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Showing posts from March, 2010

CUOMO’S HIDDEN-CAMERA INVESTIGATION LEADS TO 22 ARRESTS FOR PATIENT NEGLECT AT WNY AND CAPITAL REGION NURSING HOMES

ALBANY, NY (March 31, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) has arrested 22 current and former health care workers in two separate cases after footage from hidden surveillance cameras revealed alleged neglect and other conduct that endangered dependent residents. The first case involves the arrest of 14 individuals regarding incidents at Northwoods Rehabilitation and Extended Care Facility in Troy. The second case involves the arrest of 8 individuals regarding incidents at the Williamsville Suburban Nursing Home in Amherst.

“With the consent of family members, we put hidden cameras in nursing homes across the state, watching over the vulnerable who often cannot advocate for themselves,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “My office is strongly committed to using all the tools at our disposal to make sure people are getting the medical treatment and the care they deserve.”

EEOC Sues RJB Properties and Blackstone Consulting For National Origin Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

CHICAGO – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit today against RJB Properties, Inc. and Blackstone Consulting, Inc., charging that the companies discriminated against Hispanic employees because of their national origin, sexually harassed a male employee, and retaliated against employees who objected to the discrimination against Latino employees.

RJB, based in Orland Park, Ill., provides facilities management and janitorial services. RJB’s president is Ronald Blackstone, and his son, Joe Blackstone, is president of Blackstone. Blackstone, based in Los Angeles, provides janitorial and food services. The EEOC’s lawsuit arose out of charges of discrimination filed by 14 employees who worked for RJB as janitors or supervisors. Blackstone is named in the suit because a vice president of Blackstone supervised the employees at RJB and directed or participated in the alleged discrimination against them.

Eritrean man pleads guilty to alien smuggling

WASHINGTON - Samuel Abrahaley Fessahazion, 23, an Eritrean national, has pleaded guilty to helping smuggle illegal aliens to the United States for private financial gain, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP).

Fessahazion, aka "Sami," aka "Sammy," aka "Alex" and aka "Alex Williams" pleaded guilty on March 29, 2010, in Houston to one count of conspiracy and two counts of encouraging and inducing aliens to come to, enter or reside in the United States in violation of law for the purpose of private financial gain.

Gonnella Baking Co. To Pay $350,000 To Settle EEOC Harassment And Retaliation Suit

CHICAGO – Gonnella Baking Co., a Chicago-area baking company, will pay $350,000 to settle a national origin harassment and retaliation suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The company will also be subject to a four-year consent decree, under which it will be required to report any further complaints of discrimination or retaliation to the EEOC and to provide training about employment discrimination law to its managers and other employees.

In its suit, the EEOC charged that Gonnella tolerated harassment of employees of Mexican national origin by a manager at its Aurora, Ill., facility and, when a number of those employees complained about the harassment, the manager retaliated against them by subjecting them to further verbal harassment, longer hours, and harsher working conditions. The EEOC sought relief for a class of seven employees, four of whom intervened in the suit as plaintiffs.

Justice Department Settles with New York School District to Ensure Students Have Equal Opportunities

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced today that it has reached an out-of-court settlement in the matter of J.L. v. Mohawk Central School District, a lawsuit which the United States sought to join to address alleged violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, both of which prohibit discrimination based on sex, including discrimination based on gender stereotypes.

On Jan. 14, 2010, in the Northern District of New York, the United States sought to join a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a student, J.L., who was the alleged victim of severe and pervasive student-on-student harassment based on sex. According to the United States’ motion, J.L. failed to conform to gender stereotypes in both behavior and appearance. He exhibited feminine mannerisms, dyed his hair, wore makeup and nail polish, and maintained predominantly female friendships.…

Nine Members of a Militia Group Charged with Seditious Conspiracy and Related Offenses

Six Michigan residents, along with two residents of Ohio and a resident of Indiana, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade and FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena announced today.

