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Downtown Los Angeles Revival Going Strong
Business Law Info | 2007/02/15 00:32

Downtown Los Angeles is undergoing a real estate revival of epic proportions. And the Los Angeles Urban Redevelopment Group and its people are in the thick of it.



In just the last few years, the number of downtown residents has increased by over 30%, from 18,000 to 24,000. Early next year, the Ralph's supermarket chain will be opening the first new supermarket in the downtown area in decades. And bistros, bookstores and coffeehouses are sprouting on the ground floors of numerous historical buildings that have been redeveloped over the last few years into loft-type residences.

Although business has long been L.A.'s heart, its arts and cultural institutions have given life to its soul in recent years. Each year, thousands come to watch Esa -Pekka Salonen conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall; view avant-garde works at the Museum of Contemporary Art; or tour the magnificent Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Free outdoor concerts by Grand Performances at California Plaza during the summer months offer an eclectic mix of music, dance and spoken word programs. The Museum of Neon Art houses a unique collection of neon signs from many Los Angeles landmark buildings.

Nearby Exposition Park draws hundreds of thousands of people annually to the California Science Center and IMAX, Natural History Museum and California African-American Museum. The City's ethnic diversity is also reflected by the Japanese American National Museum located in Little Tokyo.

World-class athletic teams and venues offer sports fans a wealth of choices: the Dodgers at their longtime home in Chavez Ravine just north of the Downtown Center District; plus the Kings, Lakers, Avengers, Sparks and Clippers playing at the Staples Center.

The Los Angeles Urban Redevelopment Group's unmatched track record in Downtown spans from the pioneering sale of the first major loft conversion at the Historic Bank District, the 1½ city block Gas Company land assemblage, and the placement of the first major supermarket in Downtown in over 45 years – a 50,000 square foot Ralphs grocery store.  Each of the aforementioned transactions have one common thread: the Los Angeles Urban Redevelopment Group defied what current market conditions were dictating and uncovered value for both sides of the transaction based upon our insight into the upside of Downtown Los Angeles.

Downtown Los Angeles is finally becoming the world-class live/work/play location that it's always been destined to be. And the Los Angeles Urban Redevelopment Group is very much a part of it.


BP Settles Suit Over 2 Refinery Deaths
Business Law Info | 2006/11/09 17:56

The world's third largest publicly traded oil company BP Plc, agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by a woman whose parents died in a Texas refinery explosion, woman's lawyer said.

Though the terms of the agreement were confidential, BP set aside $1.6 billion to resolve the claims.

The London based BP, has acknowledged safety shortcomings at the plant, and settled about 1,000 suits, including all death claims except the two filed by Eva Rowe, 22. She lost both her parents in the explosion and has refused to settle unless BP agrees to change safety procedures and equipment.

Roddy Kennedy, who heads BP's press office in London, said he couldn't comment on the reported settlement. BP will pay money to community groups as part of the settlement, attorney Brent Coon said.

If if the trial had gone forward, BP faced unlimited damages and harm to its reputation. The March 23, 2005, explosion killed 15 and injured hundreds at its Texas City, Texas, refinery led to more than 1,300 suits against BP, a record fine from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and a finding by another safety agency that the company endangered workers by cutting costs.

The evidence to be introduced, including an internal study showing the company ignored safety problems at the Texas City refinery, could have produced sizable punitive damages. The trial was set to begin with jury selection today.

Breaking Legal News.com
Sheryl Jones
Staff Writer



Employee of U.S. Military Contractor Pleads Guilty
Business Law Info | 2006/11/06 17:41

WASHINGTON - (USDOJ) A former employee of a construction company that has contracts with the U.S. Air Force in Iraq, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan to a one-count criminal information, the Department of Justice announced today.

Samir F. Mahmoud, 56, of Bloomfield, Mich., pleaded guilty to charges of making a false statement stemming from an investigation into possible violations of the Anti-Kickback Act. U.S. District Judge Gerald E. Rosen set a sentencing date for February 2, 2007.

