Logan Closing Could Strain Illinois' Prison System

    By Benjamin Yount (Illinois Statehouse News) - 9/30/2011  - Closing the Logan Correctional Center may save Illinois taxpayers $9 million in the short term, but potential lawsuits resulting from overcrowding and civil rights violations could burden the state financially in the long term.
    The loss of 1,970 beds at the Lincoln facility would force Illinois to squeeze 48,743 into 49,030 beds at the state's 27 prisons, leaving only 287 beds available statewide.
    Guards, advocates and the state Department of Corrections, or DOC, say this limited space creates a difficult and dangerous situation because few beds are available for new inmates and inmates who need to be separated from the general prison population.
    Gov. Pat Quinn said Logan is one of seven state facilities recommended for closure because of budget shortfalls. Quinn spokeswoman Brie Callahan said lawmakers did not give the governor enough money to run state government for a full year.
    Logan's 1,970 inmates would be sent to other prisons, and plans for the transfers have been filed with the Legislature's Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, or COGFA, which will play a role in deciding if Logan or any state facility closes.
   The Department of Corrections estimates it could save $9 million this year by closing Logan, though questions surround the additional cost to other prisons that take in Logan's inmates.
    John Maki, president of the Illinois chapter of the John Howard Association, one of the nation's largest prisoner advocacy groups, said closing one prison and shuffling inmates throughout the rest of the system will make prison overcrowding worse.
    "The Department of Corrections is already understaffed … (and) the prison population is way beyond capacity, and getting close to maxing out the bed space," Maki said.
    DOC spokeswoman Sharyn Elman, said the "blueprint capacity" for Illinois prisons is around 33,000 inmates, but renovations and additions have pushed actual capacity to 51,000.
    "This is like a puzzle, and we're trying to put the pieces together," Elman said.
    The plan to solve DOC's puzzle would send 1,500 medium-security inmates from Logan to other prisons, and a similar number of minimum-security inmates from across the state to gymnasiums at 11 other prisons, said Elman.
    "Medium-security inmates will never be going into gyms," Elman said "Only minimum-security inmates may be shifted around."
    Medium-security inmates include convictions for drug or property crimes as well as those cycling out of prison for more serious charges. Minimum-security inmates are almost never convicted of violent crimes.
    Randy Hellmann, shift supervisor for Pinckneyville Correctional Center in Pinckneyville, said it doesn't matter who sleeps in the gym, because adding 1,500 inmates to overcrowded prisons is inviting violence.
    The most recent data from the DOC annual report for 2010 show that there were 3.1 inmate-on-staff assaults per 1,000 staff members per month. DOC also reports 4.1 inmate-on-inmate assaults per 1,000 inmates per month. In 2010, there were 7,703 security staff members in DOC and 47,504 inmates.
    "With today's population, and the low number of staff in these facilities, this is the making of disaster," said Hellmann. "You have an opportunity here for inmates to take over certain parts of the facility."
    Maki said if Logan closes, and inmates are shuffled, Illinois could find itself in the same situation as California where the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the state to start releasing inmates because of overcrowding.
    "This will certainly … invite legal challenges," Maki said. "It seems obvious that this violates the 8th Amendment dealing with cruel and unusual punishment, and invites a human rights case."
    Not only would Logan inmates occupy gym space at other prisons statewide, but they would dwell in medical housing units and behavior segregation cells. Elman said the 300 to 500 Logan inmates would fill nearly every open medical bed or segregation cell.
    Maki pointed out that filling medical and segregation units with healthy and well-behaved inmates means that inmates who are sick or need to be kept away from others will have no place to go.
    "Without medical and segregation units, you're looking to jeopardize the safety of inmates and the safety of staff," Maki said.
    Another 130 to 180 inmates from the medium-security facility at Logan are scheduled to be sent to Illinois' supermax prison, Tamms Correctional Center in Tamms. Elman said those inmates would be sent to Tamms' minimum-security work camp, and not the 23 hour a day isolation units in Tamms' supermax wings.
    Quinn has blamed lawmakers for sending him a $33.2 billion state budget when he wanted a budget closer to $36 billion.
    State Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, who shepherded the DOC budget through the Senate, said no one should be surprised that a smaller state budget is forcing this showdown.
    "With the budget that was passed, clearly reductions are needed in the Department of Corrections," said Steans. "Many difficult and painful options are thus on the table."
    Lawmakers return for the fall veto session at the end of October to address Quinn's threatened closures, among other issues.
   Story courtesy of Illinois Statehouse News

