Dec 5th - 1:21 pm
An executive at a New York City non-profit organization has been arrested and charged with stealing $373,000 in both state and federal funds, according to a joint announcement from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and city Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.
Law enforcement officials allege Dorothy Ogundu pocketed the funds initially directed to her non-profit organization Angeldocs, Inc.
Ogundu, in turn, is accused of usingthe money to pay mortgages on commercial property she owned, make improvements on the property to increase its value and even ship vehicles to Nigeria while also making other personal purchases and for her for-profit operation.
The organization has received a dozen state, city and federal grants, with Ogundu accused of skimming portions from all 12: approximately $91,000 from the City of New York, approximately $87,000 from the State of New York and approximately $195,000 from the federal government.
“Dorothy Ogundu pocketed hundreds of thousands of city, state and federal taxpayer dollars intended to help those who need it most with their health care costs,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “City, state and federal funds intended to serve New Yorkers in need should not be used to line the pockets of people running charities. Working together with Comptroller DiNapoli, we will use every tool at our disposal to crack down on anyone abusing the public trust.”
Ogundu was charged with several felonies, including second-degree grand larceny, second-degree forgery and first-degree falsifying business records.
In addition to the city and state investigation, officials say the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Housing and Urban Development Department played a role in the probe.
Dec 5th - 12:29 pm
Remember those TV ads featuring kids who consume Pediasure and somehow become better soccer players than kids who eat french fries and doughnuts?
It turns out that was a misleading ad, leading to the company Abbott Laboratories to reach a settlement with the state attorney general’s office to no longer show the spot or claim the drink provides a boost in performance for a child.
“False and misleading advertising aimed at our children and their parents is exploitative, illegal and may even contribute to the obesity crisis in our communities,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statment. “My office will prosecute false claims by companies who seek to hawk their products on New York parents who are trying to provide the best for their kids.”
Pediasure — which the TV ad contends is healthier than junk food for child athletes — is actually a sugary drink that does actually contain fruit despite pictures of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries on the label.
The company has agreed to take down in its advertising images of fruits unless the phrase “No Fruit Juice” appears above the nutritional facts panel as required by federal law.
Dec 3rd - 4:23 pm
After Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said in a Capital Tonight interview that it would be a “mockery” for the Moreland Commission to investigate Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement Tuesday afternoon pushed back.
Mahoney told Liz on the show Monday evening that the focus was always meant to be on the Legislature.
“I think we’re making a mockery of this whole process if we try to pretend that a group of us that’s been appointed by the attorney general and the governor is investigating the attorney general or the governor,” she said…. I never subscribed to that notion to start with, and there has been no conversations inside the Moreland Commission to do anything other than address public corruption and these instances that are outlined in this report, which are all legislative.”
While the commission was formed at Cuomo’s behest, Schneiderman granted the commission members the power of deputy attorneys general in order to inoculate the panel against separation of powers claims.
“I respectfully but strongly disagree with County Executive Mahoney’s view,” Schneiderman said. “As stated in the Executive Order creating the Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, its mandate is not limited to the legislative branch of the government. In fact, the Moreland Act itself identifies executive branch agencies as a proper subject of inquiry. The Commission has the jurisdiction and is fully empowered to investigate all parts of the New York State government.”
Cuomo himself has said the panel has broad investigate purview, though in recent weeks said it was devised to probe legislative wrongdoing.
Nov 20th - 5:29 pm
As the Senate Republican Campaign Committee seeks to quash a subpoena from the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today acknowledged there are talks to reach a settlement.
Schneiderman bestowed deputy attorneys general powers on commission members in order to work around concerns the panel wouldn’t have the power to investigate the Legislature.
Nevertheless, the SRCC — which is being represented by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff — is challenging the subpoena of its communications and other internal documentation on the grounds that the governor’s ant-corruption panel doesn’t have the authority.
Schneiderman contends it does, but says “they’re trying to work something out” in order to avoid a court-room battle.
