THIS WEEK IN THE NEWS
September 7 to September 11, 2015
The Attorney General has shut down Entertainment Visa Consultant Company (EVC), resolving allegations that the company and its owner were providing unauthorized immigration-related services. EVC processed hundreds of temporary work visas for foreign entertainers, submitting these applications to federal immigration authorities. But an investigation revealed that EVC is not an accredited organization, and neither the company’s owner nor staff were licensed to practice law in New York. The Attorney General is committed to stopping the unauthorized practice of law and protecting New Yorkers from fraud by enforcing immigration service provider laws.
The Attorney General announced an agreement with Bath & Body works to end on-call scheduling in all U.S. stores. On-call scheduling can cause serious disruptions for workers by disrupting their plan for childcare, transportation, and other basic needs. Bath & Body Works joins Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, and Victoria’s Secret in ending this troubling employment practice in response to the Attorney General’s inquiry, which has yielded more stable, reliable work schedules for tens of thousands of employees.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reached a joint settlement with Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. (Con Edison) to resolve allegations of ongoing sexual harassment and discrimination against women in field positions. These women, who work alongside men in power stations, manholes, and other physically strenuous field positions, alleged they were given sub-par training, assigned menial tasks and denied adequate restrooms, showers and changing facilities. As part of the agreement, Con Edison will reserve up to $3.8 million to compensate as many as 300 women who worked in the field from 2006 to 2014 and suffered sexual harassment and discrimination. This case should send a clear message to employers across New York: All women, especially those working in male-dominated workplaces, deserve respect and equal treatment.
As part of his continued efforts to reform the herbal supplements industry, the Attorney General announced that his office sent 13 cease-and-desist letters to the manufacturers of the herbal supplement devil’s claw, which is marketed as a treatment for arthritis and other forms of joint pain. The letters were sent after the New York Botanical Garden tested more than a dozen devil’s claw supplements labeled for U.S. sale and found that all supplements identified via advanced DNA barcode testing contained a different plant than advertised. The study’s results raise more troubling questions about the manufacturing and marketing of supplements. A 14th manufacturer, Nature’s Way, has agreed to reform the manufacturing and marketing of its supplements, in addition to refunding New York consumers who have purchased its devil’s claw products since January 1, 2012.
The Attorney General and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that a Florida resident pleaded guilty to stealing more than $275,000 in New York State pension benefits that were issued to his deceased mother. Marc A. Eletz is expected to be sentenced to one year in jail and will sign a $1240,000 judgment on top of the $150,000 he has already paid in restitution. This case is the latest joint investigation under the Attorney General and Comptroller’s Operation Integrity partnership, which has resulted in dozens of convictions and more than $6 million in restitution.
A former Hudson nursing home employee has been arrested on charges she stole more than $6,000 for a resident trust account at a nursing and rehabilitation center in Columbia County. Claire Wieland, who was the responsible for submitting request to have checks drawn for residents who requested funds, allegedly possessed 24 fraudulent checks. Wieland allegedly then cashed the checks and kept the money for herself. The Attorney General will not tolerate those who seek to exploit nursing home residents for personal financial gain.
A Yonkers man has been sentenced for stealing more than $200,000 dollars from Medicaid. Kurien Palliankal, owner of Carewell Ambullete, billed Medicaid for more expensive transportation than was medically necessary over a period of four years. As a result of his actions, he was sentenced to six months in prison and five years of probation. Carewell Ambulette, formerly based in New Rochelle, was also sentenced to pay a fine of $10,000. The Attorney General will continue to protect New Yorkers’ access to honest and reliable medical services by rooting out Medicaid fraud.
A Schenectady-area nurse has pleaded guilty to illegally obtaining more than 2,000 narcotics using forged prescriptions. For approximately one year, Linda Masse used 18 forged prescriptions at Walmart and CVS from her employer’s practice, causing Medicaid to foot the bill. The Attorney General will continue to hold medical professionals accountable for crimes committed by the abuse of their privilege.
In Other News…
With Vice President Biden in town to advocate for a higher minimum wage, the Attorney General expressed his support for a livable wage for all New York workers.
The Attorney General announced an election day hotline for this week’s primary elections, allowing voters to report any barriers to access at polling sites.
The Attorney General issued a statement commemorating the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
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Posted by Charles Fisher and Randy Fisher (Twitter / Facebook / Instagram @HHSYC).