Search This Blog

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Scoop: Transparency Needed from Intelligence Agencies about Use of Federal Aircraft

Senator Chuck Grassley News Release:

March 31, 2014

The Scoop: Transparency Needed from Intelligence Agencies about Use of Federal Aircraft

According to a new report I requested from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), federal intelligence agencies aren’t reporting their employees’ non-mission or personal trips on federal aircraft.

The GAO said that the intelligence agencies, like the CIA or FBI, are required by federal regulations to report non-mission travel to the General Services Administration.  These trips are at taxpayer expense even though they are personal or not related to the agency’s mission.  So for there to be any secrecy surrounding them only serves to create a distrust of the federal government.

The GAO’s investigation was spurred by a separate report I requested when the agency found that two FBI Gulfstream V jets that were justified to Congress by the FBI as critical to counterterrorism operations were mainly being used for “non-mission” or personal flights.   During that initial investigation, GAO learned that the FBI had made its own determination that, as an intelligence-gathering agency, it did not have to report travel to the General Services Administration (GSA).

According to several executive branch documents, senior federal officials who travel on government aircraft for nonmission or personal purposes, except for trips that are classified, are required to report their travel to GSA.  The GAO found that “GSA is not collecting all specified unclassified data as directed, and GSA has not provided a basis for deviating from executive branch requirements.”

In addition, the GAO found that the GSA fails to identify the different agencies that don’t report senior federal travel data as a result of the intelligence agency exemption.  This has the potential to limit the accuracy of its Senior Federal Travel Reports.  These reports give information on “the number of trips taken by senior federal officials, the costs of such trips, the number of agencies reporting, and the number and costs of trips taken by cost justification.”

The GAO identified a significant gap that needs to be addressed to ensure transparency and verify that federal agencies are following current regulations.  The intelligence agencies need to be held accountable.  Transparency brings accountability and may just save the taxpayers some money.

The Scoop: Wind Energy Empowers America

Senator Chuck Grassley News Release:

March 31, 2014

The Scoop: Wind Energy Empowers America

Momentum is building to extend expired tax provisions that lapsed Dec. 31.  Of the 55 expired tax breaks on the table, wind energy incentives are among those left hanging.  I’ve been working to build bipartisan, bicameral and regional alliances to secure a victory for America’s 21st century clean energy policy.  So far, 144 lawmakers are standing together to support wind energy in the tax extenders package.

We’re pressing leaders in the House and Senate to prioritize extensions of the job-creating investment and production tax credits for wind energy.  This federal tax policy has helped to launch a carbon-free energy source and diversify America’s portfolio of homegrown, alternative sources of energy.  The tax credits have helped to support 85,000 U.S. jobs; trigger $105 billion in private sector investment; reduce the carbon footprint by displacing carbon-emitting energy with clean generation wind energy; and harness an inexhaustible source of affordable, domestic electricity for consumers.

Opponents of wind energy tax incentives argue the industry doesn’t need any government support, yet there are plenty of tax policies for various industries that have been on the books for decades longer than those for wind.  If one measure is on the table for potential removal, all of them should be on the table.  Everything deserves consideration on its merits, and wind energy stands up to scrutiny.

Technology, tax incentives and private investment work to strengthen the renewable energy sector’s position in the free marketplace and power America’s carbon-free energy policies forward.   Over the past few decades, wind energy in the United States has changed the economic and energy landscape with nearly 900 utility-scale wind projects on the nation’s electricity grid and more than 550 wind-related manufacturing facilities.

Wind farms and/or factories have cropped up in all 50 states, putting people to work in good-paying jobs, diversifying farm and ranch income with an organic, drought- and weed-resistant cash crop, revitalizing rural communities and creating pollution-free electricity for millions of homes and businesses across the country.  Iowa leads the nation in wind-generated electricity, at 27.4 percent, powering the equivalent of 1.3 million homes.

It doesn’t make sense to pull the plug on wind energy tax incentives that foster responsible environmental stewardship, encourage entrepreneurs to innovate clean-energy technologies and investors to finance the job-creating infrastructure that delivers clean electricity to America’s homes and businesses.

