MiMedx Group Inc. Agrees to Pay $6.5 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations of False Commercial Pricing Disclosures

MiMedx Group Inc. (MiMedx), a biopharmaceutical company based in Marietta, Georgia that manufactures and sells human tissue grafts, will pay $6.5 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting false commercial pricing disclosures to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Justice Department announced today.  

“Today’s settlement demonstrates our continuing vigilance to ensure that those doing business with the government charge a fair price for their goods,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division.  “Government contractors will not be permitted to profit improperly at the expense of taxpayers.”

This settlement resolves allegations that MiMedx knowingly submitted false statements and disclosures to the VA regarding MiMedx’s commercial pricing practices, enabling MiMedx to charge the VA inflated prices for its human tissue graft products.  Prior to the United States’ disclosure to MiMedx of its investigation, MiMedx made a disclosure to the VA Office of Inspector General regarding its commercial sales practices. In the settlement, the United States acknowledged MiMedx’s cooperation.

“Charging inflated prices for medical products is unlawful and unethical,” said U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald for the District of Minnesota.  “This settlement underscores the obligation of government contractors to be fair and truthful in their dealings with the United States and to prevent wasted taxpayer dollars.”

“Our nation’s veterans deserve the best healthcare products and services available and the American taxpayers deserve fair and honest pricing from government contractors,” said Michael J. Missal, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  “This settlement underscores VA OIG’s commitment to protecting the integrity of the VA’s healthcare system and procurement processes.”

The allegations resolved by the settlement were first brought in a lawsuit filed by former MiMedx sales representatives under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private parties to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to receive a share of any recovery.  The qui tam case is captioned United States of America ex rel. Jess Kruchoski and Luke Tornquist v. MiMedx Group, Inc., 17-cv-00187 (D. Minn.).  As part of this settlement, they will receive $1,625,000 as their share of the government’s recovery.

This matter was investigated by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, and the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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Author: April 6, 2020

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Department of Justice Issues Business Review Letter to Medical Supplies Distributors Supporting Project Airbridge Under Expedited Procedure for COVID-19 Pandemic Response

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice announced today that it will not challenge collaborative efforts of McKesson Corporation, Owens & Minor, Inc., Cardinal Health, Inc., Medline Industries, Inc., and Henry Schein, Inc. (together “Medical Supplies Distributors”) to expedite and increase manufacturing, sourcing, and distribution of personal-protective equipment (“PPE”) and coronavirus-treatment-related medication.  These collaborative efforts are part of an emergency response developed and led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to address supply needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These Medical Supplies Distributors should be applauded for their efforts to both assist the United States in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay within the bounds of antitrust law,” stated Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim.  “I also applaud the attorneys and economists of the Antitrust Division, who worked expeditiously to finish in days a review process that ordinarily takes many months.”

Under the collaboration, the Medical Supplies Distributors work at the direction of the United States government to help resolve supply challenges presented by the pandemic.  One such initiative, Project Airbridge, was developed by the United States as a partnership between the Medical Supplies Distributors, among others, in addition to logistics companies, under the direction of FEMA and HHS.  Project Airbridge’s purpose is to quickly source and airlift PPE, including masks, gowns, gloves, and other equipment designed to protect against infection, as well as to distribute coronavirus-treatment-related medication to areas of greatest need across the country.

The Medical Supplies Distributors submitted their business review request pursuant to the expedited, temporary review procedure, detailed in the Joint Antitrust Statement Regarding COVID-19 (the “Joint Statement”) and issued on March 24 by both the department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  In the Joint Statement, the department announced its aim to resolve COVID-19-related business review requests within seven (7) calendar days of receiving all necessary information.

Copies of the business review request and the department’s response are available on the Antitrust Division’s website at https://www.justice.gov/atr/business-review-letters-and-request-letters, as well as in a file maintained by the Antitrust Documents Group of the Antitrust Division.  After a 30-day waiting period, any documents supporting the business review will be added to the file, unless a basis for their exclusion for reasons of confidentiality has been established under the business review procedure.  Supporting documents in the file will be maintained for a period of one (1) year, and copies will be available upon request to the FOIA/Privacy Act Unit, Antitrust Documents Group at atrdocs.grp@usdoj.gov.

