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Showing posts from February, 2011

Unfair Treatment Because Of Your Race

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. These laws protect you against employment discrimination when it involves:

Unfair treatment because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

Harassment by managers, co-workers, or others in your workplace, because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

Denial of a reasonable workplace accommodation that you need because of your religious beliefs or disability.

Retaliation because you complained about job discrimination, or assisted with a job discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against at work, you can file a "Charge of Discrimination." All of the laws enforced by EEOC, except for the Equal Pay Act, require you to file a Charge of Discrimin…

Department of Justice and USDA Announce Process to Resolve Discrimination Claims of Hispanic and Women Farmers

Obama Administration’s Efforts Will Bring Finality to Longstanding Claims of Discrimination in USDA Program Delivery

WASHINGTON – As part of continued efforts to close the chapter on allegations that discrimination occurred at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in past decades, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Tony West today announced the establishment of a process to resolve the claims of women and Hispanic farmers and ranchers who assert that they were discriminated against when seeking USDA farm loans.

Howard Industries pleads guilty to employment-related immigration conspiracy

GULFPORT, Miss. - Howard Industries, Inc., one of the largest employers in Mississippi, pled guilty in federal court Thursday to knowingly violating the federal criminal conspiracy law in its employment of illegal aliens at the company's electrical transformer plant in Laurel, Miss., following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Texas Hospital Prohibiting Anticompetitive Contracts with Health Insurers

Department Says United Regional’s Contracts Unlawfully Maintain Monopoly Power

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement with United Regional Health Care System of Wichita Falls, Texas, that prohibits it from entering into contracts that improperly inhibit commercial health insurers from contracting with United Regional’s competitors. The department said that United Regional unlawfully used these contracts to maintain its monopoly for hospital services in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act, causing consumers to pay higher prices for health care services. This is the first case brought by the department since 1999 that challenges a monopolist with engaging in traditional anticompetitive unilateral conduct.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES SENTENCING OF DANIEL ISRAEL IN 2007 FATAL SHOOTING

Defendant Convicted of Murdering One Person, Shooting Two Others, and Firing upon Two Police Officers

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of DANIEL ISRAEL, 24, to 35 years to life in state prison for the 2007 murder of Warren Justin Dandridge. ISRAEL was also found guilty by a jury in New York State Supreme Court of shooting two others and firing upon two uniformed police officers in the vicinity of Schomburg Plaza, near the corner of Fifth Avenue and 110th Street in Manhattan.

Major Construction Firm To Pay $110,000 To Settle EEOC Suit For Sexual Harassment, Retaliation

Brand Energy Fired Employee for Refusing Supervisor’s Requests for Sex, Federal Agency Charged

NEW ORLEANS – Four related national construction companies -- Brand Energy & Infrastructure Services, Inc., Brand Services, LLC, Brand Energy Solutions, LLC, and Brand Scaffold Services, LLC (Brand) -- will pay $110,000 to settle a suit for sexual harassment and retaliation filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on 2/23/2011. The court-approved settlement resolves the charge of a former employee, Jauronice Hayes, who worked for Brand at its Conoco Phillips facility in Belle Chasse, La.

Former Treasurer of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Pleads Guilty to $1.9 Billion Fraud Scheme That Contributed to the Failure of Colonial Bank

WASHINGTON – Desiree Brown, the former treasurer of a private mortgage lending company, Taylor, Bean & Whitaker (TBW), pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit bank, wire and securities fraud for her role in a more than $1.9 billion fraud scheme that contributed to the failures of Colonial Bank and TBW.

The guilty plea was announced today by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride for the Eastern District of Virginia; Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP); Assistant Director in Charge James W. McJunkin of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Michael P. Stephens, Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD OIG); Jon T. Rymer, Inspector General of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC OIG); Steve A. Linick, Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA OIG); and Victor F. O. Song, Chief of the Internal Revenue Service…

US Labor Department lawsuit recovers $780,000 in back wages and liquidated damages for 40 employees of Long Island, NY, pizzeria

Court’s order also includes $20,000 in civil money penalties for willful violations of the law

WESTBURY, N.Y. —The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $780,000 in back wages and liquidated damages for 40 employees of Martino’s Pizzeria Inc., doing business as Mama’s Pizzeria and Restaurant, in Copiague, N.Y., resolving a lawsuit filed against the company for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The court’s judgment prohibits the company and owners Gaetano and Grace Pinello from future violations of the FLSA; orders the immediate payment of $390,000 in minimum wage and overtime back wages, and another $390,000 in liquidated damages; and requires an additional $20,000 in civil money penalties be paid to the government for willful violations of the law.

“When employers take advantage of workers who may not know their rights, the Labor Department will step in,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “This case is significant because 40 people who worked hard for low wages the…

Virginia Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Providing Material Support and Encouraging Violent Jihadists to Kill U.s. Citizens

WASHINGTON – Zachary Adam Chesser, 21, of Fairfax County, Va., was sentenced today to 25 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for communicating threats against the writers of the South Park television show, soliciting violent jihadists to desensitize law enforcement, and attempting to provide material support to Al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

The sentencing was announced by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division; Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office.

Texas Resident Arrested on Charge of Attempted Use of Weapon of Mass Destruction Suspect Allegedly Purchased Bomb Materials and Researched U.S. Targets

WASHINGTON—Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, a citizen of Saudi Arabia and resident of Lubbock, Texas, was arrested late yesterday by FBI agents in Texas on a federal charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with his alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device (IED) and his research of potential U.S. targets.

The arrest and the criminal complaint, which was unsealed in the Northern District of Texas, were announced by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; James T. Jacks, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas; and Robert E. Casey Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Dallas Field Division.

Belarusian Proprietor of International Identity Theft Website Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court

Dmitry Naskovets Operated Callservice.biz and Targeted Banks Using Stolen Identity Information

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that DMITRY M. NASKOVETS—creator and operator of CallService.biz, an online business that assisted over 2,000 identity thieves in over 5,000 instances of fraud—pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and credit card fraud. Through Callservice.biz, NASKOVETS helped other online fraudsters use stolen information by providing English language calling services to trick banks in the United States. NASKOVETS was arrested in the Czech Republic in April 2010 as part of a multinational law enforcement operation, and he was subsequently extradited to the United States. He pled guilty this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge HENRY B. PITMAN in Manhattan federal court.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: "Dmitry Naskovets thought he could hide in the dark recesses of the Int…

Morrow, Ohio-based third-party plan administrator pleads guilty to embezzlement of $1 million from retirement plan clients

CINCINNATI — The third-party administrator to 56 employee benefit plans — most covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act — located throughout Ohio and several other states pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement of $1 million in assets from 12 retirement plans.