The Scoop: Standing With Ukraine

Senator Chuck Grassley News Release:

March 31, 2014

The Scoop: Standing With Ukraine

Congress is moving forward with support for Ukraine and authorization for additional sanctions responding to Russian aggression.

The progress on passing this legislation was slower than I would have liked.  Quick passage would have sent a strong, unified message to Russia that there will be consequences for intruding on sovereign land.

Unfortunately, the bill was unnecessarily delayed over a controversial measure that would have restructured U.S. contributions to the International Monetary Fund.

The Majority Leader ultimately relented and stripped out the controversial language, leading to unanimous Senate passage of the underlying package.   The House of Representatives passed a similar measure, and final resolution is expected this week.

The Senate measure condemns Russian military intervention in Ukraine and reaffirms the U.S. commitment under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which secures the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity and borders of Ukraine.

The measure enhances and extends U.S. security cooperation with central and Eastern Europe, including North Atlantic Treaty Organization members and NATO aspirants.

It includes authorizing the Secretary of State to help Ukraine in identifying and recovering assets linked to corruption.  It authorizes funding for improved democratic governance, transparency, accountability, rule of law, anti-corruption efforts and free, fair elections in Ukraine.  It also authorizes measures for enhanced security cooperation among the United States, European Union, and countries in central and Eastern Europe.  And it directs the President to impose sanctions on individuals responsible for abuses in Ukraine and encourages the same for individuals responsible for corruption in Russia.

Russia has violated Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence with its illegal annexation of Crimea.  The United States should help Ukraine and other allies protect against the use of force that threatens the independence of sovereign nations.

The Scoop: Senate Guest Chaplain Hails from Iowa

Senator Chuck Grassley Press Release:

March 31, 2014

The Scoop: Senate Guest Chaplain Hails from Iowa

Last week I had the honor of welcoming Dr. Daniel McClure of Washington, Iowa, as the Senate Guest Chaplain as he opened the U.S. Senate with a morning prayer.
            
Based in Iowa, McClure currently serves as the National Chaplain of the American Legion.  He was appointed in August 2013 at the Legion’s Annual National Convention in Houston, Texas.  It’s customary for American Legion National Chaplains to serve as the Senate Guest Chaplain during the organization’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.      
          
McClure is a Vietnam veteran with over 40 years of military service in the U.S. Army, Army Reserve, Air Force and National Guard.  He joined the American Legion in 2001 and is a member of the American Legion Leon Beatty Post 29 in Washington.  In the Legion he has served as Post Chaplain, District Chaplain, Department Chaplain, District Chairman of the Americanism Commission, Boys State counselor and oratorical contest judge.  

Ordained by the Heritage Baptist Church in Lakeland, Fla., in 1979, McClure has pastored churches in Washington state, Montana, Florida and Iowa.  He retired in 1999 but continues to volunteer in the ministry.  McClure is the past president of the local Community Chest and past president of Kiwanas.  He also currently serves as the president and treasurer of the All Veterans Association, treasurer of the House of Heroes, board chairman of the Tree of Life Free Clinic, member of the NRA, volunteer with the Lake Darling Youth Center and chairman of the 1st Baptist Church’s deacon board in Yarmouth, Iowa.  

It’s a great point of pride that this year’s American Legion National Chaplain is from Iowa. I’m glad to have an Iowan serving in this position in such a well-known veterans organization and it was an honor to welcome him as the Guest Chaplain.

Watch McClure’s opening prayer on the Senate floor here and read more about McClure as the American Legion National Chaplain here