Survey: 2011 Retail Sales to Increase 3 Percent

   CHICAGO - (BUSINESS WIRE) - 9/22/2011 - In the midst of a difficult economic climate, retailers expect solid year-end results. According to a recent survey by BDO USA, LLP, retail CFOs anticipate a 3 percent increase in total 2011 sales. While this marks the study’s most optimistic sales forecast since 2007, it is down from the 4.7 percent sales increase reported by the Commerce Department in 2010.
   The vast majority (77%) of CFOs also say they expect to see a continuation of stagnant economic conditions. Just 11 percent expect to see an economic turnaround in the next year, up slightly from 2010 (9%). Thirty-eight percent of CFOs say improved consumer confidence will be most important factor for economic recovery, and another 36 percent cite lower unemployment as the linchpin.
    “Retailers may not anticipate a full recovery in the near future, but we’re not seeing gloom and doom in sales expectations,” said Doug Hart, partner in the Retail and Consumer Product Practice at BDO USA, LLP. “Despite low confidence levels, macroeconomic conditions are not weighing on the consumer’s wallet as much as expected, and CFOs anticipate moderate spending levels to continue through the holiday season.”
   These findings are from the fifth-annual BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs, which examined the opinions of 100 chief financial officers at leading retailers located throughout the country. The retailers in the study were among the largest in the country, including 10 percent of the top 100 based on annual sales revenue. The survey was conducted in August and September of 2011.
    Other major findings of the 2011 BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs:
    CFOs Forecast Comparable Store Sales Increase. Retailers are moderately optimistic for sales in the second half of 2011, including the all-important holiday season. A majority (51%) expect sales to increase during this period, up from 44 percent in 2010. Overall, retailers project a 3.5 percent increase in comparable store sales for the second half of 2011, an increase from CFOs’ pessimistic 2010 projections (1.9%). For all of 2011, retail CFOs forecast a 2.3 percent increase in comparable store sales.
    M&A Activity to Increase, Focused in U.S. Market. The appetite for M&A deals is on the rise. Nearly all (96%) of retail CFOs expect M&A activity to increase or remain steady in the next year. Most CFOs (66%) expect M&A activity to take place primarily in the United States, followed by the Asia-Pacific region (18%) and Europe (16%). However, the CFOs in the top 100 largest retailers who were included in the sample have greater expectations for the international market. Seventy-five percent of CFOs in the top 100 expect Europe to see the majority of M&A activity.
    Both Strategic and Financial Buyers Key to M&A Uptick. Although private equity deals have dominated acquisition activity, CFOs are predicting an increase in strategic buyouts this year. In fact, CFOs are split on whether upcoming M&A activity will be primarily driven by strategic buyers (52%) or financial buyers (48%). On average, CFOs say they would expect to see an EBITDA (earnings before income and tax, depreciation and amortization) multiple of 6.5 for an acquisition in the retail and consumer product space. According to averages from PitchBook, this multiple is down from the 2010 average of 6.8 and the 2009 average of 8.2.
    Revenue & EBITDA are Primary Financial Metrics. Retailers place great weight on sales growth, and 38 percent of CFOs say revenue is their primary financial metric focus. Still, another 36 percent say EBITDA is their primary financial focus. Sales growth is normally considered the best snapshot of the strength of the retailer’s brand, and competitive positioning. However, when it comes to credit and financing decisions, EBITDA is paramount, as it is considered the best indicator of recurring cash flows.
    Unemployment Still Plaguing Consumers. With unemployment levels hovering around 9.1 percent, it’s no surprise that CFOs cite it as the biggest barrier to consumer confidence (57%) so far this year. CFOs also point to fuel prices (17%), personal credit availability (14%), weak housing market (7%) and inflation (5%). CFOs surveyed after the U.S. credit downgrade noted a greater concern over personal credit, with 21 percent citing it as the biggest barrier to confidence, compared to 14 percent of the sample overall. For the remainder of 2011, CFOs consistently say unemployment (63%) will be the biggest bully to confidence, and relief does not appear to be in sight. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that unemployment will remain above 8 percent until 2014.

