FDA Expands Counterfeit Warning on ED Supplement ExtenZe

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


“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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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:



TAMARA GIBSON    DEFENDANT        07/18/2011
ROBERT WINTER    DEFENDANT        07/18/2011

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
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
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, 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.

Betsy Lordan 
Office of Public Affairs

Evan Rose
FTC Western Regional Office

(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



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, 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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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

August 29, 2011
Released By:
Parks and Recreation
For More Information Contact:
Parks Department

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

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

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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Justice Department Releases Findings of Unconstitutional Conditions at Miami-Dade Jail Facilities

Department of Justice- Monday, August 29, 2011

WASHINGTON – Following a comprehensive investigation, the Justice Department has announced its findings that the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department (MDCR) has engaged in a pattern or practice of constitutional violations in the jail facilities operated by MDCR.  MDCR operates the nation’s eighth largest jail system and holds an average of 7,000 prisoners.
The investigation, initiated on April 2, 2008, was conducted in accordance with the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA).  CRIPA authorizes the Justice Department to seek a remedy for a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the constitutional rights of prisoners in adult detention and corrections facilities.  The extensive investigation focused on the protection of prisoners from harm in all six jail facilities operated by MDCR.
The Justice Department concluded that MDCR corrections facilities violate the constitutional rights of prisoners through:
  • Inadequate medical care;
  • Inadequate mental health care, including improper suicide prevention;
  • Use of excessive force by MDCR staff on prisoners;
  • Inadequate protection from prisoner violence; and
  • Environmental health and sanitation deficiencies at several of the MDCR facilities.

“Our findings show that due to the unconstitutional operation of the MDCR jail facilities, prisoners have suffered grievous harm, including death.  The systemic failures of the jail facilities have resulted in prisoners living in inhumane and shocking conditions,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to remedying these deficiencies, and we look forward to working with MDCR to develop and implement comprehensive reforms.”

The comprehensive 40-page findings letter illustrates how unconstitutional conditions at the jail have resulted in serious harm to prisoners, including death.  There have been at least eight prisoner suicides since 2007, one as recently as March 2011.  Thousands of other prisoners have suffered, and are suffering, harm from constitutionally inadequate mental health care.

Since 2008, at least another five prisoners have died from MDCR’s failure to identify and treat prisoners withdrawing from drugs or alcohol.  The Justice Department also found that MDCR fails to provide adequate intake screening, initial health assessments and acute care for newly incarcerated prisoners.  In addition, MDCR neither monitors nor adequately treats prisoners with chronic illness.  MDCR also has failed to provide medications to prisoners with HIV, medically necessary tests to prisoners with diabetes and hypertension, and seizure medications to prisoners with histories of seizures.

The department’s investigation also revealed that MDCR corrections officers openly engage in abusive and retaliatory conduct, frequently resulting in injuries to prisoners.  In particular, there is a disturbing and distinct trend of MDCR corrections officers reacting to low-level aggression from prisoners (e.g., abusive language or passive resistance to an order) by slapping or punching the prisoner in the head and verbally provoking the prisoner to physically respond.

Inadequate supervision places staff, as well as prisoners, at risk.  MDCR lacks meaningful supervision in housing units, leading to dangerous and violent conditions.  In fact, in the six month period just prior to the initial Justice Department on-site investigation, MDCR reported more than 300 incidents of prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in one of its six facilities, nearly 250 such incidents in another facility, and approximately 125 such instances in yet another facility.

This investigation was conducted by the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  In addition, the team consulted with experts in the fields of corrections, custodial medical and mental health care, suicide prevention, and environmental health and sanitation.

Additional information about the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division can be found at www.usdoj.gov/crt/split/index.html .

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Cellulite Skin Cream Alert

To: Massachusetts residents who purchased cosmetic products containing questionable cellulite-reduction claims

In Re: Potential Class Action Lawsuit in Massachusetts against Nivea and other cosmetics manufacturers

If you purchased anti-cellulite/weight loss cosmetic products by Nivea and other companies (see list below), you may have been misled.

Massachusetts has strong consumer protection laws which forbid unfair and deceptive acts or practices, including false advertising.  These laws allow wronged consumers to seek justice when they have been taken advantage of.

Companies are making millions through sophisticated ads that make women feel unattractive and then push cures “cures” for natural bodily processes, such as aging and cellulite.

Nivea recently paid the Federal Trade Commission $900,000.00 as a penalty for bogus weight loss cosmetic claims. According to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, “The real skinny on weight loss is that no cream is going to help you fit into your jeans. The tried and true formula for weight loss is diet and exercise.”

Have you been ripped off?

Hypothetical Example:
You purchased Nivea Good Bye Cellulite Fast Acting Serum. The box promised “Fast Acting Serum leads to visible reduction in the appearance of cellulite in as little as 10 days.” You followed product instructions to “Apply serum once daily on thighs, buttocks and stomach.”  The product did not reduce the appearance of cellulite.  You want your money back.

List of Questionable Cellulite Skin Lotions:

  1. Anushka
  2. Apivita Aromatherapy Metamorphosis Anticellulite Massage Oil
  3. Avotone Body Sculpting Lotion
  4. Bliss Fat Girl Slim- Qusome-Encapsulated Caffeine
  5. Bliss Love Handler
  6. Body Sculpture
  7. Body Solution
  8. Cellulean
  9. Cellutherm
  10. Cellutone
  11. Clarins Body Lift
  12. Cullugone
  13. DDF Refining Body Treatment
  14. Derma Ab Solutions
  15. Estee Lauder Body Performance
  16. Estee Lauder Body Performance Slim Shape+ Anti Cellulite Advanced Serum; $52.50 for 6.7 oz.
  17. FatgirlSlim
  18. Hydroderm Body Shape
  19. HydroShape
  20. L’oreal Sublime Anti-Cellulite Gels
  21. L’oreal Sublime Slim Patches
  22. Liz Earle Energising Hip & Thigh Gel
  23. Neutrogena Anti-Cellulite Treatment
  24. Nivea Good-Bye Cellulite
  25. Nivea My Silhouette (Currently off the market due to FTC Order).
  26. Oligo DX
  27. Peter Thomas Roth Ultimate Body Sculpting Slimming Gel; $100 for 7.5 oz.
  28. Phyto Sculpt
  29. Procellix
  30. Revive Cellulite Erasure
  31. Sisley Paris Celluli-Pro/Anti-Cellulite Body Care
  32. Sovage Tummy Flattening Gel; $119.00 for 6 oz.
  33. Vichy Laboratories Celludestock; $180.00 for 7 oz.

