CWAG Roundup

August 25, 2016

CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox was formally adopted into the Crow Tribe.  The ceremony could have been hard to follow for an outsider. The cultural divisions can keep Montanans apart, but General Fox has a fluency dating back to childhood. The adoption of a non-Crow into the tribe is "not a small or easy thing to do," said Melissa Holds the Enemy, whose parents Howard and Vivian Shane made the decision to adopt Fox. In the ceremony General Fox held feathers as he danced around the powwow arena flanked by his adoptive and extended family. He wore beadwork, and his shoulders were draped in a handmade quilt and blanket. Drummers played as one of Fox's adoptive uncles told the story behind the attorney general's new Crow name, Spiritual Runner. "Usually an Indian name is selected by the person doing the naming based on an accomplishment or achievement they had in their life. There will be a story that goes along with the name," Holds the Enemy said. The name is fitting for Fox, who was a star track athlete in Hardin, where his father, who was also adopted into the tribe 50 years ago, ran a business. "It's a natural thing for me to be involved in the lives particularly of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne people," General Fox said. "I grew up respecting their work ethic and athletic abilities. Thankfully I had parents who felt it was very important for their kids to be introduced to the Native American people and cultures, so not only did I go to school with a lot of Native Americans but had a lot of Native American friends growing up."
CWAG Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth of Alaska announced that the State of Alaska will not pursue further litigation in Akiachak Native Community v. U.S. Secretary of the Interior. That case affirmed the ability of the Secretary of Interior to take land into trust on behalf of Alaska Tribes and also acknowledged the rights of Alaska Tribes to be treated the same as all other federally recognized Tribes. The State's decision to not seek Supreme Court review ends years of protracted litigation and ushers in a new era for Alaska Tribes. The announcement from the State of Alaska that it will forego further litigation ends a long history of state/tribal animosity and represents a significant policy shift from prior administrations that chose to vigorously litigate any assertion of tribal sovereignty. Governor William Walker's decision to work with Tribes rather than against them ushers in a new era where tribal and state officials can cooperatively work together to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Alaska's tribal member citizens.
CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona announced a jury convicted Jose Castro-Felix of Queen Creek, Arizona of Conspiracy, Conducting an Illegal Enterprise, Possession of Cocaine for Sale, Possession of Heroin for Sale, and Money Laundering for his involvement in a Mexico-based cocaine and heroin trafficking organization. The conviction stems from Castro-Felix's possession of more than a $1,000,000 worth of heroin and cocaine and $50,000 in drug proceeds in August 2012. Castro-Felix failed to show up for his trial and is currently on the run. A judge issued a warrant for his arrest.   On August 15, 2012, officers saw a pickup truck arrive at the house and learned it had crossed from Mexico into the United States through the Douglas Port of Entry a few hours earlier. Castro-Felix was seen taking possession of the truck and backing it into the garage.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Doug Peterson of Nebraska announced that his office would begin outreach to connect with Nebraskans who may qualify for complete discharge of their federal student loans. Students who attended a program at Corinthian Colleges, including Everest, WyoTech, and Heald College online or on-campus programs, may be eligible for complete forgiveness of their federal student loans under a program run by the US Department of Education. Approximately 380 Nebraskans may still be eligible for loan forgiveness.  The amount forgiven regarding those students is to be determined.  Students need only fill out a simple attestation form in order to apply. After an investigation, the Department of Education found that between 2010 and 2014, Heald, WyoTech, and Everest Colleges misrepresented job placement rates for many programs of study. These misrepresentations allow students to assert a defense to repayment claim and, thereby, have their loans forgiven.
