Tag Archives: Corporate Crime

BOOK: Death in Mud Lick. Corporate Crime, Greed and Destruction

Review of Death in Mud Lick

Dwight Garner, “How Painkiller Pushers Took over Coal Country.” nyt

Eric Eyre, the reporter who wrote this book, won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 2017.  One of the important things he did was to expose, for the first time, in exact numbers, opioid shipments to West Virginia.  These were eye-opening statistics that made the responsibility for this crisis real to many people.

In the book, Eyre started with a story of one pharmacy in Kermit, WV, population 382.  In two years, the Sav-Rite in Kermit distributed nearly nine million opioid pain pills to its customers.  People were driving hundreds of miles to get to this particular pharmacy, bypassing other pharmacies.  Once there, the lines were so long, the owner sold hot dogs and popcorn to people waiting in the drive-in lane.

Most of the recipients started off with some kind of injury, usually work related.  But they very quickly found doctors willing to write prescriptions for pain medication and anti-anxiety drugs on top of that.  The toll was soon to follow – addicted babies, full jails, families destroyed, hospital emergency rooms overrun.

Eyre, unlike many journalists covering the same story, went after the big fish in the story, not the cash rich pharmacy owners or even the corrupt doctors, but the real high-level drug pushers.  He called what happened in West Virginia “a man-made disaster fueled by corporate greed and corruption.”

Eyre, for example, took aim at Cardinal Health (a drug wholesaler), which “sent more pain pills into West Virginia than any other company.”  Between 2007 and 2012, Cardinal sent a combined 240 million pills into WV.  That was 130 pain pills for every resident.  “The coal barons,” Eyre wrote, “no longer ruled Appalachia. Now it was the painkiller profiteers.”

Among the long list of villains in this story is West Virginia’s Trump loving attorney general, Patrick Morrisey.  Morrisey tried to derail Eyre’s investigation of Cardinal at the same time his (Morrisey’s) wife was being paid to lobby for the company.  According to Eyre (4/28/18) “Cardinal Health paid Denise Morrisey and her lobbying firm $1.4 million after her husband became attorney general…”

Morrisey also had ties to the company of his own.

At the same time his wife was lobbying on behalf of Cardinal Health, Morrisey’s office was overseeing a lawsuit that accused Cardinal Health of “fueling the opioid epidemic by shipping excessive amounts of hydrocodone and oxycodone to the state.”

Morrisey stepped aside from the case only after the Charleston Gazette reported that his inaugural party was paid for by Cardinal Health.

In 2008, Cardinal Health paid a $34 million fine to settle allegations that it had shipped hydrocodone to rogue Internet pharmacies that filled bogus prescriptions.  In 2016, Cardinal Health paid $44 million for opioid shipping violations.

MORRISEY IS STILL WEST VIRGINIA’S ATTORNEY GENERAL.

MORRISEY NARROWLY LOST HIS BID TO BECOME A U.S. SENATOR.

CARDINAL HEALTH IS STILL IN BUSINESS.

MORRISEY’S WIFE IS STILL A LOBBYIST FOR THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY.

ERIC EYRE LEFT THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL LAST WEEK.

 

 

 

 

Notes:

Eyre (4/28/18) https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/politics/morrisey-s-wife-lobbied-on-opioids-for-drug-firm-disclosures/article_be3d9ee8-00e1-570c-b161-c7b59c7c31d0.html

Cardinal Health lists on its website: “Cardinal Health: We Supply Everything You Need.

Heller, Matthew ()“Cardinal Health Fined $8M for FCPA violations.”  https://www.cfo.com/legal/2020/03/cardinal-health-fined-8m-for-fcpa-violations/

Review in New York Times: Death in Mud Lick

They’ve Got Time: The Rich and Powerful Take Advantage of Every Crisis

honore In an interview on MSNBC, Lt. Gen. Honore reminds us to pay attention to what is going on behind the scenes of this crisis.  While the rich and the powerful are wasting time actually dealing with the Convid-19 crisis, they have well enough make sure their pockets are lined.

The bailout package passed last week is just one example.  While containing some provisions for regular people, most of the money is a giant bailout for large corporations.  After Democrats fought for oversight of this slush fund, the President issued a signing statement that he will ignore the oversight.  When asked about this, Nancy Pelosi just said that the Congress will exercise its power.  Right.  Let’s see how that works out.

Even people you wouldn’t ordinarily expect to be pointing out the graft and corruption that is going to be a central part of this crisis, like Lt. Gen. Honore, are sounding the alarm.

