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TexasTowelie

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 78,324

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Sanford Health Entities to Pay $20.25 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations Regarding

Sanford Health Entities to Pay $20.25 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations Regarding Kickbacks and Unnecessary Spinal Surgeries


The Department of Justice announced today that hospital entities Sanford Health, Sanford Medical Center, and Sanford Clinic (collectively, Sanford), of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, have agreed to pay $20.25 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations that they knowingly submitted false claims to federal healthcare programs resulting from violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute and medically unnecessary spinal surgeries. The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits offering, paying, soliciting, or receiving remuneration to induce referrals of items or services covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and other federally-funded programs.

“Kickbacks can compromise a physician’s medical judgment, result in unnecessary procedures, and increase healthcare costs for everyone,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “We will continue to hold healthcare providers accountable when they violate the rules intended to safeguard the integrity of federal healthcare programs and the welfare of their beneficiaries.”

The settlement announced today resolves allegations that Sanford knew that one of its top neurosurgeons was improperly receiving kickbacks from his use of implantable devices distributed by his physician-owned distributorship (POD). Sanford allegedly received warnings from the neurosurgeon’s physician colleagues and others about the alleged kickback scheme and was aware of the heightened compliance risks associated with PODs. In addition, the neurosurgeon’s colleagues and others repeatedly warned Sanford that the neurosurgeon was performing medically unnecessary procedures involving the devices in which he had a substantial financial interest. The United States alleged that, despite these repeated warnings, Sanford continued to employ the neurosurgeon, continued to allow him to profit from the devices he used in surgeries performed at Sanford, and continued to submit claims to federal healthcare programs for these surgeries, including procedures that were medically unnecessary.

“Kickback schemes and other improper financial incentives create inherent conflicts of interest and warp the medical decision-making process,” said U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons for the District of South Dakota. “This office will continue to aggressively pursue anyone who colludes to violate federal law and compromise the integrity of our healthcare system.”

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sd/pr/sanford-health-entities-pay-2025-million-settle-false-claims-act-allegations-regarding

Missouri Man Sentenced to Nearly Two Years in Prison for His Role in "Field of Schemes" Organic

Missouri Man Sentenced to Nearly Two Years in Prison for His Role in “Field of Schemes” Organic Grain Fraud Involving More than $120 Million in Total Fraudulent Sales

Missouri Man was Fifth Man Sentenced for Playing a Role in Largest Organic Grain Fraud Scheme in U.S. History


A Missouri man who assisted in perpetrating the largest organic grain fraud scheme in United States history was sentenced today to nearly two years in federal prison. Another Missouri man and three farmers from Nebraska were previously sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a scheme to defraud customers across the country.

John Burton, age 52, from Clarksdale, Missouri, received the prison term after a May 10, 2019 guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Evidence at sentencing showed that Burton grew grain that was not organic and sold it to Randy Constant, knowing that Constant was going to market and sell the grain as organic. By selling his grain to Constant, Burton was able to receive a premium, selling the grain for more than he could have on the open market. Burton also worked for Constant, raising grain on farm fields that Constant either owned or rented. While doing this work, Burton often sprayed Constant’s fields with chemicals and fertilizers, even though he knew those substances were not allowed on organic fields. Burton either sold or raised over $5,000,000 in crops for Constant. Overall, Constant’s scheme involved at least $142,433,475 in grain sales, and the vast majority of those sales were fraudulent in that the grain he sold was not organic even though it was marketed as organic.

Burton was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams. Burton was sentenced to 22 months’ imprisonment. He was also ordered to forfeit over $1,000,000 in proceeds from his crime and was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jacob Schunk and Anthony Morfitt and investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture – Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndia/pr/missouri-man-sentenced-nearly-two-years-prison-his-role-field-schemes-organic-grain

Illinois State Representative Charged with Offering Bribe to Fellow Lawmaker in Return for Support

Illinois State Representative Charged with Offering Bribe to Fellow Lawmaker in Return for Support of Legislation


CHICAGO — Illinois State Rep. LUIS ARROYO has been charged in federal court with offering a bribe to a fellow state lawmaker in an effort to influence and reward the lawmaker for supporting legislation that would benefit Arroyo’s private lobbying client.

