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Cream Scheme defendants claim they are, “prisoners in their own home due to the widespread publicity” request change of trial venue.

An October 5th court filing on behalf of Hope Thomley, Randy Thomley, and Doyle Beach asking the court for a change of venue for the upcoming trial paints the defendants as victims of the publicity that surrounds their alleged conspiracy to defraud veterans TRICARE of over $200 million dollars.  In the court pleadings attorneys for the trio claim,

“The Accused cannot even go to dinner without being harassed and have become prisoners in their own home due to the widespread publicity in this town.”

The motion for change of venue goes on to argue how media coverage by Hattiesburg Patriot News Media has made it impossible for the Thomleys and Doyle Beach to get a fair trial. The motion states the following:

“The Hattiesburg Patriot has served as a mouth-piece for locals (the Jury Pool) to discuss their thoughts on the Accused’s guilt on its Facebook and Twitter pages. The Twitter coverage of this investigation goes back to at least 2017. See Exhibit I. A video posted on the Hattiesburg Patriot’s Twitter and Facebook page of the Thomleys walking into the courthouse to be arraigned received over 10,000 views (in a town with a population of 50,000) and 138 comments, including disparaging highly prejudicial ones such as ‘throw them all in jail’ and ‘everything they have done is intentional’ and ‘seems like Hope lies…”

The motion to change venue goes on to say,

“Another social media post by the Hattiesburg Patriot of the Thomley’s (sic) walking into their arraignment garnered additional prejudicial comments such as ‘burn in hell greedy pos’ (pos = pieces of sh*t) and ‘I hope they are miserable wherever they go this is shameful.’ See exhibit K, attached hereto. The Hattiesburg Patriot also posted a video outside the courthouse the day of Doyle Beach’s arraignment, with the caption ‘Doyle Beach Jr. shackled and handcuffed in court appearance #CreamScheme Live.’ See Exhibit L. That received over 10,000 views and 86 comments, including ‘Pure GREED.’ Id On July 4th, 2018, the Hattiesburg Patriot announced via Facebook that ‘the odds are not good at trial for the cream scheme defendants. The U.S. Attorney’s office of Mississippi’s Southern District has a 100% conviction rate in 2015…’ “

The Cream Scheme defendants didn’t stop there. The motions continues,

“The Hattiesburg Patriot once again uploaded a video to Twitter and Facebook announcing Spell’s plea with the hashtag ‘#CreamScheme’ and noting that it is ‘in connection with Advantage Pharmacy syndicate.’ See Exhibit P. This video received over 7,500 views and 54 comments (demonstrating the continued interest in the so called #CreamScheme) including comments that specifically reference the Accused and say things such as ‘it couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of scumbags.’ “

The attorneys for the defendants actually performed a survey using Survey Monkey about the coverage of the Cream Scheme. the motion purports,

“In Dancel’s Survey, 62% of participants from the Eastern Division had heard about the Diaz trial and 70% were familiar with the Hattiesburg Patriot website.”

Hattiesburg Patriot News Media serves as a watchdog for the greater Pine Belt area with particular focus on Hattiesburg and Forrest County. HPNM relies on citizen members to help cover the costs associated with providing this service. Please become a member today and support the only true investigative journalism outlet in the Pine Belt. Click here to join. 

AUDIO: Nurse Practitioner Susan Perry, who was sentenced for fraud and received kickbacks for prescriptions, begged for mercy

  • 29:10 Susan Perry asked the court for mercy for her role writing 1.2 million in fraudulent prescriptions to obtain approximately $50,000 in reported kickbacks from Jay Schaar. Schaar was a sales rep for Hope Thomley’s Total Care Marketing. TCM recruited preacribers and benefociaries for kickbacka according to Schaar’s testimony.36:00 minutes, Judge Starrett hands down his sentenced and speaks of future prosecutions on the horizon.
    Susan Perry

Dewmar, Inc. CEO Marco Moran funneled $6 million from the Cream Scheme through a publicly traded corporation.

