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Friday, May 31, 2013

Former Wichita Investment Adviser Sentenced on Wire Fraud Charges

FBI Kansas City Division Press Release:


Former Wichita Investment Adviser Sentenced on Wire Fraud Charges

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMay 31, 2013
  • District of Kansas(316) 269-6481
WICHITA, KS—A former Wichita investment adviser has been sentenced to 63 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing money he pretended to be investing for clients, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today. He was ordered to pay more than $2.2 million in restitution.
Eric Burns, 44, Wichita, Kansas, pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud. In his plea, he admitted he arranged for electronic transactions to take place as part of a scheme to defraud clients.
The transactions included the following:
  • the transfer of $70,000 on August 20, 2008, from Boston to New York City
  • the transfer of $25,000 on July 7, 2010, from Boston to Wichita
  • the transfer of $12,000 on August 13, 2010, from Boston to Wichita
  • the transfer of $150,000 on August 26, 2010, from Boston to Wichita
  • the transfer of $130,000 on June 7, 2011, from Boston to Wichita
On November 8, 2011, the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner suspended Burns’ registration as an investment adviser after receiving a complaint that he misappropriated client funds.
Grissom commended the FBI, the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner, Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Barnett, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway for their work on the case.

Week in Review—Fort Wayne

FBI Indianapolis Division Press Release:


Week in Review—Fort Wayne

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMay 31, 2013
  • Northern District of Indiana(219) 937-5500
FORT WAYNE, IN—The United States Attorney’s Office announced the following activity in federal court:
Pleas:
  • Sergio Alvarez-Arellano, 26, of Warsaw, Indiana, pled guilty before Magistrate Judge Roger B Cosbey to the felony offense of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. Magistrate Cosbey is recommending that the district court accept the tendered guilty plea. Parties have 10 days in which to object to the magistrate judge’s recommendation. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Gellar.
  • Demarcus White, 31, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, pled guilty before Magistrate Judge Roger B Cosbey to the felony offense of felon in possession of a firearm. Magistrate Cosbey is recommending that the district court accept the tendered guilty plea. Parties have 10 days in which to object to the magistrate judge’s recommendation. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Gellar.
If convicted in court, any specific sentence to be imposed will be determined by the judge after a consideration of federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
Disposition:
  • Russell F. Cowherd, 34, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, was sentenced by Judge Theresa L Springmann to serve 70 months’ imprisonment with two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of being a felon in possession of a firearm. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lovita Morris-King.

Week in Review—Hammond

FBI Indianapolis Division Press Release:


