Kit Menkin's Leasing News

                   www.leasingnews.org  Thursday, June 26, 2002

Accurate, fair and unbiased news for the equipment Leasing Industry

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Headlines----

 

Monday-Monday-C.I.T.

   U.S., Amtrak Agree to Keep Trains Going

    Feds Leave Everything Unchanged

      New-Home Sales Up 8.1%; Orders for Goods Rise, Too

        Mixed outlook for builders--S.F. Trade Show

  WorldCom Facing Charges of Fraud; Bush Vows Inquiry

    Feds Widen Probe of Martha Stewart     

      Former Tyco Chief Faces New Charges

        GE Not to Purchase DVI

         Varilease Technology Opens Four New Sales Offices

          Centerpoint Financial, Denver, Colorado-Up-Date

Eleven Community Banks Sue RW Professional Leasing, Long Island, NY

 Sentenced to 46 Months in Jail

     ---Signature Financial Service, Austin, Texas

 IRS returns to random tax audits

  More on Sal Maglietta Leaving Citti

   "Day in American History" format

     Pictures of "Brunie"

     (if you don't read anything else, or go anywhere

            else on the internet---this will make your day. Editor)

 

# Denotes Press Release

 

  Leasing News The List Tomorrow----

    plus great weekend reading---The Story Behind PinnFund/PinnLeasing

 

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Monday, Monday

Can't trust that day

Monday, Monday

Sometimes it just turns out that way

Oh, Monday morning you gave me no warning

Of what was to be

Oh, Monday, Monday

I found out how it was gonna be.

 

Every other day

Every other day

Every other day

Every other day of the week is fine (fine), yeah

But whenever Monday comes

But whenever Monday comes

But whenever Monday comes

You can find me crying all of the time

You can find me crying all of the time

With happiness because I found you.

 

    --Mama’s and the Papas---

 

 

Tyco to proceed with CIT spin-off on Monday

 

By Harry R. Weber, Associated Press,

 

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) Tyco International Ltd. has decided against selling its lending division and will instead spin it off in an initial public stock offering next week, a source close to the company said Wednesday.

 

Bidders for Tyco's CIT unit discussed prices that fell within the same $5 billion to $5.8 billion range the company hopes to raise from an IPO, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

 

But the company decided to proceed with the IPO because doing so will raise money more quickly, the source said. Tyco bought CIT Group Inc. for $9.2 billion a year ago.

 

The IPO is scheduled to price on Monday. Shares would be publicly traded under the CIT symbol on the New York Stock Exchange starting Tuesday.

 

Tyco, based in Bermuda but with headquarters in Exeter, N.H., will use the proceeds to help pay down $27 billion in debt.

 

Previously, the company had predicted CIT shares would price between $25 and $29, raising between $5 billion and $5.8 billion.

 

''Depending on where the market is on Monday, that's the point at which the price will be able to be set,'' the source said, adding that Tyco will not retain any stake in CIT.

 

Shares of Tyco closed down 11.4 percent, or $1.55 to $12 on Wednesday on the NYSE.

 

Investors have sent Tyco shares down about 80 percent for the year following Enron- inspired accounting questions, a decision to scrap a plan to break up the company and the resignation of chief executive Dennis Kozlowski on June 3.

 

Kozlowski was charged with sales tax evasion in New York involving the purchase of $13 million in art. On Wednesday, Kozlowski pleaded innocent to a new indictment charging him with tampering with evidence related to the sales tax investigation.

 

The source said the Kozlowski investigation has nothing to do with Tyco's decision to go forward with IPO instead of a sale.

 

On the Net:

 

Tyco: http://www.tyco.com ___________________________________________________________

 

U.S., Amtrak Agree to Keep Trains Going

 

By Don Phillips

Washington Post Staff Writer

 

 

Amtrak and the Bush administration agreed last night on a plan to prevent a shutdown of nationwide passenger rail service and many commuter operations that could have begun the Independence Day weekend, though Congress will have to act after the holiday recess to make the deal complete.

 

The deal involves immediate financial assistance from the administration, according to a joint statement issued by Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and Amtrak's board chairman, John Robert Smith. The administration and Amtrak would then ask Congress to take further action later.

 

The statement contained few details, but sources said the Transportation Department would lend Amtrak $100 million -- about half of what Amtrak said it needed to operate until the start of the next fiscal year, in October. The request to Congress would be to authorize an additional loan or loan guarantee from the Transportation Department. No government grant would be made to Amtrak.

 

The administration and Amtrak also agreed on conditions, most of which are already being met by Amtrak President David L. Gunn or that Amtrak would find relatively easy to meet. The agreement, however, does not specifically address the long-term structural reforms that Mineta proposed last week, including an end to federal operating subsidies and contracting out some Amtrak routes and jobs.

 

"Significant details are still being finalized, and no final agreement has been signed," the Mineta-Smith statement said. "We are confident that, with congressional support, Amtrak services will not be disrupted."

 

According to the statement, the proposed agreement would:

 

• Improve Amtrak's financial discipline and performance.

 

• Make Amtrak's financial and operating performance transparent to the public.

 

• Provide federal policymakers with a better understanding of Amtrak's long- term assets and liabilities, and its cost control and revenue options.

 

Sources said the final conditions involve monthly detailed financial reports, something Gunn has already said he would do.

 

Further cost-cutting options would be reviewed

 

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Federal Reserve policy-makers decided to hold short-term interest rates at 40-year lows Wednesday amid a spotty recovery, a slide in the stock market and a drop in Americans' confidence in the economy.

 

 

 

Washington Post Staff Writer John M. Berry reports:

 

Federal Reserve officials, expressing confidence that the economic recovery from last year's recession remains on track, yesterday left a key short-term interest rate unchanged at its lowest level in four decades.

 

In a statement issued by the Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank's top policymaking group, after a two-day meeting the officials made no reference to falling U.S. stock prices, which some analysts believe could pose a threat to economic growth.

 

The committee, as it did after its meetings in March and May, described its 1.75 percent target for overnight interest rates, as "accommodative," meaning the Fed's aggressive rate cuts last year were still giving the economy a boost.