“Essentially, it’s a challenge to my power so if any matter goes to litigation,” Schneiderman said at a news conference at the Capitol earlier on Wednesday. “I deputized the Moreland Commission because it is absolutely clear that my office under referral from the governor, which I have, can investigate any part of the government that I want to. So, they’re exercising power as my deputies in seeking information from the Legislature. If it goes to litigation I’m confident we’ll prevail. I think they’re trying to work out something now short of that, but I don’t know the details.”
A hearing in state Supreme Court in Manhattan is scheduled for Dec. 9.
Nov 20th - 1:54 pm
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman promised “more paydays to come” for banks who played a role in the 2008 economic collapse and the housing crisis a day after announcing a record-setting $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan.
“You should look forward to more in the future from our working group, to more in the future for the people of the state of New York,” Schneiderman said at news conference at his Capitol office today. “We’re completely committed to the duel tasks of seeing accountability for misconduct and for getting relief for New Yorkers who really need it and the homeowners who suffered as a result of the housing crisis.”
The $13 billion settlement is the largest fee paid by a single entity. It’s the product the federal-level working group Schneiderman co-chairs after he was appointed to it by President Obama.
The attorney general had initially been holding out for a tougher penalties and settlement terms for banks blamed for selling mortgage-backed securities and not disclosing the risk to investors along with other exotic investment products.
Schneiderman today touted the benefits of where the settlement money would go: Relief to homeowners hurt by the housing crisis, a land bank and even victims of Superstorm Sandy.
New York is in line to receive about $1 billion from the settlement.
He wouldn’t say which lending institutions may be next to pay the next fine, but did call the JPMorgan agreement a “template.”
“I don’t want to comment on whose next in line,” Schneiderman said. “There are more banks I’ve been talking to yesterday and today. Each institution will be different.:
Another facet of the deal is considered unusual: JPMorgan in the settlement acknowledged it misled investors and underplayed the risk of the residential mortgage-backed securities.
“It’s pretty compelling. You have to give them credit,” Schneiderman said. “They’ve admitted wrongdoing. They’ve said let’s put this behind us. But I think it’s good for the bank, it’s good for the people.”
Nevertheless, no executive has gone to prison or been blamed for the economic collapse of 2008.
Schneiderman, while insisting he got the better deal than what would have happened had he not stepped in through the working group, acknowledged the lack of personal accountability may not be enough.
“I think all of us feel there has not been any accountability and all I can say is I’m an optimistic and ambitious guy … But this project at the outset was an extraordinary ambitious project. none of this money would have come to us but for the fights we waged,” he said while adding, ”Is it enough? In my view, no. Is it much better than we would have gotten had I not taken this strategic approach? Yes.”
Nov 19th - 3:37 pm
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman formalized a national $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase for its role in the housing crisis, marking the largest settlement with a single entity in the nation’s history.
The settlement is the product of negotiations through a nationwide working group co-chaired by Schneiderman and composed of state attorneys general and federal officials that was formed in 2012 to investigate wrongdoing and fraud stemming from the housing market that led to the economic collapse of 2008.
“Since my first day in office, I have insisted that there must be accountability for the misconduct that led to the crash of the housing market and the collapse of the American economy,” said Attorney General Schneiderman, co-chair of the RMBS working group. “This historic deal, which will bring long-overdue relief to homeowners around the country and across New York, is exactly what our working group was created to do. We refused to allow systemic frauds that harmed so many New York homeowners and investors to simply be forgotten, and as a result we’ve won a major victory today in the fight to hold those who caused the financial crisis accountable.”
Under the terms of the agreement, JPMorgan acknowledged that it routinely misrepresented residential mortgage-backed securities to investors, climaing that loans for mortgages bundled with securities complied with underwriting guidelines.
Despite the assurances of the banking giant, employees at JPMorgan knew the loans didn’t comply with the company guidelines and should not have been securitized but were anyway.
The pattern of misleading investors on mortgage-backed securities and the selling of additional exotic financial products led to the financial meltdown at the end of the last decade.
Schneiderman joined the working group after initally being critical of the effort to go after the nation’s largest banks, arguing the settlements being sought were not stringent enough. Ultimtately Schneiderman would be appointed to co-chair the panel by President Obama at the State of the Union address.