Week in Review—Hammond

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMay 31, 2013
  • Northern District of Indiana(219) 937-5500
HAMMOND, IN—The United States Attorney’s Office announced the following activity in federal court:
Pleas:
  • Daniel Roman, 22, address unknown, pled guilty before Chief Judge Philip Simon to the felony offense of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Sentencing has been set for August 27, 2013. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Padilla.
  • Allen Evens, 24, of Gary, Indiana, pled guilty before Chief Judge Philip Simon to the felony offense of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. Sentencing has been set for September 4, 2013. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Padilla.
  • Kenneth Robinson, 35, of Illinois, pled guilty before Chief Judge Philip Simon to the felony offense of health care fraud. Sentencing has been set for December 17, 2013. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Department of Labor. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Diane Berkowitz.
  • Sammy Earl Jones, 30, of Gary, Indiana, pled guilty before District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen to the felony offense of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Sentencing has been set for July 24, 2013. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas McGrath.
  • Justin Tiggs, 29, of Gary, Indiana, pled guilty before District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen to the felony offense of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. Sentencing has been set for August 14, 2013. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas McGrath.
  • Joseph Jamal Smith, 20, of Chicago, Illinois, pled guilty before Senior District Judge James Moody to the felony offense of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas McGrath.
  • Roman Perez, 41, of Crown Point, Indiana, pled guilty before Chief Judge Philip Simon to the felony offenses of making false statements on a tax return and making false statements in a bankruptcy proceeding. Sentencing has been set for November 14, 2013. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Philip Benson.
Dispositions:
  • Justin Sullivan, 26, of Gary, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 30 months’ imprisonment and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. According to documents filed by the government in this case, Sullivan has multiple convictions, including a narcotics conviction and an offense for a domestic dispute. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joshua Kolar.
  • Richard Hawkins, 29, of Lafayette, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 51months’ imprisonment and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. According to documents filed by the government in this case, Hawkins has three felony convictions and eight misdemeanor convictions. In less than a 10-year period, the defendant was convicted of the following: maintaining a common nuisance, a felony, in 2003; theft, a misdemeanor, in 2003; leaving the scene of an accident, a misdemeanor, in 2003; resisting law enforcement, a misdemeanor, in 2003; escape, a felony, in 2006; battery, a misdemeanor, in 2006; domestic battery, a misdemeanor, in 2008; operating while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, in 2008; resisting law enforcement, a misdemeanor, in 2011; operating a vehicle while suspended, a misdemeanor, in 2011; and dealing in cocaine, a felony, in 2012. Additionally, the defendant has continuously violated his probation in the majority of his criminal cases. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Padilla.
  • Rufus Williams, 32, of Gary, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 51months’ imprisonment and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. According to documents filed by the government in this case, Williams has an extensive adult criminal history. In 2001, he was convicted of misdemeanor unlawful use of a weapon for possessing a firearm at a time when he was not on his own land, abode, or fixed place of business. In 2006, the defendant was convicted of the misdemeanor failure to stop after an accident resulting in non-vehicle damage and misdemeanor driving while suspended with prior conviction. In 2006, the defendant was convicted of the violent misdemeanor of battery. In 2006, the defendant was also conviction of the felony of auto theft and was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment. In 2006, the defendant was also conviction of the felony of residential burglary and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and two years mandatory supervised release. In 2009, the defendant was convicted of misdemeanor retail theft. Lastly, the defendant also has a 2009 misdemeanor conviction for carrying a weapon without a license. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Chang-Adiga.
  • Manolo Lopez-Ramirez, 27, of Valparaiso, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 27months’ imprisonment and one year of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. According to documents filed by the government in this case, Lopez-Ramirez was arrested by U.S. Customs in 2011 for fraud and was under deportation proceedings when arrested. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives HIDTA Task Force, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Porter County Sheriff’s Department and the Indiana State Police. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David Nozick.
  • Douglas Bryant, 33, of Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced by Senior District Judge Rudy Lozano to two years of supervised release to include six months of home detention and restitution of $8,062.19 after pleading guilty to the felony offenses of conspiracy to defraud the United States and Social Security fraud. This case was the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Service-Office of the Inspector General. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Toi Houston.
  • Roy Cast, III, 31, of Gary, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge James Moody to 51months’ imprisonment and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. According to documents filed by the government in this case, Cast was convicted of attempted robbery while armed with a handgun of an Arby’s restaurant located in Merrillville, Indiana. The defendant was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. Law enforcement executed a federal search warrant on the defendant’s residence and recovered firearms, marijuana, and cash. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Padilla.

Buffalo Man Sentenced for Possession of Child Pornography

FBI Buffalo Division Press Release:


Buffalo Man Sentenced for Possession of Child Pornography

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMay 31, 2013
  • Western District of New York(716) 843-5700
BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Kevin Baron, 43, of Buffalo, New York, who was convicted of possession of child pornography, was sentenced to 168 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release by U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who handled the case, stated that on March 9, 2012, the defendant possessed images of child pornography on his personal computer and on DVDs. A forensic analysis of the computer and discs revealed in excess of 600 images of child pornography. The analysis also revealed that a privacy and cleaning software had been installed and was run on February 18, 2012 and February 28, 2012. Some of the images contained depictions of violence against children.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel, along with officers of the Cheektowaga Police Department, under the direction of Police Chief David Zack, and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda. Additional assistance was provided by the Western New York Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, which conducted the forensic analysis of the computer.

