AG's in the News - 2010 Archives
Arizona AG: My Office 'Besieged' (December 20, 2010)
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard was interviewed on CNN's Parker Spitzer regarding his recently filed lawsuit against Bank of America over mortgage fraud, detailing reactions from constituents who have been victimized by fraudulent practices.
Horsing Around in New Jersey (December 6, 2010)
The Office of the New Jersey Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Affairs has filed a lawsuit against the trustees of a horse rescue charity, alleging that the two trustees misappropriated charitable proceeds. Approximately $145,132 was donated to the N.J. Horse Angels organization, which claimed to use such donations to save horses from being auctioned off to processing plants in Canada and Mexico. The Office of the New Jersey Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Affairs commenced investigations after donors had submitted complaints about the organization’s unsatisfactory responses to questions about the use of charitable proceeds. The suit alleges that at least $61,422 of the donations was used for the trustees’ personal finances and that $9,000 remains unaccounted for. Moreover, the suit seeks to repay the donors, close the Horse Angels organization, and prohibit the trustees from working for any charitable organization in New Jersey.
Oklahoma Attorney General Files for Temporary Injunction Against Local Children’s Home (November 24, 2010)
Attorney General Drew Edmonson has filed a request for a temporary injunction and restraining order to stop the closing of the American Legion Children’s Home in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Though closing the children’s home would mean displacing 44 children, the home’s board members voted in October to close the children’s home on December 31st. According to Senator David Meyers, the board members called the children’s home a financial drain, notwithstanding the program’s over $2.6 million in cash and other assets. Edmonson has alleged that the board members broke the law in making this decision, citing their failure to notify his office about changing the purpose of the American Legion Children’s Home’s charitable trust, their violation of the Oklahoma Open Meeting’s Act by not posting their meeting agendas or providing annual meeting notices to the secretary of state, and their violation of their fiduciary duties in managing and safeguarding the charitable trust assets of the home. A district judge granted a temporary restraining order to stop the board from selling any of the home’s assets until a ruling is issued on Edmonson’s requests. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for December 14th.
Florida Attorney General Announces Settlement with Identity Theft Protection Agency (November 19, 2010)
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has reached a settlement with LifeLock Inc., an identity theft service company, regarding the veracity of claims in the company’s advertisements. LifeLock’s advertisements, which guaranteed to protect consumers' personal information and to stop criminals from using consumers' information to create fraudulent accounts, spurred customer complaints, and the office of the attorney general ultimately determined that LifeLock’s marketing practices and claims were misleading and untrue. As part of the settlement with the Florida AG’s office, more than 70,000 checks in the amount of $10.87 will be mailed in order to compensate Florida consumers. Moreover, LifeLock Inc. conceded to ending misrepresentations of and overstatements about its service to consumers.
Iowa Attorney General Launches Investigation of Des Moines Charity (November 19, 2010)
The Iowa Attorney General’s office has served Lino’s Inc. with a search warrant after undercover phone conversations revealed that workers at the company misrepresented themselves as volunteers and made false statements to obtain donations. Lino’s workers thought they were soliciting Iowans for charitable donations, but they were actually calling workers on an undercover phone line kept at the attorney general's office. Claiming to raise funds for seven nonprofit organizations, including American Veterans Foundation and Hope Cancer Funds Inc., Lino’s has been accused of keeping for itself 80 percent or more of all donations received through these allegedly fraudulent phone solicitations. In addition to financial and fundraising documents, the search warrant requests that the court freeze the company's bank account at First American Bank in Clive. Criminal charges have yet to be filed, and Attorney General Spokesman Geoff Greenwood stated, “It is fairly unusual to go the criminal route in cases like this."
New York Attorney General Sues Chief Architect of Auto Bailouts (November 18, 2010)
New York Attorney, Andrew Cuomo, filed suit against ex-car czar Steven Rattner claiming that Rattner paid kickbacks to win $150 million in business (for his private equity firm) from the state’s pension fund. Additionally, Rattner was recently and separately charged with similar allegations of widespread fraud at his own firm, Quadrangle. Thus, Rattner faces two suits, collectively seeking $26 million in penalties and a lifetime ban from the New York securities industry. Cuomo hopes to recover any ill-gotten gains and hold Rattner accountable.
Idaho Attorney General Praises FDA Action on Alcohol Energy Drinks (November 17, 2010)
The FDA has recently issued warning letters to four manufacturers of Alcohol Energy Drinks (AEDs). The letters require manufacturers to promptly correct their violations of federal law since the FDA determines that AEDs are not ‘generally recognized as safe’. According to Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden the FDA’s action is a significant step towards removing these “dangerous” products from the market. Wasden, along with other state attorney generals has been was part of the effort to ask the FDA to label the drinks ‘unsafe’.
Conference of Western Attorneys General Says ‘No’ to Drugs (November 16, 2010)
Nebraska Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and a delegation of five other state attorneys general from the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) have met with the US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to propose continued funding of an anti-drug initiative used by attorneys general throughout the US. Known as CWAG’s Alliance Partnership Program, the initiative involves 34 US states and 28 Mexican states and has allowed attorneys general to provide technical assistance and legal training to Mexican authorities. In fiscal year 2010, the program trained over 4,000 Mexican law enforcement authorities, and, if approved, the funding will allow the initiative to continue providing Mexican law enforcement with training to combat international drug-trafficking. More than 6,000 Mexican authorities are projected to participate in the initiative’s training in fiscal 2011.
New York Attorney General’s Office Restores $12 Million to Brooklyn Charity (November 12, 2010)
After weeks of awaiting approval from the state Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, New York City officials have restored $12.5 million in contracts to the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council. The Brooklyn nonprofit, a social-services organization founded by Brooklyn Democratic leader Vito Lopez that covers programs from senior centers to homeless prevention, needed the AG’s office to confirm its filings and paperwork before the $12.5 million could be registered and processed. The delay followed the Department of Investigation’s negative reports on Ridgewood Bushwick’s administration, which reports corruption in one of the nonprofit’s units and recommended stricter monetary and administrative supervision. Notwithstanding the approval, the Attorney General’s office has asserted its intention to keep Ridgewood Bushwick under review.
Bad Hair Day in California for “Brazilian Blowout” Creators (November 11, 2010)
The California Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the company that makes a hair-smoothing treatment known as the "Brazilian Blowout," alleging that the company failed to warn consumers that the treatment contains formaldehyde. The owner of a Modesto hair salon that once used the treatment says she had the product lab-tested after stylists and clients complained of burning eyes and throats. The results from the California Laboratory Services test showed that the “Brazilian Blowout” contains approximately 13% formaldehyde. The company insists that there is only 0.0011% formaldehyde in the hair treatment, and contends that the tests run by the California Laboratory Services used the wrong test to determine the formaldehyde content of the product. The company maintains that a 13 C-NMR spectroscopy test would be the proper means of ascertaining the concentration of formaldehyde, but a chemist at the University of the Pacific says such a test would never determine the amount of formaldehyde.
Utah Attorney General Investigates Football Bowl Championship Series (November 9, 2010)
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has been investigating the college football Bowl Championship Series for possible antitrust violations. He is currently working with Justice Department officials to discuss an additional federal investigation.
