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N.Y. city, state agree to settle in Medicaid fraud case

By Valerie Bauman

Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 9:13 p.m. MDT

ALBANY, N.Y. – The state and city of New York agreed Tuesday to pay a record $540 million to settle allegations they helped overbill the federal government for Medicaid services.

Also, an unidentified speech therapist will receive $10 million from the settlement as the whistleblower who called attention to the state and city billing practices.

The Justice Department began an investigation after the whistleblower filed two lawsuits alleging the state submitted false claims for speech therapy services that didn’t qualify for reimbursement. The department looked into reimbursement claims for services provided to New York schoolchildren from 1990 to 2001.

Under the settlement, New York State will pay about $440 million and New York City will pay $100 million. And the federal government will continue to monitor the state and city programs. The state has already paid about $108 million, while the rest will be paid in 10 installments of $33.1 million over more than five years.

“We believe that this settlement requires payment of approximately $1 billion less than we could potentially have had to pay if the matter had gone to litigation,” Gov. David Paterson said.

Paterson’s office said the state and city have identified and corrected problems in record keeping.

Federal investigators alleged that New York did not provide proper guidance to local governments on Medicaid rules and what services were appropriate claims. They claimed the state was trying to charge for services that officials knew weren’t covered so that the federal government would pay a larger share of Medicaid costs.

The costs were for Medicaid services provided to children through the public school programs for students and preschoolers with disabilities. The programs help local school districts and governments get Medicaid reimbursement for certain diagnostic and health support services offered to students with disabilities.



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Prison time meted out in tomato industry corruption case


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August 11, 2009 1:25pm

• Former Kraft Foods purchasing manager sentenced

• First prison sentence in ongoing probe

Robert Watson, 59, of White Plains, N.Y., has been sentenced to two years and three months in prison for taking a bribe in a complex tomato price fixing scheme involving a Central Valley company.

When he gets out of prison, Mr. Watson will be on two years of supervised release. He’s also been ordered to pay $1,858,000 in restitution to his former employer, Kraft Foods.

Mr. Watson pleaded guilty in January to two counts of honest services mail fraud in connection with a scheme in which he accepted over $158,000 in bribes from a supplier of tomato products to the company.

In his plea agreement, Mr. Watson admitted to taking $158,000 in bribes from Randall Rahal, 61, of Ramsey, N.J., a former sales broker and director of SK Foods L.P., a Central Valley-based grower and processor of tomato products and other food products for sale to manufacturers, food service distributors and marketers, and retail outlets nationwide, according to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Wagner, Sean Flynn, and Anne Pings, who are prosecuting the case.

“By accepting bribes in making his purchasing decisions, Robert Watson defrauded both his employer and ultimately the consumer,” says U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown.

He admitted steering contracts for processed tomato and other food products to SK Foods rather than industry competitors in return for the bribes, and by securing contracts between his employer and SK Foods for the sale of certain food products at inflated prices, prosecutors say.

Mr. Watson is the first defendant to be sentenced as a result of the ongoing federal investigation into fraud and corruption in the tomato products industry.

Mr. Rahal pleaded guilty to participating in racketeering, price fixing, bid rigging, and contract allocation conspiracies, among other charges, on Dec. 16, 2008, the Department of Justice says.

Two others – James Wahl, 58, of Dallas, Texas, and Robert Turner, 59, of Randolph, N.J., former purchasing managers at Frito-Lay Inc. and B&G Foods Inc., respectively, have also admitted to receiving illicit payments from Mr. Rahal, according to the department.


On Feb. 18, former SK Foods Records and Business Analyst Jennifer Dahlman, 48, of Lemoore, pleaded guilty to causing the shipment to SK Foods’ customers of processed tomato products that were adulterated and unsaleable domestically due to their excessive mold content.

Ms. Dahlman also admitted to routinely falsifying the various grading factors and results of required laboratory testing contained on “Certificates of Analysis” and other quality control documents that accompanied customer-bound shipments of tomato product.

She admitted that her actions were conducted at the express instruction and direction of senior leaders and directors of SK Foods, the government says.

Anthony Manuel, 57, of Turlock, formerly an employee of Morning Star Packing Company and then of SK Foods, pleaded guilty in January to embezzling approximately $975,000 from Morning Star and to filing a false tax return.

