FirstEnergy admits it managed darkish cash group began by DeWine aide

The mammoth 2019 energy rescue package scandal seemed to be getting closer to the government of Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine on Thursday.

FirstEnergy said in a deferred law enforcement agreement that the man DeWine appointed head of Ohio’s Public Utility Commission took a payment of $ 4.3 million and then on behalf of the Akron-based energy company in lieu of the top regulatory agency of the state acted.

That man, Sam Randazzo, has resigned.

But FirstEnergy also helped control a 501 (c) (4) “dark money” group set up by a senior DeWine advisor when he was a FirstEnergy lobbyist, the agreement showed. The company headed under a successful $ 61 million expense to buy a $ 1.3 billion rescue package funded by the installment payers, the document signed by FirstEnergy says.

While acting US Attorney Vipal J. Patel beat up the dark money group, DeWine and the adviser, Legislative Director Dan McCarthy, did not respond to requests for comment. DeWine has steadfastly defended McCarthy since the scandal started almost exactly a year ago.

Patel held a press conference in Cincinnati Thursday to announce that his office had a Deferred charge agreement with FirstEnergy. The company will pay $ 230 million and, if it meets the terms of the deal, drop a conspiracy charge.

Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, has been charged on the case. He was stripped of his spokesmanship last year and was expelled from the House earlier this year.

Two of the Householder employees indicted in the case pleaded guilty and a third, Neil Clark, took his own life March.

For its part, FirstEnergy fired CEO Chuck Jones and two other executives and is conducting its own investigation.

In Cincinnati, Patel stressed on Wednesday that the investigation was ongoing. But he didn’t want to comment on anything other than the agreement with FirstEnergy.

DeWine advisor McCarthy has not been charged and last summer denied wrongdoing. But Partners for Progress, the black money group he founded, was the subject of the indictment agreement.

McCarthy, then FirstEnergy lobbyist, founded it, “Weeks after certain executives at FirstEnergy Corp. traveled with (Householder) in the FirstEnergy Corp. jet for inauguration (of Donald Trump) in January 2017, ”the agreement says.

The indictment agreement added, “Although Partners for Progress looked like an independent 501 (c) (4) on paper, in reality it was in part used by certain former executives of FirstEnergy Corp. controls who funded them and directed their payments to companies associated with public officials.

“For example, FirstEnergy Corp. formed Partners for Progress and decided to incorporate the company in Delaware, not Ohio, as Delaware law made it more difficult for third parties to get background information about the company. Certain executives at FirstEnergy Corp. were also involved in the selection of the three directors of Partners for Progress, two of whom were lobbyists for FirstEnergy Corp. were.”

Millions would flow through Partners for Progress while McCarthy was its president, and tens of millions more would later run through it and into the furious efforts to get the bailout off after McCarthy stepped down to become DeWine’s director of legislative affairs in early 2019 .

The indictment agreement also appears to designate McCarthy as “Official Advisor 1” as he worked on DeWine’s behalf to enforce the bailout that DeWine would sign later that year.

It cited emails from energy managers saying Official Aide 1 and others were “fighting” to extend the life of a rescue package for two failed nuclear reactors in Northern Ohio. It also cites a text message discussion between a FirstEnergy manager and the aide about language that would make it harder to challenge the bailout in a referendum.

And at the press conference, Patel said the scandal would never have happened had it not been for the black money group, of which McCarthy was president, and another, Generation Now, pleaded guilty.

“This effort would not have been possible – in terms of both the type and the amount of money provided – without the use of 501 (c) (4) s,” said Patel.

The acting US attorney described the plan and even the name of McCarthy’s former black money group as dishonest.

“According to the (tax) code, these should be charities. Do you all see a lot of welfare? Not me, “said Patel, adding,” What about those names? Partner for progress? Which partners are there here? The conspirators? How is the progress? Carrying out (saving energy) through bribery?

While DeWine’s office did not answer questions on Thursday, the governor defended its director of legislative affairs in February.

“As far as I know, Dan McCarthy was respected for many, many years, long before he was our legislative director, and I have confidence in his integrity,” said DeWine.

For Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat who challenges DeWine in the 2022 election, that’s not good enough.

“Today’s charges make it clear that this corruption case is reaching the highest levels of government in Ohio,” she said in a statement. “Enough is enough. It is time for Governor DeWine to speak about his knowledge and involvement in this scandal.”

