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   The Hazelwood School District will pay tuition for an expelled middle school student to receive an education through a contract with an alternative learning center.  That after a settlement was reached between the district and Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.  

   The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the 13 year old had been expelled last year for selling pills to another student.  The paper reports the student couldn't afford private school, or even a computer.  He also couldn't access alternative education programs through the juvenile courts, because he hadn't been charged with a crime.  So he sued claiming his right to a free, public education was being infringed.

   Legal Services executive director Dan Glazier tells the paper the case is one of the first of its kind filed in Missouri. Glazier says the problem is fairly rare, since so few students are actually expelled in the state, fewer than 60 all of last year. 

   The Hazelwood settlement stops short of obligating school district to always serve students who are expelled.  But as part of the settlement, Hazelwood has agreed to consider similar arrangements on a case-by-case basis.

Published in Local News
   NEW YORK (AP) — For more than 15 years, there were signs something was amiss with what federal prosecutors in Manhattan call the "703 account" at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
   Money was being transferred back and forth for no reason. The account holder was recording double-digit returns on investments that were too good to be true. The bank itself was worried enough about possible fraud to withdraw its own investments from him.
   The name on the account was Bernard Madoff and on Tuesday JPMorgan paid a steep price for keeping quiet about its suspicions.
   Federal authorities announced the nation's largest bank will add to its other costly financial woes by forfeiting a record $1.7 billion to settle criminal charges alleging it turned a blind eye to the Madoff fraud, plus pay an additional $543 million to settle civil claims by victims. It also will pay another $350 million civil penalty for what the Treasury Department called "critical and widespread deficiencies" in its programs to prevent money laundering and other suspicious activity.
   The bank failed to carry out its legal obligations to guard against money laundering while Madoff "built his massive house of cards," George Venizelos, head of the FBI's New York office, said at a news conference.
   Madoff banked at JPMorgan through what court papers referred to as the "703 account." In 2008, the bank's London desk circulated a memo describing JPMorgan's inability to validate his trading activity or custody of assets and his "odd choice" of a one-man accounting firm, the government said.
    In late October 2008, it filed a suspicious activity report with British officials. In the weeks that followed, JPMorgan withdrew about $300 million of its own money from Madoff feeder funds. The fraud was revealed when Madoff was arrested in December 2008.
   "Despite all these alarm bells, JPMorgan never closed or even seriously questioned Madoff's Ponzi-enabling 703 account," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. "On the other hand, when it came to its own money, JPMorgan knew how to connect the dots and take action to protect itself against risk."
   In a statement, JPMorgan said it recognized it "could have done a better job pulling together various pieces of information and concerns about Madoff from different parts of the bank over time."
   It added: "We do not believe that any JPMorgan Chase employee knowingly assisted Madoff's Ponzi scheme."
   Prosecutors called the $1.7 billion the largest forfeiture by a U.S. bank and the largest Department of Justice penalty for a Bank Secrecy Act violation.
   The settlement includes a so-called deferred prosecution agreement that requires the bank to acknowledge failures in its protections against money laundering but also allows it to avoid criminal charges. No individual executives were accused of wrongdoing.
   The agreement resolves two felony violations of the Bank Secrecy Act in connection with the bank's relationship with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, the private investment arm of Madoff's former business. The civil penalty was imposed by the Treasury Department's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
   Criminal charges will be deferred for two years as JPMorgan admits to its conduct, pays the $1.7 billion to a fund established for victims of Madoff's fraud and reforms its anti-money laundering policies, prosecutors said.
   A statement of facts included in the agreement describes internal communications at JPMorgan expressing concerns about how Madoff was generating his purported returns. As early as 1998, a JPMorgan fund manager wrote that the returns were "possibly too good to be true" and there were "too many red flags."
   In more recent years, executives were disturbed by the fact that Madoff wouldn't let the bank examine his books, the statement of facts says.
   "How much do we have in Madoff at the moment?" a bank analyst wrote in a 2008 email. "To be honest, the more I think about it, the more concerned I am."
   When Madoff finally revealed to the FBI that his investment advisory business was a Ponzi scheme, fictitious account statements for thousands of clients showed $60 billion in assets. Of the roughly $17.5 billion in principal that was real, most of it was gone.
   Since then, a court-appointed trustee has recovered more than $9.78 billion — including a portion of the JPMorgan civil payout — to redistribute to clients that invested directly with Madoff. The $1.7 billion criminal forfeiture and will go to a second victims' pool, already with $2.35 billion, that is processing claims from clients of so-called "feeder funds" that also invested heavily with Madoff.
   The JPMorgan settlement is the latest in a series of major deals it has made to resolve its legal troubles. In November, the bank agreed to pay $13 billion over risky mortgage securities it sold before the financial crisis — the largest settlement to date between the Justice Department and a corporation.
   The more than $2.5 billion that JPMorgan is paying comes from a company that reported $21.3 billion in net income for 2012. JPMorgan already has set aside $23 billion this year to cover settlement and litigation costs — including the $13 billion.
   The settlement of criminal charges "is good, but still inadequate to stop what can only be called a one-bank crime spree," said Dennis Kelleher, the president of Better Markets, a group that advocates strict financial regulation.
   "Once again, not a single individual working for JPMorgan Chase has been held accountable. Banks do not commit crimes; bankers do," Kelleher said in a statement. "Until individuals, including executives, are held personally liable, fined and jailed, the crime spree will continue."
   Asked why no individual bankers were charged, Bharara said the settlement was the best option under the law.
   "Obviously, the statement of facts recites in great detail some of the roles that various individuals played with the overall systemic failure," he said. "But in the interest of justice, you've got to look at every case individually and our view was at this point the obvious charge was against the bank. ... This is a statute directed against institutional failure and institutional deterrence and that's why it was brought the way it was today."
Published in National News

