Showing posts from September, 2008

Marketers of Weight-Loss Patch to Pay More Than $110,000 for Violating Previous FTC Settlements

Marketers of a weight-loss patch have agreed to pay $110,539 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they violated two 2004 consent orders by continuing to make false claims that their product causes substantial weight loss and weight loss in all users. After agreeing to the 2004 consent orders, the marketers continued making the same bogus claims they had made previously, but this time they targeted consumers abroad. They made these claims in brochures accompanying shipments of the patches that were intended for sale to overseas consumers. In 2004, Advanced Patch Technologies (APT), its distributor, Buckhead Marketing & Distribution LLC (Buckhead), and their officers, settled FTC charges of deceptive marketing based on their claims that, among other things, the “Peel Away the Pounds” patch would cause substantial weight loss when applied to the skin. That settlement required the defendants to pay more than $1 million in consumer redress. More...

Former British Airways Executive Agrees to Plead Guilty to Participating in Price-fixing Conspiracy on Air Cargo Shipments

WASHINGTON — A British citizen and former executive of British Airways World Cargo has agreed to plead guilty, serve eight months in jail and pay a criminal fine for participating in a conspiracy to fix rates for international air cargo shipments, the Department of Justice announced today. According to the charges filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, Keith Packer, former Commercial General Manager for British Airways World Cargo, and his co-conspirators engaged in a conspiracy to fix the air cargo rates charged to customers for international air shipments, including to and from the U.S., in violation of the Sherman Act. Under the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, Packer has agreed to serve eight months in jail, pay a $20,000 criminal fine and cooperate with the Department’s ongoing investigation. More...


MENLO PARK, CA -- Robert Half Legal, a leading provider of highly skilled attorneys, paralegals and legal support personnel on a project and full-time basis, today announced it will exhibit as a gold-level sponsor at the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) 2008 Annual Meeting. More than 2000 attendees, speakers, and exhibitors are expected at the conference to be held at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington, October 19-22, 2008. Details about the conference can be found at . On Tuesday, October 21, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Robert Half Legal, ACC's exclusive staffing partner, will conduct a Continuing Legal Education seminar entitled, “Good to Excellent: Managing and Maintaining a Successful Law Department.” Panelists scheduled to appear are John Morrow, senior vice president and general counsel of Vertafore; Jeffry Shelby, vice president and general counsel, Varolli Corporation; and Charles Volkert, executive director,

Interview with Daniel Imperato Part two – Offers 10-point Peoples Program in Lieu of the Proposed Wall St. Bailout

(openPR) - West Palm Beach, FL – Former Independent presidential candidate Daniel Imperato speaks out in our second interview about the so-called Washington bailout. Though marginalized and blacked out by the major media, tracing his words from the last three years of campaigning will show just how accurate this international businessman has been. Long before our elected officials in congress and the administration even recognized the problems, Imperato was offering solutions for Iraq, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, Yemen, relations with China, South America and, of special concern this week, the derivatives market. Imperato called himself the People’s President 2008, and developed a website using that name. Now he offers a solution to the proposed bailout with specific long-term goals for correcting the economic woes in the global financial sector. Because in his words, “what ails America will eventually effect the rest of the global markets.” His ten point program for the

Safe Means of Escape in Hazardous Areas Made Possible by LaserLite

(openPR) - A safety lighting technical breakthrough by Chalmit Lighting will deliver significant advances over conventional safety light sources. LaserLite is based on a solid state laser source to provide a continuous 150 metre strip of lighting. Recessed into the floor or installed on the wall near floor level, LaserLite illuminates corridors and stairwells to exits. It is also an ideal way to highlight obstructions or even provide illumination below water. The technology has been jointly developed with Photo Synergy, a company owned by St Andrew’s University, who supply the diode pumped laser light source. Linked to a side-emitting optical fibre cable, the LaserLite is a safe and effective light source for use in oil and gas exploration and processing facilities. The light source can be installed in Zones 1 and 21 and the optical fibre, with no live electrical component is safe for use in Zone 0 hazardous areas. More...