In an interview with Crag Melvin on MSNBC, Honore warned that powerful people in the administration had time to change the EPA regulations about companies dumping pollutants into an area known as “Cancer Alley,” in Louisiana.  This dumping always most negatively affects low income and people of color.

We will see more and more of this as the crisis continues.  They will use every opportunity to bilk profits, endanger regular people and steal.  When this is over, they will tell us we can’t afford even basic services.  We cannot let them steal the country during this crisis.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s No Country on Earth Like It

Mitch McConnell

I can’t see that there’s anything in this stimulus bill that prevents it being a slush fund give-away for big business.  Because of objections, there is now talk of an Inspector General and a panel to over see the distribution of the funds, but no assurance that these funds, for example, won’t to directly into the Trump properties and businesses.

This is outrageous.  What I am expecting is to see somebody like the snake-in-the-grass Chris Coons to come out with some kind of watered-down, meaningless “compromise” that will allow Republicans to steal billions.

I’m disgusted with the Democratic Party, as usual.

On top of everything else, why isn’t somebody from the Democratic Party, somebody who has some moral authority, somebody who is willing to fight for regular people, not out in public every day, explaining how this crisis is being used as a giant rip-off for the 1%?

This is a country that has degenerated into a situation where it is considered a serious proposal to allow poor, working class and elderly people to die in order to protect the stock market for the wealthy.

Capitalism is the Crisis: The Repubicans Paved the Way for This

burr, richard

This afternoon, Jason Easley (3/19/20) at Politicsusa reported that Sen. Richard Burr, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was dumping $1.6 million in his own personal stock at the same time he was publicly reassuring the American people that their government had the coronavirus well in hand.

Burr was also warning his rich donors that this virus was likely to rival the 1918 flu virus that caused widespread devastation, thereby alerting them that they should scurry like rats leaving a sinking ship.  Burr, as head of the Intelligence Committee, was receiving daily updates (which included some of the nation’s most highly classified information) on the status of the virus and the extent of the threat to US security.

If the American people aren’t not furious about this, they should be.  They are losing their jobs, their financial security, and their retirement investments while a Republican member of Congress trades off his position to evade something like a 30% loss on his stocks.

As Miriame Kaba, an organizer recently interviewed on “The Intercept” stated, “capitalism is the crisis.”

This country has been thrown into social and economic turmoil by a group of people who have been telling the rest of us that the markets would take care of everything and that the individual pursuit of profit would make us free.  Meanwhile, they are busily trying to make money off the crisis.

If there is anything positive to be gleaned out of this crisis, it is the hope that people will finally realize that we are under the rule of  what Sarah Kenzior calls a crime syndicate posing as a government.  This includes not just Trump and his family.  This includes most of the members of the Congress as well.

I would be willing to bet that none of the corporate news media outlets will cover this story.  They will, instead, run video after video of reporters walking backward in grocery stores telling us that the shelves are empty as if this was edifying in any way.

Trump said today that the federal government was not a “shipping clerk.”  What he meant was that people were on their own, they couldn’t count of the federal government, their government, the government that they fund, to help them out.

We have no reason to be surprised.  Anyone could have seen this crisis coming.  It was never a question of whether, it was a question of when.  Experts in the field warned of the likelihood of a pandemic and people lived through an ebola crisis.

But for decades, the Republican party has been paving the way for just such a crisis.  They are the party that denigrates and ridicules science, reason, government, and expertise.  Why would anyone voting Republican expect anything different?

We are told we live in the richest, best country in the world, but we can’t afford testing kits to establish the severity of a pandemic.

 

Truth May Matter, but Justice Evidently Does Not: The Stone Sentencing

roger 2

I don’t know how many more days like this I can handle.

 

Roger Stone, convicted for witness tampering, lying to Congress and obstructing an official proceeding was today sentenced to 40 months in prison.  The media immediately turned the judge, who rejected an initial Justice Department recommendation that Stone get between 7 and 9 years, into a hero.

 

Ari Melber on MSNBC (who evidently considers himself the Consoler in Chief) once again had guests on to tell the American people that the judicial branch is holding steady, the last bastion of integrity and justice.  The institutions, so he claims, are holding.

 

Well, I’ve got news for Ari F…ing Melber, the institutions are not holding.  The executive branch is a criminal enterprise masquerading as a government (Sarah Kenzior), the Congress is toothless and being led by the nose by a collection of thugs who are either being bought off or extorted or who are just so craven for power they will do anything.  This same group of thugs is appointing new federal judges at breakneck speed.  Their nominees are so inept and ignorant they would never ever get near a courtroom as a judge unless there were a thoroughly corrupt administration shoveling them into lifetime positions.  The media is controlled by corporate interests and mediocre star reporters who laugh and joke their way through crisis after crisis after crisis.  The institutions are crumbling before our eyes.

