On April 29, 2008, the DOJ required the divestiture of assets of Regal Cinema (“Regal”) and Consolidated Theatres Holding GP (“Consolidated”) in three metropolitan areas in North Carolina in order for the $210 million merger between the companies to proceed. The DOJ believes that the transaction would have resulted in less competition and higher ticket prices at the Crown Point 12 Cinema in Charlotte, the Raleigh Grand in Raleigh, the Town Square 10 in Garner (a suburb of Raleigh) and Hollywood 14 in Asheville, NC.
FTC SETTLES WITH TALX CORP REGARDING ITS ACQUISITIONS OF UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYMENT VERIFICATION SERVICE PROVIDERS
On April 28, 2008, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) entered into a settlement agreement with TALX Corporation regarding its acquisitions of various unemployment compensation management (“UCM”) and verification of income and employment (“VOIE”) services. UCM consists of administering, on behalf of large, multi-state employers, unemployment compensation claims filed with a state or territory. VOIE consists of providing income and employment information on behalf of employers to third parties, such as lending institutions.
KANSAS OWNER OF COMPUTER SERVICE COMPANIES AND FAMILY MEMBER CHARGED WITH CONSPIRING TO DEFRAUD FCC E-RATE PROGRAM
On April 24, 2008, Leonard Douglas “Doug” LaDuron, a former owner of three Kansas computer service companies (Serious ISP Inc., Myco Technologies Inc. and Elephantine Corporation), and his mother, Mary Jo LaDuron (a.k.a. Mary Jo Gault) pled guilty to conspiracy charges to defraud the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) E-Rate Program. The E-Rate Program was authorized under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to provide economically disadvantaged school districts and libraries with funds to connect to the internet. Mr. LaDuron was also charged with making false statements by misrepresenting his employment status to gain housing assistance to the U.S. Department of Urban Development.
On April 23, 2008, the former senior vice president of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (“BMS”), Andrew Bodnar, was indicted for his false statements to the federal government in its investigation into a patent settlement involving a blood-thinning drug used by patients of heart attack and stroke called Plavix. Mr. Bodnar agreed to plead guilty and pay a criminal fine of $1 million. Plavix is the most widely prescribed blood thinning drug in the world, earning BMS over $3.5 billion in the U.S. alone in 2005.
On April 18, 2008, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) filed a comment with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) regarding an earlier notice of proposed rulemaking (“NOPR”) that sought to provide consumers incentives to reduce power use. FERC proposed to provide consumers with incentives to reduce power use when electricity is scarce and expensive at the wholesale level.
On April 17, 2008, Charles J. Gillespie, a former executive of Italy based Manuli Rubbers Industries SpA, pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy to rig bids, fix prices, and allocate market shares of marine hose in the United States. Mr. Gillespie also agreed to serve 12 months and one day in jail and pay a criminal fine of $20,000 as well as cooperate in the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation.
On April 11, 2008, Aaron S. Weiner, of Aaron Weiner Construction Inc. (“AWC”), pled guilty for acting as a conduit for a million dollar kickback scheme to defraud the New York Presbyterian Hospital (“NYPH”). An owner of two construction companies located in New York paid Mr. Weiner to pose as a consultant as a means to provide kickbacks to a former senior purchasing official at NYPH in return for awarding contracts that totaled at least $20 million. An elaborate scheme was set up to further cover up the scheme by having the checks forwarded to AWC, who in turn wrote checks to a shell company under the name of the mother of the former senior official at NYPH.
On April 9, 2008 Matthew W. Bittenbender, a U.S. Department of Defense (“DOD”) contractor pled guilty to conspiring to steal competitive information regarding the supply of fuel to DOD aircraft around the world. Aviation fuel is obtained by the DOD through the Defense Energy Support Center (“DESC”) which lets contracts for a variety of products. The fuel is delivered worldwide to locations, including Croatia, Bulgaria and Afghanistan. Mr. Bittendender was an employee of Avcard, a division of Kropp Holdings LLC, that provided aviation products and services throughout the world.
MONTANA BOARD OF REALTY REGULATION REPEALS RULE PROHIBITING REAL ESTATE BROKERS TO OFFER REBATES TO CONSUMERS
On April 1, 2008, the Montana Board of Realty Regulation repealed its rule disallowing real estate brokers to "solicit business by offering gifts, rebates, or promotional items." In August 2007, the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division began an investigation of the Montana Board of Realty Regulation. In most states, real estate brokers are allowed to compete by offering various cash-back options, discounts and the like. Montana’s rule prohibited such actions. Montana follows three other states including West Virginia, South Dakota, and Kentucky in repealing similar regulations.