The additional locations of the plans are Beth Park and Ford City, Pa.; South Plainfield, N.J.; Waltham, Mass.; Anderson, Ind.; Saco, Maine; and Orange Beach, Ala.

Village of Amityville and Amityville Fire Department Settle EEOC Age Discrimination Suit

Retirement System Penalized Older Firefighters Because of Age, Federal Agency Charged

NEW YORK – The Village of Amityville, N.Y., and the Amityville Fire Department will pay $209,280 to settle a class age-discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s suit alleged that Amityville refused to let volunteer firefighters over age 65 accrue credit toward a “length of service award,” the equivalent of a retirement pension, because of their age. As a result, senior firefighters lost pension amounts after they turned 65, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) a federal law that protects workers age 40 and older from age discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Civ. No. 2:09-03742 ADS/AKT, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.

FTC Asks Court to Shut Down Text Messaging Spammer

Operation Blasted Out Text Message Spam at a “Mind-Boggling” Rate, Agency Alleges

The Federal Trade Commission asked a federal judge to shut down an operation that allegedly blasted consumers with millions of illegal spam text messages, including many messages that deceptively advertised a mortgage modification website called “Loanmod-gov.net.” The FTC is asking the court to freeze the defendant’s assets.

According to the FTC complaint, the defendant behind the operation, Phillip A. Flora, sent millions of text messages, pitching loan modification assistance, debt relief, and other services. In one 40-day period, Flora sent more than 5.5 million spam text messages, a “mind boggling” rate of about 85 per minute, every minute of every day, according to additional court documents filed by the agency. The FTC alleges that consumers lose money as a result of Flora’s spam text messaging because many of them get stuck paying fees to their mobile carriers to receive the unwanted text messages…

Romeo Home Builder Gets Jail Time in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Giuseppe Cracchiolo, 60, of Romeo, Michigan, was sentenced for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme to six months’ imprisonment, followed by three years’ supervised release, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division; Andrew Arena, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit; Robert L. Davila, Special Agent in Charge U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; and Dean Tirro, Acting Special Agent in Charge United States Secret Service, Detroit.

EEOC Challenges Sexual Harassment at South Dakota Animal Health Products Company

Agency Says Complaints of Misconduct at Vet Pharm Were Ignored

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A South Dakota animal health products distributor violated federal civil rights laws by allegedly permitting a male employee in its Sioux Falls distribution center to sexually harass female employees, even after direct complaints were made to a manager, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed Friday.

According to the EEOC’s suit, between 2007 and 2008, an employee of Vet Pharm, Inc. told sexually explicit jokes and made highly personalized sexual comments which demeaned and humiliated female employees. The EEOC’s administrative investigation indicated that complaints were made to a direct supervisor, who allegedly took no action to remedy the harassment. Further, the investigation showed that even after complaints were allegedly raised with upper management, the company failed to stop the harasser’s conduct, which was so severe that a female employee felt fo…

Federal Court Refuses To Toss Out EEOC Claim That Chrysler Retaliated Against Employees

Hostile Warnings of Discipline and Termination After Complaint of Sex Discrimination Are Enough for Case to Go Forward, Judge Says

MILWAUKEE – Automobile giant Chrysler Group, LLC’s effort to have an U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claim of unlawful retaliation thrown out of court has failed, the agency announced today. The EEOC has received a February 17, 2011 Decision and Order from District Judge William F. Callahan, Jr., denying Chrysler’s motion for summary judgment. The judge held that the EEOC’s claims of retaliation on behalf of two women employed in the company’s national parts distribution center in Milwaukee should go forward. (EEOC v. Chrysler Group, LLC, E.D.Wis. No. 08-C-1067, Decision & Order, 2/17/2011, D.J. Callahan.)

The claims were brought by the EEOC under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in a lawsuit filed in December 2009. According to the EEOC, one of the women was taken off what the court described as a “coveted position” drivin…

Novelist Sues Tolkien's Estate Over Book Featuring 'Hobbit' Author

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By BRIDGET FREELAND


AUSTIN, Texas (CN) - A novelist and his publisher sued the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, claiming they do not need permission from the late writer's family to feature Tolkien as a character in a book that is "both a work of fiction and a critical analysis of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien." Stephen Hillard and Cruel Rune LLC say the Tolkien Estate threatened them with "immediate legal action" and demanded that Hillard's book be destroyed. The their federal complaint, Hillard says Cruel Rune published his book, "Mirkwood, A Novel About J.R.R. Tolkien," in 2010.
Read more>>

EEOC Reports Job Bias Charges Hit Record High of Nearly 100,000 in Fiscal Year 2010

Retaliation Surpasses Race as Most Frequent Allegation;
Agency Obtains $404 Million for Victims


The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that private sector workplace discrimination charge filings with the federal agency nationwide hit an unprecedented level of 99,922 during fiscal year (FY) 2010, which ended Sept. 30, 2010.

Despite the increase in overall charges filed with the EEOC last fiscal year, the Commission dramatically slowed the growth of the charge inventory. As a result, the federal agency ended FY 2010 with 86,338 pending charges - an increase of only 570 charges, or less than one percent. Between fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the EEOC's pending inventory increased 15.9 percent.
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Eric Brauss Was Indicted In A $6 Million Commercial Real Estate Investment Scheme

PLANO, TX—A 68-year-old Dallas man has been indicted in a commercial real estate investment scheme in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

Eric Brauss was named in a 10-count indictment for his role in defrauding investors in a commercial real estate investment scheme. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on Feb. 16, 2011. The indictment alleges that Brauss raised investment capital for two large-scale retail development projects in New Mexico and Fort Worth—Unser Towne Crossing and Parkwood Crossing, respectively—by making false material representations to investors. The indictment further alleges that based on Brauss' false representations, investors provided $2,042,000 in payments to Brauss for the Unser project and $5,998,925 in payments to Brauss for the Parkwood project, and that Brauss used most of the investment capital raised for expenditures unrelated to the two projects. Brauss faces up to 20 years in federal prison …

Eleven Alleged Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Members Charged for Roles in Assault

WASHINGTON - Eleven alleged members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) have been indicted for their alleged roles in the 2008 beating of a gang prospect in Tomball, Texas, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Jose Angel Moreno of the Southern District of Texas.