 

But the group also acknowledged that gains in consumer and business spending that caused the U.S. economy to grow at a 5.6 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year "appear to have moderated." And while the committee expects such spending "to pick up over coming quarters, supported in part by robust underlying growth in productivity . . . the degree of the strengthening remains uncertain."

 

Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics Ltd. in Valhalla, N.Y., said it was "as upbeat a statement as one could hope for in the circumstances," with no mention of stocks and no hint of new recession fears. "This statement reads as though the Fed, like ourselves, has faith in the leading indicators but would be much happier if the hard data would soon catch up with them. In the meantime, and at least for the next few months, they aren't going to do anything" to interest rates, he said.

 

Many forecasters agree that the economy is likely to continue to expand at a moderate pace, though some have begun to shave their predictions for the second half of the year. Their concern is that the recent sharp drop in stock prices could hurt consumer and business confidence to the point that their spending would rise only very weakly and perhaps cause the nation's 5.8 percent jobless rate to stay high or even increase.

 

The committee decision to keep rates unchanged was widely expected, given the moderation in economic growth since the first quarter. But in recent days, as stock prices sank, some analysts had hoped the committee would acknowledge the threat to growth by saying it now outweighed the risk of rising inflation. Instead, the committee said the risks remain balanced.

 

Chairman Alan Greenspan and other Fed officials have maintained for years that they do not use monetary policy to manipulate stock prices. Rather, they have said, they will respond appropriately if changes in asset values begin to hurt the economy.

 

Steven Slifer at Lehman Brothers Inc. in New York said that because of the outlook for stock prices and confidence, he puts the odds at 50-50 that the Fed will have to cut its interest rate target at least once this year and won't begin to raise rates again until early next year.

 

Underscoring the uncertainty about where the economy is headed, some other economists responded to today's committee decision by suggesting the Fed should consider raising rates soon to make sure inflation stays under wraps.

 

"It's worth asking whether the Fed's decision to keep rates at their lowest level in 40 years is wise now," said Mickey Levy, chief economist at Bank of America in New York.

 

"While the recovery is on the right track," inflation-adjusted interest rates "are far too low, and the dollar is showing signs of weakness," Levy argued. "It's time for the Fed to start gently reversing" the emergency rate cuts it put in place following last September's terrorist attacks.

 

 

 

 

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New-Home Sales Up 8.1%; Orders for Goods Rise, Too

 

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

WASHINGTON,  — Sales of new homes increased 8.1 percent in May, the biggest advance in six months, the Commerce Department reported today.

 

The increase was larger than expected and pushed up sales of new single- family houses to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.03 million, a record monthly level.

 

In another report, the department said that the nation's factories, the area hardest hit in the recent economic slump, showed signs of improvement in May, with orders for durable goods rising 0.6 percent. The advance in durable goods — items expected to last at last three years — came after a 0.4 percent increase in April.

 

The housing market has been a bright spot in the slump, in large part because of low mortgage rates. Also motivating buyers, economists say, is the strong appreciation in housing values, especially as the stock market has weakened.

 

Economists had forecast that new-home sales in May would rise 0.5 percent, to an annual pace of 920,000.

 

By region, home sales jumped 26.4 percent in the Northeast, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 67,000. In the South, sales rose 10.6 percent, to a pace of 482,000, and in the West, they were up 4.3 percent, to 289,000. Sales in the Midwest increased 2.7 percent, to an annual 190,000.

 

In April, new-home sales rose 3.9 percent, according to revised figures — considerably stronger than the 1 percent rise previously reported.

 

The 0.6 percent increase in new orders to factories in May was the largest since a 1.7 percent advance in February, and represented the fifth increase in six months.

 

The latest snapshot of manufacturing activity shows a sector of the economy recovering after a long slump in which hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost.

 

But yesterday's report and other manufacturing data suggest that this rebound has limits. In part, the statistics reflect that businesses, worried about the staying power of the broader economic recovery, seem reluctant to make new investments in plants and equipment.

 

Shipments, a good barometer of current demand, were flat in May, after a 3.4 percent jump in April. Factories reported that new orders for fabricated metal products rose 2.4 percent in May, after a 1 percent rise the month before.

 

Orders for computers and other electronic products rose 1 percent, compared with a 2.9 percent increase in April.

 

Orders for cars fell 2 percent in May, after a 12.1 percent jump. And orders for electrical equipment and household appliances declined 2.1 percent, in contrast to a 10.3 percent advance.

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Mixed outlook for builders

Pacific Coast home contractors gather for giant trade show in S.F.

 

Richard Paoli, San Francisco Chronicle Real Estate Editor

 

 

California's home building industry is on solid ground despite shaky economic conditions in some parts of the state, according to the head of the Pacific Coast Builders Conference.

 

"Home builders are selling what they're building," said Bill Probert, president of the group, which opens its annual three-day convention at Moscone Center in San Francisco today. He said economic prospects for home builders remain bright for the rest of the year.

 

The outlook for new-home buyers, on the other hand, is not so bright, according to state and industry forecasts, which predict that home construction in California will again fall to half the number needed this year.

 

The continuing housing crunch in the Bay Area explains, in part, the $413,000 median home price reported earlier this week.

 

Estimates by state agencies and building industry associations cite the need for 250,000 new homes a year in California. In 2001, less than half that number were built, and the same level is expected to be completed this year, according to state statistics.

 

Fewer than 130,000 homes are expected to be built in 2003. During the past five years, home construction has continued to fall far below demand.

 

"The need for new homes is not going away," said Probert, who is also vice president of sales and marketing for John Laing Homes in Southern California.

 

Scarcity and low mortgage interest rates are among the reasons the new-home market remained strong last year despite the general economic downturn.

 

But it isn't all blue sky for home builders.

 

"There are problems for the industry," Probert said. "There is not enough land to build on, urban infill (high-density) projects are harder to do and insurance costs within the industry are increasing."

 

Because of concern about the low number of affordable housing units being built, the highly political issue of smart growth limits and the skyrocketing cost of land, Probert expects strong turnouts at the the conference's educational seminars. A record 24,000 people are expected to attend the convention.

 

"We'll continue to delve into the smart growth limits and talk about strategies for builders who have to convince agencies about projects," Probert said.

 

"Builders are having difficulties getting insurance companies to write policies with defective construction coverage, as an example. That has impacted the willingness of builders to undertake affordably priced construction.