Former Narcotics Task Force Officer Charged with Embezzling Seized Money

FBI Birmingham Division Press Release:


Former Narcotics Task Force Officer Charged with Embezzling Seized Money

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMay 31, 2013
  • Northern District of Alabama(205) 244-2001
BIRMINGHAM—Federal prosecutors have charged the former commander of the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force with stealing at least $125,000 from suspected drug proceeds seized by the multi-agency task force, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein, Jr.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office late Thursday filed a one-count information in U.S. District Court charging Jeffrey Lynn Snyder, 55, of Carrollton, with the theft from a program that received more than $10,000 in federal benefits within a one-year period. The U.S. Attorney’s Office also filed a plea agreement with Snyder in which he agrees to enter a guilty plea to the charge. According to the plea agreement, Snyder embezzled the money between June 2010 and June 2012, when he left the task force.
“Most law enforcement officers serve their communities bravely and honorably each and every day,” Vance said. “Unfortunately, this defendant violated his oath, the law, and the public trust he had been granted. That cannot be tolerated. The public must be able to trust its law enforcement officers.”
“Mr. Snyder tarnished the badge he wore and violated the trust of the people of West Alabama,” Schwein said. “This case demonstrates our commitment to enforce the law and hold individuals accountable, regardless of rank, position, or status. Fortunately, this is an isolated incident, and we should recognize the efforts of law enforcement officers throughout the region who continue to risk their lives on a daily basis so that the public can be safe,” he said.
The West Alabama Narcotics Task Force is staffed with officers from the Tuscaloosa Police Department, Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, Northport Police Department, and University of Alabama Police Department. It is tasked to investigate all drug crimes in Tuscaloosa County.
Snyder was a 29-year member of the Tuscaloosa Police Department, retiring as a captain in December 2012. He was detailed to the narcotics task force in 1989 and became its commander in June 2002, according to his plea agreement.
Task force members periodically seized money suspected to be proceeds of illegal drug transactions and turned the money in to Snyder, who was responsible for depositing the money into bank accounts while condemnation proceedings were pursued through court, according to the plea agreement. Snyder was entrusted to receive the seized money, log it in task force ledger books, and deposit it in task force bank accounts.
Snyder began embezzling from the seized funds no later than June 2010. He executed his scheme “by pocketing some or all of the funds seized during various arrests and then failing to correctly account for those funds,” the plea agreement states.
The agreement between the government and Snyder is a “binding plea agreement” in which both sides agree to an 18-month prison sentence, but the court must still approve the agreement.
The FBI investigated the case, with assistance from the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry Cornelius is prosecuting the case.

Baltimore Police Officer Accused of Working for Heroin Dealer

FBI Baltimore Division Press Release:


Baltimore Police Officer Accused of Working for Heroin Dealer
Officer Ashley Roane Arrested for Federal Drug, Gun, and Identity Fraud Crimes; U.S. Attorney Calls Allegations “Appalling Violation of Public Trust”

