Eric Schneiderman

As Investigations Continue, DiNapoli Reviewing Parts Of The Buffalo Billion

As two separate investigations into the Buffalo Billion continue, one from the U.S. Attorney’s office and another ordered by the governor, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said his office is also looking into parts of the economic development program. DiNapoli said he is not looking at the program as a whole but rather reviewing a number of programs that help fund the Buffalo Billion.

“We are looking at a variety of economic development programs across the state, some of which may impact that but again, when you do have an investigation going on, we’re also very mindful of not doing anything that would interfere or impede with the work of prosecutors,” DiNapoli said.

For example, he said his office is in the middle of auditing the Excelsior Jobs Program. According to the governor’s 2014-2015 budget, $170 million in tax credits were reserved from the program for the Buffalo Billion.

DiNapoli has been critical of Cuomo’s signature project in the past. Earlier this year he criticized the process that led to a delay in payments for contractors working on the RiverBend manufacturing hub.

FanDuel, DraftKings Reach Settlement With AG To Stop Taking NY Bets

The daily fantasy sports websites DraftKings and FanDuel agreed on Monday to stop taking bets in New York state after reaching a settlement with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The agreement comes after Schneiderman’s office last year initiated a legal challenge to the operations of both companies, arguing their business essentially unregulated gambling prohibited by state law.

“I’m pleased to announce that both FanDuel and DraftKings will stop taking bets in New York State, consistent with New York State law and the cease-and-desist orders my office issued at the outset of this matter,” Schneiderman said.

“As I’ve said from the start, my job is to enforce the law, and starting today, DraftKings and FanDuel will abide by it. Today’s agreement also creates an expedited path to resolve this litigation should that law change or upon a decision by the appellate division. Regardless, our key claims against the companies for false advertising and consumer fraud are not affected by the agreement and will continue.”

The development likely opens up the Legislature to regulating fantasy sports in New York and receive a portion of the popular activity’s revenue. Other states have sought to clamp down fantasy sports.

In a statement, DraftKings signaled it was hopeful for that possibility of being allowed back into the New York market through legislation.

“We are an industry leader in technology, innovation and consumer protections, and we are grateful to the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who have enjoyed playing fantasy sports on DraftKings for the last 4 years. We will continue to work with state lawmakers to enact fantasy sports legislation so that New Yorkers can play the fantasy games they love.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, meanwhile, was open as well to any proposed regulatory scheme.

“We look forward to reviewing the settlement and any proposed legislation,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi.

Schneiderman And Fellow AGs Push Senate On SCOTUS Confirmation

Democratic attorneys general from 19 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico called on the U.S. Senate Thursday to consider President Obama’s upcoming nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Senate Republicans in Washington have said they will refuse to consider Obama’s nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly last month, given that he is in the final year of his second term.

But Democrats have argued the Senate has plenty of time to consider the merits of Obama’s nominee, given the vacancy occurred with 10 months to go in office.

“We’re looking at an unprecedented delay not for any good reason, but simply because the Senate is refusing to do its job,” Schneiderman said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

The AGs released a letter to the Senate’s Republican and Democratic leadership urging them to consider the nomination.

But in the conference call, Schneiderman and his attorneys general aimed their criticism at Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grasely.

“The Senate is not a group of elected for life aristocrats,” Schneiderman said. “It is not advise and consent if you refuse to give advise on. The public has a right to know what the qualifications of a Supreme Court nominee are.”

Schneiderman, meanwhile, said he did not have a specific person in mind for Obama to nominate to the court.

“There are a lot of great jurists on the bench,” Schneiderman said. “I think the president should nominate someone whose qualifications and intellect can be readily examined. There are a lot of great jurists out there that the president can pick from.”

AGs Letter to Senate FINAL by Nick Reisman

Schneiderman: ‘No Criminal Culpability’ In Death Of Mount Vernon Woman

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office found no criminal wrongdoing in the death of the July death of a black Mount Vernon woman while police custody, according to a 91-page report released on Thursday by his office.

But Schneiderman’s report outlines a series of recommendations that would overhaul how those in policy custody are treated, processed and supervised.

The report is an extensive one, which included the release of video stills and footage of the final hours of Raynette Turner’s life. Schneiderman’s office said the investigation included more than 40 witnesses and reviewed more than 1,700 pages of medical records along with toxicology results and video evidence.

The report also included the release of Turner’s autopsy, conducted by the Westchester County medical examiner, which found that she had died of natural causes.

The investigation itself was conducted by the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit, which was tasked by an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to review the deaths of civilians in police interactions.

