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Fraud And False Statements

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A federal trial for reality television stars Todd and Julie Chrisley on charges including bank fraud and tax evasion is set to get underway Monday in Atlanta. The Chrisleys were initially indicted in August 2019 and a new indictment was filed in February of this year. Prosecutors say the stars of “Chrisley Knows Best” submitted false documents to banks to get loans and failed to pay federal income taxes for multiple years. An accountant who worked for them also faces charges. All three have pleaded not guilty. Jury selection is set for Monday with opening statements expected Tuesday.

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An ex-convict from California has pleaded guilty to fraud schemes totaling more than $25 million. Forty-five-year-old Quin Ngoc Rudin of Chino, California, pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to wire fraud. He admitted filing bogus returns for nine professional athletes that resulted in millions of dollars in unjustified tax returns. Several athletes had connections to northern Virginia. And he filed more than $100 million in fraudulent loan applications under the government's Paycheck Protection Program during the coronavirus pandemic. 

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An accountant who worked for the consultant at the center of the college admissions bribery case has avoided prison. In Boston Friday, a U.S. District Court judge sentenced Steven Masera to time already served. He must pay a $20,000 fine and will remain on three years’ supervised release. Masera pleaded guilty in 2019 to a charge of racketeering conspiracy. The 72-year-old Folsom, California, resident was an accountant for Rick Singer, the mastermind of the bribery scheme involving bogus test scores and athletic credentials. Prosecutors say Masera created fake donation receipts and invoices so wealthy parents could write off bribes as donations or business expenses.

Baltimore’s ethics board has ordered the city council president to stop accepting money from a legal defense fund that took donations from at least two city contractors. The Baltimore Sun reports the board also ruled Thursday that Council President Nick Mosby violated the city’s ethics ordinance by indirectly soliciting for the defense fund established for Mosby and his wife, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, as they faced a federal criminal investigation. The council president is not facing federal charges, but his wife was charged with making false statements on financial documents to withdraw money from her retirement savings and purchase two Florida vacation homes. She has pleaded not guilty. Nick Mosby denied violating the city’s ethics code.

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Colorado's Republican primary for its top elections official pits a candidate who was indicted in a voting system breach against a candidate who says she can restore professionalism to the office. The most prominent contender in the GOP secretary of state contest is Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters. Peters was indicted for her role in a security breach of her own voting system in search of evidence to prove ex-President Donald Trump's 2020 election conspiracy theories. Peters has become a heroine to those who disbelieve the 2020 election results and says she “protected” election data. Peters faces former clerk Pam Anderson, who talks about the importance of nonpartisan election administration.

A Georgia judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by former U.S. Sen. David Perdue that alleged fraudulent or counterfeit ballots were counted in the state’s most populous county during the 2020 general election. Perdue filed the lawsuit in December a few days after he announced that he would be challenging Gov. Brian Kemp in the Republican primary. Among other things, the suit sought access to examine absentee ballots, saying that would allow them to prove that there had been fraud in Fulton County. Perdue said the ruling is “another example of how the establishment continues to cover up what happened in 2020” and vowed to appeal.

Shares of Tesla and Twitter have tumbled this week. Investors are dealing with the fallout and potential legal issues surrounding Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his $44 billion bid to buy the social media platform. Shares in electric vehicle maker Tesla are down almost 16% so far this week. Twitter shares have fallen 9.5%. Both stocks have taken a bigger hit than the S&P 500, which is down 4.7% for the week. Investors are weighing legal troubles for Musk, as well as the possibility that his acquisition of Twitter could be a distraction from running Tesla, the world’s most valuable automaker.

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A Minneapolis man was found guilty of lying to a federal grand jury about abusing a process for submitting absentee ballots for other voters during Minnesota’s primary election in 2020. After a day of testimony, the jury of 10 women and two men took just 40 minutes to convict 30-year-old Muse Mohamud Mohamed of two counts of making false statements to a grand jury, Mohamed told the grand jury last fall that he obtained three absentee ballots on behalf of three voters who then filled them out before he returned them. Federal prosecutors said that was a lie — that none of the absentee voters named on the envelopes gave him ballots to return. Mohamed is the only person known to have been indicted as a result of the grand jury investigation.

