PLEASUREBUSINESSVODAVN AWARDS 2014

Your Tax Dollars At Work, Pt. 1


The War Resisters' League figures that the Department of Defense currently gets about 31% of the federal budget, if you figure in direct appropriations, the military expenditures of other departments and $20 billion in supplemental appropriations, for a total of $727 billion. And if you add in the ongoing promises of veterans' benefits, plus a shitload of interest on the National Debt that's been caused by the military, the military will account for about 51% of the budget in 2008, according to the WAR.

But if you want to know what you, Mr./Ms. Taxpayer, are getting for your dough, Bloomberg News has some interesting info .

Seems C&D Distributors, a small South Carolina parts supplier, has taken the term "shipping and handling charges" to a whole new level. For instance, last September, for sending two 19-cent washers to an army base in Texas, they billed you (well, the Pentagon, actually, but you paid for it) $998,798. Before that, they received $455,009 for shipping three $1.31 machine screws to Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq, and $293,451 for an 89-cent split washer sent to Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The fraud, which began in 2000, was the brainstorm of C&D's owners, twins Charlene Corley and Darlene Wooten, who started out small, wound up charging just over $20 million to ship $68,000 worth of goods over the six-year period of their Pentagon contracts.

What the gals discovered was that if packages and invoices were marked "Priority," then no-one in the chain of command charged with oversight of defense spending questioned the necessity for any of the charges incurred in fulfilling the orders.

Until last September, that is, when a purchasing agent happened to notice the shipping charges for two more 19-cent washers: $969,000 - then discovered the "bargain price" of slightly under $1 million that the military had gotten for the previous two washers. That led to an investigation - and the suicide of Darlene Wooten at her lakefront home last October.

Charlene pled guilty on Thursday and was fined $750,000, or about 27% of her fraudulent receipts, and faces 20 years in prison each for one count of cpnspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to launder money. The Pentagon hopes to make up the $19.75 million shortfall by auctioning homes, beach property, jewelry and "high- end automobiles" that the sisters spent the money on. However, "They took a lot of vacations," said Pentagon investigator Cynthia Stroot.

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