Memorial Day in Arlington — It was an active Memorial Day in Arlington. Among the activities: a ceremony was held at the Air Force Memorial; volunteers handed out 30,000 roses to families of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery; President Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns; and Arlington’s annual Memorial Day ceremony was held in Clarendon. [WJLA, WJLA, New York Daily News, Twitter]
Quarterdeck Owner Opening Restaurant in D.C. –Patrick Morrogh, who owns the Quarterdeck near Rosslyn, is reportedly opening another crab-centric eatery, “District Anchor,” in the former Rumors space at 1900 M Street NW in D.C. [Borderstan]
Arlington Woman Arrested for Handbag Scheme — Federal authorities have charged Arlington resident Praepitcha Smatsorabudh in a major fraud scheme. The feds say Smatsorabudh would buy luxury handbags online, then return high-quality knockoff handbags to the store while selling the real bag online, netting millions of dollars in the process. Per a news report: “The scheme was so prolific that at one point she was a major department store’s top online customer in the entire world.” [ABC News]
Metro Train’s Brakes Catch Fire — Blue Line service was shut down for more than an hour Saturday while Arlington County firefighters battled a brake fire on a Metro train at Arlington Cemetery station. [WJLA]
Home Prices Dip in Arlington — Real estate firm Long and Foster reports a six percent year-over-year drop in Arlington County median home sale prices for April. The number of units sold, however, rose 5 percent. [WTOP]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Post Investigates Chinese Rice Customs — In a follow-up to the saga of the diners who received insults on their bill at Peter Chang’s restaurant in the Lee-Harrison shopping center, the Washington Post has taken a closer look at the rice-serving customs of restaurants in China. Could it be, the Post asks, that the servers were driven to frustration due to erroneous “mansplaining” about rice? [Washington Post]
County Considering Fraud Hotline for the Public — Arlington County staff is considering a proposal to expand the county’s new waste, fraud and abuse hotline, making it open to the public. The hotline is currently set up for county employees. [InsideNova]
Market Common Clarendon Sells for $406 Million — The Market Common Clarendon shopping center and apartment complex has sold for $406 million. The buyers are Florida shopping center developer Regency Centers and Arlington-based real estate investment trust AvalonBay. [Washington Business Journal, WTOP]
County Board Race Donations By ZIP Code — New maps show the percentage breakdown of campaign contributions to Democratic County Board contenders Libby Garvey and Erik Gutsthall, by ZIP code. According to the maps, Garvey is strongest in the north Arlington 22207 ZIP, while Gutshall’s strongest zone is the Crystal City and Pentagon City 22202 ZIP. [Data for Humans]
Review of New Synetic Theater Production — “The action-packed shows of Synetic Theater always have cinematic flair, but the second act of the company’s new ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ takes on surprising storytelling depth. The always-superb fights are accompanied by unexpectedly gripping scenes of high melodrama and even flickers of camp.” [Washington Post]
The hotline was announced today by outgoing Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan. It will be run by an “experienced third-party provider” and will be “a confidential and secure way” to report suspected financial malfeasance, via phone or a secure website, the county said today.
Employees calling in or logging on to the 24/7 hotline may include their name or remain anonymous when reporting.
“By putting in place whistleblower protection and a fraud, waste, and abuse hotline, we are reinforcing County government’s deep commitment to good and ethical government,” Donnellan said in a press release.
The press release says the hotline is “part of the emphasis [Donnellan] has placed on high ethical standards during her tenure as County Manager.” Each report will be reviewed by a “County Review Committee, composed of staff appointed by the County Manager.”
Employees who do identify themselves in their reports will be protected by a new administrative whistleblower policy, the county said.
Summers and Soccer — Summers Restaurant in Courthouse, set to close after Dec. 31, is being eulogized as the Washington area’s premier soccer bar. Though holding out hope for a “miracle,” owner Joe Javidara says he is being forced to close due to financial woes. With more international soccer games available via cable and at other, newer bars, business at Summers has “dropped… off the cliff.” [Washington Post]
Moran Objects to Killing Birds Near Airports — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) wants airports, like Reagan National, to deploy new avian radar technology and stop the practice of euthanizing birds that live near airports. NBC4’s I-Team reports that more than 100,000 animals, including birds, have been “chased away” from the runways at Reagan, Dulles and BWI, to reduce the risk of animal strikes. [NBC Washington – WARNING: Autoplay video]
Arlington Contractor Settles Civil Claim — Arlington resident Keith Hedman, 55, has agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle civil claims related to a fraud sceme. The government sued Hedman, the CEO of security contracting firm Protection Strategies, Inc., alleging that he fraudulently obtained $31 million worth of government contracts intended for minority-owned and disadvantaged small businesses. Last year Hedman pleaded guilty to criminal charges. [U.S. Attorney’s Office]
Arlington Woman Sentenced for Sex Trafficking — Arlington resident and Peruvian national Ruth Antuanet Miller, 35, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for leading a sex trafficking company. Miller pleaded guilty last year to charges that she led a criminal enterprise that prostituted women at hotels and motels around Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and in Fairfax County. On Dec. 19, Miller was sentenced to 84 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $341,437 in restitution.