California Attorney General Seeks Settlement with Monterey County AIDS Project (November 5, 2010)
The California Attorney General’s Office has engaged in negotiations with the Monterey County AIDS Project to reach a settlement regarding the nonprofit’s mismanagement of charitable assets. The civil suit, filed in May, alleges that over the past decade the former officers and directors of the charity misspent money designated to benefit people with HIV/AIDS. It claims that charitable proceeds were used for board members’ personal and for-profit purposes, and that the organization did not properly document its withdrawals from the sale of a property donated to the organization. Unless the California AG office can reach an agreement with the nonprofit that will ascertain and recover monetary damages caused by the organization’s misspending, the case will move forward in a court hearing in April.
Missouri Attorney General Gives Homeowners “Tool Kit” to Fight Foreclosure (November 2, 2010)
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has has compiled a “tool kit” of information on his website for consumers facing foreclosure, including a form letter consumers can send to their bank demanding proof of proper paperwork for the foreclosure to proceed. As part of a 50-state investigation by state attorneys general into foreclosure practices, Attorney General Koster says that his office has identified approximately one hundred Missouri homeowners who claim that banks are failing to produce proper documentation related to foreclosure actions. Attorney General recommended that anyone facing foreclosure get a lawyer and ensure that their bank is following proper foreclosure procedures.
Washington Attorney General's Office Settles with Animal-Welfare Charity (October 29, 2010)
After a 16-month investigation into the fund-raising and business practices of a local animal-welfare charity, the Washington Attorney General's Office has reached an agreement with Pasado’s Safe Haven that stipulates changes in the nonprofit’s representation of donated money, its accounting practices, and executive management. State attorneys said that from 2005 to 2009, evidence shows that Pasado’s failed to separate the nonprofit’s finances from the personal business of employees, that it took money while misrepresenting its ability to assist in natural disasters, and that it misled by promising care for specific animals. According to state attorneys, these actions violated state laws pertaining to charitable solicitations and consumer protection. Pasado’s has agreed to new oversight and accounting improvements, and to pay $70,000 of the state’s costs and attorneys fees.
New Jersey Attorney General’s Office Files Lawsuit Against Car-Donation Schemer (October 29, 2010)
The New Jersey Attorney General's Office and the Division of Consumer Affairs has filed a four-count complaint against Steven Ashley, a New Jersey resident who falsely solicited vehicle donations for the Ray of Hope charity. The New Jersey AG’s office stated that Ashley’s car donation scheme violated the state's Charitable Registration and Investigations Act, along with the state's Consumer Fraud Act. Undercover investigators from the Division of Consumer Affairs responded twice to Ashley’s advertisements in 2009, ultimately determining that Ashley misrepresented his use of the car donations. Rather than donating the vehicles to Ray of Hope, which Ashley’s advertisements allegedly claimed to benefit, Ashley used donations to support his own used car dealership in North Carolina. Investigators have also charged Ashley with unlawfully withholding certain facts about IRS requirements that stipulate the amount of money that a donor is able to apply to a tax deduction.
New York Attorney General Sues FedEx Over Delivery Driver Hiring Classification ( October 23, 2010)
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has sued FedEx Corp. in New York Supreme Court for improperly hiring delivery drivers as independent contractors rather than as employees. According to Cuomo, such hiring arrangements allow the company to refuse certain rights that are afforded to employees while controlling all aspects of the driver's work, as if they were employees. Cuomo claims that the arrangement is out of compliance with New York State labor laws.
Indiana Attorney General Sued Foreclosure Consultants, Alleging Scams (October 21, 2010)
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has sued ten companies for allegedly taking advantage of homeowners who turned to the companies for ‘foreclosure consulting’. According to Zoeller, the companies advertised false claims that they could save any home from foreclosure with a 100% guarantee. The ten lawsuits were filed in nine different Indiana counties in an effort to alert consumers about the risks of hiring for-profit foreclosure rescue companies.
Two Men Indicted on Charges Related to False Veterans Charity (October 18, 2010)
An Ohio grand jury has indicted the director of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association on charges of money laundering, theft, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. The indictments allege that under the guise of contributing to US veterans, the charity director - using the name "Bobby Thompson" - stole over $1 million from Ohio residents, and that he donated large sums of money to Virginia political campaigns in the last year. Also indicted was Blanca Contreras, who was charged with facilitating the charity director in the operation of the false charity. According to Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, the charity director stole the identity of a real man named Bobby Thompson, and is believed to have stolen other identities in order to execute other false political contributions as well.
Real Estate Agent Settles CPA Violation with Idaho Attorney General (October 14, 2010)
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has settled with a real estate agent who breached the terms of the Idaho Consumer Protection Act. The real estate agent was accused of adding important information to a contract after his client had already signed the documents. According to Attorney General Wasden, amending an agreement without the consent of the consumer violates the terms of the Idaho Consumer Protection Act. Pursuant to the settlement, the real estate agent has agreed to pay $1,500 to cover litigation costs, and to restructure his business practices to comply with state law.
Ohio Attorney General Fights Against Wall Street (October 12, 2010)
In his two years in office, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray has filed and settled numerous lawsuits against entities associated in the public mind with Wall Street and the ongoing worldwide financial crisis, including global financial houses, rating agencies, subprime lenders and foreclosure scammers. Attorney General Cordray has secured nearly $2 billion in settlements thus far, and most recently filed suit against GMAC Mortgage, accusing the loan servicer of filing fraudulent affidavits in hundreds of Ohio foreclosures. Cordray’s efforts track those of other state Attorneys General, such as Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, Lisa Madigan of Illinois, Tom Miller of Iowa and Roy Cooper of North Carolina, who have supplemented the actions of federal regulators with what some view as a more populist approach.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Investigates Land Deals Made by Hershey School’s Trustees (October 8, 2010)
Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has initiated an investigation into recent land purchases executed by the trustees of the Milton Hershey School. More than one hundred years old, the Hershey Trust funds and sustains the Hershey School, which provides residential education to impoverished students. Corbett’s investigation will focus primarily on the soundness of the trust’s $17 million acquisition of a golf course and clubhouse, in order to verify that the purchase was in compliance not only with Pennsylvania’s Office of Charitable Trusts, but also with the Hershey Deed of Trust, which directs that trust money be used only for the care and education of the school’s students.
Illinois Attorney General Files Suit Against Enbridge (October 7, 2010)
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed suit against Enbridge Energy Partners LP regarding the company’s September oil leak in Romeoville, Illinois. Madigan’s complaint seeks the imposition of fines and financial responsibility for the cleanup. According to Enbridge, the company has already completed “nearly all” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s requirements.
Wisconsin Attorney General Sues Wisconsin Man and North Carolina Business for Cooperation in Fraudulent Charitable Solicitation Scheme (October 6, 2010)
The Wisconsin attorney General has filed an enforcement action against Michael Messmer, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and Marilyn Broerman, of Charlotte, North Carolina, for their alleged participation in a fraudulent charitable solicitation scheme in which they placed candy donation canisters in hundreds of southeast Wisconsin businesses and misled consumers into believing that the money raised would assist in the search for missing children. The canisters were plastered with labels depicting a missing child poster and the statement “Thank You for Your Generous Donation,” yet none of the money placed in the canisters has been donated to charity and Messmer has not registered as a charitable solicitor in Wisconsin. The Attorney General is seeking an injunction prohibiting further violations of Wisconsin’s charitable solicitation law, as well as fines of between $100 and $1000 for each violation, and recovery of the state’s costs to investigate and prosecute the case.
