AG Rowe Give Notice of Consumers' Rights Under "Data Act"

January 31, 2007

Attorney General Steven Rowe advises individuals, businesses and other entities, including colleges and universities and State agencies, who maintain computerized data containing personal information, that effective January 31, 2007, they will become subject to the Notice of Risk to Personal Data Act, 10 M.R.S.A. S1346-1349 (Data Act). The Data Act requires notification to consumers when there has been a security breach of computerized data containing their personal information that could result in identity theft.

Rowe explained "This law will help people protect themselves from identity theft by alerting them early when someone has gained unauthorized access to their private information. Early notification will allow people to better monitor their financial records for suspicious activity."

The Data Act also requires that notice be given to the Attorney General's Office or to the appropriate agency within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation if the person, business or entity giving notice is regulated by that agency. Notice to the national consumer agencies is also required if notification to more than 1000 persons is required as a result of a security breach. Violations of the Data Act are civil violations for which fines and other equitable remedies may be imposed. The law is available on the State of Maine's internet site.

For more information on the Data Act, visit http://www.maine.gov/ag/. Additionally, persons may direct question to the Attorney General's Office by calling AAG Linda Conti at 626-8591.

Contact: DAVID LOUGHRAN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (207) 626-8577 OR david.loughran@maine.gov

Maine Consumers Protected By Implied Warranty Law

February 5, 2007

This is Consumer Protection Week.

Attorney General Steven Rowe today used the occasion of Consumer Protection Week to highlight a little-known but very important protection for Maine Consumers. Maine law provides automatic warranty protection in addition to any "express" written or verbal warranty provided by a seller or manufacturer.

In general, the implied warranty law applies to new or used consumer items that:

  1. Are seriously defective;
  2. Have not been abused; and
  3. Were purchased less than four years ago and still within their normally expected "useful life" (i.e., not simply worn out).

All new and used goods purchased for family, household or personal use--clothes, new cars, appliances, sports equipment and more--are warranted by law to be fit for the ordinary purpose for which such goods are used. The only exception to this law is that used car dealers can disclaim implied warranties when selling used cars "as is,” without any express warranty.

If you have been the victim of a breach of the implied warranty, then you are generally entitled to your incidental and consequential damages (e.g., free repairs by either the manufacturer or the seller). Please note: In order to preserve your warranty rights you should always give both the dealer and the manufacturer written notice of the defect.

The entire Maine Consumer Law Guide is always online at: http://www.maine.gov/ag/clg.html


CONTACT: CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR COMMUNICATIONS AND LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS 207-626-8577

Attorneys General Praise Beam Global for Adopting Stronger Voluntary Advertising Standard to Reduce Youth Exposure to Alcohol Ads

May 7, 2007

Alcohol Industry Urged to Follow Beam’s Lead

Attorney General Steve Rowe praised Beam Global today for adopting a comprehensive set of new policies designed to reduce exposure of its advertising to underage persons. Beam Global is the largest distilled spirits company based in the U.S. Beam Global adopted these measures following talks with state Attorneys General from around the country. Attorney General Rowe joined 36 other Attorneys General in calling on members of the alcohol beverage industry to follow Beam’s lead.

Recent studies confirm the correlation between alcohol advertising and underage drinking. While advertising is only one of the factors that contribute to underage drinking, the importance of reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising is magnified given that youth who begin drinking before age 15 are four times as likely to develop alcohol dependence after age 21. Reducing alcohol advertising helps to reduce the cultural forces that encourage and support underage drinking.

“Beam Global’s new standards represent a significant and encouraging step to reduce youth exposure to alcohol advertising,” Rowe said. “I join Attorneys General from around the country in calling on other alcohol industry members to follow Beam Global’s lead and join in the effort to reduce underage drinking by reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising.”

For more than two years, Attorneys General have been calling on Beam Global and other alcohol manufacturers to implement improved voluntary standards that reduce youth exposure to alcohol advertising. As co-chair of the National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol Committee, Attorney General Rowe has been leading this effort. Beam Global took this call to heart and modified its marketing practices by adopting the following policies:

  • Beam Global will make sure that no more than 25% of the audience for any of its TV, radio or print advertisements is under 21.
  • In addition, Beam Global will insure that no more than 15% of the annual average audience for its TV, radio, and print advertising is underage.
  • Beam Global will not introduce or market any “flavored malt beverages” – sweetened, flavored alcoholic drinks (also known as alcopops) that the AMA and others have found to be particularly popular with teenage girls.
  • Beam Global will not advertise within 500 feet of schools, playgrounds, or places of worship.
  • Beam Global products will not be marketed on college campuses or in connection with Spring Break events.
  • Beam Global will adopt enhanced standards for restrictions on brand name merchandise.

The current alcohol industry standard provides that advertisements may be placed in any media where less than 30% of the audience is under age 21. However, youths ages 12-20 make up only about 15% of the population age 12 and older. The landmark report issued in 2003 by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility, proposed voluntary ad placement limits by the alcohol industry as the most important strategy to address youth overexposure to alcohol advertising. The report concluded that the industry standard allows for too much exposure and should be reduced to 25% to signify meaningful self-restraint.

In March of this year, Acting Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu issued A Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. In it, he calls on the alcohol industry to place alcohol advertising in ways that do not disproportionately expose youth to messages about alcohol. Under Beam Global’s new advertising standard, alcohol ads will not appear in magazines or during television shows particularly popular with adolescents.

Attorney General Rowe and 36 other Attorneys General have written to Beam Global welcoming this action and commending Beam Global for its leadership in stepping forward to address this important issue.

Note: You can read the Surgeon General’s Call to Action at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/underagedrinking/calltoaction.pdf

********** Contact: Jessica Maurer, Special Assistant Attorney General, 207-626-8515 or jessica.maurer@maine.gov

Rowe Praises Passage of Bill to Prevent Elder Abuse

May 14, 2007

Attorney General Steve Rowe praised the passage of L.D. 1428, “An Act to Facilitate Reporting by Maine Financial Institutions of Elder Financial Exploitation”. This legislation provides immunity to banks and other financial institutions for good faith disclosures of suspected financial exploitation of dependent adults.

“This law provides Maine people an additional resource to help shield seniors from abuse, neglect and exploitation.” Rowe said. “The fundamental role of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us. By enacting this law we have done just that.”

The bill, which was submitted by the Attorney General and sponsored by Rep. John Brautigam (D-Falmouth), was passed by the House and the Senate earlier this month and signed into law by Governor John Baldacci on Friday, May 11, 2007. Rep Brautigam stated, “Today, those who care about Maine’s seniors can celebrate a new tool in the effort to stop financial abuse. I am pleased that the financial institutions of Maine have embraced this measure and now can be strong allies in the fight to protect a population that has too often been victimized.”

Organizations including the AARP, Maine Association of Community Banks, Maine Bankers Association, the Maine Credit Union League, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Bureau of Financial Institutions joined Attorney General Rowe and Rep. Brautigam in supporting the bill.

“The efforts of all involved were instrumental in gaining passage of this important piece of legislation.” Rowe added, “My office looks forward to working with these organizations to maximize its benefits.”

For more information on L.D. 1428, please visit: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280024190


David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General (207) 626-8577 OR david.loughran@maine.gov

Attorney General Sues Mortgage Lender

October 5, 2007

Attorney General Steve Rowe filed a suit against Downeast Mortgage Corporation, Commercial Street Capital LLC, James Lindvall a principal in both companies and Catherine Campbell a loan officer for engaging in Unfair and Deceptive practices in making commercial loans to finance the sale of a single family residence. The matter was referred to the Attorney General by William Lund, the Superintendant of the Bureau Consumer Credit Protection.

“This case is illustrative of some of the pernicious practices that contributed to the current foreclosure crisis. Mortgage companies should not steer consumers who do not qualify for mortgages to more risky products lacking consumer protections” said Superintendant Will Lund.

The Attorney General’s complaint states that in late 2005 Kyle and Melissa Wilkinson applied for a home mortgage loan with Downeast Mortgage. When they did not qualify for a home loan, Downeast and its employees steered them to a commercial loan. The companies and the Wilkinsons created a commercial LLC, KW Properties, for the sole purpose of entering into the loan transaction. The lenders and the Wilkinsons also persuaded the Wilkinsons’ aunt and uncle to guarantee the commercial loan without explaining the terms of the guaranty. The loan is now in foreclosure.

“Mortgages loans should only be made when the consumer qualifies, is informed of the terms and has the ability to repay the loan.” said Attorney General Rowe.

The Office of the Attorney General worked with Legislators, industry officials and the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection to enact legislation to protect consumers from predatory loans. The law, an “Act to Protect Maine Homeowners from Predatory Lending” (Chapter 273 of the Public Laws of 2007), will be effective in January of 2008.

Attorney General Rowe’s Office partners with the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, Pinetree Legal and others to investigate unfair practices in connection with home mortgages and to assist consumers who are in foreclosure due to these practices.

Linda Conti, Assistant Attorney General, (207) 626-8591 David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, (207) 626-8577

Rowe Settles School Bus Merger Case

September 26, 2007

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that his office has settled a case involving an antitrust challenge to the merger of the two largest school bus contractors in the nation, FirstGroup (also known as First Student, Inc.) and Laidlaw International, Inc.  Over the past decade, Maine school districts, like their counterparts around the United States, have increasingly turned to private contractors to provide transportation to the students and families they serve. 

The State’s Complaint, filed today in the Federal District Court in Massachusetts charges that FirstGroup’s proposed acquisition of Laidlaw would violate the federal Clayton Act as well as antitrust laws of Maine and the other Plaintiff States.  The settlement is set forth in a proposed Consent Decree (an agreed upon court order), which was filed at the same time as the Complaint.  The Consent Decree imposes significant remedial conditions, which vary somewhat from State to State. 

In Maine, the agreed-upon resolution commits FirstGroup and its subsidiaries to provide the Attorney General with 60 days’ advance notice of any future acquisitions of school bus service company that is active in Maine.  In addition, it bars FirstGroup from employing threats not to bid as a means to force districts to adopt contract specifications favorable to the company.  Finally, it accords to the Attorney General the discretionary power to order FirstGroup to divest up to two district school bus services contracts (with related assets such as buses, depots and maintenance facilities), if necessary to bring FirstGroup into compliance with Maine law.  The divestitures, which must relate to contracts in a broad area around Bangor, including southern Penobscot and Hancock Counties (as well as municipalities in Waldo and Washington Counties), may be ordered during a time period running from July 1, 2008 through the first anniversary of the date on which the school consolidation program now in process has been completed.

“Our review of the transaction found that FirstGroup and Laidlaw were particularly close competitors in the southern Penobscot and Hancock County area,” Rowe explained.  “That is the region of our state which we judged the merger could have a serious anticompetitive impact, which is why we asked for and won the right to order divestitures there.”  Rowe commended his antitrust staff and the staffs of the other Plaintiff States for their work on the case.  He also recognized FirstGroup for its cooperation with the States’ investigation.  “We have worked well with FirstGroup in the course of this merger review, and have reached a fair and mutually acceptable result.  That bodes well for our relationship in the future,” said Rowe.

The states involved in the complaint are Maine, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Washington.

David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, (207) 626-8577

Throumoulos Sentenced to Jail Time, Probation

September 24, 2007

York County Superior Court Justice Paul Fritzsche sentenced Peter Throumoulos to four years in jail with all but 60 days suspended and three years probation. In August, a jury found him guilty of stealing $18,000 from the Maine Clean Elections Fund in connection with his 2004 state Senate race, and of attempting to steal a similar amount during his 2006 state Senate race. Jurors also found him guilty of three counts of aggravated forgery.

Other conditions of the sentence include; a prohibition on possessing or circulating Maine Clean Election Petitions or related documents, an order to pay restitution of $35 a month for the 36 months of probation, and a requirement to continue to engage in psychiatric counseling. 

Throumoulos has filed an appeal, and his jail sentence was stayed pending appeal, although probation will begin immediately.

David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, (207) 626-8577

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

September 27, 2007

Refunds available for AOL customers who had trouble canceling accounts or who incurred charges they did not authorize.

September 24, 2007

An agreement between most U.S. states and AOL requires AOL to provide refunds for customers who had trouble canceling accounts or incurred charges that the customers did not authorize. We have information on how to contact AOL to request a refund. You can also read the formal agreement between AOL and the Attorneys General. (Warning: This is a large pdf file. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view it.)

A Message From Attorney General Steve Rowe About Identity Theft

September 24, 2007

Today's technology provides us with extraordinary benefits. It has given us the ability to conduct business online, share information about ourselves with those who live thousands of miles away and access information at the "speed of light." Unfortunately, it has also provided the same benefits to identity thieves who use someone else's personal financial information to access bank accounts and obtain credit, often destroying the life savings and good credit history of innocent victims.

As our access to information increases, our concerns about financial privacy should increase as well. Identity theft has increased so dramatically that the Federal Trade Commission has listed it as the top fraud-related consumer complaint for the past five years, with consumers reporting million of dollars lost to fraud. One non-profit organization has tracked significant security breaches of personal information since February, 2005 and shows millions of people who are potentially at risk for identity theft. The following is provided to help you protect your financial privacy and the steps to follow if you have become an identity theft victim.


Steps You Can Take To Protect Your Financial Privacy

Your date of birth, name and social security number are all the information a thief needs to steal your identity. If you are contacted by phone, mail or email and asked to provide any of these, first ask yourself: "Would I give the key to my home, the key to my vehicle or my checkbook to this person?" If the answer to any of these questions is "No" - don't provide the information.

1. Be cautious with your mail. Don't leave mail in your mailbox or where strangers may have access to it. Don't include personal financial information or social security numbers in email. You can add your name to the Direct Marketing Association's "Do Not Mail" list by calling them at 212-790-1500, writing to them at 1615 L St. NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036-3603 or registering on their website at: http://www.dmaconsumers.org/consumerassistance.html

2. Make certain that information about you and/or the account number is not legible before throwing away any financial statements. Either use a shredder or a marking pen to black out the pertinent information. Review all account statements carefully to be sure that all transactions are familiar to you.

3. Monitor your credit reports. Every resident of Maine is entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus once a year. To obtain your credit reports, call 1-877-322-8228 or visit www.annualcreditreport.com. Review these reports carefully and make certain that there is nothing on any report that should not be there.

4. Do not give any personal information to anyone over the telephone or the internet. If you are asked for this information, a quick phone call to the bank or business security department will verify if the information is needed. DO NOT take the phone number from the person who is calling and call them back at the number they provide. Don't be fooled by internet messages asking for personal information. They may seem to be from your bank or some other legitimate organization, but they are not. Banks never ask for personal information over the internet or the phone. You can register for the Do Not Call List by contacting the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.donotcall.gov or call toll-free, 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236), from the number you wish to register. Registration is free.

5. Use the "opt out" choice with your creditors and banks. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act limits these institutions from providing some of your private financial information to other companies if you notify them that you wish to opt out. The kinds of information that can be provided include account balances, transaction histories and information about debit or credit card purchases. Each creditor or bank must notify you once a year and offer you the option of opting out and provide you with clear instructions about their procedure for doing so. Contact your creditors and financial institutions and ask about their policies for opting out.

Credit bureaus also share your credit information with companies who want to offer you financial services. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can have your name removed from these lists and reduce solicitations for pre-approved credit cards by calling 888-567-8688. For more detailed information about the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or about opting out, visit http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/privacyinitiatives/glbact.html

For more detailed information about the Fair Credit Reporting Act, visit http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcrajump.htm

For more information about the specific provisions of Financial Privacy laws, visit http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs24-finpriv.htm

6. Be extremely careful when making purchases over the internet. If you are making an internet purchase, try to use a secure purchasing account that doesn't reveal your credit card number. Do not authorize a payment from your bank account or provide the seller with your account number or social security number. If you have to make a payment using a card, be certain to use a credit card rather than a debit card. When using the internet to conduct business, make certain that the website is secure and the seller is reputable. If you are unfamiliar with the seller, contact the local Better Business Bureau or the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's office in the state where the business is located. When you are unfamiliar with an internet seller, don't spend more money than you can safely afford to lose.

Financial Privacy Makeover

Quick Financial Privacy "Makeover"

Take these simple steps to make your financial information more secure:

DO NOT MAIL LIST
Have your name added and reduce junk mail.
Direct Marketing Association
212-790-1500
1615 L St. NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC  20036
http://www.dmaconsumers.org/consumerassistance.html      

DO NOT CALL LIST                                  
Have your name added and reduce unwanted phone calls.     
Federal Trade Commission
1-888-382-1222
www.donnotcall.gov

FREE CREDIT REPORTS                                   
Request one from each bureau every year
877-322-8228
www.annualcreditreport.com

CREDIT CARD SOLICITATION                                   
Have your name removed from pre-approved credit card mailings
888-567-8688

FREEZE YOUR CREDIT REPORT
For a slight fee no one can receive credit information about you.
EQUIFAX: 1-800-525-6285
EXPERIAN: 1-888-397-3742
TRANSUNION: 1-800-680-7289

CREDITORS AND BANKS                      
"Opt Out" so your financial information remains private.
CONTACT EACH INDIVIDUALLY


What To Do If You Are A Victim Of Identity Theft

Identity theft is a crime which generally results in fraud. If you believe you have become a victim of identity theft, you must act immediately to minimize the damage and to secure your legal rights. Fighting identity theft can be frustrating and time-consuming, but resources exist to help you.

  1. Contact any of the three consumer reporting companies below.
    Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
    Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013
    TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

    Contacting one of the three companies above automatically alerts the other two companies which will also place an alert in their records.

    When you call, an initial fraud alert (90 days) will be placed on your credit report and a free copy of your credit report will be sent to you. The fraud alert prevents any new accounts from being opened in your name without your permission. After the initial fraud alert has expired, if you have filed a police report, you can request an extended fraud alert (7 years.) To obtain an extended fraud alert, you must provide the credit reporting companies with a copy of your initial police report and any other fraud reports they may require.

    As of February, 2006, Maine became one of several states to allow consumers to "freeze" their credit reports. With certain specific exceptions, a security freeze prohibits a credit reporting agency from releasing your credit report or any information from it without your express authorization. The freeze goes into effect five (5) business days after the credit reporting agency has received your letter. After 10 business days from receiving your letter to place a freeze on your account, the credit reporting agencies will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN (personal identification number) or password. Keep this PIN or password in a safe place. If your credit files are frozen, even someone who has your name and Social Security number probably would not be able to obtain credit in your name. A security freeze is free to identity theft victims who have a police report, investigative report or a complaint to a law enforcement agency concerning identity theft.

    To place a freeze, you must write to each of the three credit bureaus. Download a sample letter requesting a security freeze (MS Word). Credit bureaus charge a $10 fee, unless you are a victim who sends a copy of your police report, investigative report or a complaint to a law enforcement agency concerning identity theft.
  2. Report the crime immediately to local law enforcement. Make sure a written report is taken and that you receive a copy of the police report so that you can give copies to creditors. If local law enforcement will not give you a copy of your report, contact the Attorney General at 626-8800.
  3. Contact any creditors or financial institutions if you believe your accounts have been tampered with or if fraudulent accounts have been opened. Close the accounts and ask for a fraud investigation. If you contact them initially by phone, make sure that you confirm your conversation in writing. Download a sample letter you can use to dispute a fraudulent account or charge (MS Word). Some companies have forms you can use to dispute the charges due to fraud but in most cases, the dispute must take place within sixty days of the initial fraud. When speaking with creditors or financial institutions, you have the right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to receive copies of transaction records. These companies are required by law to send you any documents they have within 30 days. They may require an identity theft affidavit and a police report from you. You can then use a copy of the creditor's transaction record to provide evidence that can identify the thief to your local police.

    Under the FCRA, both the consumer reporting company and the information provider (the business that sent the information to the consumer reporting company), such as a bank or credit card company, are responsible for correcting fraudulent information in your report. To protect your rights under the law, contact both the consumer reporting company and the information provider.
  4. Steps to take if the identity theft has resulted in a fraudulent electronic withdrawal from your account:
  • The Electronic Fund Transfer Act provides consumer protections for transactions involving an ATM or debit card, or another electronic way to debit or credit an account. It also limits your liability for unauthorized electronic fund transfers.
  • You have 60 days from the date your bank account statement is sent to you to report in writing any money withdrawn from your account without your permission. This includes instances when your ATM or debit card is "skimmed" that is, when a thief captures your account number and PIN without your card having been lost or stolen.
  • If your ATM or debit card is lost or stolen, report it immediately because the amount you can be held responsible for depends on how quickly you report the loss.
  • If you report the loss or theft within two business days of discovery, your losses are limited to $50.
  • If you report the loss or theft after two business days, but within 60 days after the unauthorized electronic fund transfer appears on your statement, you could lose up to $500 of what the thief withdraws.
  • If you wait more than 60 days to report the loss or theft, you could lose all the money that was taken from your account after the end of the 60 days.
  • Note: VISA and MasterCard voluntarily have agreed to limit consumers' liability for unauthorized use of their debit cards in most instances to $50 per card, no matter how much time has elapsed since the discovery of the loss or theft of the card.

    The best way to protect yourself in the event of an error or fraudulent transaction is to call the financial institution and follow up in writing by certified letter, return receipt requested so you can prove when the institution received your letter. Keep a copy of the letter you send for your records.

    After receiving your notification about an error on your statement, the institution generally has 10 business days to investigate. The institution must tell you the results of its investigation within three business days after completing it and must correct an error within one business day after determining that it occurred. If the institution needs more time, it may take up to 45 days to complete the investigation but only if the money in dispute is returned to your account and you are notified promptly of the credit. At the end of the investigation, if no error has been found, the institution may take the money back if it sends you a written explanation.
  1. Steps to take if the identity theft has occurred due to fraudulent checks and other "paper" transactions:

    In general, if an identity thief steals your checks or counterfeits checks from your existing bank account, you must notify the bank to stop payment, close the account, and ask your bank to notify Chex Systems, Inc. or the check verification service with which it does business. That way, retailers can be notified not to accept these checks. While no federal law limits your losses if someone uses your checks with a forged signature, or uses another type of "paper" transaction such as a demand draft, state laws may protect you. Most states hold the bank responsible for losses from such transactions. At the same time, most states require you to take reasonable care of your account. For example, you may be held responsible for the forgery if you fail to notify the bank in a timely manner that a check was lost or stolen. Contact your state banking or consumer protection agency for more information.

    You can contact major check verification companies directly for the following services:
  • To request that they notify retailers who use their databases not to accept your checks, call:
  • TeleCheck at 1-800-710-9898 or 1-800-927-0188
    Certegy, Inc. (previously Equifax Check Systems) at 1-800-437-5120
  • To find out if the identity thief has been passing bad checks in your name, call SCAN: 1-800-262-7771
  • If your checks are rejected by a merchant, it may be because an identity thief is using the Magnetic Information Character Recognition (MICR) code (the numbers at the bottom of checks), your driver's license number, or another identification number. The merchant who rejects your check should give you its check verification company contact information so you can find out what type of information the thief is using.
  • If you find that the thief is using your MICR code, ask your bank to close your checking account, and open a new one. If you discover that the thief is using your driver's license number or some other identification number, work with your Bureau of Motor Vehicles or other identification issuing agency to get new identification with new numbers. Once you have taken the appropriate steps, your checks should be accepted. The check verification company may or may not remove the information about the MICR code or the driver's license/identification number from its database because this information may help prevent the thief from continuing to commit fraud. If the checks are being passed on a new account, contact the bank to close the account. Also contact Chex Systems, Inc., to review your consumer report to make sure that no other bank accounts have been opened in your name. Dispute any bad checks passed in your name with merchants so they don't start any collections actions against you.
  1. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.) You can file a report by visiting https://www.identitytheft.gov/ /> To find out more about your rights, specific laws and sample forms that can be used if you are a victim of identity theft, visit 44780

    For a sample Identity Theft Affidavit you can use, visit http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
  2. Contact the 3 credit reporting agencies using the form they provide to correct errors and place a block on the accounts in question. The Fair Credit Reporting Act mandates that they must remove the information unless the credit issuer can prove that it is true. The credit reporting agencies must also change any information provided by the thief including addresses, phone numbers or birthdates. Download a sample letter requesting a block on the accounts (MS Word).
  3. Insist on Clearance letters from the creditors and/or credit reporting bureaus and keep them in your records for 10 years.
  4. Carefully check all credit reports to monitor the corrections.

Resources:

Maine Attorney General Consumer Protection Division - 207-626-8849, or visit consumer.mediation@maine.gov

Maine Office of Consumer Credit Regulation - (207) 624-8527
Toll Free consumer line (Maine only) 1-800-332-8529, 35 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04330-0035

Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles - (To report stolen driver's license.) Call 207-624-9000 extension 52144, write to 29 State House Station Augusta, Maine 04333 or visit the website at http://www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/index.html

Federal Do Not Call Registry: You can register online at www.donotcall.gov or call toll-free, 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register.

Federal Trade Commission Hotline (1-877-ID-THEFT).

Tax Fraud - IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service www.irs.gov/advocate/ or call toll-free: 1-877-777-4778

Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of the Inspector General - You may file a complaint online at www.socialsecurity.gov/oig, call toll-free: 1-800-269-0271, fax: 410-597-0118, or write: SSA Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235.

Phone Fraud:

For non-cellular phones, call the Maine Public Utilities Commission Consumer Assistance Hotline at 1-800-452-4699.

For cellular phones and long distance, contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at www.fcc.gov. The FCC regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. Call: 1-888-CALL-FCC; TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC; or write: Federal Communications Commission, Consumer Information Bureau, 445 12th Street, SW, Room 5A863, Washington, DC 20554. You can file complaints online at www.fcc.gov, or e-mail your questions to fccinfo@fcc.gov.

Mail Theft - The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) is the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service and investigates cases of identity theft. The USPIS has primary jurisdiction in all matters infringing on the integrity of the U.S. mail. If an identity thief has stolen your mail to get new credit cards, bank or credit card statements, pre-screened credit offers, or tax information, or has falsified change-of-address forms or obtained your personal information through a fraud conducted by mail, report it by calling the U. S. Postal Inspector at 207-871-8587 or by writing: U. S. Postal Inspector, State of Maine, 125 Forest Avenue, Portland, ME 04104

A Message From Attorney General Steve Rowe About Reimbursement for "Healing Instruments" Puchased from The Gentle Wind Project

September 28, 2007

The Attorney General is pleased to announce the beginning of a 6-month claims period during which the Office of the Attorney General will accept claims for reimbursement, or restitution, from consumers who purchased any “healing instrument” from The Gentle Wind Project between January 1, 2003 and September 14, 2006.

In order to be eligible for restitution, claims must be in writing, and must include the following information: 1) the name of the instrument purchased; 2) date of purchase; 3) cost; and 4) proof of payment. Proof of payment may be in the form of a cancelled check, an invoice, or any other document that shows that the item was purchased during the relevant time period. Claims must be submitted no later than October 20, 2007 to:

Assistant Attorney General Carolyn A. Silsby
Office of the Maine Attorney General
6 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0006
207-626-8829

Each claimant will be notified of the decision on his or her claim after the expiration of the claim period. Those who are entitled to restitution will be paid on a pro rata basis from a fund set up for that purpose pursuant to a Consent Decree and Order issued on August 15, 2006 by the Maine Superior Court in State of Maine and Attorney General v. The Gentle Wind Project, et al.

New Law Requires Consumers to be Notified of Breaches of Computer Data Containing Personal Information

September 28, 2007

Effective January 31, 2007, individuals, businesses and other entities must notify consumers when there has been a security breach of computerized data containing the consumers' personal information that could result in identity theft. The law is the Notice of Risk of Personal Data Act, 10 M.R.S.A. S1346-1349.

Details are available from the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.

Attorney General Rowe Seeks to Stop Tobacco Company From Using Cartoons in Promotions

December 4, 2007

Today, Attorney General Steve Rowe filed a motion to enforce the Maine Courts Consent Decree against R.J. Reynolds (RJR). RJR recently ran an advertisement in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 40th Anniversary edition, dated November 15, 2007, the content of which violated the Consent Decree dated December 3, 1998. The Attorney General is seeking to permanently enjoin RJR from using cartoons in the advertisement or promotion of tobacco products.

“The consent decree between the State and tobacco companies specifically prohibits the use of cartoons in tobacco promotions. RJR’s conduct here is a blatant violation of the Consent Decree.” Rowe said. “Maine will not tolerate the marketing of tobacco products to children”.

The Attorney General’s motion alleges that R.J. Reynolds Camel® The Farm advertisement and promotion violates the ban on cartoons in two ways. First, the advertisement itself contains cartoon images. Second, the advertisement is inextricably wrapped around and intertwined with a five-page Special Foldout drawn entirely in the cartoon style. Both the R.J. Reynolds advertisement and the Special Foldout have the same content and focus: independent rock music.

“In Maine we have made great strides in reducing the number of children who take up smoking.” Rowe stated. “The elimination of tobacco ads targeting kids has certainly helped with this effort.”

David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, (207) 626-8577

AG Finds Police Officer's Use of Deadly Force in Waldoboro Justified

November 30, 2007

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a Waldoboro Police Officer, Zachary Curtis, was legally justified when he shot and killed Gregori S. Jackson, 18, during the early morning hours of September 23, 2007 in Waldoboro.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by Officer Curtis in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force in the performance of the officer's duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self protection, or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person is deadly force under Maine law.)

Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on the investigation and legal analysis conducted by his office, Officer Curtis actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was imminently threatened by Mr. Jackson against Officer Curtis, who was attempting to take Jackson into custody. Further, based on the investigation and legal analysis, Attorney General Rowe determined that Officer Curtis actually and reasonably believed that deadly force on his part was necessary to protect himself from the imminent threat of deadly force against him.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:[1]

Between 11:30 p.m. and midnight on Saturday, September 22, 2007, 17-year old D.B. received a telephone call from his friend, Gregori Jackson. According to D.B., Jackson asked him for a ride to a store to buy a pack of cigarettes and offered D.B. $20.00 for the favor. D.B. and his 17-year old cousin, D.W., drove to Whitefield to pick up Jackson, who, according to D.B., was "a little tipsy."

D.B., D.W., and Jackson drove to the 24-hour Irving Station on Route 1 in Waldoboro. Mr. Jackson entered the store and purchased cigarettes at approximately 2:06 a.m. on Sunday morning, September 23, 2007.

After purchasing the cigarettes and returning to the vehicle, a red 1995 Pontiac, Jackson told D.B. that since he had given him $20.00, he wanted to ride around some more before returning home. D.B., D.W., and Jackson traveled along Route 220, also known as the Friendship Road in Waldoboro. As the vehicle traveled south on Route 220, a police cruiser approached from the rear, with blue lights activated. According to D.B., Jackson "started tripping out" and said something to the effect, "Oh my God, oh my God, we're getting pulled over."

At approximately 2:14 a.m. on September 23, 2007, Officer Zachary Curtis of the Waldoboro Police Department stopped the vehicle D.B. was driving. According to Officer Curtis, he pulled the vehicle over after it had failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of Main and Jefferson streets, and after he had observed the vehicle cross over the center line of the road 5 or 6 times. Curtis observed that there were three occupants in the vehicle.

Officer Curtis approached the vehicle and detected an odor of alcohol coming from inside. After obtaining the driver's identification, Curtis learned that the vehicle was being operated by D.B.. D.B. denied having been drinking and Officer Curtis determined that the odor of alcohol was not coming from him. Curtis then requested the passengers in the vehicle to provide him with identification.

The front seat passenger (Gregori Jackson) did not provide Officer Curtis with identification, but did give his name as "Johnson" with a date of birth of 13/13/99. Officer Curtis believed that Jackson was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He noted that a strong odor of alcohol was coming from Jackson's face, that his speech was slurred and that his eyes were glassy and bloodshot. At one point, D.B. talked with Jackson in an attempt to get him to cooperate with the officer, and told Jackson that he knew that Jackson had his identification with him because he needed it to buy cigarettes earlier. According to D.B., Jackson responded "sshh, don't tell him, don't tell him."

Eventually, Mr. Jackson provided his correct name and date of birth, 1/13/89, and at 2:28 a.m., Officer Curtis radioed Lincoln County Communications to run a "10-29" to determine if Jackson was "wanted." At 2:29 a.m., Lincoln County Communications informed Curtis that Gregori Jackson had a suspended driver's license and was subject to bail conditions, including the condition that he abstain from the use or possession of alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs.

Officer Curtis re-approached the passenger side of the D.B. vehicle and asked Mr. Jackson to step out. Upon being asked, Jackson acknowledged that he was aware that, as a condition of his bail on prior, unrelated charges, he was forbidden to use or possess alcohol. At that point, Curtis informed Jackson that he was under arrest, and Curtis attempted to handcuff Jackson. According to Curtis, D.B. and D.W., Jackson ran away from Curtis and attempted to run up a large boulder that was on the embankment to the side of the road. Curtis pursued and pulled Jackson down from the boulder and again attempted to handcuff him while Jackson was up against the rear of the vehicle.

According to Officer Curtis, Mr. Jackson broke free and a struggle ensued between the two. Curtis has stated that Jackson then took a swing at him and Curtis deployed pepper spray against Jackson with no effect. D.B. and D.W. recalled that after the deployment of the pepper spray, Jackson said something to the effect "I'm down, I'm down, I'm down, I'm sorry" or, "I give up", but Curtis does not recall hearing that. Curtis, D.B. and D.W. all agree, however, that shortly thereafter, Jackson ran south on Friendship Road. Officer Curtis followed him in pursuit. Curtis's can of pepper spray and his hinged handcuffs were dropped to the ground during this initial struggle at the D.B. vehicle.

At 2:31 a.m., while he was running down Friendship Road in pursuit of Jackson, Curtis radioed Lincoln County Communications and requested assistance. Approximately 150 yards from where the vehicle was located, Jackson left the road and entered the woods, with Curtis behind him.[2] According to Curtis, he could hear Jackson walking in the woods, and when he shouted to Jackson to stop and that he was under arrest, Jackson responded by saying "f--k off."

At 2:32 a.m. Officer Curtis radioed Lincoln County Communications that he was in the woods, and at 2:35 a.m., he requested Lincoln County Communications to send a canine unit to his location on the Friendship Road. According to Curtis, he heard Jackson stop walking and then came across Jackson lying on the ground under a log. Officer Curtis has stated that he drew his firearm, a Glock 22, .40 caliber handgun, and ordered Jackson to stay where he was.[3] Officer Curtis has stated that, as he attempted to handcuff Jackson, Jackson threw a log at the officer and struck him in the face, causing his glasses to come off.[4]

At 2:36 a.m. Lincoln County Communications radioed Officer Curtis "Do you still have a 10-74 (code for "officer needs assistance")?" Seconds later, Curtis responded "Lincoln have him in front of me. I just can't get a hold of him. It's thick woods through here." Lincoln County Communications again asked "Can you advise if still 10-74?" Curtis responded in the affirmative and stated "10-4, he just hit me with a log."

Curtis has indicated that he was only able to see approximately 4-5 feet in front of him and that he could make out shapes, but not details. Curtis also recalls that at some point during this time period, he returned his firearm to its holster.

According to Officer Curtis, as Mr. Jackson walked away from him, he (Jackson) became entangled in tree branches and brush and started yelling words to the effect that he "was not going to f--king jail." Curtis has said that Jackson continued to remain noncompliant with his orders to stop, and Curtis intended to deploy pepper spray again, but realized that it had dropped to the ground at the initial confrontation near the stopped vehicle. At that point, Curtis has stated, he drew his expandable baton and struck Jackson twice in the thigh area. These blows at one point knocked Jackson to the ground, but he got up, and as Curtis attempted to handcuff him, Jackson tackled Curtis, knocked him onto his back and got on top of him.[5] Curtis has stated that Jackson repeatedly struck him in the head with Jackson's right fist or elbow, and that Jackson was choking him by placing his forearm across Curtis's throat. Curtis has stated that during this struggle, he felt Jackson pulling at his sidearm, which was in its holster. Curtis recalls attempting to keep the gun in the holster, but at some point it came out.

According to Curtis, Jackson repeatedly said words to the effect "give me your gun, give me your f--king gun," and that he (Jackson) was not going to jail and he didn't care what it took. Officer Curtis has told investigators that, as Mr. Jackson continued to choke him, he began to fear for his own life and believed that he was going to lose consciousness and that if Jackson gained control of his gun, it could be used against him. Curtis has stated that during the struggle with the gun, Jackson had his hand on the slide mechanism, and that the gun was rendered inoperable (taken out of battery) when the slide was pulled back. At one point, Curtis tried to fire the gun and "it just clicked," according to Curtis. Although Curtis has no recollection or knowledge that any live rounds were ejected from the gun, four unexpended rounds were later found at the scene, suggesting that the slide was racked back several times during the struggle over the gun.

Officer Curtis has stated to investigators that he believed that if Mr. Jackson got control of his gun, "I'm a dead man." According to Curtis, as the struggle continued, he ultimately regained control of the gun with his right hand. Curtis has stated that he then made a decision to fire one shot into Jackson's left side. According to Curtis, the gunshot did not seem to slow down Jackson, and he continued to strike Curtis in the head. Curtis fired a second shot into what he believed was Jackson's back. Curtis recalls that Jackson continued to strike him, but "not with as much pressure." Curtis was able to get Jackson off of him when he fired a third shot, according to his recollection.

After what Officer Curtis believed was the third shot, Mr. Jackson ceased moving.

At 2:40 a.m. Officer Curtis radioed Lincoln County Communications to "Get someone here quick." Seconds later Lincoln Communications radioed back "516 (Lincoln County Sheriff's Deputy Henry Grenier) is on scene, where are you?" Curtis immediately responded "I'm in the woods south of my cruiser." Lincoln Communications then asked Curtis "Do you need a 10-57 (ambulance) or are you all set?" Curtis responded in the affirmative.

Within a short time, Lincoln County Deputy Sheriff Henry Grenier arrived at the scene and found Officer Curtis on his knees, appearing out of breath and disheveled. Deputy Grenier observed Mr. Jackson lying in front of Officer Curtis with blood coming from his ear. At the scene, Officer Curtis told Deputy Grenier that he had to shoot Jackson because he (Curtis) was being "choked out."

Within moments Deputy Grenier was joined by Sgt. Brendan Kane and Sgt. Jason Nein, both with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department. Sgt. Kane instructed Deputy Grenier to handcuff Jackson (which he did using Officer Curtis's second pair of handcuffs) while Sgt. Nein checked Jackson's vital signs, finding no signs of life. Due to his lack of vision, Officer Curtis was escorted out of the woods by Sgt. Kane and Sgt. Jamie Wilson of the Waldoboro Police Department.

Gregori Jackson was dead at the scene.

Officer Curtis was transported to Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta for treatment of his injuries, which included head, neck and back pain and multiple contusions of the head, face, right shoulder and left leg.

A postmortem examination and autopsy of the body of Gregori Jackson was performed by Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Marguerite deWitt on Monday, September 24, 2007. Dr. deWitt was able to document a total of five gunshot wounds, including three gunshot wounds to the left lower back in a 3-inch grouping, one to the mid-lateral left chest (several inches below the left armpit), and one to the left post auricular (behind the left ear) area of the head. The trajectories of the gunshot wounds to the lower left back were left to right, upward and forward. The range of each of these wounds was consistent with "loose contact. The trajectory of the gunshot wound to the mid-lateral chest was also left to right, upward and slightly forward. The range of that shot was also consistent with "loose contact." The trajectory of the shot to the head was left to right, upward and slightly forward. The range of that shot was characterized by Dr. deWitt as "distant", meaning in the range of at least 8-12 inches.[6] Toxicology tests determined that Mr. Jackson had a vitreous alcohol level of .20 grams % and a blood alcohol level of .21 grams %. No other drugs were detected.

Detectives from the Office of the Attorney General went to the scene of the shooting to conduct this investigation. They were assisted by detectives from the Maine State Police, officers with the Lincoln County Sheriffs' Office, and members of the Waldoboro Police Department, as well as forensic specialists with the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The Waldoboro Police Department has cooperated fully with this investigation and is conducting its own departmental investigation and review of this incident.

Contact: David Loughran (207) 626-8577

AG Finds Trooper's Use Of Deadly Force In Rumford Legally Justified

November 30, 2007

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a State Police officer, Trooper Timothy Black, was legally justified when he shot and killed Scott J. White, age 46, on September 22, 2007, outside the home of White's former wife in Rumford.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by Trooper Black in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer's public duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person is deadly force under Maine law.).

Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on the investigation and legal analysis conducted by his office, Trooper Black actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was imminently threatened by Mr. White against Trooper Black and a second State Police officer, Sergeant William Keith, by White's actions. Further, based on the investigation and legal analysis, Attorney General Rowe determined that Trooper Black actually and reasonably believed that deadly force on his part was necessary to protect himself and Sergeant Keith.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation[1] :

On September 22, 2007, at about 10:25 a.m., the Rumford Police Department received a report from a caller that Scott White was inside the residence at 139 Penobscot Street in Rumford, the home of Mr. White's former wife, and that White had been consuming alcohol. The caller, a relative of Mr. White, told the police that White's presence in the residence and his consumption of alcohol were violations of bail conditions placed on White after an incident in June 2007 when White was arrested and charged with stabbing his former wife. The caller told the police that he had tried unsuccessfully to persuade Mr. White to leave the residence, but that White had refused. The caller also told the police that Mr. White had threatened to burn the house down and die in the process. A Rumford police officer who responded to the residence was successful in making telephone contact with White, but unsuccessful in getting White to come out of the house. Further attempts to telephone White inside the residence were unsuccessful. The police confirmed that a protection-from-abuse order and bail conditions prohibited White from being at his former wife's residence and from consuming alcohol. The police also learned that White's former wife was not in the residence. The Rumford Police Department contacted the State Police Tactical Team for assistance and informed State Police Tactical Team Commander Sergeant Nicholas Grass that White was in the residence in violation of a protection from abuse order as well as bail conditions, had consumed alcohol and was threatening to burn the house down.

The State Police Tactical Team responded to the location in Rumford and members of the State Police Crisis Negotiation Team tried to establish telephone contact with Mr. White starting at about 2:30 p.m. After more than two dozen call attempts to the residence in an hour, State Police Detective Adam Kelley, Commander of the State Police Crisis Negotiation Team, finally made phone contact with Mr. White. During intermittent phone calls between Detective Kelley and Mr. White, White stated that he was depressed, had been thinking about hurting himself, sounded intoxicated, and hung up when asked about any weapons he might have. The last phone conversation between Kelley and White took place at about 4:17 p.m. A few minutes later, another State Police negotiator, Sergeant Dale York, while inside a State Police Tactical Team armored vehicle parked on the street outside the residence, used the vehicle's public address system (loud speaker) to repeatedly ask White to pick up the phone and speak with Detective Kelley.

At about 4:30 p.m. Mr. White, while holding at least one knife (some officers reported seeing two knives) opened the side door of the residence and looked out. White refused to comply with the officers' request to drop the knife(ves). He told the officers that his phone had gone dead. White was again asked to drop the knife(ves) and to come out and talk with the officers, but he refused. Instead, he withdrew into the residence and closed and locked the door.

Via the loud speaker on the armored vehicle, Sergeant York told Mr. White that a working phone would be brought to the residence. White, while holding two knives, stepped out of the house and shouted to Sergeant York that the phone should be placed on the steps by the side door. Sergeant York responded that would not be possible as long as Mr. White was holding the knives. York informed White that the armored vehicle would be moved into the driveway and the phone would be placed on the lawn. White agreed and again reentered the residence and closed and locked the door behind him.

After the "throw telephone"[2] was placed on the lawn beside the residence, Mr. White came out of a door in the rear of the residence and stood at the southernmost corner of the residence, facing the armored vehicle still parked in the driveway. White held two knives, one in each hand. Various law enforcement officers on the scene described the knives as having blades anywhere from eight to ten inches long.[3] White shouted at the officers in the armored vehicle to back up. White rubbed the knives together as if in a sharpening motion. His attention remained focused on the armored vehicle in the driveway.

At this time, Sergeant Keith, after conferring with Tactical Team Commander Sergeant Grass, decided to try to move undetected to a position directly behind Mr. White in order to utilize a TASER (a less than lethal electronic weapon) in an attempt to physically incapacitate White. Sergeant Keith motioned to Trooper Black, who was near Keith, to be the "cover officer" (carrying a firearm to cover Keith, who was carrying the TASER). Sergeant Keith and Trooper Black left their positions of cover behind the residence and moved to a position estimated by the officers to be between 6 and 12 feet behind White without being detected by White. White continued to shout and appeared focused on the officers in the armored vehicle.

From his position behind Mr. White, Sergeant Keith deployed the TASER against White. Only one of the two TASER electrodes struck White (in his mid back). The second electrode went over White's shoulder. White was not incapacitated by the one electrode; however, he apparently realized that something had just happened to him. White immediately turned around and faced Sergeant Keith and Trooper Black, and while holding a knife in each hand at waist level, White started to advance toward the two officers while Trooper Black shouted "get down, get down." As Mr. White advanced, Trooper Black fired his service weapon three times at White. White, struck by the rounds, fell to the ground still holding the knives in his hands. He was disarmed and immediately treated by emergency medical technicians. He was taken to a Rumford hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A postmortem examination and autopsy of the body of Mr. White was performed by Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Marguerite deWitt on September 23, 2007. The autopsy confirmed three gunshot wounds of the chest and abdomen. Toxicology tests determined that Mr. White had a vitreous alcohol level of .38 grams % and a blood alcohol level of .28 grams % (the latter test was conducted after intravenous fluids had been added to Mr. White's body at the hospital).

Detectives from the Attorney General's Office went to the scene of the shooting to conduct an investigation. They were assisted by detectives and forensic specialists from the State Police and officers of the Rumford Police Department. The State Police cooperated fully with the investigation, and conducted its own review of the incident.


[1] These findings are based upon interviews of law enforcement officers and civilians on the scene, audio recordings as well as medical, autopsy and forensic reports.

[2] The "throw telephone" is a portable phone that is connected by electrical wire to a phone in the State Police negotiation van. The purpose of providing the phone to Mr. White was to allow him to continue to communicate with the State Police negotiators from within the residence.

[3] The knife blades were later measured to be 7-1/2 inches and 8 inches in length.

David Loughran (207) 626-8577

Maine Sues EPA for Denying the Public Access to Information on Toxic Chemicals

November 28, 2007

Maine, along with a coalition of eleven other states, is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over new regulations denying the public access to information about toxic chemicals in their communities.

The EPA will allow thousands of companies to avoid disclosing information to the public about the toxic chemicals they use, store, and release into the environment by rolling back chemical reporting requirements. The suit seeks to overturn the weakened reporting requirements and provide the public with the access they had in the past.

“The EPA’s rollback of toxic chemical reporting requirements poses a threat to human health and our physical environment.” Rowe said. “This lawsuit seeks to protect public access to information about toxic chemicals that pose a threat to our health.”

The changes to the reporting requirements affect the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program. The TRI is the most widely used, comprehensive, publicly-available database of toxic chemical use, storage, and release in the United States. Under the TRI, companies are required to provide the EPA and the states in which the company’s facilities are located with information critical to public health and safety, and the environment. This information includes the types and amounts of toxic chemicals stored at the company’s facilities and the quantities they release into the environment.

In December 2006, the EPA issued revised regulations that significantly weakened the TRI by reducing the amount of information companies must report for most of the toxic chemicals covered by the program. For most toxic chemicals, the EPA’s new regulations increased by 10-fold the quantity of chemical waste a facility can generate without providing detailed TRI reports. The EPA also weakened TRI reporting requirements for the vast majority of the most dangerous toxic chemicals – those that are persistent and bioaccumulative – including chemicals such as lead and mercury. As a result, thousands of companies can now avoid filing a complete report on harmful chemicals.

“The result the EPA’s action is simple. Entities will now be permitted to use large amounts of toxic chemicals without reporting such use.” Rowe added “For the safety of human health and our environment, it is important that the EPA’s reporting requirements remain comprehensive.”

Under the former regulations, TRI information became a powerful tool used by communities to protect public health and safety, and the environment:

  • Citizen groups used TRI data to monitor companies in their communities;
  • State and local government entities used TRI data to track toxic chemicals;
  • Labor organizations used TRI data to ensure the safety of their workers;
  • Companies used the TRI program to learn of the toxic pollution they had created; this resulted in companies voluntarily reducing their toxic chemical releases by billions of pounds nationwide.

The EPA’s rollback of TRI regulations now limits the ability of labor organizations, environmental and public health advocates, community groups, and individuals to effectively monitor and respond to the presence of toxins in their communities.

The legal action brought by the twelve states seeks to invalidate the EPA’s revised TRI regulations and return to the former reporting requirements, so that public access to environmental information is not restricted. The lawsuit was filed today in federal court in Manhattan.

Congress enacted, and President Ronald Reagan signed into law, the Toxics Release Inventory program in 1986, after the Bhopal toxic chemical catastrophe in India. In 1984, a deadly cloud of methyl isocyanate accidentally released from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India killed or seriously injured more than 2,000 people. Shortly thereafter, a serious chemical release occurred at a sister plant in West Virginia.

The states or state agencies involved in the suit are: Arizona; California; Connecticut; Illinois; Maine; Massachusetts; the Minnesota; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; and Vermont.

Jerry Reid, Assistant Attorney General, (207) 626-8545

State to Argue U.S. Supreme Court Case Re: Internet Sale of Tobacco

November 27, 2007

Tomorrow, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transport, a case filed against the State of Maine by motor transport associations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. The associations challenged the 2003 Maine law that requires that internet tobacco retailers utilize carriers who take specific actions to ensure that packages containing tobacco products are not delivered to minors.

Background

In 2003, the Maine Legislature found that internet and telephone sales of tobacco products had become a serious problem and that, by means of delivery services, enterprising retailers were seeking to avoid over-the-counter age verification requirements by selling the tobacco products to minors and delivering them not over-the-counter, but rather through third-party carriers such as UPS. In response to this dangerous practice, the Legislature enacted “An Act To Regulate the Delivery and Sales of Tobacco Products and To Prevent the Sale of Tobacco Products to Minors,” Me. Pub. L. 2003, c. 444.

One section of the Act requires retailers who ship tobacco products to use a delivery service that requires the purchaser to be the addressee, the addressee to be of legal age to purchase tobacco products and sign for the package, and, if the addressee is under 27 years old, to present a valid identification showing proof of age.

The Act also requires retailers who ship tobacco products to clearly indicate on the package that it contains tobacco products, and carriers must check packages to determine whether they bear such markings.

On October 10, 2003, three trade associations whose members include such companies as UPS, Federal Express and DHL filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Maine and claimed that the state Act is preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994.

On May 27, 2005, the District Court held that the state law was preempted by the federal law and ruled in favor of the trade associations. The Attorney General appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. On May 19, 2006, the First Circuit issued its decision effectively affirming the lower court’s decision. The Attorney General then filed a petition asking the United States Supreme Court to review the matter.

David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Rowe Joins California Lawsuit to Win Approval For Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions

November 9, 2007

Approval of California’s Controls Would Pave the Way for Similar Controls Maine and 13 Other States

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe, along with 13 other Attorneys General moved to join two legal actions filed this morning by the State of California to force the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action on California’s request for approval to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from automobiles sold in the state. Maine has adopted California’s regulations to combat global warming.

“Maine has adopted a policy designed to combat climate change by controlling greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles sold in this state.” Attorney General Rowe stated “The EPA must grant the waiver so we can enforce these laws and begin to reverse the effects of global warming.”

The federal Clean Air Act gives California the unique authority to set its own more stringent air pollutant regulations for cars and allows other states, like Maine, to adopt California’s regulations rather that those set by the federal government. However, the federal Clean Air Act requires that EPA provide California with a waiver before these state regulations can be implemented. California adopted its “Regulation to Control Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Motor Vehicles” (GHG “Greenhouse Gas Regulations) on August 4, 2005. This regulation requires reductions in fleet-average, greenhouse-gas emissions for most new passenger motor vehicles sold in California, beginning with the 2009 model year. Maine adopted the standards in 2005.

On December 21, 2005, California requested a waiver from EPA to implement the GHG greenhouse gas regulations. Now, almost two years later, EPA has still failed to act on the request. In two lawsuits, the states allege that the EPA “unlawfully withheld and unreasonably delayed” action on California’s waiver request. The states are asking the court to order the EPA to take action on the waiver petition by December 31, 2007. One lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the second was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“The Bush administration, through the policies of the EPA, has repeatedly demonstrated that it will ignore the problems of global warming until the states force them to act.” Rowe added “It is irresponsible for the federal government to ignore one of the most pressing issues of our time. But it is against the law for them to intentionally deny the states the powers granted to them in the Clean Air Act.”

Attorney General Rowe’s move to intervene, along with 13 other states, as a plaintiff in California’s lawsuits, adds important support to California’s efforts. Since California adopted its greenhouse gas regulations for cars, 14 states have either adopted the California regulation or are in the process of adopting it: Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. EPA’s delay in acting on California’s waiver request has stalled not only the implementation of California’s greenhouse gas regulations for cars, but of Maine’s and the other states’ identical regulations.

“We cannot enforce these regulations since, under the Clean Air Act, the Agency must first grant a waiver to California’s GHG regulation.” Rowe said.

While the scientific support for global warming is overwhelming, and its environmental and economic threat is substantial, the Bush Administration has resisted regulatory approaches to controlling greenhouse gases. In April, the US Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in which it rejected the Administration’s position that it was powerless to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and ruled that the Clean Air Act to authorized EPA to take action. Maine was one of the states that brought that case to the Supreme Court. The decision paved the way for Maine, to adopt regulations to control greenhouse gas pollution from automobiles sold in the states.

Joining Maine in the case are: Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, Illinois, Vermont, Arizona and Pennsylvania. Governor John E. Baldacci and Department of Environmental Protection David Littell commend the lawsuit and urge the EPA to take immediate action.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Jerry Reid, Chief of the Natural Resources Division in the Maine Office of the Attorney General.

David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, (207) 626-8577

CHERRYFIELD MAN CONVICTED OF SEVERAL TAX FELONIES

April 2, 2001

APRIL 2, 2001

CONTACT: William Baghdoyan, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced the recent conviction of Delbert J. Weller, 66, of Cherryfield, Maine, in the Washington County Superior Court, on several criminal tax felonies. A jury convicted Mr. Weller of two counts of income tax evasion, two counts of filing fraudulent income tax returns, and one count of failing to file an income tax return.

The trial judge, Superior Court Chief Justice Andrew Mead, sentenced Mr. Weller to 4 ½ years imprisonment with all but two years suspended and three years of probation. An additional suspended consecutive sentence of 4 1/2 years with three years probation was also imposed. The judge's order requires restitution of $2,200 for back taxes and interest.

The prosecutor in the case, Assistant Attorney General William Baghdoyan, characterized Weller as a perennial "tax protestor" who has been previously convicted on three separate occasions for failing to file Maine income tax returns. Assistant Attorney General Baghdoyan said that Weller and many other tax protestors claim that they are not subject to either the State or Federal income tax laws, and as a result refuse to file returns or file fraudulent returns and refuse to pay income taxes.

Attorney General Rowe also stated that in addition to the conviction of Mr. Weller, twenty other individuals have been convicted of criminal tax violations in the past six months. In addition to jail terms and fines, these convictions have netted the State over $418,000 in court ordered restitution.

The Department of Attorney General prosecutes criminal violations of the State tax code in conjunction with Maine Revenue Services.

LEGISLATORS, DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, AND ATTORNEY GENERAL CALL FOR PASSAGE OF DRUG BILLS

April 10, 2001

APRIL 10, 2001

CONTACT: Charles Dow, Director Communications And Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577 James Cameron, Assistant Attorney General, Drug Prosecution Coordinator 207-626-8505

Attorney General Steven Rowe today appealed for lawmakers to pass three bills dealing with illegal drug abuse in Maine. The bills focus on the disturbing increase in the illegal use of two types of drugs: prescription narcotics like Oxycontin and so-called "club drugs" like ecstasy (MDMA) and the date-rape drugs (GHB and Ketamine). "These drugs and the crimes people will commit to get them represent a serious threat to Maine families and communities. These drugs are ruining-and sometimes ending-lives," said Rowe.

State Representative Edward Povich (D-Ellsworth) asked colleagues to support of major legislation to combat diversion of prescription narcotic medications to illegal use. Povich, the House Chair of the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee, said, "These drugs are so addictive, users resort to almost anything to get them. This bill gets at the ways the addicts get the drugs."

LD 1728 prevents the use of forged, altered, or counterfeit prescriptions by requiring that prescription blanks printed on tamper-resistant safety paper. It prevents obtaining prescriptions through fraud on doctors ("doctor shopping") by making it a crime - acquiring drugs by deception - to lie to a doctor to get pills. It also makes it easier to charge the crime of forgery when a person uses a forged, altered, or counterfeit prescription to get pills illegally.

District Attorneys in the most rural parts of Maine report major increases in court cases involving drugs and drug-related burglary, theft, fraud, and violence. DA Michael Povich (District 7, Hancock and Washington County) said, "Per capita, Washington County has an extremely high rate of prosecutions for prescription drug related crimes. That tells you we are taking the problem seriously, but it also tells you something about the enormous scope of the problem."

DA Neale Adams (District 8, Aroostook County) also reported a growing drug related docket. "As we investigate these cases, we find clearly that the common thread is the prescription narcotics," Adams said.

It is no coincidence that addiction rates seem high in border counties. Senator Kevin Shorey (R-Washington) sponsored LD 1725, which makes it a felony to smuggle scheduled drugs, like narcotic pills, across the state border. The bill does not apply, of course, to anyone with a legal prescription. "Some people think that our friendly border is no barrier to peddling pills in Washington County. When this bill passes, that border is going to be downright unfriendly to drug smugglers," said Shorey.

The use of harmful "club drugs" by young people in Maine caused House Minority Whip William Schneider (R-Durham) to sponsor LD 1727, which adds ecstasy (MDMA) and the date-rape drugs Ketamine and GHB to the list of scheduled drugs. They are called club drugs because they initially became popular at all-night dance club parties called raves. Schneider, a former drug prosecutor in the AG's office, cited the serious danger of the use of these drugs as a reason to impose serious penalties for possession, distribution, and trafficking. "This is not kid stuff," said Schneider, "people get brain damage, they suffer tragic sexual assault, they die. It has happened here in Maine, but it must stop."

District Attorney Norman Croteau (District 3, Androscoggin, Oxford, and Franklin County) said he looked forward to having the enforcement tools LD 1727 would provide. "We know about the drug use at the raves in Androscoggin County. This bill provides what we need in order to prosecute," said Croteau.

CASCO NURSE PLEADS GUILTY TO STEALING DRUGS IN NURSING HOME

April 24, 2001

APRIL 24, 2001

CONTACT: Kerry O'brien, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Joy Lagasse, R.N., 44, of Casco, pled guilty Friday in Superior Court in Portland to one count of Stealing Drugs, a Class D crime. Rowe stated, "It is very troubling when health care professionals responsible for our most vulnerable citizens steal drugs."

The offense occurred in October of 1999 while Lagasse worked as the director of nursing at Ledgewood Manor Nursing Home in North Windham.

Justice G. Arthur Brennan of the Maine Superior Court sentenced Lagasse to a six month term of imprisonment, all suspended, with one year of probation and a $400 fine. As special conditions of probation, Lagasse may not possess alcohol or illegal drugs, must agree to undergo a substance abuse evaluation, and must abide by the conditions of a prior consent agreement with the Board of Nursing. Under that consent agreement, the Nursing Board placed Lagasse on probation for one year. She may not work in a home health care setting, and her nursing employment is restricted to supervised facilities.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "This office will prosecute health care professionals whose conduct jeopardizes the health and well being of the patients they are obligated to care for and protect."

Detective Scott Michaud of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) in the Maine Attorney General's Office investigated the case and MFCU Director Kerry O'Brien prosecuted it. The MFCU is a state and federally funded entity with statewide jurisdiction to prosecute fraud by Medicaid providers and patient abuse in Medicaid facilities. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have MFCUs.

Consumer Alert: Beware "Best Buy Fraud Alert" Email

June 20, 2003

Attorney General Steven Rowe today issued a consumer alert concerning an email with the subject line "Best Buy Order Fraud Alert."

Residents throughout Maine are receiving the email, which claims that a recent order has been received using personal credit card information. The order, placed online, is purported to have been made at Best Buy's official website.

The email states that Best Buy's Fraud Department has suspicions regarding the order and the "customer" is asked to visit a special "Fraud Department" web store to confirm the transaction by providing the correct financial information.

Rowe stated: "This is the newest twist in attempts to obtain your financial information. DO NOT RESPOND to the email." If you have responded to the fraudulent email, notify your financial institutions immediately. Concerned consumers who received this email contacted the Maine Attorney General's Office, which contacted Best Buy. Best Buy is aware of the problem and has taken steps to shut down the fraudulent website.

LINDA J. CONTI, ASISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8591

NH V. ME: MAINE WINS - SUPREME COURT GRANTS MAINE'S MOTION TO DISMISS 8-0

May 29, 2001

Decision available at: www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/00slipopinion.html

MAY 29, 2001

CONTACT: Paul Stern, Deputy Attorney General 207-626-8800

Augusta: Attorney General G. Steven Rowe announced today that the United States Supreme Court has ruled 8-0 to dismiss a lawsuit filed against Maine by the State of New Hampshire. (Justice Souter did not participate in the case.) The lawsuit claimed that the border between the two states in the middle of the Piscataqua River should be moved to Maine's shoreline.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the opinion of the Court, "Because New Hampshire, in the 1977 proceeding [in the U.S. Supreme Court], agreed without reservation that the words "Middle of the River" mean the middle of the Piscataqua River's main channel of navigation, we conclude that New Hampshire is estopped from asserting now that the boundary runs along the Maine shore."

The Court based its decision on the doctrine of judicial estoppel. The Court cited decisions of several federal courts explaining that the purpose of judicial estoppel is "to protect the integrity of the judicial process" by "prohibiting parties from deliberately changing positions according to the exigencies of the moment."

Attorney General Rowe stated: "This is a great day for Maine. This reaffirms that the boundary is in the middle of the river. We are pleased that the Court agreed with our view that we had already 'been there and done that.'" Deputy Attorney General Paul Stern, who argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, said, "I am pleased that the Court unanimously agreed with the State of Maine that New Hampshire's complaint was without merit. The Court held New Hampshire to the statements it had previously made to the Court." Assistant Attorney General Chris Taub, who served as Stern's co-counsel in the case, said, "The Court applied the legal and common sense principle that you can't win by telling a Court contradictory things at different times."

AG ROWE ANNOUNCES BEGINNING OF CLAIMS PERIOD IN SETTLEMENT OF NATIONAL PHARMACEUTICAL LAWSUIT

May 30, 2001

Affected Maine consumers urged to file claims
MAY 30, 2001

CONTACT: Francis Ackerman, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that U.S. District Court Judge Thomas F. Hogan has preliminarily approved a $100 million national settlement of an antitrust lawsuit with pharmaceutical giant Mylan Laboratories. The settlement has been agreed to by attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

At a meeting of retired state employees today, Rowe asked all in attendance for help spreading the word. "I need your help in sharing good news with Maine people who paid for two drugs, lorazepam and clorazepate, with their own money between January 1998 and December 1999. They may be eligible for refunds from the manufacturer of those drugs. The drugs are commonly prescribed to treat Alzheimer's disease and anxiety," Rowe said.

Experts estimate that Maine consumers filing claims may be refunded a total of $245,000. Rowe urged Maine consumers who purchased either lorazepam or clorazepate to check whether they are eligible for a refund. Consumers are usually eligible for a refund if they:

• purchased lorazepam or clorazepate any time between Jan. 1, 1998 - Dec. 31, 1999; AND

• were not reimbursed by any type of insurance.

Overcharges paid by consumers are estimated to range from $55 to $100 per month, meaning that many victims may be entitled to significant sums for restitution. For example, a consumer who purchased clorazepate for the entire damage period (January 1998 through December 1999), could receive a check for $2,000.

The consumer claims period will begin on June 1, 2001, and will run for 120 days, until Sept. 29, 2001. Maine consumers who submit valid claims will receive refund checks after the Court grants final approval to the settlement, which may occur as early as January 2002. Consumers can obtain claim forms and more detailed information about the settlement and their legal rights by calling toll free 1-800-899-5806, or accessing the Internet at www.agsettlement.com.

Additionally, many pharmacies in Maine will send claim forms directly to their customers who are eligible for a refund. Attorney General Rowe has also asked pharmacies to display information about how consumers can file claims.

The lawsuit accused Mylan and others in 1998 of orchestrating an illegal price increase of more than 2,000% for the generic drugs lorazepam and clorazepate, both used to treat Alzheimer's disease and anxiety. Under terms of the settlement, $72 million will be made available for distribution to individual consumers nationwide injured by the price increases. Also, in an effort to restore a competitive balance to the pharmaceutical market, Judge Hogan preliminarily approved an injunction under which Mylan has agreed to certain restrictions in its future supplier agreements.

DOE DECISION

August 10, 2001

The United States District Court for the District of Maine today invalidated a provision of the Maine Constitution that prohibited persons under guardianship for mental illness from voting. Maine voters had rejected by large margins referendum questions seeking repeal of the provision in 1997 and 2000.

Attorney General Steven Rowe reiterated his statement of February 20, 2001, in which he stated: "As Attorney General, I am sworn to defend the Constitution and laws of Maine. Maine has a Constitutional provision that restricts the voting rights of many of our citizens.

"I do not intend for any person under guardianship to lose the right to vote as a result of my office's defense of the lawsuit brought by the Disability Rights Center. On the contrary, I believe that our analysis of the Constitutional voting restriction and the Maine probate code together has emphasized the fact that probate judges making guardianship decisions have the authority to ensure that an individual with capacity to vote retains that sacred right."

After receiving the District Court's ruling today, Attorney General Rowe stated: "I believe we have fulfilled our duty to defend the Constitution. Our intent throughout this proceeding was to show that the provision could be narrowly construed so as to deprive fewer people of the right to vote while abiding the Constitution and the will of the voters. While our argument did not prevail, we are not displeased with the Court's decision. We do not intend to appeal."

ATTORNEY GENERAL TARGETS ILLEGAL PYRAMID SCHEMES

August 21, 2001

AUGUST 21, 2001

CONTACT: Linda Conti, Assistant Attorney General
207-626-8800

The Attorney General's Office announced today that it has sued Theodore McLeod, Jr. of Hermon, Maine for promoting a pyramid scheme. Pyramid schemes are illegal money making ventures in which large numbers of people at the bottom of the pyramid pay money to a few people at the top. Each new participant pays for the chance to advance to the top and profit from payments of others who might join later.
Promoters of pyramid schemes refer to them as investments or gifting programs with the hope that consumers will believe their claims that the scheme is not illegal. A scheme known as the NASCAR Racing Club operated in several Maine counties earlier this year. It now appears that the NASCAR pyramid has collapsed, leaving many Mainers out the initial investment of up to $5000.

The Attorney General continues to investigate these schemes and anticipates that more lawsuits will be filed in the future.

New schemes are being created all the time. Attorney General Steven Rowe warned, "Because promoters of these types of programs try to convince consumers they are legal, it is important to know some common factors so you can recognize the pyramid scheme, including the following 'red flags':

  • Money is made by recruiting distributors or investors;
  • Your initial investment buys you the right to recruit others for profit;
  • There is high pressure to join or 'buy-in.'"

Attorney General Rowe noted that his Consumer Protection Division is working hard to shut down all of the pyramid schemes in Maine but strongly urges consumers to recognize the warning signs and steer clear of these bogus plans that offer unbelievable short-term returns. Furthermore, he asked consumers who have been approached about joining such a program to contact his Consumer Protection Division at 626-8800.

ATTENTION: GEORGE FOREMAN GRILL PURCHASERS NOTICE

February 28, 2003

ATTORNEY GENERAL ROWE ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT

March 10, 2003

MARCH 7, 2003

CONTACT:
JOHN BRAUTIGAM, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-822-0326

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today a preliminary settlement in an antitrust suit brought against three drug manufacturers. The suit alleges that the manufacturers illegally blocked competition from certain generic drugs, resulting in inflated prices for the popular anti-anxiety drug BuSpar ® (BuSpar). Approximately 20 million prescriptions for BuSpar are filled each year in the United States.

Maine joined 36 other states in filing court papers seeking final approval of the settlement. The defendants - Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMS), Watson Pharma, Inc. and Danbury Pharmacal, Inc. - have agreed to pay over $90 million to settle the case. The settlement is not final until it receives court approval.

The lawsuit alleged that the defendants illegally blocked generic competition by:

1. Entering into an agreement whereby BMS paid millions of dollars to a potential competitor who agreed to refrain from producing a generic version of BuSpar ®.

2. Making misrepresentations and false statements to the federal Food & Drug Administration about BMS's patent rights for BuSpar ®, causing the FDA to block generic competition.

Attorney General Rowe said, "As if the high prices legally charged by drug companies weren't burdensome enough on Maine people, these companies have struck illegal deals to keep prices high. We hope this suit will have a ripple effect across the drug industry and end these schemes that stifle competition."

If the court approves the settlement, a nationwide consumer fund will be established and administered by the settling states. The consumer fund will compensate consumers who can demonstrate that they purchased BuSpar ® between January 1, 1998 and January 31, 2003. Consumers who were taking BuSpar ® throughout that period may be eligible to receive as much as $200 to $300. The settlement establishes a process by which consumers will be notified. More information is available at www.busparsettlement.com. Only after all consumer claims are in will funds be disbursed.

The settlement agreement also contains strong injunctive relief that will prevent BMS from engaging in the type of conduct alleged in the complaint for a period of 10 years. Specifically, BMS may not:

1. Make false statements or misrepresentations to the FDA;

2. Attempt to re-list the BuSpar ® patent with the FDA;

3. Attempt to list certain other types of patents with the FDA if such listing would unreasonably delay the entry of generic competition; or

4. Enter into any agreement with generic drug enter manufacturers to settle patent infringement suits if the result of such an agreement would potentially adversely affect competition.

Upon final court approval, Maine state government will also receive approximately $500,000 to compensate state agencies that purchased BuSpar ® at inflated prices.

STATEMENT OF ATTORNEY GENERAL ROWE REGARDING FILING OF MOTION IN MENTALLY ILL VOTING RIGHTS CASE

August 23, 2001

AUGUST 23, 2001

CONTACT: Charles Dow, Director, Communications And Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577

On August 23, the Attorney General's Office filed a motion to amend the August 9 order of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine in the case that invalidated a provision of the Maine Constitution that barred persons under guardianship for mental illness from voting. The motion does not seek to change that result, and its filing does not constitute an appeal of the case.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "At this juncture, we have not sought to change the outcome of this case. Rather, we have asked the judge to modify that part of his order that holds that the State's sovereign immunity does not extend to claims presented under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

"It is not unusual for a party to request modification of a court order when a party believes that a particular aspect of the order is contrary to established law. We are troubled by part of the court's order because it may unnecessarily erode the State's sovereignty in future litigation under federal law."

ATTORNEY GENERAL SETTLES CIVIL RIGHTS CASE IN CUMBERLAND COUNTY

August 24, 2001

AUGUST 24, 2001

CONTACT: Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General 207-822-0498

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that the Maine Superior Court has approved the settlement of a civil rights enforcement action brought against a Portland resident. The Attorney General's lawsuit alleged that on May 6, 2001, the Defendant committed several acts of vandalism by spray-painting racist and anti-Semitic slurs on gravestones in the Mt. Sinai Cemetery, and on houses, businesses, and automobiles in the surrounding area. The Defendant, who was sixteen years old at the time of the vandalism, is now seventeen years old. The Attorney General's Office does not divulge to the public the names of juvenile defendants in Maine Civil Rights Act cases.

With the consent of both parties, the Court issued an order prohibiting the Defendant from engaging in any further violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act and requiring the Defendant to pay restitution to the victims totaling $6,783.00. Violation of the Court's order is a crime punishable by up to one year in jail and fines of up to $2,000.00.

The Cumberland County District Attorney has already prosecuted the Defendant for Aggravated Criminal Mischief under Maine's Juvenile Code. Aggravated Criminal Mischief is a Class C felony if committed by an adult. The Defendant served 40 days in the Maine Youth Center, is on probation for one year, and is receiving counseling in a residential placement.

The Maine Civil Rights Act authorizes the Attorney General to bring an enforcement action against any person who intentionally interferes with the right of another person to engage in lawful activities free from actual or threatened physical force or violence, property damage, or trespass to property motivated by race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin, or physical or mental disability.

Attorney General Steven Rowe said, "The desecration of a cemetery through the spray painting of ethnic, religious or other slurs will not be tolerated. My office will take action to prevent the defacement of any property in violation of the Maine Civil Rights Act."

The Attorney General expressed his appreciation for the quick and thorough investigation of this matter that was conducted by the Portland Police Department.

MAINE AMONG STATES SETTLING "SHORT FILLING" CLAIMS AGAINST PHARMACIES

August 31, 2001

AUGUST 31, 2001

CONTACT: Marci A. Alexander, Assistant Attorney General, Director, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit 207-626-8800

The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) within the Maine Attorney General's Office announced today that Maine's Medicaid program will receive $35,285 in settlement of a multi-state lawsuit against CVS Corporation. The lawsuit alleged that CVS and Revco, a 2,552-store pharmacy chain that CVS acquired in 1997, billed federal and state health care programs for quantities of medication that exceeded the amounts that were actually given to customers. The practice is known as "short filling." Prescriptions are frequently short-filled when a pharmacy has a limited supply of a drug. The settlement covers the time period of January 1, 1988 to June 1, 1997.

The settlement also requires CVS to modify its pharmacy billing operations to ensure future compliance with applicable laws and Medicare and Medicaid rules and regulations. The Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will monitor the company's future compliance.

Assistant Attorney General Marci A. Alexander, Director of Maine's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, said, "This case is not about a ton of money, this case is about the people of Maine getting what we paid for. We are serious about it."

Twenty state Medicaid Programs and the District of Columbia recovered over three million dollars as a result of the settlement. CVS is a Rhode Island based retail pharmacy chain, which currently operates approximately 4,100 stores in 27 states and the District of Columbia.

For further information, please contact Barbara Zelner, counsel for the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units, at (202) 326-6020 or Marci Alexander of the Maine Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at 626-8800.

PYRAMID SCHEME NEWS:

September 6, 2001

1. FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES "A WOMAN'S PROJECT" ORGANIZERS' SUIT AGAINST MAINE PROSECUTORS
2. AG FILES SUIT AGAINST TWO "NASCAR" ORGANIZERS

SEPTEMBER 6, 2001

CONTACT: James Mckenna And Linda Conti, Assistant Attorneys General
207-626-8800

FEDERAL COURT DISMISSES "A WOMAN'S PROJECT" ORGANIZERS'     SUIT AGAINST MAINE PROSECUTORS

Attorney General Steven Rowe and the State's eight district attorneys announced today that a federal judge has ruled that the prosecutors' public warnings against participating in "A Women's Project" do not violate the pyramid organizers' rights under the First Amendment or the Civil Rights Act. The judge wrote, "[T]he plaintiffs have not alleged that the prosecutors were doing anything more than advising them and the public that in their view A Woman's Project violates [the law barring pyramid schemes]."

Michael Povich, District Attorney for Hancock and Washington Counties, said, "We felt that we should warn people and prevent harm before it happened."

James McKenna, the Assistant Attorney General who handled the state's defense, said, "The Supreme Court established long ago that prosecutors could use the press to warn the public and potential law violators about an apparently illegal scheme."

With the federal suit dismissed, the Attorney General plans to pursue a civil unfair trade practices case against A Woman's Project participants in state court.

AG FILES SUIT AGAINST TWO "NASCAR" ORGANIZERS

The Attorney General also announced that his office has filed suits in Kennebec County Superior Court against two organizers of the NASCAR Men's Club that operated in Maine earlier this year.

Assistant Attorney General Linda Conti, who is handling the cases for the State, said, "We are in the first lap of NASCAR prosecutions. There are more to come."

The suits against John L. Neddeau of Baileyville and Theodore McLeod, Jr. of Hermon allege that the two men engaged in deceptive conduct and participated in an illegal pyramid scheme. The court has not yet scheduled either matter.

Attorney General Rowe stated, "Our unfortunate experience with the pyramids reminds us of an important lesson: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. In the case of pyramid schemes, they are also illegal. We need to use common sense."

ATTORNEY GENERAL BRINGS CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT IN CUMBERLAND COUNTY

September 10, 2001

SEPTEMBER 17, 2001

CONTACT: Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General
207-822-0498

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed a lawsuit under the Maine Civil Rights Act against a Portland man for assaulting and threatening to kill two Portland men because he believed they were gay. The suit alleges that on July 2, 2001, Peter E. Toppi, 45, turned his vehicle sharply to nearly run over two men as they walked arm-in-arm across Franklin Street. The suit further alleges that Toppi then ran up to the two men and assaulted and threatened them while yelling derogatory anti-gay slurs at them. One of the men received injuries requiring medical attention.

The lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting Toppi from interfering with any person's right to engage in lawful activities free from physical violence or threats of physical violence motivated by sexual orientation. The Defendant also faces civil penalties of up to $5,000.

Attorney General Rowe said, "Maine must be a place where you can walk safely down the street with the person you love. It is that simple."

The Maine Civil Rights Act authorizes the Attorney General to bring an enforcement action against any person who intentionally interferes with the right of another person to engage in lawful activities free from actual or threatened physical force or violence, property damage, or trespass to property motivated by race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin, or physical or mental disability.

The Attorney General expressed his appreciation for the prompt referral of this matter by the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office, which has charged Toppi under the criminal statutes with two counts of assault and one count each of driving to endanger and reckless conduct.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ROWE EXPRESSES CONCERN FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

September 12, 2001

SEPTEMBER 12, 2001

CONTACT: Charles Dow, Director, Communications And Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577

In the wake of yesterday's tragic events in New York and Washington and in response to reports of threats made to Arab Americans in other states, Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe expressed concern for the civil rights of Maine people.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "As we grieve and deplore these senseless acts of terror, we must be vigilant to ensure that the civil rights of all people are respected. The natural anger that we feel toward the as yet unknown perpetrators must not be allowed to endanger the rights of innocent people, whatever their ethnic origin. This is a time for all Americans to stand together, united in our respect for that diversity which is the greatest strength of our democracy."

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS CASE IN ANDROSCOGGIN COUNTY

September 18, 2001

SEPTEMBER 18, 2001

CONTACT: Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General 207-822-0498

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office filed an enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Chad Aube, 19, and Christopher Cheetham, 23, based on an incident in Lewiston involving anti-gay violence. The Complaint alleges that on February 19, 2001, in the vicinity of the Hurricane Club on Lisbon Street, Aube and Cheetham assaulted and threatened two men whom they believed to be gay. The case has been delayed due to difficulty in locating the two Defendants to serve them with court summonses.

The Attorney General seeks a permanent court order prohibiting Aube and Cheetham from any further acts or threats of violence motivated by sexual orientation. Aube and Cheetham could also face civil penalties of up to $5,000 each.

Attorney General Rowe said, "Imagine being assaulted and threatened simply because you belong to a particular group. It is a violation of basic freedom and the Maine Civil Rights Act. Maine must be a place where you can safely walk down the street with someone you love."

The Attorney General expressed his appreciation for the investigation conducted by the Lewiston Police Department, and to the Brunswick Police Department for its assistance in locating and serving the Defendants.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ROWE EXPRESSES CONSUMER CONCERNS ABOUT NEW MICROSOFT XP OPERATING SYSTEM

September 20, 2001

SEPTEMBER 20, 2001

CONTACT: Francis Ackerman, Assistant Attorney General
207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that he has joined five other state attorneys general in expressing consumer protection and antitrust concerns to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The attorneys general of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Montana, and Arkansas said in a letter to Ballmer, "We add our voices to those calling on Microsoft to remedy the antitrust problems that are now evident. . . . We agree with our colleagues, the litigating states and the federal government, that any anti-competitive aspects of Windows XP should be addressed."

With the addition of attorneys general from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island, attorneys general in all Northeastern U.S. states are now on record with their concerns about Microsoft's anti-competitive market practices. Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York are already involved as parties in the antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft pending in federal district court in the District of Columbia.

With regard to Windows XP, the letter expresses the AGs' concerns that "Microsoft may have constructed this new product without due regard for relevant legal rulings, and without due regard for other issues involving consumer choice and consumer privacy."

Among the consumer choice concerns with Windows XP is that it may diminish consumer access to platforms that might pose a threat to Microsoft's Windows operating system. Among the alternate platforms at issue are AOL's Instant Messenger and RealNetworks' Real Media Player.

Among the privacy concerns surrounding Windows XP is the concern that it encourages consumers to use a "Passport account," through which Microsoft could become the repository of a vast array of personally identifiable financial information about an enormous segment of the consuming public. Advance versions of Windows XP inform consumers that a Passport account with Microsoft is required in order to run Windows XP, which is not true.

Attorney General Rowe stated, "The antitrust laws protect competition, not particular competitors. They are intended to help provide consumers with the highest quality goods at the lowest possible price. We are telling Microsoft that we are looking out for Maine consumers."

AG NAMES BATH OFFICER FIRST ELDER SERVICE OFFICER OF THE YEAR

July 1, 2002

JULY 1, 2002

CONTACT: Charles Dow, Director Communications And Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577

Attorney General Steven Rowe today named Bath Police Department Officer Daniel Couture, 29, Elder Service Officer of the Year. Couture, a Topsham resident, is the Bath PD's liaison to seniors in the community. He is an active member of TRIAD, a national effort that depends on local partnerships between seniors and law enforcement for the purpose of preventing crime against seniors. He is a regular presence when Bath seniors get together. Bath Police Chief Pete Lizanecz called Couture "the essential link between our older folks and the police department."

The Maine Attorney General's Elder Service Officer Program was created in 1999. The Attorney General invited law enforcement agencies to designate officers to receive enhanced training in elder related law enforcement topics. There are currently over 100 Elder Service Officers in police and sheriff's departments throughout the State.

Attorney General Rowe believes the Elder Service Officers (ESOs) are becoming increasingly important because the elderly are so frequently the targets of exploitation, fraud, and abuse. Rowe instituted the Elder Service Officer Award this year to call attention to the exceptional service he sees ESOs rendering to Maine seniors. The honor will be awarded annually by the Attorney General to a law enforcement officer who performs exemplary work with seniors in the prevention of fraud, financial exploitation, and abuse.

"Our seniors deserve the best information and protection we can give them. I am proud that so many good officers like Officer Couture have taken on this special duty, and I hope all Maine communities will have ESOs in a few years," said Rowe.

WALDO MAN GETS THREE YEARS IN PRISON FOR TRAFFICKING IN HEROIN

July 8, 2002

JULY 8, 2002

CONTACT: Charles Dow, Director, Communications And Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577

Attorney General Steven Rowe reported today that Kean M. Ripley, III, age 21, of Stockton Springs was sentenced late last Wednesday for Trafficking in Heroin (Class B) and the Possession of Heroin (Class C). Maine Superior Court Justice Donald Marden sentenced Ripley to serve six years in prison, with all but three years suspended. Once Ripley has served three years in prison, he will be on probation for an additional four years. His conditions of probation require him to completely abstain from the use or possession of alcohol, illegal drugs and firearms, to agree to random drug searches, and to undergo drug counseling. Seven seized firearms were forfeited to the State of Maine.

Ripley pled guilty in June to selling $225 worth of Heroin to an informant on December 17, 2001. The sale was followed by a police search of a home and the seizure of heroin, drug ledgers, packaging materials and seven firearms.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Lara M. Nomani, and was investigated by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, with assistance from the Waldo County Sheriff's Office and Maine State Police. In announcing the sentence, Attorney General Steven Rowe stated: "The use of heroin has risen to alarming levels in this State, as is evident from the increase in heroin and other opiate-related overdoses and deaths. This case serves as a reminder that the sale of any amount of heroin will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

AG ADVISES EDUCATION COMMISSIONER REGARDING RELIGIOUS SCHOOL

July 12, 2002

JULY 12, 2002

CONTACT: Paul Stern, Deputy Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today responded to Education Commissioner J. Duke Albanese's request for advice regarding the impact of last month's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris on Maine's law that excludes sectarian schools from participation in Maine's state-wide, publicly funded education plan.

Rowe advised that the Zelman decision did not address the issue presented by Maine's law, and that the State and Maine school administrative units should continue to consider sectarian schools ineligible for public tuition payments until the Legislature or the courts mandate otherwise.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ROWE JOINS CALL ON FDA TO REGULATE NEW "TOBACCO CANDY" PRODUCT

July 16, 2002

JULY 16, 2002

CONTACT: Melissa Reynolds O'dea, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8552

Attorney General Steven Rowe today called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to halt the marketing of a dangerous new candy-like tobacco product called "Ariva." Ariva resembles a small breath mint, but it delivers as much nicotine as smoking a cigarette. The product contains compressed tobacco powder along with sweeteners, mint and other flavorings. Virginia-based Star Scientific Inc. makes Ariva, and plans to market it nationwide.

"Tobacco products kill more than 440,000 Americans every year and the nicotine in these products keeps children and adults addicted," Rowe said. "Ariva is a mint-flavored, candy-like product that contains nicotine. It's unfortunate that companies think it's acceptable to make products like Ariva, which can be appealing to children."

Maine has made great strides in reducing tobacco use by young people in recent years, reporting a 36% reduction in high school age smokers since 1997 (from 39.2% in 1997 to 25% in 2001). Assistant Attorney General Melissa Reynolds O'Dea, who monitors tobacco advertising and sales for the State, said, "Allowing the sale of tobacco candy to Maine kids would be a real step backward."

In written comments presented today to the FDA, 42 Attorneys General warned that Ariva raises serious public health concerns warranting the FDA's immediate attention. The Attorneys General noted that because the product looks like a breath mint and does not emit smoke or strong tobacco odors when used, parents and teachers may not be able to determine when a child is using this addictive and hazardous substance. Although Star publicly claims that its product is for current smokers, Ariva has many features that appeal to children including: chewing gum-style packaging and candy-like sweetness. The Attorneys General told the FDA that the marketing and packaging for Ariva falsely implies that the product is a healthy alternative to smoking, when in fact it contains toxic and cancer-causing substances. The Attorneys General noted that Ariva is similar to nicotine water, nicotine lollipops and nicotine lip-balm, which the FDA recently regulated as illegal drugs.

In addition to Rowe, Attorneys General from the following states and territories co-signed the FDA letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The Attorneys General comment letter supports a petition calling for FDA regulation of Ariva submitted last year by numerous public health and medical organizations, including: the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Legacy Foundation and numerous other major public health organizations.

STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL PRESS BUSH ADMINISTRATION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

July 17, 2002

JULY 17, 2002

CONTACT: Jerry Reid, Assistant Attorney General
207-626-8800

Attorneys General from 11 states today called on the Bush Administration to reconsider its position on the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Noting that states are filling the regulatory void left by federal inaction, the Attorneys General submitted a five-page letter to the Administration outlining why a national approach to the climate change problem will actually lead to more cost-effective solutions.

In a July 17 letter sent to President George W. Bush, Attorneys General from Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont urged the Bush Administration to take a "strong national approach" to the environmental and health risks imposed by climate change that will "better protect the American economy in the long run."

Identifying climate change as the "most pressing environmental challenge of the 21st century," the Attorneys General pointed to a May 2002 report that the United States recently issued as cause for immediate action. The report, U.S. Climate Action Report 2002, confirms the dangers of global climate change and projects that its primary cause, emissions of greenhouse gases--primarily carbon dioxide produced from the combustion of fossil fuels--will increase by 43 percent by 2020.

Attorney General Rowe said, "Maine's economy still grows outdoors, and denial is not an acceptable way of dealing with the climate change problem. Climate change may alter the lobster fishery, the forest products industry, agriculture, and even maple sugaring, to cite a few examples. It may also increase the incidence of Lyme disease in Maine due to an increase in the deer tick population. These are practical problems we need to face.

While the Bush Administration is now acknowledging the negative impacts of global climate change, the Attorneys General expressed concern that it has yet to propose a credible plan addressing the findings and conclusions outlined in its recent report. Rather than proposing a solution, the recent report focuses on the need to accommodate coming changes, suggesting, for example, that increased use of air conditioning should be used to deal with heat-related health impacts. The Attorneys General likened the Administration's approach to former Interior Secretary Hodel's infamous suggestion that the government contend with the hole in the ozone layer by encouraging Americans to make better use of sunglasses, suntan lotion and broad brimmed hats.

According to the State Department's report, global climate change, primarily caused by greenhouse gas emissions, can result in:

Increased Temperatures. Average temperatures have already increased by one degree Fahrenheit over the past century, and are likely to increase by five to nine degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. An increase will dramatically change climates in every state and destroy some fragile ecosystems.

Rising Sea Levels. Sea levels have already risen four to eight inches over the last century and are likely to rise another 4 to 35 inches during the next century. Rising sea levels will cause more coastal flooding, and will obliterate vital estuaries, coastal wetlands and barrier islands. The result will be increased storm and storm damage in some areas and dwindling water supply in others, such as California and other parts of the West.

Increased Health Risks. The effects of climate change can result in illnesses and deaths associated with temperature extremes, storms and other heavy precipitation events, air pollution, water contamination, and diseases carried by mosquitoes, ticks and rodents. A just published study in the journal, Science, warns of increased risks from insect-borne diseases such as malaria and yellow fever.

"Not only have we underestimated the rate at which climate would change, recent studies indicate that we have underestimated the rate at which organisms, including insects and others that can transport disease, are reacting to these changes," said Dr. Paul R. Epstein, Associate Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. "The question we need to be asking is not whether we can afford to do something about climate change, but whether we can afford not to."

