Boston shop faces probe

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Massachusetts state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson has requested the state investigate charges of financial improprieties on the part of Boston agency Houston Herstek Favat in winning two state accounts. The charges, based on a complaint by a former agency employee, claim the agency made a $20,000 donation to the American Cancer Society with the understanding that the society would use a portion of the donation to help Houston procure the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's $11 million anti-smoking account, which it won last week.

The complaint also alleges the agency prebilled the state $2 million on the Department of Tourism account and earned $1 million on it through investments. Robert Cauley Jr., who claims he was wrongfully terminated from his post as chief financial officer because he is gay, has filed a gender discrimination complaint.

The agency said it has "acted properly in all these matters"; that the cancer group stated it never lobbied for the agency; and that pre-billing was part of its contract with the tourism department. It also denied Mr. Cauley was dismissed because he is gay.

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