THIS WEEK IN THE NEWS
December 1 to December 5, 2014
Resources For Homeowners And Consumers Impacted By Buffalo Snow Storm
In Buffalo, Attorney General Schneiderman was joined by local leaders to announce aid that his office is making available to victims of last month’s historic Buffalo Snow Storm. The Attorney General has made his Homeowner Protection Program’s network of housing counselors and legal services providers available to help area residents resolve issues with insurance companies and mortgage providers following extensive home damage from the record snowfall. Attorney General Schneiderman has also sent a letter to 75 companies urging them to suspend late fees following the temporary suspension of the U.S. Postal Service during the storm, to ensure victims aren’t penalized for late mail delivery. Finally, the Attorney General continued to crack down on complaints of price gouging during the storm: Of the 60 complaints received so far, his office has sent at least 39 cease and desist letters.
AGScamHelp App To Help New Yorkers Avoid Foreclosure Scams
With at least 2,700 New Yorkers who have been victimized by foreclosure scams since 2010, Attorney General Schneiderman is taking action to stop this epidemic. At a housing forum held by his office at Brooklyn Law School, the Attorney General announced his office’s new consumer education initiative, which features a web-based app, AGScamHelp. The app will help homeowners determine whether a company has been vetted by a government agency and will urge homeowners at risk of foreclosure to work with a qualified agency within the Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Program network of housing counseling and legal service providers. As part of this new initiative, the Attorney General’s Office will also send monthly mailings with tips on avoiding foreclosure scams to New York homeowners who are within 90 days of a potential foreclosure filing. The Attorney General further detailed his effort – which aims to make New York “the safest state to avoid foreclosure scams and the easiest state to access free help” – in a new op-ed posted on The Huffington Post.
Cracking Down On Online Distributors Of Dangerous Designer Drugs
After successfully stopping 20 head shops across our state from selling dangerous synthetic drugs, Attorney General Schneiderman is tracking down dealers who are operating online. This week, his office, filed a lawsuit and won a temporary restraining order that prohibits a Brooklyn-based distributor from selling synthetic drugs and commonly-known street drug alternatives. The order comes after an investigation revealed the online distributor was violating state labeling laws by selling and promoting dangerous and illegal drugs in New York State and Colorado.
Prison Sentence In 1979 Buffalo Cold Case Killing
After 35 years, the family and friends of Patti Rodriguez finally have a small measure of comfort and closure: Attorney General Schneiderman announced that her murderer Michael Rodriguez received the maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Rodriguez was convicted last month of brutally stabbing his ex-wife 108 times in April 1979, on Good Friday.
Standing With Fast Food Workers
As fast food workers took to the streets in 190 cities across the nation this past Thursday, Attorney General Schneiderman expressed his support for the workers and their important message: Everyone deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Over the past four years, the Attorney General has fought to recover more than $19 million for nearly 14,000 workers, and continues to crack down on wage theft by unscrupulous employers in every industry, including bringing criminal charges.
Guidance For Law Enforcement On The Termination Of The Secure Communities Program
With the Secure Communities program recently terminated under President Obama’s Immigration Action, Attorney General Schneiderman issued a bulletin to law enforcement agencies around the state to ensure they have the most up-to-date information necessary to tailor effective policing strategies for their community. Going forward, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement will no longer request that local law enforcement detain an individual: Instead, detention is now at the discretion of the responding agency.
Conviction Of Nonprofit Director Who Embezzled From Bronx Charity
Attorney General Schneiderman secured the felony conviction of Yolanda Gonzalez, the former head of Nos Quedamos, who embezzled nearly $900,000 from the long-standing South Bronx-based nonprofit community development corporation to pay her personal expenses, including a new car. Gonzalez will serve up to four and half years in prison. As the case was first brought to the Attorney General’s Office by the nonprofit’s board members, Attorney General Schneiderman urged good actors in other organizations to stay vigilant and come forward if they suspect wrongdoing.
Arrests Of Public Works Contractors For Underpaying Workers
With the New York City Department of Investigation, Attorney General Schneiderman announced the arrests of a contractor and two labor brokers overseeing New York City School Construction Authority and Housing Authority projects for allegedly underpaying construction workers by several thousand dollars. If convicted on the top counts, each defendant faces up to seven years in prison.
Lawsuit Against NYC Landlord For Widespread Violations Of State Oil Spill Laws
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit against a New York City landlord for amassing at least 90 violations of state oil spill prevention laws that govern the safe handling and storage of heating oil at residential properties, endangering the health and safety of tenants as well as the public. The Attorney General is asking the court to order the landlord to correct the violations and pay a $113,500 penalty to the State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Protecting Webcam Users From Hackers
Following recent reports of hackers making consumers’ webcam feeds publicly available on several websites, Attorney General Schneiderman issued a consumer alert for New Yorkers looking to protect their privacy. Along with several other tips, the Attorney General urged webcam users to change the default username and password on their camera immediately: Using simple software, hackers can identify operational IP cameras whose default security settings have not been changed.
In Other News…
The Attorney General is also calling on a manufacturer of the life-saving heroin overdose antidote to explain the drug’s sudden rise in price.
“My heart and prayers go out to the Garner family.” –Attorney General Schneiderman
Cyber Monday may be over, but these tips for safe online shopping are good all year round.
There are 10 days left to enroll for a health plan on the NY State Of Health marketplace. Have you seen the Attorney General’s tips on picking the best plan for your family?
The Attorney General was proud to present the former head of his Charities Bureau, Jason Lilien, with the Human Services Council Leadership Award.
Attorney General Schneiderman paid tribute to “the many lost” and “the many still fighting” on World AIDS Day.
This week’s Throwback Thursday: Then-State Senator Schneiderman fighting to raise the wage back in 2004.
Visit our website at ag.ny.gov, where you can learn more about the office’s various initiatives. You can also contact us here.
For more information on Attorney General Schneiderman or other politicians hit us up at RandyKFisher@gmail.com.
Posted by Charles and Randy Fisher (Twitter / Facebook / Instagram @HHSYC).