Each of those defendants is awaiting sentencing. The investigation is ongoing.



44 arrested in N.J. corruption sweep

Two New Jersey assemblymen, three mayors, and rabbis hailing from Brooklyn to the Shore were among dozens of people arrested yesterday as part of a federal investigation into international money laundering and homegrown political corruption.

Forty-four people were arrested. Also, a member of Gov. Corzine’s cabinet, Joseph V. Doria Jr., whose house and office were raided, resigned, although he was not charged.

Prosecutors said the investigation, reaching through layer upon layer of government, revealed a “pervasive” culture of corruption.

“New Jersey’s corruption problem is one of the worst, if not the worst, in the nation,” said Ed Kahrer, who heads the FBI’s white-collar and public-corruption investigation division. “Corruption is a cancer that is destroying the core values of this state.”

Daniel Van Pelt, a Republican Shore-area assemblyman who doubles as township administrator in Lumberton, was among 29 people arrested on corruption charges.

In Jersey City, those arrested included Democratic Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith, former members of the parking and housing authorities, a onetime school board vice president, a deputy mayor, and the City Council president.

The investigation began with the FBI’s looking into an alleged money-laundering operation led by a number of rabbis that reached from the Shore town of Deal to Brooklyn, N.Y., Switzerland, and Israel.

A Brooklyn man, Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, allegedly tried to entice people to give up a kidney for $10,000 so he could sell the organs for $160,000 each, according to acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra.

The FBI informant at the center of the laundering investigation was eventually introduced to public officials in Hudson County, where the case took a turn into bribery.

The mayors of Hoboken, Secaucus, and Ridgefield, all in North Jersey, were charged in the operation, which involved more than 300 FBI, IRS, and other agents. The FBI used a bus to take some of the many accused to its Newark office.

Doria’s resignation likely marks the end of a long political career in which he has served as speaker of the Assembly, mayor of Bayonne, a state senator, and, at the time of his resignation, commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. The department oversees state control of Camden and Doria often served as the face of the administration in the city. Corzine sought, and got, his resignation.

The investigation centered on a cooperating witness who was charged with bank fraud in May 2006 and who, working with the FBI, laundered roughly $3 million through operations run by the rabbis in Deal and Brooklyn, according to authorities.

The timing and published reports point toward Solomon Dwek as the cooperating witness. Dwek, a onetime real estate developer and a leader at a yeshiva in Deal, was arrested in May 2006 for allegedly trying to defraud PNC Bank. His family was prominent in Deal’s Syrian Jewish community. Several of the alleged launderers at the Shore and in Brooklyn were Syrian Jewish rabbis.

In most cases, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey, the rabbis used charitable organizations to launder money that they believed came from bank fraud and selling counterfeit goods. The witness allegedly told targets he was in bankruptcy and trying to hide his cash. In some instances, he said, the money came from the sale of fake Gucci bags.

“These rings, led by clergymen, cloak their extensive criminal activity behind a facade of rectitude,” Marra said.

One of the alleged money launderers was a Hudson County developer who introduced the FBI’s man to a Jersey City building inspector. The inspector, John Guarini, allegedly took a $20,000 bribe in 2007 that touched off the corruption probe.

Guarini introduced the cooperating FBI witness to Maher Khalil, deputy director of the Jersey City health department. Khalil, in turn, introduced the man to a web of politicians in meetings at diners and restaurants where cash was exchanged for the promise of influence, according to authorities. The witness told officials he was seeking help with getting his developments approved.

Van Pelt allegedly took $10,000 to help expedite permitting for a project in Ocean Township, where he was a longtime councilman and, until this year, mayor. As a member of the Assembly Environment Committee, he had oversight of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Reaction was quick and harsh. In seeking Doria’s resignation, Corzine said the commissioner could no longer be effective.

“Any corruption is unacceptable, anywhere, anytime, by anybody. The scale of corruption we’re seeing as this unfolds is simply outrageous and cannot be tolerated,” Corzine said in a statement.

Christopher J. Christie, the Republican running against Corzine in the fall, was in charge of the U.S. Attorney’s Office when the investigation began.

“This is obviously just another really tragic day for the people of New Jersey,” Christie said in a statement.

