Incredible Story of Sleaziness

[Source: http://business.ftc.gov/blog/2011/09/imitation-sincerest-form-falsity]

This post by Leslie Fair of the FTC describes a scheme that really takes the cake in terms of sleaziness:

Imitation is the sincerest form of falsity

  • By Lesley Fair
  • September 23, 2011 – 2:36pm

According to the Consumer Services Protection Commission’s website, it’s a “National consumer protection agency and works For the Consumer to help avoid fraud, deception, and/or unfair business practices in the financial assistance marketplace.”  The site went on to talk about the agency’s role in enforcing the law and educating consumers about how to “spot and avoid fraud and deception.”  On the right was a blue and gold logo with the scales of justice and the winged wheel of commerce.

Look familiar to you?  It sure did to us.  But more importantly, according to a complaint filed by the FTC, it’s likely it looked familiar to consumers.  The FTC has alleged that the site was the creation of Christopher Mallett, a San Antonio-based lead generator who used it to lure people struggling to pay their bills.  He then referred them to companies selling mortgage, tax, and debt relief services with promises that their debts would be reduced or eliminated, the FTC charged.

The complaint also says that Mallett deceived consumers by using the name of another fictitious agency he called the U.S. Mortgage Relief Counsel.  His FHA-HomeLoan.info website featured a picture of the U.S. Capitol and promised that the “Counsel” would direct consumers to “officials licensed with the National Mortgage Licensing Service (NMLS), persuant [sic] to the SAFE act of 2008.”  According to the complaint, neither Mallett nor any of his sites have ever been affiliated with the FTC or any other government agency.

Mallett allegedly claimed that people who responded to his solicitations could have their debts substantially reduced.  One “success stats chart” purported to show that people’s debts were settled for 16%-40% of the amount owed.  These claims were false or unsubstantiated, the FTC charged.  The complaint also alleges violations of the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule and Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in D.C., is ongoing.  In the agency’s announcement of the case, the FTC thanked the Tennessee and AGs’ Offices for their assistance.

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How to Make a Request for Public Records in Massachusetts

SAMPLE MASSACHUSETTS PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST LETTER:

Janet Massachussite
123 Citizen Lane
Blissville, MA 02111

State Agency X
123 Beurocracy Lane
Boston MA 02110

Date:

Re: Massachusetts Public Records Request

Dear Sir/Madam,
This is a request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M. G. L. Chapter 66, Section 10).  I am requesting that I be provided a copy of the following records:

[Provide a detailed description of the information you are seeking.]

[Optional: I recognize that you may charge reasonable costs for copies, as well as for personnel time needed to comply with this request.  If you expect costs to exceed $10.00, please provide a detailed fee estimate.]

As you may be aware, the Public Records Law requires you to provide me with a written response within 10 calendar days.  If you cannot comply with my request, you are statutorily required to provide an explanation in writing.

Sincerely,

Janet Massachussite

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  1. Police reports are public records.
  2. If you do not receive a satisfactory response within a reasonable time period, you have the right to appeal to the Supervisor of Records: Appealing a Denial of Access to Public Records in Massachusetts.
  3. For additional information about making a request or filing an appeal, call the MA Secretary of State’s Office at (617) 727-2832 or read: A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law.

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CVS Pharmacy Agrees to Settle $2 Million Consumer Lawsuit alleging CVS overcharged customers for sale items and engaged in misleading advertising.

Los Angeles County DA’s Office – 8/19/2011

LOS ANGELES – CVS Pharmacy agreed to settle a $2 million consumer protection lawsuit alleging that the company overcharged customers for sale items and engaged in misleading advertising.

The civil complaint was filed Aug. 11 in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the District Attorneys of Los Angeles, Riverside and Ventura counties. The final judgment was signed this week by Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis.

The complaint alleged that CVS employed misleading advertising by failing to provide an immediate discount for certain advertised items. An investigation also determined that between 2006 to the present the company, based in Rhode Island, routinely charged consumers more for items than the advertised sale price.

Under the terms of the stipulated judgment, CVS Pharmacy, Inc. agreed to pay $1.2 million in civil penalties and $420,000 in investigative costs. The company also agreed to contribute $300,000 to the state’s Department of Measurement Standards.

As part of the judgment, the company agreed to pay $100,000 to the Consumer Protection Trust toward enforcement of consumer protection laws. CVS agreed to the settlement without admitting liability and worked cooperatively in reaching a settlement with prosecutors.

CVS agreed to complete all corrective action with respect to advertising by Oct. 30. In addition, CVS agreed to initiate and administer pricing programs for a period of three years to ensure that consumers are not overcharged for their purchases. Prosecutors said the company will undertake weekly in-store price inspections to ensure pricing accuracy.

CVS also will implement a “Scan-right” program guarantee that will give consumers up to $2 off if an item has scanned at a higher price than advertised.

Media Contacts: Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Carolyn Nakaki, (213) 580-3273. For CVS, Mike DeAngelis, Director of Public Relations, (401) 770-2645.

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Maine Creep Lawrence Labbe Sentenced to 6 years for transporting child pornography

ICE – 9/16/2011

BANGOR, Maine – A Maine man was sentenced today to six years in federal prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for unlawfully transporting child pornography. The sentence is the result of an investigation conducted jointly with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Lawrence Labbe, 46, of LaGrange, Maine, pleaded guilty on Feb. 25, 2011 to unlawfully transporting child pornography in interstate commerce using a computer.

According to court documents, a member of the FBI Cybercrimes Task Force in Detroit, participated in an undercover online chat with Labbe in July 2009. During the online chat, Labbe transmitted 20 images of child pornography to the undercover agent.

HSI agents learned through further investigation that Labbe resided in LaGrange, Maine, and was the person who sent the images to the undercover agent. HSI agents secured a search warrant for Labbe’s residence and discovered more than 400 images of child pornography on Labbe’s computer.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

The investigation was conducted jointly by HSI, the FBI Cybercrimes Task Force and the Macomb County (Mich.) Sheriff’s Office.

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2002 MSNBC Story – “Anatomy of a penis pill swindle $74 million later, law catches up with Arizona con artists” – “ExtenZe” Similarities?

MSNBC.com/Mike Brunker

Article Excerpt:

“Giving Americans a first glimpse of an industry flourishing at the intersection of larceny and libido, authorities in Arizona are seizing the assets of a Scottsdale company that sold more than $74 million worth of pills that it claimed would enlarge penises or breasts, make the consumer taller or hairier — even sharpen his or her golf game. But despite such audacious claims, the company — C.P. Direct — would likely still be gouging the gullible if its founders hadn’t decided to also illegally charge consumers’ credit cards, industry insiders say…”

*     *    *    *    *

2002 Las Vegas Raid Targeted “Longitude” Enlargement Scheme

LVAG – 6/25/2002 Press Release

Las Vegas—Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa announced that a search warrant was executed this morning in conjunction with the Money Laundering and Asset Removal Task Force of the U.S. Customs Service at a business owned and operated by Michael Consoli, Geraldine Consoli, and Vincent Passafiume, and their company, C.P. Direct, incorporated in Nevada. The Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, under the direction of Consumer Advocate Timothy Hay, obtained the search warrant after receiving information that C.P. Direct was conducting fraudulent business practices advertising for sale and selling so-called herbal-based nutrition supplements that are guaranteed to induce gross physical alterations of the body. One product was marketed under the name “Longitude” and was guaranteed to result in permanent enlargement of penile length and girth by several inches in a matter of months. The company also sold “Full and Firm” capsules, represented as an “implant in a bottle” and guaranteed to increase the bust by two or three cup sizes in a matter of a few weeks. A third product, “Stature,” was also sold by the company and guaranteed to stimulate cartilage growth in the spine and knees resulting in increasing the height of the consumer by as much as four inches in a matter of months. The U.S. Customs Service, Department of Treasury conducted an investigation after receiving numerous consumer complaints about “Longitude.” Consumers complained that despite the “Iron-clad Guarantee,” they were unable to obtain the promised refunds. Consumers have complained that their credit/debit cards have been charged repeatedly and without authorization. This search warrant follows one executed on May 23, 2002 by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office regarding the same individuals and businesses located in Arizona. It is suspected that Michael Consoli, Geraldine Consoli, and Vincent Passafiume have committed the criminal offenses of Theft by Obtaining Money Under False Pretenses, a felony; Racketeering, a felony; and misdemeanor violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.  As in all criminal matters, the allegations are merely accusations and individuals are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court. Individuals who may have been victimized by C.P. Direct should call the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection in Las Vegas at (702) 486-3194; in Reno at (775) 688-1818; or in Carson City at (775) 687-6300. Additional consumer protection information can be found on the Attorney General’s web site at http://ag.state.nv.us
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Could they have worded this differently?

Citibank ATM welcome screen

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Erectile Dysfunction Pill Warning

Many of the Erectile Dysfunction and “Male Enhancement” pills and natural remedies available for sale online and in health stores are unsafe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Albania Deleon, Owner of Asbestos Abatement Training School Sentenced to Prison Posed Major Public Health Risk; Was International Fugitive for Nearly Two Years

USAO – 9/13/2011

BOSTON, Mass. – The former owner of the country’s largest asbestos abatement training school was sentenced to prison today, after having fled the United States after her trial in November 2008. U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton sentenced ALBANIA DELEON, 41, formerly of Andover, Mass., to 87 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $1,200,939.45 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and $369,015 to AIM Mutual Insurance Company.

In November 2008, following a three-week trial, Deleon was convicted of a broad range of charges including that she sold training certificates to thousands of illegal aliens who had not taken the mandatory training course. Deleon then placed these unqualified individuals in temporary employment positions as certified asbestos abatement workers in public buildings throughout Massachusetts and New England. Deleon was also convicted of encouraging illegal aliens to reside in the United States, making false statements about matters within the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency; procuring false payroll tax returns, and mail fraud.

From approximately 2001 to 2006, Deleon owned and operated Environmental Compliance Training (ECT), a certified asbestos training school located in Methuen. ECT normally offered training courses on a weekly basis at its Methuen offices, however, many of the recipients of the certificates never took the required course. Instead, with Deleon’s knowledge and approval, ECT’s office employees issued certificates of course completion to thousands of individuals who did not take the course. These individuals filed the certificates with the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety in order to be authorized to work in the asbestos removal industry. Many of the recipients were illegal aliens who wished to skip the four-day-long course so that they would not forego a week’s pay.

Since ECT’s training course records were subject to inspection, Deleon sought to cover up ECT’s practice of issuing certificates to untrained applicants by having the applicants sign final examination answer sheets that already had been completed and graded, which she maintained in ECT’s files. Based on the evidence at trial and information supplied by the Division of Occupation Safety, ECT issued training certificates to over 2,000 untrained individuals.

Most of the individuals were employed by Methuen Staffing, Deleon’s temporary employment agency that specialized in asbestos abatement. She sent these employees to job sites throughout Massachusetts, including the Boston, Worcester, and New Bedford-Fall River areas, as well as to New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut and down the eastern seaboard.

Deleon paid most of these employees “under-the-table,” that is, without taxes withheld, and reported to the IRS and her workers compensation insurance carriers only those employees that actually had taxes withheld, saving her over a million of dollars in tax and insurance payments.

Deleon was originally scheduled to be sentenced on March 23, 2009, but three days before, she fled without warning, eventually making her way out of the United States. On October 30, 2010, law enforcement authorities in the Dominican Republic, working in conjunction with the U.S. Marshal’s Service, arrested her in the capital city of Santo Domingo, where she was living under an alias and had dyed her hair blonde. In November, she was extradited to the United States.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “Today, justice was served, and Albania Deleon has finally faced the consequences of her crimes. I hope that this sentence sends a strong message to anyone who might contemplate fleeing to avoid punishment, that we do not give up on fugitives, and we will take all necessary means and resources to apprehend and prosecute them.”

“She ran and tried to hide, but eventually the law caught up with her,” said Michael E. Hubbard, Special Agent in Charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division in Boston. “Ms Deleon cynically defrauded the taxpayer and put her own workers and the public at risk due to her greed. Today’s sentence shows that individuals who
put illegal profits ahead of the welfare of society will deservedly be prosecuted and pay a very high price.”

“This sentencing sends a clear message to employers that seek to gain an unfair business advantage over their competitors by employing illegal workers,” said Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston. “The potential risk to public health and safety involving asbestos and lead abatement and training licenses made this investigation and the need to bring this individual to justice even more compelling.”

U.S. Attorney Ortiz; SAC Hubbard; and SAC Foucart; William Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation; Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Social Security Administration, Office of Investigations – Boston Field Division; James Ennis, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service; John Gibbons, United States Marshall for the District of Massachusetts; Anthony DiPaolo, Chief of Investigations for the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau; and Heather E. Rowe, Acting Commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety made the announcement today.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Holik, former AUSA Jonathan Mitchell of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter W. Kenyon, an EPA regional criminal enforcement attorney.

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Another Massachusetts Wage and Hour Law Case; McGovern’s Restaurant in Fall River Ordered to Pay More Than $236,000 in Restitution and Penalties for Violating Massachusetts’ Tip and Record Keeping Laws

BOSTON – A Fall River restaurant has been ordered to pay more than $236,000 in restitution and penalties for violating the Commonwealth’s tip and record keeping laws, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

The AG’s Office cited McGovern’s Restaurant of Fall River and its president, Patricia A. McGovern, also of Fall River, for violating the Commonwealth’s tip and record keeping laws.  The AG’s Office ordered McGovern’s Restaurant and McGovern to pay $194,435.34 in restitution and a $40,000 penalty for the tip law violations.  A $2,000 penalty for failure to furnish records was also ordered.

“Tips belong to employees, not the employer,” AG Coakley said.  “Many workers in the service and wait staff industries depend on tips – their main wages – to feed their own families and they deserve to be paid what they earn.”

In 2009, the AG’s Office began investigating McGovern’s Restaurant after receiving a complaint that employees were not receiving the proper amount of tips.  An audit of the restaurant revealed that McGovern’s did not properly distribute the tips received from banquet functions to wait staff employees as required by Massachusetts law.  In addition, management was sharing in the tips, which is further prohibited by the statute.

It is a violation of the Commonwealth’s tip laws for anyone other than wait staff, service employees, or service bartenders to receive or share tips remitted by patrons.  Management and non-service employees are specifically prohibited from receiving or sharing tips.

