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Saturday, Feb 4, 2023

Week in Review

Friday, April 4

Cricket Name Takes The Stage:

One of San Diego County’s largest concert venues, formerly branded by one of the world’s largest breweries, is now taking on the name of a cell phone company.

Cricket Communications Inc., a provider of wireless services, said that the 9,000-seat venue’s new name is the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre. It was previously Coors Amphitheatre.

“Cricket Wireless is delighted with this unique opportunity to expand and showcase our presence in San Diego,” said Randy Newman, area general manager for Cricket Communications.

The cell phone company also has its name on a Phoenix concert arena, Cricket Wireless Pavilion.

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San Diego-based Leap Wireless International Inc., Cricket’s parent company, introduced Cricket cell phone service to San Diego in 2006. The company has nearly 400 employees locally and more than 3 million customers nationwide.

Cricket Wireless did not disclose what it paid to put its name on the Chula Vista venue.

, Connie Lewis

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City Gets Attorneys’ Fees In Border Dispute:

The city of San Diego will recover a combined $1.26 million in attorneys’ fees from two lawsuits filed by South Bay developer Roque de la Fuente II, which were dismissed last year.

A Superior Court judge ruled that the city is entitled to the awards.

The latest judgment derives from a 2001 Superior Court jury judgment for $94.5 million that was overturned by a state appellate panel in 2006. In November, Superior Court Judge Linda Quinn dismissed two lawsuits filed against the city by companies associated with de la Fuente, a developer, alleging breach of contract.

De la Fuente claimed that the city’s attempts to plan a binational “twin port” airport partially on his land and reroute border truck traffic through his Border Business Park had driven down the value of the land.

, Heather Chambers

Monday, April 7

SEC Charges Five:

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed securities fraud charges against five former San Diego city officials, including former City Manager Michael Uberuaga and former Auditor and Comptroller Edward Ryan, for their roles in filing inadequate financial disclosures in 2002 and 2003.

Revelations of the non-disclosures in bond documents spurred extensive investigations into the city’s finances, and resulted in an ongoing financial crisis that has decimated the city’s credit and prevented the city from issuing public bonds since 2004.

The SEC charged the former officials for failing to disclose to investors the full story involving a $1.4 billion deficit in the city’s employee pension fund, as well as a $1.1 billion deficit in its retiree health plan fund.

The complaint filed in federal district court in San Diego on April 7 names three other defendants: former Deputy City Manager for Finance Patricia Frazier; former Assistant Auditor and Comptroller Teresa Webster; and former City Treasurer Mary Vattimo.

Uberuaga served as the city manager from 1997 to 2004 under then-Mayors Susan Golding and Dick Murphy.

According to the complaint, the five former officials knew that the city had been intentionally under-funding its pension plan and that the under-funding would grow from $284 million in its 2002 fiscal year to an estimated $2 billion by 2009.

Rosiland Tyson, acting regional director for the SEC’s Los Angeles office, said in a press statement: “Despite knowing of the city’s substantial pension and retiree health care liabilities, these five former San Diego officials failed to disclose what they knew to municipal securities investors. Their actions not only jeopardized the investors, but also compromised the interests of the city’s citizens and its current and future retirees.”

The SEC previously entered into an order sanctioning the city for committing securities fraud by failing to disclose to the public important information about the pension and retiree health care obligations in the sale of bonds in both 2002 and 2003. The city agreed to cease and desist from future securities fraud violations and to retain an independent consultant for three years to oversee the disclosure activity.

The SEC also previously settled a civil injunctive action for fraud against the city’s former outside auditors, Thomas Saiz and Calderon, Jaham & Osborn.

, Mike Allen

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Six-Year Sentence:

A San Diego hedge fund partner accused of diverting investor money for his personal use was sentenced to six years in federal prison and ordered to pay $49 million in restitution to victims, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Marvin Irwin Friedman, of La Jolla, pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to defraud investors in the Global Money Management fund, which collapsed in March 2004 after the Securities and Exchange Commission sued the hedge fund.

Friedman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of filing a false tax return.

“As a massive fraud masquerading behind an aura of legitimacy, Global Money Management was a huge tragedy for its investors,” said Karen Hewitt, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California. “Friedman betrayed the trust of these investors and today’s sentence ensures the victims of his crime will receive some measure of justice.”

, Heather Chambers

Tuesday, April 8

Terminal Tiff Developing?:

San Diego Unified Port District commissioners want to challenge a proposed ballot proposition that, according to the port, calls for turning over the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal to other uses, including possibly a sports stadium.

The Board of Port Commissioners met in closed session to discuss a legal challenge to the initiative. The initiative would reportedly amend the port’s master plan to include hotels and restaurants at the marine terminal near Barrio Logan.

Commissioners are set to hear an update on the matter at their May 6 meeting.

, Brad Graves

– – –

Pilot Program On Hold:

A federal judge granted an injunction blocking a program that would introduce competitive bidding for Medicare among labs.

The plaintiffs, Internist Laboratory in Oceanside, San Diego’s Sharp HealthCare and Scripps Health, filed the lawsuit in January. The preliminary injunction was granted to prevent the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from continuing with the pilot project.

The plaintiffs are arguing that they will either have to shut down their labs or close entirely because only selected labs would be reimbursed for Medicare Part B services.

, Jaimy Lee

Wednesday, April 9

Lubricant Maker WD-40 Adjusts Forecast:

WD-40 Co. said that it had net income of $8.67 million, or 51 cents per diluted share, on sales of $78.9 million during the quarter ended Feb. 29. That stacks up to net income of $8.94 million, or 52 cents per diluted share, on sales of $79.3 million during the same quarter one year ago.

The maker of lubricants and other consumer products also scaled back its earnings forecast April 9, saying it expects to make $1.80 to $1.90 per share, down from an original estimate of $1.83 to $1.93 per share.

Shares of WD-40 trade on Nasdaq under WDFC.

, Brad Graves

Thursday, April 10

Quarterly Cash From Qualcomm:

Qualcomm Inc. declared a quarterly cash dividend of 16 cents per share, up from 14 cents. The wireless technology company disclosed its dividend plans March 11. The dividend is payable June 27 to shareholders as of May 30. Qualcomm trades on Nasdaq as QCOM.

, Brad Graves


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