Attorney General Files Suit After Investigation into Tenant Harassment

In partnership with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Tenant Protection Unit, a subpoena was issued in 2014 to investigate Marolda Properties and different landlord companies concerning allegations of tenant harassment and business practices.

On November 1, a lawsuit was filed by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, against landlords and property management companies alleging that they harassed residents in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. The harassed tenants occupied rent regulated apartments. According to Crain’s New York Business, the landlords and management companies wanted these residents out of the building to bring in higher paying tenants to increase profits.

Marolda Properties, a party listed in the complaint, owns and manages upwards of 70 buildings with approximately 1,700 apartments throughout Westchester County and the five boroughs.

According to the complaint, Marolda Properties and landlords of different limited liability companies intimidated residents “by accusing them of not living in their unit.” They threatened the tenants with an eviction proceeding if they did not leave voluntarily. According to Crain’s, the property manager and landlords filed suit in housing court against tenants without any evidence to their claims in many cases.

According to the Attorney General, Marolda, who is a stakeholder in many of the buildings, turned off the gas to some units at a building in the Lower East Side and failed to make basic repairs in an attempt to make the tenants leave. Marolda has not turned the gas back on according to Schneiderman.

One example cited by Crain’s is that when Marolda “ripped out the toilet used by elderly residents in August and never replaced it.” The elderly tenants “had to climb three flights of stairs to use a different restroom.”

Marolda Properties has not yet commented on the allegations.

If you believe your rights as a tenant have been violated, contact Tanya Hobson-Williams, P.C. to learn about the protections available to you under New York State Law.

What is Medicaid Fraud?

Today, there are over 5.3 million New York residents enrolled in the Medicaid program, according to the New York State Department of Health. As one of the largest state and federally funded programs, both New York State and the federal government have devoted millions of dollars to investigate, penalize and prosecute individuals and entities engaging in Medicaid fraud.

There are several types of Medicaid fraud, such as those who receive Medicaid fraudulently. Medicaid recipient fraud may include an applicant falsifying information on the application and certification failure to disclose information about income and assets owned, and the failure to disclose income earned by a spouse or other household member. Other activities that can be deemed as Medicaid fraud are loaning another person their Medicaid identification card, changing or creating a falsified order or prescription, using more than one Medicaid identification card, deliberately receiving excess, duplicative or conflicting medical service and/or supplies, and selling Medicaid-provided supplies to others.

However, there are some instances that may trigger an investigation into Medicaid fraud, even if the individual has not acted outside the scope of the law. These instances may include an unusually high frequency of Medicaid claims, an anonymous call to the Medicaid fraud hotline, and a computer-generated analysis of Medicaid claims and billing codes. Medicaid can also perform an investigation if Medicaid benefits were paid incorrectly, even if you are not at fault.

On the federal level, Medicaid fraud is investigated by the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or other federal entities. On the state level, it is investigated by The Medicaid Control Unit of the New York Attorney General’s Office, the Office of Medicaid Inspector General, and local district attorneys. On the local level, it is investigated by the NYC Human Resources Administration or County Department of Social Services. Medicaid fraud can result in a variety of penalties and consequences, from repayment of Medicaid benefits to lengthy prison sentences. Due to the potentially severe consequences an individual can face, it is important that anyone under investigation for Medicaid fraud contact an experienced New York Medicaid fraud lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights and course of action.

The experienced New York Medicaid fraud defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Tanya Hobson-Williams have successfully defended clients who were accused of Medicaid fraud. Our lawyers are knowledgeable in the laws of Medicaid eligibility and usage and will vigorously defend your rights. To schedule a consultation, call 1-866-825-1LAW.

SCOTUS Declines Review of Debt Collection Case

On June 27, the Supreme Court declined to review a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, allowing the decision in the class-action lawsuit against the debt collection company Encore Capital Group Inc., Midland Funding and Midland Credit Management to stand.

As is typically done in the debt collection industry, Midland had purchased millions of dollars of debt from Bank of America for pennies on the dollar, hoping to collect repayment at a higher rate from the borrowers. Midland rendered a 27 percent annual interest rate on New York resident Saliha Madden’s credit card debt she incurred years earlier through the Bank of America.

