Sunday, November 20, 2011

Woman Gets Jail For Food-Stamp Fraud; Wall Street Fraudsters Get Bailouts

Find the original here:

Had a quick piece of news I wanted to call attention to, in light of the recent developments at Zuccotti Park. For all of those who say the protesters have it wrong, and don’t really have a cause worth causing public unrest over, consider this story, sent to me by a friend on the Hill.

Last week, a federal judge in Mississippi sentenced a mother of two named Anita McLemore to three years in federal prison for lying on a government application in order to obtain food stamps.

Apparently in this country you become ineligible to eat if you have a record of criminal drug offenses. States have the option of opting out of that federal ban, but Mississippi is not one of those states. Since McLemore had four drug convictions in her past, she was ineligible to receive food stamps, so she lied about her past in order to feed her two children.

The total "cost" of her fraud was $4,367. She has paid the money back. But paying the money back was not enough for federal Judge Henry Wingate.

Wingate had the option of sentencing McLemore according to federal guidelines, which would have left her with a term of two months to eight months, followed by probation. Not good enough! Wingate was so outraged by McLemore’s fraud that he decided to serve her up the deluxe vacation, using another federal statute that permitted him to give her up to five years.

He ultimately gave her three years, saying, "The defendant's criminal record is simply abominable …. She has been the beneficiary of government generosity in state court."

Compare this court decision to the fraud settlements on Wall Street. Like McLemore, fraud defendants like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank have "been the beneficiary of government generosity." Goldman got $12.9 billion just through the AIG bailout. Citigroup got $45 billion, plus hundreds of billions in government guarantees.

All of these companies have been repeatedly dragged into court for fraud, and not one individual defendant has ever been forced to give back anything like a significant portion of his ill-gotten gains. The closest we've come is in a fraud case involving Citi, in which a pair of executives, Gary Crittenden and Arthur Tildesley, were fined the token amounts of $100,000 and $80,000, respectively, for lying to shareholders about the extent of Citi’s debt.

Neither man was forced to admit to intentional fraud. Both got to keep their jobs.

Anita McLemore, meanwhile, lied to feed her children, gave back every penny of her "fraud" when she got caught, and is now going to do three years in prison. Explain that, Eric Holder!

Here’s another thing that boggles my mind: You get busted for drugs in this country, and it turns out you can make yourself ineligible to receive food stamps.

But you can be a serial fraud offender like Citigroup, which has repeatedly been dragged into court for the same offenses and has repeatedly ignored court injunctions to abstain from fraud, and this does not make you ineligible to receive $45 billion in bailouts and other forms of federal assistance.

This is the reason why all of these settlements allowing banks to walk away without "admissions of wrongdoing" are particularly insidious. A normal person, once he gets a felony conviction, immediately begins to lose his rights as a citizen.

But white-collar criminals of the type we’ve seen in recent years on Wall Street – both the individuals and the corporate "citizens" – do not suffer these ramifications. They commit crimes without real consequence, allowing them to retain access to the full smorgasbord of subsidies and financial welfare programs that, let’s face it, are the source of most of their profits.

Why, I wonder, does a bank that has committed fraud multiple times get to retain access to the Federal Reserve discount window? Why should Citigroup and Goldman Sachs get to keep their status as Primary Dealers of U.S. government debt? Are there not enough banks without extensive histories of fraud and malfeasance that can be awarded these de facto subsidies?

Children as Sex Offenders - NOT!

As I'm sure you all have heard (at least here in the USA) - there are children who have actually been prosecuted, and convicted, of crimes that put them in the National Sex Offender Database.

With a rare few, these kids are guilty of only one thing: Listening to their hormones instead of common sense.

I wager most of you reading this entry would agree when I state that the NSO Database was NOT established for the purpose of cataloging consensual teens as lifetime sex offenders. I will go so far as to include those who are 21 with a partner who is under 18, whose only crime is the desire to express their love for one another through physical acts.

Yet, it has happened and continues happening as overzealous DAs don't bother to consider the enormous ramifications of a lifetime label as a sex offender, when nothing more occurred than consensual sex between two people the law claims shouldn't be having sex - for WHATEVER reason.

It's as bad as classifying consensual adults as sex offenders for something as stupid as sodomy, just because someone decided that you couldn't sex your partner up the butt in the privacy of your home in their state.

SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE. Law should NOT be abused in this manner, and the officials pursuing charges in such cases ARE abusing the spirit of the law - without regard to the lifetime of harm they are causing these people.

The child abuse laws passed in the last 20 years aren't doing their job. Countless stories hit the newswires every day about a kid killed by a parent, or starved by a parent, or locked in a cage...or worse. Meanwhile, the well-meaning dad who cuffs their child for swearing or telling a lie is suddenly talking to the cops because his kid has been drilled to report such things to the officials at school - and nobody can seem to differentiate between routine discipline and abuse.

While I don't believe in heavy-handed corporal punishment, sometimes a cuff to the cheek or butt is necessary to get the gravity of a situation through to a kid - and I do NOT believe the schools have ANY business "parenting" or "protecting" children who are receiving nothing more than routine punishment for behaving badly. Sometimes grounding and taking things away does NOT get it through their heads - especially if they are being encouraged by other kids (and sometimes adults) to misbehave, time and again.

My goddaughter Faith got herself in trouble. She's 12 years old as of this past September, and, thanks to all the hormones, antibiotics, and steroids pumped into milk and meat, hit puberty at the age of 10. A week ago Friday night, her father found out she has been having sex with a 15-year-old boy who, as we also found out, believed Faith to be 13 years of age.

Her father and I have been best of friends for over 15 years. Faith's mother has mental issues and has never demonstrated that she can be a consistent and competent parent; in fact, Faith's father won full custody of her because her mother lost control in a fit of rage. Faith not only has to deal with a broken family and an unstable mother, but living below the poverty line. Keith has done his best to raise her with decent ethics and morals... imagine all our shock when we found out she'd been having sex since her birthday in September. She already had a pattern of running away, primarily to avoid the punishments her father had to mete out for her frequent lying and acting out. He has asked agencies, time and again, for help for Faith, only to be told he makes too much money (another pet peeve of mine - they desperately need to revamp the poverty limits).

Faith had a facebook and so did her boyfriend and it was all laid out for anyone with access to read. Keith's sister Sandi managed to gain friendship of both Faith and the boy, and copied much of what was on their Walls.
  • Faith lied about her age.
  • Faith convinced others that Keith is not her biological father (and he is, there has been a paternity test)
  • Faith told others that Keith was physically abusing her, when, in fact, he was disciplining her, and only once did he lose his temper too much
  • Faith has made claims of neglect that are not substantiated. Keith himself has gone without food so his daughter could eat.
  • Faith has had counseling through school but it has not been adequate. She also shows signs of depression and other disorders that will require medication. First NOW - AFTER she got into trouble, are agencies offering help that Keith was told was unavailable due to his income in the past.
It's a very sad commentary on this country overall that the only time you can get help for a kid in crisis is AFTER they get into trouble. Now, you will hear me slam one political party (and part of another) for a prevailing attitude that leads to what I opened this post with. Most Republicans, and some Democrats (the ones referred to as "Blue Dog") are letting their religious views color what they do when it comes to the law. The district attorney where Keith and Faith live, happens to be Republican and Catholic and his record demonstrates that he lets both personal opinion and religion get in the way of the due process of the law. He intends to prosecute both Faith AND the boy under charges of sexual assault. If convicted, both kids would face 20 years behind bars, and bear the label of Sex Offender for the rest of their lives. I ask you: Just HOW does this serve justice? They're kids. Technically Faith isn't old enough to have her sexual actions considered criminal. Sure she said yes, but the boy initiated the interaction.

There is no word yet whether charges will be filed against the boy's parents for openly allowing the children to have sex under their roof. It would make more sense to me, to prosecute the ADULTS, who KNEW BETTER.

Faith is barely old enough to look after herself without a babysitter. Just what in the HELL is that DA thinking?

We have advised Keith to contact the American Civil Liberties Union over this. The DA refused to drop charges against the kids even after Keith expressed his displeasure over the idea of his daughter being prosecuted.

Just imagine it. 12 years old, and 15 years old. Put behind bars with adult offenders for Goddess knows how long. Released, but registered as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.


Yes, the kids need to have their wrists slapped in a way that ingrains it into their heads that this was an incredibly stupid thing to do - even if the boy's parents condoned it. Yes, the kids should be given therapy and medications if need be. YES - the boy's parents should face more serious charges, since they contributed to the delinquency of not only their son but Faith.

NO, two relatively innocent kids shouldn't be labeled sex offenders for the rest of their lives.