MY COMMENT: Martha Coakley is such a joke. Over the past couple of years I have been reading her Press Releases and selecting to publish here what I think is related to being a landlord in MA but I have to say – in addition to being very anti-landlord another trend is clearly visible – if you defraud the public for $25,000, let’s say, they make you pay the whole thing back and give you several years in jail plus probation but if you defraud the public for $25,000,000,000 like some of the too-big-to-fail banks, they only make you pay back 0.1%, no jail for anyone and call it a victory and we are supposed to have respect for Martha Coakley and her office…It’s not listed here but for example in her Oct’2013 press release there was bank robber who stole $51,000 without injuring anyone and they gave him 18-20 years in prison while banks are back at their old tricks and get away with murder and no one even goes to jail.
In the Press Release from Oct 28, 2013 she is pushing for punishing people who did not intend to discriminate. That’s way too aggressive and very alarming.
In her Oct 29th, 2013 Press Release she is pushing to send to jail a plumber whose crime is that he removed an old boiler and left some of the asbestos (pipe insulation maybe?) in the crawl space of the basement (“an unpermited location”) but when you go to the MassDEP web site they say that there is no permitted location! Here is exactly what they say as of 6-2-14: “The only landfill in Massachusetts currently permitted to accept asbestos wastes, the Waste Management landfill in Chicopee, has decided, at least for now, not to accept asbestos waste. Some out-of-state landfills, such as the Waste Management Turnkey Landfill in Rochester, New Hampshire (800) 963-4776, are permitted by their states to accept asbestos waste. Before taking asbestos to a landfill, contact the facility to determine if, when, and under what conditions the facility will accept asbestos. Licensed asbestos abatement contractors can be hired to remove asbestos and take it to an approved disposal facility. Contact the DLS for a list. Asbestos wastes may not be sent to an incinerator or resource recovery facility.” So there…
It’s not related to MA landlords but as I was preparing the article I read in her Nov 13th, 2013 release how Google was forced to pay $17,000,000 over “tracking of consumers through Safari Web Browser” by placing cookies, etc and that punishment comes from the same Government that can turn the microphone to our cell phones even when they are off and listen to us in our homes plus see our banking passwords as we type them as revealed by the whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
For Immediate Release – August 23, 2013
Webster Plumber Found Guilty on Larceny Charges
Defendant Faces Illegal Asbestos Removal and Disposal Charges, Child Endangerment Charges
WORCESTER — A Webster plumbing and heating contractor has been found guilty in connection to larcenous conduct for work performed in the Worcester County area, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
After a seven-day bench trial in Worcester Superior Court, Daniel Watterson, 43, was found guilty on Wednesday by Judge Richard T. Tucker on the charges of Larceny over $250 of a Victim over Sixty Years of Age and Larceny over $250 by False Pretenses. Sentencing will be held at a later date. Additional charges are pending.
“The defendant exploited his position as licensed plumber and oil burner technician to steal from vulnerable consumers by fraudulently billing them and charging them without their consent, leaving them with an undue financial burden,” AG Coakley said.
Watterson, a plumbing and heating contractor operated in the Worcester County area under the business names “The Clog Specialist,” “Dan the Clog Man,” “Dan the Heating Man,” and “DW Plumbing & Heating.”
Watterson took advantage of customers by overbilling them for deficient plumbing and heating services. According to authorities, Watterson would overcharge customers, sometimes claiming the bill was a flat rate for the job, and also charged a customer’s credit card without consent.
A Worcester County Grand Jury returned indictments against Watterson on December 17, 2010. Watterson was arraigned on January 19, 2011 in Worcester Superior Court where he pleaded not guilty to charges of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act for Failure to File Notices of Asbestos Removal with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), Improper Removal of Asbestos-Containing Material, and Improper Disposal of Asbestos-Containing Materials, Child Endangerment (2 counts), Larceny over $250 by False Pretenses (3 counts), Larceny over $250 of a Victim over Sixty Years of Age, Larceny under $250 of a Victim over Sixty Years of Age, and Larceny over $250. He was released on personal recognizance. Watterson was found guilty on Wednesday on the charges of Larceny over $250 and Larceny over $250 by False Pretenses. He is due back in court on September 10 for a status conference on the remaining charges.