* * * If you purchased cosmetics with weight loss or cellulite reduction claims that you believe were deceptive, call Attorney Preston Leonard today at (617)329-1295 to schedule a private and free consultation. * * *


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Massachusetts Given Negative National Ranking for its Legal Tools to Combat Human Trafficking

BOSTON – Massachusetts has been given a negative rating by a leading national advocacy organization for its lack of legal tools to combat human trafficking.  The Polaris Project ranked all states based on the presence or absence of 10 categories of state laws that it believes are critical to a comprehensive anti-trafficking legal framework.  Massachusetts received a rating of -2 and is now just one of 3 remaining states without laws to combat either sex or labor trafficking.

The complete state rankings can be found at this site:

The following is a statement from Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley on the Polaris Project Report:

“This report highlights the fact that Massachusetts is well behind the rest of the nation in our laws to combat human trafficking.  The passage of a human trafficking law would give us the tools to go after those who are exploiting children and other victims right in our own communities.  I appreciate the Legislature’s quick work in getting the bill to conference and now look forward to its swift passage.

I commend the advocates, law enforcement officers, and victim service providers who do incredible work in spite of a lack of legal tools and support.”

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Hurricane Irene took down a large tree in the Boston Common

Fortunately, this large tree in the Boston Common near the corner of Beacon Street and Charles Street didn’t fall on anyone!

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AG Coakley Offers Advice to Massachusetts Residents Regarding Home Improvement Contractors and Insurance in Aftermath of Hurricane Irene

August 29, 2011 – Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General Martha Coakley Press Release
BOSTON– As residents and affected communities begin to work to repair damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Attorney General Martha Coakley offers the following information and advice to Massachusetts consumers.
Home Improvement Contractors:
Here are some tips that can help you select a contractor to conduct repairs on your home:
  • Make sure that the person you are dealing with is a licensed contractor affiliated with a legitimate business. If you have access to a computer, you can verify a home improvement contractor’s registration online on the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation’s website.
  • Ask for references—names of satisfied customers who can tell you about the business.  If you can, ask a neighbor, friend or co-worker for the name of a business they have used.  When choosing a contractor for insurance claims, it is a good idea to hire a contractor that has a successful track record in dealing with insurance companies.  Contractors often play an important role in negotiating with your insurance company.
  • Get estimates from more than one contractor and compare prices.
  • Check for a history of complaints with the Attorney General’s Office and the Better   Business Bureau.
  • Obtain a written contract or estimate describing the work to be done, the price and estimated date of completion.
  • You should not pay more than one third the cost of the project at the inception of the contract, with another third due half way through the project and the balance paid when the work is completed to your satisfaction.

There are three types of insurance that can help in the event of a hurricane.  Each type of insurance covers a different kind of loss.  Be aware, however, that both homeowners insurance policies and flood insurance policies tend to be very limited in terms of what they cover.

  • Homeowners Insurance– Homeowners insurance policies typically do not cover water damage that is caused by flooding, including water that seeps into a house through a basement or as a result of a sewer backup.  However, homeowners insurance policies do cover damage caused by water that comes in “from above” like heavy rain.
  • Flood Insurance– Some consumers who live in flood zones have separate federal flood insurance policies through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  However, even this flood insurance is quite limited in what it covers.  To read more about what is and what is not covered by NFIP flood insurance policies, click here.
  • Auto Insurance- If you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, your vehicle is insured for most types of damage resulting from hurricanes.

It is important to understand the limits, deductibles and exclusions that apply to your homeowners insurance policy.

  • Limits– A limit is a cap on the amount of money an insurance company will pay to repair covered damage to your home.  Typically, a homeowners insurance policy is made up of several types of coverages, and each coverage has its own limit.  In addition, certain types of losses may be subject to separate limits.  For example, some insurance policies limit the amount of money that they will pay to remove fallen trees from your premises to $500, regardless of the number of fallen trees.
  • Deductibles– Nearly all homeowners insurance coverages are subject to deductibles.   A deductible is the amount of covered expenses that must be paid out of pocket by the homeowner before the insurer will begin making payments.  Deductibles range from very small amounts to tens of thousands of dollars.  In coastal areas of the Commonwealth, insurance companies often require separate wind deductibles as part of a policy. These wind deductibles can be quite large.
  • Exclusions- Many homeowners insurance policies do not cover certain types of damage, such as damage caused by flooding, earthquakes, mold, sump pump failures and pollution.  While you can sometimes purchase endorsements from your insurance company to cover these otherwise excluded risks, these endorsements are not provided as part of the standard homeowners insurance policy.

To learn more about homeowners insurance, including what is and is not typically covered, read the Division of Insurance’s Guide to Understanding the Homeowners Insurance Policy Covering Your Home.


