Sunday, December 20, 2015

Toy Guns, Internet Speeds & More

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Keeping Communities Safe From The Dangers Of Toy Guns

When toy guns are mistaken for real guns, there can be tragic consequences. That is why the Attorney General reached settlements with 30 online retailers that sold over 5,000 illegal toy guns to consumers in New York State. These online retailers have agreed to voluntarily meet New York City’s standard of selling toy guns which requires them to be completely brightly colored. The announcement this week follows agreements with major retailers K-Mart, Walmart, and Sears over the summer, who paid over $300,000 following an earlier investigation into the illegal sale of toy guns. The Attorney General will continue to enforce the laws on imitation weapons so that we can avoid putting both children and law enforcement officials at risk. 

Putting Internet Speeds To The Test

Think your Internet speed is slower than advertised? Then check out the Attorney General’s new online form where New Yorkers can test and submit data on home Internet speeds. In October, the Attorney General sent letters to Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and Verizon asking for documents related to whether the Internet speeds they advertise are actually what households are receiving. Too many New Yorkers may be paying for one thing, and getting another, and by conducting these tests, consumers can uncover whether they are receiving the Internet speeds they have paid for. Go to to take the test for and see how fast your Internet speed is.  

Dismantling The School To Prison Pipeline

In February, the Attorney General began an investigation into the disciplinary policies of the City School District of Albany. The investigation revealed that black students were far more likely to be suspended in the District than their white peers, and students with disabilities were more likely to receive a suspension than their counterparts without. Harsh disciplinary practices undermine student development and increase the likelihood of incarceration in the future, and the Attorney General’s agreement institutes disciplinary reforms to ensure the District will not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin or disability status. This agreement is a step towards ending the school to prison pipeline, which disadvantages some of the most vulnerable children in our schools. The Attorney General believes it is critical that we protect equal educational opportunities for all students and commit ourselves to fostering a safe and effective school climate.

Holding Nursing Homes Accountable

The Attorney General has reached a $600,000 settlement with a Hudson Valley area nursing home chain which resolves claims that it delayed the discharges of short-term residents at its facilities. Between 2008 and 2011, it was alleged that Elant postponed discharges of short-term residents who were clinically ready to leave its facilities against the wishes or without the informed consent of the residents or their families. Internal emails revealed that administrators and staff openly discussed efforts to delay discharges and thereby keep daily resident counts for each home as high as possible in order to receive additional Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. Elant also admitted that it prolonged short-term stays by giving residents additional services that were not clinically necessary, avoiding residents who were actively seeking discharge, and delaying the completion of discharge paperwork. This settlement makes it clear that those who seek to profit at the expense of vulnerable New Yorkers will be held accountable. 

Building A Greener, Healthier Greenpoint

The Attorney General announced the final round of grants from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund, a competitive grant program created out of a 2011 settlement with Exxon Mobil over its Greenpoint Oil Spill. Nearly $55 million has now been dedicated to environmental improvement projects in Greenpoint, and this last round of funding will go towards initiatives such as park restorations, a new living shoreline and new community spaces. Through the GCEF, New York State and Greenpoint residents have been able to work together to ensure that the settlement funds are directed to high-quality, locally-led projects that serve the community’s environmental improvement priorities. 

Partnering To Stop Public Corruption

Former Town of Halfmoon Supervisor Mindy Wormuth has been sentenced to ten months incarceration for stealing campaign contributions donated to her campaign fund. An investigation in conjunction with State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office found that Wormuth cashed seven contribution checks, totaling $6,250, between July 2009 and July 2013. She then pocketed the proceeds without reporting the contributions to the committee’s treasurer, or on the Financial Disclosure Reports that were filed with the State Board of Elections. Wormuth’s sentence will run concurrent with a term of incarceration in a federal penitentiary stemming from related charges in federal court.  

Stopping Fraudulent Home Contractors

The Attorney General announced the sentencing of scam artist George Anna to 360 days in jail, who has continued to falsely hold himself out as a home improvement contractor. Time and time again, Anna offered home improvement services to Western New York residents, yet pocketed up-front payments from New Yorkers without providing the services promised. After being sentenced to 90 days in prison for violating a 2012 court ordering barring him from the home improvement business in May, the Attorney General found Anna to be in contempt of court this August as he continued to rip-off consumers. This sentencing shows that those who scam consumers and fail to provide promised services will be held accountable. 

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