Monday, February 4, 2008

Skippygate II: Electric Boogaloo

The other shoe has finally dropped in the Skippygate saga:

United States Attorney Glenn T. Suddaby announced today the Indictment of two Oriskany area men on fraud charges.

James M. Kernan, 59, of Utica Street, and Robert J. Anderson, also known as "Skip Anderson," 64, of Utica Street, were named in a fifteen count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Syracuse on January 30.

Kernan the President of Oriska Insurance Company. Kernan and Anderson are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in addition to ten substantive counts of mail and wire fraud.

The Indictment charges that Kernan and Anderson engaged in a scheme to defraud by marketing workers compensation insurance policies through Oriska Insurance Company which they knew Oriska was not authorized or licensed to write. It is charged that Kernan and Anderson represented that Oriska could provide insurance coverage for workers in states where Oriska was not licensed.

Further, the Indictment alleges that Kernan and Anderson marketed workers compensation policies with high deductible endorsements during a time period when Oriska was not authorized by the New York State Insurance Department to issue policies containing such terms.

Hopefully, during this year's election someone will finally ask how Congressman Arcuri's campaign got their hands on a copy of the FBI search warrant for Oriska.

If you remember, Arcuri steadfastly refused to return thousands of dollars in dodgy donations from Oriska's owners and staff right up until the FBI actually started hauling documents out of the building, and then he only returned the donations from Anderson and Kernan. It wasn't until over a week later, again after repeated refusals to even consider returning all the money, that he finally rolled over and coughed up the cash.

Curiously, for reasons that still escape me, Ray Meier never made an issue out of Arcuri's odd behavior during the 2006 election. The timing of the refunds, and the specificity of the funds returned, makes it clear that Arcuri's campaign had a copy of the FBI warrant the morning of the raid. Since the federales aren't in the habit of faxing legal documents to political campaigns it seems obvious that Arcuri himself, or his staff in the DA's office, used the named targets of the search warrant to decide which donations were too hot to keep.

The ethics, or lack thereof, of using your official position to protect your candidacy from embarrassing political revelations should be obvious.