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Pharmaceutical Gross sales Consultant Admits Well being Care Fraud Conspiracy and Conspiring to Interact in Cash Laundering and Impede Justice | USAO-NJ

CAMDEN, NJ – A pharmaceutical sales rep admitted today that he was conspiring to defraud New Jersey County’s health programs and to engage in money laundering and obstructing justice, US Attorney General Rachael A. Honig said.

Paul Camarda, 39, of Holmdel, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden Federal Court over information alleging a health fraud and obstruction of justice conspiracy and engagement Money laundering.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Camarda was a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. He started a side business called Dynasty Capital LLC to independently commercialize medical products and services for other businesses, including compound prescription drugs for specialty pharmacies. Camarda marketed compound drugs for several pharmacies, including New Jersey and out of state pharmacies, identified in court documents as “Compounding Pharmacy 1”, “Compounding Pharmacy 2”, “Compounding Pharmacy 3” and “Compounding Pharmacy 4”. As part of his agreements with the pharmacies and his conspirators, Camarda received a percentage of the insurance payments he received for prescriptions arranged by him and his staff.

Compound drugs are specialty drugs that are mixed by a pharmacist to meet the specific medical needs of an individual patient. Although compound drugs are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are properly prescribed when a doctor determines that an FDA-approved drug, such as dye or other ingredient, does not meet a particular patient’s health needs.

Camarda learned that certain local government employees had insurance coverage for these particular compound drugs. A facility identified as a “pharmacist benefits administrator” on court documents provided pharmacy benefits administration services for the Bergen County’s Prescription Benefits Program (BCPBP), which covered certain local government employees, including county jailers. The pharmacy benefits administrator paid prescription drug claims and then billed the BCPBP for the amounts paid.

Camarda was a leader and manager of the conspiracy. He and his conspirators discovered that certain compound drugs – including vitamins and pain, scar, antifungal, migraine, and libido creams – reimbursed up to thousands of dollars for a month’s supply. Camarda recruited individuals with BCPBP coverage to fraudulently obtain medically unnecessary compound drugs. He provided the recruits with blank prescription forms and directed them to see an unnamed doctor – referred to as “Person 1” in court documents – to obtain his approval for the compound prescription drugs. The investigation found that all recruits visit Person 1 to get the prescriptions within days, and all Person 1 received prescriptions authorized by Person 1 for the same specialty drugs on the same day or within days. The recruits agreed to receive the very expensive compound drugs, not because they needed them, but because they were paid for by Camarda. Camarda instructed the recruits that the more compound drugs they were given and the more people they recruited to get the drugs, the more money they could make from the conspiracy.

Camarda received more than $ 2.2 million in payments for the prescriptions he and his staff arranged, and Camarda and his recruits created more than $ 3.4 million in fraudulent claims filed by the pharmacy benefits administrator for compound drugs were presented. Camarda’s payments from the blending pharmacies and his conspirators, as well as Camarda’s payments to his recruits, served as the basis for the money laundering conspiracy charge, which Camarda pleaded guilty to.

In 2017, Camarda learned that federal agents and a federal grand jury were investigating the health fraud conspiracy. Camarda has plotted to obstruct the federal investigation by providing and instructing false information to other federal agents and the grand jury.

The number of healthcare conspiracies Camarda is guilty of has a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $ 250,000 or double the gain or loss from the crime, whichever is greater. Obstruction of justice and the money laundering conspiracy count carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $ 250,000 or double the gross profit or loss of the crime, whichever is greater. The conviction is scheduled for November 18, 2021.

Acting US Attorney Rachael A. Honig has credited special agents to the IRS Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez in Newark; Special Agent for the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. of Newark; and special agents from the US Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, New York Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael C. Mikulka, whose investigation resulted in today’s admission of guilt.

The government is represented by US Assistant Attorneys Christina O. Hud and R. David Walk Jr. of the US Attorney’s Office in Camden.

Union County Man Admits Function in Cocaine Trafficking and Cash Laundering Conspiracy | USAO-NJ

NEWARK, NJ – A Union County, New Jersey man today admitted his role in a conspiracy against cocaine trafficking and money laundering, current US attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Jose A. Rivera Jr., 48, of Union Township, New Jersey, videoconference pleaded guilty to money laundering before US District Judge Stanley R. Chesler.

