Category Archives: Boston News

Case Closed: Equity Residential “Move-in Fee” Class Action Lawsuit in Massachusetts

Updates

September 2, 2015

How to Claim Settlement Funds from the Equity Residential “Move-in Fee” Class Action Lawsuit

August 11, 2015

Order for Preliminary Approval of Class Settlement signed by Judge Zobel.

July 30, 2015

Thousands of tenants in Massachusetts apartments owned by Equity Residential stand to fully recoup illegal pet, move-in and application fees collected by the company — plus 
10 percent interest — under a proposed federal court settlement.” (Boston Herald)

September 10, 2014

Sam Zell‘s company is appealing class certification to the First Circuit.

August 26, 2014

After a two year legal battle with Equity Residential, Massachusetts tenants have achieved a significant legal victory.  Federal Judge Rya Zobel has declared that move-in fees, community fees, application fees, and up-front pet fees violated the Massachusetts Security Deposit Statute.

Boston Herald

Boston Herald, Friday, August 29, 2014

The law firms that filed the original move in fee /amenity fee class actions against Equity Residential are: Pastor Law Office, LLP, Fogelman & Fogelman, LLC, and Leonard Law Office, P.C.  Have you been affected by Equity’s business practices in Massachusetts? If so, you are welcome to contact us.

Boston Herald: Judge Says Equity’s Tenant Fees Illegal (pdf).

See August 26, 2014 – Memorandum and order: pdf

Excerpts:

Application Fee
Two Commonwealth courts have concluded that section 15B(1)(b) does not authorize landlords to charge prospective tenants an application fee…. I agree.

Amenity Fee/Move-in Fee
The amenity fee, at times called a move-in fee, is indistinguishable from the Community Fee. Defendant argues the community fee is lawful because it does not collect the fee until the second month of tenants’ occupancy…But the statute prohibits landlords from “requir[ing] a tenant or prospective tenant to pay” unlisted fees. That is just what defendant does when it charges the fee before a tenant moves in. Deferring collection does not make an unlawful fee lawful. “amenity use fee” Judge Young found unlawful in Hermida. It is not on the list of permissible charges; it is therefore prohibited.

Up-Front Pet Fee
Like the others, the up-front pet fee is not among the permissible charges. It is therefore prohibited.

Monthly Pet Fee
The monthly pet fee is not incurred up front, but rather each month during which the tenant owns a pet. Because plaintiffs became obligated to pay the fee after they were already tenants, they may not turn to section 15B(1)(b) for relief.”

*     *     *     *

Miller v. Equity Residential Management LLC

On May 8, 2012, a class action lawsuit was filed against EQUITY RESIDENTIAL MANAGEMENT LLC, a subsidiary of  Equity Residential (EQR)-NYSE, in the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts.  Equity Residential is the biggest, and perhaps the most infamous landlord in the America.

Boston Business Journal: “The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, seeks refunds for all tenants in Equity Residential properties. The Chicago-based company owns more than 6,000 apartments in the Bay State.” Read the rest of that article here.  Additional media coverage here.

Perry v. Equity Residential Management LLC

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly:  “Residents of Equity Longview Place in Waltham are suing their property management company over similar allegations.  Equity Residential Management LLC, and Illinois company, manages more than two dozen apartment complexes in Massachusetts. ” Read the rest of that article here.

What are the recent Equity Residential class actions about?

Both suits allege that up-front fees Equity Residential has charged tenants (“amenity fees,” “amenity use fees,” “move-in fees”) are in violation of the Massachusetts Security Deposit Law.

Matthew J. Fogelman established a significant legal precedent on which the plaintiffs in Perry and Miller now rely in support of their claims. See Hermida v. Archstone, 826 F. Supp. 2d 380 (D. Mass. 2011).

Who is part of the Class?

The Class is defined as:  all current and former tenants of Equity Residential apartments in Massachusetts who from May 8, 2008 through May 8, 2012  paid an Amenity Fee or a Move In fee.

Case Documents:

May 8, 2012 – CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT

June 1, 2012 – MOTION OF PLAINTIFFS BRIAN PERRY, KIM PERRY AND CHERYL MILLER TO CONSOLIDATE RELATED ACTIONS AND APPOINT INTERIM CLASS COUNSEL AND FOR ENTRY OF PRETRIAL ORDER NO. 1

June 6, 2012 – EQUITY RESIDENTIAL MANAGEMENT, L.L.C.’S MOTION TO DISMISS

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Michael’s Stores Credit Card Privacy / Unsolicited Marketing Case Settles

Massachusetts federal judge William G. Young granted preliminary approval on Wednesday February, 12, 2013 to an $875,000 settlement resolving a class action that accused arts-and-crafts retailer Michael’s Stores Inc. of improperly demanding ZIP Codes from its customers during transactions and then sending them junk mail.  See the settlement docs: [PDF]

In this class action, Michael’s stores was sued for allegedly violating M.G.L. c. 93A sec 9 (Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act) and M.G.L. c. 93 sec. 105(a) (Massachusetts Credit Card Privacy Act). This is the seminal case in the area of credit card privacy under Massachusetts law. Class counsel took the case all the way to the SJC. In mid 2013, they won a decision from the Commonwealth’s highest state court declaring that (1) ZIP codes constitute “Personal Identification Information” in the context of M.G.L. c. 93 sec. 105(a); and (2) receipt of unsolicited marketing materials or  junk mail occasioned by an underlying violation of sec. 105(a) is an injury under 93A.

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MAC Faces Privacy Class Action in Massachusetts

On November 5, 2013, the Leonard Law Office filed a class action lawsuit against MAC Cosmetics, alleging violations of Massachusetts credit card privacy and consumer protection laws.

MAC Cosmetics - Newbury St.

MAC Cosmetics – Newbury Street

If you have information about MAC’s business practices related to credit card transactions, or believe you were affected by conduct that is the basis of this case (by MAC or any other Massachusetts retailer) you are welcome to contact us.

Excerpts of the class action complaint are pasted below:

“Plaintiff brings this action for redress of the unlawful practice of MAC of collecting ZIP codes at checkout at its Massachusetts stores from customers who make purchases with Credit Cards, recording that information as part of the Credit Card transaction, and then using that information for its own marketing and promotional purposes, including to send unsolicited marketing and promotional materials, or “junk mail.”  This practice, which has affected Plaintiff and members of the Class, as described and defined herein, is an invasion of privacy and violates G. L. c. 93 § 105(a) and G. L. c. 93A, § 2.

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Brooks Brothers Faces Privacy Class Action

Brooks Brothers Logo

Massachusetts law prohibits businesses from requesting and recording a customer’s personal identification when accepting payment by credit card.  Leonard Law Office, LLP and Bailey & Glasser, LLP are representing Massachusetts consumers in a privacy class action against Brooks Brothers, filed in August, 2013.

If you have received junk mailing from Brooks Brothers after using a credit/debit card at a retail location and providing Brooks Brothers with your zip code or home address, you are invited to contact us.

Brooks Brothers Newbury St

Brooks Brothers – Newbury St.

The Class Action Complaint alleges:

  • Brooks Brothers requests customers’ zip codes when they make a purchase using a credit card.
  • Brooks Brothers has a policy of automatically requesting a customer’s zip code in all credit or debit card transactions, and, if provided, recording the zip code electronically in connection with the transaction.
  • Brooks Brothers has a policy of using its customers’ zip codes, and information obtained from third party databases to send marketing materials to customers.
  • Brooks Brothers has a policy of sharing this information with other Brooks Brothers brands.
  • Brooks Brothers’ policies harm Massachusetts consumers by subjecting them to unwanted junk mail, and other marketing without their consent, and using customers’ personal information without their consent for its own business purposes. Continue reading

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Equity Residential Faces Class Action Lawsuit About Heat and Water (Habitability) Issues at the Walden Park Apartments

Update (1/10/15)

The past few weeks have been cold.  According to the Boston Globe, “Yesterday’s high was a bitter 18 degrees, and if the forecast holds, temperatures in Boston may not break freezing for several days.” In the face of this cold weather, and despite conversion from oil to natural gas at Equity Residential’s Walden Park apartments in Cambridge, complaints continue to come in to this office regarding insufficient heat at the apartment complex.