Missouri Attorney General Collaborates with Six Other AGs in Credit Card Antitrust Lawsuit (October 5, 2010)
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, six other attorneys general, and the Department of Justice have filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. The companies are accused of forcing merchants to sign agreements on unfair swipe fee rules. The six other involved attorneys general represent Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas.
New York State Attorney General Charges Buffalo Debt Collector With Harassing Military Personnel (September 28, 2010)
New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has filed felony fraud charges against a Buffalo debt collector who allegedly owned and ran three Buffalo collection firms in violation of debt collection laws. According to Cuomo, the individual instructed her employees to harass and threaten members of the military and their families in order to collect on an alleged debt. If convicted on the first degree charge of scheme to defraud, the accused faces up to four year in prison. Cuomo has additionally filed a civil suit in state Supreme Court seeking to permanently shut the down the accused’s collection business, pay restitution to victims, and to pay penalties and costs to the state.
Southern California Charity Settles Lawsuit with State Attorney General’s Office (September 28, 2010)
A Santa-Ana charity, The Association for Firefighters and Paramedics Inc., has settled a suit filed by the California Attorney General’s Office, which alleged that the Association inappropriately used donations to pay for out-of-town meetings and a Caribbean cruise. According to the AG’s office, the charity also misrepresented how the proceeds would be spent, using donations largely for the charity’s fundraising efforts rather than for the care of local burn victims. The Association agreed to pay $100,000 to settle the case, in addition to undisclosed attorney fees and investigative costs.
Connecticut Attorney General Investigates Potential GMAC Mortgage Fraud (September 27, 2010)
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has demanded that GMAC Mortgage, one of the nation’s largest servicers of home loans, freeze all Connecticut foreclosures. Blumenthal plans to investigate the banks apparent failure to follow basic legal procedure and the bank’s potential fraud on the court. Specifically Blumenthal is seeking information about any Connecticut cases where defective foreclosure affidavits were filed.
Ohio Attorney General Green-Lights Sale of Health Services Nonprofit to For-Profit Company (September 21, 2010)
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray has approved the sale of nonprofit health services company Forum Health, which has been in bankruptcy proceedings for 18 months, to Tennessee-based Community Health Systems (CHS). Cordry stated that the sale will “will be in the best interest of protecting the charitable purpose of Forum Health,” despite concerns expressed by Forum’s three unions that the sale would compromise patient care in the name of profits. In support of his conclusion, Cordray cited CHS’s pledge to commit $80 million to Forum’s three major hospitals over the next five years and noted that the purchase price would be sufficient to cover Forum’s debts.
Hospitals Want Massachusetts Attorney General to Set Up Rules for Sale of Nonprofit Hospital Group to Private Equity Firm (September 20, 2010)
A group of Massachusetts hospitals, Healthcare Access Coalition, has appealed to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office to impose conditions on the sale of Caritas Christi Health Care system to Cerebus Capital Management, a New York-based private equity firm. The sale would change Caritas’ status from nonprofit to for-profit. Healthcare Access Coalition cited a series of concerns over unfair competition, including whether Cerebus would use its dominance in the market to fix prices, potentially causing an increase in healthcare premiums. The attorney general’s office and the state Department of Public Health are involved in a regulatory review of the sale and a Caritas’ spokesman said there is no specific timetable for the sale.
Health Care Battle Hits Pensacola Courtroom (September 14, 2010)
Oral arguments began on Tuesday in Pensacola Florida concerning a case filed by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the healthcare reform law passed in March. The case was joined by the Attorneys General of 19 states and the National Federation of Independent Business, a lobby group for small business. The main issues will be the requirement that all people have health insurance or face tax penalties and the requirement that states pay additional Medicaid costs.
Kansas Attorney General Joins Supreme Court Brief in AEP v. Connecticut (September 9, 2010)
Kansas Attorney General Steve Six has joined nine other states in an amicus brief filed by Indiana requesting the Supreme Court to hear AEP v. Connecticut and overrule a Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision that allowed the case to move forward. The key question of the case is whether the judicial branch is the appropriate place to make policy decisions regarding green house gas emissions. The case was originally brought in 2004 by eight states who sought to hold five energy companies liable for public nuisance. The case was dismissed in federal district court where issue was held to be nonjusticiable as a political question.
Missouri Attorney General Sues Satellite Radio Provider (September 9, 2010)
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit against Sirius XM, a satellite Radio provider, on Wednesday asserting that it violated the state’s no-call laws. Koster alleges that Sirius XM violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act and the Telemarketing No-Call List Act by soliciting subscribers in Missouri who were on a no-call list. Koster received a temporary restraining order against Sirius and is seeking a civil penalty of $5,000 per violation.
Texas Attorney General Investigating Google (September 7, 2010)
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has begun an anti-trust inquiry into whether, Google, an internet search company is manipulating search results to stifle competition. The allegations were brought by four companies: Foundem, SourceTool, TradeComet, and myTriggers. None of the companies are based in Texas. Google handles roughly two-thirds of all internet searches in the U.S.
Craigslist Removes Adult Services Section (September 7, 2010)
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal wants proof that the adult services section on craigslist has been permanently removed. Craigslist removed the section on Friday, September 3 after 17 States Attorneys General sent a letter to the internet classified website. States Attorneys General and law enforcement asserted that the section was being used for prostitution and child trafficking.
Virginia Attorney General’s Case Against Climate Researcher Is Rejected (August 30, 2010)
Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge, Hon. Paul M. Peatross Jr., has rejected two administrative subpoenas issued by Virginia Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, in his attempt to gain records of former University of Virginia Professor, Michael E. Mann. Cuccinelli accuses Mann, a climate change researcher, of violating Virginia’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act by altering research results in order to gain grant funds. Judge Peatross found that Cuccinelli failed to state the nature of Mann’s alleged wrongdoing.
17 Attorneys General Call on Craigslist to Eliminate Adult Services (August 25, 2010)
Attorneys General from 17 states have signed a joint letter calling for Craigslist to remove its adult-services section from it’s website since it can not block illegal ads for prostitution and child trafficking. The letter was signed by the Attorneys General from Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Nebraska Attorney General Won't Defend Law on Abortion Screenings (August 18, 2010)
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has agreed to a permanent federal injunction against enforcement of a new state law requiring women seeking abortions to undergo a health screening. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed a challenge to the law in Federal District Court and an injunction was issued. Bruning will not defend against a challenge to the law, therefore preventing the law from taking effect.
Texas Attorney General Sues Over Drilling Moratorium (August 12, 2010)
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sued the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, over a ban halting the approval of any new permits being issued for deepwater oil drilling. The current moratorium is the second enacted in response to an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A previous moratorium was blocked in federal court.
California Attorney General Expands Probe of Bell City Officials (August 9, 2010)
California Attorney General Jerry Brown has ordered current and former city of Bell officials to turn over financial records and give statements under oath regarding exorbitant salaries that they were earning. Recent public disclosure of the salaries has caused a public outcry and has resulted in resignations by some city officials. Attorney General Brown additionally announced that he was investigating allegations of improper handling of absentee ballots by city officials in Bell.