The Attorney General’s Office is responsible for enforcing the Massachusetts wage and hour laws, which include the tip and record keeping laws.  Workers who feel that these laws have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to call the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465.  More information about the wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General’s Workplace Rights website:  www.massworkrights.com.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Terri Flanagan Lamarre and Inspector Mario Paiva, both of Attorney General Coakley’s Fair Labor Division.

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Another Massachusetts Wage and Hour Law Violation Case; West Springfield Car Dealership Balise Motor Sales Agrees to Pay More Than $450,000 in Restitution and Penalties for Violating Wage and Hour Laws

Source:  Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office- 9/14/2011

BOSTON– A West Springfield car dealership, Balise Motor Sales, Inc (Balise), and its president, James E. Balise, Jr., have agreed to pay more than $450,000 in restitution, as well as a $7,500 penalty for violating the Commonwealth’s wage and hour laws, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today.

“In these particularly difficult economic times, many employees are working longer hours to make ends meet.  Employers are required by law to pay their employees all of the wages they are owed, and our office will continue to ensure that workers’ rights are protected,” AG Coakley said.

In September 2010, the AG’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation after it received a complaint from a former employee alleging minimum wage and overtime pay violations.  Investigators reviewed the company’s payroll records and discovered that Balise was not calculating the proper overtime rate for employees who worked over 40 hours in a work week.  In addition, investigators discovered that Balise was not paying the minimum wage rate to some of its employees.

The AG’s Office requested that Balise also conduct a self-audit of its payroll records for the years of 2008 through 2010.  The audit revealed that Balise failed to calculate the proper overtime rate and, in some instances, failed to pay the minimum wage.  As a result of the investigation, Balise has agreed to pay $339,871.36 in restitution for the overtime violations and $110,766.27 for minimum wage violations to more than 270 employees.

The Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing the prevailing wage, minimum wage and overtime laws, and the payment of wages laws in the Commonwealth. Workers who feel that these laws have been violated in their workplace are urged to call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465.  More information about the wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General’s Workplace Rights website: www.massworkrights.com.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Terri Flanagan Lamarre and investigated by Inspector Paul Gordon, both of the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division.

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Update: Bank of America Overdraft Fee Class Action Lawsuit and Settlement

New:

Here is a pathetic settlement check (four dollars and change) for a Bank of America overdraft victim who paid hundreds in unfair overdraft fees:

 

PATHETIC Bank of America Overdraft Fee Class Action Settlement Check

 

 

PWL – 9/14/2011

**I am not representing clients in overdraft litigation- this post is for general informational purposes only**

BOSTON – If you had a BANK OF AMERICA personal checking account with debit card from Jan 1, 2001 – May 24, 2011, and had one or more overdraft fees as a result of BOA’s practice of manipulating the order of transactions from highest to lowest dollar amount to trigger overdraft fees, you should have been included as a member of the class. If you have not yet received a card in the mail notifying you of the settlement, there may be a problem.

To find out if you are entitled to receive money from the Bank of America overdraft fee settlement, you should call the Florida law firm of Grossman Roth at 888-296-1681 and ask for Katie. She will be able to tell you if you are a member of the class or not.  Unfortunately, if you are not, it is too late at this point to add you to that action.

To determine the amount of your financial loss due to Bank of America’s highest-to-lowest transaction processing scheme, you may want to obtain your bank records.  According to Bank of America:  a) you can obtain copies of previous bank statements over the phone; b) there is a fee of $5.00 per monthly statement; c) it will take 8 – 10 business days; d) if you have online banking you can go through the last 18 months of history (but not further back) and print that information for free.

This is what the postcard notice about the Bank of America Overdraft Fee Class Action lawsuit looks like:

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ICE delivers back to school message: Beware of online child predators

ICE – 9/13/2011

BOSTON – As a new school year begins and children research classroom assignments online, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) alerts parents to more closely monitor their children’s Internet activities to avoid child predators.

The warning is supported by data showing more than 1,100 criminal arrests nationwide so far this fiscal year. These arrests are part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE HSI initiative launched in 2003 to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. The arrests led to more than 2,100 seizures of images and other evidence by ICE HSI special agents in support of their investigations. Since its inception, Operation Predator has resulted in than 6,000 child predator arrests nationwide.

“Our goal is to help safeguard families from these online predators who prey on unsuspecting children by expanding our efforts using the eyes and ears of parents,” said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Boston. Foucart oversees HSI throughout New England. “Our message is simple: parents, pay attention!”

HSI teams with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to prevent child exploitation throughout New England. The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces help state and local law enforcement agencies develop an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases. This help encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services and community education.

In New England alone, ICE HSI has made approximately 50 criminal arrests so far this fiscal year that led to more than 20 criminal indictments for various child pornography law violations, including possession, distribution, and interstate travel to engage in sexual encounters with minors.

These coordinated law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children have resulted in significant penalties. Recent cases include:

  • Brad Warner, 33, of Acton, Mass., and former co-founder of HammelFit, a Massachusetts fitness and education program designed for children under the age of seven. Warner was sentenced to more than 12 years in a federal prison for receipt and possession of child pornography.
  • Douglas Perlitz, 40, of Connecticut, who pleaded guilty to traveling overseas to engage in sex with a minor, was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release for sexually abusing at least eight minor victims over a 10 year period. A Connecticut federal judge also ordered the distribution of nearly $49,000 in restitution to 16 victims in the Perlitz case.
  • Jonathan Zahra, 27, a former Plainville, Conn., middle school technology aide, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for manufacturing child pornography. After his prison term he will also serve 10 years of supervised release.
  • Julie Carr, 33, of Mars Hill, Maine, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and 10 years of supervised release for child pornography production.
  • James Raymond, 29, of Auburn, Maine, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and a lifetime of supervised release for transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in illegal sexual activity. Raymond, then a music teacher in the Auburn school system, transported an 11-year-old student and her younger sister from Auburn to Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire. On both trips, Raymond made sexual advances.
  • Scott Wilson, 41, formerly of Somersworth, N.H., was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the purpose of having the child engage in illegal sexual conduct and possession of child pornography. Once released from prison, Wilson will be required to register as a sex offender and will be placed on supervised release for the remainder of his life.
  • Robert M. Lopes, 43, of Coventry, R.I., pleaded guilty to receipt and distribution of child pornography, was sentenced to five years in federal prison and lifetime supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution to a victim who appeared in a series of child pornography videos.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

You may also visit us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, or access this news release on your mobile device.

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Malden Man Pleads Guilty To Poisoning Girlfriend, Attempted Murder – Bit, Strangled, and Poured Toxic Chemical into Victim’s Mouth Because She Wanted to End Relationship

MDAO –  9/12/2011

WOBURN- A Malden man pleaded guilty to poisoning and strangling his girlfriend, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone informed the public today.

Wilbert Gabriel, 36, of Malden, pleaded guilty on Friday to charges of assault to murder (2 counts), attempted murder, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (2 counts).  Middlesex Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman sentenced the defendant to eight to ten years in state prison on the two counts of assault to murder, to run concurrent.  Judge Tuttman also sentenced the defendant to ten years probation to run concurrent on the attempted murder charge with the conditions that he is ordered not to have any direct or indirect contact with the victim, her family, her friends or any witnesses in the case. Additionally, he was sentenced to five years probation from and after the previous sentences on the two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.  He was also placed on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer.

“This is a troubling, serious case of domestic violence where the defendant attempted to kill the victim by strangling her and pouring a toxic chemical into her mouth, due to jealousy that she wanted to end their relationship,” District Attorney Leone said. “We commend the victim for her courage during the legal process, as this is a paradigmatic case of power and control where the defendant committed life threatening domestic violence. We will continue to work in every way that we can to fight domestic violence and wish the victim a full recovery from the extreme mental and physical suffering she endured at the hands of this defendant.”

According to authorities, on July 25th, 2010, a neighbor called 911 after he heard a woman screaming for help in the apartment building located at 68 Washington Street in Malden.  Malden police and Cataldo Ambulance arrived to find the defendant lying on the floor vomiting blood in the hallway outside the victim’s apartment.  The female victim, 30, was found in her apartment suffering injuries resulting from the defendant’s attempts to poison and strangle her to death.  The defendant and the victim were transported to Massachusetts General Hospital for medical treatment.

Further investigation determined the defendant strangled the victim with a ligature until she was unconscious, during which time the defendant bit the victim on her face and back, and poured a toxic substance into her mouth. The defendant then swallowed the same toxic substance. Both the victim and defendant were treated for life-threatening burn injuries. Authorities determined that the defendant planned the attacked after the victim had told him their relationship was over.

The defendant was arrested and arraigned on August 11, 2010 at Massachusetts General Hospital by Malden District Court Judge Lee Johnson and ordered held without bail pending a 58A dangerousness hearing.  He was indicted by a Middlesex Grand Jury on September 23. He was arraigned in November 16, 2010 in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn where Clerk Magistrate Michael Sullivan held the defendant on $50,000 cash bail with the conditions that he has no contact with the victim or any witnesses.

The prosecutor assigned to this case is Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Keeley.  The victim witness advocate is Danielle DeMeo. The paralegal is Chris Irwin. This case was investigated by Malden Police Department.

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FDA Warning: Tainted products marketed as dietary supplements can be dangerous

FDA – 12/15/ 2010

In a letter sent today to dietary supplement manufacturers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expressed concern about undeclared or deceptively labeled ingredients in products marketed as dietary supplements. These substances include the active ingredients in FDA-approved drugs or their analogs (closely-related drugs), or other compounds, such as novel synthetic steroids, that do not qualify as dietary ingredients.

In recent years, FDA has alerted consumers to nearly 300 tainted products marketed as dietary supplements and received numerous complaints of injury associated with these products.

The FDA’s letter emphasizes that manufacturers and distributors are responsible for ensuring that their products comply with the law. Five major trade associations – Council for Responsible Nutrition, Natural Products Association, United Natural Products Alliance, Consumer Healthcare Products Association and American Herbal Products Association– are joining FDA on a call for media and have agreed to share the letter widely within the industry.

“These tainted products can cause serious adverse effects, including strokes, organ failure, and death,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The manufacturers selling these tainted products are operating outside the law.”

The FDA is seeking input and collaboration from dietary supplement trade associations to educate the industry about this problem and to help develop new strategies to combat it, according to Hamburg.

The agency also announced a new RSS feed to warn consumers more quickly about tainted products marketed as dietary supplements.

The FDA has noted the three most common categories of these illegal products:

The FDA has noted the three most common categories of these illegal products:

  • Weight loss products containing active ingredients such as sibutramine: Sibutramine is the active ingredient in the drug Merida, which was recently withdrawn from the market due to increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The FDA has discovered dozens of products, such as Slimming Beauty, Solo Slim, Slim-30, and others, which contain sibutramine or closely related drugs (analogs).
  • Body-building products containing anabolic steroids or steroid analogs: These products can cause acute liver injury and increase the risk for heart attack, stroke and death. Products like Tren Xtreme, ArimaDex, and Clomed have been labeled to contain either anabolic steroids or aromatase inhibitors, which prevent anabolic steroids from being converted to estrogen.
  • Sexual enhancement products that contain the same active ingredient or an analog of the active ingredient in the approved drugs Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. The approved products are available only by prescription, and they should not be used by people who have certain medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease. Products determined to be in violation of federal law by the FDA include Vigor-25, Duro Extend Capsules for Men, Magic Power Coffee, and others.

“The labeling of these tainted products may claim that they are ‘alternatives’ to FDA-approved drugs, or ‘legal’ alternatives to anabolic steroids,” said Michael Levy, director of the Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Consumers should avoid products marketed as supplements that claim to have effects similar to prescription drugs. Consumers should also be wary of products with labeling only in a foreign language or that are marketed through mass e-mails.”

Companies that make or distribute tainted products may receive warning letters and/or face enforcement actions such as product seizures, injunctions, and criminal prosecution. Responsible individuals may also face criminal prosecution.

Lawful dietary supplements contain minerals, vitamins or other dietary ingredients and are intended to be an addition to a standard diet. The FDA regulates these products under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, passed by Congress in 1994. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements do not have to be approved by the FDA prior to marketing. Dietary supplement manufacturers and distributors are responsible for selling a safe product. FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices require dietary supplement manufacturers to have proper manufacturing and quality assurance controls in place to ensure the quality of their products, including controls to prevent the inclusion of contaminants that could adulterate their products.

For more information:

Letter to Industry: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/
MedicationHealthFraud/UCM236985.pdf

Tainted Products Marketed as Dietary Supplements: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm236774.htm

RSS Feed: http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/ContactFDA/StayInformed/RSSFeeds/TDS/rss.xml

Tainted Body Building Products: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/
MedicationHealthFraud/ucm234523.htm

Tainted Sexual Enhancement Products: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/MedicationHealthFraud/ucm234539.htm

Tainted Weight Loss Products: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/
MedicationHealthFraud/ucm234592.htm

Photos of Tainted Products Marketed as Dietary Supplements: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fdaphotos/sets/72157625502079212/

Dietary Supplements: http://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/default.htm

RSS Feed for FDA News Releases [what is RSS?]

Para la versión en español, ver http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm237277.htm

Para la versión en español, ver http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm237277.htm

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FDA Warns Consumers on Sexual Enhancement Products Another dietary supplement is found to be contaminated with potentially dangerous ingredient (This predates Regenerect’s recall)

FDA – 11/5/2009

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers that Stiff Nights, a product marketed as a dietary supplement for sexual enhancement, contains an ingredient that can dangerously lower blood pressure and is illegal.

Over the past several years, the FDA has found many products marketed as “dietary supplements” for sexual enhancement that contain undeclared active ingredients of FDA-approved drugs, analogs of approved drugs and other compounds that do not qualify as “dietary ingredients.” The FDA has issued multiple alerts about these contaminated dietary supplements.

Consumers and health care professionals should be aware of this problem and the health hazard it presents. Sexual enhancement products that claim to work as well as prescription products are likely to contain a contaminant. Use of such products exposes consumers to unpredictable risk and the potential for injury or even death.

In the case of Stiff Nights, following a consumer complaint, the FDA determined that the product contains sulfoaildenafil. This is a chemical similar to sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. Sulfoaildenafil may interact with prescription drugs known as nitrates, including nitroglycerin, and cause dangerously low blood pressure.

The product is distributed on Internet sites and at retail stores by Impulsaria LLC of Grand Rapids, Mich. It is sold in bottles containing 6, 12, or 30 red capsules or in blister packs containing one or two capsules.

