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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Gabelli Reaches Settlement Deal

by: Marie Glancy

Industry star Mario Gabelli has finally settled a five-year-old suit that alleged he committed civil fraud by using shell companies to bid for wireless spectrum licenses in the 1990s.

According to Reuters, U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia announced the $130 million settlement with Gabelli and 38 of his affiliates on Thursday. It was announced last month that Gabelli would settle, but terms were not specified. The defendants neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in the agreement, approved at U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

First filed in 2001, R.C. Taylor's suit -- filed under the whistle-blower provision of the False Claims Act -- charged that Lynch Interactive Corp, one of Gabelli's companies, took advantage of licensing discounts the Federal Communications Commission granted to women and minority small-business owners by using shell companies to bid and then selling on licenses for a steep profit.

The Department of Justice joined the case in March of this year, and it proceeded quickly from there. Taylor will be glad he persevered, as he's now entitled to a $32.2 million cut of the settlement money.

"This settlement protects the integrity of the FCC auction program," Garcia said in a statement. But remains unsoured on the wireless game -- on Tuesday Reuters reported Lynch Interactive is preparing to bid in an upcoming auction.  

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