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMay 31, 2013
  • District of Maryland(410) 209-4800
BALTIMORE—Baltimore Police Officer Ashley Roane, age 25, of Pikesville, Maryland, has been charged with helping a heroin dealer by providing armed, uniformed security for drug transactions; offering advance notice of search warrants; and using police databases to check for informants. In addition, Roane and her roommate, Erica Hughes, also age 25, of Pikesville, have been charged with aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme in which Roane used a police database to obtain the names of victims to be used to obtain fraudulent tax refunds. The criminal complaint was filed on May 28, 2013, and unsealed today upon the arrest of the defendants.
The charges were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Commissioner Anthony W. Batts of the Baltimore Police Department.
“The allegations represent an appalling violation of the public trust by an officer who took an oath to serve the public but used her police powers to serve herself,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “The complaint alleges that Officer Ashley Roane agreed to help a drug dealer find a safe place to sell heroin in Baltimore and provide early warnings before police executed search warrants, that she provided armed security for drug deals while in uniform in her patrol car and that she checked a police database to identify informants. In a separate identity fraud scheme, she allegedly used a police database to obtain names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers that could be used to obtain fraudulent tax refunds from the IRS.”
“This case was discovered and investigated by members of a joint Baltimore Police and FBI anti-corruption task force and re-emphasizes my commitment to rooting out corruption within the Baltimore Police Department,” said Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts. My message to the people of our city is we are not finished—we will continue to relentlessly target corruption and misconduct among the ranks. A special note of thanks to all the police officers, agents, and prosecutors for their assistance with this investigation and their continued support.”
According to the criminal complaint, on February 26, 2013, a confidential source provided information regarding alleged criminal activity being conducted by Baltimore Police officer Ashley Roane and her roommate Erica Hughes. The confidential source advised law enforcement that in the fall of 2012, Roane had spoken to the source regarding drug trafficking and had told the source that if the source, whom Roane believed was a large scale heroin trafficker in Baltimore, wanted to sell drugs in the area where she patrolled, Roane would provide the source with a location that is not heavily concentrated with police. Additionally, Roane told that source that she could provide the source with information regarding police activity, specifically when and where drug search warrants would be executed.
The criminal complaint alleges that Roane provided assistance and protection to the confidential source in the source’s alleged drug trafficking. For example, on March 28, 2013, the criminal complaint alleges that Roane conducted a criminal check of one of the source’s alleged associates to see if that person was an informant or cooperator with the Baltimore Police Department. According to the complaint, Roane agreed that she would tell the confidential source if the person were an informant so that the source would not engage in a drug transaction with that person. Further, the criminal complaint alleges on the on April 30, 2013, while in uniform, armed with her service firearm, and in a marked Baltimore Police Department vehicle, Roane provided protection while the confidential source conducted a narcotics transaction involving a kilogram of heroin. The confidential source allegedly paid Roane $500 for her protection, and Roane agreed to provide such protection again in a future narcotics transaction involving multiple kilograms of heroin.
According to the criminal complaint, Hughes and Roane believed that the confidential source also worked as a tax preparer, and they provided the personal information of more than 30 individuals, including names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers, to the confidential source to prepare and submit false tax returns to the IRS in order to obtain fraudulent tax refunds. The criminal complaint alleges that Roane obtained the personal information from law enforcement databases through her position as a Baltimore Police officer.
Roane faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison for possession with intent to distribute heroin and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of life in prison for possession of a gun in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Roane and Hughes face a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft. The defendants will be detained pending an initial appearance which will be scheduled for Monday, June 3, 2013, in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Peter M. Nothstein, who is prosecuting the case.

Money Courier for Large Guatemalan Drug Ring Sentenced to More Than 13 Years in Prison

FBI Baltimore Division Press Release:


Money Courier for Large Guatemalan Drug Ring Sentenced to More Than 13 Years in Prison

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMay 31, 2013
  • District of Maryland(410) 209-4800
GREENBELT, MD—U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. sentenced Nery Gustavo Ramos-Duarte, age 52, of Chiquimula, Guatemala, today to 160 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release for conspiring to distribute and import five kilograms or more of cocaine, commit money laundering, and smuggle bulk cash.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder of the Drug Enforcement Administration-Washington Field Division; and Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to evidence presented at the five day trial, Duarte was a money courier for a large international organization that imported cocaine into the United States from Guatemala and smuggled the proceeds back to Guatemala. Duarte was a trusted member of the organization who could speak directly with its leader in Guatemala and helped the leader collect drug debts.
On September 25, 2003, Duarte was stopped while driving in Arkansas. Law enforcement seized $1,168,000 in cash wrapped in bundles from a secret compartment in his vehicle.
In 2005, Duarte picked up drug money from a co-conspirator in Connecticut to take to the ringleader in Guatemala. Later in 2005, Duarte took a Mercedes-Benz from another member of the conspiracy as payment for a drug debt to the ringleader.
Trial testimony showed that Duarte was responsible for the distribution of over 150 kilograms of cocaine in the course of the conspiracy.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the IRS-CI, DEA, and FBI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Peter M. Nothstein, Andrea L. Smith, and Bonnie S. Greenberg, who prosecuted case.

