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Showing posts from November, 2008

PRESTON ANNOUNCES $2.1 BILLION IN DISASTER ASSISTANCE TO 13 STATES AND PUERTO RICO IMPACTED BY 2008 STORMS

WASHINGTON - Recognizing the tremendous unmet housing, economic and infrastructure needs following this year's natural disasters, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston today announced HUD will immediately allocate more than $2.1 billion to 13 States and Puerto Rico. The emergency funding is provided through HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and will support the States' long-term disaster recovery.

"Families, businesses and communities are struggling to rebuild following this year's natural disasters. Today, we are making another installment of disaster assistance to help them get back on their feet," said Preston. "Once we have conducted a more thorough year-end analysis, HUD will make further allocations to States struggling to recover from dozens of storms in 2008." More...

West Virginia Man Indicted on Federal Civil Rights Charges for Allegedly Burning a Home

WASHINGTON - Daryl Lee Fierce, 69, of Charleston, W.Va., was indicted by a federal grand jury for using fire to intimidate and interfere with a person’s housing rights because African-American and biracial individuals visited the person in her home. The indictment, which was unsealed today, also charges Fierce with using fire to commit a felony.

According to the indictment, on or about July 16, 2007, Fierce set fire to a home located on Noyes Avenue in Charleston because the tenant occupying the home, a white woman, associated with persons of another race and color. Fierce's alleged objective was to injure, intimidate and interfere with the woman in the occupancy of the home, a violation of her housing rights. More...

FTC Launches Suit to Block Merger of CCC and Mitchell

The Federal Trade Commission has filed suit to block the merger of CCC Information Services Inc. and Mitchell International Inc., charging that the merger would hinder competition in the market for electronic systems used to estimate the cost of collision repairs, known as “estimatics,” and the market for software systems used to value passenger vehicles that have been totaled, known as total loss valuation (TLV) systems. The FTC’s administrative complaint alleges that the merger, which is valued at $1.4 billion, would harm insurers, repair shops and, ultimately, U.S. car owners by reducing from three to two the number of competitors in the two related businesses.

“These estimating and valuation solutions are key tools in the auto insurance and collision repair industries,” said Acting Bureau of Competition Director David P. Wales. “There is no doubt that this merger would reduce competition that benefits auto insurers and auto body shops and ultimately would lead to higher prices and …

Attorney Sentenced for Receiving Child Pornography

WASHINGTON – A Maryland resident, who previously worked as an attorney in the District of Columbia, was sentenced today for one count of receiving child pornography, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division announced.

Emerson Vincent Briggs, 41, was sentenced by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to 70 months in prison, to be followed by 10 years of supervised release and a fine of $12,500. According to the plea documents, Briggs admitted that between November 2005 and April 2006, while at his law office in the District of Columbia, he used peer-to-peer software to deliberately download and store multiple videos of child pornography. Briggs admitted that some of these images involved minors who were younger than 12 years old. More...

Walnut Creek, Calif., Firm Allegedly Helped Customers Avoid Tax on More Than $25 Million Through Insurance and IRA Scheme

WASHINGTON - A San Francisco federal judge has ordered Edwin Lichtig III and his Walnut Creek, Calif.-based firm, GSL Advisory Solutions, to stop promoting unlawful tax schemes, the Justice Department announced today. The defendants agreed to the permanent injunction order without admitting the government’s allegations against them. The United States sued Lichtig and GSL alleging that they promoted tax fraud schemes involving Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) that helped customers improperly avoid federal income tax on more than $25 million.

According to the federal suit, Lichtig, a Lafayette, Calif., insurance salesman, promoted a scheme called PAT (Pension Asset Transfer). It allegedly helped customers improperly avoid income tax on untaxed assets held in their IRAs through the use of a series of transactions with sham businesses, self-employed retirement accounts and understatements of the value of life insurance policies. The government complaint said a second scheme called FR…

Mismanaged Citigroup Gets A Bailout From The Feds

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By: Joel Irving

The U.S. Department of The Treasury and the FDIC have agreed to provide protection against losses on a large asset pool of approximately $306 billion dollars in loans and securities backed by residential and commercial real estate and other related assets that will remain on Citigroups's balance sheet. Moreover, the Treasury will invest $20 billion dollars in Citigroup from the Troubled Asset Relief Program in exchange for preferred stock with an 8% dividend to the Treasury. More...

