PAGE 18A Laredo Morning Times Sunday August 17 2003 by ghk14621


More Info
									PAGE 18A                                                                              Laredo Morning Times                                                            Sunday, August 17, 2003


Retiree sues Citigroup after losing
$2 million life savings on MCI stock
BY JILL BARTON                                     brought down by an $11 billion accounting
AP Business Writer                                 scandal, seeks bankruptcy protection.
                                                   Shareholders must rely largely on lawsuits
  WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A retiree who            and regulatory fines to recover some of what
lost his $2 million life savings when WorldCom     they lost.
stock plummeted amid the company’s col-              Shareholders also are often barred from
lapse last year has sued Citigroup for pain        suing their brokerage firms because investors
and suffering.                                     usually sign waivers agreeing to arbitration to
  The lawsuit, filed Thursday against the          settle disputes.
nation’s largest bank, could signal a new            Amodio claims he signed no waiver because
option for thousands of Americans who lost         his shares, acquired during his 26-year
their fortunes in accounting scandals.             employment, were held in a Citigroup
  Anthony Amodio claims that he is penniless       account.
and ill with heart problems because he was           He had no account with Salomon Smith
advised to keep his 23,820 shares of               Barney, but Citigroup referred him to the firm
WorldCom stock amid claims that the share          for advice when he repeatedly called with
price would climb to $150, even when it was        concern about the stock’s plunging value.
valued in April 2002 at only $7.                     “They painted such a picture to me to hold
  The suit would be the first to compel deposi-    the shares because I was going to make my
tions from former WorldCom chief executive         fortune,” Amodio said. “I looked forward to the
Bernie Ebbers, Citigroup chairman Sanford          golden years and now I look forward to the bit-
Weill and its former telecoms analyst, Jack        ter years.”
Grubman, said Ted Babbitt, Amodio’s attor-           He retired as a national account manager
ney.                                               executive in 1997 after spending nearly three
  The suit blames the trio for recklessly and      decades at MCI. He invested in the compa-
intentionally inflating claims about the stock’s   ny’s stock and was required to trade it for                                                                                        AP Photo/Steve Mitchell
potential, making them millions while count-       shares in WorldCom when it purchased MCI,          SAVINGS LOST: Anthony Amodio a retiree from Delray Beach, Fla., poses at his lawyers office
less Americans lost money.                         according to his suit.                             Thursday, Aug. 14, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Amodio, who lost his $2 million life savings when MCI
  “There isn’t any dispute that these people         He called Citigroup and Salomon as early as      and WorldCom stock plummeted sued Citigroup on Thursday for pain and suffering, possibly cre-
were doing things to the detriment of their own    July 1999, when his shares would have been         ating a new avenue of recourse for thousands of Americans who lost their fortunes.
clients, and yet they walk away without one        valued at $2.1 million, and said he was
person being indicted, without one criminal        advised that Grubman predicted the stock to
act being alleged, without one penny in civil      break triple digits by the year’s end.
suits personally against them,” Babbitt said.        Suing under Florida’s legal tort of “outrage,”
“They’ve gotten away with it so for. But this is   his lawsuit could be the first to demand losses
going to be the key that opens the door.”          for emotional distress over a financial loss,
  Mary Ellen Hillery, a spokeswoman for            according to legal experts.
Salomon Smith Barney, the brokerage arm of           Last April, Citigroup paid the highest penalty
Citigroup that’s also named in the lawsuit,        of any Wall Street firm — $400 million — to
said the company had no comment because            settle charges that its Smith Barney unit
it had not seen the complaint.                     issued fraudulent and misleading research.
  Many investors burned by securities fraud        Regulators also fined Grubman, and are
have few options to recover their losses when      investigating his former boss, Weill.
a company such as WorldCom, which was

Parents will face murder charges in boy’s death
  LANSDALE, Pa. (AP) —            Seymore were charged in           overwhelmed by the chal-
The parents of a 4-year-old       the June 5 death of their         lenge of feeding the quadru-
quadruplet who died after         son Shawn. He weighed             plets and their 14-year-old
being found starving at the       25½ pounds, could not talk        sister, who also has devel-
family’s squalid condomini-       or chew solid food.               opmental problems.
um were charged with mur-           The parents were being            “This is not an ideal situa-
der.                              held without bail.                tion, but it is not murder,”
  At a preliminary hearing          “They cut off medical           Reilley said.
Thursday, a prosecutor            care,” First Assistant District     The Seymores also were
accused the couple of not         Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman        charged with involuntary
feeding the child enough          said. “It doesn’t work to say,    manslaughter,        reckless
and said they had not taken       ‘It’s hard,’ and throw up your    endangerment and endan-
him to a doctor in more than      hands.”                           gering the welfare of chil-
two years.                          Defense lawyer Robert J.        dren. Their other children
  James      and      Tamra       Reilley said the couple was       were placed in foster care.

To top