Exciting News! CWAG will be launching a fresh, new website on Friday, August 5th. Our regular website will be unavailable throughout portions of Friday, so we thank you for your patience as we launch a new site for all of you! Should you require any conference dates or other information that would regularly be found on our website, please do not hesitate to contact any CWAG staff member for assistance. Our new site will be live by 5:00pm Pacific Time on Friday, August 5th.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin of Rhode Island announced that Troy Footman was sentenced by Superior Court Justice Susan E. McGuirl to a total of 85 years to serve for the sex trafficking of a teenage girl. Footman was found guilty in July 2015 of two counts of sex trafficking a minor, two counts of pandering, and one count of operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license. Justice McGuirl imposed a sentence of 40 years to serve for each count of sex trafficking, the maximum allowed under the law. In addition, she sentenced Footman to a five-year consecutive sentence on one count of pandering and a five-year concurrent sentence which was suspended with probation on the second count of pandering. During the trial, the State proved Footman developed a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old runaway, and encouraged her to take a job dancing at Cheaters, a strip club in Providence, to make money, which he pocketed. Footman also placed an advertisement on Backpage.com for the girl as an escort, and arranged encounters at hotels and motels in Massachusetts.
FIGHTING CRIME IN INDIAN COUNTRY
CWAG Associate Attorney General Brad Schimel of Wisconsin announced that the Wisconsin Native American Drug and Gang Initiative (NADGI) Task Force has been named a finalist for the 2016 Honoring Nations Award by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (HPAIED). "For the last year and a half, I've heard from Native American leaders about the public safety challenges they are facing in tribal communities and the importance of the relationships and collaborations facilitated by NADGI," said General Schimel. "The Wisconsin Department of Justice is proud of NADGI's success, and I personally commend the partnerships formed to help preserve the Native American communities in our state as safe and healthy environments. Fighting for our state's health and prosperity requires collaboration, whether it's fighting the opioid and heroin epidemic, combating human trafficking, or keeping our state's most vulnerable safe. NADGI is a model for successful collaboration."
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington filed a lawsuit against cable television and Internet giant Comcast Corporation in King County Superior Court, alleging the company's own documents reveal a pattern of illegally deceiving their customers to pad their bottom line by tens of millions of dollars. The lawsuit accuses the company of more than 1.8 million violations of Washington state's Consumer Protection Act (CPA), including misrepresenting the scope of its Service Protection Plan, charging customers improper service call fees and improper credit screening practices. The lawsuit also accuses Comcast of violating the CPA to all of its nearly 1.2 million Washington subscribers due to its deceptive "Comcast Guarantee." The lawsuit is the first of its kind in the nation although the Service Protection Plan is a nationwide program and many of the improper practices are used in all of Comcast's markets. The Attorney General's Office brought these issues to Comcast over a year ago, but the company didn't begin to make changes until recently, on the verge of this litigation. "This case is a classic example of a big corporation deceiving its customers for financial gain," General Ferguson said. "I won't allow Comcast to continue to put profits above customers - and the law."
CWAG Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman of Colorado announced that her office has settled two lawsuits against consumer lenders who targeted the military. The lenders are Freedom Stores Inc., d/b/a/ Freedom Furniture & Electronics and affiliated companies Military Credit Services, LLC, and Freedom Acceptance Corporation ("Freedom Furniture") and USA Discounters, Ltd., d/b/a USA Living and d/b/a Fletcher's Jewelers ("USA Discounters"). The settlements, which are in the form of consent judgments entered by the Denver District Court, require the lenders to pay over $3.9 million in redress for harmed consumers and contain injunctive relief designed to ensure future compliance with the law. "My office will not tolerate those who seek to take advantage of military service members and other consumers to unjustly profit from illegal lending and collection schemes," said General Coffman. "These settlements help ensure that Colorado's consumer lending laws will continue to provide protection-particularly to our active military service members who may otherwise be exploited while on duty protecting our country."
