October 20, 2011 |
Soon after he was elected to the board of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District in Claremont, Xavier Alvarez introduced himself at a public meeting with a lie. "I'm a retired Marine of 25 years," he said. "Back in 1987, I was awarded the congressional Medal of Honor. " That was not Alvarez's first falsehood about himself. He'd also claimed to have played professional hockey and to have played a key role in the Iranian hostage crisis. But it was the Medal of Honor lie that put Alvarez in violation of the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, a law passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush that prohibits anyone from falsely claiming "to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States.
October 17, 2011 |
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether freedom of speech included a right to lie about military honors. In an important 1st Amendment case from Southern California, the justices voted to hear the government's defense of the Stolen Valor Act, a 5-year-old law that makes it a crime to falsely claim to have earned medals for service in the armed forces. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year struck down the law, saying the government cannot act as the "truth police" to punish lies that cause no direct harm.
September 29, 2011 |
Reebok International Ltd. has agreed to pay $25 million in refunds to consumers to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission that the company falsely claimed that its toning shoes and other products strengthened muscles. "Consumers expected to get a workout, not to get worked over," David Vladeck, director of the agency's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in announcing the settlement Wednesday. Reebok is one of several companies that have marketed special fitness shoes designed to tone muscles.
May 20, 2011 |
Quest Diagnostics Inc., the biggest provider of medical lab services in California, has agreed to pay $241 million to settle a whistle-blower's lawsuit that accused it of overcharging the state Medi-Cal program. The lawsuit also alleged that the Madison, N.J., company paid illegal kickbacks to doctors, hospitals and clinics that sent patients their way. The settlement was the largest in the history of California's False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the state if they have evidence that a government contractor has defrauded a state agency.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 22, 2011 |
"Saints may always tell the truth, but for mortals living means lying. " Those were the words of Chief Judge Alex Kozinski in Monday's decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the Stolen Valor Act is an unconstitutional restraint on free speech and a threat to every citizen who fibs to embellish his or her image, avoid embarrassment or perpetuate a child's belief in Santa Claus. The court struck down both the 2005 act of Congress and the fines and sentence meted out to a Pomona man convicted on criminal charges for falsely claiming to have been awarded the congressional Medal of Honor.
February 6, 2011 |
The federal investigator took the witness stand and described the crime scene: a sprawling field clogged with boulders, native grasses and knee-high sagebrush. The defendant, a California farmer, had said the site was a 200-acre wheat field. But the investigator found no tilled soil, no tractors, no plows. In fact, she testified, she found no wheat. The field was just a field ? and a prime example, federal prosecutors allege, of a wave of agricultural insurance scams sprouting across the nation.
October 21, 2010 |
With concerns about cheating at farmers markets on the rise, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has scheduled four listening sessions around the state, including in Santa Monica on Monday, Nov. 1, to ask for public comment about its Certified Farmers Market Program, and especially to address concern about its integrity. This step was prompted by two recent reports on NBC News that exposed several alleged market cheaters, peddlers who represented commercially bought produce as their own, or farmers who claimed that their produce had not been sprayed with pesticides, despite laboratory evidence to the contrary.
September 9, 2010 |
The Federal Trade Commission has sued longtime bulb manufacturer Lights of America Inc., charging that some of the company's energy-saving LED bulbs don't burn nearly as brightly or as long as advertised. Light emitting diode bulbs made by the Walnut company are sold at major national retailers, such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Costco. The suit alleges that Lights of America made false claims about the performance of some bulbs on its packaging and marketing materials beginning in 2008.
March 10, 2010 |
Its chief executive prominently displays his Social Security number in ads for his identity-theft protection company. But LifeLock Inc. couldn't protect customers from the company's own misleading advertising, according to state and federal authorities. In a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general from California and 34 other states, LifeLock agreed Tuesday to tone down claims about the effectiveness of its service and to pay $11 million to customers and $1 million for the costs of the investigation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 21, 2010 |
Manufacturing businesses, big financial firms and energy companies are eager for new tax breaks in California -- but not if it means officials will take a harder look at how they claim the credits. A coalition of corporations is fighting a tax-relief package moving through the Legislature that would offer help to renewable-energy firms and to homeowners forced to shed their houses in a short sale. The group is urging lawmakers to kill the bill because of a provision that would impose penalties on corporations and wealthy individuals who take tax credits to which they are not entitled.