Opening Bell

Opening Bell: 04.08.14

Citi Is Bracing to Miss a Profit Target (WSJ)
Citigroup Inc. is warning investors it may miss a key profitability target after the Federal Reserve rejected the bank’s capital plan last month, people familiar with the matter say. The Fed on March 26 shot down the New York bank’s proposal to boost its dividend and ramp up stock buybacks, saying it had failed to measure potential risks to its operations during a severe economic recession. The rejection makes it unlikely Citigroup can hit its 2015 goal for return on tangible common equity.

Intrade’s New Gamble Is Sports Betting (BusinessWeek)
Contests on Tradesports will consist of a series of markets, where players buy stock based on events within a game. To not run afoul of the law, players cannot simply buy stock on whether the San Antonio Spurs will win; the position must also include a bet on, say, how many rebounds Tim Duncan will pull down. A pot is set in advance, and the stocks can be traded throughout the game. When the final buzzer sounds, players holding stock with the highest combined value win the pot. The company takes a cut of the entry fees.

Bank Regulators Set Vote on Big Jump in Capital Requirements (WSJ)
Under the new “leverage ratio,” scheduled for a vote by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve, the eight biggest U.S. firms would have to double the amount of capital they hold as protection against every loan, investment, building, security and other asset on their books—not just the risky ones…The biggest companies would be required to maintain loss-absorbing capital worth at least 5% of their assets, and their FDIC-insured bank subsidiaries would have to keep a minimum leverage ratio of 6%. The amounts, which are line with what banks expected from regulators, compare with the 3% set out by international accord. For the largest banks, satisfying the new requirement will likely be manageable in the near term, but analysts warned it could constrain future growth since it would limit each bank’s ability to increase its asset base, forcing it to either raise more cash from investors or shed assets elsewhere if it begins to bump up against the ratio’s limits.

Tech Firms May Find No-Poaching Pacts Costly (Dealbook)
A high-stakes negotiation is taking place in Silicon Valley among some of the biggest names in the industry — Apple and Google among them — over accusations that they were involved in a collusion to prevent their employees from being hired at rival companies. The employees filed a class-action suit, contending that the illegal hiring practices cost employees $9 billion in lost wages. Now the companies are locked in mediation sessions, hoping to settle the case in the next several weeks. The question being whispered all over town now is how much will Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe ultimately have to pay? The companies privately scoff at the $9 billion figure that the plaintiffs are seeking, contending it amounts to extortion. The employees, who number about 100,000, suggest that the facts are so damning against the companies — and so embarrassing — that they won’t settle for anything less than a blindingly high number.

Cohen firm has new name, still makes big money (CNBC, earlier)
In an internal email issued Monday morning, the company’s president, Tom Conheeney, praised employees for their loyalty…In a telling line of the morning’s memo, Conheeney spoke of the mark the former hedge fund had made in the business. “At its best, SAC was looked upon as the industry’s leading long/short hedge fund, the place where everyone wanted to work and be,” he wrote. “Our goal, certainly my goal, is to see us reach those heights as Point72, but in a manner that no one can ever claim is the result of anything other than your hard work, integrity and smarts.”

Woman Allegedly Calls Cops To Complain About Weed Quality (AP)
Lufkin police Sgt. David Casper said Monday that an officer went to the home of 37-year-old Evelyn Hamilton to hear her complaint that the dealer refused to return her money after she objected that the drug was substandard. Casper says she pulled the small amount of marijuana from her bra when the officer asked if she still had it. She was arrested Friday on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. Hamilton said Monday she spent $40 on “seeds and residue.” She says she called police when she got no satisfaction from the dealer’s family. Read more »

Opening Bell: 04.07.14

Fallout From High-Frequency Trading Hits Brokerages (WSJ)
Shares of E*Trade Financial Corp., Charles Schwab Corp. and TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. tumbled last week amid concerns that regulators would ban a practice that allows brokerages to collect hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue by selling orders to middlemen who use high-frequency strategies to trade with the brokers’ customers.

