Consider this a "small cell" operation in the epidemiology of thwarting public corruption.
This is such a simple, yet powerful statement:
“Mr. Aguinaga was an elected public official who abused the trust of his constituents by engaging in a pay-for-play scheme,” said Acting United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown.
Coming soon, to a town, state and nation where you are a constituent.
LOS ANGELES – The former Mayor of South El Monte was sentenced today to one year and one day in federal prison for taking bribes from a contractor doing business with the city – in one instance accepting a bribe during an FBI undercover operation.
Luis Aguinaga, 49, of South El Monte, was sentenced late this afternoon by United States District Judge Fernando M. Olguin. In addition to the prison term, the court ordered Aguinaga to serve one year of home detention, to perform 3,000 hours of community service and to pay a $10,000 fine.
Aguinaga pleaded guilty in September to one count of bribery, admitting that he took bribes from a person who performed engineering and construction work for the City of South El Monte and that the payments were rewards in connection with the approval of city contracts for the contractor. Aguinaga accepted the bribes from 2005 until September 2012.
The contractor – identified in court documents as a confidential witness, or CW – made payments to Aguinaga approximately every two to three weeks, shortly after the contractor was paid by the City of South El Monte. If the contractor failed to pay Aguinaga within a few days of being paid by the city, Aguinaga would call and ask for his payment.
The bribe amounts were initially $500, and later they increased to $1,000. According to court documents, the contractor made the bribe payments by placing cash in envelopes that were left in a bathroom at the South El Monte City Hall or were left inside the passenger side pocket of a car.
Aguinaga accepted a $1,000 bribe during a September 12, 2012 meeting that was being monitored by the FBI, and he took the money even though he “was nervous about meeting with CW because Cudahy city officials, including the Mayor, had recently been arrested and charged with accepting bribes.”
Aguinaga admitted receiving at least $45,000 from the city contractor during the final two years of the bribery scheme.
“Mr. Aguinaga was an elected public official who abused the trust of his constituents by engaging in a pay-for-play scheme,” said Acting United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown. “He accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes over several years. This deliberate conduct adversely affected the administration of South El Monte and degraded the public’s view of local government.”
“Mr. Aguinaga abandoned the community he was elected to serve by basing his decisions on greed and ill-gotten financial gain rather than good government,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “This extensive corruption scheme has thankfully come to an end, and Mr. Aguinaga will pay the price for compromising South El Monte and its residents."
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ruth C. Pinkel of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section.
The SEC approved the structured municipal bonds for Detroit.
This would mean that the DOJ would have to investigate the SEC, which is something we know they would never do...
So, in essence, higher education gets funding from the U.S. Department of Education to play the privatized investment game, and this is why there is a powerful movement which does not want "free education".
It would take away their play money because I can already see there were lots of individuals got kickbacks or any other form of defalcation one wishes to call it.
MARSHALL — A fired Wiley College employee has filed a federal lawsuit against his former employer, claiming he was let go after offering proof to school administration of financial mismanagement by college President Haywood Strickland.
The lawsuit, originally filed in March 2016 at the Marshall federal courthouse, states Roderick Strong is suing on behalf of himself as the United States.
The lawsuit states Strickland and Wiley College violated the False Claims Act in regards to a $24.4 million federal Department of Education loan given to Wiley in 2011 as a member of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
The False Claims Act permits citizens to file a lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. government without the United States' involvement in the litigation.
Strong states in the lawsuit that he was Wiley College principal financial analyst from 2011 to 2015 and was in charge of securing the college's federal HBCU loan.
This past week, Strong filed an amendment to the lawsuit, adding Rice Financial Products Co. through its subsidiary, Rice Capital Access Program, and Wesley Peachtree Group as defendants.
Both financial organizations were originally assigned as overseers and issuers of the federal loan to Wiley College but did not properly vet the college or check for the college's compliance to loan requirements, the lawsuit states.
Neither financial company returned calls for comment regarding the lawsuit.
Strong's attorney, Renee Higginbotham-Brooks, refused to answer why the case was filed a year ago but none of the defendants served. She also refused to comment on why the case has been sitting for a year and why the amendment adding the two financial groups as defendants was recently filed.