Update (2/15/14)

On February 12, 2014, a Massachusetts Federal Judge issued an eighteen page opinion (PDF) remanding (sending back) this case to state court, summarizing: “[b]ecause Equity ‘has not demonstrated a reasonable probability that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million,’ the case must be remanded. ” We continue to receive complaints from tenants about heat and hot water problems at this apartment complex.

*     *     *     *

Original Post (4/15/13)

Equity Residential now faces its sixth class action lawsuit in Massachusetts since 2012. This is believed to set the record for the most class action lawsuits against one company in any one year period in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Leonard Law Office PC, and the Law Offices of Joshua N. Garick PC together filed suit against Equity Residential on behalf of tenants of the Walden Park Apartments in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Leonard Law Office PC is representing Massachusetts consumers in two other class actions against Equity Residential.

If you reside at the Walden Park Apartments, you are welcome to contact us about heating issues such as lack of hot water or inadequate heat in your apartment.  

THE SUIT SEEKS $3M IN DAMAGES FOR TENANTS

Case Documents:

1. Class Action Complaint (PDF).

220-225 Walden St. (Walden Park Apartments)

220-225 Walden St. (Walden Park Apartments)

The complaint alleges: “On November 4, 2011, Equity acquired Walden Park, which includes two large apartment buildings located at 205 and 225 Walden Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Walden Park has approximately 250 apartment units. When Equity acquired Walden Park, the heating and hot water systems were fully operable and in good working order. The plaintiffs entered into a written lease agreement with Walden Park’s previous owner, the Dolben Company, to rent the apartment located at 225 Walden Park, Cambridge, MA. When the Dolben Company owned Walden Park, the plaintiffs had no issues with the heat or hot water system. After Equity acquired Walden Park, issues with Equity-provided utilities, including heat and hot water, began. Starting in April of 2012, and continuing for well over a year thereafter until the present date, the plaintiffs and the Class experienced significant deficiencies and outages with the heat and hot water, including, without limitation, issues on the following dates:

May 8, 2012
May 12,2012
May 16,2012
June 27, 2012
August 23, 2012
October 20, 2012
October 21,2012
October 23, 2012
November 1, 2012
November 3, 2012
November 6, 2012
November 7, 2012
November 16, 2012
November 17, 2012
November 19,2012
March 28, 2013
April 3,2013
April 10, 2013
April 17, 2013
April 18, 2013
April23, 2013
June 6, 2013
June 25, 2013
August 15, 2013

These outages were systemic, and affected all Walden Park units. Over the course of this year, Equity exhibited no urgency in resolving these issues and provided misleading and contradictory reasons for shutting off the utilities. These reasons included, among other stated reasons, conversion from oil to natural gas, a water conservation project, a heating and cooling project, fuel supply/consumption issues, operator error, and automatic shutdowns. The problem was so egregious that the Cambridge Board of Health, which received numerous reports from Walden Park residents, cited Equity for violations of the State Sanitary Code, and deemed the violations to materially impair the health, safety or well-being of the Walden Park’s residents. On numerous occasions, the plaintiffs, (as well as other Walden Park residents) complained to Equity’s staff including complaints by telephone, e-mail and in person. These complaints were not resolved, forcing the plaintiffs to pursue formal litigation against Equity.” The Complaint further alleges that Equity Residential Equity backed out of a settlement deal reached earlier this month between Equity’s lawyers, and attorneys representing tenants.

Equity Residential & Cambridge Inspectional Services Division (ISD) Violations

Violation

Violation – “Deemed to Endgr. or Impair Health of Safety”

Equity Residential Walden St. Apartments, Cambridge, MA

Equity Residential Walden St. Apartments, Cambridge, MA

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SEO Company 29 Prime Faces TCPA (Robocall) Class Action

cancer

Actual complaint filed about 29 Prime a/k/a “Reliable Places”

Updates

July, 2016 – 29 Prime has filed for bankruptcy. This is not a surprise, since Russell Wallace filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009.

March 13, 2016 – Check out this blog about 29 Prime and Russell Wallace: 29 Prime Scam Warning – Exposing the truth behind 29prime.com -another Russell Wallace scam and the highly negative Yelp reviews about 29 Prime here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/29-prime-irvine

November 4, 2015 – If you receive unwanted robocalls to your cellphone, or prerecorded calls to your landline from 29 Prime (or whatever this company is calling itself now), contact the Federal Trade Commission here: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

July 28, 2015 – This morning I received a robocall on my personal cell phone from someone regarding a free Google listing (caller id: 617-207-0003). The obnoxious fellow I spoke with said he was in Orange County California (caller id obviously spoofed).  He claimed he was with “Lighthouse Marketing” and directed me to a website. I later learned that the owner of this business has been receiving complaints for over a year because someone has been giving out her company’s name when placing robocalls about free Google listings. Lighthouse Marketing is a reputable small business that does not place outbound sales calls about SEO optimization or Google rankings. Did 29 Prime robocall my cell phone?

July 27, 2015 – Please note: Our class action lawsuit against 29 Prime only addresses allegations of robocalls. If you have other complaints about 29 Prime (i.e. page ranking promises, quality of SEO services, billing problems, etc.) the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may be able to assist you.  The link to register a complaint with the FTC is: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

April 23, 2015 – Second Amended Class Action Complaint (pdf) filed in California against 29 Prime, Inc., OC Listing Inc., Local Zoom, Tony Redman, Russell Wallace.

September 4, 2014 – First Amended Class Action Complaint (pdf) filed, adding as defendants OC Listing, Inc., Local Zoom, Russell Wallace, and Tony Redman. Summons Issued as to Local Zoom, OC Listing, Inc., Tony Redman, Russell Wallace.

July 29, 2014 – The following transaction was entered into Pacer on 7/29/2014 at 2:47 PM EDT and filed on 7/29/2014 Case Name: Russell v. 29 Prime, Inc.  Case Number: 1:13-cv-12814-NMG Docket Text:  ELECTRONIC Clerk’s Notes for proceedings held before Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton: Scheduling Conference held on 7/29/2014: Automatic Discovery to be completed by 8/12/14; Amendments and/or Supplements to the Pleadings due by 8/25/2014; written discovery served by 11/30/14, answered by 12/31/14; all fact Discovery to be completed by 3/6/2015; Motion for Class Certification due by 4/15/2015, opposition due by 5/15/2015, reply due by 5/31/2015. Motion Hearing set for 6/25/2015 03:00 PM in Courtroom 4 before Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton. (Court Reporter: No Court Reporter Used.)(Attorneys present: Pastor, Smith, Baruch (by phone), Salinger) (Patch, Christine)

July 25, 2014 – 29 Prime filed its Answer to the Class Action Complaint (Russell v. 29 Prime, Inc. Case Number: 1:13-cv-12814-NMG) (pdf)

July 15, 2014 –  Judge Gorton’s Denial of Motion to Dismiss Opinion featured on Leagle:

“…I) PURPOSEFUL AVAILMENT

29 PRIME’s phone calls to Massachusetts residents, through its resellers, also constitute sufficient contacts to satisfy the purposeful availment inquiry. See, e.g., Hudak v. Berkley Grp., Inc., No. 3:13-cv-00089-WWE, 2014 WL 354676, at *3 (D. Conn. Jan. 23, 2014). 29 PRIME must contact prospective customers in order to secure sales but not all solicitations will result in business relationships. Because the forum selection, choice of law, and arbitration clauses only apply to customers who execute the Terms & Conditions sheet, it was reasonably foreseeable that these clauses would not govern all of 29 PRIME’s contacts with Massachusetts…”

…II) PUBLIC INTERESTS
The public interest factors do not compel jurisdiction in California. Massachusetts has a local interest in providing a convenient forum for its residents against foreign corporations. Rodriguez v. Samsung Elec. Co., Ltd., 734 F.Supp.2d 220, 228 (D. Mass. 2010). California, however, also has an interest in remedying injuries caused by one of its resident corporations. See id. Given both interests, the public interest inquiry is a wash. Id. Because this Court defers to plaintiff’s choice of forum and the private factors weigh in favor of jurisdiction, defendant’s motion to dismiss for improper venue will be denied.”

July 14, 2014 – Law 360 Article – Tech Co. Can’t Escape Massachusetts TCPA Class Action (pdf).