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Author: April 4, 2020

President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice Holds Teleconferences Related to Social Problems Impacting Public Safety

This week, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice held hearings on social problems impacting public safety, specifically homelessness, federal programming, and substance abuse. The hearings were held over three days via teleconference. Each teleconference featured a panel of expert witnesses who provided testimony and, subsequently, answered questions from the Commissioners.

On Tuesday, March 31, the Commission received testimony regarding homelessness from Salt Lake City (Utah) Police Chief Mike Brown; John Ashmen, President/CEO of Citygate Network, and; Chief Brian Redd of the Utah Department of Public Safety, State Bureau of Investigation.

Testimony and discussions focused on the intersection of public safety and homelessness. Chief Brown asserted that “law enforcement is consistently put in the position of triaging homelessness, which often is a symptom of underlying mental health and/or substance use issues.” John Ashmen, CEO of Citygate Network, suggested that the number of people experiencing homelessness in the United States “confirms that homeless services providers and the law enforcement community need to collaborate like never before.” Chief Brian Redd provided a detailed account of the successes of Operation Rio Grande, an initiative to address public safety issues in the Rio Grande District of downtown Salt Lake City near Utah’s 1,000-bed homeless shelter. An additional encampment of more than 2,000 individuals had formed around the shelter, resulting in an open-air drug market, violence, victimization, and public health concerns. The Operation deployed a three-pronged approach: law enforcement, treatment and housing, and dignity of work – designed to help individuals become self-sufficient.

The panelists also outlined the pressures law enforcement professionals are currently experiencing in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether mitigating the risks of the virus from hitting the homeless population or balancing public safety with prisoner safety.

On Wednesday, April 1, the Commission heard testimony regarding federal programming from Christopher M. Patterson, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Region IX; Dr. Matt Miller, Acting Director for Suicide Prevention, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and; Dr. Robert Marbut, Jr., Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Testimony and discussions focused on federal programming for social issues. Chris Patterson of HUD spoke of the Foster Youth to Independence program. As youth age out of foster care, they become vulnerable to homelessness, trafficking, and other dangers. Mr. Patterson underscored that it is crucial to get youth into proper housing through a voucher program as they age out of the foster care system. Dr. Miller called attention to the term “lethal means safety,” which “refers to decreasing the mortality associated with certain forms commonly used to implement suicide.” He stated that suicide is often an impulsive act, further noting that the chances of suicide and death by suicide increase “up to six times” when individuals have access to firearms. Dr. Robert Marbut, Jr. argued that officers often have more success getting homeless into recovery programs through innovative law enforcement programs that feature constant engagement with those requiring assistance.

On Thursday, April 2, the Commission heard testimony regarding substance abuse from Carson Fox, CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals; Mike Sena, Executive Director of the Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA); Middlesex County (Mass.) Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian; Sue J. DeLacy, Chief Deputy Probation Officer for the Orange County (Calif.) Probation Department, and; Michael B. Stuart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Testimony and discussion focused on public safety and substance abuse. Mr. Fox asserted that law enforcement plays a role in the success of treatment courts across the nation. When law enforcement work side-by-side with other providers and agencies, it significantly affects the outcome. Mike Sena argued that to successfully address substance abuse in our communities, the public safety community needs real-time data. He suggested that HIDTA’s ODMap, which tracks real-time overdose data, be adapted nationwide. Sheriff Koutoujian addressed the need for Medicated Assisted Treatment programs to treat those who are experiencing opioid dependence throughout jail and prison systems nationwide. U.S. Attorney Stuart called attention to the opioid crisis in the Southern District of West Virginia. He called for a substantive discussion for developing a picture of what victory over substance abuse would look like.

For more information on the Commission, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/ag/presidential-commission-law-enforcement-and-administration-justice. Audio recordings and transcripts of the hearings will be posted online once available.

Please note, these hearings were originally to take place in person in Orange County, Calif., but were changed to teleconference format in response to CDC recommendations regarding Covid-19.