 

Neither the corporate press nor the members of Congress are brave enough to see what’s happening and convey the seriousness of the situation.  The institutions are holding, they say.  Nothing to see here.  It will all be alright.

 

It reminds me of something that happened to me in Scotland years ago.  I went along with a friend to a house where the father of the family had thrown himself out a window.  Fortunately, he fell into the lovely Scottish garden below.  I was charged with sitting with the young son.  At some point I said: It’ll be alright.  The kid’s head snapped around and he stared at me with incredulity and contempt.  “Alright,” he said.  “Alright? My father just jumped out of a window.”  I nodded.  “You have a point.”  I said.

 

Sentencing for white collar (political and corporate) criminals is already an obscene joke in this country.   Take a look at Jesse Eisinger’s recent (and totally ignored) book “The Chickenshit Club.”  Eisinger details what happens these days to prosecutors who try to aggressively prosecute white collar criminals.  It’s an endeavor which is against their career interests.    Most white collar (corporate and political) criminals are not prosecuted.  The Justice Department almost always does deals with their attorneys before they come to trial.  A trial is considered time-consuming, expensive and unnecessary.  Smart prosecutors are expert negotiators and deal makers. As Eisinger points out, not only have prosecutors learned that they put their careers on the line if they fail to negotiate a deal, the institution itself has lost the expertise to prosecute cases and take them to trial.

 

Line prosecutors in the Stone case, though, did go to trial.  These prosecutors risked their careers but they proved their case and then recommended a sentence that was squarely in the middle of (already lenient) sentencing guidelines.  Their reward?  William Barr intervened, overruled them and after they resigned in protest sent his cronies into court to claim that DOJ had reconsidered the sentence recommendation and decided a lesser sentence was appropriate.

 

Then, when most of us who are sane and love the law and the concept of justice noticed, when something like 2000 former DOJ officials wrote a letter of protest, Barr sent his minions back into court to say that it had all been a misunderstanding.

 

Nobody who has a brain can mistake this series of events for anything but what it was – an attempt by Barr and Trump to see if they could simply throw caution to the wind and direct the sentencing of one of Trump’s buddies.  They tried, they got some push back, and they backed off to some extent.  But, make no mistake about it.  They will try again, and they will probably succeed.  This is (like the pardons) a softening of the ground.

 

Because of this, what was needed from the courts was a strong statement that high-level government officials cannot just dictate prosecution and sentencing.  What we got was the same “chickenshit” response from Jackson we saw previously from Mueller (who defined his investigation so narrowly it could not really be effective).  Jackson compromised, caved, backed down.

 

Earlier in the day, Seth Abramson tweeted that Trump used professionalism against people.  He predicted that Jackson would give Stone a lenient sentence in the name of being “reasonable,” or “fair” or “unbiased” or “professional.”  In doing so, she failed to send a message that the justice system is going to fight.

 

This morning, when I first heard the reporting that she was talking tough in court, I knew we were in big trouble.  In highly publicized cases like this, when judges talk tough, they sentence light.

 

“What did you expect.”  My partner said to me as I was pacing around the house indignant at the lenient sentence and the reaction of the corporate media.

 

“I know, I know” I responded “but it’s like knowing somebody’s going to die and having it actually happen.”

 

“You thought you might be wrong?”

 

“I was hoping, hoping I might be wrong.”

 

But, I was not wrong.  Of course, I was not wrong.

 

Tuesday night, Ari Melber had Melissa Murray on his show and she told a story about lecturing students.  She was talking about Nixon vs. Fitzgerald. She told her students that in immunizing the president from civil suits the courts did not make him a king.  He was still subject to other checks – the impeachment process, the free press, the effect on his legacy.  Her students, 112 men and women learning to be lawyers, laughed at her.  Well they should have.  I would have laughed at her.

 

Murray, as much as I love her, is another of those people (like Joyce Vance, Chuck Rosenberg and others) who’s identity is bound up with believing a fairy tale.  That fairy tale is that there are people with integrity who will stand up to injustice, corruption and the destruction of democracy.  The fairy tale is that these people will step up and save us. They will not.  We live in a society largely made up of conformists, of cowards, of people who are too timid and too comfortable to rock the boat.  Their careers and their inflated salaries are more important to them than their county, democracy or justice.

 

Jackson said in her decision today that the truth matters.  Maybe, but justice evidently does not.