You've probably heard by now about the South Carolina parts suppliers that shipped two 19-cent washers to an Army base in Texas then billed the government $998,798 for shipping. Then they sent to Iraq three machine screws which cost $1.31 each but billed the feds $455,009 for shipping. And to round out the fraudulent billing, they shipped an 89-cent split washer to an Air Force base in Florida and billed taxpayers $293,451.
How can this happen you might ask. Well, the question is well worth asking and the answer only illustrates the failed bureaucracy that is our federal government. It seems that under a military policy, items that are sent to war zones or other locations designated as "priority" areas, the bills are paid automatically without review.
The two owners of the company - twin sisters - are now facing prison and hefty fines. Actually, one of the sisters recently died. But the other sister - Charlene Corley - was fined $750,000 and faces 20 years in prison. We can only hope she serves every single day. The government hopes to recoup some of the money by selling the woman's home, beach-front property, jewelry and high-end automobiles. Rest assured, they will come nowhere near the $20.5 million in phony billing the company stuck taxpayers with over the past six years.
OK, so I have a few questions. For starters, excluding the combat zones, is there not an acceptable washer in Florida or Texas where the parts were shipped? Granted, it may not be as easy as dropping by the local hardware store but come on, how difficult can that be? But more importantly, which idiot in our federal bureaucracy would approve a plan to provide automated billing regardless of the amount? That person, in my opinion, is the real criminal.
Bureaucrats know they are not spending their own money so they often couldn't care less. It seems impossible to my limited mind to understand how $20 million in shipping costs can go unnoticed regardless of the size of the federal government. There are no excuses.
I don't want Congress to hold hearings into the matter, I want someone fired and jailed. And I don't want that to happen in a year or two, I want their butts in jail long before the Thanksgiving holidays.
Apparently much of the phony shipping money will never be recovered because the sisters loved to take long, luxury vacations. Of course, they were using your money. Money that you worked long and hard to provide. And they laughed at you in the process.
Send Dear Charlene to jail for 20 years. Take every penny that they can find. Then address the stinking lousy bureaucrat who approved this policy. And remove from office the politicians who approved the policy. Fire the military personnel who were too dumb to notice. And then, change the damned policy.
In all, the government ordered a total of $68,000 in parts from this company then paid $20 million to ship these small parts. You can't tell me someone, somewhere, somehow did not take notice for six long years of this repulsive fraud. Find them and nail their fannies to the wall.
Here's how the Justice Department justified the mistake. Read this carefully:
"These shipping claims were processed automatically to streamline the resupply of items to combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Well if the safety and security and effectiveness of our troops are dependent on two 19-cent washers, then let's come home, accept our fate and redesign our entire system of government.
Without a doubt, I fault these two sisters for finding a loophole and jumping through it with both feet. But more importantly, I fault the lazy, stupid policy-
maker who allowed this process in the first place. That nameless bastard may never be punished. And that is the real crime.