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Author: April 3, 2020

Lake Worth Businessman Pleads Guilty to Evading Taxes on Millions in Income, Stashing Funds in Secret Accounts Around the World

A Lake Worth, Florida, businessman pleaded guilty today to tax evasion and willful failure to file a Report of Foreign Bank or Financial Account, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida. 

According to court documents and statements made in court, Dusko Bruer owned and operated a company that bought U.S.-made agricultural machinery and parts and sold them throughout the world. Beginning in 2003, the company did not pay Bruer a salary. Instead, Bruer used millions of dollars from the company’s bank accounts to pay his personal expenses, make investments abroad, and make transfers to an employee and his family. From 2007 through 2011, Bruer transferred over $5.8 million of the company’s profits to foreign financial accounts. Bruer used the company’s profits to buy a yacht, purchase a waterfront home for his girlfriend and himself, purchase a home for an employee, and buy real property in Serbia. Between 2007 and 2014, Bruer failed to report more than $7.7 million in income and did not pay taxes of more than $2.7 million that were due to the United States.

Although Bruer’s company had a number of employees and reaped millions of dollars in profits, Bruer never filed a corporate tax return for the company nor did the company ever pay taxes on its income. Bruer also never filed employment tax returns during those years reporting wages that the company paid to its employees nor did the company withhold and pay over payroll taxes.

From 2007 through 2015, Bruer maintained financial accounts in Croatia, Germany, Serbia, and Switzerland. He did not report his ownership of the accounts to the Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) by filing a Report of Foreign Bank or Financial Account (FBAR), despite knowing he had an obligation to do so. In 2010, an account he held at a subsidiary of Credit Suisse AG in Zurich, Switzerland reached a year-end high value of $6,177,586. Bruer used the assets in his foreign accounts for personal use, including the purchase of a yacht for $1,350,000 and a 3,200 square foot home in Lake Worth, Florida, with 100 feet of waterfront frontage for approximately $1,650,000.

From 1999 to 2014, Bruer never filed a personal tax return nor did he pay tax on his income. In 2015, Credit Suisse closed his account in Switzerland and advised him to enter the IRS’s Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), by which taxpayers could avoid criminal prosecution by making a voluntary disclosure directly to IRS-Criminal Investigation, filing six years of delinquent or amended income tax returns, as well as delinquent or amended FBARs, paying back taxes, interest, and certain penalties on the six tax years in the disclosure period, and paying a penalty on the highest aggregate account balance of their noncompliant offshore assets. Bruer did not enter into the OVDP because he determined that the cost would be too high. Instead, Bruer made a “quiet” disclosure that involved filing several delinquent tax returns with the IRS, not flagging the returns in anyway or paying the taxes, penalties and interest that would be paid in OVDP.

The returns Bruer filed as part of his “quiet” disclosure were false because they disclosed only the funds he held in the Credit Suisse account and not the funds he held in the accounts in Croatia, Germany, Serbia, nor did they report the income he earned from his company.

United States District Court Judge Senior District Judge Kenneth A. Marra scheduled sentencing for June 12, 2020. Bruer faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each charge, three years of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who conducted the investigation, and Senior Litigation Counsel Mark F. Daly of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aurora Fagan, who are prosecuting the case. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman and U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan also thanked the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Croatia for their assistance in this matter.

Additional information about the Tax Division’s enforcement efforts can be found on the division’s website.

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Author: April 3, 2020

Justice Department Settles Retaliation Claim Against Texas Organization

The Department of Justice today announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Southwest Key Programs (SKP), an organization that operates detention centers in several states, including Texas. The settlement resolves a claim that SKP retaliated against a former employee in violation of the antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

“Employers should never retaliate against workers for stating that they will file a discrimination complaint with the government,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will vigorously pursue claims involving employers that retaliate against workers and we are pleased to have recovered financial compensation from Southwest Key Programs for the affected worker.”

