The Department of Homeland Security (DHS ) chief Jeh Johnson this week spoke with state election officials to discuss prevention of cyber attacks in the upcoming fall elections. America’s voting machines are old, use different systems in thousands of districts across the country. Many use old computers which are more vulnerable to malware, bugs and hacking.

Even though the upcoming election is federal, there are also local and state-wide elections and the operations are handled by states and local governments. The federal government has limited authority, for example to order the use of standard new machines which can prevent cyber attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security has offered to provide some assistance to prevent cyber attacks. This requires the local agencies to request help from the agency. One major concern is making sure that the voting machines are not internet connected.

A new Massachusetts law allows people to enter other people’s cars to rescue trapped, overheated animals, if the owners cannot be found.Governor Charlie Baker signed “An Act Preventing Animal Suffering and Death” on Friday. The bill was originally filed by State Senator Mark Montigny, a Democrat from New Bedford.

The law forbids people from leaving their pets inside their vehicles during periods of extreme heat or cold and if  a bystander believes retrieving the animal is essential to the pet’s well-being, they are also allowed to enter the vehicle if they have made efforts to contact the owner. After removing the pet from the vehicle, they must then remain with the animal until law enforcement officials arrive. The law also says that whenever there is a weather advisory, warning, or watch in place, a dog owner can not tether a dog outside for more than 15 minutes, with a few exceptions.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers

Wells Fargo Bank will pay $4 million to end allegations by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that it used illegal payment processing practices which increased costs to borrowers. The CFPB stated that thousands of student-loan borrowers had problems with their loans or got misinformation about their payment options because of breakdowns in Wells Fargo’s servicing process. The agency said the bank maximized late fees and if a customer paid paid less than the amount due the bank divided the payment across multiple loans in the account rather than for some of the loans.

Wells Fargo was also accused of charging late fees who made payments on the last day of their grace period or paid their monthly amouts through partial payments instead of one full payment.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.

 

The Defense Department’s Inspector General has  released a report on the US Army’s accounting, which states  that the Army had made $6.5 trillion in “improper adjustments” ($2.8T in one quarter!) to make its books look balanced though it could not account for where the funds had gone.

The IG report also blamed  The Defense Financing Accounting Service (DFAS), saying it too made unjustified changes to numbers. For example, two DFAS computer systems showed different values of supplies for missiles and ammunition, the report noted – but rather than solving the disparity, DFAS personnel inserted a false “correction” to make the numbers match.

DFAS also could not make accurate year-end Army financial statements because more than 16,000 financial data files had vanished from its computer system. Faulty computer programming and employees’ inability to detect the flaw were at fault, the IG said.

Tenet Healthcare Corp. has announced that it has reached “an agreement in principle” to settle a whistleblower case for more than $513 million, settling that Tenet paid kickbacks to a string of clinics to refer pregnant undocumented Hispanic women to a Tenet hospital for medical treatment in birthing.Court pleadings in the whistleblower case allege that from 2000 to 2013, the clinics collected as much as $20,000 a month per hospital to funnel tens of thousands of pregnant women exclusively to Tenet hospitals to illegally boost the volume of hospital deliveries with Medicaid patients. Medicaid covers the cost of infant deliveries of low-income or indigent women, even if the mothers are undocumented.

Federal anti-kickback statutes bar hospitals from paying clinics, physicians or others to steer patients their way for treatment.

Two Tenet corporate subsidiaries operating the Atlanta Medical Center and North Fulton Hospital,, also agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the federal anti-kickback statute, according to a quarterly report Tenet submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Eric Ben-Artzi, the  whistleblower exposed fraudulent accounting in Deutsche has turned down his share of a $16.5 million  award from the Securities and Exchange Commission. His reason is that the agency did not punish any of the bank’s executives. Ben-Artzi, is a former Deutsche risk officer, was  awarded the money for information that led the agency to fine Deutsche Bank $55m last year. The SEC found Deutsche misstated its accounts at the height of the financial crisis by improperly valuing a giant derivatives position.