According to the documents submitted in this case and statements made in court:

Rivera is a leader in a drug trafficking and money laundering organization. Police officers learned that Rivera used various locations to conduct drug trafficking and money laundering on behalf of the organization, including his residence and a stash location in Union.

On November 6, 2020, law enforcement officers conducted lawful searches of the residence and hiding location and recovered over $ 1 million in cash, financial documents, and notes related to drug revenues and transactions. On November 7, 2020, police officers conducted a lawful search of Rivera’s vehicle and retrieved 191 grams of cocaine from a hidden compartment in the vehicle’s glove compartment.

Charges of conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum legal penalty of $ 1 million or double the amount of the offense. The money laundering conspiracy charge has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum penalty of $ 500,000 or double the value of the property involved in the transaction. The conviction is scheduled for September 29, 2021.

Acting US attorney Honig has credited special agents to the US Drug Enforcement Administration under the direction of the responsible special agent Raymond Donovan in New York. Department of Homeland Security Special Agents, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent Jason J. Molina in Newark; and US Postal Inspection Inspectors, led by Acting Inspector Rodney M. Hopkins in Newark, the investigation leading to today’s admission of guilt.

The indictment is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) strike force initiative to set up permanent task force teams with multiple agencies working side by side in the same location. This same-location model enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on multi-jurisdictional intelligence operations to disrupt and dismantle major drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations. The New York Strike Force is a crime-fighting unit made up of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, led by the New York, New York, New York, New York, New York, New York, New York, New York, New York, New York, New York, New York, New York, Jersey are supported. The New York OCDETF Strike Force is housed in the DEA’s New York Division and includes agents and officers from the DEA. the NYPD; the New York State Police; HSI; IRS-CI; the alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives bureau; US Customs and Border Protection; US Secret Service; the US Marshals Service; New York National Guard; the Clarkstown Police Department; US Coast Guard; Port Washington Police Department; and New York State Department for Corrections and Community Oversight.

The government is represented by US assistant attorneys Lauren E. Repole of the Economic Crime Unit and Alexandra Tsakopoulos Saker of the OCDETF / Narcotics Unit in Newark.

High Chinese language official admits vaccines have low effectiveness | Your Cash

BEIJING (AP) – China’s top disease control official said in a rare appreciation that current vaccines offer poor protection against the coronavirus and that mixing these vaccines is one of the strategies being considered to increase their effectiveness.

China has distributed hundreds of millions of doses of domestically manufactured vaccines overseas and relies on them in its own mass vaccination campaign.

However, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Gao Fu said at a conference on Saturday that their effectiveness rates needed to be improved.

“We will solve the problem that current vaccines do not have very high protection rates,” Gao said in a presentation on Chinese COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination strategies at a conference in southwestern Chengdu. “We are currently looking into whether we should use different vaccines from different technical fields for the immunization process.”

He also praised the benefits of mRNA vaccines, the technology behind two of the most widely recognized vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, months after asking if the untested method was safe.

In a message to The Associated Press late Sunday evening, Gao said he was speaking about efficacy rates for “vaccines in the world, not specifically for China.” He did not answer any further questions about the vaccines he was referring to.

He referred the AP to an interview with the state-run Global Times, which published several articles that cast doubts about the safety of Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine. Gao was quoted by the point of sale on Sunday as saying that he had been misunderstood and was simply talking broadly about improving the vaccine’s effectiveness.

Beijing previously tried to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which uses the genetic code known as messenger RNA, or mRNA, to boost the immune system.

Health officials at a press conference on Sunday did not directly respond to questions about Gao’s comment or possible changes to official plans. However, another CDC official said Chinese developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines.

“The mRNA vaccines developed in our country have also entered the clinical trial phase,” said Wang Huaqing, official. He did not give a schedule for possible use.

Experts say mixing vaccines or sequential immunization could increase their effectiveness. Researchers in the UK are investigating a possible combination of Pfizer-BioNTech and the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Gao ended his presentation on Saturday with praise for mRNA vaccines and called for innovation in research.

“Everyone should consider the benefits mRNA vaccines can bring to humankind,” said Gao. “We have to follow them carefully and not ignore them just because we already have several types of vaccines.”