 

"The subcontractors are also getting hit with higher insurance costs. That, plus what the builders are going to have to pay in premiums, is going to add to the cost of a new home."

 

Still another reason why builders are having a hard time creating affordable housing is the high cost of land, Probert said.

 

Land costs of $1 million to $2 million an acre are not uncommon in the Bay Area, according to builders.

 

"It just makes it harder to meet the need for new homes in this state," Probert said.

 

Of course, a big part of the convention is the more than 600 exhibits on everything from new window design to flooring made from old railway ties. The Moscone Center exhibit area will be jammed with builders and product manufacturers offering new gadgets and technologies to make building homes cheaper, better or more expensive -- depending on what the consumer wants.

 

"And builders want to know who the buyers are and what to design for them," said Probert.

 

"I think this convention helps answers questions like: What do Baby Boomers want? What do young families want? How important is a home office? How do we provide energy-efficient homes?

 

"And how do builders find a ways to get it built," he concluded.

 

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WorldCom Facing Charges of Fraud; Bush Vows Inquiry

 

By SIMON ROMERO

New York Times

 

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed fraud charges against  WorldCom yesterday and President Bush vowed to "hold people accountable" for the bookkeeping scandal at the company, the nation's second-largest long-distance provider and a major carrier of Internet traffic.

 

As the stock market shuddered yesterday in response to Tuesday night's disclosure that WorldCom had falsely reported profits for the last five quarters, the Nasdaq exchange suspended trading of shares in WorldCom and the tracking stock of its MCI unit. And as the value of WorldCom's corporate bonds plummeted, it became clear that the debt-ridden company would now face tougher negotiations with its bank lenders, making a bankruptcy filing more likely.

 

Meanwhile, the Justice Department and aHouse committee opened investigations of the company's accounting methods, and the S.E.C. said it would expand its own investigation, which it began in March.

 

As the company's work force braced for a wave of pink slips — WorldCom plans to cut 17,000 of its 85,000 employees beginning tomorrow — some consumer and corporate customers of WorldCom's MCI long-distance unit were already looking for alternative carriers.

 

Few telecommunications companies looked like havens yesterday, though, as WorldCom's bad news helped batter stocks of other carriers in this country and overseas, companies that have already been struggling to emerge from the communications industry's long recession.

 

"The industry is reeling from this black mark," Jose Collazo, chief executive of Infonet, a WorldCom competitor, said in an interview.

 

It was as if months of accounting scandals, which have already engulfed Enron, Global Crossing and Adelphia Communications, among others, as well as the auditing firm Arthur Andersen, had finally hit critical mass with the disclosure late Tuesday that WorldCom had masked losses by overstating its financial results by $3.8 billion — one of the largest cases of false corporate bookkeeping yet.

 

President Bush, speaking yesterday on the opening day of an eight-nation economic meeting in Kananaskis, Alberta, called the WorldCom revelation "outrageous" and vowed, "We will fully investigate and hold people accountable for misleading not only shareholders but employees as well."

 

In an apparent show of the administration's resolve, a few hours later the chairman of the S.E.C., Harvey L. Pitt, told reporters in Manhattan that the commission had taken the unusual step of filing civil fraud charges against WorldCom. He said part of the aim was to prevent the destruction of documents by WorldCom while the S.E.C. continued its investigation.

 

In its court filing, the S.E.C. said WorldCom violated antifraud and reporting provisions of federal securities laws by creating an accounting scheme intended to manipulate earnings to meet Wall Street's expectations and to support the company's stock price. Under this scheme, the S.E.C. said, WorldCom improperly booked so-called line costs, or the fees WorldCom paid to other communications companies to use their networks, as capital investments, which had the effect of masking losses.

 

The accounting strategy, which the S.E.C. said was put in place in early 2001 as the slowing economy resulted in a decline in WorldCom's profits, may have been blessed by executives other than Scott D. Sullivan, the chief financial officer who was fired this week, and David Myers, the controller, who resigned, according to the commission's complaint.

 

"In a scheme directed and approved by its senior management, WorldCom disguised its true operating performance by using undisclosed and improper accounting that materially overstated its income," the S.E.C. said in its complaint.

 

It remains to be seen whether the Justice Department will investigate WorldCom with the same intensity it has shown in its investigation of Enron, for which it set up a special task force. Bryan Sierra, a spokesman for the Justice Department, declined to comment yesterday, but people close to the company said that a Justice inquiry was under way.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee, meanwhile, which has looked into business practices at Enron, Global Crossing and ImClone, will now turn its attention to WorldCom, according to its chairman, Billy Tauzin, Republican of Louisiana.

"This was not a simple bookkeeping mistake," Mr. Tauzin said in a statement released yesterday. "Clearly, it was an orchestrated effort to mislead investors and regulators, and I am determined to get to the bottom of it."

 

John W. Sidgmore, WorldCom's chief executive, who disclosed the WorldCom bookkeeping problem on Tuesday night and announced that Mr. Sullivan had been fired, was not available for comment yesterday. Instead, he put a statement on the company's Web site, saying in part, "This has been a very tough week for WorldCom, there's no doubt about it."

 

Mr. Sidgmore spent much of the day yesterday in discussions with WorldCom's large customers and some of its employees, but it could not be determined whether he had held further talks with the company's bankers, with whom he had met in New York on Tuesday.

 

WorldCom's future hinges on negotiating additional loans with its banks, led by Bank of America and including J. P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup. The company had been planning to tap a multibillion-dollar credit line this week. But now that does not seem feasible, because the accounting disclosures indicate that the company was in violation of its financing terms throughout 2001 and the beginning of this year.

 

Without additional loans, analysts said, WorldCom has about $2.5 billion of available cash, which the company would probably consume within three months.

 

"We believe WorldCom's lead banks may refuse to honor additional requests to draw down credit lines and that negotiations over new, securitized credit lines are likely to falter," said Dan Reingold, an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston. "This, of course, means bankruptcy is now a distinct and near-term possibility."

 

Mr. Sidgmore took over as chief executive in late April after WorldCom's longtime leader, Bernard J. Ebbers, resigned following the company's disclosure that Mr. Ebbers owed WorldCom more than $366 million for loans and loan guarantees the company had granted him. In the wake of the new disclosures, Mr. Sidgmore is now faced with the task of drastically scaling back WorldCom's work force and its expectations.