“Because this product is labeled as an ‘all natural dietary supplement,’ consumers may assume it is harmless and poses no health risk,” said Deborah M. Autor, director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Compliance. “In fact, this product is illegally marketed and can cause serious complications.”

The FDA advises consumers who have experienced any adverse events from sexual enhancement products to consult a health care professional. Consumers and health care professionals should report adverse events to the FDA’s MedWatch program at 800-FDA-1088 or online at www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm

The FDA remains committed to stopping the illegal marketing of unapproved drugs and will continue to protect the public with vigorous law enforcement and criminal prosecution of violators.

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FDA Erection Pill Warning – Hidden Risks of Erectile Dysfunction “Treatments” Sold Online

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Jonathan Davis – Acting MBTA General Manager as of September 2, 2011.

MBTA – 8/22/2011
MBTA General Manager Richard Davey today that Jonathan Davis will become the acting MBTA General Manager and MassDOT Rail and Transit Administrator when Davey assumes the role of Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of MassDOT on September 2nd.

Serving for more than ten years as the T’s Deputy General Manager and Chief Financial Officer, Davis directs the financial management and accounting functions of the Authority, manages the operating and capital budgets, and oversees the collection of all revenue. As the MBTA’s senior financial advisor, Davis provides financial counsel to the General Manager and the Board of Directors.

Stating Davis has the Board’s full confidence and support, Chairman John Jenkins said no one has a better understanding of the T’s financial condition. “The Board will continue to rely on Jon’s wisdom and counsel as the MBTA confronts both immediate and future challenges,” said Jenkins.

“Jon’s deep knowledge of the financial and operational facets of the MBTA will serve us well as we continue our focus on safety, service, employees, fiscal responsibility and innovation,” said Davey.

Prior to coming to the MBTA in 1995, Jon worked in the private sector for 25 years at H.P. Hood, Inc. At that organization, he held various positions: Vice President and Controller, Vice President Operations Planning, Vice President MIS and Treasurer, and Corporate Controller. He received his MBA at Babson College and his BS at The Defiance College.

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Accenture Pays U.S. $63.675 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations

DOJ – 9/12/2011

WASHINGTON – Accenture LLP has agreed to pay the United States $63.675 million to resolve a whistleblower lawsuit, the Justice Department announced today.   The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, alleges that Accenture submitted or caused to be submitted false claims for payment under numerous contracts with agencies of the United States for information technology services.

Accenture has agreed to resolve allegations that it received kickbacks for its recommendations of hardware and software to the government, fraudulently inflated prices and rigged bids in connection with federal information technology contracts.    

“Kickbacks and bid rigging undermine the integrity of the federal procurement process,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “At a time when we’re looking for ways to reduce our public spending, it is especially important to ensure that government contractors play by the rules and don’t waste precious taxpayer dollars.”

“We strive each and every day to bring justice to the citizens of the Eastern District of Arkansas,” stated Christopher R. Thyer, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.    “Fraudulent business practices that steal hard earned and much needed tax dollars from appropriate use will not be tolerated.    The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to pursuing these cases to the full extent of the law.”

The lawsuit was initially filed by Norman Rille and Neal Roberts under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the federal False Claims Act, which permit private individuals, called “relators” to bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the proceeds of a settlement or judgment awarded against a defendant.   The portion of the proceeds to be paid in this case has not yet been resolved.

“Companies profiting off the breach of their government contracts will pay,” said Brian D. Miller, General Services Administration Inspector General.

The case was handled by the Department of Justice’s Civil Division and the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas, with the assistance of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Offices of Inspector General of the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, Department of Treasury Tax Administration (TIGTA), General Services Administration, Department of State and Transportation Security Administration.

The Justice Department’s total recoveries in False Claims Act cases since January 2009 are more than $7.5 billion.

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Cops to Newbury St. Party Bus Passenger: Urine Trouble Now

SDAO/ 9/7/2011

 

An Allston man who couldn’t resist nature’s call was arraigned yesterday for allegedly urinating out the window of a party bus travelling through Boston’s Back Bay, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.

 

ELAN ALEXENBERG (D.O.B. 3/4/90) was charged in the Boston Municipal Court with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct for his mid-morning antics. He was released without monetary bail.

Boston Police patrolling the area at about 9:05 a.m. spotted the blue bus and heard music blasting from its windows as it travelled down Newbury Street toward Massachusetts Avenue. As it approached a red light at Exeter Street, the officers watched as a passenger opened the right rear window, exposed himself, and urinated into the street in front of a group of pedestrians.

The officers activated their unmarked cruiser’s lights and sirens and stopped the bus. They boarded it and saw Alexenberg standing by the right rear window amid a group of about 15 other males who appeared intoxicated. The detectives escorted Alexenberg off the bus, at which point he allegedly said he was sorry for what he’d done and “didn’t mean for it to happen.”

The officers placed him under arrest. They informed the bus driver that he was free to continue on his way but recommended that he return the passengers to Woburn, whence they came.

Alexenberg was represented by attorney Brian Lenfest. He will return to court on Nov. 15.

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DEA Takes Action on Dangerous Unregulated “Bath Salt” Hallucinogenic Drugs


DEA/ September 07, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is using its emergency scheduling authority to temporarily control three synthetic stimulants (Mephedrone , 3,4 methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and Methylone).   This action was necessary to protect the public from the imminent hazard posed by these dangerous chemicals. Except as authorized by law, this action will make possessing and selling these chemicals or the products that contain them illegal in the U.S. for at least one year while the DEA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) further study whether these chemicals should be permanently controlled. 

A Notice of Intent to temporarily control was published in the Federal Register today to alert the public to this action. This alert is required by law as part of the Controlled Substances Act. In 30 days or more, DEA intends to publish in the Federal Register a Final Order to temporarily control these chemicals for at least 12 months, with the possibility of a six-month extension. The final order will be published in the Federal Register and will designate these chemicals as Schedule I substances, the most restrictive category, which is reserved for unsafe, highly abused substances with no currently accepted medical use in the United States.

“This imminent action by the DEA demonstrates that there is no tolerance for those who manufacture, distribute, or sell these drugs anywhere in the country, and that those who do will be shut down, arrested, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.  “DEA has made it clear we will not hesitate to use our emergency scheduling authority to control these dangerous chemicals that pose a significant and growing threat to our nation.” 

Over the past few months, there has been a growing use of, and interest in, synthetic stimulants sold under the guise of “bath salts” or “plant food”. Marketed under names such as “Ivory Wave”, “Purple Wave”, “Vanilla Sky” or “Bliss”, these products are comprised of a class of chemicals perceived as mimics of cocaine, LSD, MDMA, and/or methamphetamine. Users have reported impaired perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia, and violent episodes. The long-term physical and psychological effects of use are unknown but potentially severe. These products have become increasingly popular, particularly among teens and young adults, and are sold at a variety of retail outlets, in head shops and over the Internet.  However, they have not been approved by the FDA for human consumption or for medical use, and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process.

In the last six months, DEA has received an increasing number of reports from poison centers, hospitals and law enforcement regarding products containing one or more of these chemicals.  Thirty-three states have already taken action to control or ban these or other synthetic stimulants.  The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to allow the DEA Administrator to temporarily schedule an abused, harmful, non-medical substance in order to avoid an imminent hazard to public safety while the formal rule-making procedures described in the CSA are being conducted.

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Gravity Defyer Shoes – “Scientifically Engineered to Defy Gravity!”

ANNOUNCEMENT: If you reside in Massachusetts and have purchased Gravity Defyer Shoes for their alleged health benefits, you are encouraged to contact us today.  

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Original Post (9/9/11):

A Gravity Defyer Shoes / The Tannery (402 Boylston St) advertisement below appeared in the Boston Metro newspaper today.

The ad says: “Wear them and you’ll know. That’s what my doctor recommended.  He said ‘Gravity Defyer shoes are pain-relieving shoes.’  He Promised they would change my life-like they were a fountain of youth…They boost your energy by propelling you forward…”

  • Is this ad “salesman’s puff” or  false advertising?
  • What is  the logo on the side of the sneaker supposed to depict?

The full image of this advertisement is here

A class action lawsuit for violations of a “little FTC” was inevitable.

See the Boykin v. Gravity Defyer, Inc. Class Action Complaint filed March 7, 2012 here (United States District Court Southern District of California Case No. 12CV0577 JAH WMc).

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MBTA Arlington St. Station Cockroach Sighting / Feast

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Basic Information About Biotab Nutraceuticals – Makers of Extenze for Men, Extenze for Women, Alteril, and Fiberweigh


Address/contact information: Biotab Nutraceuticals Inc., 401 E. Huntington Drive, Monrovia CA. 91016 (626) 775-6334

Google search results for Biotab Nutraceuticals pertain almost exclusively to consumer complaints.

Example #1:

“I would not use this company if I were you, when you try to cancel your order they just keep charging you card like you said nothing, then when you call customer service they give you no cancel confirmation number at all, when you ask for their names they only give you first names. This is a fraudulent company.” Found at: http://www.superpages.com/bp/Monrovia-CA/Biotab-Nutraceuticals-Inc-L2170994029.htm#BPreviewContainer

Example #2:

“These guys suck. I’ve cancelled my order twice and yet they keep charging me $50 per month and shipping me this shit. Their customer service staff are crap and ignore constant attempts to cancel my order.”

Found at: http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/biotab-nutraceuticals-inc-c38105.html

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This is all the Biotab website, found at http://www.biotab.com says:

“Biotab Welcome…

Biotab Nutraceuticals®
is a premier all-natural, life-style supplements company. The founders of Biotab dreamed of creating a company that provides the best all-natural, life-style supplements to meet the growing demands of people striving to improve their lives. This desire led to the tireless development with medical and nutritional experts of the company’s current breakthrough products.

Everyday, thousands of people are discovering our products for the first time. We are proud that through our efforts, people are discovering ways to improve their lives that previously were not available to them. Millions of people have gained more confidence, improved their sleep cycle and effectively managed their weight as a result of the vision of our founders to help change people’s lives for the better.

Our products are sold directly through our website and toll-free numbers, and are also available at major retailers including WalMart, Rite-Aid, CVS, GNC, Walgreens, and Krogers.”

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Call to Biotab phone number (626) 775-6334:

“Biotab.”

“Is this the maker of Extenze?”

“Yes.”

“Does this product increase the size of a man’s penis”?

“Yes it does. Wait–do you want the number of customer service? They can answer all of your questions.”

“OK.”

“It is (800) 727-1664″

“Do you have a website that sells your products?”

“Yes. 4extenze.net or 4extenze.com…not sure which.”

“Can I get your name?”

“Suzy.”

“Can I get your last initial?”

“Q… Suzy.Q.”

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In July, 2011,  the Orange County District Attorney’s Office obtained a $1.75 million settlement against Biotab for multiple violations of consumer protection laws, including falsely advertising that use of their product results in increased penis size.  See the Press Release.

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AG Obtains Preliminary Injunction Against Owners of Peter’s Pond Community

AGO/September 08, 2011

BOSTON – AG Martha Coakley’s Office obtained an order prohibiting the owners of a Sandwich based manufactured housing community from continuing intimidating sales tactics to charge homeowners excessive fees for a questionable membership club in order to stay in their homes. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Paul E. Troy found the Commonwealth’s claims that the defendants violated the Consumer Protection Act held merit and therefore granted the preliminary injunction.

Last month, AG Coakley filed an enforcement action against Morgan RV Resorts, LLC (“Morgan”) and its sales team for violating the Massachusetts Manufactured Housing Act and the Consumer Protection Act by using intimidating sales tactics to force manufactured homeowners at Peters Pond in Sandwich to pay thousands of dollars in additional fees to remain in the community and avoid losing their homes.  The AG’s complaint alleges that Morgan sales people threatened homeowners that if they did not join a new membership program and pay up to $16,000 in membership fees their manufactured homes would be removed from their sites.  According to the complaint, nearly one hundred homeowners have paid to join the club out of fear that they would lose their homes.

The preliminary injunction issued by the court prohibits Morgan and its sales team from soliciting or collecting membership fees from homeowners for the alleged membership club, and from destroying any documents or information. The order also requires Morgan to place all collected membership fees in an escrow account and on a monthly basis provide the Attorney General’s Office with a record of fees collected and any inquiries concerning Peters Pond membership programs.

The Attorney General’s lawsuit seeks the recovery of monies that Morgan improperly collected for the club memberships, as well as penalties for violations of the Manufactured Housing Act and the Consumer Protection Act.  The lawsuit would also require that Morgan obtain proper licensure and cease all unfair and deceptive conduct. 

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Engel of Attorney General Coakley’s Consumer Protection Division is handling this matter, with assistance from Assistant Attorney General Emily Armstrong and paralegal James Maloney.

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California Extenze Settlement

In the Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles

Edward Williams, Herbert Gelman, Michael Thompson, and Keith Senkowski on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated persons,

Plaintiffs,

vs.

Biotab Nutraceuticals, Inc. a corporation, Dish Direct Inc.,  Tamara Gibson, an individual, Robert Winter Jr., an individual, Robert Winter Sr., an individual, and Does 1 through 100, inclusive,

Defendants

Class Action

Case No. BC414808 [consolidated with] Case No. BC415948

Stipulation and Agreement of Settlement

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Bogus “Acne Cure” Mobile App Marketers Will Drop Baseless Claims Under FTC Settlements – “When it comes to curing acne, there’s no app for that,” said FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz.

FTC 9/08/2011

Marketers who advertised that their smartphone applications could treat acne have agreed to stop making baseless claims in order to settle FTC charges. The mobile applications, commonly referred to as “apps,” were sold in Apple’s iTunes Store and Google’s Android Marketplace. The settlements in two separate cases would bar the marketers from making certain health-related claims without scientific evidence.

“Smartphones make our lives easier in countless ways, but unfortunately when it comes to curing acne, there’s no app for that,” said FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz.

The cases involving mobile apps “AcneApp” and “Acne Pwner” are the first the FTC has brought targeting health claims in the mobile application marketplace.

The FTC alleged that the mobile apps were advertised to work in the same way: both claimed to be able to treat acne with colored lights emitted from smartphones or mobile devices. Consumers were advised to hold the display screen next to the area of skin to be treated for few minutes daily while the app was activated.