Pimco’s problems grow as pension funds take fright (FT)
One of the first investors in Pimco’s $232 billion Total Return fund has begun looking for an alternative fixed income manager as concerns over the world’s biggest bond house escalate. The Orange County Employees Retirement System, situated just 12 miles from Pimco’s headquarters in California, has instructed an investment consultant to search for an “additional” domestic fixed income portfolio manager. The $11.5 billion pension scheme has invested in Pimco chief executive Bill Gross’s Total Return strategy since 1982, but it has put the fund on watch due to “organisational and personnel issues” at the company.

BlackRock Reshuffles Management (WSJ)
BlackRock Inc. took a big step toward picking a successor to co-founder and Chief Executive Laurence D. Fink on Sunday, announcing a reshuffling of the management ranks that will elevate a number of executives to prominent roles at the world’s largest asset-management firm. In a call with employees Sunday afternoon, Mr. Fink and President Robert Kapito stressed that Mr. Fink, 61 years old, would remain with the firm for years to come. But the New York firm laid out its most sweeping managerial overhaul in years. Among other moves, it added a new co-president and tapped a new chief operating officer, while promoting a number of other executives, including its company heads in Asia and New York. Mr. Kapito, 57, long has been seen as the heir apparent to Mr. Fink, and the moves are seen as strengthening that position, according to people at the company. He has been president of the firm since 2007…Among the biggest moves, the firm promoted Charlie Hallac, the New York-based company’s chief operating officer, to the new position of co-president alongside Mr. Kapito, who will remain in that role.

The Best Dirt From 15 Central Park West (NYM)
Billionaires Carl Icahn and Daniel Loeb allegedly tussled over a $45 million apartment; Loeb won by not blinking at the astronomical price. Icahn supposedly offered half the asking, a story he dismisses, saying he only wanted one of two units that could be combined: “There was no hondling,” Icahn is quoted in the book. “Bullshit.” (“Page Six” reports that Loeb was upset that Gross and his book are being feted at the building via a party hosted by political cartoonist and resident Ranan Lurie and his wife, Tamar; it’s still scheduled to take place as of this writing.)

Legendary Man U coach headed to Harvard Business School (NYP)
Alex Ferguson, the legendary British soccer manager for Manchester United who is famous for his volcanic temper, is bringing his coaching techniques to Harvard Business School. Ferguson, who retired from managing ManU last year, will teach in Harvard’s executive-education program, the school said this week. Ferguson, 72, is the most successful manager in British soccer and was knighted in 1999.

Australian groom banned from getting married after showing up drunk (NYDN)
Jake Francis Brookes, 41, was reportedly still drunk from his bachelor party when he rocked up at Exeter Uniting Church in Adelaide in February. Witnesses said he was swaying, bruised and sporting torn clothes. It led Reverend Ian Hunter to refuse to proceed with the ceremony because it was “unethical.” This resulted in a “minor altercation” between Brookes and Hunter – which ended after cops were called, according to the Adelaide Advertiser. Brookes was then arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour and resisting arrest – while his wife-to-be decided to cut her losses and end the relationship. He appeared in Port Adelaide Magistrates Court for a preliminary hearing on Thursday. Afterwards, he told reporters outside: “I miss her to bits – she is always in my heart.” “She wants me to be the best I can possibly be…I had my bucks night the night before bro, I mean come on, we are all men here,” he added. Read more »

Opening Bell: 04.04.14

Australia Model Curbs Speed as CEO Says U.S. Too Far Gone (Bloomberg)
In Australia, where high-frequency trading firms are half as pervasive as in the U.S., the head of the biggest stock exchange has a message for Americans who would rein them in: forget it. “The way the U.S. market structure has been set up creates serious problems,” Elmer Funke Kupper, the chief executive officer of Sydney-based ASX Ltd., told Bloomberg News on the sidelines of a conference March 24. Efforts to rectify that are “very late and unlikely to succeed,” he said. Advantages that are hard to replicate in the U.S. help Funke Kupper curb speed traders. Australia restricts alternative exchanges, solidifying ASX’s near-monopoly and reducing high-frequency arbitrage. By contrast, American trading is spread across more than 50 venues. ASX doesn’t offer payments to traders for orders, unlike in the U.S., where a system of fees and rebates known as maker-taker helps keep HFT in business.

U.S. Banks Expected to Post Weaker Earnings (WSJ)
Among the six largest U.S. banks and securities firms, J.P. Morgan, Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. are expected to post a smaller profit than in the same quarter a year earlier. Analysts predict Morgan Stanley’s earnings will be little changed. The five companies all have seen their estimates fall in the past six weeks.

