9/11 Thefts Go Unpunished

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Lilith
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9/11 Thefts Go Unpunished

Post by Lilith » Fri Jun 16, 2006 8:01 am

This story made me sick. Sometimes it is so difficult to do the right thing in this world. And didn't our new right wing Supreme Court just make it even more difficult for whistle blowers?

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AP Enterprise: 9/11 thefts not prosecuted By MARGARET EBRAHIM and PAT MILTON, Associated Press Writers


NEW YORK - Once-secret documents obtained by The Associated Press show a disaster supply management company went unpunished for Sept. 11 thefts after the government discovered stolen artifacts from New York's ground zero.

Kieger Enterprises of Lino Lakes, Minn., dispatched trucks to a Long Island warehouse and loaded hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donated bottled water, clothes, tools and generators to be moved to Minnesota in a plot to sell some for profit, according to government records and interviews.

Dan L'Allier said he witnessed 45 tons of the New York loot being unloaded in Minnesota at his company's headquarters. He and disaster specialist Chris Christopherson complained to a company executive, but were ordered to keep quiet. They persisted, going instead to the FBI.

The two whistleblowers eventually lost their jobs, received death threats and were blackballed in the disaster relief industry. But they remained convinced their sacrifice was worth seeing justice done.

They were wrong.

As a result, most Americans were kept in the dark about a major fraud involving their donated goods even as new requests for charity emerged with disasters like Hurricane Katrina. And Christopherson and L'Allier were left disillusioned.

"I wouldn't open my mouth again for all the tea in China," L'Allier said. Added Christopherson, a 34-year-old father of two: "I paid a big price."

As firefighters searched for survivors after the Sept. 11 attacks, heat from the World Trade Center's smoldering ruins burned the soles off their boots. They needed new ones every few hours, and Christopherson made sure they got them. The moment that crushed Christopherson's faith was when his employer dispatched the trucks to the warehouse for those supplies, donated by Americans.

The government ultimately gave the whistleblowers $30,000 each after expenses, their share in a civil settlement against KEI. They say the sum was hardly worth their trouble.

Federal prosecutors eventually charged KEI and some executives with fraud, including overbilling the government in several disasters, but excluded the Sept. 11 thefts. Officially, the government can't fully explain why.

KEI had worked for years for the government, providing disaster relief services during tornadoes, floods and other catastrophes. It was picked to manage the New York warehouse for the government's main Sept. 11 relief contractor.

Thomas Heffelfinger, the former U.S. attorney in Minnesota who prosecuted KEI, said he never intended to charge the company for the ground zero theft, and instead referred that part of the case to prosecutors in New York.

"At the heart of the KEI case was financial fraud," Heffelfinger said. "It was so bad we didn't need the theft."

Heather Tasker, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in New York, declined to discuss the KEI case. The whistleblowers, however, said they've never been contacted by New York prosecutors

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Re: 9/11 Thefts Go Unpunished

Post by Corlyss_D » Fri Jun 16, 2006 1:03 pm

Lilith wrote: As a result, most Americans were kept in the dark about a major fraud involving their donated goods
Chaos breeds . . . chaos. This fraud is small beer compared to the $1 billion (16% of the total) stolen from the unregulated money that the nitwits in Congress shoveled at Katrina victims to prove how compassionate they could be.
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Lilith
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Post by Lilith » Fri Jun 16, 2006 6:22 pm

That is true. Nonetheless, to do this right after 9/11.....to steal from your own.....it boggles the mind.

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Post by Ralph » Fri Jun 16, 2006 8:59 pm

Lilith wrote:That is true. Nonetheless, to do this right after 9/11.....to steal from your own.....it boggles the mind.
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There has never been a major public disaster not followed by theft, looting and fraud.
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