The superseding indictment, returned by the federal grand jury on Feb. 16, 2011, and unsealed today in Houston, charges the defendants with violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity (VICAR) and conspiracy to engage in violent crimes in aid of racketeering. The defendants charged in the indictment are Zechariah Aaron Johnston, 31; Steven Walter Cooke, 47; Stephen Kyle Knebel, 33; David Bruce Harlow, 46; Robert Lynn Sheats, 33; Justin Northrup, 25; Benjamin Christian Dillon, 28; Rusty Dwayne Plante, 34; Johnny Ray Nichols, 35; Shane Everett Dallmeyer, 30; and Michael Raymond Burkett, 33. All of the defendants are from the greater Houston-area.

Securities Attorney and Five Others Indicted for Conspiracy, Wire and Mail Fraud in Stock Manipulation Scheme

WASHINGTON – Six individuals, including a securities attorney, were charged in an indictment unsealed today with defrauding investors in a stock manipulation scheme from 2003 to 2008, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, Deputy Chief Inspector Daniel S. Cortez for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. In a related action, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil complaint in the Southern District of Florida, Miami division.

The defendants charged in the indictment returned in the Southern District of Florida are: Jonathan Randall Curshen, 46, of Sarasota, Fla.; Michael Simon Krome, 49, a securities attorney from Long Island, N.Y.; Ronald Salazar Morales, aka “Ronny Salazar,” 39, of Costa Rica; Robert Lloyd Weidenbaum, 44, of Miami; and Eric Ariav Weinbaum, 37, and Izhack Zigdon, 47, of Israel. Curshen was arrested this morning …

Area Debt Collectors Preyed on Vulnerable Military Personnel & Consumers

Schneiderman: This is a Warning for Others to Play by the Rules or be Stripped of the Privilege of Doing Business in New York State

BUFFALO - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a series of actions against Buffalo-area debt collectors who preyed on military personnel and vulnerable consumers. These included the conviction of a debt collector, the banning of an attorney from the debt collection business, and settlements with three other Buffalo-based debt collectors who threatened consumers, made false representations, and improperly called consumers at their places of employment.

"These individuals preyed on vulnerable consumers and military personnel who were already struggling financially, by using scare and intimidation tactics," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "Today's settlements send a strong message that this office will not tolerate collectors intimidating consumers, or attorneys improperly lending their names to debt collectors."

Pharmacia Corporation Overcharged State Health Care Providers Millions for Medication

Multimillion Dollar Medicaid Recovery Follows Schneiderman’s Initiative to Strengthen Medicaid Fraud Control Unit & Protect Taxpayers

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a multimillion dollar settlement with a pharmaceutical company that inflated the cost of drugs sold to state health programs. The company, Pharmacia Corporation, has paid $2.5 million to the New York Medicaid program and to the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program (EPIC), and also to cover the costs of the investigation. The settlement follows Attorney General Schneiderman’s new initiatives to bolster his office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) and create a Taxpayer Protection Unit to increase fraud recoveries during a period of fiscal crisis.

“New York’s taxpayers will no longer foot the bill when contractors inflate their prices to make an extra buck,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “These are hard financial times for our state, and my office will do its part by…

MEDICARE FRAUD STRIKE FORCE CHARGES 111 INDIVIDUALS FOR MORE THAN $225 MILLION IN FALSE BILLING AND EXPANDS OPERATIONS TO TWO ADDITIONAL CITIES

Doctors, Nurses, Health Care Company Owners and Executives Among the Defendants Charged; Law Enforcement Agents Execute 16 Search Warrants

WASHINGTON – The Medicare Fraud Strike Force today charged 111 defendants in nine cities, including doctors, nurses, health care company owners and executives, and others, for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving more than $225 million in false billing, announced Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, and HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson. Also today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and HHS announced the expansion of Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations to two additional cities – Dallas and Chicago. Today’s operation is the largest-ever federal health care fraud takedown.

The joint DOJ-HHS Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a multi-agency team of federa…

Russell Defreitas Sentenced to Life in Prison for Conspiring to Commit Terrorist Attack at JFK Airport

Defreitas and Coconspirators Plotted to Explode Fuel Tanks at Airport

BROOKLYN, NY—Earlier today in the Eastern District of New York, United States District Judge Dora L. Irizarry sentenced convicted defendant Russell Defreitas to life in prison for conspiring to commit a terrorist attack at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, by exploding fuel tanks and the fuel pipeline under the airport. Defreitas and his coconspirators believed their attack would cause extensive damage to the airport and to the New York economy, as well as the loss of numerous lives.

The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in New York.

FTC Recovers More Than $3 Million from Operators of DVD Vending Machine Scam

Judgments Entered Against All But One Defendant

The Federal Trade Commission has recovered more than $3 million that will be refunded to investors who were duped in an alleged scam that promoted video rental machines as a business opportunity.

The FTC’s law enforcement action against American Entertainment Distributors, Inc., was filed in 2005, naming 10 defendants. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has now entered final orders against nine of them, prohibiting further illegal conduct and requiring payments for refunds. The FTC alleged that the defendants tricked investors into paying $28,000 to $37,500 apiece for video rental vending machines, telling them they could expect to earn between $60,000 and $80,000 a year, or recoup their initial investment in six to 14 months. The FTC’s case was halted for three years while the Department of Justice pursued parallel criminal proceedings.

ICE removes murder suspect to Montenegro

Suspect was subject of INTERPOL Red Notice

NEW YORK - A man wanted on murder charges in the southeastern European country of Montenegro was removed from the United States this week by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Adnan Bicic, 23, became the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice after Montenegro's High Court of Podgorica issued a warrant for his arrest in December 2009. Special agents with ICE's Homeland Security Investigations arrested Bicic in the Hamilton Heights section of New York on Jan. 5, 2011.

