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Archive for Saturday, March 2, 2002

Business Briefcase

March 2, 2002

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FBI, eBay users seek figurine store owner

Green packing popcorn, large boxes and a note saying "closed for inventory" are nearly all that is left of a ceramic-figurine store whose owner went out at lunchtime one day and never returned.

Now, Stewart C. Richardson's wife, the FBI and more than 100 customers who bought items like miniature statues of frolicking mice from him on eBay want to know where the White Lake Township, Mich. resident went and what happened to the money collected for merchandise he never sent.

A warrant was issued Thursday for Richardson's arrest, accusing him of wire fraud. An FBI affidavit says Richardson devised a scheme on eBay to defraud customers, and the agency cites about 75 victims with a loss of about $163,000. But officials estimate there are more than 100 people who never got their ceramic figurines, for a loss of about $300,000.

Retail: Wal-Mart welcomes local meats, official says

Spurred by the rapid growth of its supercenter stores, Wal-Mart Inc. has established itself among the nation's leading retailers of fresh meats, a fact that the company's vice president described as an opportunity for U.S. livestock producers.

Ken Parnell told a gathering Friday for Kansas State University's annual Cattlemen's Day that the retail giant wants to develop alliances with suppliers, including producers.

Even though the company is growing rapidly around the world, he said, Wal-Mart's philosophy is to offer local items in local stores to fit the needs of local customers.

"It's not difficult to get a food item into a Wal-Mart store, if that item serves a local need," Parnell said.

Some Wal-Marts offer barbecue sauce popular in a particular region, or produced by a local perhaps small company. Also, Wal-Mart often buys poultry products on contract, he said.

Court: Former J.C. Nichols CEO gets community service

The former chairman and chief executive officer of J.C. Nichols Co. has been sentenced to five years' probation for stealing from and defrauding the company.

Lynn L. McCarthy, 69, of Overland Park, was sentenced this week to perform 3,000 hours of community service by U.S. District Judge Ortrie D. Smith. McCarthy, a Kansas University graduate, had pleaded guilty last year to one felony count of racketeering conspiracy.

McCarthy was one of three defendants accused of defrauding the Nichols Co. of more than $150 million. They were fired in May 1995.

The others: Walter C. Janes, 67, of Prairie Village, the company's former chief financial officer who received the same sentence earlier in the week; and attorney Charles P. Schleicher, 72, of Kansas City, Mo., another KU graduate who was acquitted of charges in the case last November.

earnings: Automakers reports mixed

General Motors Corp.'s February sales edged up 0.4 percent from a year ago as strong sales of its light trucks more than offset a decline in sales of passenger cars.

But U.S. sales fell at its two biggest rivals, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group, last month compared with February 2001.

GM, the world's largest automaker, said Friday its light truck sales increased 22.3 percent in February from a year ago, while passenger car sales declined 19.7 percent.

Meanwhile, for the first two months of this year, sales of Ford vehicles are down 13 percent from January and February of last year. The Chrysler Group reported an 11 percent decline in sales of its cars and trucks in February compared with a year ago.

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