Former DA Joe Paulus charged in state court

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Former Winnebago County District Attorney Joe Paulus, who is already serving a term of almost 5 years in federal prison for accepting [tag]bribes[/tag] in criminal cases, has been charged in state court with one count of [tag]misconduct[/tag] in public office and one count of [tag]conspiracy[/tag] to obstruct justice. Reportedly, Paulus has agreed to plead guilty to the charges brought by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, and the prosecutors will recommend two years in state prison to be served after he completes his federal sentence.

Finally, a Consequence For Michael McGee’s Behavior

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This isn’t much, but it’s a start. Milwaukee Alderman Michael McGee has had his drivers license revoked now that it has been determined by Wisconsin Department of Transportation that he had driver’s licenses under two names.

DOT merged the records of Michael I. McGee and Michael I. Jackson (the same person) on June 26. Jackson had a revoked license since March of 2000, so the entire record is now under a revoked license. The Jackson license dates back to at least 1994, and was revoked in 1997 and 2000, and these revocations were related to McGee/Jackson’s hitting of a parked car. The McGee license was issued in 2000, and has had 2 citations since then. Continue reading

The Journal Sentinel editorial board feels sorry for jail inmates

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Why? Because they think the cost of making a collect call out of the County Jail is too expensive. The calls cost between 22 cents and 37 cents per minute. They say that it’s unfair, especially since many of the inmates at the jail haven’t yet been convicted of crimes.

The phone company has said that the cost is higher than normal collect calls because so many of the recipients of the collect calls never pay their bills. Is there no other cause that the editorial board could get behind?

Avoid state taxes by moving to Nevada?

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The [tag]Wall Street Journal[/tag] had an interesting article today about moving to Nevada to [tag]avoid taxes[/tag].

The story mentions David Duffield, an entrepreneur who left California to build a $50 million estate in Nevada. He was hoping to save millions in taxes.

Duffield made it big with PeopleSoft. So big that his share of the company was eventually worth $150 million. He followed his acountants’ advice and set up a Nevada investment company funded with his PeopleSoft stock, although they did warn him that California could come after him for attempting to avoid state taxes.

California followed him! After a series of investment transactions that ultimately ended with Duffield personally purchasing the property he tried unsuccessfully to sell to outside parties, California accused him of attempting to evade taxes and sent him a bill for $7.2 million. He’s been appealing that bill ever since, but it has now grown to $19 million with interest and penalties.

They say that tax disputes with Nevada transplants make up 20% of California’s tax disputes. It seems that they are going after people who claim to live in Nevada, but appear to still have primary residency in California. (Yes, that issue can get complicated.)

ACFE Annual Fraud Conference

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Last week I presented at the annual Fraud Conference put on by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

I was presenting the topic “Marketing Your Anti-Fraud Practice.” I presented the topic twice, and had great attendance at each. The feedback was wonderful, and I’m glad that people found things they can use right away. Some of the important points I made included:

  • Gather information about what your competitors are doing. Know who they are, what they do, who their clients are, how they market and what specialties they have. This will help you determine how to market your firm.
  • Utilize professionals to help you design and print your marketing materials (business cards, letterhead, brochures, etc.) for a more professional look.
  • Use public relations (PR) opportunities to your best benefit, but know which events and opportunities are worth your time. If you’ve written something, publicize it.

UnitedHealthcare pays $600,000 to settle complaint

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[tag]UnitedHealthcare[/tag], a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc., and two affiliates have been fined $600,000 for failing to properly respond to consumer complaints, no paying certain benefits, and violations of other insurance regulations. The settlement was reached between the company and the Office of the [tag]Commissioner of Insurance[/tag] in November, but announced yesterday.

Included in the violations are allegations that:

  1. UnitedHealthcare did not comply with state regulations on grievances and independent reviews when claims were denied
  2. UnitedHealthcare applied a separate deductible to mental health benefits and did not tell customers when mental health benefits were reduced
  3. UnitedHealthcare failed to respond to requests for information from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance

As part of the settlement, UnitedHealthcare will put $2.5 million into an escrow account. If there are any significant violations of insurance regulations before the end of 2008, the money will be forfeited. The insurance company has submitted a compliance plan and it is expected that there will be no violations.

Nationwide Insurance being sued by homeowners in Katrina

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Homeowners hit by [tag]Hurricane Katrina[/tag] are suing [tag]Nationwide Insurance[/tag] to try to force the company to pay out billions of dollars to pay for [tag]flood damage[/tag] that was not covered by their insurance policies.

Richard F. Scruggs, the Pascagoula attorney who is representing Nationwide customers Paul and Julie Leonard, and argues that the policy sold to them (and other homeowners) included references to [tag]windstorms[/tag] and [tag]hurricanes[/tag]. This made homeowners erroneously believe that they’d be covered for [tag]hurricane damage[/tag], whether from water or wind. Scruggs also says that insurance agents told customers that they didn’t need to seek coverage for flood damage.

Daniel F. Attridge, lawyer for Nationwide, argues that the insurance policy was very clear in its [tag]exclusion[/tag] of flood damage.

Homeowners have been upset that some insurance policies only pay for damage above the highest water stains on their walls. Some homeowners are saying that their homes suffered excessive wind damage long before the flood waters damaged the houses.

Scruggs has filed suit on behalf of approximately 2,000 clients, but opted not to seek [tag]class action[/tag] status for them because that would have delayed the cases too long.

At the heart of many of the cases is the claim that the insurance agent told homeowners they didn’t need flood insurance. Scruggs claims that this expanded the coverage under the policies to include flood insurance. Nationwide counters that the agent was not authorized to expand covereage.

EU fines Microsoft for failing to turn over code

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[tag]Microsoft[/tag] Corp. was fined $357 million today by the [tag]European Union[/tag] for disobeying the 2004 [tag]antitrust[/tag] order to share program code with competitors. Additional fines of $3.82 million per day could be assessed beginning July 31 if the company fails to supply complete and accurate technical information to program developers to help them make software that works well with the [tag]Windows[/tag] operating system.

Microsoft contends that it made a good-faith effort to comply with the commissioner’s original decision, but that the order lacked clarity and the fines were unjust. The company further says that the EU is trying to force them to hand over patented information which would help developers benefit from Microsoft’s hard work and innovation. The EU counters that the code requested from the company is communications code that has little innovative value.

Ken Lay considered innocent after his death

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A rule in U.S. law called “[tag]abatement ab initio[/tag]” means that [tag]Kenneth Lay[/tag] will have his [tag]conviction[/tag] on [tag]federal charges[/tag] related to the [tag]Enron[/tag] [tag]fraud[/tag] wiped out. A defendant who dies before having the opportunity to [tag]appeal[/tag] the conviction has everything related to the case extinguished, meaning that the record will show that Lay was never indicted or convicted.

The theory behind this law is that the appellate process is a key part of protecting the integrity of the criminal justice system. It is part of the due process afforded to defendants, and since Lay’s death rendered him incapable of participating fully in the [tag]due process[/tag], his conviction must be nullified.

This nullification will also impact the ability of the government to collect money from Lay’s estate. The government announced that it would try to seize $43.5 million in [tag]ill-gotten gains[/tag] from Lay. Now that Lay is dead, the process to collect that money will be affected. The government will ikely have to bring a [tag]civil lawsuit[/tag] against Lay’s estate. Unfortunately, a civil suit will probably require the government to re-prove all the facts already established in the criminal proceedings.