According to the FTC complaint, there were approximately 3,300 downloads of AcnePwner, which was offered for 99 cents in the Android Marketplace. Ads for Acne Pwner stated, “Kill ACNE with this simple, yet powerful tool!” The marketers of AcneApp claimed, “This app was developed by a dermatologist. A study published by the British Journal of Dermatology showed blue and red light treatments eliminated p-acne bacteria (a major cause of acne) and reduces skin blemishes by 76%.” There were approximately 11,600 downloads of AcneApp from the iTunes store, where it was sold for $1.99.

The FTC charged the acne treatment claims made for both apps were unsubstantiated. It also charged that the marketers of AcneApp falsely claimed that the study in the British Journal of Dermatology proves that blue and red light therapy, such as the type provided by AcneApp, is an effective acne treatment.

The settlements would bar the marketers from making acne-treatment claims about their mobile apps and other medical devices, as well as the safety, performance, benefits, or efficacy claims about any device, without competent and reliable scientific evidence. The two marketers of AcneApp would also be barred from misrepresenting research, tests, or studies.

Finally, the settlement orders would require Koby Brown and Gregory W. Pearson, doing business as DermApps, to pay $14,294, and Andrew N. Finkle, doing business as Acne Pwner, to pay $1,700.

The Commission vote to approve the administrative complaints and proposed consent agreements was 5-0. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through October 10, 2011, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final.

Interested parties can submit written comments electronically or in paper form by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “supplementary Information” section. Comments in electronic form should be submitted using the following web links: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/acneappconsent and https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/acnepwnerconsent and following the instruction on the web-based form. Comments in paper form should be mailed or delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex D) 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form near the end of the public comment period be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.

NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the respondent has actually violated the law. A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the respondent that the law has been violated. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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This a great follow up blog posting from the Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center, by consumer protection maven Lesley Fair.

Truth in app-vertising

  • By Lesley Fair
  • September 9, 2011 – 4:00pm

Here’s how AcneApp and Acne Pwner were supposed to work.  Buyers downloaded the apps from their favorite app store.  After selecting a light — blue to fight bacteria or red to heal, some ads said — they rested their smartphone against their skin.

“Kill ACNE with this simple, yet powerful tool,” promised the marketer of Acne Pwner.  (No, that’s not a typo.  For readers old enough to remember when phones had curly cords, gamers use “pwn” to mean to “own” in a manner signifying victorious domination or supremacy.  Government blogs:  Nothing if not educational.)

But don’t just believe us, said the Acne App ads.  “A study published by the British Journal of Dermatology showed blue and red light treatments eliminated p-acne bacteria (a major cause of acne) and reduces skin blemishes by 76%.”

Hiding your face behind a smartphone emitting red and blue lights may make it less likely anyone’s going to notice that pesky blemish.  But aside from that, the FTC’s complaints against the two unrelated companies charged that they didn’t have the science to support their anti-acne claims.  The settlements with DermApps, Koby Brown, and Gregory W. Pearson and Andrew Frankle are the FTC’s first against marketers of health-related apps.

The cases restate some important principles for companies jumping into the burgeoning apps business.

1.  No matter where you go in the mobile marketplace, Section 5 of the FTC Act will be there to greet you.  The same truth-in-advertising principles apply regardless of how you market your products.

2.  Thinking about citing studies or stats in your ads?  Take care to report them accurately.

3.  Pro forma “disclaimers” don’t work.  An AcneApp ad included the statement, “This app is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended for treatment of any disease or medical condition.”  Especially given the express anti-acne claims the company made for its product, lines like this aren’t likely to change the net impression conveyed to consumers.

4.  Consumer endorsements aren’t substantiation.  AcneApp’s ads quoted positive reviews that had been posted in one of the apps stores.  But if you don’t have proof to back up a health claim, repeating the claim in the form of an endorsement doesn’t change your substantiation obligation. You still need science.  Read The FTC’s Revised Endorsement Guides: What People are Asking to find out more.

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Catherine Greig indicted for conspiracy to harbor and conceal James “Whitey” Bulger while he was a fugitive

USAO/ THURSDAY, AUGUST 11, 2011

BOSTON, Mass…CATHERINE E. GREIG was charged today in federal court with conspiracy to harbor and conceal James J. “Whitey” Bulger while he was a fugitive.

CATHERINE E. GREIG, a/k/a Carol Gasko, a/k/a Carol Gasco, a/k/a Helen Marshall, a/k/a Carol Shapeton, a/k/a Mrs. Thomas Baxter, a/k/a J.L., a/k/a P.M., a/k/a N.S., a/k/a J.W., a/k/a C.L. (“GREIG”), 60, of Quincy, was charged in an indictment with one count of conspiracy to harbor and conceal a fugitive.

The indictment alleges that beginning in or around January 1995, and continuing until on or about June 22, 2011, GREIG conspired with James J. Bulger, and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to commit an offense against the United States, namely, harboring and concealing Bulger. Bulger was a person for whom a felony warrant had been issued under the provisions of United States law. It is alleged that GREIG conspired to take steps to prevent Bulger’s discovery and arrest, after knowledge of the fact that a warrant had been issued for his apprehension.

If convicted, GREIG faces up to five years imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Boston Field Division; Steven Derr, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Boston Field Office; John Gibbons, United States Marshal for the District of Massachusetts; William P. Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation – Boston Field Office; Jeff Grondolsky, Warden, Federal Bureau of Prisons, FMC Devens; and Colonel Marian McGovern, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police made the announcement today.

It is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack W. Pirozzolo and Assistant U.S. Attorney James D. Herbert of Ortiz’s Organized Crime and Gang Unit.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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Product in the Spotlight: Regeneca

Regeneca Launches “First-Ever All-Natural Erectile Dysfunction Pill Home Business” –  – Then Conducts “Voluntary” Recall After FDA Discovers Undisclosed ED Ingredient Which Could Cause Dangerous Medical Complications or Death – – Fires President

I thought Extenze was bad enough. The Regeneca company announced the unveiling of a home business opportunity selling “Regenerect.”  This is just what the world needs: a home business opportunity built around a boner pill made from oyster shells and other ingredients.  MLM meets Male Enhancement. Tupperware parties: from a bygone era.  Are Regnerect parties next?  Please don’t invite me.

Update: According to the FDA, some of the Regenerect sold to U.S. consumers has contained and undisclosed drug , although the company touted their product as being an all-natural supplement. Please read the FDA press release.

Update: “Sampling Parties” for Regenerect- see: http://www.facebook.com/regenerectintl.

Southern California Corporate Sampling Party! Wednesday, September 21 Sampling Party at our Corporate office in Irvine California. 7:00 PM we will have an open house where IBOs can invite their guests to stop by and sample our NEW Regeneca products, RegeneBlend and the new formulation of RegenErect as well as learn a little more about Regeneca and our plans of expansion here in the US and Internationally and the type of people we are looking for to help us with that.”

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Health & Medicine Week via NewsRx.com/April 4, 2011

Excerpts:

“2011 APR 4 – (NewsRx.com) — Over the past few decades there has been an ever increasing amount of “online opportunities” or “next big thing” year in and year out, and very few business ideas hold up to their hype…

What if…entrepreneurs had a…billion dollar product that gave people “instant gratification” and is something anyone of age would be interested in?

The erectile dysfunction, male impotence, sexual enhancement, male enhancement, male-confidence, and healthy lifestyle industry… niche of products [did] over a billion dollars in sales combined in 2010 alone…Viagra©, Cialis©, and Levitra©, and..Extenze…sell hundreds of millions a year and Billions a year combined. [With] this product….no prescription or embarrassing doctor visit is required [and is] half the price and twice as effective.

…ads and commercials on TV now mention extremely harsh side effects of taking [the other boner pills].  Men are risking their health and life for intimacy. Give a natural alternative product with a business opportunity of a lifetime in a proven and tested billion dollar industry and there is a very good chance of success… supply what is hot and what is in demand.

Regenerect is that billion dollar product… results people are getting [and] the positive feedback is truly amazing… free sample: http://www.RegenerectSpecialOffer.com

* * *
FDA 8/28/2011

Ethos Environmental, Inc. Issues a Voluntary Recall of Specific Lots Of The Dietary Supplement Regenerect

Contact:
Customer Service
(866) 925-9553

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 28, 2011 – Ethos Environmental, Inc. announced today that it is conducting a voluntary nationwide recall of the company’s dietary supplement sold under the brand name Regenerect with the following Lot Numbers:

Regenerect Lot Numbers:
100521 – blue capsule sold individually in foil packets, expires 5/2012
112850 – clear capsule sold individually in foil packets, expires 11/2013

Ethos Environmental, Inc. is conducting a voluntary recall because FDA lab analysis has confirmed the presence of Sulfoaildenafil, an analogue of Sildenafil, making these products unapproved new drugs. Sildenafil is an FDA-approved drug used as treatment for male Erectile Dysfunction (ED). The active drug ingredient is not listed on the label for these products.

According to the FDA, use of these products may pose a threat to consumers because the analogue may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs (such as nitroglycerin) and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. FDA has advised that consumers with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates. FDA has advised that ED is a common problem in men with these conditions, and consumers may seek these types of products to enhance sexual performance.

Ethos Environmental, Inc. has distributed Regenerect via sales made over the internet to consumers in the United States of America and Puerto Rico.

Ethos Environmental, Inc. advises any customers in possession of the Regenerect product matching the lot numbers above to return any unused product for an exchange, or a full refund, to the company directly. Customers can call (866) 925-9553 (Monday through Friday from 6am to 6pm Pacific Time) for instructions on the return and exchange/refund process.

Ethos Environmental, Inc. is committed to improving its products and avoiding future recall issues by improving testing procedures. [IF THAT IS TRUE, HOW DID E.D. MEDICATION Sildenafil END UP IN THE PRODUCT – ARE PEOPLE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE THIS WAS AN HONEST MISTAKE?] Ethos Environmental, in an effort to be abundantly cautious, is issuing a voluntary recall on the two lots, mentioned above, that did not comply with the newly adopted testing protocol of Ethos Environmental. The Company’s testing protocol and test results will be available on the Company’s website for all consumers. Any consumers requesting an exchange of product from the two lots in question will be receiving Regenerect product that has been subjected to the Company’s new testing procedures. Ethos Environmental promises its customers the highest possible quality and welcomes the recall process as further evidence of our commitment to our brands, products and consumers.

Any adverse reactions or quality problems experienced with the use of these products may be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by fax.

Online: http://www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm
Regular Mail: use postage-paid, pre-addressed Form FDA 3500 available at: http://www.fda.gov/MedWatch/getforms.htm. Mail to address on the pre-addressed form.
Fax: 1-800-FDA-0178

This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

###

Here is some more marketing junk about this boner from NewsRx.com

“Regenerect – Natural Male Stimulant by Regeneca
Supplementary Medicine, Nutrition
“Better Than Viagra? Lasts Twice as long as Cialis? No Serious Side Effects like Levitra?

Regenerect by Regeneca is the newest player in the “erectile dysfunction” industry. Drug-Products like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, and even such “male enhancement pills” as Extenze all have their downfalls, expensive prices, prescriptions, embarrassing doctor visits, and very questionable side effects. There is a new substitute and it is all natural, the first ever natural male erectile stimulant.

Regenerect is not a drug. It is a dietary supplement as a drug-free blend of herbal extracts and ingredients that naturally enhance and provide positive sexual response.

Regenerect is only made in the USA and not outsourced like other such products where ingredients can be tampered with and “mixed” wrong, thus causing all of the known side effects of those “drugs”. Regenerect has been tested thoroughly to ensure they are free of Tadalafil, Sildenafil, or Vardenafil by third party laboratories.

What are the Results I can expect from Regenerect by Regenca?

- Contains all natural herbal extracts

- Works within 90 days of digesting (drink plenty of water)

- More reliable and more effective stimulation response

- Allows for easier blood flow within the body for better enhancement

- Intenses desire, performance, and stamina

The Regenerect Ingredients Make this a Different Story

For the first time ever, Regeneca’s Regenerect has actually helped men achieve stimulation and positive erectile response without risking his health or life for that matter. Casual sexual activity is very healthy way to stay fit, feel satisfied, and live an active lifestyle. Because of other poor habits, such as diet and exercise, age can gradually decrease testosterone levels and desire (see also Supplementary Medicine, Nutrition).

Does Regenerect Really Work? How does It Work? How Long Does it Last?

Regenerect dietary supplement is a natural alternative solution to side effect prone drugs like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. Consumers do not need to go on an embarrassing doctor visit or a prescription, or pay $25 a pill or more. The proprietary blend of Regenerect makes this a natural performance enhancer that is going to help men achieve increased pleasure and experience.

Please visit http://www.iRegenerect.com for more information about Regeneca’s Natural Male Erectile Stimulant Regenerect.

Related LinksRegenerectHonest Regenerect ReviewsDoes Regenerect Work”

*     *    *    *     *

FDA – 6/28/2011

Recall: Unapproved Drugs Sold as Dietary Supplements

Two products sold as dietary supplements contain drugs that are not declared on the label:

* Slim Xtreme Herbal Slimming Capsule, sold 30 capsules per bottle, distributed by Globe All Wellness. All lots are recalled. The product was marketed for weight loss and sold nationwide through the Internet and at the company’s headquarters in Hollywood, Fla.

* Regenerect, by Ethos Environmental Inc., lot number 100521 (blue capsule sold individually in foil packets, expires 5/2012) and lot number 112850 (clear capsule sold individually in foil packets, expires 11/2013).  Regenerect was sold in the U.S. and Puerto Rico through the Internet.

Slim Xtreme Herbal Slimming Capsule contains the controlled substance sibutramine, which was withdrawn from the U.S. market in October 2010 for safety reasons.  Regenerect contains a compound (sulfoaildenafil) of an active ingredient in an FDA-approved drug used to treat erectile dysfunction.

Risk: Sibutramine (found in Slim Xtreme) is known to substantially increase blood pressure or pulse rate in some people-especially those with a history of heart disease or stroke. This product may also interact in life-threatening ways with other medications a person may be taking. Sulfoaildenafil (found in Regenerect) may interact with prescription drugs known as nitrates, including nitroglycerin, and cause dangerously low blood pressure. People with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates.

Recommendations

*Do not use Slim Xtreme, or Regenerect lot numbers 100521 and 112850.

*If you have used either of these products and have any negative side effects, call your health care professional as soon as possible.

