NewsEvents

Rutledge Announces Bipartisan, Multistate Investigation of JUUL

Says, ‘Misinformation and inaccurate advertising has run rampant in the vaping industry’

LITTLE ROCK– Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced joining a bipartisan, multistate investigation of JUUL Labs. The 39-state multistate coalition is investigating JUUL’s marketing and sales practices, including targeting of youth, claims regarding nicotine content and statements about risks, safety and effectiveness as a smoking cessation device.

“Misinformation and inaccurate advertising has run rampant in the vaping industry, enticing our youth to use a virtually unknown product” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Millions have been put at risk and it’s time to fight back against JUUL for making profits through deceptive practices.”

While traditional cigarette use has plummeted among young people, vaping is skyrocketing. From 2017 to 2018, Arkansas saw a 78 percent increase in high school students vaping and a 48 percent increase in middle school students vaping.

Rutledge has been at the forefront of the fight against the vaping crisis. In 2019, she hosted two Youth Vaping Summits in Little Rock and Bentonville, bringing medical experts together to help present facts and address the public on the real dangers associated with e-cigarette use.

Rutledge also issued an Enforcement Advisory to 100 online e-cigarette retailers, warning them that it is illegal to sell or ship any nicotine products, including e-cigarettes and e-liquids, to consumers in Arkansas. The advisory warned of potential legal action if businesses are found selling to minors over the internet.

In October 2019, Rutledge filed suit against three online e-cigarette retailers for violating Arkansas laws. By selling and shipping nicotine products and devices to Arkansas children without age verification, the companies are in violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

To learn more about the dangers of youth vaping, visit ArkansasAG.gov.

Rutledge Files PBM Brief with U.S. Supreme Court

Rutledge says, ‘the stranglehold PBMs have on drug prices is driving many local pharmacies out of business’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a brief Monday with the United States Supreme Court in Arkansas’s pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) case. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in that case on April 27, 2020. In this case, Rutledge seeks to protect rural Arkansas’s small businesses and save community pharmacies from abusive PBM payment practices.

“For many Arkansans, we interact most frequently with our local pharmacists, but the stranglehold PBMs have on drug prices is driving many local pharmacies out of business,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It’s time we hold PBMs accountable for skyrocketing prescription drug prices and directly hurting Arkansan’s pocketbooks.”

In 2015, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted Act 900 to regulate PBMs who play the role of intermediary, reimbursing pharmacists for prescription drugs dispensed to insurance beneficiaries. Before Act 900’s enactment, PBMs were found to reimburse pharmacies at less than a pharmacy’s cost to acquire a drug, causing more than 16 percent of rural pharmacies to close in recent years.

In 2015, PCMA filed a lawsuit to block enforcement of Act 900. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller ruled Act 900 was preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and in 2018 the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Miller’s ruling

Rutledge petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2018. Rutledge’s petition was supported by the U.S. Solicitor General and a bipartisan, 32-state coalition led by California.

The case is Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No. 18-540.

Rutledge Introduces Spring Law Clerks to Attorney General’s Office

Says, ‘The law clerk program allows aspiring lawyers to put their academia into action’

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge welcomed a new class of law clerks for the spring session to the Attorney General’s Office. These law students work in various departments assisting with legal research, drafting memos and legal documents and accompanying lawyers at trials, client meetings and hearings.

“The law clerk program allows aspiring lawyers to put their academia into action while having exposure to some of the best lawyers and public servants in the State,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Law clerks play a valuable role for the office as well as gain a better understanding of the fulfilling work of public service.”

Sierra Glover, a second-year student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Civil Department. She graduated from Harding University with a degree in Criminal Justice in 2018. Glover is from Marmaduke and graduated from Marmaduke High School in 2014.

Bryce Moore, a third-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Civil Department. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration. Moore is from Sherwood and graduated from Catholic High School for Boys in 2013.

Jackson Taylor, a second-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Criminal Department. He graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science. Taylor is from Little Rock and graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 2014.

Caitlin Leggett, a second-year student the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Criminal Department. She graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 2017 with degrees in Political Science and Journalism. Leggett is from Blytheville and graduated from Gosnell High School in 2013.

Pierce Caviness, a third-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. He graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with degrees in History and Anthropology in 2017. Caviness is from Hazen and graduated from Hazen High School in 2012.

Nathan Reiter, a second-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. He graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2018 with a degree in Business Administration. Reiter is from Hooks, Texas, and graduated from Hooks High School in 2015.

Amanda Partridge, a third-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Public Protection Department. She graduated from Harding University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Partridge is from Little Rock and graduated from Central Arkansas Christian High School in 2008.