 

He is making his base in Washington, the city where MCI had its headquarters before being acquired by WorldCom in 1998, as he maintains distance from WorldCom's official headquarters in Clinton, Miss.

 

The first of the 17,000 job cuts are scheduled to begin tomorrow at several locations around the world. In addition to Clinton and Washington, WorldCom's large offices in the United States are in Dallas; Ashburn, Va.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Alpharetta, Ga. The dismissals are expected to be distributed fairly evenly among work categories and geographic locations.

 

WorldCom's disclosure of its accounting problem weighed on the entire telecommunications industry yesterday. Although trading in the company's shares was officially suspended by Nasdaq, in off-exchange electronic trading on Instinet and elsewhere, the stock fell to as low as 9 cents, down from 83 cents at Tuesday's close. The North American Telecom Index, which includes WorldCom and other large service providers, fell more than 10 percent yesterday.

 

Shares in Qwest Communications, another large company whose accounting practices are under investigation by the S.E.C., plunged $2.40, to $1.79. Companies that sell equipment to WorldCom and its competitors also fell, with the shares of Lucent Technologies down 39 cents, to close at $1.58, and Nortel Networks down 14 cents, closing at $1.47.

 

Even shares in WorldCom competitors like AT&T and Sprint, which stand to gain from customer defections, fell yesterday. AT&T's stock reached a 10- year low, falling 33 cents, to end the day at $9.62.

 

"I am deeply concerned by the WorldCom developments, and the impact it could have on consumers and other providers in the industry," Michael K. Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said in a statement yesterday. "We are closely monitoring the situation and are doing everything possible to ensure and protect both the stability of the telecommunications network and the quality of service to consumers."

 

Mr. Powell said he would travel to New York tomorrow to meet with telephone industry officials, analysts and debt-rating agencies to discuss the crisis in the telecommunications industry.

 

Several consumer groups called yesterday for greater regulation of the industry, fearful that a bankruptcy filing by WorldCom would limit the competitive choices that have steadily lowered the cost of long distance in recent years.

 

The Telecommunications Research and Action Center, a nonprofit group in Washington, asked the F.C.C. to reinstate full regulatory oversight of the long-distance industry to assure that consumers did not end up paying more for WorldCom's accounting scandal. Another group, Consumers Union, urged Congress to approve a corporate-accounting reform bill sponsored by Senator Paul Sarbanes, Democrat of Maryland and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

 

Whatever regulatory remedies may be applied, analysts said, the telecommunications industry is likely to be left reeling, as WorldCom's collapse works its way through a system that has already had $2 trillion of shareholder value in its member companies erased in the last two years.

 

Scott Cleland, chief executive of the Precursor Group, a consulting firm based in Washington, warned, "Investors are in denial, just like they were with WorldCom, on how much worse it can get."

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Feds Widen Probe of Martha Stewart

 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors have widened their probe of home decorating diva Martha Stewart to include possible obstruction of justice and making false statements, a person close to the matter told the Wall Street Journal.

 

Stewart could not be immediately reached for comment on the report, but has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

 

Chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., she has been under scrutiny for selling nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems Inc. on Dec. 27, just one day before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (  news - web sites) rejected the biotech's experimental cancer drug.

 

She has said she had an agreement with her broker to sell her ImClone stock if it fell below $60 a share.

 

 (Even Martha Stewart??? )

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Former Tyco Chief Faces New Charges

 

By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN and SUSAN SAULNY

  New York Times

 

Dennis Kozlowski, the former chairman and chief executive of Tyco International, was indicted yesterday on two new charges of tampering with evidence in the case that accuses him of evading more than $1 million of sales taxes on six paintings that he bought last fall.

 

Mr. Kozlowski pleaded not guilty to the new charges. He had already been accused in a 12-count indictment of trying to avoid paying New York sales taxes by shipping empty painting crates to Tyco's headquarters in Exeter, N.H., and then transporting the paintings between New Hampshire and Manhattan.

 

The new indictment contends that Mr. Kozlowski removed a fraudulent bill of lading, or cargo document, from a file of papers kept at Tyco's offices in Boca Raton, Fla., before turning the file over to the Manhattan district attorney's office. Investigators had requested the complete file last month.

 

The bill of lading, which is dated Jan. 2, 2002, falsely reflected the shipping from New York and the receipt in New Hampshire of five paintings, including a Monet and a Renoir, prosecutors said.

 

The accusations against Mr. Kozlowski have prompted an internal investigation into the finances at Tyco, whose share price has plummeted more than 80 percent this year.

 

To bolster its balance sheet, Tyco plans to spin off its finance unit, CIT Group, in an initial offering on Tuesday. Executives close to the company said they planned to price the offering on Monday at $5 billion to $5.8 billion, or $25 to $29 a share.

 

Mr. Kozlowski looked flushed yesterday when he appeared for arraignment in a crowded, hot and muggy Manhattan courtroom before Justice Michael J. Obus.

 

He uttered one sentence: "I plead not guilty to the indictment." He was released on the same $3 million bail posted after his last arraignment.

 

Conviction on a charge of tampering with physical evidence is a felony, carrying a penalty of four years in prison. Mr. Kozlowski already faces a possibility of up to four years in prison for each of the 12 counts in his previous indictment, to which he pleaded not guilty on June 4.

 

Just before Mr. Kozlowski pleaded not guilty yesterday, Justice Obus stressed that the investigation into the sales tax avoidance charges and finances was continuing, leaving open the possibility of future charges. Justice Obus went ahead with the arraignment "to proceed with the case to the extent possible" while other issues are pending. Mr. Kozlowski's next court date is scheduled for Aug. 14.

 

Prosecutors and Tyco are separately investigating whether Mr. Kozlowski used company loans and money to buy artwork and whether company money was used to buy his apartment in New York and possibly one of his homes in Florida. Tyco's own internal inquiry has already led to lawsuits against Mark A. Belnick, its former general counsel, and Frank E. Walsh Jr., its former lead independent director, contending in separate cases that the men wrongly took millions of dollars from the company with the help of Mr. Kozlowski.

