Saturday, September 23, 2017

Engel: Republicans Should Not Vote on Graham-Cassidy Without CBO Score

  Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a top member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following statement:

“Today, I signed a letter with 56 of my Democratic colleagues calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to wait for a complete analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) before holding votes on the GOP’s newly minted Trumpcare 3.0 bill, also known as Graham-Cassidy.

“This issue is simply too important to be dealt with in a haphazard, rushed manner. Our health care sector makes up one sixth of our economy, and tens of millions could lose their insurance if this bill becomes law. We need to know exactly how many people the Graham-Cassidy plan covers and what happens to their premiums. To proceed without that information would be the height of irresponsibility. 

“CBO score or no CBO score, there are some things we can be sure of: this new version of Trumpcare will decimate Medicaid, allow insurers to jack up premiums based on your health history, and strip consumers of vital protections that ensure you get value for your money.

This bill, like its predecessors, is a disaster and Senate Republicans should not be allowed to pass it without all of the gory details being made public.”  

Con Edison Never Ending High Pressure Gas Line Work

This could be almost any intersection in the Bronx, however it is the corner of Johnson Avenue and West 235th Street. The photo above is of a Con Edison outside contracted crew putting in new larger high pressure gas pipes. This intersection, and almost all of Johnson Avenue and surrounding streets to the Henry Hudson Parkway service road were dug up by a Con Edison contracted crew two years ago to put in new high pressure gas pipes, so why does this section of a three block radius in the heart of the business district have to be redone now? The only comments I got was 'Why are you taking our picture'? If you look close the worker in the hole appears to be scratching his head  trying to figure out what to do as the other worker stands nearby. The New York State Public Service Commission stated in a report that of the outside contractors Con Edison is using seventy-five percent have no experience in this type of work. That could be one of the reasons a lot of the work has to be redone by a second crew or Con Edison workers themselves. 

Just look at the condition of the street which was milled and repaved last year. The street foundation is cut like a cake, and will probably start to cave in from the heavy trucks that go over it in a few years like other streets have already done after being opened up for construction. By the way where is Councilman Cohen?

Watch Out For That Leaning Fence

  Things are getting pretty bad when your city council members and mayor are voting to allow for public urination, and setting up a committee to end the cabaret laws. Then there are the District Attorney's who want not to prosecute turnstyle jumpers. What is this city coming to? 

  After two construction workers dying on two different construction sites here is another careless example of what a developer on Johnson Avenue two houses away from Congressman Engel's office is doing.

Above - You can see the flimsy work done on this wood fence to hide what went on in tearing down the house that use to be on this property. There still remains a huge old tree on the property which must be taken down before any new construction can take place.
Below - From this angle you can see just how stable the last two panels of this fence is. with every gust the wall is in danger of falling down. 

  So where is the Councilman Cohen? Protesting a homeless shelter he says is going into Sams Carpet on Webster Avenue across from PS 20. While there is no construction going on at the carpet store, there is however at the empty former Feggs location at 3600 Jerome Avenue which Councilman Cohen suggested to Community Board 7 in August as an alternate site to the Webster Avenue site across from PS 20. What construction is going on at the former Feggs site you may ask, alterations for a homeless shelter according to the site supervisor.

Construction workers at the former Feggs site on Jerome Avenue doing alterations for a homeless shelter.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Florida Resident Sentenced To Prison For Preparing Fraudulent Tax Returns

Caused IRS Loss of More than $1.2 Million

   Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States for the Southern District of New York, and Stuart M. Goldberg, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, announced that DAMYON SHULER was sentenced today in White Plains federal court to 18 months in prison for filing false tax returns.  SHULER pled guilty in April before U.S. District Court Judge Nelson S. Román, who also imposed today’s sentence.

According to documents filed with the court, from February 2010 through March 2011, SHULER, 47, of Orange City, Florida, approached relatives and others and told them that he could claim slave reparations on their behalf by filing tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), for which he charged a $4,000 to $5,000 fee.  SHULER then filed 30 returns with the IRS on behalf of other taxpayers, claiming bogus refunds of between $48,184 and $61,300 on each return. 
To generate the fraudulent refunds, SHULER reported fake capital gains income and taxes paid on that income in the exact same amount.  He also attached to each return a form falsely reporting that a Treasury Department office or program identified as “Overpayment of Black Invest Taxes” had paid the taxes to the IRS.  To conceal that he prepared these returns, SHULER did not list himself as the preparer.  SHULER also filed a fraudulent 2009 income tax return for himself claiming a refund of $46,685 based on the same scheme.  In total, SHULER’s fraudulent refund scheme led to losses of more than $1.2 million.   
In addition to the term of prison imposed, U.S. District Court Judge Nelson S. Román ordered SHULER to serve one year of supervised release and to pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $1,180,150.
Mr. Kim thanked IRS Criminal Investigation for its work on the investigation.