In response to the lack of initiative at the federal level, several states are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the local level. In Massachusetts, state regulations were adopted last year requiring carbon dioxide reductions by power plants and in New Hampshire "cap and trade" legislation was recently enacted. The legislature in California just passed a bill that will lead to the "maximum feasible" reductions of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. Also, a "carbon cap" is being considered by elected leaders in New York.

The preferred and, more importantly, most efficient route is regulatory action at the national level. ""We agree that the global nature of the climate change problem would be most efficiently addressed by comprehensive regulatory action at the national level," the letter states. "We strongly believe that prompt implementation of a market-based approach that caps greenhouse gas emissions would promote significant benefits for public health, welfare and the environment."

Today's letter also noted that states are also beginning to review their litigation options.

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS CASE IN BIDDEFORD AFTER ASSAULT ON A GAY MAN

August 1, 2002

AUGUST 1, 2002

CONTACT: CHRISTINA MOYLAN, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that his office has filed a civil enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Reginald Gilbert, Sr., 48, of Biddeford and Reginald Gilbert, Jr., 28, also of Biddeford, as a result of threats and an assault by the Gilberts against a gay man.

The complaint, filed in York County Superior Court, alleges Reginald Gilbert, Sr. verbally accosted and spat on the gay man who was walking down the street to visit a friend. The complaint alleges that Gilbert, Sr. threatened to kill the victim. The complaint also alleges that, as the victim was leaving the area, Reginald Gilbert, Jr. attacked the victim, kicking him several times in the face. Further, the complaint alleges, at 2:00 a.m. the next morning, Gilbert, Sr. went to the victim's house, screamed at him and threatened to burn his house down. Both Gilberts used repeated profanity and anti-gay language during each of the encounters, according to the complaint.

The Attorney General's complaint seeks to permanently enjoin Gilbert, Sr. and Gilbert, Jr. from any further threats or acts of violence, property damage, or trespass against the victim or others motivated by bias.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "No person in this State should be subject to threats or violence because of prejudice or bias. Our office will work closely with local law enforcement to aggressively enforce the State's civil rights laws."

Attorney General Rowe commended the Biddeford Police Department for its investigation of the incident. The department referred the case to Rowe's office for possible action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

ATTORNEY GENERAL SHUTS DOWN FRAUDULENT HOME REPAIR CONTRACTOR

August 9, 2002

AUGUST 9, 2002 Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8846

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has won a lawsuit in Cumberland County Superior Court against a fraudulent home repair contractor. The lawsuit, filed by the Attorney General's Office last August, alleged that contractor Alfred Verdone intentionally defrauded nine homeowners in Cumberland and Androscoggin Counties, all in violation of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act and state law regulating home repair contracts. The fraud consisted of failing to perform work that was paid for, shoddy workmanship, and failing to provide proper written contracts.

On July 15, 2002, the Superior Court granted judgment by default to the State as a sanction against Verdone for failing to comply with an order to turn over documents relating to the lawsuit. The Court found that Verdone's business practices were intentionally deceptive, unfair and fraudulent, and that he intentionally failed to disclose important information to the homeowners. The Court prohibited Verdone from contracting to perform home repairs in Maine in the future. The Court also imposed a $45,000 fine against Verdone and ordered him to pay $54,323 in restitution for the defrauded homeowners.

According to the lawsuit, Verdone advertised his home repair services in local newspapers and periodicals under several different business names, including AAA Contracting and Painting and A&C Painting and Construction. He falsely told homeowners that he was a home repair expert, that he used only licensed electricians and plumbers, and that all of his work was guaranteed. In many instances he gave fake names and addresses. He did not provide written contracts, or provided contracts that were incomplete, and he required a down payment of more than one-third of the total price, all of which is prohibited under state law. Verdone's workmanship was so poor that several of the homeowners had to hire another contractor to do the job over again. He frequently violated building codes and safety regulations. He failed to respond when the homeowners complained, and refused to refund their money.

Under the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act, the Attorney General may sue any contractor who violates state home repair law, or engages in any other fraudulent practices in the course of business. All home repair contracts for more than $1,400 must be in writing, must be signed by both parties, and must include a description of the work to be done, the price and method of payment, the dates for beginning and completing the work, a statement of how disputes will be resolved, and a warranty statement. Any changes to the original contract must also be in writing.

While the State does not currently require contractors to be licensed like plumbers and electricians, the Attorney General's Office is working with a broad coalition to promote the adoption of contractor licensing and a statewide residential building code. Maine people interested in this effort should call Chuck Dow at the Attorney General's Office at 626-8577.

The Attorney General's Consumer Mediation Service receives an average of 175 consumer complaints against home repair contractors in Maine each year.

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Diaz, who handled the Verdone case for the State said, "While it is great to put a bad contractor out of business, consumers would be much better protected if he had been kept out of the business to begin with. Consumers need licensed contractors they can count on."

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS CASE IN LEWISTON ANTI-GAY THREATS

December 6, 2001

DECEMBER 6, 2001

CONTACT: Christina Moylan, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that his office has filed a civil enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against John Dorr, 27, of Auburn, as a result of threats made by Dorr against two Lewiston residents because of their perceived sexual orientation.

The complaint, filed in Androscoggin County Superior Court, alleges that in September of this year Dorr confronted and verbally accosted the two men with graphic and vulgar threats to kill them or otherwise physically harm them. The incident apparently was precipitated by the display of a rainbow flag in an apartment window.

The Attorney General's complaint seeks to permanently enjoin Dorr from any further threats or acts of violence, property damage, or trespass against the victim and others motivated by bias.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "No person in this state should be subject to threats or violence because of prejudice or bias. Our office will work closely with local law enforcement to aggressively enforce the State's civil rights laws."

Attorney General Rowe commended the Lewiston Police Department for its investigation of the incident. The department referred the case to Rowe's office for possible action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

ROWE SUES DRUG MAKER FOR BLOCKING ACCESS TO LOW COST DRUGS

December 12, 2001

DECEMBER 12, 2001

John Brautigam, Assistant Attorney General
207-626-8800

Maine Consumers, Agencies Were Forced to Pay Excessive Prices for Anti-Anxiety Medication BuSpar ®

Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that he has filed a lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. ("Bristol-Myers") in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Maine joins twenty-eight other states and Puerto Rico in filing suit against Bristol-Myers for blocking generic manufacturers from competing with the company's widely prescribed anti-anxiety medicine BuSpar ®.

The lawsuit is the culmination of a multi-state investigation into statements made by Bristol-Myers to the federal Food & Drug Administration concerning Bristol-Myers' patent for BuSpar ®. The suit alleges that Bristol-Myers misrepresented its patent rights, causing the FDA to extend its monopoly by blocking generic competitors.

"The high price of prescription drugs is a major problem for consumers in the State of Maine and the nation," said Attorney General Rowe. "Access to generic drugs helps contain the skyrocketing growth in prices, and we will vigorously oppose any scheme to illegally prevent consumers from enjoying the benefits of generic competition."

Under federal law, Bristol-Myers enjoyed a monopoly in the BuSpar ® market for almost fifteen years - from the date of original FDA approval in 1986 until the BuSpar ® patent expired on November 21, 2000. Ordinarily, on November 22, 2000 generic competitors would have been able to enter the market, providing consumers with a substantial price discount.

According to the complaint filed today, around the time the original patent expired Bristol-Myers applied for a new patent and then misrepresented its patent rights to the FDA in order to convince the agency not to approve generic competitors to BuSpar ®. At the time of the alleged misrepresentations, generic competitors were poised to introduce their lower-priced versions of the drug into the market, even loading them onto trucks for shipment to consumers. Relying on Bristol-Myers' representations, the FDA blocked those shipments, and as a result consumers did not receive the benefit of the lower priced generic alternatives.

Federal and state antitrust laws prohibit any company from improperly monopolizing the market in consumer products such as prescription drugs.

Bristol-Myers' actions kept generic BuSpar ® off of the market for nearly four months -until a federal court allowed generic competitors to sell their products, at least temporarily. During that time, thousands of consumers were denied the benefit of a low-cost generic equivalent toBuSpar ®. Bristol-Myers also caused state agencies such as Medicaid to pay higher prices. Last year, total sales of BuSpar ® exceeded $700 million.

Bristol-Myers and the generic manufactures are also tied up in litigation, and it is not yet clear whether the generic versions of BuSpar ® will be able to remain on the market.

The suit filed by Maine and the other states seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages on behalf of consumers and state agencies. The Maine Medicaid program alone spent approximately $500,000 on BuSpar ® during the four-month period at issue in the case.

ROWE REPORTS WINS FOR CONSUMERS IN LONG DISTANCE PHONE CASES

February 20, 2002

FEBRUARY 20, 2002

CONTACT: LINDA CONTI, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has settled a case with Sprint concerning its advertising of long distance service to customers.

The settlement ends a two-year investigation by 22 states into tactics used in advertising long distance calling plans. The states alleged that the three major long distance carriers, Sprint, MCI and AT&T, failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose:

• The additional monthly fees that were tacked onto low per minute rates;

• That for some carriers the low per minute rate was only good at night or on weekends;

• That the in-state long distance per minute rates could be higher than the state-to-state rates.

While the Maine Attorney General's Office has settled with Sprint, it has also reached an agreement in principle with AT&T and MCI on the advertising claims. Rowe's office continues to negotiate with MCI and AT&T regarding his claims that their telemarketing and customer service practices are also unfair to consumers.

The carriers deny wrongdoing, but they have agreed to collectively pay the states $1.5 million. In addition, the carriers will now make disclosures to consumers that reveal the total cost of the service they are offering with the exception of taxes that the carriers are required to pass on. The carriers are also required to disclose clearly and conspicuously any limitations on their advertised rates or calling plans.

The states involved in the settlement are Illinois, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

CONSUMER WARNING: "CANADIAN SWEEPSTAKES" SCAM OPERATING IN MAINE

March 1, 2002

MARCH 1, 2002

CONTACT: CHARLES DOW, Director, Communications And Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577

Attorney General Steven Rowe issued a warning today to all Maine residents concerning a sweepstakes scam purporting to be from Canada that is becoming more and more prevalent in Maine. "Many Maine residents have complained to my office, reporting that they have received calls from Canada that informing them that they have won a Canadian sweepstakes," said Attorney General Rowe. "The caller typically states that the money will be shipped immediately upon payment of a several hundred dollar processing fee. These calls are scams."

The callers give various reasons why the so-called "winners" must first pay money in order to receive the sweepstakes bonanza. They state that the fees are necessary to pay Canadian taxes, or are required due to the difference in exchange rates between the United States and Canada, or are necessary to pay bank expenses, etc. Such explanations are part of the scam and are all bogus.

In fact, it is a violation of both Maine civil and criminal law to call Maine residents and tell them they have won a prize but that in order to get the prize they must first pay money up front. The AG's Office is hopeful that public awareness of the scam will avoid consumer losses and the need to file lawsuits.

When members of the Attorney General's office hear about these solicitations, they immediately attempt to contact the Maine resident and warn against sending any money to the scammers. The office tries to respond as quickly as possible because the callers are very persuasive and make it seem that if the Maine resident does not immediately forward them the money then the sweepstakes winnings will be given to someone else. "Unfortunately," said Attorney General Rowe, "we were not able to immediately get in touch with one consumer who thought she had just won a Canadian sweepstakes. When we finally got in touch with her, she had already sent — and lost — several thousand dollars."

The Attorney General stated that this scam is becoming very widespread and offered the following advice: Never send money to another country because someone tells you that you have won a sweepstakes.

EASTPORT MAN GETS SIX YEAR SENTENCE FOR TRAFFICKING OXYCONTIN

April 12, 2002

APRIL 12, 2002

CHARLES DOW, Director, Communications And Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577

Maine Superior Court Justice Andrew Mead today sentenced Earl Marsh, 51, of Eastport, to six years in prison for the Class A crime Aggravated Trafficking in Schedule W Drugs (oxycodone/Oxycontin) in December of 1999. Marsh sold two 40-milligram Oxycontin tablets to a Maine Drug Enforcement Agency confidential informant. The fact that Marsh had previously been convicted of federal charges involving hashish figured into the length of the sentence imposed today.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Erickson, who prosecuted the case on behalf of the State, said, "The sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime and the seriousness with which repeat drug offenders are treated in the courts." Erickson told the Court during the sentencing hearing that Marsh acquired the drugs by simultaneously seeing four different doctors and using six different pharmacies, none of whom knew the full extent of his drug procurement.

Attorney General Steven Rowe noted, "While this crime warrants the sentence handed down today, it illustrates Maine's need for a system that will alert doctors and pharmacists when data shows a person engaging in risky 'doctor shopping' and 'pharmacy shopping' for the purpose of selling and abusing drugs. Such systems have been successful in combating drug diversion in other states. Where medical professionals have information that allows them to intervene early, it yields greater benefits at a lower cost than long prison sentences."

ATTORNEY GENERAL SUES WOMEN WHO TOOK MONEY IN PYRAMID SCHEME CALLED "A WOMAN'S PROJECT"

April 30, 2002

APRIL 30, 2002

CONTACT: JAMES McKENNA, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced that his office has filed a lawsuit against the pyramid scheme known as A Woman's Project. The suit was filed in Superior Court in Kennebec County and names 31 defendants who have refused to return the $5,000 they solicited from new recruits to the pyramid scheme.

"Numerous women, often in great need of money, were attracted by an illusory promise that they could quickly obtain $40,000," said Attorney General Rowe. "But A Woman's Project is like all other pyramids, and it is doomed to fail."

A Woman's Project uses a dinner party analogy to explain to recruits how its fund-raising scheme works. Each new recruit typically gives $5,000 and is then placed at the "Appetizer" level of the "Dinner Table." When eight new recruits have been persuaded to join A Woman's Project, they each give $5,000 to a participant who has reached the "Dessert" level, the highest position at the "Dinner Table." As the new recruits work their way up the hierarchy, they move from "Appetizer" to "Soup and Salad" to "EntrƩe" and, finally, "Dessert." Recruits are led to believe that the pyramid can continue ad infinitum, even though mathematically it is certain to fail. See the attached description of A Woman's Project pyramid.

The Attorney General is seeking to recover money for 41 persons who were lured into contributing $5,000 to A Woman's Project. "Pyramid schemes such as A Woman's Project sow great discord in communities," said Attorney General Rowe. "People in need of money will recruit their friends and neighbors and relatives with the result that many people will lose their money and become embittered. Pyramids are against the law and we are going to try to stop them whenever we can."

The Attorney General's Office is also aware that alumni of A Woman's Project have apparently started a new fund-raising scheme called Ophelia or Stepping Stone. Assistant Attorney General James McKenna said, "The new schemes attempt to distinguish themselves from garden variety pyramid schemes, but those attempts fall short of the mark. Anyone who is asked to participate in any kind of 'gifting club' should report that to me at 626-8800."

A federal court previously dismissed a case filed by A Woman's Project organizers against the Attorney General and Maine's eight District Attorneys alleging that the prosecutors' public warnings against participating in illegal pyramids were chilling participation in A Woman's Project. The court ruled that the prosecutors were well within their power to warn the public about suspected illegal scams.

Two years ago, the Attorney General sued several participants of a similar pyramid scheme called Changing Lives. A trial is forthcoming against the defendants who have not settled in that case. The AG's office is currently involved in three suits against participants in a men-only pyramid scheme called NASCAR.

CONSUMER WARNING: NEW SCAMMERS PURPORT TO BE HELPING AG BUST SCAMMERS

April 30, 2002

APRIL 30, 2002

CONTACT: CHARLES DOW, Director Communications And Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577

Attorney General Steven Rowe today warned all Maine residents concerning a telephone scam operating in Maine that purports to be representing the Attorney General's Office in going after fraudulent scams. The callers say they are from a company called "Tele-Guard" and that their records show that the consumer's credit card has been fraudulently billed hundreds of dollars. They say they will, for a fee of $379, help recover the money. They also offer $500 "emergency cash" to help the consumer. They ask for the consumer's bank account number and a cancelled check number to facilitate the "emergency cash" deposit. What they don't say is that the information will allow them to withdraw from the consumer's account.

Attorney General Rowe said, "We have no arrangement with Tele-Guard or any other company that charges Maine consumers to recover money that was stolen from them. Do not provide any account information to these people because you think they work with the Attorney General. They do not."

In a 1996 case, the Attorney General sued Research Marketing Systems, Inc. on charges of fraudulent telemarketing practices. That company allegedly tricked consumers into paying $99 to $999 to recover money the consumer had already lost to fraudulent telemarketers. This practice is known as "reloading": duping consumers who have been targets of former scams. In a court approved settlement, RMS agreed to distribute $136,465 to 2,000 customers nationwide.

The Attorney General is hopeful that this warning will keep Mainers from falling victim to these scam artists and avert the need for a lawsuit to recover damages. "Let Maine common sense prevail," said Attorney General Rowe. "We in the AG's Office proudly work for the consumers of Maine, and there is never a surcharge for our services."

Rowe also urged a word-of-mouth campaign among friends and family to personally warn those who may be susceptible to such a scam. "Give elderly friends and neighbors a call, just to make sure they have heard this warning," Rowe said.

ILLEGAL PYRAMIDS IN MAINE

January 17, 2001

JANUARY 17, 2001

CONTACT: James Mckenna, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

The Department of the Attorney General announced today that it has filed in Kennebec Superior Court an Unfair Trade Practice action against participants in the "Changing Lives" pyramid who initially refused to return money illegally obtained through the pyramid.

This pyramid scheme operated mainly in the Lewiston and South Paris areas and required each new recruit to contribute $2000 and to then recruit eight new members. The organizers used a high school analogy to describe the pyramid, telling new recruits that for $2,000 they could enter the pyramid as a "Freshman." They were then required to help recruit eight new members who would also contribute $2,000. They were promised that eventually, they could rise to the status of "Senior" and receive $16,000.

"Changing Lives is a direct violation of our anti-pyramid statute and has resulted in numerous recruits losing their money," said Assistant Attorney General James McKenna, the Assistant Attorney General who is handling the case for the State. "Our Superior Court Complaint has 39 individual defendants. We are determined to bring this matter to trial and obtain Orders requiring these people to pay back all monies and to pay a civil penalty to the State."

"The unavoidable fact is that a great majority of the people who are recruited into pyramid schemes lose all their money," said Attorney General G. Steven Rowe. "This is why Maine has declared pyramids illegal."

Rowe warned that other pyramids are currently operating in the State of Maine. The most prominent one that the Attorney General has received reports about is titled, variously, "Women Helping Women" or "The Women's Project" or "The Dinner Party." This pyramid scheme is now operating across Maine, from Machias to Portland, and recruits only women, who are required to find seven or eight recruits who will each contribute $5000. Women are recruited at dinner parties, warned not to tell their husbands, and promised that when they reach the "dessert" stage of the pyramid they will receive $35,000.

The Attorney General warned against participating in any pyramids. "Such pyramid schemes always have a simple sales pitch. They tell you it is legal and that you will receive a lot of money. In fact, the opposite is true: it is most certainly illegal and the great majority of people lose all their investment." In order to comply with the law, the Attorney General recommends that all pyramid participants immediately return any money they may have accepted from recruits to the pyramid.

STATEMENT OF ATTORNEY GENERAL G. STEVEN ROWE REGARDING VOTING RIGHTS OF PERSONS UNDER GUARDIANSHIP

February 20, 2001

FEBRUARY 20, 2001

CONTACT: G. Steven Rowe, Attorney General 207-626-8599

"As Attorney General, I am sworn to defend the Constitution and laws of Maine. Maine has a Constitutional provision that restricts the voting rights of many of our citizens.

"I do not intend for any person under guardianship to lose the right to vote as a result of my department's defense of the lawsuit brought by the Disability Rights Center. On the contrary, I believe that our analysis of the Constitutional voting restriction and the Maine probate code together has emphasized the fact that probate judges making guardianship decisions have the authority to ensure that an individual with capacity to vote retains that sacred right."

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINST THREE DEXTER TEENAGERS

February 22, 2001

FEBRUARY 22, 2001

CONTACT: Christina Hall, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General G. Steven Rowe today announced that his office has filed a civil enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against three Dexter teenagers.

The complaint, filed in the Superior Court for Penobscot County, alleges that the teenagers threatened and assaulted an Hispanic youth and two friends because of the youth's race or national origin.

On November 28, 2000, the three teenagers confronted and assaulted the Hispanic youth and his friend outside a Dexter convenience store while making racial slurs. After the victims fled on foot, the teenagers pursued them in a car, continuing their confrontation, racial slurs and assaults when they caught up with them. The third victim was assaulted by the teenagers as he approached to assist the first two victims. One of the teenagers had previously stated that he intended to assault the Hispanic youth because of his race, as well as anyone else who tried to stop him.

The Attorney General's complaint seeks to permanently enjoin the teenagers from any further acts of violence, property damage, or trespass against the victims and others motivated by bias.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "No person in this state should be subject to threats or violence because of prejudice or bias. Our office will work closely with local law enforcement to aggressively enforce the State's civil rights laws."

Attorney General Rowe commended the Dexter Police Department for its investigation of the incident. The department referred the case to Rowe's office for possible action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

STATE OF MAINE OBTAINS $10,000 CONSENT DECREE AND ORDER AGAINST CENTRAL MAINE LOGGERS

February 27, 2001

MFS Director Urges Woodlot Owners to Get a Written Contract Prior to Cutting
FEBRUARY 2001

CONTACT: Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General 207-822-0498

Department of Conservation's Maine Forest Service Director Thomas C. Doak and Attorney General G. Steven Rowe today announced a Consent Decree and Order prohibiting two central Maine loggers from engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices, and requiring payment of $10,000 in restitution. The Consent Decree and Order settles a lawsuit in which the State claimed that loggers Michael G. Davis of Sangerville and Carl Vainio of Abbot intentionally engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in their business dealings with the owners of 15 separate private woodlots. Fourteen of the 15 landowners do not reside on or near the woodlot.

According to the State's amended claim, loggers Davis and Vainio, owners of logging companies Kennedy Slate Mine Forestry Inc., and Windfall Logging Inc., deceived landowners into granting permission to cut and remove trees by making false representations regarding:

ā€¢ The value, health and quality of the trees on the land

ā€¢ The number of trees that would be harvested

ā€¢ The logging methods that would be used

ā€¢ The effect that the harvest would have on the appearance and value of the land

Nine of the land owners signed written contracts that granted the loggers permission to cut a large number of trees, relying on spoken assurances that the loggers in fact would cut only a small number of trees. The loggers failed to provide the other six landowners with any written contracts at all. The State, represented by the Department of the Attorney General, also alleged that the loggers paid all of the landowners only a fraction of the value of the wood harvested from the land.

"The Department of the Attorney General is committed to protecting the Maine woods and woodlot owners against illegal practices," stated Attorney General Steven Rowe.

"This case also shows that business people who defraud others will not avoid paying restitution by filing bankruptcy. One of these defendants tried and failed," said Assistant Attorney General Carlos Diaz.

The Consent Decree and Order permanently prohibits Davis and Vainio from making false representations to any land owner concerning the value, health or quality of trees on the land; the number of trees that would be harvested; the logging methods to be used; or the effect that logging would have on the appearance and value of the land.

Most importantly, the Order prohibits the loggers from harvesting trees unless the land owner is represented by a licensed professional forester, and requires a written logging contract containing all of the material terms and disclosing the land owner's right to cancel the contract up to three days after signing it. In addition, the loggers are required to deliver a Notification of Intent to Harvest to the landowner and the Maine Forest Service at least seven days before cutting down any trees. They must also keep all scale slips and other logging records available for inspection until six years after completion of the harvest.

"The vast majority of Maine loggers abide by the law. However, as this case points out, a few take advantage of unsuspecting landowners," says Maine Forest Service Director Tom Doak. "I urge small woodlot owners to take steps to protect themselves including checking logger references, having a written contract and calling the Maine Forest Service with any questions before any harvest activity begins."

Ironically, it was Michael Davis who initiated the lawsuit in January of 1997, when he sued the Department of Conservation and six individual employees of the Maine Forest Service, claiming defamation, interference with contractual business relations, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Thereafter, the State filed a counterclaim against Davis and third-party claims against Vainio and the two incorporated logging companies. The Superior Court dismissed all of Davis' claims.

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Diaz, who represented the State in this case, expressed his appreciation to the Department of Conservation, the Somerset and Piscataquis County Sheriff's Offices, and Detective Richard Fairfield of the Attorney General's Office, for their combined efforts and cooperation in investigating the complaints of the land owners.

AG ROWE FILES SUIT AGAINST DRUG MANUFACTURERS FOR KEEPING GENERIC HEART DRUG OFF MARKET

June 6, 2001

Maine Attorney General G. Steven Rowe announced today that Maine has taken action against two major pharmaceutical manufacturers for conspiring to deprive consumers of access to a less expensive generic version of an important heart medication.

"With this lawsuit we join other states seeking to remedy the injustice suffered by countless people - most of them elderly - who were forced to pay excessive prices for their medication," said Attorney General Rowe.

The lawsuit alleges that Aventis (as successor in interest for Hoechst) and Andrx (a Florida-based company) reached an illegal agreement whereby Hoechst paid Andrx millions of dollars not to compete with Hoechst' product known as Cardizem CD.

Maine is asking the court to award treble damages to compensate consumers and state agencies for the artificially high prices that resulted from the conspiracy. The lawsuit alleges violations of antitrust and consumer protection laws.

Cardizem CD is a highly effective treatment for high blood pressure, chest pains and heart disease. During 1997 alone, Hoechst earned over $700 million from sales of Cardizem CD, the company's largest revenue producer.

"Prescription drug prices and drug coverage are major concerns for consumers in Maine," said Attorney General Rowe. "When a drug manufacturer illegally prevents the public from accessing low-cost alternatives, health care expenses go up and health care quality goes down, especially among the low-income who would most benefit from the lower priced generic."

He added, "the primary consumers of Cardizem CD are elderly, including those on Medicare and fixed incomes. These vulnerable members of our community should not be asked to choose between affording their heart medication and paying rent or putting food on the table."

Historically, the first generic into the market is sold for approximately seventy percent of the price of the brand name version. As additional generics become available, the price for a generic version often falls to thirty percent of the brand name price. Additionally, after a relatively short period of time, almost ninety percent of the prescriptions for the drug will be filled with generic versions, at great savings to consumers and businesses.

Hoechst and Andrx prevented consumers from switching to a generic alternative by conspiring to prevent Andrx's generic version of Cardizem CD from entering the market. Andrx would have been legally able to begin marketing its product called Cartia XT in July 1997, to compete with Cardizem CD. Instead, Andrx entered a written agreement with Hoechst under which it did not market Cartia XT, and in return Hoechst paid Andrx $10 million every three months. Hoechst eventually paid Andrx just under $100 million for keeping Cartia XT from the public for almost a year. The agreement also prevented other generics from entering the market.

The Hoechst-Andrx deal was cancelled after intense negative criticism of the arrangement, the filing of private lawsuits and the beginning of an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. To date, consumers have not received any compensation for the artificially high prices they were forced to pay during the time the agreement was in effect.

One court has already ruled that the agreement between Andrx and Hoechst was per se illegal, according to Assistant Attorney General John Brautigam. "Private companies cannot agree to keep a generic version of a drug off the market simply to shore up their profit margins. One federal court took a close look at this and found that this is a classic antitrust conspiracy, keeping the market from properly functioning by preventing introduction of a cheaper, equally effective product."

Brautigam added, "Over the next three to four years the patents will expire on many brand-name drugs, allowing competition for lower-priced generics. Law enforcement authorities across the country will be watching to make sure that drug manufacturers do not conspire to deprive consumers of access to less expensive but equivalent medications."

The group of state Attorneys General filed the case in the Eastern District of Michigan, where private lawsuits against Andrx and Hoechst have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings.

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS CASE IN ANDROSCOGGIN COUNTY

June 15, 2001

JUNE 15, 2001

Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General 207-822-0498

The Maine Attorney General's Office has filed an enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Wayne Allen, 35, for threatening to kill a man because Allen believed the man was gay. Allen's last known residence was Lewiston. The matter was investigated by the Lewiston Police Department and the Attorney General's Office.

The Complaint alleges that on November 3, 2000, Wayne Allen, who then lived downstairs from the victim's apartment, yelled derogatory homophobic slurs at the victim and threatened to come upstairs and cut the victim's throat.

The Superior Court in Androscoggin County will hold a hearing on the case, probably within the next few months. The Attorney General expressed his appreciation for the investigation conducted by the Lewiston Police Department.

BANGOR NURSE PLEADS GUILTY TO STEALING DRUGS IN NURSING HOME

June 15, 2002

JUNE 15, 2001

CONTACT: Kerry O'brien, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Lorraine Storman, L.P.N., 53, of Bangor, pled guilty in District Court in Bangor to one count of Stealing Drugs, a Class D crime. The offense occurred in February of 2000 while Storman worked at Westgate Manor Nursing Home in Bangor. Storman admitted to stealing several eyedropper-size doses of Oxyfast, the liquid form of oxycodone, and replacing the volume she stole from the bottle with water. Her scheme resulted in patients who were prescribed the medicine for pain receiving diluted doses.

Judge Ann M. Murray of the Maine District Court sentenced Storman to a $250 fine, a six-month term of imprisonment, all suspended, followed by a year of probation. As special conditions of probation, Storman must undergo substance abuse treatment, may not use or possess alcohol or illegal drugs, may not work in any job that permits access to prescription drugs and must disclose to any future health care employers her conviction for stealing drugs and her history of substance abuse. At sentencing, Ms. Storman accepted responsibility for her conduct and told the court that she voluntarily surrendered her nursing license and does not plan to work in health care.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "We will diligently prosecute health care professionals whose conduct jeopardizes the health and well being of the patients they are obligated to care for and protect."

If a bill submitted by the Attorney General and sponsored by Rep. Edward Povich (D-Ellsworth) wins legislative approval, stealing drugs of this type will soon be a Class C crime, carrying a fine of up to $5000 and a prison sentence of up to five years. LD 1728, An Act to Control the Illegal Diversion and Abuse of Prescription Narcotic Drugs, is poised for final enactment by the Maine Senate next week.

Detective Christine Baker of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) in the Maine Attorney General's Office investigated the case and MFCU Director Kerry O'Brien prosecuted it. The MFCU is a state and federally funded entity with statewide jurisdiction to prosecute fraud by Medicaid providers and patient abuse in Medicaid facilities. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have MFCUs.

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS CASE IN CUMBERLAND COUNTY

June 22, 2001

JUNE 22, 2001

CONTACT: Francis Ackerman, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

The Maine Attorney General's Office has filed an enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Tia DiBiase, 18, of Scarborough, and Michael Fearon, 21, of Portland, for making anti-Semitic threats against a young woman. The matter was investigated by the Scarborough Police Department and the Attorney General's Office.

The Complaint alleges that on March 17, 2001, Tia DiBiase and Michael Fearon placed a telephone call to the victim's residence, and made obscene threats of violence laced with anti-Semitic slurs.

The Superior Court in Cumberland County will hold a hearing on the case, probably within the next few months. The Attorney General expressed his appreciation for the investigation conducted by the Scarborough Police Department.

MAINE, 25 OTHER STATES REACH UNPRECEDENTED $34 MILLION SETTLEMENT WITH PUBLISHERS CLEARING HOUSE

June 26, 2001

JUNE 26, 2001

CONTACT: Linda Conti, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that sweepstakes giant Publishers Clearing House (PCH) will pay $34 million - including restitution to thousands of consumers nationwide - and will make significant and permanent reforms in the way it conducts its future contests. Maine's recovery is expected to exceed $200,000.

In addition to the changes in its future business practices, PCH must pay restitution totaling $19 million for customers who were deceived by its past practices. PCH also will pay, for the first time, civil penalties totaling $1 million, as well as $14 million to cover the costs associated with the states' litigation and the costs of administering the restitution payments.

  Multi-state settlement Maine share (approximate)
Consumer restitution $19 million $163,000
Civil penalties $1 million $36,000
Litigation and restitution administration costs $14 million To be determined
TOTAL $34 million More than $200,000
In the coming months, restitution claims officers will contact Maine consumers who lost significant sums as a result of PCH deceptive practices. The Attorney General's Office estimates that Maine consumers may have claims for up to $163,000 from PCH.

The $34 million settlement and permanent injunction resolves several state lawsuits alleging that PCH mailings misled consumers into believing they had won contests or that making purchases would enhance their chances of winning. The states involved in today's settlement had rejected an earlier multi-state settlement reached last summer.

"These sweepstakes solicitations have preyed on the elderly on fixed incomes. We hope others who take economic advantage of vulnerable people will take a strong message: Get out of our state." Rowe said.

Linda Conti, the Assistant Attorney General who handled the case, said, "This was a long, difficult process, but we stuck to our guns for Maine consumers." Conti said the settlement includes several important concessions from PCH, including:

&:149; A prohibition against making any false statement, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. In addition, the settlement prohibits misleading or deceptive statements or omissions and, for the first time, prohibits PCH from implying, by any means whatsoever, anything that they are prohibited from stating directly.

&:149; A prohibition against discriminating between consumers who order and those who do not. From now on, PCH may only use a single contest entry form to be used by all consumers, regardless of whether they order products from PCH or not. In the past, customers who did not buy magazines or other products were forced to search for a small, plain entry card among the various colorful pieces PCH included with the solicitation. This practice often led consumers to conclude that ordering a product would improve their chance of winning.

&:149; An acknowledgement from PCH of the harm done in the past by its deceptive practices, and an apology for that harm.

&:149; Increased safeguards to protect a small minority of vulnerable PCH customers who may continue to be confused about whether buying products has any impact on their chances of winning.

In Maine, reimbursement of costs flows to the State's General Fund, and civil penalties are used by the Attorney General to support other actions under the Unfair Trade Practices Act.

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS CASE IN OLD ORCHARD BEACH ANTI-GAY THREATS

June 29, 2001

JUNE 29, 2001

CONTACT: Christina Hall, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that his office has filed a civil enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Paul Caron, 50, of Old Orchard Beach, as a result of threats made by Caron against another Old Orchard Beach resident because of his perceived sexual orientation.

The complaint, filed in York County Superior Court, alleges that Caron has engaged in a pattern of harassment based on sexual orientation bias, including repeated vulgar verbal abuse over a number of months and a threat to kill the victim.

The Attorney General's complaint seeks to permanently enjoin Caron from any further acts of violence, property damage, or trespass against the victim and others motivated by bias.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "No person in this state should be subject to threats or violence because of prejudice or bias. Our office will work closely with local law enforcement to aggressively enforce the State's civil rights laws."

Attorney General Rowe commended the Old Orchard Beach Police Department for its investigation of the incident. The department referred the case to Rowe's office for possible action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ROWE WILL FIGHT PhRMA OVER HEALTHY MAINE PRESCRIPTION PROGRAM

July 3, 2001

JULY 3, 2001

CONTACT: Charles Dow, Director, Communications And Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577

In response to a suit filed by the trade group representing the nation's pharmaceutical companies in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Attorney General Steven Rowe said, "We are not surprised by PhRMA's filing this case. We fully expected this lawsuit."

"We will vigorously fight to preserve the Healthy Maine Prescription Program that is already providing prescription drug discounts for over 50,000 Mainers," Rowe said.

About 225,000 Maine people are eligible for the program, and enrollment began just a few weeks ago.

$250,000 JUDGMENT LEVIED AGAINST LOGGER Maine Forest Service Urges Landowners to Call Before You Cut

July 12, 2001

JULY 12, 2001

CONTACT: Linda Conti, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Officials with the Department of Conservation's Maine Forest Service and the Attorney General's office announced today that the Kennebec County Superior Court has found that Gerald Nelson, Jr. of Freedom violated the Unfair Trade Practices Act and the Consumer Solicitation Sales Act when he cut wood on the property of 11 woodlot owners and either paid them far below market value, or never paid them at all. Nelson will pay a civil penalty of $110,000, which is based on 11 intentional violations of the Unfair Trade Practices Act at $10,000 per violation. In addition, the Court ordered Nelson to pay $146,360 in restitution to the 11 woodlot owners.

Justice Donald Marden found Nelson deceived woodlot owners on two facts: First, he misrepresented the nature and the extent of the harvest that he conducted. In each case Nelson agreed to "selectively harvest" the woodlot, meaning he would take some but not all of the trees so landowners could perform future harvests. Instead Nelson performed a "high-grade" harvest, taking more, and more valuable wood than originally agreed upon. Second, he deceived landowners regarding the price he would pay for the wood, promising "fair" value but compensating them well below that mark.

Assistant Attorney General Linda Conti, who represented the State at the trial said, "Maine forests are wild in some ways, but they are not the Wild West. People who ignore the law and cheat with impunity will be prosecuted."

Five of the 11 landowners are Maine residents, and the remaining landowners reside in Kentucky, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. The harvests took place over a five-year period, from 1996 - 2001. The woodlots were located throughout the state, from Augusta, west to Skowhegan, and east to West Rockport. In only two instances did landowners obtain a written contract, or check references.

"Your woodlot is valuable. Don't treat it any different than you would your savings account," said Maine Forest Service Director Tom Doak. "This case illustrates that there are those who prey on peoples' lack of understanding relative to the value of wood. While the vast majority of loggers are reputable individuals, I urge landowners to call the Maine Forest Service before anyone cuts their wood." Director Doak added the Maine Forest Service could help landowners protect the many values woodlots hold, both esthetically and monetarily.

The judge ordered that prior to any future dealings with landowners, Nelson must disclose in contracts - in 14 point boldface type - that the consumer understands that, "Gerald Nelson Jr. has violated the Maine unfair trade practices act as well as the consumer solicitation sales act because of his woodlot harvesting practices."

Patty Cormier, John Leavitt, Mark Mayhew, Jim Mcmullen, Dick Morse, Sue Myers, and Merle Ring of the Maine Forest Service carried out the investigation that led to the trial and Court Order. Assistant Attorney General Linda Conti litigated the case.

POOL HALL OWNER CONVICTED OF COCAINE TRAFFICKING

July 17, 2001

JULY 17, 2001

CONTACT: Lara M. Nomani, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8804

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced that Craig Simmons, 34, of Rockland, Maine pled guilty and was sentenced Monday on two charges of Trafficking in Cocaine (class B felonies).

Simmons pled guilty before Justice Francis Marsano in the Waldo County Superior Court. He was sentenced to serve four years in prison, with all but eight months suspended and was ordered to pay a $3,000 fine. Once released, Simmons will be on probation for an additional three years. His conditions of probation will require him to completely abstain from the use or possession of illegal drugs, to agree to random drug searches of his person, residence, and motor vehicle, and to undergo drug counseling to the satisfaction of his probation officer.

The Simmons case was investigated by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) and was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General and Maine Drug Task Force Attorney Lara M. Nomani. It follows a series of investigations into suspected drug trafficking at Homeport Billiards, a Rockland pool hall and tavern.

In 1998, an MDEA investigation into suspected cocaine trafficking at Homeport Billiards resulted in the conviction of three individuals for drug offenses. In 2000, the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement and the Attorney General assessed Homeport over $1000 in fines because cocaine had been sold on the premises in violation of Homeport's liquor license. Also in 2000, the Rockland City Council denied Homeport Billiards a liquor license. Simmons had denied any knowledge of cocaine trafficking at his business during the liquor license proceedings. In pleading to the present charges, he admitted to selling cocaine at Homeport Billiards and to possessing cocaine at his residence with the intent to traffick.

ATTORNEY GENERAL SUES CON ARTIST "ENERGY MACHINE" PROMOTERS

July 27, 2001

JULY 27, 2001

CONTACT: Linda Conti, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

The Attorney General's Office announced today that it has sued Dennis Lee doing business as (d/b/a) United Community Services of America and Better World Technologies of New Jersey and Daniel Davis d/b/a Diversified Technology of Winslow, Maine for promoting a fraudulent scheme to consumers. Lee and Davis have been promoting a machine that they claim will generate free electricity for homeowners and provide them with an opportunity to "earn a very handsome income."

The Attorney General's suit seeks an injunction barring Lee and Davis from taking money from consumers as well as civil penalties and the costs of suit.

"While Lee and Davis have been advertising in Maine for some time, the Attorney General's office recently learned that they were going to be conducting a live demonstration on Saturday, July 28, 2001 in Oakland, Maine," said Linda Conti, Assistant Attorney General. "We do not want people who attend the meeting to be deceived by Lee's false claims and pay him any money."

According to the State's expert witness, the machine cannot possibly do what Lee claims it does. Other claims made by Lee and Davis include engines that run on water, soda pop and even pickle juice.

"The Defendants' claims that the device will produce free electricity are pure science fiction," said Attorney General Steven Rowe. "As long as the universe is enforcing the laws of physics, we will enforce the laws of Maine against these con artists."

CERTIFIED NURSING ASSISTANT PLEADS GUILTY TO ASSAULT OF ALZHEIMER'S PATIENT IN NURSING HOME

July 30, 2001

JULY 30, 2001

CONTACT: Kerry O'brien, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced that Ned Broussard, 46, of Exeter, New Hampshire, pled guilty last Thursday in York District Court to one count of assault against a resident at Sentry Hill Assisted Living Facility in York, Maine. In August of 1999 while Broussard worked as a C.N.A. at Sentry Hill, two co-workers witnessed him slapping an elderly resident in the head; Sentry Hill immediately terminated Broussard.

Judge Jon D. Levy of the Maine District Court accepted the plea agreement reached by the parties and sentenced Broussard to a sixty-day term of imprisonment, with all but two days suspended, with one year of probation and a $250 fine. The assault is Broussard's first offense. As special conditions of probation, Broussard may not work in any job with direct patient contact and he must disclose to any present or future health care employers his conviction for assault of a patient. Federal law will also bar Broussard from working in the vast majority of health care facilities for five years. At Thursday's hearing, Broussard indicated that he would not work in heath care again.

Attorney General Rowe said, "It is unacceptable for any nursing home resident to suffer at the hands of a caretaker. This office will continue to actively prosecute individuals who abuse the most vulnerable Mainers."

Detective Scott Michaud of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) in the Maine Attorney General's Office investigated the case and MFCU Director Kerry O'Brien prosecuted it. The MFCU is a state and federally funded entity with statewide jurisdiction to prosecute fraud by Medicaid providers and patient abuse in Medicaid facilities. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have MFCUs.

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT ACTION FOLLOWING ASSAULT ON PENOBSCOT TRIBAL POLICE

May 1, 2002

MAY 1, 2002

CONTACT: JERRY REID, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that his office had filed a civil enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against brothers Richard Steven Hamilton, 41, and Harry J. Hamilton, 32, of Indian Island. The Attorney Generalā€™s complaint, filed in Penobscot County Superior Court, arises out of an incident that took place on Indian Island in the early morning hours of November 3, 2001. The complaint alleges that Richard Hamilton assaulted a Penobscot Indian Nation police officer while the officer was placing him under arrest for disorderly conduct. During the assault Richard Hamilton struck the officer in the face, breaking his tooth. Richard Hamilton also made repeated, racially derogatory remarks toward the officer, who is Caucasian.

The complaint alleges that Harry Hamilton attempted to assault and threatened to kill the officer during the arrest of his brother. Harry Hamilton is accused of approaching the officer brandishing a piece of split wood and yelling ā€œIā€™m going to kill youā€ and stating that no one would care because it would be ā€œjust another white guy dead.ā€

The Attorney Generalā€™s complaint seeks a restraining order against both Hamiltons. The complaint was referred to the Attorney Generalā€™s Office by the Penobscot Indian Nation Police Department.

Attorney General Rowe stated:

ā€œMaineā€™s Civil Rights Act protects all people from racially motivated assaults and threats of violence, regardless of the color of their skin. The law is color-blind and the Attorney Generalā€™s Office will enforce it in an even-handed way whenever someone is victimized because of someoneā€™s bias against their race.ā€

Attorney General Rowe expressed his appreciation for the investigation conducted by the Penobscot Indian Nation Police Department in this matter.

AG POSES MOTHER'S DAY QUESTION? WHO ELSE IS CALLING YOUR MOTHER?

May 8, 2002

MAY 8, 2002

CONTACT: Charles Dow, Director, Communications And Legislative Affairs
207-626-8577

Attorney General Steven Rowe today urged Mainers to give their mothers a great gift for the price of a postage stamp: get their names placed on the telemarketing Do Not Call list.

Attorney General Rowe said, "We know that senior citizens are sometimes targeted by telemarketers, and that the calls can be very bothersome and confusing. We should all save our moms the hassles and write to the Direct Marketing Association to get their names and numbers on the Do Not Call list."

Maine law requires telemarketers selling consumer merchandise to update their Do Not Call lists against the master Do Not Call list maintained by the Direct Marketing Association every six months. After that, the telemarketer may not call a person on the list unless there is already an established business relationship between them.

Letters to the Direct Marketing Association should include the names and phone numbers to be placed on the Do Not Call list and should be addressed to:

Direct Marketing Association
Telephone Preference Center
PO Box 9014
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014

Rowe also urged Mainers to place their own names and numbers on the Do Not Call list, saying, "Peace and quiet and freedom from annoying calls are great gifts to give ourselves any time."

Attorney General Steven Rowe noted that sellers of fraudulent investments frequently target the elderly. "If the promised rate of return on an investment seems too good to be true, it probably is not true," said Rowe.

According to Christine A. Bruenn, Securities Administrator for the State, securities must be registered with the State, and sellers of securities must be licensed. Bruenn recommends that Maine residents check out potential investments with her office by calling, toll-free, 1-877-624-8551. Residents also should use the toll-free number for questions or complaints about anyone selling investments.

SACO PIZZERIA SETTLES CHILD LABOR CASE WITH STATE

May 13, 2002

MAY 13, 2002

CONTACT: Pamela. W. Waite, Assistant Attorney General
207-626-8800
Michael V. Frett, Director, Maine Dept. Of Labor Bureau Of Labor Standards
207-624-6400

The Attorney General's office and the Maine Department of Labor today announced the settlement of a child labor case with Rosa Linda's Pizzeria and CafƩ of Saco. The agreement requires Rosa Linda's to pay $34,250 to the State in a settlement for violations involving 15, 16, and 17-year-olds who worked at Rosa Linda's in Saco, Maine. These violations occurred between October of 1997 and January of 2000 and include statutory work permit restrictions, daily hour restrictions, morning/evening hour restrictions, and weekly hour restrictions.

In announcing the settlement, Assistant Attorney Pamela Waite stated, "Rosa Linda's was cooperative with the Bureau and the Attorney General's office during the investigation. Rosa Linda's has taken responsibility for the violations, which it claims were inadvertent, and has taken remedial action through the operation and management of its stores so that future violations will not occur."

"The Maine Department of Labor takes seriously its responsibility to enforce child labor laws," stated Michael V. Frett, Director of the Bureau of Labor Standards for the Maine Department of Labor. "I encourage employers who have questions on this subject to contact us for information or training."

Attorney General Steven Rowe stated, "Our young people are our State's most precious resource. This office will continue to work to improve conditions for children in the workplace and elsewhere."

HEROIN TRAFFICKER GETS STIFF SENTENCE

May 8, 2002

MAY 8, 2002

CONTACT: STEPHANIE ANDERSON, District Attorney 207-871-8384 Lea-Anne Jameson, Assistant Attorney General 207-871-8384

Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson and Attorney General Steven Rowe announced that Lucas Gragg, 21, of Lewiston was sentenced to seven years in prison with all but three years suspended followed by three years probation for trafficking in heroin. Superior Court Justice Roland Cole handed down the sentence yesterday. Anderson stated that the stiff sentence was uncommon for a trafficker with no prior convictions, but was wholly warranted by the heinousness of the crime and Gragg's unrepentant attitude. Assistant Attorney General Lea-Anne Jameson, who is assigned to the District Attorney's Office, handled the case for the State.

On April 29, 2001, Maine State Police and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency arrested Gragg on the Maine Turnpike in Scarborough en route to Lewiston on his return from Lowell, Massachusetts, with 1000 bags of heroin valued at well over $20,000.

Virtually all heroin involved in Lewiston-Auburn area crimes since September of 2000 can be attributed to Gragg and his co-defendant John Nauyokas, also 21 and of Lewiston. Prior to that date heroin was not prevalent in that area. According to court documents Lucas Gragg built his heroin trade by finding "fresh new kids" giving them free "dope" to get them "hooked" to turn them into "customers for life." He also targeted young people attending all night dance parties known as "raves." He gave away the first two bags as samples to children and young adults between the ages of 16-20, knowing they would come back for more. The price per bag thereafter was $20 to $30.

"Mr. Gragg epitomizes the worst type of drug trafficker - targeting children and maliciously turning them, their families and their communities down a path of addiction and destruction for personal profit," stated Anderson. "The numbers of lives he has destroyed is enormous. But even to this day, Gragg is adamantly unrepentant. This attitude, coupled with his opportunistic preying on people, warranted this stiff sentence. Justice Cole absolutely did the right thing. We need to continue to raise the sentencing bar for this type of case in Maine. If we don't, we can kiss our children and their futures goodbye."

Assistant Attorney General Lea-Anne Jameson said, "This case holds another lesson about raves for parents and young people: rave attendees are the targets of aggressive, predatory drug dealers."

STATE SETTLES SEVERANCE PAY CASE FOR LAID-OFF VISHAY-SPRAGUE WORKERS

June 6, 2002

JUNE 6, 2002

CONTACT: Gwendolyn D. Thomas, Assistant Attorney General
207-626-8800
Michael Frett, Director, Bureau Of Labor Standards Maine Department Of Labor
207-624-6406

The State today announced the settlement of a lawsuit against Vishay-Sprague over severance pay. The settlement results from ongoing cooperative discussions between the State and Vishay-Sprague. Under the settlement, Vishay-Sprague has agreed to pay more than $2.8 million in addition to the $1.7 million the company has already paid or will be paying to workers under the company's own severance pay policy. Maine law requires long-established, large employers to pay severance to laid-off workers employed three or more years based on a "one week's pay per year employed" formula after the employer substantially ceases operation of a facility. Payments to eligible workers will be made in lump sums within a few weeks of the Superior Court's final approval of the settlement.

Assistant Attorneys General Gwendolyn Thomas, William Laubenstein, and Elizabeth Wyman and Bureau of Labor Standards Director Michael Frett, Wage and Hour Division Director Anne Harriman, and Chief Labor and Safety Inspector Royal Bouchard worked on the case for the State.

Thomas said, "Maine's severance pay law recognizes the impact large-scale layoffs have on employees and local economies. We believe that this $2.8 million will go a long way toward easing the burden on both."

"We recognize the burden this lengthy process has placed on the laid-off Vishay-Sprague workers," Frett said, "This settlement is a conclusive showing that all matters coming under the Maine Severance Pay law will be fairly and vigorously pursued."

CREDIT NOW AGREES TO FORGIVE CAR LOANS

June 10, 2002

JUNE 10, 2002

CONTACT: James A. McKenna, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has settled a lawsuit against Credit Now Auto Company and Atlantic Acceptance Corporation (the Defendants), concerning the State's allegations that they improperly disposed of some of the vehicles they had repossessed when consumers defaulted on their loans. As a result of this settlement, as many as 600 Credit Now consumers will have their outstanding loans forgiven and could also receive back any money the Defendants collected after their vehicles had been repossessed.

The State's suit alleged that since 1993 the Defendants have been repossessing vehicles and then selling a significant number of them to their own agent at a dealers-only wholesale auction. After the auction, the consumer still owed the difference between the outstanding loan amount and the wholesale auction price. The Defendants then re-sold these cars at a higher price off a Credit Now retail lot, beginning the process again.

"As a result of this practice," said Attorney General Rowe, "Credit Now and Atlantic Acceptance often had the best of both worlds: they obtained a large loan deficiency against the consumer when they sold the car at the wholesale auction. Then they also realized for themselves the profits from the higher priced sale of the vehicle off their retail lots." The Attorney General said that it was the State's position that the defaulting consumers should have benefited from the higher priced retail sales of their repossessed vehicles and therefore would have owed the Defendants significantly less than the Defendants charged them after they repossessed their vehicles.

In settling the suit the Defendants also agreed to pay the State a civil penalty of $40,000 and $11,000 in attorney's fees. The Defendants did not admit to any wrongdoing.

The settlement provides that:

  1. Any Credit Now consumers who defaulted on the loan with the Defendants and whose car was then purchased by their agent at the dealers-only auction would have any outstanding loan deficiency forgiven.

  2. Any consumers who signed a release would receive back any money collected from the consumer after their cars had been repossessed.

The Attorney General will contact by mail eligible consumers and describe to them the money-back remedy provided by this settlement. The Defendants have 60 days to provide the Attorney General with the names and addresses of all eligible Credit Now customers.

Assistant Attorney General James McKenna, who handled the case for the State, estimates that more than 600 consumers may be eligible for relief. Attorney General Rowe specifically commended the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for its thorough investigation of this case.

INSURANCE SALESMAN GETS TWO YEARS IN PRISON FOR BILKING ELDERLY CLIENTS OUT OF OVER $1 MILLION

June 24, 2002

JUNE 24, 2002

CONTACT: Christine Bruenn, State Securities Administrator 207-624-8551

Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General 207-822-0260 Maine Superior Court Justice Ellen Gorman today sentenced Richard H. Walls, 58, formerly of Waterville, Maine and now of Lubbock, Texas, to seven years in prison with all but two years suspended on felony securities convictions. Walls will be on probation for eight years after his release and will pay $1,012,241 in restitution to his victims.

A Franklin County jury found Walls guilty on June 12, 2002, after a week-long trial. Walls was convicted of using fraud and deception in the sale of securities, selling unregistered securities, selling securities without a license, and violating an order of the Maine Securities Administrator that he not associate with any issuers of securities. Each conviction carried a maximum five-year sentence.

The evidence presented in court by Assistant Attorney General Carlos Diaz showed that Walls sold investments in four Florida start-up companies to more than two-dozen Maine residents, most of whom were elderly. The investors testified that Walls, their long-time trusted insurance salesman, failed to disclose the risky nature of the investments. Walls also failed to disclose that the securities were not registered with the Maine Office of Securities and that he was not licensed to sell them in Maine.

Before imposing sentence, Justice Gorman stated, "If anyone knew or should have known that these were not the investments to offer to long-time elderly clients, it was Mr. Walls."

Many of the victims invested their life savings. Although the victims initially received dividends on the investments, the payments soon stopped. None of the victims has been able to recover their investment. The victims' losses exceed $1 million.

Walls was prosecuted under the Maine securities laws. "The securities laws are designed to protect individuals, like the victims here, who do not have the resources to guard against fraudulent and speculative investments," Diaz said.

Attorney General Steven Rowe noted that sellers of fraudulent investments frequently target the elderly. "If the promised rate of return on an investment seems too good to be true, it probably is not true," said Rowe.

According to Christine A. Bruenn, Securities Administrator for the State, securities must be registered with the State, and sellers of securities must be licensed. Bruenn recommends that Maine residents check out potential investments with her office by calling, toll-free, 1-877-624-8551. Residents also should use the toll-free number for questions or complaints about anyone selling investments.

PORTLAND MAN MISUSED THOUSANDS IN MOTHER'S MONEY

October 2, 2001

On Thursday, September 27, 2001, Gregory L. Arsenault, 39, of Portland, pleaded guilty on September 27 to one count of Misuse of Entrusted Property (Class D) in Cumberland County District Court. Arsenault had power of attorney for his elderly mother, who suffers from dementia and resides in a Portland nursing home. Arsenault engaged in internet sports gambling, betting with his own credit card. He then used his mother's money to pay his credit card bill. He also used his mother's money on trips to a casino in Connecticut and to take a cruise on the Scotia Prince with his girlfriend. The most egregious aspect of the case-the loss of over $80,000 in risky day trading of stock--was not prosecutable because he was technically authorized to make legal investments.

Arsenault was sentenced to 180 days in jail, all but 10 days suspended, with one year probation. He must pay $4,177.26 in restitution. He will not be allowed to benefit from the sale of his mother's remaining asset: her home.

The case was prosecuted by Cumberland County Assistant District Attorney Deborah Chmielewski and investigated by Detective Mark Walsh, the elder financial exploitation investigator in the Attorney General's Office. DHS Adult Protective Caseworkers Julie Martin and Andrea Lee helped prepare the case for filing.

Detective Walsh said that the case is not uncommon.

ATTORNEY GENERAL SETTLES MAJOR DRUG PRICE MANIPULATION CASE

October 3, 2001

OCTOBER 3, 2001

CONTACT: Marci A. Alexander, Assistant Attorney General, Director, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit within his office has joined other states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government in settling allegations against TAP Pharmaceutical Products, Inc. (TAP) that TAP illegally marketed and manipulated the price of its prostate cancer drug Lupron. Maine Medicaid's share of the settlement is over $450,000. The State will retain around $170,000.

This state settlement was reached in conjunction with a federal settlement negotiated by the United States Attorney's Office in Boston, Massachusetts. Under the federal agreement, TAP will plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to violate the Prescription Drug Marketing Act, and enter a civil settlement to pay damages to Medicare and other federally funded health care programs. As part of the federal settlement, TAP will pay the federal government $524.3 million as well as a substantial criminal fine.

These settlements are the culmination of a lengthy investigation into TAP's marketing practices. The marketing practice centered around TAP's provision of free dosages of Lupron to physicians and other providers, knowing that these providers would bill these free dosages to health care insurers, including Medicaid and Medicare. When TAP failed to include the free Lupron in the calculation of its "best price" as required under the federal Medicaid drug rebate program, the State of Maine alleges, the state Medicaid programs received lower rebate amounts than were due.

A second marketing practice addressed by this settlement involved TAP's inflation of Average Wholesale Price (AWP). Medicare and most state Medicaid programs base pharmaceutical reimbursements on AWP. By inflating AWP, the State of Maine alleges, TAP created an economic incentive for physicians to prescribe its product, because the physician kept the "spread" between the true purchase price and the reported AWP. This resulted in damage to the various Medicaid programs by causing inflated reimbursement to physicians and others who used TAP's products.

As part of the agreement in principle with the states, TAP will be required to report accurate pricing information to the state Medicaid programs as well as the commercial price reporting services that provide pricing information to the states. Additionally, TAP will cooperate with the states in investigating other health care providers, including physicians, who have damaged the Medicaid programs by taking advantage of TAP's marketing schemes.

Finally, as part of the settlement, TAP has entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the United States Department of Health and Human Service's Inspector General. The CIA will require strict scrutiny of TAP's marketing and sales practices for the next seven years.

Assistant Attorney General Marci A. Alexander, Director of Maine's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, said the case represents some of the worst waste and fraud in the health care system. "Some doctors and pharmaceutical companies dance the Lambada while the people of Maine feed millions into the jukebox. It's disgusting."

NEW MAINE LAW REQUIRES WRITTEN DISCLOSURES FOR NEGATIVE OPTION SALES MADE OVER TELEPHONE

October 3, 2001

OCTOBER 3, 2001

CONTACT: Charles Dow, Director, Communications And Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577

"If you like the product, simply keep it, and we will bill your credit card," says the telemarketer. "Not so fast," says the Maine Legislature.

The Maine Legislature last spring passed a new consumer protection law to regulate "negative option sales," so-called because the sale is completed when the consumer fails to act to prevent it. Telemarketers may no longer charge a consumer for a good or service after a trial period unless they send the consumer, at least 15 days prior to any charge, a clearly written description of the good or service being purchased, the amount to be charged, and the calendar date the consumer will be charged for the good or service if the consumer does not cancel the sale. This notice also must provide the specific steps by which the consumer can cancel the agreement by both mail and telephone. Failure to provide the required notices constitutes a violation of the Unfair Trade Practices Act, which can be enforced by the Attorney General or by private parties.

The new law does not apply to sales under $25 or to sales of credit, insurance, or securities.

The Attorney General's Office drafted and proposed the bill in response to many complaints from consumers who claimed they never agreed to be billed for goods or services sold over the telephone.

Attorney General Steven Rowe warned that the increased convenience of credit cards and telephone sales must be balanced by increased consumer vigilance. "We all must read our credit card statements and scan our mail carefully. My office will enforce the law, but people need to report violations to us." The phone number at the AG's Office is 626-8800.

Assistant Attorney General James McKenna of the AG's Public Protection Division said, "Consumer protection laws are great, but having them is not like having barking guard dogs in your financial dooryard. It is more like having a cop down the street. It does not relieve us of our personal responsibility to watch our wallets."

U.S. SUPREME COURT NEITHER ACCEPTS NOR REJECTS RX CASE

October 9, 2001

OCTOBER 9, 2001

CONTACT: Andrew Hagler Or John Brautigam, Assistant Attorneys General
207-626-8800

The United States Supreme Court today put off a decision on whether or not to hear the case involving the Maine Rx Program. Instead, the Court invited the Solicitor General of the United States to weigh in on the deliberations on behalf of the federal government.

Attorney General Rowe said, "While we had hoped that the legal barriers to implementing the program would be lifted today, we respect the Court's careful deliberation."

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Hagler, who is the State's counsel of record in the case, said, "The Court has simply turned to the Solicitor General and asked, 'What do you think?' It bodes neither well nor ill for our side. Now we wait and see."

AG SEEKS TO CLARIFY AND CONSISTENTLY ENFORCE LAW ENFORCEMENT ACT

October 10, 2001

OCTOBER 10, 2001

CONTACT: Charles Dow, Director, Communications And Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577

Attorney General Steven Rowe has communicated in recent weeks with scores of law enforcement officials in Maine about application and enforcement of the Maine Law Enforcement Officers Solicitation Act ("the Act"). The Act prohibits solicitations from the general public for the tangible benefit of a law enforcement officer, agency, or association.

In the attached letter to members of the Maine law enforcement community, Attorney General Rowe said that there appears to be confusion regarding the types of fundraising activities that are allowed under the Act. He provided a simple framework for application of the Act, and several examples of legal and illegal conduct.

Attorney General Rowe wrote: "We are all sworn to uphold the law, and the Maine Solicitation by Law Enforcement Officers Act places on us the shared responsibility for preserving the integrity of law enforcement. To that end, I am instructing my staff to work with you to apply and enforce the Solicitation by Law Enforcement Officers Act consistently, on a prospective basis, in accordance with the principles set forth in this letter."

At a recent meeting of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, Rowe pointed to the legislative history of the Act dating back to 1977, as well as State and federal court decisions from the 1980's and 90's. "It is clear that the purpose of the Act is to protect the integrity of law enforcement from the appearance of coercion inherent in every solicitation on behalf of law enforcement," said Rowe. The Legislature initially passed the Act in 1977 in response to high-pressure fundraising on behalf of some law enforcement associations.

Rowe acknowledged that some illegal solicitations, especially those by private citizens, have been carried out with admirable community service at heart. However, court decisions concerning the Act have made it clear that officials may run afoul of the Constitution by picking and choosing causes. He said that the Attorney General's Office would apply the Act evenly to everyone. He also said that he would not file enforcement actions based on innocent violations of the Act that predated his September 28 letter. He asked law enforcement officials for their assistance in educating the public about the law.

For more information on the legal or legislative history of the Law Enforcement Officers Solicitation Act, contact Chuck Dow in the Attorney General's Office at 626-8577.

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS CASE IN BANGOR BASED ON ANTI-PAKISTANI THREATS

October 12, 2001

OCTOBER 12, 2001

CONTACT: Thomas Harnett, Assistant Attorney General For Civil Rights Education And Enforcement 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that his office has filed a civil enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Jeffrey Saulnier, 44, of Bangor, as a result of threats made by Saulnier against the owner of the Bahaar Pakistani Restaurant located on Hammond Street in Bangor. The State alleges that Mr. Saulnier's threats were motivated by a bias against the victim because of the victim's Pakistani ancestry.

The complaint, filed in Penobscot County Superior Court, alleges that Saulnier directed a profanity-laced tirade at the victim during which he repeatedly told the victim to "go back to where he came from" and threatened to kill the victim and others in his restaurant.

The Attorney General's complaint seeks to permanently enjoin Saulnier from any further acts of violence, property damage, or trespass against the victim and others motivated by bias.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "Threats of physical violence directed at a person because he is from Pakistan or directed at persons from certain ethnic or religious groups are illegal and will not be tolerated. The defendant's threats, which occurred shortly after the tragic events of September 11th, have no place in a civil society."

Attorney General Rowe commended the Bangor Police Department for its investigation of the incident. The department referred the case to Rowe's office for possible action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

ATTORNEY GENERAL BRINGS CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT FOR ASSAULT ON AFGHAN-AMERICAN

October 22, 2001

OCTOBER 22, 2001

CONTACT:Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General 207-822-0498

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed a lawsuit under the Maine Civil Rights Act against a Portland man for assaulting a City of Portland parking official because he was from Afghanistan. The Complaint alleges that on September 21, 2001, after receiving a ticket on Congress Street for illegally parking his automobile, 47 year old Leslie Holmes accosted the parking official by repeatedly yelling obscenities at him, calling him an Afghan, and yelling that he should "go home" to Afghanistan. The Complaint further alleges that Holmes forcibly struck the parking official in the chest and pushed him backwards, and that he tried to spit on the parking official.

The Maine Civil Rights Act prohibits any person from assaulting or threatening another person because of that person's national origin or ancestry (or because of race, color, religion, sex, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation). The lawsuit seeks a court order that would make it a crime for Holmes to violate the Maine Civil Rights Act again in the future. Holmes also faces civil penalties of up to $5,000.

Attorney General Rowe said, "Many people of Afghan descent came to the United States because they faced persecution and violence at home. They came here, as many of our families did, because this nation stands for freedom and justice. We must do everything we can to ensure that this remains the case."

The Attorney General expressed his appreciation for the prompt investigation of this matter by the Portland Police Department.

FOOD SERVICES COMPANY PAYS OVER $61,000 TO SETTLE 203 CHILD LABOR VIOLATIONS

May 22, 2002

MAY 13, 2002

Pamela. W. Waite, Assistant Attorney General
207-626-8800
Michael V. Frett, Director, Maine Dept. Of Labor Bureau Of Labor Standards
207-624-6400

The Attorney General's office and the Maine Department of Labor today announced the settlement of a child labor case with Rosa Linda's Pizzeria and CafƩ of Saco. The agreement requires Rosa Linda's to pay $34,250 to the State in a settlement for violations involving 15, 16, and 17-year-olds who worked at Rosa Linda's in Saco, Maine. These violations occurred between October of 1997 and January of 2000 and include statutory work permit restrictions, daily hour restrictions, morning/evening hour restrictions, and weekly hour restrictions.

In announcing the settlement, Assistant Attorney Pamela Waite stated, "Rosa Linda's was cooperative with the Bureau and the Attorney General's office during the investigation. Rosa Linda's has taken responsibility for the violations, which it claims were inadvertent, and has taken remedial action through the operation and management of its stores so that future violations will not occur."

"The Maine Department of Labor takes seriously its responsibility to enforce child labor laws," stated Michael V. Frett, Director of the Bureau of Labor Standards for the Maine Department of Labor. "I encourage employers who have questions on this subject to contact us for information or training."

Attorney General Steven Rowe stated, "Our young people are our State's most precious resource. This office will continue to work to improve conditions for children in the workplace and elsewhere."

PITTSFIELD MAN GETS 2 ½ YEAR PRISON TERM FOR SOMERSET COUNTY COCAINE TRAFFICKING

August 1, 2002

AUGUST 30, 2002

CONTACT: LARA NOMANI, Assistant Attorney General
207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe reported today that Craig Hunt, age 43, of Pittsfield was convicted and sentenced yesterday for Trafficking in Cocaine (Class B). An April 19, 2001, police search of Hunt's Pittsfield home yielded over an ounce of cocaine, scales for weighing the drug, and $653 dollars in drug proceeds.

In Somerset County Superior Court, Justice Joseph Jabar sentenced Hunt to serve six years in prison, with all but thirty months suspended. Upon release, Hunt will be on probation for an additional four years. His conditions of probation require him to completely abstain from the use or possession of alcohol, illegal drugs, to agree to random drug searches, and to undergo drug counseling. The drug money was forfeited to the State.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Lara M. Nomani, and was investigated by the Somerset County Sheriff's Office. Nomani stated: "Sadly, cocaine trafficking and abuse is still with us, even in rural Maine. Cocaine is a killer, on par with heroin and prescription pills. Cocaine traffickers can expect to be caught, and when convicted, to be locked up."

WITH BUYING CLUBS OVER TELEMARKETING AND CREDIT CARD FRAUD

October 24, 2001

OCTOBER 24, 2001

Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General 207-822-0498

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has agreed to join a multi-state settlement with Triad Discount Buying Service, Inc., a Florida-based buying club, along with its owner, Ira Smolev, and several related companies, over claims that Triad used telemarketing and credit card fraud to deceive consumers into purchasing club memberships.

Approximately 40 states joined the settlement, which is similar to a separate agreement between Triad and the Federal Trade Commission. The settlement involves payment of $8.3 million in restitution to approximately 276,000 consumers nationwide, and payment of $750,000 to the participating states for investigative costs. Approximately 1,100 of those consumers are from Maine. Maine will receive $2,500 in investigative costs.

The states' lawsuits charged the Triad companies with deceptively signing up buying club members through third-party telemarketers. A number of Maine telemarketing firms are known to have sold Triad memberships. Consumers who called to order a product advertised on television or radio were told that they could also receive a free 30-day membership in a buying club and enjoy big savings on other items. The consumer's credit card number, having already been "captured" from the purchase of the original product, was then charged for buying club membership fees, without the consumer's knowledge or authorization. The fee ranged from $49.00 to $96.00 per year, and renewal fees were charged annually. An inconspicuous notification of the charge was mailed to the consumer in a packet of promotional materials, indicating that the consumer would be charged unless the consumer cancelled the membership within thirty days.

The settlement also involves injunctive relief, requiring Smolev and the Triad companies, which are currently in bankruptcy court, to drastically revise their marketing practices to avoid future deceptions. The injunction prohibits the Triad companies from misrepresenting "free" offers of goods or services and failing to disclose any obligations of consumers in accepting trial offers. The companies are also prohibited from signing up new members or renewing existing memberships without express, verifiable authorization from the consumer, and from obtaining or disseminating the consumer's personal billing information, including credit and unique identifying information, without authorization.

"By joining this settlement we have gained the ability to enforce the injunction in Maine courts, rather than relying on other states or the FTC to protect Maine consumers," Attorney General Rowe said. The Attorney General expressed his appreciation to the states of Florida and Missouri, which acted as the lead states in the multi-state investigation and settlement.

Partially in response to the telemarketing done by Triad, the Maine Legislature last spring passed a new consumer protection law to regulate "negative option sales," so-called because the sale is completed when the consumer fails to act to prevent it. Telemarketers may no longer charge a consumer for a good or service after a trial period unless they send the consumer, at least 15 days prior to any charge, a clearly written description of the good or service being purchased, the amount to be charged, and the calendar date the consumer will be charged for the good or service if the consumer does not cancel the sale. This notice also must provide the specific steps by which the consumer can cancel the agreement by both mail and telephone. Failure to provide the required notices constitutes a violation of the Unfair Trade Practices Act, which can be enforced by the Attorney General or by private parties.

The new law does not apply to sales under $25 or to sales of credit, insurance, or securities.

AG CHARGES AUGUSTA WOMAN OVER CONCEALMENT & DISPOSAL OF REMAINS OF FETUS OVER 20 WEEKS OF GESTATION

October 26, 2001

OCTOBER 26, 2001

CONTACT: Bill Stokes, Assistant Attorney General - Criminal Division Chief 207-626-8800

The Attorney General's Office has filed a complaint in Maine District Court in Augusta alleging that Ann Sanborn of Augusta violated the health statutes by failing to notify authorities of the death of a fetus over 20 weeks of gestation. The offense is a Class E crime punishable by no more than 6 months in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.

The charge follows the August 23 discovery of the fetal remains in a garbage bag hidden in the upstairs crawlspace of a Windsor home where Sanborn had stayed. The remains had decomposed considerably, and scientific tests were unable to determine whether the fetus had been born alive. Tests were, however, able to determine conclusively that the fetus was over 20 weeks of gestation, after which age a person has a duty to report the fetal death to authorities within fourteen days of the delivery.

Assistant Attorney General Bill Stokes, Chief of the Criminal Division of the AG's Office, said, "A still birth at this stage of pregnancy is tragic and sad, and it carries duties that were not observed here."

CONSUMER ALERT: AG WARNS AGAINST CONTRIBUTING TO MAINE VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS FUND, INC.

November 6, 2001

NOVEMBER 6, 2001

CONTACT: James Mckenna, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today asked Mainers to beware of telemarketers who say they are raising money for the Maine Volunteer Firefighters Fund ("the Fund"). Officials from the two statewide firefighters organizations say the Fund has no connection to Maine firefighters. The Fund is based in Florida.

Attorney General Rowe has received reports that the callers even claim that they got the consumers' names from the AG's Office or that the AG's Office was otherwise involved in the organization. "That is blatantly false," said Rowe.

Rowe said, "The tragic events of September 11 have made us all appreciate our firefighters more than ever. The way to express that appreciation is by thanking your local fire department in a way you deem appropriate, not by giving your credit card number to an out-of-state telemarketer."

"In general, people should recognize that fundraising is a profitable business. The telemarketer may keep seventy or eighty cents of every dollar you think you are contributing to a cause. It is almost always best to contribute directly to causes you support rather than through third parties," said Rowe.

Anyone who suspects a deceptive solicitation should get as much information as possible from the caller and notify the AG's Office at 626-8800.

ATTORNEY GENERAL PUSHES ENVIRONMENTAL LAW ENFORCEMENT IN FEDERAL COURTS

November 7, 2001

NOVEMBER 2001

CONTACT: Jon H. Edwards, Assistant Attorney General Natural Resources Division 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office is pushing to protect the environment in two cases of national significance-advocating in one case for the rights of states to press environmental enforcement independent of the federal government, and opposing any rollback of federal environmental standards in the other case.

In a brief authored by Maine Assistant Attorney General Jon Edwards and submitted by Attorney General Rowe and the Attorneys General of states from coast to coast, the states argue that the Court should respect the long tradition of state and federal government independence in enforcing their respective environmental laws. These laws allow independent enforcement actions by state and federal governments if, for example, state interests have not been adequately addressed by the federal EPA, or conversely states are not adequately enforcing environmental laws against polluters, as has long been Maine's contention with respect to air pollution emanating from industries in the Midwestern states. Prior court rulings on this issue have split, which makes this particular federal appeals court case of great significance.

"We are urging the appeals court to uphold the long-standing independence of state and federal governments in enforcing their respective environmental laws," said Attorney General Rowe. "By doing so, we hope the Court will act to protect the environment rather than the violators of the nation's environmental laws."

Assistant Attorney General Jon Edwards, a member of the Natural Resources Division, said that the federal hazardous waste statute involved in this suit specifically allows dual federal and state enforcement under their respective laws. If the federal government's enforcement action is barred in this lawsuit, the result would be to allow failure by other states to maintain and adhere to national standards that are important to Maine. "Uneven enforcement of environmental laws particularly hurts states like Maine, which suffer adverse effects of pollution generated in upwind or upstream states. In addition, law-abiding industries in one state could face unfair competitive disadvantage from law-breaking competitors in other states," said Edwards.

If the federal appeals court sides with the attorneys general, upholding EPA's and the states' right to pursue separate enforcement actions, there would be a conflict between two of the federal circuit courts. Such a "circuit split" could only be resolved if the Untied States Supreme Court ruled on the issue.

Attorney General Rowe also recently filed suit against the United States Department of Energy and Spencer Abraham, the Secretary of the Department of Energy, challenging an effort by the federal government to rollback energy efficiency standards for certain heating and cooling appliances. In this case, pending in federal district court in New York, a number of plaintiff states are seeking an injunction barring the Department of Energy from abandoning efficiency standards finalized under the Clinton administration. The higher efficiency standards for heating and cooling appliances were designed to reduce demand for electricity nationally, which in turn would reduce air pollution caused by the generation of electricity and alleviate regional power shortages. Since Maine's air quality is adversely affected by pollution from large, coal-fired electrical utilities in the Midwest and South, the new standards would have assisted Maine's efforts to clean the air. The measure also would have lowered electricity bills for consumers as they replaced older, less efficient appliances.

Maine will argue in the case that "anti-backsliding" provisions in federal law prevent the Department of Energy from abandoning the higher efficiency standards in favor of lower standards sought by lobbyists representing appliance manufacturers. The other Plaintiff States are New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, California and Nevada.

AG SETTLES MAINE'S CASE AGAINST BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE FOR $525,000

November 8, 2001

NOVEMBER 2001
Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Maine has joined other states in settling claims for unfair trade practices against Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., over defective tires sold by that company to Maine consumers. In addition to $525,000 in cash that will be divided between the State's General Fund and the fund the Attorney General's Office uses to enforce the Unfair Trade Practices Act for Maine consumers, the settlement also binds Bridgestone/Firestone to detailed consumer restitution practices and bans specific deceptive business practices, provided below in detail.

The State settlement comes on top of the $972,144 Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. has already reimbursed Maine consumers, either in cash or the replacement of 11,738 tires. This settlement does not affect the rights of private citizens to pursue their own claims against Bridgestone/Firestone, except to the extent of any offset for restitution that the consumer will already receive as part of the State's settlement.

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Diaz, who handled Maine's case from the AG's Public Protection Division, said the case is a win for Maine consumers. "We Mainers do so much driving on such a wide variety of road conditions, I think the settlement provisions requiring improved information sharing will take some of the mystery out of buying tires," said Diaz.

Attorney General Rowe said that the cash recovery is substantial by any standard, and that it will help both in the next State budget and in future consumer protection efforts. "The law gets enforced, tire buyers get the truth, the State's coffers get a boost, and consumers get some power. It is a real win for Maine people."

TERMS OF BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE SETTLEMENT

Restitution provisions:

  • Bridgestone/Firestone to reimburse or refer to arbitration certain consumer complaints forwarded to the Attorney's General Offices and/or relevant state agency prior to today that will have been submitted to BF prior to 12/31/01.

  • Anyone who was denied a refund under the "Voluntary Safety Tire Recall Reimbursement Program" or Customer Satisfaction Program will receive a letter that will explain that the consumer has an option to seek a reconsideration of his or her refund denial.

  • If the consumer returns the forms included with their notice, Bridgestone/Firestone will review the request. If there is credible evidence that a consumer essentially meets each requirement of the aforementioned programs, the consumer will be paid.

  • If Bridgestone/Firestone denies the claim, the consumer will be provided notice of the denial and the option to submit their claim to an independent Arbitrator, at no cost.

Permanent Injunction provisions:

  • The company may not misrepresent the safety or safety characteristics of any tire or tread pattern.

  • Bridgestone/Firestone may not misrepresent the characteristics, manufacturer or appropriate uses of a tire.

  • The company must be able to substantiate with competent and reliable scientific evidence any specific claims of tire safety, performance or durability.

  • Bridgestone/Firestone may not make misrepresentations during a recall or customer satisfaction program.

  • The company shall not provide or facilitate inconsistent information to consumers about tire pressure.

  • Bridgestone/Firestone must not make misrepresentations in or retroactively change any guarantee or warranty.

  • The company shall not misrepresent that they have given an expert all requested information.

  • Bridgestone/Firestone shall not misrepresent the expected life or wear pattern of a tire tread.

  • The company must handle consumer complaints in a truthful, ethical and timely manner.

  • Also under the agreement, Bridgestone/Firestone will provide detailed safety consumer information to consumers at the time of delivering tires including information about: proper tire maintenance, load capacity, air pressure; proper tire repair, and warranty information.

  • Bridgestone/Firestone also agrees to provide truthful sworn testimony and cooperation for the Multi-state Working Group in related investigations

ATTORNEY GENERAL ROWE ATTENDS PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE TASK FORCE MEETING IN D.C.

November 16, 2001

NOVEMBER 16, 2001

CONTACT: James M. Cameron, Assistant Attorney General - Drug Task Force Coordinator
207-626-8505

Attorney General Steven Rowe is meeting today in Washington, D.C. with the Attorneys General from Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and other states, as a participant in a Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force organized the National Association of Attorneys General. The Task Force has been working throughout the year in following areas:

  • Developing new laws, such as the bills submitted by Attorney General Rowe and passed by the current legislature in June 2001, to combat the illegal diversion and abuse of prescription drugs.

  • Studying ways to use existing prescription data to identify sources of illegal drug diversion.

  • Preventing the use of the Internet to obtain fraudulent prescriptions and illegally diverted drugs.

  • Working with the medical profession to develop education programs for health care providers to educate them about avoiding fraud by patients seeking drugs, and about safe methods of treating pain.

  • Working with the pharmaceutical industry to encourage the development of new formulations of pain medication that will be less attractive to drug abusers, and studying ways to speed up the FDA new drug approval process for these new, safer pain medications.

  • Develop educational prevention programs for high school students and their parents to teach them about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

Attorney General Steven Rowe also announced statistics today on the number of drug cases prosecuted by the Office of Attorney General Drug Task Force Attorneys throughout the state during the period from July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2001. The data includes statistics on the number of cases prosecuted and type of drug involved, by county and statewide. (See attached table and graph. Call James Cameron to get email versions.) Although the data is not a complete picture of drug activity in Maine, some interesting trends can be noted.

Statewide, the number of powder cocaine, "crack" cocaine, and marijuana cases completed were down over the previous twelve-month period. For the first time since the AG's Office began keeping statistics, cocaine cases made up less than a quarter of total cases. These decreases were offset by sharp increases in the number of cases involving the illegal use and sale of prescription narcotic drugs and heroin. Heroin cases were up over 60% from the previous 12-month period. The fastest growing drug category by far was prescription narcotics, with the number of cases doubling over the past two years. Together, heroin and prescription narcotic cases made up over 37% of cases prosecuted, reflecting a trend towards opiate abuse that has been on the rise in Maine and across the nation during the past several years.

Regional trends can be noted as well. The number of heroin and prescription narcotic cases combined in Cumberland County more than doubled in the most recent twelve-month period, compared to the previous twelve-month period. Also in Cumberland County, there was a decline in the number of crack cocaine cases, the more dangerous smokable form of the drug, and an increase in the number of powder cocaine cases, reversing a trend in recent years. This decline in the number of crack cocaine cases can also be seen in Androscoggin County, continuing a trend begun several years ago.

While prescription narcotic cases increased in virtually all parts of the state, a particularly dramatic rise occurred in Washington County, where the number of prescription drug cases jumped 280% over the year, from 10 cases in Fiscal Year (FY) 1999-2000, to 28 cases in FY 2000-2001; and in Cumberland County, where prescription cases jumped 350% from 8 cases in FY 1999-2000 to 28 cases in FY 2000-2001. Indeed, overall, Washington County had as many prescription drug cases closed as all of Cumberland County.

The prosecution data reflects some significant demographic trends as well. Certain drugs tend to be associated with different age groups. As was the case in the previous year, persons under 30 years of age tend to be involved with hallucinogenic drugs such as "ecstasy" (MDMA) (average age 24), LSD (average age 22- the youngest group for any drug), and psilocybin mushrooms (average age 26). Persons charged with offenses involving marijuana (average age 37-the oldest group for any drug), heroin (average age 34), illegally diverted prescription pills (average age 34), powder cocaine (average age 33), and crack cocaine (average age 32), tend to be older.

In response to the trend towards the use of prescription drugs, the Office of Attorney General worked with the Legislature to develop a package of legislation that increased the penalties for major traffickers in pills, prevented smuggling, and provided safeguards that will help prevent diversion of prescription drugs by making it harder for criminals to defraud doctors and pharmacies. The Office of Attorney General also developed legislation that increases the penalties for trafficking in hallucinogens such as "ecstasy" (MDMA) and other drugs associated with "raves." These laws took effect September 21, 2001.

This prosecution data reflects criminal cases that have been brought to court and completed in the reporting periods. Since criminal cases take some months to work their way through the criminal justice system, the trends that are suggested tend to reflect activity in the recent past, rather than current activity. The number of cases brought in any given period is influenced both by drug activity and available law enforcement resources.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "The cost of drug abuse and addiction in Maine-in both human and economic terms-is too great for any of us to ignore. We are all adversely affected by the crime, spoiled health, lost productivity, wasted family finances, ruined relationships, and wasted dreams caused by drugs. It is a problem we all must face together."

Assistant Attorney General and Drug Prosecution Coordinator James M. Cameron stated: "Opiate abuse can occur in any family, and frequently the culprit can be found right in the medicine cabinet. Patients should dispose of unused and unneeded narcotic painkillers. Painkillers can be a godsend for patients, but must be respected as powerful substances that can result in painful addiction."

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT ACTION

December 28, 2001

DECEMBER 28, 2001

CONTACT: Thomas Harnett, Assistant Attorney General For Civil Rights Education And Enforcement
207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that his office has filed a civil enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against a Topsham man for harassing, threatening and assaulting an African American man on the basis his race.

The complaint, filed in the Superior Court for Sagadahoc County, alleges that Carroll S. Brillant, 65, not only assaulted the 44-year-old African American man but also threatened the man's companion, a 36-year-old Caucasian woman.

According to the complaint, a pattern of racially motivated harassment and intimidation that began last June escalated into violence on October 28, 2001, when Brillant physically attacked the victim in the driveway of the home of the victim's companion. The victim was able to wrestle Brillant to the ground and hold him until police arrived and arrested him. Brillant continued to spew racial epithets even after his arrest.

The Attorney General's complaint seeks to permanently enjoin Brillant from any further threats or acts of violence, property damage, and trespass against the victims or others motivated by bias.

"Maine people will not stand for race-based violence. Our Civil Rights Act articulates our insistence on tolerance and respect for all people," Rowe said.

Assistant Attorney General Stanley W. Piecuch, who is handling the case for the State, said, "This case is particularly egregious because it quickly progressed beyond mere threats to physical violence. The goal of our case is to ensure that this does not happen again, not to this victim or anybody else."

Rowe commended the Topsham Police Department for its investigation of the incident. The department referred the case to Rowe's office for possible action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

COURT ISSUES INJUNCTION IN CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT FOR ASSAULT ON AFGHAN-AMERICAN

September 18, 2002

SEPTEMBER 18, 2002

CONTACT: LEANNE ROBBIN OR THOM HARNETT Assistant Attorneys General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that the Maine Superior Court has issued an injunction under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Freedom Hamlin as a result of her assault against a City of Portland parking official of Afghan descent. The Attorney General's Complaint alleges that on February 28, 2002, the official was placing a "boot" device on a car on Casco Street in Portland when Ms. Hamlin kicked him in the foot and spit in his face shouting, "Go back to the country you came from. You don't belong here." As a result of Hamlin's conduct, the official called the dispatcher for police back-up. Hamlin continued to yell that the official should go "back to Iran." The State's evidence was based not only on the victim's statements, but also the observations of a disinterested witness.

The victim was born in Afghanistan and came to the United States as a political refugee 20 years ago, when he was granted political asylum.

The Maine Civil Rights Act prohibits any person from assaulting or threatening another person because of that person's national origin or ancestry (or because of race, color, religion, sex, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation). Under the order, Hamlin is prohibited from having contact with the victim or from using physical force or violence or threatening to use physical force or violence against any person motivated by bias based upon national origin.

Attorney General Rowe said, "This victim, like many people from the Middle East, came to this country seeking refuge from political persecution and violence. We will continue to use the Maine Civil Rights Act to keep America's promise of freedom for all people."

ROWE UNVEILS NEW ATTORNEY GENERAL WEBSITE

September 19, 2002

SEPTEMBER 19, 2002

CONTACT: CHARLES DOW, Director Communications and Legislative Affairs
207-626-8577

Attorney General Steven Rowe today unveiled the new website for the Maine Attorney General's Office. The site provides a wealth of information and resources for Maine people, including the searchable 31-chapter Maine Consumer Law Guide, downloadable consumer complaint forms, and online sign-up for the telemarketing Do Not Call list.

Rowe said that the new website is focused on the needs of Maine people. Rowe said, "We asked ourselves, 'What do people need when they call or come by the AG's Office? How can we make that information more accessible?'"

"We have opened the electronic door to the AG's Office, and now Maine people can help themselves to consumer protection information, complaint forms, information on important cases, and the like. While they are on the website, they can put themselves and their friends and neighbors on the telemarketing Do Not Call list," said Rowe.

"If information is power, we are handing Maine people a lot of power today. That's our job," Rowe said.

BAILEYVILLE MAN SENTENCED TO FOUR YEARS IN PRISON FOR TRAFFICKING IN PRESCRIPTION NARCOTICS

October 2, 2002

OCTOBER 2, 2002 MATT ERICKSON, Assistant Attorney General 207-945-0373

Attorney General Steven Rowe reported today that James E. Storey, age 37, of Baileyville was sentenced Tuesday in Machias for two class A felony aggravated trafficking offenses for selling meperidine (Demerol) and oxycodone (OxyContin) in Baileyville on February 19 and 20 of this year. The charges were aggravated because of Storey's prior felony drug conviction in 1990. Storey is also scheduled to stand trial later this month for burglary in the Washington County Superior Court.

Chief Justice Nancy Mills sentenced Storey to four years in prison.

"It is unfortunate that Mr. Storey couldn't learn from his past mistakes. Perhaps four years in prison will impress upon him that the people of Maine will not tolerate drug dealers in their midst," said Assistant Attorney General Matt Erickson, the prosecutor in the case.

