Federal Government
Cooper: 180,000 NC Families Are Getting Federal Help To Pay Internet Bills PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Friday, 03 September 2021 16:26

More than 180,000 North Carolina households are getting critical assistance affording high-speed internet service thanks to a federal relief program that helps families in need pay internet bills and fully participate in the digital economy.

With 182,473 households enrolled in the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP), North Carolina’s level of enrollment ranks sixth among the 50 states. In April, Governor Roy Cooper sent letters to the state’s internet service providers (ISPs) asking them to participate in this effort to get more North Carolinian’s connected to high-speed internet. A number of ISPs responded to the Governor’s call to participate and enroll their customers in this program.

"Affordability is essential to access the internet and digital equity," Governor Cooper said. "This subscription support empowers North Carolina families to access the online educational, business and healthcare resources they need to compete in today's digital society."

The EBBP, which opened May 12, discounts an eligible household's monthly internet bill by as much as $50 per month. The discount increases to $75 per month for those living on tribal lands. Eligible households can also get a one-time discount of $100 toward the purchase of a laptop, tablet or desktop computer through participating providers.

"The pandemic highlighted digital inequities and the struggle of many families to afford quality internet," Jim Weaver, North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) secretary and state chief information officer, said. “We encourage all eligible North Carolina families to sign up for this benefit."

Households with an income at or less than 135 percent of federal poverty guidelines are eligible for the EBBP. A household also qualifies if at least one member participates in a federal benefits program such as Medicaid, SNAP or Lifeline, receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program, lost a job or a significant amount of income in the past year, received a Federal Pell Grant or is part of an internet service provider’s low-income or COVID-19 program.

The program is slated to continue until the $3.2 billion appropriated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 runs out or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares the pandemic is over, whichever happens first.



