- - Wednesday, August 24, 2011

JUSTICE

U.S. will investigate phone-hacking story

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday called a report of possible phone hacking targeting 9/11 victims and their families very disturbing and he assured them in a lengthy meeting that the department will pursue a preliminary criminal investigation of the matter.

At a press conference outside the Justice Department after the 75-minute session, the family members and their lawyer said they were pleased that the attorney general made the commitment for a preliminary probe into whether Sept. 11 victims or their families were the focus of phone hacking by journalists at Rupert Murdoch’s now-shuttered News of the World.

The lawyer for the families, Norman Siegel, told reporters that the attorney general had used the words “very disturbing” to describe the possibility that cellphones of 9/11 victims and their family members might have been hacked. Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler confirmed that account of the meeting.

SEC

Ex-analyst ordered to pay $34.5 million

A federal judge has ordered a former Moody’s Investors Service analyst to pay $34.5 million after he fled the country to avoid facing insider-trading charges.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan, N.Y., issued the order Tuesday against Deep Shah in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s civil case. Government officials filed criminal and civil insider-trading charges against Shah in 2009.

The government has said that Shah received money for giving confidential information on company acquisitions to a leading figure in the Galleon case, the largest hedge fund insider-trading investigation in history.

Shah hasn’t responded to the suit and is believed to be in India, the SEC said. He was ordered to pay a $24.6 million fine and $9.9 million in restitution plus interest.

SEC spokesman John Nester said Wednesday that the agency was pleased with the judge’s order.

Shah, who was a hotel industry analyst for Moody’s in New York, was accused of passing tips about acquisitions on to Roomy Khan, a Florida investor who pleaded guilty in 2009 to criminal conspiracy and securities fraud charges. Khan has been cooperating with the government’s investigation.

Shah received cash from Khan and others in exchange for confidential information, the government says.

CALIFORNIA

Nancy Reagan not hurt in stumble at event

SIMI VALLEY — Former first lady Nancy Reagan is said to be doing fine after stumbling as she was escorted into an event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley.

KNBC-TV video shows the 90-year-old Mrs. Reagan walking into the room on the arm of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Tuesday night when she apparently lost her balance. The crowd can be heard gasping as Mr. Rubio catches her before she falls to the floor. Several people in the crowd then swarm her, and Mr. Rubio and the others help her get to her seat.

Mr. Rubio was invited by Mrs. Reagan to speak at the library.

MEMOIR

Cheney kept resignation letter in his safe as VP

Former Vice President Dick Cheney says he had a secret resignation letter signed and stored in a safe for most of the Bush administration in case he became incapacitated.

Mr. Cheney says he signed the resignation letter in March 2001, just about two months after taking office. He says only President George W. Bush and one of the vice president’s staff members knew the letter existed.

One of the reasons for having a resignation letter on hand was his history of health problems, including multiple heart attacks. He says the letter could have been used if he had been incapacitated by a heart attack or stroke.

Mr. Cheney discussed the secret letter in an interview with NBC News to promote the release of his memoir.

NORTH CAROLINA

Edwards asks to delay October trial date

RALEIGH — Lawyers for John Edwards have asked to delay his October trial date because they say they haven’t had time to review more than 400,000 documents produced by prosecutors in his presidential campaign finance case.

In a motion filed Wednesday, Mr. Edwards’ attorneys also said they will need more time to interview the same 125 witnesses that 50 FBI and IRS agents talked to during the investigation into Mr. Edwards’ campaign spending during his 2008 bid for the White House.

Mr. Edwards also asked for a delay because his daughter Cate is getting married in October, thus won’t be available to help take his 11-year-old and 13-year-old children to school during his trial.

Mr. Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six felony charges of violating campaign finance laws.

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