Texas Attorney General Abbot Seeks Action Against BP (August 9, 2010)
The Texas Attorney General has filed suit against BP Products North America, alleging that the energy company’s Texas City refinery illegally emitted more that 500,000 pounds of pollutants from early April through mid-May. The pollution allegedly resulted from an equipment malfunction that could have been prevented had BP exercised proper care in maintenance. The Attorney General’s office will seek civil penalties between $50 and $25,000 for each day BP was in violation of the law.
Amazon, Apple E-book Deals Attract Connecticut Antitrust Scrutiny (August 2, 2010)
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has begun an investigation into the possible anti-competitive agreements between electric book retailers and Amazon and Apple. The investigation was prompted by a concern over provisions in the agreements that prohibit publishers from giving discounts with other book vendors, eliminating the ability for competitors to offer reduced prices on books.
Virginia Attorney General: Virginia Police Can Ask About Immigration Status (August 2, 2010)
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has ruled in an official legal opinion that Virginia law enforcement officers may inquire into the immigration status of those they stop or arrest. A 2008 law requires law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone they arrest. Cuccinelli’s opinion broadens that law to include traffic violations, similar to the immigration law passed in Arizona. In Virginia, Attorney General opinions have the effect of law until overturned in court.
New York Attorney General Probes Insurers' "Secret Profits" on Death Benefits of U.S. Soldiers (July 29, 2010)
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo began a fraud investigation of Metlife Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc. concerning the profits on death benefits retained from families of deceased life insurance policy holders including deceased military personnel. The insurance companies place death benefits in interest-bearing accounts and issue IOU’s to beneficiaries to allow time for beneficiaries to decide how to use the payout. The insurance companies earn income by investing the funds and keeping the difference. Cuomo has demanded information regarding the difference of interest income earned and the rate paid to beneficiaries.
North Carolina Attorney General Suffers a Setback as 4th Circuit Rules that Nuisance Law Cannot Be Applied to Coal-Fired Power Plants’ Interstate Air Pollution (July 28, 2010)
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court holding and ruled that a common-law public nuisance claim cannot be applied to interstate air pollution caused by coal-fired power plants operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally owned utility. The decision dealt a setback to the lawsuit filed by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper seeking to address harm caused by pollution from TVA plants in Tennessee and Alabama that crosses state lines and contributes to haze over North Carolina’s western mountains. The Court of Appeals reasoned that allowing state public nuisance claims against interstate air polluters would conflict with federal law and would result in a “confused patchwork of standards, to the detriment of industry and the environment alike.”
Connecticut Attorney General Investigates Charities (July 28, 2010)
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal began an investigation Wednesday into two charities run by Ted Collins IV and for the benefit of Mandi Schwartz, a Yale hockey player with leukemia. Collins did not legally register the charities nor did he comply with requirements the attorney general’s office be notified of fund raising activities. Collins is under a separate fraud investigation in Kentucky by federal prosecutors related to activities that occurred when he resided in that state.
Massachusetts Attorney General Cites Fletcher Granite for Wage and Hours Violations (July 28, 2010)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley cited Fletcher Granite and its CEO for a violation of state labor law. The company shutdown and laid off its employees on June 18 when it was no longer able to pay bills or meet payroll demands. The Fair Labor Division began an investigation in July and concluded that 78 employees had not been compensated for a total of $164,000. Fletcher Granite had been in operation since 1881.
Texas Attorney General Appeals EPA Veto of 'Flexible' Air Pollution Permits (July 26, 2010)
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed an appeal in the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging an EPA rejection of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's Flexible Permits Program (FPP) concerning air emissions. FPP allows some of the state’s largest facilities to set emission limits for entire facilities instead of for each individual source.
Alabama Attorney General Prepping Suit Against BP (July 23, 2010)
Alabama Attorney General Troy King announced Thursday that a lawsuit is forthcoming against British Petroleum (BP), Transocean, and others in response to the oil spill caused by an explosion on Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The Deepwater Horizon was licensed to BP when the explosion occurred on April 20, 2010. King is seeking to recover lost tax revenue for Alabama.
Florida Attorney General Warns of Scam Artists Targeting Victims of Gulf Oil Spill (July 22, 2010)Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has issued a consumer advisory warning concerning a “phishing” scam related to the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill. E-mails have been sent in which the author identifies himself as Tony Hayworth, British Petroleum (BP) CEO, requesting personal information in exchange for $500,000 in grant funding from BP. The e-mails are believed to have originated in Nigeria.
Utah Attorney General Investigating Immigration List (July 22, 2010)
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has begun a criminal investigation into the distribution of a list containing the names of 1,300 people alleged to be illegal immigrants. Two Utah Department of Workforce Services employees accessed, methodically compiled, and distributed private information in the form of a spreadsheet to news outlets and local law enforcement. The information was sent by a group calling itself “Concerned Citizens of the United States” and sought the immediate deportation of those named on the list. Shurtleff has begun an investigation to see if any state laws have been broken.
West Virginia Attorney General Reaches Loan Settlement (July 22, 2010)
West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw settled with FFD Companies, an Internet payday loan operator, requiring FFD Companies to refund $305,446 to 576 customers. FFD Companies also agree to refrain from making or collecting any loans in West Virginia. McGraw has been investigating the industry since 2005, resulting in $2.5 million in refunds from 107 Internet payday lenders.
Whistleblower Suit Nets $20M Settlement in New York (July 21, 2010)
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced a $20 million settlement with Sodexo, a food service provider, for a claim that Sodexo had overcharged schools in New York. An investigation of Sodexo began under the New York False Claims Act after former employees blew the whistle internally in 2006 and were allegedly fired in retribution. The complaint alleged that Sodexo had charged school districts and the State University of New York system, but withheld information that Sodexo had received 14% rebates from suppliers.
Five Attorneys General Sue Feds and Chicago Water District Over Carp (July 19, 2010)
The Attorneys General of Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have sued the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to shut two lakeside navigation locks in order to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. The lawsuit also demands increased poisoning and netting programs for Asian carp, a voracious invasive species that has decimated the Mississippi river basin and has already breached an electronic barrier in the river 35 miles downstream from the Lake Michigan shoreline. The lawsuit demands that the Corp expedite a study considering the options of reconstructing the separation between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi river basin, presently connected by canals.
A.I.G. to Pay $725 Million in Ohio Case (July 16, 2010)
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray reached a settlement with American Insurance Group for $725 million concerning Ohio’s claims that A.I.G. committed accounting fraud, stock manipulation, and bid-rigging which harmed three state pension funds. It was the 10th largest securities class action settlement in United States history.
California Attorney General Sues Feds Over Solar Financing (July 14, 2010)
California Attorney General Jerry Brown filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac asserting that the mortgage companies have undermined a home-energy improvement program, called Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE). PACE is a financing method allowing homeowners to pay for home improvements, such as solar panels and window insulation, through a special property-tax assessment facilitated by the county. Last week Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said they would not issue mortgages on properties that have PACE financing over fears that homeowners who default would have to pay the tax before paying their home loan.
South Dakota Stepping into Immigration Debate (July 14, 2010)
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley is joining other states in filing an amicus brief in support of Arizona’s immigration law. The brief will support joint state and federal authority to enforce immigration laws. South Dakota’s role will be advisory since Michigan is taking the lead in the brief.