The drug charges were investigated by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, with assistance from the Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Pleasant Point Police Department. In announcing the sentence, Attorney General Steven Rowe stated: "Despite scarce resources, cooperation among state, county, and local authorities is beginning to put the squeeze on the drug trade in Washington County. "

ATTORNEYS GENERAL WIN ANTITRUST SETTLEMENT IN ALLEGING PRICING CONSPIRACY ON MUSIC CDS

September 30, 2002

SEPTEMBER 30, 2002 JOHN BRAUTIGAM, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8867

Music Distributors and Retailers Agree to Pay $67 Million in Cash, provide $75 Million Worth of Free CDs, and Change Sales Practices to Settle National Lawsuit.

Attorney General G. Steven Rowe announced today that five of the largest U.S. distributors of prerecorded music CDs along with three large retailers have agreed to provide $143,075,000 in cash and product to settle a nationwide antitrust lawsuit brought by the Attorneys General and private counsel. The settlement amount entails $67,375,000 in cash and $75,700,000 worth of music CDs.

In addition, the defendants agreed not to engage in sales practices that allegedly led to artificially high retail prices for music CDs. Maine, along with 39 other states and three territories filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court in August 2000. The lawsuit alleged that the five music distributors (including their affiliated labels) and three large music retailers entered into illegal conspiracies to raise the price of prerecorded music to consumers. The remaining states were represented by private counsel.

This national case has generated particular interest in Maine because Chief Judge D. Brock Hornby of the United States District Court in Portland was designated to preside over the litigation. It is rare for such large nationwide cases to be litigated in Maine.

The defendants in the lawsuit are music distributors Bertelsmann Music Group, Inc., EMI Music Distribution, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corporation, Sony Music Entertainment, Inc., Universal Music Group and national retail chains Transworld Entertainment Corporation, Tower Records, and Musicland Stores Corporation. The defendants have denied the allegations.

Today's settlement has three major components:

ā€¢ Sales Practice Changes. Defendants have agreed to an injunction preventing them from forcing retailers to increase CD prices and strengthening price competition in the industry.

ā€¢ Consumer Compensation. The defendants will pay $67,375,000 for nationwide consumer compensation, charitable purposes, or some combination of both. Individual members of the public who wish to file a claim will be notified of the claims process at a later date.

ā€¢ CDs for Charitable Groups. Defendants will provide approximately 7,000,000 music CDs (valued at $75,700,000) for nationwide distribution by the Attorneys General of the litigating states to not-for-profit corporations, charitable groups and governmental entities such as schools and libraries.

"The lawsuit and settlement demonstrate our commitment to halting corporate misconduct that causes our citizens to pay higher prices and distorts our free market economy," said Attorney General Rowe.

According to Assistant Attorney General John Brautigam approximately 24,733 music CDs valued at $337,898 will eventually be distributed to qualified corporations, charitable groups and government entities in Maine. In addition, an estimated $222,736 in cash refunds will be distributed to Maine residents who previously purchased music CDs. The settlement provides for a national claims process through which consumers will be able to obtain their refunds.

The settlement is subject to approval by the federal district court in Portland. Once the settlement is approved, the parties expect that cash and CDs will be distributed sometime in 2003.

For more information please contact Chuck Dow or John Brautigam at (207) 626-8800.

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT ACTION

October 29, 2002

OCTOBER 29, 2002 GERALD D. REID, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that his office has filed a civil enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Glen McFarland, 25, of Sanford. The complaint, filed in York County Superior Court, alleges that McFarland assaulted the victim because he believed the victim was gay. According to the Complaint, McFarland used derogatory language concerning the victim's perceived sexual orientation as he beat and kicked the victim. The Complaint also alleges that the assault caused injuries that required hospital treatment. The alleged attack occurred on August 14, 2002, on Pleasant Street in Springvale.

The Maine Civil Rights Act prohibits any person from assaulting or threatening another person motivated by reason of sexual orientation, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, gender, or physical or mental disability. The Attorney General's complaint seeks to enjoin McFarland from any further bias-motivated threats or acts of violence, property damage, or trespass against the victim or others. He also faces civil penalties of up to $5,000.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "The Civil Rights Act is intended to protect people in Maine against bias-motivated violence or threats of violence. We are working with local law enforcment to provide that protection and to make sure that those who violate this law are held accountable."

Rowe commended the Sanford Police Department for its investigation of the incident. The Department referred the case to Rowe's office for possible action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINST SPRINGVALE MAN FOR ANTI-GAY ATTACK

October 22, 2002

OCTOBER 22, 2002 SUSAN A. SPARACO, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that his office has filed a civil enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against William Livermore, 31, of Springvale. The complaint, filed in York County Superior Court, alleges that Livermore assaulted the victim because he believed that the victim was gay. The alleged attack occurred on March 12, 2002, at a bookstore located on Route 236 in Kittery. The Maine Civil Rights Act prohibits any person from assaulting or threatening another person motivated by reason of sexual orientation, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, gender, or physical or mental disability. The Attorney General's complaint seeks to permanently enjoin Livermore from any further threats or acts of violence, property damage, and trespass against the victim or others motivated by bias. He also faces civil penalties of up to $5,000.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "The Civil Rights Act protects us wherever we are."

Rowe commended the Kittery Police Department for its investigation of the incident. The Department referred the case to Rowe's office for possible action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.  

AG ROWE SENDS LETTER TO SOMALI COMMUNITY IN MAINE

October 9, 2002

OCTOBER 9, 2002 STEVEN ROWE, Attorney General 207-626-8599

Attorney General Steven Rowe today sent a letter to Maine Somalis. Several hundred copies of the letter, translated to the Somali language, were hand-delivered to Somali leaders in Lewiston and to places where Somalis gather in the Lewiston area. What follows is the complete text of the letter in English. Translated copies are available upon request.

October 9, 2002

Dear Members of the Somali Community in Maine,

I am writing to let you know how important you are to our Maine community. In just a short time, you have made significant contributions to the State of Maine. Through your work, cultural traditions, languages and religion, you have significantly added to the richness of this great State.

The horrors of civil war and factional fighting have caused great suffering in Somalia for the past decade, causing more than a half-million deaths. Many of you lost family and friends to the war and ensuing famine. You came to this country after being forced from your homeland.

You came here seeking freedom, opportunity and equality. You came here so that you could live in peace. You came here so that your children could have educational and economic opportunities. You came here so that you could work and advance as far as your talents and your willingness to work hard would take you. In short, you came here hoping to make a better life for you and your families.

I realize that for many of you those hopes have not been fully realized. Many of you do not feel safe and welcome. Instead of enjoying the opportunities you sought, many of you continue to live with fear and anxiety. Please know that the vast, vast majority of Maine residents want you to feel welcome and safe. We welcome you as fellow citizens and residents and we want you to know that you are a valued part of our communities and our State.

Members of the Office of the Attorney General will do everything within our power to work with local law enforcement officials to ensure that the civil rights of all Maine residents are protected. We will strive to ensure that Maine is a safe, tolerant and respectful place for everyone to live. We look forward to working with you toward that end.

Thank you.

Sincerely,  

G. Steven Rowe Attorney General

MAINE LAW BARS "NEW" SNOWMOBILE AND ATV SALES BY NON-DEALERS

October 17, 2002

OCTOBER 17, 2002

CONTACT: CHARLES DOW, Director
COMMUNICATIONS AND LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS
207-626-8577

As the weather turns colder, Mainers should beware of snowmobile deals so good they're criminal.

A new Maine law makes it a crime for anyone who does not have a franchise with the manufacturer to sell a new snowmobile or ATV. A "new" snowmobile or ATV is one that has not previously been registered or for which sales taxes have not been paid. Common violators appear to be merchants in other businesses who buy new snowmobiles and ATVs at dealerships in Canada, and then resell them to Maine consumers without paying taxes, registration fees, or franchise fees. The practice cheats consumers out of warranty rights and shifts the tax burden to law-abiding citizens. Violators commit a Class E crime (maximum 6 months in jail and $1,000 fine). Violators can also be liable for triple damages under the state's Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The Attorney General's Office is looking into several complaints, and seeks to educate the public about this illegal practice.

See the new law on the web at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/ros/lom/LOM120th/4Pub601-650/Pub601-650-15.htm#P416_82756

ROWE ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT OF ANTITRUST SUIT AGAINST MANUFACTURER OF GEORGE FOREMAN GRILLS

September 6, 2002

SEPTEMBER 6, 2002

CONTACT: CHRISTINA MOYLAN, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that Maine and 42 other jurisdictions have settled an antitrust suit against Salton, Inc, for $8.2 million. Salton manufactures the popular George Foremanā„¢ contact grills.

The lawsuit, the result of a two-year investigation, alleges that Salton coerced retailers into fixing the price for Salton's George Foremanā„¢ contact grills, and into excluding Salton's competitors from their shelves. Under the policies challenged by the Attorneys General, when retailers sold at a discount or stocked a competitor's product, Salton suspended the retailer until it fell into line with Salton's policies.

"We are committed to halting corporate misconduct and anticompetitive practices that drive up prices for consumers," stated Assistant Attorney General Christina Moylan, who worked on the case for Maine.

Under the settlement, Salton will pay $8 million in damages, $200,000 in investigative expenses, and notice costs. Salton will also agree to a court-order that prevents it from engaging in similar anti-competitive conduct in the future.

Restitution funds will be distributed to charitable entities and/or government agencies for initiatives to improve health care and nutrition. Specific information about the distribution will be made available in March 2004, when Salton will complete its payments.

Further information on the settlement, including important documents, will be posted on the website of the National Association of Attorneys General, www.naag.org, as soon as it becomes available. Further details should be posted on that website within several days.

MAINE JOINS CASE TO BLOCK SATELLITE TV MERGER

October 31, 2002

OCTOBER 31, 2002

CONTACT: FRANCIS ACKERMAN, Assistant Attorney General
207-626-8847

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has joined a lawsuit filed today in United States District Court in Washington, D.C., to block a proposed merger between the only two nationwide direct broadcast satellite (DBS) television providers. The lawsuit against EchoStar Communications Corporation and Hughes Electronic Corporation was brought by the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, joined by Rowe and the Attorneys General of 22 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The suit alleges that the proposed merger between EchoStar and Hughes would violate antitrust laws by taking away consumer options and placing the market for DBS customers in the hands of one corporation. EchoStar runs Dish Network, and Hughes runs DirecTV. Rowe said, "Mainers have very few options for television providers. The proposed elimination of competition between these two satellite companies does not benefit consumers, and the court should stop this merger." Assistant Attorney General Francis Ackerman, who is handling the case for Maine, said, "Dish Network and DirecTV compete with each other on many levels to attract consumers to switch from cable, including offering special packages of channels and discounts on services, installation and equipment. Without the competition of two DBS providers, that incentive to offer lower prices and better customer service is gone." Ackerman added that it would be extremely difficult and expensive for any new DBS competitors to enter the market, and that there are no DBS frequencies available that cover the entire continental United States so a competitor could offer a nationwide service. Earlier this month, the FCC announced that it would deny the application of EchoStar and Hughes for a license transfer. That denial, under FCC regulations, is a separate action from the lawsuit using federal antitrust statutes brought by the Department of Justice and the states. In addition to Maine, the group of states opposing the Echostar/Hughes merger includes Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

ROWE ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT OF ANTITRUST SUIT AGAINST MANUFACTURER OF GEORGE FOREMAN GRILLS

September 13, 2002

SEPTEMBER 6, 2002 CHRISTINA MOYLAN, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that Maine and 42 other jurisdictions have settled an antitrust suit against Salton, Inc, for $8.2 million. Salton manufactures the popular George Foremanā„¢ contact grills.

The lawsuit, the result of a two-year investigation, alleges that Salton coerced retailers into fixing the price for Salton's George Foremanā„¢ contact grills, and into excluding Salton's competitors from their shelves. Under the policies challenged by the Attorneys General, when retailers sold at a discount or stocked a competitor's product, Salton suspended the retailer until it fell into line with Salton's policies.

"We are committed to halting corporate misconduct and anticompetitive practices that drive up prices for consumers," stated Assistant Attorney General Christina Moylan, who worked on the case for Maine.

Under the settlement, Salton will pay $8 million in damages, $200,000 in investigative expenses, and notice costs. Salton will also agree to a court-order that prevents it from engaging in similar anti-competitive conduct in the future.

Restitution funds will be distributed to charitable entities and/or government agencies for initiatives to improve health care and nutrition. Specific information about the distribution will be made available in March 2004, when Salton will complete its payments.

Further information on the settlement, including important documents, will be posted on the website of the National Association of Attorneys General, www.naag.org, as soon as it becomes available. Further details should be posted on that website within several days.

HOULTON BAND OF MALISEET INDIANS AND STATE TO SIGN HISTORIC INDIAN CHILD WELFARE AGREEMENT

September 13, 2002

SEPTEMBER 14, 2002

SARAH TOMAH, Houlton Band of Maliseets 207-532-4273 x204 CHARLES DOW, Attorney General's Office 207-626-8577 NEWELL AUGUR, Department of Human Services 207-287-1927

On Monday September 16, 2002 at 1:00 p.m., the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and the State of Maine will sign a groundbreaking Indian Child Welfare agreement. Tribal Chief Brenda Commander and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Tribal Council will host Attorney General Steven Rowe and Department of Human Services Commissioner Kevin Concannon at the Maliseet Indian Housing Authority Community Building at the Maliseet Riverside Village on the Foxcroft Road in Houlton. Members of the media and the public are invited to attend. For further information or directions please contact Sarah Tomah at the above number.

This is a comprehensive agreement that provides for the Maliseets to administer all aspects of child protective proceedings involving Maliseet children on its Tribal lands and to have a significant role in such proceedings off of its Tribal lands. The agreement follows the language and intent of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978,which requires the states to respect the cultural heritage of Indian children.

The Maliseets and the State were able to reach this historic agreement, after many months of negotiations, by steadfastly concentrating on how to reach a shared goal: the protection of Tribal children and their cultural heritage. Since the Maine Indian Land Claims Act of 1980, the Maliseets have established Tribal governmental departments of Health, Social Services, Education, Housing and Indian Child Welfare. The Maliseets are a federally recognized Indian tribe based in Houlton, Maine with 759 tribal members.

CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER RELEASES FINDINGS ON JOHN'S BRIDGE VICTIMS

September 13, 2002

SEPTEMBER 16, 2002

CONTACT: JAMES FERLAND
Administrator, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
207-624-7180

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner has completed the examination of the 14 migrant workers involved in the tragic accident last Thursday at John's Bridge on the Allagash River. The survivor of the accident, Mr. Edilberto Morales-Luis was able to visually identify all of his co-workers. The following is a list of the deceased men and their country of origin:

Alexci Alcantara-Acosta, Honduras
Jose Santos Alvarado-Hernandez, Honduras
Alcidez Chavez-Hernandez, Honduras
Pablo Euceda-Amaya, Honduras
Dionisio Funez-Diaz, Honduras
Sebastian Garcia-Garcia, Honduras
Carlos H. Izaguirre, Honduras
Juan Mendez, Guatemala
Cecilio Morales-Domingo, Guatemala
Sebstian Morales-Domingo, Guatemala
Delkin Padilla-Alvarado, Honduras
Alberto Sales-Domingo, Guatemala
Juan Turcios-Matamoros, Honduras
Jose Santos Euceda-Cebeda, Honduras

The person identified as the driver, Mr. Juan Turcios-Matomoros was autopsied, and blood was sent for toxicologic analysis. The other 13 victims were examined externally, but not autopsied. Examinations revealed only minor injuries consistent with the accident but not sufficient to cause death. The cause of death on all fourteen men was determined to be drowning.

COURT ISSUES INJUNCTION IN CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT

September 13, 2002

SEPTEMBER 18, 2002 LEANNE ROBBIN OR THOM HARNETT Assistant Attorneys General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that the Maine Superior Court has issued an injunction under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Freedom Hamlin as a result of her assault against a City of Portland parking official of Afghan descent. The Attorney General's Complaint alleges that on February 28, 2002, the official was placing a "boot" device on a car on Casco Street in Portland when Ms. Hamlin kicked him in the foot and spit in his face shouting, "Go back to the country you came from. You don't belong here." As a result of Hamlin's conduct, the official called the dispatcher for police back-up. Hamlin continued to yell that the official should go "back to Iran." The State's evidence was based not only on the victim's statements, but also the observations of a disinterested witness.

The victim was born in Afghanistan and came to the United States as a political refugee 20 years ago, when he was granted political asylum.

The Maine Civil Rights Act prohibits any person from assaulting or threatening another person because of that person's national origin or ancestry (or because of race, color, religion, sex, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation). Under the order, Hamlin is prohibited from having contact with the victim or from using physical force or violence or threatening to use physical force or violence against any person motivated by bias based upon national origin.

Attorney General Rowe said, "This victim, like many people from the Middle East, came to this country seeking refuge from political persecution and violence. We will continue to use the Maine Civil Rights Act to keep America's promise of freedom for all people."

ROWE UNVEILS NEW ATTORNEY GENERAL WEBSITE Features Online Do Not Call List

September 13, 2002

SEPTEMBER 19, 2002

CONTACT: CHARLES DOW, Director Communications and Legislative Affairs 207-626-8577

Sign-Up at www.maine.gov/ag/donotcall.html

Attorney General Steven Rowe today unveiled the new website for the Maine Attorney General's Office. The site provides a wealth of information and resources for Maine people, including the searchable 31-chapter Maine Consumer Law Guide, downloadable consumer complaint forms, and online sign-up for the telemarketing Do Not Call list.

Rowe said that the new website is focused on the needs of Maine people. Rowe said, "We asked ourselves, 'What do people need when they call or come by the AG's Office? How can we make that information more accessible?'"

"We have opened the electronic door to the AG's Office, and now Maine people can help themselves to consumer protection information, complaint forms, information on important cases, and the like. While they are on the website, they can put themselves and their friends and neighbors on the telemarketing Do Not Call list," said Rowe.

"If information is power, we are handing Maine people a lot of power today. That's our job," Rowe said.

ATTORNEYS GENERAL WIN ANTITRUST SETTLEMENT IN LAWSUIT ALLEGING PRICING CONSPIRACY ON MUSIC CDS

September 13, 2002

SEPTEMBER 30, 2002

CONTACT: JOHN BRAUTIGAM, Assistant Attorney General
207-626-8867

Attorney General G. Steven Rowe announced today that five of the largest U.S. distributors of prerecorded music CDs along with three large retailers have agreed to provide $143,075,000 in cash and product to settle a nationwide antitrust lawsuit brought by the Attorneys General and private counsel. The settlement amount entails $67,375,000 in cash and $75,700,000 worth of music CDs. In addition, the defendants agreed not to engage in sales practices that allegedly led to artificially high retail prices for music CDs.

Maine, along with 39 other states and three territories filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court in August 2000. The lawsuit alleged that the five music distributors (including their affiliated labels) and three large music retailers entered into illegal conspiracies to raise the price of prerecorded music to consumers. The remaining states were represented by private counsel.

This national case has generated particular interest in Maine because Chief Judge D. Brock Hornby of the United States District Court in Portland was designated to preside over the litigation. It is rare for such large nationwide cases to be litigated in Maine.

The defendants in the lawsuit are music distributors Bertelsmann Music Group, Inc., EMI Music Distribution, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic Corporation, Sony Music Entertainment, Inc., Universal Music Group and national retail chains Transworld Entertainment Corporation, Tower Records, and Musicland Stores Corporation. The defendants have denied the allegations.

Today's settlement has three major components:

  • Sales Practice Changes. Defendants have agreed to an injunction preventing them from forcing retailers to increase CD prices and strengthening price competition in the industry.
  • Consumer Compensation. The defendants will pay $67,375,000 for nationwide consumer compensation, charitable purposes, or some combination of both. Individual members of the public who wish to file a claim will be notified of the claims process at a later date.
  • CDs for Charitable Groups. Defendants will provide approximately 7,000,000 music CDs (valued at $75,700,000) for nationwide distribution by the Attorneys General of the litigating states to not-for-profit corporations, charitable groups and governmental entities such as schools and libraries.

"The lawsuit and settlement demonstrate our commitment to halting corporate misconduct that causes our citizens to pay higher prices and distorts our free market economy," said Attorney General Rowe.

According to Assistant Attorney General John Brautigam approximately 24,733 music CDs valued at $337,898 will eventually be distributed to qualified corporations, charitable groups and government entities in Maine. In addition, an estimated $222,736 in cash refunds will be distributed to Maine residents who previously purchased music CDs. The settlement provides for a national claims process through which consumers will be able to obtain their refunds.

The settlement is subject to approval by the federal district court in Portland. Once the settlement is approved, the parties expect that cash and CDs will be distributed sometime in 2003.

For more information please contact Chuck Dow or John Brautigam at (207) 626-8800.

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINSTSANFORD MAN FOR ANTI-GAY ATTACK

November 13, 2002

OCTOBER 29, 2002 GERALD D. REID, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that his office has filed a civil enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Glen McFarland, 25, of Sanford. The complaint, filed in York County Superior Court, alleges that McFarland assaulted the victim because he believed the victim was gay. According to the Complaint, McFarland used derogatory language concerning the victim's perceived sexual orientation as he beat and kicked the victim. The Complaint also alleges that the assault caused injuries that required hospital treatment. The alleged attack occurred on August 14, 2002, on Pleasant Street in Springvale.

The Maine Civil Rights Act prohibits any person from assaulting or threatening another person motivated by reason of sexual orientation, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, gender, or physical or mental disability. The Attorney General's complaint seeks to enjoin McFarland from any further bias-motivated threats or acts of violence, property damage, or trespass against the victim or others. He also faces civil penalties of up to $5,000.

Attorney General Rowe stated: "The Civil Rights Act is intended to protect people in Maine against bias-motivated violence or threats of violence. We are working with local law enforcment to provide that protection and to make sure that those who violate this law are held accountable."

Rowe commended the Sanford Police Department for its investigation of the incident. The Department referred the case to Rowe's office for possible action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

MAINE JOINS CASE TO BLOCK SATELLITE TV MERGER

November 13, 2002

OCTOBER 31, 2002 FRANCIS ACKERMAN, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8847

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has joined a lawsuit filed today in United States District Court in Washington, D.C., to block a proposed merger between the only two nationwide direct broadcast satellite (DBS) television providers. The lawsuit against EchoStar Communications Corporation and Hughes Electronic Corporation was brought by the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, joined by Rowe and the Attorneys General of 22 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The suit alleges that the proposed merger between EchoStar and Hughes would violate antitrust laws by taking away consumer options and placing the market for DBS customers in the hands of one corporation. EchoStar runs Dish Network, and Hughes runs DirecTV. Rowe said, "Mainers have very few options for television providers. The proposed elimination of competition between these two satellite companies does not benefit consumers, and the court should stop this merger." Assistant Attorney General Francis Ackerman, who is handling the case for Maine, said, "Dish Network and DirecTV compete with each other on many levels to attract consumers to switch from cable, including offering special packages of channels and discounts on services, installation and equipment. Without the competition of two DBS providers, that incentive to offer lower prices and better customer service is gone." Ackerman added that it would be extremely difficult and expensive for any new DBS competitors to enter the market, and that there are no DBS frequencies available that cover the entire continental United States so a competitor could offer a nationwide service. Earlier this month, the FCC announced that it would deny the application of EchoStar and Hughes for a license transfer. That denial, under FCC regulations, is a separate action from the lawsuit using federal antitrust statutes brought by the Department of Justice and the states. In addition to Maine, the group of states opposing the Echostar/Hughes merger includes Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

WALDO WOMAN GETS FIVE YEARS IN PRISON FOR TRAFFICKING IN HEROIN

November 13, 2002

NOVEMBER 6, 2002 LARA M. NOMANI, Assistant Attorney General 207-626-8804

Attorney General Steven Rowe reported today that Rachel P. Gurley, age 26, of Belfast, Maine was sentenced Monday on the class A felony charge of Aggravated Trafficking in Heroin. Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren sentenced Gurley to serve ten years in prison, with all but five years suspended. Once Gurley serves five years in prison, she will be placed on probation for an additional four years.

Gurley's charge stems from an investigation conducted by the Rockland Police Department. On July 25, 2002, Det. Sgt. James Pease arrested Gurley and her boyfriend Jeramy Luszczki outside a local Rite Aid store. Gurley had 50 bags of heroin hidden in her clothing. She told police that she and Luszczki purchased heroin in Massachusetts at a rate of $5 per bag. Over time, she and Luszczki purchased hundreds of bags of heroin, which they imported into Maine and sold in the Rockland area for three times that price. At the time of her arrest, Gurley was on probation from Penobscot County after having been convicted of trafficking in LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. Luszczki was on probation for drug crimes in Massachusetts.

In announcing this sentence, Attorney General Steven Rowe stated: "Heroin is one of the most evil drugs available in Maine. Heroin dealers place society at grave risk. This is clear from the epidemic of drug related burglaries, robberies, thefts and overdoses that continue to plague Maine."

Assistant Attorney General Lara Nomani, who prosecuted the case, said, "Let Ms. Gurley's sentence serve as a warning to those who sell drugs, be it for profit or to support a drug habit. If you are caught selling any quantity of heroin, you should expect a serious sentence that reflects the danger your conduct poses to our communities. Repeat offenders, like Ms. Gurley, can expect little mercy."

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said, "This case reflects the good results that occur when experienced drug investigators work closely with a specialized drug prosecutor."

WALDO WOMAN GETS FIVE YEARS IN PRISON FOR TRAFFICKING IN HEROIN

November 19, 2002

NOVEMBER 6, 2002
LARA M. NOMANI, Assistant Attorney General
207-626-8804

Attorney General Steven Rowe reported today that Rachel P. Gurley, age 26, of Belfast, Maine was sentenced Monday on the class A felony charge of Aggravated Trafficking in Heroin. Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren sentenced Gurley to serve ten years in prison, with all but five years suspended. Once Gurley serves five years in prison, she will be placed on probation for an additional four years.

Gurley's charge stems from an investigation conducted by the Rockland Police Department. On July 25, 2002, Det. Sgt. James Pease arrested Gurley and her boyfriend Jeramy Luszczki outside a local Rite Aid store. Gurley had 50 bags of heroin hidden in her clothing. She told police that she and Luszczki purchased heroin in Massachusetts at a rate of $5 per bag. Over time, she and Luszczki purchased hundreds of bags of heroin, which they imported into Maine and sold in the Rockland area for three times that price. At the time of her arrest, Gurley was on probation from Penobscot County after having been convicted of trafficking in LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. Luszczki was on probation for drug crimes in Massachusetts.

In announcing this sentence, Attorney General Steven Rowe stated: "Heroin is one of the most evil drugs available in Maine. Heroin dealers place society at grave risk. This is clear from the epidemic of drug related burglaries, robberies, thefts and overdoses that continue to plague Maine."

Assistant Attorney General Lara Nomani, who prosecuted the case, said, "Let Ms. Gurley's sentence serve as a warning to those who sell drugs, be it for profit or to support a drug habit. If you are caught selling any quantity of heroin, you should expect a serious sentence that reflects the danger your conduct poses to our communities. Repeat offenders, like Ms. Gurley, can expect little mercy."

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said, "This case reflects the good results that occur when experienced drug investigators work closely with a specialized drug prosecutor."

STATE ASKS NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION FOR HEARING ON MAINE YANKEE WASTE STORAGE

November 24, 2002

NOVEMBER 15, 2002
STEVEN ROWE, ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8800
TONY SPRAGUE, GOVERNOR'S OFFICE
207-287-3531

Attorney General Steven Rowe today filed a petition with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission ("NRC") requesting that the NRC hold a hearing regarding the plan to store nuclear waste at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station in Wiscasset.

The petition was filed with the cooperation and support of Governor Angus S. King, Jr., who stated, "Our purpose is simply to ensure that the NRC applies a new set of standards when considering the management of high-level spent nuclear fuel at local facilities such as Maine Yankee. The Attorney General and I also want to continue to press the federal Department of Energy and the NRC on more specific plans regarding the time table for the removal of this waste from Wiscasset."

Rowe stated, "The purpose of filing this petition is two-fold. First, we want to clarify State and local responsibilities for providing public safety and emergency response services. We want to know precisely what services the NRC expects the State and the host communities to provide and who the NRC expects to pay for those services. Second, we want to know the time schedule for removing the spent fuel from Maine. We certainly expect that the removal will be completed before expiration of the 20 year licensed life of the Maine Yankee storage facility."

Rowe and King stressed that the petition for a hearing with the NRC is not intended to alarm Maine residents about the present safety of the Maine Yankee fuel storage site. "With this petition, we are not raising safety concerns about short-term storage. Our concern is longer term. The present storage site is licensed to Maine Yankee for 20 years. The federal Department of Energy has stated that it may be 50 years or more before the fuel can be removed from Maine. That doesn't add up. It is clearly unacceptable," Rowe said.

The requested hearing would formally be to address the NRC's October 16, 2002 Order for Interim Safeguards and Security Compensatory Measures for the Interim Spent Fuel Installation ("ISFSI") that is being constructed at Maine Yankee.

FINANCIAL PLANNER GETS SIXTEEN MONTHS IN PRISON FOR STEALING $230,000 FROM CLIENTS

November 24, 2002

NOVEMBER 15, 2002
MICHAEL J. COLLERAN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8834

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that Michael L. Hancock, 44, of Falmouth, was sentenced today in Maine Superior Court to three years and eight months in prison, with all but sixteen months suspended, on felony theft and securities convictions. Hancock will be on probation for four years after his release and must pay $72,000 in restitution to his victims.

Hancock pled guilty to the charges and admitted to stealing more than $230,000 from twelve clients. Hancock admitted that his clients gave him money to invest on their behalf, and that he instead stole the money to use it for his own business and personal expenses. Hancock also admitted that he sold securities that were not registered with the State and that he sold securities without a license.

Assistant Attorney General Michael J. Colleran, who prosecuted the case, said that the sentence balances the seriousness of the crimes against Hancock's acceptance of responsibility. Hancock has already returned most of the stolen funds, with only the $72,000 covered by the restitution order remaining to be paid.

The convictions resulted from an investigation into Hancock's securities and insurance activities conducted by the Maine Office of Securities and Bureau of Insurance.

To protect themselves, Colleran recommends that Maine residents check out potential investments with the Maine Office of Securities by calling, toll-free, 1-877-624-8551. Residents also should use the toll-free number for questions or complaints about anyone selling investments.

ATTORNEY GENERAL WINS CIVIL RIGHTS APPEAL; VANCEBORO MAN TO SERVE 120 DAYS IN JAIL

November 24, 2002

NOVEMBER 20, 2002
CARLOS DIAZ, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8846

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office won a criminal appeal in a civil rights case brought before Maine's highest court. The criminal defendant, 35-year-old Clay Christensen of Vanceboro, asked the Maine Law Court to overturn his criminal conviction for violating a court order issued under the Maine Civil Rights Act. Instead, in a decision handed down today, the Law Court upheld the criminal conviction. Christensen must now serve the 120-day sentence originally imposed by the trial judge.

Christensen was convicted after a trial in District Court, in which the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he violated a court order in January of 2001 by harassing a Hispanic man who had recently moved with his family to Vanceboro, Maine. The criminal violation included charging at the man with a snowplow, tailgating his car at high speeds, plowing large piles of snow to block the entrance to his house, and verbally taunting him. In handing down the 120-day jail sentence, trial judge John Romei said, "Racially motivated assaults are extremely disruptive to our society... it diminishes all of us."

The original court order was based on an incident in August of 1999, when Christensen entered the Hispanic man's property, punched him in the face, called him "Puerto Rican trash," and told him to go back to Puerto Rico. Christensen consented to the court order in November of 1999, just two months before he violated it.

Under the Maine Civil Rights Act, the Attorney General may bring a civil lawsuit to obtain a court order against any person who assaults, threatens, or damages the property of another person because of race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability. Such court orders typically protect the original victim, and also prohibit any further civil rights violations against others. Violation of a court order issued under the Maine Civil Rights Act is a crime that may be punished by up to one year in jail. Assistant Attorney General Carlos Diaz prosecuted the case at trial and on appeal.

AG ROWE TO SUE BUSH ADMINISTRATION FOR GUTTING CLEAN AIR ACT

November 24, 2002

NOVEMBER 22, 2002
STEVEN ROWE, ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8599

Attorney General Steven Rowe will join eight other state attorneys general from the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states in filing a federal lawsuit against the Bush Administration for endangering air quality by gutting a critical component of the federal Clean Air Act. The other suing states are New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Maryland.

Based on EPA estimates, the attorneys general believe that changes in the rules under the Clean Air Act announced today by the federal Environmental Protection Agency would exempt up to 50 percent of industrial facilities, including coal-fired power plants, from the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act. New Source Review requires that industrial plants add modern air pollution controls when they are upgraded or modified.

This major weakening of the Clean Air Act will further degrade air quality in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, regions already struggling with poor air caused in significant part by industrial pollution carried into the region on prevailing winds.

"It is unconscionable that the Bush Administration would put the financial interests of corporate polluters above the health interests of American people. Through Senators Muskie and Mitchell, the State of Maine led the enactment and reenactment of the federal Clean Air Act. The Act benefits Maine people most because we are located at the end of our nation's "air pollution tailpipe." If the Clean Air Act is significantly weakened, Maine people will be biggest losers."

Rowe noted that air pollution causes lung disease, and that lung disease is the number three killer of Maine people. Maine has the highest rate of asthma among adults in the nation. More than 100,000 Maine people suffer from chronic lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.

The lawsuit will allege that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is exceeding its authority and violating Congressional intent by enacting rules that weaken the Clean Air Act, which was passed in 1970. When Congress passed the Clean Air Act, its intention was to improve the environment and protect public health by lowering levels of air pollution. The Bush Administration's new rules and regulations would have the opposite effect of allowing air pollution levels to rise.

The oil, gas, electricity and coal industries have vigorously lobbied the Bush Administration to relax New Source Review requirements. This would allow their facilities to be upgraded without adding the required pollution controls on their smokestacks.

The EPA estimates that the changes announced today could exempt half of facilities from being subject to New Source Review. Despite moving forward with new rules, the EPA has yet to quantify how this sharp reduction in pollution controls will affect the environment or public health. However, credible researchers predict that air emissions will increase if the new EPA rules are put in place.

In a February 2002 letter to EPA Administrator Whitman, Rowe and eight other attorneys general called on EPA to fully document any secret contacts the EPA or the Energy Task Force had with outside parties regarding New Source Review revisions. To date, the Bush Administration has refused to turn over records relating to Energy Task Force meetings with industry lobbyists.

The following elements of the new rules are among those likely to be challenged by the state attorneys general lawsuit:

Adoption of a "clean unit" exclusion. The EPA will create a fifteen-year New Source Review exemption for a facility that has installed modern pollution controls in the past ten years. This would give a facility that installed technology that was not even state-of-the-art many years ago a blanket exception for emission increases well into the future.

Revised approach for calculating baseline emissions. EPA would allow facilities to set their "baseline" emission levels at the average of their highest two years of pollution out of the last ten years. Thus, polluters could significantly increase their emissions over current levels without installing pollution controls.

Plant-wide applicability limits. EPA will exempt polluters from New Source Review if they agree to a cap on their air pollution. The cap could be set higher than the facility's current emissions, even though the Clean Air Act intended air pollution to decrease.

The lawsuit will be filed in federal court in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The case will be filed when the regulations are published in the Federal Register, which is expected shortly.

SEARSPORT MAN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR ARSON AND TRAFFICKING IN HASHISH

December 24, 2002

DECEMBER 19, 2002

LARA NOMANI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8800

JOHN DEAN, STATE FIRE MARSHAL
207-624-8964

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Scott Brown, age 32, of Searsport was sentenced yesterday in Belfast on charges of Arson (class A), Trafficking in Hashish (class C), Attempted Trafficking in Hashish and Marijuana Cultivation (both class D).

The arson and drug charges stem from an investigation of a suspicious fire at a mobile home occupied by Brown at the Kinney Mobile Home Park in Searsport on January 5, 2002. Fire investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office determined that the cause of the fire was from an attempt to manufacture hashish, a concentrated form of marijuana, using acetone and an electric heating plate. Brown left a mixture of the highly flammable acetone and marijuana to "cook" on the heating plate while he left the residence to go ice fishing.

Firefighters from Searsport Fire Department responded and suppressed the resulting fire. Fire Chief Derek Dunbar was the first fire fighter to arrive at the scene. He was joined by three members of the Cook family, Ronald Cook, Terry Cook, Jr., Terry Cook, Sr., as well as Captain Peter Garcelon and second in command Herbert Kronholm. The residence was substantially destroyed. A large quantity of marijuana and other hashish manufacturing equipment was found in a subsequent search of the fire scene. Brown was convicted after a jury trial on October 17, 2002. Yesterday, Maine Superior Court Justice Donald Marden sentenced Brown, a first offender, to five years in prison, with all but 9 months and one day suspended, to be followed by 4 years probation on the felony charges, and six month sentences on the misdemeanor charges, all to run concurrent with each of the other sentences. Conditions of probation will include no use or possession of illegal drugs, random searches and drug testing, and drug abuse screening and counseling if needed. The court also ordered Brown to pay restitution to the investigating agencies for some of the cost of the investigation. His sentence will begin after the appeal of his conviction is resolved.

State Fire Marshal John Dean said, "Our investigation showed that Mr. Brown's conduct placed the responding firefighters at serious risk. Acetone has a very low flash point and creates explosive vapors. For the firefighters, it was more like walking into a bomb than walking into a home."

Assistant Attorney General Lara Nomani, who prosecuted the case, said, "This case writes a new chapter in the book of the dangers of drug manufacturing and trafficking. Mr. Brown's long sentence and the fact that the firefighters were unhurt are among the only happy endings in that book." Attorney General Rowe commended the State Fire Marshal's Office and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency for their investigation in the case.

COURT FINDS WEINSCHENK HOMES DEFECTIVE; SALE OF THEM UNFAIR AND DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICE

December 24, 2002

DECEMBER 23, 2002

CONTACT:
LINDA J. CONTI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Maine Superior Court Justice S. Kirk Studstrup has declared that Frederic Weinschenk and Rick Weinschenk Builders, Inc., violated the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act by building and selling defective homes in greater Portland. Weinschenk was the builder of the Cottage Park, Summer Place, and Willow developments. The Court ordered restitution to consumers in specific amounts totaling $221,256. In addition to the restitution, the Court permanently enjoined Weinschenk from building homes in Maine unless he:

Employs a professional engineer to certify that the home is built to applicable codes and generally accepted building practices;

  • Has all home building plans reviewed and stamped by a Maine licensed engineer or architect;
  • Submits copies of all advertising or promotional materials for Attorney General review; and
  • Submits copies of contracts and specifications for each home for Attorney General review. The judgment follows a six-day trial before Justice Studstrup without a jury in September.

The Court focused primarily on leaking roofs and windows in the Weinschenk homes, calling them "major defects" and the construction practices "substandard" in "a pattern which constitutes an unfair trade practice." The Court also cited a major crack in the foundation that "virtually bisects" one of the homes and called it "a prime example of poor workmanship."

Assistant Attorneys General Linda Conti and Carolyn Silsby handled the case for the State. Conti said, "We are very pleased that the Court ordered restitution and injunctive relief that will require Weinschenk to change his building practices."

Attorney General Rowe said that the case underscored the need for licensing of home building contractors and a statewide home building code. "All Mainers would agree with the Court that 'the quintessential definition of a house must include protection from the elements.' We need basic statewide building standards and a way to certify that builders know them."

STATE SETTLES CASE AGAINST MORTGAGE COMPANY FOR UNFAIR AND DECEPTIVE PRACTICES

December 24, 2002

DECEMBER 16, 2002
CARLOS DIAZ, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8800
WILLIAM N. LUND, DIRECTOR, CONSUMER CREDIT REGULATION
207-624-8527

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office and the Office of Consumer Credit Regulation have filed a settlement of Maine's claims against Illinois mortgage lender Household International and its subsidiaries, Household Finance Corp., Beneficial Finance Corp., and Household Realty Corp. The companies have agreed with state regulators to change their lending practices and to pay $1,637,316 to Maine consumers as restitution for alleged unfair and deceptive lending practices between January 1, 1999 and September 30, 2002. During that period, Household International's subsidiaries, including Beneficial Finance Corp., loaned $137,417,209 to 2,194 Mainers. Beneficial has offices in Bangor, Augusta, Portland, and Biddeford.

Attorney General Rowe said, "There are great deals right now in mortgage loans, but there are also loan disasters made to look like loan deals. This case reminds us all to be careful consumers, to shop around, and to ask a lot of questions."

Maine's case is part of a $484 million settlement that includes all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each state's share of the restitution fund is proportional to the state's percentage share of Household's total real estate loan secured dollar volume. Consumers who are affected will be contacted by the national settlement administrator in the next 2-3 months about their right to receive a restitution payment. It is expected that it could take up to 6 months before restitution payments are actually received by affected consumers.

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Diaz, who handled the case for the State, said, "These lenders preyed on borrowers in the so-called "sub-prime" market, those who could scarcely afford the known costs, let alone the hidden ones. We are pleased to recoup restitution for those people."

The multi-state investigation found that Household failed to properly inform consumers of loan costs and insurance premiums that were included in their loans. In other cases, borrowers who were led to believe they were receiving interest rates of about seven or eight percent were actually charged nearly twice that much. Borrowers also complained that they were charged costly prepayment penalties that were not clearly disclosed to them.

William Lund, Director of Maine's Office of Consumer Credit Regulation, indicated that "We believe that these practices have not been as prevalent in Maine as in other parts of the country. However, we know that a number of Maine consumers have been subjected to these practices and that those consumers deserve to receive this restitution." Lund also indicated that the Office of Consumer Credit Regulation will be posting Frequently Asked Questions about the settlement on its website at www.MaineCreditReg.org. Consumers may also contact the Office of Consumer Credit Regulation at 1-800-DEBT-LAW (1-800-332-8529) with any questions.

Under the settlement, Household agreed to:

* Pay up to $484 million in restitution to consumers nationwide.
* Limit prepayment penalties on current and future loans to the first two years of a loan.
* Ensure that new loans actually provide a benefit to consumers prior to making the loans.
* Limit up-front points and origination fees to 5%.
* Reform and improve disclosures to consumers.
* Reimburse states to cover the costs of the investigations into Household's practices.
* Eliminate "piggyback" second mortgages.

ROWE SAYS STATE, FEDERAL DO-NOT-CALL LISTS WILL WORK TOGETHER

December 3, 2002

DECEMBER 19, 2002
STEVEN ROWE, ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8599

Attorney General Steven Rowe said today that Mainers should place their names on Maine's telemarketing do-not-call list, even though the federal government may soon maintain a national do-not-call list. (See www.ftc.gov for more information.) The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced new rules yesterday that will expand the federal role in regulating the telemarketing industry, which now makes 104 million calls each day and makes $278 billion annually, according to published reports.

"When the federal list becomes active, we will put the Mainers who have registered through our site on that list as well. At that time, Maine people will be protected by both State and federal law," said Rowe.

Maine is one of only about half of the states that currently require telemarketers to remove from their call lists the names of consumers who sign up for a central list. "The attorneys general have been assured by the FTC that we will retain the authority to enforce the state and federal laws controlling telemarketing. I am optimistic that we can all work together to provide increased protection for consumers," said Rowe.

Since the Maine AG's Office offered online do-not-call registration in late September, 26,346 Mainers have signed up.

MAINE SETTLES CASE AGAINST FORD OVER TIRE SAFETY AND ADVERTISING ISSUES

December 24, 2002

DECEMBER 23, 2002

CONTACT:
CARLOS DIAZ, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8846

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that Maine has joined 52 other jurisdictions in settling with Ford Motor Company to resolve allegations of deceptive trade practices relating to the sales and advertising of Ford sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

The states alleged that Ford continued to use Firestone ATX and Wilderness AT tires even after the company knew the tires had an unacceptably high failure rate and that using the tires made Ford SUVs more likely to roll over. The states also alleged that Ford advertising exaggerated the safe loading capacity and maneuverability of Ford SUVs, and that Ford deceptively advertised aftermarket tires as original equipment tires. Ford denied any wrongdoing.

The states will use $30 million from the Ford settlement to mount a nationwide public service consumer education campaign on SUV safety. Also, each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands will receive a payment of $300,000. The remainder will be used to pay the costs of the states' investigation. Ford already has spent approximately $2 billion to replace tires in the 53 jurisdictions. The settlement does not preclude any individual's right to assert legal claims against Ford.

Last year, Maine joined other states in settling claims against Bridgestone/Firestone related to the advertising and sale of tires that had high rates of tread separations. That settlement resulted in $275,000 for Maine's General Fund. Details of that settlement can be found at http://www.maine.gov/ag/pr/oct_nov2001/110801.html.

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Diaz, who handled the cases for Maine, said, "The attorneys general are telling manufacturers that ignoring or glossing over consumer safety problems is not worth the cost."

Other Ford Settlement Provisions:

  • The settlement prohibits Ford from making misrepresentations about the cargo capacity, safety and handling characteristics of their SUVs, or the purpose of any recall or recommended inspection. This includes prohibiting Ford from using the term "car-like" in advertising with respect to the steering and handling of its SUVs.
  • The company must have reliable scientific evidence to substantiate any representations about vehicle safety, performance or durability.
  • Ford must provide safety information about cargo loading and vehicle handling to each consumer who buys a Ford SUV and provide Spanish language owners' guides upon request.

In the agreement, Ford spelled out a number of consumer education initiatives that it will launch in the coming year. Ford also agreed to abide by all state and federal laws governing SUV safety, including a federal regulation that requires manufacturers of SUVs with a wheelbase under 110 inches to alert purchasers that those vehicles have a higher possibility of rollover than other vehicle types. Ford will advise consumers of steps they can take to reduce the potential for rollover or rollover-related injuries.

BROWNFIELD PAIR ENJOINED OVER RACIALLY MOTIVATED ASSAULTS

April 11, 2003

APRIL 11, 2003

CONTACT: LEANNE ROBBIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8581

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that the Maine Superior Court
granted the Attorney General's request for a preliminary injunction under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Roseanne Hinds and Frank Warren of Brownfield following a full hearing Thursday in South Paris. Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin showed that in April 2001, Hinds and Warren threatened students at Fryeburg Academy using racial epithets and that Hinds assaulted two of the students on the campus.  Hinds later pled no contest and was found guilty of the assaults.  In August 2002, Hinds and Warren assaulted a 19-year old African-American woman who had come to their home to speak with their niece.  The assault on this woman, like the assaults on the Fryeburg Academy students, was racially motivated. The court's order prohibits Hinds and Warren from entering the Fryeburg Academy campus or coming within 150 feet of any of the victims or their families. 

Robbin said, "Despite what many of us would like to believe, hate violence
exists in our schools and communities.  We will continue to aggressively
enforce the Maine Civil Rights Act and to work with Civil Rights Teams in
schools to make Maine a safer place for everyone."

MAINE SETTLES CASE AGAINST IRONITE

December 24, 2002

DECEMBER 23, 2002

CONTACT:
DENNIS HARNISH, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has reached a settlement in a suit brought in April of this year against Ironite Products Company (IPC), the makers of Ironite, which is a soil supplement made from byproducts of an Arizona mining operation. Ironite was sold in Maine stores as a soil amendment until the Attorney General brought this lawsuit.

The suit alleged that IPC failed to obtain from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) the permit required for selling fertilizer made from or containing solid waste. The DEP application process is intended to insure the safety of the product.

The settlement requires IPC to withhold Ironite from the Maine market unless it proves to DEP or a Maine court that the product is either safe to use or is not made from solid waste.

Attorney General Rowe said, "The DEP and the State Toxicologist have expressed serious concerns about the metals in Ironite. I am pleased that we were able to work together to keep Ironite out of Maine until those concerns are put to rest."

COOPERATION AMONG AREA LAW ENFORCEMENT NETS ANOTHER HERION TRAFFICKER

August 24, 2002

AUGUST 30, 2002
CONTACT: LARA NOMANI, Assistant Attorney General
207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe reported today that Edwin R. Baird, age 31, of Liberty, Maine was sentenced Wednesday for Trafficking in Heroin (Class B). Baird sold five bags of heroin to a police informant on April 18, 2002 in Belfast. Maine Superior Court Justice John Atwood sentenced Baird to serve six years in prison, with all but eighteen months suspended. Once released from prison, Baird will be on probation for four years. His conditions of probation require him to completely abstain from the use or possession of alcohol, illegal drugs and firearms, to agree to random drug searches, to undergo drug counseling, and to pay restitution.

In announcing the sentence, Attorney General Steven Rowe stated: "The alarming increase in opiate related deaths underscores the threat that heroin traffickers pose to our communities. First time offenders, such as Mr. Baird, can expect that they will be aggressively prosecuted and serve lengthy sentences upon conviction."

The case was investigated by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, with assistance from the Waldo County Sheriff's Office and Maine State Police. Assistant Attorney General Lara Nomani, who prosecuted the case, commended the recently created Waldo county drug task force, stating, "The collaborative effort among state, local and county law enforcement agencies is proving to be enormously successful in combating the drug trade in Waldo County."

COOPERATION AMONG AREA LAW ENFORCEMENT NETS ANOTHER DRUG TRAFFICKER

December 19, 2002

DECEMBER 26, 2002

CONTACT:
LARA M. NOMANI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe reported today that Edward Mylen, III, age 23, of Searsport, Maine was sentenced Wednesday on two class B felony charges of Trafficking in Cocaine. Mylen was charged with selling 1 gram of cocaine on April 5, 2002 and a second gram of cocaine on April 9, 2002. Both sales occurred in Belfast. Superior Court Justice Joseph Jabar sentenced Mylen to serve five years in prison, with all but two years suspended. Once released from prison, Mylen will be placed on probation for the maximum period of four years. His conditions of probation will require him to completely abstain from the use or possession of all illegal drugs, to agree to random drug searches, to undergo drug counseling, and to pay restitution for the costs incurred during the course of the drug investigation.

The case was prosecuted by the Assistant Attorney General Lara Nomani, and was investigated by the Waldo County Sheriff's Office, Maine State Police and the Belfast Police Department. In announcing the sentence, Justice Jabar cited the enormous problems drug addiction and trafficking have presented to the communities in central and mid-coast Maine. He additionally recounted the alarming rise in overdose deaths that have plagued Maine this year. Prosecuting attorney Lara M. Nomani commended the recently created Waldo County Drug Task Force, stating, "The collaborative effort among state, local and county law enforcement agencies is proving to be enormously successful in combating the drug trade in Waldo county."

STATE OFFICIALS TO PRESENT DRUG DEATH DATA ANALYSIS AT PRESS CONFERENCE

December 26, 2002

DECEMBER 26, 2002

CONTACT:
JESSICA MAURER, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8515

Attorney General Steven Rowe, Chief Medical Examiner Margaret Greenwald, and Office of Substance Abuse Director Kimberly Johnson will present a landmark report entitled Maine Drug Death Mortality Patterns: 1997-2002 at a press conference tomorrow,
Friday, December 27, 2002 10:00 a.m.
Rm. 600, 6th Floor,
Burton Cross State Office Building
Augusta

A joint press release will issue at approximately the same time and will be disseminated to press conference attendees. It will also be sent to the Attorney General's list of email media contacts, and to the Attorney General's list of fax media contacts. Please contact Jessica Maurer at the above number to be added to either of these lists.

STATE OFFICIALS PRESENT DRUG DEATH DATA ANALYSIS

December 27, 2002

Available online at: www.maine.gov/ag/pr/drugreport.pdf

DECEMBER 27, 2002

CONTACT:
STEVEN ROWE, ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8599
MARGARET GREENWALD, M.D., CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER
207-624-7170
KIMBERLY JOHNSON, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE
207-287-6342



Attorney General Steven Rowe, Chief Medical Examiner Margaret Greenwald, and Office of Substance Abuse Director Kimberly Johnson today presented a landmark report entitled Maine Drug Death Mortality Patterns: 1997-2002. The report, authored by Dr. Marcella H. Sorg of the Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy at the University of Maine and Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Margaret Greenwald, measures for the first time the nature and extent of Maine's epidemic of deaths related to drugs.

Key findings of the report are:

* Four-fold increase in drug deaths in Maine over last five years;
* Increase due mainly to accidental overdoses;
* Vast majority of deaths attributable to prescription drugs; and
* Drug deaths approximately evenly distributed across state on a population basis.

Attorney General Rowe stated, "Prescription and illicit drug abuse is killing Mainers at an alarming rate. This report defines the complexity of the problem and provides a foundation upon which to build future drug abuse policy."

Report author Dr. Marcella Sorg said, "It is essential that public policy be based on accurate information, particularly for such an urgent and complex topic. On behalf of the Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy and the University of Maine, I am pleased to present this study to Maine policymakers for their consideration."

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Margaret Greenwald initiated the study because she became disturbed by the dramatic annual increases in drug overdoses. All drug deaths become medical examiner cases. Noting that the average age of drug death victims is 40 and that nearly 80% of them have a high school education or greater, Dr. Greenwald said, "Having to deal with the tragedy of these needless deaths is one of the most unfortunate aspects of my job. It is my hope that by working together, we can reduce the rapid growth of this problem."

Office of Substance Abuse Director Kimberly Johnson said that the report illustrates the dire need for early intervention by health professionals. "One of the many lessons of these data is that doctors and pharmacists need access to better information about their patients, about who is getting prescriptions from whom and for what. Maine needs electronic prescription monitoring. No health professional wants to be an unwitting enabler of addiction."

Attorney General Rowe praised the Legislature for passing new laws last year requiring doctors to use tamper-proof prescription pads for narcotics and tightening the criminal code to better address illegal narcotic diversion and importation. He expressed confidence that much more would be done in the coming months. "Our Legislature has made great strides in substance abuse prevention and treatment in the last few years, but there is much more to do. The data in this report will help shape future solutions to this serious problem."

Drs. Sorg and Greenwald analyzed medical examination and toxicological testing files for Maine drug deaths dating from January of 1997 through the first six months of 2002. The Maine Justice Assistance Council and the Office of Substance Abuse provided funding for the report. The Office of Chief Medical Examiner, the Attorney General's Office, and the University of Maine provided direct project support.

ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CIVIL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENTACTION AGAINST LEWISTON MAN

December 24, 2002

DECEMBER 31, 2002

CONTACT:
STANLEY W. PIECUCH, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8818
THOMAS HARNETT, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8897

Attorney General G. Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed a civil enforcement action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against a Caucasian man who allegedly threatened an African American man in Lewiston on August 2, 2002.

The complaint, filed in the Superior Court for Androscoggin County, alleges that Roland W. Spencer, 40, of Lewiston, threatened the 48-year-old African American man and made racially derogatory remarks to the man's companion, a 47-year-old Caucasian woman. According to the complaint, Spencer threatened to kill the African American man and damage his van. Even after he was arrested, Spencer allegedly continued to utter racial epithets, telling the arresting officer that, once he was released on bail, he would kill the African American man.

The Attorney General's complaint seeks to permanently enjoin Spencer from any further threats or acts of violence, property damage, and trespass against the victims or others motivated by bias. "Such conduct must not, and will not, be tolerated," Rowe said.

Rowe commended the Lewiston Police Department for its investigation of the incident. The department referred the case to Rowe's office for possible action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

NINE STATES SUE BUSH ADMINISTRATION FOR GUTTING KEY COMPONENT OF CLEAN AIR ACT

December 24, 2002

DECEMBER 31, 2002

CONTACT:
NY - Marc Violette, 518-473-5525
CT - Maura Fitzgerald, 860 808 5324
ME - AG G. Steven Rowe, 207 822 0260
MD- Sean Caine, 410 576 6357
MA - Sarah Nathan, 617 727 2543
NH - Jennifer Patterson, 603 271 3679
NJ - Carol Gaskill, 609 292 4791
RI - Judy Kearns, 401 274 4400
VT - Erick Titrud, 802 828 5518

Nine states today filed a lawsuit challenging new Bush Administration regulations that gut a key provision of the federal Clean Air Act. The Administration's action represents the first major weakening of the landmark federal environmental law since it was signed into law by President Nixon in 1970.

The changes initiated by the Bush Administration would exempt thousands of industrial air pollution sources, including coal-fired power plants, from the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act. New Source Review requires power plants and other industrial facilities to add modern air pollution controls to smokestacks when the facilities are upgraded or modified and substantially increase air pollution.

New Source Review is the foundation of a series of lawsuits brought by the states, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups in 1999, 2000 and 2001 against dozens of old coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources.

From its first days in office, the Bush Administration has criticized New Source Review and sought to undermine its implementation, despite the prior filing of the clean air lawsuits by the federal government and despite the conclusion of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's Department of Justice that the New Source Review lawsuits are legally sound.

By adopting new regulations that will lead to dirtier air, the Bush Administration is violating the Clean Air Act. Congress passed the Clean Air Act intending that the Environmental Protection Agency use its powers to sharply reduce air pollution across the nation. Since 1970, successive Democratic and Republican administrations have either strengthened the Clean Air Act or left it untouched. The Bush Administration is the first in three decades to attempt deliberately to gut key components of the Clean Air Act.

The changes made today are particularly damaging because, unlike the draft version of the regulations, the Bush Administration has made the new rules effectively mandatory for all states, potentially undermining any state's ability to adopt stronger clean air protections. Also, the final regulations give facilities -- including those that EPA and the states accuse of violating the law -- significant unmonitored discretion to determine when the law applies.

MAINE AND EIGHT OTHER STATES FILE CLEAN AIR SUIT AGAINST FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

December 24, 2002

DECEMBER 31, 2002

CONTACT:
STEVEN ROWE, ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-822-0493/207-626-8599

Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe today joined eight other State attorneys general from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States in filing a federal lawsuit against the Bush Administration for endangering air quality by gutting a critical component of the federal Clean Air Act.

The lawsuit alleges that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has exceeded its authority and violated Congressional intent by enacting regulations that weaken the Clean Air Act, which was passed in 1970. These new regulations propose to significantly alter the "New Source Review" requirements previously imposed under the Clean Air Act, which require that industrial plants add modern air pollution controls when they are upgraded or modified.

"I find it incredible that we would have to resort to a lawsuit to prevent the Bush Administration from gutting the Clean Air Act. Our national government should be looking out for the health interests of American people, rather than the corporate financial interests of dirty power plants," Rowe stated.

The nine attorneys general said that this major weakening of the Clean Air Act will further degrade air quality in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, regions already struggling with poor air caused in significant part by industrial pollution carried into the region on prevailing winds.

"The Clean Air Act benefits Maine people most because we are located at the end of our nation's "air pollution tailpipe." We already have the highest adult asthma rate in the nation. If the Bush Administration is successful in its efforts to significantly weaken this important law, Maine people will clearly be the biggest losers."

These regulatory changes, which had been in the works for months, were announced by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman on November 22, 2002 - the Friday before Thanksgiving - and were adopted by publication in the Federal Register today - New Years Eve. The Attorneys General lawsuit was filed today, immediately upon the adoption of these changes, in federal court in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In the suit, the Attorneys General from Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont ask the court to invalidate the new regulations as being inconsistent with the federal Clean Air Act. The Attorneys General believe that these changes are so sweeping and damaging that the EPA cannot make them without Congressional approval. The suit alleges that the rollbacks violate both the Clean Air Act itself and the Administrative Procedure Act, which sets forth the process government agencies must follow to promulgate regulations.

The new regulations promulgated by the Bush Administration would exempt up to 50 percent of industrial facilities, including coal-fired power plants, from the New Source Review provision of the Clean Air Act. New Source Review requires that industrial plants add modern air pollution controls when they are upgraded or modified.

The federal Energy Task Force, chaired by Vice President Cheney, first proposed the lifting of the New Source Review requirements in May 2001. A year later, EPA submitted its report to the President announcing that it would "reform" its New Source Review regulations. While the Bush Administration claims these changes are similar to those considered by the EPA in 1996, they are more damaging to the environment. Former EPA Administrator Carol Browner told Congress that EPA abandoned the 1996 draft proposals because of their adverse environmental impact.

NASCAR PYRAMID HITS WALL

January 19, 2003

JANUARY 6, 2003

CONTACT:
LINDA CONTI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8800

A judge ruled Friday that Theodore McLeod, Jr., of Hermon violated the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act by organizing a pyramid scheme with a car racing theme in the spring of 2001. In addition to awarding the State the costs of bringing the suit, Maine Superior Court Justice Kirk Studstrup ordered McLeod to file with the court a complete accounting of the funds McLeod received in connection with the pyramid scheme so that Studstrup may determine what amounts of restitution and disgorgement to order. Restitution focuses on making whole the victims of illegal activity, while disgorgement focuses on preventing the wrongdoer from profiting from his wrongdoing without a focus on individual victims.

The "NASCAR" or "Car Club" pyramid was organized as a "car racing team" with a driver, two crew chiefs, four pit crew members, and eight fans. The fans were at the lowest level and paid $5,000 each to the driver in order to participate. When the driver received the $40,000 total from the fans, the team split in two, and all participants advanced to the next level, with each of the crew chiefs poised to retire as drivers with $40,000 from newly recruited fans. When the stream of $5,000 fans dries up, the pyramid collapses and the last three recruited in to the clubs never recover their losses. Pyramid schemes are prohibited under Maine law.

The court found that McLeod was "active and prominent in the organization and promotion of the car clubs," and agreed with the Attorney General that the clubs were illegal pyramid schemes. The court also found that McLeod hosted recruiting gatherings at his garage and made promotional speeches falsely asserting that the clubs were not illegal pyramids, that an attorney had been retained to guarantee the legality, that members could get out any time they wished, and that he kept a fund to provide refunds to those who wished to leave.

While the State pursued the case as a civil matter, the court found that there was "more than a sufficient factual basis" to find "beyond a reasonable doubt" that McLeod violated the law prohibiting pyramid schemes.

Attorney General Steven Rowe said, "At long last, following a full and fair trial, we have a court definitively declaring these 'gifting clubs' to be illegal pyramids. The case proves what we have said all along ā€” a deal that seems too good to be true probably is."

Assistant Attorney General Linda Conti, who handled the case for the State, said that two more pyramid trials are scheduled later this month, and another is pending but not scheduled. "We believe that the courts will continue to find these schemes illegal and make the organizers pay for what they have done."

COURT APPROVES ORDER PROHIBITING SALE OF SNOWMOBILES WITHOUT A FRANCHISE

January 24, 2003

JANUARY 10, 2003

CONTACT:
LEANNE ROBBIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8581

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has obtained an order from the Superior Court against Harry's Used Sales of Linneus, Maine, enjoining the dealership from selling new snowmobiles or all-terrain vehicles without a franchise from the relevant manufacturer. The State alleged that Harry's Used Sales was purchasing new snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles from dealers in Canada at prices below the wholesale prices paid by franchised dealers in Maine. By offering the Canadian vehicles for sale, Harry's Used Sales potentially placed other Maine dealers with a valid franchise at a competitive disadvantage. In addition, sales of such machines could harm consumers, in that the purchasers of new snowmobiles or all-terrain vehicles from non-franchised dealers do not get the benefit of the manufacturers' warranties or notices of recalls due to possible manufacturing defects.

The court's order enjoins Harry's Used Sales from offering any new snowmobiles or all-terrain vehicles for sale without a valid franchise from the manufacturer. In addition, Harry's Used Sales is required to maintain records of all machines sold for five years and to make such documents available to the Attorney General for inspection upon request.

On July 25, 2002, a new law came into effect making it illegal to sell or offer for sale new snowmobiles or all-terrain vehicles without a franchise from the manufacturer. This is the first enforcement action filed under the new law.

COMPETITION IN SOLID WASTE INDUSTRY ERODING; DISPOSAL FEES RISING

January 24, 2003

JANUARY 15, 2003

CONTACT: FRANCIS ACKERMAN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8800

Competition in Maine's solid waste industry is eroding and disposal fees are rising, according to a report issued this week by the Office of Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe. The report, An Analysis of Competition in Collection and Disposal of Solid Waste in Maine, was co-authored by University of Maine economist Dr. Ralph Townsend and Assistant Attorney General Francis Ackerman.

It makes several key findings about the competitive health of the waste hauling and disposal industry in Maine, and offers legislative recommendations. The Attorney General's analysis should be of particular interest to municipal officials around the State. Waste hauling and disposal is a very significant item in municipal budgets. Among the report's key findings:

ā€¢ Significant consolidation in the industry over the past 15 years has raised concerns that competition may be eroding;

ā€¢ Maine's ban on new commercial landfills reduces potential competition;

ā€¢ Out-of-state competition is insufficient to restrain rising disposal fees; and

ā€¢ Competition in the waste hauling sector is hampered by the use of self-renewing, so-called "evergreen" contracts, which are used to "lock up" commercial collection business.

The report proposes several remedial measures to restore competition, and guard against further price increases. Specifically, the Attorney General will submit legislation:

(1)  restricting the use of evergreen contracts;

(2)  expanding the data collection and market monitoring role of the State Planning Office; and

(3)  requiring the State Planning Office to propose corrective action if it appears that declining disposal capacity could generate supracompetitive price increases and windfall profits.

Report co-author AAG Francis Ackerman said, "On the disposal side, careful monitoring will be necessary to ensure against further erosion in competition and further price increases. Evergreen contracts erect a significant barrier to competition among haulers, and merit legislative restrictions."

"Waste disposal companies provide an essential service," said Attorney General Rowe. "Maine businesses and municipalities must have reasonable competitive options for collection and disposal of solid waste."

SOUTHERN MAINE NURSE GUILTY OF DRUG, FORGERY CHARGES

January 24, 2003

JANUARY 17, 2003

CONTACT:
MARCI A. ALEXANDER, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8870

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Kathy L. Smith of Saco, a registered nurse, pled guilty in York County Superior Court earlier this week to one count of forgery (Class D) and two felony counts of Acquiring Drugs by Deception (Class C). Smith was sentenced to one year in jail, all but 60 days suspended, with two years of probation and a total fine of $750.

Smith was working as a registered nurse at a hospital in southern Maine when she diverted morphine sulfate, a prescription painkiller, from two patients at the hospital. Smith also stole a prescription pad from the hospital and forged a prescription for MS Contin, another prescription painkiller. She signed a physician's name and submitted it to a local pharmacy to be filled. The pharmacist became suspicious because of Smith's unusual behavior and poor signature forgery.

The hospital, the pharmacy, and the State licensing agencies cooperated to ensure that Smith was brought to justice. Detective Christine Baker of the Maine Attorney General's Office Healthcare Crimes Unit investigated the case.

FINDINGS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL REGARDING THE INVESTIGATION OF THE POLICE USE OF DEADLY FORCE AGAIN

January 24, 2003

JANUARY 27, 2003

CONTACT:
CHARLES DOW, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8599

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a State Police trooper, Clifford Peterson, was legally justified when he shot and wounded Rodney E. Williams, 27, in Ellsworth the afternoon of December 23, 2002.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by Trooper Peterson in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force in the performance of the officer's duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person is also deadly force under Maine law.)

Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on his office's investigation and legal analysis, Trooper Peterson actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force had been used moments previously by Rodney Williams against another trooper, Sgt. Kelly Barbee, and that Williams continued to pose an imminent threat of further unlawful deadly force against the officers and citizens. The investigation and legal analysis also determined that Trooper Peterson actually and reasonably believed that deadly force on his part was necessary to protect himself and the others from death or serious bodily injury. Therefore, both requirements of law having been met, the use of deadly force by Trooper Peterson was legally justified.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

During the late morning of December 23, 2002, a Waldo County deputy sheriff was transporting Rodney E. Williams and a second inmate from the Waldo County Jail in Belfast to the Maine Correctional Center in South Windham. The deputy sheriff was driving a marked Waldo County sheriff's office cruiser. Neither inmate was restrained and both rode in the rear seat of the cruiser, shielded from the deputy by a Plexiglas barrier. Williams persuaded the deputy to stop the cruiser on the side of the road on Route 3 in Palermo by telling the deputy that he (Williams) was sick to his stomach. After the deputy assisted Williams from the vehicle, Williams physically overpowered the deputy and took his service weapon, a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol. Williams then ordered the deputy at gunpoint to resume driving, reverse direction, and to drive back toward Belfast. The second inmate remained in the rear seat of the vehicle, while Williams sat in the front seat of the vehicle, directing the deputy to Belfast and then north along Route 1. Somewhere enroute, Williams put on the deputy's uniform jacket. At Williams' direction, the deputy eventually came to a stop at a gravel pit in Penobscot in Hancock County where Williams compelled the deputy to place an end of a leg shackle on one of the deputy's wrists, and then escorted the deputy at gunpoint into a wooded area. With Williams and the deputy out of view, the second inmate got out of the cruiser and ran off into a wooded area to hide. The second inmate, upon hearing the cruiser leave the gravel pit, came out of hiding and met up with the deputy sheriff. The deputy and inmate were eventually successful in flagging down a vehicle, the driver of which drove the pair to a local grocery where the deputy called authorities to report that his cruiser and service weapon had been commandeered by Williams.

The deputy's noontime report to authorities resulted in three Hancock County deputies leaving Ellsworth in different directions at about the same time in search of the Waldo County cruiser. Just outside of Ellsworth, two of the deputies spotted the cruiser driving on Route 172 toward Ellsworth from the Blue Hill area. The sighting was reported by radio to the other Hancock County deputy. All three deputies turned around and drove back toward Ellsworth in an attempt to overtake and stop the Waldo County cruiser. In the meantime, Trooper Clifford Peterson was just leaving the State Police field office in Ellsworth when he heard the radio traffic of the Hancock County deputies and, from the nature and tone of the traffic, concluded that the deputies were in pursuit of a vehicle. He drove toward downtown Ellsworth. At about the same time, Sgt. Kelly Barbee of the State Police, off duty and with his daughter, was just leaving a store on lower Main Street in Ellsworth when he observed the Waldo County cruiser near the intersection of Main Street and Water Street. Sgt. Barbee, in civilian clothes and unarmed, was unaware of the report of an escapee or a stolen cruiser. Sgt. Barbee said the noise of the cruiser's tires and engine drew his attention just as the cruiser, seemingly out of control, traveled into the oncoming lane of Main Street and then across both lanes of travel, striking a parked vehicle and coming to a stop after jumping the sidewalk curb and crashing into a storefront about 50 feet from where Sgt. Barbee and his daughter were standing.

ROWE ANNOUNCES MAINE'S PARTICIPATION IN $80 MILLION PRESCRIPTION ANTITRUST SETTLEMENT

January 24, 2003

JANUARY 28, 2003

CONTACT:
JOHN BRAUTIGAM, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8867

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced a proposed settlement for $80 million involving the popular heart medication Cardizem CD. The fifty-state settlement resolves an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Maine Attorney General and multiple other state attorneys general against Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc. ("Aventis"), Andrx Corporation ("Andrx") and affiliated entities. Maine's precise share of the settlement has not yet been determined, but it will be shared by consumers, state agencies, and insurance companies that paid higher prices for Cardizem CD or its generic equivalent between 1998 and January 2003. Aventis and Andrx previously paid $110 million to settle a case brought by drug wholesalers involving the same allegations.

Maine's lawsuit alleged that Aventis and Andrx illegally agreed that Andrx would stay off the market with a less expensive generic version of the drug Cardizem CD in return for Aventis paying Andrx nearly $90 million. The lawsuit alleged that delays in bringing the generic drug to market resulted in higher prices for purchasers of the drugs. "Maine's antitrust laws prohibit agreements between competitors that limit consumer choice and drive up prices. We believe the Cardizem deal did just that," said Assistant Attorney General John Brautigam, who handled the case for the State.

"This case is a warning to big drug manufacturers that we will scrutinize questionable business practices that drive up prices for consumers. We will fight for affordable access to prescription drugs in any court for as long as it takes," said Attorney General Rowe.

The proposed settlement was filed yesterday with U.S. Federal District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds in Detroit and requires approval from the court to become effective. If Judge Edmunds approves the settlement, Attorney General Rowe will implement a claims administration process this summer for consumers who purchased Cardizem CD or its generic equivalent at any time between January of 1998 and January 2003.

STATE AG: BUSH ADMINISTRATION IS LEGALLY OBLIGATED TO ADDRESS CARBON DIOXIDE, GLOBAL WARMING

January 24, 2003

Attorneys General Warn That Pollution Poses Serious Health, Environmental Risks to the Northeast
Notice of Intent to Sue posted on the web at:
http://www.maine.gov/ag/pr/climatechangenoi.pdf

JANUARY 30, 2003

CONTACT:
STEVEN ROWE, ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8599

Calling on the Bush Administration to take steps to protect the public health, environment and economy from the dangers posed by an ever-increasing global warming problem, Attorneys General from three New England states today announced plans to file a lawsuit requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon dioxide.

Stating that the EPA has a mandatory duty to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe today issued a formal letter notifying EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman of their intent to sue.

"Carbon dioxide emissions will likely cause or contribute to wide-ranging, adverse changes to just about every aspect of the environment, public health and welfare throughout the Northeast," the Attorneys General state in their letter to Whitman. The six-page letter provides the framework for a lawsuit alleging that under the Clean Air Act, EPA is legally obligated to regulate carbon dioxide as a "criteria air pollutant." By failing to do so, the Attorneys General allege, EPA is violating the Clean Air Act.

Today's notice follows a July letter that Attorneys General Reilly, Blumenthal, Rowe and other state Attorneys General, sent to President Bush identifying global warming as the "most pressing environmental challenge of the 21st century." The letter, issued on July 17, pointed to the May release of the U.S. Climate Action Report 2002, a comprehensive report that the EPA had a lead role in preparing, which confirms the dangers of global climate change and projects that its primary cause, emissions of greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide produced from the combustion of fossil fuels - will increase by 43 percent by 2020.

"In the face of continued inaction, we, at the state level, have no choice but to use the remedies available to us to fill the void left at the federal level, " AG Reilly said. "Global warming will wreak havoc on our health, environment and economy if we don't address it with some immediacy. By failing to take action, the Bush Administration is gambling with the future of our children."

"This Administration's non-policy on greenhouse gas emissions is to do nothing and study everything. Now is the time for action, not more study. Unless we force federal action, carbon dioxide will cause more disease, health damage, and weather extremes, including both droughts and flooding," Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal said. "The recent cold spell offers scant comfort: global warming is an unavoidable result of inaction on greenhouse gas emissions."

"Continued uncontrolled carbon dioxide emissions will have adverse health effects for Maine people, including increased asthma and other chronic respiratory disorders. Insect-borne diseases such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus will be a growing problem," said Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe. "These emissions will also hurt our state's economy. Our forests and coastal waters will see major changes in species mix, altering the delicate balance in those ecosystems. Coastal lands and beaches will erode. Inland lakes and ponds will be more likely to suffer choking algae blooms."

Rowe added, "Mainers will not remain silent while the federal government neglects its duty to regulate pollutants. On behalf of all Mainers, especially future generations, we must demand that the federal government perform its duty under the law."

Under the notice provisions of the Clean Air Act, the threatened suit - known as a "mandamus suit" - could be filed in 60 days. If successful, the suit would require the EPA to "list" carbon dioxide as a "criteria pollutant" to be regulated under the Clean Air Act. EPA would then have to begin a process to determine appropriate "national ambient air quality standards" for the pollutant, which is by definition, the level of the pollutant that is allowable in the ambient air.

The basis for the lawsuit is a 1976 Court of Appeals decision that compelled EPA to set air quality standards for lead. In the case, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) argued that while EPA acknowledged that lead emissions pose a serious risk, the agency declined to list it as a criteria pollutant and address it as such. As a result of the case, lead is now regulated as one of six criteria pollutants.

The Attorneys General are arguing that the EPA has acknowledged in a legal memorandum and testimony presented to Congress that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

According to the U.S. Climate Action Report, global warming can result in:

  • Increased Temperatures. Average temperatures have already increased by one degree Fahrenheit over the past century, and are projected to increase by five to nine degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. The increase will dramatically change weather patterns in every state and destroy some fragile ecosystems.
  • Rising Sea Levels. Sea levels have already risen four to eight inches over the last century and will rise another 4 to 35 inches during the next century. Rising sea levels will cause more coastal flooding, and it will obliterate vital estuaries, coastal wetlands and barrier islands. The result will be increased storms and storm damage in some areas and dwindling water supply in others, such as California and other parts of the West.
  • Increased Health Risks. The effects of climate change can result in illnesses and deaths associated with temperature extremes, storms and other heavy precipitation events, air pollution, water contamination, and diseases carried by mosquitoes, ticks and rodents. A recently published study in the journal, Science, warns of increased risks from insect-borne diseases such as malaria and yellow fever.

In response to the lack of initiative at the federal level, several states are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the local level. In Massachusetts, state regulations were adopted in 2001 requiring carbon dioxide reductions by power plants and in New Hampshire "cap and trade" legislation was recently enacted. The legislature in California last summer passed a bill that will lead to the "maximum feasible" reductions of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. Other states are considering doing the same.

ATTORNEY GENERAL PRAISES CONSUMER MEDIATORS; CALLS FOR MORE VOLUNTEERS

February 19, 2003

FEBRUARY 4, 2003

CONTACT:
LINDA CONTI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
CHIEF, CONSUMER PROTECTION DIVISION
207-626-8800

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced that the Attorney General Volunteer Consumer Mediators last year mediated 1,597 cases and returned over $578,000 to Maine consumers. "The first week in February is National Consumer Protection Week, and it's a perfect occasion to recognize the efforts of our Volunteer Consumer Mediators," said Attorney General Rowe. "They represent the best of Maine. They are Maine people helping Maine people get what they paid for."

Each year the Consumer Protection Division receives well over 8,000 consumer queries. Most of these contacts are handled by providing consumer protection information. But the more serious disputes are often assigned to Attorney General Volunteer Mediators. This past year 31 Consumer Mediators contributed over 6,000 volunteer hours.

Attorney General Rowe urged businesses and consumer alike to work hard to resolve their disputes before resorting to legal remedies. "Our Consumer Mediation Service is a good option when a consumer and a business are at loggerheads," said Attorney General Rowe. "Mediation helps both sides understand the other's point of view and the consumer laws that may be relevant."

Attorney General Mediators volunteer five hours a week and receive extensive consumer law training. Since the Volunteer Consumer Mediation Program began in 1981, over 464 Volunteers have worked in the Attorney General's Office. Anyone interested in becoming an Attorney General Volunteer Mediator can visit the Attorney General's website at www.maine.gov/ag or contact Assistant Attorney General James McKenna at 207-626-8800 or jim.mckenna@maine.gov.

If you have a consumer complaint or would like more information about Maine consumer law, you can reach us by calling 207-626-8849 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday through Friday, or you can put your complaint or inquiry in writing and mail it to:

Maine Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
Consumer Information and Mediation Service
6 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0006
E-mail: consumer.mediation@maine.gov

We'll answer your question as quickly as possible.

MAINERS PROTECTED FROM CHARGES AFTER TRIAL OFFERS IN SALES AGREED TO BY TELEPHONE

February 19, 2003

FEBRUARY 5, 2003

CONTACT:
CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR
COMMUNICATIONS AND LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS
207-626-8577

"If you like the product, simply keep it, and we will bill your credit card," said the telemarketer. "Not so fast," said the Maine Legislature.

Since the fall of 2001, Mainers have been protected by a law that regulates "negative option sales," so-called because the sale is completed when the consumer fails to act to prevent it. Telemarketers may no longer charge a consumer for a good or service after a trial period unless they send the consumer, at least 15 days prior to any charge, a clearly written description of the good or service being purchased, the amount to be charged, and the calendar date the consumer will be charged for the good or service if the consumer does not cancel the sale. This notice also must provide the specific steps by which the consumer can cancel the agreement by both mail and telephone. Failure to provide the required notices constitutes a violation of the Unfair Trade Practices Act, which can be enforced by the Attorney General or by private parties.

The new law does not apply to sales under $25 or to sales of credit, insurance, or securities.

Attorney General Steven Rowe warned that the increased convenience of credit cards and telephone sales must be balanced by increased consumer vigilance. "We all must read our credit card statements and scan our mail carefully. My office will enforce the law, but people need to report violations to us." The phone number at the AG's Office is 626-8800.

Read the law online at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/10/title10sec1210.html.

MAINE CONSUMERS PROTECTED BY IMPLIED WARRANTY LAW

February 19, 2003

FEBRUARY 6, 2003

CONTACT:
CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR
COMMUNICATIONS AND LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS
207-626-8577

Attorney General Steven Rowe today used the occasion of Consumer Protection Week to highlight a little-known but very important protection for Maine Consumers. Maine law provides automatic warranty protection in addition to any "express" written or verbal warranty provided by a seller or manufacturer.

In general, the implied warranty law applies to new or used consumer items that:

A. Are seriously defective;
B. Have not been abused; and
C. Were purchased less than four years ago and still within their normally expected "useful life" (i.e., not simply worn out).

All new and used goods purchased for family, household or personal use ā€” clothes, new cars, appliances, sports equipment and more ā€” are warranted by law to be fit for the ordinary purpose for which such goods are used. The only exception to this law is that used car dealers can disclaim implied warranties when selling used cars "as is," without any express warranty.

If you have been the victim of a breach of the implied warranty, then you are generally entitled to your incidental and consequential damages (e.g., free repairs by either the manufacturer or the seller). Please note: In order to preserve your warranty rights you should always give both the dealer and the manufacturer written notice of the defect.

The entire Maine Consumer Law Guide is always online at: http://www1.maine.gov/ag/index.php?r=clg

FINDINGS OF THE AG REGARDING THE INVESTIGATION OF THE USE BY POLICE OF DEADLY FORCE

February 19, 2003

FEBRUARY 7, 2003

CONTACT:
CHARLES DOW, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8577

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a Lincoln County deputy sheriff, Detective Sergeant Jason Pease, 27, was legally justified when he shot at Michael L. Montagna, 45, in a vehicle in Jefferson the evening of December 25, 2002.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by Sgt. Pease in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force in the performance of the officer's duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle is also deadly force under Maine law.)

Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on his office's investigation and legal analysis, Sgt. Pease actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force had been used seconds previously by Michael Montagna against him, and that Montagna continued to pose an imminent threat of further unlawful deadly force against him. The investigation and legal analysis also determined that Sgt. Pease actually and reasonably believed that deadly force on his part was necessary to protect himself from death or serious bodily injury. Therefore, both requirements of law having been met, the use of deadly force by Sgt. Pease was legally justified.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

On December 25, 2002, Detective Sergeant Jason Pease of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office was on a day off. Early in the evening, however, Sgt. Pease left his home in Jefferson to respond to a nearby traffic accident as a member of the Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department. Because of a severe snowstorm, other police units were busy with unrelated accidents and Pease offered to cover the investigation of the accident. After having concluded his investigation, Pease returned home.

Later, while at home, Sgt. Pease received a telephone call from a Lincoln County sheriff's dispatcher. The call was received at about 8 p.m. The dispatcher asked Sgt. Pease to respond to a call from an elderly man on the Gardiner Road (Route 126) in Jefferson, who had called the Sheriff's Office to report a suspicious incident involving a man who had appeared on foot at the elderly man's residence asking to use a telephone. The man was allowed inside the residence to access the phone. While in the residence, the man's statements about being drugged and his demeanor frightened the residents. The man, after identifying himself as Michael Montagna and speaking with a Lincoln County sheriff's dispatcher, left the residence and ran off down the driveway taking with him the homeowner's cordless telephone. The dispatcher was unsuccessful in persuading Montagna to return to the residence to await a deputy sheriff and to maintain telephone contact with the dispatcher. The Lincoln County sheriff's dispatcher radioed Sgt. Pease a physical description of Montagna and told Sgt. Pease that he appeared to be emotionally disturbed.

While on his way to the residence, Sgt. Pease was notified by the dispatcher that Montagna was at another residence on the Gardiner Road in Jefferson. Sgt. Pease drove up to that residence in a four-wheel-drive Lincoln County sheriff's unmarked vehicle. He observed through a window in the residence a man who fit the general description the dispatcher had given him. The man was standing inside the residence talking with a resident of the home. Sgt. Pease entered the residence and asked Montagna to step outside onto the porch so he could talk with him. Montagna was asked for identification and, not being able to find his driver's license, handed Sgt. Pease a business card. Montagna told Sgt. Pease that he was sick and needed help and wanted to go to the police station. Because of the severe driving conditions caused by the snowstorm, Sgt. Pease informed Montagna that he would not drive him to the sheriff's office in Wiscasset, but that he would take him to a hospital in Augusta. Montagna told Sgt. Pease that he wanted to go to the hospital because he needed help. Montagna told Sgt. Pease that he thought that he had been drugged and that people were out to get him.

During the brief discussion between Montagna and Sgt. Pease, Montagna became agitated for no apparent reason, bounded from the porch deck, and ran down the driveway towards the Gardiner Road. Sgt. Pease, concerned about Montagna's condition, particularly in view of the stormy night, ran after Montagna and, upon catching up to him, reached out and grabbed him. This contact caused both of them to slip in the snow and fall to the ground. They both immediately got to their feet. More conversation ensued about Sgt. Pease's offer to take Montagna to a hospital. Sgt. Pease became increasingly concerned over Montagna's demeanor, which alternated between anxiety and calm. Montagna insisted at one point on going back into the private residence to retrieve his driver's license. Sgt. Pease, not wanting Montagna to go back into the residence, told Montagna that he would get the license for him and then he would take him to the hospital in Augusta. Seemingly more cooperative at that point, Montagna, describing himself as hot, began picking up handfuls of snow and applying the snow to his face. At that time, Montagna was standing about six feet from Sgt. Pease; he was between Sgt. Pease and the police vehicle. Without leaving his position, Sgt. Pease spoke with the residents of the house, and learned that they did not have Montagna's driver license, but a business card Montagna had given them.

While Sgt. Pease was conversing with the residents of the house, Montagna suddenly bolted for the police vehicle, which was running. Sgt. Pease gave chase and arrived at the vehicle just after Montagna got into the driver's seat and closed the door. Sgt. Pease immediately opened the driver's door. Montagna was revving the engine, but the vehicle was not moving when Sgt. Pease opened the door. Sgt. Pease grabbed Montagna while telling him repeatedly to get out of the vehicle. Montagna placed the vehicle in reverse and rapidly accelerated. The vehicle's tires initially spun on the snow and ice from the rapid acceleration, but quickly acquired traction. As the vehicle took off in reverse down the driveway towards the Gardiner Road, Sgt. Pease ran alongside it, still attempting to pull Montagna out. At some point, the driver's door struck Sgt. Pease in the back, knocking him to the ground. While not determined if the front left tire of the vehicle ran over Sgt. Pease's leg or if instead the running board of the vehicle struck his leg, Sgt. Pease was dragged for a distance of about 50 feet. The vehicle, moving rapidly in reverse, spun to the left toward a ditch and this spinning movement caused Sgt. Pease to be released from the vehicle. Sgt. Pease came to rest laying on his right side in the snow in front of the vehicle.

Montagna, switching from reverse to forward gear, started driving the vehicle towards Sgt. Pease, who lay on the ground in the snow unable to get to his feet or out of the path of the vehicle. As the vehicle started towards him, Sgt. Pease, fearing that he was going to be run over, discharged three rounds from his service weapon at the approaching vehicle. The vehicle was about 20 feet from Sgt. Pease at this time. As soon as the rounds were discharged, Montagna placed the vehicle in reverse, managed to get the vehicle turned around, and drove off heading toward Jefferson on the Gardiner Road.

An alert for the stolen Lincoln County sheriff's vehicle was broadcast and the vehicle, disabled with Montagna sitting in it, was found about a half-hour later a few miles away on Route 215. A State Police trooper arrested Montagna without incident. Montagna was first taken to a hospital for evaluation and then booked at the Lincoln County Jail in Wiscasset. It was later determined that the vehicle became disabled when its transmission cooling system failed as a result of one of Sgt. Pease's shots at the vehicle. At least two of the three shots had struck the front of the vehicle.

Sgt. Pease was treated at an Augusta hospital for a severely injured knee and lacerations to his lower back and hands, and contusions. He remains on medical leave recuperating from the knee injury. The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office cooperated fully with the investigation and it is conducting its own departmental review of the shooting incident.

BEWARE VARIATIONS ON THE "NIGERIAN SCAM" Mainer loses $6,500

February 19, 2003

FEBRUARY 7, 2003

CONTACT:
CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR
COMMUNICATIONS AND LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS
207-626-8577

Attorney General Steven Rowe today renewed warnings about a pervasive email, fax, and mail scam that claims to emanate from Nigeria or other African nations. The basic scheme began in the early 1980's and, according to federal government reports, has resulted in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars by United States residents.

The classic Nigerian scam comes in the form of unsolicited correspondence from a self-proclaimed Nigerian government official offering to launder $10 million to $60 million through a legitimate American bank account. The correspondence asks the recipient to provide personal banking information to the sender in exchange for a percentage of the money. Any recipient who responds is then asked to send monetary installments to the sender and is promised reimbursement when the large sum is transferred from Nigeria. In actuality, the millions do not exist, and the recipient loses the installment payments and compromises the security of banking information.

A Somerville man today reported to the Attorney General a new twist on the Nigerian scam. The man listed a motorcycle for sale on an Internet site. A person claiming to be from Nigeria called him and offered $9,000 for the motorcycle. He accepted the offer. The buyer claimed that a colleague in the US owed him $15,500 and asked the seller to take a cashier's check from the colleague for that amount and wire the difference, $6,500, to the buyer in Nigeria. He said he would later arrange for the shipment of the motorcycle. The seller received the cashier's check for $15,500, deposited it, and wired the $6,500 to the buyer. He later learned that the cashier's check was counterfeit and that he was out $6,500. Members of the Maine media may contact Chuck Dow at the Attorney General's Office for contact information for the seller.

Attorney General Rowe warned, "Generally, State and federal officials lack viable options for recovering money lost in this scam or prosecuting the scammers. Do not respond to these offers. They lead down a road of deception and loss."

