relief

Defining ‘Contractor’ Status Would Provide Some Relief for Workers

A new rule proposed by the Department of Labor could bring partial relief to businesses struggling to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic fallout. It could also help millions of workers who are straining to maintain their livelihoods or attempting to find new ones.

For the first time in more than 80 years since the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act, a new proposed rule seeks to provide clarity on the definition of an “independent contractor” for general industry.

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This is important because it can be difficult for businesses to differentiate between employers and contractors, and extremely costly if they make the wrong determination.

As Labor Department Secretary Eugene Scalia noted, “Employers and workers looking for guidance have had to parse the sometimes-divergent decisions of the federal courts of appeals, and opinion letters the Labor Department issues occasionally without public notice or input.”

Ambiguity about how to classify workers can result in high administrative costs and cause fear and uncertainty for employers who risk costly lawsuits that could destroy their entire business if they make the wrong determination.

Fines and penalties for misclassifying workers can include back payroll tax payments, over 40% of the misclassified workers’ wages for up to three years, and, if the misclassification is determined to be intentional, up to $500,000 in fines and a year in prison.

It’s not just a difference in payments that separates employees from contractors. Employers could be on the hook for many other violations, such as: not properly documenting a worker’s hours, neglecting to

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Coronavirus relief funds for nursing homes dry up, raising fears for elderly, vulnerable

As drafts of a renewed coronavirus relief package continue to be debated in and around the White House, the many millions left languishing in nursing homes and elderly care facilities – along with their loved ones forced to communicate with them from afar – are urging swift action.

According to the American Health Care Association (AHCA), almost all the initial $175 billion U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funds from the CARES Act – which was signed into law by President Trump in late March – has been spent, and yet coronavirus – officially termed COVID-19 – cases in at least 22 states continues to ascend, ahead of the already daunting cold and flu season.

“HHS has announced distribution plans for 80 percent of the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund created by the CARES Act. Health care providers, including nursing homes, will need additional resources to continue its response to the COVID pandemic heading into the cold and flu season, which provides new challenges,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), told Fox News. “COVID-19 disproportionately impacts the elderly – many of whom already have preexisting health conditions and chronic diseases – and the dedicated staff who care for them.”

AMID CORONAVIRUS, 1 IN 4 AMERICANS ARE FAILING TO WASH THEIR HANDS: CDC

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) has thus requested an additional $100 billion from the HHS Provider Relief Fund, which is accessible for all health care providers impacted by the novel pathogen, and asked “that a sizeable portion of the fund be dedicated to helping nursing homes and assisted living communities to acquire resources associated with protecting vulnerable residents and staff from the virus, including constant testing, personal protective

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The Pentagon funneled coronavirus relief funds to defense contractors

The Cares Act, which Congress passed earlier this year, gave the Pentagon money to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” But a few weeks later, the Defense Department began reshaping how it would award the money in a way that represented a major departure from Congress’s intent.

The payments were made even though U.S. health officials think major funding gaps in pandemic response still remain. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in Senate testimony last week that states desperately need $6 billion to distribute vaccines to Americans early next year. Many U.S. hospitals still face a severe shortage of N95 masks. These are the types of problems that the money was originally intended to address.

“This is part and parcel of whether we have budget priorities that actually serve our public safety or whether we have a government that is captured by special interests,” said Mandy Smithberger, a defense analyst at the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group.

DOD officials contend that they have sought to strike a balance between boosting American medical production and supporting the defense industry, whose health they consider critical to national security. The Pentagon, which as of 2016 employed more than 156,000 people working in acquisitions alone, also has lent its expertise to the Department of Health and Human Services as it seeks to purchase billions of dollars in needed medical equipment.

“We are thankful the Congress provided authorities and resources that enabled the [executive branch] to invest in domestic production of critical medical resources and protect key defense capabilities from the consequences of COVID,” Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, said in a statement. “We need to always remember that economic security and national security are very tightly interrelated and our industrial base

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Defense Contractor Charged with $13M in COVID-19 Relief Fraud

The CEO of a defense contractor based in Hawaii has been charged with nearly $13 million in COVID-19 relief fraud.

Martin Kao is the CEO of Navatek, which was renamed Martin Defense Group back in July. According to the Department of Justice, the 47-year-old executive fraudulently obtained about $12.8 million in Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed under the CARES Act.

According to the complaint, Kao submitted at least two fraudulent PPP loan applications by falsely inflating his number of employees on the loan application and falsely certifying his company had not received another PPP loan. He stated that his company had about 500 employees when it had fewer than 150.

After receiving the nearly $13 million in loans, he transferred more than $2 million into his personal accounts.

According to Civil Beat, the CEO’s offices in Honolulu were raided by federal investigators. Kao also has political connections due to numerous campaign contributions and used those relationships, specifically with U.S. senators, to strongarm banks into pushing through the applications.

Kao faces two counts of bank fraud and five counts of money laundering. 

According to the Martin Defense Group website, the company provides research and development for the Department of Defense, NASA, and other government agencies. 

In May, the company won a $5.5 million DARPA contract to develop autonomous underwater vehicle technology for the agency’s Manta Ray Program. And in August 2019, the company won an $8 million contract from the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research (ONR) to design safer hulls and hybrid-electric propulsion systems for small watercraft.

The company was founded in Hawaii in 1979 but has offices in Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia.

In an early statement, issued through public relations firm, CommPac, Kao said, “Navatek is a highly reputable company with

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Hawaii defense contractor charged with $12.8m coronavirus relief fraud



a man wearing a suit and tie: MailOnline logo


© Provided by Daily Mail
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A high-profile Hawaii-based defense contractor has been arrested on charges of swindling $12.8 million in funds intended to prop up small businesses during COVID-19.

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Martin Kao, 47, a generous political donor, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with bank fraud and money laundering, accused of siphoning off $2 million of the fraudulent loan into his own personal bank account.

The Department of Justice accused Kao of falsifying loan applications so that he could receive more money than he was entitled to under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was created by Congress as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act meant to stave off financial ruin for individuals and small businesses during the pandemic.   

Kao submitted at least two fraudulent PPP loan applications, prosecutors allege.

They claim he falsely inflated the number of employees on the loan application, and falsely certified that the applicant and its affiliates would not receive, and had not received, another PPP loan.  

He was charged with two counts of bank fraud and five counts of money laundering. 

Kao will make his initial appearance in court in Honolulu on Thursday, before U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield. 



a man wearing a suit and tie: Martin Kao, CEO of Navatek - now Martin Defense Group - was arrested on Wednesday


© Provided by Daily Mail
Martin Kao, CEO of Navatek – now Martin Defense Group – was arrested on Wednesday



David M. Dooley in a suit and tie: Kao (right) is the CEO of Navatek, which specializes in contracts for the Department of Defense and Nasa, among others


© Provided by Daily Mail
Kao (right) is the CEO of Navatek, which specializes in contracts for the Department of Defense and Nasa, among others

Kao in 2017 was appointed CEO of Navatek, a defense company with contracts for the Defense Department and Nasa.

Five days before his arrest Kao announced that the company was being renamed Martin Defense Group, after him.

‘While I respect and value Navatek’s history, our re-branding as Martin Defense Group allows us to turn

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