Internet gambling tycoon gives up $300M in plea
Headline Legal News | 2008/12/17 18:19
A co-founder of an Internet gambling company and one of the world's richest people pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating the federal wire act and agreed to forfeit $300 million as part of a cooperation deal.

A smiling Anurag Dikshit, of the British colony of Gibraltar, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to charges that he used the Internet to transmit interstate and foreign wagering information. The charge carries a potential prison term of up to two years.

The 37-year-old citizen of India is the co-founder of PartyGaming, a Gibraltar online gambling company that offered casino and poker games and catered to a U.S. audience.

Dikshit signed a cooperation agreement and prosecutors indicated they may eventually submit a letter to the judge asking for leniency.

Dikshit and defense lawyer Mark Pomerantz declined to comment.

Prosecutors said in a release that Dikshit developed a proprietary software platform and directed the company's computer operations from 1998 through October 2006, when he also was PartyGaming's principal shareholder.

Bail was set at $15 million, but Dikshit was not required to post any cash or property, prompting Judge Jed S. Rakoff to ask what incentive Dikshit had to attend future court dates.

But prosecutors and Pomerantz agreed that Dikshit had demonstrated his desire to cooperate, in part by already paying $100 million to the U.S. Treasury and pledging to pay another $100 million within three months and the last $100 million installment by Sept. 30.

"Mr. Dikshit decided to come to the United States to enter the plea under his own volition. He's been interviewed in Europe. We believe Mr. Dikshit is dedicated to following through," Pomerantz said.

Forbes magazine estimated Dikshit's worth last year at $1.6 billion, making him the 618th richest person in the world.



Ill. gov. says ready to tell his side of scandal
Headline Legal News | 2008/12/16 18:25
Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Wednesday he is ready to tell his side of the scandal to the people of Illinois and that he would do so no later than Thursday.

"I can't wait to begin to tell my side of the story and to address you guys and, most importantly, the people of Illinois. That's who I'm dying to talk to," he said as he left his home Wednesday morning for a jog.

"There's a time and place for everything. That day will soon be here and you might know more about that today, maybe no later than tomorrow."

On Tuesday, an impeachment inquiry against Blagojevich hit a speed bump shortly after getting under way, with state lawmakers seeking guidance from federal prosecutors and postponing any real action until the governor's attorney arrives.

The attorney, Ed Genson, planned to attend Wednesday's meeting of a special Illinois House committee reviewing potential impeachment and may provide the first hint of the embattled Democratic governor's strategy.

The committee's chairwoman, Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, said Wednesday's meeting would focus on a review of the criminal case against Blagojevich and no witnesses would be called.



2nd suspect arrested in Oregon bank bombing
Legal Topics | 2008/12/16 18:21
Two law enforcement officers killed in a bank bombing last week believed the device was a hoax and were trying to open it when it exploded, according to court documents released on Tuesday.

A probable cause statement in the case of bombing suspect Joshua Turnidge says a state trooper inspected and X-rayed a green metal box found Friday outside the West Coast Bank building in Woodburn.

The document says Oregon State Police Senior Trooper William Hakim, a bomb disposal technician, was confident it was a hoax device, so he took it inside.

The statement says a bank employee saw Hakim trying to open it while Woodburn Capt. Tom Tennant held it, and then it exploded.

Hakim and Tennant were killed. Woodburn Police Chief Scott Russell was critically injured — he has lost his right leg from the knee down and his left leg was mutilated, according to the statement. The bank employee was treated at Salem Hospital and released.

According to the statement, at 10:19 a.m. Friday a man called in a bomb threat to the Wells Fargo Bank in Woodburn, which is close to the West Coast Bank branch. The man said "if 'they' didn't leave the building, all of them would die," the court document states.



EU court: Ryanair won't have to pay back subsidy
Areas of Focus | 2008/12/16 18:20
Budget airline Ryanair may no longer have to pay back a euro4.5 million ($6.16 million) subsidy to the Belgian state after a court ruled Thursday against an EU order to refund the sum.

The European Union's appeals court said antitrust regulators made mistakes when they ordered Ryanair to pay back the public money it got to help it run flights from Charleroi airport in the southern Belgium region of Wallonia.

The EU Court of First Instance said the European Commission should have looked at whether the money from Belgian state companies could be seen as a normal market investment — and not state help.

Charleroi was granting the airline up to 90 percent of its costs over 15 years in a deal the Irish airline has mimicked with small airports across Europe.

Ryanair said the court ruling backed the airport's business model of attracting business with low charges for favored airlines. It called on regulators to drop similar subsidy investigations at eight other airports that Ryanair uses.

Ryanair Holdings PLC, Europe's largest low-cost carrier, triggered a revolution in air travel by offering bargain fares that saw millions more Europeans take to the skies — even if that meant an hour-long trip from a regional airport to their city destination.



States increasingly put criminal records online
Legal Topics | 2008/12/15 18:23
Worried your daughter's new boyfriend might have a nefarious past? Want to know whether the job applicant in front of you has a rap sheet?

Finding out can be a mouse click away, thanks to the growing crop of searchable online databases run directly by states. Vermont launched its service Monday, and now about 20 states have some form of them.

The Web sites provide a valuable and timesaving service to would-be employers and businesses by allowing them to look up criminal convictions without having to submit written requests and wait for the responses. And they're popular: Last month alone, Florida's site performed 38,755 record checks.

But the Internet debut of information historically kept in courthouses in paper files can magnify the harm of clerical errors, expose states to liability for mistakes and spell new headaches for people who've long since done their time, only to have information about their crime bared anew.



Lawyers: US to release 3 Gitmo detainees to Bosnia
Areas of Focus | 2008/12/15 18:22
The U.S. is preparing to send three Guantanamo prisoners to Bosnia in the first detainee transfer ordered by a federal judge, attorneys for the men said Tuesday.

A judge in Washington ruled last month that the government's case was not strong enough to continue holding the men. The order came in the first hearing on the Bush administration's evidence for keeping prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in eastern Cuba as "enemy combatants."

"These will be the first three men who will be sent home by an order from a federal judge, and that is a vindication for our legal system," said Rob Kirsch, an attorney for the men. He said U.S. and Bosnian officials have told the prisoners' lawyers about the upcoming transfer.

Military officials declined to comment. The Pentagon typically does not discuss detainee transfers until they are completed, citing security concerns.

The three prisoners are Algerians who immigrated to Bosnia before they were detained in 2001 on suspicion of plotting to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo. They have been held at Guantanamo since January 2002.

In his order last month, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said the government's evidence linking five Algerians to al-Qaida was not credible as it came from a single, unidentified source. He urged the Justice Department not to appeal because it could delay the men's release.



Minn. panel rules on more disputed Senate votes
Areas of Focus | 2008/12/15 18:21
The Canvassing Board in Minnesota's U.S. Senate recount is off to a fast start in its second day of awarding challenged ballots to the candidates.

The board got off to a halting start Tuesday, but in less than an hour Wednesday it dispatched almost 50 ballots

As of late Tuesday, incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman was 264 votes ahead of Democratic rival Al Franken.

The board hopes to finish by Friday, but it still has more than 1,000 challenges to consider unless the campaigns pull back a lot more.

The Senate recount also comes before the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday. Coleman wants the high court to stop counties and the canvassing board from including improperly rejected absentee ballots in the recount tally.



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