 

According to the suit against Mr. Belnick, he repeatedly received cash and stock bonuses from Tyco that were approved by Mr. Kozlowski but not disclosed to the board. In 2000 alone, those bonuses totaled more than $20 million. Mr. Belnick also borrowed $14 million from Tyco using no-interest loans backed only by promissory notes, the suit said.

 

The suit against Mr. Walsh said he and a charity he controlled received a $20 million bonus from Tyco in 2001 that was not disclosed to Tyco's board. Mr. Kozlowski approved the payments to Mr. Walsh, who led the committee that determined the pay of Mr. Kozlowski, without consulting anyone else, according to the suit.

 

The district attorney's office would not comment yesterday on the details of how the phony bill of lading was found to be missing, but such slips of paper usually come in duplicate. The indictment states that Mr. Kozlowski suppressed the "original bill of lading" and is not specific about what he did with it, except to state that it was an "act of concealment, alteration and destruction."

 

Once outside the stifling courtroom, Mr. Kozlowski smiled and refused to answer the questions of a crowd of reporters.

 

His lawyer, Stephen E. Kaufman, said, "It is our view that the charges are unsubstantiated and unproven."

 

But as the reporters continued to pepper Mr. Kozlowski with questions, he opened up a little bit. "I'm spending my time with family and friends," he said when asked what he had been doing.

 

As Mr. Kozlowski entered an elevator with several of the reporters, the questioning continued. As he appeared about to speak, Mr. Kaufman interrupted, saying, "I've advised him not to make any statements."

 

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GE Not to Purchase DVI

 

Flash Kit, after months of negotiating and analysis, GE has actually decided

NOT to purchase DVI!!  Unbelievable!!   Could this be a trend for the 800

pound gorilla?

 

 

Please do not include my name.  Thanks Kit.  Keep up all the good work.

 

 

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Varilease Technology Opens Four New Sales Offices

 

 

Varilease Technology Group, Inc., Walled Lake, Michigan is announcing the opening of four new sales offices located in Houston, Texas with Larry J. Dannemiller as Senior Account Manager; Dallas, Texas with Charles Phillips as Senior Account Executive/Broker; Chicago, Illinois with Rick Grum as Senior Account Executive; and Eden Prairie, Minnesota with Jay Axelson, Vice President, Western Sales.

 

 Mr. Axelson's responsibilities included these openings in addition to his other responsibilities, which include sales for the U. S. Western Region and corporate marketing and business development functions.

 

Jay Axelson joins Varilease Technology Group, Inc., as Vice President, Western Sales in their recently opened Minnesota office.

 

 Mr. Axelson is responsible for corporate marketing and business development functions, in addition to sales for the Western U.S.  Mr. Axelson brings over 19 years experience in technology sales and leasing to VTGI, including his most recent assignment with Brentwood Credit Corporation as Vice President, Sales and Marketing.  His prior leasing career also included assignments with IBM Corporation, Comdisco, and Meridian Technology Leasing.  Mr. Axelson holds a B.A. in Finance and Management from the University of Minnesota

 

Robin LaRaia

rlaraia@varilease.com

 

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Centerpoint Financial, Denver, Colorado—Up-Date

 

“You can make all the assumptions you want, but just leave me out of this!” Gordon Roberts, president of Centerpoint exclaimed.” I have a business to run!”

That was exactly the question Leasing News was going to ask. “Is the company

still operating?”  We understand Chuck Brazier has not been on the “payroll,” but has be working at the behalf of John Otto.  When we called the Denver office, we were told he was no longer there.  Leasing News then asked to speak to Gordon Robert, who we have been trying to get a comment for over a month. The operator

did not ask our name, so we got through.  Gordon Roberts was not a happy camper.

 

Reportedly several companies had been talking to John Otto, the major investor, regarding buying the portfolio, servicing the portfolio, helping out with leases not funded, the return of advance rentals, but it appears Gordon Roberts is still at the helm. 

 

March, 2002, Leasing News reported difficulties with the portfolio and

relationship with their, bank, but denied by both John Otto and Gordon Roberts.

Thirty days ago they stopped funding approved leases “in house. “ They then

told brokers they could not fund their deals that were approved or were

in the process of funding. .  Chuck Brazier sent out faxes and faced the situation forthright as Director of Marketing.

 

For the full story, go to www.leasingnews.org    Top Stories ( bottom of the page )

 

Many people expressed support for the way Chuck Brazier handled the situation.

Here are additional comments that were received after the series of stories:

 

“I have been out of the office and wanted to respond to the Centerpoint

situation.

 

“I have also had the privilege of knowing Chuck Brazier for over 18 years

from our days at CPLC. He has always been a person of high

character and integrity, and having been through a business closing myself,

I know how hard it is to step up and put the needs of others,

before your own.

 

“I also have known Gordon Roberts for many years. Though not a lot of

information has been released regarding this situation, I do hope he

will be able to "set the record straight" in the near future. These

situations do not always allow immediate disclosure or statements to be

released, so we need to exercise patience. The real story will always come

out in the end---good or bad.

 

“Finally, I would like to comment on how the small ticket lessor and broker

community has stepped in and funded/placed some of the already

approved transactions and backlog from Centerpoint. Even though it is a

source of new business for many, this willingness to "step-in"

displays this industries long-running commitment to providing the highest

level of customer service, even in not so positive circumstances.

How an industry reacts when times are "tough" reflects their commitment

towards service and performance.”

 

John Rosenlund, CLP

jrosenlund@finpac.com

 

-- 

 

“I have know Chuck Brazier for nearly 20 years who is one heck of a guy.

A true leasing professional!  While others might not or did not return

calls, Chuck made sure to call, e-mail & fax updates.    I wish him the

best of luck & hopefully he will stay in an industry that he is well

respected and admired.”

 

Barry Litt

litt2@airmail.net

 

-----

 

“Ditto to all the positive comments about Chuck Brazier. He's a class act!”

 

Jeff Rudin

jrudin@quailcap.com

 Quail Leasing.

 

----

 

    Name = Chuck Williams

               Address = P.O. Box 20352

                  City = Tampa

                 State = Florida

               Zipcode = 33622-0352

                 Phone = 813-496-1149

                   Fax = 812-243-4203

                 Email = corpfundinc@msn.com

                Source =

Add me to the mailing list =

              Comments = To the readers of Leasing News.