Jamie Harper was last seen on the morning of Saturday, March 10, 2007, at approximately 4:30 a.m. She had attended a party the previous evening in Rantoul, Illinois, and had made plans to spend the night at a friend's house. She never arrived at the friend's house and never returned home. All of her possessions, including her epilepsy medication, were left at her residence. Harper has a pierced nose and a tattoo of a tribal design on her back. She was last seen wearing a white jacket, blue jeans, and sandals, and was carrying a black handbag. Individuals with information concerning this case should take no action themselves, but instead immediately contact the nearest FBI Office or local law enforcement agency. For any possible sighting outside the United States, contact the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate .


BUFFALO, N.Y. – Sterling Jewelers Inc., the largest specialty retail jeweler in the country, violated federal law by discriminating against a large class of female employees at stores nationwide, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges in a systemic lawsuit filed yesterday under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In its suit, the EEOC asserts that Sterling Jewelers pays its female retail sales employees less than male employees performing equal work and denies female employees promotional opportunities for which they are qualified. Sterling Jewelers intentionally discriminates against female retail sales employees by maintaining a system for making promotion and compensation decisions that is excessively subjective, and through which Sterling Jewelers has permitted or encouraged managers to deny female employees equal access to promotion opportunities and the same compensation paid to similarly situated male employees, the EEOC states in its suit. More...

Former Schenectady Police Chief Greg Kaczmarek Indicted On Felony Drug Distribution Charges

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 25, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the indictment of former Schenectady Police Chief Gregory Kaczmarek and his wife for taking part in a highly organized narcotics distribution organization that operated in the Capital District and was supplied from Long Island. In an indictment unsealed by Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago today, a Grand Jury charged Gregory Kaczmarek, 56, and his wife Lisa Kaczmarek, 48, both of Roma Street in Schenectady, with having participated in a cocaine and marijuana drug distribution ring run by Kerry “Slim” Kirkem, 40, of VanVranken Ave. in Schenectady and Guideboard Road in Waterford. Today’s indictment supersedes a May 2008 indictment that charged 24 defendants, including Lisa Kaczmarek, with being involved in a highly organized narcotic distribution network that brought cocaine and marijuana from Long Island to Schenectady. The Kaczmareks were arraigned this morning in Schenectady County Court.

Debt-Negotiation Defendants Agree to Settle FTC Charges in Nationwide Operation that Led Many Into Financial Ruin

Four debt-negotiation companies have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they violated federal law by falsely claiming they could reduce consumers’ debt by up to 60 percent, leading many people into financial ruin and bankruptcy. The proposed settlements bar them from engaging in further violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The settling defendants were among three individuals and seven companies charged by the FTC with deceptive and unfair practices in violation of the FTC Act (see press releases dated September 21, 2006 and December 5, 2006 ). All of the defendants in the nationwide operation were charged with misrepresenting how much they could reduce consumers’ debt, and not adequately disclosing the likelihood that consumers would be sued if they took the defendants’ advice and stopped paying creditors. The FTC also charged the defendants with not disclosing that consumers’ account balances would grow from interest, interest rate increases, late fees

MS-13 Leader Sentenced to Life in Prison for Involvement in RICO Conspiracy

WASHINGTON – A leader of La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, was sentenced today to life in prison for his participation in a racketeering enterprise, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Matthew Friedrich and U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Edward M. Yarbrough announced. Ronald Fuentes, a/k/a "Spia," was sentenced in Nashville, Tenn., by Chief U.S. District Judge Todd J. Campbell of the Middle District of Tennessee. At his plea hearing on July 28, 2008, Fuentes admitted that, as a leader of the MS-13 gang, he conspired with others to participate in a pattern of racketeering activity in the Nashville metropolitan area that included murder, attempted murder and witness tampering. Fuentes admitted that in addition to personally committing various acts of violence, he exercised his leadership by enforcing MS-13 rules and inciting other members to attack and kill rival gang members. More...


HOUSTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced a rental assistance program that will provide temporary rental payments and case management services to help thousands of families who were displaced by Hurricane Ike. The new program, slated to begin November 1, 2008, will help these families find intermediate housing as they rebuild their lives. "It is critical that we provide a degree of stability in the lives of these families until they can get back on their feet," said U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston. "Knowing you have a roof over your family's head for the next 18 months should alleviate at least one major concern." "Today we are reaffirming our commitment to help Texas and its citizens recover from the damages sustained from Hurricane Ike. FEMA and HUD have moved quickly to support Texas's housing needs, and we are moving faster th

USPTO to Host IT Security Expo September 24

Washington, D.C. - The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is hosting an Information Technology (IT) Security Expo on Sept. 24, 2008, at its Alexandria, Va. campus. The event is free and open to the public. Special speakers will kick off the event beginning at 9:00 a.m. while vendor booths will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. More than 30 vendors will showcase and demonstrate the latest in IT security hardware and software, and also will provide information on techniques and trends in the growing field of IT security. Visitors to the expo will be able to take away with them ideas and information that can be critical to both business and personal computer use. WHAT: IT Security Expo WHEN: Wednesday, September 24, 2008, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. WHO: As an added feature of the expo, the following presentations will be given by noted experts in the field of IT security: 9:00 a.m. - Mr. Roy Stephan, Director of IT Architecture &a

New Jersey Hospital to Pay $3.85 Million to Resolve Allegations of Inflating Charges to Obtain Higher Medicare Reimbursement

WASHINGTON – Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J., has agreed to pay the United States $3.85 million, plus interest, to settle allegations that it defrauded Medicare, the Justice Department announced today. The settlement resolves allegations that the hospital improperly increased charges to Medicare patients to obtain enhanced reimbursement from the federal health care program. In addition to its standard payment system, Medicare pays supplemental reimbursement, called outlier payments, to hospitals in cases where the cost of care is unusually high. Congress had enacted the supplemental payment system to provide the incentive to hospitals to treat such patients. The Justice Department alleged that, between January 2001 and August 2003, Cooper improperly inflated charges for inpatient and outpatient care to make its costs for providing such care appear greater than they actually were, and thereby obtain outlier payments from Medicare that it was not entitled to receive. "T


Governor David A. Paterson today announced that New York State will, beginning in January, regulate part of the credit default swap market which has to date been unregulated and has been a major contributor to the emerging financial crisis on Wall Street. Governor Paterson also called on the federal government to regulate the rest of the massive $62 trillion market. This action is similar to one recently taken by the federal government that tightly restricts “short selling,” or profiting from falling stock prices. The state action applies to credit default swaps which are a means of profiting from falling values of bonds. Under the direction of Governor Paterson, the New York Insurance Department today issued new guidelines that, for the first time, establish that some credit swaps are insurance and therefore subject to state regulation. More...

Los Angeles Jury Convicts Defendant of Fraud Involving More Than $1.1 Million in False Billing to Medicare

WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Los Angeles today convicted the owner and operator of Pacific City Group Inc., a Los Angeles based durable medical equipment (DME) company, of defrauding the Medicare program, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Matthew Friedrich and U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Thomas P. O’Brien announced. After a one-week trial in federal court, the jury found Leonard Uchenna Nwafor, 42, guilty on all charged counts, including conspiracy to commit health care fraud and health care fraud. U.S. District Judge John F. Walter of the Central District of California set Nwafor’s sentencing for Dec. 1, 2008. Nwafor also faces separate federal mail fraud charges for which a trial date has not yet been set. More...
RENO, Nev. Scolaris Warehouse Markets will pay $425,000 and furnish other relief to settle a class sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced on September 18, 2008. The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that 19 female employees, several of whom were teenagers at the time, were subjected to repeated and sometimes severe sexual harassment by the companys senior officers across multiple stores in the Reno area. The EEOC asserted that Scolaris senior officers and managers inappropriately touched female employees, propositioned them, made lewd comments and passed around naked photos of themselves, among other acts. In addition, the EEOC charged that Scolaris management failed to address and correct the unlawful conduct, even when the victims complained about it. Instead, the women were fired or were forced to abandon their jobs after they complained about the harassment. More...


Join us as we celebrate our continued success at the trendy Manhattan hot spot Latitude Bar and Lounge on September 23rd. Network with other career paralegals, paralegal students and other law firm staff. All members will receive a free gift! Come for valuable info and prizes! Our event will take place 7 to 9 pm at Latitude Bar and Lounge, 783 8th Avenue (between 47th & 48th Streets). Please RSVP to as soon as possible so we can accommodate members at our reserved tables. The event is free for members. Non members are welcome for a nominal fee of $15.