According to the Department’s investigation, a former SKP employee applied for several jobs with SKP after receiving his renewed employment authorization documentation. However, an SKP human resource staffer told the former employee that SKP would not rehire him because he previously stated that he would file a discrimination complaint regarding a dispute about his employment documentation. The Department also concluded that the SKP staffer further retaliated against the former employee by spreading misinformation about him to SKP colleagues to prevent him from being rehired.

The INA’s antidiscrimination provision generally prohibits employers from retaliating against workers because they intend to file a discrimination complaint, or for exercising rights protected under that provision.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, SKP will, among other things, give the former employee front pay, and back pay plus interest, totaling over $68,000; pay a civil penalty; train its workers; and be subject to departmental monitoring.

The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) is responsible for enforcing the antidiscrimination provision of the INA. Among other things, the statute prohibits discrimination against individuals who are authorized to work based on their citizenship status and national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; retaliation; and intimidation.

Employers can find information on how to avoid unlawful discrimination based on citizenship status or national origin here. Workers can find information about their rights under the antidiscrimination provision of the INA here. For more information about protections against employment discrimination under the INA, call IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); sign up for a free webinar; email IER@usdoj.gov; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites. Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.

Applicants or employees who believe they were subjected to discrimination based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify) based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin; or retaliation can file a charge or contact IER’s worker hotline for assistance.

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Author: April 3, 2020

Former Veterans Affairs Doctor Charged with Civil Rights Offense

A doctor of osteopathic medicine who formerly worked at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Beckley, West Virginia, has been charged in a criminal complaint with depriving a veteran of his civil rights under color of law. Dr. Jonathan Yates, 51, was arrested without incident at his home today by Special Agents of the FBI and the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, with the assistance of the Bluefield, Virginia Police Department. Dr. Yates is scheduled for an initial appearance today at time before U.S. Magistrate Judge Omar Aboulhosn.

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, U.S. Attorney Michael B. Stuart for the Southern District of West Virginia, FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel, and Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael J. Missal announced the charge.

According to the criminal complaint, while working at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in February 2019, Yates examined a male patient identified as Veteran 1, and during the examination Yates sexually molested Veteran 1.  Yates caused Veteran 1 severe pain and numbness, and temporarily incapacitated him by cracking his neck, after Veteran 1 had explicitly requested Yates not to crack his neck. While Veteran 1 was incapacitated, Yates sexually molested Veteran 1 again.  This conduct, performed while Dr. Yates was acting under color of law in his capacity as a federal employee at the VAMC, deprived Veteran 1 of his constitutional right to bodily integrity.

This investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5342).

The charge contained in the complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Deprivation of rights under color of law as charged in the complaint is punishable by up to life in prison.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Veterans Affairs Police Department. The U.S. Attorney’s Office sought immediate detention in this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Samantha Trepel and Trial Attorney Kyle Boynton of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg McVey of the Southern District of West Virginia.

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Author: April 2, 2020

Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services Partner to Distribute More Than Half a Million Medical Supplies Confiscated from Price Gougers

The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced the distribution of hoarded personal protective equipment (PPE), including approximately 192,000 N95 respirator masks, to those on the frontline of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response in New York and New Jersey.

The FBI discovered the supplies during an enforcement operation by the Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force on March 30 and alerted HHS which used its authority under Defense Production Act (DPA) to order that the supplies be immediately furnished to the United States.  In addition to the N95 respirator masks, the supplies found included 598,000 medical grade gloves and 130,000 surgical masks, procedure masks, N100 masks, surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, bottles of hand sanitizer, and bottles of spray disinfectant.

“If you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door,” said Attorney General William P. Barr.  “The Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force is working tirelessly around the clock with all our law enforcement partners to ensure that bad actors cannot illicitly profit from the COVID-19 pandemic facing our nation.”

“Cracking down on the hoarding of vital supplies allows us to distribute this material to the heroic healthcare workers on the frontlines who are most in need,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.  “Thanks to the quick work of the White House, the Department of Justice, and HHS, the seized resources were distributed in days to the doctors, nurses and first responders who need them.  President Trump’s all-of-America approach to combating the coronavirus involves an aggressive approach to stopping hoarding, and the American public can play a role by being on the lookout for this behavior.”