Chinese honey importer arrested for allegedly evading US import duties

CHICAGO - A Chinese business agent for several honey import companies was arrested in Los Angeles Tuesday on federal charges filed in Chicago for allegedly conspiring to illegally import Chinese-origin honey that was falsely identified to avoid U.S. anti-dumping duties. The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Shu Bei Yuan, 44, was arrested in Los Angeles Feb. 15 for allegedly conspiring between 2004 and 2006 to illegally import Chinese-origin honey that was falsely identified as originating in South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand to avoid U.S. antidumping duties. Yuan appeared late Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

HANK MORRIS SENTENCED TO UP TO FOUR YEARS IN PRISON FOR ROLE IN PAY-TO-PLAY PENSION FUND KICKBACK SCHEME

Morris, Chief Political Adviser to Former Comptroller Alan Hevesi, Receives Maximum Sentence Available by Law

As Part of Plea Agreement, Morris Forfeited $19 Million and is Permanently Banned From the Securities Industry in New York State


NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that Henry “Hank” Morris, the chief political adviser to former Comptroller of the State of New York Alan Hevesi, has been sentenced to a term of one and one third to four years in prison, the maximum sentence available by law. Morris, who pleaded guilty in November 2010 to a felony for his involvement in a pay-to-play kickback scheme at the Comptroller’s Office, forfeited $19 million and is permanently banned from the securities industry in New York State.

“Today, justice was served on Hank Morris, who will be appropriately punished for his role in one of the largest pay-to-play schemes in New York State history,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today’s sentencing decision by the …

ICE special agents brutally attacked; suspects sought by authorities

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WASHINGTON - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Jaime Zapata was shot and killed in the line of duty Tuesday afternoon after he was attacked by unknown assailants while driving between Monterrey, Mexico, and Mexico City. During the attack, a second ICE special agent was shot twice in the leg. He has been transported back to the United States and is in stable condition. Both special agents were assigned to ICE's attaché office in Mexico City.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Zapata family for their tragic loss," said ICE Director John Morton. "May the work we continue to do as an agency be worthy of a sacrifice as great as the one made by Special Agent Zapata."

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES TAKEDOWN OF 14 MEMBERS OF VIOLENT STREET GANG

DA: Part of Comprehensive Initiative to Break-Up Gangs Terrorizing Neighborhoods With Shooting and Drug Dealing Most Serious Offenders Face Life in Prison

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced indictments of 14 members of a violent criminal street gang on charges including charges of conspiracy to commit narcotics and weapons offenses, and in the case of certain individual defendants, charges of attempted murder, attempted assault, firearms possession, and narcotics sale. Five of the defendants are charged with Conspiracy in the First Degree, a class A-1 felony. With the others, each defendant is also charged with Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a class B felony. [1] The defendants are expected to be arraigned today in New York County Supreme Court, Part 93, before the Honorable Edward J. McLaughlin.

“This type of violent street gang terrorizes the hardworking residents of our City who ask for no more than a safe place to raise their families,” said Distric…

Three Plead Guilty to Civil Rights Conspiracy in Connection with Cross Burning in Athens, Louisiana

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced that U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter accepted the guilty plea of Jeremy Matthew Moro, 33, for conspiring to burn a cross near the home of an interracial couple in Athens, La., in October 2008. Earlier this week, Judge Walter accepted the guilty plea of Joshua James Moro, 25, on the same charge.

Another defendant, Sonya Marie Hart, 31, pleaded guilty on Jan. 31, 2011, to misprision of a felony because she withheld information from the FBI regarding the defendants’ attempt to cover up the cross burning. The Moros’ cousin, Daniel Danforth, was previously convicted by a federal jury for organizing, carrying out and attempting to cover up the same cross burning.

Somalian Pirate Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 405 Months in Prison for Hijacking Three Ships and for Hostage Taking

Pirate and His Crew Were Responsible for the 2009 Hijacking of the Maersk Alabama

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, JANICE K. FEDARCYK, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), and RAYMOND W. KELLY, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York ("NYPD"), announced the sentencing today of ABDUWALI MUSE to 405 months in prison for his participation in the April 8, 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama container ship in the Indian Ocean and the subsequent taking of the captain of the ship as a hostage. MUSE was also sentenced for his participation in the hijacking of two other vessels in late March and early April of 2009. Those hijackings also involved the taking of hostages. MUSE pled guilty on May 18, 2010, to two felony counts of hijacking maritime vessels, two felony counts of kidnapping, and two felony counts of hostage taking. He was sentenced by U.S. …

Out of Work? Out of Luck

EEOC Examines Employers’ Treatment of Unemployed Job Applicants at Hearing

WASHINGTON—In a public meeting held today, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) examined the impact of employers considering only those currently employed for job vacancies.

“Throughout its 45 year history, the EEOC has identified and remedied discrimination in hiring and remains committed to ensuring job applicants are treated fairly,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “Today’s meeting gave the Commission an important opportunity to learn about the emerging practice of excluding unemployed persons from applicant pools.”

Internet predator group member sentenced to 15 years in prison for engaging in child exploitation enterprise

PITTSBURGH - Fred Woolum of Lexington, Va., was sentenced Feb. 15 in the Western District of Pennsylvania to 15 years in prison and a lifetime of supervision on his release and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment fee for engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Department of Justice Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David J. Hickton and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge John Kelleghan.

Woolum, 59, pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise before U.S. District Court Judge Arthur J. Schwab on July 22, 2010.

FBI and Justice Department Response to NAS Review of Scientific Approaches Used During the Investigation of the 2001 Anthrax Letters

WASHINGTON - The following is in response to the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, “Review of the Scientific Approaches Used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Anthrax Letters” (Report).

“The FBI appreciates the efforts, time and expertise of this group of highly respected professionals of the Academy. The Academy was asked by the FBI to conduct an independent review in appreciation of the significance of the anthrax investigation and the groundbreaking nature of the science involved and its role in resolving the case. We commend the committee formed by the Academy for a report that provides valuable guidance and better prepares the FBI to respond to attacks of a similar nature in the future.

A.G. Sues Nuclear Regulatory Commission for Authorizing Nuke Plants to Dump Radioactive Wastes onsite for 60 Years After Closure, Without Mandated Review

Schneiderman: Whether For or Against Re-Licensing Indian Point, We Can All Agree that Environmental, Public Health & Safety Risks Should Be Assessed Before Dumping Waste There After Plant is Closed

BUCHANAN – New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that he is suing the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for approving a regulation that would allow the use of Indian Point and nuclear power facilities across the nation as storage sites for radioactive waste for at least 60 years after their closure. The NRC’s approval would allow the long-term storage of nuclear waste without completing the federally required review of the public health, safety and environmental hazards such storage would pose. Attorney General Schneiderman is leading a coalition of state attorneys general, including Connecticut and Vermont’s, in calling on the federal government to conduct necessary impact studies before deciding that nuclear waste should be stored onsite.

