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Editorial Results (free)

1. EMS Ready To Double Footprint In Bartlett -

After holding on to an adjacent parcel of land for more than a decade next to its facility in Bartlett, medical device manufacturer Engineered Medical Systems LLC is gearing up for a major expansion of its facility. The company is investing $10.5 million in a move that will create 40 new jobs.

2. What are the Odds? Blackburn is Still the Favorite -

Tennessee has its search firm and its search committee is in place to find the replacement for Dave Hart as the university’s athletic director.

Hart announced last August he would retire June 30, and with Tennessee undergoing a transition in its chancellor’s position, the search for Hart’s replacement was put on the back burner.

3. CEO Pay Climbs Again, Even As Their Stock Prices Don't -

NEW YORK (AP) – CEOs at the biggest companies got a 4.5 percent pay raise last year. That's almost double the typical American worker's, and a lot more than investors earned from owning their stocks – a big fat zero.

4. Stanford Downfall Offers Lesson for Wary -

One thing appears clear one year after the alleged investment fraud that wrecked Stanford Financial Group: All that glitters is not gold.

Made popular in Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice,” the phrase was inside the golden casket a prince had chosen after deciding its appearance made it the obvious answer to a rich woman’s puzzle.

5. AP: Ponzi Collapses Nearly Quadrupled in '09 -

MIAMI (AP) - It was a rough year for Ponzi schemes. In 2009, the recession unraveled nearly four times as many of the investment scams as fell apart in 2008, with "Ponzi" becoming a buzzword again thanks to the collapse of Bernard Madoff's $50 billion plot.

6. 2009 Year In Review -

2009 was a year without a script – and plenty of improvising on the political stage.

It was supposed to be an off-election year except in Arlington and Lakeland.

2008 ended with voters in the city and county approving a series of changes to the charters of Memphis and Shelby County governments. Those changes were supposed to set a new direction for both entities, kicking into high gear in 2010 and ultimately culminating two years later.

7. Review: FINRA Needs Reform After Madoff, Stanford -

WASHINGTON (AP) - The brokerage industry's self-policing body must make reforms to protect investors after its inspections failed to uncover the massive Ponzi scheme run by Bernard Madoff and the alleged fraud by R. Allen Stanford, according to a special review.

8. After the Fall: The messy cleanup of Stanford Financial -

R. Allen Stanford, the Texas billionaire now passing time in a Texas jail for his role in what U.S. regulators have called a “massive Ponzi scheme,” once told a roomful of his employees they ought to have three priorities in life.

9. Stanford Receiver Wants Money Back from Advisers – Including Stanley -

The court-appointed receiver in charge of what remains of jailed Texas financier R. Allen Stanford’s business is going after money former Stanford advisers made from selling bogus certificates of deposit.

10. Local Advisers Named in Suit to Recover Stanford Money -

The court-appointed receiver who’s taken charge of the Stanford Financial Group’s business empire filed a lawsuit Wednesday in an attempt to recover more than $40 million Stanford paid 66 financial advisers. Five of the advisers are from the Memphis area.

11. Local Advisers Named in Suit to Recover Stanford Money -

The court-appointed receiver who’s taken charge of the Stanford Financial Group’s business empire filed a lawsuit Wednesday in an attempt to recover more than $40 million Stanford paid out to 66 financial advisers. Five of the advisers are from the Memphis area.

That group collectively has $1.6 million in compensation the receiver is looking to get back:

Jon Barrack: $241,751

Norman Blake: $233,858

Charles Brickey: $212,709

Chuck Hughes: $301,074

Scott Notowich: $679,932

Ralph Janvey, a Dallas attorney operating as Stanford’s receiver, is looking to recover Stanford assets and secure the company’s business operations and holdings. The money he’s seeking via the lawsuit was paid as commissions and other compensation for the sale of Stanford’s certificates of deposits.

Those CDs are at the heart of what the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission believes is an $8 billion pyramid scheme. The SEC in February filed a civil complaint against Stanford, its chairman and two executives that, among other things, alleged the CDs were sold by promising inflated and near-impossible returns.