  • Notify your insurance company right away– Contact your insurance company and/or its agent as soon as possible to notify them of the damage.  Find out exactly what your insurance policy does and does not cover.
  • Prevent further damage– Take whatever reasonable steps you can to prevent further damage (such as putting a tarp on a leaking roof or siphoning water out of your basement).  If you fail to take reasonable steps to prevent further damage to your home, your insurance company might refuse to pay for that further damage.
  • Document the damage– Take pictures or video and prepare a list of lost or damaged materials and items.  Keep a copy for yourself.
  • Don’t discard damaged property– Do not throw away your damaged property without documenting the damage and ideally, allowing the insurance company to inspect the damage first.
  • Save receipts– Save receipts for what you spend on clean up, repairs or substitute housing so that you can submit them to your insurance company.
  • Hire a licensed contractor who has experience dealing with insurance claims- Try to hire a contractor who has a successful track record in dealing with insurance claims.  Contractors often play an important role in negotiating with the insurance company.
  • Keep notes– Keep written notes on your dealings with your insurance company and/or its agent concerning the claim.
  • Ask about timing– Ask your insurance company whether there are any limits on how long you have to complete the repairs that the insurance company is paying for.  See if you can get this information in writing.
  • Don’t succumb to pressure– Do not feel pressured to accept what an insurance company offers you if you feel it is not a fair settlement.  Do not be afraid to take the time to understand the process, get help when needed and advocate for your interests.
  • Don’t sign documents unless you understand them– Be careful what you sign.  Some consumers sign paperwork presented by clean-up companies in order to get clean-up work started, and realize later that their insurance company won’t pay for that work.  Also, be wary of prematurely signing any kind of release from your insurance company.  Be aware that some insurance companies consider a “proof of loss” a release form.
  • Be wary of public adjusters– You may be approached by a public adjuster who may offer to handle your insurance claim on your behalf.  Public adjusters are supposed to act as your representative in dealing with an insurance company in exchange for a percentage (typically 10%) of your insurance settlement.  There is no requirement that you hire a public adjuster to handle your claim.  Public adjusters may require you to enter into a contract with them before assisting you with your claim.  Please read this contract carefully before signing it.  Before hiring a public adjuster, it is advisable to contact the Division of Insurance to see if complaints have been made against the public adjuster.
  • Contact the Attorney General– If you have questions or feel that you have been mistreated by an insurance company, agent or public adjuster, call the Attorney General’s Insurance & Financial Services Hotline at 1-888-830-6277.  In addition to bringing cases against companies that engage in unfair or deceptive trade practices, the Attorney General’s Office offers free and voluntary mediation services to consumers who are experiencing difficulties with insurance claims.


  • Not all auto insurance policies will cover damage to your vehicle from a hurricane.  Damage will only be covered if you have purchased comprehensive coverage for your vehicle.  Comprehensive coverage pays for accidental damage to your car that is caused by anything other than a car accident.  Damage caused by falling trees, debris and flooding is typically covered by comprehensive coverage.
  • Glass damage is also covered under comprehensive insurance coverage.  Some policies do not require a deductible for glass; however, others include a separate glass deductible.
  • If you experience damage to your vehicle, report the loss to your insurance company or its agent as soon as possible.

Massachusetts residents in need of emergency assistance are urged to contact the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, at 508-820-2000, or 800-982-6846.

To check the history of a business or to file a complaint about a scam, the Attorney General’s Office urges you to contact its consumer hotline at (617) 727-8400 or file a complaint online at www.mass.gov/ago/consumercomplaint.

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Winds whip down Boylston Street as Boston prepares for Hurricane Irene

The mood was almost jovial as people filmed and snapped pictures on Boylston Street on Sunday afternoon.

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Newbury Street braced for Hurricane Irene

As Hurricane Irene threatened Boston, Newbury Street shop owners braced for the impact.

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WSJ on Google Adwords/Drug Scandal

Link to Story: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904787404576528332418595052.html


“In a rare public mea culpa, Google Inc. agreed  to pay $500 million to avoid Justice Department prosecution on charges that it
knowingly accepted illegal advertisements from Canadian online pharmacies for years.”

“…The U.S. government said the ads led to illegal imports of prescription drugs
and could have put American consumers at risk of taking mislabled or tainted

“If Google had been prosecuted by the government for knowingly endangering U.S.
consumers, it could have tainted its famous credo of “Do No Evil.” A criminal
conviction can also disqualify a company from bidding for any government

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904787404576528332418595052.html#ixzz1WLB4C9fH

# # # # #

  • Was Google helping just Canadian offshore pill merchants place ads, or were there ads from other countries as well?
  • Should American consumers be allowed to purchase medications from reputable Canadian pharmacies when the equivalent products cost far more in the United States?
  • Isn’t buying Percoset for abuse from a website in Calcutta much different than buying high blood pressure medication from an established pharmacy in Ontario?

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City of Boston Mayor Menino – Hurricane Irene Announcement

Press Release, August 26, 2011

Mayor Thomas M. Menino today announced that the City of Boston is prepared to
deal with the impacts of Hurricane Irene.  The high-impact storm is expected to
reach Boston on Sunday, bringing heavy rain and hurricane-force winds to the
Boston area.  The Emergency Operations Center has been activated and City
departments have taken measures to prepare and staff up the center for Irene’s
arrival.  Mayor Menino reminds residents to take precautions and use common
sense this weekend to stay safe throughout the storm.

“We have been watching the progression of Hurricane Irene closely and City
departments have plans in place to respond as needed to the damage and effects
of this storm,” said Mayor Menino. “The city is being proactive, and urging
residents to do the same.”

City Departments and emergency responders are working together and preparing
for potential flooding, high winds, and down trees and power lines.  The City is
in close communication with NStar and National Grid to manage any power outages
and each department has designated personnel to man the Emergency Operations
Center.  Preparations include bolstering staff, securing construction sites, and
readying equipment for debris removal.

Residents are reminded to take the following safety

  • Secure patio furniture, grills, window boxes, air conditioners, or anything
    else that may become a projectile in high winds.
  • Keep batteries and flashlights on hand in case of power outage.
  • Stay indoors and away from windows.
  • Do not drive or go outside during the storm to help keep roads clear for
    emergency vehicles.
  • Immediately after a storm, use caution going outdoors.  Be alert for hazards
    such as broken glass, down power lines, and damage to buildings.
  • If you see down trees or power lines, call the Mayor’s Hotline to report the

Residents can call the Mayor’s hotline (617-635-4500) with
any storm-related issues or concerns and increased staff are on hand to respond
to matters and direct callers to appropriate agencies for support if needed.
For the latest information regarding the storm, residents can also visit
www.cityofboston.gov or follow @notifyboston on

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Independent Contractors: Did you know that if your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor you could be owed thousands?

“BOSTON – A Sharon husband and wife who own insulation companies in Rhode Island and Sharon, respectively, have been cited more than $58,000 in restitution and fines for failing to pay the prevailing wage, misclassifying workers as independent contractors, and record keeping violations, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today.

“All workers on public construction projects in the Commonwealth deserve to be paid what they are rightfully owed under the law, said AG Coakley. “Any employer that has a state or municipal contract must abide by the rules, which includes properly classifying their employees in their records. …” Read the rest of the press release here.

Did you know that if your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor you could be owed thousands in back pay and benefits?