In addition, Higginbotham-Brooks refused to comment on why Strong waited a year after his dismissal from the college to file the lawsuit.
The attorney also said Strong would not comment about his case.
Strong states in the lawsuit that not only did Strickland mismanage loan monies and use the college's funds as his "personal cash cow," but that he also forced Strong to falsify documents in order for the college to receive approval for the loan and to continue receiving loan funds.
Strong is suing for three times the amount of the $24.4 million federal loan plus a civil penalty against each defendant for each violation of the act.
Strong is also suing for his attorney's fees, expenses and costs and is requesting to be reinstated at the college with the same seniority status that he would have had before the "unlawful discharge."
Strong is requesting a jury trial.
Wiley College officials said they were not aware of the lawsuit and have not been served.
"Wiley College has not been served with a lawsuit by or on behalf of Mr. Roderick Strong and has not had an opportunity to review his allegations," university spokeswoman Tammy Taylor said in a statement.
"As Wiley College has not had an opportunity to review those allegations, the college is unable to make a detailed statement at this time.
The college does, however, plan to defend itself from baseless claims and allegations and will be referring this matter to counsel."
In the lawsuit, Strong states that, "Prior to and continuing after Wiley College's application for the HBCU loan,
Strickland has operated Wiley College as a personal cash cow through a variety of means including:
setting up and operating an enormous number of accounts, which convolutes the accounting process;
being the sole authority to approve expenditures, make payments, and sign all of the college's checks; terminating the auditors who called attention to accounting irregularities;
giving inflated valuations of donations for tax purposes, many of which had to be subsequently written off presumably in return for payment; insisting that the Wiley College Business Office not report any additional income outside his salary;
reporting no taxes due to the Internal Revenue Service on the monthly cash payments to himself in addition to his salary and numerous transfers he made of Wiley College's money into his brokerage accounts, including presumably federal financial aid and Title III funds;
and diverting and spending grand and pledge donations."
Strong also states in the lawsuit that throughout his four years at the college, he wrote many memos and spoke out against the defendants' non-compliance with the terms of the HBCU loan and with IRS regulations, employee compensation and fringe benefits.
"For example, Strong wrote a letter to the director of human resources, advising that payments and wire transfers from Wiley College operating accounts to Strickland were taxable income to him and that income and payroll taxes should have been deducted.
The official responded that Strickland had directed the payments not to be reported to the IRS."
Strong also states that he expressed these concerns to both financial institutions overseeing the loan.
The lawsuit also contains four pages' worth of allegations describing how Wiley College broke the loan agreement.
Strong states Strickland highly inflated the value of the campus' property and highly overstated the college's net revenues, both of which were to serve as the required security for the HBCU loan, using the insured value instead of the appraised value.
Strong states in the lawsuit that the HBCU loan was to be used to finance construction of a living learning center with a 500-bed student housing facility ($14.5 million), renovation of the Fred T. Long Student Union Cafeteria ($3.3 million), Jackson Hall ($100,000), resurfacing of parking lots ($175,000), a refund of the $3.4 million Wiley College Endowment Fund Loans, refund two outstanding board of trustee notes including the Batten Loan ($159,618 of the original $250,000 amount) and the Scott Loan ($515,206 of the original $750,000 amount) and payment of the loan escrow fund deposits and transaction costs.
Strong states the college falsely reported its enrollment growth, income and expenses and pro forma projections for the five years following the loan application.
As evidence of this, Strong states from 2011 to 2015, the college had trouble paying its bills on time, had to lay off employees and twice switched down to a four-day work week due to a lack of funds.
In the lawsuit, Strong also states the college received $750,000 in the HBCU loan to repair the J. Jack Ingram Residence Hall, which was damaged in spring 2015 flooding, "however Strickland spent the money and did not make any repairs."
The residence hall still sits abandoned in a state of disrepair.
He also states that loan funds were used for non-loan purchases.
"One such misuse resulted in liens being placed on the Living Learning Center when the contractor and sub contractors were not paid," he states in the lawsuit.
"Another misuse resulted in Wiley College's endowment account having less than $150,000 balance as of June 2015, since the $3.4 million HBCU loan proceeds for replenishment of the endowment account were transferred to an operating account and spent."
