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Showing posts from May, 2008

OHIO JUDGE REJECTS TAX CLAIMS ON $423 MILLION ALLEGED PURCHASE OF GERMAN FACILITY MADE BY CLEVELAND AND PITTSBURGH-BASED BANKS

Alleged Cross-Border Leasing Transactions Involving Key Bank and PNC Bank
Were Improper Tax Shelters
WASHINGTON – A federal judge in Cleveland rejected tax claims presented by a partnership owned by Key Bank and PNC Bank that they were entitled to more than $100 million in deductions related to an international leasing transaction, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. In addition to disallowing the deductions as improper, the court held the partnership was liable for penalties for substantial understatement of tax.


The banks claimed the deductions in connection with a purported Sale-In/Lease-Out (SILO) transaction in which they claimed to have acquired ownership of a trash disposal and energy generation plant in Germany. The banks claimed they acquired the plant from a German municipal utility and leased the plant back to the utility for at least 25 years on the same day. The utility continued to use and operate the plant without interruption, wh…

FTC URGES CONSUMERS TO USE CAUTION WHEN SEEKING A LOCKSMITH

If you’ve ever locked yourself out of your car or home, you know what a hassle it can be. Your first thought is to get someone to help. And if that someone ­– a family member, neighbor or friend – can’t deliver a spare set of keys, your next call probably is to a local locksmith.

What’s the best way to pick a reputable – and local – locksmith? Do the research before you need one – the same way you would a plumber, electrician, or other professional – and then program his or her number into your phone. That’s one of several useful tips from the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, in ‘The Keys to Hiring a Reputable Locksmith.’

The FTC says that some locksmiths advertising in your local phone book may not be local at all, and that others may not have professional training. Find out how to hire a legitimate local locksmith at:
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt032.shtm


The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfa…

FEDERAL COURT SHUTS DOWN WASHINGTON STATE BOGUS "DECODING" TAX SCHEME"

WASHINGTON – A federal court has barred a Tacoma, Wash., woman from selling a tax scam, the Justice Department announced today. The civil injunction order, entered against Sharon Kukhahn, will remain in effect indefinitely.

Kukhahn operates businesses called IMF Decoder, Paralegal Research Advocates and Advocates for Justice, Liberty and Freedom. The Tacoma court found that Kukhahn’s IMF Decoder scheme falsely purported to "decode" Internal Revenue Service (IRS) computer transcripts of customers’ taxpayer accounts to show that the customers were not liable for federal income tax.

The case is one of three civil injunction complaints filed last month in federal courts on the east and west coats, seeking to halt tax-fraud schemes related to Pinnacle Quest International (PQI). A federal court in Florida enjoined PQI from promoting tax-fraud schemes earlier this month.

The court found that Kukhahn falsely represented to potential customers that they were not required to pay fede…

USCIS IMPLEMENTS REQUIRED DNA TESTING FOR VIETNAMESE ADOPTIONS

WASHINGTON – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that its office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is implementing a DNA testing requirement for Vietnamese adoption cases where the birth parent(s) of the adopted child has been identified. USCIS is also reminding prospective adoptive parents that the agreement required by Vietnamese law to authorize adoptions between the United States and Vietnam will expire later this summer.

USCIS expects that DNA testing will not only help confirm a child's status as an orphan, but will also significantly streamline the processing of cases in which a birth parent has been identified, as opposed to the more lengthy investigative time required to process adoptions when the birth parent is unknown.

THREE MIAMI AREA DOCTORS AND SIX OTHERS CHARGED IN $56 MILLION HEALTH CARE FRAUD SCHEMES

WASHINGTON – Three Miami area doctors and six others have been charged in four separate indictments for their roles in HIV infusion fraud schemes totaling $56 million, the Department of Justice Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida announced today.

