Why Did Floridians Give $179,000 to Villaraigosa?

William Pineda, a business license sales analyst who lives in Plantation, Fla., and 18 of his colleagues at Travel Traders, a Miami-based company that operates hotel gift shops, are playing a key role in Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa's campaign for mayor, Copley News Service reported. Villaraigosa received $179,000 from Florida contributors as of April 5, the end of the city's most recent financial reporting period, with one of every six dollars coming from individuals affiliated with Travel Traders, a group with ties to concessions at LAX. Yet some of those contributors had difficulty explaining, or simply refused to say, why they gave $1,000 or more to a mayoral campaign 3,000 miles away.

Amgen Faces Lawsuit From Patients Seeking Test Drug
Amgen Inc. is being sued by two patients seeking an experimental drug for Parkinson's disease after the company withdrew the drug this year amid safety concerns, the New York Times reported. The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Manhattan, said Amgen breached its legal and moral obligation to provide patients with the GDNF drug. The patients were treated at New York University, and other patients may join the suit.

Man Arrested in Scam Targeting Korean-Americans
An L.A.-based money manager accused of fleecing fellow Korean-Americans out of millions of dollars is in federal custody after being stopped in Arizona for speeding, the Associated Press reported. Yi is expected to be returned to Los Angeles this week. The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles filed a criminal complaint against Yi last summer but its contents were sealed. Yi is also the target of a lawsuit filed in May by the SEC, alleging that Yi and his investment advisory firm, C+ Capital Management LLC, raised at least $36 million from stock investors, but put the money into his own account. On Friday, an L.A. grand jury served up an 18-count indictment alleging Yi and an associate defrauded Wells Fargo Bank out of $2.5 million.

Chick Blasts Tech Agency
Finding fault again with Mayor James Hahn's oversight of city departments, City Controller Laura Chick issued a scathing audit Tuesday of the Information and Technology Agency's contracting procedures and vowed to issue at least two more critical reports before the May 17 runoff election. Chick's report said the ITA did not follow accepted business procedures in a variety of ways that could prove costly to the city and failed to carry out changes that were recommended two years ago, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. Chick, who endorsed Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa for mayor, denied that politics motivated her report.

LAUSD Board Gives Final OK to Teacher Pact
Los Angeles Unified School District leaders signed off Tuesday on a new contract for teachers and gave initial support to a plan requiring students to complete a college-bound curriculum before they graduate, the Daily News of Los Angeles reported. The school board's unanimous vote is the final step in ratifying the 2004-2006 contract giving more than 40,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles a 2 percent pay raise and maintaining free health care premiums. Teachers narrowly approved the contract last week, ending more than 20 months of contentious negotiations.

Ex-Caltech Economist Guilty in Fraud Case
A former Caltech economist who helped design an air cleanup plan for Southern California's largest firms to buy and sell pollution credits pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to defrauding a New York investment firm during a trade she brokered. Anne Masters Sholtz faces a possible 27 to 33 months in prison when she is sentenced in July, federal prosecutors said. Sholtz founded a Pasadena-based firm where companies could buy and sell pollution credits much like any commodity. It was in her role as a broker that prosecutors said she bilked the firm, AG Clean Air, out of $2.5 million to $5 million, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Yahoo's Southland Office Hires AOL Executive
Internet media company Yahoo Inc. said it hired Shawn Hardin, a former AOL vice president, in the midst of an expansion of its media group in Southern California, Reuters reported. Hardin will join the company Monday as a vice president of content operations overseeing a number of media sites within Yahoo's media group. Hardin was most recently senior vice president broadband at AOL, a unit of Time Warner Inc.

Disney to Shutter Video on Demand in Three Cities
Walt Disney Co. is pulling the plug from MovieBeam , at least for now. The company plans to close its experimental video-on-demand service this week in all three of its test cities, the Los Angeles Times reported. Disney said the shutdown was necessary to upgrade systems as the company seeks potential partners to explore MovieBeam's next phase. It is uncertain, however, when , or even if , the service will be relaunched. The decision comes nearly two years after Disney unveiled MovieBeam in a bid to use TV airwaves to create new revenue streams and establish a direct pipeline to consumers.

Founder to Take Lyon Homes Private
William Lyon, controlling shareholder of William Lyon Homes, said Tuesday that he planned to take the Newport Beach-based builder private by buying the minority interest in the company's common stock for $82 a share. Lyon owns a 48 percent equity stake and acts as chief executive and board chairman. Trusts controlled by his son, William H. Lyon, own an additional 24 percent of the company's outstanding shares. Apart from the shares owned by the family, the takeover would cost Lyon about $200 million, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Deloitte Settles Adelphia Audit Case for $50 Million
Deloitte & Touche agreed Tuesday to pay $50 million to settle charges that it failed to detect a massive accounting fraud at Adelphia Communications Corp., a company that it deemed one of its riskiest clients, the Associated Press reported. The payment to end charges filed by the SEC is the largest yet to be levied on an auditing firm in the aftermath of the accounting scandals of the last decade. The money will be used to compensate people who lost money when the cable system operator collapsed.

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