March Madness wager will be $10.4 billion
Just days before the opening tip-off, the American Gaming Association estimated that $10.4 billion will be wagered on the outcome of the national college basketball “March Madness” tournament. This year’s bet is 13% more than last year’s $9.2 billion wager, AGA said. Much of the betting is based on predicting the winners as they move through the tournament brackets. AGA said 40 million people will fill out 70 million brackets.
Telemarketing scammers to make refunds
The owners of Advertising Strategies LLC and its network of affiliated companies, all located in and around Phoenix, Ariz., agreed to refund $7.5 million to consumers who were lured into the companies’ phony investment schemes, the Federal Trade Commission said. The company’s telemarketers bilked consumers, many of them elderly or veterans living on fixed incomes, who paid as much as $20,000 to enroll in various investment “opportunities.”
Small airport gets latest screening technology
The Transportation Security Administration debuted the latest checkpoint screening technology at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport in New York State. (According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Ithaca airport logged 103,500 passenger boardings—roughly 285 per day—during 2013.) TSA said the new Advanced Imaging Technology machine will “further strengthen security for passengers flying out of Ithaca.”
Jury convicts smuggler of firearms silencers
Paul Gratton, 50, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., was convicted by a federal jury on charges stemming from his smuggling of six firearm silencers from England, where they were purchased from a firearms dealer, to his home in Tennessee, the Department of Justice said. Gratton shipped the silencers in a DHL package that was deliberately mislabeled so the package would pass through U.S. Customs without discovery.
Tax evasion proves costly for California businessman
Masud Sarshar, the owner of a clothing store in Los Angeles, Calif., drew a two-year federal prison sentence for hiding more than $23.5 million in bank accounts at several banks in Israel, the Department of Justice said. The funds deposited by Sarshar in his accounts at Bank Leumi and two other Israeli banks was diverted from his business’s receipts. In addition to the prison sentence, Sarshar was ordered to pay $8.3 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and $18.2 million for failing to disclose his Israeli bank accounts to the U.S. Department of Treasury.
CBO scores health insurance plan
The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that enactment of a proposed health insurance measure to revise the Affordable Care Act would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the 10-year period from 2017 to 2026. Also, CBO and the JCT estimated that 14 million more people would be uninsured under the proposed American Health Care Act than under the ACA.
Narcotics found inside vehicle’s battery
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of entry near Presidio, Tex., seized 5.7 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $200,000, that was found inside a vehicle battery. The car, driven by a 30-year-old Mexican male, was selected for inspection because there was evidence of tampering with the battery.
Unemployment by the states
In January when the national unemployment rate was 4.8%, the jobless rates in five states were substantially lower than the national rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. New Hampshire had the lowest rate of any state in January—2.7%–and was followed by Hawaii (2.8%), Colorado (2.9%), South Dakota (2.9%), Arkansas (3.8%) and Oregon (4.3%). New Mexico had the highest jobless rate among states—6.7%–in January, BLS said.
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 national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Monday, March 13