Volume 12, Issue 3 - May/June 2010

AGR Reports
breaking news



Glass Emporium Owner Found Guilty of Insurance Fraud Charges

A jury found Glass Emporium owner Mehrdad Hakimian guilty on all counts in the charges filed against him related to insurance fraud and the harboring of illegal aliens, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office lead attorney on the case, Stephen Corrigan. The trial was completed in March, and Hakimian is scheduled to be sentenced on June 4. The charges filed against him, as the result of an investigation by the FBI, include conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, harboring illegal aliens, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit visa fraud, and visa fraud.

Hakimian issued the following statement regarding the trial to AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com™.

“Glass Emporium staff and management are disappointed in the outcome of this trial, but everyone associated with the company respects the jury’s decision,” he says.

In the faxed statement Hakimian also says the company has changed its operating procedures since the FBI investigation began.

“Since the investigation began at the end of 2006, Glass Emporium has implemented strict auditing procedures and investigation to correct the issues underlying the charges and are confident that these problems are resolved and will not occur,” he says. “We have reimbursed insurance companies involved for any errors and we continue to have good working relationships with them.”

In the details of the fraud charges, Hakimian was accused of directing the company’s employees to bill insurance companies “for the cost of more expensive windshields than those installed … knowing that less expensive windshields had been installed.” Likewise, the court charged him with directing employees to also separately charge insurance companies for mouldings, clips and installation materials, “even when those costs were included in the cost of the windshields.”

With regard to the obstruction of justice charges, Hakimian is alleged to have “corruptly alter[ed], destroy[ed], mutilate[d], and conceal[ed] documents and records, namely, glass invoices, glass work orders, and electronically stored invoice records, with the intent to impair their integrity and availability for use in an official proceeding,” according to documents filed in the case.

With respect to the illegal immigration charges, Hakimian is said to have encouraged certain employees whom he knew were illegal aliens to work from home in an effort to avoid being discovered by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), according to the indictment issued against him.

Bobby Guinto and Aldy Antonio, two fellow employees whom Hakimian is said to have directed in these efforts, pleaded guilty previously, and Glass Emporium vice president Emma DeGuzman was scheduled to be on trial at the same time as Hakimian, but pleaded guilty just before it was to begin to the charges related to harboring illegal aliens, at which point the fraud charges against her were dismissed.

Glass Emporium owns both Glass Pro and Glass Masters and has locations throughout the United States. The company is not affiliated with Glasspro in Charleston, S.C.

Mainstreet Computers Expands Both Physical Location and Staff
Industry software supplier Mainstreet Computers in Belleville, Mich., recently has undergone some growth, and, though it previously shared its building with several tenants, is in the process of expanding into the entire facility.

“We’re expanding and using the whole building now,” company sales manager Mark Haeck told AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com™ in a recent interview. “We’re bracing ourselves for growth.”

Haeck attributes some of this growth to the company’s entry into web services in the last few years.

“About three to four years ago we added our web services division and it’s been going really well,” he says. “There’s a whole new generation out there with people going to the web instead of the yellow pages … It’s a great opportunity for us.”

“Our programs are getting better all the time, and the tools available are more flexible,” addsHaeck.

The company also recently hired a new representative, Kevin Winningham, to handle its marketing efforts and is in the process of expanding its sales staff as well.

Safelite to Open New Call Center in Phoenix
Safelite announced recently that it will open a new call center in Chandler, Ariz., outside Phoenix, on June 1. The company says the call center initially will employ around 195, with numbers estimated to grow to around 1,000. The new facility is 86,000 square feet and will be staffed 365 days a year.

“This new facility helps support our business continuity plan by expanding our contact center operations to a second city outside of Columbus, Ohio,” says Safelite president and chief executive officer Tom Feeney. “We chose Phoenix for several reasons, including its strong business community and highly educated workforce; access to a growing Hispanic and Latino-speaking employee base; the later time zone; and the climate.”

Court Doubles Damages in Saint-Gobain Autover/Xinyi Suit
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio issued a recent ruling doubling the damages Xinyi Glass North America will be required to pay Saint-Gobain Autover in a patent infringement suit filed by the latter company; the final damages total is nearly $22 million. (The exact amount of the damages totaled $21,888,030, compared with an original ruling of $10,944,015.)
In addition, Xinyi has been ordered to pay attorney’s fees of nearly $2 million, according to court documents.

In addition, court costs also were assessed—totaling $384,882.99—also to be paid by Xinyi, according to court documents.

Though a jury had made a damage assessment in November of around $11 million, Saint-Gobain Autover had motioned for “enhanced damages, attorney’s fees and pre-judgment interest.” Though the first two of these
were granted, Saint-Gobain Autover was not awarded pre-judgment interest, however.

Saint-Gobain filed the suit in 2006, alleging that Xinyi infringed on two of its patents, one titled “Spacer for Windshield Bracket” (known in court documents as the ‘669 patent) and one titled “Method of Centering Windshield Glazings” (referred to as the ‘395 patent). Both patents involve windshields equipped with “an extruded profiled spacer,” according to a November statement from Saint-Gobain Autover.

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