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November 11, 2008

Two acquitted in marine hose price fixing case

A twelve member jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has acquitted two defendants accused of involvement in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by rigging bids, fixing prices, and allocating market shares for sales of marine hose in the United States and elsewhere.

The jury returned Not Guilty verdicts in the cases of Val M. Northcutt and Francesco Scaglia.

Mr. Northcutt was represented by Michael S. Pasano, Paul A. Calli, and Marissel Descalzo, of the Miami-based office of law firm Carlton Fields.

Mr. Scaglia was represented by David O. Markus of Miami, Florida and David Gerger of Houston, Texas.

"Today's swift Not Guilty verdict affirms our position throughout this case --that Mr. Northcutt acted properly and with integrity and honesty. Mr. Northcutt tonight is grateful for an attentive and courageous jury which followed the evidence closely, " Paul A. Calli said yesterday.

Mr. Northcutt, a Florida native who resides in South Florida, is employed by Manuli Rubber Industries, a Milan, Italy-based marine hose manufacturer. Mr. Northcutt is a technician for Manuli who installs and services marine hose.

Mr. Scaglia is an Italian national employed as a product manager for marine hoses for Manuli's factory.

The Department of Justice's investigation of Manuli had resulted in guilty pleas among several high level Manuli officials. These included Robert L. Furness, the former President of Manuli's former Plantation, Fla., subsidiary and Charles J. Gillespie, a Furness protege and former executive in Manuli's U.S. operations.

Carlton Fields says that prosecutors and Furness made a deal whereby Furness pled guilty and agreed to serve a reduced prison sentence and pay a reduced fine in exchange for his testimony accusing his employee Mr. Northcutt of involvement in Furness' crimes. Likewise, prosecutors struck a bargain with Gillespie who pled guilty and agreed to serve a reduced prison sentence and pay a reduced fine in exchange for his testimony that Mr. Northcutt, to whom Gillespie issued pricing instructions, was involved in Gillespie's crimes.

Carlton Fields says that Peter Whittle, a British National who according to trial testimony organized and ran a world wide criminal price fixing conspiracy with Furness and Gillespie and others, made close to $7 million from his crimes.

Mr. Whittle, who will serve no prison time in the United States and was required to forfeit no money to the United States , agreed to pay approximately $1 million dollars to British authorities. The United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division struck a deal with Mr. Whittle as well, in exchange for his testimony that implicated Mr. Northcutt, says Carlton Fields,

[Whittle and two other British nationals were sentenced to U.K. prison terms in June]

"We believed that Mr. Northcutt was innocent of these charges, and that the testimony of Messrs. Whittle, Furness , and Gillespie was not truthful and not worthy of belief. It was an important part of our defense of Mr. Northcutt, " commented Carlton Fields Shareholder Paul A. Calli.

This case was prosecuted by the following government attorneys in the United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division's Criminal Enforcement Section: Lisa M. Phelan, Chief of the National Criminal Enforcement Section, and trial attorneys Mark Rosman, J. Brady Dugan, Craig Y. Lee, Portia R. Brown, Jon B. Jacobs, and Carol A. Bell.

In addition, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) of the Department of Defense's Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Navy Criminal Investigative Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated this case.


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