Strong states in the lawsuit that Strickland purposefully created some 1,800 to 2,500 general ledger accounts and business accounts and gave himself the sole authority to sign all checks, sign off on each and every expenditure, authorize wire transfers or college funds.
"When (Strickland) was out of town," the lawsuit states. "no college business could get done."
Strong also states in the lawsuit that the college has failed to make timely payments on its HBCU loan with some getting paid more than 30 days late.
Strong's attorney refused to comment on when the case might go to trial.
US Embassy Compound Haiti Across from Gated Community for Embassy Workers
What is Union School in Haiti where a Monica Petersen is listed as a teacher for the 2016-2017 school year (believed to be the Monica Petersen who is said to have recently died in Haiti)? Union School was founded in 1919, for the children of US Marines, subsequent to the 1915 US invasion of Haiti.
Currently, Union School is a US government funded High School in Port-au-Prince Haiti, at a great distance from the region where Monica had supposedly done research on human trafficking, and allegedly intended to do more. Poor infrastructure makes the distance even greater.
Union School is also a grotesquely high-priced “elite” “prep school” for the children of US government officials, other expats, and Haitians with plenty of money in a desperately poor country. One graduate is President Martelly’s wife, Sophia.
The cost of tuition for high school students is over $13,000 per year, which, to give an idea, is slightly above the US annual income poverty level for one person. It would be difficult for this sort of annual tuition to come from honest money anywhere, especially in Haiti (although in the US not impossible, depending on the definition of honest). It would be interesting to know if this school is free to the children of US embassy workers or if they get a special stipend, or if they pay from their inflated salaries.
The US State Department doesn’t specify how much funding is given, but they do give some funding through the “Office of Overseas Schools”, and the amount must be someplace. One can speculate that they pay for school expenses not covered by tuition. (See US State Department description of the school at the bottom of our post)
The Union School is supposed to be certified as a US high school equivalent. And, yet, Monica Petersen who was supposed to have an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology and a Master’s Degree from Korbel School of International Studies is listed as teaching High School US History, US Government, and even Entrepreneurship at Union School. Let’s hear that again – a social anthropology undergrad degree with an international studies master’s degree teaching US History, US Government, and Entrepreneurship (Business)! Furthermore, within most – maybe all- US states a high school teacher must either hold degrees in education or undergo special training and certification in order to teach, in stark contrast to college-university professors, who can theoretically teach with “only” a Masters or Ph.D. in the field of interest.
In short, based on the information which can be found, Monica was not qualified to teach the courses at this overpriced high school. Once again, this is if it’s the same Monica.
Since Haiti has become “stylish” and there are plenty of desperate, unemployed, Americans, it would probably be easy to find plenty of properly, formally, qualified teachers for this position – teachers who have degrees in education with a focus on US History, US Government, and teachers who have degrees in business education.
Furthermore, no one who was a true advocate of social justice, and who was energetic enough for an internet search or two, or had read a book about Haiti, would consider working at this school. They would not be able to stomach it. Instead, they would consider schools affiliated with the Aristide Foundation, or some other schools meant to serve the poor.
In a little bit of text attributed to Monica online, we find someone who apparently didn’t know when George Bush, Sr., Bill Clinton, and George Bush Jr. were president; nor the years of the coup d’etats against former Haitian president Aristide, nor, the fact that Clinton invaded to bring President Aristide back (in 1994) – he didn’t remove him. If she had any knowledge of these facts, she would not have falsely claimed that it was Clinton who removed Aristide, whereas it was the Bushes both times. And, yet, they had her teaching US History and Government?
In another little bit of text attributed to Monica, one finds that she reportedly arrived in Haiti in August of 2015. Although she supposedly wrote on the 15th of August that she was down in Haiti doing research for the next 3 weeks on human trafficking, we aren’t told when she arrived.
