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Showing posts from September, 2010

At FTC's Request, Court Permanently Shuts Down Massive Cramming Operation; Orders Defendants to Refund Almost $38 Million in Unauthorized Charges Placed on Consumers' Phone Bills

At the request of the Federal Trade Commission, a U.S. district court has permanently shut down the illegal operations of a firm that placed bogus charges on the telephone bills of thousands of small businesses and consumers for Internet-related services they never agreed to buy. The court has barred the defendants from charging consumers’ telephone bills and barred them from telemarketing unless they get prior approval from the FTC and the court. It also ordered third parties through which charges were placed, including local exchange telephone companies, or LECs, to return money in escrow to consumers, and ordered the defendants to pay nearly $38 million in restitution for consumers.

In January 2010 the FTC sued Inc21, charging that the company hired offshore telemarketers to call prospective clients to sell its Web-based services. The defendants then used LECs to place charges, usually between $12.95 and $39.95 per month, for those services on the phone bills of consumers and busin…

Who Is Ripping Off Paris Hilton's Hair?

A lawsuit about Paris Hilton's hair? Sounds silly but to some extent it is true.
In a complaint filed Monday in federal court in Missouri, Celebrity Signatures alleges that HairTech is infringing its patents, including clip-in hair extensions branded "Clipin-Go by Paris Hilton" and "Dream Catchers."Read more>>

Home Instead Senior Care Sued for Race Bias

EEOC Says Management Officials Engaged in Race-Based Assignments

BALTIMORE - Hi Care, Inc. d/b/a Home Instead Senior Care, which provides home care services for seniors in Anne Arundel and Howard counties illegally engaged in a pattern and practice of race-based assignments of its caregiver employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a lawsuit filed today.

In its suit, the EEOC charges that since at least October 2007, Hi Care employed racial coding to identify clients who preferred Caucasians caregivers as “circle dots,” and relied upon such racial coding when assigning caregivers to work. The EEOC asserts that Hi Care catered to the racial preferences of its clients at its Arnold and Ellicott City, Md. offices.

Republic Services to Pay Nearly $3 Million for Firing Older Workers Because of Age

Solid Waste Company Discriminated Against 21 Over-40 Employees, EEOC Charged

LAS VEGAS — Republic Services, Inc. and its subsidiary Republic Silver State Disposal, Inc., will pay $2,975,000 and provide other relief to a class of older workers, settling an age discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC, Phoenix-based Republic terminated and denied job transfer opportunities to about 21 employees over the age of 40 at its facilities in southern Nevada between 2003 and 2005 because of their age. The list of terminated employees includes garbage collectors, drivers, and supervisors, some of whom were employed by the company for more than 25 years. The EEOC contends that those jobs were then offered to younger employees who were subsequently held to lower performance standards. The EEOC further charged that Republic engaged in a form of hazing called “break him off,” in which some employ…

Former Memphis Police Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations

WASHINGTON – Former Memphis Police Officer Isaac White was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison, two years supervised release and a $4,000 fine, announced Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights; Edward L. Stanton, III , U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee; Larry Godwin, Director, Memphis Police Department; and Amy Hess, FBI Special Agent in Charge.

On Nov. 25, 2009, White pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of Pierre Jefferson. White admitted that in May 2008, after handcuffing Jefferson, he rammed Jefferson’s head into the corner of a building, and struck Jefferson in the face several times, causing him to fall to the ground. White also admitted to kicking Jefferson after he fell to the ground.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES SENTENCING OF ATTEMPTED RAPIST, POLICE IMPERSONATOR

Defendant Receives 15 Years in Prison

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of MICHAEL FLORES, 41, to 15 years in prison, followed by 5 years of post-release supervision, for attempting to rape a young woman in East Harlem after posing as a police officer. On July 14, 2010, FLORES pled guilty to one count of Attempted Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, a class C violent felony.

“Sexual assault leaves lifelong scars on its victims,” said District Attorney Vance. “This prosecution cannot erase those scars for this victim, but this significant sentence will protect other women in our community from suffering similar fates at the hands of this defendant, and give this victim a measure of the justice she deserves.”

Terry Goddard Announces Indictment of Nogales Mayor on Charges of Bribery, Theft, Fraud, and Money Laundering

PHOENIX—Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced the indictment and arrest of Mayor Octavio Garcia Von Borstel, 29, of Nogales, Arizona, on multiple charges including bribery, theft, fraud, and money laundering.

Garcia Von Borstel, a democrat, was arrested at his office at the Nogales City Hall this morning. Concurrently, search warrants were executed at his home, business and City Hall office.

Cuomo Reaches Over $500,000 Settlement with Nino’s Positano Ristorante Italiano for Failing to Pay Workers Legal Wages and Overtime

NEW YORK, NY (September 28, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a $515,000 settlement with Manhattan-based Nino’s Positano Ristorante Italiano for failing to pay workers legal wages and overtime.

