Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
- A coalition of 41 attorneys general are fighting to ensure that state, local and tribal entities have appropriate and timely access to corporate ownership information that is crucial to fighting corruption, organized crime, white-collar crime and terrorism. Accordingly, the coalition sent a letter to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a bureau of the U.S. Department of Treasury. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and 41 other attorneys general outlined the need for nonfederal agencies to be able to access information without unnecessary and burdensome requirements.
- A coalition of 23 state attorneys general supported a decision by CVS and Walgreens pharmacies to begin offering mifepristone and misoprostol, or “medication abortion,” in their stores. The decision, announced by the two companies last month, followed a recent rule change by the Food and Drug Administration that will allow retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone to patients with a prescription for the drug.
- Ohio and Pennsylvania negotiated agreements with DNA Diagnostics Center after a data breach exposed the social security numbers of more than 45,000 consumers who underwent genetic testing between 2004 and 2012. The investigation, conducted by the Pennsylvania and Ohio Offices of Attorney General, revealed that DNA Diagnostics Center failed to properly employ reasonable data security measures in protecting consumers’ sensitive personal information. The DNA-testing company will pay $200,000 each to both the Pennsylvania and Ohio Attorneys General Offices.
- Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes publicized that the Arizona Attorney General’s Office is launching an antitrust investigation of the proposed merger between The Kroger Co. and Albertsons Companies, which operates supermarkets under the Albertsons and Safeway brands in Arizona.
- Connecticut Attorney General William Tong responded to a draft decision by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, rejecting Eversource-owned Aquarion’s $36 million rate hike. The requested rate hike would have increased water rates by more than 30 percent over three years for 236,000 Aquarion customers across 72 cities and towns in Connecticut.
- Attorney General Tong sought new investigative authority over bank consumer financial protection failures following the fraught merger between People’s United and M&T banks. To date, the Office of the Attorney General has received over 400 complaints regarding the merger, including alarming reports of money disappearing from accounts, loss of access to online banking, and refusal to accommodate those with pre-existing powers of attorney.
District of Columbia
- The Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia released a consumer alert warning about tax season scams.
- Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, McGruff the Crime Dog®, the National Crime Prevention Council and NASCAR driver Joey Gase launched a new crime-prevention campaign. Attorney General Moody is warning about the proliferation of counterfeit pills containing deadly amounts of illicit fentanyl.
- Attorney General Moody issued a consumer alert notifying eligible families, military members and veterans about potential available relief. Last year, through a multistate action, Attorney General Moody secured $34 million in total relief from Harris Jewelry over allegations that the company deployed deceptive business practices.
- Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr shared tips to help Georgians avoid romance scams this Valentine’s Day.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell reported that her office reached a $2.5 million settlement with Leominster-based Regional Home Care, Inc., resolving allegations that the company engaged in unfair, deceptive and abusive debt collection practices in violation of state consumer law and debt collection regulations and improperly collected money from members of MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, for balances not owed or that were already paid for by MassHealth.
- Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed comments before the Michigan Public Service Commission in Docket No. U-18238 asking for greater transparency regarding money spent by utilities to influence public policy. In this docket, the Commission requested comments from interested parties to address potential modifications to the Rate Case Standard Filing Requirements.
- Michigan Attorney General Nessel reported that a Wayne County man who previously pled guilty to Conducting a Criminal Enterprise and Identity Theft charges has been sentenced.
- Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen warned Montanans about scammers attempting to obtain personal information from unsuspecting Montanans over the phone claiming to be law enforcement officials.
- New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced that the Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission has fined Christine Strothers and banned her from holding Amusement Games Licenses for ten years. Strothers operated amusement games at numerous locations along the boardwalk in Wildwood and North Wildwood, NJ. Investigators found several basketballs inflated beyond the manufacturer’s specifications and other regulation violations related to the display of prizes.
- Attorney General Platkin, with the Bureau of Securities, also announced that Nexo Capital Inc. reached a $45 million settlement agreement with state and federal securities regulators over Nexo’s illegal offer and sale of unregistered securities in the form of interest-bearing digital asset deposit accounts.
- The Office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued two Columbus contractors who renamed their business multiple times for performing shoddy driveaway resurfacing work, leaving their consumers dissatisfied and cheated.
- Attorney General Yost also filed lawsuits seeking to dial back odometer-tampering schemes at two Columbus-area used-car dealerships. The lawsuits against S Automotive and its owner, Simon Nwaru Jr., and Kalango Links and its owner, Korite Michael Kalango, also accuse both dealerships of failing to inform consumers when they were buying rebuilt salvaged vehicles.
- Acting Attorney General Henry also announced that the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has entered into a settlement agreement with Eagle Disposal of PA, Inc., for alleged violations of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practice and Consumer Protection Law. In 2021, Eagle failed to collect trash and/or recycling from over 1,800 residential subscription customers for multiple weeks at a time.