ATTORNEY GENERAL IMPOSES CONDITIONS ON DEAD RIVER/IRVING OIL DEAL

February 20, 2003

FEBRUARY 20, 2003

CONTACT:
FRANCIS ACKERMAN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8800

The Maine Attorney General's Office has approved the acquisition by Dead River Company of home heating oil and propane assets of Irving Oil Corporation in Aroostook County and some sections of Penobscot and Washington Counties. The deal will be permitted to proceed subject to conditions imposed by a Consent Decree. The conditions, which are designed to resolve antitrust concerns raised by the acquisition, affect the transaction as it relates to propane. "Our antitrust review showed that post-acquisition, Dead River would have a monopoly position in the wholesale propane market in Aroostook County," said Assistant Attorney General Francis Ackerman. "This was an obvious cause for concern."

The Consent Decree imposes three principal conditions. First, it requires Dead River to offer wholesale storage capacity at its Caribou propane bulk facility to Irving and at least one other competing wholesaler, on a so-called "throughput" basis. It also commits Irving to offer to supply Aroostook County propane retailers with their propane needs, in competition with Dead River. Finally, the Decree requires Irving to sell its own bulk storage facility, located in Presque Isle, to a company willing to enter the wholesale propane market.

The Attorney General's Office is optimistic that new entrants will step forward to bring renewed competition to Aroostook County propane markets under the terms of the Decree. Companies interested in entering into a throughput arrangement at the Caribou bulk facility should contact Dead River; those interested in acquiring Irving's bulk storage plant should contact Irving directly. To read the Consent Decree, click HERE.

MEDDYBEMPS JUNKYARD OWNER GETS YEAR IN JAIL FOR HAZARDOUS WASTE VIOLATIONS

March 18, 2003

MARCH 17, 2003

CONTACT: LEANNE ROBBIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8581

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced that Harry J. Smith, Jr., 62,
of Meddybemps, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison with all but one
year suspended for felony hazardous waste crimes at his Washington County
junkyards.  Smith operates four junkyard sites in the Meddybemps area where
he has accumulated hazardous waste since at least 1986.  The sites have been subject to three different environmental cleanups by the United States
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Maine Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP).  A Washington County jury convicted Smith
after trial earlier this year.

Smith initially started in business with his father operating a site known
as the Eastern Surplus Site near Meddybemps Lake.  That site was declared a
federal superfund site in the 1980's, and DEP and EPA spent over $700,000 on
its remediation during the period1986 through 1990.  The wastes included,
among other things, flammable paint waste, calcium carbide, and PCB
containing transformers.  A second site, known as the South Annex, was
subject to a similar cleanup in 1991 and 1992.  The cleanup costs on that
site were over $1.2 million. 

Following the remediation of the South Annex in 1992, Harry J. Smith, Jr.
again began moving over 300 boxcars and trailers full of hazardous and other
waste onto the South site, as well as onto the property located across the
street, known as the North Annex.  During an inspection in connection with
Smith's illegal tire stockpiles in June, 2001, a DEP staff person noticed a
can marked with red letters "WARNING-HAZARDOUS WASTE." 

A subsequent search yielded hundreds of cans and pails and drums of
hazardous waste, including flammable waste, a trailer full of PCB-containing
transformers that was leaking into the ground, and a trailer full of calcium
carbide.  To date, the DEP has spent over $1.7 million in the new cleanup
effort, and the remediation costs are likely to come to at least $3 million.
Smith was charged criminally with handling the waste found on his sites in
October, 2001, after the completion of two prior cleanups.
"We hope that a year in jail will cause Smith to reconsider his long-held
belief that the environmental laws do not apply to him," commented Assistant
Attorney General Leanne Robbin, who handled the case for the State.

AUGUSTA DRUG TRAFFICKER GETS TWO YEARS IN PRISON

April 4, 2003

APRIL 4, 2003

CONTACT: LARA M. NOMANI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8804

Attorney General Steven Rowe reported today that Michael H. Pushard, 31, of
Augusta was sentenced yesterday on three counts of Trafficking in Heroin.
Pushard was charged with selling $270 worth of heroin from his home in
Augusta between August and September, 2002.  The sales were followed by the execution of a search warrant at the home and the seizure of heroin and
$18,000.  The money was hidden in the sofa of the apartment and was intended
to be used for the purchase of drugs later that day. Pushard's supplier,
Juan Taveras of Massachusetts, was intercepted by drug investigators and
found in possession of 18.3 grams of crack cocaine and 499 bags of heroin,
with a combined street value of nearly $20,000. Taveras is presently in
federal custody on these charges.

Pushard pled guilty to the three felony charges and admitted to the
forfeiture of all of the money seized.  Maine Superior Court Justice John
Atwood approved the plea agreement in the case and ordered Pushard to serve
seven years in prison, with all but two years suspended.  Once Pushard has
completed serving his initial two-year prison term, he will be placed on
probation for an additional four years.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Lara M. Nomani, and
was investigated by drug investigators from the Augusta Police Department
and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.  The drug bust was the result of
ongoing collaboration between the two agencies.  The close working
relationship between the two agencies has resulted in a recent decision to
assign an Augusta detective to MDEA to act as a resident MDEA drug agent, in addition to his other duties.  This arrangement was worked out between
George Connick, the supervising officer of the MDEA field office, and Lt.
Dennis Passmore of the Augusta Police Department.  This "resident agent
program" is the brain child of Connick and has been implemented with the
Waldo County Sheriff's Office and the Bath Police Department.

Connick stated: "In these tough economic times, agencies must work together
to maximize limited resources. The resident agent program allows for the
sharing of information, drug investigation expertise and personnel. This
arrangement allows law enforcement to identify and apprehend the major
distributors of hard-core drugs within our communities."

BANGOR MAN GETS FIVE YEARS IN PRISON FOR DEALING HEROIN

August 1, 2002

AUGUST 28, 2002

CONTACT: MATT ERICKSON, Assistant Attorney General
207-945-0373

Attorney General Steven Rowe reported today that Joseph LeFrancois, age 40, of Bangor was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for Aggravated Trafficking in Heroin (Class A). Police searched a hotel room in Brewer where LeFrancois was living on March 21, 2002, and found three bags of heroin that LeFrancois was trying to flush down the toilet, drug ledgers, drug paraphernalia, and $1,476 in drug proceeds. The Superior Court judge also gave LeFrancois a concurrent one year sentence on an unrelated Possession of Heroin charge that stemmed from an unrelated car stop by the Brewer Police Department on January 27, 2002. LeFrancois had a previous felony drug conviction in Massachusetts in 1991. The seized cash was forfeited to the State.

"We hope this case sends a message to heroin dealers that they will get caught and serve long sentences, especially the second time around," said Assistant Attorney General Matt Erickson, the prosecutor in the case. The cases were investigated by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Brewer Police Department.

ANNUAL CIVIL RIGHTS TEAM CONFERENCE TOMORROW

April 14, 2003

APRIL 14, 2002

CONTACT: THOMAS HARNETT, DIRECTOR OF CIVIL RIGHTS
EDUCATION AND ENFORCEMENT
207-626-8800

WHO:  2000+/- elementary, middle, and high school students from across
Maine (See a list of schools with Civil Rights Teams at: http://www.maine.gov/ag/faq.php?pods=122
WHAT:  Civil Rights Team Project Annual Statewide Conference
WHEN:  Tuesday, April 15, 8:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
WHERE:  Augusta Civic Center
WHY:  To make schools safe for everyone

Up to 2,000 Maine students, their teachers, and advisors will meet
tomorrow at the Augusta Civic Center for the 5th Annual Maine Civil Rights
Team Conference.  The keynote speakers this year are six students from the
Lewiston High School Civil Rights Team who will talk about what it was like
to be in that city last fall when much attention was focused on the
community response to the arrival of many Somali people.  Workshop schedules
are available online at: http://www.maine.gov/ag/index.php?r=civilrights&s=civilrightsteamproject&t=

NOTE: Electronic recording will be allowed only in the plenary sessions in
the main auditorium.

PHILIP MORRIS WILL MAKE TOBACCO SETTLEMENT PAYMENT ON TIME

April 14, 2003

APRIL 14, 2003

CONTACT: MELISSA REYNOLDS O'DEA, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
207-626-8552

Despite worries over the last two weeks that a multi-billion dollar verdict
in an Illinois state court case would compromise Philip Morris's ability to
make the $2.6 billion payment to the 46 U.S. states involved in the 1998
Tobacco Settlement, Attorney General Steven Rowe announced this evening that he has received assurances that the company will make its payment on
schedule tomorrow.  At stake for Maine was approximately $20 million of its
$40 million payment.  The Illinois court cleared the way for the payment to
the states by reducing the amount Philip Morris was required to pay to
appeal the case there.

Attorney General Rowe said, "We fully expected Philip Morris to meet its
payment obligation under the Master Settlement Agreement.  We are pleased
that the vital health and human services needs that are supported by the
Fund For a Healthy Maine can continue as planned." 

FINDINGS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL ON POLICE USE OF DEADLY FORCE

April 18, 2003

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that two York County deputy sheriffs, Sergeant David W. Dumond, 39, and Deputy Steven K. Thistlewood, 29, were legally justified when they shot and killed Dale S. Pelletier, 33, of Milton Mills, New Hampshire, on the afternoon of March 7, 2003, in Acton, Maine. The Attorney General also said that Sergeant Dumond was legally justified when, at prior points in time, he discharged his weapon at Pelletier and used his cruiser to ram Pelletier’s vehicle.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by the deputies in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force in the performance of the officer’s duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person or at a moving vehicle is also deadly force under Maine law.)

Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on his office's investigation and legal analysis, Sergeant Dumond and Deputy Thistlewood actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force had been and was being used by Dale Pelletier against them and others. A short time before being shot and killed by the deputies, Pelletier, who was fleeing the police in his vehicle, fired his handgun at Sergeant Dumond and, subsequently, at Deputy Arthur Titcomb, also of the York County Sheriff’s Office. After his vehicle was forced off the road, Pelletier fired his handgun at Deputy Thistlewood, Sergeant Dumond, and other officers. Thistlewood and Dumond returned fire that resulted in Pelletier’s death.

The investigation and legal analysis also determined that Sergeant Dumond and Deputy Thistlewood, themselves being fired upon by Pelletier, actually and reasonably believed that deadly force on their part was necessary to protect themselves from death or serious bodily injury. The same was determined with respect to Sergeant Dumond’s earlier use of deadly force against Pelletier when he shot at Pelletier after being shot at himself by Pelletier, and when he used his cruiser to ram Pelletier’s vehicle in order to stop Pelletier. Therefore, both requirements of law having been met, the use of deadly force by Sergeant Dumond and Deputy Thistlewood was legally justified.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

At around noontime on Friday, March 7, 2003, Pelletier, armed with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun, engaged in a course of conduct while driving his pickup truck in the Milton, New Hampshire area that included two separate random acts of shooting at another driver. In the first incident, the vehicle operator was not struck. However, in the second incident, the vehicle operator suffered a gunshot wound to the left arm. Investigation of these shooting incidents by New Hampshire authorities culminated in an intensive search for Pelletier in the Milton area by the Milton police and others in an effort to locate and arrest Pelletier. Because of Maine’s proximity, the Milton police chief, Mark McGowan, alerted the York County Sheriff’s Office and the Maine State Police of the shooting incidents and requested that Maine authorities join in the search for Pelletier.

At about 1:15 p.m., York County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey Wolfahrt observed a pickup truck on the Fox Ridge Road in Acton matching the description of the vehicle that Pelletier was believed to be operating. Wolfahrt alerted other deputies and began a slow speed surveillance of the vehicle that led from Acton into Lebanon and then back into Acton. At one point, based on his observations of Pelletier’s movements inside the vehicle, Deputy Wolfahrt concluded that Pelletier was either accessing or concealing something beneath the vehicle’s seat. It was later confirmed that Pelletier was in fact the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle. Maine State Police trooper Jeremy Forbes, learning of the vehicle’s direction of travel, attempted to set up a roadblock with a spike mat on the Goding Road at its intersection with the County Road in Acton. Milton Police Chief McGowan joined Deputy Wolfahrt in the slow speed surveillance of Pelletier as he traveled towards Forbes’ position. Those two officers were joined in the moving surveillance of Pelletier by York County Deputy Sheriff Steven Thistlewood. Upon the approach to Trooper Forbes’ stationary position, Pelletier’s vehicle accelerated and Pelletier extended his right hand, holding a handgun, out the open driver’s window of his vehicle. Deputy Wolfahrt shouted over the radio to Trooper Forbes that Pelletier had a gun.

Pelletier was successful in avoiding Trooper Forbes’ partially deployed spike mat. When Pelletier passed Trooper Forbes, who had taken protective cover outside of his marked State Police cruiser, other officers observed Pelletier point a handgun out of the open driver’s window directly at Trooper Forbes, and then accelerate away.

Once Pelletier had passed Trooper Forbes’ position, Deputy Wolfahrt and the other officers activated the emergency lighting and sirens on their marked police vehicles. Pelletier ignored this attempt by the officers to stop his vehicle. Learning that Pelletier and his pursuers were on the Milton Mills Road in Acton, Sergeant David Dumond of the York County Sheriff’s Office set up further along on that road a second roadblock with a fully deployed spike mat across Pelletier’s anticipated lane of travel. On his approach to Sergeant Dumond’s stationary position on the Milton Mills Road, Pelletier accelerated and drove his vehicle into the opposite lane of travel as if intending to collide head-on with Sergeant Dumond’s stationary cruiser. However, just prior to reaching the cruiser, Pelletier steered his vehicle back into the proper lane of travel.

The Pelletier vehicle, upon reaching the spike mat, slowed to a near stop. After passing over the spike mat, Pelletier leaned out of the open driver’s window in a backwards direction, pointed his gun at Sergeant Dumond, who was crouched by his cruiser, and fired at least one round at Sergeant Dumond. Sergeant Dumond, who was not struck by the discharge, then fired one round at Pelletier. Later investigation determined that this round did not strike Pelletier. After discharging his handgun at Sergeant Dumond, Pelletier ducked back into his vehicle and accelerated away at a speed greater than the 25 to 30 miles per hour that he had been previously been traveling during the pursuit.

The number of police vehicles now pursuing Pelletier expanded to include both Trooper Forbes and Sergeant Dumond. As Pelletier proceeded west on the Milton Mills Road, the officers observed school buses on the road. York County sheriff’s deputy Arthur Titcomb had attempted to reroute one bus, but the bus driver apparently misunderstood Deputy Titcomb’s instruction and drove east on the Milton Mills Road, heading directly into the path of Pelletier and the pursuing police officers. Deputy Titcomb, who was operating an unmarked police vehicle equipped with emergency lighting and siren that he had activated, pursued the bus, and was able to bring it to a stop at the same time that Pelletier passed that location. As Pelletier drove by the bus and Deputy Titcomb’s cruiser, he leaned out of the driver’s open window and fired his handgun directly at Deputy Titcomb. Later investigation determined that the round struck Titcomb’s vehicle.

Sergeant Dumond assumed the primary pursuit position immediately behind Pelletier’s vehicle with the intention of ramming Pelletier’s vehicle for the purpose of stopping it. However, the approach of the school bus and Deputy Titcomb’s vehicle initially precluded him from doing so. After Pelletier went by the school bus and Deputy Titcomb’s vehicle, Sergeant Dumond executed a ramming maneuver of moderate impact to Pelletier’s vehicle. The maneuver resulted in Pelletier losing control of his pickup truck, and the truck coming to rest with its front end on top of a snow bank at the intersection of the Milton Mills Road and French Street in Acton, about 400 feet from the New Hampshire state line.

Sergeant Dumond immediately brought his cruiser to a stop, opened the driver’s door, and, using his door as cover, directed his weapon at the Pelletier vehicle. Deputy Thistlewood, who was following Sergeant Dumond, also stopped his cruiser, emerged with his weapon at the ready, and advanced on foot from his cruiser toward the rear of the disabled Pelletier vehicle. At the same time as these actions by the deputies were taking place, Pelletier attempted to open the driver’s door of his vehicle but could only partially do so because of the snow bank. Within seconds, Pelletier began firing his handgun directly at the deputies through the opening between the driver’s door and the cab. Both Deputy Thistlewood and Sergeant Dumond immediately returned fire. Several of their rounds struck Pelletier’s pickup truck; two rounds struck Pelletier.

Later investigation and a forensic examination determined that Pelletier died almost immediately as a result of two gunshot wounds to the head. An investigation by Dr. Margaret Greenwald, the state’s chief medical examiner, found that the trajectory of each of the fatal gunshot wounds was consistent with the observations of the deputies and at least one civilian witness who from a nearby residence observed Pelletier’s physical position in his vehicle, and saw Pelletier fire on the officers and the officers’ immediate response.

Emergency medical personnel on the scene within minutes of the shooting determined that Pelletier was deceased. The entire episode, from the point that Deputy Wolfahrt first observed and started following the Pelletier vehicle to the point that Pelletier was shot and killed, took place in less than a half hour.

Six detectives from the Office of the Attorney General went to the scene of the shooting in Acton to conduct the investigation. They were assisted in the investigation by detectives from the State Police and members of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The New Hampshire State Police also assisted in the investigation. The York County Sheriff’s Office cooperated fully with the investigation and is conducting its own departmental review of the incident.


GOVERNOR, ATTORNEY GENERAL JOIN SENIORS GROUPS ANNOUNCING CONSUMER "CHECK IT OUT" PROGRAM

May 1, 2003

On Friday, May 2, at 9:30 a.m., Governor Baldacci and Attorney General Rowe will join the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), Legal Services for the Elderly, and TRIAD (a nationwide program that depends on local partnerships between seniors and law enforcement for the purpose of preventing crimes against seniors) to announce a new campaign called "Check It Out." Check It Out will enable seniors to call a toll-free number to check on offers that seem too good to be true. The number is 1-877-ELDERS-1 (1-877- 353- 3771).

Check It Out will provide a simple way to get a second opinion before seniors sign a contract, make a major purchase, respond to a solicitation, or give money to charities, friends, or even family members. Its purpose is to reduce victimization of older Mainers who may be pressured into hasty decisions and agree to make large purchases, cooperate with telemarketers, contribute to charities, contract for home repairs, or make other transactions that are unwise or even fraudulent.

Seniors are encouraged to call the 1-877-ELDERS-1 number (1-877-353-3771) during business hours to request assistance before making a decision. By asking for an informed opinion, the callers will receive impartial information from those who handle such calls at the five Area Agencies on Aging. If the call indicates a need for additional input or even law enforcement assistance, the AAA responder will offer to have the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, Legal Services for the Elderly, or another appropriate agency review the matter. The senior will receive a prompt return call with additional information and suggestions.

Please attend the press conference Friday for additional information and interviews.

CONTACT: CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS AND LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

FINDINGS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL ON THE POLICE USE OF DEADLY FORCE AGAINST CHRISTOPHER PULLEN

June 4, 2003

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a State Police trooper, Sgt. James Urquhart, was legally justified when he shot and killed Christopher R. Pullen, 36, in Poland during the early morning of May 6, 2003.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by Sgt. Urquhart in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force in the performance of the officer’s duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person is also deadly force under Maine law.)

Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on his office's investigation and legal analysis, Sgt. Urquhart actually and reasonably believed that deadly force on his part was necessary to protect himself and another officer, Trooper Blaine Bronson, from the imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury posed by Christopher Pullen. Therefore, both requirements of law having been met, the use of deadly force by Sgt. Urquhart was legally justified.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5, 2003, Pullen telephoned his estranged girlfriend in an attempt to persuade her to come to his house to talk with him. The girlfriend had moved out of the house she occupied with Pullen in Mechanic Falls the previous week, and was staying with a friend in Mechanic Falls. Her move from the Pullen residence coincided with Pullen’s latest arrest for operating under the influence. The girlfriend recognized that Pullen had been drinking and refused to go to his house. At approximately 11 p.m., Pullen was discovered by his girlfriend outside the residence where she was staying. She opened the door and refused his repeated requests to be admitted. She observed that he was intoxicated and was armed with a shotgun. He told her someone had set fire to his home. She shut the door and walked away with the intent to use the telephone to call the police. Pullen opened the door and entered, ignoring her demands for him to leave. He told her that she would not be able to call the police because he had cut the phone line.

Over the next few minutes, Pullen repeatedly blamed her for all his difficulties, indicated that he had nothing to live for, threatened to shoot both her and her mother, and physically assaulted her. Several times he intentionally pointed the gun directly at the girlfriend’s face. At other times he threatened to kill himself. At one point he placed the butt of the shotgun on the floor, placed his face over the barrel and reached for the trigger. The girlfriend wrestled the barrel away. He responded by slapping her.

At some point, the friend with whom the girlfriend was staying left the residence and called the police from the home of a neighbor.

Pullen eventually fled the home after hearing sirens, later determined to be emergency units responding to a report of Pullen’s house being on fire. It was also later determined that the telephone service wire on the outside of the residence where the girlfriend was staying had been severed.

Meanwhile, the Mechanic Falls Police and Fire Departments had been dispatched to the Pullen residence for a structure fire. Officers checked the home and found no one there. They requested that other officers be on the watch for Pullen, announcing that he might be armed, that he was suspected of having set fire to his own home, and that he had threatened his estranged girlfriend with a gun a few minutes before.

Slightly less than a half hour later, three Androscoggin County deputy sheriffs encountered Pullen on Route 121 in Poland. They found him parked alongside the road in his pickup truck, and at first they drove past, then turned around and took up positions behind the truck. Initially it was not clear as to whether Pullen was actually in the vehicle. However, almost immediately the officers discovered that he was sitting behind the steering wheel. Pullen then opened the driver’s door and exited the truck. He was carrying a shotgun in his right hand. The situation turned into a standoff between Pullen and the police that lasted more than three hours.

During the duration of the standoff, with Pullen armed either with a shotgun or a rifle or both, as well as a knife, continuous attempts were made to talk Pullen into relinquishing the weapons. One of the Androscoggin County deputy sheriffs established and maintained constant communication with Pullen for the first two hours. Ultimately, that deputy was relieved in the negotiation attempts by two State Police negotiators. During the standoff, Pullen threatened to kill both himself and police on a number of occasions. He also consumed several cans of beer. He continuously paced around his vehicle and in the area in the roadway between his truck and police cruisers. He alternated between holding the rifle and the shotgun. At times, he leaned both weapons against his truck, but was never more than a few feet from them. At one point, after putting down both the shotgun and the rifle and opening another can of beer, a State Police negotiator told Pullen that officers were concerned for their safety when Pullen was holding a weapon. Pulled replied, “They should be.” At another point, Pullen deactivated the safety, knelt down and placed the barrel under his chin. He ultimately was convinced by the negotiator not to pull the trigger, got up and reactivated the safety. As he paced around the area of his pickup truck, Pullen generally kept the barrel pointed toward the ground, but sometimes, when agitated and yelling, he waved the gun around, resulting in the barrel pointing toward police. Other times he lifted the barrel toward police in a more deliberate and provocative manner although never aiming it at a specific officer. At another point, Pullen, armed with the shotgun, walked directly towards a State Police negotiator and other officers. He ignored repeated commands to stop and was approximately ten feet from one of the officers when he yelled at the officer that if the officer shot him, he would kill the officer. Pullen then turned around and walked back to his pickup truck.

Despite pointing his guns toward police officers on a number of occasions throughout the standoff, Pullen had initially announced to the officers that he would not hurt them unless they approached him. At a point later into the standoff, Pullen announced to the officers that his “promise” in that regard was off, and that “someone’s going to get hurt tonight.” Pullen tried to coax the officers into shooting him. He told them that he would not leave the scene alive, and asked what it would take to make them shoot him. At times, Pullen would open his shirt, point to his chest, and invite the officers (sometimes taunt the officers) to shoot him in the heart. At another point, Pullen waved his knife around, saying he would fight hand-to-hand with the officers in the woods. At other points, acting in a less aggressive manner, Pullen sat on the open tailgate of his pickup truck.

Three hours into the standoff with police, after the negotiator convinced Pullen that he should not attempt to leave in his truck, the roadway being blocked in both directions, Pullen retrieved a soft beverage cooler with a strap and a 30-pack of beer from his pickup truck. He indicated that he was going to walk into the woods and that nobody better follow him. He picked up both the shotgun and the rifle and walked toward the negotiators. He put a beer can on the hood of one the cruisers and threw the keys to his pickup truck toward the negotiator, telling the negotiator he could have the truck. Pullen then packed the cooler with as much beer as he could, strapped the cooler across his body, and walked away from the roadway into a field. He carried the shotgun in one hand and the rifle in the other. Officers tried to persuade Pullen to return to his pickup truck. At one point, he turned and hesitated, but turned and continued walking into the field toward the woods.

In the meantime, two members of the State Police Tactical Team, Sgt. Urquhart and Trooper Bronson, as well as a police canine, were in the process of traversing the field near the wood line. Once Pullen left his vehicle, they were alerted to the changed circumstances and instructed to engage Pullen before he could enter the woods. Trooper Bronson was the dog handler. When Pullen was about 30 yards from the officers, Trooper Bronson released the dog. The dog, seemingly confused by the sound of officers back on the roadway who were still trying to persuade Pullen to return to his pickup truck, twice failed to execute the expected aggressive action against Pullen. Both times the dog was released, it went to Pullen but returned to Trooper Bronson’s position without taking aggressive action. As Trooper Bronson prepared a third time to release the dog on Pullen, Pullen turned toward the officers and warned the officers not to do it.

Seconds later, Pullen raised both weapons in the direction of Sgt. Urquhart and Trooper Bronson. Sgt. Urquhart issued commands of “State Police,” and “drop the weapons.” Pullen did not reply to or heed the commands. He moved toward the officers, pointing the firearms directly at them. As Pullen continued to advance on the officers, Sgt. Urquhart fired two rounds, both of which struck Pullen. At the time the shots were fired, Pullen was approximately 56 feet from Sgt. Urquhart and Trooper Bronson.

Immediate emergency first aid was rendered to Pullen by a Tactical Team medic, as well as local paramedics who were close by and immediately available. Pullen was taken to a Lewiston hospital where he later died from the gunshot wounds. A post mortem examination by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found two gunshot wounds to be consistent with the version of events described by Sgt. Urquhart and Trooper Bronson, as well as 17 other officers and one citizen witness who observed to varying degrees the events immediately leading up to the shooting.

Four investigators from the Attorney General's Office, assisted by detectives and forensic specialists from the State Police and Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, conducted the investigation. The State Police cooperated fully with the investigation and is conducting its own departmental review of the shooting incident.

States To Challenge Epa's Refusal To Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions

September 3, 2003

Attorneys General from three New England states announced today that they will challenge a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruling that declares that the agency has no legal authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which causes global warming.

The EPA ruling, issued last week, contradicts earlier statements and testimony from the agency, according to Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe.

In June, Attorneys General Reilly, Blumenthal and Rowe filed a federal lawsuit against the EPA for failing to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Today, the three states dropped the pending lawsuit "without prejudice" in favor of challenging EPA's new ruling. Arguing that last week's EPA announcement was contrived, the three Attorneys General state in today's court filing that "EPA's newly-minted position ... was formulated in the context of the ongoing litigation and its issuance was plainly driven by the agency's need to respond to the [three states'] complaint."

"EPA has long acknowledged the huge threats posed by global warming while refusing to do anything substantive about the problem," AG Reilly said. "Now, for the first time, EPA is claiming it actually has no authority to deal with the problem. While we are switching legal forums, we are re-doubling our efforts to challenge EPA's abdication of responsibility."

"The EPA seems determined to deny irrefutable, increasing scientific proof that greenhouse gas emissions and global warming are endangering public health ā€“ denying powerful scientific evidence from its own studies. The playbook seems to be from the tobacco industry ā€“ deny and delay ā€“ even when human lives are at stake and the science is clear," Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. "Thankfully, New England's governors have recognized carbon dioxide's danger, and are acting to reduce greenhouse gases even as the federal government abdicates its responsibility."

"The EPA's recent flip-flop regarding its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions ignores the Clean Air Act and all the problems that global warming will cause," Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe said. "We just want the EPA to do its job. It shouldn't be too much to ask."

The EPA ruling, released on Thursday, August 28, was issued in response to an administrative petition filed in 1999 requesting that the EPA regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and other mobile sources to help address global warming. The original petition was filed in 1999 by the Center for Technology Assessment, Greenpeace and other environmental groups. On the same day, the EPA also filed a motion to dismiss in the states' global warming lawsuit, arguing that the legal challenge should be made before the federal appeals court, not the district court.

Identifying climate change as the "most pressing environmental challenge of the 21st century," Attorneys General Reilly, Blumenthal and Rowe and other state Attorneys General first raised their concerns about global warming in a July 2002 letter to the Bush Administration. Pointing to a May 2002 report confirming the dangers of global warming, the state Attorneys General urged President Bush to act immediately and take a "strong national approach" to the problem. The report, U.S. Climate Action Report 2002, confirms the dangers of global climate change and projects that its primary cause, emissions of greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide produced from the combustion of fossil fuels - will increase by 43 percent by 2020.

In response to the lack of initiative at the federal level, several states are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the state level. Massachusetts adopted regulations in 2001 requiring carbon dioxide reductions by power plants and New Hampshire recently enacted "cap and trade" legislation. In May, the Maine legislature enacted a bill that directs the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop a long-term climate action plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2010, and at least ten percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The legislature in California last summer passed a bill that will lead to the "maximum feasible" reductions of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles.

The three states will challenge EPA's new ruling before the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and, as outlined in today's motion to dismiss, intend to re-file the suit once they receive a favorable ruling from the Court of Appeals on the administrative petition.

JERRY REID, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, MAINE, (207) 626-8545; SARAH NATHAN, MA AG, (617) 727-2543; MAURA FITZGERALD, CT AG, (860) 808-5324

ATTORNEY GENERAL SEEKS VOLUNTEER CONSUMER MEDIATORS

September 19, 2003

The Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Mediation Service is recruiting new Volunteer Consumer Complaint Mediators for its October 6, 2003 class. Volunteers mediate consumer complaints over the phone or by mail in the Attorney General's Augusta Office. The Attorney General thoroughly trains its Mediators in consumer law mediation techniques. Mediators are asked to volunteer approximately six hours a week on a schedule convenient to them. During the past year, the Consumer Mediation Service recovered over $578,000 for Maine consumers. If you are interested in volunteering, please call Assistant Attorney General James A. McKenna at 626-8842 or e-mail him at jim.mckenna@maine.gov. If you leave your name, address, and phone number, we will contact you as soon as possible. We can also send you a brochure that more fully describes our Program.  We will train volunteer mediators again in May, 2004. 

For more information about the Attorney General's Consumer Mediation Service, please click HERE.

AG Finds Deputy's Deadly Force In Gray Legally Justified

December 2, 2003

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a Cumberland County deputy sheriff, James E. Ambrose, Jr., 44, was legally justified when he shot and wounded Steven A. Hanson, 25, in a vehicle in Gray, Maine, on the night of September 10, 2003.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by Deputy Ambrose in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer's duties.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is being used or is imminently threatened against the officer. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that use of unlawful deadly force or that imminent threat of unlawful deadly force. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the general direction of another person or at a moving vehicle is also deadly force under Maine law.)

Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on his office's investigation and legal analysis, Deputy Ambrose actually and reasonably believed that Steven Hanson was using unlawful deadly force against him and that deadly force on the deputy's part was necessary to protect himself from death or serious bodily injury. Therefore, both requirements of the law were met, and the use of deadly force by Deputy Ambrose was legally justified. The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

On September 10, 2003, shortly after 11 p.m., Cumberland County deputy sheriffs Jennifer Gage and James Ambrose were dispatched to a market in Gray due to the activation of a burglar alarm at that market. The deputies investigated and determined that a cleaning crew had accidentally activated the alarm. The investigation completed, Deputy Ambrose then left the market, while Deputy Gage remained behind to await the arrival of someone to reset the alarm. As Deputy Ambrose was leaving the immediate area of the market, he observed a dark-colored vehicle with a headlight out traveling south on Route 100. Deputy Ambrose positioned his marked cruiser behind the vehicle, a blue two-door sedan, and activated the cruiser's emergency lights in order to stop the vehicle for the vehicle defect.

The vehicle stopped in response to Deputy Ambrose's signal. Deputy Ambrose observed four occupants in the vehicle, two in the front and two in the rear. When he reached the vehicle on foot, the three male passengers appeared to him to be feigning being asleep. The driver's door window was down approximately six inches, and loud music was playing. Deputy Ambrose asked the male driver to turn off the music and engine; and the driver, later identified as Steven A. Hanson, complied with the request. Deputy Ambrose was immediately suspicious of the occupants of the vehicle, based on his observation of the passengers appearing to feign sleep and the driver's positioning of his window. Deputy Ambrose asked Hanson for his driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. Through the partially-opened window, Hanson provided Ambrose with a document unrelated to the deputy's request. Ambrose asked the driver his name, and the driver responded verbally, but Deputy Ambrose was unable to understand the response because of the driver's "garbled, thick and slurred" speech. Additionally, Deputy Ambrose observed that the driver's eyes were bloodshot, that a cooler was situated between the two passengers in the rear, and that a strong odor of alcoholic beverage was detectable coming from the inside of the sedan. Deputy Ambrose believed the driver was highly intoxicated.

Deputy Ambrose left the window of the sedan and went to the rear of the sedan to use his portable radio to request backup assistance from Deputy Gage, who Ambrose knew was still close by. Deputy Ambrose returned to the driver's window again, and directed all the occupants of the vehicle to show him identification. Through the partially opened window, the driver produced a crumpled birth certificate. At about the same time, Deputy Ambrose looked at the front of the vehicle on the driver's side and observed "fresh damage" to the vehicle that included a missing mirror on the driver's door and damage to the left front fender.

Deputy Ambrose returned to the position behind the driver's side rear doorjamb with his flashlight in his right hand just in time to observe the driver reinsert the key in the ignition and start the engine. Believing the operator intended to flee, and believing that the driver posed an immediate and significant risk to other motorists as well as to the other three occupants of the vehicle, Ambrose jerked open the driver's door and leaned into the interior of the vehicle, while simultaneously attempting to reach for both the break pedal with his right foot and the keys on the steering column with his right hand. At that moment, the driver applied the accelerator, causing the car to lurch forward, taking Deputy Ambrose with it. Ambrose found himself precariously positioned, his upper body and right leg in the car, his left leg being dragged along the pavement at approximately 15 to 20 mph. Deputy Ambrose commanded the driver a number of times to stop, but the commands went unheeded.

Deputy Ambrose then unholstered his weapon with his left hand (because the deputy is left-handed, his holster is on his left side), and although unable to actually aim from his awkward position, directed the barrel as best he could toward the driver. He then warned the driver that if he did not stop the vehicle, he would shoot. The warning was repeated at least three times, but the warnings again went unheeded. Deputy Ambrose then discharged the weapon several times. Thereafter, Ambrose suddenly fell from the vehicle, landing face down on the roadway. The vehicle's left rear tire ran over the deputy's left leg. From the roadway, Deputy Ambrose fired several more times at the vehicle as it picked up speed, the driver's door still partially open. Although it is not clear as to the point it occurred prior to Ambrose discharging his weapon, the driver tried to dislodge Ambrose from the vehicle by striking him multiple times in the side of the head with his fist.

Deputy Gage, having observed Deputy Ambrose being dragged, falling to the pavement, and shooting at the vehicle, pulled her cruiser up beside Deputy Ambrose on the roadway to check on his condition. Ambrose told Gage to pursue the fleeing vehicle. Deputy Gage immediately did so, activating her emergency equipment. The driver pulled over and stopped a few hundred feet further south on Route 100. Deputy Gage took control of the occupants. In the meantime, Deputy Ambrose drove his cruiser to Gage's location, and assisted Deputy Gage in securing the occupants of the vehicle. Other officers then arrived.

Deputy Ambrose and Hanson were transported to the Maine Medical Center for treatment. Hanson was treated for a single gunshot wound to the left shoulder. Deputy Ambrose was treated for the injury to his left leg; it was noted that his jaw was bruised. Hanson was later charged by the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office with aggravated assault and assaulting a police officer.

The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office cooperated fully in the investigation. Assisting with the investigation were detectives and forensic specialists of the Maine State Police. In addition to the criminal investigation conducted by the Attorney General's Office, the Sheriff's Office conducted its own internal review and investigation of the incident.

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

Consumer Alert: Poser "Florists" Want To Deliver Your Valentines' Posies

February 10, 2004

What's in a name? While a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, getting duped by a fake florist listing in your local phone book would stink.

Before you order that bouquet for your valentine, you should know that the telephone book contains venus flytraps for the unwary. Out-of-state telemarketers maintain listings in the white pages that are intended to deceive consumers into believing they are local, legitimate florists. They list under town names and local exchange numbers like, "Ellsworth Florist, 667-1111." Calls to those numbers get forwarded to "boiler rooms" that take orders and credit card information for payment. The telemarketers forward orders to an area florist, but only after pocketing a hefty processing fee and sometimes a percentage of the sale as well. You don't realize you've been scammed until you get higher than expected charges from an unfamiliar company on your credit card statement, or learn that the flowers weren't delivered as ordered.

Follow these simple tips to protect yourself:

  • Ask neighbors, family, friends, and co-workers for recommendations.
  • Deal only with shops that list a street address with their phone number. If you're asking directory assistance for a number, also ask for the street number and address. If there isn't one, consider doing business with another florist.
  • Ask the florist to itemize the charges. In addition to the price of the arrangement, most florists charge a delivery fee and taxes if you live in the same state.
  • Ask the florist for directions to the shop. If they hesitate or refuse, consider this a red flag, and avoid doing business with the florist.

CHARLES DOW, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS (207) 626-8577

AG RELEASES REPORT ON CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE BY PRIESTS

February 24, 2004

FEBRUARY 24, 2004
LEANNE ROBBIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8581

To view the report in PDF format, click the link below:

http://www.mainetoday.com/documents/Priests.pdf

* * * * *

Victims' Compensation Program Helps Victims Through Trauma And Hardship

April 21, 2004

The aftermath of a violent crime may leave victims and their families physically and emotionally traumatized, and with that trauma can come extraordinary bills and financial hardship. Since 1992, the Maine Victims' Compensation Fund has provided victims and families the means to minimize the financial impact of violent crime.

The fund is built from surcharges on criminal fines ($10 for class D and E, $25 for class A, B, C and murder), not State tax dollars. A three-member board, one each from Maine's legal, medical, and victims' services communities, considers applications for payment of unreimbursed expenses resulting from violent crime. Examples of assistance include a headstone for a murdered parent, counseling for a sexually molested child, counseling for family and household members of a murder victim, and counseling for child witnesses of domestic assault.

Payments are capped at $15,000 per claimant. Last year, 209 claims were paid at an average payment of $1,770. Claims must be based upon crimes reported to police.

The Victims' Compensation Fund also provides the funding for forensic examinations by hospital emergency rooms in sexual assault cases. Those awards are capped at $500 per case. Last year, the fund covered 167 such examinations with the average payment being $474

Note: This is the second of four press releases related to National Victims' Rights Week. The schedule for the rest of the week is as follows: 4/22, Elder Financial Abuse and Exploitation; 4/23, Civil Rights Teams Project.

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

South Portland Officer's Use Of Deadly Force Justified

May 11, 2004

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that South Portland police officer Kevin J. Battle was legally justified on February 12, 2004, when, while acting in the performance of his law enforcement duties, he used his cruiser to ram a vehicle he was pursuing in Portland. The driver of the vehicle, Steven E. Berry, 36, of Portland and a 20-year-old female passenger were shaken up by the collision, but not seriously hurt.

Determining that the intentional employment of the cruiser to terminate the pursuit was in fact the use of deadly force, the Attorney General's inquiry and analysis focused on the issue of whether that use of deadly force by Officer Battle in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer's duties.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of others, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is being used or is imminently threatened against the officer or others. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that use of unlawful deadly force or that imminent threat of unlawful deadly force. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury.)

Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on an investigation and legal analysis, Officer Battle actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was imminently threatened by Berry against other persons - namely the passenger in Berry's vehicle, as well as motorists and pedestrians along a particularly long chase route. Further, based on the investigation and legal analysis, Attorney General Rowe determined that Officer Battle actually and reasonably believed that deadly force on his part was necessary to protect the passenger and others from death or serious bodily injury. Therefore, both requirements of law having been met, the use of deadly force by Officer Battle was legally justified.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from the investigation: On February 12, 2004, at about 11 a.m., Officer Kevin Battle of the South Portland Police Department, in uniform and driving a marked police cruiser, was on his way to investigate a report of unlawful drug activity involving a man and a woman outside a local hotel when he was informed that the same caller had reported that the man had grabbed the woman by the throat and had hit her. As he approached the hotel, he was further informed that the man and woman had just left the hotel in a black Suzuki Sidekick. Moments later, Officer Battle encountered a vehicle that matched that description a short distance from the hotel. The officer activated his cruiser's emergency lights and siren, and stopped the vehicle by partially blocking its path. Upon exiting his cruiser and approaching the vehicle on foot, Officer Battle saw the female passenger attempting to exit from the passenger's side door. He then observed the driver, later identified as Steven E. Berry, forcibly grab the woman and pull her back into the vehicle. The woman screamed for help. Officer Battle commanded Berry to turn off the vehicle's engine. Berry, ignoring Battle's command, suddenly drove the Suzuki Sidekick at Battle, who avoided being hit only by jumping out of the way. Officer Battle returned to his cruiser, pursued the vehicle, and advised the dispatcher as to what had just occurred.

The pursuit that ensued over the next 45 minutes covered a distance of some 39 miles from its origin in South Portland, into Scarborough, Westbrook, Portland, and Falmouth, and back into Portland. Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved, with Officer Battle serving much of the time as the primary pursuit cruiser. On a number of occasions during the chase, Officer Battle saw what he interpreted to be an unsuccessful attempt by the passenger to exit the Suzuki Sidekick. Berry, while for the most part not traveling at high speeds during the pursuit, drove through numerous red lights and stop signs, drove the wrong way on a one-way street, often drove on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic, continuously ignored police sirens and flashing emergency lights from multiple cruisers, and very deliberately avoided numerous attempts to stop him by way of marked cruisers and other vehicles set up as physical barriers, and the employment of spike mats. The pursuit eventually ended at Forest Avenue and William Street in Portland when Officer Battle, seeing an appropriate opportunity, rammed the left rear fender of the Suzuki Sidekick as Berry was preparing to make a turn at the intersection. The Suzuki Sidekick was pushed sideways, apparently striking the curb, rolled over and came to rest off the roadway in an upright position. The vehicle was, as a consequence, disabled. Shortly before Officer Battle physically engaged the Suzuki Sidekick with his cruiser, South Portland Police Chief Edward Googins spoke with Officer Battle and authorized him to employ, at an appropriate time posing minimal risk to the public, low speed ramming to end the chase.

Berry was arrested and charged the same day with various violations including eluding a police officer, possession of drug paraphernalia, assault, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, operating after suspension, and violation of bail conditions.

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

Winterport Woman To Serve 4-1/2 Years For Cocaine Dealing

May 21, 2004

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Teresa Sutherland, 37, of Winterport, was sentenced Tuesday in the Kennebec County Superior Court on a charge of aggravated trafficking in cocaine (class A).

Sutherland's charge stems from an investigation conducted by agents from the Bangor, Augusta and Portland field offices of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. Agents followed Sutherland as she drove to the Sheraton Tara Hotel in South Portland. Based upon their surveillance, agents believe she met with Osiris Fernandez of Massachusetts and purchased more than 6 ounces of cocaine powder. Agents continued to monitor Sutherland and Fernandez as they left the Sheraton Tara. Sutherland's car was stopped on I-95, in Litchfield. She was found in possession of 248 grams (over half-a-pound) of cocaine powder, divided into 9 bags, all of which was hidden on her person. If sold in single dose 1 gram units in Maine, the cocaine would have an estimated street value of $24,800. Sutherland admitted to selling cocaine to support her addiction to Oxycontin and admitted to having made prior purchases from associates of Osiris Fernandez. Agents stopped Osiris Fernandez as he drove south from the Sheraton Tara and seized $12,520. Fernandez has also been convicted of aggravated trafficking in cocaine (class A) and is presently serving a 6 year prison sentence. The $12,520 seized was forfeited to the State of Maine as drug money.

Sutherland was sentenced to serve 10 years, all but 4-1/2 years suspended. Once Sutherland has served 4-1/2 years, she will be on probation for 6 years, the maximum period allowed for a Class A offense.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Lara Nomani, and investigated by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency with assistance from the Maine State Police.

Attorney General Rowe said, "This case is disturbing because it involves an opiate addict selling large amounts of cocaine to support her habit. We know that most opiate addicts steal or deal drugs to support their habits. Many, like this defendant, end up in prison. The key to ending drug abuse is treatment. If you are addicted, seek substance abuse treatment now."

LARA M. NOMANI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8804 JAMES CAMERON, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8505

AG Ends "Horizon E-Yellow Pages" Scam

June 10, 2004

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has settled claims of unfair trade practices against telemarketer Horizon E-Yellow Pages, Inc. (Horizon). The State alleged that Horizon was calling Maine businesses and giving the false impression that it was actually "Verizon" Yellow Pages. As a result, many Maine businesses were led to believe that they were paying for advertisements in the Verizon Yellow Pages. The business did not find out the truth of the matter until Horizon sent its bill, sometimes for as much as $399 per advertisement.

Horizon is now under a court order that requires it to cease using deceptive sales practices, including making misrepresentations or the creating false impressions. The order also declares null and void any contract that Horizon entered into with a Maine business. Horizon must refund within 90 days any money paid to it by a Maine business, and it must cancel any debt collection efforts against Maine businesses. Horizon paid the State a $1,500 civil penalty and refunded $899 to three Maine businesses. The amount to be refunded was low because the Attorney General's Office had already publicly stated that any business with a bill arising out of this Horizon scheme ought not to pay it.

JAMES MCKENNA, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8842

Attorney General Calls Ford's "Red Carpet" To The Carpet

June 11, 2004

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed in Kennebec County Superior Court an Unfair Trade Practices Act complaint and consent agreement settling claims against Ford Credit and Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers over Ford's "Red Carpet" leasing program. Thirty-seven other states filed similar documents today. The settlement will result in 595 Maine Ford consumers getting $100 refund checks from Ford Credit. Nine dealers in Maine have joined the settlement. Eligible consumers will be contacted directly by Ford Credit. Ford Motor Company will also pay the State of Maine $12,820, and Maine Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers will pay $34,020. This money will be used by the Attorney General for consumer law enforcement and education.

The states alleged that Red Carpet customers who terminated vehicle leases early were sometimes charged an amount higher than the actual balance owed on the lease. Dealers would discharge the lease obligation to Ford Credit, but would keep the extra amount charged to consumers. The consumers were usually unaware of any of this because the dealers provided the payoff figure, not Ford Credit.

The settlement is the result of the cooperation of Ford Credit and the 1,300 participating Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers, who will pay over $6.2 million in legal fees and costs. Nationwide, more than 150,000 Ford consumers will get checks.

Ford has agreed to change its Red Carpet lease contract language to clearly explain a consumer's rights when terminating a vehicle lease early. The change involves not only Ford Credit branches but also the practices at the Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers.

More information about the settlement is available from the settlement administrator at 1-800-221-3312 or <http://www.gilardi.com/fordcreditrclagsettlement/>. "We are pleased to get this relief for Maine consumers, both in the form of the checks and the changes in business practices," Attorney General Rowe said.

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

Conference Focuses On Cooperative Effort To Protect Children's Rights

June 22, 2004

The KIDS LAW Conference being held today at the Augusta Civic Center from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. will stress cooperation between State officials, courts, schools, service providers, and advocates for children in protecting the legal rights of Maine children. The conference is being presented by KIDS Legal Aid of Maine in partnership with the Maine Judicial Branch, the Maine Office of the Attorney General, the Division of Ambulatory Pediatrics of the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital at Maine Medical Center, the New England Juvenile Defender Center, the Preble Street Resource Center, the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, and Youth Alternatives. The Maine State Bar Association and the New England Juvenile Defender Center are also sponsoring the conference.

Conference organizers expect 275 legal, medical, and education professionals to attend. Following a kick-off by Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley at 8:30 a.m., a group of teens including members of the Youth Leadership Advisory Team will describe to all attendees their experiences receiving medical, educational, family law and delinquency services. Attorney General Steven Rowe will then facilitate a discussion involving the teens that will interweave the four substantive areas. Breakout sessions covering health care, teen violence, family law, juvenile justice, and education.

The conference will provide training on how to identify unmet legal needs of children in areas of medical care, education, family law and the juvenile justice system. Breakout sessions will demonstrate how access to services in one of the four topic areas may improve outcomes for youth, how these topics intersect legally and how problems in one area may impact needs in another area. The conference will also offer opportunities for providers to build connections with others who provide resources in their geographic area and inspire continued dedication to improving the lives of kids in Maine. The conference will highlight best practices from collaborative projects around the state that work to reduce violence, and improve the health and safety of Maine youth.

Chief Justice Leigh Saufley said, "Children deserve every bit of energy and creativity that we as professionals in our disparate fields can bring to the task of solving problems for families. When children have skilled advocates who can help navigate the many systems that are in existence to help families, both the children and their families benefit. This conference represents the start of an extraordinary collaborative effort toward meaningful, real, and effective advocacy for Maine's children."

Governor John Baldacci said, "This conference is an outstanding example of successful collaboration at all levels to improve services for children in contact with the legal system. Increasing coordination of services and strengthening comprehensive prevention and early intervention programs will enable us to better assist these most vulnerable of our citizens."

Attorney General Steven Rowe said, "Although children make up less than one-third of our state's population, they represent 100% of our future. Protection of their legal rights deserves our best efforts."

Alison Beyea, Director of KIDS Legal Aid of Maine, said, "At Kids Legal we look to represent the child holistically. To do that, we work with professionals from all disciplines to improve outcomes for our kids. This conference is an extension of our legal practice." Additional information is available at www.kidslegalaid.org. The conference agenda follows: Kids Law: A Cooperative Approach to Protecting Children's Rights June 22, 2004Augusta Civic Center Agenda 8:00 ā€“ 8:30 Registration 8:30-9:00 Welcome and Introductory Remarks: Chief Justice Leigh Saufley, Supreme Judicial Court of Maine 9:00-10:00 Plenary: "Straight Talk From The Teens We Serve" Narratives delivered by members of the Youth Leadership Advocacy Team and other teens who Presentation will be followed by a facilitated discussion by Attorney General Steven Rowe which will interweave the four legal substantive topics. This introduction will allow attendees to access the written materials for break-out sessions they do not attend. It will also allow them to make connections between their subject area and issues in other areas. 10:00-10:15 Break 10:15 - 11:30 ā€“ Breakout Session A Understanding A Teen's Right to Health Care, Part IKeeping Confidences, Accessing Care: Lecture and Q & A covering who must consent and who can authorize care for teenagers; what information is confidential and who may have access to confidential records. Kenneth Lehman, Esq., Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson Teen Violence: "Working Through Teen Violence" Panelists will discuss teen violence, issues of domestic/dating violence, general violence and civil rights violations. Thomas Harnett, Assistant Attorney General; Nan Bell, School Based Abuse Prevention Educator, Family Violence Project; Nancy Schiff-Slater, Esq., Pine Tree Legal Assistance; Megan Walker, Assistant Principal, South Portland High School; Evert Fowle, District Attorney, Kennebec County. Educational Resources for Troubled Kids: "Keeping Kids in School" How to help kids who are struggling to stay in or already out of school. A panel will discuss how to break down barriers and get kids back in school. Issues of truancy, homelessness and alternative education will be addressed. Sara Anne Meerse, Esq., Pine Tree Legal Assistance; Shelley Reed, Department of Education. 11:30 - 12:30 Lunch - 12:30 - 1:45 -- Breakout Session B Understanding Teen's Right to Health Care, Part IIAccessing Health Care. Panel discussion on issues surrounding teens' access to mental health, substance abuse and family planning services. Kenneth Lehman, Esq., Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson; Larry Tyler, M.Ed., LADC, MAC, Maine Office of Substance Abuse; Patrick Ende, Esq. Maine Equal Justice Partners; John F. Goodrich, MD, Greater Portland Pediatrics; Andrew Cook, Medical Director, Children's Services, Maine Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services. Family Law Primer- "Ten Things You Should Know About Family Law." A nutshell course on parental rights and responsibilities, visitation schedules, emancipation, guardianship and the role of the Guardian ad Litem. Terry Hayes, GAL, Ken Altshuler, Esq., Childs, Rundlett, Fifield, Shumway & Altshuler, Mary Kelly, Assistant Attorney General. Juvenile Justice Part I:Dealing With A Juvenile Summons. This session will provide an overview of delinquency process in state and federal court. Hon. Joseph Field, Maine Distiect Court; John Webb, Nichols & Webb; Darcie McElwee, Assistant United States Attorney, District of Maine; Chris Northrop, Esq., Moulton, Forte & Northrop, PA, Wells; Tanya L. Pierson-Sweeney, Assistant District Attorney. 1:45 -3:00 ā€“ Breakout Session C Interpreting Court Orders in Family Law Cases: What should providers do when they are handed court documents and parties allege they mean different thing? This session will discuss protection from abuse/harassment and parental rights orders and how to interpret them. Juliet Holmes-Smith, Esq., Pine Tree Legal Assistance. Juvenile Justice, Part IIDisposition Alternatives: What to do when the juvenile case is over? This panel will consider what services are available for kids in the juvenile system and how these services may prevent future delinquency. Hon. Joseph Field, Maine District Court; R. Matthew Brown, United States Probation Officer; John Webb, Nichols & Webb; Chris Northrop, Esq., Moulton, Forte & Northrop, PA, Wells; Tanya L. Pierson-Sweeney, Assistant District Attorney. Special Education: "Identifying and Supporting IDEA" What is IDEA? A panel will explore issues of identification of youth with disabilities, appropriate educational and supportive services and discipline under state and federal law. Panelists include: Richard O'Meara, Esq., Murray, Plumb & Murray; Sara Meerse, Esq., Pine Tree Legal Assistance; Sarah Forster, Assistant Attorney General. 3:00 - 3:15 Break 3:15- 4:00 We're all in this together: How collaboration between disciplines produces better outcomes for Maine's kidsHon. John Nivison, Maine District Court: The Family Treatment Drug CourtDavid Burns: Rapid Response Program 4:00 - 4:15 Closing Remarks by Associate Justice Jon Levy, Maine Supreme Judicial Court

CHARLES DOW, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8577 LEE UMPHREY, GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, 207-287-3531 JAMES T. GLESSNER, JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT, 207-822-0710 ALISON BEYEA, KIDS LEGAL AID OF MAINE, 207-774-8211 x266

Assistant AG O'Dea Recognized As National Leader In Tobacco Enforcement

June 22, 2004

The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) last week awarded Maine Assistant Attorney General Melissa Reynolds O'Dea the 2004 Loveland Tobacco Award. The Loveland Award is awarded annually. The award is named for the late Laurie Loveland, who, as a North Dakota Assistant Attorney General and later a private attorney, played a very active role in negotiating the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between 47 states and the major tobacco manufacturers.

The Loveland Award was presented to O'Dea by Vermont Attorney General and NAAG President William Sorrell and Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran. The award presentation took place on Wednesday, June 16th at NAAG's Summer Meeting in Santa Monica, California.

O'Dea was recognized for her leadership while serving as Chair of NAAG's Tobacco Enforcement Working Group for the past two years. In this position, she led the states in enforcing the public health provisions of the Master Settlement Agreement. She communicated continuously with other attorney general offices, coordinating investigations and litigation. She was responsible for the states' communications and negotiations with tobacco manufacturers regarding public health violations. She also is a leader in multi-state efforts to enforce the economic provisions of the Master Settlement Agreement.

Some of Assistant Attorney General O'Dea accomplishments include:

Last fall she organized and chaired a conference in Chicago on so-called "reduced risk" tobacco products. The conference was attended by states, scientists and marketing experts, and was designed to encourage states to work together to prevent a public health deception like the one that occurred with "light" and "low tar" cigarettes. O'Dea invited each of the companies currently marketing such products to attend the conference and explain the scientific basis for their marketing claims.

She led the successful negotiation with participating manufacturers over advertisements in school-versions of newsweeklies. That negotiation resulted in the companies utilizing "selective binding" for Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report to ensure that tobacco advertisements did not appear in classroom versions of those publications. That result was accomplished without litigation, and caused the participating manufacturers to comment that though tough, O'Dea is always respectful and professional to deal with.

More recently, she spearheaded the states' investigation and analysis of U.S. Smokeless Tobacco's extensive sports sponsorship activities as well as Brown & Williamson's "Kool Mixx" product marketing campaign to determine whether these activities violate Master Settlement Agreement prohibitions on youth targeted marketing.

O'Dea was one of the primary drafters of the Master Settlement Agreement model state legislation for use by the states. She is also a vigorous litigator. Maine has been on the forefront of various types of MSA-related litigation. Among these are cases pending in Maine state court involving companies that have tried to undermine or avoid MSA requirements. In addition, she is the lead attorney in a Federal Court action in Maine defending the new state law that closely regulates the delivery of tobacco products sold by internet and telephone tobacco retailers.

In praising O'Dea's contribution, Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe stated, "This award is extremely well-deserved. No one in the nation has worked harder than Melissa O'Dea to ensure that tobacco manufacturers are living up to their legal obligations. Thanks to Melissa's determination and hard work, Maine continues to receive more than $50 million each year under the Master Settlement Agreement."

Rowe added "The State of Maine should be very proud of Assistant Attorney General Melissa O'Dea. She is clearly a national leader and legal expert in the field of tobacco health-related issues."

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

State Settles With Makers Of Generic Version Of Children's Motrin®

August 12, 2004

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that Maine and forty-nine other states and commonwealths have settled a civil law enforcement action against Perrigo Company and Alpharma, Inc, both makers of the generic version of Children's Motrin®. The complaint charges the companies with antitrust violations that resulted in the destruction of competition in the market for over-the-counter generic store-brand versions of liquid suspension Children's Motrin®. The civil complaint and settlement order will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. This case was a joint investigation with the Federal Trade Commission. The Federal Trade Commission announced the settlement of its own lawsuit against Perrigo and Alpharma today; the cases will be filed together in the same court. To resolve this civil law enforcement action, Perrigo and Alpharma have agreed to make combined payments of $10,000 to each litigating state, and will be paying approximately $1 million into funds administered by the National Association of Attorneys General to help support future antitrust enforcement efforts.

Perrigo and Alpharma, Inc., are the only two FDA-approved manufacturers of generic over-the-counter versions of liquid suspension ibuprofen, a drug product used to temporarily reduce fever and relieve minor aches and pains in children. The states allege that, in 1998, Perrigo and Alpharma entered into an agreement that gave Perrigo 100% of the market for generic versions of this product. The states further allege that Alpharma never began selling its generic product, and that Perrigo captured 100% share of the market. The lack of competition caused retail stores that sell store brand products to pay more for this product than they would have paid in a competitive market.

Attorney General Rowe said, "We continue to be vigilant in our efforts to find out why Americans are paying the highest prices in the world for pharmaceuticals. We are focusing particular attention on anti-competitive behavior that attempts to keep generic versions of drugs off the market."

Because this lawsuit was filed as a law enforcement action, the states sought civil penalties and equitable relief. The relief that was obtained through the settlement prohibits the companies from engaging in similar conduct in the future.

Motrin is a registered trademark of Johnson & Johnson, who is not a party in this lawsuit.

CHRISTINA MOYLAN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8838

Trooper's Use Of Deadly Force In New Gloucester Was Legally Justified

August 23, 2004

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a State Police officer, Sergeant Michael Edes, was legally justified when, while acting in the performance of his public duty, he discharged one round from his service weapon at Robert Bean, age 25, of Gray in the early morning of May 21, 2004, on Route 26 in New Gloucester, wounding Bean. The Attorney General also said that Sergeant Edes was legally justified when, immediately prior, he terminated a lengthy pursuit by using his cruiser to ram Bean's vehicle.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by Sergeant Edes in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer's public duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person or at a moving vehicle is also deadly force under Maine law.) Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on the investigation and legal analysis conducted by his office, Sergeant Edes actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was imminently threatened by Bean against himself and others when he shot Bean ā€” namely, other law enforcement officers at the scene, as well as civilian motorists who were approaching the scene from the north. The same was determined with respect to Sergeant Edes' earlier use of deadly force against Bean when he intentionally used his cruiser to ram Bean's vehicle in order to stop Bean.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

On May 21, 2004, at about 1:10 a.m., Officer Harry Sims of the South Paris Police Department on patrol in his marked cruiser observed a white vehicle on Main Street in South Paris. It was later determined that the vehicle was operated by Robert Bean. The vehicle caught the attention of Officer Sims because it displayed working, but very dim, tail lights and Montana tags. The vehicle stopped at a traffic light in a lane of travel for left-turning traffic. However, when the light turned green, the vehicle turned abruptly to the right into a parking lot of a closed business and stopped. A check made by Officer Sims on the status of the Montana tags with the dispatcher revealed that they had expired in 1999. The vehicle then left the parking lot and started south on Route 26 towards Oxford. Officer Sims notified officers working in Oxford and Norway of the vehicle's location, its expired tags, and its suspicious movements.

Shortly after, Officer Shane White of the Norway Police Department observed the vehicle on Route 26 traveling south and attempted to stop it by activating his cruiser's emergency lights. Bean drove his vehicle to the right shoulder of the road, stopped momentarily, and then resumed his travel south on Route 26 until he reached a traffic light. Bean stopped his vehicle at the light which was red. He then proceeded through the red light into the intersection and again stopped, rolling down the driver's side window and motioning for Officer White to pass him. Officer White, using the cruiser's public address system, instructed Bean to pull his vehicle over to the side of the road and stop. At this point, Bean brandished a rifle by holding it up inside the vehicle, above the seat and in full view of Officer White, who had activated a spotlight and was illuminating the inside of Bean's vehicle. Officer White's initial thought was that the weapon was a deer rifle.

Bean drove off and continued south on Route 26 with Officer White in pursuit. As the pursuit progressed, Bean generally drove no faster than around 60 m.p.h. Through dispatch, Officer White notified other officers in the area that he was in pursuit of the vehicle and that the operator had brandished a rifle. At three later points in time White observed Bean brandish the rifle. Officer White kept a safe distance from Bean, and, through dispatch, notified other officers each time Bean brandished the weapon. Officer White, feeling that he was in imminent danger, requested additional police assistance and, eventually, officers from several departments responded, including the Oxford Police Department, the Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office, the State Police, and the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office. Officer White's call for assistance resulted in a timely response by Officer Ricky Jack of the Oxford Police Department, who took up a position behind Officer White's cruiser as the pursuit continued south on Route 26.

Bean continued to ignore the signals to stop, and occasionally brandished the rifle by displaying it inside the vehicle in a fashion that could be observed by Officer White. At the point where Route 26 intersects with Route 122 in Poland, Sergeant James Jacques of the Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office had deployed a spike mat in the southbound lane of travel on Route 26. Bean drove over the mat and continued south. At this point, Officer White relinquished the lead position in the pursuit to a State Police cruiser operated by Trooper Michael Zabarsky. The pursuit had slowed to about 35 m.p.h., apparently as a result of at least one tire on the Bean vehicle being punctured by a spike. Shortly thereafter, Trooper Zabarsky relinquished the lead position to Sergeant Michael Edes of the State Police. In the meantime, a second spike mat had been deployed by Officer Alfred Winslow of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office on Route 26 where it intersects with the Snow Hill Road in New Gloucester. Bean, however, managed to avoid contact with the mat as he traveled past the location by driving into the oncoming lane.

When Sergeant Edes assumed the lead position in the pursuit, Bean's vehicle had slowed considerably, but Bean still refused to stop. Sergeant Edes observed sparks coming from the wheel area of Bean's vehicle, indicating to him that one or more of the tires on Bean's vehicle had deflated as a result of being punctured by spikes from the mat previously deployed at the intersection of Routes 26 and 122. At this point, the pursuit of Bean had gone on for about 25 minutes and transversed nearly 20 miles and was approaching more populated and built-up areas of New Gloucester and Gray. Sergeant Edes notified the other police units of his intention, when the appropriate opportunity presented itself, to strike the rear of Bean's vehicle in such a way as to force Bean's vehicle off the roadway and bring it to a stop.

From his position directly behind the Bean vehicle, Sergeant Edes observed what he believed was the rifle resting on top of the seat across the headrest. As he drove closer to Bean's vehicle, Bean stuck the rifle out the driver's side window with his right hand and pointed it back at him. This caused Sergeant Edes to take immediate evasive action by slowing and moving over to the right because he thought that Bean was going to discharge the rifle at him. Sergeant Edes then activated a spotlight, positioning its beam on the rearview mirror of Bean's vehicle to prevent Bean from seeing behind him. At this point, he observed that Bean had brought the rifle back inside the vehicle and was pointing it at his own head. As the pursuit approached a straight portion of roadway where cruisers were stationary on the side of the road at the intersection of the Snow Hill Road, the Bean vehicle veered to the left to avoid the spike mats deployed by Deputy Winslow. Observing Bean drop the rifle to the seat as he drove onto the oncoming lane, Sergeant Edes accelerated his cruiser and, as Bean was maneuvering his vehicle back to the right to resume his travel on the eastbound lane, intentionally struck the rear of Bean's vehicle, causing it to slide sideways and off the right side of the roadway, and slowly proceed down a grassy strip until it ultimately became disabled and stopped. The speed of the Bean vehicle at the time of the impact was 15-20 m.p.h.

Before the vehicle came to a stop, Bean opened the driver's door and got out of the vehicle with the rifle in hand, turned, and pointed the rifle at Sergeant Edes, who was still in his cruiser some 10 to 20 yards away. Sergeant Edes, unable momentarily to open the door of his cruiser, drew his service weapon. While Sergeant Edes continued to try to open the door of his cruiser, Bean abruptly dropped his aim, turned to his right, and started walking along Route 26. After repeatedly kicking the door to open it, Sergeant Edes finally managed to exit his cruiser. Several other officers had arrived on scene in the meantime and they, along with Sergeant Edes, started walking toward Bean, all the time commanding him to drop the weapon. Bean turned to face Sergeant Edes and the other officers, and proceeded to walk backwards away from them in the northbound travel lane. During this brief procession, Bean, who had his left hand toward the top of the stock and his right hand on the trigger, alternately placed the barrel of the rifle to his head and in his mouth. The officers, including Sergeant Edes, issued repeated commands for Bean to drop the gun and to get down on the ground.

Ignoring the commands to drop the weapon and get down on the ground, Bean walked for approximately 15 yards before he stopped momentarily in the middle of the northbound travel lane while keeping the rifle pointed to his head. At this point, the officers observed two civilian vehicles approaching the scene from behind Bean. As the vehicles came closer to the scene, they slowed but, instead of stopping, they kept driving closer and closer towards Bean and the officers. Bean was observed by the officers to take an interest in the two vehicles; he stopped and looked over his shoulder at the two vehicles. All the officers in the immediate vicinity feared that if Bean got closer to the vehicles, he would either shoot someone in the vehicles or commandeer one of the vehicles. Continuous commands from multiple officers for Bean to drop the gun and get down went unheeded. The commands at this point included telling Bean that he would be shot if he did not stop and drop the weapon.

Then Bean, while looking at the officers, started to move the rifle away from his head in such a manner that Sergeant Edes believed Bean was intending thereby to point the barrel directly at him. In response to Bean's actions, Sergeant Edes discharged one round at Bean at a distance of about 20 feet. The round struck Bean, who immediately dropped the rifle and fell to the roadway.

Ultimately, it was determined that the weapon possessed by Bean was, in fact, a pellet rifle.

Five detectives from the Office of the Attorney General went to the scene of the shooting to conduct an investigation. They were assisted in the investigation by detectives and forensic specialists from the State Police. The State Police cooperated fully with the investigation, and conducted its own review of the incident.

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

AG Rowe, Federal Authorities Work To Expose "The Big Fat Lie"

November 9, 2004

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed suit against two Maine companies and their executives for unfair and deceptive trade practices in marketing and selling weight-loss patch products called Slim Patch and Bodylite Gel Patch. The defendants are: Brewer-based Integra Direct LLC; its president Vincent Wank; Scarborough-based Infinity Marketing LLC; and Gregory Fletcher, who ran Infinity Marketing with Wank.

The Attorney General's complaint, filed in Kennebec County Superior Court, alleges that the defendants falsely represented that their products caused substantial weight loss with little or no dieting or exercise, and that they made other false and unsubstantiated claims as to the efficacy and safety of those products. The complaint also alleges that the defendants failed to honor money-back guarantees, charged consumer credit cards amounts that the consumers had not authorized, and falsely represented that they were offering a limited-time reduction in price to consumers who agreed to purchase their products that same day.

"Consumers should not be misled by get-thin-quick schemes," Attorney General Rowe said. "There are no pills, patches, or magic potions for quickly and safely removing body weight. The best way to shed pounds is the old fashioned way: by reducing calorie intake and exercising regularly." Rowe also cautioned consumers that they could lose more than their money by using certain weight loss products. "Some weight loss products may actually be dangerous to your health," said Rowe.

In addition to restitution for numerous consumers around the country, the Attorney General is seeking a permanent injunction against each of the four defendants, as well as civil penalties and costs. The filing of the case corresponds with a national enforcement effort by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called "Operation Big Fat Lie." For more information on the FTC effort, go to http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/11/bigfatliesweep.htm . Last year, the FTC advised consumers and media outlets to be wary of weight-loss product ads that make the following common "Red Flag" deceptive claims:

  1. Causes weight loss of two pounds or more a week for a month, or more without dieting or exercise.
  2. Causes substantial weight loss, no matter what or how much the consumer eats.
  3. Causes permanent weight loss (even when the consumer stops using the product).
  4. Blocks the absorption of fat or calories to enable consumers to lose substantial weight.
  5. Safely enables consumers to lose more than three pounds per week for more than four weeks.
  6. Causes substantial weight loss for all users.
  7. Causes substantial weight loss by wearing it on the body or rubbing it into the skin.

STANLEY PIECUCH, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8818

AG Sues Firewood Sellers Over Short Cords

January 13, 2005

JANUARY 13, 2005 JAMES MCKENNA, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8842

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that his office has filed unfair trade practice lawsuits against two brothers, Roland W. Hale, II, and Bryan Hale for delivering less firewood than consumers ordered and paid for. Roland W. Hale, II, does business as Friendly Firewood at 65 Winston Way in New Gloucester. Bryan Hale does business as Avery Acres Firewood at 12 Tammy Lane in Windham.

The Maine Department of Agriculture has received 18 consumer complaints against Roland W. Hale, II, and seven consumer complaints against Bryan Hale. Inspectors from the Office of Weights and Measure traveled to the consumers' homes and measured the wood that had been delivered. In each case, the inspector concluded that the consumer had been sold significantly less firewood than had been ordered and paid for.

Attorney General Rowe stated that: "With energy prices as they are, Mainers are entitled to expect full value for their home heating dollar. Short sellers of any home heating fuel can expect our serious and immediate attention." The Attorney General complimented the Office of Weights and Measure for its investigation of the consumer complaints.

If any consumer would like advice on how to measure delivery of firewood, or wishes to request an official measurement, they should contact the State Office of Weights and Measure, 28 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333, or call (207) 287-3841.

Consumers may also calculate the amount of wood in their own woodpiles by using the cord calculator on the Attorney General's website at <http://www.maine.gov/ag/firewood.html>.

AG Announces Rules Hearing, Settlements Regarding Auto Dealers

January 27, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe is moving aggressively to protect car buyers from deceptive advertising and other unfair trade practices.

On February 2, at 9 a.m. in room 600 of the Burton M. Cross State Office Building in Augusta the Attorney General's Office will hold a public hearing on proposed Unfair Trade Practice rules that spell out more clearly the kinds of car ads that are considered deceptive. "The rules will give dealers clear guidelines as to what ads are acceptable," said Assistant Attorney General Linda Conti, Consumer Protection Division Chief. "Their main goal is to insure that if an ad offers a car at a specific price that the car will in fact be available at that price." The proposed rules are available on the Attorney General's website at: <http://www.maine.gov/ag/dynld/documents/PrpsdAdvRulesII.pdf>

The Attorney General also announced recent settlements of two unfair trade practice court cases against car dealers.

A settlement with Prime Toyota, a car dealership located on U.S. Route 1 in Saco, will prohibit Prime from advertising cars at greatly reduced prices when those cars are not readily available to the public at that price. The Attorney General's investigation revealed that Prime Toyota, in April and May of 2004, advertised Camry LE vehicles at greatly reduced prices. But when consumers came shopping, those vehicles were very hard to find.

Prime Toyota did not admit to any wrongdoing. It paid a $10,000 civil penalty and also paid $1,000 toward the Attorney General's expenses.

A settlement with Auto Mart, a Portland dealership, prohibits it from failing disclose to buyers damages it knew the car had suffered. "Auto Mart sold a Mercedes Benz not once but twice to consumers without disclosing it had received serious accident damage," said Assistant Attorney General James McKenna, who handled the case for the State. Auto Mart will pay a $7,000 Civil Penalty and $500 toward the Attorney General's expenses. Auto Mart also did not admit any wrongdoing.

JAMES MCKENNA, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8842

AG, Chief Medical Examiner Adopt New Policy On Organ And Tissue Donations In Medical Examiner Cases

January 28, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe and Chief Medical Examiner Margaret Greenwald today announced the adoption of a new policy on organ and tissue donations that will apply to medical examiner cases, which are usually suspicious or unattended deaths. The new policy establishes the standards that must be met by any tissue bank, organ procurement organization, or research organization (collectively, "recovery agencies") before the Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) will recognize it as a recovery agency. Only recognized recovery agencies will be permitted to recover organs or tissues in medical examiner cases.

The new policy:

  • Requires pre-approval of recovery agency consent forms by the medical examiner's office;
  • Requires that recovery agencies asking next-of-kin for organ and tissue donations must be clear and specific about what will be recovered and what purpose it will be used for;
  • Requires audio-recording and witnessing consent that is obtained over the telephone;
  • Requires all consent forms and audio recordings of consents to be maintained by the recovery agency and made available for inspection by the medical examiner's office;
  • Requires filing of a completed consent form with the medical examiner's office before any recovery is permitted to take place;
  • Requires that the fully executed consent form be provided to the next-of-kin within five business days;
  • Requires that additional written material explaining organ or tissue donation be provided to the next-of-kin;
  • Bans per-case or "finder's fee" payments to recovery agency employees or agents involved with obtaining consent for organ or tissue donation;
  • Bans payment from recovery agencies to OCME employees or contractors; and
  • Bans OCME employees or contractors from being involved with obtaining consent for organ or tissue donation.

Chief Medical Examiner Margaret Greenwald said, "We have worked hard over the past several months to develop a policy that supports organ and tissue donations but raises the bar on what constitutes full informed consent and what we will accept as proof of full informed consent." Attorney General Steven Rowe said, "We believe this new poli cy adopts the highest professional and ethical standards for this sensitive work. We hope it will serve as a basis for the administrative rules that cover all organ and tissue donation in Maine."

Greenwald and Rowe expressed appreciation to the Acting Director of the State Bureau of Health, Dr. Lani Graham; State Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator Laurel Shippee; and officials at the New England Organ Bank for their input during the process of drafting the policy. Greenwald and Rowe plan to work with Graham on a revision of the Bureau of Health's administrative rules regarding consent for anatomical gifts under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

Another Maine Prescription Drug Law Survives Industry Challenge

February 3, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk has handed Maine a win in a recommended decision in the case challenging Maine's Unfair Prescription Drug Practices Act (UPDPA). The decision recommends that the U.S. District Court for Maine grant the Attorney General's motion for summary judgment and deny the motion for summary judgment filed by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the national trade association representing pharmaceutical benefits management companies (PBMs). PCMA sued Attorney General Rowe in 2003 alleging that the UPDPA is preempted by federal law; that it would effect a regulatory taking of trade secrets, revenues, and contractual rights; that it violates PBMs' civil rights; and that it is unconstitutional for violations of due process, the Commerce Clause, and freedom of speech. Yesterday, after more than a year of intense litigation between industry lawyers and the Attorney General's Office, U.S. Magistrate Margaret Kravchuk found in favor of the Attorney General on all claims.

The UPDPA requires PBMs to disclose to health plans any conflicts of interest, side payments from drug companies, and details about drug switching programs. These requirements are described generally as promoting "transparency" in the PBM industry, that is, they allow the health plan clients of PBMs to see through the otherwise secret arrangements that PBMs had with other market players. Yesterday's decision summarized the PBM industry in these words: "[A]lthough PBMs afford a valuable bundle of services to benefits providers, they also introduce a layer of fog to the market that prevents benefits managers from fully understanding how best to minimize their net prescription drug costs." (at page 5)

Attorney General Rowe said, "The persistence and patience of Maine people have been rewarded for the second time in a week. Last Friday's favorable decision on Maine Rx Plus and yesterday's decision on the Unfair Prescription Drug Practices Act both vindicate our long-standing support for efforts to reduce prescription drug prices. Maine leads the nation in these efforts. Maine people know that the first person down a trail has to expect to clear a few trees. I'm thrilled to report that we are clearing the trees laid in the trail by the drug industry and that the trail does lead to lower prices for prescription drugs. Thanks to all people of Maine who stand behind us in this important work."

http://www.med.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Kravchuk/2005/MJK020220051-03cv153PCMAv_Rowe.pdf

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

AG Advises Mainers On Antidepressant Remeron To Make Claims For Reimbursement Of Out-Of-Pocket Costs

March 24, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe today advised Mainers who took the prescription antidepressant Remeron or its generic equivalent mirtazapine between June 15, 2001, and January 25, 2005, to submit claim forms for possible refunds. Consumers may file claims online at www.RemeronSettlement.com. Paper claim forms can be requested by calling toll free 1-866-401-6807. Online claims must be filed and paper claims must be postmarked by June 13, 2005. The address for returning paper forms is: Remeron Antitrust Settlement, c/o Complete Claim Solutions, Inc., P.O. Box 24769, West Palm Beach, Florida 33416.

Maine joined other states in settling a lawsuit against Organon USA, Inc. and its parent company Akzo Nobel N.V. alleging improper monopolization of the U.S. market for Remeron and mirtazapine. The lawsuit alleged that Organon unlawfully extended its monopoly by improperly listing a new "combination therapy" patent with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The suit also alleged that Organon delayed listing the patent with the FDA in another effort to delay the availability of lower-cost generic substitutes. This resulted in higher prices to those who paid for the drug. At its peak, Remeron was the Organon's top-selling drug with annual sales in excess of $400 million. The companies will pay $36 million upon final court approval of the settlement. As part of a nationwide consumer notification program, attorneys general also launched a campaign to notify consumers of the settlement and claims process through advertising in publications such a Readers Digest, Parade, and USA Today. Pharmacists and psychiatrists have also been asked to help get the word out to patients.

Mainecare and other third-party payers of drug costs will also recoup costs they incurred through paying higher prices for the drugs.

Affected consumers who do not wish to remain part of the settlement class must exclude themselves in writing on or before April 27, 2005. Information on "opting-out" of the settlement also is available at the settlement website or by calling the toll-free number.

CHRISTINA MOYLAN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 626-8838

AG Brings Civil Rights Case In Portland Threatening Of Somali Taxi Driver

April 1, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed an action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Garrett Powell, 22, of Portland and Charles Frechette, 23, of Sebago Lake for their threats against a Somali taxicab driver based on their bias against his race, color or national origin. In court papers filed in Superior Court in Portland, the Attorney General asks the court to enjoin Powell and Frechette from having any contact with the victim and from committing future violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act.

The lawsuit alleges that on December 14, 2004, shortly after midnight, Frechette and Powell were riding home with three friends in an American Taxi from a Christmas party in the Old Port and stopped at the Big Apple Store at the corner of Park Street and Forest Avenue in Portland. The victim, a taxi driver from Somalia, asked the American Taxi to move so that the victim could maneuver his taxi closer to the air pumps to fill his tires. Powell emerged from the American Taxi, yelled racial epithets, told the victim to go back to his country, and threatened the victim with physical harm. Frechette came out of the Big Apple Store and joined the confrontation, challenging the victim to fight. The lawsuit alleges that Frechette pulled out a knife, used racial epithets and threatened to "cut" the victim. The victim ran into the store and the cashier held the doors closed so that Frechette and Powell could not come after him. The confrontation ended only when the cashier called the police.

"Many immigrants, like this man from Somalia, came to this country to seek sanctuary from the violence in their homelands," said Attorney General Rowe. "We will not tolerate threats of violence to persons of Somali ancestry based on bias against their race, color or national origin."

LEANNE ROBBIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 626-8581

Maine Law On Pharmacy Benefits Clears Another Federal Court Hurdle

April 13, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby has handed Maine an unequivocal win in the case challenging Maine's Unfair Prescription Drug Practices Act (UPDPA). The decision grants the Attorney General's motion for summary judgment and denies the motion for summary judgment filed by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the national trade association representing pharmaceutical benefits management companies (PBMs). PCMA sued Attorney General Rowe in 2003 alleging that the UPDPA is preempted by federal law; that it would effect a regulatory taking of trade secrets, revenues, and contractual rights; that it violates PBMs' civil rights; and that it is unconstitutional for violations of due process, the Commerce Clause, and freedom of speech. U.S. Magistrate Margaret Kravchuk filed a recommended decision in favor of the State in February. Today's ruling adopts Kravchuk's recommendation, finding in favor of the State on all claims.

The UPDPA requires PBMs to disclose to health plans any conflicts of interest, side payments from drug companies, and details about drug switching programs. These requirements are described generally as promoting "transparency" in the PBM industry, that is, they allow the health plan clients of PBMs to see through the otherwise secret arrangements that PBMs had with other market players. The decision adopted today summarized the PBM industry in these words: "[A]lthough PBMs afford a valuable bundle of services to benefits providers, they also introduce a layer of fog to the market that prevents benefits managers from fully understanding how best to minimize their net prescription drug costs."

Attorney General Rowe said, "We are very pleased. This is a landmark decision on a landmark law. The State of Maine continues to lead the nation in securing lower drug prices for consumers. Thanks are due to the Maine Legislature and all Mainers who stand behind us in this important work."

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

Hodgdon High Student Cited In Race-Motivated Attack At School

April 20, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe today announced that his office has filed court papers in Aroostook County Superior Court alleging that a Hodgdon high school student violated the Maine Civil Rights Act when he taunted and attacked a student of Mexican descent. The suit alleges that the defendant, who is a minor, followed the victim through the halls of Hodgdon High School, taunting him with ethnic slurs, and then subsequently attacked him in the school parking lot. The suit also alleges that the defendant has a history of conduct evidencing bias and hatred towards persons of different races, ethnic backgrounds, and religions.

The Attorney General seeks to permanently enjoin the defendant from any further bias-motivated threats or acts of violence, property damage, or trespass against the victim or others.

Attorney General Rowe said, "Taunting and assaulting a child because of his or her ethnicity is not only shameful, it is illegal. The fact that the perpetrator is a fellow student does not excuse such behavior; rather, it makes it all the more deplorable. No child should be afraid to go to school because of ethnic threats and violence from other students."

Attorney General Rowe commended the Aroostook County Sheriff's Department for its investigation of the incident. The department referred the case to Rowe's office for this action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

SUSAN SPARACO, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8569

AG Brings Civil Rights Action Against Hallowell Man For Racially Motivated Assault

April 22, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe today announced that his office has filed a lawsuit under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Jonathan Fuller, 35, of Hallowell. The AG's suit alleges that the defendant verbally berated Eddie Daniels, 46, of Augusta, while Daniels was playing pool at an Augusta night club on March 19, 2004. The suit alleges that Fuller repeatedly directed racially derogatory comments at Daniels, who is African-American, and his companions. The suit also alleges that Fuller punched Daniels in the eye when Daniels attempted to leave the club, then threw a rock at the windshield of Daniels' car.

The suit seeks to permanently enjoin the defendant from any further threats or acts of violence, property damage, or trespass against the victim or others motivated by bias. Attorney General Rowe said, "Maine must be a place where every person can live without fear of racially-motivated attack." Rowe added "The incidents that Mr. Daniels complained of took place over a year ago, and that makes this case unusual. This case was not originally identified as racially motivated. I commend Mr. Daniels for bringing the facts of this case to our attention and for his determination and effort to make sure that no other Maine resident ever has to go through a similar ordeal."

Attorney General Rowe also commended the Augusta Police Department for its investigation of the incident and for its additional effort after the civil rights implications of this case became clearer. The department referred the case to Rowe's office for this action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

THOMAS HARNETT, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8897

Statement On The Maine Law Court's Decision In Priest Abuse Records

April 22, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe is reviewing the Law Court's opinion in Blethen Maine Newspapers, Inc. v. State of Maine, issued today. The case is about public access to investigative records related to allegations of sexual abuse by eighteen deceased Roman Catholic priests. The Court's opinion is available online at http://www.courts.state.me.us/opinions/2005%20documents/05me56ble.htm.

Following an initial review of the decision, Attorney General Rowe said, "We are pleased that the Court seems to have recognized that the names of the alleged victims in these records must remain confidential. Protecting their privacy was the reason for our appeal of the Superior Court's earlier decision. The Law Court's decision addresses what was an open question in Maine law regarding these records.""

CHARLES DOW, 207-626-8577

AG Sues Livermore Contractors Over Incomplete, Shoddy Work

May 20, 2005

Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed court papers under Maine's Unfair Trade Practices Act against home contractors Mark Smith and David Blais of Livermore who do business as CBS Enterprises. The State is seeking an injunction that will prohibit Smith and Blais from doing any further home contracting in the State of Maine.

"We have received a dozen complaints against CBS Enterprises from all around Maine," said Attorney General Rowe. "Consumer after consumer has charged Smith and Blais with either failing to complete the job or doing extremely poor work," said the Attorney General.

Many of the complaining customers had responded to a CBS Enterprises advertisement that offered $14,000 garages. The advertisement also promised: "This is the best built garage going." The consumers claimed that, in reality, CBS Enterprises did not finish the garages and they were not well built.

Rowe warns consumers that "Home contractors are not regulated in Maine, so buyer beware. Ask for and check references before hiring a contractor." If you have a complaint against Mark Smith or David Blais, d/b/a CBS Enterprises, you can contact the Attorney General's Office by e-mail at consumer.mediation@maine.gov or call 1-800-436-2131 between 9:00 a.m. and noon, Monday through Friday.

JAMES MCKENNA, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8842

Maine AG Convenes Methamphetamine Summit In Boston

May 26, 2005

As Eastern Regional Chair of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe organized a methamphetamine (meth) summit in Boston today. In attendance were state attorneys general, leaders of state drug enforcement agencies, and/or heads of state substance abuse treatment and prevention departments from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Vermont, and Pennsylvania. Rowe convened the summit to facilitate information sharing designed to help the states work together on strategies to prevent the spread of meth manufacturing and abuse that has devastated other parts of the county.

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that causes paranoid, violent behavior. Addicts sometimes manufacture methamphetamine in home labs using cold medicine and toxic, explosive chemicals, creating a potentially deadly environment for neighbors and children, and costly clean-up for property owners. Each home lab is a toxic waste site, creating a dangerous situation for police and other first responders.

Other states have implemented a variety of policy measures that have proven successful in reducing and preventing meth manufacturing and abuse. Some of these policies have been proposed in legislation pending in Maine and other northeastern states. These measures include purchase and sale restrictions on cold and sinus medicines containing the decongestant pseudoephedrine, which can be used to manufacture meth.

Rowe said, "Although we have discovered a number of methamphetamine labs in our states, we have not seen the epidemic growth in labs that has occurred in other parts of the nation. We have an opportunity to get ahead of this problem now, but that opportunity won't last for long. I think that Maine people will reap the benefits of regional cooperation on this issue. We know from our experience with other problem drugs that drug dealers and addicts don't pay much attention to state borders."

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

Buyers Of Hypertension, Enlarged Prostate Drug Hytrin Should Make Claims For Refunds

June 3, 2005

Consumers who purchased the brand-name prescription medication Hytrin are eligible for refunds from a $30.7-million settlement agreement, Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today. The refunds to consumers and health plans in 18 states will be paid by two companies which, the complaint alleged, conspired to engage in anticompetitive conduct that delayed the availability of a more affordable generic version of the medication.

Hytrin, which is used in the treatment of hypertension and enlarged prostate, is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, and the generic version (called "terazosin") is produced by Geneva Pharmaceuticals. According to a federal lawsuit, Abbott wrongfully paid Geneva to delay introduction of its generic version of Hytrin and took other steps to delay competition from lower-priced generic versions of its product. This illegal activity harmed consumers. Under the settlement agreement, which is still subject to final court approval, Abbott and Geneva would provide $28.7 million for consumers and health plans in Maine and 17 other states. The most direct way for consumers to obtain claims forms is through the settlement website, <http://www.terazosinlitigation.com>. Claims forms must be mailed to the settlement administrator no later than July 15, 2005.

The settlement will benefit consumers who purchased terazosin products between October 15, 1995, and March 7, 2005, and amounts of refunds will depend on how many consumers file claims against the settlement fund. The settlement applies to consumers and health plans in Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Between 1999 and 2001, a number of consumers filed lawsuits against Abbott and Geneva. The cases were consolidated into a single lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of Florida. After conducting their own investigations, the states of Florida, Kansas and Colorado filed their own lawsuit in the same court. The settlement establishes a separate $2 million fund to reimburse state agency claims and litigation costs incurred by Florida, Kansas and Colorado.

