Ain’t Got No T-Bone

Here’s a real welfare fraud story:

The Department of Justice has indicted three men for allegedly abusing the Lifeline program, which provides low-income Americans with subsidized landline or prepaid wireless phone service. Thomas Biddix, Kevin Brian Cox, and Leonard Solt were charged on April 9th with 15 counts of wire fraud, false claims, and money laundering, as well as one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, all of which allegedly resulted in $32 million in improper reimbursements over the course of two years. While several fines have been levied since the FCC started tightening standards two years ago, this is the first time the federal government has brought a criminal case.

Biddix, Cox, and Solt allegedly operated Associated Telecommunications Management Services (ATMS), a holding company that ran at least five subsidiary mobile operators. Between 2009 and 2011, the company received millions of dollars in subsidies through the Lifeline program, but its rapid growth drew the attention of investigators. A probe in Florida revealed that it had received around $37 million in 2010 alone but had misrepresented its enrollments to the government. Ultimately, ATMS agreed to a $4 million settlement with the Florida Public Service Commission but failed to pay it. Along with the indictment, the court authorized seizure of the men’s “ill-gotten gains,” including multiple bank accounts, a yacht, and “several luxury automobiles.”

Sorry this doesn’t involve food stamps at ATMs or flat-screen TVs.

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40 replies
  1. 1
    Hurling Dervish says:

    Checking Biddix’s campaign contributions, I see that he was a big contributor to Mike Huckabee:

    BIDDIX, THOMAS E
    MELBOURNE, FL
    32940 $-2,500 08/22/2011 G FRIENDS OF MIKE H – Republican
    BIDDIX, THOMAS E
    MELBOURNE, FL
    32940 $-2,300 07/07/2011 P FRIENDS OF MIKE H – Republican
    BIDDIX, THOMAS E
    MELBOURNE, FL
    32940 Telecom Service Center/Telecommunications $2,400 06/30/2011 P FRIENDS OF MIKE H – Republican
    BIDDIX, THOMAS E
    MELBOURNE, FL
    32940 Telecom Service Center/Telecommunications $2,400 02/03/2011 G FRIENDS OF MIKE H – Republican
    BIDDIX, THOMAS E
    MELBOURNE, FL
    32940 Telecom Service Center/Telecommunications $2,400 02/03/2011 P FRIENDS OF MIKE H – Republican

    Isn’t Mike Huckabee on record against welfare cheats?

  2. 2
    Waynski says:

    You mean to tell me James O’Keefe wasn’t involved? He must be pissed for being left out.

  3. 3
    boatboy_srq says:

    It happened in Florida, home to swindlers, con artists, snake-oil salespeople and Medicare-defrauding healthcare executives. This is surprising?

    (Sorry, Betty)

  4. 4
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Hurling Dervish: No, no, no, no. Huckabee is against little people cheating welfare and getting more money to live on. These guys showed great entreprenuerial spirit in designing the scam and running it against the government.

    ETA: It’s the difference between someone getting a few hundred more a month in a check and someone getting a multimillion dollar contract.

  5. 5
    SatanicPanic says:

    @PurpleGirl: Starve the beast, right? I wonder why that’s acceptable for some people but not others. hmm

  6. 6
    evolved beyond the fist mistermix says:

    @Hurling Dervish: Thanks, I figured these guys were true free-market capitalist Republicans.

  7. 7
    Skipjack says:

    T-bones and big screens are yesterday’s news, today’s hotness are Obamaphones. Have no fear this will make the rounds.

  8. 8
    James Gary says:

    Bonus points to mistermix for the deep-track Neil Young reference.

  9. 9

    @boatboy_srq:

    (Sorry, Betty)

    What am I, chopped liver?

  10. 10
    Svensker says:

    Sorry this doesn’t involve food stamps at ATMs or flat-screen TVs.

    Yes, but it’s still the poors’ fault for being such moochers as to get Obummerphones. These non-moocher folks were just using their God-given free market capitalist smarts to earn righteous profit from a lefty government.

  11. 11
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I blame Obama. If not for him, there would be no Obamaphones and these poor businessmen wouldn’t have been obliged to cheat the program.

  12. 12
    evolved beyond the fist mistermix says:

    @James Gary: Got mashed potato.

  13. 13
    🌷 Martin says:

    Fucking tyrannical government for blaming those job creators for simply being victims of fictitious poor minorities. They were simply employing supply-side economics, pre-registering those phones which the blahs were too lazy to even show up and claim.

  14. 14
    Zam says:

    Sorry this doesn’t involve food stamps at ATMs or flat-screen TVs

    Too bad it doesn’t matter. This will go down in wingnut history as the time some lazy moocher poor bought yachts with their food stamps, rather than some rich assholes defrauding the government. I really hate living with people who think that because someone like this is an asshole other people need to starve.

  15. 15
    Linnaeus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Funny thing is, there are people who would argue something not much different than what you said, i.e., if Big Government hadn’t had this program, there wouldn’t have been the opportunity for someone to cheat.

  16. 16
    carolannie1949 says:

    @PurpleGirl: Actually the conservatives are defining fraud as anyone getting any more money at all, not just a few hundred. See Paul Ryan’s BUDGET, where poor peolpe would get even less money as inflation marches on.