Global Telecommunications Company And Its Subsidiary To Pay More Than $965 Million In Penalties In Massive Bribery Scheme Involving Uzbek Official

Third Largest-Ever Global FCPA Resolution

  Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”), Kenneth A. Blanco, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), Don Fort, Chief of the Criminal Investigation Division, Internal Revenue Service (“IRS-CI”), and Patrick J. Lechleitner, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) Washington, D.C., Field Office, announced today the filing of criminal charges against Telia Company AB (“Telia”), a multinational telecommunications company headquartered in Sweden, whose securities traded publicly in New York from 2002 until 2007, and its Uzbek subsidiary, Coscom LLC  (“Coscom”), for conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) by paying more than $331 million in bribes to a government official in Uzbekistan. 

Mr. Kim also announced that in connection with the filed charges, Coscom pled guilty today before UnitedStates District Judge George B. Daniels, and SDNY and DOJ entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (“DPA”) with Telia.  Pursuant to the DPA, Telia admitted to participating in the charged conspiracy.  Telia will pay a total criminal penalty of $274,603,972 to the United States, which includes a $500,000 criminal fine and $40 million in criminal forfeiture that Telia agreed to pay on behalf of Coscom.  Telia also agreed to implement rigorous internal controls and cooperate fully with the Government’s ongoing investigation, including its investigation of individuals.

In related proceedings, Telia reached a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Public Prosecution Service of the Netherlands (“PPS”).  Under the terms of its civil resolution with the SEC, Telia agreed to pay $457,169,977 in disgorgement of profits and prejudgment interest.  Finally, Telia agreed to pay the PPS a criminal penalty of $274 million, which, together with the criminal penalty paid to the United States, yieldstotal criminal penalties of $548,603,972.  Because the SEC agreed to credit the $40 million paid in criminal forfeiture against the civil settlement amount, the total criminal and regulatory penalties to be paid by Telia is $965,773,949.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said:  “Today, we announce one of the largest criminal corporate bribery and corruption resolutions ever, with penalties totaling just under a billion dollars.  Swedish telecom company Telia and its Uzbek subsidiary Coscom have admitted to paying, over many years, more than $331 million in bribes to an Uzbek government official.  Telia, whose securities traded publicly in New York, corruptly built a lucrative telecommunications business in Uzbekistan, using bribe payments wired around the world through accounts here in New York City.  If your securities trade on our exchanges and you use our banks to move ill-gotten money, then you have to abide by our country’s laws.  Telia and Coscom refused to do so, and they have been held accountable in Manhattan federal court today.” 

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco said:  “This resolution underscores the Department’s continued and unwavering commitment to robust FCPA and white-collar criminal enforcement.  It also demonstrates the Department’s cooperative posture with its foreign counterparts to stamp out international corruption and to reach fair, appropriate and coordinated resolutions.  Foreign and domestic companies that pay bribes put honest companies at a disadvantage and distort the free and fair market and the rule of law.  Today’s resolution reflects the significant efforts of law enforcement, the Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York to bring such companies to justice, and to maintain a competitive and level playing field for companies to do business, create jobs and thrive.”

IRS-CI Chief Don Fort said:  “Today marks the second resolution of proceedings against corporate entities who have engaged in a global bribery scheme of government officials.  It also further demonstrates the dedication we have to identifying illegal financial transactions being used for bribery in the international community.  It is important that the global economy remain on a fair playing field and IRS-CI will remain committed in our efforts to dismantle these kinds of corrupt financial schemes.”

HSI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Lechleitner said:  “Today’s resolution marks a win against a foreign corruption scheme where millions of dollars in bribery funds were paid to Uzbekistan officials and laundered through the U.S. financial system.  HSI, working hand in hand with our partners at IRS Criminal Investigation, leveled the playing field for publicly traded companies by exposing these corrupt practices and helped the U.S. government collect nearly $275 million in criminal penalties.”

According to the allegations contained in the criminal Informations, which was filed today in Manhattan federal court, the statement of facts set forth in the DPA, and other publicly available information:

Between approximately 2007 and 2012, Telia and Coscom, through various executives, employees, and affiliated entities, paid more than $331 million in bribes to illegally obtain telecommunications business in Uzbekistan.  The bribes were paid to an Uzbek government official who was a close relative of a high-ranking government official and who exercised influence over Uzbek telecommunications industry regulators.  Telia and Coscom structured and concealed the bribes through various payments to a shell company that certain Telia and Coscom management knew was beneficially owned by the foreign official.  The bribes were paid on multiple occasions over a period of approximately five years so that Telia could enter the Uzbek market and Coscom could gain valuable telecom assets and continue operating in Uzbekistan. 