U.S. Bank Acquires All the Deposits of Two Southern California Institutions

U.S. Bank, National Association, Minneapolis, MN, acquired the banking operations, including all the deposits, of Downey Savings and Loan Association, F.A., Newport Beach, CA, and PFF Bank & Trust, Pomona, CA, in a transaction facilitated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The combined 213 branches of the two organizations will reopen as branches of U.S. Bank under their normal business hours, including those with Saturday hours. Depositors will automatically become depositors of U.S. Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain their deposit insurance coverage. More...

Nationwide Debt Collector Will Pay $2.25 Million to Settle FTC Charges

Academy Collection Service, Inc. and its owner, Keith Dickstein, have agreed to pay $2.25 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that Academy and its collectors misled, threatened, and harassed consumers; disclosed their debts to third parties; and deposited postdated checks early, in violation of federal law. This is the largest civil penalty the FTC has obtained in a debt collection case.

“These defendants are responsible for their debt collectors’ abusive practices,” said Lydia Parnes, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “They ignored people's complaints and rewarded the collectors who broke the law. This is not a business model that the FTC tolerates.” More...

U.S. Labor Department secures more than $1.5 million in back wages for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita workers

NEW ORLEANS — Ceres Environmental Services Inc., headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., has agreed to pay $1,500,718 in back wages to 2,256 former debris removal workers. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found that these workers were not properly paid for work they performed throughout Louisiana in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as required by the Service Contract Act (SCA) and the Contract Work Hours Safety Standards Act (CWHSSA). The workers were employed by 266 subcontractors of Ceres.

"As a result of the department's investigation, we are securing more than $1.5 million in back wages for these workers whose efforts were vital to the Gulf Coast's recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. More...

Former Congressional Legislative Assistant Pleads Guilty to Failing to Report Thousands of Dollars in Illegal Gifts from Lobbyists

WASHINGTON – Trevor L. Blackann, 34, a former legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate, pleaded guilty today to making a false statement on his 2003 tax returns by failing to report as income thousands of dollars in illegal gifts that he received from lobbyists, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division announced. Blackann pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts in the District of Columbia.

According to court documents, Blackann was employed throughout 2003 as a legislative assistant for a member of the U.S. Senate. Blackann was responsible for advising and counseling the Senator on matters of legislative interest and representing the Senator in communications with other congressional offices and staff, officials in the executive branch and members of the public. More...

Legal Networking Sites Report Increase in User Activity since US Presidential Elections

(openPR) - Toronto, Canada—November 19th, 2008—One of the great side effects of this year’s US Presidential elections has been the fact that it has made the common man stand up and take a note about his or her rights. You can call it the Obama effect but ever since the former Senator and now President-elect Obama started his campaign and asked the people of US to be more involved in the growth and stability of the nation, people have been motivated and encouraged to learn more about the American legal system, what they can do to help and change the way things operate in the country as of now.

Change has been one of the keywords of the Obama campaign and now legal networking sites report a considerable change in the activity on such sites ever since the beginning of the US Presidential campaigns. Lawyerahead.com which is one of the leading legal networking sites on the internet especially in North America have noted that the number of registration from general users have gone up conside…

SIXTEEN DEFENDANTS INDICTED IN TWO MORTGAGE FRAUD SCHEMES INVOLVING OVER $13 MILLION IN LOANS

Three Defendants Charged in Mortgage Fraud Scheme Also Indicted for Cocaine Distribution

New York - Two indictments were unsealed this morning in federal court in Brooklyn charging sixteen defendants for their participation in two separate schemes to defraud mortgage lenders of more than $13 million in mortgage loans. A third indictment was unsealed charging four defendants, including three indicted on the mortgage fraud charges, with participating in a cocaine distribution ring.Footnote The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr., 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, Peter J. Smith, Special Agent-in-Charge, United States Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Jon T. Rymer, Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)…

$1 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH MARC JACOBS INTERNATIONAL

New York, NY (November 19, 2008) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo and Inspector General Joseph Fisch announced today that Marc Jacobs International has paid New York State $1 million for its conduct related to payments made to the former superintendent of the 69th Regiment Armory, James Jackson, for use of the Armory's drill hall to host fashion shows. Cuomo and Fisch also announced that Jackson has pled guilty to the top count of a larceny and bribery indictment for demanding cash from Armory exhibitors over an eight-year period.

