Winchester man is convicted of obtaining money by false pretenses

Virginia’s Attorney General Jason Miyares reports the conviction of  a Winchester man for  obtaining money through false pretenses.

A Winchester City Circuit Court jury convicted Ajarhi Roberts on those charges Wednesday, February 21.

With that conviction Roberts will face five years in prison with all but 4 months suspended, on condition of supervised probation and restitution.

Roberts is ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution to the Virginia Employment Commission.

Back in March of 2022 the Virginia Employment Commission asked Attorney General Miyares to help in the prosecution of fraudulent unemployment compensation claims.

The Roberts conviction and others are the result of the joint investigations by Virginia State Police, the Inspector General’s Offices of the U.S. Departments of Labor, and Postal Service.

Miyares called Unemployment Fraud a cruel way to take advantage of the system that was designed to help Virginians who were down on their luck.

The Attorney General’s Fraud Unit is dedicated to bringing these cases to justice.

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AG Miyares joins lawsuit against Meta

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares joined 41 other attorney generals throughout the country in a lawsuit against Meta in federal and state courts.

The federal complaint supported by 33 states alleges that Meta knew the harmful impacts on young people who use their platform including Facebook and Instagram.

The complaint alleges Meta concealed information about the psychological and health effects of young people addicted to the platforms and utilized data of users under 13 without parental consent.

The complaint relies on confidential information but also cites publicly available information released by former Meta employees who have stated that the company profited by purposely making the platforms addictive.

Last week multiple school districts in the DC area joined forces in their own lawsuit against the company.

To view AG Miyares full press release, click here. 

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Virginia receives $80 million settlement for environmental contamination

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares reached a settlement agreement of $80 million with the Monsanto Company for environmental contamination caused by polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.

The carcinogenic chemical compound was used in industrial and consumer products until they were federally banned in 1979.

Monsanto produced 99% of PCBs in America from the 1930s to 1977.

Over 1,300 river miles, 75,000 lake acres, and over 2,000 square miles of bays and estuaries were impaired by PCBs.

AG Miyares said “PCBs have negatively impacted nearly every living thing in Virginia. They have harmed public health, our land, wildlife, fish and our beloved waterways like the Chesapeake Bay.”

The settlement funds will be used for environmental studies, stream restoration, drinking water improvements, and other environmental causes.

To view the AG’s statement and a video of his remarks, click here.

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18 guilty pleas of unemployment commission fraud in VA

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Virginia’s Attorney General Jason Miyares announced yesterday 18 guilty pleas to charges of obtaining money by false pretenses between March 2023 and June 2023.

A total of $212,080 was ordered in restitution to compensate got unemployment funds received from the Virginia Employment Commission due to fraudulent filings during the pandemic.

Attorney General Miyraes said, “I am proud of the work my Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit and our law enforcement partners do to ensure that those who attempt to abuse Virginia’s unemployment compensation systems are held accountable for their wrong and illegal actions.”

The guilty pleas follow the VEC’s March 2022 request for help of the AG Miyares to help prosecute fraudulent claims.

The announcement was made in result of a collaborative effort between numerous state agencies including the VEC and the Virginia Office of Attorney General Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit.

Departments conducting the investigations included the Virginia Marine Police, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the Virginia State Inspector General.

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Virginia joins other states in JUUL settlement

Virginia’s Attorney General Jason Miyares announced that Virginia has joined 33 other states in securing a $434.9 million settlement with JUUL Labs.

The settlement resolves claims that since 2015 JUUL used social media marketing campaigns to addict a new generation of Americans to nicotine.

Under the terms of the settlement JUUL is required to pay Virginia at least $16. 8 million.

The first payment of $1.58 million will be made once the settlement is approved in court.

The settlement will also prohibit JUUL from engaging in a variety of misleading youth focused marketing tactics.

JUUL will be prohibited from marketing to youth, funding education programs, depicting persons under 35 in any marketing.

JUUL will not be allowed to use cartoons in their advertisements or allow access to websites without verification of age among other restrictions.

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Va.’s Attorney General Miyares announces Opioid settlement

Virginia’s Attorney General Jason Miyares announced that the Commonwealth has received its first initial payment from an opioid manufacturer.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals is a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson and they have made a payment of $67.4 million which includes approximately $11.3 million for the state, $16.3 million for Virginia localities and $39.8 million for the Opioid Abatement Authority.

Miyares stated that this helps the Commonwealth fight back against the opioid epidemic as well as reduce, prevent and treat addiction.

The settlement also requires Johnson and Johnson to stop selling opioids in the United States.

The settlement also prevents Johnson and Johnson from promoting opioids or funding third parties that promote opioids.

Johnson and Johnson will also be prohibited from lobbying on legislation, regulations or activities related to opioids.

To date Virginia will receive approximately $532.9 million from opioid distributor settlements collectively.

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Herring, Ayala win Democratic down-ballot races in Virginia

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By Associated Press | Published Jun. 10, 2021 6:40 a.m.

By MATTHEW BARAKAT and SARAH RANKIN

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring fended off a strong primary challenge, while Del. Hala Ayala emerged from a field of six candidates to win the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in Tuesday’s primary election.

Herring and Ayala will join gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe at the top of the Democratic ticket in November as the party seeks to extend a 12-year winning streak in statewide races.

Herring defeated Norfolk Del. Jay Jones in the attorney general primary, even though Jones was backed by Gov. Ralph Northam.

Northam’s endorsed candidate fared better in the lieutenant governor race, though. Ayala was the favorite of establishment Democrats, including Northam and House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, and defeated Del. Sam Rasoul, who was favored by the Democratic left.

