Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals plans to provide 160,000 drug deactivation pouches at nearly 800 Walmart pharmacies in seven states to help customers safely dispose of leftover prescription pain medications. Mallinckrodt said that it will offer the free pouches at Walmart locations in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. According to the company, 7.2 million prescription pills could be destroyed if each of the 160,000 pouches is used to capacity. The pouches are designed to deactivate prescription drugs and render their chemical compounds safe for landfills. After uses put the medications in the specially formulated pouch and add water, they seal it and then throw it away with the household trash. The pouches are fully biodegradable providing an environmentally responsible way to deactivate and dispose of drugs. "We share the concerns of parents across the nation, and believe that providing patients with a safe, environmentally responsible way to dispose of unused medications is critical in this fight against prescription drug abuse," stated Mark Trudeau, Mallinckrodt's president and chief executive officer.
A decade after electronic cigarettes were introduced in the United States, use has flattened, sales have slowed and, this fall, NJoy, once one of the country's biggest e-cigarette manufacturers, filed for bankruptcy. It is quite a reversal for an invention once billed as the biggest chance to end smoking as we know it and take aim at the country's largest cause of preventable death. Use of the devices is slumping because they are not as good as cigarettes at giving a hit of nicotine. Dealing another strike against them, the country's top public health authorities have sent an unwavering message: Vaping is dangerous. The warning is meant to stop people who have never smoked - particularly children - from starting to vape. But a growing number of scientists and policy makers say the relentless portrayal of e-cigarettes as a public health menace, however well intentioned, is a profound disservice to the 40 million American smokers who could benefit from the devices. Smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans a year. "We may well have missed, or are missing, the greatest opportunity in a century," said David B. Abrams, senior scientist at the Truth Initiative, an antismoking group. "The unintended consequence is more lives are going to be lost."
CWAG Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of California
announced a $15 million settlement securing restitution for Californians who invested money with Beverly Hills-based investment adviser Stanley Chais, money that he then funneled into Bernard Madoff's notorious Ponzi scheme. Chais was responsible for one of the largest operations channeling money directly to Bernard Madoff, violating California's consumer protection and corporate securities laws. He deceived his clients, many of whom were elderly, into paying him substantial fees, claiming he was actively managing their money while in actuality turning their investments over to Madoff. As a result, many lost their life savings when Madoff's fraudulent scheme was ultimately exposed in late 2008. "For over 30 years, Stanley Chais unscrupulously defrauded Californians, many of them elderly, by taking their life savings, charging steep fees, and funneling their money to Bernie Madoff's elaborate Ponzi scheme," said Attorney General Harris. "This settlement will help recover the losses suffered by victims who were cheated by Chais, many of whom lost everything."
Nearly half a million Washingtonians had their personal information compromised as a result of data breaches between July of 2015 and July of this year, according to a report issued by CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington. The release coincides with National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The Attorney General's report details the sources and impacts of data breaches reported to the Attorney General's Office (AGO) under new, stricter notification and reporting requirements adopted by the Legislature in 2015. Attorney General Ferguson proposed the legislation. During the first year after the law took effect, 39 data breaches met the reporting threshold of 500 affected Washingtonians. Those 39 incidents occurred at companies and organizations ranging from school districts to national retail chains and affected at least 450,000 Washingtonians. The number is undoubtedly higher, since several companies reported that they were unable to determine the number of individuals affected. "Information is power, and this new law gives my office and Washingtonians valuable information about potential risk to their personal information and their businesses," Attorney General Ferguson said. "Data breaches are a serious threat to our security, and my office can use this information in our efforts to protect the people of Washington."
