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3 posts from January 2012

01/19/2012

Former Asian chamber head in trouble with TEA, state says

The former head of the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Austin is accused of submitting false payroll records to the Texas Education Agency, which, if true, was not nice. 

Mai Nguyen was indicted last month on charges she secured execution of a document by deception, with a value of between $20,000 and $100,000, according to the Texas State Auditor's office. The charge is a third-degree felony. Nevertheless, she hasn't been arrested

Calm(Due to the disturbing nature of this post, please enjoy the calming picture to the left.)

Nguyen is accused of seeking reimbursement of payroll expenses through an English Literacy and Civics Education grant, according to the results of a probe by the State Auditor’s Office’s Special Investigations Unit.

The TEA administers enable grantees to create programs to teach immigrants English and American government.  The ACOC  received grants between 2002  to 2005, and it operated as a nonprofit in Austin until 2006.  

 

-- Darren Barbee

 

01/17/2012

Pepsi’s Challenge: Hire people with minor criminal offenses

Pepsi Beverages has agreed to pay $3.13 million and provide job offers and training to resolve a race Pepsidiscrimination lawsuit filed in Minneapolis by the federal government. The thorny issue was Pepsi not wanting to hire people convicted of “minor” crimes. More than 300 African Americans were adversely affected when Pepsi applied a criminal background check policy that disproportionately excluded black applicants from permanent employment, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Under Pepsi’s former policy, job applicants who had been arrested pending prosecution were not hired for a permanent job even if they had never been convicted of any offense. “Pepsi’s former policy also denied employment to applicants who had been arrested or convicted of certain minor offenses. The use of arrest and conviction records to deny employment can be illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when it is not relevant for the job, because it can limit the employment opportunities of applicants or workers based on their race or ethnicity,” according to the EEOC. During the course of the EEOC’s investigation, Pepsi adopted a new criminal background check policy. In addition to the monetary relief, Pepsi will offer employment opportunities to victims of the former criminal background check policy who still want jobs at Pepsi and are qualified for the jobs for which they apply. The company will supply the EEOC with regular reports on its hiring practices under its new criminal background check policy. “When employers contemplate instituting a background check policy, the EEOC recommends that they take into consideration the nature and gravity of the offense, the time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence, and the nature of the job sought in order to be sure that the exclusion is important for the particular position. Such exclusions can create an adverse impact based on race in violation of Title VII,” said Julie Schmid, Acting Director of the EEOC’s Minneapolis Area Office.

-- Darren Barbee

01/13/2012

$49,000 reimbursement for taking money slipped Texas CPA's mind, SEC says

Either a Richardson CPA has no head for numbers or was fibbing (the SEC uses the ugly word “lying”) when he testified that he wasn’t aware of a $49,350 payment to an employer he was accused of ripping off several years ago. 

SecBryan N. Polozola pleaded guilty Jan. 12 to criminal charges of lying to federal regulators (or suffering temporary criminal amnesia, take your pick), according to the Securites and Exchange Commission. 

In 2005, LollaPolozola was accused by a financial regulatory body of taking the money from his former employer for personal use, according to the SEC. He consented to being barred from association with any firms under what was then the National Association of Securities Dealers. 

Alas, he sang a different song in September. “During questioning in September 2011, Polozola falsely testified to SEC staff that he was not aware of a $49,350 payment made on his behalf to his former employer,” the SEC alleged.

OK, so there were a couple of problems with this testimony. Chiefly that Polozola was aware that his attorney had repaid the $49,350 to the former employer as reimbursement of the funds he had supposedly taken for his personal use, according to the SEC said. Oh, and the payment was made at Polozola’s direction and with Polozola’s funds.

“Truth in testimony is the first principle of a fair and effective enforcement program,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “This guilty plea is a stark reminder that those who lie in SEC investigations will face an SEC committed to working closely with the criminal authorities to ensure that they are held accountable.”

-- Darren Barbee