Woman Sentenced for Health Care Fraud

FBI Atlanta Division Press Release:


Woman Sentenced for Health Care Fraud

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMay 31, 2013
  • Middle District of Georgia(478) 752-3511
Michael J. Moore, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announced that Nicole Bogan, age 39, of Tennessee, was sentenced by the Honorable Clay D. Land, United States District Judge in Columbus, Georgia, on May 30, 2013, for health care fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, 1347(a)(2). After entering a plea of guilty to health care fraud, Judge Land sentenced Ms. Bogan to 10 months to serve in a federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, restitution in the amount of $87,355 to American Family Life Assurance Corporation (AFLAC), and a mandatory assessment fee of $100.
In entering a plea of guilty to count one of the information, Ms. Bogan admitted that between the dates of October 12, 2009 and February 9, 2012, she fraudulently collected $87,355 from AFLAC. During the relevant time period, Ms. Bogan submitted numerous fraudulent claim forms on a cancer policy as well as a disability policy relating to medical expenses and missed work stemming from a purported bout with cancer. As part of her plea, Ms. Bogan admitted that she never, in fact, had cancer and had lied about having the disease in order to collect payments to which she was not entitled from AFLAC.
“As we continue to prosecute health care fraud cases, we are forcing defendants like Ms. Bogan to pay for their crime and rooting out fraud one defendant at a time,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Crawford Seals.
Questions concerning this case should be directed to Sue McKinney, Public Affairs Specialist, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2602.

Field Tour of Bethel Acres, OK (ID: 65987)

Bethel Acres, Okla., May 30, 2013 -- FEMA Operations Branch Chief Christian Van Alstyne briefs Federal Coordinating Officer Sandy Coachman and State Coordinating Officer Michelann Ooten on the damages in the Bethel Acres community, and the progress of the clean up efforts underway.

Disaster Survey in Oklahoma (ID: 65988)

Bethel Acres, Okla., May 30, 2013 -- Federal Coordinating Officer Sandy Coachman surveys vehicles destroyed by a tornado that struck the Bethel Acres, OK community

Alexander Statement on Student Loan Solution by July 1

Senator Lamar Alexander Press Release:


May 31 2013

 -
Washington, D.C., May 31 –U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, today released the following statement regarding President Obama’s call for Congress to prevent rates on subsidized Stafford Loans from doubling on July 1:
"Senate Republicans support a permanent solution that will reduce interest rates for 100 percent of new student loans, not a short-term political fix that reduces rates for 40 percent of new loans. This would be fair to students and fair to taxpayers. Since the House of Representatives has already passed a permanent solution that seems to be much like what the president and Senate Republicans support, Congress should be able to agree on it before July 1." 
Alexander, with Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Johnny Isakson (R-G.A.), in April introduced the “Comprehensive Student Loan Protection Act,” a bill that requires that, for each academic year, all newly-issued Stafford, Graduate PLUS, and Parent PLUS loans be set to the U.S. Treasury 10-year borrowing rate plus 3 percentage points. It would lower the interest rate for this coming school year for all newly issued federal student loans to a fixed rate of 4.75 percent, based on the May 15 auction rate of 1.75 percent.
# # #

Cornyn Statement on Expansion of I-69

Senator John Cornyn Press Release:

May 31 2013

AUSTIN – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) issued the following statement after the Texas Transportation Commission voted to approve adding new highway segments to Interstate 69:
“I’m pleased to hear that I-69 will be expanded with new highway segments, and I’d like to thank the Texas Transportation Commission, the Federal Highway Administration, and South Texas elected officials and community leaders for their work in making this a reality.
“With Texas ranked as one of the best states in job growth, these types of innovations are critical for making sure Texas continues to be the best place to work and live.  I look forward to taking advantage of these expanded roadways during my travels in South Texas.”