Madison County, Illinois will pay almost 500-thousand dollars to settle a gender-discrimination lawsuit brought by a former employee.

 

The Madison County Board has voted to resolve the case involving former Regional Office of Education youth advocate Mary Parker. Parker claimed she was paid less than her male counterpart - 13-thousand dollars less in one particular year.  She also says she was retaliated against when she complained.

 

A jury in November 2012 awarded Parker 100-thousand dollars in damages after agreeing with the retaliation claim.

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A study by a group of health organizations puts Illinois 32nd in spending tobacco-lawsuit money on smoking-prevention programs.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids looked at how the 50 states and District of Columbia have spent $116 billion in money so far from a landmark lawsuit against big tobacco companies in 1998.

The campaign and other anti-smoking groups want money spent on preventing young people from starting to smoke.

Between settlement money and tobacco taxes, Illinois is getting $1 billion this year. Just more than $11 million is going to tobacco-use-prevention. That's 7 percent of the $157 million federal health officials recommend spending.

Sen. Terry Link - a Waukegan Democrat - says work continues, such as with his bill that failed last year to make university campuses smoke-free.

 

Published in Local News
Thursday, 12 September 2013 14:17

Missouri loses arbitration with tobacco companies

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says the state has lost an arbitration case and will refund money it receives through a multi-state settlement with tobacco companies.

The attorney general's office says it is reviewing the order to determine how much Missouri will need to refund. The funds will be deducted from a payment the cigarette manufacturers make this upcoming April.

A three-judge arbitration panel sided with more than 30 cigarette manufacturers' claims that Missouri and several other states had failed to diligently enforce state tobacco laws in 2003 as was required in a 1998 legal settlement with 46 states. The tobacco settlement agreement was reached in 1998.

Missouri's share of the tobacco settlement was about $150 million in 2003.

 

Published in Local News

   HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Negotiations between Penn State and young men who claim they were abused by Jerry Sandusky have begun to bear fruit, with lawyers involved saying there will be more announcements of settlements in the coming days.

   The school's trustees have set aside some $60 million to pay claims, and on Monday a lawyer working for Penn State said the one settlement so far should be followed by 24 more this week. Thirty-one young men have come forward to Penn State.

   Attorney Michael Rozen said the pending agreements include most of the eight young men who testified last year against Sandusky, the school's former assistant football coach now serving a prison sentence for child molestation.

