30 Apr

LA Times Disciplines Columnist for Using Pseudonym on the Internet

The Los Angeles Times has discontinued the column and blog of Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Michael Hiltzik. He is being reassigned after he serves a suspension. His offense: posting things on the Internet using assumed names.

The newspaper says he did not commit any [tag]ethical violations[/tag] in his newspaper column and did not have inaccuracies in his blog. However, the Times says that he violated ethical guidelines of the paper, including:

Staff members must not misrepresent themselves and must not conceal their affiliation with The Times.

It is reported that Hiltzik used a [tag]pseudonym[/tag] to post one comment on his LA Times blog and multiple pseudonyms to post comments on other websites that dealt with his column and the newspaper. The posting under pseudonyms was first alleged by Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Frey, who also writes a blog.

30 Apr

Consumer Watch: It Pays To Weigh All Options If You Owe Taxes

Richmond Times-Dispatch
By Iris Taylor

Call it tax aftershock.

You filed your return and now you owe the Internal Revenue Service a bundle of money that you don’t have.

You’re panicking because you know if you ignore it, the IRS will get nasty. You’ve heard about the threatening letters, fines, penalties, pay garnishments, liens, property seizures and intimidating appearances in tax court.

Where can you get that money?

First, get some counseling. If you owe a bundle, a credit counselor can analyze your plight and advise the best course of action, said Brad Stroh, co-chief executive officer of Freedom Financial Network LLC in San Mateo, Calif. Read More

28 Apr

Sprinter Tim Montgomery charged with fraud

A multi-million dollar [tag]bank fraud[/tag] and [tag]money laundering[/tag] scheme led to the arrest of Olympic gold medalist Tim Montgomery today. He, his track coach Steven Riddick, and 12 others have been indicted by a [tag]grand jury[/tag] in New York. The group is accused of depositing $5 million in stolen, altered, and counterfeit checks in a [tag]scheme[/tag] that has been ongoing for three years.

The scheme was allegedly led by Douglas Shyne and Natasha Singh, who set up sham businesses to alter or copy checks stolen from banks. Most of the checks were for accounts at large companies that didn’t notice the cash missing right away. Montgomey is accused of depositing three counterfeit checks worth a total of $775,000. He is also accused of earning a fee of $20,000 for helping his coach and others deposit checks worth $905,000.

Montgomery was banned from track and field for two years for doping related to the criminal investigation of BALCO, the lab involved in a steroid scandal. His 2001 world record sprint of 9.79 seconds has been taken off the books.

27 Apr

Exxon Mobil’s Profits

Exxon Mobil is taking heat for reporting “record profits” of $8.4 billion for the first quarter of 2006. This was up 7% from the same quarter last year.

While this is a record-breaking figure dollar-wise, the media is scarcely reporting that this profit was earned on gross revenue of $88.98 billion. That makes the net profits 9.4% of revenue. Is that an unreasonable profit level?

26 Apr

Men Involved in 2004 Voter Suppression Sentenced to Jail

The four men involved in the [tag]tire slashing[/tag] of 25 vans rented by Republicans to help transport voters to the polls in November 2004 have all been sentenced to jail. Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge Michael Brennan said the vandalism was not just a harmless prank. Regarding their attempts at [tag]voter suppression[/tag], he said:

They see you tampering with something they consider sacred and that’s the ballot box.

The sentences: Read More

25 Apr

Kenneth Lay’s testimony on Tuesday

[tag]Kenneth Lay[/tag] maintained on Tuesday that [tag]Enron[/tag] was a financially healthy company that was just a victim of outside forces. He claimed that in late 2001 he was just a desperate executive who was trying to fight off a negative image cast upon the company by the media.

A lot of his [tag]testimony[/tag] focused on defending his actions as the CEO. He also testified that his confidence in former CFO [tag]Andy Fastow[/tag] wavered when he found out that Fastow admitted making $45 million from the [tag]LJM[/tag] partnerships. That day, Lay says he lost trust in Fastow, and Fastow was removed as CFO. Fastow later admitted stealing millions from Enron through LJM and agreed to a plea bargain with prosecutors.

23 Apr

The home Reggie Bush’s parents live(d) in

This weekend, Reggie Bush’s parents and brother moved out of the Spring Valley home they’e been living in since last year. Apparently, information has surfaced linking the property to Michael Michaels, a man affiliated with a sports marketing company and supposedly instrumental in Reggie Bush’s selection of an agent.

Property records show that the house was purchased by Michaels on March 29, 2005 for $757,500. Neighbors say that Bush’s family moved into the house around that time.
[tag]NCAA rules[/tag] prohibit athletes and their families from receiving compensation or benefits from [tag]professional sports agents[/tag] and marketing companies.

The University of Southern California has referred the matter of the house to the Pacific-10 Conference for investigation. Bush, who won the Heisman Trophy and is skipping his senior season at USC, is expected to become this year’s number 1 NFL draft pick.

More about the story can be found at Yahoo Sports.

22 Apr

“Son of Boss” Tax Shelter

The first civil case over the tax shelter called “Son of Boss” went in favor of the IRS. Tax Court Judge David Laro granted summary judgment to the IRS in its case against RJT Investments X LLC in Omaha, Nebraska. The IRS argued that RJT created fake losses in order to lower its federal taxes.

The IRS has already settled with 1,200 businesses for $3.8 billion in taxes, interest, and penalties. This settlement was less than the maximum allowed by law. Another 600 taxpayers involved with the shelter were warned that if they did not accept the settlement, they would be assessed full taxes and penalties.

A criminal trial is upcoming for 18 individuals related to sales of tax shelters by KPMG LLP. 16 of those 18 are former KPMG executives. KPMG itself has agreed to deferred prosecution and a $456 million fine for its role in structuring and selling the illegal tax shelters.

RJT will owe millions in penalties and taxes.

21 Apr

Milwaukee Fraud: Robert Brownell Sentenced to Maximum of 20 Years in Prison

Robert Brownell, the former CEO of Bielinski Brothers Inc. who masterminded a multi-million dollar fraud, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison today. This was the maximum sentence allowed by law for his guilty plea to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The judge also considered an incident in March, where Brownell asked his 14 year-old son to hit him over the head with a board to fake a mugging, in order to delay his sentencing. Brownell was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and $6.7 million in restitution.

Read my “lessons learned” article about this case.

20 Apr

Wisconsin woman convicted in Medicaid fraud case

Last week, Sheron L. Jerdee of Cameron, Wisconsin was found guilty of four felony counts of forgery-uttering and two felony counts of [tag]medical assistance fraud[/tag].

Jerdee, 64, owned Ambu-Lift Transports, Inc., a company that provided transportation to people covered under Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. The corporation was also convicted of four felony counts of forgery-uttering and three felony counts of medical assistance fraud in a default judgment.

In July 2004, Jerdee altered three State Patrol inspection reports and submitted them to the Department of Health and Family Services in an attempt to show that the vehicles had been inspected, when they had not. She also [tag]forged insurance documents[/tag] to make it appear that she had coverage, when she did not.

Jerdee submitted claims for payment to the Medicaid program for services provided with uncertified vehicles. She also submitted claims for services provided without a valid physician’s authorization form. Jerdee further forged a physicians authorization form in connection with an audit of her business.

The defendant faces up to 36 years in prison and $90,000 in fines.