Arroyo, 65, of Chicago, is charged with one count of federal program bribery, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Arroyo made an initial court appearance this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez and was ordered released on a personal recognizance bond. The next court date was not immediately set.

The complaint was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI; and Kathy A. Enstrom, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Stetler and James Durkin.

Arroyo has represented the 3rd District in the Illinois House of Representatives since 2006. He has also managed Spartacus 3 LLC, a private lobbying firm in Chicago.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndil/pr/illinois-state-representative-charged-offering-bribe-fellow-lawmaker-return-support

Florida man attacked after jumping on shark while surfing

Florida headlines jumped the shark Sunday afternoon when a 27-year-old man was attacked by a shark that he accidentally jumped on in New Smyrna Beach, according to Volusia County Beach Safety.

The unidentified man was surfing and decided to jump off his board and into the water, said Av Jenkins, deputy chief of operations. The bad timing coincided with a shark that just happen to be swimming near by.

The surfer sustained minor lacerations and was treated on scene, Jenkins said.

The man drove himself back to Orlando after the incident.

Read more: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-ne-new-smyrna-shark-bite-surfer-jump-20191028-d7hv3vg7h5cxbpy6pttmzgnygq-story.html

Orlando pastor and radio host facing child sex abuse charges dies by apparent suicide

An Orlando pastor and radio host jailed on child sex-abuse charges has died by apparent suicide, according to an Orlando Sentinel report.

Rev. Bryan Fulwider, a 59-year-old former minister and a co-host of radio show Friends Talking Faith, had been arrested and was facing charges of repeated "sexual battery of a minor by a person in custodial authority." The Winter Park Police Department says he was found in his Altamonte Springs home Sunday night by Altamonte Springs police.

Fulwider had been out on bail since Oct. 17, and was facing life in prison if convicted. Police responded to his home just before midnight for a possible suicide call, where a person was pronounced dead at the scene. While the Altamonte police did not initially name Fulwider until a pending medical examiner’s evaluation was completed, the Winter Park police shared the information.

“We have been told that Mr. Fulwider has passed,” said Winter Park Police Criminal Investigations chief Pam Marcum.

Read more: https://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2019/10/28/orlando-pastor-and-radio-host-facing-child-sex-abuse-charges-dies-by-apparent-suicide

DeSantis attacks $15 minimum wage initiative

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday questioned a proposal to increase Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour through the constitutional amendment process, warning about effects on the restaurant industry.

DeSantis focused on the minimum wage proposal as he railed against policy-oriented constitutional amendments that he said put “handcuffs” on future legislation. He made the comments as he opened an Associated Industries of Florida conference in Tallahassee.

DeSantis, speaking in a closed-door meeting that his office streamed live on Facebook, pointed to part of the proposed minimum-wage amendment that would increase the amount of wages that restaurants would have to cover for tipped employees. He said it is “going to cause big, big upheavals for the restaurant industry. It just will.”

“When you put that in the Constitution, we can’t just go back and say, ‘Oh, let’s tweak it, let’s do that,’ ” DeSantis continued. “You literally would have to go back and do another constitutional amendment.”

Read more: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-ne-desantis-minimum-wage-20191028-azzqh5yntbfzpgcttarot34lem-story.html

Florida teachers union's cross-state bus tour for public school money rolls into Tallahassee

Florida teachers want a pay raise and have launched a five-week bus tour to rally support for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed $603 million compensation plan.

The union which represents teachers calls the governor's plan encouraging and plans to use it as leverage to call for a billion dollar increase in education spending.

The Florida Education Association’s Fund Our Future big red-and-white bus rolled into Tallahassee Monday with stops at Florida A&M University, Pineview Elementary School and the state Capitol Courtyard. FEA President Fedrick Ingram is on a campaign to focus public attention on Florida’s teacher pay rank of 46th in the nation and the crisis in the classroom teachers say it has created.

“Teachers all over this country are saying enough is enough. Give us what we need to take care of these kids. Give us what we need so that we can stay in this profession,” said Ingram, who backs DeSantis’s proposal to raise starting teacher salary to $47,500. He wants lawmakers to commit to a "decade of progress" and boost education spending by $2 billion in each of the next 10 years.