These charges stem from an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, and MassDEP Commissioner Kimmell. The Strike Force comprises prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP who investigate and prosecute crimes that harm or threaten the state’s water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.
Members of the public who have information regarding a potential environmental crime are encouraged to contact the MassDEP Environmental Strike Force Hotline at 1-888-VIOLATE (846-5283) or the Attorney General’s Office at 617-727-2200.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Andrew Rainer and Michael Pine with assistance from Ashley Cinelli of the Victim Witness Services Division. ECSF officials involved in this investigation included Environmental Police Officers and MassDEP officials Don Heeley and Gregg Levin.
For Immediate Release – September 09, 2013
Barclays to Pay $36.1 Million for Securitization Role in Subprime Mortgage Meltdown
AG Announces Fourth Securitization-Related Action Brought by Massachusetts against Wall Street Banks; More Than 450 Homeowners Will Directly Benefit From Settlement
BOSTON – Barclays Bank PLC (Barclays) will pay $36.1 million to settle allegations that it financed, purchased, and securitized residential loans that were presumptively unfair under Massachusetts law, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
This is the fourth case announced by AG Coakley against Wall Street investment firms following investigations into their securitization practices. Through today’s action, as well as actions brought against investment giants Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), the AG’s Office has recovered more than $250 million in connection with securitization claims, assisting thousands of homeowners across the state.
“The troubling practices of these Wall Street securitization firms greatly contributed to the economic crisis that harmed Massachusetts residents,” AG Coakley said. “Today’s settlement with Barclays will help keep hundreds of people in their homes and recover more than $25 million in significant relief for borrowers who are still struggling with unsustainable subprime loans.”
The assurance of discontinuance was filed earlier today in Suffolk Superior Court. Under the terms of the settlement, Barclays will make the following payments:
• More than $25 million to be used for principal reduction and related relief for more than 450 Massachusetts subprime borrowers.
o Eligible borrowers had loans securitized by Barclays in 2006 and 2007 that carried a combination of high risk features, including introductory “teaser” interest rates, high debt-to-income ratios and high loan-to-value ratios.
o Large concentrations of eligible consumers are in areas such as Boston, Brockton, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester.
• Approximately $2 million to compensate the cities and towns most acutely affected by foreclosures of Barclays securitized loans.
• Approximately $1 million to non-profit organizations that are assisting with foreclosure relief efforts in Massachusetts.
• More than $7 million to the Commonwealth
Today’s settlement with Barclays is part of an ongoing, multi-year, industry-wide investigation by AG Coakley. As in similar enforcement actions, AG Coakley used her civil subpoena powers to unravel the complex securitization process that facilitated the proliferation of subprime loans across Massachusetts and the nation. Barclays securitized loans from subprime originators such as Fremont, New Century, Option One, and WMC Mortgage Corp., packaging and selling these loans to the secondary market.
Attorney General Coakley’s Office was the first in the nation to investigate and hold Wall Street securitization firms accountable for their role in the subprime mortgage crisis. Today’s settlement with Barclays is the most recent settlement resulting from AG Coakley’s on-going investigation into the role of Wall Street investment banks in funding, purchasing and securitizing unfair residential mortgage loans. It follows the resolution of these similar matters, including:
• In May 2009, Goldman Sachs paid $60 million in relief for the Commonwealth and affected homeowners as part of a settlement with the AG’s Office.
• In June 2010, Morgan Stanley paid $102 million in relief for the Commonwealth and affected homeowners as part of a settlement with the AG’s Office.
• In November 2011, RBS paid $52 million in relief for the Commonwealth and affected homeowners pursuant to a settlement with the AG’s Office.