Senate Republicans Urge Democrats Not to Block Job Creation Amendments

Press Releases

Mar 31 2014

Senate Republicans Urge Democrats Not to Block Job Creation Amendments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor calling on Majority Leader Reid to allow Republican amendments that focus on job creation:
“Today is the nominal deadline for most people to sign up for Obamacare. And while one Senator from the other side of the aisle said yesterday that there’s ‘no such thing as Obamacare,’ that will come as news to millions of our constituents – the millions of Americans facing higher premiums, cancelled plans and the loss of doctors and hospitals they liked as a result of this law.
“Obamacare is definitely real to the Middle Class families we represent. And if our friends on the other side want to make the pain of this law go away, then they can work with us to replace it with smart, bipartisan reforms. But trying to wish their own Obamacare law away or simply pretending it’s not there – well, that’s just insulting to the people we represent. The American people deserve better than that.
“Now, on a related matter:
“We’ll be having a vigorous debate this week in the Senate about how to create jobs and rebuild the Middle Class.
“On the one side, Democrats will be offering more of the same.
“They’ll propose treating the symptoms instead of meaningfully improving the prospects of people struggling out there.
“On the other side, Republicans will be proposing concrete ways to break the cycle of unemployment and hopelessness that pervades the Obama economy — ideas aimed at helping people reach their true potential and build a better life for themselves.
“The Republican message is all about innovation and opportunity – and making it easier for more people to join the ranks of the Middle Class. It’s about reforming the underlying causes of unemployment, instead of just perpetually treating the symptoms and it’s about how we create the jobs of the future that will allow Americans to do more than just pay their bills.
“Republicans will offer a series of jobs amendments this week that underline our determination to reorient America’s economic trajectory. We want to lift our country from stagnation to growth, from hostility toward enterprise to an embrace of innovation, and from a system rigged by government elites for their own benefit to one that can work for the Middle Class again.
“So Americans will hear about two competing agendas this week.
“On the one hand: a tired, government-centered Democrat agenda designed by, and for, ideologues of the Left.
“On the other: a modern, enterprise-oriented Republican agenda designed around the hopes and the potential of the Middle Class.
“This is a debate Republicans welcome. It’s one we’ve been wanting to have for a long time.
“And we hope Washington Democrats will actually be serious this time when they say they want to focus on jobs.
“Because every time they say it, they keep getting distracted and ‘pivoting’ to other issues.
“Here’s something else we expect from the majority too: votes on amendments for positive reform.
“The American people deserve at least that much. After so many years of failure, the Middle Class deserves the chance for something better.
“Remember: there are nearly 4 million Americans who have been unemployed for six months or longer. These Americans deserve to have a Congress that’s committed to making it easier, not harder, to create jobs.
“So let’s have this debate. Let’s vote on Republicans’ jobs amendments. And let’s give some hope again to the Middle Class families who’ve suffered for too long.”

Cornyn to Reid: Stop Blocking Attempts to Get Americans Back to Work

Senator John Cornyn News Release:

Mar 31 2014

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Majority Leader Harry Reid’s refusal to consider Republican proposals that would directly lead to job creation and economic growth. Excerpts are below and a video of his full remarks can be accessed here.
“You would think that at a time when there is a bipartisan consensus that we need to get the economy moving again, we need to get people back to work so they can provide for their families, that there would be bipartisan agreement here in the Senate that anybody with a good idea ought to offer it, debate it and let's vote on it. Well, unfortunately the Majority Leader has a different point of view. He's refusing to let anyone on this side of the aisle offer any suggestions in the form of amendments that actually might have a chance of improving the situation for people who are out of work or people looking for jobs.”
“For example, the senior Senator from Maine has a bill that would relieve the burden of Obamacare on workers and businesses alike and restore the traditional 40-hour work week…To avoid the penalties that go along with Obamacare, many employers are moving people from full-time work to part-time work. Well, the amendment from the senior Senator from Maine, Senator Collins, would address that problem and fix it.
“The senior Senator from Utah, Senator Hatch, has a bill that would abolish the job-killing tax on medical innovation. The junior Senator from Missouri has a bill that would exempt military veterans from Obamacare's employer mandate. The junior Senator from Kentucky has a bill that would make it easier for Congress to block regulations that don't pass a simple cost-benefit test. The junior Senator from South Carolina has a bill that would modernize workforce training and eliminate duplicative government programs, something I was just talking about a moment ago. And the Senior senator from North Dakota has a bill that would single-handedly create thousands of jobs by approving the Keystone XL Pipeline.
“If and when these bills are offered as amendments to the pending legislation, they deserve a vote. If the Majority Leader denies them a vote, he's effectively denying us a chance to expand our economy, create more jobs and get people back to work.”

Health Care Law Check-Up: How Ohioans Spent Their “ObamaCare Anniversaries”

Anniversaries are typically celebrated.
But in our local area, ObamaCare’s recent four-year anniversary was hardly a “celebration.”  Ohioans spent their “ObamaCare Anniversaries” with nothing more than the president’s broken promises and higher costs for health care.

