “The FBI takes that very seriously, and we’re committed to tracking and shutting down financial fraud schemes.”

If convicted of all charges, defendant Guaranteed Returns faces a possible fine of over $200 million along with a $4,400 special assessment; Volkes faces a maximum possible statutory sentence of 810 years in prison, a fine of over $200 million, three years of supervised release, and a $4,400 special assessment; Fallon faces a maximum possible statutory sentence of 160 years in prison, a fine of over $200 million, three years of supervised release, and a $1,100 special assessment; and Carlino faces a maximum possible statutory sentence of 140 years in prison, a $2.5 million fine, three years of supervised release, and a $1,000 special assessment.

This case was investigated by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nancy Rue and Paul Shapiro.

An Indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Suspected Murderer Of Pennsylvania State Trooper Captured In The Poconos Mountains

Laura McCrystal and Mike Newall at the Philadelphia Inquirer offer a piece on the capture of the suspected killer of a Pennsylvania state trooper.

Eric Frein, the suspected cop-killer who for six weeks was the target of a Poconos manhunt involving more than 1,000 law enforcement officers, surrendered Thursday after being discovered hiding in an abandoned airplane hangar, officials said.

A search team found Frein at the hangar at Birchwood Resort in Tannersville. U.S. marshals led the search team, two sources confirmed. Frein was unarmed and surrendered without incident, the sources said, and was expected to be transferred to nearby Pike County.

The site - on a near-deserted country road - remained an active crime scene Thursday night, with a road leading to the resort blocked off and law enforcement vehicles driving and in out. A group of police officers huddled at the entrance of the abandoned resort, and patrol cars, lights flashing, lined the road.

Pennsylvania State Police spokeswoman Trooper Connie Devens confirmed Frein was in custody, but would not elaborate.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fox News Lands First Interview With Bin Laden Shooter

The Hollywood Reporter offers a piece on Fox News' announcement that the cable news channel will be the first to interview the U.S. Navy SEAL who killed the man responsible for the horrific 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Fox News has landed the first interview with the man who killed Osama bin Laden, which will be part of a two-night documentary airing on Nov. 11 and 12.

In the special, titled The Man Who Killed Usama Bin Laden, the Navy SEAL who says he fired the shots that killed Bin Laden, also known as "The Shooter," will reveal his identity and speak out publicly for the first time.

 The shooter will describe the events leading up to and during the raid that took place in May 2011, including his elite training and involvement in Operation Neptune Spear, the mission that killed bin Laden. He'll also offer his first-hand account of what happened during the SEAL Team 6 raid. Fox News promises that the documentary will include never-before-shared details.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Patrick McGoohan's Secret Agent (AKA Danger Man): The Complete Series DVD To Be Released On December 9th

Spy thrillers were the big thing in the 1960s when I was a teenager.

I was watching Sean Connery as Ian Fleming's iconic character James Bond at the movies and on TV I was watching Patrick McGoohan as John Drake in Secret Agent.

For those of you from my generation who may wish to recapture their youth by watching John Drake in action again, or for younger viewers who have never seen Patrick McGoohan's classic TV spy drama, Shout Factory announced that they will be releasing Secret Agent: The Complete Series on DVD on December 9th.

Shout Factory offers the below synopsis:

“Every government has its secret service branch. America, CIA; France,Deuxième Bureau; England, MI5. NATO also has its own. A messy job? Well that's when they usually call on me or someone like me. Oh yes, my name is Drake, John Drake.”

Patrick McGoohan (The Prisoner) stars as John Drake in Secret Agent, the popular television series from the Golden Age of Spy Thrillers, the 1960s. Travelling the world to capture international criminals, John Drake rarely solved problems with a gun, preferring to use charm and wit over violence to bring in the bad guys.

Encompassing all 86 episodes from its successful broadcast run, Secret Agent (known in the United Kingdom as Danger Man) is an essential addition to the collection of any fan of the spy game.      

I purchased a Secret Agent DVD set last year and over the course of the year I watched all of the Secret Agent episodes.

Patrick McGoohan is terrific as the cool and resourceful British agent. Secret Agent is an intelligent and clever show that holds up very well after all these years.