Disclaimer: Note that most of the above information can currently still easily be found online with searches. It is based on both information which is found online which was supposedly written by Monica Petersen – though there is no proof that it is indeed her work- as well as public information which was available in various places, such as the Korbel Human Trafficking Center Facebook page, and the Union School web site. In some places she was listed as social science teacher for Union, but the details indicate US history, US government, Entrepreneurship. Note that there are many Monica Petersens in the US. And, she was allegedly a nanny. While evidence points toward her being a US government agent, this may or may not have been the case. Perhaps she simply worked happily in the given environment without questioning or challenging. It is also possible that she saw corruption at the school and complained. Or that she simply pissed off some rich Haitian kid who had her killed. She may have been a victim of random crime. We probably will never know, as they said at her Memorial.
Lesson to be learned: Study your school and the source of funding for any scholarships and grants before going there; before accepting them. If you intend to go abroad, do your research and make sure you know what you are getting into. In the past students (and workers) got in trouble because they did not understand the source of funding. With the Internet there is little excuse not to do thorough research.
The shortest way to get from the US through the Panama Canal is by Haiti. Thus, as long as the US needs to send commercial or military shipments through the Panama Canal, the US will never allow Haiti to really be free. All of the rest of its problems appear an outgrowth of its important geostrategic location. The US first invaded in World War I when Germany had a lot of power in Haiti. Only if Haiti became a US State could it become quasi-free. But, Haiti wouldn’t accept this, and it is unlikely that the US would.
Gather round, boys and girls, for I am about to tell another tale about campaign finance fraud.
Once upon a time, in 2016 to be exact, there were lots of mean, greedy people who wanted to take my Sweetie out of office, again.
The "Meanies" as I shall so affectionately refer to them, had come together with a plan of his demise, again.
That made me sad because they had been mean to me, too, for a very, very long time.
So, what had happened was... I started with the first thing I always do, and that was to go to the Forest of the Federal Election Commission database and search for Campaign Committee structures of the Meany who wanted to take out my Sweetie.
Well, needless to say, the filings were really jacked up as it did not declare the website of the committee.
So, what had happened was...I bought all the domains. All variances of them.
I parked all of them to this blog.
Then I found out that the campaign had mistakenly published its website while under construction.
To make a long story short, the campaign could not raise a single penny online, and would have to redo all the FEC filings.
By the time the campaign became aware, it was too late because I had did some SEO stuff where the opposition candidate's online searches would only produce me.
The story continues, but for this particular post, we shall be focusing on Jason Chaffetz.
Now, this takes us back to the U.S. Judiciary Committee.
I tried to structure the first SEO presence for the Committee but the Meanies tried to get rid of me.
They did not do a very good job because I did it anyway. (another ongoing, investigative story).
I was mad, but hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Well, with the news of the abrupt announcement of Jason Chaffetz leaving Congress, my mind began to whirl because news had also been made that there was a conjugal collaboration going after Michele Bachmann for campaign finance questionable activities.
Well, it seems Jason Chaffetz may have fallen prey to a similar scheme.
Chaffetz did not list his campaign website address on his FEC Statement of Organization, which means there is a possibility he was raising money, under the guise of something else, and did not declare any of it.
In 2013, it was first reported that the Clinton State Department had called off eight separate internal investigations into alleged misconduct by the diplomatic corps. When whistleblowers attempted to highlight the wave of coverups, they were subjected to a harassment campaign by the State Department. The law firm representing the former State Department employee who publicized the misconduct was broken into and key evidence stolen in an apparent effort to further obfuscate efforts to ensure a proper investigation into the crimes was carried out. The event was not given widespread attention by the media when it first emerged.
I. The U.S. Government Failed To Appoint An Inspector General For Five Years
Hillary Clinton was appointed to her position as Secretary of State on January 21, 2009, serving until February 1, 2013. From January 16, 2008 to September 30, 2013, the Obama administration had failed to appoint an Inspector General for the Department of State (DS). This led some lawmakers to question DS as to why the agency’s top watchdog position, tasked with investigating the practices of roughly 260 embassies worldwide, had been left empty for more than five years, creating the longest such vacancy in the history of any federal agency. This led Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and ranking member Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) to write a letter to then Secretary of State John Kerry requesting that he urge the President to nominate a permanent Inspector General for the Department of State as soon as possible. Because DS lacked an Inspector General, Harold W. Geisel, the Deputy Inspector General, was appointed the interim Inspector General of the State Department. Geisel would remain in this position for the next five years, until June 2013.
