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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Business in brief: SEC, Met Mortgage settlements approved

The Spokesman-Review

A federal judge has approved settlements between the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and several Metropolitan Mortgage and Securities Co. figures, ending the agency’s sprawling legal action.

C. Paul Sandifur Jr., the former chairman and chief executive officer of the Spokane financial conglomerate, will pay $150,889, which consists of a $75,000 civil penalty, the repayment of $60,000 to the company and $15,889 of interest.

Sandifur and others were accused of participating in a series of real estate schemes that helped the company post bogus paper profits. After the transactions unraveled into an accounting scandal, Metropolitan filed for bankruptcy in February 2004. The action wiped out the investments of nearly 10,000 people who had bought about $450 million in notes and preferred stock.

Others who settled with the SEC include Thomas G. Turner, a Metropolitan senior executive who was convicted of three federal crimes relating to one of the land transactions; Trillium Corporation, a Bellingham firm that dealt with Metropolitan, ordered to pay $75,000; and David Syre, Trillium chairman and chief executive, ordered to pay $50,000.

The SEC earlier reached settlements with three other defendants, including Robert Ness, Metropolitan’s former controller; Thomas Masters, a former Metropolitan vice president; and Dan Sandy, a Trillium creditor.

Handheld computer makers complete merger

A Virginia-based maker of rugged handheld computers announced Wednesday it has finished merging with long-range wireless equipment maker Vivato Networks Inc..

Both companies have local ties: Catcher Inc.’s devices are made by contract manufacturer Key Tronic Corp., while Portland-based Vivato, once based here, has a small Spokane operation and provided equipment for the city’s wireless Hot Zone. Announced in September, the deal called for holding company Catcher Holdings Inc., of Leesburg, Va., to buy Vivato’s common stock for 2.5 million shares. Vivato survives as a wholly owned subsidiary.

With about 25 employees, the companies will operate from Portland, said Hal Turner, chairman and CEO of Catcher Holdings Inc.

From staff reports