  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Linnaeus: I know, but just to be pedantic, it isn’t funny; it’s sad.

  18. 18
    Phantom 309 says:

    @boatboy_srq: In Florida aren’t these types considered “successful businessmen?”

  19. 19

    I’m surprised no one else has thought of this likely angle:

    This incident is more proof that welfare is a corrupt waste of money, and the majority of the federal budget is waste. Responsible, fiscally prudent people know that chopping off all welfare services, including social security and medicaid, will fix all of America’s problems.

  20. 20
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    If you’re looking for “welfare cheats”, look for Rethuglicans. Look at corporations. Look at AMA members.

    Also, too, I’ll bet these guys all have very low melanin counts.

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Phantom 309: Actually, they’re also prime candidates for Governor.

  22. 22
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Mustang Bobby: No, but you’re not an FPer either. And we’ve discussed relocating you to civilization, although your snow allergy limits that to San Diego and Hololulu.

    Had you posted this on BBWW I’d have apologized to you directly. ,-)

  23. 23
    Poopyman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Took the words right outta my fingertips.

  24. 24
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Liberals punishing the successful businessmen they’re jealous of, just like always. Hmf.

  25. 25
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Phantom 309: As Villago and Poopyman point out (having caught the not-too-subtle dig at Governor Voldemort), not only successful, but electable.

    See also Katherine Harris, Vern Buchanan, and a whole host of other worthies.

  26. 26
    GregB says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Frankensteinbeck/Koch 2016!

  27. 27
    Belafon says:

    This is exactly like Republican voter fraud: The only real examples involve Republicans.

  28. 28
    Jay C says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    It’s the difference between someone getting a few hundred more a month in a check and someone getting a multimillion dollar contract.

    But of course, to most politicians, especially those with “R” by their names – the former is the only sort of “cheating” they or, and rather pathetically, their constituents, seem to care about. And of course, the only sort they want to get out in the media…

  29. 29
    burnspbesq says:

    The sole legitimate activity of government is to be defrauded. Or, put another way, this is simply an offset against the brutal and wholly unjustified burden of Federal income taxation.

    /hipster libertarian

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @burnspbesq: Not bad at all.

  31. 31
    Phantom 309 says:

    @boatboy_srq: I shouldn’t have singled out Florida. Any Red State will do. Oh, and I’m betting Mittens is kicking himself for not thinking of this scheme.

  32. 32
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Phantom 309:

    I’m betting Mittens is kicking himself for not thinking of this scheme.

    We’re only talking in the double digit millions here. To Mittens, that’s pocket change.

  33. 33
    Mike in NC says:

    As the saying goes, “Never steal anything small”.

  34. 34
    Roger Moore says:

    @carolannie1949:

    Actually the conservatives are defining fraud as anyone Those People getting any more money at all, not just a few hundred.

    FTFY. Fat cat government contractors with massive cost overruns get paid more for their incompetence. Poor people who actually need help, not so much.

  35. 35
    Roger Moore says:

    @burnspbesq:

    The sole legitimate activity of government is to be defrauded

    You missed killing foreigners and protecting the 0.1% from the rest of the country.

  36. 36
    Phantom 309 says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Beer money, baby!

  37. 37
    NorthLeft12 says:

    I’ll echo the common theme……this will still be Obama/Dems/Progressives’ fault because it is their program and they should have known.

    The scammers/criminals will pretty much get a pass because……FREEDUMB!!!!!!

  38. 38
    MCLecher says:

    AT&T got the bone too?

    Allegedly (link to theAlabama Public Service Commission filing):

    “BLC Management, LLC d/b/a Angles Communication Solutions (“BLC”) has fled the
    state, owing AT&T Alabama nearly $20 million for services it ordered from BellSouth
    Telecommunications, LLC, d/b/a AT&T Alabama (“AT&T Alabama”) pursuant to the parties’
    interconnection agreement (“ICA”). Nearly $10 million of that past-due amount is undisputed,
    and AT&T Alabama seeks an Order of the Alabama Public Service Commission
    (“Commission'”) finding that BLC is liable to it for that undisputed, past-due amount. AT&T
    Alabama intends to use that Order as a basis for an action seeking monetary relief against BLC
    in the appropriate judicial forum, and as a basis for preempting any “primary jurisdiction” or
    “failure to exhaust administrative remedy” defenses to that action.’…

    CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
    Mr. Thomas Biddix
    BLC Management d/b/a Angles
    Communications Solutions
    Post Office Box 1358
    Melbourne, FL 32902
    (Certified Mail and U.S. Mail)

  39. 39
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Phantom 309: Florida does seem to have an especial tendency to produce/attract charlatans. It was a red state before there were Red States.

  40. 40
    Sherparick says:

    @Hurling Dervish: Also notice what Mr. Biddix looks like. https://www.google.com/search?q=thomas+biddix&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb

    Meanwhile, Politico puts the President’s picture at the top of the story “Obamaphone Scandal.” (The program I believe dates back to the Reagan administration – but that does not stop a good “conservative meme”.)

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