THIS WEEK IN THE NEWS
June 23 to June 27, 2014
Attorney General Schneiderman announced his lawsuit against Barclays – one of the world’s largest banks – arising from the operation of its dark pool and other aspects of its electronic trading division. The complaint alleges Barclays has dramatically increased the market share of its dark pool through a series of false statements to clients and investors about how, and for whose benefit, Barclays operates its dark pool. While Barclays represents to investors that it has implemented special safeguards to protect clients from “aggressive” or predatory high-frequency traders, Barclays is accused of operating its dark pool to favor high-frequency traders. The lawsuit also alleges that Barclays falsified marketing material purporting to show the extent and type of high frequency trading in its dark pool. This would not only negatively impact institutions trading within the dark pool, but also individuals who might have invested with those institutions.
Joined by representatives of the NYPD, State Police and Department of Homeland Security in New York City, Attorney General Schneiderman detailed the 215-count indictment of 17 members of a criminal drug ring who allegedly flooded New York City, as well as other parts of New York State, with several tons of khat. Khat is a plant containing controlled substances similar to amphetamines, a dangerous and illegal drug with worldwide reach. The indictment claims defendants obtained khat from Yemen, Kenya and Ethiopia and shipped large quantities to U.S.-based managers for distribution. The ring then laundered the proceeds through operations in Minnesota and wired the money to various locations abroad, including Dubai and England.
Schneiderman Announces Lawsuit Against Continuum Health Partners, Beth Israel Medical Center & St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center For Violations Of False Claims Act
Attorney General Schneiderman announced that his office has filed a lawsuit alleging that New York City-based Continuum Health Partners, Inc., Beth Israel Medical Center and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center failed to return money to the New York State Medicaid Program that they knew they had no right to have received. In one example, the complaint alleges that in February 2011, Continuum identified over 900 potentially improper claims to Medicaid, totaling approximately $1,000,000, but it failed to take steps to repay all of the affected claims.
Attorney General Schneiderman launched his new NYS MAP program, which aims to provide low cost loans to New Yorkers struggling to avoid foreclosure. With many families statewide denied mortgage modifications as a result of small outstanding debts, NYS MAP aims to assist homeowners stay in their homes by helping them resolve those debts. The program is an enhancement to the Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), which provides struggling borrowers with free legal and housing counseling services, serving more than 28,000 homeowners since its launch in October 2012. NYS MAP is being established first on Long Island, a region that has been particularly devastated by the foreclosure crisis. Borrowers in the rest of the state can apply beginning October 15. If interested, visit www.nysmap.org for more information.
Along with the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Attorney General, Attorney General Schneiderman reached a $15.6 million settlement with The Tax Club, for scamming consumers out of millions of dollars by allegedly misleading them into believing that its services would help consumers’ home-based businesses succeed. The schemes charged a large initial fee, between approximately $1,000 to $3,000, with a restrictive refund policy and recurring monthly “membership” payments of at least $19.99 a month. Many of the services offered were actually unnecessary—and were never provided. The settlement includes restitution, recovered from the personal assets of Tax Club executives, for 26 New Yorkers victimized by the company’s schemes.
Attorney General Schneiderman secured the sentencing of a Buffalo man who fraudulently operated as an optometrist without a license for 13 years. As part of his sentencing, the defendant has paid back the $116,821 he illegally collected from New York’s Medicaid program and other health insurers.
Attorney General Schneiderman announced that Supreme Court Justice James McClusky ruled in favor of his office’s case against Legal Docs By Me, suspending operations at the alleged unscrupulous business’ two locations in Watertown and Syracuse. The Attorney General’s Office has argued that Legal Docs By Me was misrepresenting the services it was providing to consumers, misrepresented pricing of its services and regularly provided misinformation to consumers about legal transactions – even relying on legal guidance obtained via Google search.
Attorney General Schneiderman indicted and arrested a New Rochelle woman who has allegedly operated a long-running scheme to steal from Queens residents. As alleged in the indictment, she defrauded her customers, many of whom were immigrants, by making false promises to perform a variety of services, from helping them obtain legal residency status to clearing up traffic tickets. Between 2012 and 2013 she collected more than $38,000 from her clients without providing the services for which she charged. If convicted, the defendant faces up to 7 years in prison.
Attorney General Schneiderman arrested and arraigned a Westchester nurse and nurse aide after they failed to provide care to an ailing Korean War Veteran in their care at the New York State Veterans’ Home. The defendants are accused of making false statements in the resident’s medical records to falsely reflect that they had provided the necessary care. They each face up to four years in prison. This investigation was part of Attorney General Schneiderman’s ongoing effort to protect vulnerable seniors and veterans who deserve the best of care.
Attorney General Schneiderman has sued a Western New York mechanic for allegedly defrauding racing enthusiasts by accepting payments for work on high performance engines he never completed. The mechanic allegedly used cash payments from consumers to issue refunds to other customers, took money for parts but then never ordered the parts, and even removed parts from customers’ engines to use for other projects. In one case, a consumer paid Leverentz $3,500 to install an engine in a vintage Corvette. Rather than install the engine, valued at $30,000, he gave it away to settle a debt he owed. The lawsuit seeks refunds for consumers and civil penalties for his violations of consumer protection laws.
The Attorney General will be in Poughkeepsie for a Mid-Hudson Valley Community forum on Thursday, July 17 at 6pm at Marist College. See the flyer below for complete details.
In Other News…
Attorney General Schneiderman applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the EPA’s authority under the Clear Air Act to limit climate change and pollution from major industrial sources. In its ruling, the Court agreed with the Attorney General’s multi-state brief, arguing that the states’ permitting program applies to power plants.
Attorney General Schneiderman expressed his disappointment in the Supreme Court’s ruling in McCullen v. Coakley, which rejected Massachusett’s buffer zone laws to protect reproductive health care clinics.
For more information on Attorney General Schneiderman or more political figures hit us up at RandyKFisher@gmail.com.
Posted by Charles and Randy Fisher (Twitter @HHSYC).