Corzine and Assembly leaders from both parties urged Van Pelt and Smith to resign.

Prosecutors and political observers said the arrests reinforced New Jersey’s image as a home of ingrained corruption.

“It’s reinforcing the lore, or the legend,” said Ingrid Reed, director of the New Jersey Project at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics.

Reed said the arrests would overshadow the efforts of those public officials who have tried to clean up state ethics.

“It’s kind of an assumption that if you’re in office, you can do what you want to do to serve your own self-interest,” Reed said.

She said more emphasis was needed on reinforcing ethics rules at the local level. A lack of interest in local campaigns and a political map that makes winning easy for the dominant party enables the spread of corruption, she said.

“The lack of competitive elections, I think, just reinforces the idea that when you’re in office, you can do anything you want to do,” Reed said.

In one criminal complaint, the mayor of Hoboken, Peter J. Cammarano III, told the FBI informant that he would easily win election even if he were indicted.

Marra said the reach of the investigation underscored “more than ever the pervasive nature of public corruption in this state.”

He added, “The complaints show that for these defendants, corruption was a way of life. They existed in an ethics-free zone.”

Targets in Corruption Probe

A closer look at some of the New Jersey officials and others arrested yesterday as part of a major corruption and international money-laundering conspiracy probe:

Peter J. Cammarano III, 32, the newly elected mayor of Hoboken and an election lawyer, is accused of accepting $25,000 in cash bribes.

L. Harvey Smith, 60, a Democratic assemblyman and a recent mayoral candidate in Jersey City, is accused of taking $15,000 in bribes to help get approvals from high-level state agency officials for building projects.

Daniel Van Pelt, 44, a Republican assemblyman, Ocean Township mayor, and a Lumberton administrator, is accused of accepting a $10,000 bribe.

Dennis Elwell, 64, mayor of Secaucus, is accused of taking a $10,000 cash bribe.

Anthony Suarez, 42, mayor of Ridgefield and a lawyer, is accused of agreeing to accept a $10,000 cash payment for his legal defense fund.

Louis Manzo, 54, a former Democratic assemblyman and recent Jersey City mayoral candidate, and his brother Robert Manzo are accused of taking $27,500 in cash payments for use in Louis Manzo’s campaign.

Leona Beldini, 74, Jersey City deputy mayor, a real estate agent, and campaign treasurer for an unidentified Jersey City official’s reelection campaign, is accused of taking $20,000 in campaign contributions. Officials say she divided the money among donors, who would return it to the campaign in increments of $2,600, the maximum legal individual donation.

Mariano Vega, 59, Jersey City Council president, is accused of accepting three $10,000 payments. Officials say he told an intermediary to break down and convert two of them into individual contributions for his reelection campaign and that he received the third after his victory.

To see the criminal complaints, go to http://go.philly.com/njsweep

SOURCE: Associated Press

Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 609-989-9016 or jtamari@phillynews.com.

This article contains information from the Associated Press.



My Note –

Maybe the reason that “mentally ill” people think there is a conspiracy of some kind – is because they are looking at the truth of the situation around them and the facts about those activities clearly are the facts of collusion, conspiracy and criminal behavior, government corruption and business based criminality.

Just a thought . . .

Even if the knowledge of these things are not common knowledge, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t so. Obviously there is public information that conspiracy, corruption, collusion and criminal acts are occurring throughout business and financial institutions, government agencies and by elected public officials. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

But, then everybody knew they could trust Bernie Madoff – he couldn’t be a crook . . .

– cricketdiane, 08-11-09


Mentally ill can be forced into care

United Press International‎7 hours ago

Goldman Sachs partner who is New Jersey governor, Jon S. Corzine signed into law this bill that denies the human and civil rights of any individual deemed by subjective criteria to be mentally ill. It forces the services and pharmaceuticals of the mental health industry on any citizen without recourse and against their will.

– my note


Governor Jon S. Corzine

As New Jersey’s 54th governor, Jon S. Corzine has applied his experience as a Wall Street executive and as a consensus builder in the United States Senate to advance an agenda of socially conscious initiatives, while maintaining a focus on financial responsibility.

