World and Nation

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Senator Urges Inquiry into Bogus Auto Warranty Calls

Sen. Charles E. Schumer has never struggled to find a reason to hold a news conference on a Sunday. But the inspiration for the one on Mother’s Day arrived unexpectedly, when the senator’s cell phone rang during a health care meeting on Capitol Hill last week.

“You are still eligible to reactivate warranty coverage,” said the recorded voice on the line. “This is the final call before we close the file. Press 1 to speak to a representative now about your vehicle.”

Most people react with annoyance as soon as they hear the insistent — and all-too-familiar — voices and simply hang up. But, then, most people cannot investigate who is behind the call and take the information to the Federal Trade Commission.

Schumer, D-N.Y., had received three or four similar calls. But the one on Wednesday was the last straw.

“I’ve had enough,” Schumer said. “These are scam artists.”

The calls are intended to extract credit card numbers by selling fraudulent car warranty renewals, Schumer said, and are “invading cell phones at a growing rate.”

The senator is calling on the trade commission to investigate the outfits behind the calls.

Judge Sentenced to Prison for Lying About Harassment

A federal judge who presided for nearly two decades in Galveston, Texas, was sentenced to 33 months in prison on Monday for lying to an investigative committee of judges about whether he had sexually harassed his secretary.

In a deal with prosecutors, the judge, Samuel B. Kent, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in February just as his trial was getting under away. In return, the government agreed to drop five charges that he had repeatedly groped his secretary and his case manager, touching their genitals and breasts against their will. Both women have agreed to be publicly identified.

Kent, 59, admitted in his plea that he had forced himself on the two women, reversing his previous position that they had agreed to his advances. Handing down the sentence, Judge Roger Vinson of U.S. District Court said Kent’s conduct was “a stain on the judicial system itself.”

Dick DeGuerin, a lawyer for Kent, said the judge suffered from depression, alcoholism, diabetes and bipolar disease. Rather than resign before he serves his time in prison, Kent has asked to be allowed to claim that he is disabled so he can continue to collect his salary of $169,300 a year, DeGuerin said.