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Federal Government
Senate Passes Bill to Ensure Federal Funds During State Budget Impasse PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Donna Martinez   
Tuesday, 23 July 2019 09:30
Tthe North Carolina Senate Passed House Bill 961  to ensure authorization of federal funds while the state is operating on a $23.8 billion continuing budget. Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) issued the following statement: 
 
"The Senate has now passed legislation to ensure that ongoing federal funds are not held up during the state budget impasse. We hope that Governor Cooper will drop his Medicaid expansion ultimatum and negotiate a full budget that delivers on important priorities across the state."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 July 2019 08:53
 
31 Charged In Cigarette Smuggling Operation Based In North Carolina PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Tuesday, 23 July 2019 09:15
31 INDIVIDUALS CHARGED IN CIGARETTE SMUGGLING OPERATION
RALEIGH – Robert J. Higdon, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced today that on June 19, 2019, a federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of North Carolina returned a sealed, eight-count indictment charging 31 individuals and one business entity with a scheme to defraud the federal government, the State of North Carolina, the State of New York and the Commonwealth of Virginia, of millions of dollars in tax revenues from the sale of cigarettes.
This investigation, entitled Operation Southern Lights, is an effort to end large scale tax fraud and to hold these defendants accountable for the millions in lost tax revenue as the result of their illegal scheme. The individuals charged are:
• Justin Brent Freeman, 36
• Malek Hamoud Alsaidi, 40
• Ibrahim Ahmed Alsaidi, 43
• Sadek Dahan Shahbain, 38
• Ayed Yahya Ali Alsham, 37
• Alshami Yahya Ali Alshami, 35
• Mohamed Hafed Abdou, 39
• Mohamed E Ould El Bechir, 43
• Akram Ali Amer, 32
• Mohamed Yeslem Ould Izid Bih, 40
• Mohammed Saaid Darweesh, 30
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• El Hassen Hamadi, 42
• Musheer Mohammed Hezam Al Naqeb, 21
• Ali Mohammed Mashli Al Qadhi, 41
• Mohamed Mounir, 39
• Aied Awad Shibli, 50
• Shibli Abu Issa Shibli, 51
• Manar Mohammed Talal-Mustafa, 40
• Mohammed Nael Mahmou Khalayfa, 28
• Saleh Mohammed Abdeljawad, 39
• Kaid Mohamed Addailam, 32
• Amr Mousa Alhalemi, 22
• Ahmed Khalayfa, 21
• Rawhi Abdel Jabbar Khams Awad, 62
• Ali Aied Shibli, 26
• Amchad Rawhi Khamis Awad, 31
• Wachdi Rawchi Khamis Awad, 33
• Abdallahi Mohamed Elhafedh, 43
• Ahmed Elhoussein, 54
• Dedde Cheikh, 39
• Arafat A. I. Abuhammoud, 34
In Count One, the grand jury alleges that the 31 individuals and the one business entity listed in the indictment, had been engaged in a conspiracy, beginning in 2018 and continuing until at least the time the indictment was returned, to ship, transport, receive, possess, sell, distribute and purchase cigarettes, in quantities exceeding 10,000 cigarettes (as required by the relevant statute), which bore no evidence of the payment of applicable State or local cigarette taxes in the state and locality where they were found. The object of the conspiracy was to profit from the purchase of cigarettes with cash in North Carolina, drive those cigarettes to the northeast, and sell them without paying the applicable sales tax. This is all alleged to be in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2342 (a) (which prohibits the trafficking in contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, the general conspiracy statute.
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It is alleged in the indictment that members of the conspiracy would repeatedly purchase large quantities of cigarettes from Justin Brent Freeman, age 37, of Hope Mills, North Carolina, through a business he operated named Freeco, Inc. in Fayetteville, North Carolina, as well as from other cigarette wholesalers in Fayetteville, Raleigh and Goldsboro, and then transport those qualities of cigarettes to storage locations for future shipment to New York City. After purchasing the cigarettes from Freeman and Freeco, Inc., or from one of the other retailers, members of the conspiracy would then prepare for transporting the cigarettes to the Northeast by using a full size van or rental truck and cross into the Commonwealth of Virginia and travel to either Richmond or Alexandria. In Virginia, the cigarettes would be transferred to another member of the conspiracy who would continue the transportation to Syracuse, New York. There, additional members of the conspiracy would transfer the cigarettes to an as yet unknown individual for transportation and distribution in the New York City area.
Counts Two through Seven allege six specific instances where the individual named in those counts (and who were part of the conspiracy charged in Count One) knowingly shipped, transported, received and possessed contraband cigarettes (in amounts greater than 10,000) which bore no evidence of the payment of applicable state cigarette taxes in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Each of these instances is alleged to be in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2342(a), as well.
Last, Count Eight alleges that all 32 defendants – the 31 individuals and Freeco, Inc. – were engaged in a conspiracy to launder money in violation of Title 18,
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United States Code, Section 1956(h). In this count, the grand jury alleges that members of the conspiracy (a) conducted and attempted to conduct financial transaction affecting interstate commerce which involved the proceeds of specified unlawful activity, that is, cigarette trafficking, with the intent to further the goals of that crime, and that they knew that the property involved in the crime was in fact the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity; and (b) that, again, while they conducted or attempted to conduct the specified unlawful activity – again, cigarette trafficking – that the transactions were designed in whole or in part to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the proceeds of the unlawful activity. So, in sum, the money laundering conspiracy count alleges that the members of the conspiracy were trying to either further the goals of the crime or to conceal the crime by using the proceeds of the crime in some way, or do both those things.
If convicted of Count One, the general conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes, each defendant faces up to five years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000 or both; if convicted of Counts Two through Seven, each defendant named therein faces up to five years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000, or twice the gain obtained, whichever is greater, or both; and, if the defendants are convicted of money laundering as alleged in Count Eight, they each face up to 20 years imprisonment, a $500,000 fine or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, or both.
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In addition, the grand jury included a forfeiture notice in the indictment. That section of the indictment provides notice to each defendant that the items of property listed in that notice, and any other property which is the proceeds of or involved in the crime, is forfeitable to the United States. The forfeiture notice conservatively calculates the gross proceeds of the crimes alleged in the indictment at $12,322.943 and designates that amount as forfeitable to the United States as well.
The charges and allegations contained in the Indictment are merely accusations. An Indictment is a formal written accusation originating with the United States Attorney and issued by a grand jury against a party charged with a crime. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, United States Marshals Service, Robseson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.
 
