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Thursday, March 22, 2018
Two people charged with defrauding minority set-aside program in Chicago
The following article appeared in American Thinker on March 21st
When governments play favorites on the basis of race in awarding contracts, the real scandal isn't people who illegally pretend to be of the favored race or gender or ethnicity, but the discrimination practiced by the government. That is my takeaway from this story by Samantha Bonkamp of the Chicago Tribune.
The president and manager of a car wash that was under contract to wash city vehicles have been charged with defrauding Chicago of more than $900,000 by allegedly using suppliers that didn't comply with the minority business requirements. The two allegedly devised a scheme to inflate prices and make it appear as if the car wash was in line with the rules.
Apparently, they did business with suppliers of the "wrong" ethnicity and then inflated the prices as well as pretended that they were of the "correct" (i.e., favored by the government) ethnicity or sex.
According to a news release distributed by the attorney general's office, the Balzanos, who are married, worked with a subcontractor sanctioned by the city's minority business enterprise rules, Oak Park-based PJ's Ace Hardware, who then allegedly created fake invoices for car wash products that were sold and delivered by suppliers who were not minority-owned.
John Balzano placed orders directly with those suppliers, the attorney general's office said, and then PJ's Ace Hardware allegedly created new invoices, marked up by 15 to 20 percent. Balzano paid those, officials allege, to make it appear that J&J Car Wash was complying with the city's minority business contract goal to spend at least 16.9 percent of the total contract price with minority-owned businesses.
J&J President Natalie Balzano then submitted bids to the city for car wash contracts. The city estimates it lost $931,949 in the so-called "pass-through" scheme.
It is unclear to me if the total sum of nearly a million dollars represents the fraudulent markups or the total spent on the suppliers of the "wrong" disfavored ethnicity. The fraudulent markups would be illegal under any system of law, but the portion of the actual spending (minus the markup) is fraudulent under only the scheme of governmental racial preferences. If the suppliers had been of the "correct" ethnic status, apparently the extra money paid via markups would be just fine as far as the government is concerned.
To me, the scandal of crooks inflating invoices is ordinary crime, detestable but not indicative of a rotten system. But the government playing favorites, and evidently allowing – even demanding – higher prices to be paid to people of an immutable status that the state favors in the current moment is corrosive to foundational principles of this country.
Ed. So, the "crooks" were guilty of doing business with people of the "wrong ethnicity." Had the trade been conducted with people of the "right" ethnicity, the ostensibly inflated prices would have been overlooked!
Crime is only illegal when it doesn't fit with the left's agenda.