AM news: bud and fraud
Yesterday the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, effectively lifting a ban on medical marijuana in unincorporated areas of the county. The Daily News reports that several facilities had been dispensing medical marijuana anyway, including 20 in the San Fernando Valley.
Long Beach police found 400 marijuana plants growing in a warehouse under the careful supervision of one Philip Northcutt. Northcutt had been using a silkscreen business as a front; he's an Iraq war veteran. And yes, he had a prescription for medical marijuana (just not quite 400 plants worth).
LA tech-guy businessman Henry Yuen, whose patents make that program guide on your cable TV possible, has been ordered by the SEC to pay $61 million. (LA Business Journal, registration required). As the head of Gemstar-TV Guide, Yuen was involved in accounting fraud; he and the company's CEO schemed to inflate the stock price. It's worth noting that their scheme worked; the stock, which is trading today at $2.98, was once $50 per share. Yuen, who walked away with $100 million before the stock tanked, has already pleaded guilty to destroying documents in the case. In 2000, Yuen told BusinessWeek, "We have all revenue coming in, and no capital expenditure going out. How can you beat that model?"
More than once we've driven near a Cadillac Escalade and thought, "What kind of ass buys these things?" Well, now we know: the kind of ass that steals $1.4 million in bogus real estate schemes. The FBI has arrested one-time USC adjunct professor (of business) Barry Landreth for fraud. He told people he was developing properties in Chicago and Las Vegas that never existed; among those bilked of their investments were USC students. Our favorite part of the story: he made up an attorney for himself, and then pretended to be her.