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Showing posts from March, 2009

Bristol-Myers Squibb to Pay $2.1 Million Penalty

Drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS) will pay $2.1 million – the largest fine allowed by law – for failing to inform the Federal Trade Commission of agreements reached with Apotex, Inc., regarding potential generic competition to its blockbuster drug Plavix. BMS’s conduct violated a 2003 FTC Order and the Medicare Modernization Act, which requires that certain drug company agreements be accurately reported to both the Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The complaint alleges that BMS failed to disclose that, as part of a patent settlement in which Apotex agreed not to launch its generic version of Plavix for several years, BMS also orally stated, among other things, that it would not compete with Apotex during the first 180 days after Apotex did market its new generic drug.

The Commission’s complaint and Order announced today stem from a 2003 FTC Order settling charges that BMS had entered into agreements with potential generic drug manufacturers to delay thei…

Every Paralegal Should Have One

Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Arrested for Violating Civil Rights by Kidnapping

Agents with the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Wyoming Department of Criminal Justice arrested Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Franklin Joseph Ryle late yesterday in Douglas, Wyo., on criminal civil rights charges.

A federal criminal complaint charges that on Jan. 8, 2009, Ryle, while acting under color of law, unlawfully arrested and kidnapped a person, thereby willfully depriving the person of his right, protected by the Constitution, to be free from unreasonable seizures. The complaint also charges that Ryle knowingly possessed and brandished a firearm during the crime.

EEOC OBTAINS $290,000 FOR FEMALE WORKERS WHO WERE SEXUALLY HARASSED BY MALE NURSE

A Houston-area surgical center will pay $290,000 and provide significant remedial relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC had charged that First Street Surgical Center, L.P. and First Surgical Partners, LLC subjected several female workers at their Bellaire, Texas, facility to a sexually hostile work environment and that First Street retaliated against women who complained about the unlawful conduct.

The EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 4:08cv2894, filed in September 2008 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division) asserted that a male nurse, who eventually was promoted to a supervisory position, made unwanted sexual advances and sexual jokes and innuendos to female colleagues and subordinates. The EEOC said that women who rejected the advances or complained about harassment were then burdened with more difficult job a…

ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO AND AIG BONUSES

My Office’s investigation of AIG is continuing and we are proceeding with our security assessment for the employees. Through that process, my Office has been working with AIG and its employees in an attempt to assess the status of the $165 million in bonuses that were paid on March 15, 2009.

We have been working our way down the list beginning with the recipients who received the largest bonuses. So far, 9 of the top 10 bonus recipients have agreed to give the bonuses back. Of the top 20, 15 have agreed to return the bonuses.

Of the $165 million pool, we calculate that employees have agreed to return approximately $50 million. It bears noting that 47 percent of the $165 million pool went to Americans (approximately $80 million).

I would like to say this to the individuals who have given the money back - You have done the right thing. You have done what this country now needs and demands. We are living in a new era of corporate and individual responsibility. I thank you for setting an e…

Employment Rights of N.Y. Army National Guardsman

The Department of Justice today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on behalf of Frantz Julien, a New York Army National Guard member, against the Symphony Diagnostic Services Inc., doing business as MobilexUSA (Mobilex), alleging violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).

Subject to certain limitations, USERRA requires that individuals who leave their jobs to serve in the U.S. military be promptly reemployed by their civilian employers in the same positions, or in comparable positions, as the positions that they would have held had they not left to serve in the military. USERRA also requires that civilian employers reemploy returning servicemembers in positions of like pay, status and benefits to the positions the servicemembers would have had if they had been continuously employed by their civilian employers.

The Justice Department’s complaint alleges that Julien, a staff mobile radiologic technologist for Mobilex, …

Unfair Mortgage Lending Practices

In a statement presented today to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, the Federal Trade Commission described its efforts to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, and discriminatory practices in the mortgage lending market.

As noted in the statement, since the late 1990s the Commission has focused on the most egregious illegal lending practices of nonbank lenders, particularly in the subprime market, bringing 26 law enforcement actions that resulted in almost $345 million being returned to consumers. The agency also has brought dozens of cases alleging discriminatory lending practices, including the unfair pricing of mortgage loans to minority borrowers.

To help consumers protect themselves, the statement noted, the FTC engages in extensive consumer education, in English and Spanish, about deceptive mortgage advertising, buying a home, mortgage discrimination, and steps for avoiding foreclosure and foreclosure rescue scams. The Commission also engages in research and policy…

Stock Trader Pleads Guilty to Market Manipulation Scheme

A stock trader from Jupiter, Fla., pleaded guilty today to engaging in a market manipulation scheme involving several publicly traded companies, Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita M. Glavin of the Criminal Division announced.

