Monday, July 16, 2018

New York State Bar Association calls for increased assigned counsel rates.

The House of Delegates of the New York State Bar Association has "approved a report and resolution calling for an increase in the rates paid to private attorneys providing mandated representation for those who cannot afford to pay counsel."

According to the resolution, assigned counsel fees under New York State County Law have not changed since 2004.

The NYSBA also called for any increase to be paid at state expense, to prevent an unfunded mandate to the counties.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Following Schuyler County opposition, NYS DEC rejects Crestwood LPG storage project

Less than a week after the Schuyler County Legislature rescinded its support for a Crestwood subsidiary's plan to store up to 1.5 million barrels of liquefied propane in underground caverns near Watkins Glen, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation rejected the project:
Basil Seggos, the state's environmental conservation commissioner, issued a 30-page ruling denying the request from a Crestwood subsidiary, which was looking to store up to 1.5 million barrels of liquefied propane in underground caverns near Watkins Glen.

In his ruling, Seggos said the project "is not permittable" because it could alter the character of the Finger Lakes community.

"The project before me involves significant adverse unmitigated impacts with respect to local and regional community character in this area of New York State," Seggos wrote.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Schuyler County Legislature rescinds Crestwood LPG storage facility support

Watkins Glen—The Schuyler County Legislature voted on Monday (July 9) to rescind its prior support for an attempt to store liquefied propane gas in local salt mines, after reports that one of the caverns may have leaks.

The resolution was introduced at Monday’s meeting by legislator Phil Barnes and seconded by legislator Van Harp. It passed unanimously.

The resolution was authored by Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan, with input from the County Planning Department (Kristin VanHorn), County Attorney (Steven Getman), County Administrator (Tim O’Hearn), Emergency Management (Bill Kennedy) and Clerk of the Legislature (Stacy Husted). It repeals the county’s support pending completion of future pressure testing and subsequent review and approval by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

After the vote, Fagan said “clearly, we have to consider the local taxpayers. We have to take their concerns seriously.”

As part of its passage, the legislature directed the clerk to send the final resolution to the Governor and other state officials.

The County Legislature took up the resolution after a May 17 letter to the DEC from lawyers representing Finger Lakes LPG Storage. In that letter, Kevin Bernstein, an attorney with Bond Schoeneck & King, asked the DEC to delay a final decision on the storage unit application until well pressure tests determine its suitability as a gas storage unit. Finger Lakes LPG Storage is a subsidiary of Crestwood Midstream Partners.

During deliberations, Legislator Michael Lausell cited that letter, and noted the need to remain vigilant to future developments in the application process, to ensure the safety of Schuyler County residents.

In 2014, the legislature voted five to three in support of the LPG storage plant, based on “submissions and compliance with all regulatory requests” that “minimized impacts to the maximum extent practicable and that the caverns to be used for LPG storage are well-suited for such use.” In 2016, after Crestwood scaled back its plans, the legislature reiterated that support, six votes to two.

In June, Toxics Targeting, a company that compiles information on toxic sites, released documents it claimed prove the DEC knew of, and failed to disclose, leakage concerns.

A complete copy of the draft resolution can be found here. A listing of Schuyler County Officials, and their contact information, can be found here.

Schuyler County residents can talk Medicare

On Wednesday, July 18, Schuyler County residents can find out answers to their Medicare questions.

"Let's talk Medicare" will be held at the Harvest Cafe Lounge, 224 East Main Street, Montour Falls, New York, from 8:00 am to 10:00 am.

Come and have a cup of coffee and bring your Medicare questions. You will also be able to discuss programs that could save you money on your Medicare, such as Medicare Savings Program, Extra Help and EPIC.

The event is free, but RSVP is suggested. Please call the Schuyler County Office for the Aging at 607.535.7108 to register or for more information.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Schuyler County Legislature considers rescinding Crestwood LPG storage facility support

The Schuyler County Legislature appears close to voting to rescind its prior support for an attempt to store liquefied propane gas in local salt mines, after reports that one of the caverns may have leaks.

The full legislature will consider on Monday (July 9), a resolution rescinding support of Finger Lakes LPG Storage’s liquid propane gas (LPG) storage facility project. Finger Lakes LPG Storage is a subsidiary of Crestwood Midstream Partners.

The resolution has already cleared the county’s Public Safety Committee, headed by legislator Van Harp, and its Legislative Resolution Review Committee, chaired by Dennis Fagan.

The resolution, as authored by Fagan, with assistance from the County Planning Department (Kristin VanHorn), County Attorney (Steven Getman), County Administrator (Tim O’Hearn), Emergency Management (Bill Kennedy) and Clerk of the Legislature (Stacy Husted), repeals the county’s support pending completion of future pressure testing and subsequent review and approval by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The proposed resolution comes after a May 17 letter to the DEC from lawyers representing Finger Lakes LPG Storage. In that letter, Kevin Bernstein, an attorney with Bond Schoeneck & King, asked the DEC to delay a final decision on the storage unit application until well pressure tests determine its suitability as a gas storage unit.

In 2014, the County Legislature voted five to three in support of the LPG storage plant, based on “submissions and compliance with all regulatory requests” that “minimized impacts to the maximum extent practicable and that the caverns to be used for LPG storage are well-suited for such use.” In 2016, after Crestwood scaled back its plans, the legislature reiterated that support, six votes to two.

In June, Toxics Targeting, a company that compiles information on toxic sites, released documents it claimed prove the DEC knew of, and failed to disclose, leakage concerns.

The July 9 meeting of the Schuyler County legislature is scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm at the Schuyler County Courthouse, 105 Ninth Street, Watkins Glen, New York.

