Massachusetts News Briefs

CMGI Inc. acquiring Activerse of Austin
ANDOVER – CMGI, Inc. has announced its plans to purchase Activerse, Inc. of Austin, Texas, an Internet communications tools maker. The cost of the acquisition was not disclosed. CMGI is an Internet venture capital company. Software made by Activerse (Ding) permits live communication over the Internet, known as instant messaging. A CMGI spokesman said the company hoped to make instant messaging as widespread as e-mail.

Woonsocket man charged in Boston treasury scam
BOSTON – A Woonsocket man, Thomas Ciliberto, was charged with larceny and bribery for allegedly stealing $812,000 of $2.4 million reportedly stolen from the Unpaid Check Fund of the Boston state treasurer’s office. He was arraigned in Boston Municipal Court. Former deputy treasurer Robert E. Foley was accused by Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly of being the mastermind in the scheme to steal from the treasurer’s office fund. He was charged in Boston Municipal Court with larceny of $2.4 million and bribery. Foley, one of five deputies under former treasurer Joseph D. Malone, was a partner in the D’Ambra & Associates accounting firm in Norwood. Ciliberto, according to the Boston Globe was president of Reinke Group Inc. of Rhode Island, an heir-finding group. John Trischitta, of Stoneham, who worked in the treasurer’s office under Foley was arrested two weeks ago along with Martin Robbins, an heir finder from Peabody and New Hampshire. Trischitta allegedly directed Robbins to $6.5 million in unclaimed checks in exchange for $50,000 on bribes and a third of the money. The $6.5 million, which Robbins put in escrow in a BankBoston account, has been returned to the state, the Globe reported.

Siemens buys two Mass. companies
BURLINGTON – With the acquisition of two data and networking start-up companies in the Bay State, Siemens A.G., the huge German electronics and telecommunications company signaled its plan to enter the data networking and Internet communications business in the United States. Argon Networks Inc. of Littleton and Castle Networks Inc. of Westford will be the basis for a new Siemens subsidiary based in Burlington. According to sources quoted by the Boston Globe, Siemens paid $550 million for the two companies.

EG&G to acquire instruments unit
WELLESLEY – EG&G Inc. has announced plans to acquire an instruments unit from Perkin-Elmer Corp. for $425 million. EG&G also said it was considering disposing of its technical services unit which manages a chemical disposal plant and other facilities for the U.S. government. The moves are part of the company’s strategy of concentrating on commercial businesses with higher profit margins, the Boston Globe quoted the company president, Gregory L. Summe as saying. Summe is said to be responding to falling revenues and lower profits since he was named head of the company 13months ago.

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MIT to receive $20 million from Merrill Lynch
CAMBRIDGE – The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will received $20 million over a five-year period from Merrill Lynch & Co. for research in financial engineering, the school has reported. Fifteen million dollars of the gift from the New York-based investment firm will be used for collaborative projects among MIT’s schools of business, engineering and architecture to create new financial modeling and forecasting tools. The remaining $5 million will be used to fund research by about a dozen faculty members, according to the Sloan school’s deputy dean of management.

MIT increases scholarship grants, tuition
CAMBRIDGE — Need-based scholarship grants at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will increase 12 percent next year, the school announced. However, tuition will also climb. MIT officials, who made the announcement, predicted the average MIT grant will go from $12,400 to $13,900 and said the school expects to spend $33 million on undergraduate scholarships. More than half of all MIT undergraduates receive need-based grants. The school also announced that the cost of tuition, room and board for the 1999-2000 school year will increase by $1,100 to $31,900.


Multifamily home sales rise
WORCESTER, Mass. — The state’s healthy real estate market caused an 11 percent jump in sales of multifamily homes statewide last year. Sales of two-, three- and four-family homes were especially lively in central Massachusetts, with sales jumping 21.5 percent in 1998, according to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. James C. Dougherty, president of the Realtors association, said the region has more to offer current buyers because its multifamily housing inventory was largely bypassed by the condominium conversion trends of the 1980s. While central Massachusetts communities led the state in growth, southeastern communities — including Fall River and New Bedford — saw a 16.5 percent rise. Greater Boston saw an 11.8 percent increase, and areas of western Massachusetts and the North Shore saw growth levels between 2 percent and 4 percent, officials said.

An elephant of a bill
NEW BEDFORD — When your prized 7,300-pound East Indian elephant develops an infection, you go to great lengths to cure it, including shelling out thousands of dollars and asking City Council for help. And if you’re City Council, you pay the bill. When Ruth, an elephant at the Buttonwood Park Zoo, developed a corneal infection, zoo officials paid $17,500 for a cure. The hefty bill raised eyebrows recently when put before the City Council, but zoo officials said the value of the 42-year-old pachyderm’s right eye was priceless. In November, zoo officials discovered the penny-sized white growth after Ruth poked herself in the eye with a piece of straw. Veterinarians suspect the straw carried a fungus. Treatment, which included almost three months of round-the-clock care, ended up costing $1,400 for medication and supplies, $8,000 for consulting fees and $8,100 for overtime pay.

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