“Whether yo…

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES INDICTMENT IN $4 MILLION PONZI SCHEME

BRIAN KIM and LIQUID CAPITAL Accused of Stealing From At Least 45 Victims

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. today announced the indictment of BRIAN KIM, 35, for running a Ponzi scheme that resulted in the theft of more than $4 million from at least 45 victims. Both KIM and his hedge fund, LIQUID CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, LLC (“LIQUID CAPITAL”), were indicted on charges of Grand Larceny in the First and Second Degree, Scheme to Defraud, Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree and felony violations of the Martin Act (New York State’s securities fraud statute).[1]

“The defendant induced his clients to make risky and speculative investments by portraying himself as an accomplished trader and money manager,” said District Attorney Vance. “This is just the latest example of our need for stronger legislation to prosecute these types of financial crimes, including a strengthened Martin Act, which will help deter fraudulent conduct and protect investor trust.”

The Holiday Bandit is at it Again, Robbing His Sixth New York Bank

The FBI-NYPD's Joint Bank Robbery Task Force is seeking the public's assistance in locating Marat G. Mikhaylich, aka the Holiday Bandit, after he robbed his sixth New York bank yesterday. Mikhaylich entered a Capital One bank located at 4612 14th Avenue in Brooklyn, New York at 9:43 a.m., giving the teller a demand note and brandishing a black handgun. After the first teller could not produce enough cash, he moved on to his next victim teller and demanded even more money. Mikhaylich was last seen fleeing on foot after the robbery.

Mikhaylich is described as a white male, approximately 6'5'' tall, 35 years old, and approximately 200 pounds. During the most recent robbery, he was seen wearing a black hat, dark sunglasses, a maroon coat, and light blue jeans, brown shoes, and carrying a black messenger bag.

Former Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson Indicted on Federal Bribery, Extortion, and Witness and Evidence Tampering Charges

Allegedly Solicited and Received Bribe Payments in Exchange for Obtaining Millions in Government Housing Funds and Other Benefits

GREENBELT, MD—A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging former Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson, age 61, of Mitchellville, Maryland, with conspiracy, extortion, and bribery related to the performance of his official duties, and tampering with a witness and evidence.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.

Former California Congressional Candidate Sentenced to Federal Prison for Lying During Investigation

Convicted for Campaign Letters that Misled Latino Voters

WASHINGTON – Tan Nguyen, 35, from Oceanside, Calif., was sentenced this morning by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter to one year and one day in federal prison for his conviction last year on a federal obstruction of justice charge stemming from lies he told California investigators about his involvement in a letter sent to Latino voters during his 2006 campaign for U.S. House of Representatives. In addition to the prison term, Judge Carter ordered Nguyen to serve six months at a halfway house.

A federal jury in December 2010 found Nguyen guilty of obstruction of justice for lying to the California Department of Justice, which was investigating numerous complaints from Latino voters in the 47th Congressional District in Orange County. The complaints came after approximately 14,000 voters in the district received a letter in Spanish that made claims about who was eligible to vote and what would happen to immigrant voters if th…

Sweetheart, but fake, deals put on ICE "Operation Broken Hearted" protects consumers from counterfeit Valentine's Day goods

WASHINGTON - In order to protect consumers from deals that are too good to be true, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) served court orders seizing 18 domain names of websites selling counterfeit goods over the Internet. This operation dubbed, "Operation Broken Hearted," is the fourth phase of, "Operation in Our Sites," a sustained initiative aimed at counterfeiting and piracy over the Internet.

The 18 domain names seized were commercial websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods. During the course of the operation, federal law enforcement agents made undercover purchases from online retailers suspected of selling counterfeit goods. Purchased counterfeit items included bracelets, earrings, handbags, necklaces, rings, sunglasses, wallets and watches.

FDA finalizes regulation for certain software, hardware used with medical devices

Rule provides more predictable path to market

Today, the FDA announced a final rule that provides a less-burdensome path to market for certain hardware and software products used with medical devices. The rule classifies these products, known as Medical Device Data Systems or MDDS, as Class I or low-risk devices, making them exempt from premarket review but still subject to quality standards.

“This rule is a common-sense regulatory approach that provides clarity and predictability for manufacturers of these data systems,” said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “This shows our flexibility in applying regulations for medical device data systems that are not overly burdensome for manufacturers but continue to assure that data stored, transferred or displayed on these systems remain reliable.”

SCHNEIDERMAN URGES U.S. HOUSE ENERGY CHAIR TO KEEP ENVIRONMENTAL REGS THAT CUT TOXIC AIR POLLUTION IN NEW YORK

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Massachusetts, called on the U.S. House of Representatives leadership today to rebuff efforts to remove critical environmental regulations that protect New York communities from toxic pollution. In a letter to Rep. Fred Upton, Chairman, House Energy & Commerce Committee, Schneiderman and his fellow attorneys general detail their opposition to House Joint Resolution No. 9, which would undo strict, new limits on the cement industry’s emissions of mercury and other toxic substances hazardous to human health and the environment. The resolution was referred to Chairman Upton’s committee on February 1.

These restrictions, issued by the federal Environmental Protection Agency in September, are the result of a successful lawsuit brought by New York and these other states under the federal Clean Air Act.

Salem Electric Company Sued By EEOC For Race Discrimination

Company Fired Black Employee Because of His Race, EEOC Charges

WINSTON-SALEM , N.C. – A Winston-Salem, N.C. –based, family-owned and operated electric company discriminated against a black electrician when it fired him because of his race, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, around Dec. 17, 2007, Salem Electric Company terminated Rodney Tonkins’ employment as a journeyman electrician, alleging that he was responsible for a crew of employees who damaged light fixtures on a light installation project. The EEOC contends in the suit that as a journeyman electrician, Tonkins did not supervise work crews and therefore was not responsible for the damaged light fixtures. Instead, according to the EEOC’s complaint, the company’s superintendent and foreman, both white, were in charge of the project and the crew workers. Neither of those individuals, nor the non-black employees who actually caused the damage to t…

FTC Offers Tips on Wise Use of Wi-Fi Networks

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, today released tips to help people protect their personal information while they use public wireless networks – Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops, libraries, airports, hotels, universities, and other public places. While convenient, public Wi-Fi networks often are not secure.

When using wireless networks, it’s best to send only personal information that is encrypted – either by an encrypted website or a secure network. Encryption scrambles information sent over the internet into a code so that it’s not accessed by others. An encrypted website protects only the information sent to and from that site. A secure wireless network encrypts all the information sent over it.

