SETTING THINGS RITE: Martin Grass, former chairman and chief executive officer of Rite Aid Corp., has agreed to pay $1.45 million to settle a shareholder lawsuit regarding alleged false financial information provided by the company over a 30-month period. As reported, Rite Aid in December 1999, under a new management team, said that the company overstated earnings by $1.6 billion during the time span. Grass, who did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement of the civil lawsuit, still faces federal criminal charges in Philadelphia arising from the financial statements during the same 30-month period. The trial is set to begin on June 9 in Harrisburg.
PRESIDENTS MEET ON TRADE: Five Central American presidents who are engaged with the U.S. in regional free-trade negotiations plan to meet with President Bush, Capitol Hill lawmakers and high-level trade officials today to shore up support for the talks. The presidents — Francisco Flores of El Salvador, Alfonso Portillo of Guatemala, Enrique Bolanos of Nicaragua, Abel Pacheco of Costa Rica and Ricardo Maduro of Honduras — will meet with Bush to discuss “the current state of negotiations” on the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement and their support of the war against Iraq, said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. Negotiators, who concluded the third of nine scheduled rounds of talks in El Salvador last week, have pledged to reach an agreement by the end of the year.