Prosecutors Charge 91 With Medicare Fraud

False billings by medical professionals allegedly total $295 million
   WASHINGTON, D.C. - 9/18/2011 - Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced on Sept. 7 that a nationwide takedown by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in eight cities has resulted in charges against 91 defendants, including doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $295 million in false billing.
   Attorney General Holder and Secretary Sebelius were joined in the announcement by FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and HHS Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson.
   As part of a coordinated action, 70 individuals were charged by Strike Force prosecutors in indictments unsealed on Sept. 6 and on Sept. 7 in six cities alleging a variety of Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $263.6 million in false billings. As part of takedown operations, 18 additional defendants were charged in Detroit and one defendant was charged in Miami in cases unsealed on Sept. 1 for their alleged roles in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $29.4 million in fraudulent claims.
   Additionally, two individuals were scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 7 on charges filed on Aug. 24  for their roles in a separate $2 million health care fraud scheme. This coordinated takedown involved the highest amount of false Medicare billings in a single takedown in Strike Force history.
  The joint Department of Justice-HHS Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a multi-agency team of federal, state, and local investigators designed to combat Medicare fraud through the use of Medicare data analysis techniques and an increased focus on community policing. Over the course of the previous week, approximately 400 law enforcement agents from the FBI, HHS-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), multiple Medicaid Fraud Control Units, and other state and local law enforcement agencies participated in the takedown. In addition to making arrests, agents also executed 18 search warrants in connection with ongoing strike force investigations.
   “The defendants charged in this takedown are accused of stealing precious taxpayer resources and defrauding Medicare – jeopardizing the integrity of our health care system and our nation’s most critical health care program for personal gain,” Holder said. “Our highly coordinated, nationwide Strike Force operations are working aggressively to combat Medicare fraud and our anti-health care fraud efforts have never been more innovative, collaborative, aggressive – or effective. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and partners across government to fight against health care fraud.”
   The defendants charged are accused of various health care fraud-related crimes, including conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program, health care fraud, violations of the anti-kickback statutes and money laundering. The charges are based on a variety of alleged fraud schemes involving various medical treatments and services such as home health care, physical and occupational therapy, mental health services, psychotherapy, and durable medical equipment (DME).
   According to court documents, the defendants allegedly participated in schemes to submit claims to Medicare for treatments that were medically unnecessary and oftentimes never provided. In many cases, indictments and complaints allege that patient recruiters, Medicare beneficiaries and other co-conspirators were paid cash kickbacks in return for supplying beneficiary information to providers, so that the providers could submit fraudulent billing to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary or never provided. Collectively, the doctors, nurses, medical professionals, health care company owners and others charged in the indictments and complaints are accused of conspiring to submit a total of approximately $295 million in fraudulent billing.
   “As charged in these indictments, the defendants cover nearly the entire spectrum of health care providers, and perpetrated a variety of fraudulent schemes,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “From Brooklyn to Miami to Los Angeles, the defendants allegedly treated the Medicare program like a personal piggy bank. Today’s Strike Force operations should serve as a wake-up call to would-be fraudsters nationwide. With Strike Force teams now in nine cities across the country, and employing sophisticated, data-driven law enforcement methods, we are determined to hold criminally responsible those who defraud Medicare.”
   In Miami, 45 defendants, including one doctor and one nurse, were charged Sept. 6-7 for their participation in various fraud schemes involving a total of $159 million in false billings for home health care, mental health services, occupational and physical therapy, DME, and HIV infusion. Another defendant in Miami was charged on Sept. 1 for a $1 million Medicare fraud scheme. In one case, 24 defendants are charged for participating in a community mental health center fraud scheme involving more than $50 million in fraudulent billing. According to court documents, the defendants allegedly paid patient recruiters to refer ineligible beneficiaries to the mental health center. In some instances, beneficiaries who were residents of halfway houses were allegedly threatened with eviction if they did not agree to attend the mental health center.
   “The warning should be unambiguously clear by now,” said HHS Inspector General Levinson. “We will continue using the combined law enforcement might of Strike Forces around the country to combat health care fraud.”
   In Houston, two individuals were charged today with fraud schemes involving $62 million in false billings for home health care and DME. According to an indictment, one defendant allegedly sold beneficiary information to 100 different Houston-area home health care agencies in exchange for illegal payments. The indictment alleges that the home agencies then used the beneficiary information to bill Medicare for services that were unnecessary or never provided.
   Ten defendants were charged in Baton Rouge, La., for participating in schemes involving more than $24 million related to false claims for home health care and DME. According to one indictment, a doctor, nurse, and five other co-conspirators participated in a scheme to bill Medicare for more than $19 million in skilled nursing and other home health services that were medically unnecessary or never provided.
   Six defendants, including two doctors, were charged in Los Angeles for their roles in schemes to defraud Medicare of more than $10.7 million. In Brooklyn, three defendants, including two doctors, were charged for a fraud scheme involving more than $3.4 million in false claims for medically unnecessary physical therapy. Two defendants, including a doctor, are making initial appearances today in U.S. federal court in Dallas after being charged for a scheme to defraud Medicare of approximately $2.1 million.
   In Detroit, 18 defendants, including three doctors, were charged last week for schemes to defraud Medicare of more than $28 million. According to an indictment, 14 of the defendants participated in a home health care scheme that submitted more than $14 million in false claims to Medicare.
   Finally, four defendants including one doctor, were charged in Chicago for their alleged roles in schemes to defraud Medicare of more than $4.4 million.
   The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.
   Since their inception in March 2007, Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,140 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $2.9 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
   The cases announced on Sept. 7 are being prosecuted and investigated by Medicare Fraud Strike Force teams comprised of attorneys from the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District of Florida, the Eastern District of Michigan, the Eastern District of New York, the Southern District of Texas, the Central District of California, the Middle District of Louisiana; the Northern District of Illinois, and the Northern District of Texas; and agents from the FBI, HHS-OIG, and state Medicaid Fraud Control Units.
   Source: U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation release. For more information, see www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Latest Bank Crime Statistics Show Decrease

