Sunday, February 21, 2016

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman - Safeguarding Investors, Fighting Fraudulent Home Contracts & More

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Safeguarding Investors Against Ponzi-Schemes

Albany Broker Frederick Monroe has been sentenced to 5 1/3—16 years in prison for stealing more than $5 million from investors in a scheme that lasted more than ten years. Monroe used the relationships he had established over his twenty year career to lure investors to reinvest their retirement funds, which he then diverted for his own personal use and to pay back earlier investors he had defrauded. The investigation revealed that since 2002, Monroe used the investments of his clients in part to purchase airline tickets, timeshares, and pay credit card, car and mortgage payments. Purchases included more than $200,000 on automobiles, $215,000 on recreational and travel expenses and more than $150,000 on items such as groceries, alcohol and cigars.

Stopping Fraudulent Home Contracts

Two home improvement contractors accused of defrauding customers in the Southern Tier and Western New York are now prevented from operating thanks to a court judgment obtained by the Attorney General. Douglas and Nicholas Cooper of N. Cooper Paving must pay a $100,000 performance bond and return thousands in restitution and fees before starting up business again. It is charged that the duo harassed and intimidated consumers into allowing them to do work, which was then left incomplete and shoddy. In addition, it is also charged that the Cooper’s would quote prices that were significantly inflated after the customers agreed to accept their services. Remember to follow tips from the Attorney General’s office, which can be found here, before hiring a home improvement contractor.  

Taking Dangerous Designer Drugs Off Store Shelves

The Attorney General announced that his office secured a consent order and judgment ordering a Plattsburgh area head shop to remove mislabeled and unlabeled designer drugs. An undercover investigation found that “The Grateful Toad” purchased the designer drug “Kratom,”which did not include necessary warnings and labels, as the packaging only indicated it should not be used by nursing or pregnant women. Kratom is an extremely potent plant with opiate-like effects banned in even its own country of origin. In addition to the removal of these harmful products, owner Jason S. Ashley must also pay a total of $12,000 in penalties and costs. Because of his innovative efforts aimed at cracking down on those who violate state labeling laws, the Attorney General has successfully stopped more than 20 head shops from selling dangerous designer drugs.

Protecting Small Businesses  

The Attorney General doesn’t tolerate those who intimidate small businesses with unjust lawsuits. That is why the office reached an agreement with Buffalo Biodiesel, which filed more than 600 lawsuits against mom and pop stores across the state. An investigation showed that the complaints initiating the lawsuits against the small businesses were virtual carbon copies of each other.  The complaints, while alleging breach of a contract, provided very little specific information on how the small business was alleged to have done so. The lawsuits sometimes sought tens of thousands of dollars from these stores, and the Attorney General’s agreement requires Buffalo Biodiesel to return any money it might have collected on judgments.

Recovering Lost Gift Cards

Ever dine out at Schimshack’s Restaurant in Buffalo? The Attorney General has reached an agreement to refund gift certificates that still have outstanding balances following the restaurants closure last October. Consumers should be sure to submit a complaint to the Attorney General’s office by April 10, 2016 in order to apply for a refund.
Have a question, comment, or complaint? Click here. You can also learn more about the various initiatives of the Attorney General's office by visiting our website at

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