In May 2015, Ms. Madden commenced a class-action lawsuit against Midland and argued that the company could not charge her the 27 percent interest rate on her credit card debt because it exceeded the interest limits in her home state. The Second Circuit ruled in favor of Ms. Madden, stating that debt collection companies are not protected under the National Bank Act and must abide by the interest rate cap set under a state’s “usury” laws. The Appeals Court’s ruling extends to borrowers in New York, Connecticut and Vermont.

According to the New York Times, the Appeals Court’s decision is limited. In the Madden case, the borrower no longer had a relationship established with the bank after it sold off the debt to the loan collection company. However, the original interest rate a financial institution charges on credit card debt may still be applicable even after the debt has been sold.

At some point, a business owner may need to collect on debt owed under loan agreements, contracts, services, transactions, promissory notes, and goods that were sold and delivered. Hobson-Williams, P.C. is a full-service debt collections department that is available to advise you of your rights when it comes to debt collection. The firm’s debt collection attorneys practice in accordance with all federal and state debt collection laws when dealing with debtors. For more information, call 1 (866) 825-1529.

Third-Party Debt Collectors Need to Follow New Regulations

As of 2015, new rules under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) went into effect.  These rules regulate third-party debt collector communication and disclosure requirements.  The aim of these reforms is to prevent predatory practices that deceive consumers for financial gain.

Debt collectors will now be required to give a disclaimer to the consumer if they believe the statute of limitations have expired.  This disclosure requirement and the statute of limitations rules are complex.  It is important to seek guidance from an experienced attorney to analyze whether the disclosure is sufficient or whether the collection efforts are time-barred.

There is also a new time-sensitive disclosure restricting behavior under the FDCPA.  The debt collector now has five days to list the original creditor, provide an itemized inventory of the debt due as of charge-off, the accrued interest, other fees accrued, and the total payments made since charge-off.

Previously, the law prohibited the use of a consumer’s email address to communicate with them.  Now, a debt collector is permitted to communicate with a consumer through the consumer’s personal email account if proper consent is obtained in writing.  With these new rules in place, dismissal of an otherwise valid debt could occur if the debt collector failed to obtain the proper written consent to communicate via email.

At some point, most businesses may need to attempt debt collection on monies owed.  To better understand your rights when it comes to debt collection, contact an experienced New York collections attorney Hobson-Williams by calling (718) 210-4744.

New Bill Proposal Aims to Give More Rights to Tenants

Tanya Hobson-Williams, NY AttorneyA major problem for many buildings in New York City is leaking water which causes plaster to collapse and mold to grow.  Many residents who face this issue are renters and not home owners. As such, these individuals have to wait for their landlords to address the problem while the problem, itself, persists or worsens.

Two years ago, New York City adopted a law that required landlords repair the “underlying conditions” that cause mold to flourish and ceilings to collapse. The problem is that in New York City, which houses nearly 3.5 million apartments, there is only enough resources to target 50 buildings a year for “underlying conditions orders.”

Indeed records show that since the law was passed in 2013, the city has targeted only 69 buildings, including thirty six in Brooklyn, twenty in the Bronx, eight in Manhattan, four in Queens, and one in Staten Island. Continue reading “New Bill Proposal Aims to Give More Rights to Tenants”

Attorney General’s Office Unveils Nursing Home Abuse Cover-Up

Tanya Hobson-Williams, NY AttorneyAccording to the New York State Attorney General’s Office, Dawn Weaver, a Licensed Practical Nurse, pleaded guilty to endangering a nursing home resident and falsifying business records.

These charges pertain to an incident on February 23, 2014, when a 93-year-old Wayne County Nursing Home resident fell while being transferred to the bathroom by a nurse aide. The supervising aide, Weaver, failed to follow nursing home protocol when she neglected to have the resident examined by a registered nurse before she was moved. Furthermore, Weaver failed to use a mechanical lift to remove the resident off of the ground, and subsequently failed to report the incident in the facility’s medical records.

Weaver then signed a facility report stating that the aforementioned event did not occur. More disturbingly, Weaver added that had the event occurred, she would have addressed it. However, when questioned by the Attorney General’s Office, Weaver admitted that the resident fell and that she and the aide manually picked up the resident without telling anyone about the fall. Continue reading “Attorney General’s Office Unveils Nursing Home Abuse Cover-Up”

Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program

Tanya Hobson-Williams, NY AttorneyNew York City rental prices seem to continue to rise without any foreseeable decline.  As a result, reasonably priced housing has become a coveted treasure city-wide.