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
County Seeks Fraud Hotline Vendor — Arlington County has issued a request for proposals for a new fraud hotline. The hotline is intended to provide “a safe and confidential process for employees to report ethical issues anonymously through a third-party vendor and to be assured that their concerns are heard and dealt with.” [InsideNova]
Eden Center Tenants Sue Landlord — Tenants at the Eden Center in Falls Church are suing the shopping center’s landlord, saying that the building is crumbling due to poor maintenance and nothing is being done about it. [Washington Post]
Kudos for Barcroft — The $3 million ballpark at Barcroft Park, which was paid for and is used by George Washington University, has been named the top college baseball facility in the A-10 conference and the 68th-best college ballpark in the nation. [GW Sports]
1812 Overture Concert Tomorrow — The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” will be performing the famed 1812 Overture Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. The concert will be held at Summerall Field and will feature cannon fire to accompany the classic Tchaikovsky composition. [Ode Street Tribune, U.S. Army Band]
JBMHH Firefighters Battle Arlington Blaze — Firefighters from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, who often are dispatched on calls in Arlington County as part of a mutual aid agreement, helped to extinguish a fire at a Columbia Pike apartment complex last week. [DVIDS]
Photo courtesy Larry Bowring
Noise Ordinance Approval Delayed — The Arlington County Board decided to delay approval of an update to the county’s noise ordinance after hearing concern from swim clubs that the ordinance could make cheering at swim meets illegal and punishable by fines or jail time. County staff will now try to craft an exemption for the summer swim leagues. In addition to strengthening prohibitions on loud TVs and music, the noise ordinance update calls for a “quiet period” in single-family home neighborhoods that would impact morning swim meets. [InsideNoVa]
Chatman Addresses Fraud Conviction — Fresh off the announcement that Oprah Winfrey would headline her upcoming fundraiser in Arlington, congressional candidate Lavern Chatman is trying to downplay word that she was found liable for $1.4 million in damages in a decade-old fraud case involving a D.C. nursing home operator. Chatman called the case a “nightmare” and said she “didn’t pay much attention to the details” when she agreed to provide a loan to a “trusted friend” — a friend who ended up withholding the wages of nearly 300 employees of the nursing home company. [Blue Virginia]
Arlington Honors ‘Women of Vision’ — Arlington County’s Commission on the Status of Women has announced the winners of the 2014 Arlington County Women of Vision awards. They are political strategist and Young Democrats of America president Atima Omara, Dominion regional manager Deborah Tompkins Johnson and Bowen McCauley Dance founder Lucy Bowen McCauley. [Arlington County]
Chamber Honors Hospitality Workers — On Tuesday the Arlington Chamber of Commerce honored more than 80 “frontline” hospitality workers at its 10th annual Hospitality Awards. One winner was Gadisa Bulla, who rescued a co-worker’s son from a fire across from the Sheraton hotel on Columbia Pike. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Rosslyn Company Scores Angel Investment — Encore Alert, a Rosslyn-based social analytics startup, has raised a $390,000 seed round from the local investment group NextGen Angels. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Keithhall
Richmond Named Acting AED Director — Cynthia Richmond has been named the acting director of Arlington Economic Development following the untimely death of Terry Holzheimer. Holzheimer died of a sudden heart attack over the weekend. Richmond was serving as the deputy director of AED. Arlington County plans to begin a recruitment process to find a permanent director for AED soon. [Arlington County]
FBI Cracking Down on Corruption in N. Va. — The FBI has created a task force to investigate public corruption in Northern Virginia. Public corruption is the FBI’s “number one criminal investigative priority” at the moment and the agency has “cases in all categories in Northern Virginia.” [Loudoun Times]
Man Sentenced in $30 Million Fraud Scheme — A Florida man has been sentenced in a $30 million scheme that defrauded NASA into awarding contracts on false pretenses. Michael Dunkel, 60, was awarded contracts by NASA intended for minority-owned businesses by claiming he was an employee of an Arlington company supposedly run by a woman of Portuguese descent. Dunkel in turn paid kickbacks to the company. [Associated Press, U.S. Justice Department]
APAH to Purchase Apartment Building — The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is purchasing the Arna Valley View apartments near Glebe Road and I-395. The purchase will allow 101 apartments to remain as committed affordable housing for at least the next 60 years. [Sun Gazette]
Fundraising for Pike Documentary Book — Photographer Lloyd Wolf is raising money to print a book based on photos taken by the Columbia Pike Documentary Project. [GoFundMe]
Photo courtesy Kimberly Suiters/All News 99.1 WNEW
Ruth Antuanet Miller, 35, originally from Peru but now an Arlington resident, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud and Coercion. She admitted to trafficking at least five victims.