Sessions Remarks On EPA Nominee, Raises Concerns Over Responsiveness

Senator Jeff Sessions Press Release:

Sessions Remarks On EPA Nominee, Raises Concerns Over Responsiveness

Thursday, May 30, 2013
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, issued the following statement today on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
 
“I had the pleasure of meeting with Ms. McCarthy recently and talking at length with her about many important issues. I believe she is a good person and her assurance that EPA would become more responsive under her management has been encouraging. However, neither Ms. McCarthy nor the agency she would like to lead has been responsive to many of the reasonable requests of Senators tasked with advising and consenting to this nomination.
 
The job of EPA Administrator has the potential to impact the life of every American in both positive and negative ways—and so I believe she has to be as forthcoming as possible in answering questions. To date, she has not provided responsive answers to many of the requests submitted by our Ranking member, Sen. Vitter, or many of my questions. For example, she has persisted in EPA’s stonewalling of my request for information about taxpayer funds wasted on an unnecessary reconsideration of the ozone standard—a request I have waited almost two years to be answered. In addition, she did not answer my questions about EPA’s sue and settle tactics, and she has refused to provide EPA’s analysis concerning the President’s faulty assertion that global temperatures are increasing more than was predicted a decade ago.”
 
 
BACKGROUND:
Sen. Sessions joined EPW Committee Republicans in asking McCarthy for responses on a set of five specific topics. To date, EPA has not addressed most of those issues. In addition, Sessions asked her for information on a range of topics of importance to Alabama, including job impacts of EPA regulations, problems with EPA’s sue and settle tactics, climate change policy, and other issues. McCarthy has been the Assistant Administrator at EPA since 2009 and was the principal architect of most of the controversial and costly regulations promulgated by EPA in the last four years, yet on many topics she simply answered by “commit[ting] to learning more about the Agency’s practices” or giving other similar responses. For example, Sessions asked her a series of specific questions about EPA’s “sue and settle” issues. McCarthy responded: “I recognize that this committee has focused many of its questions on EPA settlement practices and, if confirmed, I commit to learning more about the Agency’s practices in settling litigation across its program areas.”
 
Similarly, McCarthy did not adequately answer specific questions about EPA’s decision to engage in a costly reconsideration of the ozone standard. Sessions—as the Ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee—had written a letter to EPA in September 2011 asking for information about taxpayer funds spent on reconsidering this standard. At that time, Sessions had just led a bipartisan group of Senators urging EPA to not finalize a new ozone standard yet—a recommendation that the President ultimately accepted. Almost two years later, EPA still has not provided any cost figures related to the ozone reconsideration process. Last month, Sessions again asked McCarthy: “Did EPA incur significant costs as part of the ozone reconsideration process; if so, how much?” In her written responses, McCarthy did not answer the specific question raised by Sen. Sessions or provide the requested data relating to the costs incurred as part of that effort. As the Assistant Administrator at the EPA Air Office, McCarthy had primary responsibility over EPA’s ozone reconsideration process.
 
Finally Sessions has asked EPA to provide actual data supporting the President’s November 2012 assertion that global temperatures are “increasing faster than was predicted even ten years ago.” Instead of providing the requested analysis including a chart showing official predictions versus actual global temperatures, McCarthy stated that “EPA has not produced its own analysis, but we expect a definitive comparison in the forthcoming [International Panel on Climate Change] Fifth Assessment Report.” This is a remarkable concession; if EPA intends to move forward with costly efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions as a means to address concerns about global temperature increases, shouldn’t the agency have already undertaken efforts to determine if temperatures are actually increasing to the extent predicted by the climate models?

