Early Briefing

*Williams Industries swung to a loss for fiscal 2007 and posted a warning:

"Williams Industries continues to face a liquidity and business crisis," it said in an SEC filing yesterday. "The company faces numerous business, financial and legal risks, and its auditors have expressed substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern." See story.

*Revolution Health Group will lay off 60 employees at its Revolution Health Networks division as part of a restructuring. See story.

*The FBI is investigating nine incidents in which check-cashing stores catering mostly to Hispanics in the District, Maryland and Virginia have been robbed at gunpoint in recent months, authorities said yesterday. See story.

*A report by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute says that while the District's economy has boosted job growth, salaries, construction and neighborhoods, the city's poverty rate is the highest in nearly a decade, and the employment rate for African American adults is at a 20-year low. See story.

*The D.C. Council unanimously approved a final agreement yesterday to spend $79 million to help Specialty Hospitals of America purchase the troubled Greater Southeast Community Hospital, despite a warning from the city's chief financial officer that the buyer is financially unstable. See story

*Jose Andres of Minibar, Jaleo and Oyamel fame is considering expanding Minibar and selling naming rights to a corporation. See the Reliable Source column.

*A former manager of Lockheed Martin's political action committee was sentenced to 16 months in prison for stealing $163,000 in committee funds and falsifying reports to make it seem that the money was being donated to local political candidates. Kenneth D. Phelps III admitted that from March 2002 to December 2003, he wrote an estimated 100 committee checks to himself. He simultaneously made phony computer reports to the Federal Election Commission to give the appearance that the Lockheed political action committee checks were benefiting electoral candidates.

Phelps told U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman that he was ashamed and sorry for his actions but added that he suffered from depression, attention deficit disorder and general anxiety about paying his child support and other bills
Friedman ordered Phelps, who now works as a bartender, to report to federal prison authorities in a few weeks to begin serving his sentence.

*W.R. Grace agreed to pay $17.9 million to settle eight asbestos-related property-damage claims as part of its bankruptcy case. Grace, a specialty chemical company in Columbia that's been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since 2001, reached agreements with creditors including the Port of Seattle, the state of Washington and the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock.

According to court documents, Grace denied any wrongdoing in the asbestos cases but said it agreed to settle "because it is in the best interest of its Chapter 11 estates to avoid further expense, inconvenience and the distraction of expensive, burdensome and protracted litigation over the claims' merit and value."

By Terri Rupar  |  October 24, 2007; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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