Ben-Artzi said the fine should be paid by individual executives, not shareholders, and that the “revolving door” of senior personnel between the SEC and Germany’s largest bankplayed a role in executives going unpunished.

The SEC, citing confidentiality, and Deutsche Bank also declined to comment. Ben-Artzi was allocated $8.25m along with the same amount to Matt Simpson, a former Deutsche trader, who both applied for it, according to interviews and documents seen by the FT.

According to an article in the British newspaper the Times, The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been asked by detectives from the Ukrainian National anti-Corruption Bureau to help them determine whether Paul Manafort actually received $12.7 million from the pro-Russian party of Ukraine’s former president Yanukovyen. Information in a ledger was released which suggested that payments were allegedly designated for Mr. Manafort relating to his work for the pro-Russian Ukrainian President for the period  2009-2012. However there is no proof yet to show he actually received the funds.  Until this week, Manafort was Donald Trump’s campaign manager.

Manafort advised the former Ukrainian president and allegedly attended security briefings., according to the Times

Manafort did not apparently declare his work for the Ukrainian government or Mr. Yanukovych’s party which, according to press reports would be required by US legislation. Those laws require that anyone working on behalf of a foreign government or political party must submit a declaration of their activities to the attorney-general.

My Pillow will pay the State of New York $1.109 million to settle a False Claims Act case in which the company knowingly failed to collect New York use taxes on internet and telephone sales to New York customers. This is the first New York False Claims Act settlement for unpaid taxes on internet and telephone sales since the New York False Claims Act was enacted in 2010. The  evidence showed that My Pillow sold merchandise at craft shows and through the internet and telephone to New York customers.

The whistleblower in this case will receive 20% or $221,000 plus the right to seek legal fees and costs of the case. It is anticipated that similar cases will be filed in those states allowing such actions to recover unpaid sales and use taxes. The whistleblower was represented by Stephen Diamond and Tim McGinnis of New York City.

Jeff Newman represents whistleblowers

The Marinello Schools of Beauty, a for-profit beauty school chain will pay the government and six whistleblowers $11 million over claims the school defrauded the feds out of federal financial aid funds. The case was brought forward byformer financial aid officers, instructors, career services managers and campus director — accused the company officials of using a variety of tactics to maximize the amount of financial aid funding the school received from the government. They said the school officials falsified the high school diplomas of at least 23 students so they could enroll them. The whistleblowers also  said  the school manipulated attendance records so that it appeared students who were no longer attending the Marinello were still there so the school could continue to receive federal financial aid funds for the students. In addition, the former employees accused the school of pushing students to falsify their income information on their applications for federal financial aid so that the students could receive more funding.

The government cut off financial aid funding to 23 of the Marinello’s campuses over claims that echoed some of those of the whistleblowers, including that the school falsified high school diplomas. The Department of Education also accused the school of not providing students with the necessary equipment to train, despite charging them between $2,500 and $2,750 for books and supplies.

The schools collected more than $51 million in federal financial funds during the 2014 to 2015 academic year alone.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt and New York University have become the target of a lawsuit seeking class action status on behalf of university employees investing their 401(k) retirement plans, alleging they are being charged too much in  investment fees.

Each of the  universities all used more than one provider to operate their plans and perform the administrative services . If they consolidated to one provider, they could use their bargaining power to negotiate much lower fees. The suits allege, the plans overpaid millions of dollars each year for several years. The complaints also says that the plans sponsored by the universities offered far too many investment options — many of which were too expensive — when cheaper alternatives were available. It also argued that the long lists of investments served only to confuse investors. Duke had $4.7 billion in assets held by nearly 38,000 participants at the end of 2014, used four providers (TIAA, Vanguard, Fidelity and Valic), offering 400 investment choices.
Vanderbilt had $3.4 billion in assets and nearly 42,000 participants at the end of 2014, used the same four providers, offering 340 investment options, until April 2015. At that time, it consolidated to Fidelity and shrank its plan menu to a core set of 14 investment options, according to the suit, which argues that the changes should have come many years earlier. In addition, the complaint claims that the university continues to pay too much for record keeping.