*If you have questions about Slim Xtreme or need instructions for returning the product, call 954-922-1133 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

*If you have questions about Regenerect or need instructions for returning the product, call 866-925-9553 Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

For More Information

Tainted Weight Loss Products

Hidden Risks of Erectile Dysfunction “Treatments” Sold Online

*     *     *     *     *

Regeneca, Inc. Press Release, 8/22/2011

Regeneca, Inc. Announces Termination of President
IRVINE, Calif., Aug 22, 2011 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) — Regeneca, Inc. RGNA +2.56% today announced that the Board of Directors has terminated Adam Vincent Gilmer as President effective as of August 19, 2011. In order to reduce overhead and increase efficiency, the Board has determined to temporarily consolidate the position of President and CEO, and Matt Nicosia, CEO, will assume the duties of President until the Board deems that a division of duties is necessary.

Dwight Baron, a member of the Company’s Board of Directors, commented, “We believe that this action is in the best interests of our shareholders, and provides the company the greatest opportunity for success.”

About Regeneca, Inc.

Regeneca, Inc. RGNA +2.56% was formed to create and commercialize premium products that help to improve health and fight the signs and symptoms of aging for a complete life of wellness and happiness, including our natural male enhancement product – RegenErect. We do this while drawing our products from the earth in an ethical strategy that will emphasize regrowth, reforestation and recycling. This is our “Whole Earth Whole Body” approach to health. More information can be found about Regeneca, Inc. at http://www.regeneca.com .

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This press release may contain forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, statements regarding Regeneca, Inc. and their plans, products and related market potential. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of the words “anticipates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “may,” “will,” “believes,” “estimates,” “potential,” or “continue” and variations or similar expressions. These statements are based upon the current expectations and beliefs of management and are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, risks and uncertainties discussed in Regeneca, Inc.’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which factors are incorporated herein by reference. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any of these forward-looking statements. Regeneca undertakes no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this press release or to reflect actual outcomes.

This news release was distributed by GlobeNewswire, http://www.globenewswire.com

SOURCE: Regeneca, Inc.

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FDA Expands Counterfeit Warning on ED Supplement ExtenZe

Drug Industry Daily (c)  2009 Drug Industry Daily
May 19, 2011
Volume 10; Issue 99

(Excerpts)

“Two lots of counterfeit ExtenZe have been identified, lot numbers 1110075 and f050899, and laboratory analysis has confirmed that the counterfeit lots contain either tadalafil or a combination of tadalafil and sildenafil, according to the FDA. These products are not listed on the counterfeit products’ labeling.”

In February, ExtenZe maker Biotab voluntarily recalled two lots of the supplement after counterfeits — carrying lot numbers mimicking ExtenZe products made in 2009 — were found to contain tadalafil and sildenafil. “Because it is very difficult to distinguish the counterfeit from the genuine product, Biotab decided to conduct this voluntary recall of the two effected lots,” the company said at the time (DID , Feb. 25).

“Calling the counterfeit products “illegal and unsafe,” the FDA advises consumers to avoid ExtenZe with the offending lot numbers.”

“Where the counterfeit ExtenZe originated remains a mystery, but the FDA is looking into its source, FDA spokeswoman Lisa Kubaska told DID. “We believe these products are being manufactured outside the U.S.,” she said.”

“Though the FDA is not aware of any adverse events associated with the counterfeit ExtenZe, it “cannot be certain that the tainted ExtenZe products are isolated to the four lots discovered to date,” Kubaska said.”

This incident is an example of a growing trend of products marketed as dietary supplements or conventional foods with hidden drugs and chemicals,” Ilsa Bernstein, deputy director of CDER’s Office of Compliance, said.”

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Extenze Recall Warning

FDA/February 22, 2011

Biotab Nutraceuticals, Inc. (“Biotab”) is conducting a voluntary recall of two lots of EXTENZE nutritional supplement tablets. Some packages bearing lot numbers 0709241 and 0509075 are counterfeit products containing undeclared drug ingredients that can pose a serious risk to health.

Biotab learned about the problem after being notified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that two lots of counterfeit product purporting to be EXTENZE contain undeclared drug ingredients. More specifically, lot 0709241 contains tadalafil and sildenafil, and lot 0509075 contains tadalafil and sibutramine. The counterfeit products are sold at retail nationwide in the form of carded four-packs (lot 0709241) and in the form of a box of thirty tablets divided into two fifteen tablet blister packs (lot 0509075).

Tadalafil and sildenafil are drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). These drugs may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs (such as nitroglycerin) and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. Consumers with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates. ED is a common problem in men with these conditions, and consumers may seek Extenze to enhance sexual performance.

Sibutramine is a controlled substance that was withdrawn from the market in October 2010 for safety reasons. Sibutramine is known to substantially increase blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some patients and may present a significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias or stroke.

The counterfeit Extenze product is not manufactured, distributed or packaged by Biotab, but is falsely marked with the same lot numbers used by Biotab for its genuine product. Because it is very difficult to distinguish the counterfeit from the genuine product, Biotab decided to conduct this voluntary recall of the two affected lots. It is possible that there may be other counterfeit products on the market that have yet to be identified.

Consumers in possession of product from the lots in question only should return any unused product to its immediate supplier for a direct refund. Customers with questions can call (626) 775-6334 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. for further instructions or information with respect to the return and refund process. Additionally, Biotab will refund the supplier for any genuine (non-counterfeit) product returned to it.

Any adverse reactions or quality problems experienced with the use of any counterfeit products may be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by fax.

• Online: http://www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm
• Regular Mail: use postage-paid, pre-addressed Form FDA 3500 available at:
http://www.fda.gov/MedWatch/getforms.htm. Mail to the address on the pre-addressed form.
• Fax: 1-800-FDA-0178

Biotab is committed to protecting the market place and its customers from counterfeit and adulterated product purporting to be authentic Extenze. It has been avidly policing the marketplace but some pirate product does get through US Customs. We are fully willing to engage in this voluntary recall in order to avoid customer confusion with respect to counterfeit products that falsely use the Biotab lot numbers that are the same as the authentic product. We will continue to cooperate with the FDA in order to ensure that all of our customers can rely on only finding genuine Extenze on the shelves of retailers. However, one failsafe method for retailers to adopt is to only purchase the product from Biotab or its limited authorized distributors. This practice should avoid the unwitting purchase of counterfeit products that are not properly labeled and that come from sources that are not mindful of customer safety.

This recall is being conducted with the knowledge and gratitude of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
###

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Extenze Maker Biotab TO PAY $1.75 MILLION FOR UNFAIR BUSINESS PRACTICES, INCLUDING FALSELY PROMISING MALE PENILE ENLARGEMENT

Orange County District Attorney/ Case # 30-2011 00491498 / July 21, 2011 – Press Release:

*This is the largest civil settlement stemming from a violation of a past injunction in Orange County history

SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) obtained a $1.75 million settlement today against a dietary supplement manufacturer and distributor for multiple violations of consumer protection laws, including falsely advertising that use of their product results in increased penis size. In addition to the new violations, the settlement against Biotab Nutraceuticals, Inc. (Biotab) is also the largest in Orange County history obtained for violating the injunctive terms of a previous OCDA consumer protection settlement.

The lawsuit pertains to Biotab products marketed and sold throughout the State of California and states that the company engaged in false and misleading advertising in the the marketing and sale of certain dietary supplement products, including ExtenZe, which they falsely claimed without any substantiation would enhance a man’s penis size.

In 2006, the OCDA obtained a $300,000 settlement against the principals of Biotab and the former manufacturer and distributor of ExtenZe, Dish Direct, Inc., for making the same untrue claims regarding penile enlargement. The 2006 settlement included injunctive terms prohibiting false advertising and unsubstantiated claims. The current case is both a violation of consumer protection laws and the previous injunction.

The current lawsuit also states that Biotab violated Proposition 65, which requires products that expose consumers to over one-half microgram of lead per day to be marked with a warning label. An investigation by the OCDA revealed that multiple lot numbers of the ExtenZe product contained over the legal limit of micrograms of lead without proper warning labels.

The 2006 injunction barred the company from selling supplements containing lead in violation of California law. As a term of the most recent settlement, Biotab is now required to follow a strict testing protocol for all of its products.

The current lawsuit also states that Biotab failed to reimburse customers in a timely fashion for returned products. In some cases, Biotab failed to provide any refund and also sent and charged customers for products that had not been ordered. These unfair business practices also constitute violations of the 2006 injunction.

Biotab, which has not admitted fault or liability, has agreed to injunctive terms to prevent any future unfair business practices related to the above offenses. In addition to the $1.75 million in civil penalties, which will be used for future enforcement of California consumer protection laws, Biotab is also required to pay restitution to consumers who have not already received refunds and who filed documented complaints with Biotab, the Better Business Bureau, or the California Attorney General between July 1, 2006, and July 1, 2011.

Deputy District Attorney Tracy Hughes of the Consumer Protection Unit prosecuted this case.

*     *     *     *     *
More Information about THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA VS. BIOTAB NUTRACEUTICALS, INC from the Orange County Courts:

https://ocapps.occourts.org/civilwebShopping/DisplayCaseInformation.do?caseNbr=30-2011%2000491498&caseYear=2011&source=case_src_dtl#top_page

30-2011-00491498-CU-BT-CJC
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA VS. BIOTAB NUTRACEUTICALS, INC     filing date 07/15/2011

BIO BEVERAGES, INC.    DEFENDANT    07/18/2011
TAMARA GIBSON    DEFENDANT        07/18/2011
ROBERT WINTER    DEFENDANT        07/18/2011
TONY RACKUCKAS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY    ATTORNEY        07/15/2011
BIOTAB NUTRACEUTICALS, INC    DEFENDANT        07/15/2011
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA    PLAINTIFF        07/15/2011

Register of Actions
Results 1 – 10 of 150000000000[Previous Page 1 of 2 Next]
ROA #    Add to Cart    +/-    Docket Entry    Filing Date    Pages
15            CASE REASSIGNED TO DEREK HUNT EFFECTIVE 07/25/2011.    08/08/2011
14            CLERK’S CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE BY MAIL OC GENERATED    08/08/2011    1
13            MINUTES FINALIZED FOR NUNC PRO TUNC MINUTES 08/08/2011 02:33:00 PM.    08/08/2011    1
12            MINUTE ORDER DATED 7-25-11 CORRECTED NUNC PRO TUNC.    08/08/2011
11            CASE DISPOSED WITH DISPOSITION OF STIPULATED JUDGMENT    07/21/2011
10            COMPLAINT DISPOSED WITH DISPOSITION OF STIPULATED JUDGMENT.    07/21/2011
9            THE COURT ENTERS JUDGMENT AS TO COMPLAINT.    08/08/2011
8            CORRESPONDENCE (INJUNCTION AND FINAL JUDGMENT PURSUANT TO STIPULATION) FILED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA ON 07/21/2011    07/21/2011    15
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA ON 07/21/2011
7            CLERK’S CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE BY MAIL OC GENERATED    07/25/2011    1
6            MINUTES FINALIZED FOR CHAMBERS WORK 07/25/2011 10:41:00 AM.    07/25/2011    1

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Former State Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci Admits to Violating the Conflict of Interest Law and Pays a $2,000 Civil Penalty

State Ethics Commission/August 01, 2011
 
The State Ethics Commission (“Commission”) has concluded the adjudicatory proceeding involving former State Auditor A. Joseph DeNucci (“DeNucci”) by approving a Disposition Agreement (“Agreement”) in which DeNucci admitted to violating G.L. c 268A, the conflict of interest law, and agreed to pay a $2,000 civil penalty, and by dismissing the adjudicatory hearing.

The adjudicatory proceeding was initiated on September 9, 2010 by the Commission’s Enforcement Division filing an Order to Show Cause alleging that DeNucci violated section 23 of the conflict of interest law by hiring his cousin, Guy Spezzano (“Spezzano”), to a fraud examiner position with the Office of the State Auditor’s (“OSA”) Bureau of Special Investigations (“BSI”).

 According to the Agreement, in January 2008, DeNucci suggested to Spezzano, his unemployed, 75 year-old first cousin, that Spezzano work at the OSA.  Spezzano submitted an incomplete employment application on February 7, 2008, but was nonetheless interviewed for a position on February 14, 2008.  DeNucci offered Spezzano a full-time fraud examiner position by letter dated March 24, 2008, and Spezzano began work in the BSI’s Brockton Office on June 2, 2008 at an annual salary of $40,545, plus benefits.  The Agreement states that Spezzano did not meet the requirements for the position based on the position’s job description.  Spezzano worked until going out on sick leave on December 1, 2009, and was terminated in April after exhausting all sick leave benefits.

Section 23(b)(2) of the conflict law prohibits a state employee from knowingly, or with reason to know, using or attempting to use his official position to secure for himself or others, unwarranted privileges which are of substantial value and which are not available to similarly situated individuals.  According to the Agreement, DeNucci violated section 23(b)(2) by directing his staff to interview, and then by hiring, his unqualified 75 year-old cousin for a position at the OSA

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Michael Crooker’s RICIN Threat

Luckily,  Michael Crooker only bragged about and threatened to use ricin, instead of actually using it.  In his threatening letter to an Assistant U.S. Attorney, he referred to domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh as “Martyr McVeigh,” and wrote that “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time by blood of patriots and tyrants.’” I hope this fellow doesn’t make it out of prison.
- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -
USAO/June 20, 2011
BOSTON, Mass. – United States District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock today sentenced an Agawam man to 15 years in prison for threatening a federal prosecutor and illegally possessing ricin, a deadly toxin that is classified under federal law as a weapon of mass destruction.

MICHAEL CROOKER, 57, had previously pleaded guilty to one count of mailing a letter containing a threat to injure an officer or employee of the United States and one count of possessing the toxin ricin without obtaining required registration.

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “Mr. Crooker received the maximum sentence of 15 years, which should send a strong message. He not only threatened a federal prosecutor but manufactured a weapon of mass destruction and threatened to use it against the United States or hand it over to terrorists. These are serious crimes that come with serious consequences.”

Federal agents arrested CROOKER on June 23, 2004, charging him with using the U.S. mail to transport a firearm. Agents also searched CROOKER’s Agawam apartment the same day and discovered what appeared to be a weapons lab along with various dangerous or deadly chemicals that could be used to make powerful explosives. Castor seeds, which are the source of the deadly poison ricin; abrus seeds, which are the source of the deadly poison abrin; and all of the materials needed to extract ricin and abrin from the seeds, such as acetone, lye, laboratory glassware and coffee filters were also discovered.