When an employer misclassifies employees as  independent contractors, it saves them money.  However,  the savings come at the expense of  employees and his/her family.  By misclassifying employees as independent contractors, employers illegally avoid  paying:  1) Social Security; 2) Medicare;  3) Federal unemployment insurance taxes.  Also, the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA’s) minimum wage and overtime requirements don’t apply to independent contractors, and they are denied benefits under the Family Medical Leave Act and many other protections.

If you work in the service or construction industry, and you are being paid as an independent contractor instead of as an employee, you may be entitled to recover.  If you are working on a public project paid for by public funds, (for example roofing a public school), and your employer is misclassifying you as an independent contractor, you could also be entitled to a whistleblower award.  Call Attorney Preston W. Leonard at (617)329-1295 to learn more.  The IRS publishes useful information about the independent contractor/employee distinction here.

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Google penalized half a billion dollars for knowingly assisting in illegal importation of offshore pharmeceutical drugs into the United States through Google AdWords

Department of Justice Press Release 8/24/2011

Google Inc. has agreed to forfeit $500 million for allowing online Canadian pharmacies to place advertisements through its AdWords program targeting consumers in the United States, resulting in the unlawful importation of controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs into the United States, announced Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole; Peter F. Neronha, U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island; and Kathleen Martin-Weis, Acting Director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA/OCI). The forfeiture, one of the largest ever in the United States, represents the gross revenue received by Google as a result of Canadian pharmacies advertising through Google’s AdWords program, plus gross revenue made by  Canadian pharmacies from their sales to U.S. consumers.

The shipment of prescription drugs from pharmacies outside the United States to customers in the United States typically violates the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and in the case of controlled prescription drugs , the Controlled Substances Act. Google was aware as early as 2003, that generally, it was illegal for pharmacies to ship controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs into the United States from Canada.

The importation of prescription drugs to consumers in the United States is almost always unlawful because the FDA cannot ensure the safety and effectiveness of foreign prescription drugs that are not FDA-approved because the drugs may not meet FDA’s labeling requirements; may not have been manufactured, stored and distributed under proper conditions; and may not have been dispensed in accordance with a valid prescription.  While Canada has its own regulatory rules for prescription drugs, Canadian pharmacies that ship prescription drugs to U.S. residents are not subject to Canadian regulatory authority, and many sell drugs obtained from countries other than Canada which lack adequate pharmacy regulations.

“The Department of Justice will continue to hold accountable companies who in their bid for profits violate federal law and put at risk the health and safety of American consumers,” said Deputy Attorney General Cole.  “This settlement ensures that Google will reform its improper advertising practices with regard to these pharmacies while paying one of the largest financial forfeiture penalties in history.”

“This investigation is about the patently unsafe, unlawful, importation of prescription drugs by Canadian on-line pharmacies, with Google’s knowledge and assistance, into the United States, directly to U.S. consumers,” said U.S. Attorney Neronha. “It is about taking a significant step forward in limiting the ability of rogue on-line pharmacies from reaching U.S. consumers, by compelling Google to change its behavior.   It is about  holding Google responsible for its conduct by imposing a $500 million forfeiture, the kind of forfeiture that will not only get Google’s attention, but the attention of all those who contribute to America’s pill problem.”

“Today’s agreement demonstrates the commitment of the Food and Drug Administration to protect the US consumer and hold all contributing parties accountable for conduct that results in vast profits at the expense of the public health,” said FDA/OCI Acting Director Martin-Weis.  “The result of this investigation has been a fundamental transformation of Internet pharmacy advertising practices, significantly limiting promotion to US consumers by rogue online pharmacies.  This accomplishment could not have been possible without the resourceful commitment of the Rhode Island United States Attorney’s Office, as well as the tireless efforts of our law enforcement partners detailed to the OCI Rhode Island Task Force.”

An investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Rhode Island and the FDA/OCI Rhode Island Task Force revealed that as early as 2003, Google was on notice that online Canadian pharmacies were advertising prescription drugs to Google users in the United States through Google’s AdWords advertising program. Although Google took steps to block pharmacies in countries other than Canada from advertising in the U.S. through AdWords, they continued to allow Canadian pharmacy advertisers to target consumers in the United States. Google was aware that U.S. consumers were making online purchases of prescription drugs from these Canadian online pharmacies, and that many of the pharmacies distributed prescription drugs, including controlled prescription drugs, based on an online consultation rather than a valid prescription from a treating medical practitioner. Google was also on notice that many pharmacies accepting an online consultation rather than a prescription charged a premium for doing so because individuals seeking to obtain prescription drugs without a valid prescription were willing to pay higher prices for the drugs.

Further, from 2003 through 2009, Google provided customer support to some of these Canadian online pharmacy advertisers to assist them in placing and optimizing their AdWords advertisements, and in improving the effectiveness of their websites.

In 2009, after Google became aware of the investigation by the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FDA/OCI Rhode Island Task Force of its advertising practices in the online pharmacy area, and as a result of that investigation, Google took a number of steps to prevent the unlawful sale of prescription drugs by online pharmacies to U.S. consumers. Among other things, Google began requiring online pharmacy advertisers to be certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Verified Internet Pharmacy Practices Sites program, which conducts site visits; has a stringent standard against the issuance of prescriptions based on online consultations; and, most significantly, does not certify Canadian online pharmacies. In addition, Google retained an independent company to enhance detection of pharmacy advertisers exploiting flaws in the Google’s screening systems.

Under the terms of an agreement signed by Google and the government, Google acknowledges that it improperly assisted Canadian online pharmacy advertisers to run advertisements that targeted the United States through AdWords, and the company accepts responsibility for this conduct. In addition to requiring Google to forfeit $500 million, the agreement also sets forth a number of compliance and reporting measures which must be taken by Google in order to insure that the conduct described in the agreement does not occur in the future.

The investigation of Google had its origins in a separate, multimillion dollar financial fraud investigation unrelated to Google, the main target of which fled to Mexico.  While a fugitive, he began to advertise the unlawful sale of drugs through Google’s AdWords program. After being apprehended in Mexico and returned to the United States by the U.S. Secret Service, he began cooperating with law enforcement and provided information about his use of the AdWords program. During the ensuing investigation of Google, the government established a number of undercover websites for the purpose of advertising the unlawful sale of controlled and non-controlled substances through Google’s AdWords program.