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and The Legal Aid Society Attorney-in-Chief Steven Banks today announced an agreement dismissing the McCain, Lamboy, Slade, and Cosentino collection of lawsuits, which together have governed the homeless services system for families with children in New York City for 25 years. The agreement, signed by the parties today, ends litigation and court oversight of the City's family shelter services system. Nearly three years ago, a court-appointed Special Master Panel evaluated the homeless services system and unanimously recommended the end to litigation. The Mayor and Attorney-in-Chief Banks were joined in the Blue Room at City Hall by Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs, Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo, Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Robert V. Hess, and State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) Commissioner David A. Hansell. "Today marks the beginning of a new era - an era in which t

USCIS Welcomes More Than 39,000 New Citizens during Constitution Week and Citizenship Day

WASHINGTON – More than 39,000 individuals will become new citizens of the United States this week during special ceremonies hosted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to recognize Constitution Week. Naturalization ceremonies held September 17 through September 23 commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. “This week allows us to focus on the responsibilities of citizenship and the importance of our Constitution,” said USCIS Acting Director Jonathan “Jock” Scharfen. “USCIS will hold more than 177 naturalization ceremonies this week to welcome the many men and women who immigrated to America to become U.S. citizens.” More...

175 Alleged Gulf Cartel Members and Associates Arrested in Massive International Law Enforcement Operation

WASHINGTON –Today Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey announced that 175 individuals were arrested today and on Sept. 16, 2008, on charges related to an international drug trafficking cartel in a coordinated enforcement action by hundreds of international, federal, state and local law enforcement officials throughout the United States and Italy. Including the operations announced today, a long-term investigation of one of Mexico’s largest drug trafficking cartels and its U.S. and international distribution networks has resulted in the arrest of more than 500 individuals in the United States, Mexico and Italy to date. "Project Reckoning," a multi-agency law enforcement effort led by the DEA, targeted the Mexican drug trafficking cartel known as the Gulf Cartel. Among those indicted are the three alleged leaders of the Gulf Cartel: Ezequiel Cardenas-Guillen, Heriberto Lazcano-Lazcano and Jorge Eduardo Costilla-Sanchez. These individuals, each designated as Consolidated Priori

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Selected for $500K EPA Research Grant

(Boston, Mass. – Sept. 17, 2008) – The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution of Woods Hole, Mass. has received a $508,494 grant for the development and use of a new technology to detect and count harmful algal bloom cells in drinking water. Woods Hole is one of five recipients of EPA research grants to improve the detection of known and emerging drinking water contaminants, including potent toxins produced by blue-green algae. The new technology being evaluated employs a fiber optic array system which can deliver rapid, sensitive methods that accurately identify and count harmful algal species in a given water body. This will be the first device that is able to count multiple species in a water body in the same sample and that can be deployed in small, bench-top instruments for automated detection. More...

USPTO to Hold Live On-Line Chat for Independent Inventors

Senior officials of the United State Patent and Trademark Office will be available live on-line on Thursday, September 18, from 2 to 3 PM (EST). They will be answering questions and offering tips for independent inventors. Instructions for taking part in the on-line chat will be posted on the home page of the USPTO web site at 10 AM (EST) next Thursday. Inventors can begin logging on for the chat at 1:30 PM. The independent inventor on-line chat is part of the USPTO's continuing efforts to promote and protect America's independent inventors. This effort includes educating inventor-entrepreneurs about the risks of working with invention development companies. More...