While CROOKER was in jail awaiting trial on the firearms charge, he told two inmates that he knew how to make ricin, had made ricin in the past and possessed ricin. He told one of them how to manufacture ricin and explained the process for doing so. CROOKER also discussed how ricin could be sent through the mail, placed on food, or blown into a person’s face to cause death.

On July 22, 2004, angered by his arrest and the various searches, CROOKER sent a letter to the Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting the firearms case and invoked the name of Timothy McVeigh, the individual responsible for the 1995 Oklahoma federal building bombing.

CROOKER wrote: “As Martyr McVeigh’s T-shirt says: ‘The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time by blood of patriots and tyrants.’” CROOKER challenged the prosecutor to “bring on your [expletive deleted] and I’ll bring on mine,” and warned that even an imprisoned person could cripple the U.S. Postal System by sending toxins through the mail.

On July 26, 2004, CROOKER sent a letter to the Westfield Evening News stating that he had offered to “cooperate and get any WMD’s (if they exist) off the street” if the government dropped the firearms charges he was facing. CROOKER suggested that the items would otherwise “fall into the hands of people” like Mohammed Salemah, who was convicted of participating in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. CROOKER and Salemah met in the 1990’s when both were incarcerated in federal prison in California.

In August 2004, CROOKER’s father was cleaning a window on his property and unearthed a buried vial of powdered ricin. The quantity of ricin in the vial was enough to kill 150-750 people. In letters to family members, CROOKER admitted to possessing the ricin and indicated it had been there as long as three or four years.

Judge Woodlock sentenced CROOKER to the maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Ortiz; Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Boston Field Office; Guy N. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – Boston Field Division; and Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Weinreb, Donald L. Cabell and Jeffrey Auerhahn of Ortiz’s Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit.

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Peabody Waterproofing Company Ordered to Pay More Than $132,000 for Violating Massachusetts Wage Laws

AGO / May 11, 2011

BOSTON – A Peabody waterproofing and damp-proofing company has been ordered to pay more than $132,000 for failing to properly compensate its employees, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today. Tremont Caulking and Coating, Inc. (Tremont), and its corporate officers, Maureen Albright, age 47, and Alan P. Rose, Jr., age 48, both of Peabody, have all been cited for failing to pay the prevailing wage, failing to make timely payment of wages and failing to submit true and accurate certified payroll records to an awarding authority on a weekly basis.In September 2010, the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation into Tremont’s payment practices after receiving complaints from multiple employees alleging Tremont was improperly paying its employees while engaged in waterproofing work on public works projects at the Howe Manning School in Middleton and the Joint Force Headquarters Project in Lexington.  Investigators discovered that from September 2010 through December 2010, Tremont failed to pay 10 employees a total of $62,935.08 for work performed on the Home Manning Project and a total of $24,607.18 to four employees for work performed on the Joint Force Headquarters Project.  In addition to paying full restitution to the employees, the citations order Albright, Rose and Tremont to pay a $45,000 penalty to the Commonwealth for the violations.The Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing the prevailing wage, minimum wage and overtime laws, and the payment of wages laws in the Commonwealth.  Workers who feel that their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465. More information about the state’s wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General’s Workplace Rights website www.massworkrights.com.The matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Lauren Goldman and investigated by Investigator Daniel Cullinane, both of Attorney General Coakley’s Fair Labor Division.

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Allston Flooring Company Floor Sanders and Finishers of Massachusetts Ordered to Pay $26,000 for Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors- Repeat Violation of Massachusetts Independent Contractor Law

AG 6/20/2o11

BOSTON – An Allston based flooring company has been ordered to pay $26,000 in fines for misclassifying its employees as independent contractors and for record keeping violations, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today. This is the second time the AG’s Office has cited Floor Sanders and Finishers of Massachusetts, Inc. (Floor Sanders) and its president, Varouj J. Nersesian, age 63, of Watertown for wage and hour violations.  In April 2008, Nersesian and Floor Sanders were cited by the AG’s Office and paid $5,500 for misclassifying employees and failing to pay the prevailing wage.  The company agreed to a two year debarment for those violations.These new violations are related to flooring work performed during that debarment, from November 2008 to December 2008, at the Town of Agawam’s New Senior Center Construction public works project in Agawam.

“The independent contractor law is designed to ensure that all companies conduct business on a level playing field, and our office will continue to enforce that law, whether it is a first time offense or a repeat violation,” AG Coakley said.

In March 2009, the AG’s Office received a complaint alleging that Floor Sanders had misclassified employees as independent contractors on a public works project.  Investigators from the AG’s Fair Labor Division discovered that in November and December of 2008, Floor Sanders classified three of its workers as independent contractors and paid the workers with company checks. Additionally, Floor Sanders failed to maintain true and accurate payroll records, and failed to submit true and accurate certified payroll records to the awarding authority for the construction project.  As a result, Nersesian and his company have been ordered to pay a $26,000 penalty to the Commonwealth.

The Massachusetts Employee Misclassification Law provides that an individual performing any service shall be considered to be an employee unless: (1) the individual is free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under his or her contract for the performance of service and in fact; and (2) the service is performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer; and, (3) the individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed.

Companies that misclassify individuals deprive their workers of the many protections and benefits, both public and private, that employees enjoy.  Misclassified individuals are often left without unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation benefits.  In addition, misclassified individuals do not have access to employer-provided health care and are often underpaid for hours worked.  The Attorney General’s Office has issued an advisory about the Employee Misclassification Law that is available on the Office’s website.

Workers who believe they have been misclassified or that their rights have been violated are strongly urged to call the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465.  More information about the wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General’s Workplace Rights website:  www.massworkrights.com.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Barbara Dillon DeSouza and was investigated by Inspector Joseph Drzyzga, both of Attorney General Coakley’s Fair Labor Division.

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Environmental Strike Force Investigation Results in Burlington Highway Maintenance Company Gillis Brothers, Inc.Settlement with AG Coakley’s Office for Solid Waste and False Claims Act Violations

Settlement provides payments to the Commonwealth and environmental restoration

BOSTON — A Burlington highway maintenance company has resolved charges that it illegally filled wetlands and dumped solid waste material that it removed from state highway catch basins, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.  Under the terms of the settlement, Gillis Brothers, Inc. (Gillis) will restore the damaged wetlands and will pay $37,500 in civil penalties for violations of the Solid Waste and False Claims Acts.  Gillis will also contribute $12,500 to the Mystic River Watershed Association for the construction of a rain garden at the Beebe School in Malden, MA. “Anyone who contracts with state or local government for services must fully comply with the terms of the contract, especially those provisions that are included for the protection of the public health and environment,” AG Coakley said.   

According to the complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court today, Gillis entered into a contract with the Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD) to clean catch basins at various locations.  The contract required the disposal of the catch basin cleanings in accordance with the regulations, policies, and guidance of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and to notify MHD of the location of the approved dumpsites.  Despite the explicit requirements in the contract that the material be disposed of in accordance with state environmental laws, Gillis disposed of these catch basin cleanings at its property in Burlington and at private property in Pittsfield. 

The case was investigated and prosecuted by Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force (ESF), an interagency unit that includes attorneys from the Attorney General’s Office and MassDEP, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP. The ESF is overseen by Attorney General Martha Coakley and MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. The ESF investigates and prosecutes cases that harm or threaten the state’s water, air, or land and that pose a threat to the environment.

“Improper disposal of street and catch basin sweepings, which contain residual petroleum products, violates environmental protection regulations due to the harm these materials can cause surface and groundwater as well as to aquatic species,” said MassDEP ESF Director Pamela Talbot.  “This is the third in a series of Strike Force cases involving illegal disposal of street sweepings, and MassDEP is committed to making sure state contractors are held accountable.”

According to the complaint, Gillis stored large piles of unscreened and screened street sweepings at his property in Burlington without a site assignment from the Burlington Board of Health or a solid waste facility permit from MassDEP to operate the site as either a transfer station or a temporary solid waste storage facility.  Additionally, Gillis allegedly dumped approximately three tons of catch basin cleanings on private property in Pittsfield.  The complaint further alleges that Gillis filled and altered approximately 2,000 square feet of Bordering Vegetated Wetlands on the Burlington property with sand, rocks, and gravel.  

The $37,500 in civil penalties includes a $10,000 penalty for the alleged violation of the False Claims Act by improperly disposing of the catch basin cleanings despite the terms of the contract with MHD.  It also includes a $12,500 penalty for the alleged violation of the Solid Waste Disposal Act and Wetlands Protection Act, and a $15,000 penalty which will be waived provided the defendant complies with all of the terms of the judgment.

Assistant Attorney General Betsy Harper of AG Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division handled the case.  Pamela Talbot and Richard Tomczyk of the Environmental Strike Force handled the case for MassDEP.

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Record $69 Million in Medicaid Fraud Recovered by AG Coakley’s Office in Fiscal Year 2011 – Offenders included CVS, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline

$69 Million Recovered Represents Ratio Of $18 Returned To Taxpayers For Every Dollar In Division’s Budget

BOSTON – Continuing her office’s strong focus on rooting out fraud in the state’s Medicaid system and recovering money for taxpayers, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office announced today that it had recovered a record $69 million in Medicaid fraud during Fiscal Year 2011. That amount eclipsed the previous record set in FY 2009 by more than $14 million.The AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division recovered the $69 million in FY 2011 based on a budget of $3.81 million, representing a ratio of $18 returned to taxpayers for every dollar in the division’s budget.

AG Coakley’s Office has recovered more than $200 million in Medicaid fraud since she took office in 2007.  The total amount recovered during FY 2011 alone ($69 million) represents more than the amount recovered during a 10 year period from 1996 – 2006.

“Our office has focused on rooting out abuse in the Medicaid system and recovering money back for taxpayers,” AG Coakley said. “At a time when every health care dollar and tax dollar is precious, this work is more important than ever. We are proud that for every one dollar in our division’s budget, we have recovered $18 for taxpayers, and we are continuing this aggressive pursuit of those who defraud the Medicaid system.”

AG Coakley’s Office continues to maintain a leadership role nationally in the fight against fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicaid program.  During the last fiscal year, representatives from the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division participated as the lead negotiators for multi-state teams responsible for national settlements.  One such settlement returned $8 million to the Massachusetts Medicaid program from pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline.  Another multi-state settlement recovered $7.5 million for the Massachusetts program from drug manufacturer Novartis.

In April 2011, AG Coakley’s Medicaid Fraud Division reached a $9 million settlement with CVS Pharmacy Inc., successfully concluding an investigation that revealed the company had been overcharging the Massachusetts Medicaid program for prescription drugs.  This settlement followed a September 2010 agreement with Omnicare, Inc., a national long-term care pharmacy, which recovered $9.45 million in pharmacy overcharges.  Another settlement obtained by the Medicaid Fraud Division involved one of the last remaining defendants in a lawsuit filed in 2003 against 13 generic drug manufacturers.  The defendant, Mylan Inc., paid $2.6 million to resolve the matter.

Medicaid is a multi-billion dollar joint state and federal program that provides health insurance for the economically disadvantaged.  The Medicaid Fraud Division works cooperatively with MassHealth and other state and federal agencies to prosecute fraud against the Massachusetts Medicaid program.

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BOSTON MAN SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS PROBATION FOR HEALTH CARE FRAUD

 

USAO
MONDAY, AUGUST 8, 2011

 

BOSTON, Mass…A Boston man was sentenced today in federal court for health care fraud arising out of a scheme to steal prescription medical supplies from Massachusetts General Hospital and ship them to Colombia.

JASMANI RODRIGUEZ, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris to five years probation, including six months of home confinement, along with a requirement that he complete an educational or vocational program. Judge Saris also imposed a $1,000 fine and ordered him to pay $6,750 restitution to MGH.

On April 22, 2011, RODRIGUEZ pleaded guilty to one count of theft or embezzlement in connection with health care. RODRIGUEZ is the fourth individual to be sentenced in connection with this scheme. ALFREDO GALAVIS was sentenced to eight months and 18 days incarceration (GALAVIS has since been deported); NELSON BANOL was sentenced to nearly six months imprisonment and a $500 fine; and THOMAS CAIAZZO, the manager of a UPS store, was sentenced to one year of probation and a $1,000 fine for tipping off GALAVIS about the federal investigation.

Had the case proceeded to trial the Government’s evidence would have proven that RODRIGUEZ was employed at MGH between 2007 through 2010 in the Materials Management Department. In 2009 or 2010, RODRIGUEZ agreed to assist GALAVIS in stealing medical supplies from the hospital. RODRIGUEZ began stealing pulse oximetry sensors from the hospital and providing them to GALAVIS, who shipped the sensors, along with additional contraband, to an individual in Colombia. GALAVIS and his co-conspirators stole at least $167,000 worth of medical supplies from MGH. RODRIGUEZ stole at least 600 sensors from the hospital. MGH pays $11.25 for each sensor. Thus, the loss to MGH was at least $6,750.

In July 2010, federal agents observed GALAVIS attempt to ship a package of stolen medical supplies to Colombia. GALAVIS was arrested and during subsequent interviews GALAVIS admitted and explained his scheme. He identified RODRIGUEZ as one of the individuals who assisted him. RODRIGUEZ later admitted that he assisted GALAVIS with his scheme.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; and Mark Dragonetti, Special Agent in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations made the announcement. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David S. Schumacher of Ortiz’s Health Care Fraud Unit.

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Companies in the Spotlight: Upper Crust Pizzeria to face federal review

By Jenn Abelson Globe Staff / October 12, 2011

“A federal grand jury is scheduled to hear testimony this week about the alleged exploitation of immigrant workers at Upper Crust Pizzeria, according to several sources with direct knowledge of the inquiry.

Previous coverage

Labor troubles at Upper Crust

Labor troubles at Upper Crust

Reporter Jenn Abelson covered complaints from former employees – and a probe by the US Department of Labor – on employment practices at the pizza chain.

“Earlier this year, the Globe reported that at least two federal agencies, the Department of Labor and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were investigating the Boston-based pizza chain.

The labor department is looking into accusations that Upper Crust rescinded thousands of dollars in back overtime payments the agency required the company to make to employees in 2009. Immigration officials have been examining whether Upper Crust harbored and exploited illegal immigrant workers…”

Read the rest of the Globe story here

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“Doesn’t anyone else care?” irate shopper Youtube video

This video is a bit odd:  ” The Toronto public wants to shop!” and “Why? Why? Why?”

