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Bank fraud settlement worth $280 million to Minnesota

Minnesota’s cut of the big national mortgage settlement, related to fraudulent activities on the part of major banks, will be $280 million. Paul Walsh of the Strib writes: “Minnesota mortgage borrowers will have access to up to $280 million as part of a multibillion-dollar deal reached among the states, federal agencies and the nation's biggest mortgage lenders over foreclosure abuses. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial will pay about $26 billion to reimburse American homeowners and overhaul their industry. The settlement stems from abuses in the wake of the housing bubble burst. Many companies that process foreclosures failed to verify documents. Some employees signed papers they hadn't read or used fake signatures to speed foreclosures. The Minnesota slice includes up to $113 million in monetary and refinancing relief to borrowers from those five banks and up to $167 million in principal reductions and other homeowner relief, said state Attorney General Lori Swanson.”

Denny! Noted Minnesota entrepreneur, Denny Hecker, will be taking up residence in … a federal prison in Wisconsin, apparently because of being a bad boy with his cell phone. Dee DePass of the Strib reports: “Hecker has been relocated from the minimum-security prison in Duluth to a medium-security prison in Wisconsin, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Hecker, who was serving a 10-year prison sentence in the federal prison camp in Duluth, was perceived as a possible flight risk or a person who wasn't obeying phone rules, according to his former defense attorney Brian Toder. Hecker was moved to a prison in Oxford, Wis., an hour north of Madison. The Duluth and Oxford prisons both have more than 930 inmates, but the similarities end there.” It’s kind of like shipping Paul Bunyan to Green Bay, isn’t it?

Dan Browning’s fraud-and-schemers beat at the Strib has been overflowing with stories. Today it’s this one: “Four days after being named ‘Agent of the Year,’ St. Louis Park insurance salesman Terry Sandvold was sacked last month by his longtime agency, The Prudential Insurance Agency of America. After two lengthy internal investigations, Prudential accused Sandvold of policy and regulatory violations, including the use of improper signatures on transaction forms, obtaining customer signatures on blank forms, failing to report all customer complaints, removing and destroying customer files and using unregistered and unlicensed employees on some transactions. Prudential went further still. The Newark, N.J.-based company sued Sandvold in federal court in Minneapolis and obtained a temporary restraining order on Jan. 25 that bars him from destroying Prudential client files and compelled him to turn over all hardware and software belonging to the company. Sandvold is the owner and CEO of Sandvold and Associates Insurance and Financial Services Group, which has 16 employees. He's been selling Prudential products since 1986. He hosts a financial talk-show on News-Talk AM 1130 and KOOL 108 FM and offers seminars to prospective clients.” Entirely coincidentally, Denny Hecker had a radio show at Clear Channel, too. 

A bit more on the latest (not) jobs bill out of the state Legislature:  The AP’s Alexandra Tempus writes: “A bill that would expand Minnesota residents' rights to defend their homes with deadly force passed a state Senate committee Thursday over the objections of police, who said it could endanger officers. The measure was approved last year by the House. Its passage by a 10-5 vote in the Senate Finance Committee sends it to the full Senate, where supporters predict it will pass. Gov. Mark Dayton said he hadn't decided yet if he would sign or veto the bill. ... Dennis Flaherty, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, said the bill could result in dangerous situations for police officers, who regularly enter homes without permission. ‘We're fearful that people will react and shoot and our officers could be mistaken for someone that they believe is someone trying to jeopardize their safety,’ Flaherty said. He said that there had never been a case in Minnesota where a citizen was prosecuted for killing someone who had entered their home. ‘The law is not necessary in Minnesota,’ Flaherty said.” So many solutions from our lawmakers to so few problems.

Oh, why not? The PiPress story, by Doug Belden, on a Duluth Vikings stadium says: “State Sen. Roger Reinert added an outstate option to the list of communities vying to host a Vikings stadium: his hometown of Duluth. Reinert, a Democrat, dropped off his plan with Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday. It would put a stadium southwest of downtown Duluth on 500 acres of what was once the site of U.S. Steel/Atlas Cement Works. The land is in the final stages of environmental cleanup, Reinert said. Part of the state's funding for such a project could come through allowing the sale of liquor on Sundays, which Reinert said could generate up to $10.6 million per year in tax revenue. And he said Duluth's distance from the main metropolitan area — about 150 miles — shouldn't be a deterrent. ‘If last year's Super Bowl champions, the Green Bay Packers, can attract ticketholders from over two hours away in Madison or Milwaukee, the Vikings can certainly do so as well,’ Reinert said in a statement.”

John Myers at the Duluth News Tribune adds: “Reinert said his letter to Dayton will include a litany of facts supporting the Duluth site. For example, Reinert notes Duluth is nearly the same distance from the Twin Cities as Green Bay is from the Milwaukee metro area. Duluth also expects to be connected to the Twin Cities by the proposed Northern Lights Express high-speed passenger rail line that could move Twin Cities fans to the game in less than two hours. And Reinert also noted that Duluth already gets about 3.5 million tourists per year, about half of which are from the Twin Cities. ‘They already come up here to visit; they would certainly come to watch football,’ he said. Reinert said he hasn’t yet figured how Duluth might come up with its share of the stadium costs estimated to approach $1 billion. So far, Reinert said he’s had no support from other Duluth officials.”

Meanwhile, back in Minneapolis, where one way or another we all know the thing will be built, Mayor R.T. Rybak says he’s not worried about the analysis that shows the city coming up, oh, $50 million short on its share. Tim Nelson at MPR says: “Rybak says he remains confident about his city's bid for a Vikings stadium, despite a substantial funding shortfall outlined in a city financial analysis. The analysis shows the city is short of making its $313 million dollar local contribution by more than $50 million. Rybak says there's time to close the gap. ‘All the sources haven't been identified completely, on how to fund a stadium. So that means we're going to have to negotiate who pays what. We're also going to have to negotiate how much is spent on the building,’ he said. ‘I'm going to be a tough negotiator.' " May I suggest you start your tough stuff, Mayor, with the NFL, which has a better credit rating than any state or city?                                  
Soon to appear on a website near you ... Emily Gurnon of the PiPress reports: “A Burnsville man who worked at the 340 Hotel in downtown St. Paul was arrested after a honeymooning couple discovered their love-making had been captured on a digital recorder, according to a search warrant. The warrant and supporting affidavit, filed Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court, said that front-desk worker Jeremiah Caleb Marg, 28, was arrested Dec. 28 on suspicion of invasion of privacy. He has not been charged. A phone number for Marg could not be located. The affidavit describes the allegations this way: A man called police Dec. 28 to report that he and his wife found a Sony digital recorder under the door to Room 1006, where they were staying for their honeymoon. It wasn't clear if the recorder was both video and audio.”

So much for loving families. Ed Treleven of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison writes: “When Mary Coleman died in May 2009, two days after she fell to the floor at her sister's house, her sister and nephew decided there was nothing they could do about it and went out for pizza. Then, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Veronica King and her son, Steven King, kept Coleman's death a secret, hiding her body in the basement and then the garage of the house on Whenona Drive until Madison police found her mummified remains more than three months later. Steven and Veronica King told police that Coleman, 70, had fallen down in a bedroom on May 7, 2009, then lay there, talking now and then, until her death. ‘I told her quite frankly to shut up because that old woman in the backyard’ would call the police, Steven King told police, according to the complaint. After Coleman died, Veronica King told police, they didn't call to have her body removed ‘because we had other things to do that day.’ "

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