Conspiracy of Fools: Who’s In Charge?

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The partners at Arthur Andersen were having another argument about the management of the Enron account. As usual, Enron executives were throwing their weight around and trying to dictate who could be involved on their engagement. Specifically, they didn’t want Carl Bass to work on their account because he fought for the proper accounting treatment of items, not the creative ways that Enron used to enhance their financial statements. Continue reading

Ex-Police Officer Convicted of Wife’s Murder Seeks a Pardon

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John Maloney, a former Green Bay police officer who was convicted of killing his wife, Sandy Maloney, in 1998 is seeking a pardon from the governor.

The defense strategy used by Attorney Jerry Boyle in the 1999 trial was to concede that the death of the estranged wife was a murder, but that the killer was Maloney’s girlfriend, Tracey Hellenbrand.

Hellenbrand, an ex-IRS special agent worked with law enforcement to get a videotaped confession from Maloney. The videotaping took place in a Las Vegas hotel, and included were sexual acts and hours of arguing. Maloney eventually made statements in the hotel room that indicated that he was at Sandy’s house on the night of the murder.

Maloney now says that he did not want to use Boyle’s strategy of pointing the finger at an alternate suspect. He says that instead, he (Maloney) wanted to argue that Sandy was dead from alcohol poisoning at the time the fire started, and that the fire was an accident.

Maloney was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, arson, and mutilation of a corpse. He received a life sentence, and is eligible for parole in 2024. All appeals to the State Supreme Court have been exhausted, and a pardon is Maloney’s last chance.

Woman Gets Prison Time for Stealing From Employer

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Mary Ellen Wilson, a former office manager at Gentle Family Dentistry in New Berlin, was sentenced to 3 years in prison for stealing over $350,000 from the dental practice. Her [tag]prison[/tag] term will be followed by 5 years on extended supervision and 20 years of probation.

Wilson, 56, pleaded guilty to 5 counts of theft for stealing the money from her employer over a period of 5 years. Police were contacted by the clinic on April 19, 2005 with a report that a significant embezzlement had occurred, and the perpetrator had confessed that morning. The clinic operator was suspicious when the IRS contacted the dental practice to inquire about unpaid payroll taxes since 2000.

The theft scheme involved Wilson cutting checks to herself rather than making tax payments. In addition, she stole cash from the dental office. Wilson used the money for gambling, travel, clothing, and home furnishings. She said at the sentencing hearing that she was truly sorry and :

“My stealing from Gentle Family Dentistry has touched many lives. I have disgraced myself and embarrassed my family. I should have thought about all of this before I started stealing.”

CBS Appeals Fine for Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl Expose’

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CBS Corp. filed an appeal of the Federal Communications Commision’s (FCC) fine against 20 CFS stations for the airing of the flashing of Janet Jackson’s breat during the 2004 Super Bowl. Each station has been fined $27,500, and the total is therefore $550,000.

The FCC has been assessing larger fines for indecency. The largest came in March 2006, which the CBS show “Without a Trace” was fine $3.6 million. CBS says it has taken steps to ensure that something like this will not happen again.

Action in Burglary Case Could Have Kept Killer Off the Streets

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Spivak & Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel break an interesting (but sad) story about Milwaukee’s inept District Attorney’s Office.

On July 22, Sidney Gray alleged burglarized a home and killed Frank Moore II, a neighbor who was trying to stop the burglary. Gray has seven convictions on his record.

As it turns out, Gray probably should have been in jail for stealing a car, resisting arrest and attempting to burglarizing a woman’s home on July 16. So who bungled the case? The District Attorney’s office says that they told the police to bring this woman go to the DA’s office to tell them her story. They say the police never brought her.

The police say Gray should have at least been charged with resisting arrest while the case was being investigated. A detective’s report on the burglary of the woman’s home is dated July 27, which is 5 days after Moore was murdered.

The woman says she was never told to come downtown, and that she was very willing to help out. She wants to know why Gray was released without anyone talking to her. The whole situation is crazy, including the apparent reluctance of the police to act quickly on the night of the attempted burglary. Read the whole story for the details.

U.S. Loses First NYSE Case

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The first case against a [tag]NSYE specialist firm[/tag] trader was aqutted of charges that he made improper trades of Eli Lilly stock. The case against Robert Scavone Jr. ended with a finding of [tag]not guilty[/tag] for one count of secruities fraud. He faced up to 20 years in prison.

The accusations against Scavone, a former trader for Van der Moolen Specialists USA LLC, included illegally trading for the firm’s account ahead of public orders. It was alleged that the firm made profits (and avoided losses) to the tune of $500,000 because of this. The defense was that the trades weren’t intentional crimes, rather that they were mistakes as well as misinterpreted.

11 more traders are expected to go to trial with their cases. 2 other traders have been found guilty in trials, and 2 more pleaded guilty.

False options document nets former CEO millions

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Two former outside directors and the former CEO of Brooks Automation Inc. signed a document that allowed the CEO to exercise an [tag]expired stock option[/tag], which netted him millions of dollars. The option was to expire in August 1999, and CEO Robert Therrien supposedly exercised it only two days before the deadline.

Company officials now say that the transaction actually occurred months later, and was permitted because the three men signed a document as if it happened in June. The document referenced a loan given to Thierren in August 1999, which supposedly was discussed by the men in June 1999. Brooks Automation has since found that no such discussions occurred in June, and Therrien exercised the options in November 1999 for a profit of $5.8 million.

The company recently restated some earnings to account for problems with their its accounting for stock options. A total of $60 million in expense was added to the company’s [tag]financial statements[/tag] for 1999 through 2005.

The full story from the Wall Street Journal can be read here.

Data Theft From Sentry Insurance Compromises Information on 112,000 Customers

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A recent [tag]theft of data[/tag] involving over 112,000 customers at Sentry Insurance is currently being investigated by the U.S. [tag]Secret Service[/tag]. The thief was a “lead programmer” with a computer consulting company hired by Sentry. In carrying out his job duties, he had access to the information on customers. He has been arrested, and faces felony charges in federal court.

The company is aware that the personal information of 72 customers with workers compensation claims has been sold on the internet. The additional 112,198 claimants involved in the theft do not appear to have had their information sold. The information being sold includes names and Social Security numbers.

Conviction of Bernie Ebbers Upheld by Appeals Court

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Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the conviction and prison sentence of former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers. The 64-year-old defendant was convicted in 2005 of nine counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, and false SEC filings. He received a 25-year prison sentence, which all but assures that he will die in prison.

WorldCom’s demise was an $11 billion accounting fraud that included improper capitalization of operating costs, among other things. It sent WorldCom, a company with stock previously valued at $180 billion, into bankruptcy. Ebbers’s defense was that the CFO, Scott Sullivan, and his subordinates committed the fraud without his knowledge.

Ebbers’s attorney argued that the sentence was excessive and that Ebbers did not receive a fair trial because potential defense witnesses weren’t offered immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony. The witnesses said they would use the fifth amendment to avoid testifying.

Ebbers has been free while the appeal was pending, and is expected to be ordered to prison soon.