National Roundup

Texas

Ex-investment ex ec gets 25 years for fraud

DALLAS (AP) -- A former investment firm executive convicted of defrauding senior citizens in Texas and Florida has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.

A judge in Dallas on Monday sentenced 40-year-old Jeffrey Charles Bruteyn.

A jury in April 2010 convicted Bruteyn on nine counts of securities fraud related to a more than $50 million scam. Prosecutors say many of the victims were retirees and their investment money went for Bruteyn's personal use.

Bruteyn is a former managing director of Dallas-based AmeriFirst Funding Corp. and AmeriFirst Acceptance Corp., both now defunct.

Massachusetts

State probes actions of Bank of America broker

BOSTON (AP) -- The Massachusetts Secretary of State's office is investigating a Bank of America broker who allegedly invested a Boston-area couple's money more aggressively than promised, possibly contributing to the loss of half their savings.

A spokesman for William Galvin says the agency's Securities Division are looking into whether Bank of America broker Clifton Spinney misled Philip and Gail Grossman of Waltham, or inappropriately invested their money, leading to $400,000 in losses during the financial crisis.

The family says 65-year-old Philip Grossman fell into despair over the losses and committed suicide in September 2009.

The state would seek compensation for the losses.

A Bank of America spokesman tells The Boston Globe the company is cooperating in the investigation and says the losses were due primarily to the market's instability.

Connecticut

Attorney general sues electric aggregator

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Attorney General George Jepsen has filed suit to enforce a $360,000 civil penalty imposed by state utility regulators against a Redding company accused of defrauding an association of independent schools and an electricity supplier of $180,000.

The state Department of Public Utility Control imposed the penalty against Turris Associates LLC in October.

Turris negotiated lower utility rates for groups of customers. The company lost its authority to operate after the school association and the Hess Corp. complained they had been overcharged.

The school association said it authorized Turris to negotiate lower electric rates in return for fees of one-tenth of one cent per kilowatt hour. Instead, the company charged 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour without disclosing the fee change.

Turris did not respond to the charges.

California

Man admits to stockpiling explosives

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- An unemployed software consultant had been expected to argue for the dismissal of charges that he amassed large stockpiles of powerful explosives because authorities destroyed the house before it could be combed for more evidence.

Instead, George Jakubec on Monday admitted in a deal with prosecutors that he made the deadly weapons at his ranch-style home and robbed three banks since 2009.

Jakubec, 54, pleaded guilty to brandishing firearms while robbing or attempting to rob banks. He faces a minimum sentence of 30 years in prison when he is sentenced June 13, but prosecutors could recommend less time if he cooperates with investigators. Jakubec faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

In the plea agreement, Jakubec acknowledged making and storing explosives and weapons at his home in the San Diego suburb of Escondido, including nine detonators, 13 grenade hulls and large quantities of the highly unstable Hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, or HMDT, which can explode by someone stepping on it.

He also admitted to having significant amounts of Pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, the explosive used in the 2001 airliner shoe-bombing attempt.

In the deal, he agreed to reimburse San Diego County the $541,000 it cost authorities to destroy the home on Dec. 9, in a carefully orchestrated burn that played out on television screens across the U.S.

He also agreed to pay the medical bills of a gardener who was injured when he stepped on explosive powder, to compensate neighbors for any damages to their homes, and to reimburse Bank of America nearly $55,000.

Jakubec pleaded guilty to brandishing a firearm while he robbed a San Diego bank branch of $42,012 on Nov. 13, 2009, and returning with a firearm to the same branch two weeks later in an attempted robbery that was foiled when he spotted a security guard.

Jakubec acknowledged that he robbed other Bank of America branches in San Diego of $1,480 on June 25, 2010, and $10,400 on July 17, 2010.

As part of the agreement, prosecutors offered to drop charges of making and storing explosives and robbing the banks.

Jakubec, who rented the house for more than a year, was arrested after his gardener, Mario Garcia, stepped on chemical residue in the backyard on Nov. 18, 2010, and suffered eye, chest and arm injuries. Authorities said they found crates of grenades, mason jars of white explosive powder and jugs of volatile chemicals.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns had scheduled Monday's hearing to consider a request by Jakubec's attorney, Michael Berg, to dismiss all charges because authorities destroyed the home before it could be searched for evidence that may have helped his case. Burns rejected that argument in December when the attorney sought to delay the home's demolition.

"This situation potentially posed a significant threat to public safety, and we are glad this chapter is closed," San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said.

South Carolina

Lawsuit: sales tax exemptions unconstitutional

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Two Columbia attorneys have filed a lawsuit claiming South Carolina's sales tax exemptions are unconstitutional.

The State newspaper reported Tuesday that Cam Lewis and Dick Harpootlian say schoolchildren and homeowners are hurt by the lack of lost revenue from $2.7 billion in the state's sales tax exemptions. That's compared with about $2.2 billion in annual sales tax revenue.

One percent each of South Carolina's 6 percent sales tax goes to education and property tax relief, with the rest going to the state's general fund.

The lawsuit says collections have sagged as more exemptions have been added and the economy has struggled.

No hearing date has been set. If the state Supreme Court agrees with the case, it will be up to state legislators to rewrite the tax code.

Published: Wed, Mar 16, 2011

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