A complete copy of the draft resolution is below.

Draft: RESOLUTION WITHDRAWING SUPPORT OF STAGECOACH’S LIQUID PROPANE GAS (LPG) STORAGE FACILITY PROJECT by Steven Getman on Scribd

Monday, July 2, 2018

Public asked to report phone scams involving Federal Court

Federal officials are alerting the public to several nationwide imposter scams involving individuals claiming to be U.S. marshals, court officers, or other law enforcement officials.

In the scam, criminals call their victims claiming the are trying to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to report for jury duty or other offenses. The scammers tell victims they can avoid arrest by purchasing a prepaid debit card and read the card number over the phone to satisfy the fine.

These scammers use various tactics to sound credible, including badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials and federal judges, and courthouse addresses. Some will spoof their phone numbers on caller ID as appear if they are calling from a court or government agency.

Anyone who believes they were a victim of such a scam, is encouraged to report the incident to their local FBI office and to the FTC.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New York Election Day Hotline To Protect Voter Access During June Federal Primary Election

New York State officials have an announced an Election Day Hotline, which will help troubleshoot and resolve a range of potential issues encountered by voters at the polls during the federal primary election on Tuesday, June 26th.

Voters experiencing problems or issues at the polls may call the hotline at 800-771-7755 or contact it via email at any time between 6:00 AM and 9:00 PM on Tuesday.

Voters registered in New York City trying to find their poll site can click here. Voters registered outside New York City trying to find their poll site can click here.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Phishing scams targets Airbnb customers

Criminal hackers are taking advantage of the popularity of Airbnb with phishing campaigns targeting that site’s customers.

One recent scam involves the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR is a regulation that requires businesses to protect the personal data and

privacy of European Union citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. Websites across the world are being affected. The regulation took effect in May and many organizations are updating their privacy policies and emailing customers to ensure they are aware of the changes. The phishing scam seeks to exploit this. A phishing email, which claims to be from Airbnb customer support, advises users that they must accept a new privacy policy based on the GDPR before they can make any further bookings. Anyone who clicks the link is asked to enter their personal information, including account credentials and payment card information.

Another scam involves fake Airbnb property listings. Scammers post these listings to lure in interested renters. Once someone reaches the stage of being ready to book, the scammers will send a link to the Airbnb listing asking them to complete the booking through a real-looking, but fake, site. Once on that site, the prospective customer’s identity and payment information is stolen. Similar scams involve the fakers asking for advance payment, for properties that do not exist.

Airbnb has tips to avoid these, and other, scams involving their site here.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Supreme Court says police need a warrant for historical cell location records

Via ZDNet:
The Supreme Court has said that law enforcement must first seek a warrant before obtaining historical cell phone location records from phone companies, upending a near-decade long practice by police.

The court ruled 5-4 on the case, in what became one of the most awaited privacy legal decisions in the US this year.

The so-called "Carpenter" case had centered on the eponymous Timothy Carpenter, a criminal who was caught thanks to cell phone records in 2011. Law enforcement had obtained his location data from a phone provider without a search warrant, arguing the provider already had his data and Carpenter had no "reasonable expectation of privacy."

But the court found the government's warrantless access to cell-site records over a period of time "contravenes that expectation" of privacy, said (the court)....

The court stressed that the decision does not consider real-time tracking, or so-called "tower dumps," which police use to obtain information on all of the devices connected to a cell tower at during a particular period of time....

Police may, however, still obtain this data without a warrant in exigent circumstances, such as if there is an immediate threat or danger to life.

Read the complete decision here.

More on the Carpenter case here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New York State Supreme Court denies drug companies’ motions to dismiss counties’ Opioid cases

A New York State Supreme Court Judge has refused to dismiss lawsuits against several large opioid manufacturers in one of the first decisions to come out of the cases brought by local governments over the prescription painkillers.

In a pair of rulings on Monday (June 18), Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Jerry Garguilo rejected motions to dismiss brought by Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Allergan, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Insys Therapeutics Inc.

“The plaintiffs allege the manufacturer defendants employed assiduously crafted, multi-pronged marketing strategies that targeted the general public … as part of their respective campaigns to change the perception of the risks associated with prescription opioids and to de-stigmatize and normalize the long-term use of opioids for chronic nonmalignant pain,” he wrote.

Therefore, Garguilo allowed cases brought by various New York counties to go forward alleging violations of New York’s fraud and false advertising laws, as well as public nuisance and other claims.

One such case has been brought by Schuyler County. In August 2018, the County Legislature voted to retain the firm of Napoli Shkolnik to work with Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, as special counsel, to bring an action against the manufacturers and distributers of prescription opiates for damages to the County. In May of this year, Getman filed a nearly 250-page Summons and Complaint for damages to the County arising out of the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opiates in the County. That case was transferred to Suffolk County Courts shortly thereafter, along with other cases brought by New York counties in the state.

“We are obviously pleased by the court’s decision,” Getman said. “This is one of the first decisions to fully address all the substantive arguments in these various cases, and the court issued a well-thought-out opinion covering many of the issues raised throughout the state, including in our case. We consider it valuable precedent.”

“Schuyler County’s lawsuit will move forward to seek reimbursement for its expenses related to the opioid crisis as well as to provide the County with financial assistance to fight addiction, overdoses, drug-related crimes and drug deaths,” Getman stated.

According to Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, the lawsuit was filed at no risk to the County, as Napoli Shkolnik will work on contingency basis that will cover all costs associated with the lawsuit.

“By going forward with litigation, the County Legislature hopes to lessen the burden to taxpayers and seeks to hold manufacturers and distributors responsible for their role in the opioid epidemic,” O’Hearn said.