Check it out:

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FTC Settlement Prohibits Marketer from Claiming that Nivea Skin Cream Can Help Consumers Slim Down

FTC 6/29/2011

As part of its ongoing efforts to protect consumers from over-hyped advertising claims,  the Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement requiring Nivea skin cream maker Beiersdorf, Inc. to stop claiming that regular use of its Nivea My Silhouette! skin cream can significantly reduce consumers’ body size.  The company also has agreed to pay $900,000 as part of the settlement.

“The real skinny on weight loss is that no cream is going to help you fit into your jeans,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.  “The tried and true formula for weight loss is diet and exercise.”

The FTC administrative complaint charges Beiersdorf, Inc. with falsely claiming that by regularly applying Nivea My Silhouette! cream to their skin, consumers could slim down.  According to the complaint, Beiersdorf, Inc. marketed the skin cream in nationwide television ads and through sponsored search results on Google.  The company touted the cream’s “Bio-slim Complex,” a combination of ingredients that includes anise and white tea.

Beiersdorf (Nivea) Bio-slim Complex

One television ad depicts a woman getting dressed after having applied Nivea My Silhouette! cream to her stomach and thighs.  She digs through the back of her closet, tries on a pair of old jeans, and discovers that they now fit.  During the ad, the voice-over says: “New Nivea My Silhouette! with Bio-Slim Complex helps redefine the appearance of your silhouette and noticeably firm skin in just four weeks.  So you can rediscover your favorite jeans.  And how they still get his attention.  New Nivea My Silhouette! with Bio-Slim Complex.  Touch and be touched.”

The company also allegedly purchased sponsored search results from Google so that when consumers searched on the words “stomach fat,” “nivea slim silhouette,” or “thin waist,” they found Beiersdorf ads implying that Nivea My Silhouette! could tone their stomachs, thin their waists, and help them slim down.

The proposed settlement:

  • bars Beiersdorf from claiming that any product applied to the skin causes substantial weight or fat loss or a substantial reduction in body size.
  • prohibits the company from claiming that any drug, dietary supplement, or cosmetic causes weight or fat loss or a reduction in body size, unless the claim is backed by two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical studies.
  • requires that any claim regarding the health benefits of any drug, dietary supplement, or cosmetic be backed by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

The Wilton, Conn.-based Beiersdorf, Inc. is one of the largest sellers of hand and body care skin cream in the United States.  Nivea My Silhouette! is sold at pharmacy and grocery stores in the United States.

Consumers should view with suspicion advertisements claiming that they can significantly reduce body size by applying a cream.  For more information see: Weighing the Evidence in Diet Ads.

The Commission vote to accept the consent agreement package containing the proposed order for public comment was 5-0.  The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly.  The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through July 29, 2011, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final.  Interested parties can submit written comments electronically or in paper form by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “supplementary Information” section.  Comments in electronic form should be submitted using the following web link: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/beiersdorfconsent and following the instruction on the web-based form.  Comments in paper form should be mailed or delivered to:  Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex D) 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.  The FTC is requesting that any comment filed in paper form near the end of the public comment period be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.

NOTE:  The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest.  The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the respondent has actually violated the law.  A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the respondent that the law has been violated.  When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions.  Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.  To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).  The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Betsy Lordan 
Office of Public Affairs

202-326-3707
STAFF CONTACT:
Evan Rose
FTC Western Regional Office
415-848-5100

(FTC File No. 0923194)
(Beiersdorf NR)

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Fraud by Health Insurers and the practice of “carving out” – enormous potential for consumer abuse

HEALTH INSURANCE EXECUTIVES INDICTED

THURSDAY, AUGUST 11, 2011
 

BOSTON, Mass…Seven men and two women have been indicted for a wide array of crimes committed between 2006 and 2010 through a Massachusetts health insurance company that did business as HMA Direct.

The 29-count superseding indictment unsealed today in Federal court brings charges against several senior executives of the company, including former Chief Executive Officer JEDEDIAH L. BRETTSCHNEIDER, 35, of Phoenix. The indictment also charges several of the principal investors in the company.

At the heart of the conspiracy charged in the indictment was HMA Direct’s practice of excluding from coverage, or “carving out,” clients with health risks so severe that they might interfere with HMA Direct’s bottom line. It is alleged that BRETTSCHNEIDER and many of the other defendants knew, such “carving out” was illegal (albeit not criminal). It is alleged that BRETTSCHNEIDER and the other defendants knew that in order to succeed with a business model that relied on fundamentally unlawful behavior, they needed to conceal important aspects of their business from clients, other health insurance companies and government agencies.

The indictment alleges dozens of false statements and misrepresentations that the conspirators made in furtherance of their scheme. This includes that BRETTSCHNEIDER made false statements to several government agencies about his criminal background in order to obtain insurance producer licenses; after BRETTSCHNEIDER’s criminal history received widespread publicity, he made further false statements about his background to business associates in order to perpetuate the scheme; the conspirators made false statements to clients in order to obtain health information to facilitate the “carving out” employees with expensive medical conditions; the conspirators arranged for two HMA Direct investors, FRANCIS GAETANI, a/k/a “FRAN,” a/k/a “GUIDO” and RONALD ANGER, to pretend that they were satisfied customers of the company and to provide fake references to prospective clients; the conspirators invented fictitious companies and fabricated documents, including employee wage reports, in order to disguise their “carving out” of employees with expensive medical conditions; the conspirators impersonated insured employees in telephone calls.

The indictment also charges BRETTSCHNEIDER with intentionally misapplying funds that clients had entrusted to HMA Direct to pay health claims. According to the indictment, HMA Direct’s controller calculated that by May 2009, BRETTSCHNEIDER had shortchanged the account that held client claims moneys by more than $1.7 million. At the same time, BRETTSCHNEIDER allegedly used money from HMA Direct to purchase the following: a membership at an exclusive golf club ($86,945); a BMW that he used during personal time ($23,049); clothing from Neiman Marcus, including Armani and Zegna apparel ($13,492); cigars ($3,627 over an 18-month period); and a night at the luxury New York Palace Hotel on New Year’s Eve 2009 ($1,077).

In addition, the indictment charges BRETTSCHNEIDER with embezzling a total of $401,724 from HMA Direct on two occasions in the spring of 2010.

Finally, the indictment charges BRETTSCHNEIDER and co-defendants SHELLEY LENKUTIS and RACHEL ANGER with obstruction of justice. According to the indictment, when HMA Direct came under investigation by various state insurance regulators in the Spring of 2009, the defendants altered, destroyed, mutilated, and concealed documents in the company’s files that referred to “carve-outs.” For example, it is alleged that the defendants moved some incriminating documents – which they referred to as the “secret James Bond files” – to secluded parts of the building or to locations off-site. It is further alleged that the defendants and others also used white-out to cover up the word “carve-out”; shredded incriminating documents; forged signatures; and created fake documents.

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz noted, “At a time when health insurance costs are straining American workers and businesses, we put a high priority on those who would profit by manipulating the system and by fraudulently dumping expenses on others.”

“What is noteworthy about this otherwise basic scheme is that when Messrs. Gaetani and Cassandro discovered Mr. Brettschneider’s alleged fraud, instead of reporting his fraud to law enforcement authorities, they allegedly chose to look the other way. By doing so, they, and other employees who also knew of the fraud, placed the health and well-being of those insured by HMA Direct at risk. The joint investigation of the financial fraud aspect of this case should be a warning to managers in private and public companies that not reporting illegal conduct has severe repercussions,” said Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Office.

“This criminal action demonstrates the Labor Department’s resolve to vigorously enforce the laws to ensure that those who scheme, misappropriate, misrepresent and deceive small business self-insured health plans as well as the health insurance market for their own financial gain are brought to justice,” said Edward Maloney, Acting Director of the Boston Regional Office for the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration.

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is proud to join our law enforcement partners in announcing this indictment,” said Robert Bethel, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “The Postal Inspection Service has a long standing commitment protecting consumers from fraud. This indictment sends a clear message to anyone who would prey on the American consumer: you will be caught and will be prosecuted.”

“Today’s indictment serves as a stern warning to those who would commit health care fraud against Employee Retirement Income Security Act covered employer benefit plans. The OIG remains firmly committed to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these types of crimes,” stated Robert Panella, Special Agent-in-Charge for the New York Region of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.

If convicted, BRETTSCHNEIDER faces up to 20 years imprisonment on the obstruction of justice count and on each count of wire fraud; up to 10 years imprisonment for each count of health care fraud, intentional misapplication of funds of a health care benefit program, theft or embezzlement in connection with health care, and making false material statements to an insurance regulatory agency; mandatory two year sentence, consecutive to the sentence he would otherwise receive, for aggravated identity theft; and up to five years imprisonment on each of the remaining crimes.

MICHAEL CASSANDRO, 44, of Middleton, R.I., owned part of HMA Direct and variously oversaw the sales and third party administrative arms of the company. CASSANDRO is charged with health care fraud and conspiracy. If convicted on these charges, he faces up to10 years imprisonment for each count of health care fraud and up to five years imprisonment on the conspiracy count. CASSANDRO is also subject to a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release on each count.

FRANCIS GAETANI, a/k/a “FRAN,” a/k/a “GUIDO”, 56, of Sutton, Mass., was an investor in HMA Direct. GAETANI is charged with wire fraud and conspiracy. If convicted on these charges, he faces up to 20 years imprisonment for each count of wire fraud and up to five years imprisonment on the conspiracy count.

RONALD ANGER, 54, of Sutton, was an investor in HMA Direct. He is charged with wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. If convicted on these charges, he faces up to 20 years imprisonment for the wire fraud count and up to five years imprisonment on the conspiracy count.

WILLIAM O’BRIEN, 47, of West Barnstable, Mass. was both a sales agent for HMA Direct and a manager of other sales agents. O’BRIEN is charged with wire fraud, health care fraud, obtaining customer information from a financial institution by false representation, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy. If convicted, O’BRIEN faces up to 20 years imprisonment on each count of wire fraud; up to10 years imprisonment for each count of health care fraud; a mandatory two year sentence, consecutive to the sentence he would otherwise receive, for aggravated identity theft; and up to five years imprisonment for conspiracy and obtaining customer information from a financial institution by false representation.

MARK CELENTANO, 60, of Ipswich, Mass., was both a sales agent for HMA Direct and a manager of other sales agents. CELENTANO is charged with two counts of health care fraud, one count of obstruction of a criminal investigation of health care offenses and one count of conspiracy. If convicted on these charges, CELENTANO faces up to 10 years imprisonment for each count of health care fraud and up to five years imprisonment on the obstruction and conspiracy counts.

KEVIN BROWN, 46, of Stuart, Fla., oversaw the underwriting arm of HMA Direct. BROWN is charged with two counts of health care fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of conspiracy. If convicted on these charges, he faces up to 10 years imprisonment for each count of health care fraud, up to five years imprisonment on the conspiracy count and a mandatory two year sentence, consecutive to the sentence he would otherwise receive, for aggravated identity theft.

SHELLEY LENKUTIS, 37, of Waltham, Mass., oversaw the underwriting arm of HMA Direct. LENKUTIS is charged with one count of obstruction of justice and one count of conspiracy. If convicted on these charges, she faces up to 20 years imprisonment for obstruction of justice and up to five years imprisonment for conspiracy.

RACHEL ANGER, 23, of Sutton, worked in the sales, third party administrative, and underwriting arms of the company. She is charged with health care fraud, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and conspiracy. If convicted on these charges, she faces up to 20 years imprisonment for wire fraud and obstruction of justice, up to 10 years imprisonment for health care fraud, and up to five years imprisonment for conspiracy.

U.S. Attorney Ortiz; SAC Panella; Acting Director Maloney; SAC DesLauriers; and Inspector in Charge Bethel made the announcement today.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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Attorney General Martha Coakley and 48 Other States Obtain $13.2 Million Judgment Against Satellite TV Provider DirecTV

December 15, 2010 – A.G.’s Office Press Release –  

As a Lead State, Massachusetts to Receive Over $600,000 Plus Restitution for Affected Consumers
 

BOSTON – Attorney General Martha Coakley and the Attorneys General of 48 other states have reached a settlement with DirecTV, Inc. resolving allegations that the satellite television provider engaged in unfair and deceptive marketing and advertising practices. DirecTV has agreed to pay the states a total of $13.25 million. DirecTV also agreed to pay restitution to consumers and to alter its business practices in the future to ensure that consumers have clear disclosures of all material terms of their contracts. Of the $13.25 million payment to the states, Massachusetts, one of the eight states leading the multistate investigation, will receive $605,000. 

“When choosing a telecommunications provider, consumers should be able to trust that the company is providing all pertinent information upfront,” said AG Coakley. “This settlement requires that DirecTV’s marketing provides consumers with all of the necessary information so that consumers can make informed choices.”

Over 800 customers have complained to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office since 2007 of various unfair practices by the satellite provider, including that DirecTV: did not clearly disclose limitations on getting a certain price; enrolled consumers in additional contracts or contract terms without clearly disclosing the terms to the consumer, on occasions such as at the time of replacing defective equipment, and then charged early cancellation fees when the consumer discontinued service; did not clearly disclose to consumers that they would automatically renew a seasonal sports package; and promised “cash back” to consumers as part of a promotion but then actually provided bill credits to the consumer. AG Coakley noted these allegations in a complaint filed in Massachusetts Superior Court today, and also alleged that DirecTV had run advertisements which failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose terms of its offers.

As the Attorney General’s Office has received consumer complaints it has brought them to the attention of DirecTV, which has represented that it has taken steps in the great majority of cases to rectify the problem.

Under the terms of today’s settlement, DIRECTV is required to modify its business practices. In addition to clearly disclosing all material terms to consumers, DirecTV will be required to replace leased equipment that is defective at no cost except shipping costs, clearly disclose when a consumer is entering into a contract, clearly notify consumers before a consumer is obligated to pay for a seasonal sports package, and clearly notify consumers that they will be charged a cancellation or equipment fee at least 10 days before charging the fee. In addition, DirecTV may not require consumers to enter into an additional contract when simply replacing defective equipment; and may not represent that a consumer will get cash back if the consumer will actually get a bill credit.

DirecTV customers in Massachusetts who have complaints may be eligible for restitution as part of this settlement if:
The complaint reflects conduct that occurred after January 1, 2007, related to issues addressed in the settlement, and if the customer has previously filed a complaint with DirecTV or with the Attorney General which has yet to be resolved.
OR if the consumer files a complaint with DirecTV or the Attorney General’s Office no later than May 16, 2011. 

