• BROWN FOUND GUILTY: Rite Aid Corp.’s former vice chairman and chief counsel, Franklin Brown, was found guilty Friday on 10 criminal counts, including conspiracy and obstruction of justice, by a jury in the U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pa. Brown was convicted of conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of grand jury proceedings, obstruction of government agency proceedings, witness tampering and five counts of lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was acquitted of wire fraud. Witness tampering carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years, while the other offenses all have maximum jail terms of five years. Prosecutors said Brown was party to various acts of fraud in the late Nineties that led the retail chain to restate $1.6 billion of earnings. Five other Rite Aid executives, including former chief executive officer Martin Grass, have pled guilty.

  • THAI FTA ON BUSH’S WISH LIST: Add Thailand to the roster of countries with which the Bush administration aims to negotiate a free trade agreement — one that ships about 3 percent of America’s apparel imports and 3 percent of America’s textile imports. The U.S. has already launched five major FTA negotiations, including ones with Australia and with the Free Trade Area of the Americas, encompassing 34 countries. With so much already on U.S. trade negotiators’ plates, however, it is unclear when talks with Thailand will begin. On deck with Thailand in the Pacific Rim, for FTA talks with the U.S., are Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines. On another front in his weekend swing through Asia, Bush was said to have made no headway in convincing the Chinese government to float its currency freely. Textile producers, among other U.S. industries, have been agitating in Congress and with Bush administration officials against the increasing influx of low-priced Chinese imports they claim are undervalued because Chinese currency is kept artificially low.

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