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A judge has dismissed conservative cable news channel One America News Network from a defamation lawsuit filed by two Georgia election workers after the two sides reached a settlement. Fulton County election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss in December sued OAN, its owners and its chief White House correspondent. The mother and daughter said the network spread debunked claims that they introduced suitcases of illegal ballots and committed other acts of fraud to try to alter the outcome of the presidential election in Georgia. The terms of the settlement agreement were not disclosed, but both sides described it as fair.

A 25-year-old Rhode Island man who ran a cryptocurrency investment business has been sentenced to three years in prison for fraud. Prosecutors say he defrauded more than 170 people for millions of dollars. Jeremy Spence of Bristol, Rhode Island, was ordered Wednesday to pay more than $2.8 million in restitution. Prosecutors say Spence solicited more than $5 million in investments by falsely claiming his investments were profitable. They say Spence used new investor funds to pay other investors in a Ponzi-like scheme. Spence previously pleaded guilty to a felony fraud charge. His lawyers say he got “in over his head” in the crypto business.

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A 28-year-old man who was rescued from a raft off the coast of New England in 2016 after his boat sank has pleaded not guilty to charges he killed his mother at sea to inherit the family's estate. Nathan Carman was arraigned in federal court in Vermont on multiple fraud charges and a first-degree murder charge in the death of Linda Carman. The indictment says Nathan Carman also shot and killed his grandfather, John Chakalos, at his home in Windsor, Connecticut, in 2013 as part of the inheritance scheme, but he was not charged with that killing.

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University of Nebraska regent Jim Pillen has won the state’s crowded Republican primary race for governor over a candidate endorsed by Donald Trump. It was a notable loss for the former president as he tries to shape the future of the GOP. Pillen beat eight challengers, including Trump-backed businessman Charles Herbster, who was accused late in the campaign of groping young women. Pillen was endorsed by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who was prevented by term limits from running again. Herbster’s defeat raises the stakes on other high-profile races this month in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where Trump has also intervened in campaigns.

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A man found floating on a raft off the coast of New England in 2016 after his boat sank has been indicted on charges that he killed his mother at sea to inherit the family’s estate. The eight-count indictment released Tuesday in federal court in Burlington also says 28-year-old Nathan Carman shot and killed his grandfather, John Chakalos, in 2013 as part of an effort to defraud insurance companies, but he was not charged with that killing. Carman was found in an inflatable raft eight days after leaving a Rhode Island marina to go fishing with his mother, who was never found. Carman's attorney did not return a call seeking comment.

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Republican Senate hopefuls Adam Laxalt and Sam Brown clashed over Laxalt’s performance as chairman of then-President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign in Nevada and whether he did enough to combat voter fraud when he was attorney general. Few philosophical differences emerged between the two conservatives Monday during an hour debate taped for broadcast on “Nevada Newsmakers.” They're seeking the GOP nomination to face Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. The fireworks came after Laxalt touted Trump's endorsement. Brown said Laxalt relies on endorsements “because Nevadans can’t rely on him.” Laxalt then suggested Brown was an opportunist when he decided to move to Nevada after losing a legislative race in Texas.

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The Mississippi Department of Human Services is suing retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre, three former pro wrestlers and several other people and businesses to try to recover millions of misspent welfare dollars that were intended to help some of the poorest people in the nation. The lawsuit was filed Monday. It says the defendants “squandered” more than $20 million in money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families anti-poverty program. The suit was filed less than two weeks after a mother and son who ran a nonprofit group and an education company in Mississippi pleaded guilty to state criminal charges tied to the misspending.

A prominent Houston conservative activist charged with unlawful restraint and aggravated assault had asked a U.S. attorney to provide federal marshals to help his private investigator. A transcript of a phone call from Dr. Steven Hotze to then U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick filed in district court in Houston says Hotze told Patrick of plans by private investigator Mark Aguirre to cause an air conditioning repairman's vehicle to crash and to seize what they believed were thousands of fraudulent voter ballots, but the vehicle carried only tools. Patrick told Hotze federal marshals did not work for his office. Aguirre is also charged in the case and both men say they did nothing wrong.