The five-count indictment, which was unsealed today, charges that between August 2008 and the present, the defendants, David Brian Stone, 45, his wife, Tina Stone, 44, his son, Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, of Clayton, Michigan, and his other son, David Brian Stone, Jr., 19, of Adrian, Michigan, Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield, Michigan, Michael Meeks, 40 of Manchester, Michigan, Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Indiana, Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio, and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio, acting as a Lenawee County Michigan militia group called the Hutaree, conspired to oppo…

Pamrapo Savings Bank of New Jersey Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Bank Secrecy Act Violations and Forfeits $5 Million

WASHINGTON – Pamrapo Savings Bank S.L.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pamrapo Bancorp Inc., based in Bayonne, N.J., pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to conspiracy to violate the Bank Secrecy Act and has agreed to forfeit $5 million to the United States.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman for the District of New Jersey; Special Agent in Charge William P. Offord, Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-Criminal Investigation; Acting Director John E. Bowman of the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS); and Inspector General Jon T. Rymer, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG).

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Aaron Rents Franchisee Fired Jehovah’s Witness for Religious Objection to ‘Red Shirt Fridays,’ Federal Agency Charged

DALLAS – Denton, Texas-based Alliance Rental Center, L.P., which operates several Aaron Rents franchises in North Texas, will pay a former employee $21,500 and furnish other relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Civil Action No. 3:09-CV-1757-F), Tyler Templeton, a product technician, was fired when he declined to participate in the company’s “Red Shirt Friday” dress code, a store practice intended to show support for the U.S. military. Alliance required employees to wear red shirts provided by the company on Fridays as a show of support for the armed forces. As a Jehovah’s Witness, it is Templeton’s religious belief that he is not to express opinions about government matters, including military affairs. The EEOC said that Templeton informed his supervisors about his religious beliefs and his observance of neutrality on issues of war, including mi…

US Labor Department issues final exemption to allow new health plan for Ford Motor Co. retirees to acquire company securities

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration has granted an exemption allowing the Ford Motor Co. to transfer company securities to a voluntary employee beneficiary association trust that funds a new health plan established to provide health benefits for the company's retirees. The new health plan will cover in excess of 285,000 retirees and their dependents, and a small number of active employees.

Ford requested an exemption under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to allow the VEBA plan to receive and hold employer securities of Ford in excess of the amount and kind allowed under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The law gives the Labor Department authority to grant exemptions that protect the interests of plan participants and beneficiaries.

ICE and CBP seize more than $46,000 and arrest man for bulk cash smuggling

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents arrested a man earlier this week who attempted to leave the Isla Grande Airport in San Juan without declaring excess currency in the amount of $46,809.

Miguel Arroyo-Blas, 44, was traveling from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Curacao, on board a chartered plane.

Cuomo Sues National Modification Service and Infinity Mitigation Services for Illegally Charging Homeowners for Loan Modification Services That Were Not Performed

NEW YORK, NY (March 25, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today filed lawsuits against two loan modification companies for engaging in nationwide foreclosure rescue scams. The lawsuits were filed against National Modification Service (“National Modification”) and its founder Joseph Romano, and Infinity Mitigation Corporation, Infinity Funding Group (“Infinity”), and their owner and principal Neil Singer. The companies and their owners prey on homeowners facing foreclosure by claiming that they can save their homes, but often fail to provide the services promised. National Modification is based in Farmingdale, New York and Infinity is based in Bohemia, New York.

“As New Yorkers and others across the country fight to stay afloat in these tough times, we continue to see dishonest companies preying on vulnerable homeowners,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “These companies pretend to be reaching out a helping hand, but instead they push consumers further down into debt and, in some ca…

CLA/CP Exam to Go On-Line, Fall 2010

"The Certified Paralegal Examination will transition from a paper-and-pencil test to computer-based testing in 2010,” according to Karen Trumpower, ACP, NALA Certifying Board Chair. “The first computer-based CP exam is anticipated for September,” she said. She was joined by NALA President Linda Wolf, ACP, in praising this evolution of NALA’s national professional certification exam for all paralegals.