Virginia’s off-year elections typically draw national attention as a possible bellwether for trends heading into next year’s midterms.

Republicans chose their statewide candidates in a nominating convention last month. The GOP hasn’t won a statewide race in Virginia since 2009.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Herring won the Democratic nomination in the race for attorney general Tuesday, fending off a challenge from a state lawmaker who sought to cast Herring as insufficiently progressive.

Herring, who is seeking a third term, will face Republican state Del. Jason Miyares in the November general election.

“After eight years of unprecedented progress, we’ll have the opportunity with a Democratic majority to break progressive ground like never before,” Herring said on Twitter after he was declared the winner.

Jones conceded and tweeted that he’ll work to elect Herring and the entire Democratic ticket.

Herring is a former state senator who became attorney general in 2014 and was reelected easily in 2017. He pitched himself to voters as a progressive champion on abortion rights, gun control and immigrant-friendly policies and argued that his experience made him the best choice to keep the office in Democratic control.

Herring has touted his record battling former President Donald Trump’s policies in court, his work to eliminate Virginia’s backlog of untested rape kits, his defense of marriage equality, and his efforts to hold manufacturers accountable for their role in the opioid crisis.

Jones, a Black 32-year-old two-term delegate, argued it was time for change and sought to cast Herring as slow to respond to the reckoning sparked by the police killing of George Floyd last summer.

He repeatedly criticized Herring, who is white, for creating an animal rights unit before an office of civil rights. Jones said that as attorney general he would use the office to more aggressively investigate police shootings.

Another issue in the sometimes-contentious race was Herring’s acknowledgement in 2019 that he had worn blackface in college.

During a debate, Jones attacked Herring not for having worn blackface but for what he described as an insincere apology at the time to the legislative Black caucus.

Jones picked up Northam’s endorsement in a move seen as a significant snub of Herring. He also had the backing of former Attorney General Mary Sue Terry, the first and only woman ever elected to statewide office in Virginia, and U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria.

Many other establishment Democratic figures, including two of the state’s most powerful Black lawmakers, had endorsed Herring.

Miyares issued a statement after Herring’s victory calling the attorney general too liberal.

“Under Mark Herring’s leadership, the Attorney General’s office has become radically liberal and more dangerous,” Miyares said.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Del. Hala Ayala, who launched her political career in 2017 in response to the election of Donald Trump, won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, boosted by the endorsement of Gov. Ralph Northam.

Ayala was the favorite of the Democratic establishment, and had the endorsement of House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn as well as Northam. She defeated Roanoke Del. Sam Rasoul, who had been a slight favorite and the preferred candidate of the party’s progressive wing.

Ayala represents parts of Prince William County and claims Afro-Latina, Irish and Lebanese heritage. Her nomination also practically ensures that Virginia will elect its first female lieutenant governor — her Republican opponent is Winsome Sears, the first Black woman to receive a major party’s endorsement for statewide office.

In a statement issued after her victory, Ayala emphasized her personal story, as she did throughout her campaign, including her father’s death to gun violence and a harrowing pregnancy where she relied on Medicaid for health care.

“I understand the struggles so many Virginia families face because I’ve lived them,” she said.

Ayala ran for delegate after helping organize the Women’s March on Washington after Trump’s election in 2016. She went on to defeat a four-term incumbent, Richard Anderson, who now chairs the Republican Party of Virginia.

Late in the campaign, Ayala accepted $100,000 from Dominion Energy’s political action committee, despite a pledge to environmental group Clean Virginia — which itself had donated $25,000 to Ayala’s campaign — that she wouldn’t do so.

Sears quickly jumped on the issue, criticizing Ayala Tuesday night after her victory for taking Dominion’s money.

“Delegate Ayala has proven that Virginians cannot trust her, that her pocket is prime for lining, and that her loyalty can be bought,” Sears said in a written statement.

The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and can break tie votes in a chamber that is narrowly controlled by Democrats. The post has often served as a launching pad for gubernatorial bids.

___

Barakat reported from Falls Church.

(All contents © copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved)

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Shen. Co. Distillery indicted on environmental charges

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By Associated Press | Published Jan. 19, 2021 8:00 a.m.

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) — A Virginia distillery and its owner have been indicted on multiple charges involving illegal dumping of industrial waste, authorities said.

A Shenandoah County grand jury returned a 115-count indictment last week against Filibuster Distillery LLC and Siddharth Dilawri.

The distillery is charged with 47 counts of discharging industrial waste without a permit into a state water, one count of discharging industrial waste into a publicly owned waste treatment works, and one count of altering state water without a permit and making it detrimental to public health, The Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg reported.

Dilawri, the owner, is charged with 54 counts of discharging industrial waste without a permit into a state water, two counts of discharging industrial waste into a publicly owned waste treatment works, and one count of altering state water without a permit and making it detrimental to public health.

Filibuster Barrels LLC, also known as Dilawri Barrels, also faces nine counts of discharging industrial waste without a permit into a state water.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a news release that the case marks the first criminal indictments related to environmental violations brought by his office and the state Department of Environmental Quality.

“Not only did this distillery allegedly dump tens of thousands of gallons of industrial waste into a stream, Dilawri also allegedly lied about it to investigators, and that will not be tolerated in Virginia,” Herring said.

Dilawri could not be reached for comment.

Online court records list his status as “fugitive” and indicate that a writ has been issued for his arrest.

Shenandoah County Fire Marshal David Ferguson said the investigation began in December 2018 after he received complaints from neighbors of the distillery about odor and discoloration in a nearby creek.

(All contents © copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved)

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