CWAG Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt of Nevada
announced that Franklin Marquez of California, was sentenced to 4-12 years for one count of Pattern of Mortgage Lending Fraud, a category "B" felony. Marquez and other defendants were alleged to have operated a criminal enterprise in Las Vegas called Majestic Group, LLC that defrauded Nevada homeowners using a foreclosure avoidance scheme. Defendant Marquez admitted that he promised clients that they could sell their underwater homes to Majestic Group at fair market value, and then Majestic Group would subsequently sell their homes back to the clients at affordable prices. After placing their trust in Marquez's operation, several clients fell victim to the scheme and lost their homes to foreclosure as a result. Defendant Marquez further admitted that he, on behalf of Majestic Group, collected large upfront fees along with monthly payments, totaling between $10-18,000 per victim. In total, the business collected $1.2 million from homeowners through this scheme. "Scammers often target vulnerable individuals who are struggling financially to maintain their homes," said Attorney General Laxalt. "This sentencing demonstrates my Office's commitment to aggressively pursuing these fraudsters."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Schuette of Michigan
announced that Asima Khan was sentenced on one felony count of Larceny $1,000 - $20,000, for her role in running a mortgage modification scam across Oakland and Macomb Counties. "We see this time and time again, good people who have fallen on difficult times are taken advantage of by an individual who sees nothing but dollar signs," said Attorney General Schuette. "I am pleased to see this case resolved, but I will continue to seek justice and restitution for victims of this type of crime." The Department of Attorney General's Corporate Oversight Division began an investigation into Asima Khan and her company Financial Independent Services after receiving multiple complaints from victims in this case in 2015. Asima Khan and her company, Financial Independent Services, provided mortgage modification services in Oakland and Macomb County. Khan promised mortgage modifications and debt consolidation to her clients. However, she collected money for the services in advance in violation of Michigan law and did not provide the promised modifications or debt reduction.
NATURAL RESOURCE DAMAGES
CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox of Montana
announced the decision to actively pursue potential recovery of natural resource damages from Bridger Pipeline, LLC (Bridger). On January 17, 2015, a 12-inch diameter pipeline owned by Bridger crossing the Yellowstone River near Glendive ruptured and discharged at least 30,000 gallons of Bakken crude oil into the river. "As important as the production and transportation of oil and petroleum products is to our State, when the accidental release of oil taints our natural resources, it is equally important that we understand the extent of the damage and that the resources are restored," Attorney General Tim Fox said. "This is a critical step in making sure that restoration happens. I appreciate the hard work by the state and federal teams who responded to the spill initially and who will be carrying forward the damages assessment now, and for the cooperation of the pipeline operator in these efforts."
As many as 10,000 North Carolinians who attended Corinthian Colleges should act quickly to get thousands of dollars in student loans forgiven, CWAG Associate Attorney General Roy Cooper of North Carolina said. "Many students aiming for a brighter future didn't get the education they worked and paid for, or the job opportunities they believed they would earn," Attorney General Cooper said. "North Carolinians who attended a Corinthian school should take this opportunity to get their student loans forgiven." National for-profit school Corinthian Colleges closed in April, 2015 following investigations by Cooper's office, other state attorneys general and the federal government. It operated a chain of schools under the names Everest College, Everest Institute, Everest University, Heald College, and WyoTech. While Corinthian did not have campuses in North Carolina, the investigation revealed that thousands of North Carolinians took classes through Corinthian campuses in other states or online and paid for them by borrowing federal student loans.
They accounted for less than half of the mortgage dollars extended to borrowers during the third quarter-the first quarter banks, credit unions and other depository institutions have fallen below that threshold in more than 30 years, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. Taking their place are nonbank lenders more willing to make riskier loans banks now shun. The shift reflects banks' aversion to risk, especially in the mortgage market, in the wake of the housing meltdown and financial crisis. Banks also remain fearful of legal and regulatory threats that have cost them tens of billions of dollars in mortgage-related fines and settlements in recent years. The change, though, gives rise to potential new dangers in the mortgage market. Chief among them is whether nonbanks have enough funds to weather a significant economic downturn in which missed payments on mortgages spike. Many of the loans these lenders are originating are effectively guaranteed by the U.S. government, meaning that in the worst-case scenario taxpayers could be on the hook. "It's becoming the perfect storm-when you punish banks, [they] don't lend out money," said Paul Miller, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. "Banks are becoming utilities that are unable or unwilling to play with risk." Among the top 50 mortgage lenders, nonbanks extended 51.4% of loan dollars in the third quarter, up from 46% for all of last year, 19% in 2012 and 9% in 2009, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. The two biggest nonbank mortgage lenders are Quicken Loans Inc. and PennyMac Financial Services Inc.