“A Massachusetts federal judge on Thursday refused to toss a proposed class action accusing search engine optimizer 29 Prime Inc. of making mass phone calls to consumers in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, rejecting its argument that the court lacked jurisdiction.

Plaintiff alleges that 29 Prime made mass solicitations to him and other putative class members using autodialers without their consent, but the company filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and for improper venue to transfer this case…”

July 10, 2014 – 29 Prime’s Motion to Dismiss Denied – Memorandum and Order (pdf).

July 8, 2014 – Freedom of Information Act documents from the FTC (pdf) and FCC (pdf) about 29 Prime and robocalls.

February 5, 2014 – three months after our case, a copycat federal TCPA class action was filed against 29 Prime by Washington and California lawyers. The copycat case is Marlowe v. 29 Prime (pdf ).

 New Court documents:

  • Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Law in Oppostion to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (pdf)
  • 29 Prime’s Motion to Dismiss (pdf)
  • Affidavit of Russell Wallace (pdf)

*     *     *

On November 6, 2013, Leonard Law Office LLP, Pastor Law Office LLP, Sweetnam LLC, and Milberg LLP filed a class action lawsuit against California search engine optimization company 29 Prime for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The TCPA is a federal law that generally forbids telemarketing calls to cell phones.

29 Prime

29 Prime, Inc.

A Summons [PDF here] was filed on November 18, 2013. 29 The Class Action Complaint [PDF here] alleges:

“Plaintiff brings this action for damages, and other legal and equitable remedies, resulting from the actions of Defendant in negligently, knowingly, and/or willfully placing calls to Plaintiff’s cellular telephone using an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) (i.e., “robocalls”) without his prior express consent in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq. (“TCPA”).

Plaintiff is the primary user of the cellular telephone to which Defendant placed calls using an ATDS without his express consent and is a member of the class defined herein.

 Defendant, 29 Prime, is a corporation organized under the laws of Nevada with its principal place of business at 9701 Jeronimo Road., Irvine, California, 92618. The nature of 29 Prime’s business is to place calls to telephones throughout the United States to solicit unsuspecting customers for search engine optimization services, making claims about their ability to improve Google rankings. Defendant has in the past and continues to operate under unincorporated alter egos with similar websites, such as “Reliable Places.” The company was founded in 2010 by Russell Wallace and Tony Redman.  The Defendant placed robocalls to Plaintiff and other class members in violation of the TCPA, as alleged herein.”  More Excerpts from the class action complaint are pasted at below.

If you have information about 29 Prime’s business practices, or have been affected by telemarketing to your cell phone, you are welcome to contact us

Information about 29 Prime

29 Prime is a web site design and search engine optimization company. This is an industry whose validity and efficacy has been questioned.  29 Prime is apparently one of the most successful SEO companies. “In 2012, 29 Prime, Inc. placed 36 on Inc. Magazine‘s Inc. 5000 list, which ranks the fastest-growing companies in the country based on revenue growth. According to the list, the organization ranked sixth among the top 100 advertising and marketing companies in the United States, seventh among all companies in California, including fourth in Los Angeles and second in Orange County.”

Inc. Magazine’s online profile of the company describes 29 Prime as a company which “specializes in increasing small and midsize local businesses’ visibility on the Internet. The company guarantees front page placement on Google as well as placement on Yahoo and Bing, and also offers video SEO, coupons, and Facebook and Twitter strategies.”  The article reported 2011 income of 6.4MM.

In October, 2012, the Orange County Business Journal [PDF] ranked 29 Prime as number one on the list of fastest growing private companies, with 2012 revenues of 8.7 MM, located at  9701 Jeronimo Road, third floor, Irvine CA 92618-2020.

Is 29 Prime’s Autodialler Responsible for the Company’s Explosive Growth?

“the dialer calls out”

29 Prime CEO Russell Wallace claims: “Our goal is to help business owners that aren’t Web savvy to get online, build their reputation and grow their business.” According to his Linkedin profile, Russell Wallace, 31, is “Co-Founder and CEO of 29 Prime, Inc.,” with “more than 10 years’ experience directing as many as 300 employees in companies with revenues in excess of $30 million.” Russell Wallace and Tony Redman founded the company in 2010.

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Discussion: 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings

Update:  One dead, one captured. 

Boston will never forget those lost, and will never forget how our city came together.   Continue reading

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$5,000 Reward Offered for Evidence of Facebook Biometric Privacy Violations

Reward

Wanted: Facebook

The Leonard Law Office, PC is offering a $5,000.00 reward to anyone who provides verifiable, credible information leading to the successful prosecution of a class action lawsuit against Facebook regarding its use, collection, or storage of biometric data. Specifically, we are looking for proof that Facebook has shared or sold biometric data with third parties. We are investigating all aspects of Facebook’s conduct surrounding the implementation, use, and possible misuse of facial recognition and biometrics. Biometrics refers to unique anatomical features used for identification purposes.  For Background Information about Facebook, “Tag Suggestion,” and Biometrics, See EPIC‘s FTC ComplaintIn re Facebook and Facial Recognition (here) (filed June 10, 2011). To inquire about this investigation and reward, you are welcome to contact Preston W. Leonard, Esq. at (617) 329-1295.

Related: Biometricupdate.com: “Boston law firm offers reward for proof that Facebook has shared or sold biometric data with third parties,” (here).

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Products in the Spotlight: Adidas Boost Shoes

What do you think of the new line of Adidas “Boost” running shoes? Below is a picture of the window display at store in Boston, Massachusetts on March 1, 2012:

image

Below is the window display from a different store. How do these shoes work? What do they do? Continue reading

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Companies in the Spotlight: Apple

Is Apple a good company?
There have been criticisms of Apple’s use of child labor overseas.

image

Apple Store on Bolyston St. Boston MA

Why can’t iPhones be made by American adults under work conditions that are humane?

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Discussion about Subway Footlong Controversy

Subway markets inexpensive  “foot-long” submarine sandwiches around the U.S., and in other countries. Earlier this week, a teenager at a Perth, Australia Subway pulled out a tape measure, and snapped a picture of his lunch.   He posted the picture on Facebook, which purportedly revealed a length of eleven inches.  The photo went viral.

On January 19, 2013, the Huffington Post ran a story about this issue, claiming “four out of seven Footlongs purchased by the New York Post in the NYC region measured only 11 or 11.5 inches.”

A visit the same day to a Subway in Boston was inconclusive.  After purchasing a Footlong roll for $1.77, the tape measure showed a length of at least 12 – 1/4″, or 11 – 1/2″, depending on how the tape measure and camera were positioned.  It is surprisingly difficult to measure and photograph a sub roll simultaneously.

*

Subway Footlong - 11 - 1/2"

Subway Footlong – 11 – 1/2″

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Subway Footlong - 11 - 1/2"

Subway Footlong – 12 – 1/4″

According to the Huffington post article, Subway’s official explanation of the matter is:

“With regards to the size of the bread and calling it a footlong, ‘SUBWAY FOOTLONG’ is a registered trademark as a descriptive name for the sub sold in Subway® Restaurants and not intended to be a measurement of length. The length of the bread baked in the restaurant cannot be assured each time as the proofing process may vary slightly each time in the restaurant.”

Will there be class action lawsuit regarding this supposed deception by Subway?  Probably.  If so, this one may go down in the annals of frivolous lawsuits.

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Update on Class Action Lawsuit Against Citizens Bank for Overdraft Fees

On 9/28/13, I received a check from the Citizens Bank Overdraft settlement for $6.33 (below).

Citizens Bank Overdraft  Fee Settlement Check

Citizens Bank Overdraft Fee Settlement Check

The letter said, “This check is issued pursuant to the terms of class action settlement in the cases styled as In Re: Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, Case No. 1:09-md-02036-JLK; Duval v. Citizens Financial Group, Inc., et al., S.D. Fla. Case No. 1:10-cv-21080-JLK; Daniels v. Citizens Financial Group, Inc., S.D. Fla. Case No. 1:10-cv-22014-JLK; and Blanksenship v. RBS Citizens, N.A., et al., S.D. Fla. Case No. 1:10-cv-22942-JLK.