Las Vegas Man Gets 12 Years In Federal Prison For Defrauding NC Medicaid PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Donna Martinez   
Friday, 03 September 2021 16:21
Timothy Mark Harron, a Las Vegas resident, was sentenced today to 144 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $4,321,590.39 in restitution to the North Carolina Medicaid Program on charges of Conspiracy to Commit Health Care Fraud and Wire Fraud. 
The court also sentenced Harron to forfeit various assets as a part of his case.  Court documents reflect that forfeitable items include up to $13,396,921.64 in cash, a British Aerospace Bae 125-800A Aircraft, a 2017 Aston Martin DB 11 sports car; a 2016 Ford F-150 Super-Crew pickup truck; real property held in the name of Assured Healthcare Systems in Hertford County, North Carolina; as well as various other items of designer jewelry and luxury items seized from the defendant’s penthouse condominium in Las Vegas.
According to court documents, Timothy Mark Harron, 52, of Las Vegas, Nevada, admitted to conspiring with his wife, Latisha Harron, to carry out a massive fraud upon the North Carolina Medicaid Program (“NC Medicaid”) by billing the government for fictitious home health services.  Harron admitted to working with his wife to launder the proceeds of the fraud into, among other things, a private jet, luxury jewelry and clothing, and properties in Ahoskie and Rich Square, North Carolina.
According to the charges, Latisha Harron created, and was operating, Agape Healthcare Systems, Inc. (“Agape”) a Medicaid home health provider, in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina.  As charged, to enroll Agape as a Medicaid provider, Latisha Harron fraudulently concealed her prior felony conviction for Identity Theft.  In 2012, she moved out of North Carolina to Maryland.  Despite that move, Latisha Harron continued to bill NC Medicaid as though Agape was providing home health services to North Carolina recipients.
In May of 2017, Latisha Harron moved to Las Vegas, Nevada to live with Harron, and the two were married in 2018.  Together they formed Assured Health Care Systems (“Assured”), a company purportedly operated by Harron, its president.  Although Harron publicly portrayed Assured as a successful healthcare company, in reality it was funded entirely by Agape’s fraudulent Medicaid claims. The indictment alleges that the Harrons also registered Assured as a Medicaid provider.  In so doing, it is charged that Harron’s own prior felony fraud conviction was concealed from the NC Medicaid on enrollment documents.  Harron and his wife worked together to expand the Agape fraud upon NC Medicaid -- fraudulently billing the program for more than $10 million, just in the period between 2017 and 2019.  
Harron admitted that he and his wife carried out the fraud by exploiting an eligibility tool that was entrusted only to NC Medicaid providers.  Specifically, Harron and his wife searched publicly available sources, such as obituary postings on the internet by North Carolina funeral homes, to locate recently deceased North Carolinians.  Harron admitted that the two would then extract from the obituary postings certain personal information for the deceased, including their name, date of birth, and date of death.  Then, utilizing the extracted information, the defendants would then query the NC Medicaid eligibility tool to determine whether the deceased individual had a Medicaid Identification Number.  If the deceased North Carolinian had a valid Medicaid Identification Number and was otherwise eligible for Medicaid coverage during their life, the defendants would use that individual’s identity to “back-bill” NC Medicaid, through Agape, for up to one year of fictitious home health services that were allegedly rendered prior to the death of the individual.  NC Medicaid then disbursed millions to Agape, all of which flowed into accounts controlled by Harron and her husband.
Harron admitted that he and his wife carried out the fraud via the internet from locations around the globe, including their corporate office building in Las Vegas, their penthouse condominium in Las Vegas, a corporate office in North Carolina, and from various hotels and luxury resorts in and outside of the United States.
Harron further pled guilty to conspiring with his wife to launder the proceeds of the Agape fraud, often through Assured’s bank accounts, into various luxury items.  These expenses included a $900,000 wire for the purchase of a British Aerospace Bae 125-800A private jet, hundreds of thousands of dollars in Tiffany & Co. and Brioni clothing and jewelry, thousands of dollars on Eastern North Carolina business properties, and thousands of dollars in gym equipment.
On May 18, 2021, Latisha Harron was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for her role in the fraud.
Acting United States Attorney G. Norman Acker, III stated, “This case is purely about greed and an insatiable desire to live a life of luxury.   Stealing millions from Medicaid through lies, the defendant and his wife achieved their life of luxury – at least for a while.  But there is a serious price to be paid when you purchase your private jet, resort stays, jewelry, and fine dining on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.  The defendant and his wife will pay that price by spending more than a decade of their lives in prison.  I wish to thank our many state and federal counterparts in Las Vegas and beyond for their work in bringing these partners in crime to justice.”
The Harrons targeted the Medicaid program in North Carolina which the most vulnerable North Carolinians depend on in their time of need.” Said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert R. Wells. “Our agents and law enforcement partners stand ready to work together to make sure those who attack the most vulnerable pay greatly for their crimes.”
G. Norman Acker, III, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers II announced the sentence.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, and the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Investigations Division, all investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney William M. Gilmore served as the prosecutor.  Assistant U.S. Attorney John Harris represented the United States with respect to forfeiture aspects of the case.
