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Showing posts from January, 2009

Jorge De Castro Font, pleaded guilty to 20 counts of honest services wire fraud

(USDOJ) Jorge De Castro Font, 45, a former senator in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty on January 21, 2009, to 20 counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita M. Glavin of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez announced.

De Castro Font pleaded guilty to devising and engaging in a scheme that deprived the people of Puerto Rico of his honest services as a legislator, performed free from conflict of interest, concealment and improper influence. De Castro Font also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion through fear of economic harm and under color of official right. De Castro Font was indicted for these and other related offenses on Oct. 2, 2008.

AT&T Agrees to Pay More Than $2 Million

(USDOJ) AT&T Inc. has agreed to pay more than $2 million as part of a civil settlement with the Department of Justice that resolves AT&T’s alleged violations of two court orders entered in connection with AT&T’s acquisition of Dobson Communications Corporation.

The Department today filed a petition in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking it to find AT&T in civil contempt of a 2008 consent decree and a related court order. At the same time, the Department filed a settlement agreement and order, subject to court approval, that would resolve the Department’s concerns. The payment to the United States includes reimbursement to the government for the cost of its investigation into AT&T’s alleged violations.

HUD ON FINANCIAL LITERACY

(HUD) U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston today announced HUD's latest effort to prevent foreclosure by launching an aggressive consumer education campaign in six cities. HUD's "Keep Your Home. Know Your Loan." campaign will kick off in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Phoenix. Preston launched the public awareness initiative at Neighborhood Housing Services, a New York City agency that offers clients free mortgage delinquency and default resolution counseling.

Is this just a symbolic gesture? Will teaching financial literacy after the fact really matter? I would like to hear your views on the matter. Feel free to leave me a comment.

Dental practice will pay $462,500 to settle a class sexual and religious harassment lawsuit

CHICAGO – A Chicago dental practice will pay $462,500 to settle a class sexual and religious harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that James L. Orrington, D.M.D., Ltd. discriminated against 18 employees by subjecting them to sexual harassment, including sexual propositions, comments and touching; forcing them to engage in Scientology religious practices and learn about Scientology as conditions of their employment; and/or retaliating against employees who complained about the sexual or religious harassment. The lawsuit, which was filed September 20, 2007, was assigned to Judge Robert Dow of the Northern District of Illinois and captioned EEOC et al. v. James L. Orrington D.M.D., Ltd., 07 C 5317. The consent decree resolving the case was entered by the court this morning. Full Story...

Suntasia Marketing Pays More Than $16 Million

Fourteen defendants involved in the massive telemarketing scheme operated by Largo, Florida-based Suntasia Marketing, Inc. have agreed to pay a total of more than $16 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges. The funds obtained under the four settlements announced today are in addition to approximately $33 million that will be provided to Suntasia victims as part of a previously announced settlement between the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and Wachovia Bank, N.A., which allegedly processed thousands of unauthorized demand drafts on Suntasia’s behalf. Together, the FTC and OCC settlements will provide nearly $50 million in restitution to Suntasia’s consumer victims.

“This is a tremendous victory for consumers who were victimized by Suntasia’s deceptive negative-option telemarketing,” said Lydia Parnes, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC, the OCC, and the Department of Justice have worked together to secure nearly $50 million for Su…

HISTORIC NATIONWIDE HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM

NEW YORK, NY (January 13, 2009) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced historic reform of the nationwide health care reimbursement system that will end conflicts of interest and generate fair reimbursement rates for working families nationwide. Cuomo has reached an agreement with UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) (“United”), the nation’s second largest health insurer, after conducting an industry-wide investigation into a scheme to defraud consumers by manipulating reimbursement rates.

At the center of the scheme is Ingenix, Inc. (“Ingenix”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of United, which is the nation’s largest provider of health care billing information. Under the agreement with United, the database of billing information operated by Ingenix will close. United will pay $50 million to a qualified nonprofit organization that will establish a new, independent database to help determine fair out-of-network reimbursement rates for consumers throughout the United States.

Breaking News! A Relative Speaks Out

A relative of one of the three men indicted on January 7, 2009, for allegedly conspiring to assault African-Americans in retaliation for President-Elect Barack Obama’s election victory, speaks out on his relative's behalf.

My name is Joseph P. Carranza ( 46 ). I was shocked, and horrified to learn, that my Second Cousin, Brian Carranza, is accused in connection with this tragic incident.

I feel it is my obligation, to speak on behalf of the entire Carranza Family, to convey our deepest, most heart-felt sympathies for the victims of this crime. Full Story...

A Paralegal's Journey - A Personal Portrait

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Chamein Canton was born to Mary Ellen and Leonard F. Canton Jr. She was joined by a younger sister Natalie. Chamein attended the Copiague Schools and graduated from Copiague High School in 1984.

Chamein’s brief marriage in 1986 produced twin sons Sean Elliot and Scott Edward Snowden born May 18, 1987. After her divorce in 1988 she worked in the banking industry until she was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 1989.
As a patient and single mother, Chamein had the support of her family during that stressful time. She began attending college at night and received her Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies in 1992. With her cancer in remission she began working for a title insurance company/law firm in Garden City, New York. In 1993 Chamein enrolled SUNY Old Westbury’s business program to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. However her condition worsened in 1994 and she transferred to Empire State College Center for Distance Learning to get her degree online.

