Thursday, February 28, 2013


 Michel Jichlinski,
the Project Director for the scheme by these foreign investors,
was the subject of a posting here a short time back.
At the time all I could find, in my slow-witted fashion, was
information regarding an investigation for fraud committed
by the Louis Berger Group, a big-time federal contractor,
while he was the President and CEO, looking into serious
allegations that Uncle Sam was getting taken to the cleaners,
to the tune of millions.
Now I have new information - I was simply slow to
find it - a lot came out in 2010-2011 - and it's stunning.
 Now remember, as you read this,
that this new Project Director for the
Augustin Plains Ranch LLC,
Michel Jichlinski,
 was the "BOSS" at Louis Berger during
 the period when ALL of this fraud occured. 
It turns out they were guilty as sin.
Millions and millions stolen.
 Taxpayer's money, gone with the wind.
So they were caught red-handed,
via a "whistleblower" that had the data,
 and the feds ordered the boys to pay up.
Enough?  Doubtful, probably not.
They had been stealing for a long time.
But they admitted guilt, and the fines
include BOTH CIVIL and
CRIMINAL penalties.
Did Jichlinski have to pay his part of the tab?
Quien sabe?  Who knows?
If I get updated info, I'll post it. 
But God Bless all "whistleblowers,"
wherever they are, and especially the
man who came forward here!
The "whistleblower" in the case detailed
 how the company was "a culture of fraud." 
Below is a link to a whole batch of articles about the issue
from the McClatchy Washington Bureau - a
well-respected investigative newspaper/web outfit.
And here's just a brief quote:
WASHINGTON — A nearly $70 million fine announced
 Friday against one of the U.S. government's largest
 Afghanistan contractors is an apparent record war-zone
 settlement, and it grew from a classic David vs. Goliath
New Jersey-based Louis Berger Group, which has overseen the
 construction of roads, power plants and schools across
 Afghanistan, acknowledged that It had knowingly and
 systematically overcharged the U.S. government and agreed to
 pay $69.3 million in criminal and civil penalties.
Here's maybe the most amazing of the articles,
the "whistleblower's" story:
Whistleblower details bribes fraud in Afghanistan

Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers
KABUL, Afghanistan — A corporate whistleblower, whose evidence of fraud led to one of the largest fines ever against a war-zone contractor, said that he was ordered to facilitate bribes, keep information from government auditors and inflate overhead rates.
Former Louis Berger Group employee Harold Salomon, in his first interview since the case was settled earlier this month, said he came to believe the New Jersey firm hired him because executives calculated the Haitian immigrant would not uncover their defrauding of U.S. taxpayers.
"Me being an immigrant would be easy prey," he said. They thought, "I would not understand anything."
Louis Berger agreed Nov. 5 to pay $69.3 million in civil and criminal penalties and accept a "deferred prosecution," which means federal charges would be dropped only if the firm complies with its court agreement with the government. The deal, however, allows the firm to continue competing for U.S. government contracts.

Louis Berger is among the U.S. Agency for International Development's largest contractors in Afghanistan.
Salomon, who worked as a financial analyst for Louis Berger from 2002 to 2006, described a culture of fraud that permeated much of the company.

He said his first clue that something was amiss came just three months into the job, when he was told to send an inexplicable $35,000 wire transfer to an individual overseas. He questioned his superior, who told him to send the money anyway, and then asked for a confirmation email from the overseas recipient. The response he got: "I was told it was 'grease money'," in other words, a bribe.

Salomon, who declined to identify his superiors by name, spoke to McClatchy in a telephone interview from the United States.
Louis Berger spokeswoman Holly Fisher declined to comment on the specifics of Salomon's experiences at the company.
"This matter was settled with the parties involved — the U.S. government, Mr. Salomon and The Louis Berger Group — on November 5, 2010. The Louis Berger Group has undertaken comprehensive improvements to its internal controls, policies and structures, which form the foundation of the company's systems going forward. We see no reason to comment further on these matters," she said in an e-mailed statement.
The firm acknowledged over-billing the U.S. government, in what federal court documents and sources said was a complicated mathematical scheme to manipulate contract overhead rates.

Salomon said that he once came across a document, misplaced in a stack of papers, that was a "menu of fraud." Meant as an analysis for a senior company official, it contained columns showing various options for increasing Louis Berger's profit by including different overhead costs.

Salomon said he was asked to lie and misrepresent financial data to the Pentagon's Defense Contract Audit Agency. He once found a financial journal entry that was accompanied by a card that stated, "Do not show to auditors." He took it to his boss, who, he said, exclaimed, "Holy Cow, we cannot show (them) this." The note was taken from him and, he believes, destroyed.
He eventually decided he had to leave the company in order to report what was going on. He took large chunks of data with him that he later turned over to federal investigators. "It was just an accident" that I had the information, he said, "I worked long hours at home."
On the advice of a colleague, Salomon contacted agents from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. He soon became worried that Louis Berger would try to blame him for the fraud and hired a law firm, Phillips & Cohen LLC.
Under federal whistleblower statutes, Salomon can receive 15 percent to 25 percent of the court award. He said he would give half that amount, which is still to be determined, to a charity for Haiti he founded.
Salomon said he first became familiar with corruption in his native Haiti, where he worked from 1986 to 1993. Now, he said, "I have seen corruption in a way that I didn't anticipate or I didn't know could happen in the United States."


$69.3 million Afghan-contracting fraud may be a record
Flawed contracts prove costly for Afghanistan, U.S.
New Mexicans need to be very wary -
this guy obviously knows a lot about bribery.
Michel, how much 'grease money' have you
spread around Santa Fe, and
wherever else it's needed?
How far have you spread your venom?
Has anyone from the Bureau of Reclamation
or the Corps of Engineers taken the bait yet?
The funny part of this deal, is that in
Michel's letter to the editor of the
Socorro paper 1/30, he said this:
"The area of disagreement is mostly with the offensive terms of the first letter that imply that we are immoral, unethical criminals acting against the citizens of New Mexico. We are respectable, law abiding entrepreneurs...."
Yeah, right.  Michel, let me ask you -
Did they laugh as loud as we're laughing now?
“Anything is better than lies and deceit!”
    Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
Russian Author and Social Reformer
You have to wonder what the hell possibly
possessed Verhines, that he would even think
of hanging out with this guy, publicly,
 in the state capitol.  Is he stupid, or did he
  figure no one would know just who
 his sidekick really was, or is it that
 he doesn't give a rat's ass,
one way or the other? 
 It had been less than 90 days since the feds
 had levied their record-setting fine.
Jichlinski was then technically out of
The Louis Berger Group,
but was the major player when all these
 crimes happend,
and now he had come to New Mexico -
to ply his trade.  He knows a lot about
fraudulent accounting practices, and bribery.
Oh, perfect!  It's a buyer's market in this place!
True, but it's not just that they're cheap,
they're also a public embarrassment.
What, do they think people can't figure it out?
They're as bad as the Whore of Babylon.
 There's no shame here. Has there ever been?
Verhines could just as easily have been
 hanging out with the devil himself.
  Well, maybe he was,
come to think of it.
 Ah, New Mexico.
La Tierra de Encantada -
 The Land of Enchantment.
La Tierra de Los Ladrones -
The Land of The Thieves.
Here's the minutes of the meeting -
Jichlinski is introduced on Page 5.

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