However, through the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program (SCRIE) renters who are 62 or older with yearly incomes below $50,000 may be eligible for exemption from all or some increases in rents, carrying charges, capital assessment or voluntary capital contributions.

Recent changes to the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) has expanded eligibility by increasing the maximum annual income to $50,000 from $29,000.

Lawmakers speculate that in the next ten years, New York City will see a 30% increase in the senior adult population. They further point out that New York City is home to the highest number of foreign-born senior citizens in the nation. As a result, more low-income seniors are seeking an affordable place to retire. Continue reading “Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program”

Expert Health Committee Recommends Major Changes to U.S. Health System

Tanya Hobson-Williams, NY AttorneyEnd of life care refers to the treatment of patients in the final hours or days of their lives, as well as the health care of all those with a terminal illness or a terminal condition that has become advanced, progressive and incurable.

A national panel recently appointed by the Institute of Medicine, the research branch of the National Academy of Sciences, released a report on September 17, 2014. The report stated that the United States’ system for handling end-of-life care is largely inept, thus necessitating a major makeover.

The report was authored by a 21-member nonpartisan committee comprised of doctors, nurses, insurers, religious leaders, lawyers and experts on aging. It called for major overhauls in the industry, and noted that many of its recommendations could be accomplished without the necessity of the often slow-moving legislative process.

The  507- page report called for a “major reorientation and restructuring of Medicare, Medicaid and other health care delivery programs,” as well as the elimination of financial incentives that are alleged to encourage expensive hospital procedures over low-tech services like home health care and pain management, particularly for sick and elderly patients. Continue reading “Expert Health Committee Recommends Major Changes to U.S. Health System”

Tanya Hobson-Williams, P.C. Defends Client’s Marriage to Husband who was declared an Incapacitated Person Resulting in Wife Inheriting $3 Million Dollar Estate

Tanya Hobson-Williams, NY AttorneyOn September 24, 2014, the Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division: Second Department reversed a lower court’s order annulling the marriage between a younger woman and an elderly man.  The Appellate Division determined that a new hearing on the man’s ability to enter into a marriage contract was warranted. Capacity, in a legal sense,refers to the ability to make a rational decision based upon all relevant facts and considerations.

The case involved an elderly man who was appointed a guardian by the New York Supreme Court to provide for his personal needs and property management. During the course of his guardianship, the elderly gentleman entered into a marriage with a younger woman. After being informed of the marriage, the guardian asked the Court to have a psychologist determine whether the elderly man had the capacity to enter into a marriage. After a hearing and testimony, the New York State Supreme Court determined that the elderly gentleman lacked the capacity to enter into a marriage, and, as a result, annulled the marriage.

On Appeal, attorney Tanya Hobson-Williams, representing the young woman, argued that her client was not given any notice that her marriage would be annulled and that she lacked the opportunity to be heard by the court before it ultimately decided to annul the marriage to her late husband. While the petition to appoint a Guardian for the elderly man requested a determination of the elderly gentleman’s capacity to handle his affairs, neither the Petitioner nor the Guardian ever requested that the marriage be annulled. Essentially, all that was formally requested of the court was to determine matters pertaining to the level of guardianship. Continue reading “Tanya Hobson-Williams, P.C. Defends Client’s Marriage to Husband who was declared an Incapacitated Person Resulting in Wife Inheriting $3 Million Dollar Estate”

Medicare’s Nursing Home Ratings Fail to Give Complete Depiction

Tanya Hobson-Williams, NY AttorneyA recent investigation into Medicare’s nursing home rating system by The New York Times revealed that the high rating of many top nursing homes, is based on incomplete information about the quality and conditions at the homes.

The report found that the 1-5 star medical rating system is largely based on self-reported data by the nursing homes that the government does not verify. The only data that is subject to review from outside agencies is the results from annual health inspections. As a result, other important measurements of nursing homes — such as staff levels and quality statistics, are mostly left to the nursing home to report to Medicare.

The investigation also revealed that the rating system fails to take into account other potentially negative information such as fines imposed by the state or enforcement sanctions from state agencies.

While federal officials maintain that the rating system can be improved, and that they are working to make it better, many individuals, including former nursing home employees, lawyers and patient advocacy groups, believe that these nursing homes have merely learned how to abuse the rating system. Continue reading “Medicare’s Nursing Home Ratings Fail to Give Complete Depiction”