The agreement with the fashion house of Marc Jacobs International, a subsidiary of international luxury goods giant Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, stems from allegations that the firm made cash payments, through an agent, to the defendant Jackson in exchange for use of the Armory’s drill hall. Once Jackson’s conduct was brought to the attention of Marc Jacobs’ executives they cooperated fully with the Office of the Attorney General and today’s agreement …

Jury Awards $16.5 Million in Fentanyl Death Case

(openPR) CHICAGO – A jury in Chicago has found two Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries liable in the death of a Cicero, Ill., woman who died while using a Duragesic® patch, and ordered the companies to pay her family $16,560,000.

The verdict in the case involving 38-year-old Janice DiCosolo, a mother of three, was delivered in Judge Thomas Flanagan’s courtroom in the Cook County Circuit Court, after a three-week trial.

When Mrs. DiCosolo died on February 15, 2004, she was using a Duragesic patch that her doctor prescribed to reduce the almost constant pain she experienced as a result of a neurological condition called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Duragesic is a patch containing a gel form of the drug fentanyl, which is 100-times stronger than morphine. More...

The ABA Journal is surveying lawyers about the job market and the current state of the economy

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By: Joel Irving

The ABA Journal is surveying lawyers about the job market and the current state of the economy. If you would like to participate in the survey click on the following link:
ABA Journal Survey

Court Orders Halt The Sale Of Spyware

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At the request of the Federal Trade Commission, a U.S. District Court has issued a temporary restraining order halting the sale of keylogger spyware. According to the FTC’s complaint, the Florida-based CyberSpy Software, LLC marketed and sold RemoteSpy keylogger spyware to clients who would then secretly monitor unsuspecting consumers’ computers. The FTC seeks to permanently bar the unfair and deceptive practices and require the defendants to give up their ill-gotten gains.

According to papers filed with the court, the defendants provided RemoteSpy clients with detailed instructions explaining how to disguise the spyware as an innocuous file, such as a photo, attached to an email. When consumer victims clicked on the disguised file, the keylogger spyware silently installed in the background without the victims’ knowledge. This spyware recorded every keystroke typed on the victim’s computer (including passwords); captured images of the computer screen; and recorded Web sites visited. To…

Attorney General’s investigation finds MyLuvCrush a not-so-sweet nothing

SEATTLE – Money can’t buy love. But that didn’t stop a Washington-based company from tempting Internet users with the chance to learn the identity of a secret admirer. Unfortunately, any lonely hearts or curious souls who may have bit at Tatto Media, Inc.’s promotion lost out. According to the Washington Attorney General’s Office, the company’s promise to reveal your “LuvCrush” was a sham to sign consumers up for a horoscope text-messaging service.

“Tatto Media’s ‘MyLuvCrush’ promo was nothing but a tease that may have crushed the hearts of hopeful romantics,” said Senior Counsel Paula Selis, an assistant attorney who heads up the office’s Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit. The company, which has offices in Seattle and Boston and promotes itself as a behavioral advertising service, reached an agreement with the AG that restricts how it can advertise in the future. More...

California Executive Agrees to Plead Guilty to Bid Rigging on Contracts with the U.S. Navy and Others

WASHINGTON — The former president of a California marine products company has agreed to plead guilty for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids and allocate customers with respect to marine products purchased by the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard and other public and private entities, the Department of Justice announced today.

Under the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, Andrew Barmakian has agreed to serve a sentence and pay a criminal fine to be determined by the court. He has also agreed to cooperate with the Department’s ongoing investigation in the marine products industry. He is the fifth executive to agree to plead guilty in the ongoing investigation. More...

