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2 More Houston-Area Men Arrested For Joining Capitol Insurrection

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The two men allegedly drove a rental car to D.C. to attend a march and entered the Capitol building during the attack.

Two more Houston-area residents have been accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, bringing the total number of locals arrested to six.

Authorities say Christian Cortez and Benjamin Larocca, both of Seabrook, drove a rental car to Washington, D.C. to attend the march, and entered the Capitol building during the attack. The two men were identified using footage recorded throughout the day, according to court documents.

In one video, Cortez appears on Capitol grounds near a line of officers, alongside other pro-Trump extremists.

Christian Cortez and Benjamin Larocca allegedly entered the Capitol building during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

“Oath breakers! Oath breakers!,” he yells toward a line of officers, according to court documents.

As the video continues, court documents say Cortez could be seen continuing to yell at the officers while moving closer to the line. Cortez then appears to be sprayed with pepper spray by one of the officers, according to a sworn affidavit.

The FBI said another video was found on Benjamin Larocca’s Instagram that appears to be shot from inside the Capitol building, with a caption on the screen reading, “We got in.” An individual who appears to be Cortez can be seen in the video, before the camera flips to show Larocca himself, according to court documents.

“Our house!,” he repeatedly chanted, according to court documents.

In an interview with authorities, Larocca said that he and Cortez were “chilling” in the “tour area” of the Capitol building, and acknowledged that neither he or Cortez had signed up for a tour, according to the affidavit.

Authorities say both Cortez and Larocca were arrested at a residence in Seabrook Friday.

Cortez is charged with assaulting a federal officer, civil disorder, obstructing an official proceeding, unlawfully entering a restricted building to disrupt government, and disorderly conduct on restricted grounds. Larocca is charged with obstructing an official proceeding, unlawfully entering a restricted building to disrupt government, and disorderly conduct on restricted grounds.

The two men join four other Houston-area residents who’ve since been arrested, including: former HPD officer Tam Dinh Pham, Joshua Lollar, Wilmar Alvarado, and Shane Jenkins.

Culled from the NPR

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Education

AIX Founder, Linda Anukwuem Addresses Texas Southern Students on Career Prospects

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“Graduating students must be prepared to reconcile or strike a balance between their values and the culture of the organizations they aspire to. Some corporate cultures require a certain look or presentation to suit specific expectations.”

These are one of the few takeaways when the founder and the Chief Executive Officer of the Houston-based  AIX Firm, LLC., Linda Anukwuem visited the  School of Communication (SOC) of Texas Southern University (TSU) on October 31, 2022.

Ms.  Anukwuem addressed the Media Marketing and Management class of Radio, Television, and Films (RTF) students on career choices and prospects, sharing relevant workforce preparation tips. “It has always been my intention to share this information with students to enable them to get prepared for the ever-challenging corporate arena,” said Ms.  Anukwuem, who is also an Executive Consultant with Quanten Consortium Angola, LLC.,  a global oil and gas exploration firm.

Before joining Quanten Consortium Angola, LLC., Ms. Anukwuem served as the Chair for the City of Houston’s Mayor’s International Trade & Development Council for Africa (MITDC-Africa) under Mayor Annise Parker as well as chaired the Arts, Culture and Community Relations Committee.

In the lecture-themed “Processional Prospects”, Ms. Anukwuem addressed the Importance of networking and how good interaction could invoke viable spaces that can create a successful path to success.  Ms. Anukwuem also discussed the distractive challenges of the career journey. “Every failure became a lesson learned to prepare for the next opportunity,” she advised.

Special guest, Linda Anukwuem (left) and class professor, Dr. Anthony Ogbo

The class professor, Dr. Anthony Ogbo described the lecture as “a perfect fit” for students who are eager to learn about better career prospects. “Sharing real-world workforce realities is a major part of our course objectives and teaching standards, and this event dovetails that purpose,”   Dr. Ogbo said.

Linda attended the University of Houston, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology. In her professional career, she worked as an accountant with Bracewell & Guiliani, LLP, and United Airlines. Because of her hard work and professional acumen, she was featured in the eighth edition of Who’s Who in Black Houston.

TSU’s  School of Communication, originally established in 1975 and consisting of Journalism, Telecommunications, Speech, Theatre, and Communicative Disorders, was reduced to a single department in 1979 in response to university-wide management efficiency and cost containment concerns.

