[UPDATED] Fraudulent deaf video relay providers Viable, Bonheyo & Bonheyo — a quick look back when the story first broke

Now convicted of fraud, these Viable executives caused chaos for the deaf business community.

THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — [UPDATED Jan 27, 2012 — Both Bonheyos arraigned in federal court — see below.] With the Viable executives headed to jail and the Bonheyo & Bonheyo executives now indicted, I reviewed a number of  deaf issues/news websites to get a gist of what was happening when the VRS  (video relay service) scandal broke.  Some of the anonymous sites were pretty nasty towards Viable executives John Yeh and Anthony Mowl — mostly containing mostly hearsay that I cannot confirm (I shall not link to them). But common to a number of them read something like this:

(from the CBS News comments section) “by [deleted] December 1, 2009 9:20 AM EST: What about Bonheyo and Bonheyo LLC (Bridget and Jerry Bonheyo)and [deleted]? They hired employees to make illegtitmate calls. FCC should do an investitgation on them!”

It appears that fraud among VRS was common knowledge even back then. Other video relay service providers were named as well. Whether or not any other VRS providers will be indicted by the Justice department is anyone’s guess. But it would be no surprise that the Justice department is working from clues served up on a plate at these websites.

Then there were some like this one (also from the CBS News website):

“by mary moylan November 19, 2009 11:05 PM EST I am a certified (CI, CT and SC:L written) sign language interpreter. I worked for Viable Communications at the Ellicott City location. I was trained as a video relay interpreter by a different company who taught us FCC rules. Although I repeatedly told my manager that the calls were NOT legit, she said John Yeh (the president of Viable) told us to “go ahead and interpret.” I refused. I was illegally videotaped by Viable hanging up on “phony” calls. Although I have been an interpreter for 22 years, I have been banned as a “bad” interpreter (by the deaf community as well as interpreting agencies) for suing Viable because I am still owed 2 paychecks by the company. My lawsuit was thrown out of court because John Yeh has multiple shell companies and I am unable to pierce the corporate veil. By his criminal activity, he has destroyed countless interpreters’ lives. No one seems to care about how we, the interpreters, have been negatively affected.”

I did a background check and confirmed that Ms. Moylan is indeed an interpreter and former Viable employee. And she did attempt to recover money through the courts. Also, her case is discussed on some interpreter websites. I do not know what ultimately happened to Ms. Moyland, whether or not she ever received her pay or even if she is still a sign language interpreter.

In the two years since the first indictment, the reputation of deaf businesses took a severe hit. The final tally of the damage to the community caused by widespread personal greed won’t be totaled up for years. The number of people indicted for VRS fraud runs into the dozens. Whitewashing and excusing criminal behavior is not the path toward rebuilding — sadly, this is exactly what some are doing. Hopefully, old values are toss aside to rid the community of those who believe taxpayer money is theirs for the taking, stolen or not.

————

UPDATE-1: Jan 27, 2012 — Both Bridget and Jerome Bonheyo were arraigned the Trenton, New Jersey federal district court.  Both pleaded not guilty. Trial is scheduled for March 2, 2012.

There is not much additional information at this, however, my hunch is that if a plea bargain isn’t reached with the parties shortly, we’ll see a continuance of the trial until some time later this year because we’re looking at only 5 weeks between the arraignment and trial date. I’ll keep you posted.

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My most recent post on this topic: http://lexiecannes.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/two-people-indicted-in-another-vrs-video-relay-service-for-deaf-people-federal-fraud-case/

Two years ago from CBS News: “In a widespread scheme one assistant Attorney General described as “outrageous and insidious,” 26 people from seven companies in eight states were indicted Thursday for stealing more than $50 million from a government fund . . . “: Feds Crack Down on Call Center Scheme – CBS News.

From the U. S. Dept of Justice Nov, 19, 2009: “Twenty-six Charged in Nationwide Scheme to Defraud the FCC’s Video Relay Service Program. Arrests Made in Nine States”: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2009/November/09-crm-1258.html

More reader comments from CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com/8601-500690_162-5713910-2.html?assetTypeId=30&blogId=&tag=contentBody;commentWrapper#ixzz1hu6aQiaw

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13 replies

  1. Wow, this is even more wide-spread and insidious than I thought! I hope every last one of them are held accountable!

  2. It’s such a shame how some in the deaf community are looking the other way or claiming FCC/Feds are going after deaf owned companies when in fact they actually broke the law. Integrity seems to be a missing ingredient here for some of these companies and people. While I have heard rumors that other VRS companies (including ‘hearing owned’) are just as guilty of the same practices, we can assume more indictment will come up. Unless I’m wrong about it…we’ll see.

    FYI, lack of integrity in certain deaf clubs/organizations in US in the past involves embezzling of funds by officers or chair persons have happened, so…this is not surprising at all for me. Sure, these things happens in the hearing world too. Regardless, all who have broken the law should be held accountable once they have been convicted by a jury/judge.

    This is all greed. They’re just as bad as Enron and Wall Street. With Bonheyo’s, we’ll find out if they’re innocent or guilty. We all reap what we sow.

  3. Embezzling funds from deaf organizations is a ridiculously popular pastime among some deaf community leaders and law enforcement isn’t always called in. The simple fact that “Deaf Man of The Year” John Yeh is off to prison likely has some people thinking about consequences for a change.

  4. Knowing so many deaf people and deaf businessmen and deaf con artists, none of that surprises me. I am utterly disgusted at all this. The indictments are not surprising and I am actually a little surprised not more people are indicted.

  5. If you all say bonheyo hired employees to make fake calls, then why isn’t robin horwitz fined for tryi to hire people through hawk relay using fake approach with offer 500 dollars a month for make evaluations on hawk relay? He does not deserve to be a Convo CEO! He stole a lot interpreters from hawk relay and still know he did was wrong! Those who were suckered by him doing non exist 500 a month knew he did it. FBI and attorney has a copy of email from an employee who was never paid for this work and named robin. June le fors was her ” regional supervisor” in hawk relay in the south states area. Robin is?busted when hawk relay indictment will be next after bonheyo!

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Trackbacks

  1. [UPDATE-2] Bridget Bonheyo and husband indicted in another VRS (video relay service for deaf people) federal fraud case « The Guerrilla Angel Report by Lexie Cannes
  2. Ex-prez of a small college (Gallaudet U. for the deaf) is highest-paid federal retiree! « The Guerrilla Angel Report by Lexie Cannes
  3. Deaf video relay (VRS) fraud defendents Jerome & Bridget Bonheyo hire private attorney « The Guerrilla Angel Report by Lexie Cannes
  4. VRS fraud felon Jessica Bacallao using her parents’ deafness to escape jail term « The Guerrilla Angel Report by Lexie Cannes
  5. Larry Berke, Lisa Goetz and other convicted VRS fraud thugs head to jail or house arrest « The Guerrilla Angel Report by Lexie Cannes
  6. Bonheyo federal VRS fraud case: GUILTY! « The Guerrilla Angel Report by Lexie Cannes

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