The investigation was led by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew J. Reich and Richard B. Myrus of the District of Rhode Island, and FDA/OCI Special Agent Jason Simonian.  The FDA/OCI Rhode Island Task Force is comprised of law enforcement agents and officers from FDA/OCI; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Rhode Island State Police; Rhode Island National Guard; Rhode Island Department of the Attorney General; East Providence Police; and North Providence Police. Corbin A. Weiss, Senior Counsel with the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section, and Sarah Hawkins, FDA Senior Counsel, assisted the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney’s Office in this matter.

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Caption Contest (Photo taken somewhere on Newbury St. – Earth Day – May 19, 2012)

” _______________________________________________ “

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The Green Monster, Fenway Park

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May 14, 2011 · 10:48 pm

Sober house scams in the Boston area

Boston Articles

April 01, 2012|By Patricia Wen

“… the dark side of this little-known niche of the drug world: Recovering addicts were cash cows for a financial alliance between sober homes and private drug-testing labs. Landlords needed the labs to show they were serious about sobriety, largely to get referrals to fill their rooms. And the labs needed access to lots of indigent substance abusers whose drug-screening tests qualified for lucrative Medicaid reimbursements worth millions of dollars a year.

These business relationships troubled Ahlgren and also drew the scrutiny of prosecutors, who now allege that a number of labs and sober homes engaged in fraud and abuse of Medicaid, the government’s health insurance program for the poor. On Friday, one major lab agreed to pay $20 million to settle state charges that it improperly billed for testing in sober homes.

Prosecutors have said that, as labs aggressively competed to sign up addicts for testing some resorted to bribing sober home operators for exclusive access to their tenants…” Read more here.

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Sample 93A Demand Letter

It is best to send a 93A demand letter by first class mail and certified mail, return receipt requested.

Sample 93A Demand Letter

Your Street Name and Number, (Apartment #)

Your City and State, Zip Code

Owner or President of Business

Name of Business

Street Address

Town, State, Zip Code

Month, Day, Year

Dear Mr./Ms. Businessperson:

I am writing to you under the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 93A, Section 9, the Consumer Protection Act. I am writing to request relief as outlined in that statute.

On or about (date), the following unfair or deceptive act(s) or practice(s) occurred:

Describe the events as they occurred, including the conduct and time they happened. You may have more than one paragraph here, if you believe that there was more than one unfair or deceptive act that occurred at one time, or if there were multiple times that you were subjected to unfair or deceptive acts or practices.

I believe that the(se) acts or practices are declared unlawful by Section 2 of Chapter 93A, which declares unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce unlawful.

If you are aware of the violation of a specific law or regulation, you will wish to quote the text of that law or regulation here, by saying that you believe the conduct is a violation of [regulation or law number], which provides: then quote the text you believe applies.

I have suffered injury or loss of money or property (in the amount of), (or, as follows:)

Describe why you have been injured in this amount; if you have given the business an opportunity to fix poor repairs, for example, and they have not done so, put that information here.

This letter serves as my request for the following relief: (relief or amount of damages you seek). Under the provisions of Section 9 Chapter 93A, I am providing you with the opportunity to make a written offer of settlement of this claim within 30 days. If you fail to make a good faith offer of settlement in response to this request, and I institute legal action, a court may award me double or triple damages, attorney’s fees and costs if the court finds in my favor.

I may be reached at the address written above, or at (phone number) between the hours of: ( ). I look forward to hearing from you.



Your Name (printed or typed)

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Massachusetts Instructions on Filing a Small Claims Application

Effective 8/6/2010

The limit for filing a small claim application is 7,000.00 (seven thousand dollars). The filing fees are:

Claims 500.00 or less  –  40.00

Claims 500.01 – 2,000.00  –  50.00

Claims 2,000.01 – 5,000.00  –  100.00

Claims 5,000.01 – 7, 000.00  –  150.00

You must bring your small claim in the court where either the plaintiff or defendant lives, works, or has a place of business.  Although you have a choice, the court does recommend that you bring your action in the court where the defendant is located so it is easier to enforce a judgment in your favor.  If you choose your own court, once a judgment is obtained you will have to file a Supplementary Process (collection of a judgment) in the court that the defendant is actually located. Type or print your application. You must bear down when printing to ensure that all pages are readable and intact.  Do not detach or keep any of the copies.  Submit the entire small claim application and appropriate fee to the court.

You may pay by check, money order, personal check, or cash.  If paying in cash you should have exact change.

Completing the application:

Please state whether the defendant is an individual, corporation, trust, or company.

If the defendant is a corporation, list the full legal name.

If the defendant is a trust, list the name of the trustee(s) or principal officer.

If the defendant is a company, list the name of the owner(s) d.b.a. and company’s name.

Note: If you are not sure of the defendant’s legal entity (legal name) you need to call the Corporation Department of the Secretary of State’s Office at (617) 727-2850.  If the defendant is not listed with that office, you must check with the city or town hall in which they are located to inquire if they are a d.b.a. (Note: Boston City Clerk’s Office number is (617) 635-4600.

Submission:  Do not include copies of evidence with your application.

More detailed SMALL CLAIMS INFORMATION is available from the Court’s website here.


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Massachusetts Department of Children and Families

Here are some questions I have about the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF).

  • Is DCF a culturally biased organization?
  • Do poor, non-white families fare worse in Care and Protection cases?
  • Does DCF misuse its power?
  • Does DCF do an adequate job, or does it need serious improvement?

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Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office Reaches Agreement with Cataldo Ambulance Service – Company will refund customers and change practices as part of the agreement

Related Story: Class action lawsuit against Cataldo Ambulance Service

Source: Attorney General Martha Coakley – Press Release – December 03, 2009

BOSTON– Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office reached an agreement with Cataldo Ambulance Service Inc., resolving allegations the company unlawfully balance billed customers who used Cataldo ambulances in the aftermath of auto accidents. Under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, medical service providers are barred from billing customers for amounts in excess of motor vehicle insurer payments for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits in a variety of circumstances. The Attorney General’s Office filed an Assurance of Discontinuance in Suffolk Superior Court today under which Cataldo agreed to reimburse consumers for any balance billing payments they have made from January 1, 2006 to the present, correct any reports previously made to credit reporting agencies relating to the balance billing demands, and remove any liens placed on consumer property without consumer consent.