Bitcoin’s Boosters Struggle to Shore Up Confidence (WSJ)
Jeremy Allaire, a longtime technology entrepreneur who is setting up a bitcoin service for consumers, compares the chaotic environment to the Internet’s earliest days. “The amateur-hour enthusiasts that started bitcoin companies in the first generation are being weeded out in a totally appropriate fashion and…replaced by legitimate companies that are working with the financial industry and government,” he says. “There is still more shaking out that needs to happen.” Mr. Murck says the Bitcoin Foundation is encouraging rules that would help prevent “more bad outcomes.” At a February meeting of state banking regulators, he said the bitcoin industry “is being held to a higher standard than other payment systems.” He added: “As far as I’m concerned, that’s fine.” He says he has never thought about quitting his job because he still believes in bitcoin and thinks the trade group is effective. Mr. Murck has two more reasons to help investigators and root for a rebound in the value of bitcoins. He is paid in bitcoins—and was a Mt. Gox customer when the exchange collapsed. He won’t say how many of his bitcoins are missing. “It isn’t an insignificant amount,” he says with a sigh.

China regulator to run stress tests on banks: paper (Reuters)
The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) has said it will conduct regional and national stress tests after banks saw a spike in bad loans last year, the Shanghai Securities News reported on Friday, reflecting growing creditworthiness concerns.

JPMorgan Folds London Whale Office Into Another Unit (Bloomberg)
The chief investment office will be folded into the New York-based bank’s Treasury unit, Chief Operating Officer Matt Zames said in an internal memo obtained yesterday by Bloomberg News. Craig Delany will lead the new group as global chief investment officer and treasurer, Zames said.

The Legacy of JPMorgan’s Blythe Masters (BusinessWeek)
As outlined in Gillian Tett’s book, Fool’s Gold, a group of math wizards that included Masters at JPMorgan in the mid-1990s set out to eliminate the risk of lending money by developing a new type of contract that banks could use to insure against the possibility that a loan wouldn’t be repaid. As Bloomberg Businessweek’s Paul M. Barrett put it in a review of Tett’s book, it worked like this: “Bank A, worried about a loan it has made, strikes a derivative deal to pay a fee to Bank B in exchange for Bank B’s promise to compensate Bank A if the loan sours. Bank A sheds some of the uncertainty related to its loan and feels emboldened to make fresh loans. Bank B assumes some of the risk but immediately enjoys the fee income.” These became known as “credit derivatives,” and they would soon be used to insure millions of low-quality mortgages, mixed into batches like cookie dough, divided into pieces, and sold to investors all around the world. When the real estate market crashed in 2007, so did all those derivatives, causing financial carnage too extensive to enumerate. Masters has spent the years since trying to distance herself from the damage her creation inadvertently caused. Is it her fault that her innovation was so badly misused and exploited by others?

Deputies break window to wake alleged drunk driver stopped at light (Wesh)
Deputies said they were forced to break a driver’s window when the man blacked out with a burrito in his hand at a traffic light early Monday morning in Volusia County. A witness first noticed 36-year-old Daniel Hernandez when he allegedly hit a curb and swerved in and out of his lane, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. The witness followed Hernandez, who allegedly stopped about 50 feet from the traffic light at Doyle Road and Courtland Boulevard and fell asleep, deputies said. Hernandez allegedly sat at the light holding a half-eaten Taco Bell burrito for at least 15 minutes before deputies arrived at the scene. After attempting to wake Hernandez by knocking on the window, officials were forced to break the window, but Hernandez kept sleeping. According to the arrest report, paramedics rubbed Hernandez for two to three minutes to wake him. Read more »

Opening Bell: 04.02.14

JPMorgan Assailed by Russia as Bank Blocks Payment (Bloomberg)
The biggest U.S. bank thwarted a remittance from the Russian embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan, to Sogaz Insurance Group “under the pretext of anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the United States,” the ministry said yesterday in a statement on its website. Sogaz lists OAO Bank Rossiya, a St. Petersburg-based lender facing U.S. sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis, as a strategic partner on its website. Interfering with the transaction was an “absolutely unacceptable, illegal and absurd decision,” Alexander Lukashevich, a ministry spokesman, said in the statement.