Blog | John Boehner - 8th District of Ohio

Sen. Coburn: Obamacare cuts choices, not costs

Obamacare supporters are touting reports that 6 million Americans bought insurance on exchanges as evidence the plan is moving in the right direction. But these numbers are misleading. If anything, they show that Obamacare's greatest challenges are yet to come.



Sen. Coburn: Obamacare cuts choices, not costs

NATO Looking for Appropriate Response to Putin - SPIEGEL ONLINE

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has demanded a stronger NATO presence in Eastern Europe. But that makes some in Chancellor Merkel's government uncomfortable. As the alliance moves to reassure eastern allies, Berlin considers its options.



NATO Looking for Appropriate Response to Putin - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Prominent Germans Have Understanding for Russian Annexation of Crimea - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Should the West chart a course of confrontation with Russia following Moscow's annexation of Crimea? Many prominent Germans aren't so sure. Sympathy for Russia is alive and well in the country.



Prominent Germans Have Understanding for Russian Annexation of Crimea - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Osnos: Playing with Chinese nationalism a dangerous game – Global Public Square - CNN.com Blogs

Fareed speaks with the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos about China's response to the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Watch the video for the full interview.



Osnos: Playing with Chinese nationalism a dangerous game – Global Public Square - CNN.com Blogs

Poll: Dems missing mark with swing voters | TheHill

A new political advocacy group has teamed up with former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to argue that the economic inequality agenda of Senate Democrats is a loser with swing voters. 
 
That might be why some centrist Democrats facing uphill campaign battles have kept their distance from the Democratic leadership’s agenda items.

Read more: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/202088-poll-suggests-dems-are-missing-the-mark-with-swing-voters#ixzz2xZ1rp5ow
Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook




Poll: Dems missing mark with swing voters | TheHill

Is Obama pivot to Asia on hold? | TheHill

Plans for the United States to pivot to Asia are on hold again with Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
It’s just the latest complication in the Obama administration’s plans to rebalance the military toward Asia to counter China.


Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/202092-is-obama-pivot-to-asia-on-hold#ixzz2xZ1U6M38
Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook




Is Obama pivot to Asia on hold? | TheHill

DHS document: 68,000 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions released in 2013 | TheHill

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials last year released 68,000 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions, undercutting Democratic claims that President Obama has strictly enforced immigration laws.
An internal Department of Homeland Security document compiling statistics on arrests and deportations in 2013 showed that ICE agents encountered 193,357 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions but issued charging documents for only 125,478. More than 67,800 were released.


Read more: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/202142-dhs-document-68000-illegal-immigrants-with-criminal-convictions-released-in#ixzz2xYzPtdlG
Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook




DHS document: 68,000 illegal immigrants with criminal convictions released in 2013 | TheHill

Williams: O-Care perception bests reality | TheHill

Last week, in the run-up to Monday’s deadline for enrolling in ObamaCare, I called one of the few people with a hand in designing both the Affordable Care Act and the Massachusetts healthcare reform plan signed into law in 2006 by then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

Read more: http://thehill.com/opinion/juan-williams/202130-juan-williams-for-o-care-perception-bests-reality#ixzz2xYvqPY12
Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook




Williams: O-Care perception bests reality | TheHill

Record volume for O-Care exchanges | TheHill

The federal health insurance marketplace saw record volume for a Saturday, and operators at the federal call centers struggled to keep up with the volume of calls, as consumers flooded the ObamaCare exchanges ahead of Monday’s enrollment deadline.
According to the Obama administration, HealthCare.gov saw 2 million visits this weekend, while the call centers received 380,000 phone calls. On Sunday, the insurance marketplace tweeted a warning to consumers that, because of a crush of calls, those interested in coverage could leave their information, and an employee would contact them later.


Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/202129-record-volume-for-o-care-exchanges#ixzz2xYvVhYqi
Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook




Record volume for O-Care exchanges | TheHill

ObamaCare's 4-year checkup | TheHill

The deadline for ObamaCare’s first-year enrollment has arrived, four years after one of the most far-reaching and divisive pieces of domestic legislation became law.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/202133-the-4-year-checkup#ixzz2xYuPknOj
Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook




ObamaCare's 4-year checkup | TheHill

Zakaria: Russia endangering global order – Global Public Square - CNN.com Blogs

The following does not necessarily represent the views of the JBK-Current-Events blog or its staff:



The best way to deal with Russia's aggression in Crimea is not to present it as routine national interest-based foreign policy that would be countered by Washington in a contest between two great powers. It is to point out, as Obama did eloquently last week in Brussels, that Russia is grossly endangering a global order that has benefited the entire world. Compare what the Obama administration has managed to organize in the wake of this latest Russian aggression, to the Bush administration's response to Putin's actions in Georgia in 2008.



Zakaria: Russia endangering global order – Global Public Square - CNN.com Blogs

Schäuble Compares Putin Moves in Crimea to Policies of Hitler - SPIEGEL ONLINE

He's not the first to do it, but he's a big enough player that it could worsen tensions. On Monday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said he saw parallels between Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea and Adolf Hitler's land grab of Sudetenland.



Schäuble Compares Putin Moves in Crimea to Policies of Hitler - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Member of Black P-Stones Gang Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy and Firearm Charges

FBI Norfolk Division Press Release:

Member of Black P-Stones Gang Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Conspiracy and Firearm Charges

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMarch 28, 2014
  • Eastern District of Virginia(757) 441-6331
NORFOLK, VA—Enrique Omar Hinton, a.k.a. “Rico,” 26, of Newport News, pleaded guilty today to racketeering conspiracy, as well as possessing and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Dana J. Boente, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; David A. O’Neil, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Royce E. Curtin, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States Magistrate Judge Tommy E. Miller.
Hinton was charged in a superseding indictment returned on December 9, 2013, with racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, attempted murder in aid of racketeering, possessing and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Hinton faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the racketeering conspiracy charge and a mandatory consecutive sentence of te10n years to life in prison on the firearm charge when he is sentenced on June 26, 2014, in Norfolk.
In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Hinton admitted that he was a member of a violent street gang called the Black P-Stones, also referred to as the P-Stone Bloods and Cobra Stones, which operated as a criminal enterprise located primarily in the Beechmont, Courthouse Green, and Woodview neighborhoods in the Denbigh area of Newport News. The Black P-Stones engaged in various criminal activities including murders, robberies, illegal drug trafficking, and obstruction of justice. Hinton joined the gang in approximately 2005 and held the rank of “foot soldier.” As a foot soldier, Hinton sold marijuana for the gang, possessed firearms, attended gang meetings, and planned and participated in the gang’s criminal activities. On December 10, 2008, Hinton and co-conspirators participated in a shooting in Williamsburg to retaliate against a rival gang member who exhibited disrespect toward a co-conspirator’s girlfriend. During the shooting, approximately seven to eight bullets were fired at the rival gang member’s home, with bullets entering the home’s living room and front door while two people were inside. Hinton further admitted that on July 13, 2009, he testified falsely before a federal grand jury for the purpose of obstructing the grand jury’s investigation of the Black P-Stones and the December 10, 2008 shooting in which he and co-conspirators participated.
The investigation of this case was led by the FBI’s Safe Streets Peninsula Task Force, with the assistance of the Newport News Police Department and the James City County Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Eric M. Hurt and Trial Attorney Louis A. Crisostomo of the Organized Crime and Gang Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae

Jersey City Man Pleads Guilty to Armed Robbery of Jewelry Store

FBI Newark Division Press Release:

Jersey City Man Pleads Guilty to Armed Robbery of Jewelry Store

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMarch 28, 2014
  • District of New Jersey(973) 645-2888
TRENTON, NJ—A Jersey City man admitted today to committing an armed robbery of a jewelry store in Hudson County, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Mouhamadou Lamine Amar, 20, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper in Trenton federal court to an indictment charging him with committing a Hobbs Act robbery and with brandishing a firearm during the robbery.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On June 28, 2013, Amar entered a jewelry store in Jersey City and held a gun to a store employee’s head. He grabbed and pushed the employee when the employee tried to flee. He tied up the employee and threatened to shoot the employee if the employee tried to escape. Amar was arrested inside the store while still in possession of the firearm.
The Hobbs Act robbery count to which Amar pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. The count of brandishing a firearm during a violent crime carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other prison term. Each count also carries a maximum $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss arising out of the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for July 10, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents, detectives and investigators assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), under the direction of FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. The JTTF is composed of law enforcement officers from numerous federal, state, and local agencies throughout New Jersey. U.S. Attorney Fishman also thanked the Jersey City Police Department and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office for their work on this case.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Pennsylvania Man Admits Mann Act Violations in Running Prostitution Business

