Ombudsman for West Virginia Legal Services Affiliate Sentenced

Legal Services Corp. logoJanel Phillips did a lot of job-related traveling. At least that’s what her time sheets said. The reality was different. As a result, she’ll have to serve some prison time. On July 2, Phillips, an ombudsman for Legal Aid of West Virginia, a Legal Services Corp.-affiliated nonprofit group, received a 10-month sentence in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia for obtaining false reimbursements. The sentence will consist of five months each in the form of prison time and home detention. She also will have to make $85,327.74 in restitution. Phillips pled guilty on March 27.

Federal prosecutors had alleged that Phillips, now 45 and a resident of Belington, W.Va., during January 2007-May 2010 submitted false mileage claims and time sheets to obtain more than $90,000 from the federally-funded Long-Term Care Ombudsman Fund in connection with her work for Legal Aid of West Virginia. She was one of nine regional … Read More ➡

Former Employees of Samoa LSC Affiliate Sentenced for Embezzlement

Legal Services Corporation logoOn the surface, Julie and Andrea Matau were rescuing females from abusive relationships. Beneath the surface, however, they were abusing taxpayer trust. On March 28, the mother and daughter were sentenced in Oakland, Calif. federal court for their roles in the theft of nearly $160,000 in grant money from the Samoa-based Legal Services Corporation (LSC) affiliate that employed them. Julie Matau received a sentence of one year and a day in prison, plus three years of supervised release, while her daughter received a sentence of 12 months of probation, including six months of home detention. They also were ordered to perform community service and make full restitution. Another former employee of the LSC grantee, David Wagner, several days later on April 2 was sentenced in St. Louis federal court to five months in prison for taking part in the scheme.

Julie Matau, 49, and her daughter, Andrea Matau, 28, served, respectively, … Read More ➡

What the Legal Services Corporation Doesn’t Want Congress to Know

LSC logoNLPC Chairman Ken Boehm has submitted this written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, which is holding a hearing today on funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC):

Members of the House Committee on Appropriations are certainly used to hearing from representatives of federally-funded programs about the good work done by such programs and why they need many millions more in taxpayer funds, despite the unsustainable national debt. This year the Legal Services Corporation has submitted a FY2013 budget request for $470 million.

As someone who served in senior positions within the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) from 1989-1994 (Counsel to the LSC Board, Director of the Office of Policy Development), I would like Congress to know what LSC does not want them to know.

Most funding for LSC-funded programs comes from non-LSC sources – not LSC.

But you would not find this important … Read More ➡

Western Pennsylvania Legal Services Secretary Sentenced

At least Cheri Logue paid back what she stole. Otherwise, things might be looking worse. On March 1, Logue, former secretary-bookkeeper for Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services Inc. (SPLS), was sentenced in Pittsburgh federal court to 22 months in prison for embezzling more than $188,000 from the Legal Services Corp.-funded organization. She had been fired from her position in June 2008 following growing suspicions that she had stolen funds. 

According to court documents, Logue, now 42, a resident of Claysville, Pa., had been employed at the Washington, Pa.-based legal clinic during October 2001-June 2008. During the last three years of this period she diverted SPLS funds to her own use via 467 transactions. She obtained the funds through writing checks, making ATM withdrawals and using the agency credit card. Logue used the money mainly to pay bills and cover gambling losses. Authorities stated that she paid back all the stolen … Read More ➡

Boehm Takes Aim at Legal Services Corporation in National Law Journal Interview

Boehm testifyingFrom today’s National Law Journal by Tony Mauro:

Kenneth Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center in Falls Church, Va., was once a senior official of the Legal Services Corp., serving as counsel to its board of directors from 1991 to 1994.

Since then, Boehm has been one of the LSC’s most persistent critics, urging reform and even elimination of the agency. Last year he testified before the House Judiciary Committee, asking members to reject a bill that would have, in his view, eliminated many of the beneficial reforms Congress enacted in 1996. He warned that if the bill passed, “once again Legal Services will be known as a federal program plagued with unaccountability and controversy.” The bill died.

Earlier this month Boehm spoke with the The National Law Journal to discuss LSC and proposals to cut its budget.