Miller admitted in a statement filed in federal court that from May 2011 through July 2013, she was the leader of a criminal enterprise that prostituted women at hotels and motels around Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and in Fairfax County.
Some of the women involved were undocumented immigrants. Miller coerced some of them into prostitution by claiming she had ties to immigration agencies in the United States, and she could have the women removed from the country if they refused to engage in prostitution. Other women were told they would be arrested by local law enforcement agencies if they did not perform sex acts for money. Miller also claimed to have affiliation with a street gang and implied the women would be harmed if they didn’t comply.
Miller reported keeping half of the money the victims earned from prostitution while the victims kept the other half. Co-conspirators assisted Miller with operations such as booking hotel rooms, transporting the victims, collecting money and advertising on the internet.
The Arlington County Police Department and the City of Falls Church Police Department assisted Homeland Security Investigations and the Fairfax County Police Department with the investigation.
Miller will be sentenced on March 28, 2014, and faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Syed “Farhan” Huda, 38, and his wife, Deeba Mallick, 36, were among 11 people charged in a 17-count indictment unsealed in federal court today.
Prosecutors say Huda and Mallick masterminded a scheme in which they imported non-FDA-approved prescription drugs from various parts of the world, then switched the labels and sold the drugs to doctors, hospitals and medical practices across the U.S. The scheme is alleged to have generated more than $8.6 million in revenue over the past four years.
The couple and their alleged co-conspirators face various fraud and medical-related charges. They appeared before Judge John F. Anderson in Alexandria federal court today.
On its website, Gallant Pharma promotes its ability to deliver wholesale prescription drugs for “20-80% off your current supplier.”
“Due to our strong international supply chain, we are able to provide products at deep discounts compared to what you are currently paying,” the site says.
The press release about the charges, after the jump.
Joseph Richards, 52, of Arlington and David Lux, 66, of Springfield were sentenced today to 27 and 15 months in prison respectively.
They pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit major government fraud in a scheme that falsely portrayed their company as being minority-owned in order to win millions of dollars in contracts intended for “disadvantaged small businesses.”
Arlington resident Keith Hedman, 53, also pleaded guilty in the scheme and is awaiting a sentencing hearing scheduled for June 21. Federal prosecutors say Hedman formed the company Richards and Lux worked for, and also formed a second Arlington-based security contractor that obtained more than $31 million in contract payments under false pretences.
The second company qualified for disadvantaged status as part of the Small Business Administration’s Section 8(a) program — and thus was eligible for preferential treatment in government contracts — after Hedman, a former Marine, selected a Maryland woman to “serve as a figurehead owner.” The woman qualified for the program “based on her Portuguese heritage and history of social disadvantage.”
The Associated Press previously identified the two companies involved as Security Assistance Corp. and Protection Strategies Inc. Both have a listed address in an office building at 2300 9th St S., near Columbia Pike.
“In total, the scheme netted government contracts valued at more than $153 million,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a press release today. The full press release, after the jump.
Flickr photo by Joe Gratz
The suspect, 58-year-old Ibrahim Abdullah, was arrested by Fairfax County police at a house on the 1700 block of N. Quebec Street. The arrest happened around 1:40 p.m. on Thursday and prompted some curious neighbors to question why police from another jurisdiction were carrying out an arrest an Arlington home.
According to Fairfax County Police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell, Abdullah is accused of swiping a credit card from a victim’s purse or wallet. The alleged theft happened at a Panera Bread restaurant in the Tysons Corner area on Monday, May 27.