President’s Campaign-style Event Side-Steps Student Loan Issue

Senator Mitch McConnell Press Release:

Press Releases

May 31 2013

President’s Campaign-style Event Side-Steps Student Loan Issue

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released the following statement today regarding the President’s campaign-style event at the White House and Republican solutions to preventing rising student loan interest rates:
“With the President and Congressional Republicans in agreement on the need to provide a permanent reform to address the increase in interest rates on new student loans, no one should be fooled by today’s campaign-style event at the White House. House Republicans have already passed legislation that would prevent a rate hike, and Senate Republicans have proposed a solution similar to one the President himself called for in this year’s budget. Here’s one issue where the two parties can and should find quick agreement. Unfortunately, the President appears more interested in needlessly stoking partisan divisions in Washington than helping young Americans avoid a higher interest rate on their student loans.”

Two Disaster Recovery Centers Open in Chicago

FEMA News Release:

Two Disaster Recovery Centers Open in Chicago

Main Content
Release date: 
May 31, 2013
Release Number: 
DR-4116-IL NR-026

AURORA, Ill. – Two Disaster Recovery Centers are now open. One is in North Park Village and the other is in South Chicago. The DRCs provide an opportunity for those affected by the recent storms and flooding to meet with disaster recovery specialists to ask questions and register for FEMA assistance.
The facilities, operated jointly by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and FEMA, will operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. The locations are:

North Park Village
5801 N. Pulaski, Bldg. C
Chicago, IL  60646
Hours: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily.

Royal Savings Bank
9226 S. Commercial Ave.
Second Floor
Chicago, IL 60617
Hours: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily.

(Bank parking is free but limited. Additional free parking is at 9137 S. Exchange Ave.)
DRC services include help with applying for disaster assistance and finding out about other disaster programs available from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), state and local agencies, and voluntary organizations. Residents must apply with FEMA even if they already provided damage information to local officials, other agencies or organizations.

SBA low-interest disaster loans may be available for homeowners, renters, businesses and private non-profit organizations of all sizes to repair or replace real estate, contents and/or personal property damaged in the severe storms and flooding. SBA customer service representatives will be present to answer questions and accept completed loan applications. Information and assistance from SBA is also available at 800-659-2955, (TTY) 800-877-8339 or online at sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.

Survivors do not have to visit a DRC to register for FEMA assistance. Individuals can register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or via web-enabled phone at m.fema.gov. Applicants may also call 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. If you use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services (VRS), call 800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT seven days a week until further notice.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at twitter.com/femaregion5, facebook.com/fema, and youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at twitter.com/craigatfema. The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications. 
Media Contact: 571-408-1835
Last Updated: 
May 31, 2013 - 10:24

FEMA and Ad Council Help Americans Prepare for Severe Weather

FEMA Press Release:

FEMA and Ad Council Help Americans Prepare for Severe Weather

Main Content
Release date: 
May 30, 2013
Release Number: 
HQ–13-056

WASHINGTON - Recent severe weather and the start of the Atlantic hurricane season reinforce the need for Americans to familiarize themselves with the look, sound and authenticity of real-time Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs).  To encourage, educate and empower Americans to identify WEAs so they can take steps to prepare for emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Ad Council are unveiling new public service advertisements (PSAs). The PSAs are a part of the Ready campaign which for ten years has encouraged Americans to prepare in advance of natural disasters and other emergencies.

The new English and Spanish PSAs will be distributed as part of Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 26 – June 1, 2013), an annual effort by FEMA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Hurricane Center to inform the public about hurricane hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to prepare and take action. A lack of hurricane awareness and preparation has historically contributed to the devastation wrought by past major hurricane disasters.