Schuyler County is one of several New York municipalities to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers. At least 14 counties across New York are suing pharmaceutical companies for what they're claiming are deceptive marketing practices. In addition, in February, New York State officials filed a lawsuit against Insys Therapeutics, Inc., alleging that Insys deceptively promoted prescription opiate Subsys for unsafe uses and violated state law by downplaying drug’s addictive risks.

New York State Opioid Litigation Part 48, Suffolk County orders June 18, 2018. by Steven Getman on Scribd

Monday, June 18, 2018

Schuyler County launches its Community Health Survey

Schuyler County Public Health and partners are doing a Community Health Survey with the intent of completing a new Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan by the end of December 2019.

The link to the online survey will be active for the next 4-6 weeks and Schuyler County encourages all to please complete it.

The same survey will be offered in each of the nine Finger Lakes Counties (Schuyler, Yates, Steuben, Chemung, Seneca, Ontario, Wayne, Livingston and Monroe). The coordinated effort is with the Public Health Department in each county and with Common Ground Health (the Regional Health Systems Agency).

Participants who provide their name and phone number or email address will be entered into a drawing for a $500 grocery or gasoline gift card.

For more information, click here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Schuyler County joins opposition to Romulus incinerator project

Schuyler County is the latest local government to oppose the proposed “Circular enerG” garbage incinerator project at the former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus, Seneca County, New York.

Citing environmental concerns, negative effects on agriculture and tourism, and local opposition from the Town of Romulus and County of Seneca, the Schuyler County Legislature voted Monday (June 11) against the project, which would be the state’s largest trash incinerator.  The vote was unanimous.

“The wine, craft beverage, agriculture, and agri-tourism industry is driving job creation and economic growth in the Finger Lakes,” the legislature held, further noting that, “trash incineration is not compatible with current or future economic development goals of the region, nor with New York State’s renewable energy standard.”    Therefore, the resolution says, state and federal officials should reject the project.

In a separate vote, the legislature unanimously resolved to support legislation introduced by Senator Tom O’Mara, Senator Pam Helming, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, and Assemblymen Phil Palmesano and Michael Cusick, that would help block the facility.   That legislation would prevent power projects that burn garbage from receiving expedited permitting through the “Article X” process. Instead, those projects would be required to conform with local laws, applicable environmental rules, and the state solid waste management permitting process.

Both resolutions were submitted to the legislature by the County’s Planning Department (Kristin VanHorn, Director), with assistance from the County Administrator (Tim O’Hearn), the Schuyler County Attorney (Steven Getman), the Clerk of the Legislature (Stacy Husted) and the County’s Community Development and Natural Resource Committee.  The motions to pass each were made by legislator Mark Rondinaro (Town of Reading) and seconded by legislator Van Harp (Town of Hector).

Romulus Town Supervisor, David Kaiser, an opponent of the project, praised Schuyler County officials.

“I want to personally thank the Chair of the Schuyler County Legislature, Dennis Fagan, and his fellow county officials who worked to pass these resolutions,” Kaiser said.  “If this incinerator project is approved, it will have a devastating impact on Romulus and the Finger Lakes region. Allowing a giant trash incinerator disguised as a power plant to move forward over local opposition is unfair to our residents and existing businesses.”

The Circular enerG facility would require the daily delivery of more than 1,000 tons of trash to the site, primarily from New York City, and withdraw 445,000 gallons of water daily from Seneca Lake.   News reports indicate that a 260-foot smoke stack will emit chemicals that may be harmful to human health, and that the facility will be located near the Romulus Central School and the Hillside Children’s Center. 

After the project met strong opposition from the community, the company asked for “Article X” approval from the state's Public Service Commission rather than the Town of Romulus in an attempt to bypass local review.   Circular enerG also sued the town in a bid to overturn recent local zoning decisions blocking its construction.

Schuyler County joins county legislatures in Seneca, Tompkins, Yates and Ontario as well as the town boards of Romulus, Geneva, Lodi, Ovid, Seneca Falls, Varick and others in opposing the project.

The text of each Schuyler County  resolution is available here.

Resolutions of the Schuyler County Legislature: Opposing Proposed Garbage Incinerator, Seneca County, New Y... by Steven Getman on Scribd

Bill to crack down on child sex trafficking set to pass

New York Post:
A bill to crack down on predators who force or manipulate children into prostitution is headed for passage this year, lawmakers said Thursday.

The revised law would punish anyone who intentionally promotes or profits from prostitution of people under the age of 18 with a felony sex trafficking charge — without having to prove the child was compelled....

The Senate has already passed a similar version of the ... bill, which was sponsored by Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island)....

The bill set for passage makes it a separate class B felony for anyone 21 or over to promote or benefit from the prostitution of anyone under 18.

It also says that arguing that a perpetrator didn’t know a victim’s age is no longer a valid defense.

Monday, June 4, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court: police need warrant to search vehicle located near home

Via Washington Examiner:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled police must obtain a warrant to search a vehicle parked near a home on private property, setting new limits on law enforcement's ability to conduct searches...

The man at the center of the case is Ryan Collins, who twice eluded police while riding a motorcycle in Albemarle County, Va., in 2013. Officers eventually found the motorcycle covered with a tarp and parked on a parking patio outside a house belonging to Collins’ girlfriend.

Police lifted the tarp and ran the motorcycle’s vehicle identification number. Upon running the VIN, officers discovered the motorcycle had been stolen in New York several years earlier, and Collins was arrested.

Collins argued the police violated the Fourth Amendment with its warrantless search because the motorcycle was located within the curtilage of the home.

But a trial court, state appeals court, and the Virginia Supreme Court disagreed, and said the search was constitutional.