Q: What is your current assessment of the Legal Read More ➡

House Defeats Amendment to Eliminate Legal Services Corporation

The House of Representatives on Wednesday defeated an amendment to the Continuing Resolution that would have eliminated the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), the amendment should not have been necessary. Appropriations Committee Hall Rogers (R-KY) protected LSC by inserting only a modest cut of $70 million in the Continuing Resolution. He should have zeroed it out. In fiscal year 2010, LSC received $420 million.

This episode underscores divisions between the House leadership and less senior members who are actually committed to cutting spending. It is obvious that Republicans are not going to cut ridiculous and wasteful spending just because they claim that they favor fiscal responsibility during political campaigns.

The vote was 259-171. Here are the 68 Republicans who voted against the Duncan amendment to eliminate the Legal Services Corporation:

Akin
Alexander
Austria
Bachus
Bass (NH)
Biggert
Bonner
Brooks
Burton (IN)
Camp
Capito
Cassidy
Cole… Read More ➡

Hal Rogers Again Spares Legal Services Corporation; Controversial Program Must Be Completely Defunded

LSC logoIn response to criticism that his first round of cuts did not go far enough, House Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers (R-KY) has now produced a continuing resolution with $100 billion in cuts. Amazingly, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) again survived relatively intact.

Instead of a modest $75 million cut, Rogers has now increased the cut to a modest $85 million. Even the size of these cuts is illusory because they are off of President Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget figure of $435 million. When applied against the $420 million that LSC actually received in 2010, the latest cut is only $70 million.

If ever a program deserves to be zeroed out, it is LSC. Hal Rogers is well aware of LSC’s history of controversy and corruption because he has chaired the appropriations subcommittee that has LSC oversight. He has offered a drumbeat of criticism, at times expressing exasperation with LSC … Read More ➡

Hal Rogers Spares LSC; Is GOP Serious About Spending Cuts?

Hal Rogers photoIn the budget cuts announced today by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is slated for a token $75 million reduction. This is a genuine outrage. LSC should have been zeroed out completely.

In a statement today titled “CR Spending Cuts Go Deep,” Rogers says, “Make no mistake, these cuts are not low hanging fruit.” This is nonsense. Defunding the politicized and scandal-ridden LSC should have been easy. If the Republican Congress can’t even cut off LSC, how will it ever make the tough choices necessary to reduce the deficit?

In 2010, LSC received $420 million in federal funds. It supports 136 local groups to provide civil (not criminal) day-to-day legal help to poor people. Unfortunately, many LSC-funded lawyers instead spend their time on Left-wing political and social causes.

When Republicans won control of the House in 1994, they passed a three-year phase out of LSC. … Read More ➡

Ex-Maryland Legal Aid Group CFO, Businessman Sentenced for $1 Million-Plus Fraud

LSC logoOne way to view Benjamin Louis King’s situation is that it could be worse. That’s because his total theft may have been good deal higher than the amount for which he was prosecuted. King, for three decades the chief of finance for the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, along with an accomplice, Wendell Jackson, was sentenced in Baltimore federal court on December 14 for embezzling over $1 million from the bureau. U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake gave King 30 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release; she gave Jackson 15 months in prison. Each also must make restitution. “Bennie King abused his position of trust for over a decade and stole more than $1 million through a longstanding fraud scheme,” said U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein. “What makes the case even more offensive is that the $1 million would have paid for legal services for the poor.… Read More ➡

Taxpayers Fund Cronyism, High Living at Louisiana Legal Services Grantee

Camelot ClubJames A. Wayne Sr., executive director of Capital Area Legal Services Corporation (CALSC), must have a taste for irony. He’s reportedly making a list of employees to lay off by year’s end. Yet wasteful and possibly illegal spending by his Baton Rouge-based organization could pay for the annual salary and benefits of a few staffers. That’s a logical conclusion anyway in light of a report (see pdf) released September 27 by Legal Services Corporation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) identifying more than $300,000 over several years in undocumented and/or ineligible costs at CALSC. Wayne, though vowing to work with the OIG to better document expenses, has disputed the findings. The accompanying summary broadcast put together by the WBRZ-TV Channel 2 local news team in Baton Rouge suggests he doesn’t have an easy case.

The Capital Aid Legal Services Corporation has received extensive public funding. During calendar year 2009, the nonprofit group received $1,511,082 from LSC headquarters … Read More ➡

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