Police say Abdullah then used the credit card to make purchases at several Tysons Corner stores. He has been charged with credit card theft and credit card fraud, Caldwell said.
(Updated at 7:25 p.m.) The Arlington County Police Department has opened a criminal investigation into a video of Patrick Moran, son of Rep. Jim Moran (D) and former field director of his reelection campaign.
The video, released yesterday by conservative activist James O’Keefe, allegedly shows Moran offering advice on how to cast fraudulent ballots. The advice was given to an undercover reporter who approached Moran with a scheme to fraudulently vote on behalf of 100 people.
Moran has since resigned from the campaign.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Arlington County Police Department have been made aware of a video released yesterday allegedly depicting Patrick Moran, former Director of Field Operations for the Jim Moran for Congress campaign organization, assisting another to vote illegally.
The Arlington County Police Department has initiated a criminal investigation of this matter.
Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck promised a “thorough investigation” into the “election offense allegations.”
“All parties will be involved in the investigation,” he said, adding that “it would be irresponsible” to not investigate the video. Police will turn over the results of the investigation to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, which will then decide whether or not to prosecute.
Patrick Moran, in a statement issued following his resignation from the campaign, denied any wrongdoing.
“At no point have I, or will I ever endorse any sort of illegal or unethical behavior, he said. “At no point did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him. In hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there is no place in the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior: joking or not.”
Arlington GOP Chairman Charles Hokanson, meanwhile, called for Rep. Moran to resign over the video during an interview that was scheduled to air this afternoon NPR, according to an Arlington County Republican Committee press release.
Update at 10:10 p.m. — Rep. Jim Moran issued the following statement tonight.
I don’t condone the actions of the right wing organization in question, but I recognize that this incident is teaching Patrick a tough lesson early in life. I know that my son’s intention was to deflect the line of questioning by this trained political operative bent on goading him into a specific response.
But the fact remains that the conversation drifted into discussions that reflected a serious error in judgment that Patrick wishes he could take back.
In life, if we learn from our mistakes, we move forward stronger, wiser, and committed to ensuring they are not repeated. I know Patrick will come out of this tough situation a better man for it.
The Moran campaign also issued a statement.
Our campaign welcomes a thorough investigation and we will fully cooperate. The incident involving Patrick was an unfortunate situation. While clearly lacking good judgment, Patrick’s unsolicited interaction with a right wing political operative seeking to trap him in a damaging conversation did not constitute an unlawful action. We are confident this unwelcome chapter in the campaign will be quickly and favorably closed.
Photo via YouTube/Project Veritas
Update on 10/25/12 — Police have opened a criminal investigation into the video.
Patrick Moran, the son of 11-term incumbent Rep. Jim Moran (D), has resigned from his father’s campaign following the release of a video (above) that purports to show him going along with a scheme to commit voter fraud.
In the video, Moran, who worked as the campaign’s field director, is approached in a Courthouse eatery by an undercover videographer who discusses an idea for trying to fraudulently vote on behalf of 100 people on the voter rolls. The video then shows Moran seemingly suggesting that the man behind the camera forge utility bills to get around Virginia’s voter ID laws.
In a brief statement, the Moran campaign said Patrick Moran had resigned from the campaign.
“Patrick is well liked and was a well-respected member of the campaign team,” the campaign said. “This incident, however, was clearly an error in judgment. The campaign has accepted Patrick’s resignation, effective immediately.”
The video was released by Project Veritas, a nonprofit investigative group founded by conservative activist James O’Keefe, of ACORN video fame. Project Veritas’ stated mission is to “investigate and expose corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions in order to achieve a more ethical and transparent society.”
The campaign of Patrick Murray, Moran’s Republican challenger in the Nov. 6 general election, issued a statement expressing “concern” about the Moran campaign’s activities.
After seeing this video on several news sites, I am very concerned about the campaign activities of my opponent. While it is not clear whether or not there was any wrongdoing, I hope that local, state and federal election officials will look into this matter immediately.
The integrity of our nation is at stake, and it appears that my opponent’s campaign seems prepared to undermine free and fair elections right here in Virginia.
Sadly, anyone who is familiar with Jim Moran will not be surprised by this. The truth is that Moran has a long track record of hyper partisan behavior, racially charged comments and an infamous anger management problem. So this is more of the same embarrassing behavior that we’ve come to expect from Jim Moran and his campaign.
In a statement issued to the Democratic blog Blue Virginia, the Arlington County Democratic Committee said it has asked Patrick Moran to not return to the party’s office in Courthouse. Part of the undercover video was filmed in the office.