FBI Newark Division Press Release:

Pennsylvania Man Admits Mann Act Violations in Running Prostitution Business

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMarch 27, 2014
  • District of New Jersey(973) 645-2888
NEWARK, NJ—An Allentown, Pennsylvania man previously charged with sex trafficking of a minor today admitted his role in coercing women to travel from Pennsylvania to New Jersey to engage in prostitution and sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a crime, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Francisco Torrellas, a/k/a “Francisco Fordham Jr.,” “Dream,” “Daddy,” and “Pretty,” pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi to count nine of a 10-count superseding indictment, which charged him with one count of coercion and enticement to engage in prostitution. He agreed to a sentence of 10 years in prison as part of his plea.
According to the superseding indictment and other documents filed in court:
From November 2010 to February 2013, Torrellas allegedly conspired with others to operate a prostitution business in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. Torrellas managed the business, traveled, and caused prostitute employees, including a minor, to travel interstate for the purpose of engaging in sex acts in exchange for money.
Torrellas used the Internet to post advertisements for sexual services on the website Backpage.com. Torrellas also developed rules for the prostitutes, booked hotel rooms, and, while incarcerated, used the phone to manage, promote, and carry on his prostitution business, specifically causing his conspirators and others to direct the proceeds of the business to his commissary account at the Essex County Correctional Facility. Torrellas also attempted to influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of another person or persons in connection with the case against him.
The conspiracy count carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The Travel Act counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison. The counts relating to trafficking and transportation of a minor carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The count relating to coercion and enticement to engage in prostitution carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and the count charging obstruction of justice carries the maximum term that could have been imposed for the offenses charged. The defendant also faces a fine of $250,000 or twice the amount of the gain or loss from the offense for each count of conviction. Sentencing is scheduled for July 15, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; and the Secaucus, Jersey City, and the Allentown, Pennsylvania Police Departments with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Danielle Corcione and Jenny Kramer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

New York Doctor Admits Taking Bribes for Referring Tests to New Jersey Clinical Lab

FBI Newark Division Press Release:

New York Doctor Admits Taking Bribes for Referring Tests to New Jersey Clinical Lab
Twenty-Fifth Defendant to Plead Guilty in Connection with Scheme

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMarch 25, 2014
  • District of New Jersey(973) 645-2888
NEWARK, NJ—A pediatrician with a New York practice in Staten Island and Brooklyn admitted today he accepted bribes in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey; its president; and numerous associates, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Surender Gorukanti, 46, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of accepting bribes.
Including Gorukanti, 25 people—including 14 physicians—have pleaded guilty in connection with the bribery scheme, which its organizers have admitted involved millions of dollars in bribes and resulted in more than $100 million in payments to BLS from Medicare and various private insurance companies.
Gorukanti admitted he accepted checks of $1,000 per month as bribes from BLS in return for referring patient blood specimens to BLS.
The bribery count to which Gorukanti pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for June 16, 2014. As part of his guilty plea, Gorukanti agreed to forfeit $14,000, representing the bribes he received from BLS.
The investigation has recovered more than $7 million to date through forfeiture.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the New Jersey FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Thomas O’Donnell; IRS–Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Jonathan D. Larsen; and inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates, with the ongoing investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Minish, Senior Litigation Counsel Andrew Leven, and Jacob T. Elberg, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Ward of the office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reorganized the health care fraud practice at the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office shortly after taking office, including creating a stand-alone Health Care and Government Fraud Unit to handle both criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions of health care fraud offenses. Since 2010, the office has recovered more than $535 million in health care fraud and government fraud settlements, judgments, fines, restitution, and forfeiture under the False Claims Act, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and other statutes.

