Southeast Fla. Business Briefs - December 2010
BOCA RATON — Office Depot Chairman and CEO Steve Odland resigned after the office supply retailer agreed to pay a $1-million penalty to settle a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement action against the company, Odland and then-CFO Patricia A. McKay over improper disclosures made in 2007 to selected analysts and institutional investors. The disclosures signaled that the company would miss analysts' earning estimates. The individual calls violated regulations that require broad public disclosure of material information. Odland and McKay paid $50,000 each. The SEC also charged the company with unrelated accounting violations that led to profits being overstated from the third quarter of 2006 to the second quarter of 2007.
» Florida Atlantic University broke ground on its $70-million, 30,000-seat football stadium. Separately, the university commemorated the opening of its 97,000-sq.-ft. College of Engineering & Computer Science building.
COCONUT CREEK — Food for the Poor, a charity that sends aid to Latin America and the Caribbean, ranked sixth on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of the 400 largest U.S. charities. Private contributions totaled $1.08 billion, down 28% from the prior year.
DAVIE — Businessman Wayne Huizenga made an unspecified major donation to the new Huizenga Sales Institute at Nova Southeastern University. Separately, the university launched the region's first Ph.D. program in pharmacy.
FORT LAUDERDALE — Broward school board member Stephanie Kraft and her husband, Mitch Kraft, were charged with bribery, unlawful compensation and conspiracy to commit unlawful compensation. Stephanie Kraft, who was suspended from her post, and her husband are fighting the charges.
FORT PIERCE — Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute received a $65,000 state grant to accelerate commercialization of a technique to generate cultured pearls from queen conchs. Rose Pearl, a company formed to exploit the technology, will match the grant.
» The National Science Foundation awarded $2.8 million to create a Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence at Indian River State College.
PALM BEACH GARDENS — The SEC filed a complaint against two south Florida-based hedge fund managers, Bruce F. Prevost, 50, of Palm Beach Gardens, and David W. Harrold, 51, of Delray Beach, and their firms, Palm Beach Capital Management LP and Palm Beach Capital Management LLC, saying they channeled more than $1 billion of investor money into a Ponzi scheme run by Thomas Petters, a Minnesota businessman, while pocketing $58 million in fees. The two allegedly told investors their money would be safeguarded. The complaint says the two described "a phony process" for protecting investors' assets.
PORT ST. LUCIE — The Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida began construction on a 100,000-sq.-ft. biomedical research facility at the Tradition Center for Innovation. Completion is scheduled for 2012. The Oregon-based institute, recruited with $113 million in public incentive money, will focus primarily on HIV/AIDS, cancer and infectious diseases. VGTI Florida at present operates in a temporary facility at the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies.
VERO BEACH — Ineos Bio secured the key permits it needs to build a plant in Indian River County to process yard, wood and other vegetative waste into ethanol while generating electricity. Production is scheduled to begin in 2012.
WEST PALM BEACH — South Florida Water Management District paid $197 million to buy 26,791 acres from U.S. Sugar. The purchase was dramatically scaled down from outgoing Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed $1.7-billion buy of the company's entire assets, including 187,000 acres. The district has the option of buying 153,000 more acres over 10 years.