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Portland archdiocese settles clergy abuse claims
Court Feed News | 2006/12/12 23:19

The US Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland has settled child sex abuse lawsuits with about 150 people, court-appointed mediators US District Judge Michael Hogan and Oregon Circuit Judge Lyle Velure announced. They reported that "the vast majority of the known tort claims were settled... the Archdiocese has agreed to pay...the few remaining unresolved known tort claims...and future tort claims." The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but Hogan said the diocese had more than $50 million in assets of its own in which to cover the settlements. AP has more. The Seattle Times has additional coverage.

The Portland archdiocese, which filed for Chapter 11 in 2004, was the first one to file for bankruptcy in the face of civil litigation over sex abuse claims. Since then, the dioceses of Tuscon, Spokane, and Davenport have also filed for Chapter 11 protection in the wake of hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits filed against the clergy. In June, a federal judge allowed a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Portland archdiocese to continue, rejecting the Vatican's bid to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction. The lawsuit, filed in 2002 in the US District Court for the District of Oregon, alleged that the Vatican, the Archdiocese of Portland and the archbishop of Chicago conspired to protect a priest by transferring him from city to city, even though the church knew he had a history of committing sexual abuse. Earlier this month, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles settled 45 sexual abuse lawsuits for $60 million.



DOJ to Monitor Elections in New Orleans
U.S. Legal News | 2006/12/10 16:21

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced that on Dec. 9, 2006, it will monitor the congressional runoff election in New Orleans, La., to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.

The Department monitors will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in the city. A Civil Rights Division attorney will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

Each year, the Justice Department deploys hundreds of federal observers from the Office of Personnel Management, as well as departmental staff, to monitor elections across the country. In 2004, a record 1,463 federal observers and 533 Department personnel were sent to monitor 163 elections in 105 jurisdictions in 29 states. This compares to the 640 federal observers and 103 Department personnel deployed in 2000. On Nov. 7, 2006, the Department deployed an unprecedented number of federal personnel to monitor the midterm election, sending more that 500 federal observers and more than 350 Justice Department personnel to 69 jurisdictions in 22 states "more than double the total sent on Election Day in 2002" the previous record for a midterm election.



CA accountant barred from operating tax scheme
Lawyer News | 2006/12/09 17:24

WASHINGTON – A federal judge in Los Angeles has permanently barred Stephen Drake of Prescott, Ariz., and Kenneth Sorenson of Buellton, Calif., from promoting or operating an alleged tax fraud scheme, the Justice Department announced today.

Judge Florence-Marie Cooper of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California signed the civil permanent injunction, which the defendants agreed to without admitting wrongdoing. The order also bars Sorenson, a CPA whose office in is Solvang, Calif., from preparing federal income tax returns for customers based on the alleged tax fraud scheme.

The government alleged in the complaint filed in this case that Drake and Sorenson devised and operated a scheme that helped some members of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians claim bogus deductions on their federal income tax returns to offset income the members receive from the Band’s casino operations at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, Calif. The complaint also stated that each Band member received over $300,000 in casino distributions in 2004 and over $400,000 last year.

The injunction order requires Drake and Sorenson to mail a copy of the injunction to all customers who participated in the scheme and to any other persons to whom they sold a similar scheme in the past five years.



Grand Jury Indicts Alaska Republican For Extortion
Court Feed News | 2006/12/09 17:16

WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in Anchorage, Alaska, has indicted Thomas T. Anderson, a current elected member of the Alaska State House of Representatives, on charges of extortion, conspiracy, bribery, and money laundering, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division announced today.

The seven-count indictment returned on Dec. 6, 2006, charges Anderson with two counts of extortion, one count of bribery, one count of conspiracy, and three counts of money laundering in connection with the use of a sham corporation to hide the identity of the bribery payments. The indictment further alleges that Anderson solicited and received money from an FBI confidential source in exchange for Anderson’s agreement to perform official acts to further a business interest represented by the confidential source.

The indictment also alleges that from July 2004 to March 2005, Representative Anderson, along with an individual identified as “Lobbyist A,” solicited and received $26,000 in payments from an FBI confidential source, in exchange for Anderson’s agreement to take official acts as a member of the Alaska State Legislature. According to the indictment, Anderson and Lobbyist A participated in the creation of a sham corporation to conceal the existence and true origin of the payments, and used the sham corporation to funnel a portion of the $26,000 to Anderson.

According to the indictment, the FBI confidential source was a consultant for a private corrections company located outside the state of Alaska, and Anderson and Lobbyist A initiated contact with the FBI confidential source in order to solicit bribery payments. The FBI confidential source, however, never communicated those solicitations or any other information to the corrections company due to the undercover nature of the operation. The corrections company was not implicated in the corrupt activities that are alleged in the indictment.

If convicted, Anderson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine on the extortion counts; a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $500,000 fine on each of the money laundering counts; a maximum penalty of 10 years and a $250,000 fine on the bribery count; and a maximum penalty of five years and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy count.

An indictment is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Nicholas A. Marsh and Edward P. Sullivan of the Public Integrity Section, which is headed by Acting Chief Edward C. Nucci, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph W. Bottini and James A. Goeke from the District of Alaska. The case is being investigated by Special Agents of the FBI.



HP agrees to settle California pretexting suit
Legal Career News | 2006/12/09 14:06

Hewlett-Packard reached a $14.5 million settlement agreement with California Attorney General Bill Lockyer on Thursday in an unfair business practices suit stemming from HP's allegedly fraudulent attempts to obtain certain phone records, a practice known as "pretexting." Lockyer "commended the firm for cooperating instead of stonewalling" and announced that $13.5 million of the settlement would be used for privacy rights investigations in state and local cases. The remainder will pay for civil penalties, investigations, and other costs.

Since September, HP has been embroiled in an elaborate corporate spying scandal. In order to discover the source of boardroom leaks, the company allegedly hired outside detectives to call phone companies, posing as executives and reporters in attempt to obtain phone records. In November, former chairwoman Patricia Dunn, former ethics officer Kevin Hunsaker, and outside private investigators Ronald DeLia, Matthew DePante and Bryan Wagner pleaded not guilty in Santa Clara County Superior Court to felony charges stemming from their roles in the corporate spying scandal. Dunn resigned in September before testifying at a hearing before the US House Energy and Commerce Committee, during which she admitted that she was aware of the plan, but was also told the actions were legal by corporate attorneys.



Judge rules in favor of single-member districts for Osceola
Court Feed News | 2006/12/09 10:24
The following is a statement by Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, on order of a remedial voting plan in U.S. v. Osceola County:

“We are extremely pleased with today’s court ruling, which orders a five single-member district remedial plan to replace Osceola County’s unlawful at large election system,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Moving forward with elections next spring under a lawful plan is an important victory for all the residents of Osceola County, Fla. and particularly for its Hispanic citizens who have been denied the right guaranteed by the Voting Rights Act to full and equal participation in the democratic process in county government.”


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