Former Senior Vice President of Marketing at A&P Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud Charge

FBI Newark Division Press Release:

Former Senior Vice President of Marketing at A&P Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud Charge

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeMarch 25, 2014
  • District of New Jersey(973) 645-2888
NEWARK NJ—The former senior vice president of marketing at A&P, a U.S. supermarket and liquor store chain, today admitted his role in a scheme to defraud A&P by selling for personal gain event tickets that were intended for A&P’s use, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
John R. Moritz, 44, of Mason, Ohio, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From December 2010 through December 2011, Moritz worked at A&P, a U.S. supermarket and liquor store chain that is headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey. He arranged for A&P to purchase thousands of tickets to sporting events, concerts and other shows that were to be used to reward high-performing A&P employees and for other legitimate business purposes. However, Moritz resold more than 7,000 tickets to third parties over the Internet, without A&P’s knowledge or consent. Some of these tickets were for the 2011 Super Bowl; the 2011 New York Yankees playoffs; and Bon Jovi, Lady Gaga, and U2 concerts. He admitted that as a result of his conduct, he fraudulently obtained $1,218,192.
The fraud count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 9, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lakshmi Srinivasan Herman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark and Evan Weitz of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.

Serial Bank Robber Hits for the Seventh Time

FBI Newark Division Press Release:

Serial Bank Robber Hits for the Seventh Time

FBI NewarkMarch 24, 2014
  • Special Agent Barbara Woodruff(973) 792-3020
NEWARK—The FBI’s Newark Division is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying and locating the individual believed to be responsible for robbing seven banks since August of 2013. In all of the robberies, the individual approached the teller, presented a demand note, and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash. He wore a red baseball cap in four of the robberies, a camouflage baseball cap in two robberies, and a two-tone cap on the last robbery. In all bank robberies, the subject is described as follows:
  • Race: White
  • Gender: Male
  • Height: 5’5”-5’7” tall (approximately)
  • Hair: Auburn/red or brown
  • Facial Hair: Mustache/beard
  • Age: Late 20s, early 30s
  • Build: Medium
The following is a chronological listing of the robberies with related photos:
Friday, August 30, 2013 - At approximately 11:06 a.m., the Investors Bank located at 51 South Broad Street, Elizabeth, New Jersey, was robbed. The subject wore a red hat, grey shirt, tan shorts, and black sunglasses. He was also carrying a black book bag.
New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 – At approximately 4:00 p.m., the Investors Bank located at 51 South Broad Street, Elizabeth, New Jersey, was robbed. The subject wore a red baseball cap, a red t-shirt, black pants, and carried a black backpack.
New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)
Saturday, December 7, 2013 – At approximately 11:18 a.m., the PNC Bank located at 45 South Martine Avenue in Fanwood, New Jersey, was robbed. The subject wore blue jeans, a red baseball cap, a black jacket, and a blue scarf.
New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)
Saturday, January 25, 2014 – At approximately 12:40 p.m., the Capital One Bank located at 815 Route 22, North Plainfield, New Jersey, was robbed. The subject wore a camouflage colored cap, tan jacket, black gloves, and a black scarf.
New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)
Saturday, March 1, 2014 – At approximately 11:30 a.m., the PNC Bank located at 1730 Oak Tree Road, Edison, New Jersey, was robbed. The subject wore a camouflage colored cap, dark jacket, and black gloves.
New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)
Saturday, March 8, 2014 – At approximately 11:57 a.m., the Capital One Bank located at Route 1 South, Woodbridge, New Jersey, was robbed. The subject wore a red baseball cap, black winter jacket, and dark pants.
New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)
Saturday, March 22, 2014 – At approximately 9:47 a.m., the Rahway Savings Institute located at 426 Lake Avenue, Colonia, New Jersey, was robbed. The subject wore a two-tone baseball cap with blue or green and white with “A” emblem, and a black jacket.
New Jersey Serial Bank Robber (3/24/14)
A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual responsible for these bank robberies.
Anyone with information about these or any other bank robberies should contact the FBI at (973) 792-3000. Additional information and photographs of these bank robberies can be found on Bandittrackernortheast.com.
Citizens are reminded they should never attempt to apprehend a fugitive on their own, and should dial 911 in an emergency.