You can get more information about the Settlement by visiting the settlement website at http://www.citizensoverdraftsettlement.com, call the toll free number, 1-888-273-0426, or by contacting the Citizens Overdraft Settlement Administrator at PO Box 3410, Portland, OR 97208-3410.”

————————————————————-

Important: If you are looking for information about the Citizens Bank Overdraft Settlement, the official website is here: https://www.citizensoverdraftsettlement.com//

On 11/19/12, I received this notice in the mail:

Most Commons Questions about the citizens bank overdraft class action:

1) How much will Citizens bank customers be paid out of the overdraft class action lawsuit settlement?

2) When will citizens bank reimburse overdrafts?

3) How to join the class action suit against Citizens bank?

I wrote Citizens bank customer service on May 4, 2012 asking about the settlement, because I too was affected by Citizen bank overdraft fees.

They wrote back:

“Dear Preston Leonard,

Thank you for your recent inquiry.  Please be advised if the court approves the settlement, impacted customers will be formally notified. If you have any further questions you may email us or call us at our 24 hour Customer Service at 800 922-9999.”

************************************************************************************

Citizens Bank to pay $137.5m to settle overdraft suit

By Beth Healy and Todd Wallack, Globe Staff:

Quote from Globe Article:

“Citizens Bank customers hit with questionable overdraft fees could receive refunds under a settlement announced Wednesday in which the bank agreed to pay $137.5 million to settle charges it manipulated customers’ debit card and ATM transactions.  The bank was accused of processing the transactions in a way that made overdrafts more likely, boosting the income it collected from customers forced to pay overdraft fees.  Citizens did not admit wrongdoing in the case, which is being heard in federal court in Miami. The court must still approve the settlement….”

Read the rest of the story about the Citizens bank overdraft fee class action settlement here. Continue reading

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L’Oréal Faces False Advertising Class Action Lawsuit in Boston Federal Court

A class action lawsuit against L’Oréal was filed in federal court in Massachusetts on Friday, September 14, 2012.  The class is represented by twelve attorneys in four states.

For more information, Contact us.

L’Oreal’s Anti-Aging Claims Questioned

The Complaint alleges, in part:

  • “The search for the elusive waters of the “Fountain of Youth” has tempted those seeking to restore youth and beauty for ages. Indeed, as the story goes, in 1513, the great explorer Juan Ponce De Leon searched high and low for the “Fountain of Youth” – only to find Florida instead. In the 1800s, “snake oil” salesmen infamously ranged the West selling tonics that claimed to cure every ill, including signs of aging. Today, the search for a youth potion continues and, like modern-day snake oil salesmen, Defendant  L’Oreal USA, Inc. through its L’Oreal Paris Brand Division, (hereinafter “L’Oreal” or “L’Oreal Paris”), preys on consumers’ fundamental fear of aging and their eternal hope that products exist that can eliminate the signs of aging and effectively turn back time.
  • In fact, L’Oreal profits handsomely by making misleading claims that the L’Oreal Paris Youth Code line of wrinkle creams, specifically Youth Code Serum Intense, Youth Code Eye Cream, and Youth Code Day/Night Cream, (collectively “Youth Code” or “Youth Code Products”) have age-negating effects on human skin.”

According to a related Florida class action complaint against L’Oreal, “The Swedish Market Court fined Lancôme (Europe) one million krona, for among other things, digitally altering imagery, and banned it from making deceptive statement in its advertisements about anti-wrinkle effects.  The United Kingdom has banned L’Oreal and Lancôme (Europe) advertisements for using deceptive imagery, including an ad featuring Julia Roberts that made the actress’s skin appear to be categorically flawless.”

L'Oreal Youth Code

“10 Years of Gene Research”

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Why Martha Coakley is a Good Attorney General

Martha Coakley is a good Attorney General because she continues to defend consumers from corporate misconduct.  The Attorney General’s Office seeks accountability from greedy, unethical companies that harm individual consumers and our economy as a whole. The bank suit Martha Coakley announced below is an example of some of the great work that she and her office does.  Going after the banks that caused the foreclosure crisis and helping people stay in their homes is the kind of challenge that she does not shy away from.

In her speech about the suit, Martha Coakley said: “There is no doubt that the deceptive and unlawful conduct by Wall Street and the large banks played a central role in causing this crisis through predatory lending and securitization. It was the banks that were ultimately bailed out by taxpayers, while individual investors and homeowners were left on their own.  Whether those institutions believe they are too are too big to fail, they certainly have demonstrated that they believe they are too big to care about the impact of their actions, and we believe they are not too big to follow the law.”

This is a public servant that is showing true leadership on an important issue.  Thank you!

Wondering how to file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office?

  • File a complaint online here.

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Muscle Milk Class Action Settlement

The Whatley Kallas Litigation Healthcare Group, located in Boston, Massachusetts, was instrumental in achieving this recent consumer protection victory.  See that firm’s blog post about the muscle milk case here. What was the Muscle Milk Class Action Lawsuit about? “CytoSport – the company behind the popular nutritional product lines Muscle Milk, Monster Milk, CytoMax and Mighty Milk – has proposed a class action lawsuit settlement to resolve claims it did not adequately inform consumers that some of its products allegedly contained trace amounts of metals, including lead, cadmium and/or arsenic.  The proposed CytoSport settlement will resolve a class action lawsuit (Nasseri v. CytoSport, Inc.) accusing the company of violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, and various California laws, a charge the company vigorously denies. CytoSport contends that trace amounts of metals are found in the environment and in many agricultural products, and that its products are safe, as confirmed by independent testing by accredited third parties. CytoSport maintains that no consumers have suffered any injury from purchasing or drinking its products. Nevertheless, CytoSport has proposed a class action lawsuit settlement to avoid the expense of ongoing litigation.”

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The Hancock Building

Source: Pic of the Day.

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Why CVS is a bad company / CVS Finally does something good

Update: February 6, 2012:

CVS Finally does something good — Declares end to sales of cigarettes nationwide!

In a surprising move, CVS made the sudden decision this week to end distribution of cigarettes through all of its locations, announcing: “This is the right thing to do”… “CVS/pharmacy will stop selling cigarettes and all tobacco products at its more than 7,600 stores nationwide by October 1, 2014.” (PDF)

CVS location in Boston, Massachusetts stopped selling cigarettes years ago, due to City of Boston regulations enacted under former Mayor Thomas Menino that forbade pharmacies from selling coffin nails.

Congratulations to CEO Larry Merlo for doing the right thing, and showing leadership.

  • “The sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose – helping people on their path to better health.”
  • “This is the right thing to do.”

Original post: January 28, 2012:

CVS stands for Consumer Value Stores.  Maybe it should stand for Corrupt Value System.

  • CVS engaged in misleading advertising in Los Angeles.
  • Most (or at least many) of the products on CVS shelves were made in China instead of America.
  • CVS is replacing human cashiers with self-checkout stations.
  • CVS’s predatory and monopolistic behavior has put most “Mom and Pop” pharmacies out of business in America.
  • The merger of CVS and Caremark led the National Community Pharmacists Association to describe CVS as “a 99 billion dollar corporate behemouth.”
  • CVS was charged with routinely overcharging consumers in violation of California law.
  • CVS engaged in a similar pattern of overcharging consumers in violation of Massachusetts law.
  • CVS was charged with  Medicare fraud in Massachusetts.
  • CVS was charged with  violating HIPAA by the FTC.
  • CVS executives were charged with bribery.
  • CVS was charged with illegally selling methamphetamine precursor chemicals.
  • CVS was sued in a class action for alleged privacy and 93A violations in Massachusetts.
  • CVS was sued in a class action for alleged overtime pay violations
  • In January 2011, the FTC charged that CVS Caremark misrepresented the prices of certain Medicare Part D prescription drugs – including drugs used to treat breast cancer symptoms and epilepsy.

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However disgraceful CVS’s track record is,  I want to point out that many of the hardest working, most positive people I have ever encountered work behind the registers at my local CVS!

They always have a smile, and a great attitude.  Recently, it seems their corporate overlords started making them say, “Do you have a CVS card?”, “Did you find everything you were looking for?”, and “Thank you for shopping at CVS.”  I admire the employees at CVS, especially those on Charles St. in Boston, who put in a hard day’s work day in and day out.