Under the direction and control of the Uzbek government official, more than $331 million in bribery proceeds were laundered through accounts held in various countries around the world.  The illicit funds were transmitted through financial institutions in the Southern District of New York before they were deposited into accounts in those countries.

This resolution, reached in coordination with the SEC and authorities in the Netherlands, marks the second such resolution by a major international telecommunciations provider for bribery in Uzbekistan.  On February 18, 2016, Amsterdam-based VimpelCom Limited and its Uzbek subsidiary, Unitel LLC, also entered into resolutions with the United States and admitted to a conspiracy to make more than $114 million in bribery payments to the same Uzbek government official between 2006 and 2012.  The investigation has thus far yielded a combined total of more than $1.76 billion in global fines and disgorgement, including more than $500 million in criminal penalties to the United States.  In related actions, the United States has also filed civil complaints seeking the forfeiture of more than $850 million held in bank accounts in Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Ireland, which constitute bribe payments made by VimpelCom, Telia, and a third telecommunications company to the Uzbek official, or funds involved in the laundering of those corrupt payments. 
Coscom was charged with, and pled guilty to, one count of conspiring to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA.  Telia was charged in a one-count Information with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA.

Mr. Kim thanked the Fraud Section of the DOJ’s Criminal Division for their collaboration, and praised the efforts of IRS-CI, the IRS Global Illicit Financial Team, and HSI in the investigation.  He also thanked the SEC’s Division of Enforcement for its significant assistance and cooperation in the investigation.  Mr. Kim also thanked law enforcement colleagues within the PPS, the Swedish Prosecution Authority, and the Office of the Attorney General in Switzerland, as well as law enforcement colleagues in Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Switzerland, the Isle of Man, and the United Kingdom.  Mr. Kim also thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for its significant assistance in this matter.  The SEC referred the matter to the DOJ and also provided extensive cooperation and assistance.

Following A.G. Schneiderman Investigation, Walgreens Restructures Rite Aid Acquisition To Address Competition Concerns

A.G. Schneiderman, Together With Federal Trade Commission, Demanded That Rite Aid Retain Additional New York Stores To Preserve Retail Pharmacy Chain Competition 
Walgreens Will Now Only Acquire 272 Stores In NY, Compared To Original 456 Stores
Schneiderman: New Yorkers Deserve The Lower Prices, Greater Choices, And Better Service That Result From Vigorous Competition
  Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today that, following his office’s investigation into Walgreens’ proposed acquisition of thousands of Rite Aid stores in New York and across the country, Walgreens has restructured the acquisition to address concerns that it would limit retail competition in the New York area.  Walgreens and Rite Aid are the second- and third-largest retail pharmacy chains in the U.S, serving huge numbers of New York consumers, as well as businesses that purchase drug coverage for their employees. Walgreens initially proposed to acquire 2,186 stores from Rite Aid, including 456 Rite Aid stores in New York State. 
To resolve competitive concerns raised by Attorney General Schneiderman and the Federal Trade Commission, Walgreens agreed to acquire fewer stores in New York State and the New York City metropolitan region than it originally had planned. Walgreens will now acquire 272 stores in New York State, with Rite Aid retaining 327 stores across the state. Additionally, Walgreens will acquire 34 fewer stores in New Jersey and 13 fewer stores in Connecticut than initially proposed, allowing Rite Aid to maintain a significant footprint in the New York City metropolitan region, and preserving Rite Aid as a competitive force in the region. 
“Retail pharmacy chains fill the majority of prescriptions in many areas of New York State,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Vigorous competition between pharmacy chains keeps down the cost of filling a prescription, which benefits New York consumers and businesses by preserving choice and keeping costs low. We’ll continue to keep close tabs on consolidation in the retail pharmacy space to ensure New Yorkers get the lower prices, greater choices, and better service they deserve.”
Walgreens initially sought to acquire Rite Aid in its entirety in November 2015.  A 19-month review of that transaction by the Federal Trade Commission, Attorney General Schneiderman, and several other states identified significant competitive issues posed by the transaction, and Walgreens and Rite Aid abandoned the merger in June 2017.  Shortly thereafter, Walgreens announced that it intended to acquire 2,186 stores from Rite Aid, but, in response to the competitive concerns presented by Attorney General Schneiderman, the FTC, and other states, Walgreens will now acquire 254 fewer Rite Aid stores.
The June 2017 transaction proposed by Walgreens and Rite Aid also included an agreement granting Rite Aid the option to purchase generic drugs through an affiliate of Walgreens at a low cost for a ten-year period.  After discussion with federal and state antitrust regulators, that agreement was amended to allow Rite Aid greater latitude to pursue outside business relationships over the course of the agreement.    

Bronx Chamber of Commerce's Hispanic Heritage Luncheon honors Bronx Hispanic Leaders