CWAG Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman of Colorado announced that her office has settled a lawsuit against Austin Home Ventures, LLC dba Capital Asset Recovery dba Capital Realty, Bryan Jensen, Ethan Eaton aka Ethan Graham, Bailey Perez, and Billy Fuston. The settlement requires Defendants to pay $125,000 and includes injunctive relief to ensure compliance with the law and prevent future harm to consumers. "If you are an unscrupulous business or individual looking to take advantage of homeowners in distress, my office is going to make sure you are held accountable," said General Coffman. "This settlement returns money to homeowners in foreclosure who were misled by these Defendants and also helps to prevent future violations of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act directed at people already facing the loss of their homes."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida obtained a court order temporarily shutting down a tech support company that, along with its owners, allegedly deceived consumers out of more than $25 million. The scam operated as Client Care Experts, formerly known as First Choice Tech Support, LLC, and is owned by CEO Michael Seward and his partner, Kevin McCormick. The defendants ran the tech support scam out of a boiler room in Boynton Beach and employed more than 200 telemarketers at the location.  The order follows an effort by defendants to dissolve an earlier order obtained by Attorney General Bondi's Office that temporarily shut down the business, froze the defendants' assets to preserve funds for consumer restitution and appointed a receiver to oversee the operation through the conclusion of the case. This week, the court denied the defendants' motion to dissolve and kept the previous order in place pending the final judgment. "Floridians rely on computers to communicate with family and friends, make purchases and conduct business, and when scammers target these devices they can scare and frustrate consumers, especially our seniors. That is why we are working diligently to identify and stop tech scams targeting Floridians," said General Bondi.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Schuette of Michigan announced that Pasquale Longordo, 39, of Birmingham, and his company Modify Loan Experts, LLC, pleaded guilty to two felonies and 27 misdemeanors for stealing money from Michigan residents who were facing mortgage foreclosures or needed help managing their credit card debt. "Today's guilty plea brings some closure and more importantly restitution to the men and women left in a financial hardship due to this man's deception," said General Schuette. "Individuals who take advantage of people when they are going through a hard time for their own personal benefit will not be tolerated. I want to thank my Homeowner Protection Unit for their diligent work in bringing this case to a close." Longordo and Modify Loan Experts allegedly promised victims that they would have an attorney assigned to represent them and negotiate mortgage modifications on their behalf with mortgage companies.  However, this did not happen and many victims lost their homes as a result.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas announced that a state district court in El Paso issued a temporary restraining order for Moises Eloy Castillo and Servicios Profesionales, L.L.C. for violations of the Texas Deceptive Practices Act (DTPA) and the Texas Notary Public Act. The lawsuit seeks civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the DTPA. According to the lawsuit, Castillo, a commissioned Texas notary public, solicited customers, through Servicios Profesionales, L.L.C. and other business names, by falsely claiming that he was an attorney with the skill and knowledge to handle his clients' legal services. Under federal law, only attorneys who are licensed to practice law in the United States and organizations accredited by the United States Department of Justice's Board of Immigration Appeals may offer immigration services to the public. Scam artists have long exploited the misunderstanding between the term notary and the similar-sounding Spanish term notario p´┐Żblico, which is used in Latin America to describe highly experienced, specialized attorneys.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Luther Strange of Alabama toured a manufacturing and packaging facility operated by Pharmavite LLC, the maker of the Nature Made line of vitamins and nutritional supplements. "I think he was very interested in what he saw, asked a lot of questions [and] seemed impressed with the technology and the layout of the facility," said Paul Bolar, vice president of regulatory affairs with Pharmavite, Bolar described such tours as an opportunity to educate state attorneys general on "how the industry conforms to good manufacturing practices (GMP) and the way we are regulated and how responsible parties in the industry conduct their business." Steve Mister, president and CEO of Council for Responsible Nutrition , recommended companies take a proactive role in reaching out to the state AGs. "A really good way to do that is to educate them, bring them into the facility," Mister said in a phone interview. "Let them see what GMPs look like when they are being fully executed."
Chris Coppin
Legal Director
Conference of Western Attorneys General
1300 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
505-589-5101 (cell)
817-615-9335 (fax)

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