After a six yea…

Sandia Corp. agrees to pay more than $2 million in overtime

(USDOL) Sandia Corp., doing business as Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, has agreed to pay $2,077,248 in overtime back wages to 2,657 research employees after a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

"Among the department's highest priorities is ensuring that workers are paid all the wages they are owed," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "In this case, we have succeeded in securing more than $2 million in back wages for these workers." Full Story...

West Penn Multi-List, Inc., Reaches Settlement With FTC

(FTC) West Penn Multi-List, Inc., the operator of the real estate multiple listing service (MLS) in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania metropolitan area, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that certain restrictions on access to its MLS services were anticompetitive and violated U.S. antitrust laws. West Penn’s MLS rules limited publication and marketing of the listing of sellers’ properties based solely on the terms of the seller’s listing contract with the real estate broker.

The FTC’s consent order settling the charges bars West Penn from imposing restrictions that discouraged brokers who subscribed to the MLS from offering lower-cost, limited brokerage services to home sellers in the Pittsburgh area. Full Story...

DOJ Seeks to Recover Approximately $3 Million in Illegal Proceeds

(USDOJ) The Department of Justice has filed a forfeiture action against accounts worth nearly $3 million that are alleged to be the proceeds of a wide-ranging conspiracy to bribe public officials in Bangladesh and their family members in connection with various public work projects, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division announced today.

The forfeiture action was filed Jan. 8, 2009, in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia against funds located in Singapore held by multiple account holders. The forfeiture complaint relates primarily to alleged bribes paid to Arafat "Koko" Rahman, the son of the former prime minister of Bangladesh, in connection with public works projects awarded by the government of Bangladesh to Siemens AG and China Harbor Engineering Company. According to the forfeiture complaint, the majority of funds in Koko’s account are traceable to bribes allegedly received in connection with the China Harbor project, wh…

Retaliation for President-Elect Barack Obama’s Election Victory?

(USDOJ) The Department of Justice announced today the unsealing of an indictment charging three Staten Island, N.Y., men with conspiring to assault African-Americans in retaliation for President-Elect Barack Obama’s election victory.

Ralph Nicoletti and Michael Contreras, both 18, and Brian Carranza, 21, were arrested late Tuesday and are scheduled for arraignment today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann in Brooklyn. As alleged in the indictment and other court filings, on the night of Nov. 4, 2008, shortly after learning of Barack Obama’s election victory, the group, along with a fourth friend, decided to find African-Americans to assault. Full Story...

Capitol Waste Inc., Allegedly Failed To Pay Taxes

(USDOJ) A federal court in Sacramento, Calif., issued a preliminary injunction ordering Capitol Waste Inc. and Iva and Kenneth Whitmire of Sacramento to comply with federal employment tax withholding requirements and to timely pay all present and future employment tax, unemployment tax and income tax liabilities, the Justice Department announced today. Capitol Waste, Inc. and the Whitmires agreed to the preliminary injunction order.

The Justice Department filed suit on Oct. 8, 2008, seeking to enjoin the defendants from interfering with the administration of the Internal Revenue laws. The complaint alleges that the defendants have failed to comply fully with Capitol Waste’s employment tax, unemployment tax and income tax obligations since 2000. According to the complaint, Capitol Waste failed to pay almost $2.6 million in federal employment and unemployment taxes between 2000 and 2007. Full Story...

William Rapetti has been indicted

(NYDA) Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau announced today the indictment of a tower crane rigger and his company on homicide and related charges in the crane collapse on March 15, 2008, that caused the deaths of seven people.

WILLIAM RAPETTI, 48, and RAPETTI RIGGING SERVICES INC. have been indicted on multiple charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, assault, reckless endangerment and failure to file tax returns.

24,508 workers receive $67.5 million for discrimination

(USDOL) In fiscal year (FY) 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) won a record $67,510,982 in back pay, salary and benefits for an unprecedented 24,508 American workers who had been subjected to unlawful employment discrimination.

Ninety-nine percent of dollars were collected in cases of systemic discrimination — those involving a significant number of workers or applicants subjected to discrimination because of an unlawful employment practice or policy. The more than $67.5 million reflects a 133 percent increase over financial remedies obtained in FY 2001.

HCI and Consumer One to Pay Over $650,000 in Restitution

(NYAG) Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced results of a landmark investigation with the New York State Department of Banking into discriminatory practices in the mortgage brokerage industry. In the first law enforcement action of its kind in New York State, two mortgage brokerage companies – HCI Mortgage and Consumer One Mortgage – will collectively pay $665,000 in restitution to approximately 455 Black and Latino borrowers who were illegally charged higher fees than similarly-situated White borrowers. The companies collectively operate more than 20 branches throughout New York State. The Attorney General also filed a lawsuit in federal district court against another mortgage brokerage company – U.S. Capital Funding, LLC – that engaged in similar discriminatory practices.

“The blatant discrimination in this case is as illegal as it is inexcusable,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “These customers were charged significantly higher fees for no reason other than being …

EEOC Settles Suit for Discrimination Based on Religion and National Origin

(EEOC) The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced (on 12/31/2008) that Merrill Lynch, the international financial services firm, has agreed to pay $1,550,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act on behalf of an Iranian Muslim former worker who was fired due to his religion and national origin.

The EEOC’s lawsuit, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Case No. 07-CV-6017), alleged that Merrill Lynch refused to promote and terminated Majid Borumand from a position as a quantitative analyst in August 2005 because of his Iranian national origin and Muslim religion. Merrill Lynch instead retained and promoted a less qualified individual, the EEOC asserted in the lawsuit.