   WASHINGTON, D.C. - 9/18/2011 - During the second quarter of 2011, there were 1,023 reported violations of the Federal Bank Robbery and Incidental Crimes Statue, a decrease from the 1,146 reported violations in the same quarter of 2010.1 According to statistics released on Sept. 7 by the FBI, there were 1,007 robberies, 15 burglaries, one larceny, and two extortions of financial institutions2 reported between April 1, 2011 and June 30, 2011.
   Highlights of the report include:
  • Loot was taken in 91 percent of the incidents, totaling more than $7.8 million.
  • Of the loot taken, 23 percent of it was recovered. More than $1.8 million was recovered and returned to financial institutions.
  • Bank crimes most frequently occurred on Friday. Regardless of the day, the time frame when bank crimes occurred most frequently was between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
  • Acts of violence were committed in 4 percent of the incidents, resulting in 31 injuries, one death, and three persons taken hostage.3
  • Demand notes 4 were the most common modus operandi used.
  • Most violations occurred in the Southern region of the U.S., with 373 reported incidents.
  • These statistics were recorded as of August 2, 2011. Note that not all bank crimes are reported to the FBI, and therefore the report is not a complete statistical compilation of all bank crimes that occurred in the U.S.
1 In the second quarter of 2010, there were 1,135 robberies, 11 burglaries, zero larcenies, and one extortion reported.
2
Financial institutions include commercial banks, mutual savings banks, savings and loan associations, and credit unions.
3 One or more acts of violence may occur during an incident.
4 More than one modus operandi may have been used during an incident.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation Release