Governor Corzine began his Wall Street career in 1975, when he was recruited by the New York investment firm Goldman Sachs. After taking a job with the firm as a bond trader, he and his family settled in New Jersey. Corzine’s financial acumen propelled him through the ranks at Goldman Sachs, where he was named a partner in 1980, became a key player in crucial strategic decisions, and was eventually named chairman and chief executive officer in 1994.



The American politicians and elected officials will do anything to keep businesses from having to honor the Americans’ with Disabilities Act and the rights of people with disabilities, particularly those who are already at a disadvantage by virtue of their social differences, economic disadvantages and non-traditional lifestyle choices.

And, if the above stories indicate anything, it is that these corrupt business people and corrupt government agencies, including the poorly run and dangerous mental health system, are not qualified to tie their own shoes without screwing somebody, let alone determine who and why to force people into chemical lobotomies through forced mental health services.

No wonder people who must endure these mental health “services” have low self-esteem. Why wouldn’t they, when they are being treated like cattle and disposable commodities in order to rationalize actions to make businesses a never-ending profit, instead of as valuable human lives with something to offer.

– cricketdiane, 08-12-09


NJ law allows mentally ill to be forced into outpatient care

New Jersey has approved a bill allowing the mentally ill to be ordered into outpatient treatment against their will, in a measure which will take effect a year from today’s signing by Gov. John Corzine (D).

The bill will give families greater say in determining whether seriously mentally ill loved ones need such treatment. It allows families to obtain a court order to force a loved one to attend an outpatient treatment program. The mentally ill person would be sent to a screening center, where mental health professionals would evaluate them to determine whether they needed inpatient care or could be safely cared for on an outpatient basis.

Under prior New Jersey law, the mentally ill could only be treated involuntarily at inpatient hospitals or clinics if they were found to be a danger to themselves, others or to property.

State Senate President Richard Codey, who pushed for the bill’s approval, says the new system should help to reduce inpatient stays.

To learn more about this measure:
– read this UPI piece
– read this item from The Star-Ledger

My Note –
America has been abusing human rights and denying civil rights while demanding that every other country honor those rights. The corrupt and blatant disregard for these rights in every state is occurring even while elected officials are found guilty of conflicts of interest, kickbacks, bribery, and abuses of power.
And, it is occurring while every large health industry is being found guilty of cooking reports, lying, misrepresenting facts and using even the least excuse to label as many people as they can with mental illness and force them to purchase medications that make life a living hell. It is worse than Stalin’s Soviet vision and Hitler’s Nazi empire in every single mental hospital, mental health services facility and every single psychiatry run mental health industry program.
It is a fact. They haven’t cured anybody and in most cases, have made it worse while subjected individuals to the most intensely cruel and malicious suffering that man has ever devised. And, it never ends. There is no recourse. There is no real objective measure. There is never any defender who effectively corrects it. And, there is no quality of life, no hand up from the poverty it creates and no compassion, understanding or integration into the community as a valuable and valued member.
It would be nice if New Jersey Governor Corzine had to endure the shit running down his leg from taking psychiatric drugs and try to sign something with his hands shaking and jerking from those drugs. I would love to see the green in his face everytime he tried to eat something because of the overwhelming nausea those drugs cause and have to stay out of the sunshine because those drugs are toxic chemicals in the sun. And, I would love for him and that family who was behind this bill to have to endure the dizziness, vertigo, muscle twitches, double vision, hot flashes, sun poisoning, hair falling out, teeth decay, gum diseases, insomnia, nervousness, and suicidal / homicidal thoughts flooding their minds constantly from being forced to take those psychotropic drugs while waiting for the liver and kidney damage that they cause to completely shut down those bodily functions permanently too.
They deserve it along with any family that uses these systems to control their “loved ones”. Over the years of conservative Christian fundamentalists having control of the United States and the insurance industries, the AMA and the pharmaceutical companies underwriting them, we have had a country that abuses human rights on a regular basis to an extreme level. When does that ever stop? How can they be so cruel, so willing to torture, so intolerant of the differences of others and so genuinely evil? How did that happen?
When will it end? I know beyond a shadow of doubt that history will view this time and these uses of psychiatric chemical cocktails as barbaric. Why do a few money hungry citizens get to choose for everyone else?
And, when do they stop using the idea of what is “normal” from 1930 something?
– cricketdiane