In 2013, it was first reported that the Clinton State Department had called off eight separate internal investigations into alleged misconduct by the diplomatic corps during the time that there was no appointed inspector general. Of these eight quashed investigations, the one which has found its way back into the limelight, as a result of the media’s complete blackout of President Trump’s human trafficking busts, is that of the former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman. MSNBC’s Chuck Todd detailed these allegations in a video report from early June of 2013.
II. Ambassador Gutman Was Shielded From Criminal Charges By The State Department
Howard W. Gutman was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium on August 14, 2009. Before being sworn into his role as Ambassador, Gutman was known to be one of President Obama’s top donors, raising a staggering $775,000 for the 2008 campaign and inauguration committee. In 2016, hacker Guccifer2.0 began releasing documents from the DNC and DCCC. According to these documents, Gutman is said to have raised a total of $816,550 for Obama For America (OFA) and $724,500 for the DNC. The donations are part of what was a culture of pay to play politics in the Obama administration. Four years later, Gutman would again be find himself in the public eye, after the release of a ‘damning’ internal memo.
According to this memo, the Department of State assigned an agent to conduct an investigation into possible criminal behavior involving the ambassador to Belgium. The agent reported that Ambassador Gutman would regularly leave his protective security detail, in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minors. However, after only two days of preliminary inquiry, the agent was directed to stop any further investigation into the matter, because of a decision by senior Department officials to treat the matter as a “management issue.” In June of 2011, in response to the allegations and information obtained by the agent, Ambassador Gutman was recalled to Washington D.C., where he met with Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy, and then Chief of Staff and Counselor to the Secretary of State, Cheryl Mills. During the meeting, the Ambassador denied all allegations of wrongdoing, and was then permitted to return to his post, with no further action being sought.
Despite the decision to terminate the investigation after only two days, DS Management argued to OIG that the decision was proper, as “no further investigation was possible”. However, in its findings, OIG concluded that DS was wrong, and that further evidence could have in fact been recovered. According to the memo, OIG found that over the course of the two-day investigation, “only one of multiple potential witnesses on the embassy’s security staff had been interviewed.” OIG further found that not only did DS fail to interview Ambassador Gutman, but DS did not follow its normal, established investigative procedures of assigning an investigative case number to the matter or opening. Lastly, OIG found that DS failed to even keep investigative case files on the matter.
Patrick Kennedy told OIG that he decided to handle the incident as a “management issue”, based on disciplinary provision 3 FAM 4322.2 of the Foreign Affairs Manual. According to this provision, when “exceptional circumstances” exist, the Under Secretary need not refer the suspected misconduct to OIG or DS for further investigation. Kennedy went on to explain that he cited as “exceptional circumstances” the fact that the Ambassador worked overseas. When questioned about his determination to terminate the investigation and characterize the explosive allegations as a “management issue”, Kennedy responded that he has, “always acted to honor the brave men and women I serve, while also holding accountable anyone guilty of wrongdoing. In my current position, it is my responsibility to make sure the Department and all of our employees-no matter their rank-are held to the highest standard, and I have never once interfered, nor would I condone interfering, in any investigation.”
On January 23, 2017, amid rumors that he would be replaced, Kennedy left the State Department, ending a career which began in 1973. This was the same day Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his first trip to the State Department, in order to introduce himself.
III. State Department Memos Were Edited To Prevent Scandal, Cover Up Embarrassing Details
Earlier drafts of the memo provided to the Washington Examiner, showed DS interim Inspector General, Harold W. Geisel, along with other state officials, editing out passages of the memo, that would have been extremely embarrassing to Hillary Clinton just days before she stepped down from her post.
According to a draft dated November 16, senior officials in the State Department would actively influence the progress and results of internal investigations, as well as to shield “rising stars” from criminal charges or embarrassment that could potentially harm their career. One case, which triggered outraged comment from several special investigations division sources, related to allegations that a Regional Security Officer engaged in serious criminal conduct including sexual abuse of local embassy staff during a series of embassy postings. Sources also stated that a senior diplomatic security official successfully protected some agents on the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail from investigations into misbehavior while on official trips. The Examiner reported that no explanation was given as to why this text was removed from the final OIG report published in February 2013.