One indictment alleges that between August 2002 and March 2004, Dr. Ronald Harris, 57, and Enrique Gonzalez, 62, conspired to submit approximately $24.5 million in false and fraudulent claims to the Medicare program for HIV infusion services allegedly provided at Physicians Med-Care and Physicians Health Med-Care, HIV infusion clinics that Harris and Gonzalez allegedly controlled. Infusion clinics serve HIV patients by providing prescribed medications intravenously. As part of the scheme, Gonzalez caused the payment of cash kickbacks to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for the patients signing documents stating that they had received the treatments being billed to Medicare when such treatments w…

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES IDAHO LAWSUIT ALLEGING HOUSING DISCRIMINATION ON BEHALF OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that the owners and managers of Shadow Canyon Apartments, located in Idaho Falls, Idaho, have agreed to pay $62,000 to resolve a lawsuit filed by the Department alleging that defendants refused to allow residents with disabilities to keep assistance dogs.

"The Fair Housing Act requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Department will continue to vigorously enforce laws that prevent discrimination against people with disabilities."

This lawsuit arose as a result of a charge of discrimination issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) following HUD’s investigation of a complaint filed by the Intermountain Fair Housing Council.

The consent decree, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court in Idaho, calls for training, a nondiscrimination policy, re…

FTC PERMANENTLY HALTS 'PRETEXTING' SCHEME; DEFENDANTS BARRED FROM OBTAINING OR SELLING CONSUMERS' PHONE RECORD TO THIRD PARTIES

The Federal Trade Commission has put a permanent halt to an operation that allegedly obtained consumers’ confidential phone records without their knowledge or consent and sold them to third parties. The defendants are barred from obtaining consumers’ telephone records without their consent and court orders impose judgments on the defendants totaling more than $600,000 – the estimated amount of their ill-gotten gains.

This is the latest in a series of FTC cases targeting telephone pretexters – individuals who use false pretenses to obtain consumers’ confidential information. Since 2006 the FTC has charged sixteen individuals and their corporations with violating federal law by pretexting to obtain phone records of third parties. All have now been barred from pretexting and all have been ordered to give up the money they made engaging in the illegal practice.

BOSTON MAN SENTENCED ON CHILD PROSTITUTION CHARGES

WASHINGTON – Victor Diaz, 24, a resident of East Boston, was sentenced today to 51 months in prison after a federal jury in Boston convicted him of conspiring to engage in a child prostitution scheme, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Matthew W. Friedrich and U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan for the District of Massachusetts announced.

Diaz was convicted on Feb. 4, 2008, after a week-long jury trial before U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris of the District of Massachusetts. In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Saris also ordered Diaz to serve two years of supervised release.

Diaz and his niece, Evelyn Diaz, were charged with conspiring to sex traffic a minor between April 2004 and April 2005. At trial, the government proved that between approximately July 2003 and May 2005, Evelyn Diaz operated an escort service that was advertised in multiple publications and on the Internet. The escort service sent individuals, including minors, on prostitution calls i…

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT WITH THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a proposed settlement with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) that requires NAR to allow Internet-based residential real estate brokers to compete with traditional brokers. The Department said the settlement will enhance competition in the real estate brokerage industry, resulting in more choice, better service, and lower commission rates for consumers. NAR has agreed to be bound by a 10-year settlement to ensure that it continues to abide by the requirements of the agreement.

In September 2005, the Department’s Antitrust Division filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago, against NAR challenging policies and related rules that obstructed real estate brokers who use innovative Internet-based tools to offer better services and lower costs to consumers. The Department said that the policies prevented consumers from receiving the full benefits of competition, discouraged discounting…

LAWYER INDICTED ON WIRE FRAUD AND MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES FOR STEALING FROM CLIENT ESCROW ACCOUNT

NEW YORK - MARTIN WEISBERG, a former corporate partner in the New York office of an international law firm, has been indicted on federal wire fraud and money laundering charges. The charges are based on WEISBERG’s alleged theft of money from an escrow account established on behalf of one of his clients for which WEISBERG served as escrow agent. WEISBERG will be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.

The charges were announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Mark J. Mershon, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Division.

The indictment alleges that WEISBERG assisted a corporate client establish a $30 million escrow account and advised the client that the account could not earn interest for the client’s benefit. In fact, WEISBERG caused the $30 million to be placed into an interest-b…

USCIS TO REVISE FILING INSTRUCTIONS

WASHINGTON— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will soon be revising the filing instructions for the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751) to require filing at the California or Vermont Service Centers, where all Forms I-751 are currently adjudicated. The adjudication functions for these petitions have already been assigned to these locations in anticipation of this change. Therefore, all petitioners filing a Form I-751 are requested to file the petition with the California or Vermont Service Centers, depending on the state in which they reside.

