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Wire Fraud

January 26, 2011 | By Stuart Pfeifer and Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times
Hedge fund managers looking for an edge in the financial markets in recent years could turn to Primary Global Research, a boutique firm in the heart of the Silicon Valley with connections around the world. Now the company isn't answering the phone, the front doors of its Mountain View office are locked and some of its former employees are facing possible prison time. Founded in 2003 by former Intel Corp. manager Unni Narayanan, Primary Global is at the center of an ongoing Justice Department insider-trading crackdown on the sale of privileged information that could affect stock prices.
October 11, 2010 | By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times
Expensive pennies The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be wary of so-called penny auction websites, which advertise electronic products such as Apple Inc. iPads at bargain prices. Many people have complained about being charged fees as high as $150 after signing up for what was promoted as a free trial, the bureau said in a recent bulletin. Other customers have alleged that the sites use computer-programmed bots to place fake bids that drive up prices. The customers who have complained to the bureau also said they had been unable to obtain refunds, the bulletin said.
October 5, 2010 | By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times
Bankrupt real estate mogul Ezri Namvar pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he stole $23 million from clients who paid him to safeguard proceeds from real estate sales. Namvar, free on $300,000 bond, was indicted Sept. 21 on five counts of wire fraud in connection with the alleged misappropriation of money from clients of his company, Namco Financial Exchange Corp., in 2008. The indictment alleged that Namvar, 59, used the money for a variety of purposes, including making interest payments to investors in a second company he owned, Namco Capital Group Inc..
September 23, 2010 | By Stuart Pfeifer and Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles real estate mogul Ezri Namvar, an Iranian immigrant who amassed and then lost billions of dollars of commercial real estate holdings, has been indicted on wire fraud charges, his attorney said. Namvar, former owner of such high-profile properties as the Marriott hotel in downtown Los Angeles and the Cal Neva resort in Lake Tahoe, was accused of five counts of wire fraud related to a company, Namco Financial Exchange Corp., that sheltered proceeds from real estate transactions, said defense attorney Marc Harris.
September 22, 2010 | By Dawn C. Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times
A former administrative assistant to a top executive at Walt Disney Co. pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud charges related to her participation in an insider-trading scheme. Bonnie J. Hoxie, 34, of Los Angeles admitted in federal district court in New York to attempting to sell confidential information that she gained access to as an assistant for Disney's head of corporate communications, Zenia Mucha. According to the criminal complaint, Hoxie obtained material, nonpublic information about Disney, including advance details about its second-quarter earnings.
September 21, 2010 | By Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times
Apparently acting without City Council approval, Bell spent nearly $95,000 to repay loans that then-City Manager Robert Rizzo made to himself from his retirement accounts, a draft state audit reviewed by The Times shows. The auditors found no evidence that council members even knew about the repayments, which occurred in 2008 and 2009. "We found the city's system of internal control to be nonexistent, as all financial activities and transactions revolved around one individual, the former chief administrative officer, who had complete control and discretion over how city funds were used," the auditors wrote.
September 11, 2010 | Bloomberg News
Apple Inc. will stop giving away cases for the iPhone 4 to most users at the end of the month, saying the antenna problems associated with the device are less widespread than originally thought. Free cases will still be given to users who experience a problem, the Cupertino, Calif., company said Friday on its website. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs promised the free cases during a July 16 news conference in response to criticism that the newest iteration of the smart phone loses signal strength if held a certain way. Consumer Reports magazine said at the time that it couldn't recommend the device because of the problem.
May 26, 2010 | By Walter Hamilton and Dawn Chmielewski, Los Angeles Times
A secretary to a high-ranking Walt Disney Co. executive thought she and her boyfriend were about to pull off an alleged insider-trading scheme — and she wanted to celebrate with a Stella McCartney handbag from Neiman Marcus. "Here is the bag that you are going to get for me," Bonnie Jean Hoxie, a secretary for Zenia Mucha, Disney's head of corporate communications, allegedly wrote in an e-mail to her boyfriend this month. After the boyfriend, Yonni Sebbag, replied that they may reap a windfall from their plot, Hoxie added to her wish list, according to court documents.
March 30, 2010 | By P.J. Huffstutter
A former Safeway Inc. employee was sentenced Tuesday to spend seven months in home detention in connection with the federal investigation of defunct California tomato processor SK Foods. Michael Chavez, 52, of Fremont had pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and accepting $5,000 in bribes from an official of SK Foods, which was based in Monterey. Chavez was a corporate purchasing manager for the Pleasanton, Calif., grocery chain from 2000 to 2007, and responsible for negotiating deals for processed tomato products, court documents said.
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