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Federal Government
Justice Department Awards $165 Million In Public Safety Funding To NC PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 04 December 2019 09:29

 

RALEIGH– The Department of Justice today awarded moe than $165 million to support public safety efforts in the state of North Carolina. The funding from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), and Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) will support violent crime reduction, opioid/substance abuse reduction efforts, school safety, victim services, transitional housing for domestic violence victims, law enforcement activities, justice mental health, and juvenile justice.

“The Department of Justice is very pleased to provide these critical public safety resources not only to local law enforcement agencies throughout North Carolina, but also to state-level agencies for the benefit of all North Carolinians,” said Director Phil Keith.  “This funding will secure schools and protect kids from crime and violence across the state, and help to combat the scourge of deadly drugs running rampant in our communities.”

“Helping to protect North Carolinians—and all Americans—is job number one for the Department of Justice and the Office of Justice Programs,” said OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan. “I’m proud to make these resources available to the brave crime-fighters, compassionate service providers and dedicated criminal and juvenile justice professionals who work so hard, day in and day out, to safeguard the communities of this great state.”

COPS Office Director Phil Keith made the announcement in Raleigh on Friday morning along with Governor Roy Cooper, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina Matthew G.T. Martin, and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) Director Bob Schurmeier.  The North Carolina Department of Public Safety received approximately $2.9 million from the COPS Office for investigating illicit activities related to heroin distribution and methamphetamine trafficking, and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) was the only state-level agency to receive funding to improve school security through the 2019 COPS School Violence Prevention Program.  Additional school safety funding was provided to both the North Carolina SBI and DPI through OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance for behavioral threat assessments and the enhancement of the North Carolina State School Safety Center.

“North Carolina law enforcement will be better able to keep our communities safe and stop drug traffickers with this vital funding,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Federal support for local expertise is the right way to fight the opioid epidemic and to protect our schools. These grants will go a long way in making sure North Carolinians live in safe communities.”

“Supporting law enforcement at every level and all across the State of North Carolina goes to the heart of the mission of the U.S. Department of Justice,” said Mr. Higdon.  And these grants provide much needed resources and funding to law enforcement agencies as they work to protect our communities from violence, drug trafficking and any others who threaten our safety and security.”

“The grants announced today by the U.S. Department of Justice represent a significant investment in support of law enforcement and public safety in North Carolina,” said U.S. Attorney Matt Martin.  “We are particularly pleased that grants in the Middle District will support school safety programs, the fight against opioid addiction, and the coordinated efforts under way to reduce gun violence from Durham to Winston-Salem and Rockingham County to Cabarrus County.  These are critical priorities of all three U.S. Attorneys; to borrow an apt adage: we are putting our money where our mouth is.”

“These grants will allow SBI agents across North Carolina to more effectively partner with our police departments and sheriff’s offices to continue the fight against the opioid epidemic,” said SBI Director Bob Schurmeier.  “Families in our state have suffered enormous pain and loss and we grieve with them.  We will use these resources to go after the cartels, traffickers and dealers and bring them to justice.  We are grateful to the COPS Office and the US Department of Justice for their support of North Carolina and the State Bureau of Investigation.”

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 December 2019 12:38
 
Ambulance Manager And Biller Plead Guilty To Medicare Fraud and Identity Theft PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 28 November 2019 12:15
United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. announced that today in federal court, PAMELA DEWITT BABB, 49, of Mt. Olive, and DAVON TERRELL HENDERSON, 32, of Greenville, NC, pleaded guilty to a Criminal Information charging BABB and HENDERSON with Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud, and Aggravated Identity Theft.  
 
United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon stated, “This fraud was huge in term of scope and impact.  The defendants, and those working with them, went to great lengths to steal millions of dollars - stealing from the taxpayers of the country.  My office and the investigative agencies with which we partner take these crimes, very seriously; it is a matter of principle and priority for us as we represent the people of the Eastern District.”
 