Virginia Attorney General Disputes Former Professor’s Climate Research in Court (July 14, 2010)
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed a brief on Tuesday asserting that the University of Virginia has not demonstrated that a request for documents relevant to an ongoing fraud investigation violates any legal or constitutional right. Cuccinelli is investigating whether former University of Virginia professor and climate scientist Michael Mann violated the Fraud against Taxpayers Act whilst seeking federal and state research grants. The University of Virginia has asserted that there is no rational basis to believe fraud has been committed and that the request for documents and e-mails should be set aside to avoid a violation of academic freedom.
Michigan Attorney General’s Brief to Support Arizona Immigration Law (July 13, 2010)
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox is planning to file a legal brief in support of Arizona’s immigration law and sent a letter Monday asking other states to join. The Arizona law will require state and local police to question and potentially arrest those reasonably suspected of being illegal immigrants. The U.S. Justice Department has recently brought a lawsuit challenging the law set to take effect July 29.
Indiana Attorney General Gives School Bus Fees a Red Light (July 13, 2010)
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has issued an advisory opinion stating that charging a fee to ride public school buses violates the state’s constitution. The opinion was in response to a letter from State Board of Accounts Examiner Bruce Hartman, who told Zoeller that some school districts were planning to charge fees and asked Zoeller whether school districts had the authority to assess and collect such fees. Zoeller said that bus fees were tantamount to tuition and therefore violated a student’s right to a free public education.
New York Attorney General Wins Suit Against Dating Service (July 12, 2010)
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has won a lawsuit against dating service Great Date Now, Meet Over Drinks and the company’s owners, over the services' alleged fraudulent and illegal business practices. The suit asserted that the company charged clients up to $5,500, in violation of a state law limiting fees for social-referral services to $1,000. The court awarded costs, civil penalties and restitution to the company’s clients, with the amount to be determined at a later hearing; Attorney General Cuomo is seeking $720,000 in restitution for clients on nearly 700 contracts.
Missouri Attorney General Files Motion in Health Care Lawsuit (July 12, 2010)
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is attempting to prevent the state from becoming involved in a challenge to the federal health care overhaul. Lt. Governor Peter Kinder filed a lawsuit last week in federal court in his personal and official capacities. Koster filed a motion to dismiss that portion of the lawsuit filed in Kinder’s official capacity.
Rhode Island Attorney General and Conservation Law Foundation Assail Wind Contract (July 10, 2010)
Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch and the Conservation Law Foundation have filed papers requesting that the state Public Utilities Commission dismiss an agreement between utility National Grid and developer Deepwater Wind to establish a demonstration wind farm off Block Island. The Attorney General asserted that the commission has already considered and dismissed the contract in question and that the General Assembly violated separation of powers principles enshrined in the state constitution by passing a new law to permit the Public Utilities Commission to consider the contract anew. Attorney General Lynch portrayed the law as allowing Deepwater Wind to evade the lawful appeal process, which requires that a final PUC decision be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Massachusetts Attorney General Seeks Wind Farm’s Profit Estimates (July 9, 2010)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has filed a request seeking cost and profit estimates for Cape Wind, a proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm, in order to assess whether a contract negotiated between the utility National Grid and the project’s developers would cause customers to pay an overly high price for the wind farm’s power. Acting as the state’s advocate for ratepayers, Attorney General Coakley expressed concern that because National Grid did not solicit competing bids for other renewable energy projects, neither National Grid nor Cape Wind's developers had an incentive to bargain for a cost-effective contract. Cape Wind’s developers are resisting Attorney General Coakley’s request, arguing that the cost estimates are proprietary and that the request would have a chilling effect on the initiation of future renewable energy projects.
Texas Attorney General Orders Insurer Travelers Cos. Inc. to Pull Television Ad (July 9, 2010)
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has issued a cease and desist order against insurer Travelers Cos. Inc. requiring the company to stop running a television advertisement that the AG called deceptive. According to Abbott, the ad improperly tells Texas homeowners that they should purchase additional automobile insurance to avoid risking the loss of their homes. Texas homestead laws already protect homeowners from the risks depicted in the Travelers advertisement, Abbott said, and the company will face legal action if it continues to run the ad.
Colorado Attorney General Sues Debt Repair Company (July 8, 2010)
Colorado AG John Suthers has filed charges against a debt repair company for defrauding customers through deceptive advertising. The company, Real Talk Network, allegedly promised to get consumers out of debt quickly and claimed a 100 percent success rate for participants in its program, but customers claim they received little to no assistance. The lawsuit also alleges that one of Real Talk Network’s corporate officers misrepresented his credentials and education.
Massachusetts Attorney General Announces Settlement to fund Abandoned Property Rehabilitation Program (July 8, 2010)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has announced that funds from a 2009 settlement of a subprime lending enforcement effort will be used to provide grants under the Attorney General’s Abandoned Property Rehabilitation Program. The program supports the rehabilitation of residential properties that have been abandoned due to foreclosure and awards grants to areas in Massachusetts that were impacted most by the housing crisis. The initiative was originally developed in the mid-1990s as a response to complaints about crime and safety issues resulting from one or two abandoned homes in otherwise healthy neighborhoods.
West Virginia Attorney General Sets Sights on Supposed Charity (July 8, 2010)
West Virginia Attorney General Darrel McGraw has filed suit against three individuals allegedly operating a charitable fundraising scam in which the defendants claimed to be selling computers to raise money for autistic children. According to Attorney General McGraw, the defendants failed to register as a charitable organization with the Secretary of State of West Virginia as required by law, and allegedly told customers that the computers were donated by corporate sponsors when they had in fact been purchased at liquidation sales and surplus auctions.
“Pension padding” widespread problem in NY, Attorney General Cuomo Says (July 8, 2010)
More than half of government entities responding to a statewide inquiry had employees who were likely inflating pension paychecks by working inordinate amounts of overtime just before retiring, according to a report released by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office. Cuomo called such “pension padding” a widespread, costly abuse of the system. The report includes tips to agencies on how they can limit pension-padding, and Cuomo’s office has already expanded the inquiry by sending letters to 23 agencies that have high pension costs in relation to the size of their budgets.
AG Stenehjem of North Dakota orders charitable group to cease and desist (July 7, 2010)
The North Dakota Attorney General has issued a cease and desist order against "Liberian Center For Growth and Development," a group that has been illegally soliciting money, allegedly for a library in Liberia. Although the group maintains a North Dakota address, it is registered as a non-profit with the state of Ohio.
$460,000 fund set up to repay clients of defunct homebuilder in Maryland (July 6, 2010)
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler has reached a settlement with Arch Insurance Company, the bonding company for Equity Homes, LLC to repay consumers. According to the Attorney General, consumers were never refunded the deposits on new homes that were never built. Read more here.
Ohio attorney general goes after U.S. Navy Veterans Association (July 2, 2010)
AG Richard Cordray has prohibited solicitations from the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, which is allegedly in violation of charitable registration requirements. Cordray has called the organization a “hoax” that has preyed upon patriotic Ohioans and harmed Veterans.
Mass. reaches $2.9M settlement with Exxon Mobil (June 28, 2010)
Attorney General Martha Coakley of Massachusetts has reached a settlement with Exxon Mobil, which was charged with violating air pollution laws. According to Coakley, between 1999 and 2001 Exxon Mobil changed the vapor collection and recovery system that control emissions of volatile organic compounds without the approval of Massachusetts environmental regulators. In addition to the settlement, Exxon Mobil will reduce gasoline vapor emissions by updating and improving air pollution control systems.