Consumers may obtain a claims form from the settlement website, <http://www.terazosinlitigation.com>; by calling the settlement administrator toll-free at 1-877-886-0283; or by writing to the settlement administrator at:
In re Terazosin Hydrochloride Antitrust Litigation, c/o Complete Claim Solutions, Inc. P.O. Box 24607 West Palm Beach, FL 33416

CHRISTINA MOYLAN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8838

AG Warns Of New Twist On Canadian Lottery Scam

June 14, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe today warned Mainers that professional con artists are using the pretense of a Canadian lottery to bilk Mainers out of thousands of dollars, with a new twist: they send a cashiers check. "IGA Management Payment Systems," which claims to do business from Ottawa, is mailing letters to Maine residents announcing that they have won the "North American Prize Pool." Recipients of the letter are told that they have won over three hundred thousand dollars in cash. Recipients are told that before the winnings can be sent to them, they must pay a certain amount for "taxes and charges." An authentic looking four thousand dollar "cashier's check" that appears to be drawn on a Texas bank is enclosed with an explanation that it is being sent to help the recipient pay for the "taxes and charges." The recipient is encouraged to "keep this award from public notice" and to call a "lottery claim agent" at an Ottawa phone number to "finalize the payment process." If the recipient calls, he/she is asked to provide identifying information and to provide his/her bank account and routing information so that the alleged "lottery winnings" can be deposited. The recipient is then instructed to deposit the check in his/her bank account and to wire transfer the remaining several thousand dollars in "taxes and charges" to IGA. Of course, the four thousand dollar check is worthless, but that news often comes only after recipients have disclosed their bank account information and may have sent money to IGA.

Canadian law enforcement officials have received 45 complaints against IGA Management between April 15, 2005 and June 6, 2005. Of these 45 complaints received, 4 are victims with a total loss of $15,503. Canadian authorities also received 65 complaints about North American Prize Pool between May 3, 2000, and June 3, 2005. Of these 65, 13 are actual victims with a total dollar loss of $36,041.

The Attorney General also recently learned of an identical scam operating out of Vancouver, British Columbia using the name Coral Management Payment Systems using fake checks that appear to be drawn on a Texas bank as well.

"If you receive a mailing advising you that you have won a lottery prize but that you must pay a fee or disclose personal financial information such as bank account information before collecting the prize, don't be fooled," warned Attorney General Steven Rowe. "The letter and enclosed check may look real, but they are not. They are a sham, pure and simple. My advice is to throw them away."

If you or someone you know has fallen victim to this scheme, contact the Maine Office of the Attorney General at 1-800-436-2131 or by email at www.consumer.mediation@maine.gov. You can also contact Canadian authorities at 1-888-495-8501 or by email at info@phonebusters.com

LINDA CONTI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8591

Kennebunk Nurse To Serve Jail Time For Taking Patient's Drugs

June 21, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Susan Cole, 54, of Kennebunk, will serve five days in jail for stealing narcotics from Kennebunk Nursing Center, where she worked as a nurse from February through May, 2004. A York County Superior Court jury found Cole guilty in May of this year following a two day trial, and Superior Court Justice Arthur Brennan sentenced Cole to jail on Friday, June 17, 2005.

Evidence presented by the Attorney General's Office at trial showed that from February 7, 2004, to May 8, 2004, Cole took 72 Percocet pills from a resident's supply of medication under the guise of medicating the resident. Instead, she took the pills for her own use.

Brennan sentenced Cole to 9 months jail with all but 5 days suspended, and two years of probation. While on probation, Cole must submit to random searches and testing for drugs.

"When we place the care of our loved ones in the hands of nursing facility staff, we must expect the highest level of professionalism and ethics," Rowe said. "Drug abuse and diversion by healthcare professionals in the workplace inevitably impacts patient care. The State of Maine will not tolerate drug diversion in Maine's healthcare facilities."

The case was investigated by Detective Christine Baker and prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Maria Pizzimbono of the Attorney General's Healthcare Crimes Unit.

Pizzimbono said, "We hope this case is a wake up call for this defendant and any other drug diverting nurse in any facility. We will not take it lightly when our elderly are victimized by their caregivers."

MARIA PIZZIMBONO, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8886

AG Rowe Statement On Retirement Of Buzz Caverly From Baxter State Park

June 21, 2005

Today at Baxter State Park Headquarters in Millinocket, long-time Baxter State Park Director Irvin "Buzz" Caverly announced his decision to retire. Caverly announced that he will retire on July 1 after more than 46 years of employment with the Park. Caverly has served as the Park's Director since 1981. Caverly made his announcement before a gathering of the Baxter State Park Authority and staff.

The members of the Baxter State Park Authority, the governing body of the Park, praised Director Caverly for his long, distinguished career. Authority members are Attorney General Steve Rowe, Commissioner Dan Martin of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and Director Alec Giffen of the Maine Forest Service.

Following Caverly's retirement announcement, Authority Chair Steve Rowe stated, "Words cannot adequately describe the positive impact that Buzz Caverly has had on Baxter State Park. Governor Baxter entrusted a magnificent resource to the people of Maine. No human being has done more to protect that magnificent resource than Buzz Caverly."

Rowe also stated, "The people of Maine owe a great debt of gratitude to Buzz Caverly. His tireless devotion to duty and commitment to protect and preserve Baxter State Park are legend."

Rowe said that the Authority has appointed the Director of the Park's Scientific Forestry Management Area, Jensen Bissell, to serve as Interim Park Director until a permanent Director is named. Caverly will work with Bissell to assure a smooth transition.

STEVE ROWE, ATTORNEY GENERAL, BAXTER STATE PARK AUTHORITY CHAIR, 207-626-8599

AG Sues Vinalhaven Man Over Racist Threats On Ferry

June 24, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed court papers under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Steven Wadleigh, 40, of Vinalhaven. The State alleges that, on April 20, 2005, Wadleigh approached a 33-year-old African American man while boarding the ferry between Rockland and Vinalhaven, and directed racial epithets at him. Rockland police responded and warned Wadleigh to refrain from harassing the victim. Despite the warning, Wadleigh continued to direct racial epithets at the victim after the ferry got under way to Vinalhaven, and threatened the victim that Wadleigh or his friends would do harm to him. Wadleigh then became physically aggressive and put his fists up toward the victim, who pushed his fists away. Crewmen broke up the resulting altercation, and the ferry was turned back to Rockland, where Wadleigh was arrested. After being taken into custody Wadleigh continued to make threats against the victim and express statements indicating his racial bias. Wadleigh and the victim had not been acquainted with each other prior to Wadleigh's harassment of the victim.

"Everyone has the right to ride Maine's ferries in peace, without threat of harassment or violence," said Attorney General Rowe. "This victim was singled out because of his skin color. The State of Maine will not stand for it." The action is filed in Knox County Superior Court and seeks an injunction against Wadleigh, prohibiting him from any contact with the victim in the complaint and from engaging in any future violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act. The Rockland Police Department investigated the complaint, along with a detective from the Attorney General's Office.

LEANNE ROBBIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8581

AG Pleased With Federal Court Ruling In Clean Air Suit

June 24, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe today expressed satisfaction that a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., blocked some of the polluter-friendly loopholes the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) 2002 New Source Review rulemaking. The court also rejected claims by industrial polluters that even the watered-down rules adopted by EPA were too strict.

"Today's ruling says that the EPA cannot effectively repeal the Clean Air Act through rulemaking," Rowe said. "While EPA has discretion, its discretion only goes so far”and not nearly as far as it wanted to go with these rules." While much of the decision was positive, the court did uphold some of the loopholes challenged by the states. As to these issues, Rowe said, "States' lawsuits are no substitute for an administration in Washington that will fight to protect the environment rather than fighting to protect polluters."

In December 2002, Rowe joined other state attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against the EPA for endangering air quality by exempting thousands of industrial air pollution sources, including many coal-fired power plants, from the New Source Review (NSR) provision of the Clean Air Act. NSR requires that industrial plants add modern pollution controls on upgraded or modified smokestacks that increase air pollution.

Today's decision upheld the foundation of the NSR program, which maintains that power plants and other sources must install pollution controls when they modify plants in ways that increase "actual" emissions. In addition, it upheld the states' challenges to certain new exemptions that would have made it easier for polluters to avoid the emission reductions required by law.

The court also shot down EPA's effort to allow companies to avoid full pollution reduction requirements for ten years by allowing lesser pollution controls. It also firmly rejected EPA's plan to free polluters from keeping any records with respect to many upgrades ā€“ a lack of record-keeping that the attorneys general argued would have severely hindered enforcement.

The decision also acknowledges the right of states to adopt more protective air pollution programs or to keep their existing programs if they better protect the environment and public health than the new federal rules. The court rejected the states' arguments favoring a stiffer approach toward industries other than power plants. The states sought to bar such facilities from avoiding installation of state of the art pollution control technologies by basing new emission limits on the highest pollution output from the previous ten years.

The decision is available at: http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/docs/common/opinions/200506/02-1387a.pdf

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

AG Announces Major New Advertising Rules For Autos

July 1, 2005

Just in time for the big Columbus Day Factory Clearance Mega Blowout sales at auto dealerships around Maine, new auto advertising rules will start to protect consumers from deceptive practices. Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that regulations his office adopted this week will govern advertising layouts, vehicle pricing, the availability of advertised vehicles, and rebate offers. The rules will take effect on October 1, allowing dealers and ad agencies time to prepare for the change.

"Consumers are entitled to know what car dealers are offering and for how much," said Attorney General Rowe. The new rules, for example, will require that extra charges such as document fees will have to be included in the advertised price. "Some people believe that playing ā€˜hide-the-ball' is an essential part of the car sales experience," said Rowe. "I reject that. I believe that Maine consumers will be best served by competition based on fair, clear car ads."

The Attorney General also stated that these rules will make certain that all dealers are reading from the same rule book when they sit down to design their advertisements. "It is not unusual for my Consumer Protection Division to receive calls from dealers complaining about a competitor's ads," said Attorney General Rowe. "They complain the competitor is offering cars at prices so low they could not possibly be true. These rules should end that." The new rules are attached below.


26-239 OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL Chapter 104 MOTOR VEHICLE ADVERTISING

SUMMARY: This chapter describes advertising practices by new and used motor vehicle dealers that are unfair and deceptive in violation of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act, 5 MRSA sec. 207.

  1. Definitions
  2. General Provisions
  3. Advertising Layout
  4. Availability of Vehicles
  5. Price Disclosures
  6. Comparative MSRP Advertising
  7. Minimum Trade-In Allowances
  8. Rebate Offers
  9. Free Offer
  10. Buy-Down Interest Rates
  11. Factory, Executive and Fully-Equipped Vehicles
  12. Misleading Claims of Potential Savings
  13. Credit Sales
  14. Lease Advertising Disclosures

SECTION 1. DEFINITIONS

"Advertisement," "advertising," or "ad," unless otherwise noted, means any oral, written, electronic or graphic statement made by, for, or in the name of a car dealer that is in any manner connected with the solicitation of business. The term includes statements made in newspapers or other publications or on radio or television, or contained in any sign, motor vehicle window sticker, circular, brochure, letter, or other writing.

"Disclosure" means a clear and conspicuous statement made in such size, color, contrast, location, duration, and audibility that it is readily noticeable, readable and understandable. The disclosure may not contradict or be inconsistent with any other information with which it is presented. If the disclosure modifies, explains, or clarifies other information with which it is presented, or states "see dealership for details," then it must be presented in proximity to the information it modifies, in a manner readily noticeable, readable, and understandable, and it must not be obscured in any manner. An audio disclosure must be delivered in a volume and cadence sufficient for a consumer to hear and comprehend it. A visual disclosure for television must appear on the screen for a duration sufficient for a consumer to read and comprehend it. In a print or internet advertisement or promotional material, including without limitation point of sale display or brochure materials directed to consumers, a disclosure must be in a type size and location sufficiently noticeable for a consumer to read and comprehend it, in a print that contrasts with the background against which it appears. Commonly known abbreviations may be used in disclosures; however, those not generally known cannot be.

"Dealer" means a natural person, firm, corporation, partnership, and any other legal entity licensed by the State to sell new or used motor vehicles, as defined in 29-A M.R.S.A.  § 101, and the officers, employees and agents thereof, except auctioneers licensed by the State.

"Extra charge" means any consumer charge listed or requested by the dealer for the purchase of a new or used motor vehicle which is not included in the manufacturer's suggested retail price for that vehicle. Some examples are the following charges that are typically not listed on a "Monroney sticker" (the manufacturer's suggested retail price sticker): handling charges, floor planning costs, dealer installed options, charges for preparing documents or other dealer preparation services.

"Monroney sticker" or "MSRP sticker" means the window sticker required by the federal Automobile Information Disclosure Act, 15 U.S.C.  §1231 et seq.

"Motor vehicle" means vehicles as defined at 29-A M.R.S.A.  § 101 (42).

SECTION 2. GENERAL PROVISIONS

A. General prohibition against unfair and deceptive advertising. These advertising rules are issued pursuant to the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act (5 M.R.S.A.  § 207). All motor vehicle advertising by dealers, whether printed or broadcast, shall be in plain language, with disclosures of material facts that are clear and conspicuous and non-deceptive. By way of example and not of limitation, the following are in violation of this rule:

  1. direct statements or reasonable inferences that have the tendency to mislead consumers;

  2. advertising whose overall impression has the tendency to mislead consumers;

  3. disclaimers that contradict, confuse or unreasonably limit or significantly alter a principal message of an advertisement;

  4. the failure to make clear and conspicuous disclosures of limitations, disclaimers, qualifications, conditions, exclusions or restrictions;

  5. statements susceptible to both a misleading and a truthful interpretation; and

  6. deceptive statements, even though the true facts are subsequently made known to the consumer.

B. Enforcement not limited. The fact that a particular advertising practice is not expressly referred to in these rules does not limit the Attorney General's authority to take legal action with respect to that practice under the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act (5 M.R.S.A.  § 207).

C. Complaints not necessary. An advertisement may be deceptive even though no consumer has complained about it.

D. Selling in accordance with advertised terms. A dealer shall not refuse to sell a motor vehicle in accordance with any terms or conditions which the dealer has advertised; except that it will not be considered a violation of this subsection where either:

  1. the dealer can document that the advertised term was the result of an error on the part of the advertising medium or an outside advertising agent, or

  2. the error was made in good faith by the dealer and was clearly and conspicuously a mistake (e.g., a vehicle advertised at "$1,000" rather than "$10,000"), and

  3. the dealer corrected the error as soon as it knew or reasonably should have known of it.

E. Responsibility for advertising. The dealer is responsible for knowing the law as it applies to advertising and is ultimately responsible for its advertising product. This does not preclude a finding that parties other than the dealer are also liable for a deceptive ad.

F. Disclosure of material facts. Any disclosures about material facts which are contained in advertisements and which involve types of motor vehicles and transactions must be made in a clear and conspicuous manner to minimize the possibility of misunderstanding by the audience.

Sale price available to all. Advertised vehicles shall be offered at or below the advertised price regardless of whether the customer has actually seen the advertised price prior to the sale, unless the ad clearly and conspicuously discloses that a customer must bring the ad to the dealer in order to receive the sale price, and the sale price is not given to anyone who does not do so.

SECTION 3. ADVERTISING LAYOUT

The following advertising techniques are in violation of these rules:

A. Footnotes and asterisks. Using footnotes or asterisks which, alone or in combination, contradict, confuse, significantly alter or unreasonably limit the principal message of the ad.

B. Print size. Using any type size so small that it is not easily readable if it alters a principal message of the ad.

C. Color Contrasts. Using color contrasts which render the text difficult to read if it alters a principal message of the ad.

D. Photos and illustrations. Using inaccurate photographs or illustrations when describing specific motor vehicles, except when used as a general illustration of the kind of vehicle advertised (e.g., a truck, sedan, family van, etc.).

E. Abbreviations and technical jargon. Using any unexplained abbreviations or technical jargon which is unfamiliar to the general public, with respect to any aspect of the advertisement on which consumers could reasonably be expected to rely, if it would significantly alter the ad.

F. Disclosures. Using statements of material facts that do not meet the definition of a clear and conspicuous disclosure.

SECTION 4. AVAILABILITY OF VEHICLES

Identification of sale vehicles. Where a specific motor vehicle is advertised by a dealer as being for sale at a specific price, the invoice or VIN of that vehicle or the vehicle itself must be in the possession of the dealer and must be shown and sold as advertised, illustrated or described at the advertised price and terms, at the advertised address.

Sufficient supply. If the dealer does not limit the number of advertised motor vehicles available, then the dealer must have in stock a sufficient supply to meet reasonably expected public demand of all vehicles advertised, with the equipment advertised and at the price advertised.

Limited supply. In the event that a dealer has a limited supply of motor vehicles advertised, the advertisement must disclose this fact by stating that the quantity is limited to only a specified number of vehicles available at the specified price or by stating the stock numbers of the available vehicles.

Not immediately available. If in order to make delivery of the advertised motor vehicle, the dealer has to obtain the vehicle from the manufacturer or some other source, this fact must be disclosed in the ad.

General offers. This section does not prohibit general advertising of motor vehicles by a manufacturer or distributor and the inclusion therein of the names and addresses of the dealers selling such vehicles in the particular area.

SECTION 5. PRICE DISCLOSURES

Vehicle identification. When the price of a motor vehicle is advertised in a local medium, the vehicle must be fully identified as to year, make, model, and, if the current or immediately preceding model year, whether the vehicle is new or used.

Advertised price. When advertising the motor vehicle's price the stated price must include all extra charges, as defined at Section 1(D), which the customer is asked to pay.

Non-required disclosures. The advertised price need not include state and local taxes, or title fees. Options installed at customer request need not be included in the advertised price.

$0.00 Down payment. An ad that offers $0.00 down payment cannot require immediate payment of extra charges, as defined at Section 1(D).

Discount advertising. When an automotive advertisement contains an offer of a price discount on a new motor vehicle, the amount of such discount must be stated by reference to the manufacturer's suggested retail price (Monroney Sticker or MSRP) of the vehicle or the dealer's regular asking price, including any additional dealer markup and extra charges. If the dealer advertises a discount of a manufacturer or dealer option package, such discount must be from the suggested retail prices of the options in the package.

List or sticker price. When the words "list" or "sticker" or words of similar import are used in an advertisement for a new motor vehicle, they must only refer to the manufacturer's suggested retail price (Monroney Sticker or MSRP).

SECTION 6. COMPARATIVE MSRP ADVERTISING

Advertising a comparison of the dealer's price with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) is prohibited, unless:

A. the advertised MSRP is in fact the "bottom line" manufacturer's suggested retail price listed on the Monroney sticker (including all accessories and options physically attached to the motor vehicle at the time of delivery to the dealer, and any charge to the dealer for transportation to the dealer), after all manufacturer discounts and manufacturer savings listed on the Monroney sticker have been deducted;

B. the advertised MSRP does not include any extra charges added by the dealer;

C. the advertised MSRP is referred to as the "manufacturer's suggested retail price" or "MSRP";

SECTION 7. MINIMUM TRADE-IN ALLOWANCES

Since the amount of trade-in allowance will vary depending on the condition, model, and age of a buyer's motor vehicle, no specific trade-in amount or range of amounts can be used in advertising.

SECTION 8. REBATES

Rebate offers. The terms "rebate", "cash rebate", or similar terms can be used only when payment of money will be made by the dealer or manufacturer to a purchaser after the sale or the amount will be credited to the purchaser at the time of sale.

Rebate availability. If an advertisement states that a motor vehicle is offered at a specified price which "includes all rebates," the rebates must only include those for which a substantial majority of customers will qualify ā€“ all others must be separately stated.

Inflated price. If the advertised price of the motor vehicle has been increased to offset the rebate in part or in whole, this information must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the ad.

SECTION 9. FREE OFFER

The word "free" may be used in advertising only when the advertiser is offering an unconditional gift that is unrelated to any purchase. Receipt of the "free" merchandise or service cannot be conditional on a purchase of a motor vehicle whose price is negotiable.

SECTION 10. BUY-DOWN INTEREST RATES

No buy-down interest rate can be advertised if any of the costs of securing the buy-down are passed on to the customer in any way, unless the dealer discloses clearly and conspicuously that contribution by the dealership may increase the negotiated price of the vehicle to the customer. (A buy-down interest rate is one in which the dealership pre-pays some of the interest expense in order to allow the customer to finance at a lower APR than the finance institution's current rate.)

SECTION 11. FACTORY, EXECUTIVE, AND FULLY-EQUIPPED VEHICLES

"Factory" and "Executive" vehicles. A motor vehicle cannot be advertised:

  1. as a "factory" vehicle if it is previously registered or titled.

  2. as an "executive" vehicle unless it has been used exclusively by factory, manufacturer, or distributor personnel.

B. "Fully equipped," Loaded" etc. A motor vehicle cannot be advertised in any print media as "fully equipped" or "loaded," or similar terms unless the following minimum equipment is available in that make or model: air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, AM/FM radio with tape or CD player, power windows, and cruise control.

SECTION 12. MISLEADING CLAIMS OF POTENTIAL SAVINGS

The following claims of potential savings are in violation of these rules:

A. "Factory outlet". Using terms such as "factory outlet," "factory authorized sale," or similar terms (which imply that the dealer has a special connection or relationship with the manufacturer that is greater or more direct than that of other dealers), when in fact no such special connection or relationship exists, or when any such special connection or relationship has no discernible effect on vehicle prices.

B. "Liquidation sale". Advertising a "liquidation sale," "public notice," "public sale," "bankruptcy sale" or similar terms, where the sale is not required by court order, by operation of law, in conjunction with an action in bankruptcy, or by the scheduled cessation of the dealer's business.

C. "Dealer cost," "dealer invoice," etc. Using terms which represent that a vehicle is available for sale at a price below cost, at cost, or slightly above cost, such as "dealer cost," "dealer invoice," "inventory price," "factory invoice," "wholesale," "factory billing," or similar terms, unless the advertisement clearly discloses any factors that may reflect the ultimate cost to the dealer, such as manufacturer incentives, awards, dealer holdbacks, decreased trade-in allowances or increased finance charges.

D. Unsubstantiated pricing. Advertising "lower prices than anyone else," or similar terms, if such claims cannot be substantiated by the dealer.

E. "As low as," "from," "rebates up to," and stock number ads. Using the terms "as low as [a certain price or finance charge]," "from [a certain price]," "rebates up to [a certain dollar amount]," or similar terms, or stating a stock number, unless the advertised vehicles are available for sale as required by Section 4 of these Rules.

F. "Money-back guarantees" or "free trials". Advertising "satisfaction guaranteed," "money-back guarantee," "risk free trial," or similar terms unless the dealer will readily refund the full purchase price of the vehicle upon complaint by the buyer, and any conditions or limitations are disclosed.

G. List price comparisons. Advertising a price that is compared to a "list" price or other similar term unless the list price is the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).

SECTION 13. CREDIT SALES

A. Financing rates. If an advertised financing rate will increase the advertised price of a motor vehicle, then that fact must be disclosed. Where financing is described in terms that do not trigger disclosures under the federal Truth-in-Lending Act (for example, "below market financing"), the ad must nevertheless disclose all conditions and limitations on the advertised financing other than creditworthiness. For instance, a dealer shall not fail to disclose a required down payment.

B. "No money down." If an advertisement states "no money down" or similar terms, then the dealer must deliver the advertised vehicle, so described, to the purchaser without any initial payment or other initial obligation other than the negotiation of a lien contract for the advertised purchase price.

C. "Everybody financed." If an advertisement states "everybody financed," "no credit rejected," "we finance anyone," or similar terms implying that no prospective credit purchaser will be rejected because of his or her inability to qualify for credit, then the dealer must provide credit to a purchaser who requests it. If as a result of extending credit in these circumstances the dealer will increase the price of the vehicle, the advertisement must disclose this fact.

D. Truth-in-Lending. When credit terms are advertised, they must comply with State and Federal Truth-in-Lending requirements.

SECTION 14. LEASE ADVERTISING DISCLOSURES

Lease advertisements. Whenever any advertisement relates to a lease, the advertisement must clearly and conspicuously disclose that the transaction advertised is a lease.

B. Truth in lending. When lease terms are advertised, they must comply with the disclosure requirements of State and Federal Truth-in-Leasing requirements.

JAMES MCKENNA, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8842

Rowe Issues Notice Of Intent To Sue Chase Bank, Chase Manhattan Mortgage, And Trilegiant

July 12, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that he has issued a notice of intent to sue Trilegiant Corporation, Chase Bank USA, N.A., and Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corporation for violating the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act in connection with their marketing of membership clubs to Maine residents. Maine law requires that the notices be sent at least ten days prior to filing suit seeking an injunction in court.

The Attorney General alleges that the Chase companies and Trilegiant misled Maine consumers into signing up for memberships in so-called "discount buying clubs" without the consumers' knowledge or consent. Chase Bank checks were mailed to customers along with notices indicating that the checks were rewards to valued customers. But cashing the checks enrolled the customers in discount buying clubs, and their credit card accounts were charged for recurring annual club dues ranging from $44.99 to $99.99. Rowe alleges that the disclosures accompanying the checks were insufficient to inform consumers that they were agreeing to have their accounts charged. "We have heard from more than 100 Maine residents who did not consent to charges on their Chase credit cards or mortgage balances for membership in these clubs. After learning they had been charged membership dues, many residents had difficulty canceling and obtaining refunds," said Rowe.

Rowe asked Mainers to carefully check their credit card and mortgage statements and to question any unfamiliar charges. The clubs have various names including Travel Advantage, Shoppers Advantage, Complete Home and Auto Vantage Gold. They purport to offer consumers discounts and savings on products and services. "We must all be vigilant about checking our statements. Consumer law enforcement is driven by consumer complaints, and consumers can't complain unless they notice they've been taken," said Rowe.

The California Attorney General also today filed suit against the companies for similar conduct in that state. Trilegiant is a Delaware Corporation operating in Connecticut. Chase Bank USA, N. A. is a national bank located in Newark, Delaware; and Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corporation is a New Jersey Corporation.

In 2001, Rowe joined the Federal Trade Commission and many other states in a settlement of suits against another discount buying club called Triad. More information on that settlement may be obtained at http://www.maine.gov/ag/pressreleasepopup.php?pressid=62


LINDA CONTI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8591

Waterboro Nurse Convicted Of Felony Drug Stealing From The York County Jail

July 15, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced that a York County jury yesterday convicted registered nurse Jill Cote, 32, of Waterboro, of acquiring drugs by deception (class C). On July 28, 2003, while Jill Cote was working as a registered nurse at the York County Jail in Alfred, Cote diverted 60 Demerol pills by placing an order to the pharmacy for an inmate who was allergic to the medication. She was the last person in possession of the medications, which were never administered to the inmate or any other inmate at the jail. Cote's crime was uncovered when the pharmacist requested a signed prescription order from the nurse practitioner who served the jail. The nurse practitioner indicated that she had not prescribed the medication and would not authorize it. Cote did not have permission or authority at any time to order the prescription or prescribe a narcotic.

Assistant Attorney General Maria Pizzimbono, who prosecuted the case, said, "This case should serve as a wake-up call for drug-diverting health professionals. The pharmacy system cannot be fooled for long, and the Maine legal system will come down hard on those who try to fool it. A felony conviction is a major blow to any health professional's career." Cote's sentencing is scheduled for August 5, 2005, in York County Superior Court.

The case was investigated by the York County Sheriff's Department and Attorney General's Office Detective Gerard "Red" Therrien.


MARIA PIZZIMBONO, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8886

Heart Patients Who Bought Cardizem Cd To Receive Checks In Antitrust Settlement

July 22, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that a settlement agent is cutting checks totaling more than $82,000 to 264 Maine heart patients who purchased the drug Cardizem CD at a price that was inflated by corporate practices that violated the antitrust laws.

The distribution is the result of a 2003 settlement in a case brought by Maine and many other states against two pharmaceutical companies, Aventis and Andrx. The case charged that beginning in July 1998, Hoechst, a pharmaceutical company acquired by Aventis in 2000, paid Andrx not to market a generic version of Cardizem CD. The delay in the availability of the generic form of Cardizem CD required consumers, health insurance companies, and the government to purchase the higher priced, brand-name version of the drug for at least an extra year.

Nationwide, the distribution will compensate more than 76,000 individual consumers who bought Cardizem between 1998 and 2004. The states' plan to distribute money to consumers was approved by United States District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds on May 31, 2005, after the United States Supreme Court refused on May 23, 2005, to review judicial approval of the settlement.

A distribution to third party purchasers of the drug will begin later this year. In addition, approximately $4.5 million will be distributed among the states to reimburse certain government purchasers, including state Medicaid programs, for their damages.

Further details are available on the settlement administration's website, http://www.cardizemsettlement.com.


CHRISTINA MOYLAN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8838

State Appeals Tobacco Delivery Decision

July 22, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that he has appealed a May 27 federal court decision that invalidated a significant portion of the state law aimed at preventing youth access to tobacco from Internet and mail-order sales. The 2003 law requires tobacco retailers to be licensed by the State in order to have tobacco delivered to Mainers. It also prohibits delivery services like UPS from shipping tobacco products from unlicensed sellers to Mainers and requires them to check the identification and age of Mainers to whom tobacco is delivered.

The decision being appealed is available at http://www.med.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Hornby/2005/DBH052720052-03cv178NHMotorTransportv_Rowe.pdf

In the decision, U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby determined that, "If there is to be regulation in this area, it will have to come from the federal government."

Attorney General Rowe said today, "We believe that the states have well-established powers to adopt laws that keep youth from smoking. While we would welcome a federal law that accomplished the same goals as the Maine law, we do not believe that the people of Maine should have to wait for Congress to muster the courage to enact similar legislation."

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

Rowe Supports Suit Against RJ Reynolds Tobacco To End False Health Claims About "Eclipse" Cigarettes

July 26, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced that Maine is supporting a Vermont lawsuit filed today against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company ("RJRT"). The suit alleges that RJRT's claims that its "Eclipse" cigarettes cause less cancer and disease than other cigarettes are false and misleading. The scientific evidence simply does not support RJRT's claim that "Eclipse" cigarettes cause less cancer or other disease in humans. In fact, RJRT's own data establishes that "Eclipse" cigarettes actually increase the amount of carbon monoxide delivered to an "Eclipse" smoker.

Attorney General Rowe condemns RJRT's false statement that "Eclipse" is the next best choice to quitting. Rowe said, "This misleading claim gives smokers a false impression that "Eclipse" is a safe alternative to quitting." Attorney General Rowe joins Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell in reminding those who smoke that there is no second-best choice to quitting.

The Maine Office of Attorney General, through Assistant Attorneys General Peter LaFond and Linda Conti, has been participating in a year-long multi-state investigation of the RJRT claims. In addition to joining with a number of other states in supporting the lawsuit filed against RJRT in Vermont, Maine will, with a group of core states, directly assist Vermont in litigating against RJRT.

RJRT was a signatory to the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement among 46 states and the major tobacco manufacturers. That agreement expressly prohibits participating manufacturers from making any material misrepresentations of fact regarding the health consequences of using any tobacco product. The Vermont suit alleges that RJRT has violated that prohibition as well as state unfair trade practice laws. The suit seeks an injunction against further false and misleading advertising by RJRT concerning "Eclipse" as well as monetary fines against the company.

PETER LaFOND, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8511

State To Appeal Dismissal Of Criminal Tax Evasion Charges

July 29, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that the State will appeal Superior Court Justice Roland Cole's decision to dismiss criminal tax evasion charges against Michael Falcone and James Jannetti. Justice Cole's decision was based on his finding that the term "domicile" was not adequately defined in the Maine Tax Code or case law for tax enforcement purposes for years 1997-2002.

Rowe explained, "The Maine Law Court should have the opportunity to review and decide this important issue of statutory interpretation."

JESSICA MAURER, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8515

AGs, 7-Eleven Settle Over Youth Tobacco Sales

August 11, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe and the Attorneys General of 39 other states and the District of Columbia today announced an agreement under which 7-Eleven will implement new policies and procedures to reduce tobacco sales to minors in 7-Eleven stores throughout the nation, including all 11 stores licensed by 7-Eleven and 2 company-owned stores in Maine.

The 7-Eleven "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance" is the most recent agreement produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort. Rowe and other attorneys general previously reached agreements that apply to all Walgreens stores, Rite Aid pharmacies, Wal Mart stores and to all gas stations and convenience stores operating under the Exxon, Mobil, BP, Amoco, and ARCO brand names in their states.

The enforcement effort focuses on retailers that have high rates of tobacco sales to minors. The goal is to secure their agreement to adopt policies and practices to prevent youth access to cigarettes and other tobacco products. Enforcement inspections have found that while 7-Eleven stores in Maine have a better non-compliance rate than in other states, there is room for improvement. One reason 7-Eleven's Maine locations may perform better is the company's adoption of the State's "No BUTS: Blocking Underage Tobacco Sales" responsible tobacco retailing program. No BUTS requires stores to adopt many of the provisions included in the Assurance and provides compliance credit when stores demonstrate implementation and a record of not selling to minors.

The agreement requires 7-Eleven to:

  • Train employees on state and local laws and company policies regarding tobacco sales to minors, including explaining the health-related reasons for laws that restrict youth access to tobacco;
  • Check the ID of any person purchasing tobacco products when the person appears to be under age 27, and only accept currently valid government-issued photo identification as proof of age;
  • Use cash registers programmed to prompt ID checks on all tobacco sales;
  • Hire an independent entity to conduct random compliance checks of 450 7-Eleven stores every six months;
  • Prohibit self-service displays of tobacco products, the use of vending machines to sell tobacco products, and the distribution of free samples on store property;
  • Prohibit the sale of smoking paraphernalia to minors;
  • Refrain from selling candy and other products that are tobacco look-a-likes; and
  • Limit interior advertising directed at youth and adhere to exterior advertising limitations included in the AG's Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco companies.

The attorneys general will monitor 7-Eleven's compliance with the agreement and have reserved the right to enforce future violations of the agreement as well as the laws governing sale of tobacco to minors.

The attorneys general have long recognized that youth access to tobacco products ranks among the most serious public health problems. Studies show that more than 80 percent of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18. Research indicates that every day in the United States, more than 2,000 people under the age of 18 begin smoking and that one-third of those persons will one day die from a tobacco-related disease. Young people are particularly susceptible to the hazards of tobacco, often showing signs of addiction after smoking only a few cigarettes.

JOHN ARCHARD, TOBACCO ENFORCEMENT COORDINATOR, 207-626-8837

State House Press Conference Highlights Free Program To Protect Children On The Internet

August 30, 2005

Augusta, ME. At a press conference today, Attorney General Rowe, Education Commissioner Sue Gendron and Public Safety Commissioner Michael Cantara announced that the NetSmartz Internet Child Safety Program is now available to all Maine educators, students and parents for free.

These state agencies have partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to bring NetSmartz® to Maine to help protect children from online victimization. The goal of the NetSmartz Workshop is to extend the safety awareness of children to prevent victimization and increase self-confidence whenever they go online.

While the Internet provides children with an opportunity to learn about the world, it has also become a place where sexual predators prey on children. Approximately 1 in 5 kids online is sexually solicited but that less than 10 percent of sexual solicitations are reported to authorities. Reports to the Maine Computer Crimes Task Force of Internet child exploitation have increased 173% over the last two years.

Lt. Col. John Dyer, Deputy Chief, Maine State Police, said, "Any program that affords us the opportunity to reduce child exploitation and victimization is welcomed. The Department of Public Safety and our law enforcement partners throughout the State are pleased to be working in partnership to support the NetSmartz program."

"We teach our children not to speak to strangers, but until now, we have not had the right tools to teach our children personal safety on the Internet." said Attorney General Steve Rowe. "The unwanted sexual solicitations our children receive online have a lasting impact. Our children are frightened and distressed about these interactions. The best way to keep our children safe is to teach them how to protect themselves online."

The NetSmartz Workshop is an interactive Internet Safety resource that provides age-appropriate materials for grades K-12. The Workshop uses animation to teach younger kids rules for online safety and also offers real-life stories for teens. Parents, educators, and law enforcement officers can visit specialized areas on NetSmartz.org for Internet safety pledges, statistics, and ideas on how to use NetSmartz materials to open lines of communication about potential dangers on the Internet. NetSmartz is a program of the NCMEC and Boys & Girls Clubs of America and is available for free on www.NetSmartz.org.

"We believe the Internet is a valuable resource for today's youth," says Rick Minicucci, President of NetSmartz. "We also understand the need to educate children to make responsible decisions online. Therefore, NetSmartz uses the latest technology to educate, entertain, and empower even the most tech-savvy kids."

Five middle schools in Maine piloted the NetSmartz Internet Safety Program last year. Diane MacGregor, Maranacook Technology Integration Specialist, and Jan Kolenda, Maranacook District Technology Coordinator, agree that the Netsmartz website offers some of the best information and materials to support online safety for educators, parents, and most importantly students.

Diane MacGregor said, "The students at Maranacook Community Middle School found the vignettes to be realistic and informative. As an educator and a parent, I feel this website offers the support adults need to become better educated on internet safety."

Education Commissioner Sue Gendron announced that all Superintendents of Schools, School Principals, and Technology Coordinators learned yesterday that NetSmartz will be available for use in their schools free of charge. Gendron said, "We're excited to offer educators and parents an effective tool to use in the classroom and at home to help children be safer online. NetSmartz offers something for children of all ages and the program can be easily incorporated into any part of the curriculum."

Clicky, NetSmartz spokesrobot, was on hand to teach some elementary aged children how to "Use their NetSmartz". UYN is the NetSmartz chat abbreviation. It stands for "Use Your NetSmartz" and is an EASY way to remember all the rules of Internet safety.

I will tell an adult I trust if anything makes me feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused.

I will ask my parents or guardian before sharing my personal information.

I won't meet in person with anyone I have first "met" online.

Kids can visit www.NetSmartzKids.org with their parents and play games, complete activities, and listen to music. This is a kid friendly site and doesn't link to any outside sources.

JESSICA MAURER, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8515 LT. COL. JOHN DYER, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, 207-624-7200 BETTE MANCHESTER, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 207-624-6746 COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT, NCMEC, 703-837-6111

Attorney General Rowe Describes Action, Provides Advice On High Gas Prices

September 1, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe today provided information about his office's actions in response to high gas prices and offered advice on how all Mainers can help to contain further increases. Rowe has spoken with the Governor, met with representatives of the Governor's Office, and is speaking with legislative leaders, other state attorneys general, and federal authorities to ensure that consumer protection and antitrust laws are being scrupulously observed, and enforcement options fully explored as market participants respond to supply challenges.

Rowe said, "Under existing law, the Attorney General's Office monitors the level of competition in every geographic market for gasoline in the State. In response to the dramatic price hikes of the past couple of days, we began to actively monitor wholesale and retail gasoline prices throughout the State. These steps are intended to provide the baseline data for determining whether State consumer protection or antitrust laws are being violated. If we uncover violations, we will take immediate action against the violators. At the same time, I would remind consumers that it is not illegal for the retailers to pass along their high wholesale costs.

"We have contacted the key federal enforcement agencies, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, and encouraged them to pursue inquiries into possible antitrust violations by the major oil companies. We are also working with the Attorneys General in other states, sharing information and coordinating efforts.

"Under normal circumstances, the petroleum market is a competitive one, and prices are determined by the forces of supply and demand. While current supply challenges are beyond the full control of State officials, we can all affect the demand side of the equation. Conservation is the most effective tool to save Maine people money at the pump, to help ensure adequate supplies, and to reduce price at both the wholesale and retail levels. I strongly encourage Mainers to conserve fuel by avoiding unnecessary trips, inflating tires, carpooling, and the like. For more information on gas saving tips, you can visit www.maineenergyinfo.com. Hoarding practices, such as topping off tanks or filling unneeded gas cans, only exacerbate supply problems. Consumers should also do their part to encourage competition by searching for the best price at the pump, preferably by telephone.

"While we know that the days and weeks ahead will be difficult for consumers due to the operation of market forces, all Mainers should rest assured that the responsible government authorities are doing our best to ensure that the problems we face are not compounded by illegal activities at any level of trade or commerce."

STEVE ROWE, ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8577

Maine In Suit Against U.S. Department Of Energy For Failing Consumers On Energy Standards

September 7, 2005

A coalition of 15 states and the City of New York today sued the federal Department of Energy for violating the federal law that requires it to adopt stronger energy-saving standards for 22 common appliances that use large amounts of electricity, natural gas and oil by clearly specified deadlines stated in the law.

The standards sought by the lawsuit, according to the federal government's own numbers, would generate substantial savings for consumers and reduce air pollution and global warming emissions from power plants.

Attorney General Steve Rowe said, "Federal law required the Department of Energy to update energy efficiency standards for many kinds of appliances by deadlines that have long since passed. These modern efficiency standards would reduce demand for electricity, decrease our dependence on foreign oil and save consumers money on their utility bills. As energy costs spiral out of control, there is no excuse for the federal government's continued foot-dragging and inaction."

Governor John Baldacci said, "Energy conservation and efficiency are the first and best defense against rising energy prices. Today's extraordinarily high energy prices provide an urgent need to increase appliance efficiency standards immediately. It is unfortunate that it is taking legal action from the state attorneys general to force federal agencies to implement federal law that was passed years ago. I was disappointed this past session when legislation to improve appliance standards for products not covered by federal law failed."

Congress directed the Department of Energy to strengthen efficiency standards for a wide range of household and commercial products, including furnaces, water heaters, clothes washers, dryers, air conditioners, dishwashers, heat pumps, ranges, ovens, motors and lamps.

Congress established initial efficiency standards for most of the products, and directed the Department of Energy periodically to review and strengthen them. For the remaining products the Department of Energy is to establish the initial efficiency standards and also periodically strengthen them. The Department of Energy is six to thirteen years behind schedule and has not adopted any appliance efficiency standards since January 2001.

Appliance efficiency standards capitalize on improved technology and require that the covered appliances use less electricity, gas or oil while providing the same or improved levels of service and reliability. In the past, both the federal government and industry have agreed that national efficiency standards are among the fairest and most cost-effective way to reduce the use of energy.

Based on the Department of Energy's estimates, the average annual energy savings would meet the total annual energy needs of between 3 million to 12 million American households, depending on how fast the new standards are phased in and what the new standards are. Annual electricity savings alone would approximately equal to the output of 13 - 42 large power plants.

Energy efficiency experts estimate that existing federal appliance efficiency standards are expected by 2010 to lower electricity costs by over $20 billion per year. The new and strengthened standards that Congress required and that the states are suing to implement would increase those savings.

The states wrote to the Department of Energy on July 1, 2005, requesting that it comply with the law and commit to a binding schedule for the establishment of stronger efficiency standards. They alerted the agency that without such a schedule, the states would commence federal litigation. To date, the Department of Energy has not responded to the letter. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York.

JERRY REID, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8545

With Wholesale Gas Prices Falling, Rowe Calls On Gas Stations To Pass Savings To Consumers

September 9, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe today called on gas stations to pass lower wholesale gas prices through to consumers right away.

Rowe commented after reviewing the results of a statewide retail gas price survey conducted Friday morning. "I am disappointed and upset that retail prices remain so high even after wholesale prices have dropped substantially," said Rowe. "Last week, I was in the position of explaining to consumers that gas stations were entitled to pass wholesale price increases through to the consumer, even though higher priced gas had not been delivered yet. This week, I want the stations to know that they cannot have it both ways. Prices that jackrabbit up then snail down will be viewed very critically. Maine consumers are entitled to see wholesale price decreases reflected in the retail price right away."

Rowe said that the Attorney General's Office is continuing its daily monitoring of gas prices at both the wholesale and retail level.

Rowe has also been cooperating with a group of more than 40 state attorneys general to gather more detailed information on the root causes of the recent spike in gas prices.

JESSICA MAURER, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8515

Fraud Fighting Team Warns Seniors...Again

September 30, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe, AARP Maine and TRIAD joined together today to warn senior consumers about potential fraud and identity theft by scam artists hoping to take advantage of the new Medicare-Part D Prescription Drug Benefit.

Beginning on January 2, 2006 the new, voluntary benefit will become available to Maine seniors with Medicare. This coverage will be provided by 18 Medicare approved private companies in Maine, but there are already scams being reported across the country where seniors are contacted either by telephone or in person by someone offering to sell them a benefit card. The sales pitch includes telling the seniors that these cards will be mandatory and they ask for personal information under the guise of registering people for the new program.

Attorney General Rowe said, "Mainers are already receiving fraudulent prescription discount drug calls. One senior in Southern Maine was recently tricked into giving her checking account number and almost immediately lost $299 from her bank account. The rule to always follow is: if the caller asks for your checking account number, your social security number, or your credit card number, hang up."

Beginning October 1, 2005, approved Medicare Part-D companies can begin telemarketing, although door-to-door selling is strictly prohibited. At no time, now or in the future, can any company enroll a senior over the phone. Therefore, anyone trying to sign up a senior over the phone is definitely a scam artist.

"As the new laws take effect, Mainers need to sit down at their kitchen tables and do the math: will this new program help them with their drug costs or not?" said Jud Dolphin, State Director for AARP. "And then they need to check out the company to ensure that they are legitimate. This is the best way to avoid fraud and identity theft," he said.

The group recommends some simple steps any consumer should take to avoid fraud:

  • Don' t give out ANY personal information over the phone
  • Demand written materials from telephone solicitors
  • Don't pay any money to apply for a plan - NO plan should have an application fee

You CANNOT sign up before NOVEMBER 15, 2005

Contact your AAA before you make any plan decisions, 1-877-353-3771 or call 1-800-Medicare or go to www.medicare.gov to ensure the plan you are signing up for is an approved plan.

If you suspect that you have been a victim of a scam, call the Attorney General Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-436-2131, or email consumer.mediation@maine.gov.

CHARLES DOW, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8577 PHYLLIS COHN, AARP, 791-3903 RICKER HAMILTON, DHHS, 822-2150

Sales Tax Cheat To Serve 70 Days

October 4, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced the sales tax fraud conviction and sentencing of Scott Mitchell of New Milford, Connecticut, the former owner of Performance Power Boats, a Saco boat dealership. On September 27, 2005, the York County Superior Court sentenced Mitchell to serve 70 days in jail following his guilty plea to theft of State sales tax funds (class B). Mitchell admitted to failing to turn over to the State Tax Assessor over $97,000 of sales tax money that he collected from customers of boat sales from May 1998 through August 2002.

Justice Paul Fritzsche sentenced Mitchell to three years in jail, with all but 70 days to be suspended, to be followed by two years of probation. At the time of sentencing, Mitchell paid $131,300 in restitution to the State. He is expected to start serving his jail sentence at the York County jail on October 17, 2005.

The investigation of Mitchell's business started in early 2002 with a civil audit of his business records by Maine Revenue Services. When the audit revealed serious discrepancies in what Mitchell reported for boat sales to the State, as opposed to his actual sales, the Criminal Investigations Unit of Maine Revenue Services investigated and the Attorney General's Office prosecuted Mitchell.

Attorney General Rowe said, "Maine's tax laws are not mere suggestions. By pocketing the money paid by customers as sales tax, Mitchell not only stole from his customers, but all the people of Maine."

BILL BAGHDOYAN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8512

Rowe Finds Gas Price Spike Blame Lies Outside Maine; Asks Congressional Delegation For Help

October 13, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe today wrote a letter to the members of Maine's Congressional delegation asking them to use their influence to get the federal government to immediately commission an independent, professional, in-depth study of petroleum markets. Rowe said he believes such a study is necessary to form the basis for fundamental reforms designed to stabilize and rationalize petroleum markets in the interest of American consumers. Rowe said that his office's monitoring of retail and wholesale petroleum prices over the past six weeks had convinced him that the source of the price volatility problem is not in Maine. He pointed instead to refiners and futures market speculators, which are beyond Maine's borders.

Rowe said in his letter: "Current market structures have the effect of enhancing the profits of refiners, traders and speculators while threatening the livelihoods and lives of millions of Americans. Specifically, it appears that current elevated prices and unprecedented market volatility may be traceable to: (1) the increasing concentration of the United States refining industry; (2) permissive rules and oversight governing the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the commodities market where petroleum futures are traded among petroleum companies, speculators, and hedge funds; and (3) the unregulated operations of the off-exchange market in over-the-counter derivatives."

Rowe said, "I will continue to work with other State attorneys general and with Governor Baldacci on state initiatives, but I think our Congressional delegation is in the best position to make progress on the broader market issues."

CHARLES DOW, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8577

Rowe Testifies To Protect State Antitrust Enforcement Authority

October 26, 2005

Charles Dow, Special Assistant Attorney General, 207-626-8577

Attorney General Steve Rowe today testified before the Antitrust Modernization Commission (AMC) in Washington, D.C., in defense of the current system of overlapping state and federal antitrust law enforcement authority. Others testifying before AMC today will argue that the system results in inefficient duplication of efforts. Controversy over the dual system erupted in 2001 when several states and the U.S. Department of Justice settled an antitrust case against Microsoft, while a number of states opted to continue in litigation.

Rowe said to the AMC, "The American system of government and law is founded on respect for and acceptance of diversity and pluralism. This is reflected in our unique brand of federalism, which recognizes the concurrent sovereign jurisdiction of state and federal authorities in many areas." Rowe pointed out that states and federal authorities routinely cooperate on antitrust matters, and that the benefits of their cooperation flow not only to the respective governments, but to businesses and consumers. "Certainly, on occasion (and Microsoft is not the only instance by any means) we have viewed matters from a different perspective. In a given merger, we may care deeply about a local anticompetitive impact overlooked by federal enforcers. Or, we may decide to prosecute a local non-merger matter that was passed over by our federal counterparts. In other instances, we have frankly disagreed with federal enforcers on enforcement decisions involving national or regional matters over which we had concurrent authority, such as Microsoft, or, historically, a significant number of cases during the Reagan era."

Antitrust laws are designed to ensure competition in the free-market system. The AMC was created by Congress in 2002 to study antitrust issues and report back with recommendations to "modernize" the antitrust system. Rowe said, "Antitrust laws are critical to the free-market system in that they protect competition in the marketplace and secure the benefits of competition for all people."

Maine's Most Wanted Environmental Criminal Caught In Massachusetts

November 3, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Harry J. Smith, Jr., an environmental criminal listed on Maine's Most Wanted List, was apprehended this morning at a salvage business in Everett, Massachusetts. In July, 2003, the Superior Court in Washington County ordered Smith, 65, to serve 6 months in jail for violating probation linked to criminal convictions concerning tire stockpiles at his junkyards in Meddybemps, Maine. At the time of his probation revocation, Smith was also free on post-conviction bail following his convictions in February 2003, for hazardous waste crimes committed at the same junkyards in Meddybemps. He was sentenced to one year on the hazardous waste crimes, but appealed the convictions to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The Court denied his appeal on December 2, 2003, and he was ordered to serve his one year sentence. He has to date failed to serve either the six month sentence for the probation violation or the one year sentence for the hazardous waste crimes.

Smith is now in the custody of law enforcement officials in Massachusetts and is scheduled to be arraigned in Chelsea District Court. In the next few days, the Attorney General will arrange for Smith to be returned to Maine, and will likely charge Smith with additional crimes related to his failure to report to jail.

Rowe said, "Through some fabulous police work and a bit of good luck, Smith is finally behind bars where he belongs. Let all who might flaunt our environmental laws and ignore our court orders take note of what our system promises for you."

Smith's capture was spearheaded by Attorney General Detective Charles "Chick" Love with assistance from the Portland office of the U.S. Marshals Service.

LEANNE ROBBIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8581

Maine Wins Again In Court Battle Over Pharmacy Benefits Management

November 9, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday unanimously affirmed the State's lower court win in the case challenging Maine's Unfair Prescription Drug Practices Act (UPDPA). The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the national trade association representing pharmaceutical benefits management companies (PBMs) sued Attorney General Rowe in 2003 alleging that the UPDPA is preempted by federal law; that it would effect a regulatory taking of trade secrets, revenues, and contractual rights; that it violates PBMs' civil rights; and that it is unconstitutional for violations of due process, the Commerce Clause, and freedom of speech. Yesterday's ruling rejects all of those challenges. The UPDPA has been in operation since April of this year.

The UPDPA requires PBMs to disclose to health plans any conflicts of interest, side payments from drug companies, and details about drug switching programs. These requirements are described generally as promoting "transparency" in the PBM industry, that is, they allow the health plan clients of PBMs to see through the otherwise secret arrangements that PBMs had with other market players. The magistrate in the district court summarized the PBM industry in these words: "[A]lthough PBMs afford a valuable bundle of services to benefits providers, they also introduce a layer of fog to the market that prevents benefits managers from fully understanding how best to minimize their net prescription drug costs."

Attorney General Rowe said, "Once again, the Maine Legislature's innovative work on behalf of prescription drug consumers has triumphed over industry challenges. As long as I hold this office, the Attorney General's Office will fight for affordable prescription drugs for Mainers in any court, for as long as it takes."

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

AG Releases Name Of Decedent In Brunswick Police-Involved Shooting

November 18, 2005

The Attorney General today released the name of the person who was killed in a shootout with police yesterday in Brunswick. He was Kim David Niedermann, 54, of Thomaston. The Chief Medical Examiner certified that the cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the neck. The Chief Medical Examiner also found a single gunshot wound to the abdomen.

CHARLES DOW, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8577

Maine #1 In Enforcing Laws Prohibiting Sale Of Tobacco To Minors

November 22, 2005

Attorney General Rowe announced today that a recent study published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice has ranked Maine first in the nation in enforcing laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors. The study ranked 20 states, 10 of the highest performing and 10 of lowest performing in preventing underage tobacco sales, and looked at the effectiveness of 26 enforcement strategies. The Attorney General's Office administers compliance with tobacco sales laws. The study, entitled Best Practices for Enforcing State Laws Prohibiting the Sale of Tobacco to Minors, was conducted by Dr. Joseph R. DiFranza, M.D, and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"It is fabulous to get this national recognition, but the real reward for keeping Maine kids from smoking will be in the long-term cost savings for everyone and life quality improvements for those kids," said Attorney General Rowe.

"When we began enforcing the law prohibiting underage tobacco sales in 1997 Maine had one of the highest youth smoking rates in the country," said Tobacco Enforcement Coordinator John Archard, "Combined with the Department's comprehensive approach to tobacco prevention including education components, activities of local Healthy Maine Partnerships, school health coordinators and media campaigns, and the efforts of the Maine Coalition on Smoking or Health this effort has contributed to the 60% decline in youth smoking in Maine since 1997."

An abstract of the study can be found at: <http://www.jphmp.com/pt/re/jphmp/toc.00124784-200511000-00000.htm;jsessionid=DDzobhYedN6BW3LQ76gbMv8DzTDNgb4PzBCT6k9HXgiRufoQskrc!-181702980!-949856144!9001!-1>

JOHN ARCHARD, TOBACCO CONTROL COORDINATOR (207) 626-8837

AG Files Civil Rights Action Over Racist Assault And Threats On Berwick School Bus

November 22, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed an action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Reginald Theriault, 18, of Springvale, and a second defendant, a 16 year-old Sanford High School student of Acton, as a result of their violent acts and threats against a 13 year-old middle school student based on their biases against his race or color. The complaint was filed in Superior Court in Alfred and requests that the court enjoin Theriault and the 16 year-old defendant from having any contact with the victim and from committing future violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act.

The complaint alleges that on March 3, 2005, the defendants and the victim were passengers on a school bus being transported to home and after-school activities. A number of students began directing racial epithets at the victim, who is African American. Defendants Theriault and the 16 year-old youth, who were at the time students at Noble High School in Berwick, called the victim "nigger." They also told racist jokes in the victim's presence, making reference, among other things, to the Ku Klux Klan. At one point during the bus ride, Theriault placed his hands on the victim's seat, leaned over him in a threatening manner, and threatened to commit a violent act against him. The 16 year-old defendant spat on the victim and hit him in the head and chest.

"No child should be afraid to ride the school bus in Maine. This case combines two ugly features: racial bias and adolescent gang behavior," said Attorney General Rowe. "When our efforts at education fail to curb such behavior, my office will bring enforcement actions to protect Maine students from bias-motivated threats and violence by their schoolmates."

LEANNE ROBBIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8581

Chief Medical Examiner, AG, Seek Assistance In Identifying John Doe #21

November 23, 2005

Chief Medical Examiner Margaret Greenwald, M.D., and Attorney General Steven Rowe today asked the public for assistance in identifying John Doe #21, a dead man recovered by the Coast Guard in the ocean 27 miles off Jonesport on July 24, 2000. A forensic artist and computer enhancement specialist from South Carolina volunteered his efforts to generate a sketch and photo of what the man looked like in life. Greenwald and Rowe released the sketch and photo for the first time in Maine today in the hope that someone will recognize him. Previous efforts by the medical examiner to identify him through fingerprints, DNA, dental records, and personal items have all failed.

A flurry of publicity around the body's discovery in 2000 generated a few phone calls, but John Doe #21 was not identified, and his case was forgottenā€¦except by Dr. Greenwald and the medical examiner's staff. "We all have been frustrated that we can't find out who this man is. Once in awhile we get a lead, but nothing ever pans out," Greenwald said.

In September of this year, Greenwald sent her office administrator, Jim Ferland, to present the case of John Doe #21 to a conference on Missing Persons and Unidentified Human Remains sponsored by the National Institute of Justice. At this conference, Ferland learned about an organization called the Doe Network.

The Doe Network is an international volunteer organization devoted to assisting Law Enforcement in solving cold cases concerning unexplained disappearances and unidentified victims from North America, Australia and Europe. Their mission is to give the nameless back their names and return the missing to their families. The Doe Network also sponsors Project EDAN (Everyone Deserves A Name), which is a group of volunteer forensic artists who donate their time and skills to create reconstructions and age-progressions of the missing and unidentified. The sketch and photo of John Doe #21 were created by Lt. Wesley Neville, of the Florence County (South Carolina) Sheriff's Department. They are currently on display at http://doenetwork.us/cases/704umme.html.

Attorney General Rowe said, "During this holiday season, I am hopeful that we will give this man a name and a family. I am so thankful for the humanity and hard work of Dr. Greenwald and her staff, as well as the assistance of the Doe Network and Lt. Neville."

Due to the state of the remains, the cause and manner of death could not be determined. The body was cremated, and the remains were buried in an Auburn Cemetery at State expense in May, 2001. Greenwald and Rowe encourage anyone with information that may be helpful in identifying John Doe #21 to contact Jim Ferland at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, by calling 624-7180, or e-mailing him at James.Ferland@maine.gov.

JIM FERLAND, ADMINISTRATOR, MEDICAL EXAMINER'S OFFICE, 207-624-7180 CHARLES DOW, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8577

AG Releases Information Regarding Weekend Murder Of Fayette Girl

November 30, 2005

The Attorney General's Office today released the following information regarding the weekend murder of a Fayette girl:

The Attorney General has today charged a juvenile, Patrick Armstrong (DOB 4/4/91), with the murder of Marlee Johnston on November 26, 2005. The Attorney General's Office expects that Armstrong will appear in Augusta District Court tomorrow, December 1, at 8:30 a.m.

Deputy Attorney General William R. Stokes, Chief of the Criminal Division, will be available to reporters at 11:30 a.m. today at the Attorney General's Office on the 6th floor of the Cross State Office Building in Augusta.

WILLIAM R. STOKES, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8571

Attorney General Rowe Kicks Off Media Campaign Aimed At Keeping Alcohol Out Of The Hands Of Minors

December 5, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that two new public service announcements (PSAs) aimed at keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors will begin airing today. The PSAs were produced by the Office of the Attorney General and are an attempt to educate adults about the importance of underage drinking laws.

Rowe said, "As we head into the holiday season, many youth will attend parties with adult friends and family members. It is critically important for adults to realize that providing alcohol to minors is illegal and can have tragic consequences."

The PSAs remind adults that underage drinking laws protect children. One PSA tells parents that providing alcohol to minors in violation of the law teaches teens that they can choose which laws to obey. The other focuses on the prevalence of youth drinking in Maine and the effect alcohol has on developing brains.

Rowe hopes the PSAs will raise awareness of the extent of the problem of underage drinking in Maine and will make adults think twice before they provide alcohol to minors. "If the average Maine child is taking his or her first drink of alcohol at age 13 and if one sixth of high school freshmen are binge drinking each month, we have a serious problem. The earlier a child starts drinking, the greater the chances of alcohol addiction, and the greater the chances the child will suffer brain damage. These very young children aren't buying alcohol in stores; they're getting it from adults. We have to stop the flow of alcohol to our children."

Rowe praised District Attorneys in Maine for their commitment to prosecute adults who provide alcohol to minors. He also praised the efforts of the law enforcement agencies that are actively working with community leaders to address underage drinking. Rowe stressed that stopping underage drinking starts with the whole community.

The PSAs have been provided to Maine radio stations and will be aired on stations across Maine throughout December. The PSAs can be downloaded at:

An alcohol fact sheet is attached to this press release. Attorney General Rowe will be available for live interviews at 10:00 a.m. on December 5, 2005 at the Office of the Attorney General in Augusta. Burton Cross State Office Building, 6th Floor.

Note: December 5th is Alcohol Awareness Day and December 5th through the 9th is Alcohol Awareness Week.

JESSICA MAURER, SPECIAL ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8515

Attorney General Rowe Sues Michigan Company Over Deceptive Practices In Selling Labor Law Posters

December 7, 2005

Carolyn A. Silsby, Attorney General's Office, 207-626-8829

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that he has filed suit on behalf of the State against a Michigan corporation, The Mandatory Poster Agency, Inc., d/b/a The Maine Labor Law Poster Service, and its principals (collectively, "MPA") for their deceptive practices in selling labor law posters to Maine businesses.

Labor law posters contain notices that employers are required by state and federal laws to display in the workplace where workers can see them. Although these posters are available free of charge, MPA's solicitation materials are designed to look like they are from a government agency in Augusta that requires the business to purchase a poster to comply with the law. The Augusta address used by MPA is to a personal mailbox; MPA does not have an office in Maine. Attorney General Rowe seeks to enjoin MPA from using deceptive solicitation materials and to recover refunds and reimbursement for shipping charges to those who purchased posters, civil penalties, and costs. "Maine businesses face many financial challenges. In trying to comply with labor laws, businesses should not be tricked into paying for a product that is available to them for free," Rowe said.

Labor law posters that are required by the State of Maine can be obtained free of charge by calling 1-800-872-3838 or 624-9818, or by visiting the Maine Department of Labor's web site at http://www.maine.gov/labor/bls/posters. Labor law posters that are required by the federal government can be obtained free of charge by visiting the U.S. Department of Labor's web site at http://www.dol.gov/osbp/sbrefa/poster/main.htm

AG Finds That Officers Involved Brunswick Shooting Were Legally Justified

December 12, 2005

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a Sagadahoc County deputy sheriff, Chad Carleton, and a Brunswick police officer, Paul Hansen, were legally justified when they shot and killed Kim D. Niedermann, 58, of Cushing, the evening of November 17, 2005, at Cook's Corner in Brunswick.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by the officers in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force in the performance of the officer's duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person or at a moving vehicle is also deadly force under Maine law.)

Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on the investigation and legal analysis conducted by his office, both Deputy Carleton and Officer Hansen actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force had been and was being used by Niedermann against them, and that citizens in the immediate vicinity were imminently threatened with death or serious bodily injury by the actions of Niedermann. Further, based on the investigation and legal analysis, Attorney General Rowe determined that both Deputy Carleton and Officer Hansen actually and reasonably believed that deadly force on their part was necessary to protect themselves and to counter the imminent threat against others.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

Armed Robbery

On November 17, 2005, at about 5:30 p.m., an armed robbery occurred at a pharmacy in Waldoboro in which significant amounts of narcotics were stolen. The assailant, later identified as Kim D. Niedermann, a convicted felon, wore a mask and brandished a handgun. He was observed by a citizen leaving the area in a purple PT Cruiser. A police broadcast was issued.

First Vehicle Pursuit

At about 6:30 p.m., a uniformed Wiscasset police officer on patrol in a marked police vehicle spotted the purple PT Cruiser traveling south on Route 1. The officer stopped the vehicle and ordered the driver to show his hands. Instead, the driver, later identified as Niedermann, fled in the vehicle. The officer ran back to his cruiser and gave chase. The chase proceeded south along Route 1 and reached speeds of 100 m.p.h. Deputy Sheriff Chad Carleton of Sagadahoc County deployed spike mats on Route 1 in Woolwich. The Niedermann vehicle drove over the spikes, deflating a front tire. This resulted in a significant reduction in the vehicle's speed.

Shots Fired in Bath

Niedermann exited Route 1 in Bath and drove his vehicle into a shopping plaza, which was heavily occupied by patrons. By that time, Deputy Carleton, as well as a Bath police sergeant and a second patrol deputy, had joined the pursuit. During a continuing effort to elude the officers, Niedermann discharged a handgun three separate times at the officers. Three rounds struck Carleton's cruiser, one round struck the second deputy's cruiser, and another round struck the Bath officer's cruiser. On one of these occasions, Niedermann got out of his car and fired. None of the incidents resulted in the officers returning fire because they concluded that innocent patrons in the shopping plaza would be in peril.

Carjacking and Second Vehicle Pursuit

Niedermann abandoned the disabled PT Cruiser after confronting a woman driving a Subaru in the plaza parking lot and stealing her car. Niedermann ordered the woman from the vehicle at gunpoint and transferred items from the PT Cruiser to the Subaru, including firearms, ammunition, the stolen narcotics, and personal items. Niedermann then fled the shopping plaza in the Subaru, again in a southerly direction on Route 1. The officers gave chase. As Niedermann approached the Cook's Corner exit in Brunswick, a Brunswick police lieutenant deployed spike mats. The Subaru drove over the spikes, which resulted in the deflation of both front tires. The Subaru continued on to the Cook's Corner exit, operating on flat tires and then rims as the tires shredded. The vehicle drove into the parking lot of a convenience store in a small plaza at Cook's Corner and came to a stop between two gas pump islands. In addition to the convenience store, two other businesses were open and there were patrons in the plaza, as well as patrons with three vehicles at the gas pumps.

The Shooting

Deputy Carleton, who had assumed the lead pursuit position, brought his cruiser to a stop just inside the entrance to the parking lot of the convenience store and got out of the vehicle. In the meantime, Officer Paul Hansen of the Brunswick Police Department had arrived at the location and taken a position on foot next to the parking lot. Niedermann got out of the Subaru armed with a handgun, ignored commands by Deputy Carleton to drop the weapon, and started shooting the handgun -- later identified as a .45 semi-automatic pistol -- at the officers. Niedermann was standing between the Subaru and another vehicle at the gas pumps. Deputy Carleton immediately returned fire with a shotgun but there was no visible effect on Niedermann. Carleton was struck in the hip by one of the rounds fired by Niedermann after the bullet struck and split a pepper spray canister on his duty belt. Carleton abandoned the shotgun and drew his service weapon while getting closer to Niedermann. He fired two rounds at Niedermann. At the same time, Officer Hansen, armed with his service weapon, fired four rounds at Niedermann. Deputy Carleton was 54 feet from Niedermann, and the distance between Officer Hansen and Niedermann was 112 feet. Both service weapons were .40 caliber pistols. Niedermann was struck twice -- once in the abdomen and once in the neck -- and killed. Deputy Carleton's injury was superficial, a result of the round's impact being greatly diminished when it struck the canister on his belt. It was later determined that Niedermann fired at least six rounds at the officers. It was also determined that Niedermann had in his possession four firearms, seven knives, a stun gun, over 300 rounds of ammunition for the firearms, and three handcuff keys -- two on a key ring and one pinned to the inside of his shirt.

Investigation

Four detectives from the Office of the Attorney General went to the scene of the shooting to conduct the investigation. They were assisted by detectives from the State Police and the Brunswick Police Department, as well as forensic specialists from the State Police. In addition to several police officers, at least 16 citizens witnessed the exchange of gunfire between Niedermann and the two officers. Both the Sagadahoc County Sheriff's Office and the Brunswick Police Department cooperated fully with the investigation. Both agencies are conducting their own departmental reviews of the incident.

Charles Dow, Director, Communications & Legislative Affairs, 207-626-8577

Fraud Fighting Team Warns Seniors...Again

December 21, 2005

Note: We are re-releasing this today because the State has received several calls today from Mainers who say they were contacted by telemarketers saying they are working for the MaineCare program and asking for a $200 fee. While the State is making some outgoing calls to seniors to assist them in qualifying for Medicare Part B premium assistance, the State callers are NOT asking for money.

Potential fraud associated with new Medicare-Part D Program

Attorney General Steven Rowe, AARP Maine and TRIAD joined together today to warn senior consumers about potential fraud and identity theft by scam artists hoping to take advantage of the new Medicare-Part D Prescription Drug Benefit.

Beginning on January 2, 2006 the new, voluntary benefit will become available to Maine seniors with Medicare. This coverage will be provided by 18 Medicare approved private companies in Maine, but there are already scams being reported across the country where seniors are contacted either by telephone or in person by someone offering to sell them a benefit card. The sales pitch includes telling the seniors that these cards will be mandatory and they ask for personal information under the guise of registering people for the new program.

Attorney General Rowe said, "Mainers are already receiving fraudulent prescription discount drug calls. One senior in Southern Maine was recently tricked into giving her checking account number and almost immediately lost $299 from her bank account. The rule to always follow is: if the caller asks for your checking account number, your social security number, or your credit card number, hang up."

Beginning October 1, 2005, approved Medicare Part-D companies can begin telemarketing, although door-to-door selling is strictly prohibited. At no time, now or in the future, can any company enroll a senior over the phone. "As the new laws take effect, Mainers need to sit down at their kitchen tables and do the math: will this new program help them with their drug costs or not?" said Jud Dolphin, State Director for AARP. "And then they need to check out the company to ensure that they are legitimate. This is the best way to avoid fraud and identity theft," he said.

The group recommends some simple steps any consumer should take to avoid fraud:

  • Don' t give out ANY personal information over the phone
  • Demand written materials from telephone solicitors
  • Don't pay any money to apply for a plan - NO plan should have an application fee

You CANNOT sign up before NOVEMBER 15, 2005

Contact your Area Agency on Aging before you make any plan decisions, 1-877-353-3771 or call 1-800-Medicare or go to www.medicare.gov to ensure the plan you are signing up for is an approved plan.

If you suspect that you have been a victim of a scam, call the Attorney General Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-436-2131, or email consumer.mediation@maine.gov.

CHARLES DOW, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8577 PHYLLIS COHN, AARP, 791-3903 RICKER HAMILTON, DHHS, 822-2150

State Settles Salmon Aquaculture Antitrust Suit

December 22, 2005

The Office of the Attorney General announced today that the state has settled an antitrust suit challenging the acquisition of a number of salmon aquaculture lease sites in Washington and Hancock Counties by Cooke Aquaculture Inc. Cooke plans to acquire the sites from Stolt Sea Farms, Inc. The acquisition would have placed Cooke in a virtual monopoly position, controlling most of the lease sites in the State suitable for raising salmon. The settlement, embodied in a court ordered consent decree, requires Cooke to surrender its leasehold interest in four specified aquaculture sites to the Department of Marine Resources, as a means of bringing the company into compliance with a statutory acreage limit as well as antitrust laws. In addition, Cooke is required to divest or sell its interest in two significant salmon aquaculture sites in Cobscook Bay, known as Prince Cove and Rodger's Island, within six months.

Salmon aquaculture is the fastest growing food production industry in the world. In Maine and neighboring New Brunswick, the industry has experienced a series of shocks in recent years as a result of disease outbreaks, worldwide competition and environmental and political controversy. A number of companies have sold their assets in Maine, and there has been a trend toward consolidation and vertical integration. "We wish Cooke well," said Assistant Attorney General Francis Ackerman, who handled the case. "If they can expand production sufficiently, they have assured us they will reopen the Machiasport processing plant, a facility essential to the future of the industry in Maine. At the same time, we hope to encourage the emergence of new players in the industry. Monopoly is never healthy, and that is why we have antitrust laws." The Attorney General praised employees of the Department of Marine Resources for their work on the case and contribution to the settlement.

Jessica Maurer, Attorney General's Office, 207-626-8515

AG Rowe Announces Multi-State Settlement Against Pharmaceutical Company Serono Inc.

December 23, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that the State Medicaid Program ("MaineCare") has received a check for $207,334.29 as part of a final settlement in a multi-state action against the pharmaceutical company Serono Inc, a Swiss corporation with offices in Rockland, Massachusetts. Maine joined with 41 states and the District of Columbia in charging that Serono had promoted the drug Serostim for the treatment of HIV-wasting, an AIDS related syndrome, when the drug had not been approved by the FDA for that purpose. The States also alleged that Serono had induced physicians to prescribe Serostim for HIV-wasting by offering the physicians benefits such as trips to France. The settlement includes restitution and penalties, and will reimburse the State for claims paid to Serono for dispensing Serostim for the unauthorized treatment between 1997 and 2004.

"Serono abused its position of trust by using an unproven drug on people suffering with HIV to obtain funds from Medicaid and Medicare," said Rowe. "Our Healthcare Crimes Unit will work with other States in bringing enforcement actions against pharmaceutical companies which defraud the Medicaid programs."

This state settlement was reached as part of a federal civil and criminal settlement negotiated by the United States Attorney's Office in Boston. Under the federal agreement, Serono Laboratories, Inc., a U.S. affiliate of Serono S.A., pled guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud the United States and kickback charges. As a result of its criminal conviction, Serono Laboratories will be excluded from participation in all healthcare programs for at least five years. Serostim will remain eligible for reimbursement by state Medicaid programs.

Finally, as part of the settlement, all U.S. affiliates of Serono have entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement ("CIA") with the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

MARCI A. ALEXANDER, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8555

Baxter State Park Authority Names Bissell New Park Director

December 28, 2005

Today at a meeting at Baxter State Park headquarters in Millinocket, the three members of the Baxter State Park Authority (Attorney General Steve Rowe, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Dan Martin, and Maine Forest Service Director Alec Giffen) appointed Jensen Bissell of Milo as the new Park Director.

Bissell has more than 30 years of experience in resource management and has served as Resource Manager of Baxter State Park since 1987.

The Baxter State Park Authority spent two months reviewing more than 70 applications and conducting personal interviews with a number of the applicants. Authority Chair Steve Rowe noted that the quantity and quality of the applicants speaks well of the park and of former director Buzz Caverly's exceptional stewardship.

Rowe said, "The Authority carefully reviewed all applications and spent considerable time interviewing several applicants. In the end, we were swayed by Jensen Bissell's strong resource and operational management skills as well as his keen sense of devotion to Baxter State Park." Rowe noted that, in addition to performing park resource management duties over the years, Bissell has also participated in the development of park policy, planning, personnel, and operational decisions.

Rowe said, "Jensen has done a superb job as Resource Manager, and we expect that he will do the same as Director."

STEVE ROWE, ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8599

Maine Joins Agreement With Western Union Over Fraud-Induced Transfers

December 29, 2005

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that Maine has joined 46 other states and the District of Columbia in an agreement with Western Union Financial Services, Inc., aimed at preventing the use of the company's wire transfer services by fraudulent schemers. Western Union will, among other things, fund an $8.1 million national consumer awareness program and set out very prominent consumer warnings on the forms used by consumers to wire money. Western Union Financial Services is a wholly-owned subsidiary of First Data Corporation, based in Greenwood Village, Colorado.

The agreement seeks to prevent the high number of "fraud-induced transfers": money wired by consumers to fraudulent telemarketers, email solicitors, and other scam artists. A common example is a "lottery" scam, in which scammers tell vulnerable consumers that they have won a large sum of money but must pay taxes or other charges in order to claim the winnings. The victims are then directed to send the money by wire because wire transfers are fast, there are transfer agents in most communities, and funds can be picked up in multiple locations.

The problem of fraud-induced transfers is substantial. Based on a survey conducted by seven states, it was estimated that over 29 percent of Western Union transfers in excess of $300 from the U.S. to Canada were fraud-induced, representing 58 percent of the total dollars transferred and an average of over $1,500 per transfer. Total American consumer losses to Canada in the year 2002 alone were estimated at $113 million.

In response to these findings, states began to negotiate an agreement with Western Union that would provide prominent warnings to consumers who transfer money by wire, education of high-risk consumers, and changes in company practices.

Among the terms of the Agreement just reached are:

  • Prominent warnings to consumers of the dangers of fraud-induced wire transfers must appear in English and Spanish on a new front page of Western Union's Send Form, and comparable warnings are required for telephone and Web transfers.
  • Western Union will pay $8.1 million over five years for national peer-counseling programs to be overseen by the AARP Foundation and designed to reach at least 3 million consumers.
  • Western Union will reimburse the amount of any transfer plus fees to any consumer who requests, prior to pickup, that a transfer be stopped and who reasonably claims that the transfer was fraud-induced.
  • Western Union will send monthly anti-fraud emails to its agents, revise the company's agent training video and manual, and provide enhanced training to agents with elevated fraud levels at their locations.
  • Western Union will terminate agents who are involved in fraud, and suspend or terminate agents who do not take reasonable steps requested by Western Union to reduce fraud.
  • Western Union will block wire transfers from specific consumers or to specific recipients when Western Union receives information from a state that there is reason to believe that fraud will occur, until such time as the consumer is counseled on fraud and requests resumption of the transfer.
  • Western Union will pay $400,000 in costs to be shared among the negotiating states of Arkansas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Attorney General Rowe underscored the importance of enlisting "third parties" like Western Union in the fight against consumer fraud. Rowe said, "Western Union is doing the right thing by trying to prevent their service from being used to perpetrate fraud. We encourage other businesses to think about ways they can prevent fraud, especially against the elderly."

Rowe said, "An elderly man from rural Maine came in the office just last week, having lost around $130,000 to foreign lottery scammers over the past few months, some of it using Western Union. Everyone reading these words should tell their vulnerable loved ones that these foreign lotteries are scams."

JAMES McKENNA, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8842

State Appeals Federal Court Ruling In Micmac Case

January 4, 2006

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that the State has appealed a federal court decision that struck down Maine's 1989 Micmac Settlement Act and declared that the Maine Human Rights Act may not be enforced against the Aroostook Band of Micmacs. The decision seems to leave open the possibility that the Band is exempt from other state laws. The potentially far-reaching impact of the ruling led Rowe to decide to seek review by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Rowe said, "Although the specific relief ordered by the court relates solely to the Maine Human Rights and Whistleblower Protection Acts, parts of the decision could be used to argue that the Band is exempt from other state laws as well. We believe it is important to have the Court of Appeals review the decision. Hopefully, that review will clarify the legal nature of the Band's relationship with the State. In the end, we must all work together and live as neighbors. Understanding the legal landscape is key to moving forward."

Rowe noted that all five members of the Maine Human Rights Commission favored an appeal of the lower court's decision.

The decision being appealed may be found at: http://www.med.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Kravchuk/2005/MJK120520051-03cv24Aroostookv_Ryan.pdf

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

State, 1,000+ Maine Consumers To Get Over $1 Million From Ameriquest Settlement

January 23, 2006

Attorney General Steve Rowe and Consumer Credit Regulation Director Will Lund today announced that Maine has joined other states in settling claims against Ameriquest Mortgage Company, the nation's largest sub-prime lender and the second-largest mortgage lender in Maine. Ameriquest has agreed to pay $295 million to consumers, including 1,124 from Maine, who were harmed by unfair practices and to make sweeping lending reforms. Affected consumers will be contacted by mail. Ameriquest will also pay a total of $30 million to the 49 participating states and the District of Columbia for costs of the investigation and consumer education and enforcement. Ameriquest admitted no wrongdoing. The $325 million total payment ranks as the second-largest state or federal consumer protection settlement in history, after the $484 million predatory lending agreement reached in 2002 between most states and Household Finance Corporation.

Today's settlement concludes about two years of investigation and negotiation by the attorneys general, mortgage lending regulators, and other prosecutors. Consumer complaints sparked the investigation, which led officials to allege that Ameriquest and its agents inadequately disclosed prepayment penalties, discount points and other loan terms; improperly influenced and inflated appraisals; and encouraged borrowers to lie about income or employment to obtain loans.

Attorney General Rowe said, "The mortgage is a necessity for most Maine homeowners. Mainers have a right to fair mortgages, fairly negotiated, but they weren't getting them from Ameriquest. Ameriquest employees deceived consumers and used high-pressure tactics to sell mortgage refinances due to a lopsided commission structure. This agreement should change all that."

"Maine consumers have complained to our office about many of the practices addressed in this settlement," said Will Lund, Director of the Office of Consumer Credit Regulation. "This agreement will compensate those consumers and will serve as notice that such practices will not be tolerated." Lund said that 15 Maine consumers have filed complaints against Ameriquest in the past two years.

Under the agreement, Ameriquest is required to:

  • Provide the same interest rates and discount points for similarly-situated consumers.
  • Provide full disclosure regarding interest rates, discount points, prepayment penalties, and other loan or refinancing terms.
  • Overhaul its appraisal practices by removing branch offices and sales personnel from the appraiser selection process, instituting an automated system to select appraisers from panels created in each state, limiting the company's ability to get second opinions on appraisals, and prohibiting Ameriquest employees from influencing appraisals.
  • Provide accurate good faith estimates.
  • Limit prepayment penalty periods on variable rate mortgages.
  • Use independent loan closers.
  • Adopt policies to protect whistle-blowers and facilitate reporting of improper conduct.

The agreement forbids Ameriquest from:

  • Paying sales personnel incentives to include prepayment penalties or any other fees or charges in the mortgages.
  • Encouraging prospective borrowers to falsify income sources or income levels.
  • Engaging in refinancing solicitations during the first 24 months of a loan, unless the borrower is considering refinancing.

The agreement also provides for appointment of an independent monitor to oversee Ameriquest's compliance with the settlement terms. The monitor will have broad authority to examine Ameriquest's lending operations, including access to documents and personnel. The monitor will submit periodic compliance reports to the Attorneys General during the next five years. Ameriquest will pay the monitor's costs.

LINDA J. CONTI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8591 WILL LUND, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF CONSUMER CREDIT REGULATION, 207-624-8527

Governor And Attorney General Kick Off National Teen Dating Violence Awareness And Prevention Week

February 6, 2006

Today State officials including Governor John Baldacci, Attorney General Steve Rowe and Public Safety Commissioner Michael Cantara highlighted the issue of teen dating violence at a student forum at Winthrop High School. This was just one of many events going on in high schools throughout Maine during National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Week. Teen dating violence is a serious issue that affects many students in our schools. One in four dating relationships during high school are verbally, emotionally, physically and/or sexually abusive. Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls have had boyfriends threaten violence or self-harm when presented with a break-up.

This week, in coordination with domestic violence and sexual assault school based educators, 11 high schools throughout Maine are using a new toolkit developed by the American Bar Association (ABA) to address issues of teen dating. The toolkits and school based educators will help school officials actively engage youth in discussions about what healthy relationships are and what they are not.

By attending the forum at Winthrop High School, Maine's top officials hope to emphasize how important it is for adults to discuss this issue with young people. Governor John E. Baldacci said, "Teen dating violence is an issue that should concern every parent, educator, and community. We have a responsibility as state leaders and mentors to our young people to work with them in addressing the complex and difficult issues surrounding teenage relationship abuse."

"Young people need to learn in an environment free of fear and intimidation," said Attorney General Steve Rowe. "Fear and intimidation have no place in school or in dating relationships. Real friends do not put others down by calling them stupid or worthless. That's not friendship; it's abuse." Rowe urged young men in particular to break the cycle of violence by treating their dating partners with respect and rejecting the macho, possessive stereotypes of the past.

Public Safety Commissioner Michael P. Cantara told the students, "No one has the right to physically, sexually or emotionally harm you. You have the power to set boundaries and to maintain control over your own well being. If you feel someone has crossed the line, seek help from your parents, teachers and others because help is always available."

Students attending the forum saw part of a video produced by the ABA and heard from Civil Rights Team members and Peer Helpers about relationship "red flags." While the focus was on trying to help teens think about what constitutes a healthy relationship, speakers stressed that help is available for teens who are experiencing abuse. Students received a wallet sized card that contains hotline numbers where they can find help.

The member agencies of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault provide free, comprehensive school based education about teen dating violence as well as victim services to youth and their parents. A listing of all member agencies of both coalitions is attached.


National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week

Participating Schools

The American Bar Association has produced a Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Toolkit and has made 15 toolkits available to each state. 11 of these toolkits have been distributed to schools throughout Maine who will be using them in cooperation with local domestic violence and sexual assault school based educators. Please contact the designated person at the listed high school to find out how the Toolkit will be utilized by that school.

Caribou High School, Caribou
Allison Ladner
207-493-4260

Penquis Valley High School, Milo
Phil Brown
207-943-7346

Central Aroostook High School, Mars Hill
Sue Finland
207-425-2811

Scarborough High School, Scarborough
Patricia Conant
207-730-5024

Ellsworth High School, Ellsworth
Gil Jameson
207-667-4722 ext.3355

Thornton Academy, Saco
Caron Sabo
207-282-3361

Georges Valley High School, Thomaston
Martha Brown
207-354-2503 ext. 205

Wells High School, Wells
Nancy Cotty
207-646-7011 ext. 2218

John Bapst High School, Bangor
Colleen Grover
207-947-0313

Winthrop High School, Winthrop
Eric Turner
207-377-2264

Leavitt High School, Turner
Sarah Duchette
207-225-3533

While there were only a limited number of Toolkits to distribute throughout the State, State officials have notified all high schools about National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week and have encouraged schools to work with domestic violence and sexual assault school based educators in their area to address this important topic with their students.

CRYSTAL CANNEY, GOVERNOR'S PRESS SECRETARY, 207-287-3531 JESSICA MAURER, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8515

Maine And Four Other States Challenge U.S. Govt Over Constitutionality Of Medicare Drug Benefit

March 3, 2006

Attorney General Steve Rowe and Governor John Baldacci today announced that Maine joined four other states in challenging the constitutionality of provisions requiring states to pay part of the cost of the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. The challenge was filed in the United States Supreme Court today. Ten other states joined in a brief supporting the five petitioning states.

The new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit program took effect on January 1, 2006. It is administered by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ("CMS"). The program provides optional outpatient prescription drug coverage to all Medicare beneficiaries, including individuals (known as "dual eligibles") who previously received prescription drug coverage under the states' Medicaid programs.

Congress shifted a large portion of the expense of this new federal program to the states. The new Medicare law requires that states contribute to financing the new prescription drug benefit for dual eligibles by remitting to the federal government the savings that Congress had anticipated states would realize from no longer providing prescription drug coverage for these individuals under their Medicaid programs. The payment has become known as the "clawback."

Based on the latest clawback payment amounts for Maine, the State is expected to pay $3 million more to CMS this fiscal year than we would have paid for the dual eligibles under MaineCare (Maine's Medicaid program). Next fiscal year, the additional cost is expected to be more than $17 million. By 2010, the additional annual amount is expected to total more than $35 million.

The states' lawsuit claims that the clawback scheme taxes the states and commandeers the state legislative power in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. That amendment provides: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The lawsuit claims the clawback also violates the Guarantee Clause of the federal Constitution because it infringes upon essential functions of state government, and the autonomy of state government. The suit alleges that the clawback reduces the authority of state legislatures over their budgets and delivers that authority into the hands of agents of the federal government.

Attorney General Rowe said, "The clawback ignores the system of 'dual sovereignty' that is ingrained in our federal Constitution. Congress treats states as agents of the federal government, rather than as separate sovereigns in their own right."

Rowe noted that "The clawback requires state legislatures to collect, allocate, and remit state funds to the federal government to operate a purely federal program. This violates the intergovernmental tax-immunity doctrine grounded in the Tenth Amendment of our federal Constitution."

In comparing the Medicare clawback to state Medicaid payments, Rowe stated, "Congress may put conditions on the receipt of federal funds by states. A good example is the Medicaid program. State compliance with certain requirements is a condition for state participation in the Medicaid program and the receipt of federal Medicaid funding. In the new Medicare law, however, Congress commands that states pay certain amounts for a purely federal program. If those state payments are not made, the federal government can offset the amount owed against the states' share of the federal Medicaid funding that they would have received."

Governor Baldacci said, "We should not have to pay a clawback. It was a process that was supposed to save money but ended up costing states money."

The states challenging the clawback are Maine, Texas, New Jersey, Missouri and Kentucky. The states filing a brief in support of the challenge are Arizona, Alaska, Connecticut, Kansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Vermont.

CHARLES DOW, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8577 CRYSTAL CANNEY, GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, 207-287-5086

AG, State Police Close Investigation Of 2003 New Sweden Poisonings; Conclude Bondeson Acted Alone

April 18, 2006

Today in Bangor, Assistant Attorney General William R. Stokes, Chief of the Criminal Division, and Colonel Craig A. Poulin, Chief of the Maine State Police, held a news conference at which Stokes read the following statement regarding the investigation of the 2003 New Sweden poisonings:

"On Sunday April 27, 2003, more than a dozen members of the Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church in New Sweden, Maine, became very ill after consuming light refreshments and coffee at the conclusion of the morning worship service. Several members of the church, including Walter Reid Morrill, became ill and were admitted to the Cary Medical Center in Caribou.

"During the early morning hours of Monday, April 28, 2003, Walter Reid Morrill died. Physicians at the Cary Medical Center informed the Maine State Police that it was suspected that the affected members of the church had ingested a poison. Members of the church were interviewed and the common denominator appeared to be that everyone who had become ill had consumed coffee served at the conclusion of the morning worship service on April 27, 2003.