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Aggressive billing practices of hospitals and other medical providers

Patients have rights

Sometimes, medical bills contain serious inaccuracies.  Medical billing errors, or  balance-billing (which is illegal in some, but not all instances) can result in balances that are hundreds or even thousands of dollars over what they should be.  Some Massachusetts providers have aggressive debt-collection strategies, including suing patients in small claims court.  It is often a good idea to request your own records to make sure you are not being billed unfairly.  Massachusetts law provides the right  “upon request to receive an itemized bill including third party reimbursements paid toward said bill, regardless of the sources of payment.”  G.L. ch 111 70E.

Getting Help

If you  think you may have fallen victim to a scam related to medical services, or are experiencing billing abuses by a medical services provider, the Attorney General’s Health Care Division may be able to assist you.

You are also welcome to contact the following attorney: Preston Leonard, Esq. at (617)329-1295.

Click hereto file a health care complaint online.

Attorney General’s Health Care Division:

Hotline: (888) 830-6277

Fax: (617) 573-5386

Mail: Health Care Division, Office of the Attorney General, One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108

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Toys ‘R’ Us to pay $20.6m in wrongful death suit for woman’s death caused by defective product from China

Boston Globe:

“A Colorado man whose wife died from injuries sustained in Andover on a swimming pool slide from Toys “R” Us was awarded $20.6 million in damages, one of the largest jury verdicts in Massachusetts this year.

In July 2006, Robin Aleo was visiting relatives in Andover when she went down an inflatable slide into the pool where her husband and baby daughter were swimming. When she reached the end of the slide, it bottomed out, causing her head to hit the pool deck as she entered the water. She suffered severe neck fractures that left her a quadriplegic, and she was removed from life support due to the severity of her injuries….”

Read the rest of the story here.

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The Salem News:

“Robin Aleo was at least the second person allegedly left paralyzed by such an incident on the Banzai Falls slide, of which more than 4,000 have been sold nationwide, according to court records.

A camp counselor in Missouri, Mark Grantham, was left a quadriplegic when the same thing allegedly happened to him on a Banzai Falls slide purchased at a Wal-Mart, according to court documents. His suit against both Wal-Mart and the Chinese manufacturers is still pending.

Jurors were not told about the Missouri case but did learn that the company that Toys “R” Us uses in China to safety-test products before they are imported, Bureau Veritas, was never asked to test the pool slide for compliance with federal safety regulations governing pool slides.

The product was tested for other product safety rules — and twice failed, once for containing lead in excess of federal limits — but not for compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission pool slide regulation, a former Toys “R” Us executive acknowledged during testimony on Wednesday.”

Read the rest of the story here.

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  • Mclatchy-Tribune Information Services

“The Banzai Falls in-ground pool slide was never tested to determine whether ti met fedaral safety standards for pool slides before or after it was imported from China by the retailer, a violation of federal law…”

Read the rest of the story here.

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Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Marketing – Philanthropy or Chicanery?

Is Pink Ribbon Cancer Marketing a Scam?

After reading the article below, you may find yourself wondering about how much of your pink-ribbon-emblazoned purchases actually go to cancer research.  The practice of pinkwashing, has been raising doubts in the minds of many consumers.

 

 

“BROCKTON —

As surely as the leaves change color every October, it’s time again for yogurt cups, sneakers, toilet paper and a slew of other products to turn pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast cancer advocates are warning again this year that buying merchandise emblazoned with a pink ribbon or cotton candy-colored packaging is no guarantee that much of a shopper’s money will actually go to fighting the disease.

Some companies that use well-known symbols of breast cancer awareness on their products have legitimate agreements with reputable fundraising groups to donate a fixed share of the proceeds.

But others only promise vaguely to donate to breast cancer causes without specifying how much or to whom.”

Read more: http://www.enterprisenews.com/archive/x843641174/Shoppers-beware-Pink-ribbons-are-not-created-equal#ixzz1aarALUgJ

 

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Albania Deleon, Owner of Asbestos Abatement Training School Sentenced to Prison Posed Major Public Health Risk; Was International Fugitive for Nearly Two Years

USAO – 9/13/2011

BOSTON, Mass. – The former owner of the country’s largest asbestos abatement training school was sentenced to prison today, after having fled the United States after her trial in November 2008. U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton sentenced ALBANIA DELEON, 41, formerly of Andover, Mass., to 87 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $1,200,939.45 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and $369,015 to AIM Mutual Insurance Company.

In November 2008, following a three-week trial, Deleon was convicted of a broad range of charges including that she sold training certificates to thousands of illegal aliens who had not taken the mandatory training course. Deleon then placed these unqualified individuals in temporary employment positions as certified asbestos abatement workers in public buildings throughout Massachusetts and New England. Deleon was also convicted of encouraging illegal aliens to reside in the United States, making false statements about matters within the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency; procuring false payroll tax returns, and mail fraud.

From approximately 2001 to 2006, Deleon owned and operated Environmental Compliance Training (ECT), a certified asbestos training school located in Methuen. ECT normally offered training courses on a weekly basis at its Methuen offices, however, many of the recipients of the certificates never took the required course. Instead, with Deleon’s knowledge and approval, ECT’s office employees issued certificates of course completion to thousands of individuals who did not take the course. These individuals filed the certificates with the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety in order to be authorized to work in the asbestos removal industry. Many of the recipients were illegal aliens who wished to skip the four-day-long course so that they would not forego a week’s pay.

Since ECT’s training course records were subject to inspection, Deleon sought to cover up ECT’s practice of issuing certificates to untrained applicants by having the applicants sign final examination answer sheets that already had been completed and graded, which she maintained in ECT’s files. Based on the evidence at trial and information supplied by the Division of Occupation Safety, ECT issued training certificates to over 2,000 untrained individuals.

Most of the individuals were employed by Methuen Staffing, Deleon’s temporary employment agency that specialized in asbestos abatement. She sent these employees to job sites throughout Massachusetts, including the Boston, Worcester, and New Bedford-Fall River areas, as well as to New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut and down the eastern seaboard.

Deleon paid most of these employees “under-the-table,” that is, without taxes withheld, and reported to the IRS and her workers compensation insurance carriers only those employees that actually had taxes withheld, saving her over a million of dollars in tax and insurance payments.

Deleon was originally scheduled to be sentenced on March 23, 2009, but three days before, she fled without warning, eventually making her way out of the United States. On October 30, 2010, law enforcement authorities in the Dominican Republic, working in conjunction with the U.S. Marshal’s Service, arrested her in the capital city of Santo Domingo, where she was living under an alias and had dyed her hair blonde. In November, she was extradited to the United States.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “Today, justice was served, and Albania Deleon has finally faced the consequences of her crimes. I hope that this sentence sends a strong message to anyone who might contemplate fleeing to avoid punishment, that we do not give up on fugitives, and we will take all necessary means and resources to apprehend and prosecute them.”

“She ran and tried to hide, but eventually the law caught up with her,” said Michael E. Hubbard, Special Agent in Charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division in Boston. “Ms Deleon cynically defrauded the taxpayer and put her own workers and the public at risk due to her greed. Today’s sentence shows that individuals who
put illegal profits ahead of the welfare of society will deservedly be prosecuted and pay a very high price.”

“This sentencing sends a clear message to employers that seek to gain an unfair business advantage over their competitors by employing illegal workers,” said Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston. “The potential risk to public health and safety involving asbestos and lead abatement and training licenses made this investigation and the need to bring this individual to justice even more compelling.”

U.S. Attorney Ortiz; SAC Hubbard; and SAC Foucart; William Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation; Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Social Security Administration, Office of Investigations – Boston Field Division; James Ennis, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service; John Gibbons, United States Marshall for the District of Massachusetts; Anthony DiPaolo, Chief of Investigations for the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau; and Heather E. Rowe, Acting Commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety made the announcement today.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Holik, former AUSA Jonathan Mitchell of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter W. Kenyon, an EPA regional criminal enforcement attorney.

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Another Massachusetts Wage and Hour Law Violation Case; West Springfield Car Dealership Balise Motor Sales Agrees to Pay More Than $450,000 in Restitution and Penalties for Violating Wage and Hour Laws

Source:  Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office- 9/14/2011

BOSTON– A West Springfield car dealership, Balise Motor Sales, Inc (Balise), and its president, James E. Balise, Jr., have agreed to pay more than $450,000 in restitution, as well as a $7,500 penalty for violating the Commonwealth’s wage and hour laws, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today.