Gao previously questioned the safety of mRNA vaccines. He was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying that he could not rule out negative side effects in December as it was being used for the first time in healthy people and said, “There are safety concerns.”

Chinese state media and popular health and science blogs also questioned the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, although large-scale studies and the introduction of the vaccines in the US have proven its safety.

China currently has five vaccines in use as part of its mass immunization campaign, three inactivated virus vaccines from Sinovac and Sinopharm, one one-shot vaccine from CanSino, and the last one from Gao’s team working with Anhui Zhifei Longcom.

According to the companies, the effectiveness of the vaccines is between a little more than 50% and 79%.

The shot by Gao’s team was approved for emergency use a month ago and has not yet publicly disclosed any data on its effectiveness.

Studies have shown that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are mainly used in developed countries, have about 95% protection against COVID-19.

As of April 2, around 34 million people in China have received full two doses of Chinese vaccines, and about 65 million have received one, according to Gao.

Globally, public health experts have said that any vaccine that is 50% effective would be useful, and many governments have been eager to use Chinese vaccines as rich countries around the world have taken pictures of Pfizer and Moderna.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus said Friday that while one in four people in rich countries received a vaccine, only one in 500 people in poorer countries received a dose.

The coronavirus pandemic, first spotted in central China in late 2019, marks the first time the Chinese drug industry has played a role in responding to a global health emergency.

Vaccines from Sinovac, a privately held company, and Sinopharm, a state-owned company, make up the bulk of China’s vaccines, which are sold in several dozen countries, including Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Hungary, Brazil, and Turkey.

However, the companies have not released publicly peer-reviewed data on end-stage clinical trial research and have been criticized for a lack of transparency.

For example, Sinovac’s vaccine gave cause for concern when it was found to have different rates of effectiveness ranging from 50% to over 83% in each of the studies conducted in different countries.

A Sinovac spokesperson, Liu Peicheng, admitted varying levels of effectiveness were noted, but said it could be due to the age of the people in a study, the strain of the virus, and other factors.

Beijing has not yet approved foreign vaccines for use in mainland China.

Sinovac spokesman Liu said studies have shown that protection “may be better” if the time between vaccinations is longer than the current 14 days, but gave no indication that this could be made standard practice.

———

Wu reported from Taipei.

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This story has been corrected to show that Chinese vaccines have been donated or exported to several dozen countries, not 22, and that Sinovac is a private, not state-owned company.

Ex-Nike supervisor admits wire fraud, cash laundering

Errol Andam will likely spend 2-3 years in prison

by: KOIN 6 News Staff

Posted: Apr 2, 2021 / 9:31 AM PDT
Updated: April 2, 2021 / 9:31 AM PDT

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Faced with a 60-year prison sentence and a $ 3 million fine, a former Nike marketing manager pleaded guilty on Friday to charges of wire fraud, loan misrepresentation and money laundering charges.

Beaverton’s Errol Amorin Andam worked as a manager in Nike’s North American Brand Marketing division, where he was responsible for designing, building and managing pop-up retail stores at major sports competitions and other special events across the country.

Ex-employee accused of nearly $ 1.5 million spoiling Nike

Authorities said Andam used his role with the sportswear giant to ensure a childhood friend’s company was selected as the independent contractor for Nike for these pop-up venues.

He also used an alias, Frank Little, to bill Nike through his friend’s company. He has also transferred money from Nike and his friend’s company to his own accounts, and embezzled about $ 1.5 million from Nike as of December 2018.

In the plea agreement, 49-year-old Andam agreed to repay nearly $ 1,670,000. Prosecutors agreed that Andam would sit in prison for between 24 and 37 months, although prosecutors will recommend the higher end of that agreement.

Darkish cash group admits racketeering in bribery case | Information, Sports activities, Jobs

COLUMBUS – A dark money political group that was used in a $ 60 million bribery program to help Ohio pass nuclear weapons saving laws, authorities pleaded guilty on Friday.

Generation Now Inc. has also agreed to forfeit $ 1.5 million from two bank accounts in federal court in Cincinnati.

Jeffrey Longstreth, a co-defendant in the case who had previously pleaded guilty to his involvement in the program, represented Generation Now during the hearing on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Black has postponed an investigation and sentencing before the verdict pending the settlement of all defendants.

