The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has barred Thomas Joseph Downs from any association with any FINRA member business. Downs, who had addresses in Pleasantville and Peekskill, settled a FINRA complaint without admitting or denying guilt, the agency said in its March disciplinary report. Downs was accused of making two unauthorized trades in two separate accounts, and later ignoring FINRA requests for information on the case. Downs does not have a local telephone listing and could not be reached for comment.
An investigation in the Lower Hudson Valley has resulted in a statewide settlement with H&R Block of charges of deceptive advertising practices, the New York Attorney Generalâ€™s office said.
Under the agreement, the Kansas City, Mo.-based tax preparation company must pay $245,000 in penalties and costs in connection with two sweepstakes games it ran — â€œDouble Your Refund Instant Win Gameâ€ from January through April 2006, and â€œToss Out Your Bills Instant Win Gameâ€ from January through April 2007.
Consumers in both games were provided with scratch-off cards to play, provided they bought H&R Block tax preparation services, the state said. Under state law, companies that run sweepstakes must provide consumers with an opportunity to play without having to buy the companyâ€™s services. H&R Block failed to post rules and regulations of its promotions clearly at its offices, and it used false and deceptive advertising material to promote the games in radio and TV spots, the state said.
Investigators for the Attorney Generalâ€™s office filed charged after visiting 10 H&R Block offices in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, the state said. H&R Block operates 400 retail offices in New York state.
Assistant Attorney General Doris K. Morin handled the case under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General In-Charge Judith C. McCarthy of the Attorney Generalâ€™s Westchester Regional Office in White Plains.
Oxford Health Insurance Inc. will refund $50 million to about 37,000 small businesses in the New York metro area, including nearly 7,000 in the Lower Hudson Valley, who were overcharged on their policies, the state Insurance Department said today.
The department reviewed Oxford after the insurer reported that its loss ratio for small group policies in 2006 was below the 75 percent minimum. The company said the benefits it paid amounted to 70.6 percent of its overall premiums that year.
The affected products are Oxfordâ€™s small group Freedom Plan Direct, Freedom Plan Metro and Freedom Plan EPO. The settlement does not affect Oxfordâ€™s small group and direct pay HMO and â€œpoint of serviceâ€ policyholders.
The small business policyholders have about 300,000 employees and family members. The refunds average $1,360 per business, about 5.5 percent of the total average annual premium in 2006, but the refund will vary depending on the number of covered individuals.
The state said that Oxford will be contacting its clients about the settlement. It estimated that 15 percent of the affected businesses were in Westchester, 2.9 percent were in Rockland, and just under 1 percent were in Putnam.
Less than two months ago, a federal judge sentenced extortionist Jessica Wolcott to 21 months in prison and gave her a stern warning: Violate the law again and the consequences will be severe.
Wolcott, who pleaded guilty to demanding $125,000 from a Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. executive in return for not disclosing their relationship, was arrested on motor vehicle violations last week and is being charged with violating terms of her release.
According to court records, state police stopped Wolcott for speeding Jan. 31 in the town of Lisle and found that she was driving with a revoked license.
The trooper also found that Wolcott had an envelope stuffed with $10,000 in cash.
That prompted the trooper to call drug agents who showed up on the scene with a drug-sniffing dog.
The dog searched the car and WolcottÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s belongings and Ã¢â‚¬Å“responded positivelyÃ¢â‚¬? to the envelope containing the money.
A federal pre-trial officer is urging that Wolcott be ordered to being her sentence on the extortion charge immediately. She is currently scheduled to begin the sentence on April 1.
Wolcott was arrested for the extortion charge in 2006 after she met an executive with Somers-based Pepsi Bottling on the Internet.
The two set up a meeting at a bar in Mount Kisco and the executive gave Wolcott $30,000 that she said she needed to pay bills. Wolcott later demanded an additional $125,000.
Two Westchester County men have been disciplined by the National Association of Securities Dealers for violations of agency rules.
Harvey A. Wall of Rye Brook was suspended for 30 days and fined $4,000.
Wall, an owner of Capital Markets America Inc., failed to obtain written consent from more than 50 people before conducting on-line searches for data on the individuals at an NASD depository, the agency said.
Wall neither admitted nor denied the agencyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s allegations. He is unlisted and could not be reached for comment. The suspension ended Sept. 18.
The NASD also permanently barred Noel Andrew Dent Jr. of Bronxville from involvement with NASD-affiliated brokerages after he failed to respond to agency requests for information. Dent could not be located for comment.