In its decision, the Virginia Supreme Court cited the Fourth Amendment’s automobile exception, under which an officer can search a vehicle without a warrant if he or she has probable cause to believe the vehicle was involved in a crime.

But the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, saying nothing in its case law indicates that the automobile exception gave law enforcement the right to enter a home or its curtilage to access a vehicle without a warrant.

The complete decision can be found here.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Schuyler County calls on New York State to increase financial resources to County Veteran Service Agencies

Declaring that “our veterans represent the very best of America, having bravely answered the call to serve …and having earned the dignity that comes with ... defending our great nation’s values,” the Schuyler County Legislature has called on New York State to amend the Executive Law, in the relation to the cost of maintenance and operation of veterans’ service agencies.

The resolution, prepared by the County Veterans’ Service Agency (Joan Scott, Director)

with assistance from the Clerk of the Legislature (Stacy Husted) and the County Attorney (Steven Getman) asks the state legislature to remove the fifty percent cap on total expenditures for maintenance and operation that can be reimbursed by the state. The resolution also supports increasing the maximum reimbursement allowable to each county, noting that the amount of funding currently provided by the State to local veterans’ service agencies is minimal.

The resolution was passed at the legislature’s May 14 meeting and directs that the Clerk of the Legislature forward certified copies of the Resolution to Governor Cuomo, Senator O’Mara, Assemblyman Palmesano, and all other appropriate state officials.

The Schuyler County Veterans Service Agency advocates on behalf of Schuyler County veterans and their families, as individuals and as a group, to ensure they receive benefits granted by law for service in the United States Armed Forces.

Monday, May 21, 2018

New Version of N.Y. Family Court "Do it Yourself" Form Programs Launched

All New York State Family Court DIY (Do It Yourself) Form computer programs have been updated to improve the unrepresented litigant’s experience.

Program users no longer require Adobe Flash or Microsoft Word or Word Viewer to prepare their court papers. Instead the papers generated by the programs open in a PDF document. The computer program is also now available on mobile devices.

The DIY Forms FAQ page has been updated to reflect the changes to the program. According to the Court System, improved DIY Form Programs for Surrogate’s, Supreme, County, District, City, Civil, Housing and Justice Courts will be coming soon.

These forms cannot give you legal advice.  Litigants having questions about family court procedures should consult an attorney.  In certain cases, you may be eligible for assigned or low-cost counsel.

For more information about DIY Form Programs click here.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Town of Ovid Honors Former Clerk

The Ovid Town Board honored former Town Clerk James Vangalio for his “lifetime of service” to the town at its Wednesday (May 9) meeting.

Vangalio, who passed away April 4, had served as Town Clerk for twenty years.

To honor Vangalio, the Town Board presented his widow, Michele Vangalio, and his children and grandchildren with a certificate honoring his service to the community.

Vangalio was a lifelong resident of the Town of Ovid. As a 27-year member of the Ovid Fire Department, he was a truck captain and 2nd assistant chief. For more than 16 years, he and Michele hosted 43 foster children through Seneca County Department of Social Services.

Vangalio is survived by his wife of nearly 43 years, Michele; and his children Harland Kent, Lisa (Lee Benjamin) Vangalio, Vincent (Jamie) Vangalio, Staci (Martin) Hooker all of Ovid, Brian (Kayla Plante) Kuhlman of Red Creek, and Tracy (Chris Dresser) Andrews of Interlaken; his grandchildren Jade and Chelsea Parson, Grace and Hayden Benjamin, Lucas, Zackary and Addilyn Hooker, Skylar Howard, Emily, Alyssa and Toni Vangalio, Derek Andrews, McKenzie Dresser, and Brian Kuhlman Jr.; his sister, Patty (Dean) Arcangeli and their family; and his mother in law, Julie Byrne of Auburn; along with his wife's extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents; by a son, Anthony Vangalio; and by his father-in-law, James Byrne.

Michele Vangalio is currently serving as Town Clerk to fill the vacancy until the end of the year.

The Ovid Town Supervisor is Walt Prouty. The Ovid Town Board members are Mark Beardsley, Joseph Borst, Erik Holmberg and Carrie Wheeler-Carmenatty.

(Photo credit: Steven J. Getman, Esq.)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Schuyler County files lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers.

Schuyler County officials are formally taking “big pharma” to court.

On Friday (May 11, 2018), Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman filed a nearly 250-page Summons and Complaint against manufacturers and distributers of prescription opiates for damages to the County arising out of the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opiates in and to the County.

“Over the past few years, despite its small population, Schuyler County has seen an uptick in opioid and heroin use and overdose,” Getman said. “To date, County officials have expended significant resources to help its residents battle opioid addiction and prevent further deaths. The lawsuit will seek to reimburse the County for its expenses related to the opioid crisis as well as provide the County with financial assistance to continue this battle.”

The Summons names approximately thirty defendants, including some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry, such as: Purdue Pharma L.P.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Cephalon, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Actavis Pharma, Inc. and Insys Therapeutics, Inc.

The Complaint alleges the defendants knew--and had known for years–that opioids were addictive and subject to abuse, particularly when used long-term for chronic non-cancer pain, and should not be used except as a last-resort. However, the Complaint alleges, the defendants spent hundreds of millions of dollars disseminating scientific materials and advertising that misrepresented the risks of opioids’ long-term use.

“The United States is now awash in opioids,” the Complaint says.