According to federal investigators, former Ohio House spokesman Larry Householder, Longstreth, and three others used the nonprofit Generation Now as a $ 60 million lead funded by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. secretly provided. The money was reportedly used to secure householder power, elect allied lawmakers, and legislate approving the rescue of two $ 1 billion nuclear power plants operated by a FirstEnergy subsidiary.

The five men were charged with extortion in July. The head of household pleaded not guilty and is waiting for the trial. He has been stripped of his leadership post, but remains a state official who ranks elected officials from his heavily Republican district who have pushed for his removal.

Also on Friday, the Ohio Nominating Council’s Public Utilities Commission announced the names of four new finalists for the position created by then-PUCO Chairman Sam Randazzo in November to Republican Governor Mike DeWine.

They are:

– Jenifer French, an attorney who lost a re-election bid to the Franklin County’s Common Pleas Court in November

– Virginia King, Associate Attorney General at Marathon Petroleum Corp. in Findlay, focused on the company’s sustainability efforts

– Daniel Shields, who worked for PUCO for 30 years, including as federal energy attorney, and for the last seven years with the Office of Consumer’s Counsel

– Melissa Shilling, a 17-year-old member of the State Environmental Auditing Appointment Board

In a rare move, DeWine declined the initial list sent to him on Jan. 27 and sent a letter to the panel stating that all candidates were in attendance “appropriate,” he preferred “To consider additional capable candidates” before making his decision. The move was quickly criticized by consumers who viewed at least one of the candidates as highly skilled.

The second list of semi-finalists did not contain duplicate names from the first list, which DeWine had rejected.

Randazzo was not charged in the bribery investigation. His resignation came days after the FBI and FirstEnergy searched his Columbus townhouse and found that former executives paid $ 4 million to the firm at an official meeting in Ohio that contained Randazzo’s description of terminating an alleged consulting contract. The payment came just before DeWine appointed Randazzo as PUCO chair.

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Gillispie reported from Cleveland.

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Essex County Man Admits Position in $23 Million Id Fraud and Cash Laundering Scheme | USAO-NJ

NEWARK, NJ – A Newark man today admitted his role in a major international money laundering conspiracy and the use of a stolen identity to promote the program, acting U.S. attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Edwin Deleon-Batista, 37, pleaded guilty to US District Judge Katharine S. Hayden via video conference. He was charged with one money laundering conspiracy and one with identity fraud.

According to the documents submitted in this case and statements made in court:

From March 2018 to October 2019, Deleon-Batista laundered over $ 23 million in cash drug proceeds on behalf of a money laundering organization closely associated with drug trafficking organizations in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere. Deleon raised large amounts of cash drug proceeds in New Jersey, New York, and Florida and washed them by buying cashier’s checks at local bank branches. The checks were paid to individuals and companies identified by the heads of the money laundering organization. By converting drug proceeds into bank drafts, Deleon sought to hide the source of the illicit cash and avoid scrutiny by law enforcement agencies and banks.

Deleon-Batista had previously been arrested in New York in April 2019 for federal money laundering. Shortly after his arrest, Deleon-Batista began using a stolen identity and obtained a fraudulent Florida driver’s license to continue the money laundering system. With the fraudulent license, he opened multiple bank accounts, which he used over a five-month period to convert millions of dollars in cash drug proceeds to bank checks in bank branches in New Jersey, New York, and Florida.

The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of $ 250,000 or double the amount of the offense, whichever is greater. The identity fraud charge has a maximum prison term of five years and a maximum fine of US $ 250,000. The conviction is scheduled for June 22, 2021.

Acting U.S. attorney Honig wrote special agents and task force officers in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration of the New Jersey Division, led by Special Agent Susan A. Gibson, and the New York Division, led by Special Agent Raymond Donovan ; Special Agents and Task Force Officials from the IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in charge Michael Montanez; and the Morristown, New Jersey Police Department, led by Acting Police Commissioner Darnell Richardson, with the investigation that led to today’s confession of guilt.

The government is represented by US Assistant Attorney Jonathan M. Peck of the Criminal Division in Newark.

This case is being conducted under the auspices of the Task Force on the Enforcement of Drugs in Organized Crime (OCDETF). The primary mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug, arms and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the country’s illicit drug supply.