GAO: Border patrol is short-handed
During the five-year period from 2012 to 2016, almost 2 million illegal aliens were nabbed while trying to cross the border into the U.S. For the U.S. Border Patrol, it was a herculean accomplishment, given the agency’s short-handed staffing. According to the Government Accountability Office, the border patrol was operating with about 1,900 vacancies this year. In addition to leaving authorized positions unfilled, the agency’s ranks have been thinned through attrition (in recent years, an average of 904 departures were offset by only 523 new hires).
Repealing health insurance mandate would save billions
Updating their estimate of the effects of repealing the Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate,” the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation said it would reduce projected budget deficits by about $338 billion between 2018 and 2027. Legislation to repeal ACA’s mandate would eliminate the penalty that people must pay if they have no health insurance and are not otherwise exempt from the mandate.
Court upholds grand jury subpoena
A website cannot assert a First Amendment right or newsman’s privilege to withhold the identities of users whose testimony is sought by a federal grand jury. The website, called Glassdoor.com, refused to identify users who wrote negatively about their work experiences with a company that is under criminal investigation for two Department of Veterans Affairs programs. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held the government has a substantial interest in the workers’ testimony; and, that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that even news reporters can be compelled to identify their sources to grand juries.
U.S. indicts Mexican drug and prostitution gang
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 22 members of a Houston area gang have been charged with selling drugs, human smuggling and operating brothels with women who were told they could pay their smuggling fees by working in a restaurant. ICE said 25 illegal aliens were apprehended in stash houses, including two Chinese nationals who paid $40,000 each for help in crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Thirteen of the gang’s members were arrested and nine others remain fugitives, ICE said.
Judge imposes lifetime bans on telemarketers
A federal judge in Los Angeles ordered a lifetime ban on telemarketing activity for two brothers whose companies placed over 1.3 million robocalls to people whose phone numbers were on the National Do-Not-Call Registry. The calls were intended to generate sales leads by identifying consumers who were willing to discuss the installation of solar panels with a sales agent, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission said.
Silk Road probe agent gets more prison time
Shaun Bridges, 35, of Laurel, Maryland, a former U.S. Secret Service agent now in prison for money laundering, had an additional 24 months added to his sentence for similar charges, the Department of Justice said. Bridges began serving a 71-month sentence after his 2015 conviction for the theft of government-owned bitcoin that was being used in an investigation of the Silk Road, a covert online marketplace for drugs and other illicit goods.
Debt-settlement firm accused of deception
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accused Freedom Debt Relief, the nation’s largest provider of debt-settlement services, of deceiving consumers. A CFPB lawsuit claims the company collected payments without performing promised services, leaving customers to negotiate their own settlements, and misleading them about its fees and services. Freedom Debt Relief is part of the Freedom Financial Network, located in San Mateo, Calif.
Judge halts office supply scam
A federal judge ordered A-1 Janitorial Supply Corp. of Farmingdale, N.Y., and its affiliated entities to terminate its business of sending “free samples” of cleaning supplies to small businesses and then billing them for subsequent shipments of unordered products. The Federal Trade Commission said the company violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Unordered Merchandise Statute by offering a “free” sample, even to persons who refused, and then billed them for it.
Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Wednesday, November 8