Will McGrath, a second-year at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Medicaid Department. He graduated from Baylor University with a degree in Business Administration in 2017. McGrath is from The Woodlands, Texas and graduated from The Woodlands Christian Academy in 2013.

Sarah Fendley, a third-year student at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, is clerking in the Medicaid Department. She graduated from Lyon College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Art in 2009 and from Henderson State University with a Master of Liberal Arts degree in 2013. Fendley is from Hot Springs and graduated from Lake Hamilton High School in 2005.

For more information about the Attorney General Office’s law clerk program or internship program visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (800) 482-8982.

U.S. Supreme Court Reveals Rutledge’s PBM Argument Date

Rutledge says, ‘one step closer to protecting Arkansans from skyrocketing prescription drug prices’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the U. S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Arkansas’s pharmacy benefit manager case on April 27 in Washington, D.C. The case, Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), will focus on the State’s ability to protect Arkansas small businesses in rural areas and save community pharmacies from abusive pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) payment practices.

“We are now one step closer to protecting Arkansans from skyrocketing prescription drug prices by holding PBMs accountable,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Nationwide, rural pharmacies are faced with unfair business practices by PBMs that harm consumers and our communities. It’s time states like Arkansas had the power to protect themselves and ensure Arkansans are able to receive necessary medications.”

In 2015, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted Act 900 to regulate PBMs who play the role of intermediary, reimbursing pharmacists for prescription drugs dispensed to insurance beneficiaries. Before Act 900’s enactment, PBMs were found to reimburse pharmacies at less than a pharmacy’s cost to acquire a drug causing more than 16 percent of rural pharmacies to close in recent years.

In 2015, PCMA filed a lawsuit to blocked enforcement of Act 900. U.S. District Judge Brian Miller ruled Act 900 was preempted by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and in 2017 the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Miller’s ruling

Rutledge petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2018. Rutledge’s petition was supported by the U.S. Solicitor General and a bipartisan, 32-state coalition led by California.

On January 10, 2020, the Supreme Court granted Rutledge’s petition. The case is Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, No.18-540.

Rutledge Sues Firm for Illegally Enforcing Veterans’ Pensions Assignment Contracts

Rutledge says, ‘We will always go after those who try to take advantage of our veterans’

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the filing of a complaint against Candy Kern-Fuller and Howard Sutter, lawyers at UpState Law Group in South Carolina for substantially assisting brokers with the illegal sale of veterans’ future pension payments. Kern-Fuller and Sutter are accused of developing the contract approval, payment collection and enforcement processes. The broker companies falsely told veterans that they were selling their future payments for a reduced lump-sum. In reality, the veterans’ pension assignment contracts were high interest loans that were void from the start. These deceptive and unfair acts and practices violate state and federal laws protecting veterans.

“Veterans who dedicated their lives to this country were vulnerable to scam artists who will stop at nothing to try to poach our veterans’ pensions despite state and federal protections,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We will always go after those who try to take advantage of our veterans and their much deserved benefits.”

Attorney General Rutledge joins the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the state of South Carolina in asking the court to issue an injunction, provide redress to consumers and impose civil money penalties. The Complaint, filed in the Greenville Division of the United States District Court of South Carolina, alleges that Defendants’ deceptive and unfair acts and practices violate state and federal laws protecting veterans.

Last August, the federal CFPB joined Attorney General Rutledge in the investigation and settlement of claims against Andrew Gamber and his companies; Voyager Financial Group LLC, BAIC Inc., and SoBell Corp. for the brokering of contracts that offer high-interest credit to veterans in exchange for investors illegally acquiring rights to receive future pension payments. These businesses and their former owner are permanently prohibited from offering these illegal agreements. Defendants must cooperate fully with the Attorney General and CFPB to determine the identity and location of, and the amount of injury sustained by, each consumer.

If you are a consumer who has been impacted by the actions of Voyager Financial Group, SoBell, BAIC, Performance Arbitrage, Life Funding Options or UpState Law Group or its owners, Rutledge encourages you to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982.

Attorney General Rutledge Sues a Hot Springs Woman Operating as a Money Mule in Multi-Million Dollar Jamaican Scheme

Says, ‘Jean Butler was and has always been an active, willing participant in this fraudulent money mule scheme’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit today against a Hot Springs woman who facilitated a multi-million dollar international sweepstakes scheme. The complaint alleges that Jean Butler, 73, is funneling fraudulently obtained funds through numerous bank accounts to the operators of the scheme in Jamaica.

