Investor Sues Whitehall Jewellers, Inc., for Securities Fraud, Berman DeValerio Pease Tabacco Burt & Pucillo Announces

Boston, Massachusetts, UNITED STATES


CHICAGO, Feb. 20, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- An investor sued Whitehall Jewellers, Inc. (NYSE:JWL) today, claiming the jewelry retailer and four top officers issued misleading financial results, Berman DeValerio Pease Tabacco Burt & Pucillo announced.

The class action was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. It seeks damages for violations of federal securities laws on behalf of all investors who bought Whitehall common stock from November 19, 2001 through and including December 10, 2003 (the "Class Period").

Berman DeValerio has represented investors in class actions since 1982. To receive a copy of the complaint, you may contact the court, call the firm at (800) 516-9926 or go to the firm's website at www.bermanesq.com .

The lawsuit claims that the defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, including U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 10b-5.

The complaint names as defendants the company, Hugh M. Patinkin, the chairman, chief executive officer and president; Jon H. Browne, the former chief financial officer, treasurer and executive vice president, Matthew M. Patinkin, the executive vice president of operations; and John R. Desjardins, the interim chief financial officer and executive vice president of operations.

According to the complaint, the defendants materially misrepresented Whitehall's financial results by: a) materially misstating the company's inventory and accounts payable; b) understating expenses because the company failed to write down inventory to its present fair market value and; c) improperly accounting for vendor allowances. The lawsuit contends that these false financial results caused Whitehall's stock to trade at artificially high prices during the Class Period.

On November 6, 2003, the company received a subpoena from the SEC as part of a formal investigation into a complaint that Whitehall and 13 other jewelry retailers helped a former supplier commit accounting fraud. Whitehall also announced it was the subject of a criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

The company announced December 11, 2003 that it had fired its chief financial officer, Jon Browne, based on an internal investigation tied to the SEC probe. Whitehall also delayed the release of its third quarter financial results for the quarter ended October 31, 2003.

As a result, Whitehall's shares fell 7.6%, or $0.75, to close at $9.04 on December 11, 2003.

Then, on December 22, 2003, Whitehall announced that it would restate its financial results for fiscal 2000, 2001, 2002 and the first two quarters ended July 31, 2003. The restatement decreased Whitehall's earnings per diluted share by $0.01 for fiscal 2000; $0.03 for fiscal 2001; $0.02 for fiscal 2002; and decreased the loss by $0.01 for the six months period ended July 31, 2003, according to the complaint.

If you purchased Whitehall Jewellers, Inc. common stock during the period of November 19, 2001 through and including December 10, 2003, you may wish to contact the following attorneys at Berman DeValerio Pease Tabacco Burt & Pucillo to discuss your rights and interests.

N. Nancy Ghabai, Esq. Michael T. Matraia, Esq. Jeffrey C. Block, Esq. One Liberty Square Boston, MA 02109 (800) 516-9926 law@bermanesq.com

If you wish to apply to be lead plaintiff in this action, a motion must be filed on your behalf with the court no later than April 12, 2004. You may contact the attorneys at Berman DeValerio to discuss your rights regarding the appointment of lead plaintiff and your interest in the class action. You may also retain counsel of your choice. To be a member of the class, however, you need not take any action at this time.

Berman DeValerio Pease Tabacco Burt & Pucillo prosecutes class actions nationwide on behalf of institutions and individuals, chiefly victims of securities fraud, antitrust law violations, and consumer fraud. The firm consists of 34 attorneys in Boston, San Francisco, and West Palm Beach, Florida.



        

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