"On Monday, April 28, 2003, investigators from the Maine State Police and the Maine Bureau of Public Health responded to New Sweden to investigate the incident at the Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church. The investigators recovered water samples and numerous items reportedly used in the preparation and serving of the coffee. These items were submitted to the Maine Bureau of Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory for analysis. "On Tuesday, April 29, 2003, detectives with the Maine State Police learned that extremely high levels of arsenic had been found to be present in a liquid coffee sample that had been collected from the church on April 27, 2003. Also on April 29, 2003, Dr. Michael Ferenc, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maine, performed an autopsy on Walter Reid Morrill. After receiving the results of the laboratory testing, he concluded that Mr. Morrill died as a result of acute arsenic poisoning and ruled the death a homicide. During the course of the investigation, the Maine Bureau of Health as well as a private lab - National Medical Services of Pennsylvania- conducted numerous laboratory tests. Those tests confirmed the following: the source of arsenic was in the brewed coffee. Tests done on the tap water, the sugar and unbrewed coffee found at the scene were all negative. Abnormally high levels of arsenic were also confirmed in biological samples from the surviving victims. The investigation into this case produced no evidence supporting the conclusion that the introduction of the substance (later determined to be arsenic) into the coffee was accidental.

"On Friday, May 2, 2003, detectives with the Maine State Police were dispatched to a shooting that had occurred at the Daniel and Norma Bondeson residence located at 113 Bondeson Road in Woodland, Maine. Upon arriving at the residence, officers found Daniel Bondeson, who had sustained a single gunshot wound. Mr. Bondeson was transported to the Cary Medical Center in Caribou where he later died. While at the Bondeson home, detectives observed a handwritten note on the kitchen table, which appeared to the authored by Daniel Bondeson. Based upon the contents of that note, investigators were satisfied that Mr. Daniel Bondeson was involved in the poisoning incident at the Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church on April 27, 2003.

"On May 5, 2003, Dr. Michael Ferenc performed an autopsy upon Daniel Bondeson and determined that that cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest. Dr. Ferenc ruled Daniel Bondeson's death to be a suicide.

"Following Daniel Bondeson's death, the investigation into the poisoning incident continued in an effort to determine whether persons in addition to Daniel Bondeson may have been involved.

"Through the Grand Jury process, we have now had the opportunity to examine evidence that was previously unavailable to us, but which we cannot disclose because of Grand Jury secrecy requirements. Based upon that previously unavailable information, and the information gathered through the investigation over the last three years, we have concluded that there is insufficient evidence at this time to believe that anyone other than Daniel Bondeson was involved in the arsenic poisoning at the Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church in New Sweden, Maine on April 27, 2003.

"We are now satisfied that on the morning of Sunday April 27, 2003, Daniel Bondeson drove alone to the Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church in New Sweden and there entered the kitchen while the members of the congregation were attending the worship service. While inside the kitchen, Daniel Bondeson poured an undetermined amount of liquid arsenic into the percolator and the brewed coffee. He then left the building.

"We are now satisfied that the source of the arsenic was a chemical container located at the Bondeson farm. That container has been recovered.

"We have met with members of the church and family members of the victims of the poisoning to give them an update on the investigation and our conclusions.

"No further investigative efforts are planned in connection with this case."

CHARLES DOW, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8577 STEVE McCAUSLAND, STATE POLICE, 207-626-3811 (office); 207-441-6216 (cell)

AG Files In State Court To Enforce Tobacco Settlement

April 19, 2006

Attorney General Steve Rowe today filed court papers against the nation's major tobacco companies asking the Kennebec County Superior Court to find that Maine diligently enforced the laws it passed under the 1998 tobacco settlement agreement and that it is entitled to its full annual payment of approximately $50 million. Some tobacco companies withheld approximately 18% of payments due and disbursed to the states this week. Maine received almost $44.5 million from the companies this week.

The companies claim that their withholding is based on the so-called Non-Participating Manufacturers (NPM) adjustment and last month's determination by an economic firm that the settlement agreement was a significant factor in the 2003 loss in market share experienced by cigarette manufacturers that joined the settlement agreement. The State contends that it is entitled to its full annual payment because it has diligently enforced laws requiring cigarette manufacturers that did not participate in the settlement to pay into escrow accounts.

Attorney General Rowe said, "The story of Maine's work on the tobacco settlement is a true success story, and we're anxious to tell the court about it and get our share of the money back. Maine has an impeccable record of upholding our end of the settlement agreement. Our enforcement has been more than diligent; it has been dogged and determined. In addition, the Maine Legislature responsibly allocated the money for health purposes, and Maine schools and communities have created strong partnerships that will have lasting public health benefits for Maine people."

Maine's success in tobacco prevention efforts was cited in today's court filing, authored by Assistant Attorneys General Peter LaFond and Christopher Taub: "Each year, the American Lung Association (the "ALA") evaluates each state on its efforts to protect the public from the hazards of tobacco products. In 2005, Maine became the first state ever to receive straight "As" in all of the ALA's categories."


Background info on the Non-Participating Manufacturer (NPM) Adjustment:

Under the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached in 1998 between states and the "participating manufacturers" (now principally Philip Morris USA, Reynolds American, and Lorillard, plus many smaller companies), the participating manufacturers are required to make annual payments to the states in perpetuity. But payments are potentially subject to certain adjustments that can increase or decrease total payments, including the "NPM Adjustment."

Participating manufacturers potentially can reduce their payments under the MSA, if their market share of tobacco sales falls by a specified amount compared to their market share before the MSA agreement was executed. That is the provision under which Reynolds and Lorillard are withholding a share of their payments, and others (including Philip Morris USA) are disputing their payment amounts even though they paid in full.

However, the MSA also provides that no state's payment may be reduced if the state is found to have "diligently enforced" a state statute that requires other companies that did not sign the agreement (NPMs) to make payments as well. NPM payments go into an escrow account, based on tobacco sales, in approximately the same amount per cigarette as the payments required of participating manufacturers.

The rationale for state statutes requiring escrow payments by non-participating manufacturers is that companies who sell tobacco products but are not part of the MSA may not be around when the harmful health effects of their tobacco products appear. The funds in escrow would be available to meet potential legal obligations the companies could face later. (If there is no legal action or settlement or judgment against an NPM after 25 years, the escrow funds could be returned to the company.)

CHARLES DOW, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8577

AG Statement On John Doe Lawsuit Claiming Sex Offender Registry Is Unconstitutional

May 2, 2006

Last Wednesday, April 26, a convicted sex offender using the pseudonym John Doe filed a lawsuit against Kennebec County District Attorney Evert Fowle and Chief of the Maine State Police Colonel Craig Poulin claiming that Maine's Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) is unconstitutional. John Doe also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order in an effort to block the State from forcing him to register as a sex offender while his lawsuit is pending. Superior Court Justice Kirk Studstrup heard arguments on that motion Monday morning, and is expected to issue a ruling soon. The Attorney General's Office represents both State defendants and is defending the constitutionality of SORNA.

In response to several media inquiries, Attorney General Rowe issued the following statement on behalf of the State defendants:

"Maine's Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act is on firm constitutional ground. The Legislature has made it very clear that John Doe should be registered under the law, and it is not for prosecutors, law enforcement officers, or the courts to be making exceptions."

CHARLES DOW, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8577

Maine Joins Nine Other States In Suing Bush Administration Over Fuel Economy Standards

May 2, 2006

Today Attorney General Steve Rowe joined nine other state Attorneys General in filing a lawsuit challenging the Bush Administration's new fuel economy standards for SUVs and light trucks, alleging the rules fail to address the effects on the environment and global warming.

Rowe said, "It would be bad enough if this were just another case of large oil companies or automobile manufacturers directing federal fuel efficiency policies. Here, we also have the Bush Administration ignoring federal procedural requirements and proclaiming that states may not adopt the California new vehicle emission standards -- standards that are expressly authorized by the federal Clean Air Act."

"Gas prices are skyrocketing and autos are spewing harmful carbon dioxide emissions. Our federal government must do more than "talk the talk." If it can't "walk the walk," then it should get out of the states' way," said Rowe. Maine joined with nine other states, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York in filing the lawsuit in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The lawsuit alleges the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in adopting the fuel economy standards, violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). Both federal laws require the government to determine the impacts of new regulations on fuel conservation and the environment.

The lawsuit's allegations mirror comments the plaintiffs submitted to NHTSA during the public review period on the rules. In a letter dated November, 2005, the plaintiffs said that NHTSA "failed to consider alternative approaches that would have promoted energy conservation, made meaningful contributions to increased fuel economy and encouraged technological innovation." In addition, the letter said, NHTSA failed to consider the environmental consequences of its proposed overhaul of light truck standards, failed to consider the changes in the environment since NHTSA last assessed the environmental effects of the standards in the 1980s, and failed to evaluate the impact of carbon dioxide ("CO2") emissions "despite identifying the threat of CO2 and global climate change as new information concerning the environment."

The letter also stated that the standards, which shift the miles-per-gallon requirements from a fleet-wide basis to a new structure based on weight categories, "create incentives to build larger, less fuel-efficient models, which will jeopardize air quality and the climate."

The final standards, issued in March, also contain an attempt by the Bush Administration to argue for federal preemption of California's landmark law requiring reductions in vehicle emissions that contribute to global warming. The published rules included a 52-page discussion, irrelevant to the standards, asserting only the federal government can regulate motor vehicle carbon dioxide emissions.

Joining in the lawsuit are Attorneys General from California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Also joining are the District of Colombia and the City of New York.

Maine's Bureau of Environmental Protection adopted the California new vehicle emission standards in December, 2005.

CHARLES DOW, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8577

AG & Dep Put York County Waste Gasoline Dumpers In Jail

May 5, 2006

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that the last of three men responsible for dumping waste gasoline on back roads in York County reported to jail this week. Ken Horne, age 58, formerly of D&D Auto in Lebanon, is serving a seven-day sentence in York County Jail for the class D crime of turning hazardous waste over to a person without a license. James Martin, age 47, of Jim's Auto Repair in Lebanon is currently serving 120 days for the class C crime of transporting hazardous waste without a license, and Maurice Ducharme, age 39, of Sanford served 45 days earlier this year for disposing of the hazardous waste without a license. The jail terms follow guilty pleas by all three defendants over the past several months. Waste gasoline is classified as a hazardous waste due to its flammability at low temperatures.

In November, 2004, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) inspected D&D Auto, located on Route 202 in Lebanon. DEP staff identified and marked 40 55-gallon drums as containing hazardous waste and instructed D&D's owner, Ken Horne, that he could only dispose of the waste through a licensed hazardous waste transporter. On November 27, 2004, an anonymous call to law enforcement reported that two men were dumping waste from D&D on the back roads of York County using a van with dealer plates. The plates were registered to D&D Auto. Investigators also found that an officer at the North Berwick Police Department had encountered the same van on a back road in North Berwick on November 16, 2004. The van was transporting five empty drums, and its occupants were identified as Martin and Ducharme. The investigation eventually led to one of the dump sites, on the Mast Road in Alfred, and the waste was reportedly dumped on other back roads on at least two other occasions.

In addition to his jail sentence, James Martin is ordered to pay $1,000 toward the DEP's clean up costs at the Mast Road site, and is forbidden from contacting some of the State's witnesses, whom he is alleged to have threatened.

Attorney General Rowe said, "The days when the public and the State would ignore small-scale polluters are officially over. This case shows how the public and local and State officials will work together to nab polluters and preserve our land and water."

Attorney General Rowe commended the DEP staff for their efforts on the case.

CONTACT: LEANNE ROBBIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8581

Maine Wins In United States Supreme Court

May 15, 2006

The United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision today in S.D. Warren v. Maine Board of Environmental Protection affirming states' powers to enforce state water quality standards as part of the federal licensing of hydropower dams under the federal Clean Water Act. The decision is available here: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/05pdf/04-1527.pdf. S.D. Warren appealed from a unanimous ruling of the Maine Law Court issued in February, 2005, which is available here: http://www.courts.state.me.us/opinions/2005%20documents/05me27sd.htm Attorney General Steve Rowe, who argued the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, said, "The impact of this decision will be felt well beyond the State of Maine. This is a victory for states as the primary enforcers of the Clean Water Act. The decision will lay to rest any doubt that states have the primary role under the Act in restoring the chemical, physical and biological integrity of our nation's waters. "

Rowe stated that "The decision will benefit Maine people and our fish and wildlife resources for generations to come." Rowe also noted that he was particularly pleased that Justice Souter, in writing the opinion for the Supreme Court, quoted from Maine Senator Edmund Muskie, the principal author of the Clean Water Act, in emphasizing that the federal Clean Water Act preserved state authority to address the broad range of pollution in our nation's waters. "Senator Muskie would be very pleased to know that the Supreme Court kept faith with his intent that states should be able to develop and enforce their own water quality standards under the Clean Water Act." Rowe added, "I believe that we in Maine have a special duty to defend Senator Muskie's legacy of clean water and clean air protection. We are pleased that we succeeded in this case."

Rowe also noted that the decision is particularly important because it will allow states to move forward with efforts to restore the biological integrity of rivers and promote the recovery of anadromous fish populations (i.e., fish that migrate from oceans upstream in rivers to spawn) in rivers with hydroelectric dams.

Rowe praised the lawyers in his office who worked on the case, "Assistant Attorneys General Carol Blasi and Jerry Reid and Deputy Attorney General Paul Stern did the heavy lifting on this case. The people of Maine should be very proud of them." Rowe also praised the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for its assistance on the case. He particularly singled out Dana Murch, Dams and Hydro Director, for his help.

Supreme Court watchers anxiously awaited today's decision, believing that it would provide the first indication of how the newly-minted Court, with Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, would view environmental and federalism cases. In fact, the oral argument was only the second that Justice Alito heard.

The Associated Press story describing the argument can be found here: http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2006/02/21/104985-alito-hears-his-first-supreme-court-cases?pp=1

JESSICA MAURER, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, 207-626-8515

AG Offers Advice To Fellow Veterans On Va Data Security Breach

May 24, 2006

Today Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe issued a statement to Maine veterans regarding the recent revelation of a security breach by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) personnel. The breach occurred when a VA data analyst took home electronic data from the VA, and the data was stolen from the analyst's home.

The VA has announced that the stolen data contained identifying information including names, social security numbers, and dates of birth for up to 26.5 million living veterans from 1975 to the present and some spouses, as well as some disability ratings.

Attorney General Rowe warned veterans to be alert to the possibility of identity theft. "Identity theft is something that all Maine citizens should be concerned about. Due to this federal security breach, veterans should be particularly concerned," Rowe said.

Noting that both he and his wife are U.S. Army veterans, Rowe added, "My wife and I will be carefully monitoring our financial statements and credit reports. I encourage all other veterans to do the same."

Rowe urged veterans to take immediate steps to monitor their credit card, bank and other financial statements to ensure that no fraudulent charges occur.

Rowe also urged veterans to obtain and carefully review their credit reports.

Rowe advised that veterans (as well as other Mainers) can get a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer bureaus. This can be accomplished by requesting: (1) online at www.annualcreditreport.com; (2) telephonically at 1-877-322-8228; or (3) via mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

Rowe advised that if veterans detect suspicious or unusual activity regarding their financial accounts, they should take the following actions:

  1. Contact the fraud department of one of the three nationwide consumer credit bureaus and request that a "fraud alert" be placed on the credit file and request that no new credit be granted without the person's express, personal approval. (As long as one of the credit bureaus are contacted, they will automatically contact the other two.) The toll-free numbers are 1-800-525-6285 (Equifax), 1-888-397-3742 (Experian) and 1-800-680-7289 (Trans Union).
  2. Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  3. File a report with the person's local police or sheriff's office.
  4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by calling toll-free at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338).

Rowe also advised veterans that the Veteran's Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have a website (www.firstgov.gov) with information on the security breach. Veterans can also call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636).

JESSICA MAURER, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8515

Supreme Court Allows Maine Pharmacy Benefits Law To Stand

June 5, 2006

Attorney General Steve Rowe offered the following statement on the news that the United States Supreme Court today rejected a request by the pharmacy benefits management industry asking that the Court consider the constitutionality of a Maine law aimed at providing transparency and eliminating kickbacks in the lucrative but mysterious pharmacy benefits management business.

Rowe said, "The U.S. Supreme Court has finally slammed the door to legal arguments by the drug industry and the insurance industry against Maine's innovative PBM law. Today's denial of the writ of certiorari means greater transparency in the prescription drug business, and the end of secret kickbacks for PBMs. The result should be lower drug prices for Maine health plans and Maine workers."

Rowe praised the legislature for enacting the law and thanked Deputy Attorney General Paul Stern, Assistant Attorneys General Ronald Lupton and Andrew Black, and Research Assistant Alice Sproul for their exceptional defense of the statute.

For other press releases related to this case:

Charles Dow, Director, Communications & Legislative Affairs, 207-626-8577

AG Gives Domestic Violence Investigators Statewide Power

June 12, 2006

At a swearing-in ceremony today in Augusta, Attorney General Steve Rowe granted statewide jurisdiction to 12 domestic violence investigators from four district attorneys' offices, four sheriffs' offices, and three police departments. Rowe called the extension of jurisdiction for the investigators "another tool for you to use against the insidious problem of domestic violence in Maine." Rowe used the recently-issued report of the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel to highlight the destructiveness of domestic violence and the importance of the investigators' work. "Every 97 minutes, someone in Maine is the victim of a domestic assault. More than half of the homicides in Maine are cases of domestic violence. These cases are so explosive that your supervisors and I have agreed to expand your geographic reach so that your investigations will not have to stop at town or county lines. There are real social, cultural, and economic barriers to rooting out domestic violence, so it seems wise to remove all the artificial barriers we can," said Rowe.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, a homicide prosecutor who also chairs the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel, thanked the investigators for their work and said, "This year's report is entitled ā€˜It's Everybody's Business' because domestic violence is a societal issue that requires a coordinated community response. By familiarizing ourselves with potential warning signs of domestic violence and educating ourselves on the resources available, we increase our society's ability to help victims. The duty to learn more and do more extends well beyond police and prosecutors, it extends to other government officials, family members, teachers, employers, co-workers, friends, neighbors -- everyone in the community can help." Marchese highlighted Appendix E of the report, which is called 'What You Can Do.' That section is reprinted below.

The Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel's report is available online at http://www.maine.gov/ag/index.php?r=crimeandvictims&s=domesticviolence&t=

The officers sworn in as domestic violence investigators today are:

Steve Edmondson
Office of the District Attorney
Bath

Robert Hinkel
Office of the District Attorney
Augusta

James Ross
Office of the District Attorney
Skowhegan

Paul Stewart
Office of the District Attorney
Waterville

Steve McFarland
Office of the District Attorney
Ellsworth

Scott Arno
Office of the District Attorney
Dover-Foxcroft

Jon C. Allen
Lincoln County Sheriff's Office
Wiscasset

Frank Gardner
Washington County Sheriff's Office
Machias

Hart Daley
Lewiston Police Department
Lewiston

John Preston
Pleasant Point Police Department
Perry

Jill Potvin
Cumberland County Sheriff's Office
Portland

Steven Thistlewood
York County Sheriff's Office
Alfred

What You Can Do

The following is an excerpt from MCEDV's website. For more information please visit them at mcedv.org.

Learn More

Contact your local domestic violence project for more information and material.

Educate yourself by attending conferences about domestic violence Speak Out About Domestic Violence and Abuse

Display information about your local domestic violence project and domestic abuse in your workplace, church, library or other community meeting places. If you see or hear a battering incident occurring, call 911 to involve law enforcement.

When you see or hear signs of domestic abuse, sexism, racism, homophobia or ageism, talk to the person exhibiting the behaviors, if it is safe for you to do so. If you hear a comment or observe a behavior that concerns you, say "I don't appreciate that".

Challenge the media. Write to music producers, movie companies Internet businesses, video game producers, and TV stations to speak out about violence against women.

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper describing the problem of domestic violence in your community and offer suggestions for how people can become part of the solution.

Call or e-mail your local representatives. Encourage them to vote for domestic violence funding or special issues.

Tell Others About Domestic Violence Project's Services

Invite domestic violence prevention educators to speak to your school, church, community group or business.

Donate Money Or Items To Your Local Domestic Violence Project

Many domestic violence projects have wish lists. Contact your local project.

Contribute Services and Talents to Your Local Domestic Violence Project

Encourage your workplace to "adopt" the local domestic violence project by donating money and allowing employees time off to volunteer.

Victims/Survivors benefit from the donation of professional services such as haircuts.

Volunteer for your local domestic violence project.

Become a member of a local domestic abuse task force, domestic violence project board or steering committee.

Attend Events to Raise Awareness About Domestic Violence

Recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Attend an awareness event that has already been planned, or organize your own event.

Teach Children

Educate children about positive ways to resolve conflict and healthy relationships.

Reach Out To Someone You Are Concerned About

If you have a friend, family member, or co-worker whom you think may be experiencing domestic violence or abuse, approach that person in a non-judgmental way and let them know that you are concerned. Offer information about your local Domestic Violence Project. The most important thing is to listen, believe, and support a victim.

Seek Support For Yourself

If you become frightened or frustrated by someone else's situation, consider calling your local Domestic Violence Project yourself. Advocates are trained and prepared to speak to anyone concerned about their own situation, or the situation of another.

Be An Example

Make a commitment to the cause and let others know of your beliefs. Talk to your friends and neighbors when they belittle women or make a joke about violence.

Charles Dow, Director, Communications & Legislative Affairs, 207-626-8577

Ag Finds Sanford Officers Justified In May 26 Shooting

June 28, 2006

JUNE 28, 2006 CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that two Sanford police officers, Scott Foisy and Richard Bucklin, were legally justified when they shot and wounded Jillian Christensen Daniels, 26, in Sanford in the early morning of May 26, 2006.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by the officers in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer's public duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat of unlawful deadly force. Attorney General Rowe determined, based on the investigation conducted by his office and the application of controlling Maine law, that Officers Foisy and Bucklin actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was being imminently threatened by Jillian Christensen Daniels against them and that the use of deadly force on their part was necessary to thwart that threat. Therefore, both requirements of the law having been met, the use of deadly force by Officers Foisy and Bucklin was legally justified.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

The Sanford Police Department was notified that a New Hampshire warrant charging armed robbery had been issued for the arrest of Jillian Christensen Daniels of Sanford. Investigation by the department established Daniels' likely whereabouts as a residence in Sanford. During the late evening hours of May 25, 2006, two officers in plain clothes conducting surveillance observed Daniels in the residence. Thereafter, a uniformed officer attempted to make contact with Daniels. The officer's knock at the door was met with lights in the residence being extinguished. It became obvious to the officers that Daniels was attempting to conceal her presence in the residence. Given the particular circumstances, the Special Response Team of the Sanford Police Department was summoned. Among other things, members of the team are specially trained to execute arrest warrants. The team also includes negotiators.

Further investigation established that Daniels' grandmother and husband were in the residence with her. It was also established that there was an outstanding arrest warrant for Daniels' husband. A negotiator spoke by telephone with the grandmother, who declined to leave the residence and denied that there were any firearms in the residence. The negotiator, as well as members of the Special Response Team, overheard two women in the residence, believed at the time to be the grandmother and Daniels, arguing. Thereafter, the negotiator spoke briefly with Daniels by telephone; Daniels claimed to have a loaded rifle and that the rifle was in her mouth. In the same conversation, Daniels referred to the firearm as a shotgun. At about the same time, a member of the Special Response Team observed Daniels armed with what the officer believed to be a rifle and heard the sound of what he believed to be the action being worked on a long-barreled gun. Another officer observed Daniels, holding what appeared to be a rifle or a shotgun, arguing with a man later determined to be her husband.

Daniels told the negotiator several times that she was going to kill herself; she also told the negotiator that she would engage the police with her weapon so that they would respond by shooting her. Other officers also heard these statements from their positions outside the residence.

Officers Foisy and Bucklin were among members of the Special Response Team who took up positions outside the residence. At one point, Officer Bucklin heard Daniels through an open window tell the negotiator on the telephone that she was armed and intended to kill herself. Bucklin also heard Daniels tell the negotiator that she would shoot herself if the police attempted to enter the residence. Bucklin then overheard Daniels tell the negotiator that she was going to walk out onto a second floor roof and that if she saw police officers, she was going to shoot them. Daniels stepped out of a second story window onto a flat roof at the rear of the residence. Her position placed her in close proximity to Officers Foisy and Bucklin, who were positioned near the residence on the ground. Officers illuminated Daniels and observed her armed with what appeared to be a shotgun. Officer Bucklin and other officers issued commands for Daniels to relinquish the weapon. Daniels responded by walking to the edge of the roof closest to Officers Foisy and Bucklin. At a distance of 10-12 feet, Daniels pointed the weapon at Officer Bucklin while looking directly at him. Both Officers Bucklin and Foisy shot at Daniels. Later investigation determined that the officers discharged a total of seven rounds.

Daniels was struck by gunfire in the right shoulder. She fell to the roof and was immediately provided first aid by two other officers. Daniels was later transported by emergency medical personnel to the Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment. Thereafter, she was charged by the York County District Attorney with criminal threatening, as well as the offense of creating a police standoff. After an arraignment on those charges, Daniels was transferred to the custody of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in New Hampshire.

Detectives from the Office of the Attorney General went to the scene of the shooting in Sanford to conduct the investigation. They were assisted in the investigation by detectives from the State Police, as well as personnel from the State Police Crime Laboratory. The Sanford Police Department cooperated fully with the investigation and is conducting its own departmental review of the incident.

AG Finds Trooper's Use Of Deadly Force In Jay Legally Justified

July 13, 2006

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a State Police officer, Trooper Randall Keaten, was legally justified when, while acting in the performance of his public duty, he shot and wounded William C. Burhoe, age 50, the night of June 6, 2006, outside Burhoe's home on the Macomber Hill Road in Jay.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by Trooper Keaten in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer's public duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person or at a moving vehicle is deadly force under Maine law.)

Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on the investigation and legal analysis conducted by his office, Trooper Keaten actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was being used by Burhoe against him, and that others in the immediate vicinity were imminently threatened with death or serious bodily injury by the actions of Burhoe. Further, based on the investigation and legal analysis, Attorney General Rowe determined that Trooper Keaten actually and reasonably believed that deadly force on his part was necessary to protect himself and to counter the imminent threat against others.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

On Tuesday, June 6, 2006, at 8:53 P.M., the Franklin County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call from a man who reported that he had been assaulted and later shot at by his father, William Burhoe, on the Macomber Hill Road in Jay. The son reported that he had left the residence on foot after being assaulted by Burhoe and that he was down the road about a quarter mile from the residence when Burhoe discharged a rifle. The son was not certain at that point if his father had actually fired the rifle at him. He told the 911 dispatcher, however, that Burhoe was in a pickup truck with a rifle looking for him. Officers from the Jay Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff's Office responded to the call. A deputy spotted the pickup truck in the yard of Burhoe's residence on the Macomber Hill Road. The deputy then saw a person standing behind the Burhoe residence carrying something. Officers blocked the roadways near the residence on both the Macomber Hill Road and an intersecting road. Other officers, including Trooper Keaten, arrived shortly thereafter.

A second trooper, Scott Nichols, illuminated the area behind the Burhoe residence. Officers saw a man, later identified as William Burhoe, standing behind the Burhoe residence with a rifle. Trooper Nichols issued repeated commands to Burhoe to relinquish the gun. Burhoe refused to put down the gun, verbally challenged the officers as to their authority, and shouted obscenities at them.

During the exchange between Trooper Nichols and Burhoe, a motorist drove down the intersecting Farrington Road to a point near the driveway of Burhoe's residence. Two deputies and a Jay officer were near this area. The troopers, as well as Deputy Steve Charles, observed Burhoe raise the gun to his shoulder and aim it directly at Deputy Charles and the motorist. Deputy Charles succeeded in getting the uninvolved motorist out of the area.

In response to this threatening behavior by Burhoe, Trooper Keaten made his way to a corner of the Burhoe residence about 45 feet from where Burhoe continued to stand with the rifle. Trooper Keaten illuminated Burhoe with a flashlight and commanded Burhoe to drop his weapon. Burhoe responded by turning in the direction of Trooper Keaten and firing his rifle at him just as Trooper Keaten ducked behind the corner of the house. The round entered and exited the corner of the house where Trooper Keaten was standing. Debris and splinters struck Trooper Keaten. Trooper Keaten returned fire with one round from his service weapon, which struck Burhoe in the upper leg. Burhoe fell to the ground and yelled that he was "giving up."

Burhoe was administered medical aid at the scene and later taken to the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston for treatment. The District Attorney's Office in Franklin County has lodged criminal charges against him.

Six detectives from the Attorney General's Office went to the scene of the shooting to conduct an investigation. They were assisted in the investigation by detectives and forensic specialists from the State Police. The State Police cooperated fully with the investigation, and conducted its own review of the incident.

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

AG Rowe Files Civil Rights Action Against Lewiston Man For Throwing Pig's Head Into Mosque

July 20, 2006

JAttorney General Steven Rowe announced today that his office has filed an action under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Brent Matthews, 33, of Lewiston as a result of Matthews' targeting Somali and Muslim residents by intentionally throwing a frozen pig's head into a mosque located at 21-23 Lisbon Street in Lewiston on July 3, 2006. The complaint alleges that Matthews' action was motivated by his bias against the mosque members for their race, color, ancestry, national origin and religion. The complaint was filed in Superior Court in Auburn and requests that the court order Matthews not to have any contact with the mosque or its members, and to obey the Maine Civil Rights Act.

The complaint alleges that Matthews' throwing the pig's head into the mosque was a threat of violence directed at the members of the mosque, interfered with the members' First Amendment right to freedom of religion and resulted in property damage. Pork is the dirtiest and most vile substance in Islamic culture. The threat communicated by the pig's head being thrown into the sanctuary of the mosque caused some of the worshipers to flee. The pig's head is considered so vile in Islamic culture that the worshipers themselves were prohibited by religious doctrine from touching it or picking it up. In the days following the July 3 invasion, there was a marked decrease in the number of worshipers attending prayers at the mosque. In order to increase the worshipers' feeling of safety, members of the mosque took additional security measures to prevent further incidents of invasion.

Members of the mosque closed the front and back entryways to the mosque, even though the summer temperatures were high, to prevent non-worshipers from gaining entry to the mosque. Although the number of worshipers at the mosque is returning to normal, the sense of fear about "what could happen next" persists. The mosque was also damaged because fluid from the pig's head leaked onto the carpeted floor of the mosque. In accordance with Islamic religious practice, the area of the carpet that was desecrated by the pig had to be washed and cleaned seven times.

Attorney General Steve Rowe said, "The right to practice one's chosen religion is a bedrock principle upon which this nation was founded. It is deeply troubling to see that right interfered with in such a clear and heinous way on the evening before we celebrated the anniversary of our birth as a nation. One only need listen to the members of the mosque to realize the pain that this incident caused and the fear that it fostered.

"As a civil society and one governed by the rule of law, it is our obligation to take the legal steps necessary to make sure that Maine people who practice Islam and people of all other faiths feel completely free and safe to worship without violent interference from others. Hopefully, this step will help the healing process."

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

AG Wins Round In Fight For Great Northern Paper Workers' Severance Pay

July 27, 2006

Attorney General Steve Rowe today announced that the Superior Court in Kennebec County has ruled that the Maine Department of Labor can proceed with efforts to collect severance pay for over 1,000 former Great Northern Paper (GNP) workers. The Attorney General and Inexcon Maine, Inc., as parent company of GNP, have been locked in litigation for two years over the meaning of terms in Maine's severance pay law including "covered establishment," "employer," "physical calamity," and "adjudicated bankruptcy." In a thirteen page decision dated yesterday, Justice Marden resolved all issues in favor of the State.

Attorney General Rowe said, "I'm thrilled to finally be able to report to the workers that this case is on track. We are moving in the right direction." Rowe cautioned, however, that the victory is merely legal at this point, and that no money has yet been recovered for workers. "We needed this ruling to get to the next round, but we expect more fighting before checks get written. All I can promise is that we will keep fighting to get what the workers deserve."

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

Magistrate Recommends Upholding Maine Law Prohibiting Direct Shipment Of Wine

July 28, 2006

Attorney General Steve Rowe today announced that U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret J. Kravchuk has issued a recommended decision upholding the State's prohibition on direct shipment of wine. Oregon winery Cherry Hill Vineyard and Hampden resident Philip Brooks filed a lawsuit challenging the law in U.S. District Court in Maine last year after the U.S. Supreme Court found that New York and Michigan laws violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by treating direct shipment of wine by in-state wineries differently from those by out-of-state wineries.

The Attorney General argued that the purpose and effect of the Maine law prohibiting direct shipments of alcohol was to prevent youth access to alcohol and that wineries were treated the same, regardless of their location. In the past few years, Attorney General Rowe has led Maine community efforts to reduce youth interest in and access to alcohol, and to help alert Mainers to new research on the dangerous effects of alcohol on the adolescent brain. Magistrate Judge Kravchuk agreed, writing in a 19-page opinion:

I do not think this proposition really deserves any protracted discussion. If the requirement of "face-to- face" or "on-premises" transactions were applied to an innocuous article of interstate commerce such as clothing, which is not subject to any age restriction or other public health restriction (let alone the Twenty-first Amendment), then it would be difficult to understand what rational basis might exist for prohibiting mail order purchases. But here the patently obvious circumstances are that the subject matter of the statutory scheme is wine, wine is an alcoholic beverage that is contraband when placed in certain minors' hands, and the State has concluded that mail order transactions cannot reliably be policed in order to protect certain minors from themselves. (At page 18)

[Note: The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution repealed prohibition and granted to the states considerable power over alcohol regulation.]

Attorney General Rowe said, "The more I learn about the dangerous and lasting effects of alcohol on teenagers, the more strongly I feel about defending the Legislature's excellent work on preventing youth access to alcohol by outlawing direct shipments."

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

Commissioners And AG Announce New Effort To Curb Underage Alcohol Sales

August 9, 2006

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Cantara, Attorney General Steven Rowe and Health and Human Services Commissioner Brenda Harvey today announced a contract with the Maine Sheriffs Association to conduct statewide compliance inspections of retail liquor licensees. The inspections will assure that stores that sell alcoholic beverages comply with the law to ID anyone age 27 or under and refuse sales to anyone under 21 or those that fail to present valid identification.

The contract, funded by a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention awarded to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Substance Abuse, will be administered by the Attorney General's Office on behalf of the Department. Enforcement authority is extended to the Maine Sheriffs Association by the Department of Public Safety and direct program administration will be overseen by the Maine State Police, Liquor Licensing Unit.

The Maine Sheriffs Association has conducted inspections of tobacco sellers under contract with the Department of Health and Human Services since 1997 as part of the State's comprehensive tobacco prevention program. During that time the state has seen a 50% decline in youth smoking.

Public Safety Commissioner Cantara said, "This contract will greatly expand the resources we have to deal with underage drinking. We have been working with many local police departments to address alcohol related violations and this contract compliments those efforts and will allow statewide enforcement with agents experienced in underage sales laws. Store owners and managers should take this effort seriously and train their employees to obey the law. Violators will face fines and could lose their licenses if they do not comply with the law."

Attorney General Rowe added "It is imperative that we keep alcohol out of the hands of children. Youth drinking is a major pediatric health crisis that has devastating consequences for our children, communities and economy. We now know that alcohol can cause serious damage to a child's developing brain and so we must do more to ensure that children do not drink. Maine has had great success in lowering underage tobacco use through similar enforcement efforts. We believe this initiative to prevent underage alcohol sales will be successful at slowing the flow of alcohol to our children."

Health and Human Service Commissioner Harvey said, "Our efforts to combat substance abuse are enhanced by cooperative efforts like this among agencies and law enforcement. Combined with the community work being done to educate the public by the Office of Substance Abuse and many local and statewide advocates, we look forward to positive results from these efforts."

JOHN ARCHARD, TOBACCO ENFORCEMENT COORDINATOR (207) 626-8837
STEVE MCCAUSLAND, DEPT OF PUBLIC SAFETY SPOKESMAN (207) 626-3811

State Enters Into Consent Decree With The Gentle Wind Project For Deceptive Practices And Violations

August 14, 2006

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that the State has entered into a consent decree with The Gentle Wind Project, a Kittery-based charitable organization, and six named defendants (collectively, "GWP") who served as officers or directors for many years. The consent decree resolves violations of the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act relating to GWP's claims about its so-called "healing instruments," and violations of law relating to the mismanagement of the charity and its funds by those who held positions of fiduciary responsibility.

The "healing instruments" were manufactured and distributed by GWP from designs that allegedly came from the "Spirit World" via telepathic impressions received by the charity's founder, John Miller. GWP claimed that the instruments repair a person's "etheric," or invisible energetic structure, which then improves one's emotional, mental, and even physical functioning. The instruments were sold to consumers via GWP's website and through "seminars" for requested "donations" of often hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the design. The research that GWP claimed to have done on the instruments does not support their alleged benefits. The Unfair Trade Practices Act, as interpreted by the Federal Trade Commission and the federal courts, requires that any express or implied health claims be substantiated by objective and reliable scientific evidence. In the absence of such evidence, the claims are deceptive.

The named defendants have agreed to pay civil penalties and costs and to an injunction that prohibits them from making certain health and research claims about the "healing instruments" or from serving as fiduciaries or advisors for any other Maine nonprofit. The parties have also agreed that GWP will be dissolved, and its remaining assets distributed by the Attorney General as restitution to consumers who purchased a "healing instrument" since 2003 and to a Maine charity whose charitable mission is to provide services to those with mental health disabilities.

"We believe that this is a just resolution of the violations of law committed by the defendants. People who give money to a Maine charity should be able to trust in its integrity, and in the integrity of those who are charged with its operation. This charity damaged the public's trust and it should not be allowed to continue," Rowe said.

The consent decree and order that were filed in the York County Superior Court late last week will become final once approved by the Court. Attorney General Rowe praised Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Silsby for her work in the case.

CAROLYN A. SILSBY, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, (207) 626-8829

Attorney General Rowe Receives, Releases Independent Report On Allegations Of Misconduct In Dechaine

August 21, 2006

Attorney General Steve Rowe today released the report he received Saturday from Retired U.S. Magistrate Judge Eugene Beaulieu, Attorney Charles Abbott and Attorney Marvin Glazier in response to Rowe's request that they conduct an independent and impartial review of allegations of law enforcement and prosecutorial misconduct in the trial of Dennis Dechaine for the 1988 murder of Sarah Cherry. The report may be accessed at: http://www.maine.gov/ag/dynld/documents/glazierreport.pdf

The report to Rowe concludes, "[W]e find that none of the allegations set forth to us in your letter dated October 23, 2004, have any substantive merit." The report sets forth the reasons for this finding.

In his 2004 letter to the three requesting the review, Rowe said that his reason for requesting the review was "to ensure continued public confidence in the Office of the Attorney General as well as other law enforcement agencies in the State of Maine."

Today Rowe said, "I am satisfied and I hope that reasonable Maine people will be satisfied that Dechaine's conviction was not the result of police or prosecutorial misconduct."

Rowe added, "I would like to publicly thank Magistrate Judge Beaulieu and Attorneys Abbott and Glazier for the substantial time and effort that they devoted to conducting the independent review."

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

New Law Requires Home Construction And Repair Contracts To Include Attorney General's Warnings And

September 1, 2006

Attorney General Steve Rowe today announced that updates to the Attorney General's website will make it easy for home building and repair contractors to comply with a law that becomes effective today and requires them to include consumer protection information as an addendum to contracts for $3,000 or more. Contractors can simply print and attach the page available here: http://www.maine.gov/ag/index.php?r=protection&s=construction&t The new law also requires a change in the wording of home construction contracts to include "A clear and conspicuous notice that states that consumers are strongly advised to visit the Attorney General's publicly accessible website to gather current information on how to enforce their rights when constructing or repairing their homes, as well as the Attorney General's publicly accessible website address and telephone number."

Accordingly, the Attorney General's Office has revised its model contract. It is available at http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=AGOfficeConsumerLaw_Guide&id=27938&v=article . The new law requiring the information is available at: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/ros/lom/lom122nd/16pub601%2D650/pub601%2D650%2D20.htm

For context, the existing Home Construction Contracts Act, which the new law amends, is available here:

http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/10/title10ch219-A.rtf

Attorney General Rowe believes that the new law will help more people to recognize that home construction and repair contractors are not licensed or regulated in Maine, and that they bear a lot of responsibility for protecting themselves in dealing with contractors. He recommends that consumers:

  1. Ask for several references and check them;
  2. Ask local building supply companies for the names of good contractors in the area;
  3. Ask for a written contract (the law requires one for contracts over $3,000);
  4. Ask that subcontractors waive in writing their rights to lien your property; and
  5. Understand how and when loan proceeds will be disbursed, if the project is loan-financed.

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

AG, PUC, Ask Court To Dismiss Bush Administration Suit That Calls Verizon Statements "State Secret"

September 21, 2006

Attorney General Steve Rowe today filed court papers on behalf of the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) in U.S. District Court in Bangor arguing that the federal government's lawsuit against MPUC should be dismissed because it does not meet the criteria for a federal lawsuit, and it does not involve any secrets, let alone "state secrets."

On August 9, 2006, the MPUC attempted to resolve citizen complaints against Verizon alleging breach of customer privacy. The MPUC ordered Verizon to provide sworn affirmations of the truthfulness of seven representations that it made in its press releases that were filed with the MPUC. These seven statements are:

Verizon was not asked by NSA to provide, nor did Verizon provide, customer phone records from any of its businesses, or any call data from those records.

None of these companies-wireless or wireline-provided customer records or call data.

Verizon's wireless and wireline companies did not provide to NSA customer records or call data, local or otherwise.

Verizon will provide customer information to a government agency only where authorized by law for appropriately-defined and focused purposes. When information is provided, Verizon seeks to ensure it is properly used for that purpose and is subject to appropriate safeguards against improper use. Verizon, does not and will not, provide any government agency unfettered access to its customer records or provide information to the government under circumstances that would allow fishing expeditions.

Verizon acquired MCI, and Verizon is ensuring that Verizon's policies are implemented at that entity and that all its activities fully comply with the law.

On August 21, the federal government sued Verizon and the MPUC, claiming that the MPUC inquiry threatened to divulge "state secrets" concerning the administration's warrantless wiretapping and telephone call data mining programs.

In his 18-page motion to dismiss, Attorney General Rowe points out that the MPUC has only asked Verizon to verify and affirm Verizon's own prior, public statements, which Verizon filed in press release form with the MPUC. Attorney General Rowe said, "The Maine PUC has ordered Verizon to affirm the truthfulness of statements the company filed with the PUC and made in public press releases. These statements are certainly not "state secrets." In fact, they are not secrets at all."

Maine Public Utilities Chairman Kurt Adams said, "We received complaints from Maine citizens understandably concerned that their phone records and phone conversations may have been divulged to the United States government without a warrant, and without any judicial oversight. As a result, we required that Verizon confirm statements it made to us and the public denying that it had provided records to the federal government. The response from the federal government? They sued us."

Adams said, "We intend to protect the rights of Maine citizens in federal court and to fight the intrusion of the federal government into the integrity of our process."

The Attorney General also argues that the federal court does not have jurisdiction over the case because the case does not "arise under" federal law, but rather seeks to assert the federal evidentiary privilege that protects state secrets from disclosure. The Attorney General's motion cites case law that requires evidentiary questions to be decided in the proceedings in which they arise. Therefore, the proper forum for the federal government to assert the privilege would be in the MPUC proceedings, with a possible appeal to the Maine Law Court.

The Attorney General points out that the federal government did not properly invoke the state secrets privilege in this case, because the filed declarations of Lieutenant General Keith Alexander and John Negroponte refer to another court case involving a different phone company and very different facts, and do not meet the requirements of the federal case law on the privilege.

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

AG Finds Shooting By Portland Police Officer Legally Justified

November 9, 2006

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a Portland police officer, Sgt. Robert Martin, was legally justified when he shot and killed Richard "Cali" Duncan, 26, the night of August 25, 2006, in Portland.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by the officer in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force in the performance of the officer's duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person or at a moving vehicle is also deadly force under Maine law.) Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on the investigation and legal analysis conducted by his office, Sgt. Martin actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was imminently threatened by Duncan against Martin, as well as other officers in the immediate vicinity who were assisting Martin in attempting to take Duncan into custody. Further, based on the investigation and legal analysis, Attorney General Rowe determined that Sgt. Martin actually and reasonably believed that deadly force on his part was necessary to protect himself and others in countering the imminent threat against them.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

Shortly before 11:00 P.M., on August 25, 2006, the Portland Police Department received a citizen's report of suspected narcotics trafficking taking place at or near the intersection of Pleasant and Forest Avenues in Portland. The citizen caller provided specific information regarding one of two vehicles associated with this suspicious activity. The registered owner of that vehicle was well known to the Portland officers on duty at the time. A number of those officers interdicted the vehicle, a green Jeep, on Cumberland Avenue in Portland. The driver was also a person well known to the Portland officers. There were five active warrants for the arrest of the driver. In addition, the driver was found to be in possession of crack cocaine, he was operating after license suspension, and his passenger, the owner of the vehicle, was in violation of bail conditions.

Shortly after this first group of Portland police officers had contact with the occupants of the green Jeep, a second group of officers encountered a vehicle situated near the intersection of Pleasant and Forest Avenues in Portland. The vehicle, a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass, had previously been identified by the citizen caller as having been part of the suspected drug trafficking. There were two others in the parked vehicle, both women, ages 21 and 41.

The second group of Portland police officers, five in all led by Sgt. Martin, began to interact in varying order and degree with the occupants of the Oldsmobile. The other officers were David Argitis, Joseph Bliss, William Stratis, and Jeffrey Tully. The focus of the officers' initial investigative action was to determine the identity of the three individuals in the Oldsmobile and determine if there was evidence that they had engaged in illegal narcotics trafficking.

While the five officers at the second vehicle stop were engaged in their preliminary contact with the occupants of the Oldsmobile, the officers on Cumberland Avenue were conducting the arrests of the two occupants of the green Jeep. As a result of these arrests, it was learned the male occupant of the Oldsmobile was a person known as "Cali," (later identified as Richard W. Duncan). It was further learned that the driver of the Jeep had purchased the crack cocaine in his possession from Duncan, and that there was likely a firearm in Duncan's possession or within the Oldsmobile. This information was transmitted by police radio to the second group of officers. After receiving this information, Sgt. Martin directed the officers to remove the occupants of the Oldsmobile in order to conduct a threat assessment.

The two women in the Oldsmobile offered no resistance. Duncan, however, exhibited unusual behavior in an apparent attempt not to be identified and then became physically combative with the officers.[1] Sgt. Martin attempted to conduct a pat-down search of Duncan. Duncan, though, actively resisted this attempt, both verbally and physically, which included his kicking one of the officers. At that point, Sgt. Martin directed that Duncan be arrested for his assaultive conduct.

Standing at the rear of the Oldsmobile, Sgt. Martin and two other officers attempted to physically control Duncan in an attempt to handcuff him. At the same time, Sgt. Martin noted that Duncan kept his right hand clenched in a fist. The fact that nothing was being concealed in Duncan's right hand did not become apparent until Sgt. Martin, still at the trunk of the Oldsmobile with two other officers trying to handcuff Duncan, observed Duncan take from his person with his right hand a small semi-automatic pistol. Responding to the presence of a firearm in Duncan's hand, Sgt. Martin wrestled with Duncan to prevent him from firing the weapon. This resulted in Sgt. Martin and Duncan, as well as two other officers, all falling to the pavement to rear of the Oldsmobile.

Once on the ground, the officers attempted to disarm Duncan, who was positioned face-down on the pavement. Duncan continued to aggressively resist the officers. During this struggle, Sgt. Martin used his chest to pin down Duncan's right hand and soon thereafter felt what he believed to be Duncan attempting to fire the pistol. All attempts up to that point to disarm Duncan or to otherwise control or restrain him had failed. Sgt. Martin yelled more than once, "He's trying to shoot me" or words to that effect. While atop Duncan's lower body and in fear of being shot by Duncan, Sgt. Martin drew his service weapon and brought it to bear at Duncan's lower back. Martin gave verbal warnings of his intent to shoot Duncan and, finding that this resulted in no cessation of the combat between Duncan and the officers, he discharged his firearm once into Duncan's lower back. Recovered by the officers immediately thereafter was the firearm that had been in Duncan's hand, a .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

Duncan was treated at the scene by emergency medical personnel and transported to the Maine Medical Center in Portland where he died shortly after as a result of the gunshot wound.

From the time the police initially encountered the Oldsmobile near Pleasant and Forest Avenues to the time Duncan was shot by Sgt. Martin was eight minutes.

Autopsy results from the Maine Chief Medical Examiner's Office showed that Duncan had cocaine in his blood when he died.

Five detectives from the Office of the Attorney General went to the scene of the shooting to conduct the investigation. They were assisted by detectives from the Portland Police Department, as well as forensic specialists and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. In addition to several police officers, several citizens were interviewed as part of the investigation, as well as the individuals with Duncan in the Oldsmobile, and the two persons arrested in the green Jeep. The Portland Police Department cooperated fully with the investigation, and conducted its own departmental investigation and review of the incident.

[1] Had Duncan been identified at this initial stage, a wanted person check would have informed the officers of an outstanding arrest warrant for Duncan issued by the Maine Superior Court in Bangor. The warrant directed that Duncan be held without bail and authorized nationwide extradition.

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

AG Finds That October Use Of Deadly Force By South Portland And Portland Police Was Legally Justifie

November 30, 2006

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a South Portland police officer, Steven Connors, and a Portland police sergeant, Robert Doherty, were legally justified when they shot and wounded Terrel Guy Dubois, 22, during the evening of October 11, 2006, in South Portland. Also wounded in the encounter was Officer Connors, who was shot four times by Dubois. The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by the officers in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer's public duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat of unlawful deadly force. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person or at a moving vehicle is deadly force under Maine law.)

Attorney General Rowe has determined, based on the investigation conducted by his Office and the application of controlling Maine law, that Officer Connors and Sergeant Doherty actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was being used against them by Dubois and that the use of deadly force on their part was necessary to protect themselves and each other. Therefore, both requirements of the law having been met, the use of deadly force by Officer Connors and Sergeant Doherty was legally justified.

The Attorney General's investigation revealed the following:

The Portland Police Department was conducting an investigation that focused on locating and arresting Terrel Dubois, who was wanted on a no-bail arrest warrant charging kidnapping, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, assault, and terrorizing. Dubois discovered that he was being sought by the police. During the afternoon of October 11, 2006, a man identifying himself as Dubois telephoned the Portland Police Department and, in a recorded call, told a dispatcher that he was aware that he was being sought by the police, that he was leaving Maine to go to Virginia, and that he would kill any police officer who attempted to arrest him.

In the early evening of October 11, Portland Police learned that a gold-colored Saturn automobile possibly being used by Dubois was located on Elm Street in South Portland. The Portland Police informed Officer Steven Connors of the South Portland Police Department of this information. Connors requested assistance from the Portland Police in attempting to locate Dubois in South Portland. Officer Mary Sauschuck, and later Sergeant Doherty and Officer Kevin Haley, all members of the Portland Police Department, joined Connors.[1]

Less than an hour later, Officers Connors and Sauschuck located a gold Saturn at an apartment complex at 204 Elm Street in South Portland and they began a surveillance of the vehicle at that time. Those two officers observed a man generally matching Dubois' description walking two dogs near the residence. Later, they observed the same man placing items into the vehicle and then going into one of the apartments. While the officers suspected the man was Dubois, they were not certain at that time. Shortly thereafter, the two officers were joined by Sergeant Doherty and Officer Haley. The officers decided to check the common area of the apartment building at 204 Elm Street, which housed several units including Apartment #1 on the below-ground level.

As the officers walked by the windows of what was later determined to be Apartment #1, one of the officers observed a man generally matching Dubois' description inside the apartment. Sergeant Doherty heard a man and a woman talking inside the apartment. A tenant of one of the upstairs apartments was shown a photograph of Dubois and recognized the person in the photograph as a man he had seen on occasion going into Apartment # 1.

Sergeant Doherty decided to call a telephone number believed by police to belong to Dubois, in the hope that the ring tone could be heard from inside Apartment # 1. Upon dialing the number, a ring tone was not heard from inside Apartment # 1. A man answered the call, however, and when Sergeant Doherty asked for "Tony," the man said his name was "Taz" and that the caller had the wrong number.

Suspecting that Dubois could be inside Apartment # 1, the officers decided to knock on the door of the unit and speak with the occupants to determine if Dubois was, in fact, inside. Officer Connors and Sergeant Doherty went to the door of Apartment #1 and Officer Connors knocked. The door was answered by a young woman who identified herself as the sister of the tenant of the apartment. Officer Connors displayed his badge and identified himself and Sergeant Doherty as police officers.[2] Neither officer saw anyone else in the apartment at that time.

Officer Connors asked for permission to enter the apartment to speak with the man in the apartment. The woman explained that the apartment belonged to her sister and she did not feel comfortable allowing the officers to enter. She also said she was alone in the apartment, a statement the officers disbelieved based on having just minutes before overheard talking between a man and a woman, as well as one of the officers having seen a man in the apartment through a window.

Officer Connors asked the woman for identification. Leaving the apartment door open, the woman walked to the rear of the living room and into the bathroom to retrieve her purse. According to the woman, Dubois was standing in an adjacent room and asked her "who's there?" The woman said she told Dubois that it was "the cops" and Dubois told her not to let them in.

While standing at the rear of the living room and in view of the officers, the woman searched her purse for her identification. At this time, Dubois, while conversing with the woman, entered the rear of the living room and into the officers' view. Officer Connors attempted to speak directly to Dubois, but Dubois ignored him and continued to converse with the woman.

Dubois disappeared from view into another room and the woman then returned to the apartment doorway with proof of her identification. Officer Connors asked her if the man was "Terrel." The woman replied that she knew the man as "Taz."

Having concluded that the man was Dubois, the officers began to call out Dubois' name in an effort to persuade him to come back into the living room. The officers cautioned the woman that she could be arrested and charged with harboring a fugitive, and that she should allow them to enter the apartment to talk with Dubois and handle the situation. According to the officers, the woman became concerned that she could be in trouble, stepped away from the front door and indicated to the officers that it was okay to enter.

The two officers continued calling to Dubois, urging him to come out and talk with them. Dubois ignored the requests other than to state "you need a warrant." As the officers entered the apartment, Dubois reappeared at the rear of the living room and again conversed with the woman. As Officer Connors moved toward Dubois, Dubois retreated into an adjacent room. Officer Connors followed Dubois into the room and Dubois attempted to close the door. Officer Connors attempted to block the door from closing. Immediately thereafter, while within less than five feet from Officer Connors, Dubois began firing at Connors with a small handgun, later identified as a Taurus .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

As Officer Connors, struck by Dubois' gunfire, began to collapse to the floor, he drew his service weapon and returned fire at Dubois who, at that time, was bending over. At about the same time, Sergeant Doherty drew his weapon and fired at Dubois. Dubois, struck by the officers' gunfire, collapsed and ceased firing.

This investigation has determined that Officer Connors was struck by four of the five rounds fired by Dubois. He suffered a non-penetrating head wound, as well as bullet wounds to the chest, shoulder, and hand. Dubois was struck by three of the officers' rounds in the left thigh and buttocks. Officer Connors expended eight rounds as he was collapsing and firing back, and Officer Doherty fired one round. Officer Connors and Dubois were rendered first aid at the scene and were immediately transported to the Maine Medical Center in Portland where they both underwent surgery for the gunshot wounds.

Detectives from the Office of the Attorney General went to the scene of the shooting in South Portland to conduct this investigation. They were assisted in the investigation by the Maine State Police, the South Portland and Portland Police Departments, and, later, the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory. The South Portland and Portland Police Departments cooperated fully with the investigation and are conducting their own internal departmental reviews of the incident.

[1] All four officers were in plainclothes. Officers Sauschuck and Haley bore badges that hung from neck chains, Officer Doherty wore a badge on his belt, and Officer Connors carried a badge in his pocket.

[2] When the police knocked at the door, the woman was on the telephone with an out-of-state friend. The friend has been interviewed as part of this investigation. According to that interview, the friend remained on the phone while the woman answered the door and heard a man identifying himself as "the police." The friend also reported that the woman ended the phone call seconds later by telling her "it's the police," and hanging up.

CHARLES DOW, DIRECTOR, COMMUNICATIONS & LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, 207-626-8577

AG Sues, Settles Over Deceptive "Free" Offers

December 11, 2006

Attorney General Steve Rowe today announced a $14.5 million, 15‑state settlement with Chase Bank, Chase Home Finance and Trilegiant Corp. that will resolve allegations the companies unlawfully deceived consumers into paying for membership programs that claimed to provide discounts on car and home repair, shopping, and other goods and services.

"This was a misleading marketing scheme. Consumers had no idea that by cashing a $2.50 check they were authorizing Trilegiant to place charges on their credit card," said Rowe. "We urge consumers to let their banks and credit card and mortgage companies know that they do not want to be contacted by third party marketers. Federal law requires that the companies respect consumer wishes to keep information private."

Rowe also encouraged consumers to advise their banks and credit card and mortgage companies in writing that the companies may not share the consumers' personal financial information with third parties. To do this, consumers should obtain, complete and return their financial institutions' financial privacy forms. Rowe directed consumers to the Federal Trade Commission's website for more information about the right to "opt out" of financial information sharing. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/privchoices.pdf

The settlement announced today resolves claims by the Attorney General that Chase and Trilegiant solicited consumers with offers of "free" trials in membership programs, without adequately informing consumers they would be charged automatically if they did not affirmatively cancel within a specified period of time.

The solicitations often included a check for a small amount of money, between $2 and $10, which consumers typically thought were rebates or rewards from Chase Bank or Chase Home Finance. However, by cashing the check, the consumer unknowingly authorized Trilegiant to place charges on their Chase Credit Card or other account after "free" trial period ended, according to the complaint. The solicitations were sometimes included in the consumers' mortgage or credit card statements, the complaint alleged, or in mailings with Chase's logo on the envelope and letterhead. These tactics prevented consumers from realizing the solicitations were in fact sent by Trilegiant and not by Chase or another business partner.

If consumers did not affirmatively cancel within the required time, Trilegiant automatically billed the membership fees to consumers' credit accounts either monthly or annually, depending on the particular membership program. Trilegiant then charged consumers repeatedly until they finally cancelled their membership. Many consumers belatedly discovered they had unwittingly purchased memberships in several different clubs, the complaint alleged.

The Trilegiant membership programs include, but are not limited to, AutoVantage Gold Service, AutoVantage Service, Buyers Advantage Service, CompleteHome Service, Just for Me, Pet Privileges Service, Shoppers Advantage Service, and Travelers Advantage Service.

Regarding Chase's role in the alleged unlawful business practices, Chase and Trilegiant entered agreements under which Trilegiant gained access to Chase customers for the purpose of marketing the membership programs.

To protect consumers from unlawful deception in the future, the settlement requires reforms of Trilegiant's and Chase's business practices. Future solicitations sent by Trilegiant, or any other company that solicits Chase customers in a similar manner, must clearly disclose the all terms of any "free trial," including when and how the customer will be billed for any membership, and how to cancel a membership. Additionally, the settlement forbids Chase and Trilegiant from engaging in any deceptive conduct in the marketing of these membership programs. The prohibited practices include identifying the solicitation as a "reward" or "rebate" offer, or that any check or other premium offered as part of a solicitation is anything other than a benefit or incentive for the purchase of a membership.

The settlement requires Trilegiant to pay a combined $8.325 million in restitution to all consumers in Maine and the other 14 states who either have already complained to Trilegiant or their Attorney General, or who complain in writing within the next nine months.

Trilegiant and Chase also will pay $6.175 million to the settling states to cover civil penalties and recoupment of costs and fees. Trilegiant is paying $477,128 to Maine, and Chase is paying $175,000.

Consumers who signed up for membership in a Trilegiant club through any bank or other company they did business with and who were first charged membership fees on or after July 1, 2001, are eligible to receive restitution. Trilegiant is also required to send renewal notices to consumers who have active memberships advising them that they have purchased the membership and how to cancel the membership if they wish. If there are not enough funds to make full restitution to all consumers who complain, then those consumers who complain over the next nine months will get a pro rata share. All consumers who have already complained will receive full restitution.

In addition to Maine, the Attorneys General in the following states joined the settlement: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington.

Consumers who are trying to find out if they unknowingly paid for a membership program should carefully examine their credit card or mortgage statements and monitor their mail for any notices from Trilegiant. They can also contact Trilegiant via its internet website, www.trilegiant.com or by mail at Trilegiant Corporation, 100 Connecticut Ave, Norwalk, CT 06850, ATTN: K. Buonagurato. Written complaints requesting restitution for unauthorized charges can be submitted to Linda J. Conti, Assistant Attorney General, Attorney General's Office, 6 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0006 or by e-mail to consumer.mediation@maine.gov.

Attorney General Rowe praised Assistant Attorney General Linda Conti for her excellent work on the settlement, which was the result of several months of negotiations.

Rowe and Conti both advised that "Consumers should monitor their credit card and mortgage statements each month to check for unauthorized and disputed charges, including but not limited to fees assessed for membership programs such as those offered by Trilegiant. Consumers who see an unauthorized charge should write to their credit card or mortgage company and also file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office."

Use Of Deadly Force By South Portland Police Officers Legally Justified

January 9, 2007

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that two South Portland police officers, Theodore Sargent and Jeffrey Cogswell, were legally justified when they used deadly force against Donald H. Gray, 40, during the late evening of November 29, 2006, in South Portland. Mr. Gray died as the result of being shot by the two officers.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by the officers in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer's public duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat of unlawful deadly force.

Attorney General Rowe determined, based on the investigation conducted by his office and the application of controlling Maine law, that Officers Sargent and Cogswell actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was being imminently threatened against them by Donald Gray, and that the officers also actually and reasonably believed that the use of deadly force on their part was necessary to protect themselves and each other. Therefore, both requirements of the law having been met, the use of deadly force by Officers Sargent and Cogswell was legally justified.

The Attorney General's investigation revealed the following:

In the late evening of November 29, 2006, Herbert Gray, 74, called the South Portland Police Department for assistance. He said that his 40-year-old son, Donald H. Gray, had retrieved a handgun from his vehicle, brought the gun into the house and taken it into his bedroom after telling his parents to stay out of his room. Herbert said that this followed an argument with his son concerning a pending court matter involving credit card debt, and Donald, who had been living with his parents for the past few years, being told that he could no longer reside with his parents in their home.

Within minutes, South Portland police officers Sargent and Cogswell arrived at the residence. Both officers were in uniform. When the officers arrived, Herbert Gray was still on the telephone with the police dispatcher. Officer Sargent spoke briefly with Donald's mother, Jacqueline Gray, who confirmed that Donald had taken a handgun into his bedroom. Mrs. Gray also requested that the officers speak with her son.

Immediately following the arrival of Officers Sargent and Cogswell at the Gray residence, another South Portland officer, John Sutton, arrived at the residence. Officer Sutton directed Mr. and Mrs. Gray to an area of the residence a distance away from Donald Gray's bedroom and remained with them while Officers Sargent and Cogswell approached Donald's closed bedroom door.

According to Officers Sargent and Cogswell, Officer Sargent knocked on the bedroom door, identified himself as a police officer and asked Donald if he could speak with him. Donald responded that he was "going to bed," according to Officer Sargent. Officer Sargent stated that he then asked Donald if he had "a pistol." According to Officers Sargent and Cogswell, Donald gave no further verbal responses. At about this time, a fourth South Portland officer, Lt. Todd Bernard, the shift commander, arrived outside the residence.

Both Officers Sargent and Cogswell stated that, seconds later, they observed Donald's bedroom door being opened from the inside and they saw Donald standing in the doorway.1 During this very brief time period, Officer Sargent was on the left side of the hallway facing the door, with Officer Cogswell behind him. According to the officers, Donald said nothing. Both officers described seeing Donald "bent over" or leaning over towards a desk or dresser just inside the room, and that he appeared to be reaching for something, but they could not see his hands. Officer Sargent immediately moved from the left of the open door to the right. Officer Cogswell moved into the position vacated by Sargent. The officers were now side by side at the open door in the narrow hallway facing Donald. Both officers recalled drawing their service weapons while repositioning.

Officer Cogswell stated that he made repeated commands for Gray to "show his hands," and "don't do it." Officer Cogswell distinctly recalls hearing the sound of a magazine being inserted into a pistol, as well as the sound of the action on the pistol being worked as if chambering a round. Officer Sargent's recollection is not as specific as Cogswell's in this regard, although he described having the "impression" that a pistol was being manipulated as if a round was being chambered.

Both officers stated that they then saw Donald with a pistol in his hand. Officer Cogswell recognized the weapon as a Taurus brand pistol. The officers stated that they repeatedly ordered Donald to disarm, but that he made no verbal response and, instead, raised the weapon and pointed it at Officer Cogswell.2 Both officers simultaneously discharged their handguns, .45 caliber semiautomatic pistols, at Donald, who, struck by the rounds, fell to the floor fatally wounded. The distance between Donald and the two officers at the time of the shooting was approximately 3 to 4 feet.

It was later determined that each officer fired four rounds, all of which struck Donald. Donald's weapon, a Taurus 9mm semiautomatic pistol, was loaded with eight rounds, one of which was chambered. The investigation disclosed that Donald Gray had purchased the pistol in November 2002. A hundred-count box of 9mm ammunition found in Donald's vehicle after the shooting contained 92 rounds.

Detectives from the Office of the Attorney General went to the scene of the shooting in South Portland to conduct the investigation. They were assisted in the investigation by the South Portland Police Department, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and, later, the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory. The South Portland Police Department cooperated fully with the investigation and is conducting its own internal departmental review of the incident.

1 Both officers described Donald as a large man. It was later determined that he stood 5' 11" and weighed approximately 370 pounds.

2 The other persons at the residence ā€“ Officer Sutton, Lt. Bernard, and Mr. & Mrs. Gray ā€“ heard variations of the commands directed at Donald, namely, "what are you reaching for?;" "let me see your hands;" "don't do it; put it down." (Sutton); "Drop the gun, drop the gun." (Bernard); "Drop the gun." (Mr. Gray); "Donald, put the gun down." (Mrs. Gray). No one heard any response from Donald.

JESSICA MAURER, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8515

Rowe Sworn In For Fourth Time As Maine Attorney General

January 10, 2007

Today Steve Rowe was sworn in as Maine's Attorney General for the fourth and final term. Constitutional officers are statutorily prohibited from serving more than four consecutive terms. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and Treasurer David Lemoine were both sworn in for their second term.

"It is with a great deal of pride and gratitude that I begin my fourth and final term as Maine's Attorney General. Serving in this office continues to be one of the highest honors of my life." Rowe stated.

He went on to thank his wife and mother in law for their love and support. He also thanked the staff of the Office of the Attorney General who he called, "some of the smartest, most dedicated and hardest working people I have ever known."

Rowe was first sworn in as Attorney General in 2001. In his remarks he referred back to that day, "Six years ago, I said that I believe that the Office of the Attorney General had a special duty to protect the public rights of our most vulnerable citizens-particularly children, seniors and others who may be targets of abuse, neglect or unfair discrimination. And I believe today, that thanks to the hard work of the men and women of the Office of the Attorney General, we have been successful in protecting the rights of the most vulnerable among us."

DAVID LOUGHRAN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (207) 626-8577 OR david.loughran@maine.gov

Attorney General Steven Rowe Announces 9Th Annual "National Consumer Protection Week"

February 5, 2007

The Maine Office of the Attorney General has joined a group of federal, state, and local government agencies and national consumer advocacy organizations to launch the ninth annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), February 4-10, 2007. NCPW highlights consumer education efforts in the fight against fraud across the nation and here in Maine. This year, NCPW's national organizers encourage everyone to read up and reach out to be an informed consumer. By gathering and sharing information, consumers can be more confident, savvy, and safe in the marketplace.

Rowe stated, "The Attorney General's office works to protect consumers through education, advocacy and enforcement of the laws. If a person gets his or her identity stolen or is caught in a scam, the financial impact can be felt for years. My office encourages everyone to empower themselves by becoming savvy consumers."

Fraudulent promotions seek to exploit people's financial fantasies, needs, and optimism. But informed consumers are better able to see through frauds and deceptions, whether they take the form of questionable claims in an ad, "breathless" offers that come in the mail or by email, or schemes that sound like sure-fire successes.

NCPW partner organizations provide practical ā€“ and tactical ā€“ tips so consumers can learn and tell others how to make well-informed purchase decisions, avoid scams, protect their personal information, and file a complaint if they're not satisfied. "There is a wealth of information available to help consumers protect themselves. By spending just a few minutes on the AG's website (www.maine.gov/ag) Maine consumers can significantly boost their marketplace IQ." Rowe added

Organizers of this year's NCPW are the Federal Trade Commission , the Federal Citizen's Information Center , the U.S. Postal Service , the U.S. Postal Inspection Service , the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation , the Comptroller of the Currency, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators , the National Consumers League , AARP, the Better Business Bureau , Call for Action, the Consumer Federation of America, and the National Association of Attorneys General. You can find out more information on NCPW at www.consumer.gov/ncpw.

DAVID LOUGHRAN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (207) 626-8577 OR david.loughran@maine.gov

Attorney General Rowe Announces $90 Million Antitrust Settlement In Price Fixing Conspiracy

February 6, 2007

Attorney General Steve Rowe today announced a $90 million nationwide settlement with Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. and Samsung Electronics Company Ltd., resolving allegations that Samsung and most of the industry's other leading computer chip manufacturers fixed the prices of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM). DRAM is a type of computer chip used in all personal computers, servers, workstations and many other electronic devices. The money paid is restitution for consumers and State and local government agencies that paid more for computers and other electronic devices because of the price-fixing. Samsung admits no wrong-doing in the settlement, which is subject to court approval. Under the settlement's terms, Samsung has also agreed to strong injunctive relief that will require the company to refrain from conduct that could substantially lessen competition. Samsung will also cooperate with the states in continuing litigation against the other DRAM manufacturers.

"Over the years, this price fixing scheme impacted tens of thousands of Maine consumers. While its impact can never be erased, this settlement helps to right a wrong perpetrated against the people of Maine." Rowe said.

Maine and 38 other states continue to pursue their lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeking money for consumers and government agencies who paid higher prices for electronics from 1998 to 2002 as a result of alleged price-fixing by at least seven more companies including: Elpida Memory, Inc.; Hynix Semiconductor, Inc.; Infineon Technologies, AG; Micron Technology, Inc.; Mosel Vitelic, Inc.; Nanya Technology Corporation and NEC Electronics America, Inc. The states' suit follows a federal criminal investigation that exposed a scheme in which DRAM manufacturers coordinated the prices that they charged to original computer manufacturers; those overcharges were then passed on to consumers. Samsung, Hynix, Infineon, Elpida and numerous individuals have pleaded guilty to federal criminal price-fixing charges and collectively paid more than $730 million in fines.

DAVID LOUGHRAN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (207) 626-8548 OR david.loughran@maine.gov

Ag Rowe Gives Notice Of Consumers' Rights Under "Data Act"

February 6, 2007

Attorney General Steven Rowe advises individuals, businesses and other entities, including colleges and universities and State agencies, who maintain computerized data containing personal information, that effective January 31, 2007, they will become subject to the Notice of Risk to Personal Data Act, 10 M.R.S.A. S1346-1349 (Data Act). The Data Act requires notification to consumers when there has been a security breach of computerized data containing their personal information that could result in identity theft.

Rowe explained "This law will help people protect themselves from identity theft by alerting them early when someone has gained unauthorized access to their private information. Early notification will allow people to better monitor their financial records for suspicious activity."

The Data Act also requires that notice be given to the Attorney General's Office or to the appropriate agency within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation if the person, business or entity giving notice is regulated by that agency. Notice to the national consumer agencies is also required if notification to more than 1000 persons is required as a result of a security breach. Violations of the Data Act are civil violations for which fines and other equitable remedies may be imposed. The law is available on the State of Maine's internet site at http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/10/title10ch210-Bsec0.html.

For more information on the Data Act, visit http://www.maine.gov/ag/. Additionally, persons may direct question to the Attorney General's Office by calling AAG Linda Conti at 626 -8591.

DAVID LOUGHRAN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (207) 626-8577 OR david.loughran@maine.gov

Ag Rowe Announces "Consumer Matters" Television Show

February 12, 2007

Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that his office will launch a television program called "Consumer Matters" in an effort to better educate the people of Maine on how they can protect themselves in the marketplace. "The more information available to consumers, the better able they are to avoid getting hurt by unscrupulous practices, fraud and scams. "Consumer Matters" will act as another resource to help consumers protect themselves" Rowe stated.

The show will air twice a week, at 7:30 PM Thursdays and Fridays at 11:30 AM, on Time Warner local access stations. Each show will address one or two different topics that adversely affect Maine consumers. Experts on topics such as identity theft, foreign lottery scams, the State's Lemon Law, and home building contracts participate in a discussion with the show's host, Assistant Attorney General Jim McKenna. Public Service Announcements related to consumer topics will also air during each episode.

The first episode of "Consumer Matters" coincides with National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). NCPW is sponsored by the Maine Attorney General and consumer organizations across the country as a way to raise the awareness of fraud and scams and to teach people how to become more savvy consumers.

The first episode has two 15 minute segments, one which talks about Maine's Home Construction Contract Laws, the other deals with laws and rules surrounding home heating oil. "This episode is filled with information important to Maine consumers." Rowe commented. "We receive more complaints about home contracting than anything else, it is clearly a problem in this state."

Rowe went on to say, "With temperatures barely climbing out of the single digits this past week, it is important that people know their rights regarding the delivery of home heating fuel."

"Consumer Matters" was the idea of staff members in the Consumer Protection division of the Maine Attorney General's Office. It is produced locally and funded with money from the Consumer Fund, which is dedicated to carrying out the purposes of the Maine Unfair Trade Practice Act.

DAVID LOUGHRAN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (207) 626-8577 OR david.loughran@maine.gov

Rite Aid To Divest Gardiner Store, As Attorneys General, FTC Settle Merger

June 14, 2007

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that as a condition of its acquisition of numerous Brooks and Eckerd retail pharmacy outlets, Rite Aid will be required to divest or spin off the Brooks Pharmacy located at 397 Water Street in Gardiner. The same agreement also applies to 22 other stores located in states from New Hampshire to Virginia. Rite Aid is acquiring the stores from a Canadian company, The Jean Coutu Group. The divestitures are being required as part of a settlement entered into by Rite Aid with the Federal Trade Commission and the Attorneys General of seven states, including Maine. The settlement is reflected in a Consent Decree approved today in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Rowe explained, "We joined with the other states and the Federal Trade Commission to determine the impact this acquisition would have on consumers and determined that Rite Aid's purchase of the Brooks Pharmacy in Gardiner would substantially reduce competition in the local market." While it must divest the Gardiner store, Rite Aid is acquiring five other Maine outlets located in Bangor, Brewer, Freeport, Kittery and Waterville. Rowe praised the FTC's cooperative approach to the investigation. "It's a partnership," he stated. "The FTC provides important resources; our office provides the knowledge of local markets." The Maine Attorney General's office has an active merger review program, and encourages parties contemplating or wishing to provide information concerning a merger or acquisition to contact its antitrust section.

.


FRANCIS ACKERMAN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL CONTACT: (207) 626 8847

Attorney General Rowe Announces $5.5 Million Multistate Prescritption Drug Settlement

June 14, 2007

Attorney General Steve Rowe today announced the settlement of a civil enforcement action against the makers of the popular oral contraceptive product Ovcon. The lawsuit, joined by thirty-three other states and the District of Columbia, charged Warner Chilcott and Barr Pharmaceuticals with antitrust violations that have prevented generic versions of Ovcon from reaching the marketplace. As part of the settlement, Warner Chilcott will pay $5.5 million to Maine and the other litigating states.

"Access to generic drugs helps to contain the ever-increasing cost of health care. Without generics, many Mainers would be unable to afford the prescription their physicians prescribe." Rowe said, "The conduct in this case was particularly egregious. These companies conspired to keep a generic off the market, thereby ensuring the continuation of high consumer prices. The conduct both violated the law and hurt consumers."

The civil complaint was filed in 2005 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The suit alleges that Warner Chilcott paid Barr $20 million to keep Barr from marketing a generic version of Ovcon. According to the lawsuit, Ovcon has been sold in the United States since 1976 as an oral contraceptive, and Warner Chilcott became the exclusive U.S. distributor of Ovcon in early 2000.

During 2003, Barr publicly announced that it planned to have a generic version of Ovcon on the market by the end of that year. The lawsuit alleges that Warner Chilcott paid Barr $1 million in September 2003 for an option agreement designed to prevent Barr's generic product from coming to market. Under the terms of the alleged agreement, once Barr received FDA approval to market generic Ovcon®, Warner Chilcott had 90 days to pay Barr $19 million, after which Barr would refuse to bring the cheaper generic version to the market.

"The agreement between Warner Chilcott and Barr is precisely the type of anticompetitive conduct by drug companies that results in higher prescription prices for the people of Maine" said Rowe. Because this lawsuit was filed as a civil enforcement action, the states sought civil penalties and equitable relief. The relief that was obtained through the settlement will help ensure that Warner Chilcott does not engage in similar conduct in the future. Maine's portion of the settlement will be between $85,000 and $90,000. The money will be used to help prevent anticompetitive behavior through education and by bringing additional enforcement actions against companies that engage in illegal, anticompetitive actions.

The settlement involved only Warner Chilcott. The lawsuit against Barr Pharmaceuticals will continue moving forward in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General (207) 626-8577 or david.loughran@maine.gov

Rowe Announces Settlement Over Oxycontin Advertising Practices

June 14, 2007

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that Maine and 25 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, have reached a settlement with Purdue Pharma regarding the narcotic pain medication OxyContin. The settlement resolves concerns that Purdue had engaged in extensive off-label marketing of OxyContin, a time-released, Schedule II opioid used for pain management of moderate to severe pain over an extended period of time, and that Purdue failed to adequately disclose abuse and diversion risks associated with the drug in violation of the states' respective consumer protection statutes.

Rowe said, "OxyContin abuse has ravaged the lives of thousands of Mainers, including entire families and communities. It has also contributed to increased crime rates and emergency medical treatment."

"Had Purdue Pharma limited its marketing to the drug's approved uses and disclosed the drug's abuse and diversion risks up front, it is likely that much of the devastation could have been prevented. This is a clear example of a pharmaceutical company putting corporate profits above the health and welfare of people."

The settlement, in the form of a Consent Judgment, has been filed in Kennebec County Superior Court. The settlement requires Purdue to market and promote OxyContin only in line with FDA-approved uses, prohibiting Purdue from making any false, misleading or deceptive claim regarding OxyContin. It also requires the company to continue its "OxyContin Abuse and Diversion Detection Program," established internally to detect problem prescribing, and requires all field personnel to undergo training on the program before being allowed to promote OxyContin.

Among the particular restrictions and requirements contained in the settlements, are provisions that Purdue must:

  • market and promote OxyContin in a manner consistent with its package insert and not in a manner that minimizes the approved uses for the drug;
  • not market or promote OxyContin for off-label purposes a€" those beyond the approved indications and uses of the drug;
  • have any recipient of funds or other remuneration for grants publicly disclose the existence of that remuneration;
  • not sponsor or fund any educational events where Purdue has knowledge that a speaker will recommend the off-label use of OxyContin;
  • not base Purdue sales representatives' bonuses solely on the volume of OxyContin prescribed; and
  • take into account in performance evaluations sales representatives' educating prescribers about OxyContin and its potential for abuse and diversion.

Finally, the settlement provides for a monetary payment by Purdue to the states in the amount of $19,500,000. Maine's share of the settlement is $719,500.

Taking part in the investigation of Purdue's business practices, as well as in today's settlement, are the following states : Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

U.S. Supreme Court To Hear State's Appeal In Internet-Tobacco Sales Case

June 25, 2007

Today, the United States Supreme Court announced that it has agreed to review the case Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transport, 06-457 filed against the State of Maine by motor transport associations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. The associations challenged the 2003 Maine law that requires that internet tobacco retailers utilize carriers who take specific actions to ensure that packages containing tobacco products are not delivered to minors. Attorney General Steve Rowe stated "We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this important case. States have the right and the duty to protect the health and safety of children. This state law does just that by preventing youth access to tobacco products." In the brief petitioning the Supreme Court to take the case, the Attorney General had criticized the lower court decision by stating that it ''leaves delivery sales of tobacco to children unregulated by any government, a result nowhere suggested by Congress or supported by common sense.'' Rowe also noted: "The state law also levels the playing field between "bricks and mortar" retail stores in Maine and internet and mail order retailers when it comes to age verification." Attorney General Rowe said that his office will likely file the State's brief in August and that the Supreme Court will likely hear the oral argument in the case in December. Background

In 2003, the Maine Legislature found that internet and telephone sales of tobacco products had become a serious problem and that, by means of delivery services, enterprising retailers were seeking to avoid over-the-counter age verification requirements by selling the tobacco products to minors and delivering them not over-the-counter, but rather through third-party carriers such as UPS. In response to this dangerous practice, the Legislature enacted "An Act To Regulate the Delivery and Sales of Tobacco Products and To Prevent the Sale of Tobacco Products to Minors," Me. Pub. L. 2003, c. 444.

One section of the Act requires retailers who ship tobacco products to use a delivery service that requires the purchaser to be the addressee, the addressee to be of legal age to purchase tobacco products and sign for the package, and, if the addressee is under 27 years old, to present a valid identification showing proof of age.

The Act also requires retailers who ship tobacco products to clearly indicate on the package that it contains tobacco products, and carriers must check packages to determine whether they bear such markings.

On October 10, 2003, three trade associations whose members include such companies as UPS, Federal Express and DHL filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Maine and claimed that the state Act is preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994.

On May 27, 2005, the District Court held that the state law was preempted by the federal law and ruled in favor of the trade associations. The Attorney General appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. On May 19, 2006, the First Circuit issued its decision effectively affirming the lower court's decision. The Attorney General then filed a petition asking the United States Supreme Court to review the matter.

David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General
(207) 626-8577 or david.loughran@maine.gov

Rowe: State Demands Myspace Turn Over Information On Registered Sex Offenders

June 27, 2007

Yesterday, Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe filed an investigative demand with Fox Interactive Media, the parent company of the popular online social networking site Myspace.com. In December 2006 Myspace hired Sentinel Tech Holdings to develop a tool to check the site for registered sex offenders. Sentinel Tech's SAFE tool uncovered thousands of registered sex offenders with profiles on the site.

"Protecting our children from predators online is as important as protecting them in our neighborhoods." Rowe stated. "Registered sex offenders in Maine may be violating conditions of release by having contact with children through social networking sites. We need to put a stop to this behavior."

The letter from Attorney General Rowe demands that all subscriber information pertaining to any Myspace user, identified through the Sentinel SAFE tool as a registered sex offender in Maine, be provided to the Attorney General. Such information includes the users: name, postal code, country, email address, the date the account was created, the IP address for the computer the account was created with and logs showing IP address and date stamps for account access. It also demand that the identification of registered sex offenders in Maine that have been deleted from Myspace.

"By providing information on registered sex offenders who are using the site, Myspace can help protect Maine children. Simply deleting the profiles of sex offenders does not go far enough." Rowe added. "Law enforcement needs this information to make sure that children are safe and sex offenders are not violating conditions of their release."

Nationwide there have been more than 7,000 registered sex offenders found to have Myspace profiles. This does not include offenders who are using fake identities to set up their account. "While the information Myspace provides will help to protect kids, it is no substitute for parents vigilantly monitoring who their children are talking to online." Rowe said.

Carlos Diaz, Assistant Attorney General, (207) 822-0259
David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, (207) 626-8577

Attorney General Rowe Announces Settlement With America Online Regarding Cancellation Issues

July 12, 2007

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe today announced a settlement with AOL, one of the nation's largest Internet service providers, requiring the company to make significant changes in honoring consumer cancellation requests and further ordering refunds for consumers.

The settlement, which was filed by Maine and 47 other states as well as the District of Columbia, resolves complaints in which consumers have alleged difficulty and confusion in attempting to cancel their AOL paid services. AOL formerly limited the methods available for consumers to cancel their accounts, such that the majority of consumers attempted to cancel by directly calling AOL. Customer service representatives received incentives for retaining or "saving" customers in lieu of cancellation, and consumers complained that as a result, cancellation was extremely difficult if not impossible. Today's agreement puts strict limitations on this practice and requires recording and verification of these telephone calls. In addition, the agreement expands consumers' options by allowing them to cancel through a simple online method via the website http://cancel.aol.com.

"Because AOL made it nearly impossible to cancel accounts, consumers were often saddled with products they did not want." Rowe stated. "This settlement forces AOL to adopt cancellation methods that are easy for consumers to use."

The agreement further requires AOL to make broad refunds to consumers who have complained of unauthorized charges for AOL service. In addition to resolving any outstanding complaints, the company will be adopting an ongoing process of refunding consumers for unauthorized charges, and will continue to cooperate with the states in these efforts.

Today's settlement also addresses a number of other billing practices that created consumer confusion. Specifically, AOL will be revising its disclosures regarding reactivation of terminated accounts as well as its disclosures relating to accounts billed directly to a consumer's monthly telephone bill. AOL will also significantly revise its practice of allowing consumers to create "spin off" accounts - which are additional paid accounts for AOL service stemming from one original membership. These accounts can now only be created over the phone in a recorded conversation with a customer service agent, who must make detailed disclosures of the applicable costs.

"AOL was not providing customers the opportunity to be informed about services they had purchased." Rowe added, "AOL can no longer hide information. New disclosure rules will let consumers know exactly what services they are receiving, and at what cost."

The settlement further requires AOL to reimburse Maine $45,000. The settlement for the 48 states and the District of Columbia totals $3,000,000.

The other participants in today's settlement are the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia Wisconsin, and Wyoming, the Commonwealths of Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General
(207) 626-8577 or david.loughran@maine.gov

Bouchard Convicted In Financial Exploitation Case

August 21, 2007

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that Albert Bouchard of Limestone, a former caseworker for DHHS Bureau of Elder and Adult Services, has been sentenced to jail for diverting funds from four of his elderly and incapacitated clients for his personal use. Bouchard, age 47, was charged with having misappropriated over $9,000 from clients to purchase fine jewelry, electronics, gift certificates and furniture for the benefit of himself, his family and his girlfriend over a 15 month period in 2001 through 2003.

"What made this case especially egregious was the calculated and deceptive nature of the theft." said Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin.

Following Bouchard's plea of guilty to the theft charge, Justice Allen Hunter sentenced him on August 17, 2007 to two years in jail, all but 30 days suspended. The jail time will be followed by five months of "house arrest," during which time Bouchard will be permitted to leave his house only for work, community service, parent teacher conferences, and medical appointments. He will serve two years of probation, when he will be required to complete 200 hours of community service. He paid full restitution on the day of sentencing, and commenced his jail time immediately.

According to the Attorney General's Office, Bouchard charged a $300 digital camera to the account of one elderly lady with dementia, and made several cash withdrawals from her account. He used another client's account to purchase a $1,300 large screen television for his home, and delivered a 27 inch used television to the nursing facility at which the client was living. He charged the accounts of two clients with dementia for several pieces of expensive jewelry, including $600 for a diamond anniversary ring and $700 for a gold rope chain necklace, but delivered inexpensive substitutes to the clients, who were then residing at nursing care facilities. He also charged gift certificates on three client accounts to the Aroostook Centre Mall in Presque Isle in December, 2002; the gift certificates were given as Christmas gifts to his then wife, children, his girlfriend and her children, who later redeemed them at various Mall stores.

"Albert Bouchard worked for the agency that is charged with protecting the elderly from predators like Albert Bouchard. He committed a gross abuse of the trust placed in him by the State to care for our most vulnerable citizens." Rowe Commented. "Bouchard's conduct unfairly tarnishes the reputation of the many other dedicated caseworkers who strive to care and protect the elderly. My Office will continue to work with the Bureau of Elder and Adult Services in its mission to protect our elders from financial exploitation."

As a result of Bouchard's misappropriation, DHHS has instituted additional safeguards to ensure that expenditures of client funds are appropriate and made for their benefit.

Rowe praised the coordination between the Office of Elder Services and the Office of the Attorney General, "I commend the work of Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin, Detective Chick Love and Bureau of Elder and Adult Regional Supervisor Rick Mooers, without whom this conviction would not have been possible."

Leanne Robbin
Assistant Attorney General, (207) 626-8581

Attorney General And Department Of Agriculture Warn Farmers Of "Overpayment" Scam

August 31, 2007

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe and Maine Agriculture Commissioner Seth Bradstreet III issued the following consumer warning:

The Maine Department of Agriculture has received several complaints from Maine farmers regarding a scam in which a person from out of state inquires about purchasing hay. The scammer then sends the farmer a check (that is either fraudulent or drawn on an account with no money in it) for an amount greater than the cost of the hay purchased. Due to the overpayment, the farmer is asked to wire the difference back to the scammer. When the check fails to clear, the farmer is out the money.

"We have seen this type of scam before. In the past it has involved predominately eBay transactions, but thieves are constantly changing their methods and looking for new victims." stated Attorney General Rowe

Upon deposit, the amount of the check oftentimes appears to be available in the bank account. This does not mean that the check has cleared or will clear. The Office of the Attorney General encourages anyone who is asked to wire money as the result of an overpayment to ask their bank to notify them when the check has cleared. After they have received notification from the bank, they can determine whether or not it is a legitimate transaction.