Arlington Democrats condemn any form of voter fraud. Any allegations that such conduct has been condoned – especially in Arlington – is something we take very seriously. We are concerned by the apparent remarks of Pat Moran in the hidden-camera video arranged by Mr. O’Keefe. While we do yet not know Pat Moran’s response to the video and Mr. O’Keefe’s allegations, we understand that Pat Moran has resigned from the Moran campaign, and we have asked him not to return to our offices. The Arlington Democrats are committed to making sure that all voters have a full and fair ability to cast their votes in accordance with applicable laws, and that commitment will not change.
The Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans, meanwhile, denounced what it termed “attempted Democrat campaign voter fraud.”
“This is an outrageous blow to the integrity of our electoral process,” said Matthew Burrow, Chairman of the organization. “Patrick Moran should have immediately denounced and reported any attempt to subvert the election process. Instead, he encouraged and even advised this individual on how to illegally cast ballots for other people. This level of corruption cannot stand.”
The release of the video comes on the heels of Moran — along with two other Virginia Democratic congressmen — publicly calling for an investigation into allegations of Republican voter fraud in Harrisonburg, Va. Moran repeated his call for investigations into voter fraud in a column published by the Falls Church News-Press this evening.
Update at 11:15 p.m. — Patrick Moran has issued a statement:
In reference to the “O’Keefe” video, at no point have I, or will I ever endorse any sort of illegal or unethical behavior. At no point did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him.
In hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there is no place in the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior: joking or not.
In regards to my position on the campaign, I have stepped down because I do not want to be a distraction during this year’s critical election.
Meanwhile, Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary under former president George W. Bush, is weighing in on the controversy. Fleischer said the Moran video might strengthen the case for laws requiring photo identification to vote.
“From now on, any law requiring photo ID to vote should be know as the Moran Act,” he said via Twitter.
Update at 11:55 p.m. — Independent candidate for Congress Jason Howell has also released a statement.
From the very beginning, our campaign has been about giving my neighbors the opportunity to vote for someone rather than merely against Jim Moran. I was saddened watching video of the apparent sting operation on Patrick. The Moran campaign may now have many distracting, legal and ethical questions to answer. Our campaign is about my generation taking responsibility for the systemic political and economic challenges we face as a country. We must do better. If you elect me on November 6th, a business owner, community volunteer, former accountant and jobs recruiter, we will do better.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 43-year-old Tuan Vu, who owns Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, PLLC, pled guilty in January to committing health care fraud. Court documents show that Vu admitted the scheme took place at least from January 2007 to September 2011, when he billed dental insurance providers for services he never performed on his patients.
Because of the scheme, more than 50 private insurance providers lost more than $2 million. The federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia also suffered losses, including more than $300,000 to the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and the Virginia Medicaid program.
Vu was sentenced to 46 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release. Additionally, he was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and more than $2 million in restitution.
Police say an increasing number of Arlington residents are getting phone calls from scamsters claiming to be bill collectors.
The police department issued the following press release today regarding the fraudulent phone calls.
The Arlington County Police Department has recently seen an increase in reports of telephone scams. There have been at least four instances where a man with a thick Indian accent has called victims claiming to be a bill collector. This suspect was quite aggressive over the phone and one woman was pressured into giving him her bank account number.
These, and all phone fraud cases may be prevented by utilizing simple tips regarding your personal information.
- Never give your credit card info out when you receive a phone call. Legitimate companies don’t call you to ask for a credit card number over the phone.
- Never give your bank account, social security, or credit card number to anyone you don’t know or cannot trust.
- If the person is from a legitimate bill collector, they should have paperwork to prove it.
- Say no to any offer or deal that is only available “right” now.
- If you are offered a prize but are asked to pay for a “processing fee” or “taxes” is advance, it is likely a scam.
- Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity, this includes police department “unions or associations”.
- Don’t pay in advance for services. Pay services only after they are delivered.
- When an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.Other popular scams are elaborate stories concerning a friend or loved one.
- A friend e-mails you from a foreign country where they were robbed and need money wired for assistance.
- Someone has hired a “hitman” to kill you, but if you pay him, he will spare your life because you are a good person.
- Your grandchild is stranded in a foreign country and needs money wired to them to get home.
The Arlington County Police Department understands that it may be embarrassing to fall for these scams, but we urge you to report phone and e-mail fraud if you encounter it at 703 228-4300 or www.arlingtonva.us/police.