Virtu Said to Delay IPO Amid Furor Spurred by Michael Lewis Book (Bloomberg)
Virtu Financial Inc., the high-frequency trader that announced plans last month to sell shares, has delayed the deal, two people with knowledge of the matter said. Virtu’s bankers won’t start marketing the initial public offering until after April 20, delaying the process from this week, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the decision is private. The delay comes amid unprecedented scrutiny of high-frequency traders. “Flash Boys,” the Michael Lewis book released yesterday, argues that high-speed traders, Wall Street brokerages and exchanges have rigged the $23 trillion U.S. stock market. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is examining privileges such as enhanced data feeds marketed to high-speed firms, while the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether those traders are breaking U.S. laws by acting on nonpublic information.

SEC Investigations Into High-Frequency Trading Under Way (WSJ)
U.S. securities regulators are examining whether some rapid-fire trading firms are engaged in unlawful trading practices, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White said Tuesday. Ms. White, testifying before a House Appropriations subcommittee, said the SEC currently has “a number” of ongoing investigations regarding “market integrity and structure issues, including high-frequency traders.” She declined to provide specifics about the investigations, but said they have been under way for “quite some time.” “We’re very much focused on any abuses in that space,” she said.

High-Frequency Hyperbole, By Cliff Asness (WSJ)
A few nights ago, CBS’s “60 Minutes” provided a forum for author Michael Lewis to announce that Wall Street is “rigged” and for the sponsors of a new trading venue called IEX to promise to unrig it. The focus of the TV segment was high-frequency trading, or HFT, an innovation now over 20 years old. The stock market isn’t rigged and IEX hasn’t yet generated a lot of interest. In our profession, what we saw on “60 Minutes” is called “talking your book”—in Mr. Lewis’s case, literally.

Bitcoins aren’t cash, so Silk Road creator’s clean: lawyer (NYP)
In papers seeking to dismiss the feds’ case against Ross Ulbricht, lawyer Joshua Dratel said the IRS recently ruled Bitcoin is property – and not a “monetary instrument” – so the money laundering charges against his client should be tossed. “Bitcoins, the exclusive means of payment on Silk Road, do not qualify as ‘monetary instruments,’ and therefore cannot serve as the basis for a money laundering violation,” Dratel wrote.

French artist starts fortnight inside bear (BBC)
Abraham Poincheval first performed Dans La Peau de l’Ours – Inside the Skin of the Bear – at the CAIRN Centre for Contemporary Art in Digne last year. He is now reprising the piece at the Hunting and Wildlife Museum in Paris, where he will remain until 13 April. Poincheval previously spent a week in an underground hole beneath a bookshop in Marseilles in October 2012. According to the Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature, Poincheval is a performance artist “familiar with extreme situations”. The performance piece will see him eat, drink, sleep and relieve himself inside the sterilised carcass of a bear while being filmed by two cameras. Read more »

Opening Bell: 04.01.14

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg’s Base Salary Falls to $1 (Bloomberg)
Zuckerberg, who is Facebook Inc. (FB)’s chief executive officer and also the 22nd richest person in the world as ranked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, was paid $1 in salary for 2013, according to a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today. That’s down from a base salary of $503,205 in 2012, the year that Facebook went public…Zuckerberg, whose wealth totals around $27 billion, owns Facebook shares that give him 61.6 percent of voting power in the Menlo Park, California-based social network, according to the filing. He saw his net worth balloon last year as Facebook’s stock more than doubled in value.

Drug Company Seeks to Be Repaid Legal Fees in SAC Capital Inquiry (Dealbook)
Elan Pharmaceuticals is seeking to recoup the more than $1.5 million in legal fees it paid to comply with document requests by the federal government in its insider trading investigation of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors. The drug company is asking the federal judge presiding over the hearing in April on the guilty plea and penalty for Steven A. Cohen’s hedge fund to consider it as a victim under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act. Elan submitted a letter to Judge Laura T. Swain of federal District Court saying it incurred the legal fees from its outside law firm Shearman & Sterling in connection with the SAC inquiry.

