Extra Extra : August 2006

Fundraising fraud by Texas state troopers

Amy Davis of KPRC-TV (Houston) exposed a telemarketing fraud being operated on behalf of Texas police. Calls being made by the Texas State Troopers Association (TSTA) were actually being made by a telemarketing firm. Recipients of these calls were told the money raised would go to help injured or killed officers and their families. In reality, the telemarketing firm was keeping 60% of the money raised, and the other 40% was going to political lobbying groups in Austin.

Post-Katrina fraud

Joel Grover of KNBC-TV(Los Angeles) investigated FEMA fraud after Hurricane Katrina. Following an initial investigation by Channel 4 last October, fifteen residents of the Los Angeles area were charged with theft after they made false claims to FEMA saying that they'd been left homeless in the wake of the storm. They made their claims to FEMA using fake New Orleans addresses. The seven defendents who pled "no contest" to the charges must reimburse the government for the payments they fraudulently received. Arrest warrants have been issued for the defendents who failed to appear in court.

Steroid abuse in NFL

Using federal court documents filed in the case against Dr. James Shortt, Charles Chandler of The Charlotte Observer uncovered an alarming case of steroid abuse in the NFL. Shortt prescribed a dangerous combination of preformance enhancing drugs to members of the Carolina Panthers without regard for the potential ill effects on the players. "Medical records made public in court documents reveal that players were given multiple refillable steroid prescriptions and that some suffered unwanted, appearance-altering symptoms, prompting more prescriptions...'Several of them were using disturbing, particularly alarmingly high amounts with high dosages for long durations -- some in combinations,' said steroids ... Read more ...

Miami housing agency fraud continues

In a recent installment of the on-going series "House of Lies," the Miami Herald's Debbie Cenziper and Larry Lebowitz uncovered more corruption in the Miami-Dade Housing Agency. Oscar Rivero had become a favored developer for the local housing authority - collecting millions, yet building nothing. "Today, the land where Rivero promised dozens of homes for the poor is still vacant, cordoned off by fences -- eyesores in already distressed neighborhoods. Rivero hasn't delivered a single house even though he's held on to millions of dollars in public money -- while buying personal properties and an office for more than $4 ... Read more ...

Sexual misconduct and military recruiters

Vietnam war crimes revisited

In continued coverage of unpunished war crimes during the Vietnam War, Deborah Nelson and Nick Turse, special to the Los Angeles Times, reveal disturbing details of military cover-ups. " While the Army was working energetically to discredit Herbert, military investigators were uncovering torture and mistreatment that went well beyond what he had described. The abuses were not made public, and few of the wrongdoers were punished." Included in their report are excerpts of the declassified documents which detail these cover-ups.

"Desert Connections"

Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper of the Los Angeles Times report on an epic development project in Nevada - a "67-square-mile tract of empty desert will blossom into one of the biggest cities in the fastest-growing state in the country and the projected home to more than 200,000 people." The project is on track largely due to close ties between Senator Harry Reid and developer Harvey Whittemore - a mutually beneficial relationship wherein Reid has used his influence to clear obstacles in the process and Whittemore has made significant campaign contributions to Reid and other Democrats.

A tale of elderly exploitation

In a unique investigation built as a narrative, Lee Hancock of the Dallas Morning News reports on a troubling trend of finacial exploitation of the elderly. This series details the experiences of Mary Ellen Bendtsen. "Her crumbling mansion is now a battleground for her relatives and two art-deco antique dealers with a history of befriending elderly Dallasites - and ending up with their homes and money." While this story focuses on the experiences of an individual, it is estimated that "one in five elderly Americans will be victims of some form of financial exploitation, losing at least a third of their ... Read more ...