New Jersey casinos wins big, Extortionist sentenced for Romney tax scheme

New Jersey casinos wins big, Extortionist sentenced for Romney tax scheme

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Photo: Marc Nozell via Flickr

Court rejects New Jersey sports wagering law

In a victory for the Nevada Resort Association which is the Silver State’s casino industry lobbying arm, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals rebuffed a New Jersey sports betting law on grounds that Congress specifically forbade the activity. The 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act prohibits sports wagering in all states except Nevada, and in Oregon and Delaware which conduct sports lotteries. The 1992 law also granted a one-year exemption to give New Jersey time to enact a sports betting law, but the Garden State legislature didn’t act until 2012. The suit against the New Jersey law was waged by professional and amateur sports leagues, while casino operators watched from the sidelines.

Sentence reduction upheld for murder plotter

A three-judge panel in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a six-year sentence reduction for a convict who is serving a 40-year sentence for masterminding the murder-for-hire killing of two men. The decision identifies the convicted planner as “John Doe,” presumably to hide his identity from the two men he hired to carry out the murders. As it turns out, the murderers are in prison because John Doe traded information about them for his sentence reduction.

Extortionist sentenced for Romney tax scheme

Michael Brown, 37, of Franklin, Tenn., was handed a four-year federal prison sentence for attempting to extort ransom payments to prevent him from publicizing 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns. Brown falsely claimed that he gained access to the PricewaterhouseCoopers internal computer network and had stolen copies of Romney’s returns. According to the Department of Justice, Brown demanded payment of $1 million in the form of Bitcoin currency to prevent release of the tax documents. Brown, DOJ said, sent payment demands to both the Democratic and Republican parties in Franklin.

FTC warns VW dealers to keep buy back deals honest

The Federal Trade Commission warned Volkswagen dealers not to take advantage of consumers who will be returning their diesel-powered vehicles “for more than their current replacement value” as part of VW’s $10.03 billion settlement of deceptive advertising charges. The FTC said “it would be unwise for anyone—including independent VW dealers—to make separate offers implying either that an offer is part of the settlement or that affected diesel owners must buy a new VW or Audi.”

Update on Syrian refugee admissions to U.S.

In a telephone press conference, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials revealed that 8,000 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the U.S. so far this year, and the number is expected to increase to 10,000 by September 30. According to the CIS officials, 99% of the Syrian refugees are Muslims (even though Christians are also fleeing Syria to escape death at the hands of ISIS). And, 78% of the admitted refugees are women and children (4,576 under age 18 and evenly divided between male and female, and approximately 3,425 are mothers), the CIS officials said.

Firearms still running at record-setting clip

A statistical report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reveals that 2014 was the second-best year on record for the firearms manufacturing industry. The 9.0 million firearms that came off assembly lines in 2014 was exceeded only by the industry’s 2013 performance. In 2014, ATF said, the industry manufactured 3.6 million pistols, 744,000 revolvers, 3.4 million rifles, 935,000 shotguns and 358,000 miscellaneous firearms. Another 3.9 million firearms were imported to the U.S. in 2014, down substantially from the previous year when a record-setting 5.5 million firearms came into the country.

Telemarketer-turned-lawyer pleads guilty

Barred by a previous felony conviction from engaging in telemarketing sales, Bryan D’Antonio, 50, of Brea, Calif., decided he would try his hand at practicing law. He opened two law offices—Rodis Law Group and America’s Law Group—and began providing legal services to consumers who needed help to negotiate lower home mortgage interest rates or to persuade banks to lower their loan balances. Unfortunately for the clients, D’Antonio was not a lawyer and the law firms he created were as phony as a Hollywood movie set, the Department of Justice said. But it was fun while it lasted. DOJ said D’Antonio collected $9 million in fees from more than 1,500 victims who were lured to his phony offices by a nationwide radio advertising campaign.

Priest didn’t pay taxes for collection plate thievery

Father Hien Minh Nguyen, 56, a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, Calif., pleaded guilty of evading taxes for money he stole from church parishioners, the Department of Justice said. Father Nguyen admitted that he deposited donated funds into his personal bank account, did not disclose the income to his tax preparer, did not keep records of the donations he stole, and filed false income tax returns.

Third parties lose bid for debate berth

A judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a suit brought by Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein to participate in the upcoming presidential debates alongside major party candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled that the Commission on Presidential Debates did not violate antitrust law which governs commercial markets and not political activity. Nor did the Commission violate the First Amendment because it is a private entity.

Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and other national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.

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