“Our Association has always pushed the boundaries in advancing educational opportunities and professional esteem for paralegals,” Ms. Wolf said. “Adoption of computer-based testing for the Certified Paralegal credential emphasizes our dedication to progress in the 21st Century that was highlighted in 2006 when we launched the Internet-based Advanced Paralegal Certification program.”

ICE recovers Klee painting stolen from a Manhattan art gallery

NEW YORK - A 20th century painting is back in the hands of its rightful owner, 21 years after it was stolen from the Marlborough Art Gallery in Manhattan. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) returned the painting to the Art Loss Register (ALR) on March 24.

The "Bildnis in der Laube" (Portrait in the Garden, 1930, gouache on paper on board) was reported stolen to the New York Police Department in 1989. The oil painting was created by Paul Klee, an internationally acclaimed Swiss painter of German origin who painted more than 500 works of art.

ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO EXPANDS INVESTIGATION INTO “PENSION PADDING”

PURCHASE, NY (March 24, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an expansion of his ongoing efforts to root out fraud and abuse in the New York State pension system. For the past three years, the Attorney General has led efforts to investigate and reform the New York State pension system and the New York State Comptroller’s Office.

Today the Attorney General continued his investigation into “pension padding” or “pension spiking” by sending letters to 11 local government employers and authorities that have some of the highest salary or pension payments in the state. Pension padding is the practice of manipulating salary and overtime payments to acquire inflated pensions at the expense of taxpayers. The letters seek payroll and related data for pension recipients. The list of recipients is attached.

Kmart To Pay $120,000 To Settle EEOC Age Bias Suit

Pharmacist Called ‘Greedy’ for Working at Age 70, Then Forced to Quit and Threatened With Legal Action in Retaliation for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged

HONOLULU – Kmart Corporation will pay $120,000 and furnish other relief to settle an age harassment, constructive discharge and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Kmart discriminated against a 70-year-old pharmacist at a Honolulu store.

According to the EEOC’s suit, over the course of four years, a pharmacy manager openly professed on several occasions that the pharmacist was “too old,” “should just retire,” and was “greedy” for continuing to work at age 70. Further, the EEOC said, the manager continued to humiliate her in writing by stating, “The pharmacy is no longer your forte” and “You need to retire from pharmacy work now,” in a communication book open to the entire department.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES PLEA IN BRIBERY CASE INVOLVING CRANE COMPANY

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the guilty plea of JAMES DELAYO, a former Acting Chief Inspector for Cranes and Derricks for the New York City Department of Buildings, who took cash payments in exchange for falsifying paperwork relating to crane inspections and certifying crane operator exams. DELAYO pleaded guilty to Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree, a class C felony for which DELAYO is recommended to receive a sentence of 2 to 6 years in prison. The cases of DELAYO’s two co-defendants, NU-WAY CRANE de-facto owner MICHAEL SACKARIS and NU-WAY employee MICHAEL PASCALLI are pending. Charges are also pending against the crane company.

“The defendant’s willful disregard for the safety of this equipment and the skill of crane operators endangered the lives of Manhattan’s residents, visitors and construction workers,” said District Attorney Vance. “This is another case where responsibility and safety were trumped by greed. These crimes threaten the indus…

Crosby Tours failed to provide trips to more than 130 consumers who paid in advance

NEW YORK, N.Y. (March 23, 2010) - New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his office has commenced legal action against Brooklyn-based Crosby Tours, Inc. and its principals for charging more than 130 consumers for tour bus services that were never provided and then failing to provide refunds after the company closed.

The Attorney General’s Office notified Crosby and its principals, Reed Elson, Frank P. Scarpinito and Monika Bialokur, of its intention to sue, seeking full restitution to victimized consumers as well as penalties and costs to the state. The matter is being pursued jointly with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, which will seek penalties and costs to the City.

ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO ANNOUNCES ARREST OF QUEENSBURY INSURANCE AGENT FOR GRAND LARCENY

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 16, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the arrest of a Queensbury insurance agent who defrauded a Fort Ann couple by stealing money they had given to him to purchase insurance policies.

The complaint alleges that Joseph A. Marvullo, 60, of Queensbury, who was self-employed as an independent insurance agent, met several times at the home of the Fort Ann couple who wished to purchase life insurance, disability insurance and annuity life insurance policies. Marvullo represented to the couple that he could sell them annuity policies, as an investment, which would yield to them a high interest rate. Marvullo convinced the couple to invest $26,100 with him by writing checks made payable directly to him. Marvullo never purchased any annuity policies, and never returned the money to the couple when they demanded it back.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES GUILTY PLEA IN HORSE –STABLING CONTRACT SCHEME

NYPD Detective steered contract

Manhattan District Attorney Vance today announced the guilty pleas of RICHARD DEPAMPHILIS and VICKI NANNINGA in a scheme to obtain a $2 million contract with the New York City Police Department. DEPAMPHILIS and NANNINGA were arraigned today in Manhattan Criminal Court, and pled guilty to Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree, an A misdemeanor.

A joint investigation between Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau revealed that DEPAMPHILIS, a New York City police detective, steered a $2 million contract to board retiring NYPD horses to NANNINGA, the owner of Stone Horse Inn, a retirement home for horses in Pennsylvania, according to information contained in the criminal court complaint. In 2006, NANNINGA submitted an application on behalf of Stone Horse Inn. In December 2006, based in part on a recommendation by DEPAMPHILIS, the Stone Horse Inn was awarded a 10-year contract worth approximately $2 …

EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart Ishimaru Testifies Before Senate in Support of Paycheck Fairness Act

MARCH 11, 2010

Mr. Chairman, and distinguished members of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you at this important hearing, “A Fair Share for All: Pay Equity in the New American Workplace.”
The Problem of Gender Inequality in Employment Compensation

In 1963, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, amending the Fair Labor Standards Act to address pay inequities based on sex. At that time, Congress denounced sex-based wage discrimination as contributing to depressed wages, underutilization of the labor force, obstruction of commerce, and unfair competition. While the passage of the Equal Pay Act and subsequent year’s passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 have done much to equalize pay for men and women in this country, in 2010 the pay gap continues to perpetuate the very same problems the Equal Pay Act and Title VII were intended to combat. Much work remains to close the gap, to end gender pay inequity, and to deliver on t…

Payment Processing CEO Banned from the Business; Company Illegally Debited Millions from Consumers’ Bank Accounts

The chief executive officer of a payment processing company will be banned from the business as part of a settlement resolving Federal Trade Commission charges that the company illegally debited millions of dollars in bogus charges from consumers’ bank accounts.

In 2007, the FTC charged the executive, Tarzenea Dixon, her company, and others with processing unauthorized debits on behalf of deceptive telemarketers and Internet-based schemes they knew, or deliberately avoided knowing, were violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule. In addition, the attorneys general of Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and Vermont charged the defendants with violating various state laws.

Miriam Mercedes Hernandez of Queens falsely promised to help immigrants secure permanent residency and citizenship

NEW YORK, NY (March 1, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced his office has won a court judgment of more than $3 million against Miriam Mercedes Hernandez of Queens, who targeted and defrauded immigrants out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by promising to help them obtain legal status and then never doing so. The action is the latest in Attorney General Cuomo’s ongoing investigation into immigration fraud.

The judgment is the result of a lawsuit filed by Cuomo in May 2009, claiming Hernandez engaged in fraud and deceptive practices, and violated New York civil rights laws when she falsely promised to assist individuals and families seeking legal status. Hernandez wrongly claimed that she could obtain expedited legal status for people through her alleged relationships with government officials. For her services, Hernandez charged individuals up to $7,500 as an initial fee, and up to $15,000 per person. However, Hernandez never performed the services promised. Whe…