Connecticut AG Issues Subpoena to CVS After Company Threatens to Stop Discount Drug Program (June 23, 2010)
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal subpoenaed CVS Caremark Group after the company threatened to discontinue a consumer discount drug program instead of extending it to Medicaid patients. Blumenthal is concerned with the legality of the company’s move because a state law taking effect on July 1, 2010 would require the company to offer its lowest drug prices to Medicaid recipients. Blumenthal also claims that CVS may have singled out Connecticut, pointing out that the program operates in other states. Mike DeAngelis, a CVS spokesman, stated that the new law would make it economically unfeasible to continue the discount program in the state.
Maryland AG Lead Signatory on Letter That Asks BP to Pay for Any Damage to the East Coast (June 21, 2010)
Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler was the lead signatory on a letter from eleven East Coast states requesting BP to commit to financial responsibility for environmental and economic damages potentially caused by the oil spill. If the oil moves around the tip of Florida there is a great possibility that several states on the East Coast will face damages already seen in the Gulf States. Gansler stated that this letter is a necessary precaution to ensure that his state and its citizens are protected from any negative impacts of the oil spill and in solidifying BP’s potential accountability beyond the Gulf.
Arizona AG Withdraws as Counsel for the State in the Defense of New Immigration Bills (June 18, 2010)
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has declared that he will step down as legal counsel for the state in cases defending the new immigration bills. Goddard said that his decision to do so was a result of a letter he received days prior from Governor Jan Brewer in which she stated her unwillingness to work cooperatively with Goddard in defending the bills. Goddard claims his actions were an effort to avoid a costly and highly disruptive legal dispute with the state.
Alaska AG Announces $500M Settlement in Sate’s Retirement Managing Board’s Lawsuit Against Former Actuary (June 14, 2010)
Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan announced that the Alaska Retirement Managing Board has settled a lawsuit against its former actuary, Mercer, for $500 million. The lawsuit alleges claims of malpractice, breach of contract and unfair trade practices on behalf of Mercer in their advice on management of the Alaska Public Employees’ Retirement System. Sullivan also stated that this is the largest settlement in history for this kind of claim.
New York AG Files Lawsuit Against Immigration Services Companies (June 8, 2010)
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that he has filed a lawsuit against several immigration services companies for allegedly defrauding Haitian citizens affected by the recent earthquake. After the earthquake struck the Haitian capital in January, the Department of Homeland Security permitted Haitian citizens living in the United States to obtain Temporary Protected Status for eighteen months. According to Cuomo, the companies in question were not licensed and had provided fraudulent immigration services to the Haitian immigrants.
Florida AG Settles Lawsuit with Office Depot for up to $5.9 Million (June 4, 2010)
Florida AG Bill McCollum settled with Office Depot for up to $5.9 million after bringing a lawsuit against the company for illegal pricing practices. Office Depot had allegedly instituted a new pricing plan for government agencies that included augmented prices to increase company profits. The difference in cost between the two pricing plans will be refunded by Office Depot and placed into an escrow account awaiting claims from agencies subjected to the second plan.
Missouri AG Announces Clean Water Lawsuit Judgment, Resulting in $8,000 in Fines Against Polluter (June 2, 2010)
Missouri AG Chris Koster filed a lawsuit against water treatment company Tahoe-Ozark Land Investment LLC for allegedly operating an illegal ultraviolet disinfection wastewater treatment system for a restaurant in Camdenton, MO. The company’s failure to utilize the required dechlorination system resulted in contaminated water with effluent levels in violation of state law being released the Lake of the Ozarks. The judgment of the lawsuit resulted in $8,000 in fines for the water treatment company.
Ohio AG Orders U.S. Navy Veterans Association to Cease Fundraising Activities in the State (June 1, 2010)
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray has ordered the U.S. Navy Veterans Association to shut down all fundraising activity. His office’s Charitable Law Section has alleged that the group had misrepresented itself in its registration documents by providing a UPS mailbox as the organization’s chief place of business and by failing to provide an address or phone number for its offices and employees.
Kansas AG files Amicus Brief in Snyder v. Phelps (May 13, 2010)
Kansas Attorney General, Steve Six, has filed the first amicus brief by a state attorney general in the Snyder v. Phelps case. Snyder was originally awarded a $5 million verdict after members of the Westboro Baptist church picketed the funeral of his son, Marine Corporal Matthew Snyder. The appellate court overturned the verdict, awarding attorney’s fees to Phelps. The case will be heard by the Supreme Court this October.
New York AG Investigates Relationship between Banks and Rating Agencies (May 13, 2010)
New York Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has issued subpoenas to 8 banks—among them UBS, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and Citi Group—as part of a probe into the connection between the banks and the ratings agencies. It is alleged that the banks and ratings agencies worked in concert to mislead the public about the risk of mortgage backed securities, which subsequently failed.
Ohio AG to Lead Multistate Review of Proposed Continental/United Merger (May 13, 2010):
Ohio Attorney General, Richard Cordray will lead a multistate review of the proposed 3.2 billion dollar merger deal between United and Continental Airlines. Cordray, who leads the National Association of Attorneys General antitrust committee, says he will work closely with other states and the DOJ to ensure that state and federal antirust laws are not violated.
Texas: State Says Company Promising I.R.S. Aid, at a Price, Has Misled Its Customers (May 13, 1010)
Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott, has announced a civil suit against Tax Master, a nationwide company which claims to help consumers in trouble with the IRA. Abbot alleges that Tax Masters defrauded consumers by inducing clients to pay thousands of dollars via an internet installment plan, and then took no action to help them.
Oklahoma AG Declares Price Gouging Law In Effect (May 12, 2010)
Oklahoma AG Drew Edmondson announced that, pursuant to Governor Brad Henry's declared state of emergency in areas devastated by severe storms, Oklahoma’s price gouging law is in effect in 56 Oklahoma counties. The law – Oklahoma's Emergency Price Stabilization Act – prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services during any declared state of emergency. The statute was enacted after a series of storms in May 1999 caused significant damage across significant portions of Oklahoma.
Delaware AG Recovering from Stroke (May 12, 2010)
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden is recovering from a stroke in a Philadelphia hospital. Early reports indicate that the stroke was minor, and Biden will make full recovery.
North Carolina AG Reaches Settlement with Home Repair Companies (May 11, 2010)
North Carolina AG Roy Cooper has reached a settlement with two home repair companies accused of failing to abide by the state law that grants consumers a three-day right to cancel door-to-door purchases. The two home repair, The Window Pros and H.A.R.D. Top Asphalt Maintenance, have agreed to pay $50,000 each for violating consumers’ rights. Cooper filed separate lawsuits in 2008 alleging that both companies failed to tell consumers about their right to cancel, and then made it difficult for consumers to cancel contracts with the companies.
Florida AG Reaches Agreement with Utility Provider (May 11, 2010)
Florida AG Bill McCollum reached an agreement with Progress Energy Florida that freezes base rates through 2012. The agreement also caps repair costs that customers would have to pay in the event of any catastrophic storms. Progress can petition for interim rate relief if its profitability begins to falter a certain amount.