Nino’s Positano Ristorante Italiano, owned by Shemsi Selimaj a.k.a Nino Selimaj, is located at 890 2nd Avenue in New York City. The Attorney General’s investigation into the restaurant, which was initiated by complaints from employees, found that waiters, bussers, and runners worked an average of 60-72 hours each week, but were only paid for the first 40 hours of work. In addition, prep cooks, dishwashers, and other employees were underpaid by over $100 per week. The restaurant hid these legal violations by failing to keep records, as required by law, and at times taking workers entirely off the payroll.

Roberts Truck Center Sued by EEOC for Sex Harassment and Retaliation

Co-Worker Harassed Women in Farmington Facility, Federal Agency Charges

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Roberts Truck Center of New Mexico, LLC and other related Roberts entities, doing business as Roberts Truck Center in Farmington, N.M., which operates a truck sales, parts sales and service business, violated federal law by subjecting a class of women to sexual harassment and retaliating against one woman for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on September 27.

In its suit, the EEOC said that a co-worker employed by Roberts subjected Katherine Abernathy and a class of women, including at least three others, to sexual harassment. The women were subjected to pervasive sexual comments and innuendo and unwelcome touching or attempted touching of their bodies, which created a hostile work environment for them. The EEOC also charged that Abernathy suffered retaliation with respect to sales opportunities and in the terms and condi…

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES SENTENCING IN CRANE CASE INVOLVING BRIBERY

State Prison for Crane Owner and Operator Who Sought Falsified Inspections and Licenses

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of MICHAEL SACKARIS, 50, to two to six years in state prison for having offered numerous bribes to the Acting Chief Inspector for Cranes and Derricks for the New York City Department of Buildings (“DOB”). SACKARIS was the de facto owner of NU-WAY CRANE SERVICE (“NU-WAY”), a Suffolk County crane company, from 2002 to 2007. He offered the bribes in exchange for the falsification of both crane inspections and operator licenses.

“Fatal crane accidents have cut short too many lives in New York City,” said District Attorney Vance. “Bribing a city employee – particularly one charged with ensuring the public’s safety – is more than a criminal affront to the taxpayers who expect honest services from the city’s workforce. It put New Yorkers at an unnecessary and unacceptable risk. We are fortunate that no one was directly injured…

ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO ANNOUNCES FELONY CHARGES AGAINST OWNER OF DEBT COLLECTION COMPANY THAT TARGETED MILITARY PERSONNEL

Cuomo also files civil suit to shut down company
Actions part of industry-wide investigation into abusive debt collection companies


BUFFALO, N.Y. (September 27, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the filing of felony charges against the owner of a debt collection company that targeted military personnel and harassed active members of the military and their families.

The investigation led to the filing of criminal charges against Stephanie Lowinger of Anderson Place in Buffalo, owner and operator of Neimen, Rona & Associates, formerly Morgan, Stone & Associates and now known as Gordon, Cappolli & Associates, all debt collection companies based in the Buffalo area. In addition to the criminal charges, the Attorney General has also filed a civil lawsuit seeking to shut down Lowinger’s operation and secure restitution, penalties, and costs. The action is the latest in Attorney General Cuomo’s ongoing probe of illegal practices in the debt collection indus…

Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Role in Illegal Campaign Contribution Scheme

WASHINGTON—Paul Magliocchetti, the founder and president of PMA Group Inc., a lobbying firm, pled guilty today in federal court in Arlington, Virginia, to making hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions and making false statements to a federal agency, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia.

Magliocchetti was charged in an indictment unsealed on Aug. 5, 2010. According to the indictment, Magliocchetti orchestrated a scheme to make illegal conduit and corporate federal campaign contributions in an effort to enrich himself and PMA by increasing the firm’s influence, power, and prestige among the firm’s current and potential clients as well as among the elected public officials to whom PMA and its lobbyists sought access. The federal campaigns that received these funds were unaware of Magliocchetti’s scheme.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF SPECIAL VICTIMS BUREAU

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the formation of the Special Victims Bureau, which will coordinate and expand upon the work of the Sex Crimes Unit, the Elder Abuse Unit, and the Family Violence and Child Abuse Bureau, the last of which will be split into the Domestic Violence Unit and the Child Abuse Unit to more clearly delineate their separate functions. District Attorney Vance appointed Assistant District Attorney Audrey Moore as Chief of the Special Victims Bureau. ADA Moore currently serves as co-Chief of the Family Violence and Child Abuse Bureau, and will continue to act as Chief of the Domestic Violence Unit.

“The cases that will fall under the purview of the Special Victims Bureau are highly sensitive and involve some of our most vulnerable victims,” said District Attorney Vance. “The consolidation of our resources in one bureau will ensure that the Office better supports the victims whose lives are often upended due to the nature of these typ…

EEOC Sues DHL for Segregating Employees by Race

Delivery Giant Unlawfully Assigned Drivers to Assignments and Neighborhoods Based on Race, Federal Agency Charged

CHICAGO - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today filed a race discrimination lawsuit against DHL Express, Inc. on behalf of a class of African-American employees who were given different job assignments because of their race. The EEOC received more than 20 charges of discrimination against DHL alleging that the shipping and delivery giant discriminated against black workers.

