Early Briefing: Mortgage Firm Employees Under Investigation

*The FBI is investigating whether employees of a now-defunct Northern Virginia mortgage company were involved in what several lawsuits allege was a scheme to steal vacant homes by forging deeds, according to people familiar with the probe. The employees worked for 1st American Mortgage of Vienna, which went out of business last fall. The former chief executive's $2 million home in a gated community in McLean has been foreclosed upon. See story

*The District wants to rewrite the rules for street vendors, allowing more variety - including from Gabe Klein's On the Fly, profiled in this week's Washington Business section. But new rules could put the future of WG Food Distributors, which supplies street vendors with chips, Lemonheads, and hot dogs and buns, in jeopardy. See story

*Former D.C. mayor Anthony Williams has given up the life of a renter, buying a luxury loft condo in the H Street area of Northeast. Williams said he paid developer Jim Abdo more than $1 million for the second-floor apartment, which has two bedrooms and two and a half baths. He plans to move this spring. See story

*The Maryland Senate rejected a budget amendment that supporters say would have made it possible to repeal the state's tax on computer services, projected to yield about $200 million a year for the state. See story

*WGL Holdings, which owns Washington Gas Light, raised its five-year average annual growth target to a range of 6 to 8 percent. The District company had previously projected an average annual operating earnings growth of 5 percent.

In addition, the company said it wants to deliver sustainable dividend growth of 3 to 4 percent per year.
WGL said it is focused on generating stable revenue growth, investing in infrastructure, pursuing operational excellence and increasing its unregulated business. See press release.

*Brian Posner of Legg Mason plans to step down as head of ClearBridge Advisors, the fund unit acquired from Citigroup two years ago that's been hurt by sub-par returns and investor defections. Peter Bain, a senior executive vice president at Baltimore-based Legg Mason, will take over as interim chairman of ClearBridge, which oversees $100 billion.

*Union workers have reached a tentative agreement with Volvo Trucks North America in a strike that has halted production at a factory in Dublin, Va. If ratified, the agreement would end the strike of 2,600 United Auto Workers members that began Feb. 1. The plant is owned by the Swedish truckmaker AB Volvo. Management announced in December that up to 650 workers would be laid off early this year.
No details of the agreement have been released.

*XM Satellite Radio Holdings Chairman Gary Parsons said he's "confident" that regulators will rule on the proposed acquisition of XM by Sirius Satellite Radio in a "timely manner." XM and Sirius are waiting for approval from the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission on their planned merger, valued at $4.01 billion.

"There is communication between the two agencies, and we presume they will coordinate their decision in some way," Parsons said at a investor conference.

By Terri Rupar  |  March 13, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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