Sunday, October 25, 2015

Designer Drugs, Fighting Big Tobacco & More

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Joining Together To Fight The Scourge of Designer Drugs

Building off his recent cutting edge work to stop the sale of designer drugs, the Attorney General convened a roundtable with Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto and local health professionals to tackle the growing scourge of designer drugs. Lawsuits filed by the Attorney General have removed designer drugs from 22 stores statewide, and additional lawsuits were recently filed against stores in Erie and Rockland counties. The Attorney General will continue to crack down for as long as it takes to get these drugs off of store shelves, and off of websites selling to New Yorkers.

Making Big Tobacco Pay

The Attorney General reached an agreement with Big Tobacco, which will return $550 million long withheld from New Yorkers. The settlement ends a prolonged legal dispute over the funds, which will be distributed to the state, New York City, and counties all across New York. The money comes from the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), which requires the tobacco companies to compensate the 52 states and territories – including New York – for the public-health costs of smoking-related illnesses. The Attorney General will continue to hold Big Tobacco accountable for the burden their addictive, deadly products impose on the taxpayers of this state.

Holding UPS Accountable For Over-Charging The State

UPS has agreed to pay back $1.2 million to New York State as part of a $4 million multi-state settlement stemming from allegations it recorded inaccurate delivery times on packages sent via UPS next-day delivery services by government customers. These inaccurate estimates resulted in premium-priced packages that appeared to be delivered by their guaranteed commitment times when, in fact, they were not. Because UPS also applied inapplicable or inappropriate “exception codes” to excuse late next-day packages, government customers were allegedly unable to claim or receive refunds for late deliveries. UPS has also instituted remedial training, monitoring, and reporting compliance programs to address any potential delivery failures or policy violations.

Stopping The Flow Of Illegal Guns Into New York

The Attorney General and NYPD Commissioner Bratton announced the take-down of a high-volume gun trafficking ring that allegedly funneled firearms from South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee to New York City, often aboard Greyhound buses.  It is alleged Donovan Bryant, with the aid of the co-defendants, brought dozens of guns to New York City from South Carolina and sold them to an undercover officer between June 18 and October 21, 2015. Bryant, a North Carolina resident who uses a wheelchair, allegedly brought guns from South Carolina to the Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan.  He allegedly then contacted another defendant, an Uber driver, to pick him up and drive him to meet up with the undercover officer in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and East New York neighborhoods.

Warning Consumers About Cold Weather Scams

Winter is coming, and the Attorney General wants consumers to be on the alert for cold weather scams. Speaking in Binghamton, the Attorney General and Broome County District Attorney Mollen urged consumers to shop aroundfor different estimates from business, insist on written contracts, and avoid paying advance sums, among other tips. While responses to storms and other cold weather events are often overwhelmingly positive, there are always a small handful of shady businesses that exploit these crises to make a quick buck.

Continuing The Fight Against Illegal Drug Rings

The Attorney General announced two guilty pleas as part of “Operation Trojan Horse,” which busted a major Capital Region drug trafficking ring in August. Ringleader Daquan Murray and associate Asjmere Powell both pleaded guilty to their involvement. During the year-long investigation, agents seized more than 1,000 grams of cocaine with an approximate street value of $100,000 and more than 100 bags of heroin and more than an ounce of raw heroin with an approximate street value of $14,000.

Bringing Justice To Those Victimized By Scams

The Attorney General announced the prison sentence of Morgan Tetro for stealing over $200,000 from an 85-year U.S. Air Force veteran and using the money to fund personal expenses, including more than $140,000 of gambling losses at a casino. Tetro received a sentence of 7 1/3 to 23 years in prison, and was also ordered to pay nearly $240,000 in restitution. The defendants befriended Colonel Irene Dennison when she rented a house to David Tetro, Jr, husband of Morgan Tetro. Over the following years, the defendants gained her trust, becoming her primary care providers and convincing her to allow them to control her financial affairs, leading to the theft.  Irene Dennison was one of the first women in United States military history to reach the level of full colonel, and was instrumental in negotiating the release of U.S. Senator John McCain from the North Vietnamese Army in 1973. David Tetro will be sentenced next week for his involvement. 

Holding Fraudulent Non-Profit Owners Accountable

Along with Comptroller DiNapoli, DOI Commissioner Peters and federal agencies, the Attorney General announced the conviction of a nonprofit executive accused of pocketing taxpayer dollars intended for public services and capital improvements in New York City. Dorothy Ogundu used approximately $300,000 in city, state and federal grants to pay the mortgage and utilities on a commercial property she owned, make improvements to that property to increase its value, purchase and ship vehicles to Nigeria, and make other purchases for her personal benefit and for the benefit of her for-profit business. Today’s conviction sends a clear message: if you use taxpayer funds to line your own pocket, you will face serious consequences. 

Protecting The Safety Of New York Drivers

The Attorney General announced an agreement with Don’s Automotive Mall, Inc. to resolve an investigation that revealed that the company was selling salvaged automobile airbags in violation of New York State law. An investigation revealed that Don’s Automotive sold dozens, if not hundreds, of airbags removed from salvaged automobiles to consumers and auto repair shops throughout the United States without first having the equipment properly tested. As part of the agreement, the company will pay more than $12,000 back to the state. 

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