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Government Investigation

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DOJ Investigation of Pharma Companies for Alleged Iraqi Terrorism Funding – Did a Whistleblower Help?

Posted  08/17/18
Pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Roche, and Johnson & Johnson were sued in the fall of 2017 by a group of military veterans and others who alleged that the companies paid bribes to win contracts with the Iraqi Ministry of Health – bribes which, according to the lawsuit, financed terrorism that damaged the plaintiffs.  As such, the plaintiffs alleged, the payments amounted to aiding and abetting violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act,...

December 19, 2016

New Jersey announced that the owner of an Essex County trucking company has been charged with bilking nearly $389,000 from his insurance carrier by providing false payroll information to obtain lower premiums on workers compensation coverage. Elvis Parra, owner of E&K Trucking, Inc. in Newark, was indicted Friday on second-degree charges of theft by deception and misconduct by a corporate official, third-degree insurance fraud, and fourth-degree workers compensation fraud in connection with the alleged scheme that cheated Liberty Mutual Insurance Company (“Liberty Mutual”) out of premiums. According to the indictment, Parra falsely represented that his trucking company employed only three drivers who were paid a total of $75,000 annually, when in reality he paid more than $2.9 million in annual wages to an additional 81 owner/operator drivers, according to prosecutors. NJ

December 16, 2016

The CFPB took action against Moneytree, Inc., a financial services company that offers payday loans and check-cashing services, for misleading consumers with deceptive online advertisements and collections letters, and making unauthorized electronic transfers from consumers’ bank accounts. The CFPB has ordered the company to cease its illegal conduct, provide $255,000 in refunds to consumers, and pay a civil penalty of $250,000.  CFPB

December 14, 2016

New York joined twelve other states, the District of Columbia, and the Federal Trade Commission in announcing a $17.5 million settlement with ruby Corp., which owns the dating website AshleyMadison.com. The settlement follows an investigation into the July 2015 hack of the website that resulted in the online publication of user information for millions of AshleyMadison.com members, including photographs, usernames, email addresses, communications, and other profile information. The settlement includes an immediate payment of $1,657,000 divided amongst the states and the Federal Trade Commission, of which New York will receive $81,330.94. The remainder of the $17.5 million payment is suspended based on ruby Corp.’s inability to pay. Up to 652,627 New York residents were members of Ashley Madison at the time of the security breach. NY

December 8, 2016

New York announced the settlement of a lawsuit against SG Hylan Motors Corp., a Staten Island dealership doing business as Staten Island Honda and Staten Island Nissan (collectively “SG Hylan”) and a separate settlement with Best Auto Outlet, Inc. (“Best Auto”) located in Floral Park. The SG Hylan settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General in July 2016, which alleged that these auto dealerships unlawfully sold “after-sale” products and services, including credit repair and identity theft protection services, to over 2,300 consumers, sometimes exceeding a cost of $2,000 per consumer. The settlement requires SG Hylan to pay $1.5 million in restitution to these consumers. The agreement with Best Auto, which returns $115,000 in restitution to consumers, concludes an investigation into this dealership for similar misconduct – alleged unlawful sale of credit repair and identity theft prevention services, and other “after-sale” items to over 200 consumers. NY

November 10, 2016

– New York announced that it has reached settlements resolving investigations into the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation, which also operated as the American Veteran Support Foundation (the “NVVF”), its former President and Founder, John Thomas Burch, Jr. (“Burch”), and its Vice President, David Kaufman (“Kaufman”). NVVF has operated nationwide since 1992 and began soliciting in New York in approximately 2008. By 2014, NVVF was collecting nearly $9 million nationwide from its fundraising campaigns, soliciting small dollar donations from the public through direct mail and phone calls — purportedly to help Vietnam Veterans. Nearly all of the money raised through its direct mail campaigns was instead used to pay its fundraisers. For example, in 2014, $7.7 million of the $8.6 million raised was used to pay NVVF’s fundraisers. The fraction that actually made it to NVVF was further reduced by a pattern of abuse, mismanagement and misspending by NVVF’s former President, Burch. NY

November 3, 2016

The CFPB filed a federal lawsuit against B&B Pawnbrokers, Inc. for deceiving consumers about the actual annual cost of its loans. B&B Pawnbrokers allegedly broke the law by misstating the charges associated with pawn loans. The CFPB’s lawsuit seeks to end B&B Pawnbrokers' illegal practices, get restitution for the consumers it harmed, and impose penalties.  CFPB

November 2, 2016

The CFPB and New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit in a federal district court against the leaders of a massive debt collection scheme based out of Buffalo, New York. Douglas MacKinnon and Mark Gray allegedly operate a network of companies that harass, threaten, and deceive millions of consumers across the nation into paying inflated debts or amounts they may not owe. The CFPB is seeking to shut down this illegal operation and to obtain compensation for victims and a civil penalty against the companies and partners.  CFPB

November 2, 2016

A Thurston County Superior Court judge ordered the Grocery Manufacturers Association to pay $18 million in penalties and punitive damages, after Washington’s lawsuit revealed GMA intentionally violated Washington campaign finance laws. The case arose from Washington’s investigation of the finances of opposition to voter Initiative 522, which would have required labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in food sold to consumers. The ruling against GMA — a Washington, D.C.-based trade group representing major food, beverage and consumer companies — is believed to constitute the largest campaign finance judgment in United States history. WA
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