THIS WEEK IN THE NEWS
December 15 to December 19, 2014
When toy guns are mistaken for real guns, there can be tragic consequences. That’s why Attorney General Schneiderman sent cease and desist letters to several major retailers, including Wal-Mart, Amazon, K-Mart, and Sears, ordering to stop the sales of illegal toy guns to residents of New York State. State law prohibits the sale of imitation guns in realistic colors such as black, blue, silver, or aluminum, unless it has a non-removable one-inch-wide orange stripe running down both sides of the barrel and the front end of the barrel. However, an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office revealed that these retailers have been selling prohibited toys lacking those distinguishing designs online and, in at least one case, in a K-Mart store in suburban Rochester. To report the sale of illegal toy guns, consumers are encouraged to contact Attorney General Schneiderman’s consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.
Attorney General Schneiderman announced a $90 million multi-state settlement with T-Mobile to resolve charges that the company engaged in cramming. Cramming is a practice where cell phone providers place unauthorized third-party charges on consumers’ bills – for example, those $9.99-per-month text services for horoscopes or trivia, which consumers often never requested. The agreement not only requires T-Mobile to reform its business practices, but also secures relief for customers nationwide. Consumers can submit claims by visiting http://www.t-mobilerefund.com.
Attorney General Schneiderman applauded the New York State Board of Regents’ approval of emergency regulations to “help eliminate significant barriers” and ensure equal educational opportunity for all students seeking to enroll in New York State schools regardless of immigration status. The adoption of the regulation marks a significant development as the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau and the New York State Education Department continue their joint review into enrollment policies and procedures of school districts across New York State. More information about the joint review is available here.
Attorney General Schneiderman is committed to combatting wage theft whenever and wherever his office sees it. That’s why, this week, his office filed a lawsuit against Papa John’s pizza franchisee Emstar Pizza Inc. and its owners, alleging that they significantly underpaid employees – including shaving workers’ pay by under-reporting hours and rounding down fractions of hours and compensating them nothing for this work, as well as nonpayment of overtime premiums. The lawsuit seeks to require that the franchisee pay restitution and damages to hundreds of employees who have worked for Emstar and its owners over the past six years.
Attorney General Schneiderman secured the felony convictions of two Ulster County men charged as part of the three-county takedown, “Operation Angry Birds,” which resulted in the dismantling of the largest known cockfighting ring in New York history, reaching from Ulster County to Brooklyn and Queens. The defendants face up to nine months in jail and will be banned from owning animals in the future.
With the State Department of Environmental Conservation, Attorney General Schneiderman announced $11 million in the latest grant awards by the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund (GCEF), a $19.5 million environmental improvement fund created from money obtained by the state in a 2011 settlement with ExxonMobil over its massive oil spill in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. In this round, the state awarded grants to six projects that address environmental priorities of Greenpoint, ranging from restoring the community’s waterfront to planting 500 trees to establishing an environmental education center for students. These grants will be combined with $23.8 million in matching contributions from the recipients, bringing the total investment in improving Greenpoint’s environment to nearly $35 million.
Thanks to an agreement with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, a Putnam County landowner will clean up an illegal landfill that discharged pollution into the Croton Falls Reservoir – a New York City drinking water reservoir that has historically provided 10 percent of the daily water supply for New York City. The agreement also requires the landowner to pay $245,000 in penalties.
Our healthcare workers have a basic duty to care for their patients, to keep them safe and not to injure them further. This week, Attorney General Schneiderman arrested a nurse aide for allegedly endangering the welfare of a 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound resident of Huntington Hills Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Suffolk County, illegally moving the resident in a manner that resulted in her injury and then failing to report it. If guilty, the defendant faces up to four years in prison.
In Other News…
Attorney General Schneiderman praised the state’s proposed regulations to provide coverage for transgender therapy through Medicaid as an important step toward equality. The Attorney General also reminded New Yorkers to contact his Health Care Bureau’s Helpline with any questions about coverage.
When Attorney General Schneiderman took office four years ago, at least half of all New York families facing foreclosure didn’t even speak to a lawyer. Now, thanks to efforts like his office’s Homeowner Protection Program, the tides are turning.
Getting into some last-minute holiday shopping? Take a look at the Attorney General’s tips to make sure you keep toxic toys out of your home.
Did you know that, by March 2015, all prescriptions in New York will be filed electronically? It’s all thanks to Attorney General Schneiderman’s I-STOP legislation.
“Chag Sameach” to all New Yorkers celebrating Hannukah!
For more info on Attorney General Schneiderman and other politicians hit us up at RandyKFisher@gmail.com.
Posted by Charles and Randy Fisher (Twitter / Facebook / Instagram @HHSYC).