Dewmar Inc. CEO, Marco Moran, who pleaded guilty to health care fraud in connection with monies he received from Medworx, also funneled over $6 million from Medworx through a wholly owned subsidiary of Dewmar called Health & Wellness Research Consortium (HWRC). Hattiesburg Patriot News Media has obtained copies of the Medworx checks that were paid to HWRC (see below)

Moran reported the income to his stockholders, which resulted in the stock price increasing, but what stockholders didn’t know at the time was that the funds were derived from defrauding veteran’s TRICARE and other health Care beneficiaries, including the City of Jackson’s health benefit program.

Hattiesburg Patriot News Media is following the money in this ongoing investigation. A feature story will be published next week on Moran and Dewmar. To catch up on this story search for the hashtag #MarCon on Facebook and Twitter.

Below is a copy of the checks that Medworx paid Moran though HWRC

dewmar financials-pages-86-104

COURT AUDIO: Dewmar CEO Marco Moran pleads guilty to defrauding veteran’s TRICARE (and others) of $22 million

Below is the courtroom audio of Marco Moran pleading guilty before Keith Starrett.

Below is the courtroom audio of Marco Moran at his initial appearance before Magistrate Parker. Moran pleaded not guilty here as a matter of formality. He received bond, then proceeded before Judge Keith Starrett to plead guilty

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Tom Garmon, Founder
Hattiesburg Patriot News Media

 

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Rick Taylor made Visitor Center employees collect money for wife’s cookie business and record sales former employees say.

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Two former employees of the Hattiesburg Visitors Center spoke to HPNM and said that their boss, Rick Taylor, required them to sell his wife’s cookies, collect payment for cookie orders and keep detailed records of all cash payments for the baked goods as part of their work duties.

One of the former employees described the responsibilities she and other employees were given by Taylor in operating his wife’s cookie business from the taxpayer-funded Visitors Center; the other former employee simply corroborated that information. Both wish to remain anonymous, but the former employee who discussed her job responsibilities has given permission to publish her recorded comments, providing her identity is protected. That recording will be published net week, but a partial transcript is published below.

The information provided by these whistle blowers confirms the report posted September 4 by the Hattiesburg Patriot detailing suspected violations of state ethics and purchasing laws by Taylor, long-time executive director of the Hattiesburg Convention Center and, until June 2017, of the Hattiesburg Tourism Commission.  Specifically, the Patriot published information indicating that Taylor had an apparent conflict of interest and seems to have used his office and public resources improperly to help his wife build and “brand” her business and obtain, unfairly, an immeasurable advantage in the marketplace.

In the September 4th report, the Hattiesburg Patriot referred to misuse of public resources in terms of promotions carried out by staff members of the Tourism Commission and Convention Center marketing offices.  This new account heightens the level of suspected misconduct, however, as it draws Visitors Center employees directly into sales transactions for Mrs. Taylor’s bakery and further substantiates the previously reported violations by Mrs. Taylor of the Cottage Food Operations Law.  As the operator of a cottage food business, Ms. Taylor is expressly forbidden to advertise or sell her product online or in retail or wholesale settings.

Following is a transcription of comments received from the former employee who called the Hattiesburg Patriot to describe her former duties selling cookies at the Visitors Center:

“She (Mrs. Taylor) would bake those cookies, have the orders for them; he (Taylor) would bring them in the morning to us at the visitors center and the people would come there and pay for them, and we would have to take care of the money. And he had a little box on the wall that we had to put the money in, and we had to keep a close accounting of it. He kinda didn’t accuse anybody, but he said one time that she was short of money. I didn’t think iT was right that they were using the Visitors Center for us to take care of her money for her cookies.

“When she (Mrs. Taylor) would take the orders she would tell them (customers) that they could pick them up at the Visitors Center at certain  certain days. She didn’t let them come to her house. The cookies would come by Rick on his way to work in the morning. And they would be boxed up and everything, and who was to pick them up, and how much money we was to collect. I don’t know if that means anything, but they had no business using the Visitors Center that way.

“There was a box on the wall in our little workroom where we would put the money down in, and we didn’t have a key to it, you know. We just put the money down there. and we put on the money – if it was a check, we didn’t have to put who it was from. If it was cash, we put a notation who it was from – And then we had a little notebook that we listed who bought cookies today and they paid $14.50 or whatever.