The Criminal Information to which BABB and HENDERSON pleaded guilty charges that in January of 2014, HENDERSON, BABB, and others entered into a scheme to defraud Humana, Inc.’s Medicare Advantage program by billing for fictitious ambulance services using the names and identifiers of Humana customers, referred to in the charges as the Humana Beneficiaries.  The fraud was carried out in the name of the ambulance company HENDERSON owned at the time, known as Med 1 Inter-facility Care, LLC (Med-1).  To carry out the fraud, a participant in the scheme acquired personally identifying information (PII) for certain Humana beneficiaries.  HENDERSON and BABB paid participants for obtaining the identifying information of Humana Beneficiaries.
 
Using stolen Humana Beneficiary identifying information, HENDERSON and BABB caused Humana’s Medicare Advantage plan to be “back-billed” for various ambulance services in 2013, even though Med-1 was not operational for most of 2013.  Thereafter, HENDERSON and BABB caused Humana to be billed for further fictitious ambulance services, continuing the fraud through June of 2016.
 
During the course of the fraud, Humana initially issued paper checks to Med-1 for the fictitious services.  Rather than depositing the checks, HENDERSON and BABB caused the checks to be converted to cash using a check cashing business.  HENDERSON and BABB then split the cash proceeds from the fraud.  Later, BABB established an electronic billing and payment channel between Med-1 and Humana.  Although BABB established this billing and payment channel in the name of Med-1, the routing number given to Humana for the purposes of payment for ambulance services belonged to a wheelchair company owned by HENDERSON, known as H&H Transport Services LLC (H&H).  In other words, payments from Humana for services allegedly rendered by Med-1 were deposited into an H&H bank account.  After Humana made an electronic deposit into the H&H bank account for fictitious ambulance services, HENDERSON and BABB split the proceeds by wiring approximately half of the proceeds into a bank account belonging to BABB. 
 
In total, between 2014 and April of 2016, HENDERSON and BABB caused Humana to be billed for $6.1 Million in fraudulent ambulance services.  Of this amount, Humana paid $4.7 Million, which was split between HENDERSON and BABB.
 
The maximum punishment for Health Care Fraud is up to 10 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.  The maximum punishment for Aggravated Identity Theft (18 U.S.C. § 1028A) is not less than, nor more than 2 years in prison consecutive to any other term of imprisonment imposed, as well as up to a $250,000 in fines.  The defendants will also be subject to an order of restitution and forfeiture of assets.
 
The United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation of this case.  Assistant United States Attorney William M. Gilmore represents the United States.
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 November 2019 12:18
 
State DOT Gets $51 Million In Federal Grants PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 28 November 2019 10:08
North Carolina Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr applauded the Department of Transportation (DOT) for awarding North Carolina three North Carolina Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) totaling more than $51 million after they advocated on behalf of local stakeholders.
 
Senators Tillis and Burr played a critical role in the grant process, including organizing and attending initial meetings with stakeholders and USDOT staff to enhance applications before they were submitted to discuss each project, attending pitch meetings with stakeholders and USDOT staff, and providing advice and counsel on USDOT priorities that stakeholders were able to highlight in their applications.
 
The three BUILD grants are:
 
$22,500,000 to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to widen 27 miles of I-95 to eight lanes between Lumberton and Fayetteville. This will make the area more resilient to major storms like Hurricanes Matthew and Florence by raising two bridges near Lumberton, and several low-lying parts of the road susceptible to flooding. It also includes state-of-the-art flood monitoring technology in order to manage evacuation routes in real time.
 
In addition, the grant will help raise two bridges near Lumberton, and several low-lying parts of the road susceptible to flooding. It also includes state-of-the-art flood monitoring technology in order to manage evacuation routes in real time.
 
$15,000,000 to the City of Greenville for a multimodal improvement project to enhance the city’s vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle infrastructure. The project will include roadway realignment and resurfacing, as well as the extension of an existing greenway space, construction of a multi-use path, and conversion of an abandoned rail.
 