   Penn State said little over the weekend in response to an announcement by the lawyer for one of the eight, "Victim 5," that his case was fully settled and he expected payment within a month. The school is paying out the claims through its insurance coverage and from interest revenues on loans made by the school to its own self-supporting entities.

   Rozen said all of the deals are expected to include provisions that give the university the right to pursue claims against the university's insurer, The Second Mile charity founded by Sandusky and The Second Mile's insurer.

   Sandusky is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence in state prison after being convicted last summer of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. Witnesses testified that he met victims through The Second Mile, an organization established to help at-risk children that ran camps and offered other services.

   Rozen said the "value" of the claims depended in part on whether they happened after 2001, when top-ranking school officials were told by a graduate assistant about Sandusky with a child in a team shower, or before 1998, the earliest documented example of a Sandusky complaint.

   "It's what did Penn State know and what duty did they have?" Rozen said. "What did they know, when did they know it, and what duty — if any — did they have to act, and to what extent?"

   He said claims for abuse before 1998 also may fall outside the statute of limitations that put time limits on how long victims have to sue.

   Although some lawyers have said they were interested in settlements that require Penn State to make changes that might prevent such abuse from re-occurring, Rozen said those matters have been eclipsed by the widespread reforms the university has adopted or begun since a series of recommendations were made last summer in an internal report.

   "I don't think anybody could reasonably or rationally question the university's commitment to doing things differently in the future," Rozen said. "This was about trying to redress harm caused to young men by this really bad person, Sandusky."

   He declined to say how much the 25 cases are settling for, or provide a range of the settlements.

Published in National News

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Members of the United Mine Workers of America have voted to ratify a settlement with bankrupt Patriot Coal.

The union said Friday night that current or laid-off Patriot workers in West Virginia and Kentucky voted 85 percent to 15 percent in favor of the agreement reached late last week.

Some 1,800 members from 13 locals were voting.

St. Louis-based Patriot says it wants the company to survive, and union President Cecil Roberts says a deal may let that happen.

The settlement would restore most wage cuts that Patriot had sought as part of its reorganization.

Roberts says the deal also reduces the restoration of some benefits and the continuation of others.

Pension benefits for thousands of current retirees would be maintained, and active employees would continue earning pension credit.

Published in Local News

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Almost 10,000 Missouri consumers are getting checks under a settlement with shoe maker Skechers USA.

   Attorney General Chris Koster says Missouri is one of 43 states that participated with the federal government in a case alleging that Skechers deceptively advertised its toning shoes.

   The settlement was announced in May 2012. A court-appointed administrator started sending out the restitution checks late last week.

   Koster says 9,666 consumers will receive a total of $716,493. The majority of people will receive checks of about $34, but some will get more if they bought multiple pairs of shoes or other equipment.

   The lawsuits challenged Skechers' claim that its shoes could help people lose weight and strengthen muscles. Skechers admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.

   

Published in Local News

   Fifty-five hospitals in 21 states, including one in the St. Louis area, have agreed to pay $34 million to the U.S. government to settle allegations that they used more expensive inpatient procedures rather than outpatient spinal surgeries to get bigger payments from Medicare.  

   The Justice Department announced the settlement Tuesday over kyphoplasty procedures used to treat spinal fractures usually caused by osteoporosis.  

   Des Peres Hospital in west St. Louis County has agreed to pay $900,000 to satisfy its part of the settlement. 

Published in Local News

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says more than $600,000 has been recovered for the Missouri Medicaid program as part of a national settlement against the drug-maker Amgen Inc.

   Amgen agreed last month to pay $24.9 million to resolve claims it gave kickbacks to increase sales of its anemia drug Aranesp. Missouri was among several states that accused Amgen of a scheme aimed at inducing nursing home professionals to dispense Aranesp over competing drugs. Missouri's share is $603,493.

   Aranesp is one of Amgen's biggest-selling drugs, though sales have fallen sharply since 2007 because of a series of safety problems and restrictions on its use.

   In December, Amgen agreed to pay $762 million to resolve federal litigation accusing it of marketing Aranesp for unapproved uses.

   

 
Published in Local News
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