“In these particularly difficult economic times, many employees are working longer hours to make ends meet.  Employers are required by law to pay their employees all of the wages they are owed, and our office will continue to ensure that workers’ rights are protected,” AG Coakley said.

In September 2010, the AG’s Fair Labor Division began an investigation after it received a complaint from a former employee alleging minimum wage and overtime pay violations.  Investigators reviewed the company’s payroll records and discovered that Balise was not calculating the proper overtime rate for employees who worked over 40 hours in a work week.  In addition, investigators discovered that Balise was not paying the minimum wage rate to some of its employees.

The AG’s Office requested that Balise also conduct a self-audit of its payroll records for the years of 2008 through 2010.  The audit revealed that Balise failed to calculate the proper overtime rate and, in some instances, failed to pay the minimum wage.  As a result of the investigation, Balise has agreed to pay $339,871.36 in restitution for the overtime violations and $110,766.27 for minimum wage violations to more than 270 employees.

The Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing the prevailing wage, minimum wage and overtime laws, and the payment of wages laws in the Commonwealth. Workers who feel that these laws have been violated in their workplace are urged to call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465.  More information about the wage and hour laws is also available in multiple languages at the Attorney General’s Workplace Rights website: www.massworkrights.com.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Terri Flanagan Lamarre and investigated by Inspector Paul Gordon, both of the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division.

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Update: Bank of America Overdraft Fee Class Action Lawsuit and Settlement

New:

Here is a pathetic settlement check (four dollars and change) for a Bank of America overdraft victim who paid hundreds in unfair overdraft fees:

 

PATHETIC Bank of America Overdraft Fee Class Action Settlement Check

 

 

PWL – 9/14/2011

**I am not representing clients in overdraft litigation- this post is for general informational purposes only**

BOSTON – If you had a BANK OF AMERICA personal checking account with debit card from Jan 1, 2001 – May 24, 2011, and had one or more overdraft fees as a result of BOA’s practice of manipulating the order of transactions from highest to lowest dollar amount to trigger overdraft fees, you should have been included as a member of the class. If you have not yet received a card in the mail notifying you of the settlement, there may be a problem.

To find out if you are entitled to receive money from the Bank of America overdraft fee settlement, you should call the Florida law firm of Grossman Roth at 888-296-1681 and ask for Katie. She will be able to tell you if you are a member of the class or not.  Unfortunately, if you are not, it is too late at this point to add you to that action.

To determine the amount of your financial loss due to Bank of America’s highest-to-lowest transaction processing scheme, you may want to obtain your bank records.  According to Bank of America:  a) you can obtain copies of previous bank statements over the phone; b) there is a fee of $5.00 per monthly statement; c) it will take 8 – 10 business days; d) if you have online banking you can go through the last 18 months of history (but not further back) and print that information for free.

This is what the postcard notice about the Bank of America Overdraft Fee Class Action lawsuit looks like:

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ICE delivers back to school message: Beware of online child predators

ICE – 9/13/2011

BOSTON – As a new school year begins and children research classroom assignments online, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) alerts parents to more closely monitor their children’s Internet activities to avoid child predators.

The warning is supported by data showing more than 1,100 criminal arrests nationwide so far this fiscal year. These arrests are part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE HSI initiative launched in 2003 to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. The arrests led to more than 2,100 seizures of images and other evidence by ICE HSI special agents in support of their investigations. Since its inception, Operation Predator has resulted in than 6,000 child predator arrests nationwide.

“Our goal is to help safeguard families from these online predators who prey on unsuspecting children by expanding our efforts using the eyes and ears of parents,” said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Boston. Foucart oversees HSI throughout New England. “Our message is simple: parents, pay attention!”

HSI teams with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to prevent child exploitation throughout New England. The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces help state and local law enforcement agencies develop an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases. This help encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services and community education.

In New England alone, ICE HSI has made approximately 50 criminal arrests so far this fiscal year that led to more than 20 criminal indictments for various child pornography law violations, including possession, distribution, and interstate travel to engage in sexual encounters with minors.

These coordinated law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children have resulted in significant penalties. Recent cases include:

  • Brad Warner, 33, of Acton, Mass., and former co-founder of HammelFit, a Massachusetts fitness and education program designed for children under the age of seven. Warner was sentenced to more than 12 years in a federal prison for receipt and possession of child pornography.
  • Douglas Perlitz, 40, of Connecticut, who pleaded guilty to traveling overseas to engage in sex with a minor, was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release for sexually abusing at least eight minor victims over a 10 year period. A Connecticut federal judge also ordered the distribution of nearly $49,000 in restitution to 16 victims in the Perlitz case.
  • Jonathan Zahra, 27, a former Plainville, Conn., middle school technology aide, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for manufacturing child pornography. After his prison term he will also serve 10 years of supervised release.
  • Julie Carr, 33, of Mars Hill, Maine, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and 10 years of supervised release for child pornography production.
  • James Raymond, 29, of Auburn, Maine, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and a lifetime of supervised release for transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in illegal sexual activity. Raymond, then a music teacher in the Auburn school system, transported an 11-year-old student and her younger sister from Auburn to Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire. On both trips, Raymond made sexual advances.
  • Scott Wilson, 41, formerly of Somersworth, N.H., was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the purpose of having the child engage in illegal sexual conduct and possession of child pornography. Once released from prison, Wilson will be required to register as a sex offender and will be placed on supervised release for the remainder of his life.
  • Robert M. Lopes, 43, of Coventry, R.I., pleaded guilty to receipt and distribution of child pornography, was sentenced to five years in federal prison and lifetime supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution to a victim who appeared in a series of child pornography videos.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

You may also visit us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, or access this news release on your mobile device.

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Jonathan Davis – Acting MBTA General Manager as of September 2, 2011.

MBTA – 8/22/2011
MBTA General Manager Richard Davey today that Jonathan Davis will become the acting MBTA General Manager and MassDOT Rail and Transit Administrator when Davey assumes the role of Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of MassDOT on September 2nd.

Serving for more than ten years as the T’s Deputy General Manager and Chief Financial Officer, Davis directs the financial management and accounting functions of the Authority, manages the operating and capital budgets, and oversees the collection of all revenue. As the MBTA’s senior financial advisor, Davis provides financial counsel to the General Manager and the Board of Directors.

Stating Davis has the Board’s full confidence and support, Chairman John Jenkins said no one has a better understanding of the T’s financial condition. “The Board will continue to rely on Jon’s wisdom and counsel as the MBTA confronts both immediate and future challenges,” said Jenkins.

“Jon’s deep knowledge of the financial and operational facets of the MBTA will serve us well as we continue our focus on safety, service, employees, fiscal responsibility and innovation,” said Davey.

Prior to coming to the MBTA in 1995, Jon worked in the private sector for 25 years at H.P. Hood, Inc. At that organization, he held various positions: Vice President and Controller, Vice President Operations Planning, Vice President MIS and Treasurer, and Corporate Controller. He received his MBA at Babson College and his BS at The Defiance College.

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Cops to Newbury St. Party Bus Passenger: Urine Trouble Now

SDAO/ 9/7/2011

 

An Allston man who couldn’t resist nature’s call was arraigned yesterday for allegedly urinating out the window of a party bus travelling through Boston’s Back Bay, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.

 

ELAN ALEXENBERG (D.O.B. 3/4/90) was charged in the Boston Municipal Court with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct for his mid-morning antics. He was released without monetary bail.

Boston Police patrolling the area at about 9:05 a.m. spotted the blue bus and heard music blasting from its windows as it travelled down Newbury Street toward Massachusetts Avenue. As it approached a red light at Exeter Street, the officers watched as a passenger opened the right rear window, exposed himself, and urinated into the street in front of a group of pedestrians.

The officers activated their unmarked cruiser’s lights and sirens and stopped the bus. They boarded it and saw Alexenberg standing by the right rear window amid a group of about 15 other males who appeared intoxicated. The detectives escorted Alexenberg off the bus, at which point he allegedly said he was sorry for what he’d done and “didn’t mean for it to happen.”