 

I was in the leasing industry for 27 years before I decided to pursue another venue of business. During that time, I met and established business acquaintances, friends and perhaps some enemies.

 

The one thing I can emphatically say with certainty and forthrightness, is Chuck Brazier is perhaps the most honest and sincere person I have ever met in the business and leasing world.  I can say with certainty his efforts to arrange alternative financing for the brokers in the market for whom Centerpoint has approved a deal is limitless.

 

If a deal has not been accepted by other funding sources, it is because Chuck and Centerpoint went that extra mile to get a below margin account approved that other funding sources would not have accepted.

 

My experience has taught me that about 50% of the brokers in the market use mirrors, slight of hand techniques, and deception on many of the deals they submit to get them approved.  If other funding sources have not taken up the slack on funding a deal, it is because they during their review saw something unacceptable to allow for funding.  If you are one of those brokers who have a deal not pushing through the system, take a look at yourself and your customer. I can assure you that Chuck Brazier is not the problem.

 

To Chuck Brazier, my heart felt thanks to you for all you past support and friendship.  I am positive that other offers of management positions are already flooding your desk.  If there is anything I can do for you personally, you know how to reach me.

 

Your friend and long time business associate.

 

Chuck Williams

               

-------

“I waited a few days to send my comments about Chuck Brazier.  The reason I waited was to see if there was something others didn't mention.  I think everyone just about covered how great a guy Chuck is.  I could only think of one additional thing to add, Chuck Brazier is GREAT to go shopping with too.  One day several years ago at a UAEL conference in Denver, my leasing Ya-Ya's Lenna Currie, Candice Conner and I ran into Chuck at a shopping mall.  We decided to team up and shop together.  We were looking for an outfit for Candice and a pair of socks for Chuck.  Chuck gave his candid opinion on the outfits that Candice tried on and modeled for us.  Candice is a very traditional dresser just like Chuck is, so her input was most instrumental in her final decision.  My taste is a tad bit more trendy and Lenna is off the chart, almost Peter Pan"ish".  (That's her mother's nick name for her)

 

“It was time to shop for Chuck's socks.  Being very traditional, he went for the solid color boring brown socks.  YUCK!  We took those away from him, then he went for less boring but still yucky solid gray socks.  We took those away from him too. He whined a lot, but we finally got him to buy a pair of  taupe socks with a darker pattern running though it.  What a culture shock for him.  We were so proud that we got Chuck to think out of the box on his sock purchase.  The next day he would lift his pant leg and show his sock whenever he passed Candice, Lenna, or me.  We've seen Chuck with patterned socks on since then, so our mission was complete.  As everyone has said before me, Chuck is an extraordinary man and there are very few like him in our industry.  I wish he and Connie much success in the future and hope to see them soon.”

 

Ginny Young

GinnyYoung@bravacapital.com

Brava Capital

 

---

 

“I have known Chuck for many years.  I worked with himat Colonial Pacific Leasing.  Chuck was my boss at one point and he is one of the most

professional and honorable men I know.  I respect him a great deal and

am very pleased to have worked with him.  I wish Chuck and Connie as

well as Gordon and Pat (Robert) all the best.  They have given a lot to the

leasing industry and I believe we have all learned great things from

them.”

 

Renée Johnson CLP

renee.johnson@nwcsolutions.com

Northwest Capital Solutions, Inc.

 

---  

 

Name = denise mallinson

               Address = 5959 west loop south

                  City = bellaire

                 State = texas

               Zipcode = 77401

                 Phone = 713.592.5824

                   Fax =

                 Email = vision@wt.net

                Source =

Add me to the mailing list =

              Comments = Kit--just wanted to comment on the Centerpoint fiasco. I think it is funny that all the funders out there are so leery of brokers--seems to me that funders should also be subject to some of those "watch Lists" in our industry. At least Chuck is trying to help and communicate, as for the rest of them...how can they sleep at night??

               

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Eleven Community Banks Sue RW Professional Leasing, Long Island, NY

 

Seeking $10,842,333.12 in unpaid principal, and $186,865.45 in unpaid interest due as of March 31,2002, for a total of $11,029,198.17, eleven community

banks plus Crawford & Sons Profit Sharing,  and James A. Crawford, as an individual, are suing the R and W of RW Professional Leasing, Rochelle Besser and Wallace I. Besser, along with Barry Drayer ( Rochelle’s brother and former president of Professional Leasing), plus the Bank of New York.

 

The small community banks are located in East Prospect, Pennsylvania; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Scott City, Kansas; Caruthersville, Missouri; Rockford, Illinois; York, Pennsylvania; Schereville, Indiana, Fairbury, Illinois; Munster, Indiana; Muncie, Indiana

 

Here is a list of what the banks claim are owed to them:

 

http://www.leasingnews.org/docs/numbers.htm

 

Barry Drayer had said he had lines at forty-eight community banks. There are banks who have contacted Leasing News who are not on this list.  It certainly

is a black eye for the leasing industry.

 

Here are four key paragraphs of the twenty-eight-page lawsuit:

 

P32.  For each lease financing transaction, Professional Leasing executed: a) a promissory note in favor of the plaintiff involved; b) a security agreement and assignment of lease in favor of such plaintiff; and c) a service agreement in favor of such plaintiff.  In most instances, Professional Leasing also executed an escrow agreement with the Bank of New York as escrowee, requiring all monies received from the Lessee involved be deposited with the Bank of New York.

P33.  Contrary to its representations and agreements, the Professional Leasing Defendants: a) failed to remit payments received by them form lessees to Plaintiffs; b) diverted and commingled such lease payments with Professional Leasing’s general operating account rather than have them escrowed for transmission to Plaintiffs: c) failed to notify Plaintiffs of the pre-payment of certain leases and failed to remit all remaining principal due therein, within three days; d) failed to notify Plaintiffs of leases in default or to replace them with new leases of equal or greater value; 3) failed to deposit any moneys received from the Lessees with the Bank of New York as escrowee; f) entered into lease financing transactions with Plaintiffs in which there was no actual underlying lease with a medical provider lessee; and g) financed the same lease with more than one lender.

