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Appeals court suspends order for FEMA
Court Feed News | 2006/12/25 03:55

A federal appeals court Friday suspended a November order by US District Judge Richard Leon requiring the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reinstate certain housing payments  to Hurricane Katrina victims. The US DC Circuit Court of Appeals suspended the order in response to FEMA's request to allow the agency to delay action on the shelter program at least until March when the appeals court will hear arguments in the case.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) filed the lawsuit on behalf of displaced hurricane evacuees alleging violations of their due process rights. Leon granted the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction against the payments stoppage, maintaining that FEMA had failed to provide evacuees with adequate explanations for their denials of housing assistance and their means of appeal under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Leon's order also required FEMA to explain to evacuees in plain English why they are no longer eligible for funding.



US soldier who disputed Iraq war legality released
Legal Career News | 2006/12/25 03:47

Former US Army Sergeant Ricky Clousing, a paratrooper and interpreter who disputed the legality of the war in Iraq, was released Saturday from a military prison where he was serving a three-month sentence after pleading guilty to going absent without leave for 14 months. Clousing was released 15 days early for good conduct and is headed home to Washington state.

In October, a court-martial in Fort Bragg, NC, sentenced Clousing to 11 months' confinement, with all but three months suspended, under a plea agreement that allowed him to avoid a finding of desertion. Clousing abandoned his post at Fort Bragg after reporting abuses committed by fellow soldiers during his five-month stint in Iraq. Clousing refused to request conscientious objector status to receive a discharge because he said he does not believe all wars are wrong. After 14 months AWOL, Clousing turned himself in at Fort Lewis, WA.



Bush pardons 16 in year-end round
Court Feed News | 2006/12/24 00:31

President Bush granted pardons to 16 people on Thursday, including some convicted of drug crimes and others who were involved in fraud and kickback schemes. Bush additionally commuted the sentence of another man who had been convicted of drug offenses.

Bush has issued a total of 113 pardons in his six years as president, the fewest issued by any president since World War II. Former Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Reagan issued 457, 77, and 406 respectively during their tenures in office.



SEC settles with former Tyco exec, charges 2 others
Legal Career News | 2006/12/22 19:09

Former Tyco executive Richard "Skip" Heger reached a $450,000 settlement on financial reporting and record-keeping charges, the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced  Thursday. The charges are connected to a fraud case in which Tyco agreed to pay a $50 million civil penalty and a $1 disgorgement fee for fraudulent accounting procedures used between 1996 through 2002. Heger, who at the time was in charge of the company's fire and security services division finances, was accused of approving financial results that he knew, or should have known, were inflated; he reached the settlement without entering a plea on the charges. Two other former executives, Richard Power and Edward Federman, were charged with fraud in overstating Tyco's operating income by hundreds of millions of dollars through the use of a sham transaction.

In the sham transaction, Tyco imposed a $200 “dealer connection fee” that it purportedly required independent dealers to pay. Tyco simultaneously increased the price it paid each dealer by the same $200, the SEC said. The transaction had no economic substance, but boosted income because the connection fee was recognised immediately as income and the $200 dealer payment was treated as a capital expenditure that was amortised over 10 years, the SEC said.

The April settlement allowed Tyco to avoid admitting any of the allegations in the SEC's complaint. According to the SEC, Tyco executives inflated key figures - including its operating income by more than $567 million and its cash flow by $719 million - in official reports to the SEC. Former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski and former CFO Mark Swartz were found guilty of looting the company and its shareholders out of more than $150 million in unauthorized personal compensation, and have been sentenced to prison for 8 to 25 years. The company still faces a likely onslaught of shareholder litigation, which analysts predict could cost the company up to $4 billion.

The SEC said that PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Tyco’s outside accountant, raised concerns about the $200 payment to dealers. In response, Tyco stopped calling the $200 payment a “growth bonus” and repackaged the payment as a $200 increase in the purchase price for each monitoring contract, the SEC said.



Defense lawyer urges US to keep custody of Saddam
U.S. Legal News | 2006/12/22 19:00

Former US Attorney General and Saddam Hussein defense lawyer Ramsey Clark on Wednesday urged President Bush to keep Hussein and his Dujail trial co-defendants in US custody, expressing concern that Iraqi officials will torture the convicted defendants. Hussein and two of his co-defendants, Awad Hamed al-Bandar and Barzan al-Tikriti, were all convicted and sentenced to death last month for crimes against humanity committed in the Iraqi town of Dujail in 1982. The deadline to file appellate papers for the Dujail trial is on Saturday, and many expect the appellate court to make a decision on the appeal in a matter of days.

If Hussein and his co-defendants lose the appeal, their execution will likely occur within 15 days, unless the US refuses to hand them over to Iraqi custody. Clark claims that the US has the "highest moral and legal obligation" to keep them in US custody, arguing that Iraqi officials will torture the co-defendants before their execution. Last week, an Iraqi official said that Hussein and his co-defendants will face a quick execution and possibly a secret burial if the appellate court upholds their conviction.

Hussein is currently on trial on separate genocide charges for allegedly killing 100,000 Kurds during the so-called "Anfal" campaigns in the late 1980s. The Anfal trial could continue posthumously should Hussein be executed before proceedings in the second trial conclude.