Summons and Complaint: The County of Schuyler v Purdue Pharma L.P. by Steven Getman on Scribd

Schuyler County is the latest New York State county to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers. At least 14 counties across New York are suing pharmaceutical companies for what they're claiming are deceptive marketing practices. In addition, in February, New York State officials filed a lawsuit against Insys Therapeutics, Inc., alleging that Insys deceptively promoted prescription opiate Subsys for unsafe uses and violated state law by downplaying drug’s addictive risks.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Missing Infant: Schuyler County authorities search for missing 15-day-old

The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of a missing infant from Rock Cabin Road in the Village of Montour Falls.

The infant, Gionna K. Harter is 15 days old and is believed to have been removed from the residence by her mother Katrina M. Harter, age 31. It is believed that Katrina Harter took the child to avoid service of a Family Court Order that transfers custody to another party.

Katrina Harter is believed to be in the Geneva, NY area and has family ties to Wayne County, NY.

Anyone having information about the location of Gionna or Katrina Harter is asked to call the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office at 607-535-8222 or our confidential tip line at 607-535-8224.

The Wayne and Ontario County Sheriff’s Office’s, Geneva Police Department and New York State Police are actively assisting in the investigation.

For more information, click here. 8:45PM UPDATE: Schuyler County Deputies have announced 15-day-old Gionna Harter has been located in Geneva and is safe.

The AMBER notice regarding Gionna’s disappearance has been cancelled.

More information on the case is pending.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Seniors: Beware of Medicare Scam Calls

From CNN:
In an effort to help protect the elderly from identity theft, the federal government started mailing new cards that come with a new 11-digit identification number instead of an enrollee's Social Security number. The cards will be sent automatically to Medicare's roughly 59 million participants over the next year. Seniors should be sure their addresses are up to date with the Social Security Administration....

Though the effort is designed to help minimize fraud, it has sparked a series of scams. Medicare wants enrollees to know that they don't have to do anything to receive their cards (as long as their address is correct), and there is no activation process or fee. Also, Medicare will never initiate calls and ask to verify information over the phone.

According to AARP:
Scammers posing as Medicare representatives have already been calling beneficiaries demanding a processing fee. Other fraudsters are telling beneficiaries that they are owed a refund from transactions on their old card and then asking for bank account information to process the reimbursement. Medicare will never ask an enrollee for a bank account number, and no refunds are owed.
The New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud offers this advice:
• Just hang up. Medicare won’t phone you about the cards. They’re also free, and nor do seniors have to report or verify info to Medicare;
• Sign up for an alert that Medicare has mailed your new card; and
• Destroy your old Medicare card when your new card arrives.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Schuyler County Commemorates May 1 as “Law Day”: Law Day 2018 Will Focus on Separation of Powers

Watkins Glen, New York—The Schuyler County Legislature has recognized as the Law Day 2018 theme “Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom.”

The legislature passed a resolution at its April 9, 2018 meeting, recognizing “Law Day” as an occasion of public acknowledgement of our Nation’s heritage of justice, liberty, and equality under the law. The resolution was submitted to the legislature by Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman.

“The U.S. Constitution established a system of government with distinct and independent branches—legislative, executive, and judicial—and it gave Congress, the Presidency, and a Supreme Court separate and distinct powers, so that these three separate branches share power and serve as checks on the powers of the others,” Getman wrote.

In passing the resolution, the legislature found that “promoting public understanding of the roots of our freedom are an important component in the civic education of the citizens of the United States, the State of New York and the County of Schuyler.”

The American Bar Association selects an annual theme for each Law Day. Law Day is an annual commemoration first held in 1957 when the American Bar Association envisioned a special national day to mark our nation’s commitment to the rule of law. The following year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Law Day Proclamation. Law Day was made official in 1961 when Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day.

A copy of Schuyler County’s resolution “Recognizing and Commemorating May 1, 2018 as ‘Law Day’ in Schuyler County is available here.

Resolution Recognizing and Commemorating May 1, 2018 as “Law Day” in Schuyler County, New York by Steven Getman on Scribd

Monday, April 23, 2018

New York’s new law: Police recording duty for certain custodial interrogations

Effective this month, the law in New York State on police recording of certain custodial interrogations has changed.

The new law amends the Criminal Procedure Law creates a recording obligation in certain highly serious felonies, including many Class A-1 offenses, A-2 sex offenses, and B violent homicide and sex offenses.

Under the statute, the recording has to begin with "custody" at a police station or other detention facility (or at same time police must give the person Miranda warnings).

There are ten "good cause" exceptions for non-recording listed in the law. They include malfunctioning equipment, booking questions and "inadvertent error or oversight.”

If police improperly fail to record an interrogation and cannot show "good cause," the statute permits the defense to obtain a jury charge at trial. However, there is no suppression remedy for police failure to comply with the recording obligation. Instead, the law provides that a failure to obey the recording rule can be a "factor" bearing on admissibility, though not the "sole factor."

For more on the new law, click here.

Monday, April 16, 2018

National Domestic Violence Prosecutorial Training Announced

The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA) is hosting a national Domestic Violence Prosecutorial Conference on June 6-8, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri.

The conference will focus on the needs of jurisdictions responding to domestic violence cases and will have three specific themes: management, trial issues, and victims. Expert faculty members will facilitate discussion and train participants on practical concepts and model practices in domestic violence prosecution.

Prosecutors with all levels of experience are encouraged to attend. For more on this training, click here.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Protect yourself online: Tips for guarding against data breaches and hacking.

Hacking continues to drive the explosion of data breaches. According to New York State officials, 2017 saw the exposure of the personal records of 9.2 million New Yorkers, which is quadruple the 2016 number.