Note: You can read Patrick McGoohan's obituary in the Los Angeles Times via the below link:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Today In Media History: In 1954, A Former Journalist Named Ernest Hemingway Received The Nobel Prize For Literature

David Shedden at the journalism web site offers a look back at author and journalist Ernest Hemingway, who received the Nobel Prize for literature on October 28, 1954.

Ernest Hemingway was a reporter for the Kansas City Star from October 1917 to April 1918.

In 1999, the newspaper’s website created a special section in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth. This included old stories, various links, anecdotes, and a story titled, “Of ‘Star Style’ and a reporter named Hemingway.”

“And into the midst of The Star staff, in late 1917, came a youth who, when he could get away with it, wore a red and black checkered hunting shirt to work. Old timers frowned on such dress. But the young reporter worked outside the office most of the time. His name was Ernest Hemingway.

….Ernest Hemingway came to The Star as a big, round-faced boy of 18 with limitless energy, and a desire to be in the thick of the action whether a shooting scrape or chasing ambulances. Hemingway worked at the paper for seven months. In late April 1918, he and Ted Brumback, another Star reporter, joined an ambulance unit in Italy.”

“After returning from World War I, Ernest Hemingway moved to Toronto and began writing for the Toronto Star. He worked there from 1920 to 1924 and some 70 of his articles have been archived online in an attractive new website, the Hemingway Papers. At first Hemingway was a stringer and later he wrote as a staff writer, under the byline Ernest M. Hemingway.

….He went on to write for the Star about boxing and trout fishing and organized crime in Chicago. By 1922 Hemingway had moved to Paris with his wife and sent dispatches that anticipated the themes of the novels that would make him famous.”
You can read the rest of the piece, hear Hemingway's Nobel Prize acceptence speech and watch videos about Hemingway via the below link:

Federal Jury Convicts Friend Of Suspected Boston Marathon Bomber

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

Following an eight-day trial, the jury convicted a college friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, for making false statements to investigators assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The jury found Robel Phillipos, 21, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, guilty of making false statements during the terrorism investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 20, 2013, and April 25, 2013.  U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock scheduled sentencing for Jan. 29, 2015.

“In the wake of one of the most significant events in this City’s modern history – an event which left two young women and a child dead, and many more injured – thousands of ordinary citizens assisted law enforcement in identifying and locating the perpetrators,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz for the District of Massachusetts.  “Today, a federal jury concluded that Robel Phillipos did just the opposite.  He lied to agents when he could have helped.  He concealed when he could have assisted.  It is a crime to lie to law enforcement agents, and that is why Robel Phillipos was charged and why the jury found him guilty today.  But this case also reminds us that our public safety network relies on every citizen in the Commonwealth.  We look to all of our citizens – our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, even strangers whom we have never met before – to assist law enforcement in detecting, preventing, and solving crimes.  Mr. Phillipos made a choice: a choice to lie instead of tell the truth.  With its verdict today, the jury got it exactly right.”

In August 2014, Dias Kadyrbayev pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges related to the Boston Marathon bombing investigation.  Kadyrbayev admitted to removing evidence from Tsarnaev’s dormitory room at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and discarding Tsarnaev’s backpack with fireworks, some of which appeared to have been emptied of their explosive powder, in a garbage dumpster.  In July 2014, Azamat Tazhayakov was found guilty by a federal jury in Boston of obstruction of justice charges for his role in impeding the Boston Marathon bombing investigation.  His conduct was related to the same conduct as charged against Kadyrbayev that occurred in Tsarnaev’s dormitory room on the evening of April 18, 2013.  

At the Phillipos trial, the government proved that Phillipos lied about his knowledge and activities on the evening of April 18, 2013.  Specifically, Phillipos repeatedly lied to investigators when he denied that, on the evening of April 18, 2013, he entered Tsarnaev’s dormitory room and saw Kadyrbayev remove a backpack containing fireworks.

According to evidence presented at trial, at 7:00 p.m. on April 18, 2013, Phillipos saw the images released by the FBI of the two suspected bombers and immediately recognized one of them as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. 

At 10:00 p.m., Phillipos went with Tazhayakov to Tsarnaev’s dormitory room where he and Tazhayakov watched, as Kadyrbayev searched through Tsarnaev’s belongings and found a backpack containing fireworks.  When Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos left Tsarnaev’s room at 10:30 p.m., Kadyrbayev removed Tsarnaev’s backpack containing fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, and Tsarnaev’s laptop computer. 