The EEOC's administrative investigation was conducted under the supervision of Chicago District Director John Rowe, who said that the EEOC's investigation found that DHL assigned black drivers to predominately black neighborhoods and white drivers to predominately white neighborhoods. “While this may not have been obvious to employees at first, over time, a pattern of segregation emerged,” said Rowe.

Mineral Met To Pay $440,000 To Settle EEOC Race Discrimination And Retaliation Suit

Black Employees Were Subjected to Disparate Treatment and Harassment, Including Noose Display, Federal Agency Charged

CLEVELAND — Mineral Met, Inc. (a division of Chemalloy Company), will pay $440,000 and furnish other relief to settle a class race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division (Case No. 1:08-cv-02199), a class of black employees was subjected to racial hostility and discriminatory behavior at Mineral Met’s Cleveland facility. For example, Quality Control Supervisor Langston Satterwhite, of Maple Heights, Ohio, had an excellent performance history, but a white supervisor unfairly disciplined him for trivial matters, such as having facial hair or using a cell phone, even though white co-workers were not reprimanded for doing the same things. Other black employees were also repeate…

Delhi Mental Health Rehab Center to Pay $25,000 to Settle EEOC Retaliation Lawsuit

CPT Fired Man for Supporting Women Fighting Harassment, Federal Agency Charged

SAN FRANCISCO — A Central Valley mental health rehabilitation center has agreed to provide $25,000 and other relief to settle a federal lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had charged that Delhi, Calif.-based California Psychiatric Transitions, Inc. (CPT) fired a male employee in retaliation for helping his female co-workers to oppose sexual harassment at the center.

This is the second lawsuit brought by the EEOC against the center. The first, which alleged sexual harassment, settled last year for $145,000 on behalf of nine female employees.

FTC Seeks Public Comments on Agilent Technologies’ Application to Modify its Divestiture Obligation Related to Varian Acquisition

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comments on an application by Agilent Technologies, Inc. to modify the final FTC Order settling charges that Agilent’s acquisition of Varian, Inc. would reduce competition in the market for high-performance scientific measuring instruments such as gas chromatographs. A public version of the application can be found on the FTC’s website at http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/0910135/index.shtm.

The final Order, which was issued on July 2, 2010, required Agilent to sell Varian’s scientific measuring instrument business to Bruker Corporation. As part of that divestiture agreement, the parties entered into a transition services agreement under which former Varian employees are working for Bruker to assemble the instruments at a facility in Melbourne, Australia. Agilent now seeks to alter some of the terms of the transition services agreement relating to the working requirements of the employees assembling the devices. Details of the proposed modif…

Payday Loan Defendant Settles FTC Charges; Illegally Tried to Garnish Borrowers' Wages

One of the owners of a payday loan and debt collection operation has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges for his role in a scheme that illegally tried to garnish borrowers’ wages and used other illegal debt-collection practices.

According to the FTC’s complaint, the defendants, doing business as Ecash and GeteCash, offered loans to be repaid from borrowers’ upcoming paychecks. Online loan applicants checked a box indicating their agreement with loan terms, including an inconspicuous “wage assignment” clause that said that their wages would be garnished to cover delinquent loan payments. Then, using the name LoanPointe, the defendants attempted to collect on the offered payday loans.

ABM Industries Settles EEOC Sexual Harassment Suit For $5.8 Million

Class of Hispanic Janitorial Workers Sexually Harassed, One Raped by Supervisor, Federal Agency Charged

LOS ANGELES — ABM Industries, Inc., along with two subsidiaries, ABM Janitorial Services, Inc. and ABM Janitorial Services Northern California, Inc. will pay $5.8 million and provide other relief to a class of 21 Hispanic female janitorial workers, settling an egregious sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The sexual harassment began around 2001, with the most severe forms involving sexual assaults of some women beginning in 2005 throughout California’s Central Valley region, according to the EEOC’s suit. The EEOC asserted that the 21 class members were victims of varying degrees of unwelcome touching, explicit sexual comments and requests for sex by 14 male co-workers and supervisors, one of whom was a registered sex offender. Some of the harassers allegedly often exposed themselves, groped …

Industrias ABM Llega A Un Acuerdo Con EEOC Por Demanda De Acoso Sexual Por $5.8 Million

ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL $5 MILLION INVESTMENT TO FIGHT BRONX RIVER POLLUTION

BRONX, N.Y. (September 2, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he is dedicating an additional $2.5 million from the Bronx River Watershed Initiative to join local efforts in reducing water pollution in the river. The funding will be combined with $2.5 million in matching and leveraged funds, bringing the total to $5 million, which will go to 11 local entities for green infrastructure projects to clean up the river.

Green infrastructure projects rely on natural systems, like wetlands, or engineered systems that mimic them to intercept and treat polluted storm water before it reaches the river. These projects, in contrast to traditional infrastructure such as water treatment plants, use innovative approaches to control storm water runoff, such as permeable pavement, rooftop gardens and street planters that intercept or reduce rainwater runoff. Because green infrastructure relies on more natural systems, it can be more cost-effective, sustainable and environmenta…