Consumer Price Index Up 0.4 Percent in August

   (BLS) - 9/17/2011 - The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.4 percent in August on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.8 percent before seasonal adjustment.
    The seasonally adjusted increase in the all items index was broad-based, with continuing increases in the indexes for gasoline, food, shelter, and apparel. The gasoline index rose for the 12th time in the last 14 months and led to a 1.2 percent increase in the energy index, while the food index rose 0.5 percent, its largest increase since March.
    The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in August, the same increase as the previous month. Shelter and apparel were the biggest contributors, though the indexes for most of its
major components posted increases, including used cars and trucks, medical care, household furnishings and operations, recreation, tobacco, and personal care. The new vehicles index, unchanged for the second month in a row, was an exception.
     The 12-month change in the all items index edged up to 3.8 percent after holding at 3.6 percent for three months, while the 12-month change for all items less food and energy reached 2.0 percent for the first time since November 2008. The energy index has risen 18.4 percent over the last year, while the food index has increased 4.6 percent.
Consumer Price Index Data for August 2011
   Food: The food index rose 0.5 percent in August after rising 0.4 percent in
July. The food at home index repeated its July increase of 0.6 percent, with five of the six major grocery store food groups rising. The only exception was the index for nonalcoholic beverages, which declined slightly in August after rising in June and July. The cereals and bakery products index rose the most, increasing 1.1 percent, followed by a 0.9 percent increase in the index for dairy and related products. The index for other food at home rose 0.8 percent as the index for sugar and sweets rose sharply. The indexes
for fruits and vegetables and for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. The food at home index has now risen 6.0 percent over the past 12 months, with all six groups
rising at least 4.0 percent. The index for food away from home advanced 0.4 percent in August, its largest increase since October 2008, and has risen 2.7 percent over the last year.
    Energy: The energy index, which rose 2.8 percent in July, increased 1.2 percent in August. The gasoline index rose 1.9 percent in August after a 4.7 percent increase in July. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices fell 0.5 percent in August.) Over the past 12 months, the gasoline index has increased 32.4 percent. The household energy index rose modestly in August, increasing 0.4 percent. The indexes for electricity and for fuel oil both declined slightly, but the index for natural gas increased 2.2 percent in August after declining in July. Over the past year, the household energy index has increased 2.7 percent. The fuel oil index has risen 35.4 percent over that period, while the electricity index has risen 1.9 percent and the index for natural gas has declined, falling 2.0 percent. All items less food and energy:
   The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in August, the fifth month in a row that the increase has either been 0.2 percent or 0.3 percent. Similarly, the shelter index rose 0.2 percent in August, its fourth increase in a row of at least that size. The index for rent increased 0.4 percent in August, its largest increase since June 2008. The index for owners' equivalent rent rose 0.2 percent, and the index for lodging away from home turned down after recent increases, falling 1.8 percent. The index for apparel continued its string of substantial increases, rising 1.1 percent in August. The used cars and trucks index also continued to rise, increasing 0.9 percent. The medical care index increased 0.2 percent for the fourth month in a row, with medical care commodities rising 0.1 percent and medical care services increasing 0.3 percent. Also increasing were the indexes for household furnishings and operations (0.3 percent), airline fares (1.1 percent), recreation (0.1 percent), personal care (0.2 percent), and tobacco (0.5 percent). The index for new vehicles was unchanged for the second month in a row after a series of increases. The index for all items less food and energy has risen 2.0 percent in the last 12 months. This 12-month change has been trending up since reaching a low of 0.6 percent for the 12 months ending October 2010. The 12-month change in the shelter index, which was negative through much of 2010, reached 1.6 percent in August. The 12-month change in the apparel index has now reached 4.2 percent after being negative as recently as March of this year. Major transportation indexes have risen strongly over the last 12 months, including used cars and trucks (5.4 percent), new vehicles (3.8 percent) and airline fares (9.5 percent).

Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
    The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 3.8 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 226.545 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.3 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
    The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 4.3 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 223.326 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.3 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
    The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 3.6 percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.3 percent on a not seasonally adjusted basis.
   Please note that the indexes for the post-2009 period are subject to revision. The Consumer Price Index for September 2011 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, October 19, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).
   Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Consumer Price Index Continues Upward Trend