Las Vegas Man Convicted of Conspiring to Evade Taxes Through Fraudulent Stock Sale

WASHINGTON - A Las Vegas federal jury convicted Michael Haynes of one count of conspiracy to commit tax evasion through a scheme involving the fraudulent sale of One Voice Technologies Inc. stock, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Justice Department announced today. The jury, following a one-week trial before Chief U.S. District Judge Roger L. Hunt, deliberated for about two hours before finding Haynes guilty of conspiring to commit tax evasion totaling $684,242. Co-defendant David Jett pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge in March 2008 and testified against Haynes during the trial. According to the indictment and evidence presented at trial, Haynes and Jett orchestrated the fraudulent sale of $7 million in One Voice stock. Haynes and Jett used at least ten stock certificates to generate the $7 million in gross proceeds; all of these stock certificates were in different nominee names. As part of the scheme, new stock certificates in the name of One Voice were issued to at

Sophia Stewart filed a $150 million dollar malpractice lawsuit against her former attorneys

By: Joel Irving Sophia Stewart, the creative force behind the movies The Terminator and The Matrix filed a $150 million dollar malpractice lawsuit (CASE #: 2:07-cv-00552-DAK) against her former attorneys: Michael T. Stoller, Jonathan Lubell, Gary S. Brown, and Dean Webb in U.S. District Court, District of Utah (Central) on 07/30/2007. The four attorneys represented her in a 2003 lawsuit against Andy Wachowski, Gale Ann Hurd, Hemdale Films, James Cameron, Joel Silver, Larry Wachowski, 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers. The 2003 lawsuit alleged (among other things) copyright infringement pertaining to her written work that The Terminator and The Matrix movies are based on. Although, Ms. Stewart had a preponderance of evidence to support her claims, her case was dismissed under summary judgment. Sophia Stewart on Wiki. Sophia Stewart's Official Site. Sophia Stewart on Joel Irving Show.

Staten Island University Hospital to Pay the U.S. $74 Million to Settle Claims of Defrauding Federal Health Care Programs

WASHINGTON - Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) has agreed to pay the United States $74,032,565 to settle claims that the hospital defrauded Medicare, Medicaid and the military’s health insurance program, TRICARE, announced Benton J. Campbell, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and Gregory G. Katsas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. In addition, the hospital will pay the State of New York $14,883,883, representing damages sustained by the state’s Medicaid Program. In total, SIUH will pay $88,916,448. Today’s settlement, in part, resolves suits filed on behalf of the government in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York by two individuals. Dr. Miguel Tirado, a former SIUH Director of Chemical Dependency Services, who filed suit under the federal False Claims Act and the New York State False Claims Act, alleged that the hospital had fraudulently billed Medicaid and Medicare for inpatient alcohol

Texas 18 Wheeler Accident Lawyer Launches Informational Truck Safety Website

(openPR) HOUSTON, TX -- Texas 18 wheeler accident lawyer Jim S. Adler of Jim S. Adler & Associates announces a new website packed with information on truck accidents, trucking regulations, road safety and legal options for victims of semi truck crashes. The website, ., includes tips on how drivers can learn to drive defensively when sharing the road with semi trucks and provides legal help for accident victims.


ALBANY, N.Y. (September 10, 2008) – Attorney General Cuomo today warned landowners of potential perils and strong-arm tactics when dealing with oil and gas exploration companies. His office released new materials and guidelines to protect consumers and ensure they get the best deal for their land should they choose to become involved in an oil or gas exploration lease. The Attorney General’s Office has become aware of potentially misleading or improper tactics used by certain exploration and development companies to obtain leases from landowners. The office is investigating a significant number of complaints from landowners regarding these tactics and urges anyone who believes they have been defrauded by an unscrupulous representative of a gas exploration company to contact his office at 800-771-7755. A new downloadable tip sheet and brochure can be found online at . More...

FTC’s AmeriDebt Lawsuit Resolved: Almost $13 Million Returned to 287,000 Consumers Harmed by Debt Management Scam

The Federal Trade Commission announced today that the agency returned approximately $12.7 million to consumers this week from a settlement with Andris Pukke and his companies, AmeriDebt, Inc. and DebtWorks, Inc. This consumer redress concludes the largest credit counseling/debt management deception case brought by the FTC. In addition, more than $7 million will be returned to consumers as a result of class-action settlements with the defendants and related credit counseling agencies. Using the defendants’ records, about 287,000 AmeriDebt consumers have been mailed redress checks. The FTC and individual consumers alleged that AmeriDebt, DebtWorks, and related credit counseling agencies engaged in deceptive practices in promoting and offering credit counseling and debt management plans (DMPs). More...