The officers placed him under arrest. They informed the bus driver that he was free to continue on his way but recommended that he return the passengers to Woburn, whence they came.

Alexenberg was represented by attorney Brian Lenfest. He will return to court on Nov. 15.

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Companies in the Spotlight: Upper Crust Pizzeria to face federal review

By Jenn Abelson Globe Staff / October 12, 2011

“A federal grand jury is scheduled to hear testimony this week about the alleged exploitation of immigrant workers at Upper Crust Pizzeria, according to several sources with direct knowledge of the inquiry.

Previous coverage

Labor troubles at Upper Crust

Labor troubles at Upper Crust

Reporter Jenn Abelson covered complaints from former employees – and a probe by the US Department of Labor – on employment practices at the pizza chain.

“Earlier this year, the Globe reported that at least two federal agencies, the Department of Labor and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were investigating the Boston-based pizza chain.

The labor department is looking into accusations that Upper Crust rescinded thousands of dollars in back overtime payments the agency required the company to make to employees in 2009. Immigration officials have been examining whether Upper Crust harbored and exploited illegal immigrant workers…”

Read the rest of the Globe story here

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Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office Reaches Agreement with Cataldo Ambulance Service – Company will refund customers and change practices as part of the agreement

Related Story: Class action lawsuit against Cataldo Ambulance Service

Source: Attorney General Martha Coakley – Press Release – December 03, 2009

BOSTON– Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office reached an agreement with Cataldo Ambulance Service Inc., resolving allegations the company unlawfully balance billed customers who used Cataldo ambulances in the aftermath of auto accidents. Under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, medical service providers are barred from billing customers for amounts in excess of motor vehicle insurer payments for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits in a variety of circumstances. The Attorney General’s Office filed an Assurance of Discontinuance in Suffolk Superior Court today under which Cataldo agreed to reimburse consumers for any balance billing payments they have made from January 1, 2006 to the present, correct any reports previously made to credit reporting agencies relating to the balance billing demands, and remove any liens placed on consumer property without consumer consent.

The Assurance filed today alleges Cataldo charged consumers for the portions of the company’s ambulance bills that the auto insurers had already rejected as unreasonable. This “balance billing” practice fails to remove the individual patient from disputes that should occur between the insurer and the service provider, as is intended by Massachusetts law.

“We are pleased that Cataldo Ambulance Inc. has resolved this issue with our office,” said Attorney General Coakley. “Medical service providers should not balance bill customers already covered by the automobile insurance PIP coverage. This is unfair to customers, and can have an unwarranted and harmful impact on the consumers’ credit scores.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Cataldo may not balance bill customers covered by PIP in violation of Massachusetts law, report unpaid balance billing amounts to credit reporting agencies, or place liens on consumer property related to balance bill amounts that are not received as part of a judgment. Cataldo must also make a payment to the Commonwealth of between $50,000 to $100,000, based on the level of restitution that it is determined to be owed to customers.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Peter Leight and Glenn Kaplan of Martha Coakley’s Insurance and Financial Services Division.

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Who Killed Karina Holmer?

If you are asking, “Who Killed Karina Holmer?” the answer is: only the murderer knows who killed Karina Holmer.

This is a cold case. If you have information about Karina Holmer’s Murder, please call the Boston Police Homicide Unit at (617) 343-4470.

Her family deserves justice.

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Philadelphia Daily News (PA) – June 26, 1996

SWEDISH NANNY MURDERED TOP HALF OF BODY FOUND IN TRASH BIN

BOSTON – A 19-year-old Swedish woman working as an au pair for a family in a wealthy suburb was found slain in a Boston trash bin, her body severed at the waist.

Karina Holmer had apparently spent her weekends in the city and was last seen alive talking with friends at the trendy Zanzibar nightclub early Saturday, police said. Early Sunday, a man scavenging for cans discovered her remains in a black plastic trash bag behind a building not far from the club.

Only the top half of her body was found. The killer may have been trying to cover up a sex crime, police sources speaking on condition of anonymity said. Police would not say if the body was clothed.

Holmer had landed a job as a nanny in March with the family of Frank Rapp in Dover, a community of about 4,000. The family refused to speak with reporters.

Also yesterday, Dover police said they were investigating a Monday night trash bin fire about 200 feet from the condominium where Holmer worked. Three bags of evidence – including clothes, but not body parts – will be turned over to the Boston Police, Dover Sgt. Jerry Adams said.

Government and private agencies dealing with au pairs said they had no record of her.

Neighbors said they often saw Holmer playing with the two little children she had been hired to watch.

“She was friendly,” said Atabak Roushanaei. She would wave and say hello but “she was very quiet. I never saw her socializing with the neighbors.” He said she looked as if she were 16 or 17 years old.

Holmer’s father, in telephone interviews from the small town of Skillingaryd, about 150 miles southwest of Stockholm, described his daughter simply as a nice and beautiful young woman, said the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald newspapers. They did not identify him.

“Of course we know that such things can happen over there, but it’s nothing that you expect,” Holmer’s sister, Johanna, told WHDH-TV.

Generally, young foreigners seeking work as nannies are brought over on special visas and trained in child care and safety by a licensed agency.

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Cincinnati Post – June 26, 1996

SWEDISH NANNY KILLED HALF OF BODY FOUND IN BOSTON

BOSTON – A winning $1,500 Swedish lottery ticket gave Karina Holmer the spending money she needed to go to America. The headstrong woman had always dreamed of seeing the world.

A job as a nanny in a Boston suburb would give her that chance – for just three months.

Now, police are looking for a killer who strangled Ms. Holmer, 19, cut her body in half and threw the top part in a trash bin behind a Boston apartment building. The lower half of the body hasn’t been found.

She was last seen alive early Saturday morning, leaving the trendy Zanzibar nightclub with ”an older man,” her friends said. Another Swedish nanny who had been at the club said Ms. Holmer and the man were ”going to an after-hours party.”

”The next time I saw her was to identify her body,” the woman, who was not identified, told the Boston Globe.

A man scavenging for cans discovered Ms. Holmer’s remains early Sunday in a black plastic trash bag behind a building not far from the club.

The killer may have been trying to cover up a sex crime, said police sources, speaking on condition of anonymity. Police would not say if the body was clothed.

Ms. Holmer had landed a job as a nanny in March with the family of Frank Rapp in Dover, a wealthy community about 15 miles outside Boston.

Rapp, 43, was questioned by police, but said he had been cleared of suspicion. ”I am definitely not a suspect,” he told the Globe. ”My family is completely devastated.”

Police on Tuesday searched the Boston building where Rapp, a commercial photographer, had an office and Ms. Holmer spent her weekends.

And Dover police said Tuesday they were investigating a Monday night fire in a trash bin near the condo where the Rapps live and Ms. Holmer worked.

”Because of what happened with the nanny’s torso being found in the Dumpster,” it seemed odd, said Dover Police Sgt. Jerry Adams.

Neighbors said they often saw Ms. Holmer playing with the first-grade boy and toddler girl she had been hired to watch.

Her father, Ola Holmer, told the Boston Herald his daughter was ”a wonderful girl, a beautiful girl.”

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Philadelphia Inquirer – June 27, 1996

A BOSTON AU PAIR’S GRISLY SLAYING STIRS FEARS IN THE NANNY NETWORK

Michael Matza, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
BOSTON

The murder and mutilation of a Swedish au pair is sending shock waves through the international nanny network.

Karina Holmer, 20, who had worked since March in a Boston suburb, was savagely slain and dumped in the city over the weekend in a trauma affecting parents, nannies and the agencies that place them.

“There’s no doubt that we’ll see a redoubling of efforts to train nannies” about personal security, said Betsy Weaver, publisher of Parents’ Paper, a Boston-based monthly newspaper that carries a nanny and au pair guide.

“It may be that we’ll see fewer girls from Sweden in the next few weeks,” said Bill Gertz, a spokesman for Au Pair in America, a placement agency that promotes itself as “child care with a cultural flair.”

News of the killing played on the front pages of the Swedish tabloids Expressen and Aftonbladet yesterday, and a spokesman for the Swedish Consulate in Boston said parents there were concerned.