Massachusetts AG Settles Mortgage Fraud Suit (May 11, 2010)
The Massachusetts AG, Martha Coakley, announced a judgment against Richard E. Doherty, a Norwich, CT man, ordering Doherty to pay $187,657 to resolve charges stemming from a 2008 mortgage fraud lawsuit. According to the suit, Doherty used false information to obtain mortgages or refinancing on a string of multi-family and commercial properties primarily located in Western Massachusetts. Doherty failed to maintain the properties, allowing most of them to fall into serious disrepair. The judgment held that Doherty's actions were in violation of Massachusetts’s Consumer Protection Act, for fraudulently obtaining loan mortgages on multi-family homes and commercial buildings.
Colorado AG Obtains $2.5 million Judgment in Deceptive Trade Practice Suit (May 11, 2010)
Colorado AG John Suthers obtained a court approved settlement of $2.5 million against an Immigration Center in Colorado Springs. The Immigration Center was charged with defrauding consumers seeking assistance with federal immigration filings by fraudulently claiming to have an official affiliation with the federal government and charging $300-$700 for assistance completing various immigration forms – services that the federal government already provides free of charge.
New York AG Sues Asset Manager for Misleading Clients About Madoff Ties (May 11, 2010)
New York AG Andrew Cuomo filed suit against Ivy Asset Management and its former CEO and former CFO for misleading clients about investments tied to Bernie Madoff. Cuomo alleges that Ivy – who was paid $40 million to conduct due diligence for clients with large Madoff investments—knew there were insufficient options to support Madoff's trading positions, and thus Ivy should have reasonably known that Madoff was using client assets to fund his business instead of investing the money. The CEO and CFO vigorously deny the allegations, claiming that they did in fact relay concerns regarding Madoff’s operations to their clients.
17 State AGs File Motion to Intervene in Case Against Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Wyeth (May 10, 2010)
17 States--including Kansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming--filed a joint motion for leave to intervene in two whistleblower lawsuits against the drug manufacturer Wyeth, alleging that the company knowingly failed to report certain discounted prices of its drugs as required by laws governing Medicaid programs.
Auto Dealer Gets Max Penalty in Case Brought by Oregon AG (May 10, 2010)
The Oregon AG charged Matt and Anousone Martin with violating various Oregon consumer protection laws at their car dealership – most significantly for deceiving customers about the damage history of various vehicles sold at the dealership. A judge from Marion County found the couple guilty and charged them $650,000, which reflects a maximum penalty of $25,000 per violation under Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act, along with attorney fees and costs.
South Carolina AG Settles with Energy Company (May 10, 2010)
South Carolina AG Henry McMaster entered into a settlement with Duke Energy South Carolina pertaining to the company's 401 Water Quality Certification. The settlement agreement requires Duke to provide improved water quality and water flow through its dam system. In particular, Duke must begin providing “a continuous flow” through its Hydroelectric Development facility as well as begin operating at least one unit with dissolved oxygen capability over the summer months in order to improve drought levels in the flow discharging from the system.
Illinois AG Brokers Regional Superintendant’s Resignation (May 8, 2010)
Illinois AG Lisa Madigan reached an agreement with Regional Superintendent Dr. Charles A. Flowers requiring that he step down immediately from his elected position with Cook County Office of Education. Dr. Flowers’ resignation follows an administrative proceeding initiated by the AG last summer on behalf of the Superintendent of Education, where it was alleged that Dr. Flowers failed to legally, promptly and effectively perform his duties as Regional Superintendent.
California AG Files Suit Against State Retirement System Board Member (May 6, 2010)
California AG JerryBrownfiled a civil lawsuit against a former California Public Employees Retirement System board member, Alfred Villalobos, and his company, ARVCO Capital, alleging that both engaged in fraud. Brown's office claims that Villalobos and ARVCO Capital falsely represented that they were in compliance with the law and had required securities licenses, and also claims that they submitted bogus disclosure forms. Brown secured a court order to freeze Villalobos' assets.
Cordray warns Congress not to restrict powers of state AGs in financial regulation (April 28, 2010)
Richard Cordray, the Attorney General of Ohio, urged Chris Dodd, D-Conn, and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark) not to restrict powers of state attorneys general in any new financial regulation bill. Cordray says he supports Wall Street reforms that include “independent authority.”
Maine to get $1.2 million in $520 million drug settlement (April 28, 2010)
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills announced that the state is joining with several others and the federal government in reaching a $520 million settlement with AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical manufacturer. Maine will receive $1.2 million in restitution and additional recoveries over the company’s promotion of the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel.
Connecticut Attorney General sues over Madoff scheme (April 21, 2010)
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sued a Westport National Bank and money manager Robert Silverman to recover $16.2 million for investors affected by Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The defendants are purported to have violated state banking laws when they failed to verify Madoff’s claimed investments, among other allegations.
CA Attorney General seeks court order on Moody’s (April 20, 2010)
California Attorney General Jerry Brown is seeking a court order to force the credit rating company Moody’s to comply with a subpoena his office issued as part of an investigation into the company’s role in the housing meltdown. Brown wants to know why Moody’s gave solid ratings to unstable securities backed by sub-prime mortgages.
Oklahoma AG reviews allegations over “Feed the Children” charity (April 10, 2010)
Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson has opened a formal investigation of Feed the Children over allegations of misuse of funds. A series of lawsuits filed by the charity’s former president, Larry Jones, preceded the investigation.
Brown reaches settlement with SoCal drywall company (April 5, 2010)
More than 200 workers of a Southern California drywall company will receive $200,000 collectively in back pay, under a settlement with the California State Attorney General’s office.
Settlement reached over fraudulent coupons in Maryland (April 1, 2010)
A settlement has been reached by Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler with Massachusetts-based BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. that allegedly provided fraudulent coupons to consumers.
Massachusetts insurance agency prohibited from charging agency fees (March 29, 2010)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has secured an order against a Peabody, Mass.-based insurance agency prohibiting them from charging so-called "agency fees," which are direct additional charges to consumers.
Minnesota Attorney General Sues California Non-Profit (March 23, 2010)
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has sued a California non-profit, Dream Scholars, for misleading Minnesota parents into purchasing college entrance test preparation materials under the false belief that their children were interested in such products and that their schools had endorsed the products. Dream Scholars also convinced parents that part of the fee would go to provide scholarships for underprivileged kids.
Thirteen Attorneys General Sue Federal Government Over Newly Signed Health Care Bill (March 23, 2010)
Within minutes of President Barack Obama's signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, attorneys general representing 13 states filed suit against the federal government in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Pensacola. The states have claimed that provisions in the act which mandate that citizens procure health insurance is unconstitutional. Other attorneys general are expected to either join this coalition or file suit independently.
Vermont Court Holds R.J. Reynolds Accountable for Misleading Ads (March 12, 2010)
On Wednesday March 10, a Vermont Superior Court ruled that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. violated the state's consumer protection laws by making false and misleading marketing claims that their Eclipse cigarette brand was a "reduced risk" product. The case was brought by the Vermont Attorney General, William H. Sorrell.
Thirty-four AGs, FTC settle with identity-protection company (March 9, 2010)
The identity-protection company LifeLock has settled with 34 state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission for $11 million over deceptive advertising allegations. Officials alleged that LifeLock misled consumers into believing its fraud alert system would prevent privacy breaches, when in fact it only alerts victims after fraudulent acts occur.