“Ms. Turner’s death was a tragedy, and the public deserves all of the facts,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I commend Alvin Bragg and the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit for completing a fair, comprehensive, and independent investigation. This report reflects my office’s commitment to providing a thorough and deliberate review in each and every one of these cases, and to make sure that the full results of our investigation are provided to the public. Finally, I hope that state and local officials will act on the reforms we have proposed without delay.”

Schneiderman’s report recommended the expansion of available video conference arraignments that would be aimed at guaranteeing those who are arrested are arraigned promptly. Schneiderman also backed increasing the number of personnel who are authorized to fingerprint those under arrest.

Mount Vernon’s policies of requiring in-person cell checks of those under arrest should be updated, Schneiderman’s report found. And there should be a re-evaluation of the state’s minimum standards for those who have been arrested who may require medical attention.

Read the full report here:

SIPReport.pdf by Nick Reisman

Judge Won’t Toss Trump University Suit

A state appeals court on Tuesday struck down an effort by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to have a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against his Trump University tossed.

“Today’s decision is a clear victory in our effort to hold Donald Trump and Trump University accountable for defrauding thousands of students,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “The state Supreme Court had already granted our request for summary judgment determining that Trump and his University are liable for operating illegally in New York as an unlicensed educational institution.”

The suit, which was first filed in 2013, stems from fraud complaints against the now-defunct university. Schneiderman’s lawsuit claims that more than 5,000 people paid $40 million to Trump in order to lean about real estate strategies and that the instructors were selected by Trump himself. The suit claims one one of the teachers had actually met Trump, and that they had little experience in investing in real estate.

The suit became an issue in Trump’s presidential campaign as his rival for the GOP nomination, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, used the legal challenge as an example of Trump’s less-than-stellar record when it comes to business.

“Today’s decision means our entire fraud case can move forward, and confirms that the case is subject to a six year statute of limitations,” Schneiderman said. “As the state’s chief law enforcement officer, my job is to see that perpetrators of fraud are brought to justice. We look forward to demonstrating in a court of law that Donald Trump and his sham for-profit college defrauded more than 5,000 consumers out of millions of dollars.”

Schneiderman Part Of A Multistate Investigation Into Ticket Floors, The NFL And Other Pro Sports

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, D, called out the entertainment and event industry during a press conference in Buffalo, Thursday. Schneiderman warned ticket vendors overpricing their product, he plans on prosecuting.

But overshadowed a bit in the AG’s 40-plus page report, he may be going after an even bigger target, the National Football League. Schneiderman mentioned the NFL specifically in the section of his report about price floors.

“Some ticket issuers including sports leagues have instituted price floors for their tickets. This is a very different type of problem. Price floors prevent tickets from being sold at a price below some arbitrary level, usually face value,” Schneiderman said. “This defeats the whole purpose of an open market by keeping prices artificially high and so we’re looking into these practices as well.”

The Attorney General is referring to sites like NFL Ticket Exchange which he said don’t allow people to sell their tickets below a certain price. That’s bad he said for both the buyer and the seller.

During his press conference, Schneiderman foreshadowed that more news about the floor could be coming soon.

“A lot of teams and leagues now have their own sites where you have to do re-selling of tickets. So that’s something I’m looking at as part of a multistate investigation and I think you should look for action to correct this problem within the next couple months,” he said.

This is the second time in less than a year, he’s been at odds with NFL interests. Schneiderman was the first Attorney General to go after daily fantasy sports websites with which the league has profited indirectly.

That suit is still being litigated but Schneiderman said, in the meantime, many other states have fallen in line with his opinion, most recently Hawaii.

Capital Tonight reached out to the NFL for a comment but the request was not immediately returned.

Schneiderman Definitively Says He’s Not Running For Governor

Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at Thursday’s Politico New York lunch gave a definitive answer when asked, directly, about whether he would run for governor in 2018.

The answer? A straight-up no.

In an interview with Politico New York’s Capitol bureau chief Jimmy Vielkind, Schniederman ruled out running to succeed incumbent Andrew Cuomo.

“Can you rule out a run for governor in 2018?” Vielkind asked, according to a video of the event.

The AG responded: “Yeah, I’m not running for governor in 2018.”

The statement was a little overshadowed, in part, due to the ongoing dispute between Schneiderman’s office and online fantasy sports websites he has sent cease-and-desist letters to in recent days.

Cuomo, a Democrat first elected in 2010, has signaled he intends to run for a third term that year, re-naming his campaign committee as such, while a former top aide predicted the governor would seek a third term as well.

On the GOP side, 2014 nominee Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, is considering running again, while Rep. Chris Gibson said in an interview this week he is “very seriously” considering a run for governor as well.