TSU’s Radio, Television, and Film program prepare students for the production and critical studies of radio, television, film, and new media, offering them a balanced curriculum that provides integrated study and training in the art and business of electronic media.

For a tour of the School of Communication facilities, contact Kevin Adams (kevin.adams@tsu.edu), Assistant Dean for Student Services 713-313-7408

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Health

Houston Health care clinic and home health owners sentenced for fraud

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Alatan was the owner of Colony Home Health Services, while Ekene was the owner of Milten Medical Clinic, both businesses located in Houston.

HOUSTON, TX — Two individuals have been ordered to federal prison following their convictions of conspiracy to commit and committing health care fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

A federal jury convicted Francis Ekene, 71, Sugar Land, on all counts following a three-day trial.

Today, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake imposed a 120-month-term of imprisonment to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the prison term, Judge Lake noted that despite his health issues, it was important for him to serve his punishment.

Also convicted at trial was Alfred Olotin Alatan, 63, formerly of Houston and now residing in Fulshear. He was previously sentenced to 120 months in prison.

Alatan was the owner of Colony Home Health Services, while Ekene was the owner of Milten Medical Clinic, both businesses located in Houston.

At trial, the jury heard that Alatan paid recruiters to bring patient information to be billed for home health services regardless of whether they needed it or not. Beneficiaries testified in trial and admitted they did not need home health services at the time the health care service providers billed them.

Additional testimony revealed a doctor had signed off on plan of care forms at the Milton Clinic when patients were not actually under his care.

Previous employees Susana Bermudez and Rita Kpotie Smith also testified. Bermudez admitted she and Smith operated both clinics and that Alatan was the leader of the scheme. Both Alatan and Ekene would consult Bermudez and Smith who directed them and provided assistance in carrying out the scheme within both offices.

At trial, the defense attempted to convince the jury they were not involved in the daily operations and did not know the provided services were unnecessary and fraudulent.

Alatan and Ekene were permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Bermudez and Smith, both 55, and of Houston, previously pleaded guilty to their roles as co-conspirators in the scheme. Bermudez is currently serving 30 months in federal prison, while Smith is serving is serving a 60-month sentence.

The Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation with the assistance of the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tina Ansari and Grace Murphy prosecuted the case along with paralegal Judith Cardona assisted with the case.

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Houston

Atiku, Okowa, Other PDP Leaders Storm Houston for Diaspora Summit

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Facilitated by the Diasporans for PDP, the summit would also provide a fertile ground for the organisers to strategize on moving the party forward ahead of 2023.

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa, and a host of party leaders would on October 29, 2022, grace the Diaspora Summit in Houston, Texas, United States of America.

The event would enable the candidates to speak to the diaspora community about their plans for the nation as well as strategies for winning the elections.

Hon. Pamugo: “The theme of this summit is ‘Getting It Right Now’ and by this, we want to send a strong message to our beloved Nigerians that the PDP will get it right this time.”

Facilitated by the Diasporans for PDP, the summit would also provide a fertile ground for the organisers to strategize on moving the party forward ahead of 2023.

Speaking exclusively to media, Hon. (Mrs) Victoria Pamugo, a former PDP Chairperson Houston Texas Branch and Founder/National Chairperson, of the group, said party members from various parts of the world would participate in the summit, which she said, is primarily focused on getting the party heads to the election as a united body with the sole desire of rescuing Nigerians from the clutches of “the incompetent All Progressives Congress.”

Hon. Pamugo, who is also member, PDP 2021 National Convention Council, Electoral Subcommittee said: “The theme of this summit is ‘Getting It Right Now’ and by this, we want to send a strong message to our beloved Nigerians that the PDP will get it right this time. A PDP-led government will reposition this nation and make us part of the productive global economy.

“Apart from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Senator Ifeanyi Okowa; our National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, National Secretary, Samuel Anyanwu, spokesperson, Debo Ologunagba, PDP Senate caucus leader, Philip Aduda, minority leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu and many others are expected to grace the event.”

Apart from Mrs Pamugo, other PDP members in the Diasporan community billed to attend the summit are Chidi Igwe (Canada), Theodore Igwe (United States), Tony Adiele (The Netherlands) and Farouk Suleiman (United Kingdom).

Two days ago, The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), flagged off its presidential campaign in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The presidential campaign, held at the Nest of Champions Stadium, Uyo, was attended by party leaders and members across all categories, including former presidents.

This event is completely free but requires registration.  To register, please visit: www.diasporansforpdp.com

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