Seal Beach Woman Arrested for Impersonating FBI Agents by Altering Voice and Using Telephonic ‘Spoofing’ Technology

A Seal Beach woman was arrested today for allegedly used "spoofing" technology to impersonate FBI agents in phone calls to business clients who believed she was running a fraud scheme, announced Steven Martinez, Assistant Director of the FBI in Los Angeles, and United States Attorney André Birotte Jr.

Karen Elaine Hanover, 44, was arrested this morning without incident at Fashion Island in Newport Beach by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hanover was charged with impersonating a federal agent in a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in United District Court in Santa Ana.

Fraser C. Verrusio A Former Staff Member in U.S. House of Representatives Was Convicted on Corruption Charges

WASHINGTON—A federal jury in the District of Columbia today convicted a former staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives on corruption charges relating to his acceptance of an all-expenses paid trip to Game One of the 2003 World Series, announced the Criminal Division and the FBI.

Fraser C. Verrusio, 41, was convicted after a 10-day trial on one count of conspiring to accept an illegal gratuity, one count of accepting an illegal gratuity, and one count of making a false statement in failing to report his receipt of gifts from a lobbyist and the lobbyist’s client on his 2003 financial disclosure statement.

US Labor Department sues Houston-based Kinder Morgan

Lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in back wages for approximately 4,500 workers nationwide

HOUSTON — The U.S. Department of Labor has announced the filing of a lawsuit against Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc. and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP for their failure to pay more than $1 million in overtime compensation to approximately 4,500 current and former operators, technicians, maintenance workers, laborers and administrative nonexempt employees in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The department's suit asks the court to order the defendants to pay the full amount of back wages due, along with liquated damages, and to prohibit them from violating the law in the future.

Kinder Morgan Inc., owner of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, is one of the largest pipeline transportation and energy storage companies in North America, with an enterprise value of $30 billion and approximately 8,000 employees nationwide. The defendants provide services to local oil refineries and cli…

Members of Staten Island narcotics distribution network arrested on federal drug and firearm charges

NEW YORK - Five individuals who are believed to have run a crack and powder cocaine distribution network based on Staten Island, New York, have been arrested, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)and the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

A five-count superseding indictment in the case was unsealed Wednesday in the Eastern District of New York and is the result of an ongoing investigation into criminal activity on the north shore of Staten Island. The five defendants are Andre Collier, 30; Benito Il Defonso, 34; Steven Il Defonso, 32; Alexandra Klein, 32; and Dion Nelson, 31; will appear in federal court at noon Friday, February 11, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in Brooklyn, New York.

FTC's Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Advance Fee Ban Takes Effect

The advance fee ban under the FTC’s Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule is designed to protect financially distressed homeowners from mortgage relief scams that have sprung up during the mortgage crisis.

“Banning the collection of up-front fees will protect homeowners from being victimized,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. “This is especially important at a time when so many people are behind on their mortgages or facing foreclosure.”

Long Island business partners with ICE ADSI, Inc., first company in state of New York to sign IMAGE agreement

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NEW YORK - A company based on Long Island, N.Y., that manufactures specialty security products used by law enforcement and the defense industry is the first business in the state to partner with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in an effort to strengthen its hiring practices.

American Defense Systems, Inc., (ADSI) in Hicksville, N.Y., officially became a member of ICE's Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) at a signing ceremony here on Wednesday. IMAGE is a voluntary program that allows private industry to partner with ICE to reduce unauthorized employment and the use of fraudulent identity documents.

Mass. medical center becomes first in the country to join "IMAGE" program Saints Medical Center partners with ICE to ensure legal status of workforce

BOSTON - A Massachusetts medical center has become the country's first health care facility to sign an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to strengthen hiring practices and to combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens.

Saints Medical Center President and CEO Stephen Guimond and the Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston, Bruce M. Foucart, signed the IMAGE or "ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers," agreement during a ceremony at the health care center in Lowell, Mass.

Business Opportunity Con Artist Richard C. Neiswonger Surrenders Million-Dollar Las Vegas Home, Gives Up Appeal in FTC Contempt Case

After trying for years to keep assets he acquired while deceiving consumers with false promotions and bogus business opportunity pitches, a repeat offender has agreed to turn over his Las Vegas home, valued at over $1 million, and give up his appeal of the Federal Trade Commission’s case against him.

The settlement announced today wraps up the FTC’s case against Richard C. Neiswonger, who twice has been held in contempt of court at the FTC’s request – first, for deceptively marketing business opportunities in violation of an earlier court order, and second, for failing to turn over assets to pay a multi-million-dollar judgment against him.

Canadian Telemarketer Previously Sued by FTC Gets Nine-Year Prison Sentence in Subsequent Criminal Case Filed by U.S. Attorney

A federal judge has imposed a nine-year prison sentence on a Canada-based con artist who was charged by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California with defrauding elderly consumers using phony claims about non-existent prizes and investments. In the sentencing hearing, the judge called the scheme “cold, calculating, callous behavior.”

In addition to imposing the prison sentence, the judge ordered the defendant, John Raymond Bezeredi, to pay $4.6 million in restitution for the 4,500 consumers he defrauded.

Executives of Iowa-Ready Mix Concrete Companies Sentenced to Serve Prison Sentences for Price Fixing and Bid Rigging

Executive Sentenced to 48 Months for Violating Antitrust Laws

WASHINGTON — Two Iowa ready-mix concrete executives were sentenced to serve jail time and pay criminal fines for their participation in separate conspiracies to fix prices and rig bids for sales of ready-mix concrete, the Department of Justice announced today.

Steven Keith VandeBrake, the former sales manager of an Iowa ready-mix concrete company, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Bennett to serve 48 months in prison and to pay a $829,715.85 criminal fine for his participation in three separate conspiracies with three different companies involving agreements to fix prices and/or to rig bids for ready-mix concrete sold in Iowa. VandeBrake pleaded guilty on May 4, 2010, to the three-count felony charge filed in U.S. District Court in Sioux City, Iowa.

Maryland Man Convicted of Defrauding Cisco Systems Inc.

WASHINGTON – Iheanyi Frank Chinasa, 39, of Gaithersburg, Md., was convicted yesterday by a federal jury in Richmond, Va., of multiple fraud charges and obstruction of an official proceeding related to his participation in a scheme to defraud Cisco Systems Inc., announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia and Michael Morehart, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Richmond Field Office.