In response, state officials have released suggestions for ways consumers guard can against threats in the following ways:

Create Strong Passwords for Online Accounts and Update Them Frequently. Use different passwords for different accounts, especially for websites where you have disseminated sensitive information, such as credit card or Social Security numbers.
Carefully Monitor Credit Card and Debit Card Statements Each Month. If you find any abnormal transactions, contact your bank or credit card agency immediately.
Do Not Write Down or Store Passwords Electronically. If you do, be extremely careful of where you store passwords. Be aware that any passwords stored electronically (such as in a word processing document or cell phone’s notepad) can be easily stolen and provide fraudsters with one-stop shopping for all your sensitive information. If you hand-write passwords, do not store them in plain sight.
Do Not Post Any Sensitive Information on Social Media. Information such as birthdays, addresses, and phone numbers can be used by fraudsters to authenticate account information. Practice data minimization techniques. Don’t overshare.
Always Be Aware of the Current Threat Landscape. Stay up to date on media reports of data security breaches and consumer advisories.

In addition, the following steps are recommended if you believe you have been victimized by a data security breach:

User Names and Passwords. Change user names and passwords immediately on the relevant account and monitor the account for unusual activity. If you use the same user name or password on other accounts, change those as well.
Credit Card Numbers. For breaches involving credit card numbers, social security numbers, and other sensitive numbers, create an Identity Theft Report by filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and printing your Identity Theft Affidavit. You can call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338 or complete the form online here. Use the Identity Theft Affidavit to file a police report and create your Identity Theft Report. An Identity Theft Report will help you deal with credit reporting companies, debt collectors, and any fraudulent accounts that the identity thief opened in your name. You may also want to put a fraud alert and/or security freeze on your credit report by notifying each of the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). A security freeze is the strongest protection for your credit and remains on your credit file until you remove it or choose to lift it temporarily when applying for credit services.

For more information on how to help protect sensitive personal information against unauthorized disclosures click here.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Ithaca City Court seeking attorneys to assist pro se defendants

The Ithaca City Court is seeking attorneys willing to assist pro se defendants attempting to seal their convictions under CPL 160.59.

Under that statute, individuals who have been convicted of up to two eligible offenses, but not more than one eligible felony offense, may apply to have those convictions sealed.

Eligible offenses may be sealed only after at least 10 years have passed since the sentence was imposed on the latest conviction or, if the sentence included a period of incarceration, at least 10 years since release from incarceration. Offenses that are not eligible for sealing include sex offenses and certain other felony offenses.

Sealing is discretionary with the court and applicants are required to serve notice on the District Attorney in the county of conviction.

An information packet with forms and instructions is linked here. The packet can also be accessed on the New York State Office of Court Administration website.

Sealing does not equal expungement. Any such sealed records would remain available to the defendant, the defendant’s agent and certain various law enforcement agencies, as well as criminal background checks for firearm purchases.

For more information, click here.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The top ten frauds of 2017 released: Watch out for these common scams

New York State officials have released the list of the top ten consumer fraud complaints received by the Attorney General's office in 2017.

They are:

CATEGORY AND NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS

1. Internet (internet services & service providers; data privacy & security; child safety; consumer frauds) 5,153 complaints
2. Automobile (buying; leasing; repair; service contracts; rentals) 3,188 complaints
3. Consumer-Related Services (security systems; restaurant/catering services; tech repairs) 2,463 complaints

4. Landlord/Tenant Disputes (security deposit releases; tenant harassment) 1,961 complaints
5. Utilities (wireless and residential phones; energy services & suppliers; cable and satellite) 1,827 complaints
6. Credit (debt collection; credit card billing; debt settlement; credit repair; credit reporting agencies; identity theft) 1,436 complaints
7. Retail Sales (any sale of goods for personal household use: food, clothing; rent-to-own) 1,285 complaints
8. Home Repair/Construction (home improvement services not delivered or done poorly) 982 complaints
9. Mail Order (purchases made online or from a catalog) 850 complaints
10. Mortgage (mortgage modifications; mortgage and loan broker fraud; foreclosures)
The state has also offered a list of tips all consumers should use to protect themselves and their families.

For more on these scams, and how to avoid them, click here.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Susan B. Anthony Trial Re-enactment in Syracuse, New York

The Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association will be presenting a Susan B. Anthony Trial Re-enactment on Thursday, April 19, 2018, 6:00 pm, at
the Syracuse Federal Building Courthouse.

Federal court judges are playing the parts of Judge and defense attorney. Grant C. Jaquith, Interim United States Attorney for the Northern District, is playing the part of prosecutor. Several local high schools are participating as suffragists.

The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, click here.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Home Truth: A Film Screening and Discussion on Domestic Violence and Human Rights

The Berger International Legal Affairs Program at Cornell Law School is co-sponsoring Home Truth: A Film Screening and Discussion on Domestic Violence and Human Rights:

In 1999, Colorado mother Jessica Gonzales experiences every parent’s worst nightmare when her three young daughters are killed after being abducted by their father in violation of a domestic violence restraining order. Devastated, Jessica files a
lawsuit against the police, claiming they did not adequately enforce her restraining order despite her repeated calls for help that night. Determined to make sure her daughters did not die in vain, Jessica pursues her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and an international human rights tribunal, seeking to strengthen legal rights for domestic violence victims. Meanwhile, her relationship with her one-surviving child, her son Jessie, suffers, as he struggles with the tragedy in his own way. Filmed over the course of nine years, HOME TRUTH chronicles one family’s pursuit of justice, shedding light on how our society responds to domestic violence and how the trauma from domestic violence tragedies can linger throughout generations.

There are two screening Opportunities:

Wednesday, March 14 @ 5 p.m. Myron Taylor Hall, Room 186

Thursday, March 15 @ 6 p.m. Cinemapolis, 120 East Green Street, Ithaca

A panel discussion will follow both screenings.