HHS will pay the owner of the hoarded equipment pre-COVID-19 fair market value for the supplies and has begun distributing to meet the critical need for the supplies among healthcare workers in New York and New Jersey.

Specifically, after inspecting the supplies, HHS arranged for the delivery of the PPE to the New Jersey Department of Health, the New York State Department of Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“This is the first of many such investigations that are underway,” said Peter Navarro, DPA Policy Coordinator and Assistant to the President.  “Our FBI agents and other law enforcement agencies are tracking down every tip and lead they get, and are devoting massive federal resources to this effort.  All individuals and companies hoarding any of these critical supplies, or selling them at well above market prices, are hereby warned they should turn them over to local authorities or the federal government now or risk prompt seizure by the federal government.”

Vendors interested in selling PPE to the federal government should contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency at https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus/how-to-help.  Anyone who learns of hoarding or price gouging of PPE should report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by dialing 1-866-720-5721 or emailing disaster@leo.gov.

HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency continue to collaborate with private industry to overcome the shortage of PPE across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Defense Production Act and Presidential Executive Order are intended to prevent accumulation in excess of reasonable demands of business, personal, or home consumption, or for the purpose of resale at prices in excess of prevailing market prices, also known as hoarding and price gouging, of medical supplies critical to the COVID-19 response.

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Author: April 2, 2020

Court Enters Final Judgment in T-Mobile/Sprint Transaction

Today, a federal district court in Washington, D.C., concluded that the Antitrust Division’s resolution of its challenge to the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint was in the public interest and entered the proposed final judgment following an extensive Tunney Act process.  This order gives effect to the settlement that the Department of Justice and numerous states reached with the merging parties and Dish Network Corp. to allow the T-Mobile/Sprint transaction to proceed, subject to substantial divestitures and other remedies. 

“I am pleased that the court has entered the final judgment, and I appreciate all of the work from Judge Kelly and the district court staff, particularly in the midst of the current COVID-19 disruption,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “The T-Mobile/Sprint transaction, as remedied by the Department of Justice, will combine T-Mobile’s and Sprint’s complementary spectrum assets while preserving competition.  Our settlement promises to expand output further by bringing Dish’s extensive spectrum holdings to the market.  The end result will be strengthened competition with high-quality 5G networks that will benefit American consumers nationwide.”

The Antitrust Division filed a civil antitrust lawsuit on July 26, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia along with the settlement that resolves the department’s competitive concerns.  The attorneys general for the states of Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas have each joined in this settlement.  Separately, Judge Marrero in the Southern District of New York denied the request of New York, California, and a minority group of states to enjoin the proposed transaction nationwide.  Judge Marrero’s opinion relied, in part, on the ability of the Antitrust Division’s remedies to protect against competitive harms that may otherwise have occurred.

The FCC also approved the transaction after a thorough examination, with certain commitments as a condition of approval.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, T-Mobile and Sprint must divest Sprint’s prepaid business, including the Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint prepaid brands, to Dish Network Corp., a Colorado-based satellite television provider.  The proposed settlement also provides for a divestiture of substantial spectrum assets to Dish.  Additionally, T-Mobile and Sprint must make available for divestiture to Dish at least 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail locations.  T-Mobile must also provide Dish with robust access to the T-Mobile network for a period of seven years while Dish transitions the business and builds out its 5G network.

T-Mobile US Inc. is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Bellevue, Washington.  In 2018, T-Mobile posted revenues of more than $43 billion.  Deutsche Telekom AG, a German corporation headquartered in Bonn, Germany, is the controlling shareholder of T-Mobile US Inc.

Sprint Corporation is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas.  In 2018, its posted revenue was over $32 billion. Sprint is controlled by SoftBank Group Corp., a Japanese corporation headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.

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Author: April 1, 2020

Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Attack the White House with Explosives

Today Hasher Jallal Taheb, 23, of Cumming, Georgia, has pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to destroy, by fire or an explosive, a building owned by or leased to the United States. Taleb had planned an attack on the White House using weapons and explosives.  As part of the plea agreement, the defendant and the government agreed that the defendant should receive a 15-year sentence of imprisonment.