$13,600,000 to the Town of Mooresville for the construction of a new 1.7-mile roadway from I-77 to NC-115/Mecklenburg Highway. The new road will better connect Mooresville to the Lowe’s Corporate Campus and the Department of Defense (DOD) Contractor Technologies.
 
“One of my top priorities is modernizing North Carolina’s infrastructure and working with our local communities throughout the federal grant process to make sure their applications are as strong as possible,” said Senator Thom Tillis. “I’m proud North Carolina will be awarded $51 million in BUILD grants, which will go a long way towards improving safety on our roads and reducing traffic congestion. I want to thank Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration for their support in improving North Carolina’s infrastructure.”
 
“North Carolina’s roadways are critical for economic growth,” said Senator Richard Burr. “Today’s announcement awards more than $50 million to the state through the highly competitive and selective BUILD Grant program. This funding will improve North Carolina’s infrastructure to ensure passenger safety and to better connect communities for years to come. I applaud the City of Greenville, the Town of Mooresville, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation for recognizing the benefits of building a strong infrastructure in their communities.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 November 2019 10:09
 
Wilmington Woman Pleads Guilty To Immigration Marriage Fraud PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Thursday, 28 November 2019 07:30
United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced in federal court, MARLILYN GODSHALL, age 61, of Wilmington, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting fraudulent statements.  Additionally, United States Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr. sentenced GODSHALL to 12 months of probation.
 
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) initiated an inquiry into GODSHALL based on a fraudulent marriage between her daughter, Melissa Godshall, a United States citizen, and Levan Lomtatidze, a citizen of the Republic of Georgia.  A lead suggested that Melissa Godshall was married to Lomtatidze but also shared an address with her real boyfriend, Robert Kennerley.
 
During the course of this investigation, HSI agents discovered that Melissa Godshall and Kennerley were panhandling for money on the side of the road in Granville County, North Carolina, when Tojiddin Rahimov, a naturalized United States citizen from Tajikistan, approached them and asked Melissa Godshall if she would be willing to marry a foreign-born national for money.  Melissa Godshall agreed to engage in the marriage to Lomtatidze in exchange for $12,000, housing, and a vehicle.  Lomtatidze and Melissa Godshall got married in Granville County, North Carolina.  Kennerley and another individual witnessed the marriage ceremony. 
 
HSI agents confirmed that Lomtatidze, Melissa Godshall and Kennerley entered into a rental agreement for a house located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Lomtatidze, as part of the payment for the sham marriage, paid for the rent.  Thereafter, Godshall and Lomtatidze submitted fraudulent applications to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requesting Lomtatidze’s adjustment of status as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States.  Lomtatidze and Melissa Godshall were interviewed at the USCIS office in Durham, North Carolina.  Both attested under oath they were married in good faith.  Because of the interview, USCIS approved the request and Lomtatidze was granted “conditional” resident status in the United States. 
 
On September 18, 2017, GODSHALL prepared a statement in support of Lomtatizde’s application for “unconditional” permanent residence.  GODSHALL purported the marriage to be legitimate while knowing the marriage was entered into for the purpose of evading the application of immigration laws.
 
Later, Lomtatidze and Melissa Godshall submitted to USCIS the application requesting Lomtatidze’s removal of conditions on his resident status, including GODSHALL’s statement in support of the petition, attesting Lomtatidze and Melissa Godshall were still married in good faith.
 
On August 27, 2019, Lomtatidze was sentenced for conspiracy to commit marriage fraud by United States District Judge Louise W. Flanagan.  He was also ordered deported from the United States.  On the same date, Melissa Godshall was sentenced to four months in the custody of the United States Bureau of Prisons, consecutive to any other term of imprisonment.
 
On June 19, 2019 and July 11, 2019, Kennerely and Rahimov pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.  They are presently awaiting sentencing.
 
The Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) in the Eastern District of North Carolina led by Homeland Security Investigations and the USCIS’s Fraud Detection and National Security investigated the case.
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 November 2019 07:32
 
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