The Assurance filed today alleges Cataldo charged consumers for the portions of the company’s ambulance bills that the auto insurers had already rejected as unreasonable. This “balance billing” practice fails to remove the individual patient from disputes that should occur between the insurer and the service provider, as is intended by Massachusetts law.

“We are pleased that Cataldo Ambulance Inc. has resolved this issue with our office,” said Attorney General Coakley. “Medical service providers should not balance bill customers already covered by the automobile insurance PIP coverage. This is unfair to customers, and can have an unwarranted and harmful impact on the consumers’ credit scores.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Cataldo may not balance bill customers covered by PIP in violation of Massachusetts law, report unpaid balance billing amounts to credit reporting agencies, or place liens on consumer property related to balance bill amounts that are not received as part of a judgment. Cataldo must also make a payment to the Commonwealth of between $50,000 to $100,000, based on the level of restitution that it is determined to be owed to customers.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Peter Leight and Glenn Kaplan of Martha Coakley’s Insurance and Financial Services Division.

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Who is sending these messages?

Recently, I have received a series of unusual messages:

Here is one of the nonsense messages:

Name: nofxco
Description: ksNPN9  cdezfixvtrrv
Telephone Number: nSzAnYtQCuhBtmcdZuW
Type of Case: YFwzHjIVR

Time: Thursday August 16, 2012 at 10:18 am
IP Address:
Contact Form URL: http://massachusettsclassactionlawyer.com/2012/05/08/equity-residential-complaints/
Sent by an unverified visitor to your site.

Equity is headquarted in Chicago, Illinois. If anyone has more information about this IP address, please comment. Who is sending me all these weird messages?

“Once is an accident. Twice is coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.” (Ian Fleming’s novel Goldfinger)

Here is another message from an Illinois IP address:

Name: Angelina
Description: I just found bed bugs in my apt on Friday MY BIRTHDAY! Happy Birthday to me. i have 6 kids 4 bedrooms, Living room and bamseent. I agree with him suing. I called my landlord and the nerve of him to act like i brought these in! Per my neighbors they have been getting bit for month. One ripped out carpets the other threw away ALL his furniture and is sleeping on air mattresses. I’m SMACK right in between them both so where do the bugs decide to go? MY APARTMENT. These critters were in my box springs, baby playpen, shoe boxes, shoe racks and books and papers. This has been and overwhelming , depressing situation for me. I have cried, mad , depressed and every emotion you can think of. I don’t sleep, constantly looking on my couch and all the kids mattresses. I sleep upstairs in the 2 youngest room and my husband in the living room.  I cry of frustration, living out of plastic bags in the bamseent, toys packed and my 2 yrs old keep asking for her toys and my 8 month wants to crawl and i don’t allow her too. We wash our clothes as we use them so if there are any infestation we don’t carry them with us. This is embarrassing to my oldest that had friends come over to help pack everything. Although the exterminator came and will be back in 25-30 days, I remain a prisoner in my own home. Work in my sanity and school and daycare is the get away. WHO LIVES LIKE THAT!?  My landlord states  I know i had bed bug problems years ago but i bomb the place and had nothing since   UMM doesn’t that sound like a cover up? He knew his property was infested and still let renters rent. I have only been there since 3/1/10 and i’,m ready to move. The landlord went as far as to tell the neighbors i’m not the cleanest person in the world, blaming me for the infestation, but he also told me the same thing about her. COVER UP? I think so! All in all i am an emotional wreck and agree that suing is the way to go, but ONLY if the landlord is as backstabbing, sneaking and slumlord like mine. Anyone would like to represent me in my case?
Telephone Number: YkLTzzoPBiue
Type of Case: rGSrvusQtiDL

Time: Thursday August 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm
IP Address:
Contact Form URL: http://massachusettsclassactionlawyer.com/2012/05/08/equity-residential-complaints/
Sent by an unverified visitor to your site.
This next message, with roughly the same content, is from an Guatemala IP address. Was the ip address spoofed?

Here it is:

Name: Carlos
Description: I having been liivng with an infestion of bedbugs in my apartment for approx. 3 months. The bedbugs have taken over and I feel hopeless. The landlord is insensitive and implied it is my fault. I sleep at friend and families house, however I cannot go on like this. I have stopped paying rent and they will not get one cent until these bedbugs are gone.At first I did not know how serious this is , however now the bedbugs come out in the daytime, relax in my hair and feed off my scalp at night. Feast on my kids to the point they have welps and marks all over there body. I have taken these critters to work and the kids have taken them to school. I reside in a empty apt and live out of bags. I found two in my truck. My back is so marked up, it hurts to bend down. The itching is unbareable.People tell me I can’t sue and any unpaid rent will go on my credit. I am so distraut. I try to keep my head up but now I am in the crying stage.  This experience is extremely emotional and do not wish this on anyone. I have thrown everything away. Me and kids sleep on a air mattress and eat on the floor. Yes the bedbugs were hidden under the kitchen table. I am at the point where I know there going to come tonight but Im so tired, worn out and sleepy that I just fall asleep and awake to severe itching. I have no where to go. I can’t live in a shelter because my kids would have to leave there school because there is no shelter in the school district. I honestly believe the bedbugs came from the apt below but the landlord doesn’t care. I am getting a headache just writing this.If anyone out there knows something I can do .I would greatly appreciate it.Thank-you in Advance.
Telephone Number: LiJfvUufyfFiqh
Type of Case: rmWoihHKqZdpYNlC

Time: Thursday August 16, 2012 at 9:52 pm
IP Address:
Contact Form URL: http://massachusettsclassactionlawyer.com/2012/05/08/equity-residential-complaints/
Sent by an unverified visitor to your site.

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Who Killed Karina Holmer?

If you are asking, “Who Killed Karina Holmer?” the answer is: only the murderer knows who killed Karina Holmer.

This is a cold case. If you have information about Karina Holmer’s Murder, please call the Boston Police Homicide Unit at (617) 343-4470.

Her family deserves justice.

*     *     *     *     *

Philadelphia Daily News (PA) – June 26, 1996


BOSTON – A 19-year-old Swedish woman working as an au pair for a family in a wealthy suburb was found slain in a Boston trash bin, her body severed at the waist.