WEAs are emergency messages sent by local authorized government authorities through wireless carriers’ networks. The alerts include a special tone and vibration. The messages are no more than 90 characters and contain the type and time of the alert, any action individuals should take and the issuing agency. Types of alerts include extreme weather such as hurricane, tornado or flash flood warnings; AMBER alerts and alerts issued by the President*. More than 100 carriers, including all of America’s largest wireless carriers, offer the WEA service for free and no subscription is necessary. Alerts are broadcast from area cell towers warning everyone in range with a WEA-capable device of a potential emergency situation.

“Many people may not realize that they carry a potentially lifesaving tool with them in their pockets or purses every day,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “As hurricane season approaches, we want Americans to know that Wireless Emergency Alerts delivered to their mobile phones by FEMA, the National Weather Service and other agencies, can help people take appropriate preparedness steps when facing potential man-made and natural disasters.”

Created by Washington, DC and Oakland, CA based Free Range Studios, the PSAs highlight the potentially lifesaving role of WEAs when facing natural disasters, as well as other emergencies. The TV PSA drives home the preparedness point and the crucial role of mobile technology with a slow-motion montage of lifesaving objects (pedestrian signal, life preserver, defibrillator, and seat belt) which transition to an image of a wireless device delivering a WEA. The PSA ends by demonstrating the positive result of WEAs by showing a family taking shelter after receiving a tornado alert. The English radio, TV, and digital PSAs direct audiences to Ready.gov/alerts for more information. The Spanish radio, TV and digital PSAs direct to Listo.gov/alertas.

“It was an honor to work with the Ad Council and FEMA on this PSA campaign,” said Erica Priggen executive producer at Free Range Studios. “Wireless Emergency Alerts are an invaluable new way of getting information out in the face of disasters, crises and national news breaking events.  Knowing that WEAs can help save lives, and empower people in serious times of need, made the project a very gratifying collaboration.”

“Utilizing the power of communication to keep Americans healthy and safe is our mission and nowhere is this better exemplified than in our 10-year partnership on the Ready campaign,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “We are excited to launch this new facet of the campaign and continue to help FEMA deliver critical messages to the American public.”

Since its launch in 2003, the Ready campaign has encouraged Americans to prepare in advance, to minimize the impact of an emergency on their families, homes or businesses. WEAs are another tool to help Americans be more prepared in times of crisis. To date, the campaign has received over $1 billion in donated media and the campaign website Ready.gov has received over 77 million visits. More than 88 million preparedness materials have been requested or downloaded from Ready.gov and Ad Council tracking surveys show that since 2005, the proportion of U.S. households who have taken any steps to prepare has increased by 13%, from 45% to 58%. Per the Ad Council model, PSAs are distributed to media outlets nationwide and run and air in advertising time and space donated by the media.

For more information on the campaign visit Ready.gov or follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter @ReadyGov.
* Participating carriers may allow subscribers to block all but Presidential alerts.
FEMA
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

The Advertising Council
The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshaling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has affected, and continues to affect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives. For more information, please visit www.adcouncil.org.  You can also visit www.facebook.com/adcouncil or follow the Ad Council on Twitter @AdCouncil.

Free Range Studios
Free Range works with visionary companies and organizations to create story-based brands, transforming clients’ visions for a better future into emotionally compelling media — from interactive and mobile to print and video. We believe people are hungry for brands and movements that offer empowerment, not fear and insecurity. Our home offices are in Washington, DC and Oakland, CA. For more information visit our website at freerange.com, find us on Facebook at facebook.com/freerangestudios, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/freerangestudio.

Media Contacts
Lisa Cullen, Ad Council, 202-331-5052, lcullen@adcouncil.org     
FEMA, 202-646-3272, FEMA-News-Desk@dhs.gov
Frankie Ridolfi, Free Range Studios, 510-292-4737, frankie@freerange.com
Last Updated: 
May 30, 2013 - 16:38