Form I-751 is used by individuals who were granted conditional residential status through marriage to a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident and who desire to petition USCIS to remove the conditions on their residence.

Rockland Community College’s 47th Commencement Exercises

Suffern, NY - SUNY Rockland Community College will commemorate its 47th commencement on Sunday, June 1, at 1:00 p.m. in the Fieldhouse, 145 College Road, Suffern. The College will celebrate the graduation of more than 750 students who completed their requirements in Summer '07, Winter'07 or Spring '08. Local dignitaries, college faculty and officials, and family and friends of the graduates will be in attendance. The audience will be addressed by alumna Lisa Reyes ’96, an award-winning broadcaster at News 14 Carolina; George Rivera, a December ’07 graduate; and Dr. Cliff L. Wood, President, Rockland Community College.

ALUMNI SPEAKER

Lisa Reyes ’96, Associate in Art, Liberal Arts and Sciences: Humanities and Social Science.

Award-winning broadcaster Lisa Reyes is an anchor/reporter at News 14 Carolina, reporting to work at 4:30 a.m. in order to greet the audience she has grown to love. Upon graduating RCC, the North Rockland HS graduate went on to New York Unive…

5 MEMBERS OF ROCKLAND COUNTY FAMILY SENTENCED FOR PHONY GOLD MINE SCHEME

NEW YORK - MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JAMES RUSSO, RITA RUSSO, ELIZABETH RUSSO, RUDOLFO RUSSO a/k/a “Rudy”, and THOMAS RUSSO, from New City, Rockland County, New York, were sentenced this week on charges related to their participation, over a period of more than 15 years, in a phony “gold mine” investment scheme and various internet wholesaler schemes. JAMES and RITA RUSSO are husband and wife, and ELIZABETH, RUDOLFO a/k/a “Rudy” and THOMAS RUSSO are their adult children. The sentenced were imposed by United States District Judge STEPHEN C. ROBINSON in White Plains federal court.

According to the criminal Complaint and Indictment and statements made in open court during the defendants’ sentencings, from at least about September 1987 through about September 2005, the RUSSOS operated several different schemes to defraud. First, the RUSSOS victimized a number of people both here in the United States and in Europe b…

FTC CHARGES HOME BUYING CONSULTING BUSINESS WITH CREDIT REPAIR VIOLATIONS

Washington, DC - A home-buying consulting business that offers credit repair and home-buying consulting services has agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission for alleged federal law violations, including illegally charging an advance fee for credit repair and falsely claiming that they can remove negative information from consumers’ credit reports, even if the information is accurate and timely. At the Commission’s request, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed the FTC’s complaint and proposed settlement in federal court.

According to the complaint, consumers are led to Home Buyers Consulting Network, Inc. (HBCN), which is based in Raleigh, North Carolina, through its Web sites and by a company that sells lists of foreclosed properties and suggests that its customers call HBCN if they need credit repair or access to zero or low down-payment home financing. In sales pitches for its credit repair services alone, and in conjunction with pitches for its home-buying consult…

EEOC SETTLES SEX BIAS CASE WITH STATE CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT FOR ALMOST $1 MILLION

NEW YORK – The New York State Department of Correctional Services will pay nearly $1 million to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the two offices announced today. The EEOC and the United States had charged the Corrections Department with violating federal law by providing inferior benefits to female employees on maternity leave.

The EEOC suit, filed under the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (Case No. 07-CV-2587 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York), charged that the Corrections Department gave male employees with work-related injuries up to six months of paid workers’ compensation leave. Female employees could be granted the same leave, but pregnant employees on such leave were involuntarily switched to maternity leave at or around the time they gave birth. The Corrections Department’s maternity leave policy requires that women first use their a…

USCIS Settles Kaplan Class Action

WASHINGTON— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has entered into a settlement agreement in a national class action, Kaplan, et al. v. Chertoff, et al., CV 06-5304, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The suit was brought by non-U.S. citizens who had lost or who were about to lose their eligibility for Supplemental Social Income (SSI) based on a statutory seven-year limit found at 8 U.S.C. §1612(a)(2)(A), and who were unable to become naturalized U.S. citizens before the loss of SSI benefits. In addition to DHS and USCIS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) are part of the settlement agreement. The class was represented by attorneys at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, the HIAS and Council Migration Services in Philadelphia, Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll LLP, pro bono counsel, and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. The settlement agre…