Karina Holmer had apparently spent her weekends in the city and was last seen alive talking with friends at the trendy Zanzibar nightclub early Saturday, police said. Early Sunday, a man scavenging for cans discovered her remains in a black plastic trash bag behind a building not far from the club.

Only the top half of her body was found. The killer may have been trying to cover up a sex crime, police sources speaking on condition of anonymity said. Police would not say if the body was clothed.

Holmer had landed a job as a nanny in March with the family of Frank Rapp in Dover, a community of about 4,000. The family refused to speak with reporters.

Also yesterday, Dover police said they were investigating a Monday night trash bin fire about 200 feet from the condominium where Holmer worked. Three bags of evidence – including clothes, but not body parts – will be turned over to the Boston Police, Dover Sgt. Jerry Adams said.

Government and private agencies dealing with au pairs said they had no record of her.

Neighbors said they often saw Holmer playing with the two little children she had been hired to watch.

“She was friendly,” said Atabak Roushanaei. She would wave and say hello but “she was very quiet. I never saw her socializing with the neighbors.” He said she looked as if she were 16 or 17 years old.

Holmer’s father, in telephone interviews from the small town of Skillingaryd, about 150 miles southwest of Stockholm, described his daughter simply as a nice and beautiful young woman, said the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald newspapers. They did not identify him.

“Of course we know that such things can happen over there, but it’s nothing that you expect,” Holmer’s sister, Johanna, told WHDH-TV.

Generally, young foreigners seeking work as nannies are brought over on special visas and trained in child care and safety by a licensed agency.

*     *     *      *
Cincinnati Post – June 26, 1996


BOSTON – A winning $1,500 Swedish lottery ticket gave Karina Holmer the spending money she needed to go to America. The headstrong woman had always dreamed of seeing the world.

A job as a nanny in a Boston suburb would give her that chance – for just three months.

Now, police are looking for a killer who strangled Ms. Holmer, 19, cut her body in half and threw the top part in a trash bin behind a Boston apartment building. The lower half of the body hasn’t been found.

She was last seen alive early Saturday morning, leaving the trendy Zanzibar nightclub with ”an older man,” her friends said. Another Swedish nanny who had been at the club said Ms. Holmer and the man were ”going to an after-hours party.”

”The next time I saw her was to identify her body,” the woman, who was not identified, told the Boston Globe.

A man scavenging for cans discovered Ms. Holmer’s remains early Sunday in a black plastic trash bag behind a building not far from the club.

The killer may have been trying to cover up a sex crime, said police sources, speaking on condition of anonymity. Police would not say if the body was clothed.

Ms. Holmer had landed a job as a nanny in March with the family of Frank Rapp in Dover, a wealthy community about 15 miles outside Boston.

Rapp, 43, was questioned by police, but said he had been cleared of suspicion. ”I am definitely not a suspect,” he told the Globe. ”My family is completely devastated.”

Police on Tuesday searched the Boston building where Rapp, a commercial photographer, had an office and Ms. Holmer spent her weekends.

And Dover police said Tuesday they were investigating a Monday night fire in a trash bin near the condo where the Rapps live and Ms. Holmer worked.

”Because of what happened with the nanny’s torso being found in the Dumpster,” it seemed odd, said Dover Police Sgt. Jerry Adams.

Neighbors said they often saw Ms. Holmer playing with the first-grade boy and toddler girl she had been hired to watch.

Her father, Ola Holmer, told the Boston Herald his daughter was ”a wonderful girl, a beautiful girl.”

*     *     *     *
Philadelphia Inquirer – June 27, 1996



The murder and mutilation of a Swedish au pair is sending shock waves through the international nanny network.

Karina Holmer, 20, who had worked since March in a Boston suburb, was savagely slain and dumped in the city over the weekend in a trauma affecting parents, nannies and the agencies that place them.

“There’s no doubt that we’ll see a redoubling of efforts to train nannies” about personal security, said Betsy Weaver, publisher of Parents’ Paper, a Boston-based monthly newspaper that carries a nanny and au pair guide.

“It may be that we’ll see fewer girls from Sweden in the next few weeks,” said Bill Gertz, a spokesman for Au Pair in America, a placement agency that promotes itself as “child care with a cultural flair.”

News of the killing played on the front pages of the Swedish tabloids Expressen and Aftonbladet yesterday, and a spokesman for the Swedish Consulate in Boston said parents there were concerned.

Richard Eisenberg, an attorney whose firm specializes in health insurance for the International Nanny Association, predicted more nannies would begin carrying battery-powered, personal-protection sirens and other security devices.

The killing – so gruesome that even veteran homicide detectives were revulsed – took place after Holmer left Zanzibar, a ritzy downtown nightclub that caters to an international crowd. Among the patrons are many European au pairs, who often arrive after midnight and linger until last call at 2 a.m.

Flashing an apparently fake driver’s license, the athletically built Holmer, whose blond, shoulder-length hair was styled in a bun, passed for 21. She entered the Back Bay club on Friday evening. She was last seen early Saturday morning, laughing with friends outside the club around closing time.

Another Swedish au pair who was there has told authorities that she saw Holmer leave with “an older man” to go to an “after-hours party.”

Her torso, stuffed into a black plastic trash bag, was found Sunday afternoon in a Dumpster behind a Boston apartment building. Her legs and pelvis have not been found.

Citing preliminary autopsy results, police believe she was strangled, then cut in half at the waist. Among the evidence retrieved from the Dumpster by detectives wearing plastic gloves and face masks was a metal disk that appeared to be from a circular saw.

Police are reviewing surveillance videotapes of patrons entering and leaving the club. They have twice interviewed Frank Rapp, 43, Holmer’s employer.

Rapp, a commercial photographer, his wife, Susan Nichter, and their two children live in a quiet, neatly landscaped townhouse in Dover, a tony suburb west of Boston. He rents a studio workspace in an artist’s loft near Fort Point Channel in South Boston. He told police he let Holmer stay there occasionally on weekend nights.

Holmer came to the United States via an illegal nanny broker in Stockholm who apparently did not arrange for her to get a work visa.

“Technically, (she) was an illegal immigrant,” the broker, Tage Sundin, 46, told Expressen. According to the newspaper, Sundin has twice been convicted and fined by Swedish authorities for operating an employment agency without a permit.