P34 Professional Leasing has informed Plaintiffs that it will not make the payments of principal and interest due commencing in April 2002, and has,

in fact, failed to make such payments.

 

 

The suit also contends that “Professonal Leasing is an ‘Enterprise” as that term is used in the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act...as a result of the foregoing and their participation in the illegal acts alleged below, Rochelle, Wallace and Drayer are participants int eh Professional Leasing Enterprise...(is)

based on a pattern of racketeering activity during the previous two years and earlier, including repeated violations of 18 U.S.C 1241(“Mail Fraud”), 18  U.S.C. 1343 (“Wire Fraud”) and 18 U.S.C. 1344 (“Bank Fraud”.)

 

This law suit is in addition to the charged brought by the Federal Bureau of

Investigation Department of Justice action of fraud that may go as high as

$200 million, according to the New York Times (...prosecutors described as nationwide bank  frauds that could total $200 million. Just 10 days of investigation into a small part of the company's dealings found $6.5 million of  fraud, prosecutors said in United States District Court in Central Islip, where three suspects were  arraigned. A fourth was arraigned in Boston (Barry Drayer).”

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sentenced to 46 Months in Jail---Signature Financial Service, Austin, Texas

 

 (This company was doing business as Signature Leasing, but please

do not get confused with any other such company in California or New York. They are not affiliated. Editor).

 

Harris “Gene” Yarborough was sentenced to forty-six months in prison after pleading guilty in January, 2002, to charges of “Bank Fraud,” according

to Dun and Bradstreet.

 

Yarborough sold fictitious leases to banks, paying off the annual notes with proceeds from sale of additional fictitious leases.  It is alleged that Yarborough invested most of the money into Signature Financial Services, Inc.  He used the remained to fund his personal expenses.

 

Signature financial Services filed bankruptcy on May 6,2002, Chapter VII.  Attorney is Lynn II Butler, Nance, Scarborough Wright et. al, Austin, Texas.

File Number is 02-11764. Judge Frank R. Monrow is president. The Trustee appointed is C. Daniel Roberts.

 

The above story was sent to Leasing News by Jim Lahti, CLP, of the Affiliated Companies, Lewisville, Texas.

 

 “At least it appears from recent news stories that people are really going to jail for committing leasing fraud.  It’s about time; I just wish they would serve longer prison sentences, “ he added.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

IRS returns to random tax audits

 

   By Tom Herman

WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

The Internal Revenue Service is bringing back its controversial practice of randomly auditing individual

tax returns in an effort to crack down on what it says is a growing wave of tax scams.

 

The move is an about-face for the IRS, which did its last batch of random audits in 1988 and was slapped down by Congress when it tried to resume them in the mid-1990s.

 

Legislators pilloried the agency for its aggressive tactics in conducting such audits, in which thousands of Americans were forced to defend every line in their tax returns.

 

Now the IRS is taking advantage of the post-Enron environment to flex its muscles again.

 

Following the collapse of Enron Corp. late last year, and a slew of subsequent corporate scandals, the mood in Congress has been to lean harder on companies and individuals who scheme to avoid paying taxes.

 

The IRS says it needs the random audits to collect fresh information about tax cheating -- and thus improve the process by which it determines who gets audited each year. It promises its audits will be less invasive this time around.

 

Still, an estimated 2,000 of those picked this time will get intensive line-by-line audits. That means taxpayers probably will have to hire a tax lawyer or certified public accountant to represent them -- even if they have done nothing wrong.

 

Senior IRS officials said the agency plans to conduct about 50,000 random audits related to the 2001 tax year.

 

Those getting audited will be selected from various income groups and types of returns, ranging from average wage earners to small-business owners. The program is intended only for one year, but the agency hopes to conduct random audits every few years.

 

More recently, even regular IRS audits have plummeted, thanks largely to budget pressures and more employees concentrating on taxpayer service.

 

The IRS said it audited 731,756 individual income-tax returns in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, down from 1.92 million in fiscal 1995.

 

Congressional reaction to the IRS plans thus far has been very different from the mid- to late-1990s, when lawmakers focused on reining in what were perceived to be IRS abuses of taxpayer rights.

 

Senate Finance Committee hearings led to enactment of new taxpayer rights in 1998, including creation of an IRS oversight board, and the agency also has launched a massive internal reorganization.

 

Now, the pendulum is swinging the other way, with growing concern that the IRS is letting too many tax cheats escape.

 

Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican and ranking GOP member of the Finance Committee, has been a sharp critic of the IRS in the past. But now he says random audits are needed.

 

"The information from these audits will allow the IRS to target its limited resources on examining those taxpayers who are most likely to be up to no good, while leaving honest taxpayers alone," he said.

 

Given its enormous powers to obtain bank and credit-card records, not everyone believes the IRS needs intensive random audits anymore.

 

Early indications are that as many as 2 million Americans might be snared in its investigation of credit- card use linked to bank accounts in offshore tax havens, for example.

 

The IRS also has devised other ways to target tax cheats. It is demanding names of wealthy people who use tax shelters by issuing summonses to their accounting firms, investment banks and other advisers.

 

And it is cracking down on all sorts of schemes and cons being promoted on the Internet.

 

IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti said the agency needs better data on the level of compliance with tax laws to update the secret formula it uses to pick many of its audit targets.

 

The IRS scores each return using its "Discriminant Function System" that assigns a "DIF score" to each return based on the return's likelihood of having questionable items.

 

It isn't the IRS's only way of selecting audit victims, but insiders say it's very important. The IRS even has gone to court to guard the tool's secrecy.

 

The problem is that the economy has changed enormously since the late 1980s, and thus the audit- selection process badly needs updating, officials say.

 

As evidence, they point to a chart showing increases since 1994 in the number of "no-change" audits, in which the IRS audits someone only to discover no additional tax is due. That's considered a waste of time for both taxpayers and the IRS.

 

The no-change rate for 1998, the most recent year available, was 24.4 percent, up from 19.3 percent in 1994.

 

The new plan calls for four general categories of audits. Some taxpayers won't even realize they're under the microscope, but others will face intensive questioning.

 

Some 32,000 people can expect face-to-face audits, said Mark J. Mazur, IRS director of research, analysis and statistics. Of these, about 30,000 will be "partial audits," in which the IRS will focus only on select parts of those returns.