Statement from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo Concerning Bonuses to Top Executives at Citigroup:

"Citigroup's announcement today that it will cut an additional 50,000 jobs is a sad and disturbing development for the company. As Citigroup suffers, so too do investors, employees, and taxpayers. At the very least, Citigroup should follow Goldman Sachs' lead and announce quickly that top executives will not be receiving bonuses this year. Citigroup's stated intention to wait until the new year to make its bonus decisions is a mistake. After four consecutive quarterly losses, it seems only fair that top executives should shoulder their fair share of these difficult economic times. It would send exactly the wrong message for Citigroup's top brass to collect bonuses while investors, taxpayers, and now Citigroup's own employees suffer."

"Citigroup is, of course, not the only company in this situation. Other companies like AIG, who have received billions in rescue financing from taxpayers, also need to take a hard look in the mirror when determining the r…

The Robert Half Legal 2009 Salary Guide

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The Robert Half Legal 2009 Salary Guide provides average starting salaries for attorneys, paralegals and other legal support staff. The guide is available at:
http://www.roberthalflegal.com/

Federal Contractors Required to Use E-Verify System

WASHINGTON— Federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to begin using the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ E-Verify system starting Jan. 15, 2009, to verify their employees’ eligibility to legally work in the United States. In a final rule scheduled to publish tomorrow in the Federal Register, the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council amended the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to reflect this change.

The new rule implements Executive Order 12989, as amended by President George W. Bush on June 6, 2008, directing federal agencies to require that federal contractors agree to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their employees. The amended Executive Order reinforces the policy, first announced in 1996, that the federal government does business with companies that have a legal workforce. This new rule requires federal contractors to agree, through language inserted into their federal contracts, to…

Father and Son Convicted of Running Illegal Internet Pharmacy

(BROOKLYN, NY) Following four weeks of trial, a federal jury in Brooklyn today returned a verdict convicting ANTONIO QUINONES, the owner and operator of illegal internet pharmacies, of illegal distribution of prescription medication, conspiracy, and money laundering. The jury also returned a verdict convicting HERMAN QUINONES, ANTONIO’s son and the owner of an illegal internet pharmacy, of illegal distribution of prescription medication. In addition, the jury ordered that ANTONIO QUINONES forfeit $10 million in illegal proceeds that he obtained through the scheme. HERMAN QUINONES’ agreed to forfeit $1.8 million in illegal proceeds based on his conviction.

DEA Special Agent-in-Charge John P. Gilbride stated, “These guilty verdicts prove that our community will not tolerate drugs being peddled on the streets nor via the internet. Prescription drug abuse has tripled over the last few years and law enforcement is focused on identifying those responsible as well as the illicit mechanisms us…

Two Men Plead Guilty on International Sex Tourism Charges

WASHINGTON – Two men pleaded guilty today to traveling, and conspiring to travel, in foreign commerce with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with children, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Matthew Friedrich and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama Deborah J. Rhodes announced.

During the plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Kristi K. DuBose, Burgess Lee Burgess, 44, of Mobile, Ala., and Mitchell Kent Jackson, 31, of Pensacola, Fla., both admitted that they traveled to Thailand between 2000 and 2002. According to their pleas, Burgess and Jackson traveled with the intent to sexually abuse children, paid for access to children and in fact sexually abused children. More...

CVS and Rite-Aid will provide New York customers with prescription medication instructions in their primary language

NEW YORK, NY (November 13, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that two of the largest pharmacy chains in the United States – CVS and Rite-Aid – have entered into agreements with his office to provide New York customers with prescription medication instructions in their primary language. With these agreements, CVS and Rite-Aid, which also owns Eckerd and Genovese pharmacies, will counsel all pharmacy customers about prescription information in their own language and provide written translations in Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Russian, French, and Polish.