   (BLS) - 9/14/2011 - The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.5 percent in July on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported.
   Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.6 percent before seasonal adjustment. The gasoline index rebounded from previous declines and rose sharply in July, accounting for about half of the seasonally adjusted increase in the all items index. The food at home index accelerated in July and also contributed to the increase, as dairy and fruit indexes posted notable increases and five of the six major grocery store food groups rose.
   The index for all items less food and energy increased as well, though the 0.2 percent increase was slightly smaller than the two previous months. The shelter index accelerated in July, and the apparel index again increased sharply. In contrast, the index for new vehicles was unchanged after a long string of increases. The index for household furnishings and operations was flat in July as well, and the recreation index declined slightly.
   The 12 month change in the all items index remained at 3.6 percent for the third month in a row. The change in the index for all items less food and energy continued its upward trend, rising to 1.8 percent in July, with the shelter and apparel indexes contributing notably to the acceleration. The energy index has risen 19.0 percent over the past year.
   Consumer Price Index Data for July 
   Food: The food index rose 0.4 percent in July after rising 0.2 percent in June. The cereals and bakery products index fell 0.1 percent in July; the other five major grocery store food groups all increased. The dairy and related products index, which rose 0.5 percent in June, increased 1.2 percent in July. The fruits and vegetables index also rose 1.2 percent as the index for fresh fruits rose 3.7 percent. The index for nonalcoholic beverages increased 0.9 percent in July as the coffee index continued to rise sharply, while the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased 0.5 percent and the index for other food at home advanced 0.3 percent. The index for food away from home rose 0.2 percent in July after rising 0.3 percent in June. Over the past 12 months, the food index has risen 4.2 percent with the food at home index up 5.4 percent. All major grocery store food group indexes have risen over the past year; the increases ranged from 3.5 percent (other food at home) to 7.9 percent (dairy and related products).
   Energy: The energy index, which declined in May and June, increased 2.8 percent in July. The gasoline index, down 6.8 percent in June, rose 4.7 percent in July. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices fell 1.5 percent in July.) Over the past 12 months, the gasoline index has increased 33.6 percent. The household energy index also turned up in July, rising 0.2 percent after a 1.2 percent decline in June. The electricity index, which declined in June, rose 0.8 percent and more than offset a 1.7 percent decline in the index for fuel oil and a 1.2 percent decrease in the natural gas index. The household energy index has risen 2.7 percent over the last 12 months, with the fuel oil index up 37.2 percent and the electricity index up 2.0 percent but the index for natural gas down 2.8 percent.
   All items less food and energy: The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2 percent in July after increasing 0.3 percent in both May and June. The shelter index rose 0.3 percent in July, its largest increase since June 2008. The indexes for rent and owners' equivalent rent both rose 0.3 percent, while the lodging away from home index increased 0.9 percent. The index for medical care rose 0.2 percent, with the medical care services index rising 0.3 percent while the index for medical care commodities was unchanged. The apparel index continued to rise sharply, increasing 1.2 percent in July; it has increased 3.9 percent over the past three months. The index for used cars and trucks also continued to rise, increasing 0.7 percent in July, and the airline fare index turned up, rising 0.1 percent after falling in May and June. The tobacco index rose as well; its 0.5 percent July increase was its largest of the year. However, the index for new vehicles was unchanged in July after rising at least 0.6 percent in each of the last five months. The indexes for personal care and household furnishings and operations were also unchanged in July, while the index for recreation fell 0.1 percent.
   The 12 month change in the index for all items less food and energy reached 1.8 percent in July, continuing its steady rise from the October 2010 low point of 0.6 percent. Most of its major component indexes have risen more quickly in 2011 than they did in late 2010. The 12 month change in the shelter index, which was negative as recently as October 2010, reached 1.4 percent in July. The apparel index has now increased 3.1 percent over the last 12 months, its largest 12 month increase since July 1992.
                                           Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures 
   The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 3.6 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 225.922 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.1 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
   The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 4.1 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 222.686 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.1 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
   The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 3.5 percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.1 percent on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the post-2009 period are subject to revision.
   The Consumer Price Index for August 2011 is scheduled to be released on Thursday, September 15, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).
   Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Illinois Taxpayer Revenue Up, Federal Down

