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• CONSUMER PROTECTION Judge levies $635M fine on OxyContin maker ABINGDON, VA. (AP) � A Virginia federal judge has ordered Purdue Pharma L.P., maker of OxyContin, and three of its executives to pay a $634.5 million fine for misleading the public about the painkiller’s addiction risk. From 1996 to 2001, the number of oxycodone-related deaths nationwide increased fivefold while the annual number of OxyContin prescriptions increased nearly 20-fold, according to a report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Purdue Pharma L.P. and the three executives pleaded guilty in May to claiming that OxyContin was less addictive and less subject to abuse than other pain medications. Of the total fine, $34.5 million was levied on the three executives. • MEDICAL MALPRACTICE Jury awards couple $21M over ‘wrongful birth’ TAMPA, FLA. (AP) � A Florida state jury has awarded more than $21 million to a couple who claimed that a doctor had misdiagnosed a severe birth defect in their son, leading them to have a second child with similar problems. The couple claimed that Dr. Boris Kousseff of the University of South Florida failed to diagnose their first son’s genetic disorder, called Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, which is the inability to produce or synthesize cholesterol correctly, after his 2002 birth. Had the disorder been correctly diagnosed, a test would have indicated whether the couple’s second child also was afflicted and they would have terminated the pregnancy, according to the lawsuit. • MUTUAL FUNDS Financial group settles illegal trading claims HARTFORD, CONN. (AP) � The Hartford Financial Services Group paid $115 million to settle accusations that it allowed illegal trading in some mutual funds. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the company had paid so-called contingent commissions to insurance brokers and agents, thereby steering business in exchange for secret commissions. The company said the staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had concluded its investigation into accusations of market timing and that it would recommend against any action. • REGULATORY ACTION Medical products firm settles accounting probe DUBLIN, OHIO (AP) � Cardinal Health Inc. has agreed to hire an independent consultant and pay a $35 million fine to resolve an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, accusing the medical products and services firm of accounting irregularities and inflating earnings reports. The SEC began investigating the company in October 2003 over its accounting treatment of money it got from vitamin manufacturers. Packaged-food firm pays $45M to end SEC probe OMAHA, NEB. (AP) � Packaged-food company ConAgra Foods Inc. will pay a $45 million civil fine as part of a settlement with federal regulators who accused the company of using improper accounting to help it meet Wall Street expectations. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil complaint in a Colorado federal court, accusing ConAgra of “improper, and in certain instances fraudulent” accounting in fiscal 1999 through 2001. The complaint alleged “numerous” income tax errors, understating of income tax expenses, and improper reductions of reserves. That caused ConAgra to misstate reported income before income taxes by nearly $218.5 million and to misstate its reported income tax expense by $105 million. Smith Barney settles market-timing probe NEWARK, N.J. (AP) � Citigroup’s Smith Barney unit will pay $50 million to settle market-timing charges brought by the New York Stock Exchange and the New Jersey state government. NYSE said Smith Barney failed to supervise trading of mutual fund shares and variable-annuity mutual fund sub-accounts, failed to prevent violative market timing by its brokers, and failed to maintain adequate records. • TORTS U.S. to pay $102M for frameup for 1965 murder BOSTON (AP) � A Massachusetts federal judge has ordered the government to pay $101.7 million, after finding that the FBI helped frame four men for a 1965 murder and withheld information that could have cleared them. Peter Limone and Joseph Salvati, who were exonerated in 2001, and the families of the two other men, who died in prison, had sued the federal government for malicious prosecution. They argued that Boston FBI agents knew mob hitman Joseph “The Animal” Barboza lied when he named the men as killers in the 1965 death of Edward Deegan. They said Barboza was protecting a fellow FBI informant, Vincent “Jimmy” Flemmi, who was involved in the hit. A Justice Department lawyer had argued that federal authorities couldn’t be held responsible for the results of a state prosecution and had no duty to share information with the officials who prosecuted Limone, Salvati, Henry Tameleo and Louis Greco.

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