Last Updated on Friday, 03 September 2021 16:23
Congressman Hudson Secures Key Provisions in National Defense Bill PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Friday, 03 September 2021 16:06
 U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (NC-08), Fort Bragg's Congressman and a voice for veterans, has helped secure several key provisions for active-duty servicemembers, military families and veterans in the FY 22 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The annual defense bill was approved by the House Armed Services Committee yesterday and will now move to consideration by the full House of Representatives. Thanks to a Republican-led effort, an additional $23.9 billion for the Department of Defense (DoD) was also authorized. 
"As Fort Bragg's Congressman, it's an honor to represent so many active-duty soldiers, their families and our veterans. That's why in this year's Defense Bill, I am proud to help secure critical bipartisan provisions including funding for Fort Bragg and expanded ways to improve the lives of our military families," said Rep. Hudson. "As the recent mission in Afghanistan demonstrated, nothing is more important than supporting the readiness of our troops and military families like those at Fort Bragg. While this bill is a good start, I will continue to work with my colleagues to support the military and veterans in North Carolina and throughout our country." 
Rep. Hudson has sponsored legislation and advocated for many priorities included in this year's defense bill. A breakdown is found below.
Representative Hudson’s Priorities Secured in the NDAA
Military Family Readiness/ Education/ Healthcare
Includes the Counting Overlooked Base Impact Aid (COBIA) Act, introduced by Rep. Hudson and Rep. Rob Wittman in July. 
Ensures schools educating service-connected children receive the full sum of federal Impact Aid to which they are currently entitled.
Authorizes an increase in funding of $70 million for Impact Aid — $50 million for supplemental Impact Aid and $20 million for Impact Aid for military children with severe disabilities.
Builds on expansion to Impact Aid funding, critical for communities surrounding Fort Bragg, secured by Rep. Hudson last year.
Requires a report on the Preservation of the Force and Family Program (POTFF) for Special Operations Forces (SOF).
The report will provide progress of implementation for SOF.
The report will include plans for improvement to POTFF to better address needs of the SOF community.
Builds on improvements to POTFF secured by Rep. Hudson in last year's NDAA. 
Requires a report to modernize the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) calculation for military families.
Mandates a review of the Military Health System’s blast injury policy to include Traumatic Brain Injury
Directs the DoD to standardize definitions and tracking of suicide attempts and suicidal behavior across all military services.
Military Construction
Reduces the threshold amount for Base Commander’s Military Construction (MILCON) project funding approval. Current law requires Secretary-level approval.
By allowing projects below $2 million to be approved at a lower level, this will allow bases – such as Fort Bragg – to do routine maintenance, upgrade projects, and smaller MILCON projects much easier and faster.
FY2022 Military Construction for Fort Bragg
Total funding: $27.2 million
Emergency Water System - $7.7 million
MW Microgrid Utilizing Existing and New Generators - $19.5 million
Meets several priorities identified by Rep. Hudson in testimony to the Appropriations Committee in May. 
Builds on amendments Rep. Hudson has secured to address PFAS contamination in the Cape Fear River region.
Requires the DoD to publish results of drinking and groundwater PFAS testing conducted on or near military installations or former defense sites.
Requires the DoD to review current practices to prevent or mitigate Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) spills and develop best practices for spill prevention and mitigation.
Increases transparency and facilitates information-sharing with defense communities impacted by PFAS contamination.
Requires DoD to offer PFAS exposure evaluation and testing for servicemembers who wants it as part of their annual exam.
End Strength/ Pay and Compensation
Authorizes active duty end strength levels (U.S. Army: 485,000)
Provides a basic needs allowance for low-income servicemembers
Military Justice and Sexual Assault
Builds on legislation sponsored by Rep. Hudson to combat sexual assault in the military.
Ensures that survivors of sexual assault are notified of the outcomes of any administrative action taken against their perpetrator.
Requires that the Secretary of Defense provide to victims a list of approved civilian victim service organizations from which a victim may seek additional legal assistance, legal representation, or other related services.
Last Updated on Friday, 03 September 2021 16:07
Senator Tillis Asks White House For Plans To Evacuate Americans Still In Afghanistan PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Donna Martinez   
Friday, 03 September 2021 15:38
U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and nine of his Republican colleagues wrote President Biden seeking answers on how the Administration plans to evacuate the Americans and Afghan allies still on the ground in Afghanistan. 
In the letter to the President, Secretary of State Blinken, Defense Secretary Austin, and Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, the senators asked detailed questions, many prompted by constituents in their home states seeking help in bringing loved ones home.
“For decades, the United States has served as a refuge to those seeking safety and a better life, and we stand united in ensuring that those individuals who fought and worked for peace in Afghanistan and who served alongside our brave men and women in uniform are provided that same opportunity today,” the senators wrote. “We trust that your administration will give highest priority to addressing these questions, and we request that you provide answers in an open, unclassified response to better inform the American people, many of whom are desperate for answers.”
Last Updated on Friday, 03 September 2021 15:58

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