Schneiderman: ‘No Hatians’ Newspaper Ad Discriminatory

schneidermanAttorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Monday released a letter sent to the president of a health-care company that in a job placement ad that called for “no Hatians” to apply, warning the company that it was illegal to discriminate in hiring practices.

The newspaper ad was placed by Interim Healthcare Inc. of Nanuet, a Rockland County-based company that had advertised for a “laid back nurse, Haitians.”

Assistant Attorney General Diane Lucas in a letter to company president Katherine McNally wrote the firm should turn over all relevant documents that led to the ad being written and placed.

“The advertisement violates federal and state civil laws that prohibit discrimination in hiring on the basis of national origin,” Lucas wrote in the letter.

Specifically, the attorney general’s office is calling on the company to turn over documents pertaining to “remedial steps” it has taken after the ad was published, including efforts to discontinue it and revisions to future ads.

The AG’s office is also seeking documents related to the advertisement’s origin and who at the company was responsible for placing it.

“If Interim Healthcare is unable to respond to any inquiry in full, please provide all available responsive information and a detailed explanation as to why a more complete response is not possible,” Lucas wrote.

The ad was printed in the Oct. 15 edition of the New City Pennysaver.

Here’s the letter:

Ad Letter by Nick Reisman

Erie County Executive Explains Investigation; AG’s Office Says Case Closed

It was story that around lunchtime appeared to have the potential to shake-up the race for Erie County Executive.  Just hours later, the Attorney General’s office seemed to mute the “alarm bells” Mark Poloncarz’s opponent was ringing.

The report, which was published online by City and State NY, detailed an AG investigation into the Erie County Department of Public Works.  Specifically, the report referenced wrongdoing by county employees, failing to competitively bid the first two phases of a reconstruction project.

“He has an obligation to come out and say what he knew, when he knew it and why he’s been keeping it a secret for the last four years,” said Poloncarz’s GOP Challenger Ray Walter.

Just minutes after Walter’s Tuesday afternoon press conference wrapped up Poloncarz called one of his own to, as Walter put it, “say what he knew.”

“I run a clean administration and people are out there trying to use this, especially since it’s election season to say Mark Poloncarz’s administration was involved in an investigation.  My administration uncovered the information and the evidence that pertains to potential improprieties,” Poloncarz said.

According to Poloncarz, the accusations date back to 2010 and 2011, under the administration of former County Executive Chris Collins.  After installing his own DPW Commissioner and Highway Department personnel, he said possible falsified claims for Consolidated Highway Improvement Program or C.H.I.P.S were brought to light.

The county, working with the State Department of Transportation, re-appropriated $2.5 million of questionable reimbursements to other projects.  Rather than go public Poloncarz decided to turn things over to the Attorney General.

“I didn’t want people to think that I was leading an investigation to basically kick dirt on the grave of Christopher Collins. I felt it was important that this matter be reviewed by an independent source,” Poloncarz said.

That source, the AG’s office, confirmed to Time Warner Cable News it did look into the matter.  A spokesperson released this statement:

“In January 2013, County Executive Mark Poloncarz requested that our office look into alleged past issues related to competitive bidding for projects at the Erie County Department of Public Works. After a thorough review, and with the full support and cooperation of County Executive Poloncarz, our office closed the case with no further action.”

Poloncarz told us to the best of his knowledge nobody who was under investigation still works for the county.  Poloncarz hopes speaking out will bring the matter to a close.

“I felt that the truth needed to get out and I didn’t want people to assume that my administration did something wrong because that’s not the case. We did nothing wrong.”

Walter still questions why a source told City and State that the target of the investigation was a “recently” terminated county worker. Following Poloncarz’s press conference a Walter spokesperson said “we look forward to further tough questions from the media.”

Former County Executive and current Congressman Chris Collins declined comment on the matter telling us it appeared everything had been cleared up.

Schneiderman Report Touts Foreclosure Progress

schneidermanA report released on Wednesday by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman touts the progress made on helping homeowners and families prevent foreclosures in the wake of the fallout from the housing crash of the last decade.

The reporting highlights three programs that Schneiderman’s office has undertaken that are designed to boost counseling, help families in the wake of a bank foreclosing on a home and an effort to provide mortgage loans that pay off mortgage arrears.

“This report is a sign of the great progress we have made in reaching tens of thousands of New York families in need of foreclosure relief,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “The free, high-quality services provided by my office’s network of housing counselors and lawyers often mean the difference between a refinanced mortgage and homelessness. I will continue to work hard to give New York families a fair shot in their negotiations with the banks. The victims of the housing crisis deserve justice.”

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