Jessica's case is now studied in textbooks around the country, and the domestic violence advocacy community refers to her work and her case as one of the most significant legal cases in the history of the movement.
For more on the film and the panel discussions, click here.

Friday, March 2, 2018

New York State Court Closings, Friday, March 2

New York State superior courts are closed in the Finger Lakes today due to the storm, including: Cayuga, Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, Schuyler, Tompkins and Yates.

For a complete list of court closings click here.

The list does not include town or village courts.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Schuyler County Proposed Local Law: Notice of Public Hearing

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a public hearing shall be held upon the following proposed Local Law on March 12, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. in the County Office Building, 105 Ninth Street, Watkins Glen, NY:

Local Law B of the year 2018: A Local Law declaring the opioid epidemic and its effects on the County a public nuisance and establishing a cost recovery procedure.

Purpose and intent.

A. The opioid epidemic is sweeping the country. Indeed, addiction to and abuse of opioids is one of the greatest challenges facing Schuyler County, New York (the “County”). A cause of this increasing crisis is the overabundance of prescription opioids. Large amounts of prescription opioids were sold, distributed, and prescribed in the County over the past several years, a practice that continues today. The selling, distributing, and prescribing of large amounts of opioids in our community has created a public health and safety hazard affecting the residents of the County. This crisis has devastated families, wreaked havoc on our economy, and produced a generation of narcotic dependence. As a result of the opioid epidemic, costs related to healthcare, family and social services, criminal justice, addiction and rehabilitation, and many other areas have significantly increased. Many of these costs are paid by the County.

B. The purpose and intent of this legislation is to allow the County to recover these costs, despite the existence of the common-law municipal cost recovery rule (a.k.a. free public services doctrine) and declare the opioid epidemic and its effects on the County a public nuisance. Specifically, the County provides services related to the opioid epidemic, which are funded by tax revenues. This statute clarifies that reimbursement may be sought for the costs of providing such services, whenever practicable, from the responsible party. To accomplish this, the County establishes this cost recovery procedure and declares the opioid epidemic and its effects on the County a public nuisance.

The complete text of the proposed local law can be found here.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Schuyler County Opioid Lawsuit Fight Continues Forward. Public Hearing Scheduled on Local Law to Declare the Opioid Epidemic a Public Nuisance.

Schuyler County will hold a public hearing on March 12 to review a proposed local law declaring the opioid epidemic and its effects on the County a public nuisance.

According to Schuyler County Attorney Steven Getman, the draft local law is the next step in the County’s lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid pain killers.

“The purpose and intent of this legislation is to allow the County to recover costs related to healthcare, family and social services, criminal justice, addiction and rehabilitation, and many other areas have significantly increased,” Getman explained.   “Many of these costs are paid by the County.”

Upon passage, the local law would be followed by the filing of a lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributers of prescription opiates for damages to the County arising out of the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opiates in and to the County

The County Legislature voted in August to retain the firm of Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC to file that lawsuit on their behalf.  Napoli Shkolnik will work with Getman, as special counsel. 

“Over the past few years, despite its small population, Schuyler County has seen an uptick in opioid and heroin use and overdose,” Getman said.   “To date, County officials have expended significant resources to help its residents battle opioid addiction and prevent further deaths. The lawsuit will seek to reimburse the County for its expenses related to the opioid crisis as well as provide the County with financial assistance to continue this battle.”

According to County Administrator Tim O’Hearn, the lawsuit will be filed at no risk to the County, as Napoli Shkolnik will work on contingency basis that will cover all costs associated with the lawsuit.

“By voting to go forward with local law, the County Legislature hopes to lessen the burden to taxpayers and seeks to hold manufacturers and distributors responsible for their role in the opioid epidemic,” O’Hearn said.  
  
“These drug companies have poisoned our communities and polluted our children” says Paul Napoli, of counsel for Napoli Shkolnik. Paul Napoli leads the charge with Hunter Shkolnik against drug companies nationwide.

“The painkiller overdose epidemic is a classic case of putting profits before people,” he said. “Many opioid manufacturers were so intent on selling as much product as possible that they either turned a blind eye towards, or intentionally buried, reports that these drugs were highly addictive and potentially deadly.”

Napoli added that “our door is open” to other New York municipalities who are also fed up with the overdose epidemic, and that Napoli Law has the firepower to go toe-to-toe with the big pharma lawyers.

Napoli has dedicated much of his career to mass tort litigation. He has fought on behalf of 9/11 injury victims at both the statehouse and the courthouse, and he and his team also took on the big energy companies which contaminated much of Long Island’s drinking water supply with dangerously high levels of methyl tertiary butyl ether.

The Public Hearing on the proposed local law will be held in the Legislative Chambers of the Schuyler County Courthouse, 105 Ninth Street, Watkins Glen, New York on Monday, March 12, 2018 at 6:30 pm.   The public is invited and encouraged to attend and voice their concerns regarding the opioid epidemic and the costs to Schuyler County and its communities.

A copy of the proposed local law, as introduced February 12, 2018, can be found here.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Latest Efforts to Curb Opioid Epidemic in NY: Controlled Substance Schedule Changes

New York State officials have announced a budget amendment will be advanced to add 11 fentanyl analogs to the state controlled substances schedule and provide the New York State Health Commissioner the authority to add any new drugs that have been added to the federal schedule, to the state controlled substances schedule.

These actions are intended support law enforcement in their efforts to stop the spread of lethal drugs in New York State.

In recent years, fentanyl analogs have been increasingly found pressed into pill form to resemble name-brand prescription opioids, and in heroin and cocaine being sold in New York State. Compared to 30 milligrams of heroin, just three milligrams of fentanyl can be fatal.