Chinasa was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, eight counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of obstruction of an official proceeding. Chinasa is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer on May 5, 2011. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Three Hedge Fund Portfolio Managers and One Analyst with Insider Trading

Two of the Hedge Fund Managers Are Also Charged with Obstruction of Justice
The Third Hedge Fund Manager and Analyst Have Already Pled Guilty to Insider Trading Crimes


PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and JANICE K. FEDARCYK, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), announced that SAMIR BARAI, a former portfolio manager at two hedge funds, and DONALD LONGUEUIL, who formerly worked as a research analyst at a third hedge fund and as a portfolio manager at a fourth, have been charged with conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud for their involvement in an insider trading scheme. BARAI has also been charged with securities fraud. JASON PFLAUM, a former research analyst for BARAI, and NOAH FREEMAN, a research analyst at a fifth fund and then a portfolio manager at a sixth, were charged with, and pled guilty in Manhattan federal court to, one count each of conspirac…

US Labor Department recovers more than $934,000 in overtime back wages for 479 employees of UnitedHealthcare in Hartford, Conn.

Department assesses more than $104,000 in penalties for multiple violations

HARTFORD, Conn. — The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered a total of $934,551 in overtime back wages for 479 employees of UnitedHealthcare and $104,280 in civil money penalties after an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division determined that the employees had been incorrectly classified as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act and consequently denied compensation for all hours worked.

UnitedHealthcare is the largest single health insurance carrier in the United States. This action is limited to the company's Hartford location, which specializes in the IT, finance, actuarial and underwriting operations for UnitedHealth Group Inc.

Former Dow Research Scientist Convicted of Stealing Trade Secrets and Perjury

WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Baton Rouge, La., today convicted a former research scientist of stealing trade secrets from Dow Chemical Company and selling them to companies in the People’s Republic of China, as well as committing perjury, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux Jr. for the Middle District of Louisiana.

Ater a three-week trial, the jury found Wen Chyu Liu, aka David W. Liou, 74, of Houston, guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit trade secret theft and one count of perjury.

EEOC Files Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Against Presrite Corporation

Metal Forging Company Excluded Class of Women From Jobs, Federal Agency Charged

CLEVELAND – Presrite Corporation, a metal forging company with manufacturing facilities in Cleveland and Jefferson, Ohio, engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination by refusing to hire a class of female applicants for certain jobs, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

The EEOC said Presrite has rejected women for laborer and operative jobs because of their gender since at least 2005. As a result of these practices, the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the EEOC’s lawsuit (Case No. 1:11-cv-00260) filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

Eight Miami-Area Nurses Sentenced to Prison for $18.7 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme Involving Home Health Care

WASHINGTON – Eight Miami-area nurses were sentenced to prison today for their roles in an $18.7 million Medicare fraud scheme involving home health care, announced the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.

The eight individuals each previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro in Miami as follows:

California Real Estate Executive Pleads Guilty to Bid Rigging at Public Foreclosure Auctions

A real estate executive pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, California, to conspiring to rig bids and commit mail fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions held in San Joaquin County, California, Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division, and Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, announced.

Richard W. Northcutt pleaded guilty to conspiring with a group of real estate speculators who agreed not to bid against each other at certain public real estate foreclosure auctions in San Joaquin County. The primary purpose of the conspiracy was to suppress and restrain competition and to obtain selected real estate offered at San Joaquin County public foreclosure auctions at non-competitive prices, the department said in court papers.

FTC Approves Final Order Settling Charges That Dannon Made Deceptive Claims for Activia Yogurt and DanActive Dairy Drink

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission finalized the Order settling charges that The Dannon Company, Inc. exaggerated the health benefits of its Activia yogurt and DanActive dairy drink, two popular products that contain beneficial bacteria known as probiotics.

Under the proposed administrative settlement announced in December, Dannon agreed to stop claiming that Activia relieves temporary irregularity, unless the representation is non-misleading and the ad conveys that eating three servings a day is required to obtain the benefit, or unless Dannon has competent and reliable scientific evidence that the benefit can be achieved from eating less than three servings a day.

First Student To Pay $150,000 To Settle EEOC Sexual Harassment, Retaliation Suit

School Bus Drivers Touched and Taunted by Supervisor, Then Forced Out Upon Complaining, Federal Agency Charged

LOS ANGELES — School bus operator First Student, Inc. will pay $150,000 and provide other relief to settle a lawsuit for sexual harassment and retaliation filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC had charged that four female employees at the company were sexually harassed, retaliated against or forced to quit. Ohio-based First Student claims to be North America’s leading school bus transportation services company.

Pacific Seafood to Pay $85,000 to Settle EEOC Lawsuit for Retaliation

EEOC Alleged Employee Was Illegally Fired for Raising Issue of Race Discrimination

PORTLAND, Ore. – A Portland-based seafood processor and distributor with hundreds of employees in Clackamas, Ore., will pay $85,000 and take corrective measures to settle a lawsuit for retaliation filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s suit asserts that in June 2007, Pacific Seafood Company Inc. and Pacific Seafood Group, Inc. illegally fired Jesus Perez, a warehouse worker, after he spoke to management about racial discrimination. When Perez told his supervisor that he feared he had received a smaller raise than his non-Hispanic co-worker because of his race, he was told that if he was going to accuse the company of discrimination, they “should part ways.” Perez’s final paycheck was issued that day, the EEOC said.

Maryland man sentenced to 10 years in prison for importing heroin

BALTIMORE - U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr., sentenced Suleiman Ahmed Zakaria, 27, of Pikesville, Md., yesterday to 10 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for importing heroin into the United States from Ghana. The sentence is the result of an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of ICE HSI in Baltimore and CBP Baltimore Port Director Ricardo Scheller.

Justice Department Obtains Settlement with Man for FACE Act Violation at Reproductive Health Clinic in Texas

WASHINGTON - The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ordered that Juan Antonio Gaona must adhere to a 25-foot buffer zone around a Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Clinic in San Antonio, Texas. The court order is the result of a consent decree entered into by Gaona to resolve a civil complaint filed against him by the United States for violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act).

According to court documents, on April 17, 2009, Gaona, an anti-abortion protestor, entered the Planned Parenthood clinic’s front door and physically obstructed a patient by blocking the clinic’s interior entrance with his body. Gaona refused to leave the clinic and is said to have physically and verbally intimidated the patient and clinic employees. The FACE Act prohibits the physical obstruction of any person providing or obtaining reproductive health services, with the intent to intimidate or interfere with that person.