Read more: https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/28/fea-bus-tour-seeks-public-school-money-legislature/2485417001/

HHS to shutter Homestead detention center, a victory for immigration activists

WASHINGTON -- The private prison company running the Homestead detention center that housed thousands of migrant children since 2018 and became a symbol of the Trump administration’s immigration policies will not have its contract renewed, according to an email sent to Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Miami, by the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday.

Caliburn, the contractor that operates the facility on land owned by the Department of Labor, will not have its federal contract renewed when it expires on Nov. 30 — though it will be placed into “warm status,” which means HHS will retain access to Homestead and can reopen the facility. The remaining staff members at Homestead will be released in the next five to seven days, and the facility’s bed capacity will be reduced to zero, according to the email.

“In our ongoing efforts to ensure fiscal prudence, following a sustained decrease in referrals, HHS operations at the Homestead Temporary Influx facility will be transitioned into warm status effective immediately,” the HHS office of the assistant secretary for legislation said in the email to Mucarsel-Powell, whose congressional district includes the Homestead facility.

HHS workers will still have access to the site, which has not accepted new immigrant children since July 3. The detention center became the focus of frequent protests from activists and lawmakers in the spring. The last unaccompanied children were relocated from it in August, and the center remained open but dormant.

Read more: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article236732048.html

Beto O'Rourke's $1.5 Trillion Climate Plan Is Serious on Environmental Justice

When former Congressman Beto O’Rourke recently traveled to the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, he participated in a roundtable of people whose lives had been upended by Hurricane Katrina and who were still recovering from the flooding havoc. What he said he heard consistently from them was that the federal government had wasted billions of dollars in the recovery phase on failed projects that could have been avoided had more people directly impacted by Katrina been consulted. Most of those people, especially those living in the Ninth Ward, had been displaced to places as far away as O’Rourke’s home state of Texas.

“Still today in 2019, we have problems because that money was not thoughtfully, was not intelligently spent using the experience and the perspective of the people who actually live in this community,” O’Rourke said one of the participants told him.

He took this as a mistake that he would not be replicating should he become president in 2021. His climate plan calls for a $1.5 trillion investment in infrastructure, research, and technologies to address climate change, including $650 million dedicated to people whose lives are already being disrupted by climate catastrophes—people “to whom we look for our inspiration and leadership,” reads his campaign platform.

“When we’re talking about investing in communities that are on the front lines, those communities will decide where those investments go,” said O’Rourke during an interview with CityLab for the upcoming Weather Channel special “2020: Race to Save the Planet” (airing November 7), in which nine presidential candidates discuss their plans for confronting the climate change crisis. “Who knows better how to address these issues than those who are living through those issues right now?”

Read more: https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/10/beto-orourke-interview-climate-change-plan-proposal-race/600562/

Beto O'Rourke's $1.5 Trillion Climate Plan Is Serious on Environmental Justice

When former Congressman Beto O’Rourke recently traveled to the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, he participated in a roundtable of people whose lives had been upended by Hurricane Katrina and who were still recovering from the flooding havoc. What he said he heard consistently from them was that the federal government had wasted billions of dollars in the recovery phase on failed projects that could have been avoided had more people directly impacted by Katrina been consulted. Most of those people, especially those living in the Ninth Ward, had been displaced to places as far away as O’Rourke’s home state of Texas.

“Still today in 2019, we have problems because that money was not thoughtfully, was not intelligently spent using the experience and the perspective of the people who actually live in this community,” O’Rourke said one of the participants told him.

He took this as a mistake that he would not be replicating should he become president in 2021. His climate plan calls for a $1.5 trillion investment in infrastructure, research, and technologies to address climate change, including $650 million dedicated to people whose lives are already being disrupted by climate catastrophes—people “to whom we look for our inspiration and leadership,” reads his campaign platform.

“When we’re talking about investing in communities that are on the front lines, those communities will decide where those investments go,” said O’Rourke during an interview with CityLab for the upcoming Weather Channel special “2020: Race to Save the Planet” (airing November 7), in which nine presidential candidates discuss their plans for confronting the climate change crisis. “Who knows better how to address these issues than those who are living through those issues right now?”

Read more: https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/10/beto-orourke-interview-climate-change-plan-proposal-race/600562/
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