   By Andrew Thomason - (Illinois Statehouse News) - 9/12/2011 - Taxpayers gave Illinois a $1.2-billion shot of cash in August, or $464 million more than last August.
   Personal income tax revenue jumped by 68 percent for last month when compared with the same time in 2010, almost mirroring the personal income tax increase of 67 percent approved in January, according to a report issued by the Legislature’s Commission on Government Accountability and Forecasting, or COGFA, this week.
   Overall, the state’s revenue jumped from $1.9 billion in August 2010 to $2.2 billion last month, an increase of 13 percent.
   However, focusing on the month-to-month numbers won’t give an accurate picture of the state’s fiscal health, said Jim Muschinske, COGFA’s revenue manager and author of the August revenue report that outlines Illinois’ finances.
   “I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, and I don’t get excited over one month. There is just too much that happens on a month-by-month basis,” Muschinske said.
   For example, income tax receipts from July through December, or the first half of fiscal 2012, might show big gains compared to last year. But those increases are only because of the income tax increase, and not because the state’s workforce or economy is doing better, according to the COGFA report.
   The state also got a one-time shot of $73 million relating to the selling of a permit for and opening of the state’s 10th riverboat casino this summer in Des Plaines.
   Higher revenue for August flowed in despite the state collecting less money from the federal government.  
   The end of the federal stimulus package and the state’s extension on paying its social service vendors caused a decline of federal funding by $264 million, or 66 percent less, to $135 million last month compared with $399 million last August.
   For the entire fiscal year, the state will lose about $1 billion in federal funding, Muschinske said. Under the federal stimulus, for every $2 the state spent on Medicaid, the federal government kicked in $1.20. But that extra 20 cents has been phased out, along with the strings attached to it.
   “What happened under the stimulus plan was that the federal government said ‘we’ll give you the higher matching rates, but in order to qualify, you are going to have to pay (social service) providers in 30 days.     
   That’s far quicker that we’ve ever paid before,” Muschinske said.
   “Now that the match is gone, part of the way to manage our resources was the decision to allow approximately $1 billion in bills to be pushed back and the payment cycled moved to more historic levels” of 60 to 90 days, he said.
   The state now has overdue bills from social service providers, schools and others totaling $3.8 billion, said Brad Hahn, spokesman for the state Comptroller’s Office.
   Legislators, when crafting the $33-billion operating budget for the state, said that any extra revenue would go toward paying off the state’s backlog of bills.
   However, Gov. Pat Quinn has said the budget sent to him doesn’t contain enough spending to operate at least 12 state agencies through the end of the fiscal year.
   Quinn could come back during the Legislature’s veto session at the end of October and ask for more money, known as a supplemental appropriation. Extra cash might keep workers from being laid off, but it also could suck up money that would have been used to pay off old bills.
   Story courtesy of Illinois Statehouse News (9/7/2011)

Man Sentenced to 66 Months for Insider Trading

   NEW YORK – 9/5/2011 - Craig Drimal was sentenced on August 31 in Manhattan federal court to 66 months in prison for his participation in an insider trading scheme in which he obtained and traded on material, nonpublic information, including information misappropriated from the law firm of Ropes & Gray, announced Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
   Drimal pleaded guilty to five counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy on April 26, 2011. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan imposed the sentence.
   According to the indictment, a complaint previously filed in this case and statements made during the guilty plea proceeding:
   In 2007 and 2008, Drimal obtained inside information from Zvi Goffer and others about several mergers and acquisitions of public companies, and traded based on that information. The inside information included information provided by two Ropes & Gray attorneys, Arthur Cutillo and Brien Santarlas, regarding the potential acquisition of 3Com Corporation and the potential acquisition of Axcan Pharma Inc. Cutillo and Santarlas delivered the inside information to Jason Goldfarb, another attorney, who provided the inside information to Goffer. Goffer then delivered it to Drimal, who executed trades based on the inside information.
   Drimal also traded in the stock of Hilton Hotels Corporation based on inside information. He made combined profits exceeding $10 million based on these trades. Following the public announcement of the acquisition of Axcan, Drimal delivered a cash payment to Goffer for the tip.
   In addition to the prison term, Sullivan sentenced Drimal, 55, of Weston, Conn., to 66 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay forfeiture in the amount of $11 million and a $600 special assessment fee.
   Cutillo, Goldfarb and Santarlas previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud charges in connection with this scheme. Goffer was convicted after a one month jury trial of conspiracy and securities fraud charges for his role in the scheme. Cutillo was sentenced to 30 months in prison and Goldfarb was sentenced to 36 months in prison. Santarlas’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 28, 2011, at 2:30 p.m. and Goffer’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 21, 2011, at 2 p.m.
   U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission for its assistance with the investigation.
   This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, on which U.S. Attorney Bharara serves as a co-chair of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group.
   Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Fish, Reed Brodsky and Richard Tarlowe are in charge of the prosecution.
   Source: Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force

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