Justice Department Seeks to Close Down Houston Tax Preparer

WASHINGTON – The United States has sued a Houston tax preparer, seeking to put him out of business, the Justice Department announced today. The civil injunction suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, seeks to permanently bar Kyle C. Kasten and his business, KJ & J Tax Services, from preparing federal returns for others. According to the government complaint, Kasten prepares federal income tax returns with fabricated claims for the federal fuel tax credit. The credit is available only in limited circumstances for off-highway business use. Kasten allegedly claimed that one customer used 44,005 gallons of gasoline in 2007 when the customer’s return showed he earned only $802 that year. The complaint states that, assuming a cost of $2 per gallon, the customer would have had to spend $88,010 to purchase that amount of gasoline. In another example identified in the complaint, Kasten allegedly claimed that a customer used 55,083 gallons of gasoline in 2007

Online Divorce agrees to stop providing legal advice to Washington residents

OLYMPIA – In an era of drive-through wedding chapels and even quicker divorces, it’s still possible to reach a roadblock. The Attorney General’s Office, which announced a settlement today with a company that advertised online divorce services, says Washington residents should check out the credentials of those who provide legal guidance and resources. “Couples trying to undo their ‘I dos’ could find the process as irksome as an irreconcilable relationship if they don’t get information from a qualified source,” Senior Counsel Paula Selis said. Do-it-yourself divorces can work if you and spouse agree about important issues, such as childcare and dividing property, Selis added. But she said there are many situations where individuals should seek the services of a licensed attorney or someone who is supervised by one. More...

Two Kansas City, Missouri Men Receive Multiple Life Sentences for Racially-Motivated Murder

WASHINGTON – Steven Sandstrom, 23, and Gary L. Eye, 22, both of Kansas City, Mo., received multiple life sentences today for the racially-motivated murder of William McCay on March 9, 2005. The defendants were convicted on May 8, 2008. Today’s announcement was made jointly by Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and John F. Wood, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. “Acts of violence motivated by race and hate tear at the fabric of our communities and destroy our faith in the ability of people to transcend their differences,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Becker. “It is imperative that hate crimes, like the murder of Mr. McCay, are not tolerated by our society, and the Justice Department will do its part by committing to continue its vigorous prosecution of such abhorrent violent acts of hate.” More...

Bear Stearns and EMC Mortgage to Pay $28 Million to Settle FTC Charges of Unlawful Mortgage Servicing and Debt Collection Practices

The Bear Stearns Companies, LLC and its subsidiary, EMC Mortgage Corporation, have agreed to pay $28 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they engaged in unlawful practices in servicing consumers’ home mortgage loans. The companies allegedly misrepresented the amounts borrowers owed, charged unauthorized fees, such as late fees, property inspection fees, and loan modification fees, and engaged in unlawful and abusive collection practices. Under the proposed settlement they will stop the alleged illegal practices and institute a data integrity program to ensure the accuracy and completeness of consumers’ loan information. “Like other companies that send a bill, mortgage servicers must make sure that the amount they say is due really is the amount due,” said Lydia B. Parnes, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Consumers have the right to expect accuracy from the company that collects their mortgage payments.” More...

Malaysia Resident Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Role in International Online Brokerage Scheme

WASHINGTON – A resident of Malaysia was sentenced today to two years in prison on a conspiracy charge that arose from an international fraud scheme to "hack" into online brokerage accounts in the United States and use those accounts to manipulate stock prices, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Matthew Friedrich and U.S. Attorney for the District of Nebraska Joe W. Stecher. Thirugnanam Ramanathan, 35, a native of Chennai, India, and legal resident of Malaysia, was also sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp to pay restitution of $362,247 and serve three years of supervised release. Ramanathan previously pleaded guilty on June 2, 2008, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, computer fraud and aggravated identity theft before Judge Smith Camp in Omaha, Neb. Following his arrest in Hong Kong, Ramanathan was extradited on May 25, 2007, to the United States. More...

