- Published on Thursday, 10 April 2014 07:14
From the County Exec:
Albany County Files Lawsuit Against DSS Vendor
For Selling Unsanitary Mattresses to Clients
Lawsuit Alleges Three Vendors Engaged in Fraud, Ripped Off the County
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy today announced that the county has filed a series of lawsuits against Albany furniture stores for illegal business practices including selling mattresses infested with bedbugs to clients of the Department of Social Services. The lawsuit filed against Seraj Enterprises, DBA 99 Cents and More, of 141 S. Pearl St. and two other firms alleges that the company engaged in fraud for violating the terms of its contract with the county by illegally substituting household items included on vouchers provided by DSS.
The department provides vouchers to those clients who need household items. The vouchers can be redeemed at businesses that sign a contract with the county and agree to specific guidelines and prices for items provided to clients. In two cases, DSS clients have stated that their children were bitten by bed bugs from mattresses sold by 99 Cents and More and that the infestation forced two clients to vacate their apartments. The county hired a pest control firm which found the presence of bedbugs and evidence that the mattresses were unsanitary, defective and of poor quality.
“This egregious behavior will not be tolerated by my office,” said McCoy. “I was shocked to learn that a vendor would provide a mattress that was infested by bugs, of poor quality and unsanitary. It’s shameful really that they would have such disregard for families in need. The county will take all necessary remedies to make sure that these businesses are held responsible for such practices. We are also seeking to void their contracts with the county to serve DSS clients.”
County Executive McCoy also announced that the county has filed suit against two other vendors: AAA Furniture Outlet, 73 Central Ave. and City Discount Furniture, 278 Central Ave. alleging that the vendors violated their contracts by illegally swapping household items listed by DSS. The suit also claims that items paid for by the county were not delivered, were broken or dirty when delivered.
Since the county investigation began last year, there have been at least 10 instances of illegal swaps that took place. In several of those cases, the vendor substituted less expensive items and kept money it was not entitled to. The loss to the county is nearly $3,000. The county is seeking to recover those damages and an additional $25,000 in punitive damages from each vendor. In addition, the county is asking that the court order a pest inspection at 99 Cents and More in order to protect consumers.
The County Executive also announced a change in policy as a result of this case. Going forward, DSS vendors will only be able to provide clients with new mattresses. The county is asking clients to check the tags on their mattresses and to call their caseworkers if there are questions.
- Published on Saturday, 05 April 2014 14:41
The APD has confirmed that a 20 year old woman was struck by a vehicle at Madison and Lark early this morning. Police responded at 3:30 AM and discovered the young woman who was treated at the scene and transported to the hospital with minor injuries.
The vehicle involved fled the scene and the incident remains under investigation.
- Published on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 05:50
From the County Exec :
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy today announced that county leaders have filed an application with Empire State Development to establish the Albany County Land Bank, which will restore the community and address blight in the county.
In the early stages, the land bank will focus on the City of Albany in order to establish operations and due to the city’s concentrations of vacant and abandoned properties in the downtown area. The county has committed $1 million over the next two years to fund the start-up of the land bank. It is expected that the land bank will apply for Regional Economic Development funding and seeking other sources in its early stages.
“This is truly good news for Albany County,” said McCoy. “The county is working with our partners to address the issue of blight in a proactive way. This is just the beginning as we will work to improve our neighborhoods, reduce crime and make our county a leader in bringing our community back.”
- Published on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 06:11
Tax Department Warning:
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection and the NYS Tax Department today alerted consumers to phone and email scams from individuals claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or State Tax Department. Scammers posing as tax officials are threatening New Yorkers with fines, arrest, and other penalties if they don’t immediately pay a false claim of unpaid taxes.
“The New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection wants to remind consumers to be vigilant and be aware of dishonest individuals posing as public tax officials who use fear tactics and intimidation to cheat New York taxpayers out of their hard-earned money,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. “We urge anyone who feels they may have been targeted to contact the proper authorities immediately.”
"Be vigilant regarding scams such as these during the tax season and throughout the year," said Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox. "Be very cautious about providing personal information or making payments in response to telephone calls. If you do have a New York State tax debt, contact us directly so that we can establish a payment plan and resolve your situation."
The agencies warned of a new email “phishing” scam that is particularly relevant during the tax season. Taxpayers receive emails with the IRS logo and claiming to be from the “Taxpayer Advocate Service.” The email asks the taxpayer to resolve an issue with his or her “2013 filing” by clicking a link in the email. The webpage accessed then solicits personal information such as the recipient’s legal name and contact information.
The telephone scams are conducted by a caller who instructs recipients to immediately submit payment for back taxes through wire transfers or a pre-loaded debit card. In some cases, these calls have been accompanied by a fake IRS e-mail sent to support the claim. If victims appear hesitant or unwilling to comply, the caller turns hostile by threatening police arrest or the loss of one’s home. If the victim does not respond to these threats, the scammer may have others call the victim pretending to be from a government entity such as a local law enforcement agency.
Through telephonic “spoofing” techniques, the phone numbers appear to be that of the IRS, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, or local police departments. Scammers have also used fake names and IRS badge numbers, and may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim's Social Security Number.
To help consumers avoid falling victim to this scam, the New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection provides the following tips and information:
Contact the authorities
To report fraudulent activity to New York State authorities, contact the NYS Tax Department at 518-457-0578 or the New York State Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection at 518-474-8583. New Yorkers can also file a complaint online.
To resolve a New York State tax debt, call 518-457-5434.
- Published on Monday, 31 March 2014 06:49
From the County Exec:
“People have a right to be safe from environmental hazards. Wednesday, we issued orders to protect the health and safety of our residents from dangerous crude oil products being shipped into and from Albany County. Instead of Global Companies using its resources to cooperate with efforts to prevent catastrophic public health and safety risks, Global unleashes a cadre of lawyers in a transparent maneuver to intimidate and bully the County from safeguarding the public health. We will not be intimidated. We will not back down and we will not let Big Oil and its hordes of lawyers use hollow threats to stop us and the people from ensuring environmental justice in Albany County.
The County Attorney has advised me the County’s actions are on firm legal ground. A threatening letter that blows smoke does not alter the County’s statutory right and duty embodied in the Public Health Law to protect the public’s health and safety. Interesting, and perhaps most telling, nowhere do Global’s lawyers deny that the shipment and processing of high volumes of Crude Oil present real and substantial public health and safety risk.”
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