“Jean Butler was and has always been an active, willing participant in this fraudulent money mule scheme,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Money mules like Butler who help scammers take advantage of Arkansans and people across the country must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

In these types of schemes and in this particular case, the operators, who are often in foreign countries, contact potential victims and say they have won a jackpot or lottery but must first pay taxes or fees before receiving the prize. The victims are instructed to send this payment to a person in the U.S., commonly referred to as a “money mule,” like Butler. The money mule opens bank accounts and deposits money received from these victims. The operators then withdraw those funds for themselves. In Butler’s case, investigators estimate she opened numerous bank accounts and facilitated the transfer of about $6 million to the operators of the scheme in Jamaica. The victims, usually seniors or other vulnerable persons, never received the promised prize and discover all too late that the money they sent to the money mule is gone.

Butler is accused of acting as a money mule since 2017 in a scheme purporting to be the “Mega Millions” lottery. After opening bank accounts, Butler would inform the bank that she would be traveling out of the country that way avoiding raising suspicions about the foreign transactions. Banks would eventually suspect fraudulent activity and close the accounts. Butler would then open an account in another bank and continue the activity.

Investigators determined that Butler was aware of her actions and complicit in her involvement in the scheme. The various victims of this scheme are reportedly from throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, alleges that Butler violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and seeks restitution for affected consumers, civil penalties and an injunction prohibiting Butler from further participating in this or any other scheme. The lawsuit also requires her to cooperate with any additional law enforcement investigations into the scheme. Any person who violates the ADTPA may be subject to civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation. The Attorney General’s Office coordinated this effort with the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The recruitment of money mules is on the rise, often deceptively advertised as “work from home jobs” or “online jobs”, and appear to be attractive options for the elderly or college students to make money easily. It is common for those who participate in money mule activity to not even be aware they are facilitating an illegal operation. If you suspect that you or someone you know may be a victim of money mule activity, or to file a consumer-related claim with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, call (800) 482-8982, email consumer@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

February
27
Thursday

Jackson County Resources Day

Jackson County Senior Center
400 North Pecan Street, Newport

Mobile Office
9:30 to 11 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
9:30 to 11 a.m.
Partnering with Sheriff David Lucas

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
10:30 to 11 a.m.


 9:30 AMVIEW 
March
5
Thursday

Scams and Consumer Protection Webcast

In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, this free webcast on scams and consumer protection from 10 to 11:30 a.m. is open to the public.

Registration is required.

The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division represents and protects the State, its subdivisions, legitimate business community and Arkansas consumers.

This webcast will review the many ways the Attorney General's office can be utilized as a resource, common scams to be aware of and how to avoid them, and identity theft. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions during the presentation.

This webcast has been approved for 1.5 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) and law enforcement standards (CLEST) credit.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
March
11
Wednesday

NWA Law Enforcement Training

8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Northwest Arkansas Community College, Bentonville

Topics for the free training, which is open to all Arkansas law enforcement officers, will include:

  • Cyber responses in missing persons cases
  • Monsters behind the machines
  • Crisis stabilization units
  • Medical marijuana
Order 2019 Law Enforcement Manuals.
View the agenda and register today, as participation is limited.

The training will take place in Shewmaker Center for Global Business Development, Peterson Auditorium. Lunch will be provided.

This training has been approved for 5.25 hours of CLE and CLEST credit.

 8:30 AMVIEW 
April
8
Wednesday

Missing Persons Webcast

10 to 11:30 a.m.

REGISTER

Presented by Mike Nance with the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), the webcast will cover NamUs resources, Arkansas’ ACT 920, registering at namus.gov for NamUs professional access, entering missing persons into NamUs, searching NamUs, and making comparisons and resolving cases.

This training has been approved for 1.5 hours of CLE and CLEST credit.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
April
16
Thursday

FOIA webcast

Arkansas Freedom of Information Act
10 a.m. to noon

The webcast, which is free and open to the public, will include “FOIA Made Simple” presentations by attorneys in the Attorney General’s office detailing responsibilities and rights covered under the act that relate to public meetings and documents.

This training has been approved for 2 hours of CLE and CLEST credit.

Register

 10:00 AMVIEW 
July
16
Thursday

Never Forgotten

Never Forgotten Arkansas Takes Action artwork

8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Benton Event Center


Never Forgotten eventThe Attorney General’s office, in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and the Morgan Nick Foundation, will host the 9th annual Never Forgotten — Arkansas Takes Action event for families of missing persons and the law enforcement community to raise awareness of the issues surrounding missing persons.

The free event will include a morning session for families followed by a luncheon to recognize Arkansas’s missing.

Please check back regarding credit and training accredidation.

For more information, contact Rachel Ellis at 501-682-3645 or rachel.ellis@arkansasag.gov.

Order copies of the Missing Adult Resource Guide online.

 8:30 AMVIEW 
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