"Maine farmers work too hard to see their money stolen by thieves who hide behind veils of anonymity provided by out-of-state phone calls and wire transfers," Commissioner Bradstreet noted. "If farmers believe they are contacted by one of these scam artists they should not hesitate to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division."

The number for the AG's Consumer Protection Division is (800) 436-2131.

David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Oakland Woman Sentenced For Not Paying Taxes, Passing Bad Checks

August 22, 2007

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe today announced the conviction and sentencing of Kathleen Thompson of Oakland, Maine for failure to pay over collected fuel tax to the State of Maine, and for negotiating worthless instruments. Thompson operated the now defunct business Petroleum Products Cooperative of Maine, Inc., also known as PPCOM, Inc.

In June, Thompson plead guilty to three felony counts of negotiating worthless checks and three misdemeanor counts of failing to pay collected fuel taxes to the Maine State Tax Assessor. She was sentenced Monday, August 20, 2007 to three years in jail, with all but seven months suspended, to be followed by three years of probation. She was sentenced by Justice Nancy Mills in Kennebec County Superior Court. Thompson was also ordered to pay $268,000 of restitution to the State of Maine and ordered to perform 600 hours of community service work during her period of probation. Thompson will serve her 7 months of incarceration at the Kennebec County Jail, beginning August 24, 2007.

Maine Revenue Services Acting Executive Director Jerome Gerard commented, "This conviction and sentence are a fitting punishment for her failure to pay taxes and for passing checks she knew to be bad."

Thompson was the President, Treasurer and majority stockholder of PPCOM, Inc., an oil distribution company that provided gasoline, diesel fuel and heating oil to retailers and large institutional customers such as municipalities and school districts. Pursuant to audits conducted in 2005 and 2006, Maine Revenue Services discovered that PPCOM had failed to pay nearly $3 million in fuel taxes to the State that it had collected from its customers during a four year period running from 2001 to 2005. A subsequent criminal investigation revealed that in order to try to keep the company afloat, Thompson had also written a number of large, but worthless checks from an account that had no money, knowing that the checks would not be honored. Assistant Attorney General William Baghdoyan, the prosecutor in the case, characterized these checks as a type of "check-kiting" scheme to make PPCOM's bank account appear to have sufficient funds to pay its bills.

"Ms. Thompson took deliberate, criminal action to try and save her failing enterprise," stated Assistant Attorney General Bill Baghdoyan. "Her actions withheld millions of dollars from the State and left many consumers without the heating fuel they had purchased."

A few months after the large fuel tax liability was discovered, PPCOM declared bankruptcy and went out of business, leaving a number of customers who had entered into pre-paid fuel delivery contracts without needed fuel for vehicles and for heating.

Bill Baghdoyan, Assistant Attorney General, (207) 626-8512
Jerry Gerard, Acting Executive Director MRS, (207) 624-7854

State Settles Antitrust Suit Over Pike's Acquisition Of Blue Rock

August 31, 2007

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that his office has resolved antitrust concerns stemming from the December 2005 purchase by Pike Industries, Inc. ("Pike") of Blue Rock Industries ("Blue Rock") of Westbrook, Maine. The Attorney General has filed a Complaint in Kennebec County Superior Court against Pike, along with a proposed settlement agreed to by Pike. The settlement, in the form of a Consent Judgment, must be approved by the court. While Pike has entered into the consent agreement for purposes of settlement, the company denies that the acquisition violated antitrust laws.

"This settlement ensures the continuation of a level playing field in the aggregate and hot mix asphalt industry." Rowe stated, "Aggregate and hot mix asphalt are essential components in the roads, driveways, and parking lots that Mainers use everyday. It is therefore vital that no one company develop a monopoly in such an important industry."

Attorney General Rowe's Complaint charges that Pike's December 2005 acquisition of the business assets of Blue Rock (Pike's largest competitor in Southern Maine) reduced competition and violated state antitrust laws. Both companies produce aggregates and manufacture and install hot mix asphalt used in the construction of roads and parking lots. Pike's purchase of Blue Rock leaves only a handful of competitors for State-funded paving projects in the southern Maine area.

The Consent Judgment would require Pike to do the following:

1. Sell stone mined from its Westbrook Quarry in sizes appropriate for use in Maine QA/QC* projects to any firm intending to use the stone to produce hot mix for use in Maine QA/QC projects for the next four years and at a price not to exceed the price it charged in 2006, adjusted annually by the price index set by the Bureau of Labor Statistics;

2. Enter into an agreement (subject to AG involvement) permitting any firm performing a State of Maine Department of Transportation QA/QC project to locate a portable hot mix plant into Pike's Westbrook Facility solely for the purpose of producing hot mix asphalt to install on any DOT QA/QC project, also for the next four years;

3. Provide written notice to the Attorney General at least sixty (60) days prior to acquiring an ownership or controling interst in aggregate resources or hot mix asphalt plants located in the State of Maine from firms engaged in the building and maintenance of roads; and

4. Pay $20,000 in costs to the Attorney General.

Pike has facilities across southern and central Maine, as well is in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

* Quality Assurance/Quality Control

Tina Moylan, Assistant Attorney General, (207) 626-8588

David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Attorney General Rowe Announces Release Of Northeast Petroleum Market Report

September 18, 2007

Commissioned by the attorneys general of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York to examine gasoline and heating oil markets within those states, the report provides an overview of market conditions that may affect the prices of petroleum products sold in New England and New York.

"Whether it is heating our homes or driving to work, the high price of gas and heating oil impacts Maine people every day." Rowe said. "Historically it has been thought that fluctuations in the price of petroleum products were caused by natural disasters, prolonged cold spells or other factors beyond our control." The Attorney General added: "The factual information in this report will help us to better understand the causes of severe price fluctuations."

Noting that the report concluded that over 80% of observed variation in average retail gasoline prices is explained by variation in the average price of crude oil, Rowe remarked: "To a large extent, this report corroborates conclusions drawn by my office two years ago. The price of gas and heating oil is driven by factors outside of Maine and fundamental reforms to stabilize and rationalize petroleum markets must be enacted."

The new report examines multiple facets of the gasoline and heating oil industry in Maine and the region including; wholesale and retail markets, transportation, product storage, and the structure of the supply and distribution chain.

Included is a discussion of federal, state and local regulations that may affect wholesale and retail gasoline markets, such as environmental regulations and state and local excise taxes. In addition, the report addresses the impact of the futures market for petroleum products on the price consumers pay. It also touches on how the role of non regulated, "over-the-counter" trades by private parties affect the prices for crude oil, gasoline, and heating oil in Maine and the region.

In 2005 the Maine Office of the Attorney General investigated the factors that precipitated sharp increase in gas prices following hurricane Katrina. As a result of that investigation, Attorney General Rowe wrote to Maine's Congressional delegation, urging an independent, professional and in-depth study of these markets as a basis for fundamental reforms designed to stabilize and rationalize petroleum markets. Rowe suggested a focus on three areas: 1) over-concentration in the refinery industry, 2) a need to review the regulatory regime governing the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the commodities markets where petroleum futures are traded among petroleum companies, speculators and hedge funds, and 3) the unregulated operations of the off-exchange market in over-the-counter derivatives.

The Center for State Enforcement of Antitrust and Consumer Protection Laws Inc. (The Center) provided partial funding for the report through a grant to the Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont attorneys general. The full report is available for review at: http://www.statecenterinc.org/

David Lougrhan,
Special Assistant to the Attorney General, 626-8577

STATE LEADERS SOUND THE ALARM ABOUT STALKING

October 20, 2001

CONTACTS: Gretchen Ziemer, ME Coalition to End Domestic Violence (207) 941-1194 (gretchen@mcedv.org) Sarah Stewart, ME Coalition to Against Sexual Assault (207) 626-0034 (awareness@mecasa.org) David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General (207) 626-8577 (david.loughran@maine.gov)

Yesterday more than 30 volunteers gathered at the Department of Public Safety to sound the alarm about stalking and to assemble 1000 stalking safety kits which will be distributed across the state and made available to stalking victims.

Speaking to the crowd of volunteers, Attorney General Steve Rowe said that as a society, we haven’t been clear that stalking behavior is unacceptable and dangerous. His message was simple, “Stalking is a serious crime that can and does lead to other crimes like physical assault, sexual assault and murder.” Rowe continued, “If you try to manage a stalker on your own, you could be putting yourself in even greater danger.” He encouraged victims to report stalking behavior to law enforcement and to reach out to other community resources for help.

Governor Baldacci has proclaimed January Stalking Awareness Month in Maine. Victim advocates from the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV) and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA) organized this stalking safety kit assembly event to educate the public about the pervasive crime of stalking and to create valuable tools for victim safety.

Nicky Blanchard, MCEDV Public Awareness and Prevention Coordinator, said, “Although stalking prevalence is high in Maine, public awareness about stalking as a crime remains dangerously low. One in 12 women and one in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime, for an average duration of almost two years. Stalking safety kits empower stalking victims with tools to help them focus on safety, document the crime and access available resources.” Blanchard highlighted the 2006 Maine Crime Victimization Survey that found that about 12% of respondents were victims of stalking behavior in the past year.

Only a few domestic violence projects and sexual assault support centers in Maine currently have a supply of stalking safety kits, which include flashlights, disposable cameras, journals and pens, cell phone programmed to 9-1-1, whistles, rubber gloves and plastic bags for evidence collection, as well as information about stalking resources. Through generous funding from the Department of Public Safety and Northern District Wal-Mart stores, sexual assault and domestic violence advocates were able to assemble 1,000 stalking safety kits and distribute them in communities throughout the state.

“As a company employing over 2,500 people in northern Maine, we see domestic violence and stalking situations every day. We need to do something to stop this and prevent people from getting hurt,” said Don Emmons, Community Involvement Coordinator, Brewer Wal-Mart. The Northern District Wal-Mart stores donated $3,200 to help purchase materials for the stalking safety kits.

Donna Strickler, Executive Director of Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center, explained that over the last several months domestic violence and sexual assault advocates have been cross-trained to provide advocacy and support to all victims of stalking. Strickler said, “Stalking instills great fear and anxiety in victims and it is often devastating to their lives. We want victims to know that help is only a phone call away.”

MCEDV and MECASA are committed to providing support, safety planning and other resources to stalking victims regardless of their relationship to the perpetrator. Victims should be directed to call the statewide domestic violence helpline: 1.866.834.HELP or the statewide sexual assault crisis and support line: 1.800.871.7741 (or TTY: 1-888-458-5599) for support.

There were insufficient funds to purchase cell phones. Please ask the public to drop off their old cell phones at their local domestic violence project or sexual assault center.

1000 Stalking Safety Kits Assembled and Available for Victims

State Leaders Sound The Alarm About Stalking

January 10, 2008

1000 Stalking Safety Kits Assembled and Available for Victims

Yesterday more than 30 volunteers gathered at the Department of Public Safety to sound the alarm about stalking and to assemble 1000 stalking safety kits which will be distributed across the state and made available to stalking victims.

Speaking to the crowd of volunteers, Attorney General Steve Rowe said that as a society, we haven’t been clear that stalking behavior is unacceptable and dangerous. His message was simple, “Stalking is a serious crime that can and does lead to other crimes like physical assault, sexual assault and murder.” Rowe continued, “If you try to manage a stalker on your own, you could be putting yourself in even greater danger.” He encouraged victims to report stalking behavior to law enforcement and to reach out to other community resources for help.

Governor Baldacci has proclaimed January Stalking Awareness Month in Maine. Victim advocates from the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV) and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA) organized this stalking safety kit assembly event to educate the public about the pervasive crime of stalking and to create valuable tools for victim safety.

Nicky Blanchard, MCEDV Public Awareness and Prevention Coordinator, said, “Although stalking prevalence is high in Maine, public awareness about stalking as a crime remains dangerously low. One in 12 women and one in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime, for an average duration of almost two years. Stalking safety kits empower stalking victims with tools to help them focus on safety, document the crime and access available resources.” Blanchard highlighted the 2006 Maine Crime Victimization Survey that found that about 12% of respondents were victims of stalking behavior in the past year.

Only a few domestic violence projects and sexual assault support centers in Maine currently have a supply of stalking safety kits, which include flashlights, disposable cameras, journals and pens, cell phone programmed to 9-1-1, whistles, rubber gloves and plastic bags for evidence collection, as well as information about stalking resources. Through generous funding from the Department of Public Safety and Northern District Wal-Mart stores, sexual assault and domestic violence advocates were able to assemble 1,000 stalking safety kits and distribute them in communities throughout the state.

“As a company employing over 2,500 people in northern Maine, we see domestic violence and stalking situations every day. We need to do something to stop this and prevent people from getting hurt,” said Don Emmons, Community Involvement Coordinator, Brewer Wal-Mart. The Northern District Wal-Mart stores donated $3,200 to help purchase materials for the stalking safety kits.

Donna Strickler, Executive Director of Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center, explained that over the last several months domestic violence and sexual assault advocates have been cross-trained to provide advocacy and support to all victims of stalking. Strickler said, “Stalking instills great fear and anxiety in victims and it is often devastating to their lives. We want victims to know that help is only a phone call away.”

MCEDV and MECASA are committed to providing support, safety planning and other resources to stalking victims regardless of their relationship to the perpetrator. Victims should be directed to call the statewide domestic violence helpline: 1.866.834.HELP or the statewide sexual assault crisis and support line: 1.800.871.7741 (or TTY: 1-888-458-5599) for support.

There were insufficient funds to purchase cell phones. Please ask the public to drop off their old cell phones at their local domestic violence project or sexual assault center.

CONTACTS: Gretchen Ziemer, ME Coalition to End Domestic Violence (207) 941-1194 (gretchen@mcedv.org) Sarah Stewart, ME Coalition to Against Sexual Assault (207) 626-0034 (awareness@mecasa.org) David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General (207) 626-8577 (david.loughran@maine.gov)

Attorney General Report on Law Enforcement Officer’s Use of Deadly Force on October 27, 2007

January 11, 2008

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today, January 11, 2008, that he has determined that Gorham Police Officer Dean Hannon was legally justified when he fired his weapon at a vehicle occupied by Andy V. Luong, age 22, the night of October 27, 2007, on Route 25 near 475 Ossipee Trail Road in Gorham.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by Officer Hannon in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer’s public duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person or at a moving vehicle is deadly force under Maine law.)

Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on the investigation and legal analysis conducted by his office, Officer Hannon actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was imminently threatened by Mr. Luong against him. Further, based on the investigation and legal analysis, Attorney General Rowe determined that Officer Hannon actually and reasonably believed that deadly force on his part was necessary to protect him from the imminent threat.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office’s investigation:

In the late evening hours of October 27, 2007, an armed confrontation, which included an exchange of gunfire, took place in the parking lot of the Howard’s Sports Center in Saco. Following the fatal shooting of Seiha Srey, Andy Luong and two other individuals involved in the confrontation escaped from the scene in a 2002 white Mercury Sable sedan, with Maine registration plate number 5535NZ. The Saco Police Department responded to citizen calls concerning the gunfight and alerted area law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for the escape vehicle. The Saco Police notifications included information that there were possibly three suspects, a potential hostage and that the vehicle’s occupants were armed with an assault rifle and were considered high-threat suspects.

At approximately 11:00 P.M. on October 27, 2007, Buxton Police Officer Kimberly Emery, in response to the Saco Police broadcast, was situated in her marked police vehicle surveilling the area of Route 112 for automobile traffic traveling from Saco into her jurisdiction. Emery observed the white Mercury Sable and advised her dispatcher. Emery requested assistance before attempting to affect a vehicle stop. Within minutes, Buxton Police Officer Christine LaBranche in her own marked police vehicle took up a position following Emery who was maintaining visual contact with the suspect Mercury. At or near the intersection of Routes 112 and 202 in Buxton, Emery activated the emergency lights of her vehicle and tried to initiate a traffic stop. The Mercury sedan continued on and accelerated through a red traffic light initiating what became a 14 mile police pursuit.

Shortly after the pursuit began, Gorham Police Officer Dean Hannon, while on duty, was at his home in Gorham changing his uniform as a result of a previous police action. Hannon heard police radio traffic advising that the Buxton Police were involved in a high speed chase along Route 112 traveling in the direction of Gorham. Officer Hannon contacted the Cumberland County Communications dispatcher, advised that he was available and asked whether on-duty Gorham Police Officer Sears Edwards wanted him to respond to assist in the pursuit. Hannon was advised to do so. Hannon was joined in a collective effort by Officer Edwards and another on-duty Gorham Police Officer, Theodore Hatch.

In an effort to intersect the pursuit, Officer Hannon traveled in his marked police vehicle along certain roadways he anticipated would allow him to converge with the pursuing officers. He learned from police radio communications that Officer Hatch had deployed a spike mat on Route 112 in the vicinity of the Finn Parker Road and Hannon then positioned himself further along Route 112 for the purpose of deploying a second spike mat.

Almost immediately, Officer Hannon encountered the suspect vehicle being pursued by other officers. According to Hannon, he positioned his own vehicle across the roadway leaving an access route for the suspect driver, who, upon encountering Hannon’s police vehicle, directed the Mercury within “inches” of the stationary cruiser.

Officer Hannon gave chase and became the lead police vehicle which made up a multi-cruiser pursuit. It was at this point, that Hannon stated that he learned via radio traffic that the occupant(s) of the Mercury were believed to be in the possession of a firearm. Hannon (as did other officers) observed the Mercury operate repetitively into oncoming traffic while traveling some 15 to 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, failing to stop as directed by the emergency vehicle lights and sirens.

As the pursuit continued, Officer Hannon utilized the spotlight of his cruiser to illuminate the interior of the Mercury. He stated that he could observe one individual (the driver) but could not be certain if there were others concealed within. The Mercury had incurred damage to both the front and rear tires on the driver’s side as a result of the spike mat deployment by Officer Hatch. When the pursuit entered Route 25 in Gorham, the total complement of officers involved at that point included Hannon, followed by Emery, LaBranche, York County Sheriff’s Deputy Shawn Sanborn, Buxton Police Officer Michael Grovo and Officer Hatch. Given the totality of the circumstance and the danger to the public safety, Officer Hannon chose to maneuver his vehicle forward of the suspect Mercury and to gain sufficient distance from where he could stop and deploy a second spike mat. Hannon was successful in passing the Mercury and, once in front, Hannon slowed to try to get the Mercury operator to slow down as well. The Mercury operator then attempted to pass Hannon. Hannon accelerated and, once an adequate distance forward of the Mercury, Hannon brought his vehicle to a stop along Route 25 (also known as the Ossipee Trail Road) at or about number 475 Ossipee Trail Road. At approximately 11:17 P.M., Hannon exited his vehicle and prepared to deploy a spike mat. The emergency lights of Hannon’s vehicle were operational as were the emergency lights and sirens of the police vehicles pursuing the Mercury.

The operator of the Mercury, now traveling on a fully deflated left rear tire and the rim on the front left, slowed and brought his vehicle to a stop some 139 feet from Officer Hannon’s position.

Officer Hannon stated that, due to Mercury’s headlights, he could not see any movement inside the Mercury. Hannon stated that he felt vulnerable to gunfire from the occupant(s) of the Mercury from his position behind his cruiser (as he was silhouetted by his cruiser’s flashing emergency lights). Hannon un-holstered his weapon, made his way around the portion of his police vehicle furthest from the Mercury and then began to quickly move in a southwesterly direction across Route 25 (to the left from Hannon’s perspective) to take cover behind a truck that was parked near the roadside. Hannon stated that, as he proceeded on foot across Route 25 with his handgun out, he heard the sound of what he believed to be a gunshot from a high powered rifle and observed barrel flash from inside the Mercury. Hannon stated that, while “completely exposed” to the occupant(s) of the Mercury at this point, he believed he was under fire and, being absent of any cover, feared for his safety.

Officer Hannon stated that he “crouched down” and discharged his .40 caliber Glock service weapon, what he believed to be one time at the Mercury. He then moved forward “a step or two” and fired what he believed to be a second round at the Mercury. Hannon continued on foot across Route 25 until he reached the roadside and took cover. (Although Hannon recalled firing two rounds, the investigation revealed that he actually discharged his service weapon a total of three times in the maneuver.)

During the minutes that followed, Officer Hannon and other officers made a tactical approach to the Mercury and found the sole occupant to be Andy V. Luong. It was obvious to those officers that Luong had suffered a traumatic injury, was blood-soaked and unconscious. Luong was holding a Kalashnikov style AK-47 7.62 mm assault rifle with the barrel pointed upwards and his hand along the trigger mechanism. Hannon, in the company of other officers, used a metal baton to smash out the driver’s side window of the Mercury and Hannon disarmed Luong who offered no resistance and showed no sign of life.

Emergency medical personnel were called to the scene. Based on life sign evaluations, they concluded Luong was deceased.

Based on the investigation, which included an on-scene examination by the Deputy Chief Medical Examiner as well as an autopsy, it was determined that Mr. Luong died as the result of a single self-inflicted gunshot from the assault rifle into his mouth. The bullet exited the back of Mr. Luong’s head and shattered the left rear passenger window of the Mercury. It was also determined that the rounds fired by Officer Hannon did not strike Mr. Luong or the vehicle.

Detectives from the Attorney General’s Office went to the scene of the shooting to conduct an investigation. They were assisted by detectives and forensic specialists from the Maine State Police. The Gorham Police Department cooperated fully with the investigation.

* * * * *

David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Attorney General Report on Law Enforcement Officer’s Use of Deadly Force on November 3, 2007

January 11, 2008

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today, January 11, 2008, that he has determined that Cumberland County Deputy Sheriff Andrew Feeney was legally justified when he shot and wounded Peter M. Ronfeldt, age 28, the night of November 3, 2007, outside the home of Ronfeldt’s father on the River Road in Limington.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by Deputy Feeney in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer’s public duty.

Under the Maine Criminal Code, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. With respect to a firearm, intentionally or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person or at a moving vehicle is deadly force under Maine law.)

Attorney General Rowe determined that, based on the investigation and legal analysis conducted by his office, Deputy Feeney actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was imminently threatened by Mr. Ronfeldt against him. Further, based on the investigation and legal analysis, Attorney General Rowe determined that Deputy Feeney actually and reasonably believed that deadly force on his part was necessary to protect him from the imminent threat.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

Shortly after 11 P.M. on November 3, 2007, Alexander Ronfeldt, 61, of Limington called the emergency line of the York County Sheriff’s Office and reported that an intruder armed with a rifle or shotgun was trying to gain entry into Alexander Ronfeldt’s house. Alexander Ronfeldt told the dispatcher that he had armed himself in response. Alexander Ronfeldt further told the dispatcher that he believed the intruder to be his estranged son, Peter Ronfeldt, of whom he was fearful. York County Deputy Sheriff Stanley Moore was dispatched to Alexander Ronfeldt’s residence. The closest York County backup deputy was a significant distance from Limington, resulting in Deputy Andrew Feeney of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office being dispatched to assist Deputy Moore. Both deputies were informed by their respective dispatchers that the intruder was reported to be armed with a firearm.

Both deputies arrived at Alexander Ronfeldt’s residence in Limington at about the same time -between 11:15 and 11:30 P.M. They were both in uniform and were driving marked cruisers. The deputies parked their vehicles on River Road at the bottom of Alexander Ronfeldt’s driveway. The deputies made their way on foot towards the residence in order to contact Alexander Ronfeldt and secure his safety. Deputy Moore remained in radio contact with the police dispatcher who was, at the same time, speaking with Alexander Ronfeldt by telephone and informing him that police officers had arrived at his residence.

Deputy Feeney told investigators that as soon as the officers began walking up the driveway, Deputy Feeney drew his service weapon (a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun) and Deputy Moore carried an assault rifle. Feeney also stated that neither he nor Deputy Moore used their flashlights to illuminate the area, notwithstanding the fact that it was “pitch black” outside, because they did not want to make themselves targets. As the Deputies approached to within 15 feet of the Ronfeldt home, they were approximately 10 to 15 feet apart from each other. According to Feeney, he stepped to the left side of the house with his flashlight in his left hand and his service weapon in his right hand. Feeney described his wrists as being crossed, with his right hand (with the gun) on top of his left (with the flashlight).

According to Deputy Feeney, there were no lights on either inside or outside of the house, except for what appeared to be the flickering of a television. Feeney said that he moved to the left front of the house with the intention of making sure that no one was there. He further stated that, as he looked around the corner of the house, he observed a combination of movement and a figure. Feeney said that he “tapped” his flashlight, meaning that he gave a very brief flash of light to illuminate the area, and when he did, he saw a man three to five feet away holding a long gun at chest height with the barrel pointed directly at Feeney’s chest.

Deputy Feeney said that it was “obvious” to him that the weapon was a shotgun because of the “big round barrel.” Feeney estimated that the barrel of the gun was approximately 3 to 5 feet away from him. Feeney stated that his first thought was that he was going to be shot and that his life was in danger. Feeney moved quickly and stumbled backwards and to the left, with the purpose of trying to avoid being shot directly in the chest. As Deputy Feeney was going backwards, he fired his weapon two or three times, according to his best recollection.

Deputy Moore moved quickly to Feeney’s position and both officers found Peter Ronfeldt, wounded and in a sitting position, along the outside wall of the residence. Peter Ronfeldt was conscious and alert, and engaged the two deputies in an agitated dialogue. Deputy Moore stated that he observed the blade of a knife sticking out of Ronfeldt’s left front pocket. It was determined that Ronfeldt had been struck twice by Feeney’s gunfire, once in the mid-torso and once in the upper left chest. Feeney and Moore administered emergency aid to Ronfeldt and summoned medical personnel to the scene. Ronfeldt was taken by ambulance to a Portland hospital and treated for the two gunshot wounds.

It was determined that the weapon possessed by Peter Ronfeldt was a single-shot 12-guage shotgun loaded with #00 buck magnum ammunition. Contrary to a claim by Peter Ronfeldt that the shotgun was inoperative, Maine State Police Crime Laboratory forensic specialists determined the weapon to be functional.

Detectives from the Attorney General’s Office went to the scene of the shooting to conduct an investigation. They were assisted by detectives and forensic specialists from the State Police. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office cooperated fully with the investigation.

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David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Maine Announces Nationwide Agreement With MySpace to Boost Social Networking Safety

January 14, 2008

In a victory for Maine’s children, Attorney General Rowe and 49 other attorneys general today announced that MySpace has agreed to significant steps to better protect children on its web site, including creation of a broad-based task force to explore and develop age and identity verification technology.

MySpace acknowledged in the agreement the important role of this technology in social networking safety and agreed to find and develop on-line identity authentication tools. The attorneys general advocate age and identity verification, calling it vital to better protecting children using social networking sites from on-line sexual predators and inappropriate material.

Other specific changes and policies that MySpace agreed to develop include: allowing parents to submit their children’s emails so MySpace can prevent anyone using those emails from setting up profiles, making the default setting “private” for profiles of 16- and 17-year-olds, promising to respond within 72 hours to inappropriate content complaints and committing more staff and/or resources to review and classify photographs and discussion groups.

The agreement culminates nearly two years of discussions between MySpace and the attorneys general. The attorneys general were led by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, co-chairmen of executive committee consisting of Connecticut, North Carolina, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The states pushed MySpace for changes after sexual predators repeatedly used the site to victimize children.

Attorney General Rowe said, “Predators are actively using social networking sites to groom young unsuspecting victims. The safeguards required by this agreement will help keep children safer online, but we must do more.” Rowe said parents must monitor their children’s online activity and establish rules for meeting people online. “If a parent warns a child not to talk to strangers the child meets in a park, the same rule should apply to strangers the child meets online,” Rowe said.

Under the agreement, MySpace, with support from the attorneys general, will create and lead an Internet Safety Technical Task Force to explore and develop age and identity verification tools for social networking web sites. MySpace will invite other social networking sites, age and identify verification experts, child protection groups and technology companies to participate in the task force.

The task force will report back to the attorneys general every three months and issue a formal report with findings and recommendations at the end of 2008.

MySpace also will hire a contractor to compile a registry of email addresses provided by parents who want to restrict their child’s access to the site. MySpace will bar anyone using a submitted email addresses from signing in or creating a profile.

MySpace also agreed to:

• Strengthen software identifying underage users; • Retain a contractor to better identify and expunge inappropriate images; • Obtain and constantly update a list of pornographic web sites and regularly sever any links between them and MySpace; • Implement changes making it harder for adults to contact children; • Dedicate meaningful resources to educating children and parents about on-line safety. • Review its icon to report abuse to determine whether it should be modified or replaced; • Create a closed “high school” section for users under 18.

The Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety recognizes that an ongoing industry effort is required to keep pace with the latest technological developments and develop additional ways to protect teens, including online identity authentication tools.

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David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Court Orders Vandal to Stay Away from Clinic

January 11, 2008

Today, Attorney General Steve Rowe announced that the Maine Superior Court has issued an Order under the Maine Civil Rights Act against Roland Cloutier of Topsham, Maine, arising from his repeated vandalism of the sign in front of the offices of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England at the Bowdoin Mill Complex in Topsham.

The State’s Complaint alleged that, sometime over the spring or early summer, Cloutier, 72 years old, scrawled graffiti on the horizontal arm extending from the sign post. The graffiti’s message was both offensive and threatening to those seeking health care at the facility. Over the weekend of August 24, 2007, Cloutier again vandalized the sign with an anti-abortion message and scribbled marks over the lettering for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. His vandalism in August was captured on a security camera installed by Planned Parenthood in response to the repeated vandalism of its sign.

The Court’s Order permanently enjoins Cloutier from coming within 150 feet of the offices of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England or using violence or property damage to interfere with the right of Planned Parenthood or other reproductive health providers to advertise their services. Cloutier also agreed under the Order to pay restitution to Planned Parenthood in the amount of $488, the cost of replacing the sign.

“Maine people have a right to receive health care services without interference by vandals.” Attorney General Rowe stated, “My Office will continue to bring actions under the Maine Civil Rights Act to enjoin vandalism targeted at interfering with people’s constitutionally guaranteed rights.”

The Attorney General praised the Topsham Police Department for its investigation of the incident. The department referred the case to the Attorney General for action under the Maine Civil Rights Act.

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Daavid Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Mortgage Company Agrees to Stop Misleading Banks

January 18, 2008

NEWS RELEASE

Today, Attorney General Steve Rowe announced that Maine Mortgage Group of Scarborough, ME, a licensed mortgage loan broker, has entered into a Superior Court Consent Decree which resolves the State’s Unfair Trade Practice Act Complaint. The State charged that Maine Mortgage Group helped falsify a homeowner's mortgage application in order to persuade the lender that the homeowner was a good loan risk.

The State’s Complaint alleged that Maine Mortgage Group made a $7,000 short-term loan to the homeowner in order to make the homeowner’s assets appear larger than they actually were. “This type of deceptive behavior is one of the causes of the current housing crisis.” Rowe said. “Falsifying loan applications has resulted in many homeowners receiving loans that they cannot afford, eventually resulting in foreclosure”

Pursuant to the Court’s Order, Maine Mortgage Group must cease making such deceptive loans and provide restitution totaling $3,615. They must also pay a $5,000 civil penalty. The Consent Decree states that Maine Mortgage Group does not admit to any wrongdoing.

“Homeowners in debt are often desperate to refinance their homes to get cash out.” said Attorney General Rowe. “Obtaining a mortgage that a homeowner cannot afford often leads to tragic consequences. Loan brokers should never assist a homeowner in misleading a bank to believe that the loan application is sounder than it is.”

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David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Court Orders Biddeford Auto Dealer to Sell Vehicles at the Advertised Price

January 18, 2008

NEWS RELEASE

Today, Attorney General Steve Rowe announced that Five Star Auto Sales, a used car dealership in Biddeford, Maine, has entered into a Superior Court Consent Decree which resolves the state’s Unfair Trade Practice Act Complaint. The State’s complaint charged that Five Star Auto Sales used improper sale tactics to unfairly increase the advertised price of its vehicles.

“The issue here is simple. If you advertise the price of a product, then you need to sell the product for that price.” Rowe commented.

Pursuant to the Consent Decree, Five Star Auto Sales is prohibited from increasing the advertised price of a motor vehicle by charging a document preparation fee or using unfair or deceptive tactics to sell an extended service contract.

Five Star Auto Sales is also prohibited from advertising a vehicle at a specific price and then, without the consumer’s informed agreement, increasing that advertised price, unless the increase is made in accordance with the Attorney General’s Advertising Rules.

Rowe continued, “The State’s Advertising Rules have the simple goal of allowing consumers to purchase a car for the advertised price. Bait & switch methods of advertising violate the Unfair Trade Practices Act. My office will continue to take action against companies that employ deceptive pricing methods.”

The Consent Decree states that Five Star Auto Sales did not admit to any wrongdoing. Pursuant to the Court’s Order, Five Star Auto Sales must provide restitution to its customers totaling $4,723 and must also pay a civil penalty totaling $5,000.

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David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

AG Sues Oil Company for Failing to Honor Pre-Paid Contracts

January 22, 2008

NEWS RELEASE Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe announced that on Friday, January 28th, the State of Maine filed an Unfair Trade Practices Complaint against Nicholas Curro, d/b/a/ Price Rite Oil, d/b/a/ Veilleux Oil & Service, d/b/a/ Perron Oil

The complaint alleges that Mr. Curro (a) induced customers to enter into pre-paid contracts for heating oil by misrepresenting when and how the oil would be delivered; (b) failed to deliver oil according to the contract terms; and (c) failed to honor customers’ request for refunds.

The complaint further alleges that Mr. Curro failed to take reasonable steps to obtain and maintain the ability to fulfill the prepaid contracts he entered into with customers and that he specifically failed to maintain the required security for prepaid contracts for the delivery of fuel in violation of Title 10 Maine Revised Statutes Annotated (MRSA), Section 1111.

The complaint alleges that Mr. Curro actions violate the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act, Title 5 MRSA section 207.

The lawsuit filed by the Attorney General seeks restitution on behalf of the customers and prohibits Curro from (a) advertising, selling or distributing heating oil in Maine, (b) entering into prepaid contracts for any goods or services sold in Maine and (c) taking deposits in advance of delivering goods or performing services in Maine. The State also seeks a civil penalty of $10,000 for each intentional violation of the Unfair Trade Practices Act.

“Mr. Curro’s deceptive practices have not only resulted in a loss of money for Maine people, they have potentially put some people’s health in danger.” Rowe said. “As the price of heating oil climbs it is more critical than ever that dealers honor their contracts.”

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division initiated its investigation after receiving complaints from customers of Price Rite, Veilleux and Perron Oil. As of January 22, 2008, the Attorney General has received 124 complaints.

For information on your rights as a consumer of heating fuel, please visit www.maine.gov/ag

If you need information on help purchasing heating fuel dial 211 from any phone in Maine or visit Maine Housing Authority’s website, www.mainehousing.org.

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David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Maine to Represent Consumers on Prescription Drug Trial Advisory Group

February 6, 2008

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe has been asked to represent America’s consumers as part of a national group advising the federal government how to require drug companies to report the results of clinical drug trials on a publicly accessible website.

Maine is the only state with a representative on the federal advisory group. The federal Working Group on Clinical Trials was created by the National Library of Medicine to help it implement a new federal law requiring the public reporting of clinical drug trials. The new law was enacted in September 2007.

“The State of Maine has led the fight to crack the veil of secrecy surrounding prescription drug trials.” Rowe said, “Maine’s national leadership on this issue is the reason the federal group asked us to participate.”

Maine is alone among the states in requiring drug companies to register clinical trials and to post the results on publicly accessible websites.

Maine enacted its law in response to reports that drug companies were not disclosing to prescribers or to the public the results of clinical drug trials that raised questions or cast doubts about the safety or effectiveness of new drugs being used by consumers.

“By having readily available information about the safety and effectiveness of new prescription drugs, Maine people can make better choices about their health care.” Rowe continued.

Under rules jointly developed by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Attorney General, manufacturers must complete by April 1 of this year the posting of results of clinical trials that began after October 15, 2002, for all drugs that are dispensed or administered in Maine. More recent clinical drug trials are already posted on websites; links to those sites can be found on: www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/clinical_trials.htm

The federal law will create a national standard for the public registration and reporting of results of clinical drug trials. The federal law must take full effect by September of 2010, at which time it will replace Maine’s law.

“By participating in the group, Maine will represent the interests of consumers and states in the meaningful public disclosure of clinical drug trial results.” Rowe added. The federal group will advise the National Library of Medicine on implementing the federal law.

Assistant Attorney General Tom Bradley will represent the Maine Attorney General on the federal advisory group. Bradley is a 1992 graduate of the University of Maine School of Law in Portland and joined the Maine Attorney General’s Office in 2004, where he has worked on many consumer issues involving the prescription drug industry.

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January, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Maine Recovers $2.2 Million in Medicaid Money from Pharmaceutical Company

February 7, 2008

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe today announced that Maine’s Medicaid program will receive approximately $2.2 million as part of two separate global settlements with Merck & Co., Inc.. The settlements involve 49 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government, totaling $649 million.

“This is a significant recovery for Maine’s Medicaid program,” Attorney General Rowe said.

“This is another example of a large pharmaceutical company trying to “game the system” to line its corporate pockets at the expense of health care consumers. Merck’s creative interpretation of federal Medicaid law was not only an example of corporate greed, it was also illegal,” said Rowe.

Merck is the manufacturer of the drugs Zocor, Vioxx, and Pepcid. The agreements with Merck, resolve allegations that the company failed to pay rebates due state Medicaid Programs under the Federal Medicaid Drug Rebate statute. The settlements also resolve claims filed by whistleblowers in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania United States ex rel. H. Dean Steinke v. Merck & Co., Inc., (U.S. Dist. Ct. No. 00-6158 [E.D. PA]), in the United States District Court of Nevada State of Nevada ex rel. H. Dean Steinke v. Merck & Co., Inc., (U.S. Dist. Ct. No. CV-N-05-322 [D. Nev.]), and in the Eastern District of Louisiana United States ex rel. William St. John LaCorte, M.D. v. Merck & Co., Inc., (U.S. Dist. Ct. No. 99-3807 [E.D. LA]).

Pharmaceutical manufacturers that supply products to Medicaid Recipients are required by the Federal Medicaid Drug Rebate law to give the Medicaid Programs the benefit of the “best price” available for those products. The manufacturers are required to file “best price” information with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This information is then used to calculate rebates to be paid by these manufacturers to the state Medicaid Programs. In general, the lower the “best price”, the higher the rebate obligation. The federal law requires the “best price” reported by the manufacturers to include discounts. However, prices that are considered “merely nominal” are exempted from the reporting requirement. The states have maintained that “merely nominal” means the discounted price is not tied to any conditions, such as volume purchase requirements or market shares.

The cases that were pending in Pennsylvania and Nevada involve the SAVE and VIP programs, which were two Merck discount programs wherein Merck tried to use the nominal price exceptions. The SAVE program (Simvastatin Acute-care Value Enhancement program), was for the marketing of the drug Zocor, and the VIP program (Vioxx Incentive Program) was for the drug Vioxx. At the heart of each program was an agreement that Merck would sell the drugs to hospitals at a 92% discount from the catalog price, but only if the hospitals reached certain market shares for the drugs. Because the 92% discounts were conditioned on the hospitals’ volume purchases to reach certain market shares, the states contend that the resulting discounted prices were not “merely nominal”. Therefore, the states contend that Merck was required to report these discounted prices to CMS, and that their failure to do so resulted in less rebates paid to the state Medicaid programs.

The case in Louisiana involved Merck’s drug Pepcid, and another discount program, Flex NP. Under this program, Merck sold various formulations of Pepcid to hospitals in bundled pricing arrangements. In exchange for the hospital meeting a certain market share or other purchase requirements, Merck gave hospitals an array of discounts of up to 92% on Pepcid tablets, and lesser discounts on other types and formulations of Pepcid. According to the government, the transactions under the FLEX NP Program constituted “bundled sales” which required Merck to adjust “best price” among the different formulations to reflect these discounts. The states contend that Merck failed to reflect these discounts in their “best price” reports, resulting in less rebates paid to the state Medicaid Programs.

In addition to the monetary recovery, Merck has entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General. The Corporate Integrity Agreement will include provisions that will ensure that Merck will market, sell and promote its products in accordance with all Federal health care program requirements. Merck did, however, begin voluntary compliance initiatives associated with their sales and marketing activities prior to learning of the government’s investigation of the conduct associated with these settlements.

The National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units conducted the settlement negotiations on behalf of the states, with representatives of the Nevada, Illinois, Delaware and Massachusetts Medicaid Fraud Control Units leading the effort.

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Contact: David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Attorney General Issues Statement on Mercury Ruling

February 11, 2008

“Today the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down Bush Administration regulations that exempted coal and oil fired power plants, including some of this country’s worst polluters, from their obligation to sharply decrease their mercury pollution. This ruling represents a significant victory for both the health of Maine people and our natural environment.

“Mercury can cause lasting nerve and brain damage and is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and small children. It is especially disturbing to me that the EPA, the federal agency responsible for protecting the environment, would actively look for ways to avoid its legal obligation to address this most serious environmental threat.

“The unanimous decision by the DC Circuit Court means that the EPA is going to have to regulate the emission of toxins in a real and meaningful way, just as Congress required in the Clean Air Act. Once again, the courts have rejected a Bush Administration attempt to put the profits of corporate polluters above the health of the American people.”

Contact: David Loughran (207) 626-8577

Use of deadly Force by Gardiner Police Officer and State Police Trooper Legally Justified

February 15, 2008

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a Gardiner police officer, James Gioia, and a State Police trooper, Christopher Rogers, were legally justified when they used deadly force against Jason Wentzell, 28, of Vassalboro, during the early afternoon of December 21, 2007, in South Gardiner. Mr. Wentzell died as the result of a gunshot wound to the chest.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by the officers in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer’s public duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat of unlawful deadly force.

Attorney General Rowe determined, based on the investigation conducted by his office and the application of controlling Maine law, that Officer Gioia and Trooper Rogers actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was being imminently threatened against others by Mr. Wentzell, and that the officers also actually and reasonably believed that the use of deadly force on their part was necessary to protect the other persons. Therefore, both requirements of the law having been met, the use of deadly force by Officer Gioia and Trooper Rogers was legally justified.

The Attorney General’s investigation revealed the following:

On December 21, 2007, Officer James Gioia of the Gardiner Police Department was working patrol duties in uniform and a marked cruiser. While at the Gardiner Police Station at about noon, Gioia became aware of a broadcast issued by the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office alerting officers in the area that Jason Wentzell, age 28, of Vassalboro, was suicidal and was possibly on his way to a residence in South Gardiner where his estranged wife was staying. The broadcast included a description of the vehicle being driven by Wentzell – a blue 2005 Chevrolet pickup truck. Officer Gioia also became aware through an additional broadcast that Wentzell was armed.

In an attempt to locate Wentzell, Officer Gioia drove south along Route 24 from Gardiner to South Gardiner to the Richmond town line, turned around, and headed back north on the same road. At about 12:13 p.m., as he entered a built-up area known as South Gardiner village, Gioia saw two or three vehicles ahead of him stopped in the northbound lane of the roadway. Initially thinking a vehicle crash had occurred, Gioia activated the blue lights on his cruiser, drove into the oncoming southbound lane of travel, and came to a halt several feet short of the first stopped northbound vehicle. With travel in the northbound lane blocked, Gioia’s maneuver also blocked travel in the southbound lane.

Officer Gioia saw a man standing in the roadway carrying a rifle in such a manner that the barrel was pointed skyward. The man, later identified as Jason Wentzell, was pacing near what was later determined to be his blue 2005 Chevrolet pickup truck, which was at a standstill diagonally across the roadway in a fashion that totally precluded travel in the northbound lane and partially in the southbound lane. The driver’s door was fully open. The first vehicle stopped in the northbound lane was nearest Wentzell. It was soon determined that inside this vehicle was Wentzell’s estranged wife, his infant son, and his mother-in-law. The scene itself was less than a quarter-of-a-mile from the residence where Wentzell’s wife had been staying. It was later determined that when Wentzell, driving south on Route 24, saw his wife’s vehicle traveling north, he pulled his pickup diagonally across the road and stopped, which precluded his wife’s car from proceeding further.

Officer Gioia, having brought his cruiser to a stop and now standing in the “V” of the open door armed with his .45 caliber service weapon, ordered Wentzell to drop his rifle. Wentzell refused. He shouted that “this is between me and my wife.” Gioia issued similar commands multiple times, only to get the same response from Wentzell that this was between his wife and him. Gioia got back into his cruiser and drove it several feet closer to Wentzell to a point that the cruiser, still headed north in the southbound lane, and Wentzell’s wife vehicle, still at a standstill in the northbound lane, were parallel to one another. Gioia again got out of the cruiser and instructed Wentzell to drop the rifle. Wentzell continued pacing near his pickup truck in a relatively confined area of the roadway. Wentzell told Gioia that “this does not concern you” and at other times in response to commands from Officer Gioia to drop the rifle, Wentzell responded that he was not there to hurt anyone but himself. Officer Gioia during this time had called for backup, radioing the dispatcher that there was a man with a rifle in the middle of the road on Route 24 in South Gardiner. Other officers in the area heard Gioia’s call for backup, including State Police Troopers Christopher Rogers and Jonathan Leach, who were each just a few miles away on other calls.

Just prior to Officer Gioia’s arrival at the scene, O’Neill LaPlante, an off-duty Richmond police officer who was unarmed and in a privately-owned vehicle, was driving north on Route 24 in South Gardiner when he came upon the vehicles stopped in the roadway. Very soon thereafter, Officer Gioia arrived and engaged Wentzell. When LaPlante later heard radio traffic inquiring about the availability of a police negotiator, he told Officer Gioia that he was a trained negotiator. LaPlante started talking with Wentzell in an attempt to calm him down and persuade him to relinquish the rifle. The attempt was unsuccessful. According to Officer Gioia, however, it did provide an opportunity while Wentzell was focused more on LaPlante for Gioia to instruct Wentzell’s wife to get everyone out of her car and to a safer location behind the police cruiser. According to both Gioia and LaPlante, Wentzell became angrier when he discovered that his wife was no longer in her car. Gioia’s continued instructions for Wentzell to drop the rifle were met with refusal and obscenities.

At 12:12 p.m., just prior to Officer Gioia’s arrival, a man cleaning snow from a nearby parking lot with his father called 911 on his cellular telephone and requested the police. The call was recorded by the 911 answering point. The caller said there was a man in the middle of the road “holding a rifle at some people,” and that “this guy’s nuts, somebody better get here quick.” The caller further reported that the man had “the whole road blocked off” with his truck, and “he’s screaming at people [in Wentzell’s wife’s car] to get out.” The caller stayed on the line with the 911 dispatcher for more than eight minutes during which time Wentzell can be heard on the recording shouting various statements, such as “I’ve had enough. I’m [expletive] not giving anybody any more [expletive] chances. I’m done. I’ve had it. I don’t [expletive] deserve to live anymore. If she won’t get out of the car, it’s over. I’m not here to hurt anybody but myself.” Officer Gioia can be heard trying to persuade Wentzell to relinquish the rifle. Gioia: “I want you to drop the gun.” Wentzell: “I don’t care what you want. Do I look like I care what you want?”

About six minutes had passed since Officer Gioia’s arrival at the scene when Chief James Toman of the Gardiner Police Department arrived, followed shortly by Troopers Christopher Rogers and Jonathan Leach. All three initially took up positions with their respective vehicles about 200 feet north of where Officer Gioia was located. This placed Wentzell, who was about 45 feet away from Officer Gioia, between the three additional officers and Officer Gioia. Trooper Rogers, armed with a rifle, eventually took up a position behind a tree on the west side of the roadway about 100 feet from Wentzell, while Trooper Leach, also armed with a rifle, took up a position behind a high snow bank on the east side of the roadway about 80 feet from Wentzell.

Neither Officer Gioia’s nor Officer LaPlante’s attempts to calm Wentzell or to persuade him to relinquish his rifle had succeeded. According to both Gioia and LaPlante, Wentzell became angrier when he learned that his wife was no longer present. Trooper Leach described Wentzell at that point as becoming more agitated and the tone of his voice sharper. All three officers recalled that it was at that point that Wentzell screamed an obscenity and raised the rifle to his shoulder with it pointed in a southerly direction towards Officers LaPlante and Gioia and the area where his wife, child, and mother-in-law had retreated. Chief Toman, and others, heard Officer Gioia, shout, “No! You don’t want to do that.” At about the same time that Wentzell fired a single shot from his rifle, Officer Gioia and Trooper Rogers simultaneously shot at Wentzell. Trooper Leach also pulled the trigger on his rifle to shoot at Wentzell, but the rifle malfunctioned and did not discharge. Wentzell, struck by the gunfire from Officer Gioia and Trooper Rogers, fell to the ground. Approximately 13 minutes had elapsed from the time Officer Gioia arrived at the scene.

It was later determined that the one shot fired by Officer Gioia struck Wentzell in the upper chest. Trooper Rogers discharged two rounds in rapid succession, one of which struck Wentzell in the right knee, the other of which struck the butt of Wentzell’s rifle, which was later determined to be a .22 caliber semiautomatic. The single round fired by Wentzell struck and penetrated the hood of Wentzell’s wife’s car.

In addition to the 911 caller and his father, 13 other civilian witnesses were interviewed as part of the investigation. Ten of these witnesses were employees of a local business who were, at the time of the event, inside a nearby commercial building. Eight of the ten observed the event unfold in its entirety. Their accounts, as well as the accounts of five other witnesses who observed the event unfold in varying degrees, were consistent with the accounts given by the police officers involved. Also consistent with the several accounts of the event were the results of a scene examination and analysis conducted by evidence technicians, and a post-mortem examination conducted by Dr. Margaret Greenwald, the state’s Chief Medical Examiner.

Detectives from the Office of the Attorney General went to the scene of the shooting in South Gardiner to conduct the investigation. They were assisted in the investigation by several State Police detectives and technicians, as well as the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and, later, the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory. Both the Gardiner Police Department and the State Police cooperated fully with the investigation and each agency is conducting its own internal departmental review of the incident.

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February 15, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

US Supreme Court Issues Ruling in Rowe v NH Motor Transportation

February 20, 2008

Today the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in Rowe vs. NH Motor Transport. The ruling strikes down provisions of a 2003 Maine law that required internet tobacco retailers to utilize carriers who take specific actions to ensure that packages containing tobacco products are not delivered to minors.

Attorney General Steve Rowe issued the following statement:

“Today’s decision is disappointing because it strikes down a law that prevents Maine children from buying cigarettes over the internet. Restricting access to tobacco products is one of the tools Maine has used to dramatically reduce youth smoking. Today’s decision has taken one of the State’s tools away and created a regulatory gap that will allow children to purchase cigarettes.

“The Maine law simply sought to ensure that children face the same barriers whether they try to purchase tobacco over the internet or in a brick and mortar store.

“In her concurring opinion, Justice Ginsberg referred to Maine’s law as a ‘sensible enforcement strategy’. Although she concurred that Maine’s law was preempted by federal law, Justice Ginsberg stressed the need for Congress ‘to act with care and dispatch to provide an effective solution.’

“This issue is now out of the courts and squarely in the laps of our federal Congress and President. I just hope that they have the courage to stand up to the tobacco and motor carrier industries and do what is right for the health of our nation’s children.

“Today’s decision is a loud and clear signal to Congress and the President to take immediate action to protect children from internet tobacco sales.”

Contact: David Loughran, 626-8577 February 20, 2008

Rowe Calls on Feds to Investigate Alcoholic Energy Drink

February 21, 2007

Today, Attorney General Steve Rowe urged the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to take immediate action to investigate allegations that Sparks and Sparks Plus alcoholic energy drinks contain unsafe levels of caffeine. The letter also requests TTB to determine if the alcohol content in Sparks alcoholic energy drink is higher than the 6.0% alcohol by volume disclosed on the label. Attorney General Rowe is joined by 15 attorneys general in calling for this action.

The request stems from a news report on February 1st by CBS4 in Miami. The report disclosed that independent laboratory tests found that 16 ounce cans of Sparks and Sparks Plus alcoholic energy drinks contain 214mg and 215mg of caffeine respectively. Attorneys general obtained the laboratory reports from the station and discovered that the laboratory also found that Sparks, which is labeled 6.0% alcohol by volume, contained 6.97% alcohol by volume.

TTB limits amounts of ingredients that can be added to or found in alcoholic beverages. The limit for caffeine is 200 parts per million. The amounts of caffeine purportedly found in Sparks and Sparks Plus are more than two times the allowable limit. In addition, federal law requires containers of malt beverage to contain truthful and accurate statements of alcohol content. Sparks is labeled as containing 6.0% alcohol by volume. If Sparks contains more than 6.0% alcohol by volume, the mislabeling of the product is a practice that is prohibited by federal law.

“I am gravely concerned about the negative health outcomes that may result from consumers unknowingly mixing dangerously high amounts of caffeine with higher than disclosed amounts of alcohol,” said Attorney General Rowe. “Caffeine is a stimulant that can mask feelings of intoxication, giving drinkers the false impression that they can drink more and function normally. This is a recipe for disaster.”

The 15 attorneys general signing the TTB letter are all members of the National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol Committee. The Committee has been focusing on issues related to alcopops and alcoholic energy drinks as they are very popular with young drinkers. The Attorneys general highlighted recent findings by Dr. Mary Claire O’Brien in a Wake Forest University study of college students. The study found that college students,

including underage students, who drank alcoholic energy drinks were more likely to engage in heavy drinking and to have significantly higher prevalence of alcohol-related consequences, like sexual assault and physical injury, then those college drinkers who did not mix alcohol with energy drinks.

To view the CBS4 news report please visit: http://cbs4.com/video/?id=47055@wfor.dayport.com

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February 21 , 2008 Contact: Jessica Maurer, (207) 626-8515

AG Rowe Files Suit Over Medicaid Rule Change

February 29, 2008

Today, Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe announced the filing of a lawsuit against the United States Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS) and Michael Leavitt in his capacity as Secretary of US DHHS. The Complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, challenges a certain agency rule that would adversely impact many of Maine’s Medicaid recipients and cost the State’s general fund more than 16 million dollars in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

The US DHHS promulgated an Interim Medicaid Program Final Rule on December 4, 2007 relating to Medicaid case management and targeted case management.

In the complaint, Maine and three other states allege that portions of the Interim Final Rule promulgated by the US DHHS are arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act or any of the provisions of Title XIX of the Social Security Act. The complaint also alleges that the US DHHS violated the rule making requirements of the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and that the Interim Final Rule does not provide a reasonable transition period for Maine to modify its case management programs.

Rowe said that many of the provisions in the Interim Final Rule will jeopardize the health and safety of Medicaid beneficiaries, limit the state’s flexibility to provide case management in the most effective and efficient manner and result in a substantial reduction in federal funds for Medicaid case management services.

“This federal rule will abruptly cut off funding that helps protect the health and safety of our state’s most vulnerable citizens. The rule is not only unfair to States and Medicaid beneficiaries, it is also illegal. We are confident that the federal court will find that the Secretary of Health and Human Services exceeded the authority given to him by Congress.” Rowe said. “States derive no pleasure from suing the federal government. However, in this case, we must do so to protect the health and safety of our citizens.”

The Medicaid Program is a state-federal partnership designed to furnish medical assistance to certain low-income children elderly and disabled individuals whose income and resources are inadequate to pay for necessary medical services. States must comply with federal requirements specified in the Social Security Act (SSA) as well as the regulations and program guidance issued by the US DHHS pursuant to its authority under the SSA.

Rowe added, “These services are fundamental to the lives of thousands of people across the state. Without the services their physical and mental health will decline. This will lead to a lower quality of life and an increase in the cost of care the state will have to provide.”

The State is asking that the Court bar the Federal Government from enforcing the new Medicaid rule and to award state’s costs and attorneys fees.

Case management is a service that assists beneficiaries in gaining access to needed medical, social, educational and other services. Targeted case management is case management that is targeted to beneficiaries with a particular diagnosis or condition such as individuals with developmental disabilities, individuals with mental illness, individuals with HIV/AIDS, children at risk of abuse and neglect and, foster care children in State custody.

Joining Maine in this lawsuit are Maryland, New Jersey and Oklahoma.

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February 29, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

In Letter to Congress, Rowe Urges Drug Enforcement Funding Restored

March 3, 2008

NEWS RELEASE

Calling the funding essential to the operation of state crime and drug enforcement efforts, Attorney General Steve Rowe, joined by the 55 other Attorneys General from all jurisdictions of the United States today issued a letter calling on Congressional leaders to restore funding to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne-JAG).

Byrne-JAG is currently the only source of funding available to local and state law enforcement for multijurisdictional drug enforcement, including methamphetamine initiatives, and is a critical source of funds for drug courts, law enforcement collaboration, gang prevention, and prisoner reentry programs.

In FY 2007, the Byrne-JAG program was funded at $520 million. For FY 2008, the Senate had originally funded the Byrne-JAG program at $660 million and the House at $600 million in their respective appropriations bills. However, in the omnibus FY 2008 appropriations bill signed into law by President Bush in December of 2007, the Byrne-JAG program funding was cut to $170 million for the coming year – a 67 percent decrease from 2007 funding levels.

In FY 2007 Maine received $1,700,000 in Byrne-JAG grant money. For FY 2008, that amount has been reduced to approximately $600,000, a $1,100,000 million decrease from the 2007 funding level. In Maine, the Byrne-JAG money pays for six drug prosecutors in the Attorney General’s Office and13 task force officer positions in the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, which is part of the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Rowe and the attorneys general assert in their letter that the Bryne-JAG cuts would devastate state law enforcement efforts by shutting down multi-jurisdictional drug and gang task forces, requiring layoffs of police and prosecutors, and cutting funding to programs proven to assist drug-addicted citizens in becoming productive members of society.

The effort to restore funding has been spearheaded by Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, and Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann.

“Bryne-JAG funding has fueled successful drug investigations and prosecutions across the nation, resulting in a substantial reduction of drugs on our streets, said Attorney General Steve Rowe. “If these cuts are not restored, years of progress in fighting drug trafficking will come to an end. Drug traffickers will undoubtedly view this as a green light to increase operations.”

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March 3, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Attorney General Presents the 7th Report of the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel

March 14, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe made the following comments at a press conference on March 14, 2008:

We are here to present the seventh report of the Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel.

The Panel was created by the Legislature more than 11 years ago in response to the unacceptable number of domestic violence related homicides. Over the years we have seen that half the homicides in Maine are domestic violence related, a statistic that is unfortunately still true today.

Domestic violence homicide is where an individual was killed at the hand of a family member or former intimate partner.

They are directed by statute to issue a report to the legislature every two years outlining their activities, conclusions and recommendations.

Members of the Panel represent a variety of professions whose work brings them in contact with battered individuals or the children. It is comprised of representatives from state and local law enforcement agencies, doctors and other health care workers, a judge, a journalist, advocates from the domestic violence community, and public policy makers from state government and academia.

It is charged with looking at all of the circumstances surrounding the homicide and to offer suggestions so such tragedies can be prevented.

The panel meets 8 or 9 times each year. I want to express my thanks and appreciation to Lisa, Margo, and members of the panel for their excellent work.

Before we cover the Panel’s work I would like to take just a few moments to talk about what domestic abuse is.

Quite simply, domestic abuse is caused by one person believing they have a right to exercise power and control over another.
The effects of domestic abuse are devastating.

But the targets are not the only victims. The mark left on a child who witnesses abuse can be so dire it often times cannot be erased.

Frequent exposure to violence can actually change the structure of the developing brain, particularly among children younger than three.

In fact, a child’s exposure to the father abusing the mother is the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.

Kids who witness their parents’ domestic violence are 3 times more likely to abuse their own partner than children of non-violent parents.

It takes no more than common sense to conclude that the best way to cut down on the number of domestic violence homicides is to cut down on the amount of domestic violence.

The recommendations outlined in this report are designed to do just that.

Over the past two years the panel reviewed 14 cases of domestic violence, incidents that led to the death of 15 Maine people.

The panel found that of the fourteen perpetrators, thirteen of them were adult men. It is also important to note that five of the fourteen killers also took their own life. Of the fifteen victims, thirteen were females.

Eleven homicides reviewed involved relationships between heterosexual couples. Six perpetrators were married to their victims at the time of the homicide. Two were live-in boyfriends, and one was a live-in girlfriend. Two of the perpetrators were former husband/boyfriend. One was a son. One was a son-in-law, and one was a brother. Finally, one perpetrator was the victims’ boyfriend’s adult son.

Out of the fifteen victims, only one had a protection from abuse order at the time of the homicide.

Of the fourteen perpetrators involved in the cases reviewed by the panel, eleven killed their victims with firearms, two used knives, and one beat his victim.

For years we have seen pattern in domestic violence homicides where the perpetrator has a history of threatening suicide. It is essential that these threats be taken seriously. If someone is capable of hurting themselves then often times they are capable of hurting those around them.

The weapon of choice in all but three of the homicides was a firearm. In every murder suicide the perpetrator killed with a gun.

The information that was analyzed over the past two years continues to illustrate the devastating impact domestic violence has on children. You will read that of the fourteen cases reviewed, fifteen minor children lost one or both parents. Even more alarming is that ten of these children were present when their parent or parents were killed.

While these are stunning and unacceptable numbers, we must remember that even when domestic violence does not end in death, it exacts a tremendous toll on our children.

The report not only outlines the circumstances surrounding the homicides but also offers specific steps that can be taken to reduce the amount of domestic violence in Maine, and reduce the number of families plagued by this great evil.

One of the many people who worked very hard to produce this year’s report is the Panel’s chair, Lisa Marchese.

Lisa is an assistant attorney general in the criminal division of my office. In addition to being one of the State’s top homicide prosecutors she has served on the Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel for the past eleven years.

I would like to now turn this presentation over to Lisa who will tell you more about the work of the panel and the recommendations they have made.

David Loughran 626-8577

State Files Suit Against Drug Company

March 18, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced that the State of Maine has charged Abbott Laboratories and French drug company Fournier with violating antitrust laws in delaying the availability of a cheaper, generic version of TriCor, a cholesterol drug which last year accounted for over one billion dollars of Abbott’s sales.

A civil complaint filed in federal court in Delaware against Abbott and Fournier seeks triple the amount of damages incurred by the state’s public health agencies and individual consumers. Maine was joined in the suit by the states of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The complaint stems from actions of the two drug companies to prevent the marketing of a generic version of the drug. TriCor is the brand name for a drug used to reduce high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol that Abbott began marketing in 1998. At issue in the complaint are Abbott and Fournier’s attempts to block a cheaper generic version of TriCor when generic drug companies began developing their own versions of the cholesterol lowering drug. Using patents obtained by deceiving the Patent Office with incomplete and misleading data, Abbott and Fournier brought a series of groundless patent infringement lawsuits against these generic companies.

Rowe stated “These two drug companies manipulated the patent system and engaged in baseless litigation to keep generic competitors off the market. This resulted in higher profits for the drug companies and higher prices for Maine consumers.” Rowe noted that generic drugs often cost patients between 50 to 80 percent less than name brand counterparts. “Maine will not tolerate anti-competitive practices intended to keep lower cost prescription drugs off the market” said Rowe.

According to the complaint, Abbott and Fournier filed over ten lawsuits against the generic companies between 2000 and 2004, during which time those companies were attempting to obtain Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval for their generic versions of TriCor. Abbott and Fournier eventually lost or dismissed all of the lawsuits.

Abbott and Fournier knew that the patents upon which it based these lawsuits were unenforceable and that such actions could not succeed on their merits. Their infringement actions were therefore mere sham designed to exclude generic competition from the TriCor market.

At the same time, as part of its plan to block generic competition, Abbott and Fournier made minor changes in the formulations of TriCor, not to improve it, but rather to prevent generic versions from obtaining AB ratings that allow them to be substituted for the more costly TriCor. As a result of the product switches and patent litigation, the drug companies have successfully thwarted all generic competition, allowing the companies to charge monopoly prices for TriCor.

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NEWSRELEASE David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

MEGA Life to Pay Restitution, Record Fine

April 3, 2008

Augusta, Maine: The Maine Bureau of Insurance and the Maine Attorney General have resolved concerns about MEGA Life and Health Insurance Company’s (MEGA Life) flawed method of determining premiums for individual health insurance policies, including payment of a $1,000,000 fine against the company. The $1,000,000 represents a civil penalty of $250,000 for the years 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, which represents the time that MEGA Life wrote individual health policies in Maine. MEGA Life is also required to refund $4.6 million in overpaid premiums, plus interest, to consumers.

“This is one of the largest fines and consumer restitution agreed to in Maine,” stated Maine Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman. “The Bureau has a ‘zero’ tolerance policy for those choosing to skirt the law.”

“Based on the evidence, MEGA Life’s rates were determined to be excessive under Maine law,” added Attorney General Steve Rowe. “Instead of bringing their rates down as required by law, MEGA Life continued to charge inflated rates. This practice resulted in Maine policyholders being over charged for years. This settlement will return the overcharge plus interest to the policyholder.”

MEGA Life has 30 days from the date of the decision to notify the Bureau of Insurance of the method it will use to allocate the restitution to specific policyholders. The settlement involves approximately 9,830 policies issued from January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2007. Thousands of people in Maine are affected.

Eric Cioppa, Deputy Superintendent of Insurance was the hearing officer in this case. Judith Shaw, Deputy Superintendent of Insurance prosecuted the case and negotiated the settlement agreement on behalf of Bureau of Insurance staff.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine. Consumers can reach the Bureau through its web site at MaineInsuranceReg.org; by calling 800-300-5000 in state; or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333.

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April, 4, 2008 David Lougrhan

Attorney General Steve Rowe Announces Changes to the Consumer Information and Mediation Service

April 4, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that the hours of operation for the Attorney General’s Consumer Mediation and Information phone line (Consumer Line) have been expanded. The toll free line, (800) 436-2131, will now be open Mondays through Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

“By expanding the hours of the consumer line, Maine people will have greater access to our free mediation and information services.” Attorney General Steve Rowe said. “Our volunteers and staff can offer consumers information on the Lemon Law, implied and express warranties, identity theft, home heating oil rights and much more.”

The expanded schedule means that the toll free mediation and information line will be staffed nine more hours each week. In addition to the toll free phone number, consumers can contact the Consumer Protection Division by email at consumer.mediation@maine.gov and by regular mail by writing to: Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division, 6 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

The Consumer Mediation and Information Service assists Maine consumers and businesses by answering questions, providing referrals and mediating disputes. In 2007, the volunteer mediators attempted to resolve more than 900 consumer complaints. Of these, 519 were resolved, resulting in $703,223 being returned to Maine consumers. The 2007 resolution rate for the Mediation Service was 57%.

Rowe said that he hopes that expansion of the consumer phone line hours will allow more people to contact his office. “Last year we received almost 5,400 calls, but we know that some people were unable to get through. Hopefully our expanded hours of operation will allow all consumers to contact us when they need help.”

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March 13, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Working Group Releases Second Report on Sub Prime Crisis

April 22, 2008

The State Foreclosure Prevention Working Group, a group of state attorneys general and banking regulators working to prevent home foreclosures, issued a report Tuesday concluding that efforts have increased but are falling far short of the need to address the foreclosure crisis and prevent millions of unnecessary foreclosures. A copy of the full report entitled “Analysis of Subprime Mortgage Servicing Performance” is available on the Maine Attorney General’s website at www.maine.gov/ag. Report data was collected from 13 of the largest subprime mortgage servicers across the nation for the period October 2007 through January 2008.

The State Working Group, of which Maine is a member, concluded that industry measures to keep homeowners out of foreclosure are barely keeping pace with the rising rate of homeowners in trouble, according to state officials. The number of borrowers in loss mitigation has increased, the officials said, but those gains have been matched by an increasing level of delinquent loans.

“This report shows that while progress is being made, more work needs to be done to help people who face the very real possibility of losing their home,” said Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe. “This is further evidence that current remedies are not adequate to meet the needs of most borrowers who are caught up in the credit crisis.”

“The collective efforts of servicers and government officials to date have not translated into meaningful improvement in foreclosure prevention outcomes,” the report said, despite widely-publicized campaigns to encourage homeowners in trouble to seek help, and initiatives by servicers to “fast-track” loan modifications. “In major respects, the subprime servicing data for January 2008 is nearly unchanged from October 2007.”

Major findings of the Foreclosure Working Group included:

C Seven out of ten seriously delinquent borrowers are still not on track for any loss-mitigation outcome. The number of borrowers in loss mitigation has increased, but it has been matched by an increasing level of delinquent loans; thus, the relative percentage has remained about the same. “Given creative servicer outreach efforts and increased public awareness of the HOPE Hotline during this time period [Oct.-Jan.], this large gap suggests a more systemic failure of servicer capacity to work out loans,” the report said.

C Data suggests that servicers’ loss-mitigation departments are severely strained in managing the current workload. The report noted that almost two-thirds of all loss-mitigation efforts started are not completed in the following month. “We are concerned that servicers overall are not able to manage the sheer numbers of delinquent loans,” the report said. Data suggests that “the burgeoning numbers of delinquent loans that do not receive loss-mitigation attention are clogging up the system on their way to foreclosure,” The report said. “We fear this will translate to increased levels of vacant foreclosed homes that will further depress property values and increase burdens on government services.”

C Homeowners who do receive loss-mitigation help are most likely to receive some form of loan modification. The Group said such modifications are a solution that seems to offer better long-term prospects for successful resolution of problem loans. Many servicers are replacing their use of repayment plans in favor of loan modifications.

The State Working Group said servicers, investors and state officials should work together on:

C Developing a more systematic loan work-out system to replace the intensive, individual, “hands-on” loss-mitigation approach. “Initial efforts to develop systemic approaches are far too limited to make a difference in preventable foreclosures,” the report said. “Without a systematic approach, we see little likelihood that ongoing efforts will make a serious dent in the level of unnecessary foreclosures.” The State Working Group said it “will continue to work with servicers to promote systematic solutions to modify loans in a more streamlined and efficient manner.”

C Slowing down the foreclosure process to allow for more work-outs. “Targeted efforts to slow down subprime foreclosures may give homeowners and servicers more time to find solutions to avoid foreclosure,” the report said. Many states have enacted or are considering such measures, the report noted.

The State Working Group also encouraged the federal government to develop innovative approaches that recognize the extent and scale of the foreclosure crisis.

The State Working Group began as a cooperative dialogue of state officials and mortgage servicers in September 2007. Since October 2007, the Working Group has been collecting data from the largest subprime mortgage servicers, with 13 of the largest 20 servicers participating, representing approximately 60 percent of subprime mortgage loans serviced.

The state officials noted that some national banks have refused to provide servicing data to the State Foreclosure Prevention Working Group, with two banks citing the advice of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). On February 29, the Comptroller announced that some of the largest national banks will be providing mortgage servicing data to the Comptroller on a monthly basis.

The State Working Group encouraged the Comptroller to aggregate and publish such national bank data to complement the work of the States and provide a complete view of trends and effectiveness of efforts to avoid foreclosures.

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NEWS RELEASE April 22, 2008 Linda Conti (207) 626-8591

Former Nursing Home Employee and Wife are Sentenced for Stealing From Elderly Resident

April 25, 2008

Today, Attorney General Steve Rowe announced that Joel Palmer, Jr., and his wife Shannon Marie Palmer, both of Augusta, were sentenced Wednesday for stealing credit cards from a 97 year old resident of a nursing facility, and then embarking upon a shopping spree of over 100 transactions in the amount of more than $9,000 over a two month period.

Both of the Palmers had been employed at times as aides at the facility where the victim resided. Joel Palmer abused his position as a Certified Nursing Assistant to purloin the victim’s credit cards. Among the items purchased with the victim’s credit cards included a computer, video games, and numerous DVD rentals.

Joel Palmer was sentenced to four years in prison, with all but twelve months suspended, two years of probation with conditions, including payment of restitution. Shannon Marie Palmer was sentenced to three years in prison with all but three months suspended, two years of probation with conditions, including payment of restitution. The sentences were imposed following the Palmers’ pleas of guilty to Theft by Unauthorized Taking.

Attorney General Rowe said: “It is unconscionable for a health care worker to victimize the vulnerable elderly residents who they are supposed to be caring for. This behavior is a violation of trust as well as a violation of the law. The Office will seek stiff sanctions against health care workers who take advantage of elders placed in their care.”

The case was investigated by Detective Gerard “Red” Therrien of the Maine Office of Attorney General’s Healthcare Crimes Unit, Officer Robert Ramsey of the Topsham Police Department, and Lt. Mark Waltz of the Brunswick Police Department. The Palmers were prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Michael Miller, Director of the Healthcare Crimes Unit.

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NEWS RELEASE April 25, 2008 Michael Miller, (207) 626-8891

Tips to Help Flood Victims Avoid Fraud and Scams

May 2, 2008

The flood waters that poured into Aroostook County this week damaged homes, roads and businesses, but Attorney General Steve Rowe warns that people need to be on guard to ensure that they are not victims a second time.

“After natural disasters, door to door salespeople hit the street offering clean up and repair services. While many of these people are honest and reputable, some are not.” Rowe said, “It is important to protect your home and your wallet from unscrupulous scam artists.”

Rowe recommends that people who are insured contact their insurance adjuster to get an estimate of the repair costs and use that number as a benchmark when you hire a contractor.

Some steps you can take to protect yourself from unscrupulous operators are:

  1. Shop around. Do not hire the first person you talk to, get several estimates.
  2. Do your own research. Check references from past customers, if possible, inspect work the contractor has done in the past.
  3. Get it in writing. Always use a contract. Maine law requires a written contract for jobs that will cost more than $3000
  4. Shop local. If possible use a local business person. If you have a problem down the road, it will be easier to correct the problem if the contractor is local.
  5. Take your time. If the offer is good today, it will be good tomorrow. Be skeptical of high pressure tactics. A reputable contractor will not pressure you to sign a contract. Take 24 hours to review it carefully.
  6. Establish a payment schedule. By doing so you give yourself some leverage. Maine law states that down payments cannot exceed 1/3 of the total cost of the job.
  7. Get a second opinion. Have an independent inspector or insurance adjuster inspect the project before you make your final payments.

“The best advice I can give is to use common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.” Rowe said. “We have not received any complaints about door to door scams yet, and we would like to keep it that way. Doing your homework upfront is the best way to avoid getting ripped off down the road.”

If you have questions about home construction repair or if you need to file a complaint please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at (800) 436-2131 or by email at consumer.mediation@maine.gov.

For more information on consumer issues please visit our website at: http://www.maine.gov/ag/consumer/housing/home_construction.shtml.

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NEWS RELEASE May 2, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

AG Settles in Case of Deceptive Advertising

May 6, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that the State has entered into a Consent Decree with Level 10 Marketing, Inc., a New Orleans corporation, and Newcastle Chrysler Dodge Jeep of Newcastle Maine. The Consent Decree, which was signed by Kennebec County Superior Court, prohibits the two companies from using unfair and deceptive advertisements or practices such as sales “vouchers” which appear to promise “$4,000 Instant Savings” when in fact such savings are not realized. Further, neither Level 10 nor Newcastle Chrysler can use promises of significant savings unless such savings can be documented, including the following:

• “Will be sacrificed for pennies on the dollar;” • “Save up to 90% off original M.S.R.P.;” • “Prices will be slashed for immediate liquidation;” • “Wholesale pricing direct to the public.”

“As part of this Consent Decree, 22 consumers who purchased vehicles at the sale will each receive a refund of $550,” Rowe said.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division investigated the purchases made at the Level 10/Newcastle Chrysler sale held November 14 through November 18, 2006. It found that consumers did not receive the promised savings. “During this sale, many consumers paid non-sale prices despite promises of ‘wholesale prices’ that had allegedly been ‘slashed for immediate liquidation’” Attorney General Rowe said.

Level 10 designed the advertising flyer that was sent out in Newcastle Chrysler’s name and it also arranged for a team of salespeople to travel to Maine to deal with potential customers during the November, 2006 “sale”.

Both Level 10 and Newcastle Chrysler are now subject to a Court order that prohibits such deceptive advertising techniques in the future. Neither company admitted to any wrongdoing. Pursuant to the Court Order, both Newcastle and Level 10 must pay a civil penalty of $6,250 and refund to consumers part of the purchase price.

The State of Maine’s rules governing advertisements can be found at www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules.

NEWS RELEASE May 6, 2008 Jim McKenna, AAG (207) 626-8842 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

State Seeks Additional Partners in Fight Against Youth Smoking

May 16, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe, Public Health Director Dr. Dora Mills and the Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine are seeking to add to the more than 600 retailers across Maine that participate in the “NO BUTS” (Blocking Underage Tobacco Sales) program. The drive to enroll new retailers follows the distribution of an updated brochure and training DVD that was sent to participating merchants in April.

The “NO BUTS” program was first launched in 2001 as part of an effort to curb underage tobacco use. Participating retailers receive, at no cost, a training DVD, “NO BUTS” window stickers, age verification calendars, and recognition by Healthy Maine Partnerships who spread the word about responsible retailers. Participating stores can qualify for compliance credits when they adopt and fully implement the program and establish a record of compliance.

“We have seen youth smoking rates drop by more than 60% in the past seven years. Programs like “NO BUTS” have been essential to our success, but we must continue to expand the partnership with retailers to sustain and improve upon this success,” Attorney General Rowe said.

Last month, participants in the “NO BUTS” program received the updated training video entitled “It Takes a Good Check”. The video, hosted by Dianna Fletcher and Portland Pirate Bobby Ryan, outlines the compelling public health reasons tobacco sales are restricted and provides information that store clerks should know in order to prevent the sale of tobacco products to children under the age of eighteen including:

  • The sale of tobacco to anyone under the age of 18 is against the law and can result in a fine of up to $1500 and the loss of their job
  • Tobacco does not just include cigarettes but also; cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, rolling papers and pipes
  • Maine law requires a clerk to check the ID of anyone who is attempting to purchase a tobacco product and looks 27 years old or younger
  • When checking an ID look to make sure that the photograph matches the person buying the tobacco, that they are in fact 18 years old and that the ID has not been altered.

“Nearly 90% of adults who currently smoke started before they were 18. If we can prevent our youth from getting access to tobacco and having that first cigarette, we have a good chance of breaking the cycle of death and disability cased by tobacco use. Maine retailers can play a major role in breaking that cycle by participating in the NO BUTS program” Dr. Mills added.

Licensed tobacco retailers who are not currently participating in the “NO BUTS” program will receive a brochure this week outlining the program and its benefits to both the retailer and the community. These stores can receive the NO BUTS introduction CD by returning the reply card that is included in the packet of information. “I would encourage all stores to sign up for this program,” said John Archard, Tobacco Enforcement Coordinator in the Attorney General’s Office. “From a social perspective, it is the right thing to do, from an economic perspective it is the smart thing to do. On average a store needs to sell roughly 10,000 packs of cigarettes to make up the profit lost from one $1000 fine.”

Mary Beth Welton, Program Manager for the Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine offered her support for the outreach effort saying, “A strong public health message, responsible retail practices, and diligent enforcement of our State’s progressive tobacco laws coupled with the other components of Maine’s comprehensive tobacco prevention and control program have contributed to Maine’s unparalleled success in reducing youth smoking. It is our hope that we can reach out to new partners as we continue to build on our existing relationships.”

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NEWS RELEASE May 16, 2008 Mary Beth Welton (207) 287-5381, Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine John Archard (207) 626-8837, Office of the Attorney General

Land Lord Agrees to Stop Automatic Early Termination Fees

May 16, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that Port Property Management, a Maine corporation which manages over 700 residential apartments in Portland and South Portland, has agreed to a Court-ordered Consent Decree which bars it from automatically charging an Early Termination Fee whenever a tenant has to leave the apartment before the lease has expired.

Port Property Management has typically charged tenants who leave early a fee of more than $600, even if it immediately re-rents the apartment. Automatic Early Termination Fees can be illegal if the landlord immediately finds a new tenant. Pursuant to this Consent Decree, Port Property Management is ordered to cease automatic termination fees and to refund money to tenants who were improperly charged an Early Termination Fee between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2007. Port Property Management must also pay a civil penalty of $10,000.

Maine Landlord/Tenant Law requires landlords to mitigate their loss when a tenant has to break the lease. Port Property Management did not admit to any wrong doing.

The Attorney General has already contacted many tenants eligible for the return of their Early Termination Fees. The Consumer Protection Division will purchase advertisements which will list the names of tenants it has been unable to contact. The names of the tenants not yet contacted can also be found on the Attorney General’s website. Following is the notice that will appear over the next three Sundays:

PORT PROPERTY MANAGEMENT TENANTS

The Maine Superior Court Consent Decree in the matter of State v. Port Property Management (CV-08-138) requires Port Property Management to reimburse tenants who were charged an Early Termination Fee if their apartment was immediately re-rented to another tenant. The persons listed below may be eligible for reimbursement. If your name is listed below please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at: 1-800-436-2131 or (207) 626-8849 or write us at: 6 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333 or consumer.mediation@maine.gov. In entering into the Consent Decree, Port Property Management did not admit to any wrongdoing.

Kathryn Arledge, Burhan Ayanle, Mikael Bang, Rebecca Beam, Ashley Brown,
Jona Cormier, Mary Crabtree, Jennifer Currid, James Easter, Takeyuli Futatsumori, Sara Gelston, Jason Hastings, Michael Hogan, Andre Hughrs, Nicolas Hutchins, Nayneet Jain, Abigail Johnson, Timothy Karu, Anna Lapina,
Gabrielle Little, Victoria Marsh, Katherine Matzell, Miranda Mayberry, Milan McAlevery, Alan McLucas, Allegra Mira, David & Andrea Murphy, Amy Ouellette, Lees Patriacca, Prem Prabhakaran, Jeffrey Purser, Peter Rich, Jessica Richardson, Anthony Roberts, Amber Rogals, Matthew Rogers, Nathan Sawyer, Jonathan Schlesinger, Mary Schools, Bethany Schultz, Chelsea Smith, Tommy Somerville, Moira Steven, Robert Stewart, Tie Tan, Wilbur Tietsort, Vijaya Vishwanatham

May 16, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Maine and 30 Other States Share $58 Million in a Record Breaking Settlement with Merck Pharmaceutical Resolving a Three Year Investigation

May 20, 2008

Attorney General Steven Rowe today filed a stipulated judgment with Merck and Company, Inc. resolving a three-year investigation by 30 states concerning the company's deceptive promotion of the anti-inflammatory "Cox-2" drug Vioxx. In addition to a $58 million payment to the participating states, with Maine's share being $1.1 million the judgment filed in the Kennebec County Superior Court will restrict Merck's ability to deceptively promote other Merck products.

"This is the largest money settlement that states have received in a consumer protection case against a pharmaceutical company. We are pleased with the monetary amount of the settlement as well as with the advertising restrictions that Merck has agreed to," Attorney General Rowe said.

Today's judgment requires Merck to submit all "direct to consumer" (DTC) television drug advertisements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), wait for approval and comply with FDA comments before running the advertisement. Merck must also comply with any recommendation by FDA to delay DTC advertising for new Merck pain relieving drugs. The states’ Attorneys General expressed concerns regarding the negative effect of DTC advertising that commences immediately with the release of a new drug before doctors have a chance to gain experience with the drug and understand its potential side effects.

For example, prior to Merck's withdrawal of Vioxx from the market in 2004 (following release of a study that found a higher rate of heart attacks and strokes in patients taking the drug than in those on a placebo), the drug had been aggressively marketed in more than 80 countries worldwide. The drug had been marketed with DTC ads featuring personalities such as Olympic gold medalists Dorothy Hamill and Bruce Jenner.

"Merck's aggressive and deceptive 'direct-to-consumer' promotion of Vioxx drove hundreds of thousands of consumers to seek prescriptions before the product's risks were fully understood," Attorney General Rowe said. "This settlement requires Merck to submit television advertisements for its new pain drugs to the FDA and to modify them consistent with FDA comments before running the ads."

Other concerns of the states are either prohibited or curtailed in the judgment including:

  • deceptive use of scientific data when marketing to doctors,
  • "ghost writing" of articles and studies
  • failing to adequately disclose the conflict of interest of Merck promotional speakers when these speakers present in supposedly "independent" Continuing Medical Education
  • Conflicts of interest in Merck sponsored Data Safety Monitoring Boards

The following form is available for download in PDF format. You will need the free Adobe Reader to view and print.

Download the Complaint and Consent Judgment (PDF)

May 20, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

State Files Offer of Judgment with Richardson Hollow for Unpaid Wage Violations

June 11, 2008

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe and Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman announced today the filing of an Offer of Judgment made by Richardson Hollow, where the company agreed to pay $190,193.72 in back wages and vacation pay.

The judgment covers 126 former employees of Richardson Hollow who were not paid when the business closed in September 2007. The Office of Attorney General filed a complaint for back wages against the company in Androscoggin County Superior Court in October of 2007.

In announcing the judgment, Attorney General Steven Rowe stated, “It is good that this employer is now admitting that it owes its former workers back wages and vacation pay. It would have been far better, however, had Richardson Hollow actually paid its workers in the first place.”

In an effort to get workers paid as quickly as possible, the Maine Department of Labor will immediately begin processing checks for the final week’s wages through the Maine Wage Assurance Fund. Workers were mailed paperwork yesterday to receive payment and were encouraged to return the forms quickly. Checks will then be issued by the state. The State will seek reimbursement by Richardson Hollow for all moneys paid out of the Wage Assurance Fund.

“These workers deserve more than a paycheck, Richardson Hollow owes them an apology,” said Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman. “They’ve had to wait months for the wages they worked hard to earn, and the loss of that income has hurt many families.”

Under Maine State Law, the Wage Assurance Fund can only cover wages owed, not vacation pay or reimbursements owed by the former employer. The State will work to ensure that any proceeds from the sale of Richardson Hollow’s assets are used to cover vacation pay owed to former employees and to reimburse the Wage Assurance Fund.

Gwendolyn D. Thomas, Assistant Attorney General 626-8875 Adam Fisher, Department of Labor, 623-7900

JK Harris and Financial Recovery Systems: partial refunds for consumers

June 12, 2008

Two South Carolina companies who purported to help people in financial trouble but were actually offering little or no benefit at all have agreed to stop misleading consumers. The North Charleston, SC companies JK Harris, a tax-relief company that did not deliver on its claim to settle IRS debts for “pennies on the dollar”, and Financial Recovery Systems, LLC, a credit repair company that sent out bogus notices to make people think they needed credit help, have agreed to pay $1.5 million in refunds to consumer across the country.

“Not only was the behavior of these companies illegal, their tactics were deplorable.” said Attorney General Steve Rowe.

Maine and 17 other states attorneys general entered into consent judgments and assurances of voluntary compliance with the two companies. The attorneys general alleged that JK Harris did not help consumers with their tax problems as advertised and refused to give refunds when promised services were never completed. They also alleged that Financial Recovery Systems attempted to frighten consumers into signing up for credit repair services they did not need by sending them bogus notices about judgments against them. The company’s services also violated state and federal credit repair laws.

According to the attorneys general’s complaint, JK Harris regularly advertised that it had more than 450 offices nationwide. However, the attorneys general found that only the main office in North Charleston handled consumers’ files. If a consumer wanted to meet with a JK Harris representative about his or her file, the consumer had to physically travel to North Charleston, more than 1100 miles from Maine. The other offices were staffed only by sales representatives who could not handle consumer inquiries.

JK Harris also said that consumers’ files would be handled by “tax experts” or “ex-IRS agents” when in fact the people handling the cases did not have the advertised expertise. JK Harris case managers changed frequently, and consumers complained that they often had to provide the same information to the company several times.

JK Harris promised to settle debts for “pennies on the dollar” and charged money upfront for this service without actually determining if consumers qualified for an IRS Offers in Compromise (OIC) or while knowing that consumers didn’t qualify. The IRS approves only a small percentage of OIC’s each year.

Under the terms of today’s consent judgment, JK Harris must clearly explain to consumers under what circumstances they would qualify to reach a compromise with the IRS on back taxes. JK Harris will also make several reforms to its advertising and sales practices. Financial Recovery Systems is barred from offering or performing credit repair services that don’t comply with state and federal laws. The judgment also applies to Professional Fee Financing Associates, L.L.C, a related company that provided financing for consumer contracts with JK Harris.

Read the full Consent Judgement.

Since 1999 the Maine Attorney General’s office received 62 complaints about JK Harris. Any Maine consumer who filed a complaint with the Maine Attorney General’s Office, the Better Business Bureau or the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs or who files a complaint within the next 90 days will be eligible for a partial refund. The $1.5 million will be distributed on a pro rata basis to those consumers who have filed complaints.

Read the full Complaint.

Consumers can contact the Maine Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll-free at (800) 436-2131 or via email at consumer.mediation@maine.gov.

States who joined Maine in the judgment are Arkansas, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia.

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NEWS RELEASE June 12, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Anheuser-Busch Alcoholic Energy Drink Assurance of Voluntary Compliance

June 26, 2008

IN RE:

ANHEUSER-BUSCH, INC.