For information on filing a complaint against DirecTV with the Attorney General’s Office, consumers can visit the Attorney General’s website at www.mass.gov/ago or call AG Coakley’s Consumer Complaint Hotline at (617) 727-8400

Consumers can send claims for restitution directly to DirecTV by calling 1-800-DIRECTV, or visiting the DirecTV website, at www.directv.com.

Joining Massachusetts in today’s settlement are; the Attorneys General of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the District of Columbia

The case was handled for Massachusetts by Assistant Attorney General David W. Monahan, Deputy Chief of Attorney General Coakley’s Consumer Protection Division.

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Are the Flu Shots at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Unfairly Priced?

Were you charged $159.55 for a simple flu shot at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center during the 2010 flu season?                                                                        

                                

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Nivea Good Bye Cellulite Lotion – Is this stuff for real?

If you reside in Massachusetts and used or purchased any Nivea anti-cellulite weight loss cosmetic product (such as “Good-bye Cellulite” lotion)  and have complaints about product performance, please contact me via telephone: (617)329-1295.

 

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The Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act – G.L. Chapter 93A

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is one of the most pro-consumer states in the Union, thanks to Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (G.L. c. 93A), which creates a private cause of action for consumers who have been victimized by unfair or deceptive business practices.

  • The Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act serves several important functions. First, it levels the playing field between ordinary consumers and businesses which engage in unfair trade practices. Second, it gives Massachusetts consumers an incentive to vindicate their rights by granting double or treble damages and attorney’s fees where the circumstances merit. Third, it punishes business that choose to engage in unscrupulous conduct, while also deterring commercial wrongdoing.
    • Consumers may bring a claim and seek damages under Chapter 93A where ordinary tort or contract theories of recovery might fail. All that is required is proof of harm caused by the defendant business’s unfair or deceptive act practices, by the civil preponderance of the evidence standard. Chapter 93A claims may be also brought between business, (under § 11) when one business engages in unfair or deceptive conduct in regard to the other.

 

    • Frequently, commercial wrongdoing is repetitive. Certain business, both large and small, develop a “habit” of unfairness; they grow rich by doing the same economic harm to many consumers, in the same manner. Thus, a single wronged consumer may reveal the need to join with other consumers to correct an injustice for many other aggrieved persons.

 

    • Chapter 93A § 9(2) allows for class actions.

 

    • To fully understand the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, it is necessary to look back in time to the 1914 Congress. The genesis of G.L. c. 93A is the 1914 Federal Trade Commission Act, (FTCA), which outlawed “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” 15 U.S.C. § 45(a)(1). The States followed suit, and enacted “little FTC’s” modeled after the federal legislation.  The Massachusetts version, enacted in 1967, is known as the Consumer Protection Act, or commonly “93A.” Today, Massachusetts courts still look for guidance from FTC decisions to interpreting the meaning of “unfair” and “deceptive.”

 

    • The federal standard of what type of conduct rises to the level of an FTCA violation is intentionally imprecise; Congress explicitly rejected enacting a statutory definition of “unfair practices.” As Congress observed: “It is impossible to frame definitions which embrace all unfair practices. There is no limit to human inventiveness in this field.” House Conference Report, H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 1142, 63d Cong., 2d Sess. 19 (1914).

 

    • The Massachusetts Legislature, in enacting the Consumer Protection Act, or G.L. c. 93A,  adopted flexible and adaptable standards modeled after the federal counterpart. The law was “intended the terms ‘unfair and deceptive’ to grow and change with the times.”  Nei v. Burley, 388 Mass. 307, 313 (1983). In the current economic climate with almost daily headlines about corporate malfeasance, Congress’s wisdom in 1914 when it reported that there “is no limit to human inventiveness in this field [of taking unfair advantage of consumers]” rings true today.

 

    • Businesses continue to find ways to rip off consumers- running the gamut from crude ploys to sophisticated schemes hatched by MBA’s in corporate boardrooms. There is a common theme: the concerted effort to dishonestly extract maximum profit from hard-working and honest people.

 

  • If you reside in Massachusetts, and you have been unfairly treated by a business, I may be able to help. Consumer protection cases depend greatly on the facts of a given situation. To schedule a free initial consultation call me at (617) 329-1295.

*     *     *     *

Below are some examples of types of conduct which can give rise to actions under Chapter 93A and other consumer protection laws:

  • Abuse by a creditor;
  • Attorney misconduct/overbilling;
  • Bait and switch tactics;
  • Banks engaging in “unfair and deceptive practices.”
  • Breach of contract (depends upon the circumstances)
  • Breach of express warranties;
  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing;
  • Breach of implied warranties;
  • Broken promises by a business to a consumer;
  • Causing a consumer to make a purchase in reliance upon a deceptive statement;
  • Charity fraud;
  • Collection agency misconduct;
  • Construction/home improvement contractor misconduct;
  • Debt Collection by improper means;
  • Deception – even without intent to deceive, or awareness of deception;
  • Deception by fine print;
  • Deceptive practices;
  • Defamation;
  • Defective products;
  • Destroying a competitor’s business in an unfair, deceptive, or oppressive way;
  • Eviction motivated by revenge;
  • Excessive fees;
  • Fake “fire sales”;
  • Failure to warn of a defective or dangerous product;
  • False advertising;
  • Fees without goods or services provided;
  • Foreclosure motivated by revenge;
  • Fraud;
  • Frivolous lawsuits;
  • Harassment by a business;
  • Hiding assets to avoid a judgment;
  • Home improvement/repair scams;
  • Hospital overbilling;
  • Incorrect information on credit report;
  • Insurance company not giving adequate data to the insured about benefits;
  • Insurance company not paying claims owed;
  • Illegal practices;
  • Interfering with a sale;
  • Invasion of privacy;
  • Landlord harassment;
  • Lawful but nevertheless unfair or oppressive acts;
  • Literally true but misleading advertising;
  • Logos- misleading use of;
  • Lying by omission;
  • Lying to customers;
  • Marketing having the capacity to deceive;
  • Misrepresentation;
  • Misuse of official position for personal business advantage;
  • Negligent misrepresentation;
  • Nondisclosure;
  • Products liability;
  • Racial harassment or discrimination by a business;
  • Retaliatory eviction;
  • Selling defective or dangerous products;
  • Scams;
  • Swindles;
  • Tortious interference with advantageous relationships;
  • Unfair practices;
  • Violation of federal consumer protection laws;
  • Violation of Massachusetts building codes;
  • Waivers in contracts or leases that violate Massachusetts law, etc.

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Qui Tam / whistle blower actions

What does QUI TAM mean in Latin?

“The term “qui tam” is derived from the Latin expression “who sues on behalf of the king as well as for himself.”

What is a qui tam action?

A qui tam action exposes fraud upon the government. It is brought by an informer or whistle blower.  This whistle blower can be referred to as the “plaintiff,” or the “relator.” A whistle blower is often an employee of a corrupt organization, motivated by a desire to correct injustice and expose misconduct.

What’s in it for the whistle blower?

First, the whistle blower can derive moral satisfaction; he or she provides information to recover the funds wrongly paid by the government to the wrongdoer. In this sense, the whistle blower’s actions are heroic because he or she brings to light a wrong or series of wrongs perpetrated upon the government. Often fraud upon the government is only part an overall pattern of misconduct- corrupt organizations that defraud the government often also defraud consumers, create dangerous products, and abuse their employees. Secondly, the whistle blower can receive money.

How much money does the whistle
blower receive
?

The reward ranges from 10% to 25% of the amount recovered from the wrongdoer, plus attorney’s  fees, expenses, and costs. The amount of the bounty depends upon certain factors such as (a) whether the whistle blower was active or passive in the action; (b) whether the information provided was already publicly known.  G.L. c. 12 § 5F.

Qui Tam Statutes

What is the burden of proof in a qui tam action?

The burden of proof in a qui tam action is the civil “preponderance of the evidence” standard.

Are whistle blowers protected by from employer retaliation?

Yes.  A whistle blower is protected by Massachusetts statute from retaliation by her employer. G.L.A. c. 12 § 5J.

 

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BOSTON MAN SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS PROBATION FOR HEALTH CARE FRAUD

USAO/MONDAY, AUGUST 8, 2011

BOSTON, Mass…A Boston man was sentenced today in federal court for health care fraud arising out of a scheme to steal prescription medical supplies from Massachusetts General Hospital and ship them to Colombia.

JASMANI RODRIGUEZ, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris to five years probation, including six months of home confinement, along with a requirement that he complete an educational or vocational program. Judge Saris also imposed a $1,000 fine and ordered him to pay $6,750 restitution to MGH.

On April 22, 2011, RODRIGUEZ pleaded guilty to one count of theft or embezzlement in connection with health care. RODRIGUEZ is the fourth individual to be sentenced in connection with this scheme. ALFREDO GALAVIS was sentenced to eight months and 18 days incarceration (GALAVIS has since been deported); NELSON BANOL was sentenced to nearly six months imprisonment and a $500 fine; and THOMAS CAIAZZO, the manager of a UPS store, was sentenced to one year of probation and a $1,000 fine for tipping off GALAVIS about the federal investigation.

Had the case proceeded to trial the Government’s evidence would have proven that RODRIGUEZ was employed at MGH between 2007 through 2010 in the Materials Management Department. In 2009 or 2010, RODRIGUEZ agreed to assist GALAVIS in stealing medical supplies from the hospital. RODRIGUEZ began stealing pulse oximetry sensors from the hospital and providing them to GALAVIS, who shipped the sensors, along with additional contraband, to an individual in Colombia. GALAVIS and his co-conspirators stole at least $167,000 worth of medical supplies from MGH. RODRIGUEZ stole at least 600 sensors from the hospital. MGH pays $11.25 for each sensor. Thus, the loss to MGH was at least $6,750.

In July 2010, federal agents observed GALAVIS attempt to ship a package of stolen medical supplies to Colombia. GALAVIS was arrested and during subsequent interviews GALAVIS admitted and explained his scheme. He identified RODRIGUEZ as one of the individuals who assisted him. RODRIGUEZ later admitted that he assisted GALAVIS with his scheme.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; and Mark Dragonetti, Special Agent in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations made the announcement. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David S. Schumacher of Ortiz’s Health Care Fraud Unit.

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BROOKLINE MASSACHUSETTS MAN ELLIOT DOXER PLEADS GUILTY TO FOREIGN ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE

USAO/TUESDAY, AUGUST 30, 2011

BOSTON, Mass. – A Brookline man pleaded guilty today to foreign economic espionage. This is the first prosecution in Massachusetts for foreign economic espionage and only the eighth in the nation.

ELLIOT DOXER, 43, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Denise J. Casper to one count of foreign economic espionage for providing trade secrets over an 18-month period to an undercover federal agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer.

The parties stipulated in an Agreed Statement of Facts that on June 22, 2006, DOXER sent an email to the Israeli consulate in Boston stating that he worked in the finance department of Akamai Technologies, Inc., and was willing to provide any information that might help Israel. In later communications, DOXER said that his chief desire “was to help our homeland and our war against our enemies.” He also asked for payment in light of the risks he was taking.

In September 2007, a federal agent posing as an undercover Israeli intelligence officer spoke to DOXER and established a “dead drop” where the agent and DOXER could exchange written communications. From October 2007 through March 2009, DOXER visited the dead drop at least 62 times to leave information, retrieve communications, and check for new communications.

Included in the trade secret information that DOXER provided the undercover agent were an extensive list of Akamai’s customers; contracts between the company and various customers revealing contact, services, pricing, and termination date information; and a comprehensive list of the company’s employees that revealed their positions and full contact information. DOXER also broadly described the company’s physical and computer security systems and stated that he could travel to the foreign country and could support special and sensitive operations in his local area if needed. Because Akamai’s information was disclosed only to an undercover agent from the beginning, the information was never in danger of actual exposure outside the company.

We acknowledge the Government of Israel for their cooperation in this investigation, and underscore that the Information does not allege that the government of Israel or anyone acting on its behalf committed any offense under U.S. laws in this case. We would also like to acknowledge and thank Akamai Technologies, Inc., for its assistance throughout all stages of the investigation and prosecution.

DOXER was arrested on October 6, 2010, on a complaint charging him with wire fraud.
That charge will be dismissed at the end of this case as part of the plea agreement. The charge of foreign economic espionage carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a three-year term of supervised release and a $500,000 fine. Judge Casper scheduled sentencing for November 30, 2011.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Boston Field Office made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William D. Weinreb and Scott L. Garland, respectively in Ortiz’s Antiterrorism and National Security Unit and Cybercrimes Unit, and by Trial Attorneys Kathleen Kedian and David Recker of the Department of Justices’s Counterespionage Section.

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Semper Fidelis – shoplifter stabs U.S. Marine in the back during Toys for Tots drive and “suffers injuries from fall.”

oo rah.

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Boston Hurricane Irene Clean Up

For Immediate
Release

August 29, 2011
Released By:
Parks and Recreation
For More Information Contact:
Parks Department
parks@cityofboston.gov

The Boston Parks and Recreation Department continues to respond to more than 500 reports of downed trees in the wake of Hurricane Irene.  Crews are
prioritizing work according to public safety hazards and coordinating tree
cutting operations with utility crews in cases where downed wires are
involved.

Citywide reports of downed trees include situations where street trees have
fallen on homes, vehicles, roads, and sidewalks.  In West Roxbury, off of Baker
Street, a Parks Department tree cutting crew is working to remove three trees
which have fallen across sidewalks and onto property including a home and
vehicle. Similar reports are coming in and crews are working hard to safely
remove all downed trees and debris as quickly as possible.

The Parks Department is the City of Boston agency with regulatory and
operational responsibilities for public shade trees. The Department’s yearly
maintenance program includes pruning, disease control, removals, and storm
damage repairs.

State officials ask that residents hiring private firms for tree removal ask
questions about whether crews are certified to perform work involving the
movement or transport of wood materials. Following discovery of the Asian
Longhorned Beetle in Massachusetts, officials posted a list of companies and
agencies who have completed compliance training and are certified to perform
that type of work. The list is available by calling 508-852-8110 or by visiting
http://massnrc.org/pests/alb.

In addition, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts recommends visiting the
following websites for residents hiring private tree removal contractors:

International Society of Arborists http://www.isa-arbor.com/

Massachusetts Certified Arborists http://www.massarbor.org/

For emergency tree attention, please call, 617-635-4500.

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