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Crimes and Courts

Noor Salman Trial: Pulse Gunman’s Father Was FBI Informant For 11 Years

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ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - In the Noor Salman trial Monday, FBI testimony revealed that Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen had a long history with the FBI in not one way, but three. Photo: Willie David/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – In the Noor Salman trial Monday, FBI testimony revealed that Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen had a long history with the FBI in not one way, but three–one of which proved a massive bombshell. First: Omar Mateen’s own father worked as an FBI informant for 11 years. Second: The FBI had previously interrogated Mateen and found that he had lied to them, which leads to the third revelation: Despite his lying to the FBI, the Bureau considered making Mateen an FBI informant.

It was additionally reported Monday that Mateen had friends in law enforcement. When asked if Mateen ever made disparaging statements about homosexuals, two friends testified that he did not. One testified that Mateen in fact admired the LGBT community’s ability to galvanize to solve a problem or injustice.

More updates in the trial are forthcoming. Stay tuned to Florida National News for this developing story.

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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Crimes and Courts

Rep. Demings Calls for Path to Permanent Citizenship for DACA Recipients

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Orlando — Today, Rep. Val Demings (FL-10) released a statement following a federal appeals court decision against the DACA program, which protects hundreds of thousands of American residents.

Said Rep. Demings, “For most Dreamers, our nation is the only home they have ever known. As teachers, small business owners, scientists, nurses, doctors, neighbors, friends, and family, our Dreamers are a fundamental part of America. It is simply wrong to force millions of people to live in constant fear and uncertainty when they have followed the rules their whole lives after coming to America as children.

“I helped to introduce the American Dream and Promise Act because I believe that the American Dream is worth protecting, and so are our Dreamers. The current legal limbo must end. The Senate must act to remove this issue from the courts and pass permanent protections for Dreamers.”

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Crimes and Courts

Judge: ITG is liable for Florida tobacco settlement payments

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(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Cigarette manufacturer ITG Brands assumed liability for tobacco settlement payments to the state of Florida when it acquired four brands from Reynolds American in 2015, a Delaware judge has ruled.

Vice Chancellor Lori Will ruled Friday that, as a result, ITG must compensate Reynolds American for losses due, granting summary judgment in favor of Reynolds.

Reynolds sold the Kool, Winston, Salem and Maverick brands to ITG in 2014 to gain federal regulators’ approval of its acquisition of Lorillard Inc.

Before the sale closed, Reynolds American affiliate R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. was making payments under a preexisting settlement agreement with Florida for reimbursement of smoking-related health care costs. After closing, Reynolds stopped making payments for the four brands it no longer owned.

The asset purchase agreement required ITG to use reasonable best efforts to join the Florida settlement and make annual payments to Florida for sales of the brands it acquired from Reynolds. ITG has yet to join the settlement agreement with Florida or make any payments.

Florida sued Reynolds and ITG and obtained a judgment requiring Reynolds to continue making payments based on ITG’s brands, unless and until ITG joined the Florida settlement agreement.

“That judgment on Reynolds amounts to over $170 million to date and tens of millions of dollars more each year into perpetuity,” Will noted. The “unambiguous terms” of the asset purchase agreement support Reynold’s arguments that ITG agreed to assume the liability imposed by the Florida judgment and must indemnify Reynolds, she concluded.

The ruling comes in a long-running legal battle between Reynolds and ITG, both based in North Carolina. In 2017, a different Court of Chancery judge concluded that ITG’s obligation to use its best efforts to try to reach a tobacco settlement agreement with Florida did not end when the sale closed.

Last year, Reynolds asked ITG to compensate Reynolds Tobacco for what it had paid and will pay due to the Florida judgment, but ITG refused. In subsequent litigation, ITG argued unsuccessfully that it had fulfilled its reasonable best efforts obligation and was not required to indemnify Reynolds for the payment liability to Florida.

Last year, in the settlement of a lawsuit brought by the state of Minnesota, ITG agreed that it had assumed obligations under that state’s tobacco settlement agreement to make payments for sales of the four brands it acquired from Reynolds. ITG agreed to make payments to Minnesota for 2021 and all future years, while payment liabilities for the period from 2015 to 2020 were split between ITG and Reynolds.

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Business

Secret Service Recovers $286M in Stolen Pandemic Loans

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FILE - Attorney General Merrick Garland, looks at federal prosecutor Kevin Chambers, right, after appointing him to be the Justice Department's chief pandemic fraud prosecutor, during a meeting of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Fraud Enforcement Task Force at the Justice Department, March 10, 2022 in Washington. The U.S. Secret Service recovered $286 million in fraudulently obtained pandemic funds to the Small Business Administration, Friday, Aug. 26. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Secret Service said Friday that it has recovered $286 million in fraudulently obtained pandemic loans and is returning the money to the Small Business Administration.

The Secret Service said an investigation initiated by its Orlando office found that alleged conspirators submitted Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications by using fake or stolen employment and personal information and used an online bank, Green Dot, to conceal and move their criminal proceeds.

The agency worked with Green Dot to identify roughly 15,000 accounts and seize $286 million connected to the accounts.

“This forfeiture effort and those to come are a direct and necessary response to the unprecedented size and scope of pandemic relief fraud,” said Kevin Chambers, director for COVID-19 fraud enforcement at the Justice Department.

Billions have been fraudulently claimed through various pandemic relief programs — including Paycheck Protection Program loans, unemployment insurance and others that were rolled out in the midst of the worldwide pandemic that shutdown global economies for months.

In March, the Government Accountability Office reported that while agencies were able to distribute COVID-19 relief funds quickly, “the tradeoff was that they did not have systems in place to prevent and identify payment errors and fraud” due in part to “financial management weaknesses.”

As a result, the GAO has recommended several measures for agencies to prevent pandemic program fraud in the future, including better reporting on their fraud risk management efforts.

Since 2020, the Secret Service initiated more than 3,850 pandemic related fraud investigations, seized over $1.4 billion in fraudulently obtained funds and helped to return $2.3 billion to state unemployment insurance programs.

The latest seizure included a collaboration of efforts between Secret Service, the SBA’s Inspector General, DOJ and other offices.

Hannibal “Mike” Ware, the Small Business Administration’s inspector general, said the joint investigations will continue “to ensure that taxpayer dollars obtained through fraudulent means will be returned to taxpayers and fraudsters involved face justice.”

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