Watchdog: Watchdog Blog

AROUND THE WATCHDOGS: California couple headed to slammer for defrauding TARP

|
News,Watchdog Blog

A California couple has been sentenced to federal prison for defrauding seven banks, including two banks that received Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, in connection with a $130 million line of credit, according to the Special Inspector-General for the TARP program.

Thomas Chia Fu, 64, of Newport Coast, California, will serve 21 months, while his wife, Cheri L. Shyu, 61, was sentenced to three years. U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney also ordered the couple to pay $4.7 million in restitution.

"At a time when taxpayers were bailing out Bank of America and United Commercial Bank with TARP funds, Thomas and Cheri Fu defrauded those banks and others out of nearly $5 million," said SIG-TARP Christy Romero.

"The Fus fraudulently obtained funds from the TARP banks and other banks using a second set of books that overstated accounts receivable. They lived comfortably off the money, buying property and putting their daughter through college, when many taxpayers who funded the bailout were tightening their belts.

"Illegally profiting from the TARP bailout is reprehensible and will be met with swift justice by SIGTARP and our law enforcement partners."

Medicare fraud scheme nets Texas doctor 63 months in jail:

Dr. Ben Harris Echols was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison following his conviction "for conspiring to commit health care fraud by falsifying plans of care for Medicare beneficiaries, including patients whom he did not treat, as part of a $17.3 million Medicare fraud scheme," according to the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector-General.

Echols, a 63-year-old Houston resident, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of the Southern District of Texas. Echols was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release and to pay more than $2.9 million in restitution.

"Evidence showed that Echols signed plans of care for Medicare beneficiaries so that fraudulent claims could be billed by home health care companies Family Healthcare Group Inc. and Houston Compassionate Care," according to a Department of Justice announcement earlier today.

"Echols signed plans of care for Medicare beneficiaries who were not under his care and about whose conditions he had no knowledge. In many instances, Echols signed plans of care even though other doctors were listed as the attending physician on the documents," the DOJ announcement said.

Study finds 21 states have more public school staff than teachers:

A study by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice found that the public schools systems in 21 states employ more non-teaching staff members than they do teachers in the classrooms.

Among the staff positions identified in the study were librarians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, deputy superintendents, coaches, and assistant principals. The study covered the period between 1992 and 2009, according to the authors.

The 21 states include Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Louisiana, Wyoming, Vermont, Utah, Georgia, Alaska, New Hampshire, Iowa, and the District of Columbia, which is treated as a state by the study.

"Taxpayers should be outraged public schools hired so many non-teaching personnel with such little academic improvement among students to show for it," said Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. "This money could have been better invested in areas that have proved to benefit children."

Virginia topped the 21 states by a substantial margin 60,737 more non-teaching staff than teachers, followed by Ohio with 19,040 more non-teaching personnel than teachers.

Virginia could have spent an additional $29,007 on each of its classroom teachers had it limited hiring of non-teaching staff to the same percentage of growth as its student body.

The complete study can be read here.

View article comments Leave a comment