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says that the state bar plans to sue him over his failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud. It raises yet another legal danger as the embattled Republican is locked in a primary runoff. The State Bar of Texas has been investigating complaints that Paxton’s petitioning of the U.S. Supreme Court to block Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump was was frivolous and unethical. The group has not publicly filed a suit against Paxton, who blasted it and said he stood behind his challenge to the “unconstitutional 2020 presidential election."

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Georgia's Republican primary for attorney general features yet another Trump-backed candidate challenging a Republican incumbent over the 2020 election. John Gordon says he wants to investigate former President Donald Trump's claims of election fraud and that Attorney General Chris Carr isn't doing enough. Carr says flatly that Republicans lost and there's no stolen election to investigate. The winner of the Republican primary on May 24 will take on one of two Democrats running for their own party's nod. State Sen. Jen Jordan says she has the experience to beat Carr. Atlanta lawyer Christian Wise Smith says he wants to use the office to further criminal justice reform.

A man who voted in New Hampshire and via absentee ballot in Arizona in the 2016 general election has been ordered to pay over $1,000 in fines and penalties. Seventy-seven-year-old Sigmund Boganski cast a ballot in New Hampton, New Hampshire, on Nov. 8, 2016. The attorney general's office says he also cast an absentee ballot in Arizona in the same election. He pleaded guilty on Wednesday to voting in more than one state in Belknap County Superior Court. His 90-day sentence was suspended for two years on the condition of his good behavior. His right to vote in New Hampshire was terminated. A message seeking comment was left for his attorney. 

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A grand jury has indicted the former CEO of a South Carolina bank on charges of conspiring with once-prominent attorney Alex Murdaugh to defraud victims of $1.8 million. Russell Laffitte now faces 21 charges of fraud, conspiracy and computer crimes. State police have accused Laffitte of secretly sending money to Murdaugh that the ex-banker was supposed to hold in trust as a conservator for Murdaugh's clients. Authorities say Laffitte also sent Murdaugh $1.1 million in Palmetto State Bank funds so Murdaugh could pay back loans issued by Laffitte. Murdaugh himself is accused of nearly $8.5 million in fraud. Laffitte was fired by the bank's board earlier this year.

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With two weeks until Pennsylvania’s primary election, Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate and governor continue to sow doubts about the legitimacy of 2020′s presidential election. Republicans have made anger over the 2020 election a staple of this year’s midterm primary campaigns. But such messages could be a liability in fall’s general election campaign. Democrats appear prepared to revisit former President Donald Trump’s baseless election fraud claims, tying them to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the ensuing armada of Republican-sponsored election legislation that Democrats frame as an attack on voting rights. Pennsylvania’s primary election is May 17.

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A former Nigerian government official arrested for his part in a massive fraud against Washington state’s pandemic relief efforts has pleaded guilty in federal court. Abidemi Rufai of Lekki, Nigeria, acknowledged in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Tuesday he used stolen identities to receive more than $350,000 in pandemic-related unemployment benefits from Washington. He also admitted that since 2017, he had obtained identifying information for more than 20,000 Americans, submitted $2 million in claims for disaster relief and other federal benefits, and received more than $600,000. Rufai was the special assistant to the governor of Nigeria’s Ogun state when he was arrested on his way to Nigeria in May 2021.

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Georgia Republicans vying for the state's top elections post sparred Monday over former President Donald Trump's false claim that widespread fraud cost him the 2020 election. At a debate in Atlanta, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger accused his main rival, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, of lying and spreading misinformation about the presidential contest in the state. Joe Biden narrowly won Georgia's electoral votes, but Hice maintains without evidence and despite multiple reviews that an accurate count would show a Trump victory. Hice said Monday that Raffensperger did not adequately investigate the election results and was acting like a Democrat with his attacks.

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An woman charged with illegal voting for casting her dead mother’s mail ballot in Arizona the November 2020 election has avoided jail time but will serve two years probation. Tracey Kay McKee was sentenced on Friday. She had pleaded guilty to a reduced felony charge of attempted illegal voting in February. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office dropped an additional perjury charge. Prosecutors wanted at least 30 days in county jail because she lied to investigators and railed about the need to prosecute voter fraud. The 64-year-old registered Republican sobbed as she apologized for committing the crime. She's one of 10 people charged with illegally voting in Arizona in the 2020 general election.

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