Feds Authorize More Funding For Hurricane Recovery Efforts PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Friday, 19 July 2019 09:06

Tje U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has designated Bladen and Columbus counties as among the Most Impacted and Distressed (MID) areas that were impacted by Hurricane Matthew. The new designations will allow North Carolina to increase recovery spending for both counties through the federal agency’s Community Block Development Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding. Officials with the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency requested the designations for Bladen and Columbus counties in an April 17 letter to HUD. 

 
“Families in Bladen and Columbus Counties were hit hard in Hurricane Matthew and Florence and we must continue to work to make sure they have the resources they need to recover,” Governor Roy said. “It’s good news that that the federal government has approved our request so we can increase funding in these counties, get more families back in their homes and continue to rebuild communities stronger and smarter.”
 
Under HUD guidelines, the state must spend at least 80 percent of its CDBG-DR funding in MID counties. Cumberland, Edgecombe, Robeson and Wayne counties were previously given that designation. Funds provided through the CDBG-DR program can be used for necessary expenses related to disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization.
 
Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 July 2019 09:23
 
Activities With Pope Francis Dominate President and Mrs. Obama's Public Schedule PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 24 September 2015 06:00

RALEIGH, (SGRToday.com) - President Obama's Thursday morning will include two activities with Pope Francis. The White House public schedule for September 24 shows:

** 9:00 AM
The President, the First Lady, the Vice President, and Dr. Biden participate in the State Arrival ceremony for His Holiness Pope Francis

South Lawn Open to pre-credentialed media Pre-set 7:30AM; Final Gather 8:30AM – North Doors of the Palm Room

** 10:15 AM
The President holds a bilateral meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis

Gather Time 9:30AM – Rose Garden Pool Spray at the Top Oval Office

Commentary about the morning posted to the White House website:

"In the morning, the President and the First Lady will welcome His Holiness Pope Francis to the White House. The Vice President and Dr. Biden will also attend. The arrival ceremony on the South Lawn is open to pre-credentialed press. The deadline to request media credentials has passed.

Later in the morning, the President will hold a bilateral meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis in the Oval Office. There will be a pool spray at the top of the meeting."

The full schedule can be found at whitehouse.gov.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 September 2015 06:19
 
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