The Daily Moth 2-16-17

February 17, 2017

 

FCC Announces $9.1 Million Settlement with ZVRS (CSDVRS) and Purple Communications, President Trump Blasts Media and Denies Russian Connections, GIPHY Partners with “Signing With Robert” To Provide Free Library of ASL GIFS, Deaf Man Mysteriously Shot and Killed in Mississippi, and New Moth Website/Donation Link. 

 

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Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Thursday, February 16. Ready for news? 

 

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Yesterday the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) announced that they have reached a settlement of $9.1 million with two VRS companies: Purple Communications and CSDVRS, who owns ZVRS — in this story I will refer CSDVRS as ZVRS. The settlement is for the companies to repay the FCC for improper billing and for FCC to stop any further investigation of both companies.

 

This FCC announcement yesterday came on the same day ZVRS announced they were acquiring Purple Communications. Neither ZVRS or Purple mentioned the $9.1 million settlement yesterday on their social media.

 

The $9.1 million settlement resolves a previous FCC investigation and fine against Purple Communications (in 2015) for $11.9 million.

 

It’s a little complicated — so let’s go back — in 2014, the FCC investigated Purple Communications and their previous, now-closed IP Relay service. The FCC found that Purple had 40,000 “customers” who had false names/false addresses. The names were either gibberish, random keystrokes, vulgarities, or obviously false names such as “First Name Last Name.”  

 

To be precise, the FCC said Purple failed to implement a reasonable verification process and improperly billed the FCC* for minutes used by the fake/unverified names. So, the FCC penalized them with a $11.9 million fine. 

 

Purple disputed this and tried to defend themselves, asking for either a reduction or cancellation of the penalty, but the FCC declined and in December 2015 ordered Purple to pay $11.9 million.

 

Now, let’s leave Purple and go to ZVRS. In February 2015 CSDVRS was sold/acquired by a private investment firm named Kinderhook Industries (based in NYC). Kinderhook acquires mid-level companies and has over 2 billion in capital. They formed a “parent” company named ZVRS Holding placed CSDVRS (ZVRS) and a VRI platform, Stratus Interpreting under it.

 

Interesting fact: the CEO of ZVRS, Sherri Turpin, used to work for Kinderhook from 2008-2010. She was announced as ZVRS’ new CEO in August 2015 after the retirement of CSDVRS’ then-CEO, Sean Belanger. 

 

The acquisition of ZVRS by Kinderhook was a normal acquisition — there were no “pending actions” or fines from the FCC. 

 

Now — back to the FCC — in December 2015, the FCC issued a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) to CSDVRS and Purple — for the FCC to check their customer verification and billing practices. It was the start of a “new” investigation.” 

 

In 2016 there was no recorded “public” activity, from what I have seen, in the proceedings/investigations.

 

The only notable event in 2016 would be in May-June when Greg Hlibok, who had worked for the FCC since 2001, announced he was leaving the FCC to join the ZVRS team as their new general counsel and compliance officer. 

 

Now let’s go to 2017 — on February 14, ZVRS Holding Company (which owns CSDVRS/ZVRS) acquired Purple Communications.  This means ZVRS Holding Company owned two VRS companies — of which both were “under investigation” by the FCC, because of the LOI that was issued in December 15. 

 

Then on February 15, the FCC announced the $9.1 million settlement with Purple and CSDVRS/ZVRS, both owned by ZVRS Holding (under Kinderhook). This settlement with the companies would “satisfy and close” the previous $11.9 million fine against Purple in 2015 — and terminate any ongoing investigations of both VRS companies. 

 

So, you can see that the timing of ZVRS’s acquisition of Purple is almost the exact time as this FCC settlement. One can imagine that there were plenty of talks and negotiations behind the scenes between the FCC and the VRS companies to both “approve” the acquisition and to reach the $9.1 million settlement and end the investigation.

 

Because ZVRS Holding owns both ZVRS and Purple, it will be responsible to pay the settlement.

 

The $9.1 million is split into two areas — $6.1 million is to reimburse the FCC for improper billing and the remaining $3 million is a civil penalty.

 

$5.1 million was due to the FCC immediately (yesterday) — with $1 million spread out in 60 installment payments. The $3 million civil penalty is also spread out in 60 installment payments. 

 

That translates to roughly 60 payments of $66,666. Kinderhook will make the payments. 

 

As a part of the settlement, the FCC will stop all pending investigation or enforcement actions against Purple or ZVRS — (the VRS companies are in the “clear.”)

 

The settlement also says the FCC won’t request a hearing to question Purple or ZVRS’ ability to have a FCC certification/license.

 

At the end of the FCC’s settlement papers — Sherri Turpin, the CEO of ZVRS Holding Company is named as the representative for both ZVRS and Purple. 