Richard Eisenberg, an attorney whose firm specializes in health insurance for the International Nanny Association, predicted more nannies would begin carrying battery-powered, personal-protection sirens and other security devices.

The killing – so gruesome that even veteran homicide detectives were revulsed – took place after Holmer left Zanzibar, a ritzy downtown nightclub that caters to an international crowd. Among the patrons are many European au pairs, who often arrive after midnight and linger until last call at 2 a.m.

Flashing an apparently fake driver’s license, the athletically built Holmer, whose blond, shoulder-length hair was styled in a bun, passed for 21. She entered the Back Bay club on Friday evening. She was last seen early Saturday morning, laughing with friends outside the club around closing time.

Another Swedish au pair who was there has told authorities that she saw Holmer leave with “an older man” to go to an “after-hours party.”

Her torso, stuffed into a black plastic trash bag, was found Sunday afternoon in a Dumpster behind a Boston apartment building. Her legs and pelvis have not been found.

Citing preliminary autopsy results, police believe she was strangled, then cut in half at the waist. Among the evidence retrieved from the Dumpster by detectives wearing plastic gloves and face masks was a metal disk that appeared to be from a circular saw.

Police are reviewing surveillance videotapes of patrons entering and leaving the club. They have twice interviewed Frank Rapp, 43, Holmer’s employer.

Rapp, a commercial photographer, his wife, Susan Nichter, and their two children live in a quiet, neatly landscaped townhouse in Dover, a tony suburb west of Boston. He rents a studio workspace in an artist’s loft near Fort Point Channel in South Boston. He told police he let Holmer stay there occasionally on weekend nights.

Holmer came to the United States via an illegal nanny broker in Stockholm who apparently did not arrange for her to get a work visa.

“Technically, (she) was an illegal immigrant,” the broker, Tage Sundin, 46, told Expressen. According to the newspaper, Sundin has twice been convicted and fined by Swedish authorities for operating an employment agency without a permit.

After graduating from high school in the small town of Alaryd in 1994, Holmer went to school to learn the restaurant business. She worked as a waitress and a chef. After winning $1,500 in the Swedish state lottery, she flew off to Boston in March.

Police are reportedly investigating two theories about why the body was severed.

One theory has it that Holmer was forced to have sex with someone who panicked and strangled her when she threatened to report him. By disposing of the lower half of her body, the killer wanted to hide traces of semen, which could link him to the crime through DNA matching.

The other theory is that the body was simply lopped in two for easier transport and disposal.

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Boston Herald – June 27, 1996

Dad won’t come to Boston

Karina Holmer’s grieving father sees no reason to come to Boston.

“What would I do there except take a look at where my daughter was found?” he said.

Right now, all he has left are memories of his bright and lovely 19-year-old daughter and questions no one will ever answer: “Why Karina?” and “Why so gruesome?”

“Anyone who hasn’t experienced this could never understand how it feels,” Ola Holmer told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet from his home in a tiny, rural village.

“Daily, you see these terrible things on the TV news,” he added. “But as long as you’re not confronted on a personal or family level, it is impossible to comprehend how it really feels. It doesn’t matter how compassionate anyone is, it’s just impossible to understand.”

The slain nanny’s older sister, Johanna Holmer, 22, said: “We must have time to try to understand what has happened. We have had a priest here who has comforted us in our sorrow.”

Since receiving the terrible news Tuesday after returning from a vacation, the Holmer family – including Karina’s two younger sisters, Christina, 15, and Jessica, 11 – have remained sequestered in their home in the tiny village of Alaryd.

“We have been offered help from a psychologist, but I think we will manage on our own,” Johanna Holmer said.

Over the last two days, most of the residents of Alaryd have come by the Holmer home to show their sympathy and support.

The family said Boston police have contacted them and have promised to keep them apprised of any progress in the investigation.

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Boston Globe – June 27, 1996

PSYCHOLOGISTS SAY KILLING DOESN’T FIT SADIST PATTERN

Karina Holmer’s killer was a monster, but he may have been a monster for only a few, frenzied hours of murderous rage.

The Swedish au pair’s severed upper body had not been mutilated further, police sources say, which tells forensic psychologists interviewed yesterday that her killer does not fit the mold of a serial killer or sexual sadist.

Rather, the unmarked condition of the body and its unorthodox disposal in a Fenway dumpster would indicate to these specialists that Holmer’s assailant may have been a first-time killer.

But first time or not, the psychologists say, the horrific nature of the crime shows that the murderer may have a severe mental illness and probably harbors a longstanding, explosive resentment of women. Their unnerving concern: If he did it once, he could do it again.

“This could be one-time, but it’s unlikely that it’s your typical murder committed by somebody with motives that the rest of us could understand. This person is either profoundly emotionally disturbed or a sociopath,” said Craig Latham, a forensic psychologist from Wellesley.

The psychologists emphasized that their conjectures are based on limited public knowledge of the evidence, and that Holmer may have been the latest in a string of victims who include still-missing women.

But what is known about the case supports their view that this is a strikingly rare crime both in its nature and its puzzling aftermath.

Fewer than 5 percent of murder victims are mutilated, said James Alan Fox, dean of the College of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University. And many murderers who show some deliberation in their crime dispose of their victims’ bodies in remote locations.

Although any murder is tragic, Holmer’s mutilation is what makes this crime so morbidly riveting, observers said.

“This person didn’t feel any kind of boundaries about violating the body, particularly in such a ruthless, savage way. This suggests it just wasn’t somebody faced with a problem of disposing of the body,” Latham said.

Holmer’s upper body was discovered in the dumpster Sunday, about 36 hours after she was last seen leaving Zanzibar, a downtown nightclub. Investigators say that Holmer, 20, was strangled first, and that a saw may have been used to sever her body afterward.

“These kinds of offenses are, gratefully, rare. But because they are so stark, so violent, they take hold of our imagination and our worst fears,” said Theoharis Seghorn, a founding partner of New England Forensic Associates.

Seghorn said that such brutality is possible even in seemingly normal human beings who resort to lethal actions in desperate situations.

“In this case, you’re talking about somebody who had to cut through flesh and bone,” Seghorn said. “People are capable of all sorts of bizarre acts when they are in this sort of state. In a disassociated state, anything is possible.”

Vernon Gebreth, a New York homicide and forensic consultant, said that most severed bodies are found in congested, urban areas where a killer needs to decrease his risk of being noticed when disposing of the corpse.

Fox said, “This killer tends to be fairly cunning, careful, clever. He obviously did not panic in the wake of the crime. We’re not talking about a bizarre maniac.”

“Either it’s someone who had some relation with her . . . or we’re talking about a stranger who has a great deal of control over his behavior, who could very well have a good job and neighbors and friends, but for whom rape and murder is done for the pleasure.”

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Memphis Commercial Appeal

June 28, 1996

DEAD WOMAN’S LETTERS HAD OMINOUS NATURE

BOSTON – A young Swedish nanny whose upper body was found in a trash bin had confided in letters to friends weeks before her death that ”something terrible” had happened, and that she was looking forward to an early return to her small village.

Karina Holmer, 20, did not say what had happened, but told her friend, Ulrika Svensson, that she would reveal more once she was back home, the Swedish tabloid Expressen reported.

If she was unhappy, Karina did not confide in her older sister, Johanna Holmer, Johanna said Thursday. ”She had decided to come home earlier . . . because she wanted to go somewhere else to travel and to work,” Johanna said.

The upper half of Holmer’s body was found in a trash bin Sunday afternoon. The lower half had not been located as of Thursday.

In letters to Svensson and other friends, Karina Holmer said she was tired of the housework involved in her job as nanny for a Dover couple’s two young children.

”There is always so much cleaning, and I think I am stressed all the time. So this is not exactly what I thought it would be,” she wrote to Charlotte Sandberg. More ominously, she wrote to Svensson: ”Something terrible has happened. I’ll reveal more when I get home.”

But Holmer showed no obvious discontent to the couple who hired her, Frank Rapp and Susan Nichter, said their attorney, Martin Weinberg.

Investigators, hampered by the absence of a crime scene and the rest of the body, said they were focusing on Zanzibar, the trendy nightclub where friends who had spent a night out with Holmer last saw her early Saturday morning.

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Expert: Mysterious Cold Case May Be Connected To Other Crimes.

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