FIGHTING MONEY LAUNDERING
CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona announced a major development in the Anti-Money Laundering ("AML") agreement between Western Union Financial Services, Inc. and the Arizona Attorney General's Office. An independent court monitor found Western Union successfully implemented all of the primary recommendations required in the settlement agreement amendment dated January 31, 2014. "Western Union's Anti-Money Laundering Program is a crucial tool in helping the State of Arizona combat drug and human trafficking along the border," said General Brnovich. "We've forged a close partnership, with one goal in mind: to protect Arizonans from criminal activity."
CWAG Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of California, along Attorneys General from 16 states and the District of Columbia submitted official comments to the United States Department of Education, urging the Department to do more to create and implement fair, streamlined, and efficient processes to enable students harmed by predatory for-profit colleges to access student loan debt relief. The Attorneys General also praised the significant strides already made by the Department of Education through its recently proposed borrower-defense regulations. "We must create rules that will prevent predatory for-profit schools from continuing to cheat and mislead our students and taxpayers," said General Harris. "Education goes hand-in-hand with the American Dream. With new and improved federal protections for students, both current and future students defrauded by for-profit companies will finally have a meaningful opportunity for federal student loan forgiveness and the chance to pursue a higher education."
In the closing arguments for the environmental review of a proposed crude oil terminal in Vancouver, CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson's Counsel for the Environment announced opposition to the project. The Tesoro Savage Vancouver Energy Distribution Terminal is currently under review by the state's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC), which is tasked under state law with recommending to the Governor either that he approve or reject the project.
"Protecting the environment and public safety are top priorities of my office, and we considered the evidence presented with the care those priorities demand," General Ferguson said. "The bottom line is that the potential benefits of this project are dramatically outweighed by the potential risks and costs of a spill."
Following President Obama's signing of S.764, which establishes a "National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard," the CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Sorrell of Vermont will no longer be enforcing Act 120, Vermont's first-in-the-nation law requiring the labeling of food produced with genetic engineering. "We successfully defended our law for two years, and as a result many companies are now disclosing that their products are produced with genetic engineering," said General Sorrell. "We hope they will continue to do so going forward, not because our law requires it, but because it is the right thing to do," he continued. "Without question, Vermont's law spurred the Federal Government into action, requiring mandatory labels for GE foods," said General Sorrell. "It is unfortunate that corporate interests were ultimately able to water down Vermont's clear disclosure standard through the passage of this federal law."
CWAG Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota announced that two consultants who advised a Native American tribe on its plans to open the nation's first marijuana resort have been charged with drug offenses. Eric Hagen, chief executive of Monarch America, and the company's vice president and cultivation expert, Jonathan Hunt, were charged with a range of marijuana possession charges, General Jackley said. The indictment comes eight months after the Flandreau Santee Sioux, citing fear of a federal raid, torched the weeks-old marijuana crop they had been growing on tribal land under Monarch America's guidance. The Santee Sioux began exploring a marijuana growing operation after the Justice Department in 2014 outlined a new policy clearing the way for Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana under the same conditions as some states that have legalized pot.
Medical marijuana dispensaries should no longer be able to accept California doctors' recommendations from out-of-state patients to purchase in Nevada, according to an opinion from CWAG Attorney General Adam Laxalt of Nevada. In a letter to Health Department Director Richard Whitley, Laxalt's office responds to two department inquiries on the Silver State's medical marijuana program: whether patients can use a copy of a completed application at a Nevada dispensary to purchase medical marijuana, and whether out-of-state residents should be allowed to use a California physician's note to purchase medical marijuana. General Laxalt advised against both practices. "A recommendation from a California physician ad (sic) a driver's license from another state cannot be used to obtain medical marijuana from a Nevada dispensary," the letter said.
According to a study published recently, exposure to marijuana among children in Colorado has increased in the two years since the state began selling the drug legally and so have the emergency-room visits that follow. Colorado gave the green light to medical marijuana in 2000. In 2012, the state sanctioned recreational use, and by January 2014, dispensary store shelves were stocked with potent products of all shapes and sizes. Since then, marijuana-related trips to children's care centers have almost doubled, though incidence overall remains low. Edibles in particular seem to entice unsuspecting children who think they are sneaking everyday snacks, though secondhand smoke is also a culprit. After accidental marijuana consumption, most children simply become sleepy. In the worst of cases, they can end up intubated.