“Over just a two-year period, these financial advisers received commissions ranging in amounts from $2.6 million to $200,000, along with other incentive compensation, to promote the sales of CDs,” reads Janvey’s complaint filed this week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

Janvey contends the money is appropriate for him to recover because it was paid to Stanford employees who continued to bring new investors in to buy the company’s allegedly fraudulent products.

Stanford chairman R. Allen Stanford, chief financial officer James Davis and chief investment officer Laura Pendergest-Holt “kept their fraudulent scheme going by using the (financial advisers) to lure new investors,” the complaint reads. “The commissions, loans and other compensation paid to (the advisers) came not from revenue generated by legitimate business activities, but from monies contributed by defrauded investors.”

As part of its U.S. presence, Stanford operated a brokerage office in the East Memphis Crescent Center, and the company’s chief investment officer and chief financial officer at one time both worked there. The closure of Stanford’s Memphis office as a result of the broader investigation meant the loss of 50 jobs, according to information from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

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12. Questioning Stanford’s Returns Could Get You Fired -

WASHINGTON (AP) – While R. Allen Stanford’s investors were swallowing claims of vast returns on safe investments, some of his employees weren’t so sure.

13. STANFORD SHOCKER -

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a Texas billionaire whose family of companies has deep ties to Memphis with an $8 billion securities fraud.

Asking for “emergency relief to halt a massive, ongoing fraud,” a complaint issued by the SEC Tuesday alleges the businessman, R. Allen Stanford – chairman of the Stanford Financial Group of companies – schemed to sell about $8 billion worth of certificates of deposit that promise higher returns than would have been available with genuine CDs offered by traditional banks.

14. Stanford Financial Chairman Charged With $8B Fraud - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a Texas billionaire whose family of companies has deep ties to Memphis with an $8 billion securities fraud.

Asking for "emergency relief to halt a massive, ongoing fraud," a complaint issued by the SEC Tuesday alleges the businessman, R. Allen Stanford – chairman of the Stanford Financial Group of companies – schemed to sell about $8 billion worth of certificates of deposit that promise higher returns than would have been available with genuine CDs offered by traditional banks.

Also named in the Texas complaint are James Davis, the chief financial officer of Stanford Financial Group Inc. who works in East Memphis’ Crescent Center, as well as Laura Pendergest-Holt, the chief investment officer of Stanford Financial Group. She supervises a group of analysts in Memphis, among other places, according to the SEC.

"Stanford and Davis have wholly failed to cooperate with the commission's efforts to account for the $8 billion of investor funds purportedly held by SIB (Stanford International Bank, the banking unit of the family of companies)," the SEC's complaint reads. "In short, approximately 90 percent of SIB's claimed investment portfolio resides in a 'black box' shielded from any independent oversight."

The particulars

Stanford's banking unit claims $8.5 billion in assets, and its brokerage unit reportedly has about $50 billion in assets. The SEC alleges the bulk of the banking unit’s investment portfolio was monitored by two people – Stanford and Davis.

The company and its executives cast a long shadow in Memphis, as does the sprawling complaint unveiled this week.

Law enforcement personnel Tuesday entered Stanford offices in the U.S. in more than one city, including Memphis. Memphis FBI officials could not be reached Tuesday afternoon, but were believed to be seizing records there.

The day before the SEC’s allegations were unveiled, a Stanford Financial Group spokesman told The Daily News the company was cooperating with investigators.

“Both FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and the SEC have stated to us that their recent visits to our offices were part of a routine examination,” said Brian Bertsch. “We have provided U.S. regulators with the information requested and intend to comply fully with any findings or recommendations they may issue.”

Bertsch would not confirm if the company’s Memphis office was one of six locations visited in January by the SEC and FINRA.

Far-reaching operation

More than three dozen police officers and other law enforcement officials entered two Stanford Group office buildings in Houston Tuesday morning, according to The New York Times.

Several key aspects of the case, meanwhile, point to activities of the company that unfolded in Memphis or are related to the Bluff City.