Nov 18th - 12:19 pm
A 38-state agreement with Google Inc. over unauthorized cookies placed on computers using Apple Safari browsers will net New York $899,580, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office announced on Monday.
“Consumers should be able to know whether there are other eyes surfing the web with them. By tracking millions of people without their knowledge, Google violated not only their privacy, but also their trust,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “We must give consumers the reassurance that they can browse the Internet safely and securely. My office will continue to protect New Yorkers from any attempts to deliberately expose their personal data.”
Google’s search engine had been generating revenue through its DoubleClick ad platform, which allows the digital giant to set third-party cookies enabling them to gather information about consumer habits.
The settlement — which totals $17 million — requires Google to not use the type of code the cookies ran on unless it is with the consumer’s conset or if it is uncessary to detect or prevent fraud.
Google may also not misrepresent or use material information on consumers of how they use a specific Google product or service.
And Google must also maintain systems that designed to ensure that third-party cokoies expire in Safari Web browsers.
Nov 13th - 12:57 pm
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office Tuesday responded in federal court to the pro-Joe Lhota super PAC that sought to lift the state’s cap on political contributions, broadly rejecting the group’s claims and called for a dismissal of the complaint.
Though Lhota, a Republican who lost in a landslide to Democrat Bill de Blasio, the case brought by the New York Progress and Protection PAC could have a long-ranging impact on New York’s campaign finance laws.
A federal judge in October rejected an effort to grant a preliminary injunction to the group, called New York Progress And Protection PAC, denying their effort to avoid the individual $150,000 limit on contributions.
But a Second Circuit court later overruled the concerns that lifting the cap would be a disruption of the electoral process.
Less than a week after that ruling, conservative billionaire David Koch donated $200,000 to the PAC.
Nov 12th - 12:11 pm
The Moreland Commission on Public Corruption isn’t about putting lawmakers in the pillory, but spurring some sort of ethics overhaul in the Legislature, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in an interview on WCNY’s Capitol Pressroom.
Schneiderman insisted the commission is not meant to be a “prosecutorial agency” bent on tossing people in jail, but one with a goal of finding reforms to implement.
“If we don’t get reforms done, this is not going to accomplish what it intended,” Schneiderman said in the interview.
To be sure, the commission’s mandate does require it to refer criminal wrongdoing to law enforcement.
Among those reforms: the public financing of political campaigns.
“I think public financing should be a part of whatever comes out of this,” the attorney general said.
The AG said he was heartened that Moreland Commission co-chairman Bill Fitzpatrick, a Republican district attorney from Onondaga County, recently said he was in favor of publicly financed campaigns.
Moreland is due to release a preliminary report on Dec. 1, as speculation grows the commission may recommend a constitutional amendment for public financing.
But whether Senate Republicans would go along with the move is in doubt.
A public financing effort failed in the Legislature this past session, despite a well-funded advocacy campaign and Cuomo’s support.
Oct 16th - 2:52 pm
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today selected a new chief for his office’s investor protection bureau, which is charged with enforcing the state’s securities laws and obverseeing financial industry regulations.
Chad Johnson (no, not that Chad Johnson) has worked for Schneiderman’s office since 2012, initially working as a senior trial counsel and later as a deputy AG.
Johnson is credited with leading a number of prominent cases, including the ongoing matter with Thomson Reuters, which so far has netted an interim agreement by the company to end its practice of early access selling of market-moving information to high-frequency traders.
He’s been involved in the JP Morgan proxy contest probe, which has led to the banking giant to return to the practice of allowing proxy sponsor to gain access to interim voting results.
“Chad has already successfully led a number of the most important and noteworthy matters in our office—from investigating the conduct that led to the financial crisis in 2008 to ensuring that no one has an unfair early advantage in the markets. I am delighted that, in this new role, Chad will oversee the Investor Protection Bureau in its work of helping to protect working families of New York and other members of the investing public,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Under Chad’s stewardship, I’m confident that the Investor Protection Bureau will continue to advance Wall Street reforms that promote fairness and a level playing field — as well as hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions.”