Samsung Korean Executive Agrees to Plead Guilty
Headline News | 2006/12/22 18:59

WASHINGTON — An executive from Samsung Electronics Company Ltd..– the world’s largest manufacturer of a common computer component called dynamic random access memory (DRAM) – has agreed to plead guilty, serve jail time in the United States, and pay a fine for participating in a global conspiracy to fix DRAM prices, the Department of Justice announced.

In total, four companies and 18 individuals have been charged in the Department’s DRAM investigation and criminal fines totaling more than $730 million have resulted. This total reflects the second-largest total amount of fines ever imposed in a U.S. criminal antitrust investigation from a single price-fixing conspiracy. The Korean executive, Young Hwan Park, participated in the price-fixing conspiracy while in his capacity as Vice President of Sales at Korean memory maker Samsung Electronics Company Ltd. Park is currently President of Samsung Semiconductor Inc., Samsung’s U.S.-based subsidiary. Park is charged with participating in a conspiracy in the U.S. and elsewhere to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing the prices of DRAM to be sold to certain original equipment manufacturers of personal computers and servers (OEMs), in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

“This latest plea underscores our resolve to hold responsible those who target U.S. businesses and consumers with price-fixing schemes,” said Thomas O. Barnett, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department’s Antitrust Division. “Individuals who choose to engage in price fixing are on notice of the consequences of their illegal actions – criminal fines and prison time.”

Under the plea agreement, which must be approved by the court, Park has agreed to serve 10 months in prison and to pay a criminal fine of $250,000. In addition, Park has agreed to assist the government in its ongoing investigation.

DRAM is the most commonly used semiconductor memory product, providing high-speed storage and retrieval of electronic information for a wide variety of computer, telecommunication, and consumer electronic products. DRAM is used in personal computers, laptops, workstations, servers, printers, hard disk drives, personal digital assistants, modems, mobile phones, telecommunication hubs and routers, digital cameras, video recorders and TVs, digital set top boxes, game consoles, and digital music players. There were approximately $7.7 billion in DRAM sales in the U.S. in 2004.

According to the one-count felony charge filed today in federal court in San Francisco, Park conspired with unnamed employees from other memory makers to fix the prices of DRAM sold to certain OEMs from on or about April 1, 2001, to on or about June 15, 2002. The violation directly affected sales to U.S. computer makers Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company, Compaq Computer Corporation, International Business Machines Corporation, Apple Computer Inc., and Gateway Inc., the Department said.

Park is charged with carrying out the price-fixing conspiracy by:

∙ Participating in meetings, conversations, and communications with competitors to discuss the prices of DRAM to be sold to certain customers;

∙ Agreeing with competitors to charge prices of DRAM at certain levels to be sold to certain customers;

∙ Issuing price quotations in accordance with the agreements reached; ∙ Exchanging information on sales of DRAM to certain customers, for the purpose of monitoring and enforcing adherence to agreed-upon prices; and

∙ Directing subordinates to contact competitors to obtain DRAM pricing information for the purpose of fixing prices.

This is the fifth Samsung executive to agree to a prison sentence in the DRAM investigation. Three foreign-based Samsung executives and one U.S. executive have already pleaded guilty and agreed to serve prison terms ranging from seven to eight months and to each pay a $250,000 fine. In April 2006, Sun Woo Lee and Yeongho Kang pleaded guilty to participating in the price-fixing conspiracy while they worked for Samsung or its subsidiaries in the U.S. In August 2006, Young Woo Lee pleaded guilty to participating in the price-fixing conspiracy while he worked for Samsung or its subsidiaries in Europe. Then, in November 2006, Thomas Quinn, a San Jose, Calif. executive, pleaded guilty to participating in the price-fixing conspiracy in his capacity as vice president of marketing for memory products at Samsung Semiconductor Inc.

In December 2006, a former Elpida executive, D. James Sogas, pleaded guilty for his participation in the DRAM conspiracy and was sentenced to serve seven months in jail and to pay a $250,000 fine. In addition, four Hynix Semiconductor Inc., executives, Dae Soo Kim, Chae Kyun Chung, Kun Chul Suh, and Choon Yub Choi, were charged with participating in the DRAM price-fixing conspiracy and agreed to plead guilty and serve jail terms ranging from five to eight months and to each pay a $250,000 fine. In December 2004, four Infineon executives, T. Rudd Corwin, Peter Schaefer, Gunter Hefner, and Heinrich Florian, pleaded guilty to the DRAM price-fixing conspiracy. The Infineon employees served jail terms ranging from four to six months and each paid a $250,000 fine.

Also, in December 2003 the Department charged Alfred Censullo, a Regional Sales Manager for Micron Technology Inc., with obstruction of justice. Censullo pleaded guilty and admitted to having withheld and altered documents responsive to a grand jury subpoena served on Micron. Censullo was sentenced to serve six months of home detention.

Samsung pleaded guilty to the price-fixing conspiracy and was sentenced to pay a $300 million criminal fine in November 2005. Hynix, the world’s second-largest DRAM manufacturer, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $185 million criminal fine in May 2005. In January 2006, Japanese manufacturer Elpida Memory agreed to plead guilty and pay an $84 million fine. In October 2004, German manufacturer Infineon pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a $160 million criminal fine.

In October 2006, a federal grand jury in San Francisco returned a single-count indictment against two executives from Samsung, Il Ung Kim and Young Bae Rha, and one executive from Hynix, Gary Swanson, for violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1.

Today’s charge is the result of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Francisco.



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