Attorney General

Schneiderman Sues Rensselaer County DA Over Special Prosecutor Power

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Wednesday filed a lawsuit seeking to compel Rensselaer District Attorney Joel Abelove to comply with an executive order governing the investigation of police-involved deaths of civilians.

The case stems from the April 17 death of Edson Thevenin, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Troy following a car chase with law enforcement.

The suit claims a grand jury in Rensselaer County was convened without notice to the attorney general’s office and Abelove had presented evidence. The grand jury ultimately declined to indict the office involved in the shooting.

Schneiderman’s office claims Abelove had initially signaled he would provide information to the attorney general’s team to determine whether there was jurisdiction to purse the case against the police officer, but ultimately did not.

The suit claims Schneiderman’s office was on the ground in Troy the same day as the incident.

Gov. Andrew Cumom last year signed an executive order empowering Schneiderman’s office to assume the investigation and prosecution of cases in which civilians are killed during interactions with police as a special prosecutor. The order stemmed from multiple cases in which police killed unarmed civilians, but a grand jury chose to not indict the officers after being presented with evidence by local district attorneys.

Cuomo at the time said the effort was meant to remove doubts raised by police reform advocates that the prosecution was too close with police officers involved in the deaths.

“My office has worked collaboratively with district attorneys across the state in pursuit of that goal, conducting fair, comprehensive, and independent investigations in every case within our jurisdiction,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, as we’ve alleged today, District Attorney Abelove’s actions not only violate the law, but directly undermine the public’s confidence in law enforcement, making the jobs of police officers and district attorneys throughout the state more difficult.”

Cuomo this year proposed to make Schneiderman’s special prosecutor power in police-related death cases permanent, a move that faces opposition among Republican lawmakers.

Schneiderman: Trump Will Be An ‘Essential’ Witness

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is an “essential” witness in the class-action lawsuit filed against his online learning business, Trump University, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.

“I am very pleased the judge has indicated her intention to move as expeditiously as possible to trial, as thousands of Mr. Trump’s alleged victims have been waiting years for relief from his fraud,” Schneiderman said. “We believe that Mr. Trump and Mr. Sexton will be essential witnesses at trial. As we will prove in court, Donald Trump and his sham for-profit college defrauded thousands of students out of millions of dollars.”

Schneiderman earlier in the month had indicated Trump may not be called in the trial at all, given he was already deposed in the California lawsuit.

The suit alleges Trump University was essentially a sham college that claimed Trump himself vetted the instructors and would provide the secrets to the businessman’s success.

His appearance as a witness in the trial would likely come in the middle of the general election campaign.

Schneiderman Reaches Deal With Insurers For Hep C Coverage

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Tuesday announced it had reached a deal with seven health insurance companies to cover chronic Hepatitis C treatment.

The agreement with the commercial insurers Affinity Health Plan, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, Excellus Health Plan, HealthNow, Independent Health, United Healthcare/Oxford, and MVP Health Plan will provide for treatment options without requiring members to develop an advance complication, such as liver scarring.

At the same time, the agreement stipulates the insurers cannot deny coverage because the member uses alcohol, drugs or because the authorizing physician is not a specialist.

“New Yorkers diagnosed with Hepatitis C deserve to be treated, and these agreements will vastly improve access to the medications needed to cure their disease,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“Hepatitis C is a potentially life-threatening disease and thousands of New Yorkers are diagnosed each year. My office will do everything possible to ensure treatment for Hepatitis C is available, so that patients can be cured and we can minimize the spread of the disease to others.”

Before the agreement, five of the seven insurers limited coverage for the disease to those with advanced liver scarring or other complications from Hepatitis C. Now, insurers will be required to end restrictions to coverage before the treatment is deemed medically necessary.

The agreement was applauded by Democratic Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, whose father was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and died of liver and kidney failure in 2007.

“Many patients are forced to wait until they are in the late stages of the disease; after serious liver damage has already occurred,” the lawmaker said. “We are lucky to be at a point where new drugs are able to cure this once incurable disease with a simple regimen of medication with little side effects.”

Schneiderman Opens Investigation Into Voting Irregularities

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Wednesday opened an investigation into claims of voting irregularities during the Tuesday presidential primaries in New York.

The primaries, the first truly competitive races for both parties’ presidential contests in modern history in New York, saw record high turnout, especially on the Republican side.

But at the same time, there were complaints of more than 125,000 voters being purged from the rolls in New York City when they showed up at the polls to vote.

Meanwhile, Schneiderman’s office says it fielded more than 1,000 complaints from a voter hotline during primary voting.

“That’s why today, we have opened an investigation into alleged improprieties in yesterday’s voting by the New York City Board of Elections,” Schneiderman said. “If necessary, we will initiate inquiries in additional areas of the State where voting irregularities appeared unusually high. Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and if any New Yorker was illegally prevented from voting, I will do everything in my power to make their vote count and ensure that it never happens again.”

The probe comes as City Comptroller Scott Stringer has said he plans to audit the city board of elections over voting problems on Tuesday as well.

The New York City Board of Elections has long come under criticism for its handling of local elections. Meanwhile, good government advocates say the confusion during yesterday’s primary voting suggested the state’s voter registration laws should be expanded to make it easier to register to vote.

AG Reaches Agreement To Extend Price Cut For Naloxone

The state has reached an agreement with a pharmaceutical company that would extend the price cut for an effective antidote that reverses opioid overdoses for all government agencies, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Tuesday announced.