FBI Investigates High-Frequency Traders for Abuse of Information (Bloomberg)
The FBI joins a roster of authorities examining high-frequency trading, in which firms typically use super-fast computers to post and cancel orders at rates measured in thousandths or even millionths of a second to capture price discrepancies. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened a broad investigation into whether U.S. stock exchanges and alternative venues give such traders improper advantages.

Makers of Bitcoin A.T.M.s See a Not-Quite-Cashless Future (Dealbook)
In addition to the Glocks and Remingtons that have long been available at Central Texas Gun Works, customers can now buy something new: Bitcoin. A bulky blue machine in the lobby of the gun store in Austin, Tex., is one of the first in the country to allow users to buy and sell Bitcoin for cash. “I drove about 20 miles to come use the A.T.M.,” said Mitch Frink, who took $160 out of the machine in its first week in operation. “I wanted to be able say, ‘Yeah, I sold Bitcoin for straight cash and could get it within 30 minutes.’ ” The machine, built by the Las Vegas company Robocoin, is a somewhat odd creation. If Bitcoin is aimed at moving the world toward a cashless future, how long will a cash-dispensing machine for the virtual currency last, particularly when it is more awkward to use than a traditional bank A.T.M.? Just to create an account, Robocoin users have to provide state-issued identification and a palm scan.

Va. couple wins lottery three times in same month (USAT)
Lightning struck again for a Portsmouth, Va., couple who won the Powerball drawing earlier this month. Calvin and Zatera Spencer first won $1 million on March 12. Then, on March 26, Calvin Spencer won $50,000 with 10 winning tickets in the Virginia Lottery’s Pick 4 game. But it doesn’t stop there. The next day, shortly after dropping his wife off for an appointment, Calvin Spencer bought a Virginia Lottery Scratcher ticket, $100 Million Cash Extravaganza, and won the $1 million prize. “Baby, we did it again!” he told her. Read more »

Opening Bell: 03.31.14

Swiss Antitrust Regulator Probes Eight Banks Over Alleged FX-Rigging (Bloomberg)
The authorities are examining whether firms colluded to fix foreign-exchange rates, the Bern-based watchdog, also known as Weko, said in a statement today. JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Barclays Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc are among the other firms being probed, along with Zuercher Kantonalbank and Julius Baer Group Ltd., Weko said. More banks and brokers may have been involved, the regulator added.

Yellen Says Job Market Is Far From Normal (WSJ)
“The U.S. economy is still considerably short of the two goals assigned to the Federal Reserve by the Congress” of low and stable inflation and maximum sustainable employment, Ms. Yellen told a conference on community investment.

IMF still sees advantage for ‘too important to fail’ banks (Reuters)
Top banks in the euro zone benefited from an implicit taxpayer subsidy of $90 billion to $300 billion in 2012 due to ongoing state support which makes them “too important to fail,” the International Monetary Fund said in a report on Monday. Subsidies in the United Kingdom and Japan may have been as high as $110 billion in the period of 2011-12, while they ranged from $20 billion to $70 billion in the United States, the IMF said in a chapter of its twice-yearly “Global Financial Stability Report.”

Hong Kong Regulator Probes Departed J.P. Morgan Executive (WSJ)
It isn’t known why Mr. Fang decided to leave the bank after a long period as a key deal maker in China or why exactly the ICAC visited his offices. The memo from March 24 said Mr. Fang planned to retire and people familiar with the matter said he wants to spend more time with his family and pursue new opportunities.

Columbia track star chases down alleged ticket scammer (NYP)
A Columbia University track star who was duped into buying two bogus tickets ran after the alleged scammer peddling the fake ducats — and caught him after nearly 20 blocks. The Ivy Leaguer, a 20-year-old finance major, probably should have known that the Craigslist ad offering two tickets for $210 each to the hottest sporting event in the city was too good to be true…But the Ivy League victim met up with the phony salesman outside the arena anyway, trading his cash for two inkjet printouts of tickets that were worth about as much as a pair of takeout menus. “I have never been to Madison Square Garden,” said the student, who didn’t want his name used for fear of reprisal. “So I was really looking forward to it.” But when the guy and his friend presented the printouts to an MSG ticket taker before game time, they were told they were fake. The pals then immediately concocted a plan to catch the crook. They still had the hustler’s number, so the friend called the seller and pretended that he wanted more tickets. When the alleged crook arrived at a meeting place, the track star confronted him and demanded his money back. “He just thought I was some other random customer at first, and he didn’t even recognize me,” the student said. “Then, I pulled out the tickets he scammed me with.” The seller reached into his pocket as if he was retrieving the man’s money but then turned and fled. “I was running after him screaming, ‘Help! Help!’ ” the student recalled. “He was much bigger than me. But I got him.” A pedestrian helped the fleet-footed student subdue the alleged scam artist along West 50th Street, about 17 blocks from the arena, until police arrived. Read more »