After graduating from high school in the small town of Alaryd in 1994, Holmer went to school to learn the restaurant business. She worked as a waitress and a chef. After winning $1,500 in the Swedish state lottery, she flew off to Boston in March.

Police are reportedly investigating two theories about why the body was severed.

One theory has it that Holmer was forced to have sex with someone who panicked and strangled her when she threatened to report him. By disposing of the lower half of her body, the killer wanted to hide traces of semen, which could link him to the crime through DNA matching.

The other theory is that the body was simply lopped in two for easier transport and disposal.

*    *     *     *

Boston Herald – June 27, 1996

Dad won’t come to Boston

Karina Holmer’s grieving father sees no reason to come to Boston.

“What would I do there except take a look at where my daughter was found?” he said.

Right now, all he has left are memories of his bright and lovely 19-year-old daughter and questions no one will ever answer: “Why Karina?” and “Why so gruesome?”

“Anyone who hasn’t experienced this could never understand how it feels,” Ola Holmer told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet from his home in a tiny, rural village.

“Daily, you see these terrible things on the TV news,” he added. “But as long as you’re not confronted on a personal or family level, it is impossible to comprehend how it really feels. It doesn’t matter how compassionate anyone is, it’s just impossible to understand.”

The slain nanny’s older sister, Johanna Holmer, 22, said: “We must have time to try to understand what has happened. We have had a priest here who has comforted us in our sorrow.”

Since receiving the terrible news Tuesday after returning from a vacation, the Holmer family – including Karina’s two younger sisters, Christina, 15, and Jessica, 11 – have remained sequestered in their home in the tiny village of Alaryd.

“We have been offered help from a psychologist, but I think we will manage on our own,” Johanna Holmer said.

Over the last two days, most of the residents of Alaryd have come by the Holmer home to show their sympathy and support.

The family said Boston police have contacted them and have promised to keep them apprised of any progress in the investigation.

*   *    *    *

Boston Globe – June 27, 1996


Karina Holmer’s killer was a monster, but he may have been a monster for only a few, frenzied hours of murderous rage.

The Swedish au pair’s severed upper body had not been mutilated further, police sources say, which tells forensic psychologists interviewed yesterday that her killer does not fit the mold of a serial killer or sexual sadist.

Rather, the unmarked condition of the body and its unorthodox disposal in a Fenway dumpster would indicate to these specialists that Holmer’s assailant may have been a first-time killer.

But first time or not, the psychologists say, the horrific nature of the crime shows that the murderer may have a severe mental illness and probably harbors a longstanding, explosive resentment of women. Their unnerving concern: If he did it once, he could do it again.

“This could be one-time, but it’s unlikely that it’s your typical murder committed by somebody with motives that the rest of us could understand. This person is either profoundly emotionally disturbed or a sociopath,” said Craig Latham, a forensic psychologist from Wellesley.

The psychologists emphasized that their conjectures are based on limited public knowledge of the evidence, and that Holmer may have been the latest in a string of victims who include still-missing women.

But what is known about the case supports their view that this is a strikingly rare crime both in its nature and its puzzling aftermath.

Fewer than 5 percent of murder victims are mutilated, said James Alan Fox, dean of the College of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University. And many murderers who show some deliberation in their crime dispose of their victims’ bodies in remote locations.

Although any murder is tragic, Holmer’s mutilation is what makes this crime so morbidly riveting, observers said.

“This person didn’t feel any kind of boundaries about violating the body, particularly in such a ruthless, savage way. This suggests it just wasn’t somebody faced with a problem of disposing of the body,” Latham said.

Holmer’s upper body was discovered in the dumpster Sunday, about 36 hours after she was last seen leaving Zanzibar, a downtown nightclub. Investigators say that Holmer, 20, was strangled first, and that a saw may have been used to sever her body afterward.

“These kinds of offenses are, gratefully, rare. But because they are so stark, so violent, they take hold of our imagination and our worst fears,” said Theoharis Seghorn, a founding partner of New England Forensic Associates.

Seghorn said that such brutality is possible even in seemingly normal human beings who resort to lethal actions in desperate situations.

“In this case, you’re talking about somebody who had to cut through flesh and bone,” Seghorn said. “People are capable of all sorts of bizarre acts when they are in this sort of state. In a disassociated state, anything is possible.”

Vernon Gebreth, a New York homicide and forensic consultant, said that most severed bodies are found in congested, urban areas where a killer needs to decrease his risk of being noticed when disposing of the corpse.

Fox said, “This killer tends to be fairly cunning, careful, clever. He obviously did not panic in the wake of the crime. We’re not talking about a bizarre maniac.”

“Either it’s someone who had some relation with her . . . or we’re talking about a stranger who has a great deal of control over his behavior, who could very well have a good job and neighbors and friends, but for whom rape and murder is done for the pleasure.”

*     *     *     *

Memphis Commercial Appeal

June 28, 1996


BOSTON – A young Swedish nanny whose upper body was found in a trash bin had confided in letters to friends weeks before her death that ”something terrible” had happened, and that she was looking forward to an early return to her small village.

Karina Holmer, 20, did not say what had happened, but told her friend, Ulrika Svensson, that she would reveal more once she was back home, the Swedish tabloid Expressen reported.

If she was unhappy, Karina did not confide in her older sister, Johanna Holmer, Johanna said Thursday. ”She had decided to come home earlier . . . because she wanted to go somewhere else to travel and to work,” Johanna said.

The upper half of Holmer’s body was found in a trash bin Sunday afternoon. The lower half had not been located as of Thursday.

In letters to Svensson and other friends, Karina Holmer said she was tired of the housework involved in her job as nanny for a Dover couple’s two young children.

”There is always so much cleaning, and I think I am stressed all the time. So this is not exactly what I thought it would be,” she wrote to Charlotte Sandberg. More ominously, she wrote to Svensson: ”Something terrible has happened. I’ll reveal more when I get home.”

But Holmer showed no obvious discontent to the couple who hired her, Frank Rapp and Susan Nichter, said their attorney, Martin Weinberg.

Investigators, hampered by the absence of a crime scene and the rest of the body, said they were focusing on Zanzibar, the trendy nightclub where friends who had spent a night out with Holmer last saw her early Saturday morning.

*     *     *     *     *

Expert: Mysterious Cold Case May Be Connected To Other Crimes.


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