“Taheb planned to conduct a terrorist attack on the White House as part of what he claimed was his obligation to engage in jihad,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “And that was just one of the iconic American landmarks he wanted to target.  Thanks to a tip from a member of the community and the work of the agents, analysts, and prosecutors responsible for this case, the threat posed by the defendant was neutralized and the defendant has admitted his guilt and will now be held accountable for his crime.”

“Taheb hatched a dangerous plan that would have resulted in unimaginable injury,” said Byung J. “BJay” Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.  “We are grateful to community members who noticed his dangerous evolution and alerted law enforcement.  Along with our federal, state and local partners, we will remain vigilant in order to disrupt these types of attacks before they happen.”

“This plea is the result of a more than year-long intensive investigation by FBI Atlanta’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which was because of a tip from the community,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta.  “Our citizens are our most important weapons in fighting terrorism, our eyes and ears in our communities, and why we say to please contact law enforcement if you see or hear something suspicious.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: In March 2018, a member of the Atlanta community reported concerns about Taheb to a local law enforcement agency, which then contacted the FBI.  The community member specifically alerted law enforcement that Taheb had become radicalized and was making plans to travel abroad.

During an undercover operation conducted by the FBI, federal investigators learned in October 2018 that Taheb planned to travel overseas and that he had applied for a United States passport in July 2018.  The FBI also learned that Taheb had begun planning domestic attacks in the United States as part of his desire to engage in “jihad.”  His targets initially included the White House and the Statue of Liberty.  Later, in December 2018, Taheb broadened his prospective targets in the Washington, D.C. area, to include the Washington Monument, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and a synagogue.

During undercover meetings with Taheb in January 2019, he produced sketches of the White House and described the types of weapons and explosives he wished to use in the attack, including semi-automatic weapons, improvised explosive devices, an anti-tank weapon, and hand grenades.  FBI special agents arrested Taheb on Jan. 16, 2019, after he arrived at a pre-arranged location where he expected to obtain semi-automatic assault rifles, explosive devices, and an anti-tank weapon. 

Sentencing for Taheb is scheduled for June 23, 2020, at 9:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Mark H. Cohen.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the U.S. Secret Service, investigated this case.  The Forsyth County Sheriff Office and Gwinnett County Police Department also provided assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan K. Buchanan and Matthew Carrico and Trial Attorneys Danielle Rosborough and B. Celeste Corlett of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case.

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Author: April 1, 2020

Department of Justice Makes $850 Million Available to Help Public Safety Agencies Address COVID-19 Pandemic

The Department of Justice today announced that it is making $850 million available to help public safety agencies respond to the challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19. The Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, authorized by the recent stimulus legislation signed by President Trump, will allow eligible state, local, and tribal governments to apply immediately for these critical funds. The department is moving quickly to make awards, with the goal of having funds available for drawdown within days of the award.

“This is an unprecedented moment in our nation’s history and an especially dangerous one for our front-line law enforcement officers, corrections officials, and public safety professionals,” said Office of Justice Programs Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan. “We are grateful to Congress for making these resources available and for the show of support this program represents.”

The solicitation, posted by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, within the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), will remain open for at least 60 days and be extended as necessary. OJP will fund successful applicants as a top priority on a rolling basis as applications are received. Funds may be used to hire personnel, pay overtime costs, cover protective equipment and supplies, address correctional inmates’ medical needs and defray expenses related to the distribution of resources to hard-hit areas, among other activities. Grant funds may be applied retroactively to Jan. 20, 2020, subject to federal supplanting rules.

Agencies that were eligible for the fiscal year 2019 State and Local Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program are candidates for this emergency funding. A complete list of eligible jurisdictions and their allocations can be found at https://bja.ojp.gov/program/fy20-cesf-allocations.

For more information about the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, please visit https://bja.ojp.gov/funding/opportunities/bja-2020-18553. For more information about the Office of Justice Programs, please visit https://www.ojp.gov/.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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Author: April 1, 2020