Opening Bell: 03.27.14

Bad News Drew Citi CEO to Rush Home (WSJ)
The phone rang when Michael Corbat was half a world away in South Korea. It was about 6 a.m. Wednesday morning in Seoul, and on the line was a Federal Reserve official, charged with delivering news that left the Citigroup Inc. chief executive in shock and would shake the company’s stock soon after: The bank had failed the Fed’s closely watched “stress test” and would be denied the chance to raise the amount of cash it returns to shareholders for the foreseeable future. In the space of minutes, Mr. Corbat’s routine business trip to Asia turned into a mad scramble for the airport and then to New York to address the fallout from yet another setback for Citigroup, according to a person familiar with the situation.

SEC Is Urged to Shorten Window for Investor Tip-Offs (WSJ)
Some lawmakers and others are calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission to cut the time that large investors can secretly amass shares in a company, following a Wall Street Journal investigation into leaks ahead of public filings. At issue is the time frame for investors who own 5% of a stock to file a report disclosing the size of their stake. A 1968 regulatory rule gives investors a 10-day window to announce their holdings. The Journal investigation showed how activist investors—who push for changes at companies or try to move stock prices with their arguments—sometimes leak word of their plans to a favored few investors during the 10-day window before they announce a big trade, which typically jolts the stock higher or lower. Since 2010, the SEC has been authorized by the Dodd-Frank regulatory-overhaul law to shorten that window but hasn’t acted. In a 2011 letter to the SEC, law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz argued for cutting the 10-day period to one, saying the lag facilitates “market manipulation and abusive tactics.”

Sydney Property Agency Accepts Bitcoin Payments to Woo Chinese (Bloomberg)
Forsyth Real Estate, a Sydney-based property broker, will accept property deposits and payments from sellers in virtual currency Bitcoin to lure business from Chinese home buyers. The realtor, which has one office in Willoughby, a suburb 8.5 kilometers (5.3 miles) north of Sydney’s center, this week became able to accept Bitcoin payments, according to spokeswoman Hayley Johnston. While it hasn’t yet taken deposits in the virtual currency, it expects to soon, she said.

Judge rules Goldman must face lawsuit over mortgage securities (Reuters)
Filed in 2010 by Detroit’s police and fire retirement system, the lawsuit accused Goldman of misrepresenting the standards used to qualify borrowers for mortgage loans that were pooled into securities and bought by the fund.

Uintah County woman uses bacon in alleged arson attempt (KSL)
A Uintah County woman is accused of trying to set fire to her ex-boyfriend’s home with a pound of bacon left burning on a gas stove. Cameo Adawn Crispi, 31, was charged Wednesday in 8th District Court with arson, a third-degree felony. Crispi’s ex-boyfriend called Naples police March 14 to report that he’d received “multiple phone calls and texts” from her in an hour and wanted it to stop, according to charging documents. He also said he did not want her at his home. An officer went to the home. He said Crispi was obviously impaired and there was smoke coming out the front door. “I asked to come in and observed a wood stove left open with a fire burning inside and hot coals on the floor around the stove,” the officer wrote, noting that he also found a cookie sheet loaded with a pound of bacon sitting on top of the kitchen stove. “I observed the burner to be on the setting ‘High’ and the bacon to be severely burned and smoking badly,” the officer wrote. The officer stopped the spread of the fire and arrested Crispi, who had a blood-alcohol content of 0.346, the charges state. Due to her impaired state, she was taken to the hospital for a medical clearance before being booked into jail. “The doctor asked her about the fire … and she stated she was attempting to start a fire in the house to get back at (her ex-boyfriend),” the charges state. Read more »