Under the agreement with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the company will cover a $6 rebate per dose of naloxone, which automatically increases, dollar-for-dollar, to match the expected growth in the drug’s wholesale price.

The rebate is available to the AG’s office and all public entities, including the Department of Health, the city of New York, county governments and drug treatment centers.

“The price reduction announced today will save lives and help agencies across New York fight the scourge of heroin abuse,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Thousands of lives have been saved as a result of the use of naloxone, and it is my hope that getting this powerful, opiod antidote in the hands of more agencies will give those struggling with addiction a second chance at life and sobriety.”

The agreement comes amid heightened concerns over the availability of heroin and its impact on opioid addiction, especially in rural and suburban areas. The GOP-led Senate this year is pledging to once again deal with the heroin addiction issue and hold hearings on the matter.

Schneiderman To Report Raising $1.6M

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s campaign committee is expected to report raising more than $1.6 million over the last six months and will have a combined cash-on-hand amount of $3.7 million, according to a source familiar with the filing.

Schneiderman, a Democrat from Manhattan, is in his second term as attorney general.

For comparison, then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in 2008 — two years away from his next election — reported having raised $521,574 and had $1.14 million in cash on hand.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, the longest-serving statewide elected official in state government, has reported $800,170 in cash on hand and raised $672,104 over the last six-month reporting period.

Schneiderman Urges Supreme Court To Overturn Texas Abortion Measures

The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Tuesday filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down two provisions of Texas law that are aimed at curbing access to abortions in the state.

The measures include a provision that requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, while also requiring clinics to meet the same standards as surgical clinics.

Proponents of abortion rights have argued that while the provisions were designed with the aim of protecting women’s health, trial courts have found both could actually undermine the state intent.

At the same time, one of the provisions has had the effect of potentially forcing the closure of the last abortion clinic in west Texas, and Schneiderman’s brief argues that a court ruling has found women would be able to access abortion services, but in another, neighboring state.

“The Constitution protects a woman’s right to access abortion services,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Yet we are seeing a proliferation of burdensome abortion restrictions such as those at issue here that are touted as public health measures, but do not actually promote women’s health or safety and stand contrary to medical evidence. We urge the Supreme Court to rule that states cannot adopt baseless restrictions that burden or deny the constitutional right to access abortion services.”

The brief filed by New York and 13 other states, along with the District of Columbia, argues each state holds the responsibility of protecting the constitutional rights of those within its borders and can’t rely on the availability of services in neighboring states.

DraftKings, FanDuel Win Stay To Remain Operational

DraftKings attorney David Boies in a statement Thursday said the daily fantasy sports company has won a stay from its injunction and will continue to operate in New York.

The stay comes after a state Supreme Court judge earlier in the day issued an injunction against both DratKings and FanDuel as Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has challenged whether the companies should operate in New York.

“We are disappointed with the Court’s decision, and have filed a notice of appeal and an expedited motion to stay the Court’s decision, pending our appeal, in order to preserve the status quo,” Boies said. “This immediate stay was granted, so we will remain fully operational in New York. We look forward to a full and fair hearing and are confident we will demonstrate clearly to the Court why we should be able to continue to offer our DFS games in New York permanently. We are encouraged by our dialogue this week with New York state legislators. We look forward to continuing that conversation.”

Schneiderman has said the companies provide a game of chance, which would classify them as gambling. Both websites have argued they are games of “skill” given the research involved in selecting athletes.

State Judge Approves Temporary Injunction Against FanDuel And DraftKings

A state judge on Friday granted a temporary injunction against daily fantasy sports websites DraftKings and FanDuel as Attorney General Eric Schneiderman challenges the legality of their operations in court.

The injunction issued by state Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez bars both websites from “”accepting entry fees, wagers or bets from New York consumers in regards to any competition, game or contest run on” amid the legal dispute with Schneiderman.

The injunction comes just over a month after Schneiderman issued a cease-and-desist letter to both companies.

The attorney general’s office has asserted the operations of daily fantasy sports are essentially “games of chance” or gambling, which is outlawed by the state constitution. Attorneys for both FanDuel and DraftKings have argued daily fantasy picks require more skill from participants than chance, given the research involved in picking athletes to compete in hypothetical matchups based on real-world results.

FanDuel had previously limited its access to New York users during the legal challenge from Schneiderman’s office.

State lawmakers this week at a public hearing raised the possibility of potentially regulating fantasy sports in New York, regardless of the outcome of the Schneiderman legal challenge to both companies.

document.pdf by Nick Reisman

In Letter, Schneiderman Reasserts Office Will Pursue Religious Discrimination Claims

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday sent a letter to top civil rights organizations and Muslim advocacy groups to reassure them he would continue to enforce laws guarding against religious persecution and hate crimes.

The letter comes in an heightened environment over security issues as well as sharp rhetoric from leading presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has proposed barring non-American Muslims from entering the U.S.

“Our nation was founded on a single, aspirational principle: ‘equal justice under law.’ That is equal justice for everyone, regardless of religion,” Schneiderman wrote in the letter. “While some have chosen to exploit fear and anger by targeting certain religious minorities, I want to emphasize in the strongest possible terms that my office stands ready to enforce all state and federal civil rights laws protecting the liberty and equality of people of all religions.”

Schneiderman pointed to his office’s formation of the Religious Rights Initiative, which was designed to address religious discrimination claims as well as pushing for the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws.

In 2012, the AG’s office was part of a coalition of states that filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court after a Muslim woman was denied employment at Abercrombie & Fitch because she wore a hijab.

Generic Religious Rights Letter by Nick Reisman