Another passage that was removed from the February 2013 report indicates that officials from the State Department's "7th Floor Group" shielded Ambassador Gutman from an investigation into alleged pedophilia. In a separate draft from November 27, next to the passage detailing the investigation into the pedophilia allegations against Ambassador Gutman, someone had typed: “[T]hese allegations must be deleted.” However, this comment was removed from the November 28 draft.
However, the case against Ambassador Gutman is just one of many State Department cover-ups outlined in the memo. Some of the other alleged cover-ups include:
Justine Sincavage, Director of Diplomatic Security Service, closing an investigation into former DS regional security officer in Beirut, Chuck Lisenbee, after he was accused of multiple sexual assaults on guards in Baghdad, Khartoum and Monrovia. Sincavage declared the allegations a "witch hunt" and gave agents "only three days" to investigate before closing the investigation.
Details about an “underground drug ring” operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad which supplied State Department security contractors with drugs, causing one individual to die of a methadone overdose, which he was taking to counteract his addiction to oxycodone. DS regional security officer prevented a special investigation into these matters.
One passage, completely redacted in the final memo, which revealed that many bureau of diplomatic security officials whom were the subject of investigations, would often come to work with their firearms, leading some investigators to do the same.
William Brownfield, assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs allegedly “gave the impression” to the Diplomatic Security Service that a probe into the deaths of four Hondurans involving the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) should not be pursued. At the time the memo was written, the case reportedly remained open, as the DEA refused to cooperate.
Clinton’s Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills' intervention into an investigation into an affair between then-Iraq Ambassador-designee, Brett McGurk and Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon, after his emails were leaked.
The ‘endemic’ hiring of prostitutes among agents belonging to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail. According to the memo, seven security agents were accused of paying for sex while they were traveling overseas with Secretary Clinton. Two of these agents would confessed to the allegations, while a third stated that he ‘paid for services that were ultimately not received’. Despite these confessions, senior State Department personnel allowed one of the offending agents to continue his role in securing a Moscow hotel, ‘despite obvious counterintelligence issues.’ Investigators would later uncover evidence against four more agents, however, senior officials would halt any further investigation into the remaining agents, ‘despite the possibility of counterintelligence issues.’
IV. The State Department Harassed Whistleblowers Who Made The Scandals Public
The Examiner obtained these earlier drafts from Richard Higbie, a senior criminal investigator at the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, after he had disclosed the documents to several members of Congress, as well as multiple congressional committees, under federal whistleblower protections. In a live interview with The Blaze, Higbie provides further insight into the alleged State Department cover-ups. Many of these documents were provided by whistleblower, Aurelia Fedenisn, through a subpoena issued by Higbie’s legal team.
Fedenisn, a former investigator for the State Department Inspector General for 26 years, stated that she wanted to share the original memo with the media, in order to show how internal investigations were being influenced by officials in the State Department. In an interview with CBS, Fedenisn stated that investigators, “uncovered several allegations of criminal wrongdoing in cases, some of which never became cases." Fedenisn explained that agents were very upset with the pushback they received from senior State Department officials: "We were very upset. We expect to see influence, but the degree to which that influence existed and how high up it went, was very disturbing.” According to Fedenisn, when a high-ranking State Department security official was shown a draft of their findings, detailing how investigations were being interfered with by senior State Department officials, he said, “This is going to kill us.”
However, once the final report was released, all references to these specific cases had been removed. Regarding how investigators felt after receiving so much pushback for simply doing their jobs, Fedenisn stated, "I mean my heart really went out to the agents in that office, because they really want to do the right thing, they want to investigate the cases fully, correctly, accurately ... and they can't.” Cary Schulman, Fedenisn’s lawyer, told NBC that her client felt it was important that Congress get this information. Schulman went on to state, “It’s a coverup…The whole agency is impaired. Undue influence . . . is coming from political appointees. It’s coming from above the criminal investigation unit.”
