All posts by brucebecker

Tax-refund fraud to hit $21 billion, and there’s little the IRS can do

Tax-refund fraud is expected to soar again this tax season, and hit a whopping $21 billion by 2016, from just $6.5 billion two years ago, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

And the problem—which the agency admits is growing quickly—is compounded by an outdated fraud-detection system that has trouble identifying many attempts to trick it.

“The flaws in [the IRS’] system are so basic,” said Akli Adjaoute, founder and CEO of artificial intelligence firm Brighterion.

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Political corruption in Albany a very old story

“A number of Republicans, including most of their leaders, are bad enough, but over half theDemocrats, including almost all the City Irish, are vicious, stupid-looking scoundrels with apparently not a redeeming trait … a stupid, sodden vicious lot, most of them being equally deficient in brains and virtue.”

That was the assessment of the state Legislature by a freshman assemblyman.

The writer was 23-year-old Theodore Roosevelt, and he kept a private legislative diary when he first came to Albany in 1882.

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NY prosecutor basically calls Governor Cuomo a liar

As we recently discussed, there’s a bit of a tug of war going on inside New York’s state government, as Governor Andrew Cuomo dodges around to stay out of the corruption investigation net which has already swept up former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. While there is no word as to whether or not Silver will roll for the prosecutors and give up the governor, the media has gotten essentially nothing from the big guy. When asked to comment, he has repeatedly given one version or another of the same response.

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3 Navy rear admirals reprimanded in corruption scandal

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Three Navy rear admirals linked to a massive bribery scandal that cost the government at least $20 million have been reprimanded but will not face criminal charges, the Navy announced Tuesday.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus issued secretarial letters of censure to Michael Miller, Terry Kraft and David Pimpo, a Navy statement said.

The letters are considered career-ending reprimands. The three are seeking retirement and the letters could affect their benefits.

The three showed “poor judgment and a failure of leadership” by improperly accepting gifts from a “prohibited source” while they were deployed on the USS Ronald Reagan in 2006-2007, the Navy said.

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Idaho’s Attorney General investigating public corruption complaints

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho’s Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says his office has received nearly 60 complaints concerning county-level public corruption ever since lawmakers expanded the scope of his office last year.

Wasden told legislative budget writers of the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee Tuesday that 12 of the complaints are being investigated, 16 are pending and 30 didn’t meet the criteria to be prosecuted.

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Romania: Ex-Minister Detained on Corruption Charges

Prosecutors have detained a former Romanian tourism minister and presidential candidate on charges of money laundering and influence peddling.

A lawyer confirmed that center-right politician Elena Udrea, who finished fourth in November’s presidential election, was detained for 24 hours late Tuesday after she entered the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office to answer charges.

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Former Venezuelan judge sentenced to nearly 7 years in Miami drug case

MIAMI (Reuters) – A former Venezuelan judge was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison in US court in Miami yesterday after being accused of taking bribes from a South American drug cartel boss.

Benny Palmeri-Bacchi pleaded guilty in November to money laundering, extortion and conspiring to obstruct justice.

Prosecutors agreed to seek a lenient sentence for his cooperation with a US push against prominent Venezuelan officials suspected of assisting Colombian drug traffickers.

“I feel very remorseful and I ask for mercy,” he told US Judge Ursula Ungaro in Spanish, speaking through an English translator.

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Before he died, a former head of Goldman Sachs warned the governor about corruption in New York

Before he died on Feb. 7, former Goldman Sachs cochair John Whitehead was really worried about corruption at the highest levels of New York state government.

In a letter written to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Whitehead had expressed concern that the office of the attorney general was abusing its power and violating ethics in going after business leaders, Business Insider has learned.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/goldman-chair-writes-anticorruption-letter-2015-2#ixzz3RMpQu4dz

Cuomo: I’m as responsible for ex-speaker’s actions as Obama is for Weiner’s sexting scandal

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he can’t be blamed for the corruption charges that prompted state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to resign any more than President Barack Obama can be blamed for former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal.

The governor says in a profile in The New Yorker published online Monday the charges against Silver relate to the acts of an individual legislator.

The Democratic governor defended his decision to disband a commission investigating government corruption, saying in that exchange lawmakers passed modest ethics reforms and prosecutors obtained the commission’s files anyway.

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