LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — [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.
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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