“He (taylor) has been abusing that place for years, and something needs to be done about it.”

Neither Convention Center Director Rick Taylor nor Tourism Commission attorney David Ott responded to request for comments prior to the publication of this article. Taylor is the current Convention Center Director, which received the 2% restaurant tax.

Convention Center Director Rick Taylor bolstered wife’s cookie brand using taxpayer money and resources.

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rick taylor vickie hattiesburg
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*Correction – Attorney David Ott was incorrectly referenced as the Convention Center attorney. He is the Tourism Commission attorney. 

Building a brand is often difficult and expensive, and a coveted part of any brand is its social media presence. Without thousands of dollars in Facebook promotions, marketing tie-ins with established brands, and/or viral marketing, getting a brand off the ground can be next to impossible. Vicki Taylor, wife of Convention Center Director Rick Taylor  of Petal, avoided the hardships most brand builders face when she began her cottage food business in 2011, and in only seven years has acquired huge name recognition and an amazing number of followers on Facebook and Instagram. Mrs. Taylor’s recipe for success wasn’t just good cookies, it was also to be hired for taxpayer-funded events and enterprises managed by her husband, Hattiesburg Convention Center Director Rick Taylor, and to coordinate her own marketing efforts with the Convention Center’s publicity machine, which automatically provided enormous boosts to her brand.

Mr.Taylor promoted his wife’s cottage food business on the Facebook Pages of the Hattiesburg Zoo, The Miss Hospitality Pageant, Visit Hattiesburg, the Saenger Theater, the Convention Center,  the Jimmy Buffet concert, you name it. He promoted her, and he did so in clear violation of Mississippi ethics and procurement laws, along with the tacit approval of both the Hattiesburg Convention Center Board and Hattiesburg Tourism Commission

rick taylor hattiesburg
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Board.

From late 2012 until May 2016, Taylor purchased just over $5,900 in cookies from his wife to give to visitors as refreshments in the Visitor center but screenshots from her cookie page indicate she is sending customers to the Visitors Center. Taylor has stated that he recused himself from the purchases, according to a letter from Tourism Commission Center attorney David Ott. However, Taylor’s recusal does not clear him of violating state ethics and procurement laws.

The State Ethics Code begins with statute 25-4-101, which declares that elected and public office and employment is a public trust and that any effort to realize personal gain through official conduct not provided by law violates that trust.  The wording of the remainder of this statute is crucial:

“public servants shall endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that they are likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of this trust and which will not reflect unfavorably upon the state and local governments.”

Rick Taylor has almost certainly violated both the above Statute 25-4-101 and 25-4-105 (1) below:

“No public servant shall use his official position to obtain, or attempt to obtain, pecuniary benefit for himself other than that compensation provided for by law, or to obtain, or attempt to obtain, pecuniary benefit for any relative or any business with which he is associated.”

Attorney Ott, in his letter to the Ethics Commission, points out that Ms. Taylor earned less than $2,500 annually.  However, when it comes to conflicts of interest and improper use of office, money is not the only factor to be considered. Below are three key definitions from 25-4-105:

     (c) “Business” means any corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, organization, holding company, self- employed individual, joint stock company, receivership, trust or other legal entity or undertaking organized for economic gain, a nonprofit corporation or other such entity, association or organization receiving public funds.

     (d) “Business with which he is associated” means any business of which a public servant or his relative is an officer, director, owner, partner, employee or is a holder of more than ten percent (10%) of the fair market value or from which he or his relative derives more than Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($2,500.00) in annual income or over which such public servant or his relative exercises control.

     (e) “Compensation” means money or thing of value received, or to be received, from any person for services rendered.

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It would appear based on the above statute that a spouse who owns more than 10% (in this case 100%) of the business, cannot receive any government money for sale of the company’s products.  Also a pecuniary benefit is not limited to to monies, but would also include non monetary benefits derived from the promotions she received on various social media pages of taxpayer entities under the management of her husband. 

Beyond the Ethics Law issues, there appear to be violations with purchasing law. Section 31-7-11 of the Mississippi State Code of 1972 makes it clear that favoritism is not permitted as a purchasing practice.