Attorney General Cuomo initiated an undercover investigation into the policies and procedures of pharmacies after receiving and reviewing complaints that pharmacies routinely fail to advise non-English speaking customers in a language that allows them to understand the purpose, dosage, and side-effects of their medications. New York law requires pharmacists to personally provide information about prescription drug…

HUD ISSUES NEW MORTGAGE RULES TO HELP CONSUMERS SHOP FOR LOWER COST HOME LOANS

WASHINGTON - For the first time in more than 30 years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today issued long-anticipated mortgage reforms that will help consumers to shop for the lowest cost mortgage and avoid costly and potentially harmful loan offers. HUD will require, for the first time ever, that lenders and mortgage brokers provide consumers with a standard Good Faith Estimate (GFE) that clearly discloses key loan terms and closing costs. HUD estimates its new regulation will save consumers nearly $700 at the closing table.

In announcing HUD's final changes to the regulatory requirements of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), HUD Secretary Steve Preston said that changes in the housing market and increases in home foreclosures demands action. (Read Preston's remarks).

GOVERNOR PATERSON DELIVERS $5.2 BILLION, TWO-YEAR DEFICIT REDUCTION PLAN

Governor David A. Paterson today announced a comprehensive, two-year $5.2 billion deficit reduction plan that will entirely eliminate the State’s $1.5 billion current-year shortfall, protect against further declines in revenue in a volatile economic climate, and make a substantial down payment on next year's deficit.

Governor Paterson’s proposed reductions are spread across virtually every area of State spending, including education, health care, human services, the State workforce, and others. These actions would produce $2 billion of savings in 2008-09 and $3.2 billion in 2009-10. More...

Swiss Bank Executive Charged with Aiding U.S. Taxpayers Evade Income Tax

WASHINGTON – Raoul Weil, a senior executive of a large Swiss bank with offices worldwide, including the United States, has been charged with conspiring with other executives, managers, private bankers and clients of the banking firm to defraud the United States, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today.

According to the criminal indictment, between 2002 and 2007, Weil oversaw the Swiss bank’s cross-border private banking business that provided services to some 20,000 U.S. clients who reportedly concealed approximately $20 billion in assets from the IRS. Weil, who allegedly referred to this business as "toxic waste," mandated that Swiss bankers grow the cross-border business, despite knowing that this would cause bankers to violate U.S. law. More...

UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX TO PAY $1,875,000 FOR RELIGIOUS BIAS AGAINST NON-MORMONS

PHOENIX – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that Federal District Court Judge Mary H. Murguia has entered a consent decree for nearly $2 million and significant remedial relief to resolve a class religious discrimination lawsuit against the University of Phoenix, Inc., and its parent corporation, Apollo Group, Inc.

Apollo Group and the University of Phoenix are one of the largest employers in the Phoenix metropolitan area. In its lawsuit, filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (EEOC v. University of Phoenix, Inc., and Apollo Group, Inc., CV 06-2303-PHX-ROS), the EEOC charged that the University of Phoenix engaged in a widespread practice of discriminating against non-Mormon employees who worked as enrollment counselors in the University’s Online Division. Enrollment counselors at the University of Phoenix are responsible for recruiting students and are largely evaluated based on the number of students they recruit. At present, the Universit…

LAPD Officer Indicted on Sex Charges

Los Angeles - After victims came forward an LAPD Officer was charged with felony sex crimes committed while the officer was on duty and in uniform.

On October 16, 2008, Police Officer III Russell Mecano, assigned to West Los Angeles Patrol Division, was indicted by the Los Angeles County Grand Jury for sex crimes committed or initiated while on duty and in uniform. After the indictment, Mecano, who is 40-years old, was immediately arrested and booked at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Jail. He has been released on bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on December 12, 2008. Mecano has been relieved of his police powers and assigned to home, pending the outcome of the criminal and administrative processes.

The investigation began when the incident was reported to officers at a local police station. Mecano allegedly told an 18-year old female he would not arrest her for possession of a marijuana pipe if she would have sex with him. He allegedly sexually assaulted her near the Palisades B…

ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO SECURES GUILTY PLEA FROM HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR FOR SCAMMING WESTERN NEW YORK SENIOR OUT OF MORE THAN $80,000

BUFFALO, N.Y. (November 7, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the guilty plea of a Western New York home improvement contractor who repeatedly pressured an 88-year-old widow into paying more than $80,000 for home improvements that were never done or done in a way described by outside experts as “grossly substandard.”

