Daily Briefing

DAILY BRIEFING

July 02, 2009

Md. homebuilder must give deposit refund, pay penalty

A Garrett County homebuilder and its backers must refund $154,599 in new-house deposits collected from consumers as well as pay penalties of $23,000, according to the consumer protection division of the state attorney general's office. The division found that Mark Shrout, William Cook and their company C&S Contracting Inc., violated Maryland's Custom Home Protection Act by collecting money from at least four families, failing to protect that money and failing to build the homes or refund the consumers. The attorney general's office recommends that people buy houses only from registered builders and ensure their deposits are protected by an escrow account, bond or letter of credit. Check whether your builder is registered by calling the Division's Home Builder Registration Unit at 410-576-6573 or toll-free at 877-259-4525, or at www.oag.state.md.us/homebuilder.

- Liz F. Kay

Record number of biotech firms wait for tax credits

With many waiting in line for five days, a record number of biotechnology companies yesterday filed for a generous Maryland tax credit that would grant their investors a 50 percent tax credit for investing this year. Representatives from 20 companies waited in line to submit applications for the Maryland Biotechnology Investment Incentive Tax Credit program, according to Karen Glenn Hood, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Business and Economic Development. The program, administered by DBED, began accepting applications at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the University of Maryland's BioPark in Baltimore. Two more companies filed applications shortly after state officials began accepting them in the morning, Hood said. The tax credit program this year has $6 million in state funding, and the credits are doled out on a first-come, first-served basis, per state law. Hood said it would take DBED officials about a week to review the applications and determine how much total money in tax credits had been requested.

- Gus G. Sentementes

Settlement reached against Beazer Homes

ATLANTA - Federal prosecutors in North Carolina filed criminal fraud conspiracy charges against Beazer Homes USA on Wednesday, but they agreed to dismiss the case if the company complies with an agreement accepting responsibility for certain wrongdoing and pays millions to victims. In the deferred prosecution agreement, the company accepted responsibility for fraudulent mortgage originations and accounting practices and agreed to pay $10 million immediately toward restitution to victims. Beazer also agreed to pay up to $50 million as the company, which has been battered by the housing downturn, recovers financially, according to prosecutors and court records. The deferred prosecution agreement is in effect for five years. A spokeswoman for prosecutors, Suellen Pierce, said that the charges against the company will be dismissed if it complies with the agreement.

- Associated Press

Crabtree & Evelyn files for Chapter 11 protection

NEW YORK - Soap and lotion seller Crabtree & Evelyn Ltd. says it filed for Chapter 11 protection Wednesday, a victim of the recession and management missteps. The pressure of repaying debt forced the company to file for bankruptcy, acting President Stephen Bestwick said in a court filing. The Woodstock, Conn.-based company reported in a court filing that it owed $46.2 million in debt and had $31.7 million in assets as of March 31. The privately held company runs 126 retail stores.

- Associated Press

Construction spending falls more than expected

WASHINGTON - Construction spending fell more than expected in May, a sign the problems facing the nation's builders are far from over. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that construction spending dropped 0.9 percent in May, nearly double the 0.5 percent decline that economists expected. Adding to the signs of weakness, activity in the past two months was revised lower. That left April 0.6 percent gain as the only increase in the past eight months.

- Associated Press

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