The Mississippi Procurement Manual devotes an entire chapter to ethics in public contracting, stating “It shall be a breach of ethical standards for any employee to participate directly or indirectly in a procurement when the employee knows that:

(a) The employee or any member of the employee’s immediate family has a financial interest pertaining to the procurement;

(b) A business or organization in which the employee, or any member of the employee’s immediate family, has a financial interest pertaining to the procurement.”

The procurement manual instructs any employee who discovers an actual or potential conflict of interest to

promptly file a written statement of disqualification and … withdraw from further participation in the transaction.”

hattiesburg zoo vicky taylor
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It also instructs that said employee may apply to the Ethics Commission for an advisory opinion as to whether the employee may have any further participation in the transaction.

According to Mr. Ott, Rick Taylor took neither of these required steps. 

The Hattiesburg Patriot News Media’s investigation also revealed that Mr. Taylor’s wife, a talented cookie artisan, has a home kitchen-based business known as a Cottage Food business. Under Mississippi Law, cottage food businesses are allowed to sell only to the end consumer at markets approved by DOAH (Department of Animal Husbandry).  Also, cottage food businesses are prohibited from soliciting sales online, including social media, and they cannot sell wholesale or in retail establishments. The law reads,

“(2) A cottage food operation may not sell or offer for sale cottage food products over the Internet, by mail order, or at wholesale or to a retail establishment.”

vicky taylor
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Directly or indirectly, Rick Taylor shamelessly promoted his wife’s cookie business using taxpayer entities. His wife, in turn, promoted those same events on her business site.

Tourism Commission Attorney, Mr. Ott, maintains that Ms. Taylor earned negligible amounts, a mere 37 cents per cookie in connection with the $5900 in cookies purchased by the Visitors Center for “Refreshments”. Ott admits, however, that Ms. Taylor cannot document all of her sales.  Unfortunately for her and for taxpayers, one of the requirements for being a cottage food operation is that written documentation of annual sales be kept.  Section 1b of the Cottage Food Production Operations Law reads: ” A cottage food operation must provide the department, upon request, with written documentation to verify the operation’s annual gross sales.”

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Mr. Ott does document Ms. Taylor’s sales to the Tourism Commission.  Her only sale in 2012 was November 11, for $142.  In 2013, she earned $1,793 in cookie sales.  In 2014, she earned $1,432 from the sale of cookies to the Tourism Commission and $404.79 in outside sales.  By 2015, outside sales jumped dramatically; Ms. Taylor earned $1,777.00 in sales to the Tourism Commission and $1,923.00 to others.  In 2016, Ms. Taylor posted sales of $770.00 to the Tourism Commission and $1,312.00 in outside sales; her last transaction with the Tourism Commission was in May of 2016.

Ms. Taylor was paid from the Tourism Commission’s petty cash fund. Responses to public records requests from the Hattiesburg Patriot indicate that no W-9 was filed for her, meaning presumably that she in turn did not file taxes on these payments.  Ms. Taylor also advertises her business as a charity, and attorney Ott states that she makes it her practice to donate all profits to local charities.  The Hattiesburg Patriot has not found a listing  for her business as a charity or a non-profit with the Secretary of State, however.

hattiesburg zoo vicky taylor
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The figures provided by the Tourism Commission attorney indicate that since 2012, Ms. Taylor has enjoyed a steady growth in sales, both with the Tourism Commission and with outside sales. This growth in sales dovetails with the growing popularity of her business and the success of her brand on social media. The Hattiesburg Patriot contends that she could not have achieved this level of success as quickly as she did without the assistance she received from her husband’s improper use of his office.

And that’s how the cookie crumbles…

Hattiesburg Patriot News Media is funded by people who want to support a local watchdog in the Pine Belt. These investigations take time and money. Patriot-Plus members have access to audios of legal proceedings, court transcripts, legal documents, and audio podcasts involving the corruption published here. #CreamScheme #PlukeyDukey #JLeeWay #TeamDiaz and others. To support this outlet’s furtherance and future expansion please join by clicking here. 

Below are some of the screenshots obtained while investigation this misuse of taxpayer money and resources.

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