ROGUE PARALEGALS?

openPR) - SANTA ANA, CA—May 12, 2008: Orange County Deputy District Attorney Tracy Hughes will present “Rogue Document Preparers: Unfair Competition and LDA Compliance” on May 30 at 12:00 p.m. Ms. Hughes has successfully prosecuted both civil and criminal cases against non-attorney legal document preparers who fail to comply with the registration and bonding requirements to become a Legal Document Assistant (LDA). The Alliance of Legal Document Assistant Professionals (ALDAP) is sponsoring this seminar as a forum for discussion among LDAs and freelance paralegals, and to facilitate enforcement of the consumer protections afforded under California law.

The increase in self-represented litigants has resulted in a proliferation of non-attorney legal service providers. In response to the significant potential for consumer harm, several states have implemented laws governing legal document preparers who offer services to members of the public. Under California law, non-attorneys are pro…

ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO SHUTS DOWN LINDENHURST MAN’S UNAUTHORIZED LAW PRACTICE

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (May 13, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he has obtained a settlement that permanently shuts down a Lindenhurst man’s unlicensed law practice and requires him to pay restitution to consumers he defrauded, plus penalties and costs to the state.

The settlement requires Arthur Chisolm, Jr. to permanently close his unauthorized practice and pay $17,000 in penalties and costs to the state. He must pay restitution to those who have been damaged as a result of his actions, plus qualified consumers who file complaints within 120 days of the judgment, which was ordered today by Justice Thomas F. Whelan in Supreme Court of Suffolk County.

RAZZOO'S TO PAY $1 MILLION FOR SEX BIAS AGAINST MEN

DALLAS — Razzoo’s, a Dallas/Fort Worth-based Cajun food restaurant chain, will pay $1 million and furnish significant remedial relief to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged Razzoo’s with discriminating against a class of male applicants and employees.

The EEOC said that Razzoo's refused to hire or promote men to the position of bartender in its restaurants. Razzoo's management set up and communicated to managers by e-mail a plan for an 80-20 ratio of women to men behind the bar, the EEOC said. Male applicants and servers were expected to testify at trial -- which will now be unnecessary because of this pre-trial settlement -- that managers told them Razzoo's wanted mostly “girls” behind the bar. Men who worked as servers at the restaurants were generally denied promotion to bartender because of their gender. The few men who were promoted to bartender were not …

SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS TO PAY $625,000 FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT, RETALIATION

LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced the resolution of its class action employment discrimination lawsuit against Specialty Restaurants Corporation, an Anaheim, Calif.-based owner and operator of restaurants and banquet facilities nationwide, including Monterey Hill Banquets in Monterey Park, Calif. Under the EEOC settlement, the company has agreed to pay $625,000 to claimants and will adopt remedial measures to ensure that its employees are not sexually harassed.

In its suit, the EEOC alleged that female workers were subjected to inappropriate touching, indecent and offensive comments, and other forms of sexually harassing conduct by co-workers and supervisors. In addition, at least one female employee was harassed based on her national origin. The federal agency further alleged that Specialty retaliated against both male and female employees who reported the harassment or cooperated with investigations.

CONECTIV AND SUBCONTRACTORS TO PAY $1.65 MILLION TO BLACK WORKERS WHO WERE RACIALLY HARASSED

PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced a major settlement of a racial harassment lawsuit for $1,650,000 and significant remedial relief against Conectiv, A.C. Dellovade, Inc., Steel Suppliers Erectors, Inc. and Matrix Services Industrial Contractors (doing business as Bogan, Inc. /Hake Group) on behalf of African American employees who were subjected to egregious racial harassment at a construction site in Bethlehem, Pa.

Conectiv was the general contractor and property owner on a project to build a new energy power plant on the site of a defunct steel plant. Construction on the project began in January 2002 and the plant was operating by the end of October 2003. The EEOC charged in the lawsuit that the defendants, acting as joint employers, subjected a class of African American employees to racial slurs and graffiti as well as threats by hangman’s nooses.