Later that night while Tazhayakov and Phillipos were monitoring the manhunt for the Tsarnaevs on television, Kadyrbayev discussed getting rid of the backpack containing the fireworks with them.  Tazhayakov agreed with Kadyrbayev that they should get rid of it.  After this conversation, Kadrybayev placed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s backpack in a garbage bag and placed it in a dumpster outside their New Bedford apartment.  The FBI recovered the backpack a week later, after 30 agents spent two days searching a landfill in New Bedford.

Between April 19, 2013 and April 26, 2013, Phillipos was interviewed five times by investigators conducting the Boston Marathon bombing investigation and during each of those interviews Phillipos lied.  At the conclusion of the fifth interview, Phillipos finally admitted that he did go into Tsarnaev’s dormitory room on the evening of April 18, 2013 and that he saw Kadyrbayev remove evidence from Tsarnaev’s room.  After he confessed, Phillipos indicated he regretted his decisions.  In his signed statement, Phillipos stated: “In retrospect, I should have notified the Police once I knew Jahar was the bomber.  Further, I should have turned over the backpack to the authorities.”

The charging statute provides a sentence of no greater than eight years in prison for each of the two false statement counts, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 for each charge.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The sentencing hearing for Kadyrbayev is scheduled for Nov. 18, 2014, and Tazhayakov’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 19, 2014.  

U.S. Attorney Ortiz and Special Agent in Charge Vincent B. Lisi of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston Field Division made the announcement today.  This investigation was conducted by the FBI's Boston Division and member agencies of the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) which is comprised of more than 30 federal, state and local enforcement agencies.  Essex County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General, Massachusetts State Police, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Department of Public Safety, New Bedford Police Department, Dartmouth Police Department, U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, and Homeland Security Investigations in Boston provided assistance to this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys B. Stephanie Siegmann and John A. Capin of U.S. Attorney Ortiz’s Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit.

Happy Birthday To British Novelist Evelyn Waugh

Happy birthday to the late British novelist Evelyn Waugh.

In an interview with the online publication The Daily Beast (which takes the name from Waugh's novel Scoop), the conservative humorist P.J. O'Rourke explained why he was calling his Daily Beast column Up To a Point.

The most famous book among all foreign correspondents is Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop. The newspaper in Scoop is, of course, The Daily Beast, which is owned by the moronic Lord Copper and run by the obsequious Mr. Salter. There’s a brief passage which I think all reporters know. “Whenever Lord Copper was right, Mr. Salter would say, ‘Definitely, Lord Copper,’ and whenever Lord Copper was wrong, Mr. Salter would way, ‘Up to a point, Lord Copper.’” Then follows a little snatch of dialogue where Lord Copper says, “Hong Kong—belongs to us, doesn’t it?” “Definitely, Lord Copper.” “Yokohama—capital of Japan, isn’t it?” “Up to a point, Lord Copper.”

Great stuff.

I discovered Waugh in my early 20′s in the mid-1970s when I was stationed on a Navy tugboat at the U.S. nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland.

I was an aspiring writer at the time and I planned to major in journalism when I left the Navy, so I purchased a Penguin paperback of his brilliant satire of journalism, Scoop. I thought it was a great satirical novel, and I’ve reread it again and again over the years.

I later discovered that much of Scoop was based on Waugh's true experiences as a newspaper correspondent in Ethiopia. That made the novel even more funny and powerful to me.

I went on to read Waugh's other satirical novels, such as Black Mischief and Decline and Fall, as well as his great World War II Sword of Honour trilogy: Men at Arms, Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender. I also read his classic novel, Brideshead Revisited, the rest of his novels, his diary and several books about him.

A decade later, my wife and I enjoyed watching the weekly television installments of Brideshead Revisited on PBS.

By all accounts and his own admission, Waugh was not a pleasant man, but he was a brilliant writer. And he was funny.

He even satirized himself in The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. 

Waugh told a great story of how he had to endure sitting next to a man on a long train ride who was reading one of his satirical novels. Waugh said he was compelled to watch the man turn each page as he read, not laughing or smiling, even for an instant.

Had Waugh sat next to me on a train while I was reading one of his novels, he would have seen me smiling and even laughing out loud.

If you have not read Waugh, I suggest you start with Scoop and then read all of his works.