ASSURANCE OF VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE AND VOLUNTARY DISCONTINUANCE

WHEREAS, this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance/Assurance of Discontinuance (hereinafter "Assurance") is entered into between the Attorneys General of Arizona, California, Connecticut , Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, and Ohio (“Signatory Attorneys General”), acting pursuant to their respective consumer protection statutes, and Anheuser-Busch, Inc. (“A-B”) in order to resolve disputed claims with respect to A-B’s marketing and sale of caffeinated alcohol beverages, including the Tilt and Bud Extra brands;

WHEREAS, the states identified above are hereinafter collectively referred to as the “Signatory States”;

WHEREAS, Respondent A-B was and is engaged in the business of making and selling alcohol beverages, with its principal place of business located at One Busch Place, 202-6, St. Louis, MO 63118;

WHEREAS, from approximately January 1, 2005 and continuing through the present, A-B has marketed and sold Bud Extra and Tilt in the Signatory States;

WHEREAS, the Signatory Attorneys General allege that A-B marketed and sold Bud Extra and Tilt in violation of their respective consumer protection and trade practice statutes by, among other practices, making express and implied false or misleading health-related statements about the energizing effects of Bud Extra and Tilt, failing to disclose to consumers the effects and consequences of drinking alcohol beverages that are combined with caffeine and/or other stimulants, and directing advertisements of Tilt and Bud Extra to consumers under the age of 21. The health-related statements include, but are not limited to, the following:

A. Statements regarding Guarana and its strengthening effects (see Exhibit A attached hereto); and

B. Statements regarding being able to stay up all night after drinking the products (see Exhibits B and C attached hereto).

WHEREAS, A-B alleges that it obtained all necessary federal and state regulatory approvals for Tilt and Bud Extra and the company contends that its sale and marketing of these beverages in the signing states complied with all applicable laws and that its advertising was directed to people age 21 and over;

WHEREAS, A-B contends that it exercised reasonable care in developing Bud Extra and Tilt which it contends have only 54 mg. and 71 mg. of caffeine per 10 oz. and 16 oz. container respectively, and that these products have much less alcohol per volume than prepackaged caffeinated distilled spirits approved by TTB and sold in many of the signing states; and

WHEREAS, the parties, having consented to the entry of this Assurance for the purposes of settlement only, and without this Assurance constituting evidence against or as an admission by any party, and without trial of any issue of fact or law;

NOW THEREFORE, the parties agree to the following terms and conditions to settle the differences between them:

I. DEFINITIONS

  1. Unless otherwise specified, the following definitions shall apply:

A. “Caffeinated alcohol beverages” means malt-based or distilled spirits-based alcohol beverages to which are added caffeine and/or other stimulants that are metabolized as caffeine, such as Guarana.

B. “Bartexter” is a text messaging service that provides cocktail recipes for A-B products.

C. “Bud Extra” means a caffeinated alcohol beverage sold as Bud Extra and B to the E.

D. “Effective Date” means July 1, 2008, by which date all parties have executed this Assurance.

E. “Tilt” means caffeinated alcohol beverages sold as Tilt and Tilt 8.0%.

II. ASSURANCE

A-B and its successors, assigns, and subsidiaries, hereby voluntarily agree to cease manufacturing and selling caffeinated alcohol beverages as follows:

  1. A-B will stop manufacturing, marketing, and providing to wholesalers any and all caffeinated alcohol beverages, including Bud Extra and Tilt as currently formulated, immediately upon its execution of this Assurance.

  2. A-B intends to reformulate both products without caffeine or other stimulants that are metabolized as caffeine, such as Guarana. Until the products are reformulated, A-B specifically agrees to (a) eliminate Bud Extra and Tilt in their current caffeinated formulation from any Bartexter recipes, (b) eliminate from its promotional materials, if any, all references to mixing Bud Extra and Tilt in their current caffeinated formulation with any other A-B product or alcohol based product, and (c) not produce or provide to wholesalers any point of sale promotional materials for Bud Extra or Tilt in their current caffeinated formulation. When Bud Extra and Tilt are reformulated, A-B agrees not to promote Bud Extra or Tilt as a mixer for any products containing caffeine and/or other stimulants that are metabolized as caffeine, such as Guarana. With respect to websites for the two products, A-B specifically agrees to immediately discontinue the current Tilt website (www.tiltthenight.com) without hyperlinking or directing visitors to a new site. A-B may immediately launch a new Tilt website at a new URL address, but may do so only to promote the reformulated Tilt without caffeine. A-B also agrees to take down the Bud Extra website for at least 30 days and, upon its re-launch to use the website only to promote the reformulated product without caffeine.

  3. In the future, A-B will not produce any alcohol beverage that contains caffeine or other stimulants that are metabolized as caffeine, such as Guarana.

III. PAYMENT TO THE STATES

Within three (3) business days after the Effective Date, Respondent shall pay the Signatory Attorneys General the total sum of $200,000.00 to such accounts and addresses as the Signatory Attorneys General may direct. Such sum is to be divided among the Signatory Attorneys General as they may agree and is to be used for attorneys fees, and costs of investigation, or it shall be placed in or applied to consumer education, public protection, or local consumer aid funds, including implementation of programs designed to prevent illegal underage drinking, or for any other purpose authorized by state law, at the sole discretion of each Attorney General or as otherwise required by law.

IV. RELEASE

This Assurance constitutes a complete settlement and release of all of the Signatory Attorneys General’s civil consumer protection claims – whether statutory, equitable, parens patriae or common law (but excluding any tax or antitrust claims) – that may have existed prior to or on the Effective Date which arise out of or relate to A-B’s development, advertising, marketing, or sale of caffeinated alcohol beverages.

V. OTHER SETTLEMENT TERMS AND OBLIGATIONS

  1. Upon reasonable prior written notice, any duly authorized representative of the Signatory Attorneys General may request, and A-B shall provide, copies of such records as may be reasonably necessary to determine whether A-B is in compliance with this Assurance.

  2. Nothing in this Assurance shall be construed as relieving A-B of its obligation to comply with all applicable state and federal laws, regulations, or rules, or granting it permission to engage in any acts or practices prohibited by such law, regulation, or rule.

  3. A Signatory Attorney General may assert any claim that A-B has violated this Assurance in a separate civil action to enforce this Assurance, or seek other relief for such violation provided by law.

  4. The Signatory Attorneys General agree to notify A-B of any intended action to enforce this Assurance ten (10) days prior to filing to give the parties an opportunity to confer, provided however, that a Signatory Attorney General may take immediate action where the Signatory Attorney General concludes that, because of the specific practice, a threat to the health and safety of the public requires immediate action. A Signatory Attorney General who takes such immediate action will give A-B an opportunity to confer within three (3) days from such filing.

  5. The parties agree that A-B may ask the Signatory Attorneys General to amend or terminate provisions of this Assurance in light of new or evolving technologies, business models, emerging science, settlements, laws, regulations, interpretations, the passage of time, or other relevant changes in circumstances, and the Signatory Attorneys General shall reasonably consider such requests.

  6. The Signatory Attorneys General are authorized to monitor compliance with this Assurance by all lawful means.

  7. Any notices to be sent to a Signatory State or to A-B under this Assurance shall be sent by nationally recognized overnight courier service or certified Mail (return receipt requested), or personal delivery to the named party at the address below:

If to A-B:

Lisa A. Joley, Vice President and General Counsel Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. One Busch Place, 202-6 St. Louis, MO 63118

If to the State of:

VI. SIGNATURES

Footnote 1: With regard to Connecticut, the Assurance is entered into on behalf of the State of Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.

Footnote 2: ARIZONA - Consumer Fraud Act, A.R.S. § 44-1521 et seq.; CALIFORNIA - Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200 et seq., and 17500 et seq.; CONNECTICUT – Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-110b, et seq.]; IDAHO - Consumer Protection Act, Idaho Code § 48-601 et seq.; ILLINOIS - Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, 815 ILCS § 505/1 et seq. (2006); IOWA - Iowa Consumer Fraud Act, Iowa Code Section 714.16; MAINE – Unfair Trade Practices Act, 5 M.R.S.A. section 205-A et. seq; MARYLAND - Consumer Protection Act, Maryland Commercial Law Code Annotated § 13-101 et seq.; NEW MEXICO - Unfair Trade Practices Act, NMSA § 57-12-1 et seq. (1978); NEW YORK - N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law §§ 349 & 350 and Executive Law § 63(12); OHIO - Consumer Sales Practices Act, R.C. § 1345.01 et seq.

Attorney General Steve Rowe Announces Anheuser Busch to Discontinue All Alcoholic Energy Drinks

June 26, 2008

Today Attorney General Steve Rowe, joined by ten other state Attorneys General[1], announced an agreement with Anheuser-Busch that will result in the discontinuance of two popular pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks, Tilt and Bud Extra. As part of the agreement, Anheuser-Busch will not produce any caffeinated alcohol beverages in the future. Rowe commends Anheuser-Busch for its decision and calls on other manufactures to take similar steps to remove these potentially dangerous beverages from the market.

Attorney General Rowe is gravely concerned about the epidemic of underage drinking and is committed to reducing the problem. He identifies alcoholic energy drinks as one part of the problem and has been leading the nation’s investigation into them. These products taste and look like popular non-alcoholic energy drinks. These amped-up-alcopops are popular with young people who often form the wrong belief that the caffeine in the drinks will counteract the intoxicating effects of the alcohol. These beliefs are fueled by aggressive marketing campaigns that promise endless nights of fun and enhanced abilities.

Concerned about these marketing practices and armed with recently published research about the dangers of these products, Rowe initiated a multistate investigation into the content and marketing of Anheuser-Busch products Tilt and Bud Extra. Maine issued an investigative subpoena/civil investigative demand to Anheuser-Busch in early January pursuant to Maine’s protection and trade practices statutes. The investigation focused on express and implied false and misleading health-related statements about the energizing effects of Tilt and Bud Extra and advertisements for Tilt and Bud Extra that were directed to consumers under the age of 21.

While Anheuser-Busch denied the claims, it cooperated with the investigation and promptly decided to reformulate Tilt and Bud Extra without caffeine or other stimulants and to agree not to produce any other caffeinated alcohol beverages in the future. Attorney General Rowe praised Anheuser-Busch for being a responsible industry leader and for eliminating all caffeinated alcohol beverages from their product list.

“Alcohol mixed with high amounts of caffeine is a recipe for disaster, particularly in the hands of young people,” said Attorney General Rowe. “Caffeine gives drinkers the subjective belief that they can function normally. This means they’re more likely to make unsafe decisions which can result in serious harm.”

Attorney General Rowe emphasized that young people aren’t drinking just one or two of these alcoholic energy drinks – these products are intended to be consumed several times throughout a night of partying and to be used as a mixer for other alcoholic beverages. A recently published study by Dr. Mary Claire O’Brien of Wake Forest University found that college students who mix alcohol and energy drinks engage in increased heavy episodic drinking and have twice as many episodes of weekly drunkenness. College students who reported consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks also had significantly higher prevalence of alcohol-related consequences, like sexual assault and injury.

“Binge drinking among our youth in this nation has reached epidemic proportions. These new products that are aggressively marketed to college students offer the allure of an all night party and perpetuate the problem,” said Attorney General Rowe. “Instead of sending a message about responsible consumption of alcohol, makers of these alcoholic energy drinks are pushing over-consumption. Our youth deserve better.”

Maine will continue to investigate alcoholic energy drinks manufactured by other companies and will explore all options, including possible legal action. Maine will also be working with state and federal officials to encourage further research and regulation in relation to these products.

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[1] Arizona, Iowa, Maine, Maryland and New York issued investigative subpoenas to Anheuser-Busch. California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, New Mexico and Ohio assisted in the investigation.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 26, 2008 CONTACT: JESSICA MAURER, SPECIAL ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8515 OR jessica.maurer@maine.gov

Maine Joins Settlement to Protect Consumers From Fraud Induced Wire Transfers

July 2, 2008

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that MoneyGram Payment Systems, Inc., has entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) with Maine and 43 other States and the District of Columbia. The agreement is in response to concerns about the use of the company’s wire transfer services by fraudulent telemarketers. Under the AVC, MoneyGram will, among other things, fund a $1.1 million national consumer awareness program and display highly visible consumer warnings on the forms used to wire money by consumers.

MoneyGram, based in Minneapolis, offers money transfer services by wire at 31 locations in Maine and more than 25,000 locations in the United States, including grocery stores, gas stations and other retail businesses.

“Maine people work too hard to have their money stolen by scam artists. These thieves use convincing tactics to exploit people’s sense of charity or dreams of winning a lottery,” Rowe said. “Many of the scams involve wire transfers. This agreement will help raise awareness of these scams and put in place anti-fraud measures to protect potential victims. “

The problem addressed by the agreement is the high number of “fraud-induced transfers”—that is, money wired by consumers to fraudulent telemarketers and other scam artists. For example, some telemarketers, often based in other countries, use a “lottery” scam, in which they tell vulnerable consumers they have won a large sum of money but must pay taxes or other charges in order to claim the winnings. Another common tactic taken by telemarketers is to pretend to be from a charity and to seek donations to what sounds like a worthy cause. Victims are then directed to wire the money to a designated location.

Wire transfers are a preferred method of payment by scam artists because they are fast, there are transfer agents in most communities, and funds can be picked up in multiple locations.

The problem of fraud-induced transfers is substantial. In 2003, a survey conducted in seven states of transfers over $300 to Canada by another major money transfer company estimated that over 29 percent of those transfers were fraud-induced, resulting in consumer losses in the year 2002 of approximately $113 million.

Among the terms of the AVC just reached with MoneyGram are these:

• Prominent warnings to consumers of the dangers of fraud-induced wire transfers must appear in English and Spanish on the front page of MoneyGram’s Send Form, and comparable warnings are required for telephone and Web transfers. The warning is to occupy at least 40 percent of the area of the Send Form’s front page.

• MoneyGram will pay $1.1 million for a national consumer education program on how to avoid fraud-induced transfers, to be overseen by the AARP Foundation.

• MoneyGram will continue its current policy of reimbursing the amount of any transfer to a consumer who requests, prior to pickup, that the transfer be stopped, and reimbursing transfer fees as well if the consumer reasonably claims that the transfer was fraud-induced.

• MoneyGram will send prominent anti-fraud messages to its agents electronically every month or whenever a proposed transfer exceeds a certain amount, revise and enhance the company’s agent anti-fraud training programs, and provide special training to agents with elevated fraud levels at their locations.

• MoneyGram will take appropriate action to suspend or terminate agent locations that are involved in fraud or that do not take reasonable steps to reduce fraud.

• MoneyGram will block wire transfers from specific consumers or to specific recipients when the company receives information from a state that there are good faith grounds to believe that fraud will occur, until such time as the consumer is counseled on fraud and requests resumption of the transfer.

• MoneyGram will ensure that money transfers sent from the United States can only be picked up in the country designated by the sender, with a potential extension of this policy to the state or provincial level if the pickup of fraud-induced transfers in states or provinces to which consumers do not intend to send money becomes a significant problem in the future.

• MoneyGram will pay $150,000 to be shared among the negotiating states of Arkansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Washington.

Commenting on the AVC, Attorney General Rowe noted the importance of enlisting “third parties” like MoneyGram in the campaign against consumer fraud. “MoneyGram is doing the right thing by trying to prevent their service from being used to perpetrate fraud.” Rowe said. ”Agreements like this one—with its model fraud warning, consumer education program, and enhanced training for money transfer agents—are steps in the right direction.”

Signing the AVC were the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

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NEWS RELEASE July 2, 2008 Jim McKenna, AAG, 626-8842

Maine Settles Legal Claims Against Rx Company

July 16, 2008

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe announced that Maine has joined 42 other states and the federal government in settling Medicaid legal claims against Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS) and its former wholly owned subsidiary Apothecon, Inc.

The total settlement amount that will be paid to the states and the federal government is $389 million. The State of Maine will receive $829,862 from the settlement. This amount will be paid to the Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of MaineCare, the State’s Medicaid program.

“It is sad that prescription drug companies continue to game the Medicaid system to unfairly increase their profits at the expense of Maine taxpayers. The conduct of Bristol-Myers Squibb and its subsidiary was reprehensible,” said Attorney General Steve Rowe.

As a result of the state and federal investigation into the conduct of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Apothecon, state and federal authorities found that the companies engaged in illegal conduct to include:

  • Reporting inflated prices for various prescription drugs knowing that MaineCare and various federal health care programs would use these reported prices to pay for BMS and Apothecon products used by their recipients;

  • Paying illegal remuneration to physicians, health care providers, and pharmacies to induce them to purchase BMS and Apothecon products;

  • Promoting the sale and use of Abilify, an antipsychotic drug, for pediatric use and for treatment of dementia-related psychosis, uses which the federal Food and Drug administration had not approved; and

  • Misreporting sales prices for Serzone, an antidepressant, resulting in the improper reduction of the amount of rebates paid to the state Medicaid programs

As part of the settlement, BMS has also entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under which BMS will be required to report accurately its average sales prices and average manufacturers prices in the future.

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July 16, 2008 Michael Miller (207) 626-8891

Use of Deadly Force by Indian Township Officers Legally Justified

July 17, 2008

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Indian Township Police Officer Alexander Nicholas II and Indian Township Game Warden Scott Francis were legally justified when they used deadly force against Douglas P. Kelley, Jr., 40, of Calais, during the early evening of May 12, 2008, in Indian Township. Mr. Kelley died as the result of gunshot wounds inflicted by the officers.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by the officers in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer’s public duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat of unlawful deadly force.

Attorney General Rowe determined, based on the investigation conducted by his office and the application of controlling Maine law, that Officer Nicholas actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was being imminently threatened against himself and others by Douglas Kelley and that Warden Francis actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was being imminently threatened against others by Douglas Kelley, and that the officers also actually and reasonably believed that the use of deadly force on their part was necessary to protect themselves and/or others. Therefore, both requirements of the law having been met, the use of deadly force by Officer Nicholas and Warden Francis was legally justified.

The Attorney General’s investigation revealed the following:

On Monday, May 12, 2008, at approximately 5:00 p.m., Douglas Kelley drove his vehicle to the home of his recent former girlfriend on Hemlock Point Road in Indian Township. At the residence were the girlfriend, her daughter, her daughter’s boyfriend and two infant children. Upon arriving at the residence, Mr. Kelley appeared to be upset. He was drinking a beer and was visibly intoxicated. He instructed the girlfriend to remove her personal property from his vehicle and lamented that the girlfriend no longer loved him. The girlfriend observed an empty gun holster and an ammunition box inside Kelley’s vehicle.

Kelley followed the girlfriend to the backyard of the residence. He carried with him an unopened 12-pack of beer. Kelley told the girlfriend that he had been “kicked off the reservation” and that he was not supposed to be at her residence. After going into the residence to use the bathroom, Kelley returned to his vehicle where a conversation between he and the girlfriend ensued. At a point when Kelley got out of his vehicle with his right hand under his shirt, the girlfriend pulled the shirt away and saw that Kelley was holding a handgun in his right hand. Kelley pointed the gun at the girlfriend. The girlfriend and the others at the residence went into the house, locked the doors and windows, and placed the infant children in a back bedroom. Kelley remained outside.

At approximately 5:37 p.m., the Indian Township Police Department received a telephone call from the girlfriend that Mr. Kelley was at her residence and that he had pointed a handgun at her. She told the police dispatcher that Kelley had moved from the driveway of her residence to the area of a large boulder situated between her residence and a neighboring residence and, from that location, had fired at least one shot into the woods behind her house. This information was relayed to the responding officers including Officer Nicholas, Warden Francis, Officer James Mendoza and Chief of Police Alexander Nicholas. Officer Mendoza, the first to respond, knew Kelley as he had arrested Kelley for OUI two days earlier. When Officer Mendoza arrived at a location where he could observe the girlfriend’s residence, he saw Kelley with what appeared to be a handgun, and relayed his observations to the other responding officers.

Warden Francis went into a wooded area behind the girlfriend’s residence. From that vantage point, later determined to be about 115 feet from Kelley, he observed Kelley sitting on the large boulder. Chief Nicholas and Officer Nicholas, who had responded to the call together and taken positions behind the opened doors of their police cruiser, both knew Kelley from previous encounters. They likewise observed Kelley sitting on the boulder.

Chief Nicholas instructed Mr. Kelley to drop his weapon and show his hands. Kelley responded with an expletive, turned slightly to his right and pointed his handgun in the direction of Chief Nicholas and Officer Nicholas. Chief Nicholas again ordered Kelley to drop the handgun. Kelley replied, “[expletive] you guys, you’re gonna have to kill me.” Additional commands to drop the weapon were given to Kelley by Chief Nicholas. Later, Kelley again briefly pointed his weapon in the direction of Chief Nicholas and Officer Nicholas. Chief Nicholas again ordered Kelley to drop the weapon. Kelley responded, “There’s nothing you can do. You guys are going to have to kill me. Someone is going to die.” Officer Nicholas also attempted to persuade Kelley to drop his weapon by telling Kelley that they could “talk it out” and that he would get Kelley some help.

The officers then saw Mr. Kelley put the handgun to the side of his head. Chief Nicholas again ordered Kelley to drop the weapon. Kelly stretched his arms outward and then pulled them back in. A few seconds later, Kelley pointed his handgun in the direction of Chief Nicholas and Officer Nicholas. Chief Nicholas told Kelley to drop his weapon or he was going to shoot. Kelley continued to point his weapon in the direction of the officers. Chief Nicholas attempted to fire his weapon at Kelley, but Chief Nicholas’ weapon did not fire. Chief Nicholas then ordered Officer Nicholas to shoot. Officer Nicholas fired three shots at Kelley. After Officer Nicholas opened fire, Warden Francis, armed with a rifle, fired a single shot at Kelley. Struck by gunfire, Kelley fell off the boulder to the ground. Emergency medical personnel, who were staged in the vicinity, arrived at the scene and determined that Kelley was dead.

An autopsy and forensic examination by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Mr. Kelley died as a result of gunshot wounds. He was struck three times. He was struck (by bullets from Officer Nicholas’ handgun) in the right abdomen and right calf. He was struck (by the bullet from Warden Francis’ rifle) in the right rear of his head.

Several neighboring residents observed in varying degrees the shooting and the events leading up to it. They were interviewed as part of the investigation. Their accounts were consistent with the accounts given by the police officers involved. Also consistent with the several accounts of the event were the video from an Indian Township police cruiser camera, the results of a scene examination and analysis conducted by evidence technicians, and the post-mortem examination conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Detectives from the Office of the Attorney General went to the scene of the shooting in Indian Township to conduct the investigation. They were assisted by State Police officers and technicians and, later, the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory.


1- This was the first time Mr. Kelley had been at the girlfriend’s residence since his arrest two days earlier for operating under the influence of alcohol. That arrest occurred after the girlfriend had called the police to have Kelley removed from her property.

2- Kelley was referring to conditions of bail related to his OUI arrest on May 10, 2008.

3- When Warden Francis saw Kelley point his weapon in the direction of Chief Nicholas and Officer Nicholas and heard what he thought was Mr. Kelley firing his weapon, Warden Francis fired one shot at Kelley. Although civilian witnesses also stated that they thought Kelley had fired his weapon in the direction of Chief Nicholas and Officer Nicholas, no casings from Kelley’s weapon were located near Kelley’s body. Immediately following the shooting and as part of the investigation, Kelley’s weapon was examined. The CZ-Browning model 83 was found to have one live round in the chamber and ten live rounds in the magazine. The hammer was in a cocked position. The full capacity of the weapon was thirteen rounds.

4- The forensic examination disclosed that Mr. Kelley’s blood-alcohol concentration was 0.34% - more than four times the legal limit for operating under the influence.

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NEWSRELEASE July 17, 2008 Contact: David Loughran

Rowe Highlights Maine’s New Identity Theft Law

July 18, 2008

Effective July 18, 2008 Maine residents who are victims of identity theft have the right to file a police report and receive a copy of a written report from their local law enforcement agency. A police report is required by most financial institutions in order for victims of identity theft to clear their name. In the past, many identity theft victims in Maine were unable to obtain a police report because the crime took place outside of the state.

A common scenario where a victim of identity theft could have had trouble obtaining a police report under the previous law would be: A Maine citizen’s social security number is stolen by a thief in Pennsylvania who uses the information to open a credit card account. The thief then uses the credit card to purchase computers from a company in Texas. When the victim discovers the unauthorized credit cards, they would also discover that the crimes were committed in Pennsylvania and Texas, not Maine. In order to file and obtain a copy of a police report, the victim would have to travel to Pennsylvania or Texas.

“This new law is a major step forward for victims of identity theft,” said Attorney General Steve Rowe. “Being able to obtain a police report from local law enforcement will substantially reduce the amount of time and annoyance Maine people experience when trying to clear their good names.”

A police report can be made any time identity theft is discovered regardless of when the actual theft occurred. At its discretion, a police department or sheriff’s office may undertake an investigation or refer it to the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction where the suspected crime was committed.

Rowe continued, “According to a 2007 survey, identity theft is the third most common crime in Maine. The same technology that enriches our lives has also created opportunities for criminals. It is important that we continue to adapt to the new challenges posed by this ever evolving threat.”

Under Maine law, a victim of identity theft is anyone whose legal identification has been used to obtain confidential information, property or services. “Legal identification” includes a social security card, social security number, birth certificate, driver's license, government-issued identification card, oral statement of a person’s full name and date of birth or any other means of identifying a person that is generally accepted as accurate and reliable.

“The best way to fight identity theft is to avoid becoming a victim,” Rowe stated. “I encourage everyone to guard your sensitive information by shredding your financial documents, reviewing your credit report, carrying only the credit cards you use regularly and never give out your personal identifying information over the phone, the internet or through the mail unless you know who you are talking to.”

Victims of identity theft are encouraged to call the Attorney General’s Office at 626-8843 for assistance. For more information please visit the Consumer Protection section of the Attorney General’s website at www.maine.gov/ag

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NEWS RELEASE July 18, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Doctors, State Officials & Youth Prepared to Answer the Surgeon General’s Call to Action

March 6, 2007

Today, Acting Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu issued a Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. The report identifies underage drinking as a “major societal problem with enormous health and safety consequences” that “will demand the Nation’s attention and committed efforts to solve.” The Surgeon General highlights new research that explains why youth react to alcohol differently from adults and explains why successful interventions must occur early, continuously and in the context of human development. He concludes that underage alcohol use is not inevitable and that adults are not powerless to prevent it. The Call to Action offers six goals for reducing and preventing underage drinking and outlines how parents, schools, prosecutors, health care professionals, government and community officials, and youth can achieve the goals.

Shortly after the release of the report, pediatricians, state officials and young people came together to say they were prepared to answer the Surgeon General’s Call to Action.

Maine’s Public Health Director, Dr. Dora Anne Mills, praised Dr. Moritsugu for his leadership in addressing this critically important child health issue. She said, “Youth drinking is a major pediatric health crisis in this nation and in this state that is not getting better. New research has demonstrated the long-term and sometimes irreversible effects of alcohol on developing brains. This new research demands an urgent response – we must get youth and parents to understand the significant and serious health risks associated with youth drinking.”

Dr. Donald Burgess, President of the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, echoed this sentiment and analogized this new research to research done in the 1970s related to the effect of alcohol on developing fetuses. “Physicians have known since the early 70’s that alcohol has a significant, irreversible and sometimes devastating effect on the brain of the developing fetus. Many efforts and programs since that time have provided education to pregnant women around the disastrous effects of alcohol use during pregnancy. Pediatricians now know that pre-adolescent and adolescent brains continue to develop into young adulthood and the effect of alcohol use during this crucial neurological stage of life is no less significant than the effect on a developing fetus. That is why it is imperative that we, as pediatricians, must educate our patients and parents about the dangers of early alcohol use during well child exams as part of our regular anticipatory guidance.”

The Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics pledged to work with the Maine Office of Substance Abuse (OSA) to develop and implement quick, simple interventions that can be used by pediatricians, school health coordinators and other health care professionals with parents and youth. This is one of the Surgeon General’s recommendations for health care professionals.

Kim Johnson, OSA Director said that these types of interventions can go a long way in changing the way we all think about underage drinking. “In Maine, we’ve been particularly successful at using environmental strategies to reduce other types of youth substance use, and the National Academy of Sciences has already provided us with a roadmap for applying these strategies to underage drinking. We know these strategies work because Maine has achieved one of the lowest youth smoking rates in the country. We can do this for drinking too – it’ll just take all of us working together.”

Kristin Ireland of the Youth Empowerment and Policy Group (YEP) said she was encouraged by the Surgeon General’s report. “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action will help motivate youth and their parents to do more to change the social norms around underage drinking. I wish I had grown up in a world where parents didn’t host drinking parties, where it was hard to get alcohol and where I was not constantly bombarded with images of alcohol and drinking. I hope my kids will be able to grow up in a better environment.” She explained that this is why she’s been a part of YEP, a group that last year created a first in the nation Maine Alcohol Retailer’s Local Marketing Code of Conduct. This Code has been implemented in many Maine retail establishments.

Ally Beaucage and Tim Stretton of the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council are part of a local initiative in Lewiston to have high school students speak to 8th graders about entering high school and the peer pressure they will face around drinking. Their message is simple, it’s important to stay true to yourself and to your dreams. If you don’t, you risk losing everything. Their slogan, “UBooze, ULooze” is made more powerful because the message is coming from older peers. Ally explained, “We know that younger kids look up to us. They can’t wait to go to high school, and many think they need to give in to peer pressure to drink in order to fit in. We hope it means a lot to them to hear from older kids that you don’t have to drink to fit in and to have a good time. We hope by doing this work some kids will think twice about drinking.” Tim said, “We’re doing our part and now that the Surgeon General has asked people to do more, we hope other kids around the state will start to speak out against drinking with their peers as well. We think this will start to make a big difference.”

Karen Baldacci is a member of the Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free. Since the National Academies of Science issued the Institute of Medicine’s Report on underage drinking entitled Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility, the Leadership has been working to implement the recommendations contained in the report. Mrs. Baldacci explained how the Surgeon General’s Call to Action will help this effort. She said, “We already know what we need to do to prevent underage drinking. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action now tells us why it is so critical that increase our efforts to implement these recommendations.”

Attorney General Steven Rowe is in Washington D.C. attending the Surgeon General’s private briefing on the Call to Action. However, he expressed his strong commitment to work with state officials to implement the recommendations of the Call to Action. He said, “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action must motivate us all to action. Our efforts must be more focused, more intense and we must use all of the tools at our disposal. But, we cannot do it alone – we need everyone, every parent, every doctor, every educator, every community member to get involved and stay involved until we put a halt to this pediatric health crisis.”

Editor’s Note: The Co-Chairs of the Leadership Children Alcohol Free and Attorney General Steve Rowe, Co-Chair of the National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol Committee, met with the Surgeon General early last fall to offer their strong support for his Call to Action and to discuss a broader plan for implementing the Call to Action. These two groups will be an important part of the national effort to bring attention to the report and to help put the recommendations into action.

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NEWS RELEASE March 6, 2007 DAVID LOUGHRAN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (207) 626-8577 OR david.loughran@maine.gov

Rep. Brautigam And Attorney General Rowe Announce Bill To Protect Seniors From Financial Exploitation

March 26, 2007

Rep. John Brautigam, D-Falmouth, and Attorney General Steven Rowe will present a bill that would permit bank personnel to report suspected cases of financial exploitation of the elderly to appropriate authorities.

“This legislation will allow financial institutions and credit unions to alert the Department of Health and Human Services if they have a reason to suspect that an elderly customer is being abused, neglected or exploited,” Brautigam said. “As a lawmaker, I believe there is no more important mission than protecting the security of our vulnerable citizens, especially seniors. With this bill, we can enlist the assistance of the banking community in that effort.”

The bill, L.D. 1428, would provide immunity for the good faith disclosure of financial records for the purpose of ensuring that senior citizens are not being taken advantage of by individuals with access to their accounts.

“Increasingly, Maine seniors are finding themselves the target of financial exploitation because they have liquid assets and good credit,” said Rowe.

“If a banker has a customer who comes in by themselves every week for years to withdraw $250, then starts showing up with an unknown person and withdrawing $10,000 a week, this bill would allow that banker to disclose financial information to authorities without fear of civil or criminal liability,” Brautigam said.

In addition to Attorney General Rowe and Rep. Brautigam, the bill is supported by the AARP, the Maine Association of Community Banks, the Maine Bankers Association, the Maine Credit Union League and the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The efforts of the groups involved will go a long way toward making Maine a safer place for seniors,” Rowe said.

The Insurance and Financial Services Committee will hold a public hearing on the bill on Tuesday, April 3, 2007 at 1 p.m. in Room 427 of the State House.

For more information about the bill, visit: http://janus.state.me.us/legis/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280024190

For Immediate Release March 26, 2007 Contact: Rep. John Brautigam, 671-6700 David Loughran (Rowe), 626-8577 Heidi Overbeck (Brautigam), 287-1430 Public hearing on Tuesday April 3, 2007 at 1 p.m.

Attorney General Rowe Applauds Supreme Court Decision Directing The EPA to Enforce the Clean Air Act

April 2, 2007

Today the United States Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide from automobile emissions and that by not doing so the EPA ignored its responsibility.

“What this decision means is that the EPA will have to make decision based on the science of global warming and not factors that have nothing to do with the Clean Air Act.” Rowe stated. “We expect the EPA will have a hard time proving that CO2 does not contribute to global warming.”

Maine joined the suit with eleven other states including, Massachusetts, FILL IN STATES

In its decision Justice John Paul Stevens outlined three main points.

1) That States have standing to challenge the EPA 2) The EPA has the authority to regulate CO2 3) The EPA has failed to provide valid reasons as to why the will not enforce its authority.

The Attorney General added, “Climate change not only impacts the environment which we live, it also harms our health and economy.” Rowe cited industries such as fishing, skiing, maple sugar and forestry that would feel the devastating impact of climate change.

The Supreme Court also ruled on Environmental Defense vs. Duke Energy Corp., a case involving a loophole in the Clean Air Act. Rowe reacted to the Courts unanimous decision by saying, “The power industry has waged a forceful campaign against New Source Review. Today the Supreme Court said its time that power plants use the technology available to them to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and other harmful pollutants that result in smog and acid rain.”

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NEWS RELEASE April 2, 2007 DAVID LOUGHRAN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (207) 626-8577 OR david.loughran@maine.gov

Big Tobacco Makes Annual MSA Payment

April 20, 2007

Earlier this week, the company signatories of the 1998 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) made their required annual payments to Maine and the other 45 States. The money collected by Maine will go to finance the Fund for a Healthy Maine. In addition to large amounts paid to the signatory States, the MSA is a public health agreement with strong prohibitions on numerous forms of advertising, promotion, and marketing of cigarettes by the participating companies. Since the Fund for a Healthy Maine was created, youth smoking in Maine has decreased 60% and sales of cigarettes have declined 21% nationwide. “The programs made possible by the Fund for Healthy Maine and the prohibitions on certain advertising have substantially contributed to reducing smoking in Maine. Adults are quitting and fewer children are taking up the habit.” Attorney General Steve Rowe explained.

The major tobacco manufacturers who pay into the fund are Philip Morris, Reynolds America and Lorillard. Of the three only Philip Morris made its full payment. The other two companies paid only about 75% of the amount due and placed the remainder into a “disputed payment account”. They did so based on an alleged entitlement to a downward payment adjustment for a loss in sales to companies that did not participate in the MSA. The total withheld amount equals approximately $704 million dollars.

The agreement provides that any state that diligently enforces the provisions of the MSA during a year is immune from an NPM Adjustment reduction to its MSA payments for that year. Rowe stated, “Maine has diligently enforced all provisions of the MSA. It is my hope that any dispute in this matter will be resolved amicably. However, if this is not the case we are fully prepared to litigate the matter.”

“We would have preferred that all tobacco companies had honored the MSA and made their full annual payment. Nonetheless Maine received $46,336,828.45 to help fund health programs, of that more than $12.5 million is aimed at further reducing smoking.” Rowe added.

Nationwide the signatory States received almost $6 billion in MSA payments, bringing the total paid under the MSA to over $53 billion since the agreement was first executed.

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NEWS RELEASE April 20, 2007 DAVID LOUGHRAN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (207) 749-9078 OR david.loughran@maine.gov

Civil Rights Team Project Annual Spring Conference is Underway

May 7, 2007

WHAT: Civil Rights Team Project Spring Convention WHERE: Augusta Civic Center WHEN: May 7, 2007 TIME: 8:45-1:30 PM

Today over 1400 students from schools across Maine will travel to Augusta to participate in the Civil Rights Team Project (CRTP) Spring Convention. Civil Rights Teams are student organizations that work to provide youth with the tools and skills necessary to reduce bias-based harassment and violence in their schools and in their communities. At the Spring Convention, students come together to share their experiences and to learn from a distinguished group of presenters and performers.

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MEDIA ADVISORY MAY 7, 2007 DAVID LOUGHRAN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (207) 626-8577 OR david.loughran@maine.gov

Chief Medical Examiner Releases Inforation on the Death of Coreen Weise

May 15, 2007

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner has confirmed that the body found in the Saco River early Saturday morning is that of Coreen Weise who has been missing since early November of 2006. Preliminary identification was made by comparison of the orthodontic work. Confirmation of identification was done by the DNA Division of the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory. The autopsy is complete. There is no significant antemortem injury. Findings are all consistent with drowning. The manner of death is pending further investigation and toxicology.

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NEWS RELEASE May 15, 2007 Jim Ferland, Administrator Office of Chief Medical Examiner, (207) 624-7180

Hutchinson Gets Life In Prison for 1994 Murder

August 2, 2007

Today, Michael Hutchinson was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Crystal Perry. On April 9, 2007 a jury found Hutchinson guilty in the 1994 stabbing of Perry. The murder took place in her kitchen while her daughter slept in an adjoining room.

“The brutal circumstances of the murder coupled with the fact that he walked free for so many years make life in prison a fitting sentence.” Remarked Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, who presented the State’s case before Justice Thomas Warren in Cumberland County Superior Court.

The case remained unsolved for over a decade before DNA evidence led to Hutchinson arrest.

A conviction for Murder carries a minimum sentence of 25 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“Although this sentence will not bring Crystal back, it is a fitting punishment for Michael Hutchinson and will ensure that he will not hurt anyone again.” Said Attorney General Steve Rowe.

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NEWS RELEASE August, 2, 2007 David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General (207) 626-8577

Rowe To Congress: Allow States to Fight Global Warming

August 3, 2007

On Wednesday, Attorney General Steve Rowe, along with ten state’s attorneys general and the Corporation Counsel for the City of New York sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other Members of the House of Representatives strongly urging them to oppose H.R. 2927, an amendment to the energy bill that contains language that could be used to challenge greenhouse gas emission standards already adopted by Maine and thirteen other states.

“This amendment is designed to strip Maine and other states of our authority to regulate greenhouse gases and combat global warming.” Rowe commented. “The Supreme Court has ruled that the States do have this authority (See Massachusetts v. EPA). Unless the sponsors include language to clarify any ambiguity, we will see endless disagreement in Congress and needless future litigation.”

H.R. 2927, known as the Hill-Terry Amendment, provides modest increases in the federal fuel economy standards, requires the Secretary of Transportation to issue fuel economy standards in terms of both “miles per gallon” and “grams per mile of carbon dioxide emissions”. Currently the Department of Transportation is mandated to promote energy efficiency by setting mileage standards.

In contrast, the Environmental Protection Agency is statutorily mandated to set standards for air pollutants from any class of new motor vehicles. In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled that the two statutory mandates are “wholly independent”. “The Department of Transportation has never set emissions standards. That job can best be done by the EPA.” Rowe added.

In the letter, the attorneys general urged the House to adopt clarifying language that matches the “explicit savings clause” adopted by the United States Senate in their version of the energy bill. In the Senate report, the explicit savings clause reads, “Nothing in this title shall be construed to conflict with the authority provided by sections 202 and 209 of the Clean Air Act.”

“Mainers are demanding action on climate change. The federal government should join Maine in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions, not pass legislation that makes it more difficult for states to act.” said Rowe

Yesterday afternoon it was reported that the sponsors have withdrawn their amendment and that energy efficiency standards will be debated later in the conference committee on the energy bill or this fall when the House is expected to vote on climate change legislation.

“The sponsors made the right decision by withdrawing the amendment, I am hopeful that the House will enact an energy that works to reverse the effects of climate change.” Rowe stated. *****

NEWS RELEASE August 3, 2007 David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, (207) 626-8577

The Maine Hospice Council and Center for End-of-Life Care Hosts A Conversation with the Attorney General: Perspectives on End-of-Life Care

August 28, 2007

The Maine Hospice Council and Center for End-of-Life Care in partnership with Maine’s Office of the Attorney General is pleased to host a series of Town Meetings, held in seven different communities across the state beginning on September 20th.

How are we doing? What is missing? What is working well? What conversations do we need to have? Who needs to be involved? Is pain being managed? Are wishes being respected? These questions and others will be the topics for discussion as Attorney General Steve Rowe listens to community members as they share their thoughts. Tapping into the hospice and palliative care expertise in each area, a panel of local resource people will be available to respond to any region-specific questions or concerns. These discussions will be a follow-up, and compliment to, the “Consumer Protection Conference” that was hosted by the Maine Hospice Council and Center for End-of-Life Care and the Attorney General in September 2004. Community engagement is a necessary component in developing quality end-of-life care. The Attorney General is interested in what is working well and what might need a course correction.

These Town Hall Meetings are free and open to the public. They are scheduled as follows:

Sept. 20 Androscoggin Bank Coliseé ( Shipyard Lounge) Lewiston 6:00-8:00pm

Sept. 27 Machias Savings Bank (Community Rm.) Machias 6:00-8:00pm

Oct. 4 Thomas College (Auditorium) Waterville 6:00-8:00pm

Oct. 11 St. Joseph’s Healthcare Park Bangor 6:00-8:00pm

Oct. 18 UME PI Presque Isle 6:00-8:00pm

Oct. 25 Miles Home Health and Hospice (Board Rm.) Damariscotta 6:00-8:00pm

Nov. 1 MMC (Dana Center) Portland 6:00-8:00pm

For more information please call the Council at 626-0651 or check the website www.mainehospicecouncil.org.

Since 1984, the Maine Hospice Council and Center for End-of-Life Care has been creating innovation opportunities, fostering collaboration, and serving as convener and educator for end-of-life issues. The Council has been, and remains, the only statewide non-profit devoted solely to improving end of life care in Maine.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Donna Jacobs, Office Manager: (207) 626-0651 August 28, 2007

Attorney General Steve Rowe Appeals EPA's Decision on Auto Emmissions Standards

January 2, 2008

Today Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe announced that he is joining a lawsuit against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to uphold the right of states to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from automobiles. Maine is part of a 15-state coalition appealing the EPA’s December 19, 2007 denial of California’s request for a waiver. The denial prevents Maine from implementing greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars.

The federal Clean Air Act grants California -- exclusively among all states -- the power to enact its own air pollution standards for cars. The Clean Air Act also allows other states to adopt California’s standards. But California’s standards and those of the other states can only take effect if the EPA grants a waiver exempting California from federal regulation.

“The Bush administration has ignored the problem of climate change, now they are blocking the states from taking action” Rowe stated. “The decision by the EPA to deny California’s waiver request leaves states no choice but to file this appeal.”

Maine adopted California’s standards in 2005 with the aim of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from cars by 30% by 2016. In total, at least17 other states have now either adopted or plan to adopt the California standards.

“While it is good that the EPA is finally recognizing that greenhouse gasses contribute to climate change, and therefore pose a global threat, the agency offers as a solution a program that will take more than a dozen years to achieve.” Rowe said. “Maine and other states are ready to act now.”

Today’s lawsuit, which seeks to reverse the EPA decision, was filed by the State of California in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Other states or state agencies intervening in the suit are: Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

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NEWS RELEASE January 2, 2008 David Loughran, Special Assistant to the Attorney General, (207) 626-8577

AG Rowe Urges Maine’s Senators to Reject FISA Amendment

January 22, 2008

Today, Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe called upon Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to reject any amendment to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that would hamper the Maine Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) ability to protect the privacy rights of telephone subscribers in Maine. This week, the United States Senate is expected to take up amendments to FISA, including provisions that would give amnesty to telephone companies that may have illegally turned over their customers’ records to the National Security Agency (NSA). Such amnesty would not only prevent numerous pending lawsuits against the telephone companies from going forward, but also could stop state regulatory agencies, including Maine’s PUC, from even questioning the companies as to whether any disclosure of confidential customer records was in compliance with state law.

Rowe stated, “Any amendments that shut down independent state inquiries are particularly disturbing, especially in light of the fact that twenty-two Maine residents have filed a complaint asking the PUC to investigate whether Verizon unlawfully disclosed records of its Maine customers.” Rowe continued, “In Maine, telephone subscribers have a right to privacy, and their records should not be turned over unless the proper legal procedures have been followed. The PUC is certainly entitled to investigate whether telephone companies have violated the privacy rights of their customers, and I urge our Senators to reject any FISA amendment that would interfere with the PUC’s ability to conduct such investigations.”

In October 2007, Rowe and the Attorneys General of Vermont, Connecticut, and New Jersey, along with a Commissioner of the Missouri Public Service Commission, submitted a joint statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging the Committee to reject any amendment to FISA that would interfere with the states’ ability to investigate whether telephone companies unlawfully disclosed their customers’ records. A copy of that statement is attached.

Background

On May 8, 2006, twenty-two Maine residents filed a complaint with the PUC asking it to investigate whether Verizon unlawfully provided the NSA with confidential customer records. Three months later, the United States Department of Justice sued the PUC in federal court seeking an order barring the PUC from conducting any investigation. The DOJ filed similar lawsuits against regulatory agencies in Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Missouri. The cases were transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, where they were assigned to Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker. On July 24, 2007, Chief Judge Walker rejected the DOJ’s argument that federal law preempts state regulatory agencies from investigating whether telephone companies unlawfully disclosed customers’ records. Judge Walker deferred ruling on the DOJ’s other argument, that the so-called “state secrets privilege” bars the investigations, pending a decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a related case. The Ninth Circuit’s decision may provide some clarification regarding application of the state secrets privilege. The Ninth Circuit heard oral argument on August 15, 2007, but it has not yet issued a decision.

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NEWS RELEASE January 22, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Rowe Calls on Feds to Investigate Alcoholic Energy Drink

February 21, 2008

Today, Attorney General Steve Rowe urged the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to take immediate action to investigate allegations that Sparks and Sparks Plus alcoholic energy drinks contain unsafe levels of caffeine. The letter also requests TTB to determine if the alcohol content in Sparks alcoholic energy drink is higher than the 6.0% alcohol by volume disclosed on the label. Attorney General Rowe is joined by 15 attorneys general in calling for this action.

The request stems from a news report on February 1st by CBS4 in Miami. The report disclosed that independent laboratory tests found that 16 ounce cans of Sparks and Sparks Plus alcoholic energy drinks contain 214mg and 215mg of caffeine respectively. Attorneys general obtained the laboratory reports from the station and discovered that the laboratory also found that Sparks, which is labeled 6.0% alcohol by volume, contained 6.97% alcohol by volume.

TTB limits amounts of ingredients that can be added to or found in alcoholic beverages. The limit for caffeine is 200 parts per million. The amounts of caffeine purportedly found in Sparks and Sparks Plus are more than two times the allowable limit. In addition, federal law requires containers of malt beverage to contain truthful and accurate statements of alcohol content. Sparks is labeled as containing 6.0% alcohol by volume. If Sparks contains more than 6.0% alcohol by volume, the mislabeling of the product is a practice that is prohibited by federal law.

“I am gravely concerned about the negative health outcomes that may result from consumers unknowingly mixing dangerously high amounts of caffeine with higher than disclosed amounts of alcohol,” said Attorney General Rowe. “Caffeine is a stimulant that can mask feelings of intoxication, giving drinkers the false impression that they can drink more and function normally. This is a recipe for disaster.”

The 15 attorneys general signing the TTB letter are all members of the National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol Committee. The Committee has been focusing on issues related to alcopops and alcoholic energy drinks as they are very popular with young drinkers. The Attorneys general highlighted recent findings by Dr. Mary Claire O’Brien in a Wake Forest University study of college students. The study found that college students, including underage students, who drank alcoholic energy drinks were more likely to engage in heavy drinking and to have significantly higher prevalence of alcohol-related consequences, like sexual assault and physical injury, then those college drinkers who did not mix alcohol with energy drinks.

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NEWS RELEASE February 21 , 2008 Jessica Maurer, (207) 626-8515

Attorney General Rowe to Speak at “Ski to End DV Day”

February 27, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe will kick off Family Crisis Service’s fundraising event on Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 9:00AM. The event will take place at Shawnee Peak Ski Area in Bridgton, ME. Rowe will give opening remarks at Ski to End DV day. The non-profit agency’s mission is to end domestic violence in Cumberland and Sagadahoc Counties in Maine, and it will receive 10% of Shawnee Peak’s daytime lift revenues as part of that business’s “Non-profit Thursdays” program.

“Attorney General Rowe has made domestic violence prevention a high priority for his office,” said Lois Galgay-Reckitt, Executive Director of Family Crisis Services, “and we’re grateful for his support.”

Family Crisis Services offers emergency housing, a 24-hour hotline, trainings, support groups, and outreach services including safety planning and assistance with the court system. All services are free and confidential.

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior that is used by one person to gain power and control over another person – a spouse or companion, son, daughter or other family member. It may include physical abuse, verbal abuse, stalking, financial and/or emotional control and can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, educational background, religion, sexual orientation, income, or marital status. Each year more than 14, 000 people in Maine access domestic violence services.

Shawnee Peak Ski Area is located at 119 Mountain Road, Bridgton, ME. It has more than 40 trails and glades, five lifts, 98% snowmaking, a 400’ halfpipe and two terrain parks. The ski area opens at 9 am.

Representatives from Family Crisis Services will be available on the day of the event to answer questions about domestic violence. Additional donations will be accepted at the event. For more information about the event or to find out more about domestic violence, visit www.familycrisis.org or call Charlotte at (207) 647-8501.

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NEWS RELEASE February 27, 2008 David Loughran, Office of the Attorney General, (207) 626-9577

Two Convicted For Defrauding the State’s Circuit Breaker Program

February 28, 2008

Today, Attorney General Steve Rowe announced two recent convictions involving persons who were defrauding the State’s Tax and Rent Refund program, commonly known as the Circuit Breaker Program. The program is administered by Maine Revenue Services and provides tax relief to eligible Maine residents by granting a partial refund for real estate taxes or rent paid during the tax year.

Angela Ferrante of Bangor was convicted in the Penobscot Superior Court on February 20, 2008 of a Class C theft by Deception and six Class B counts of aggravated forgery in a scheme where she defrauded the State program out of nearly $10,000 during a six year period. She was sentenced to two years in a Department of Corrections facility, with all but 15 days suspended, and three years of probation. Additionally, Ferrante was ordered to pay restitution to the State in the amount of $9,890. A companion case against her son, James Green of Bangor, is currently pending in the Bangor District Court.

On February 26, 2008 Roger Gower of Portland was convicted in the Cumberland County Superior Court on four Class C counts of theft by deception of money from the Tax and Rent Refund program. He was sentenced to four months in the Cumberland County Jail and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $787. Mr. Gower has a co-defendant, Pamela Miller of Portland, whose case is still pending in the Cumberland County Superior Court. In both cases, the defendants submitted false applications that claimed they had paid rent that they had, in fact, never paid. As a result of these false applications Gower and Miller obtained money from the Circuit Breaker program that they were not entitled to.

Attorney General Rowe stated that his office and Maine Revenue Services will continue to vigorously prosecute any persons who seek to take advantage of this valuable program that provides necessary assistance to eligible Maine residents.

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NEWS RELEASE February 28, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Maine Hospice Council and Attorney General Rowe ask for Comment on the Status of End of Life Care in Maine

March 31, 2008

On seven consecutive Thursday evenings during the fall of 2007, the Maine Hospice Council and Center for End-of-Life Care worked in partnership with Maine’s Office of the Attorney General to host a series of Town Hall Meetings across the state. At each of these public meetings, Attorney General Steve Rowe moderated lively and informative discussions about end-of-life care in Maine. Local panelists and community members in each region were encouraged to engage in dialogue with each other and offer testimony about their respective experiences as healthcare consumers. During these meetings in Lewiston, Machias, Waterville, Bangor, Presque Isle, Damariscotta and Portland, the 225+ people who participated were asked to consider the following questions: How are we doing with end-of-life care in Maine? What is working well? What is missing? What conversations do we need to have? Who needs to be involved? Is pain being managed? Are wishes being respected? Transcripts of the meetings have been created and a final report is anticipated in late spring. In an effort to capture a broader spectrum of community voices, we are inviting individuals who were not able to attend the town hall meetings to submit their questions, concerns and/or personal experiences on-line. These additional comments will be considered an addendum to the town hall meeting transcripts and a valuable contribution to the final report. There will be a 30 day comment period beginning April 1, 2008 and running through April 30, 2008. Visit http://www.maine.gov/ag/elderissues/commentssought.shtml to share your thoughts on the state of end of life care in Maine.

NEWS RELEASE March 31, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Attorney General Steve Rowe Announces Changes to the Consumer Information and Mediation Service

April 4, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced today that the hours of operation for the Attorney General’s Consumer Mediation and Information phone line (Consumer Line) have been expanded. The toll free line, (800) 436-2131, will now be open Mondays through Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

“By expanding the hours of the consumer line, Maine people will have greater access to our free mediation and information services.” Attorney General Steve Rowe said. “Our volunteers and staff can offer consumers information on the Lemon Law, implied and express warranties, identity theft, home heating oil rights and much more.”

The expanded schedule means that the toll free mediation and information line will be staffed nine more hours each week. In addition to the toll free phone number, consumers can contact the Consumer Protection Division by email at consumer.mediation@maine.gov and by regular mail by writing to:

Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division 6 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333

The Consumer Mediation and Information Service assists Maine consumers and businesses by answering questions, providing referrals and mediating disputes. In 2007, the volunteer mediators attempted to resolve more than 900 consumer complaints. Of these, 519 were resolved, resulting in $703,223 being returned to Maine consumers. The 2007 resolution rate for the Mediation Service was 57%.

Rowe said that he hopes that expansion of the consumer phone line hours will allow more people to contact his office. “Last year we received almost 5,400 calls, but we know that some people were unable to get through. Hopefully our expanded hours of operation will allow all consumers to contact us when they need help.”

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NEWS RELEASE April 4, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Tuller Recieves a Life Sentence

May 16, 2008

Today, the Penobscot County Superior Court sentenced Peter Tuller, 37, to life in prison for the murder of Michael Demmons. On June 25, 2006 Tuller beat Demmons to death in a Bangor apartment. The State was asking for a life sentence.

NEWS RELEASE May 16, 2008 Bill Stokes, Deputy Attorney General, (207) 626-8571

Use of Deadly Force By Portland Police Against Albert Kittrell Legally Justified

July 10, 2008

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that a Portland police officer, Nicholas Goodman, was legally justified when he shot and killed Albert W. Kittrell, 48, in a moving vehicle on St. John Street in Portland on the night of May 3, 2008.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by Officer Goodman in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer’s duties.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of others, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is being used or is imminently threatened against the officer or others. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that use or imminent threat of unlawful deadly force. (Maine law defines deadly force as physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which the person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury.)

Based on his office's investigation and legal analysis, Attorney General Rowe determined that Officer Goodman actually and reasonably believed that Albert Kittrell was using unlawful deadly force against him and deadly force on the officer’s part was necessary to protect himself from death or serious bodily injury. Therefore, both requirements of law having been met, the use of deadly force by Officer Goodman was legally justified.

The Attorney General reported the following findings from his office's investigation:

During the late evening of May 3, 2008, Portland police officer Nicholas Goodman was engaged in uniform patrol activities operating a marked police vehicle. At 9:42 P.M., Goodman stopped a Ford Explorer on St. John Street after observing suspected vehicle violations. The Ford Explorer was being operated by a man later determined to be Albert W. Kittrell, age 48, of Westbrook. As is routine, a second Portland police officer arrived soon after at the location of the vehicle stop. The officer, James Davison, was likewise in uniform and operating a marked police cruiser.

Upon approaching the stopped vehicle, Officer Goodman observed the only occupant to be the driver, a man he recognized as either Albert Kittrell or Kittrell’s brother. Goodman asked the driver if he was in fact Albert Kittrell or the brother. The driver, according to Goodman, was restless and avoided eye contact. He was holding a cellular telephone with an illuminated screen, indicating to Officer Goodman that Kittrell was connected or attempting to connect to a call. Kittrell’s answers to Officer Goodman’s questions were “choppy” and unresponsive, and Kittrell focused more at that point on attempting to persuade Officer Goodman to allow him to drive the vehicle to a nearby residence where a friend who in fact owned the vehicle could provide the operator and vehicle documentation requested by Officer Goodman.

The investigation disclosed that as Officer Goodman initiated the traffic stop, Kittrell used the cellular phone in his possession to contact his former girlfriend, who lived nearby in Portland and who also was the owner of the Ford Explorer. Kittrell had asked the vehicle owner if there was some defect with her vehicle that would attract the attention of the police. This telephone conversation between Kittrell and the vehicle owner continued as Kittrell responded to Officer Goodman’s signal to stop and the vehicle owner overheard some of the interaction between Officer Goodman and Kittrell through the open cellular connection. For example, the vehicle owner heard Albert Kittrell identify himself to the police officer as “Joseph” Kittrell, and chastised him for doing so.

Officer Goodman later told an investigator that Kittrell’s behavior and the information provided to him by Kittrell resulted in his becoming increasingly suspicious of him. For example, Goodman recalled that after identifying himself as “Joseph” Kittrell, Kittrell experienced difficulty reciting a date of birth. As Officer Goodman returned to his cruiser to check the information provided to him by Kittrell, Officer Davison arrived. At the same time, the vehicle owner left her home on foot and started walking the few blocks to the location Kittrell had described to her during their telephone conversation. A short time later she would observe Officer Goodman hanging from the side of the vehicle, hear gunshots, and observe Officer Goodman falling to the pavement as he lost his hold on the moving vehicle.

Officer Goodman learned that Albert Kittrell was a habitual offender who was subject to bail conditions, having been recently arrested for operating after suspension. The bail conditions included not operating a vehicle. Through further investigation, Officer Goodman established probable cause that the driver of the vehicle was in fact Albert Kittrell, not “Joseph.” This determination was partly based on significantly different physical descriptions that Goodman obtained of Albert and Joseph Kittrell. Officer Goodman informed Officer Davison that it was his intention to arrest Kittrell.

Officer Davison first stood at the right rear of the Kittrell vehicle as Officer Goodman walked to the driver’s door. Davison then moved forward to the front passenger door of the vehicle. Goodman told an investigator later that he recalled Kittrell complying with his instruction to turn off the engine of the vehicle. Goodman confronted Kittrell with Kittrell’s use of a false identity and Goodman’s belief that he was in fact Albert Kittrell, a habitual offender subject to bail conditions that included not operating a vehicle. Goodman told Kittrell he was under arrest and ordered him from the vehicle. Kittrell asked the officer to “give him a break” and when the officer declined, Kittrell remarked that his civil rights were being violated. Officer Goodman told Kittrell again to get out of the vehicle – that he was being arrested. Officer Goodman stepped back from the vehicle anticipating that Kittrell would comply.

Instead of opening the door of the vehicle, however, Kittrell reached for the ignition of the vehicle. Officer Goodman rapidly stepped back to the driver’s door and, with his left hand, reached through the open window for the ignition switch on the steering column. Simultaneously, Goodman attempted but failed to open the driver’s door with his right hand. Goodman then reached into the vehicle with both hands in an effort to prevent Kittrell from activating the ignition. Independently, Officer Davison observed what he believed to be Kittrell’s intended flight. He opened the front passenger door, and hurled himself into the vehicle in an effort to stop Kittrell. These actions by Officers Goodman and Davison were witnessed by a nearby resident who had also earlier observed the initial interaction between Officer Goodman and Kittrell.

Kittrell started the engine and engaged the gear shift lever located on the steering column. Upon hearing the engine start, Officer Goodman tried to reach the shift lever to put it back in the “park” position, but he was unable to do so. For his part, Officer Davison, inside the vehicle at this point, told an investigator that he concentrated all his efforts on stopping Kittrell from escaping. This included his attempts to disengage the shift lever from the “drive” position and to reach the brake pedal with his foot, actions that were thwarted by Kittrell. Officer Davison recalled repeatedly ordering Kittrell to stop.

Goodman told an investigator that his upper torso was positioned past the threshold of the driver’s door window inside the vehicle as the vehicle rapidly lurched forward, resulting in nearly 30 feet of acceleration marks left on the pavement by the right rear tire of the vehicle. Goodman recalled yelling at Kittrell to stop and hearing Davison voicing similar commands. At the same time, Goodman observed that Davison was inside the vehicle, and that Kittrell was grappling with Davison. According to Goodman, Kittrell also attempted to push him off the vehicle, which was by now was traveling at a rapid pace. The resident observing the interactions between Kittrell and the police observed the vehicle drive off with Goodman being dragged alongside.

Officer Goodman lost his footing as the vehicle sped off and felt his boots dragging on the pavement as he hung onto the vehicle, fearful that letting go would result in his death from the fall and/or being run over by the vehicle’s left rear tire. It was later determined that both of Goodman’s leather boots were scraped and gouged and his uniform trousers torn from being dragged along the pavement. As the speed of the vehicle increased, Goodman removed his .45 caliber service weapon from its holster, and shot Kittrell. At about the same moment, Goodman lost his hold on the vehicle and fell hard to the pavement face first. The investigation disclosed that Goodman fired his weapon three times, twice striking Kittrell in the left flank. After Kittrell was shot, Officer Davison was able to bring the vehicle to a stop. Within minutes, Kittrell was attended by emergency medical personnel and transported to the Maine Medical Center in Portland where he was initially treated and then pronounced dead. Officer Goodman was also treated at the hospital for injuries to his knees, hands, and face, all the result of being dragged as well as falling from the moving vehicle. Officer Davison was treated for pulled arm muscles.

The investigation disclosed that from the point Kittrell drove off with Officer Goodman hanging onto the vehicle and Officer Davison inside, the vehicle traveled about 280 feet before Kittrell was shot and Officer Goodman lost his hold on the vehicle. The vehicle traveled another 77 feet with Officer Davison inside before Davison was able to bring it to a stop. A span of 13 minutes elapsed from the time Officer Goodman first stopped the Kittrell vehicle to the time that Kittrell was shot.

The Portland Police Department cooperated fully with the Attorney General detectives who conducted the investigation, and provided assistance in processing the scene on St. John Street. An autopsy and forensic examination by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Kittrell died as a result of two gunshots to the left flank and that the manner of death was consistent with the accounts provided by officers and other witnesses as well as the physical evidence found at the scene.

*********** 1 The investigation determined that just prior to this renewed interaction between Officer Goodman and Kittrell, Kittrell had conversed with his former girlfriend (the vehicle owner) via cellular telephone and informed her that he had no intention of returning to jail, and that he was going to attempt to escape from the officers at the traffic stop.

NEWS RELEASE July 10, 2008 Jessica Maurer, Special Assistant Attorney General, (207) 626-8515

Use of Deadly Force by Indian Township Officers Legally Justified

July 17, 2008

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that Indian Township Police Officer Alexander Nicholas II and Indian Township Game Warden Scott Francis were legally justified when they used deadly force against Douglas P. Kelley, Jr., 40, of Calais, during the early evening of May 12, 2008, in Indian Township. Mr. Kelley died as the result of gunshot wounds inflicted by the officers.

The Attorney General's investigation focused on the issue of whether the use of deadly force by the officers in the particular situation was legally justified. The Attorney General is required by law to review all occurrences in which a law enforcement officer uses deadly force while in the performance of the officer’s public duty.

Under Maine law, for a law enforcement officer to be justified in using deadly force for purposes of self-protection or the protection of third persons, two requirements must be met. First, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that unlawful deadly force is imminently threatened against the officer or a third person. Second, the officer must actually and reasonably believe that the officer's use of deadly force is necessary to meet or counter that imminent threat of unlawful deadly force.

Attorney General Rowe determined, based on the investigation conducted by his office and the application of controlling Maine law, that Officer Nicholas actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was being imminently threatened against himself and others by Douglas Kelley and that Warden Francis actually and reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was being imminently threatened against others by Douglas Kelley, and that the officers also actually and reasonably believed that the use of deadly force on their part was necessary to protect themselves and/or others. Therefore, both requirements of the law having been met, the use of deadly force by Officer Nicholas and Warden Francis was legally justified.

The Attorney General’s investigation revealed the following:

On Monday, May 12, 2008, at approximately 5:00 p.m., Douglas Kelley drove his vehicle to the home of his recent former girlfriend on Hemlock Point Road in Indian Township. At the residence were the girlfriend, her daughter, her daughter’s boyfriend and two infant children. Upon arriving at the residence, Mr. Kelley appeared to be upset. He was drinking a beer and was visibly intoxicated. He instructed the girlfriend to remove her personal property from his vehicle and lamented that the girlfriend no longer loved him. The girlfriend observed an empty gun holster and an ammunition box inside Kelley’s vehicle.

Kelley followed the girlfriend to the backyard of the residence. He carried with him an unopened 12-pack of beer. Kelley told the girlfriend that he had been “kicked off the reservation” and that he was not supposed to be at her residence. After going into the residence to use the bathroom, Kelley returned to his vehicle where a conversation between he and the girlfriend ensued. At a point when Kelley got out of his vehicle with his right hand under his shirt, the girlfriend pulled the shirt away and saw that Kelley was holding a handgun in his right hand. Kelley pointed the gun at the girlfriend. The girlfriend and the others at the residence went into the house, locked the doors and windows, and placed the infant children in a back bedroom. Kelley remained outside.

At approximately 5:37 p.m., the Indian Township Police Department received a telephone call from the girlfriend that Mr. Kelley was at her residence and that he had pointed a handgun at her. She told the police dispatcher that Kelley had moved from the driveway of her residence to the area of a large boulder situated between her residence and a neighboring residence and, from that location, had fired at least one shot into the woods behind her house. This information was relayed to the responding officers including Officer Nicholas, Warden Francis, Officer James Mendoza and Chief of Police Alexander Nicholas. Officer Mendoza, the first to respond, knew Kelley as he had arrested Kelley for OUI two days earlier. When Officer Mendoza arrived at a location where he could observe the girlfriend’s residence, he saw Kelley with what appeared to be a handgun, and relayed his observations to the other responding officers.

Warden Francis went into a wooded area behind the girlfriend’s residence. From that vantage point, later determined to be about 115 feet from Kelley, he observed Kelley sitting on the large boulder. Chief Nicholas and Officer Nicholas, who had responded to the call together and taken positions behind the opened doors of their police cruiser, both knew Kelley from previous encounters. They likewise observed Kelley sitting on the boulder.

Chief Nicholas instructed Mr. Kelley to drop his weapon and show his hands. Kelley responded with an expletive, turned slightly to his right and pointed his handgun in the direction of Chief Nicholas and Officer Nicholas. Chief Nicholas again ordered Kelley to drop the handgun. Kelley replied, “[expletive] you guys, you’re gonna have to kill me.” Additional commands to drop the weapon were given to Kelley by Chief Nicholas. Later, Kelley again briefly pointed his weapon in the direction of Chief Nicholas and Officer Nicholas. Chief Nicholas again ordered Kelley to drop the weapon. Kelley responded, “There’s nothing you can do. You guys are going to have to kill me. Someone is going to die.” Officer Nicholas also attempted to persuade Kelley to drop his weapon by telling Kelley that they could “talk it out” and that he would get Kelley some help.

The officers then saw Mr. Kelley put the handgun to the side of his head. Chief Nicholas again ordered Kelley to drop the weapon. Kelly stretched his arms outward and then pulled them back in. A few seconds later, Kelley pointed his handgun in the direction of Chief Nicholas and Officer Nicholas. Chief Nicholas told Kelley to drop his weapon or he was going to shoot. Kelley continued to point his weapon in the direction of the officers. Chief Nicholas attempted to fire his weapon at Kelley, but Chief Nicholas’ weapon did not fire. Chief Nicholas then ordered Officer Nicholas to shoot. Officer Nicholas fired three shots at Kelley. After Officer Nicholas opened fire, Warden Francis, armed with a rifle, fired a single shot at Kelley. Struck by gunfire, Kelley fell off the boulder to the ground. Emergency medical personnel, who were staged in the vicinity, arrived at the scene and determined that Kelley was dead.

An autopsy and forensic examination by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Mr. Kelley died as a result of gunshot wounds. He was struck three times. He was struck (by bullets from Officer Nicholas’ handgun) in the right abdomen and right calf. He was struck (by the bullet from Warden Francis’ rifle) in the right rear of his head.

Several neighboring residents observed in varying degrees the shooting and the events leading up to it. They were interviewed as part of the investigation. Their accounts were consistent with the accounts given by the police officers involved. Also consistent with the several accounts of the event were the video from an Indian Township police cruiser camera, the results of a scene examination and analysis conducted by evidence technicians, and the post-mortem examination conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Detectives from the Office of the Attorney General went to the scene of the shooting in Indian Township to conduct the investigation. They were assisted by State Police officers and technicians and, later, the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory.

****************************** 1 This was the first time Mr. Kelley had been at the girlfriend’s residence since his arrest two days earlier for operating under the influence of alcohol. That arrest occurred after the girlfriend had called the police to have Kelley removed from her property.

2 Kelley was referring to conditions of bail related to his OUI arrest on May 10, 2008.

3 When Warden Francis saw Kelley point his weapon in the direction of Chief Nicholas and Officer Nicholas and heard what he thought was Mr. Kelley firing his weapon, Warden Francis fired one shot at Kelley. Although civilian witnesses also stated that they thought Kelley had fired his weapon in the direction of Chief Nicholas and Officer Nicholas, no casings from Kelley’s weapon were located near Kelley’s body. Immediately following the shooting and as part of the investigation, Kelley’s weapon was examined. The CZ-Browning model 83 was found to have one live round in the chamber and ten live rounds in the magazine. The hammer was in a cocked position. The full capacity of the weapon was thirteen rounds.

4 The forensic examination disclosed that Mr. Kelley’s blood-alcohol concentration was 0.34% - more than four times the legal limit for operating under the influence.

NEWS RELEASE July 17, 2008 David Loughran, 626-8577

Court Issues Order Against Five Men in Civil Rights Suit for Assault of Native Americans

August 21, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced that the Maine Superior Court has ordered five defendants (David Townsend, Nicholas James, Adam Casey, Sean McArthur and a juvenile) to stay away from five Native American residents of Indian Township, and to refrain from future violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act.

The State alleged in its Complaint filed in January 2008, that the five defendants had threatened violence and assaulted the five Native American males (then aged 13,14,15,16 and 20) on August 19, 2007 in Baileyville and that the conduct was based upon the defendants’ bias against the victims’ race and ethnic origin.

Attorney General Rowe said: “Racially motivated acts of violence tear at the fabric of our communities. No person should be afraid to walk the streets of our cities and towns. Maine is a place where every person has the right to feel safe.”

According to the Complaint, the defendants drove up to the victims and emerged from their cars armed with two by fours, sticks and pipes. The Complaint goes on to allege that Nicholas James yelled, “Come on, let’s get the Indians.” The other defendants also directed anti-Native American epithets at the victims. The State asserted that the juvenile defendant and James assaulted the 14 year old victim by punching and kicking him, while Adam Casey, David Townsend and others physically blocked anyone attempting to assist him. Sean McArthur was alleged to have pursued the 20 year old victim and assaulted him with a stick.

The Maine Civil Rights Act protects all people from violence and threats of violence based on bias against their race and ethnic origin.

The defendants consented to the Court’s Order by signing consent decrees. Under the decrees, the defendants did not admit that they committed the threats or assaults or otherwise violated the Maine Civil Rights Act. Under the Order, any future violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act by the defendants will be prosecutable as a Class D Crime, punishable by up to 364 days in jail. The Order prohibits them from having any contact with the five victims named in the Order and from committing future violation of the Maine Civil Rights Act against any person based on race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation.

The Attorney General’s Office would like to thank the Baileyville Police Department for its investigation of the allegations and its referral to the Attorney General for enforcement under the Maine Civil Rights Act. The Washington County District Attorney’s Office has criminal actions pending against the four adult defendants.

News Release, Contact: Leanne Robbin, Assistant Attorney General, (207)626-8581

Telephone Phishing Scam Reported Across Maine

August 27, 2008

Consumers across southern and central Maine are reporting that they are receiving phone messages, purportedly from Visa, that indicate the consumer has reached the limit on their credit card and they must call an eight hundred (800) number to avoid paying an overcharge penalty.

When the consumer calls the eight hundred number they get an automated recording identifying “Visa Credit Limit Support”. They are then asked to provide their full name, credit card number and the card’s security number. Once that information is entered, the automated voice states that all representatives are busy assisting other customers and that the estimated wait time is one hour.

Visa does not contact card holders directly. Instead, correspondence with Visa card holders is initiated by the issuing bank.

“This phone call purporting to be from Visa is a scam. The most effective way to fight identity theft is to avoid becoming a victim,” Rowe said. “The best policy is to never give out your personal identifying information over the phone, through the mail or online unless you initiate the contact.”

Phishing is a tactic used by thieves to steal personal information by deception. Common phishing schemes involve a phone call, mail or email solicitations disguised as official contacts from a financial institution (bank, credit card company, mortgage broker, etc.) They may ask you to update your personal information or confirm your account number. Once the thief has your information they can use it to make unauthorized charges, open lines of credit in your name or empty your bank account.

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NEWS RELEASE August 27, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Maine Leaders to Urge Obama, McCain and News Media to “Step Up” for Kids, Focus on Plight of Most Vulnerable Mainers

September 16, 2008

WHAT: Press Conference urging political leaders and the media to focus on the issues important to Maine’s children

WHO: Attorney General Steve Rowe, Laurie LaChance of the Maine Development Foundation, Dr. Chris Stenberg of the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, youth speaker Amy Princiotta together with attendant candidates and children

WHEN: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 10:00 AM

WHERE: Front Steps of the Maine State Capitol Building

On September 16th and 17th local news events will take place in every state as part of a several “Step Up for Kids Day” activities. Maine’s event is September 17th at 10:00 AM - the same day as the popular Bug Maine-ia event at the Maine State Museum. The Museum event typically draws hundreds of kids and teachers – a perfect backdrop for the call to action going out to candidates, the media, and individual voters to remember the value to our economy of keeping our kids safe, healthy, and engaged.

Students and teachers who choose to attend the Step Up Event as part of their day at the State House and Museum will also be able to send a message directly to presidential candidates by filling out an “I’m voting for kids” ballot and casting a “vote” for the presidential candidate of their choice. All ballots collected will be delivered directly to the Maine campaigns of both presidential candidates.

In 2007 the State of Maine received more than 19,000 reports of alleged abuse or neglect, more than 11% of Maine high school students thought about committing suicide, 20% of Maine children live in poverty, and Head Start does not currently have slots for nearly 70% of eligible children. Many Maine children face dire situations, yet these issues are receiving little attention from political candidates or the media in this the 2008 campaign.

The national Step Up for Kids Day kicks off at the National Press Club features: Dr. Renee R. Jenkins, president, American Academy of Pediatrics; Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, executive director, National Association of Social Workers; Michael R. Petit, author, “Homeland Insecurity” and founder/president, Every Child Matters Education Fund; Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, author, pediatrician and founder, Brazelton Touchpoints Institute; and James M. Hmurovich, president and CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America.

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MEDIA ADVISORY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aymie Walshe, Kids First (207) 735-5222 David Loughran, Office of the Attorney General

Deadline Nears for Victims of JK Harris Scam to File a Complaint

September 12, 2008

The September 22, 2008 deadline for victims of JK Harris is fast approaching. JK Harris is a South Carolina company that claimed to be able to help tax payers settle their IRS debt for “pennies on the dollar” but did not deliver on this promise.

Under the consent agreement reached in June any Maine consumer who filed a complaint with the Maine Attorney General’s Office, the Better Business Bureau or the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs or who files a complaint within 90 days of the settlement will be eligible for a partial refund. The $1.5 million from the settlement will be distributed on a pro rata basis to those consumers who have filed complaints. Consumers can contact the Maine Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll-free at (800) 436-2131 or via email at consumer.mediation@maine.gov.

The June press release is below

Two South Carolina Companies Agree to Stop Misleading Consumers

Two South Carolina companies who purported to help people in financial trouble but were actually offering little or no benefit at all have agreed to stop misleading consumers. The North Charleston, SC companies JK Harris, a tax-relief company that did not deliver on its claim to settle IRS debts for “pennies on the dollar”, and Financial Recovery Systems, LLC, a credit repair company that sent out bogus notices to make people think they needed credit help, have agreed to pay $1.5 million in refunds to consumer across the country.

“Not only was the behavior of these companies illegal, their tactics were deplorable.” said Rowe.

Maine and 17 other states attorneys general entered into consent judgments and assurances of voluntary compliance with the two companies. The attorneys general alleged that JK Harris did not help consumers with their tax problems as advertised and refused to give refunds when promised services were never completed. They also alleged that Financial Recovery Systems attempted to frighten consumers into signing up for credit repair services they did not need by sending them bogus notices about judgments against them. The company’s services also violated state and federal credit repair laws.

According to the attorneys general’s complaint, JK Harris regularly advertised that it had more than 450 offices nationwide. However, the attorneys general found that only the main office in North Charleston handled consumers’ files. If a consumer wanted to meet with a JK Harris representative about his or her file, the consumer had to physically travel to North Charleston, more than 1100 miles from Maine. The other offices were staffed only by sales representatives who could not handle consumer inquiries.

JK Harris also said that consumers’ files would be handled by “tax experts” or “ex-IRS agents” when in fact the people handling the cases did not have the advertised expertise. JK Harris case managers changed frequently, and consumers complained that they often had to provide the same information to the company several times.

JK Harris promised to settle debts for “pennies on the dollar” and charged money upfront for this service without actually determining if consumers qualified for an IRS Offers in Compromise (OIC) or while knowing that consumers didn’t qualify. The IRS approves only a small percentage of OIC’s each year.

Under the terms of today’s consent judgment, JK Harris must clearly explain to consumers under what circumstances they would qualify to reach a compromise with the IRS on back taxes. JK Harris will also make several reforms to its advertising and sales practices. Financial Recovery Systems is barred from offering or performing credit repair services that don’t comply with state and federal laws. The judgment also applies to Professional Fee Financing Associates, L.L.C, a related company that provided financing for consumer contracts with JK Harris.

Since 1999 the Maine Attorney General’s office received 62 complaints about JK Harris. Any Maine consumer who filed a complaint with the Maine Attorney General’s Office, the Better Business Bureau or the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs or who files a complaint within the next 90 days will be eligible for a partial refund. The $1.5 million will be distributed on a pro rata basis to those consumers who have filed complaints. Consumers can contact the Maine Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division toll-free at (800) 436-2131 or via email at consumer.mediation@maine.gov.

States who joined Maine in the judgment are Arkansas, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia.

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NEWS RELEASE September 12, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Attorney General Rowe Calls on MillerCoors to Drop Plans to Introduce High Alcohol Content Energy Drinks

September 17, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe, joined by 24 other state attorneys general, today called on MillerCoors, LLC to abandon its plan to introduce a new alcoholic energy drink called Sparks Red that contains 8 percent alcohol by volume.

In a letter to MillerCoors CEO Leo Kiely, Rowe said MillerCoors’ decision to introduce Sparks Red defies compelling and undeniable evidence from medical and public health professionals about the dangers of mixing alcohol with stimulants found in energy drinks.

Recent news reports alerted attorneys general to MillerCoors’ intent to introduce this new product into the market. Sparks Red contains as much as 8 percent alcohol by volume, a significant increase over the alcohol content found in other alcoholic energy drinks. Attorneys general have repeatedly raised concerns about alcoholic energy drinks, particularly regarding their appeal to young drinkers and their possible adverse health effects.

The attorneys general emphasized one recent study that found that college students who mix alcohol and energy drinks engage in increased heavy episodic drinking and have twice as many episodes of weekly drunkenness. College students who reported consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks also had significantly higher prevalence of alcohol-related consequences such as sexual assault and injury.

Attorney General Rowe said, “Energy drinks such as Sparks Red constitute a serious health and safety risk for America’s youth,” said Attorney General Rowe. “Caffeine gives drinkers the subjective belief that they can function normally, making it more likely that they’ll drink more alcohol and make unsafe decisions that can result in serious harm. Increasing the amount of alcohol in these products just makes it all the more likely harm will result.”

In June, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc, under pressure from attorneys general, agreed to discontinue its alcoholic drinks spiked with caffeine and other stimulants, including “Tilt” and “Bud Extra.”

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NEWS RELEASE September 17, 2008 Jessica Maurer, 207-626-8515 or jessica.maurer@maine.gov

Cumberland Farms Joins the “NO BUTS” Program

October 7, 2008

Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe and the Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine announced Cumberland Farms stores in Maine are joining the NO BUTS responsible tobacco retailer program. The program provides retailers with the materials they need to properly train employees to prevent underage tobacco sales, while stressing the underlying compelling health reasons for restricting sales of tobacco to teens. Participating stores can qualify for compliance credits to recognize their efforts to prevent the sale of tobacco to minors.

Attorney General Steve Rowe said, “We welcome Cumberland Farms into the program and encourage all retailers to participate. Maine continues to be a national leader in preventing underage smoking and NO BUTS has played a large part in our efforts.”

NO BUTS, Blocking Underage Tobacco Sales was first launched in 2001 with 120 stores participating. Since that time, the number of stores using the NO BUTS program has grown, and with the addition of Cumberland Farms, 729 Maine retailers are now enrolled.

John Archard, the Tobacco Enforcement Coordinator for the Office of the Attorney General, added, “Since 1997 high school smoking rates in Maine have declined 64%, and part of the credit for that goes to stores that follow the law and refuse to sell tobacco to minors, but we still have more than 5% of stores selling to kids and we must do better. By participating in the NO BUTS program stores will help meet that goal.”

Cumberland Farms operates 41 stores in Maine and by October 15th all will have fully implemented the program. The NO BUTS program will compliment Cumberland Farms’ existing tobacco training program. Jeff Cutting, Cumberland Farms’ General Manager for the Division including Maine, said “As responsible corporate citizens, we recognize the importance of working with the state of Maine to prevent tobacco sales to minors.”

The Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine sponsors the NO BUTS program and its Healthy Maine Partnerships (HMP) are supporting local merchants in their service areas. Since May of this year the efforts of the HMPs have resulted in 50 independent stores joining the NO BUTS program.

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NEWS RELEASE October 7, 2008 John Archard, Tobacco Enforcement Coordinator (207) 626-8837

Attorney General Announces Landmark Settlement with Eli Lilly

October 7, 2008

Today Attorney General Steve Rowe, along with 32 other state attorneys general, reached a record $62 million dollar settlement with Eli Lilly and Company arising from alleged improper marketing of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa. It is the largest ever multi-state consumer protection-based pharmaceutical settlement, following closely on the heels of the May 2008, $58 million agreement with Merck regarding its product Vioxx. Maine’s share of today’s settlement will be $1,020,609.

In a complaint filed today along with the settlement agreement, Rowe alleged that Eli Lilly engaged in unfair and deceptive practices when it marketed Zyprexa for off-label uses and for failing to adequately disclose the drug’s potential side effects to health care providers. Following a year and a half long investigation, Eli Lilly agreed to change how it markets Zyprexa and to cease promoting its “off-label” uses, which are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Eli Lilly engaged in a marketing practice that put the lives of Maine consumers at risk,” Rowe said. “This settlement should send a message to prescription drug companies that the states will not tolerate those who put profits above the health and safety of consumers.”

Zyprexa is the brand name for the prescription drug olanzapine. The drug was first marketed for use in adults with schizophrenia in 1996. Since then, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has approved Zyprexa for the treatment of acute mixed or manic episodes of bipolar I disorder and for maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. Zyprexa belongs to a class of drugs traditionally used to treat schizophrenia and commonly referred to as “atypical antipsychotics.” When these drugs were first introduced to the market in the 1990s, experts thought that atypical antipsychotics would be less likely to produce symptoms similar to those seen in Parkinson’s disease (extrapyramidal symptoms), and motion disorders (tardive dyskinesia), and therefore could be used in long-term treatment of schizophrenia. While these drugs may reduce the risk of these symptoms associated with first-generation antipsychotics, they also produce dangerous side effects, including weight gain, hyperglycemia, diabetes, cardiovascular complications, an increased risk of mortality in elderly patients with dementia and other severe conditions. Zyprexa has been associated with a high risk of weight gain, hyperglycemia, and diabetes.

In 2001, Eli Lilly began an aggressive marketing campaign called “Viva Zyprexa!” As part of that campaign, the company marketed Zyprexa for a number of off-label uses. For example, it marketed Zyprexa for pediatric use, for use at high dosage levels, for the treatment of symptoms rather than diagnosed conditions, and in the elderly for the treatment and/or chemical restraint of patients suffering from dementia. While a physician is allowed to prescribe drugs for off-label uses, law prohibits pharmaceutical manufacturers from marketing their products for off-label uses.

The settlement mandates that for a six year time period extending beyond the patent term for Zyprexa, Eli Lilly shall:

Promotional Activities • Not make any false, misleading or deceptive claims regarding Zyprexa; • Not promote Zyprexa using selected symptoms of the FDA-approved diagnoses unless certain disclosures are made regarding the approved diagnoses;

Dissemination of Medical Information • Require its medical staff, rather than its marketing staff, to have ultimate responsibility for developing and approving the medical content for all medical letters and medical references regarding Zyprexa, including those that may describe off-label information. This information shall not be distributed unless certain criteria are met; • Provide specific, accurate, objective and scientifically balanced responses to unsolicited requests for off-label information from a health care provider regarding Zyprexa; • Require its medical staff to be responsible for the identification, selection, approval and dissemination of article reprints containing more than an incidental reference to off-label information regarding Zyprexa, and that such information not be referred to or used in a promotional manner;

Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Grants • Disclose information about grants, including continued medical education on its Web site (www.lillygrantoffice.com), for at least two years and maintain the information for five years; • Not use grants to promote Zyprexa, or condition CME funding on Eli Lilly’s approval of speakers or program content; • Contractually require continuing medical education providers to disclose Eli Lilly’s financial support of their programs and any financial relationship with faculty and speakers;

Payments to Consultants and Speakers • Provide each signatory Attorney General a list of health care provider promotional speakers and consultants who were paid more than $100 for promotional speaking and/or consulting by Eli Lilly;

Product Samples • Only provide product samples of Zyprexa to a health care provider whose clinical practice is consistent with the product’s current labeling; and

Clinical Research • Register clinical trials and submit results as required by federal law; register Zyprexa Eli-Lilly sponsored Phase II, III and IV clinical trials beginning after July 1, 2005; and post on a publicly accessible Web site all Eli-Lilly sponsored Phase II, III and IV clinical trials completed after July 1, 2004.

Rowe added, “The conditions of this agreement are an important part of the enforcement action against Eli Lilly. Drug companies must recognize that the responsibility they have to shareholders does not supersede their responsibility to their customers.”

Maine joined Arizona, Alabama, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Assistant Attorney General Christina Moylan of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division handled the case for the state of Maine. The agreement was filed in Kennebec County Superior Court.

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NEWS RELEASE October 7, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

Shell Agrees to Measures to Curb Illegal Tobacco Sales

October 8, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe today announced that he has joined the attorneys general of 46 other jurisdictions (45 states and the District of Columbia) in an agreement with Shell Oil Products US and its joint venture Motiva Enterprises LLC. to adopt procedures to reduce cigarette sales to minors. Shell and Motiva supply gasoline through approximately 14,000 gas stations in the U.S., more than 13,000 of which are in states joining this agreement. Many of these gas stations include independently operated convenience stores that sell items including tobacco products. In Maine, there are 45 Shell gas stations.

The Shell ā€œAssurance of Voluntary Complianceā€ (AVC) was produced by an ongoing, multi-state enforcement effort among the Attorneys General, and incorporates "best practices" developed by the Attorneys General in consultation with public health researchers and state and federal tobacco control officials. This AVC includes provisions for comprehensive training of retail personnel regarding laws prohibiting tobacco sales to minors, independent compliance checks to monitor sales practices at certain Shell stations, and potential sanctions against contract operators that sell tobacco to minors, among other terms. Many of Maineā€™s Shell gas stations currently participate in the NO BUTS responsible tobacco retailing program co-sponsored by the Office of the Attorney General and Maine CDC. This AVC reinforces the best practices included in the NO BUTS program.

ā€œWith this agreement, Shell joins many other Maine retailers in the effort to stop the sale of cigarettes to teens.ā€ Rowe said. ā€œBy complying with the law and restricting teenā€™s access to cigarettes, gas stations and convenience stores can help further reduce the rate of teen smoking.ā€ Since 1997 the youth smoking rate in Maine has declined by 64%

Nationwide, 47 percent of underage youths who reported buying cigarettes have said they did so at gas station convenience stores.

Other recent multi-state agreements cover gas station convenience stores selling fuel under the Conoco, Phillips 66 or 76, Exxon, Mobil, BP, Amoco, ARCO and Chevron brand names, and retail and pharmacy chains Kroger, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, and Wal-Mart.

Studies show that most adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18, and that young people are particularly susceptible to the hazards of tobacco, often showing signs of addiction after smoking only a few cigarettes.

ā€œI applaud Shell for joining the fight against youth smoking and encourage the retailers who continue to illegally sell tobacco to minors to follow their lead,ā€ Rowe added.

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NEWS RELEASE October 8, 2008 David Loughran, (207) 626-8577

East Waterboro Woman Gets 90 Days In Jail for Welfare Fraud

October 15, 2008

Attorney General Steve Rowe announced that the Superior Court has imposed a two year sentence on April Archer, for her theft of welfare benefits by deception. Archer, 41 years old, of East Waterboro, Maine, was sentenced on Friday, October 10, 2008, in Superior Court in Alfred to two years incarceration with all but 90 days suspended, one year probation, and payment of restitution.

“With a national recession looming, need based programs such as TANF and food stamps are essential to many Maine families who are struggling in difficult economic times,” Rowe said. “Dishonest applicants who seek to defraud