 

The other 2,000 will be "calibration audits" in which the IRS will examine every line of the return.

 

Still, the IRS won't require explicit line-by-line "substantiation" by taxpayers for each line of the return, a spokesman said. Thus, these audits "will not be as burdensome" as the ones in 1988, he said.

 

"If they really limit the scope as they say, then it's much less objectionable" than the previous studies, said David Keating, senior counselor at the National Taxpayers Union, a nonprofit group in Alexandria, Va.

 

However, he thinks the IRS should compensate the 2,000 people picked for intense audits for the cost of hiring a tax professional.

 

The IRS said the idea of paying people picked for these research audits has been widely discussed, but there are no plans to do so.

 

 

 

More on Sal Maglietta Leaving Citti

 

You mentioned a layer having been added above Sal

Maglietta at Citi.  The attached press release

announced the arrival of Ellen Alemany last September.

 She is know as a "corporate doctor" and comes in to

assess and fix problem areas.  Apparently, she saw the

purchase of Copelco as having been the root of the

problem at CitiCapital.  Rumor has it that they over

paid and failed to conduct proper due diligence on

Copelco.  Someone had to take the blame.  It looks

like Sal took the hit.

 

( Name With Held )

 

#####################

 

CitiCapital Names Alemany New President & CEO

 

Effective September 1st, Ellen Alemany will assume the

role of President and CEO of CitiCapital. She will

also be joining the Citigroup Corporate & Investment

Bank Operating Committee. Ellen most recently served

as Executive Vice President and Customer Group

Executive for the Global Relationship Bank in Europe,

where she has played a pivotal role during a critical

period in the build-out of our Corporate & Investment

Bank across Europe. Her other roles included serving

as Chairman and CEO for Citibank International plc,

Citibank's Pan-European Bank, and Country Corporate

Officer for the United Kingdom. Ellen's extensive

background in the finance business and her record of

success during her more than 14 years with Citibank

will be a true asset to CitiCapital as she and

CitiCapital's management team work together to

continue growing the business.

 

Ellen will replace Roy Guthrie, who will become head

of Citigroup's Global Consumer Finance organization.

While he has been capably filling both roles since the

Associates acquisition, the time has come to dedicate

full-time leadership to the continued growth of each

of these important businesses. In his new role, Roy

will focus on the expansion of the consumer finance

business internationally.

 

With a current global portfolio of $40 billion,

CitiCapital is among the largest U.S.-based commercial

finance businesses, reaching more than 500,000

customers throughout the world. CitiCapital is a

market leader in truck, construction, material

handling, healthcare and office equipment finance, as

well as franchise and municipal finance, fleet and

relocation management services.

#### #################### ###########

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________________

 

 

“Day in American History” format

 

Just wanted to add my two cents about your format. I really enjoy getting

the news and it is entirely my decision if I want to read all of it, part of

it or none at all depending on the pace of my day. As of late I have had

more time then I would like to admit so I am cutting and pasting segments of

the News and sending them to my daughters and nieces and other business

owners. My brother is a sports nut, so he gets the sports stuff. One

daughter is a music fan so she gets music and other things related. My other

daughter is a teacher and Tri-Athlete so she gets education and sport stuff.

My niece is President of a Credit Union and I thought she would enjoy the

article on the creation of the Credit Unions. It goes on and on, daily I cut

and paste segments of your paper and send them along as "Today in History" I

have had many favorable comments and will continue to do it as long as you

continue. I know it is a major task for you but obviously you enjoy it.

 

Thanks again for your efforts.

 

Bob Runyon

 

CAPITAL AGREEMENTS CORPORATION

Commercial Equipment Financing and Leasing since 1989

"Our Business Is Knowing Your Business"

888-583-0400

FAX 732-279-1225

 

(Thank you. I needed those words of encouragement.  Sue supports me, but toward

the end of the Saturday keeps asking, “When are you going to be finished?” or

“Don’t you know it’s six o’clock, finish it tomorrow?”   So I feel the pressure, but I want to do the best I can do, not just get it over with to be done with it. I also must admit it gets pretty depressing writing about the news today.  From Worldcom, Enron, Tyco, even Martha Stewart...so your encouragement definitely helps me. Thank you again. Kit Menkin )

 

----- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Pictures of “Brunie”

 

You remember “Archie,” who Barry Reitman of Keystone Equipment

Leasing  brought back on the airplane, after the EAEl/UAEL Las Vegas Conference.  Well, Archie is now “Brunie.”

 

       “ He loves to chew up shoes. ..Yes, I changed his name to Bruno Magli in honor of his love of shoes (You remember the "ugly-ass" shoes that O.J. Simpson denied owning).  Then I realized that "Bruno" might be confused with the command "No!" so I call him Brunie.

 

http://www.americanleasing.com/images/Bruno_62302_Close_up.JPG

 

http://www.americanleasing.com/images/Bruno_62302_pensive.JPG

 

http://www.americanleasing.com/images/Bruno_try_on.JPG

 

Rita McClain Marder, Co-Founder and Vice-President of Keystone Equipment Leasing, Inc. died on April 5, 2002 after bravely fighting a long-term illness.  

 

For those who have asked about a charity that would be suitable for a memorial donation in honor of Rita....

 

The Bull Terrier Club of America rescues approximately 75-125 dogs each year. The combination of intelligence and sweet sensitivity that make them such wonderful companions means that Bull Terriers in need have special requirements. Your check made payable to "BTCA Rescue" will be a blessing. It can be sent to:

 

 

                       Glenna Wright

                       BTCA Rescue Support Chairman

                       PO Box 1828

                       Glenwood, AR 71943

 

Nothing brought more pleasure to Rita over the years than her beloved Bull Terriers, according to Barry Reitman. If you knew Spice or her predecessors you know that within that massive, muscular chest is a soft, sweet heart. The Bull Terrier Club of America Rescue Support group cares for dogs that, because of reasons such as death of the owner or financial distress, are in need of a new home or other care.

 

 

Thank you readers who have contributed to BTCA Rescue

 

 

To reach Leasing News, please e-mail kitmenkin@leasingnews.org or use the

contact form at www.leasingnews.org   Fax messages are often difficult to read.

Telephone calls result in “telephone tag” and often take longer to respond due

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