"SIB's multi-billion (dollar) portfolio of investments is purportedly monitored by SFG's chief financial officer in Memphis, Tenn.," according to the SEC. That executive, James Davis, refused to appear and give testimony in the SEC investigation.

Meanwhile, “The bank's (senior investment officer) was trained by Ms. Pendergest-Holt to tell investors that the bank's multi-billion (dollar) portfolio was ‘monitored’ by the analyst team in Memphis,” the SEC’s complaint reads. “In communicating with investors, the SIO followed Pendergest's instructions, misrepresenting that a team of 20-plus analysts monitored the bank’s investment portfolio. In so doing, the SIO never disclosed to investors that the analysts only monitor approximately 10 percent of SIB's money.

“In fact, Pendergest-Holt trained the SIO ‘not to divulge too much’ about oversight of the bank's portfolio because that information ‘wouldn’t leave an investor with a lot of confidence.’”

One spark that may have added fuel to the fire concerns allegations from former Stanford employees.

D. Mark Tidwell and Charles Rawl last year filed a wrongful termination suit in state court in Texas alleging “various unethical and illegal business practices, including overstating the asset value of individuals in a manner designed to mislead potential investors and purging electronic data from computers in response to an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission,” according to a court filing in the Texas case. “According to Tidwell and Rawl, they left the company after realizing that they could possibly be implicated in the alleged illegal acts.”

Wellspring of support

The charges cast a dark cloud over a company that has been a generous benefactor of several causes in Memphis.

In the most recent edition of the Stanford Eagle, the in-house magazine of Stanford Financial Group, Stanford is shown seated among a quartet of children who all appear to be patients of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. All of them are smiling, and one is sitting on the businessman’s knee, cradled in his arm.

St. Jude is among the many local causes supported by Stanford's business interests. The annual Stanford St. Jude Championship alone has raised more than $19 million for the hospital since 1970. Stanford signed on as the major sponsor in 2007 after FedEx shifted its involvement.

The Houston-based financial services company, which operates an investment brokerage office in Memphis, provides financial support to the hospital as its “corporate charity of choice,” according to the magazine.

In the most recent edition of the magazine, Tony Thomas, the son of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, said Stanford’s chairman “has been a blessing for us and for the children and patients of St. Jude. … His support has resulted in $15 million in the last three years.”

Among the Memphis causes it supports, the Houston company is a corporate sponsor of the National Civil Rights Museum and a contributor to the Greater Memphis Arts Council, the Boys and Girls Club of Memphis and the Ave Maria Foundation of Memphis, according to a report from Stanford about its community investments. Stanford’s charitable foundation also is based in Memphis.

A reception several years ago to celebrate the company’s growth in Memphis was held at the home of local fashion designer Pat Kerr Tigrett, with guests including Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and FedEx founder Frederick W. Smith, according to news accounts of the event.

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15. Cash Wants to Enlist Paid Tutors From Student Ranks -

As part of the sweeping overhaul he envisions bringing to Memphis City Schools, new district superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash wants to enlist students to work for the school system as tutors.

“What if instead of working for Back Yard Burger … for $6 an hour, work for me. Work for city schools,” Cash said last week to about 250 members of the Memphis Rotary Club.

16. Women's Foundation Director Shines as Woman of Character -

Ruby Bright has been recognized as a 2006 Woman of Character by the Girl Scout Council of the Mid-South. Bright, who is the executive director of the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis, was recognized for her courage, confidence and leadership.

17. Braverman Joins The West Clinic -

Dr. Aliza Braverman has joined The West Clinic as a rheumatology specialist. She is the first rheumatologist to join the team.

Mike Jackson has been named president and CEO of Memphis-based Verso Paper Holdings LLC. He succeeds LH Puckett, who is retiring but will remain a member of the board of directors. Jackson previously served as a senior vice president at Weyerhaeuser Co. in Federal Way, Wash. He was with the company for 29 years.

18. Archived Article: Memos - Randall D Randall D. Noel was elected president of the Tennessee Legal Community Foundation at the annual meeting of the Tennessee Bar Association last month. Noel is a litigation partner with Armstrong Allen PLLC where he has practiced for 22 years...