According to the information filed in September 2006, on July 17, 2006, Mahmoud was interviewed by special agents from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding allegations of illegal payments and gifts offered to company employees in exchange for promised assistance in obtaining, retaining or altering the Air Force contracts and subcontracts associated with the reconstruction of Iraq. During the interview Mahmoud willfully made materially false statements in that he denied providing gifts to other company employees when he had offered and provided things of value to at least one company employee.

The maximum sentence for a charge of making a false statement is up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In October 2006, Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty announced the formation of a National Procurement Fraud Task Force designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in contracting activity for national security and other governmental programs. The Procurement Fraud Task Force chaired by Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division includes the FBI, the U.S. Inspectors General Community, the Executive Office of the United States Attorneys and others.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Nathaniel Edmonds and Stacey Luck of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section.



Record Companies Sues Parent and Her Kids
Business Law Info | 2006/11/02 18:30

Five record companies, represented by the Recording Industry Association of America, filed a lawsuit in federal court in White Plains on Wednesday against Patricia Santangelo's son and daughter, accusing them of pirating songs over the Internet.

The lawsuit accuses Michelle Santangelo, 20, and brother Robert, 16 of downloading and distributing over 1,000 songs, including "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)" by the Offspring, "MMMBop" by Hanson and "Beat It" by Michael Jackson, and that Michelle acknowledged downloading songs on the family computer.

The complaint read, "In short, each of the defendants participated in the substantial violations of plaintiffs' copyrights at issue and then concealed their involvement, standing idly by as Patricia Santangelo repeatedly protested their innocence and chastised plaintiffs for filing allegedly frivolous litigation."

Jordan Glass, attorney for the Santangelos, disputed the recording industry's allegations and said he was at Michelle Santangelo's deposition and does not recall her "admitting or acknowledging downloading."

Called "an Internet illiterate parent," by a federal judge last year, Paricia Santangelo came to the forefront of attention by her denial of downloading songs and her adamant refusal to settle with the recording industry, for $7,500 to keep her name out of the lawsuit.

Defenders of Internet freedom helped pay for Santangelo's attorney. Patricia Santangelo stated her personal innocence but of her children she said she had no knowledge of them downloading and, if they did, to blame the computer programs.

The industry is requesting unspecified damages for each download, an injunction, and court costs.

The record companies have forced most file-sharing computer networks , and has sued thousands of individuals, including minors, for allegedly music pirating.



Angelina Jolie May Sue Ex-Partner Over Funds
Business Law Info | 2006/11/01 18:49

A lawsuit may be filed on behalf of Angelina Jolie, the Hollywood actress, against the head of a Cambodian aid group she alleges misappropriated her donations.

Trevor Neilson, who is the philanthropic and political advisor for Jolie and partner Brad Pitt, told The Associated Press in New York Monday, "We are considering filing a lawsuit to recover the hundreds of thousands of dollars that is missing and which he was responsible for,"

Neilson was referring to Mounh Sarath, director of Cambodian Vision in Development, to whom Jolie once gave funds for conservation and community development work in Cambodia.

Neilson denied the actress had broken any agreement with Mounh Sarath, in response to Mounh Sarath's allegations that Joile had reneged on an agreement by stopping funds for his group, "We have specific evidence (of) him having taken the money, and we are considering whether to file a lawsuit or press charges against him in Cambodia," Neilson said.

Jolie has set up an independent Cambodian organization to administer a conservation project for remote northwestern areas of Cambodia, the director of the new group said Monday.

Jolie terminated the contract with Cambodian Vision in Development and the U.S. conservation group WildAid, which had co-managed the project, in December, said Stephan Bognar, executive director of the Maddox Jolie Project. The new group is named for Jolie's 5-year-old son Maddox, who was adopted from Cambodia in 2002.

The 31-year-old actress has promised up to US$1.3 million over five years for the forest conservation program, which was approved by the Cambodia government in 2003. On Tuesday, Mounh Sarath denied the allegations and said "I will fight any lawsuit to find out the truth and to see if they have any documented proof of the money stolen."

Jolie filmed scenes from the 2001 movie, "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," at Cambodia's famed Angkor Wat temple.

Breaking Legal News.com
Sheryl M. Jones
Staff Writer



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