 

The FCC settlement says that both Purple and VRS will continue to operate as normal and submit monthly requests for reimbursement from FCC as separate VRS companies with their own certifications (even though both are under the same company), but that within 3 years (36 months), Purple is to relinquish (give up) their FCC certification and be “absorbed/merged” with ZVRS’ FCC certification. 

 

The settlement orders both Purple and ZVRS to maintain a customer database that clearly segments registered users from those who were previously and are no longer registered with them. They will have to keep detailed call records. Purple and ZVRS also must report to the FCC within 10 business days if they realized they improperly billed or improperly got reimbursements from the FCC. 

 

Both Purple and ZVRS also must develop annual FCC compliance training and have their executives and staff undergo the training annually.

 

I’ve included all the details and links of the settlement below. 

 

 

*(CSDVRS also operates VRI platform Stratus Interpreting).

 

*FCC reimburses relay operators via the Telecommunications Relay Fund (TRS). 

 

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FCC Press Release: 

 

2017 FCC Settlement Announcement With Purple and CSDVRS: https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-settles-investigation-relay-service-providers

 

2015 FCC Forfeiture Order Against Purple Communications: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-15-169A1_Rcd.pdf

 

2014 FCC Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) For Forfeiture Against Purple: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-14-57A1_Rcd.pdf

 

Kinderhook Press Release: Acquisition of CSDVRS: https://www.pehub.com/2015/02/kinderhook-buys-csdvrs/#

 

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Today President Trump gave a press conference — his first solo conference as President. He said he did not direct Flynn to talk with the Russian ambassador, but that he would have because that was his job. He said he was fired because he misled the Vice President Mike Pence. 

 

Yesterday there were multiple media reports that said Trump already knew of Flynn talking with the Russian diplomat — but that VP Mike Pence did not even know about it until two weeks later. So there might be a trust issue between the President and the Vice President, but that’s only a media assumption.

 

President Trump lashed out at the media today saying that when he turns on the TV or reads the newspapers, he sees stories of chaos in the White House — but he is saying that the White house and the administration is running like a fine-tuned machine. 

 

There were many recent media reports that said U.S. intelligence sources concluded Trump’s campaign managers were in contact with (and was paid by) Russians during the campaign, and suggested that President Trump might have financial ties to Russia. President Trump said he owes nothing in Russia, no loans in Russia — and said it was fake news that he was in contact with Russia. He said he never made a phone call to Russia in years. Trump was mad about the many leaks to the media about his inner workings in the White House or with his calls with world leaders — saying it was a criminal act. 

 

There’s a continuing chorus of calls by lawmakers for an investigation in connections between President Trump and Russia, and Trump is doing his best to squash media reports or lawmakers’ calls for an investigation.

 

Trump even said the greatest thing he could do was to shoot a Russian spy ship (that is actually currently 30 miles off shore Delaware — in international waters). He wouldn’t say what he’d do with the ship. Trump also said he was working on a secret plan to deal with North Korea and Iran. 

 

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GIPHY —  a website with over 1 billion GIFS — has teamed up with “Sign with Robert,” an educational ASL series/media company to provide a free library of over 2,000 sign language GIFs. You can check it out by going to GIPHY.com and searching “Sign With Robert” and you’ll see all kinds of GIFs. Nice and you could use it to either learn some words or share with others who want to learn ASL. The actor in the GIFs is a Deaf actor/educator named Robert DeMayo. The founder of “Sign With Robert” is Hilari Scarl — who calls herself a “NERDA” — Not Even Related to a Deaf Adult.” She became fascinated with the Deaf community in 1992 when she was a voice actor for the National Theatre of the Deaf during a tour. She/her company also directed/produced the “See What I’m Saying” documentary and co-produced “No Ordinary Hero.” Nice, check out the GIFS at the links below. 

 

http://giphy.com/search/sign-with-robert

http://www.seewhatimsayingmovie.com/

http://www.hilariscarl.com/about

 

 

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A Deaf man was found shot and killed in a SUV that was stopped on a road in Jackson, Mississippi on Tuesday night. His name is Rafael Thompson (27) and he went to the Mississippi School for the Deaf and then a local community college. He worked at Goodwill.

 

He was shot in the head and chest. Very sad. Police say they have no suspects and are investigating this. Very sad. The Jackson police department are asking for the publics’s help in finding any leads in who could have done this. 

 

http://www.msnewsnow.com/story/34515699/mystery-surrounds-the-fatal-shooting-of-a-deaf-man-found-in-his-suv

 

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That is all for this week. You can follow me on Facebook for the latest or check out the nice new website www.dailymoth.com. There is a donation link there if you want to make a donation to support TDM’s work. I appreciate all of those who have already donated! Have a great weekend and stay with the light! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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