Fedenisn claimed that in response to bringing this information to light, she has been the subject of an intimidation campaign by the Department of State. In an interview with The Cable, Fedenisn’s attorney stated that the Department of State had law enforcement officers camp out in front of Fedenisn's house, harass her children and attempt to incriminate her. Schulman said after Fedenisn’s interview with CBS, investigators from the State Department’s Inspector General, arrived at Fedenisn’s residence and went to the door where they talked to both of her children and never identified themselves. Investigators talked to the “…older brother and then the younger daughter, a minor, asking for their mom’s place of work and cell phone number…They camped out for four to five hours.” According to Schulman, the purpose of the investigators visit was to have Fedenisn sign a document admitting that she stole State Department materials. However, Fedenisn’s separation agreement with the State Department includes a provision, which legally allows disclosures of misconduct. Schulman further stated that none of this material was classified.
V. Intruders Broke Into The Firm Representing Whistleblowers To Steal Evidence
On June 29, 2013, the firm representing both Higbie and Fedenisn, Schulman & Mathias, was broken into multiple times. The entire incident was captured on camera and reported by the local Fox affiliate. The report states that after kicking the glass of the door in, the two burglars sawed a hole through the wall from an adjoining office and stole three computers, leaving behind other valuables. The firm was the only suite burglarized in the high-rise office building, while all other offices were left untouched.
Security camera footage showing break in at Schulman & Mathias
In a statement to The Cable, Schulman noted that the break-in was, “…a crazy, strange and suspicious situation… It’s clear to me that it was somebody looking for information and not money. My most high-profile case right now is the Aurelia Fedenisn case, and I can’t think of any other case where someone would go to these great lengths to get our information."
The break-in came shortly after it was reported that Higbie’s email account had been hacked. According to Schulman, the hack targeted Higbie’s Gmail account and the perpetrators, deleted four years of emails, some detailing alleged wrongdoing at the State Department. As reported by the New York Post the deleted e-mails included evidence of misconduct by top officials at the department, communications with other potential whistleblowers there, correspondence with members of Congress who were investigating the allegations, and correspondence between Higbie and Schulman regarding legal strategy. Schulman, calling the hacking job “sophisticated” and the targeting of his client is “alarming”, noted, “Obviously, somebody is not happy with something he’s doing and wanted to get that information and also cause him an inability in the future to have ready access to that.”
Although it’s been nearly four years since this story broke, Disobedient Media was able to contact Damon Mathias, formerly of the Schulman & Mathias law firm. When asked about the circumstances surrounding the break-in, Mathias noted that he was “fresh out of law school”, and that they were a very small firm.
“I was a very young attorney and I partnered with an older attorney…and we had a very small, humble office, it was just us two. We weren’t exactly a prime target. I flew to Washington that same week the story broke…[and] gave testimony before Congressional committees. And then…15 days later all the computers are taken”
When asked if they ever heard back from members of Congress after giving testimony before committees, Mathias confirmed a disappointing truth: that these Congressional hearings are simply just for show. While Congressmen enjoy getting their names in an article in relation to the topic, the subject is usually dropped soon afterwards. “It’s all a show, it’s all a show. And right after I met with them, you saw the OIG meeting with Royce’s committee and after that it was crickets. It was over" Mathias said. Recounting his experience with the information he was able to see, Mathias stated, “At the end of the day…the glimpse that I saw going through those documents, and going through everything was just, wow, you know, in our name? We are citizens and they go abroad in our name. The stuff that they’re doing…It definitely needs to be brought to light.”
The final thought Mathias left us with was a sad, bleak picture regarding the fears held by many other governmental officials who have seen wrongdoing throughout their time in government, and why they either wait until the end of their careers or instead, choose to never whistleblow at all, “I’ll tell you this…the one thing with Aurelia, where it was kind of the perfect storm, is that she was on her way out. There are a lot of people up there who will not say anything… I’m not gonna judge them, but, you know, it’s very tough to do that when you still have a lot riding on the line. And the thing with Aurelia is she was out, so she had that freedom to speak out and the retaliation wasn’t really there…there’s a lot out there, but a lot of people are just way too afraid to speak out, unfortunately. We haven’t really helped whistleblowers in that regard.”