Berlin Man Sentenced to More Than Eight Years in Prison for Amassing Arsenal of Illegal Weapons

David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ALAN D. ZALESKI, 49, of Berlin, Connecticut, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven to 101 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for illegally possessing machine guns and numerous other unregistered weapons, including a sawed-off shotgun, silencers, grenades, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). On March 27, 2009, a jury found ZALESKI guilty of 28 counts related to the illegal possession of those firearms.

“This defendant possessed an arsenal of illegal weapons, the size and scope of which Connecticut law enforcement has rarely, if ever, encountered,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “I want to commend the FBI, ATF, Connecticut State Police, and the police departments that investigated this matter, as well as an alert citizen who first notified law enforcement authorities to this potentially dangerous situation.”

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN SHUTS DOWN IMMIGRATION SERVICES COMPANIES FOR DEFRAUDING HAITIANS IMPACTED BY 2010 EARTHQUAKE

Companies Illegally Provided Fake Immigration Services, Falsely Promising Earthquake Victims Legal Immigration Status

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office has shut down two fraudulent immigration service companies for targeting and defrauding Haitian nationals who were affected by the devastating January 2010 earthquake. The entities defrauded the victims of thousands of dollars by illegally providing immigration services they were not authorized to provide and by misrepresenting a new law that granted Temporary Protected Status ("TPS") to qualified Haitian nationals.

"These con artists preyed on vulnerable families in the aftermath of Haiti's devastating earthquake, by misrepresenting the law and providing fake immigration services. Today, these organizations are being held accountable for their fraudulent actions and their brazen disregard for the people they are purporting to help," said Attorney General Eric T. …

Former Senate Office Manager Convicted in $75,000 Wire Fraud Scheme

WASHINGTON – Ngozi T. Pole, 40, a former office manager in the U.S. Senate, was convicted today of five counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of government property, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Pole, of Waldorf, Md., was charged in an indictment returned on Dec. 15, 2009, by a federal grand jury in Washington. According to evidence presented during his trial, Pole worked as the office manager for former U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Pole’s responsibilities included transmitting salary information to the Senate Disbursing Office in order to adjust the pay of employees in the senator’s office.

Dorchester and Talbot counties next to benefit from ICE strategy to use biometrics to identify and remove aliens convicted of a crime

EASTON, Maryland – On Tuesday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began using a federal information sharing capability in Dorchester and Talbot counties that helps federal immigration officials use biometrics to identify aliens, both lawfully and unlawfully present in the United States, who are booked into local law enforcement's custody for a crime. This capability is part of Secure Communities–ICE's comprehensive strategy to improve and modernize the identification and removal of aliens convicted of a crime from the United States.

Previously, biometrics–fingerprints–taken of individuals charged with a crime and booked into custody were checked for criminal history information against the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). Now, through enhanced information sharing between DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), biometrics submitted through the state to the FBI will be automatically checked a…

Jihad Jane Pleads Guilty in Plot to Recruit Violent Jihadist Fighters and to Commit Murder Overseas

PHILADELPHIA—Colleen R. LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” 47, pleaded guilty today to all counts of a superseding indictment charging her with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, making false statements, and attempted identity theft. LaRose faces a maximum potential sentence of life in prison and a $1 million fine when sentenced.

The guilty plea, which was entered today before U.S. District Court Judge Petrese B. Tucker, was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Zane David Memeger, and Special Agent-in-Charge George Venizelos, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Philadelphia Division.

New York Broker Indicted for Alleged Role in International Stock Fraud Scheme Spam E-Mails Promoting Stocks Used to Artificially Inflate Prices; Scheme Generated $30 Million for Co-Conspirators

WASHINGTON—An indictment unsealed today in Detroit charges stock broker Gregg M. Berger, of New York, for his role in a wide-ranging fraud scheme to illegally "pump-and-dump" thinly traded Chinese and Israeli stocks, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara L. McQuade.

The single count superseding indictment returned in the Eastern District of Michigan alleges that Berger, 47, conspired with Alan Ralsky, Francis Tribble, How Wai John Hui, Scott Bradley, and others to carry out a sophisticated stock fraud scheme from January 2005 through December 2007. The indictment alleges that during the course of the scheme, Berger caused the sale of approximately 30 million shares of stock, generating approximately $30 million for his co-conspirators and more than $600,000 in commissions for himself. Ralsky, Tribble, Hui and Bradley have all been previously convicted and sentenced for their roles in the case.

DEFENDANT RENATO SEABRA INDICTED ON MURDER CHARGE IN THE DEATH OF CARLOS CASTRO

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment and arraignment of RENATO SEABRA, 21, in Manhattan Supreme Court on one count of Murder in the Second Degree [1] in connection with the death of Carlos Castro. The indictment alleges that SEABRA intentionally murdered his victim.

According to documents filed in court, SEABRA traveled to New York City with the victim from their native Portugal on December 29, 2010. Castro had been staying at the Hotel InterContinental on West 44th Street in Manhattan. On January 7, 2010, a hotel employee discovered the victim unclothed on the floor of his hotel room, with visible injuries. The defendant was not present.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY VANCE ANNOUNCES INDICTMENT IN EAST HARLEM SHOOTING

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of MIGUEL PADILLA, 44, in Manhattan Supreme Court for firing a weapon multiple times in East Harlem with the intent to kill. PADILLA is charged with Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, Attempted Assault in the First Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, among other charges.[1]

"Using an illegal gun, the defendant committed a violent and reckless act that brought harm to an innocent child," said District Attorney Vance. "The widespread availability of illegal firearms makes it all too easy for a situation to escalate into violence. We cannot rest in our fight against the proliferation of illegal guns on our streets."

EEOC Sues Amtrak For Sex-Based Wage Discrimination And Retaliation

National Rail Carrier Retaliated Against Female Human Resources Regional Director Because She Complained About Pay Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges

PHILADELPHIA – The nation’s largest rail carrier paid a human resources regional director less money because of her sex and then unlawfully retaliated against her when she complained about the wage discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

The EEOC charged that beginning in 2001, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, also known as Amtrak, discriminated against Sheila Davidson in her compensation and work assignments because of her sex. The EEOC said that Amtrak paid Davidson, a human resources manager assigned to the rail carrier’s 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, the same salary as it paid two male human resources regional directors, even though Davidson had more relevant experience and was assigned a far greater workload than her male counterparts.