Bryan Boone, 47, of Kenmore Avenue in Kenmore, pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the third degree (class D felony) before Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski in State Supreme Court. He faces up to seven years in prison and was remanded to the Erie County Correctional Facility pending sentencing on February 10, 2009. More...

FIRST WIRELESS GROUP TO PAY $435,000 TO SETTLE EEOC SUIT FOR UNEQUAL WAGES AND RETALIATION

NEW YORK – A New York-based company that refurbishes cell phones at its factory in Long Island will pay $435,000 to settle a wage discrimination and retaliation suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on November 3, 2008.

The EEOC had charged that First Wireless Group, Inc. engaged in a pattern or practice of race and/or national origin discrimination against a class of Hispanic workers by paying them less for doing the same job as Asian employees and by firing those who complained about the unlawful pay disparity.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No.03-CV-4990) filed in September 2003 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, after a group of former Hispanic employees became aware that Asian employees were being paid $1.50 to $2.00 or more per hour for performing the same work, they circulated a petition asking for equal pay. Rather than looking into the employees’ complaints, the EEOC said, First …

Yahoo! Inc. and Google Inc. Abandon Their Advertising Agreement

WASHINGTON — Yahoo! Inc. and Google Inc. abandoned their advertising agreement after the Department of Justice informed the companies that it would file an antitrust lawsuit to block the implementation of the agreement. The Department said that, if implemented, the agreement between these two companies accounting for 90 percent or more of each relevant market would likely harm competition in the markets for Internet search advertising and Internet search syndication.

"The companies’ decision to abandon their agreement eliminates the competitive concerns identified during our investigation and eliminates the need to file an enforcement action," said Thomas O. Barnett, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department’s Antitrust Division. "The arrangement likely would have denied consumers the benefits of competition –lower prices, better service and greater innovation." More...

Venezuelan National Convicted of Operating as Illegal Agent of Venezuelan Government in the United States

MIAMI, FLA. -- A Miami federal jury convicted Venezuelan national Franklin Duran, on charges of acting and conspiring to act as an agent of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ("Venezuela") within the United States, without prior notification to the Attorney General of the United States, as required by law, announced R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Patrick Rowan, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office.

In December 2007, Duran, 41, along with co-defendants Moises Maionica, 36, Antonio Jose Canchica Gomez, 37, Rodolfo Wanseele Paciello, 41, and Carlos Kauffmann, 36, were charged in a two-Count indictment for their participation in a series of meetings, beginning in August 2007, in South Florida with Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson. More...

Department of Justice Announces New Funding for Tribal Communities

WASHINGTON - U.S. Associate Attorney General Kevin J. O’Connor today announced more than $50 million in additional grant funds from the Justice Department to help tribal communities, bringing the total to nearly $100 million awarded to tribal communities in 2008. These awards include funds for tribal courts assistance, alcohol and substance abuse prevention, juvenile and mental health programs, victim assistance, and developing responses to violent crimes against Indian women. O’Connor made the announcement in remarks to the Four Corners Indian Country Conference in Albuqurque, N.M.

“This investment will help tribes develop criminal justice strategies that meet their needs,” said Associate Attorney General O’Connor. “Tribes face unique challenges that require unique solutions. We are committed to working in partnership with tribes to improve public safety.” More...

USPTO and DKPTO to Pilot Patent Prosecution Highway

Washington, D.C. - The Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO) today announced that they intend to launch a new trial cooperation initiative called the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) today. The Patent Prosecution Highway will leverage fast-track patent examination procedures already available in both offices to allow applicants to obtain corresponding patents faster and more efficiently. It also will permit each office to exploit the work previously done by the other office and reduce duplication. In turn, the initiative will reduce examination workload and improve patent quality.

“We are very pleased to be working in partnership with our Danish colleagues on this pilot. PPH is an integral part of our worksharing efforts to combat the growing global backlog of applications. By leveraging the work previously done by another office, we will be able to expedite the patent examination process and ensure hi…