FBI Badge & gun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here is what we are reading today:
Ponzi Scheme? TelexFree Raided By Authorities (Boston Globe) - Federal agents from the FBI and Homeland Security have raided the Marlborough headquarters of TelexFree Inc. in the intensifying investigation of an alleged billion-dollar scheme that has the potential to rank among the largest international financial frauds. Regulators accused the company, which sells Internet telephone services, of luring investors from immigrant communities who sometimes put in their life savings. Some distraught victims have threatened suicide.
What's Next For TelexFree Investors (Ponzi Tracker) - Last week was a busy week for TelexFree. After filing for bankruptcy protection on Monday in a Nevada bankruptcy court, state and federal securities regulators filed civil actions accusing the company of operating a massive pyramid and Ponzi scheme that, by one estimate, may have raised $1 billion from investors worldwide. That same day, federal agents from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security raided the company's headquarters in Marlborough, Massachusetts, which later drew headlines after authorities discovered TelexFree's Chief Financial Officer attempting to remove $38 million in cashier's checks from the offices. (The company later claimed there was no nefarious purpose behind this effort.)
Tennessee Focuses On Healthcare Fraud (The Tennessean) - Health care lawyer Matthew Curley is in a room on top of the Nashville skyline, his hand resting on a glossy book chronicling dozens of stories of health care fraud. He and Anna Grizzle, both soft-spoken and cerulean blue-eyed, work on Bass Berry & Sims’ health care fraud task force. They were part of the team that published the firm’s 2013 Healthcare Fraud and Abuse Review, which is sitting near Curley on a conference room table. For attorneys who specialize in health care fraud, business is good. That’s because the feds are turbo-charging investigation efforts.
Entrapment For Good Law Enforcement? (Police One) - The FBI used millions of dollars, liquor and cigarettes seized in other cases and more than a dozen undercover operatives in an elaborate, seven-year sting operation targeting a San Francisco Chinatown association thought to be a front for a notorious organized crime syndicate. The agents, posing as honest businessmen and a Mafia figure, spent freely and aggressively offered their targets criminal schemes, leading to the indictment of 29 people — including state Sen. Leland Yee — on charges that included money laundering, public corruption and gun trafficking.
Bootlegging Movies Ends In Probation For Alabama Man (Nery Advertisesr) - An Alabama man faces two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to copyright infringement in November. In a news release, prosecutors say 54-year-old Augustus Powell, of Huntsville, Ala. was stopped by police in Louisiana three times in one year and found in possession of thousands of bootlegged movies and music. U.S. District Judge Richard T. Haik in Lafayette, La., ordered Powell to undergo three years of supervised release last week and pay $7,000 in restitution to the Motion Picture Association of America.
Knockoff Batteries Could Land Couple In Prison (Courthouse News) - A Simi Valley businessman was convicted of selling $2.6 million in cheap, knock-off batteries for emergency backup power on nuclear aircraft carriers and other Navy vessels. A federal jury last week convicted Didier De Nier, 63, of five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Receptionist Used Doctors Rx Pad To Get and Sell Drugs (State Journal) - A Beckley woman who stole a prescription pad from her former employer will spend 14 months in federal prison for obtaining oxycodone by fraud, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said. Tina Marie Richmond, 41, was working as a receptionist at a doctor’s office in the Beckley area when she stole the prescription pad, which had the doctor's DEA registration number on it. She then forged the doctor's signature on prescriptions, she admitted to the court in December.
Prison Reform Has Red And Blue Working Together (Los Angeles Times) - For decades the Republican Party prided itself for being tough on crime, often putting Democrats on the defensive by pushing for longer, mandatory sentences for convicts. In 1988, that hard-line stance helped sink the presidential dreams of then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who was blamed in Republican TV ads for having released convicted killer Willie Horton as part of a weekend furlough program. (Horton failed to return after a furlough and went on to commit robbery and rape.) But now, as the U.S. Senate prepares to take up the most far-reaching changes in years to federal sentencing and parole guidelines, some conservative Republicans are flipping sides, driven by concerns about the rising cost of caring for prisoners and calls for compassion from conservative religious groups seeking to rehabilitate convicts.