Indiana Attorney General Zoeller doesn’t want to settle East Chicago lawsuit (March 3, 2010)
The office of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and the city of East Chicago are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Second Century, Inc., which seeks to make the company divulge how $16 million of its East Chicago riverboat casino revenue were spent over the 10 years since the company's creation. Second Century's casino revenue was allegedly meant to provide economic development in East Chicago but, to date, Second Century has refused to reveal how the money was used.
Coakley opposes Workers’ Compensation rate hike (March 3, 2010)
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley will oppose a more 4 percent raise to Workers' Compensation premiums requested by the insurance industry. The rate increase, if accepted by the Commissioner of Insurance, would allegedly cost small businesses and other employers more than $40 million in extra premiums, which, in these difficult economic times, is a tremendous burden, claims Coakley.
Toyota Agrees to Pay for Pickup and Return of Recalled Vehicles (March 2, 2010)
Toyota and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) announced an agreement in which Toyota would provide free pickup of recalled cars and transportation to customers whose cars have been recalled. Millions of Toyota cars are in the process of being recalled due to acceleration issues.
Maryland Attorney General Takes a Step in the Direction of Gay Marriage (February 27, 2010)
While Maryland law has determined that “only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in” the state, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has provided an authoritative reading of the law, concluding that same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions may—and should—be recognized in Maryland.
Attorney General Brown Subpoenas 7 California Health Insurers (February 25, 2010)
Attorney General Jerry Brown Thursday subpoenaed Anthem, Aetna Health, Blue Cross, CIGNA, Health Net, Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente and PacifCare healthcare insurance companies for their financial records. Brown said his office began an inquiry last September into claims some of the insurers were denying patient claims in nearly 40 percent of cases.
Colorado Attorney General Sues Credit-Repair Firm (February 22, 2010)
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has sued Veracity Credit Consultants, a credit-repair company, for allegedly charging upfront fees for its services and failing to disclose to clients the total amount they would ultimately be charged. Under Colorado law, credit-repair firms can only charge fees at the completion of services.
Ark. announces $18.5M settlement with Eli Lilly (February 17, 2010)
The office of Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has reached an $18.5 million settlement with Eli Lilly & Co. over improper marketing of an anti-psychotic medication.
Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office Obtains Consent Judgement Against Cambridge Realtor (February 14, 2010)
Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office has obtained a consent judgment resolving a housing discrimination case against Michael Kanter and his former employer Apartment Rental Experts, LLC, who are accused of violating state anti-discrimination laws by refusing to rent an apartment to a Cambridge resident because he participates in the Section 8 housing subsidy program.
Arizona, Mexico attorneys general to discuss border security (February 12, 2010)
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard will meet with Mexico Attorney General Arturo Chavez Chavez to discuss border security as well as other pressing issues.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo Settles With Upper Manhattan Mega-Landlord Vantage (February 12, 2010)
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo settled with one of Manhattan’s largest landlords, Vantage Properties, for $1 million after threatening to sue the property owner for allegedly harassing thousands of rent-regulated tenants in order to bring in higher paying renters.
Minn. A-G Sues 2 Texas Discount Health Firms (February 10, 2010)
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has sued two Texas-based health firms, Direct Medical Network Solutions Inc. and Association Healthcare Management Inc., for falsely representing their discounted health care plans as medical insurance to thousands of customers. Swanson estimated that the two companies' customers in Minnesota had lost millions of dollars because the false insurance policies were not honored.
Madigan files suits against mortgage brokers (February 8, 2010)
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed lawsuits against Hartland Mortgage Centers Inc, American Advisors Group Inc. and company president Reza Jahangiri for allegedly using unfair and deceptive marketing practices in soliciting reverse mortgages to seniors. These Home Equity Conversion Mortgages were falsely marketed to indicate that seniors would be eligible for lifetime monthly income as part of a government benefit program when in fact the offer was for loans that would eventually have to be repaid.
NY Attorney General Sues Bank of America Over Merrill Lynch Merger (February 4, 2010)
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, joined by TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky, will sue Bank of America and former executives Ken Lewis and Joe Price for allegedly hiding massive losses at Merrill Lynch so that Bank of America shareholders would approve the merger. Cuomo claims that “[o]nce the deal was approved, Bank of America’s management manipulated the federal government into saving the deal with billions in taxpayer funds by falsely claiming that they would back out of the deal without bailout funds.”
Attorney General Says Dey Can Sell ‘Who Dat’ (February 2, 2010)
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell made a decision to allow third-party sellers to sell t-shirts bearing the “Who Dat?” catch phrase as long as they do not bear the team's fleur-de-lis logo of the New Orlean’s Saints (which is an NFL trademark) and aren't sold as official team merchandise.
Blue Cross to pay fine, stop auto calls (January 28, 2010)
Due to a settlement with the North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and has agreed to stop making automated phone calls and pay the state of North Carolina $95,000 in penalties. The company commissioned so-called “robo calls” to 100,000 North Carolina residents last October without following state law, which mandates that a live operator announce the automated message and give recipients the chance to refuse the call.
West Virginia Attorney General Suing Capital One Bank and Four other related Debt Collection Agencies (January 26, 2010)
West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw filed a lawsuit against Capital One Bank (USA) N.A. along with Capital One Services, LLC, Capital One Services II, LLC, Capital One Services III, LLC, and COSI Receivables Management which are corporations that provide debt collection services for credit cards that were issued by Capital One Bank. The lawsuit claims that Capital One Bank and the debt collection corporations conducted various practices that violated West Virginia consumer protection law, including the solicitation of customers with the disguise of new credit, when it really was a debt repayment plan.
Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and DOJ file antitrust case against Dean Foods (January 25, 2010)
The attorneys general of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan have joined the Department of Justice in challenging Dean Food's acquisition of a competitor's milk business. The lawsuit seeks to require Dean Foods to sell a dairy processing plant it acquired in April because of reduced competition in the sale of milk to supermarkets.
Arizona AG files lawsuit against deceptive employment service (January 19, 2010)
In a joint lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has accused the Tucson-based employment agency Government Careers, Inc. of masquerading as a legitimate government career center. As many as 10,000 people nationwide, after the agency guaranteed them federal jobs, signed up for study materials and employment counseling, which never were provided.
Hospitals and nursing homes fined for dumping drugs into water supply (January 13, 2010)
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has fined two hospitals and three nursing homes for flushing pharmaceutical waste in Delaware and Putnam counties, which supply part of New York City’s drinking water. Ten other facilities are under similar investigation.
Louisiana AG targets toxic drywall (January 13, 2010)
Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell has filed a lawsuit against building supply manufacturers over 1.1 million sheets of toxic drywall used in buildings after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The drywall may cause various health problems, including asthma attacks and heart disease.
Massachusetts AG Coakley settles with Shaw’s over workers’ comp charges (January 12, 2010)
Shaw’s Supermarket has agreed to pay $103,000 to resolve an investigation into prescription overcharges at pharmacies under the grocery chain’s workers’ compensation program. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley initiated the investigation in 2008.
H&R Block will refund $19 million for deceptive retirement accounts (January 6, 2010)
H&R Block Inc. agreed to pay up to $19.4 million to customers who bought “Express IRAs” retirement accounts, settling a lawsuit filed in New York in 2006. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo claimed H&R block aggressively peddled the accounts, which were “virtually guaranteed” to lose money, without disclosing hidden fees or accurately describing interest rates.