Earlier today, Paul M. Gozzo, 33, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham in Miami to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of securities fraud. In his plea, Gozzo admitted to engaging in a market manipulation scheme with two co-conspirators for the purpose of artificially inflating the prices of several publicly traded stocks. Gozzo also admitted that he and his co-conspirators manipulated the stock price of several stocks by, among other things, creating the false appearance that there was a greater investor interest in the stocks than actually existed and by creating the false appearance that there was greater liquidity in the stocks than actually existed. In return for his assistance in manipulating the stock p…

My Thoughts On AIG

By: Joel Irving

The bailout to AIG was a foolish decision on the part of President Bush! The best course of action would have been putting the company on the auction block and selling its assets to the highest bidders. After all there are other large insurance companies that would have been more than happy to acquire AIG’s assets.

Georgia Tax Preparation Firms And Fuel Credit Tax Scam?

The United States has asked a federal court in Savannah, Ga., to permanently bar Ophelia Kelley of Vidalia, Ga., from preparing federal income tax returns for others, the Justice Department announced today. According to the government complaint, Kelley operates two return preparation firms in Vidalia – Kelley Tax Service, and City and Country Girl Tax Service.

The civil injunction suit alleges that Kelley, through her businesses, has repeatedly and intentionally engaged in fraudulent conduct by claiming improper deductions and tax credits for customers. According to the complaint, Kelley allegedly claims bogus fuel tax credits for customers who are not entitled to the credit. The fuel credit is available only to taxpayers who operate farm equipment or off-highway business vehicles. It is not available for trucks driven on highways.

The complaint further alleges that Kelley fraudulently claims the credit for truck drivers, claiming absurdly large credits by falsely reporting purchases of…

Upstate Healthy NY Pilot Project

Governor David A. Paterson today announced a Syracuse-based company has been selected to run the first Upstate Healthy NY pilot project, which will provide affordable health insurance to small businesses and individuals in Central New York. Benefits Specialists, a subsidiary of the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, will administer the program which will offer premiums with discounts as high as 70 percent, and will work to increase enrollment through outreach and education initiatives. In existing programs, Healthy NY offers premiums nearly 38 percent lower than those of average small businesses, and even greater discounts for sole proprietors and individuals.

“We must continue our work to make New York the best place for business, and there has never been more important than during this economic crisis,” said Governor Paterson. “By offering low cost health insurance to small businesses and individuals, Healthy NY helps make New York competitive so that we can attract and retain gre…

Fortunoff Will Fulfill Consumers’ Pre-Paid Orders

Uniondale-based jewelry and furniture chain Fortunoff, which filed for bankruptcy and is liquidating, will fulfill consumers’ pre-paid orders of in-stock furniture. As of March 5, 2009, the company canceled delivery of such purchases, contrary to its obligations, and prepared to have such furniture included in liquidation sales. Cuomo stepped in to ensure that the company’s actions were immediately reversed. This action follows the Attorney General’s intervention last month to make sure that consumers’ Fortunoff gift cards would be honored through March 8, 2009.

The Attorney General intervened after receiving numerous complaints from consumers who paid thousands of dollars for furniture and were told that, although the furniture was in stock, it would not be delivered, and no refunds would be provided. The Attorney General urges all consumers who paid in full for furniture that has not been delivered to contact Fortunoff immediately to request delivery of any in-stock items.

Attorney Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison

Marshall E. Sanders, an attorney based in Vicksburg, Miss., was sentenced to 18 months in prison for failure to file tax returns by Magistrate Judge James C. Sumner, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. In addition, Judge Sumner ordered Sanders to pay restitution to the IRS of $1,025,453.

In November 2008, Sanders pleaded guilty to failing to file tax returns for years 2001 and 2002. According to the formal charging information and the court’s findings at sentencing, Sanders earned gross income of over $2 million in 2001 and almost $500,000 in 2002. Moreover, Sanders failed to file individual income tax returns since 1995 and owed over $1.4 million in taxes to the IRS.

As part of his plea agreement, Sanders agreed to cooperate with the IRS in making a correct determination of his income tax liabilities for years 1995 through the present and to file complete and accurate tax returns for those years.

Former Department of Energy Employee Pleads Guilty

A former U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) employee who falsified his performance evaluation to justify an annual performance award to which he was not entitled pleaded guilty today to one count of making false statements, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita M. Glavin of the Criminal Division.

According to court documents, Amandeus Watkins, 32, was employed by DOE from November 2006 to August 2008 as the resource manager in the Office of Public Affairs. In this position, Watkins was responsible for overseeing the process through which many public affairs employees received annual performance awards.

Watkins admitted that in March 2008 he authored and submitted to DOE a performance evaluation for himself that falsely indicated he had earned the highest possible performance rating from his former supervisor in order to justify an annual performance award he had improperly arranged to receive in December 2007. According to court documents, no DOE employee, including his former s…

Preliminary injunction for CCC Information Services Inc.

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia announced its decision today granting the Federal Trade Commission’s request for a preliminary injunction enjoining CCC Information Services Inc.’s merger with Mitchell International Inc. On November 25, 2008, the Federal Trade Commission filed suit to block the merger of CCC and Mitchell, charging that the transaction 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 systems.

“The court’s decision today was a triumph for consumers and reaffirms the vital role competition plays in our economy,” said David P. Wales, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “We brought this case because of the impressive body of evidence developed by staff demonstrating that the combination of these two competitors would substant…