Arthritis Drugs Linked to Serious Fungal Diseases

(openPR) - The Law Offices of James Sokolove (LOJS), dedicated to providing equal access to the civil justice system, sees the stricter medication guides now required by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on certain arthritis drugs as consumer critical. The FDA took action following the more than 200 reports that associated higher incidences of fungal infections, and even deaths, with the use of four tumor necrosis factor alpha blockers (TNF-alpha blockers) arthritis drugs. “For the over 1 million Americans suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and facing chronic and debilitating pain, drugs, such as these, can help create normalcy in their daily lives,” says Attorney Jim Sokolove, founder of the LOJS. “While the FDA has responded here, consumers must remain highly vigilant themselves, so they can weigh the relief versus the risks imposed in using any drug.” More...


WASHINGTON - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston today announced a foreclosure moratorium in 34 parishes throughout Southern and Central Louisiana and offered support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes following Hurricane Gustav. This foreclosure relief will help families living in presidentially declared disaster areas whose damaged homes are insured through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Last evening, President Bush issued a disaster declaration throughout Louisiana including Acadia, Allen, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, Rapides, Sabine, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne, Vermilion, Vernon, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana Parishes. More...

Redesigned (New) Naturalization Test

In the interest of creating a more standardized, fair, and meaningful naturalization process, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently completed a multi-year redesign of the naturalization test. The revised test, with an emphasis on the fundamental concepts of American democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, will help encourage citizenship applicants to learn and identify with the basic values we all share as Americans. The major aim of the redesign process is to ensure that naturalization applicants have uniform, consistent testing experiences nationwide, and that the civics test can effectively assess whether applicants have a meaningful understanding of U.S. government and history. Following a basic U.S. history and civics curriculum, the redesigned test will serve as an important instrument to encourage civic learning and patriotism among prospective citizens. More...

Pennsylvania Man Charged for Threatening African-American Coworker with a Hangman’s Noose

PHILADELPHIA - Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division Grace Chung Becker, and Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Laurie Magid announced the filing of a one count criminal complaint charging William Gould with interference with employment by threat of violence, a Class A misdemeanor. The complaint alleges that Gould placed a hangman’s noose in an area where his African-American colleague would find it, in an attempt to interfere with his colleague’s federally protected employment activity, and because the colleague was African-American. The complaint alleges that on Aug. 11, 2008, Gould fashioned and placed a hangman’s noose in a workspace at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he worked. Approximately two weeks earlier, Children’s Hospital had announced the acceptance of that African-American colleague into a management training program specifically focused on hiring and promoting minority employees. G

Former Bank of China Managers and Their Wives Convicted for Stealing More Than $485 Million, Laundering Money Through Las Vegas Casinos

WASHINGTON – Two former managers of the Bank of China and their wives were convicted on Aug. 29, 2008, by a federal jury in Las Vegas on charges of racketeering, money laundering, international transportation of stolen property as well as passport and visa fraud, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Gregory A. Brower of the District of Nevada announced today. Xu Chaofan (a/k/a Hui Yat Fai), Xu Guojun (a/k/a Hui Kit Shun), Kuang Wan Fang (a/k/a Wendy Kuang) and Yu Ying Yi were convicted after being charged in the 15-count superseding indictment on Jan. 31, 2006. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 24, 2008. Evidence presented during the trial established the elaborate scheme to defraud the Bank of China of at least $485 million, orchestrated by former managers Xu Chaofan, Xu Guojun and a third former bank manager, Yu Zhendong (a/k/a Yu Wing Chung) who pleaded guilty in connection with this investigation and cooperated with the Uni

Aafia Siddiqui Indicted for Attempting to Kill United States Nationals in Afghanistan and Six Additional Charges

Michael J. Garcia, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the indictment of Aafia Siddiqui on charges related to her attempted murder and assault of United States nationals and officers and employees. Siddiqui is scheduled to be arraigned on the Indictment on Thursday, September 4, 2008, at 11:30 a.m. by United States District Judge Richard M. Berman in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. According to the Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court: On July 18, 2008, a team of United States servicemen and law enforcement officers, and others assisting them, attempted to interview Aafia Siddiqui in Ghazni, Afghanistan, where she had been detained by local police the day before. The United States interview team included, among others: three officers and employees of the United States Army; two officers and employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and two United States Army contract interpreters. More