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Federal Government
Asheville And Coastal Carolina Airports Receive Federal Infrastructure Grants PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 05 December 2019 11:23

The Department of Transportation will award $14.9 million in airport infrastructure grants to two airports in the state of North Carolina. With this announcement, the Trump Administration has invested a historic $10.8 billion in more than two thousand American airports across the United States for safety and infrastructure improvements since January 2017.

“The robust economy is enabling more passengers to travel by air so this Administration is investing billions of dollars in America’s airports which will address safer airport operations, fewer airport delays, and greater ease of travel for air travelers,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

Today, Secretary Chao announced that the following Airports in North Carolina will receive $14.9 million of Airport Improvement Program grants:

  • Asheville Regional Airport – $10 million to fund the airport terminal rehabilitation.
  • Coastal Carolina Regional in New Bern – $4.9 million to fund construction of an Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Station.

This is part of a $485 million federal investment in America’s airports that Secretary Chao announced today.

The Administration not only supports infrastructure through funding – it is making it possible to deliver these much-needed improvements more quickly. The Department is working hard to streamline the approval process, cut unnecessary red tape and reduce unnecessary, duplicative regulations that do not contribute to safety.  

These investments and reforms are especially timely because the U.S. economy is robust, growing by 2.8 percent in the first half of 2019.  Employers have added more than 6 million jobs since January 2017. The unemployment rate is still a remarkable 3.6 percent—the lowest in 50 years.

Aviation is an important part of that growth.  According to the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. civil aviation supports more than 5% of U.S. gross domestic product; $1.6 trillion in economic activity; and nearly 11 million jobs.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2019 11:29
 
Wilmington Doctor Settles Federal Case For Receiving Improper Medicare and Tricare Payments PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 05 December 2019 11:13

United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced today that Dr. Damien Brezinski and his practice group, Wilmington Health, agreed to pay more than $244,000 to settle civil claims under the False Claims Act for improper payments made under the Medicare and Tricare programs.

According to documents filed with the Court, this investigation began with a self-disclosure from New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina.  The hospital reported that an internal audit uncovered potentially false claims for cardiac stenting procedures that Dr. Brezinski performed in that facility.  The United States’ independent investigation confirmed that, from 2010 to 2014, Dr. Brezinski repeatedly inserted arterial stents for patients whose medical records did not demonstrate a need for the procedures.  Dr. Brezinski and his practice group, Wilmington Health, then billed those procedures to Medicare and Tricare, in violation of program requirements and the False Claims Act.

In addition to the resolution with Dr. Brezinski and Wilmington Health, New Hanover Regional Medical Center has separately agreed to repay nearly $900,000 in facility fees it received related to the allegedly false claims.

“The United States takes healthcare fraud very seriously,” said U.S. Attorney Higdon.  “Nowhere is that more true than when doctors knowingly perform medical procedures that their patients do not need.  The United States will continue to vigorously pursue penalties and damages against health care providers who falsely certify the accuracy of claims they bill to Medicare and Tricare, and in the process risk the health and wellbeing of those under their care.”

The federal False Claims Act allows the United States to recover triple the money falsely obtained, plus substantial penalties for each false claim submitted.  The government can also recoup investigative costs.

It should be noted that the claims resolved by settlement here are allegations only, and that there has been no judicial determination or admission of liability.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service conducted the investigation of this case.  Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Anderson and Neal Fowler represented the United States.

 
Bladen County Man Sentenced To 6 Years In Federal Prison For Money Laundering PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 05 December 2019 11:09

United States District Judge James C. Dever III sentenced MURRAY MCNEILL TODD, age 47, of Bladenboro, North Carolina to 87 months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release.  The Court also ordered TODD to pay restitution totaling $517,379.

TODD was named in a Criminal Information filed on March 5, 2019 charging him with conspiracy to commit money laundering.  On April 8, 2019, TODD pled guilty to that charge. 

“This case is an example of the predators targeting senior citizens all across the country and here in the Eastern District of North Carolina.” US Attorney for the Eastern District  Robert Higdon said.  Todd preyed upon our older citizens and stole more than a million dollars of the victims savings, their retirement, their future.  Prosecuting those who defraud our senior citizens is a top priority for the U.S. Justice Department and for federal prosecutors here in the Eastern District,” said Higdon.

According to the charging instrument, statements made in court, and other public information, TODD conspired with one or more Africa-based scammers over a multi-year period to launder over $1.2 million in criminal proceeds.  The proceeds originated from various Internet-enabled fraud schemes, including elder fraud, stolen identity tax refund fraud, and payroll diversion.  For example, one elder fraud victim became acquainted with an individual who purported to be a U.S. soldier stationed abroad.  The individual later requested financial assistance and fraudulently induced the victim into wiring funds to TODD.  Investigators also identified a significant number of payroll checks that were diverted from employers across the country—particularly, hospital organizations—intoTODD’s accounts or accounts under his control.  The diversion typically resulted from the compromise of the victim’s network through phishing and computer intrusion techniques.  Additionally, investigators observed an extensive pattern of unlawful deposit activity associated with intercepted federal and state tax refunds.

TODDused a variety of means and methods to receive and transfer criminal proceeds in furtherance of the conspiracy.   Among other things, TODD conducted transfers to international recipients in Nigeria and elsewhere through his own accounts and those connected to a wider network of “money mules.”  TODD also arranged the purchase of prepaid debit cards that were loaded with criminal funds.  The funds, in turn, were wired overseas.

The FBI’s offices in Raleigh, North Carolina and Lexington, Kentucky conducted the investigation in this matter.  Assistant United States Attorney Adam F. Hulbig represented the government.

 
North Carolina to Receive Additional Federal Funding for Hurricane Florence PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 05 December 2019 10:53

North Carolina has been allocated $206 million in long-term recovery money through the program known as Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). North Carolina must wait for a Federal Register to begin the process of accessing the funds.

When the Federal Register governing this funding is published it will direct North Carolina on what kinds of projects are eligible, and the state can start the federally-mandated process to access the funds. This includes developing a State Action Plan and submitting it for public comment and approval by HUD.

“More money for storm recovery is important, but Hurricane Florence hit our state well over a year ago and we still can’t access money from HUD for survivors of that storm,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “It’s clear that we need Washington to make reforms to the way theses funds are distributed so that we can help people faster."

Initial recovery funding for Hurricane Florence was passed by Congress in October 2018. North Carolina is scheduled to receive $336.5 million in CDBG-DR funding from that bill, but the state still does not have access to that money. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2019 10:54
 
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