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DISTRICT BRIEFING

Friday, August 4, 2006

FOOD LABELING

Suit Seeking Lactose Warning Fails

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that called for milk sold in the District to carry a warning label for people who are lactose intolerant.

The suit, filed by an organization that promotes vegetarian diets, asserted that Giant, Safeway and other local distributors of dairy products had been negligent in not warning consumers of the potential effects of dairy products on people who are lactose intolerant.

The suit was filed in D.C. Superior Court last fall by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and was subsequently transferred to U.S. District Court.

U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. ruled that federal law on food labeling would preclude the action that the plaintiffs were seeking in the District.

-- Henri E. Cauvin

REAL ESTATE FRAUD

Man Convicted of Stealing Millions

A federal jury yesterday found a former loan officer guilty of a scheme to "flip'' 32 District homes at inflated prices and cheat lenders of millions of dollars.

Charles E. Hall, 37, of Accokeek was found guilty of eight counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. He could be given 15 to 20 years in prison under federal guidelines when he is sentenced Oct. 26. Two people who conspired with Hall, Robbie Colwell and Alan Davis, previously pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Using "straw buyers'' and false appraisals, and with the cooperation of underwriters and real estate and settlement agents who were part of the conspiracy, Hall obtained mortgages at values much higher than the properties were worth. He then split the loan proceeds with the conspirators.

Each property transaction yielded between $150,000 and $400,000. The lenders lost more than $5 million when the illegitimate buyers defaulted on the loans and the properties were sold at their real, and much lower, market values.

-- Eric M. Weiss

CRIME IN METRO

Woman Charged With Cutting Man

A 40-year-old Southeast Washington woman cut her boyfriend with a knife at the Anacostia Metrorail station shortly after 2 p.m. yesterday during a dispute, a Metro spokeswoman said.

The two were arguing as they rode the escalator down into the station, and Roseida Williams cut the victim, Michael Day, 27, also of Southeast, with a knife, spokeswoman Candace Smith said. Day declined medical treatment.

Williams was arrested by Metro Transit Police and charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

-- Lena H. Sun

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