There is currently a loophole in state law that has left 11 dangerous fentanyl analogs off New York's controlled substances schedule.

For more on this initiative, click here.

For more on the Schuyler County Attorney's efforts to thwart opioid abuse, click here.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Combatting Human Trafficking

The Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit of the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association are presenting a free webinar, Combatting Human Trafficking Through Collaboration, on Feb. 21, 2018 from 2:00-3:30 EST.

The webinar will address "types of legal services survivors of human trafficking need; how to identify when civil or criminal clients may be victims of trafficking; successful models for collaborating with law enforcement while maintaining a victim-centered approach; and opportunities for working with the Civil Rights Division to fight against human trafficking."

For more information or to register, click here.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Schuyler County hosts Rabies Clinic February 6

Watkins Glen—Schuyler County officials will be hosting a rabies clinic on February 6 at the Shared Services Building, 910 S. Decatur Street, Watkins Glen, New York. The clinic will run from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm in the evening.

Vaccination is free of charge, but donations are appreciated.

Rabies is a serious virus of all mammals with no known cure. It causes neurological degeneration that ultimately leads to the death of the infected person or animal. Luckily, Rabies can be prevented with vaccination, and New York State requires by law the compulsory vaccination of all domestic dogs, cats and ferrets for the safety of the public. Compliance with Rabies Vaccination Laws is monitored by the New York State Department Of Health.

For more information, click here.

Monday, January 29, 2018

New York Public Employees Will Be Entitled to Paid Leave for Cancer Screenings

New York State has amended Civil Service Law to entitle most public sector employees to take up to four hours of paid leave per year to be screened for all types of cancers.

Currently, the law allowed paid leave only for screenings for breast cancer and prostate cancer. The new law provides for these screenings without deducting any leave time (e.g., sick, personal, or vacation) from the employee.

The new law is effective March 18, 2018. For more on the legislation, click here.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Intellectual Disabilities and Family Court Representation Webinar

The National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities is sponsoring a free webinar for attorneys who represent parents with intellectual disabilities in family court proceedings on Wednesday, February 21 from 2:00-3:00 pm.

Issues to be addressed include the application of disability law in the child welfare system and strategies for best representing those parents.

For more information about the webinar and how to register, please click here.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Seneca County: Town of Ovid, Notice of Public Hearing

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
Time Warner Cable Northeast LLC, locally known as Charter Communications
Franchise Renewal for Town of Ovid, New York

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the Town of Ovid will hold a Public Hearing on February 14, 2018 at 7:00 pm at the Town Offices/Ovid Fire House, 2163 Brown Street, Ovid, New York, regarding renewal of the cable television franchise agreement by and between the Town of Ovid and Time Warner Cable Northeast LLC, locally known as Charter Communications.

A copy of the agreement is available for public inspection during normal business hours at the Town Clerk’s Office, 7099 Orchard Street, Ovid, New York.

At such public hearing, all persons will be given an opportunity to be heard. Written and oral statements will be taken at that time. Time limitations may be imposed for each oral statement if necessary.

Dated January 10, 2018

By Order of the Town Board, Town of Ovid
James E. Vangalio, Town Clerk
Steven Getman, Town Attorney
Town of Ovid

Monday, January 8, 2018

Schuyler County Medicare Informational Session January 27

Are you turning 65 in 2018? Turning 65 but you're still working?
Retiring and not sure what you need for insurance?

Come and ask your questions at the Schuyler County Medicare Information Session.

This will be an informal question and answer session in regards to Medicare.

The session will be held Saturday, January 27, from 10:00 am to Noon at the Silver Spoon Cafe, 323 Owego Street, Montour Falls, New York.

RSVP is required. You can register for this event by calling (607) 535-7108.

For more information, click here.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Schuyler County Organizational Meeting

Members of the Schuyler County Legislature and other officials gathered for a group photo at the Legislature's annual Organizational Meeting held Wednesday morning, Jan. 3 in the County Office Building. From left standing: Legislators Jim Howell, Carl Blowers, David Reed, Michael Lausell, Mark Rondinaro, Van Harp, Phil Barnes and Dennis Fagan. Seated from left: County Attorney Steven Getman, Deputy Clerk Jamee Mack, Clerk to the Legislature Stacy Husted, and County Administrator Tim O'Hearn

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

NY ABLE program helps persons with disabilities cover costs

Local residents may be eligible to sign up for a new savings plan, called the New York Achieving a Better Life Experience (NY ABLE) program, designed to help individuals with disabilities maintain their health, independence and quality of life.

The NY ABLE legislation was signed into law in December 2015. It allows New Yorkers with disabilities to save money in their own names without risking their Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and certain other means-based benefits. NY ABLE accounts, also known as 529A accounts, can be opened with a minimum contribution of $25. Contributions can be made by eligible individuals, family members or friends, but are not tax-deductible. The annual contribution is capped at $14,000 and the maximum account balance is $100,000.

The annual contribution cap will be increased to $15,000 as of January 2018. Earnings and distributions are tax free provided the funds are used for qualified disability expenses. To be eligible, an individual must have a disability that was present before age 26. Participants must be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), be blind, have a significant disability documented by a physician, or have a disability that is included on the Social Security Administration's Compassionate Allowances Conditions list. New York residency is required and only one account per individual is permitted.

For more information on eligibility, or to set up an account, click here.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New laws set to take effect in 2018

New York Daily News:

  •  As 2017 approaches a close, people are jotting down their resolutions, but 2018 will bring more than just promises to do better in the coming year. 

 Here are just a few state laws slated to take effect when the clock hits midnight on Jan. 1.