More than 450 Massachusetts borrowers will receive specific benefits from the Barclays settlement, including reductions in the principal amount due on their loans, and foreclosure relief payments. Eligible borrowers have loans that were securitized by Barclays and include the following features, which Massachusetts courts have held to be “presumptively unfair,” in violation of the Consumer Protection Act:
• an introductory period (“teaser period”) of three years or less;
• an introductory interest rate (“teaser rate”) that is at least 2% lower than the fully-indexed rate (i.e., the rate that becomes effective at the end of the teaser period);
• a fully indexed Debt-to-Income (“DTI”) ratio of greater than 50%; and
• substantial pre-payment penalties, or pre-payment penalties that extended beyond the teaser period, or a Loan-to-Value ratio over 97%.
Eligible borrowers will receive a notice from the Office of the Attorney General in the coming months. Homeowners with questions about today’s settlement should contact Attorney General’s Insurance and Financial Services Hotline at 1-888-830-6277.
AG Coakley’s office has been a national leader in holding banks and investment giants accountable for their role in the economic crisis. In addition to recoveries involving the securitization of loans, AG Coakley has also obtained settlements with Countrywide, Fremont Investment and Loan, Option One and others on behalf of Massachusetts homeowners. In 2012, AG Coakley’s office joined a $25 billion nationwide settlement with the five major lenders over unlawful foreclosure practices. AG Coakley’s first-in-the-nation HomeCorps program, established with funds from that settlement, continues to provide assistance to borrowers across the state with dedicated loan modification specialists and through a series of grants. As a result of all these actions, her office has recovered more than $700 million in relief for investors and borrowers, helped keep more than 30,000 people in their homes, and returned more than $70 million in taxpayer funds back to the Commonwealth.
More information about AG Coakley’s work during the lending crisis can be found here.
The Barclays case was handled by the staff of Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Insurance and Financial Services Division, including Assistant Attorneys General Glenn Kaplan, Peter Leight, Aaron Lamb, Matthew Gendron, and Lydia French; Mathematician Dr. Burt Feinberg and Analyst Nicole Karatzas; Investigations Supervisor Arwen Thoman; and paralegals Meaghan Dever and Erica Harmon.
For Immediate Release – October 23, 2013
Housing Companies Resolve Disability Discrimination Claims
Defendants to Pay a Total of $11,200; Agree to Implement New Fair Housing Policies
BOSTON – An Arlington property management company and a real estate firm in Boston have recently agreed to pay a total of $11,200 and implement new policies to avoid future fair housing violations, resolving allegations of discrimination against disabled individuals, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
Under the two separate assurances of discontinuance, recently filed in Suffolk Superior Court, both defendants must provide reasonable accommodations in a timely manner to tenants or clients in Massachusetts and their employees must attend training on fair housing laws.
“Individuals with disabilities must be afforded the same access to quality housing and services as any other resident of the Commonwealth,” AG Coakley said. “We expect housing providers to take reasonable steps to accommodate individuals with disabilities, and are pleased that these settlements will help implement new policy changes.”
According to one of the settlements, Davidson Management Company, LLC (Davidson) must pay $2,500 dollars to a tenant of its 31-unit apartment complex on Jason Street in Arlington after failing to engage in a dialogue about the impact of smoking by other residents on the tenant’s medical condition. Davidson, which operates approximately 30 buildings and 300 residential units in Massachusetts, will also pay an additional $1,200 to the tenant to cover moving expenses, if she decides to vacate her apartment.
Under the terms of the settlement, Davidson will ensure the enforcement of its no smoking policy at the apartment complex, will implement a comprehensive reasonable accommodation policy for all of its buildings, and train its entire staff on fair housing laws.
According to another fair housing settlement reached by the AG’s Office, A. F. Doyle Company, Inc., a real estate company located on Newbury Street in Boston, allegedly engaged in discriminatory housing practices by failing to provide services to a person with a physical disability.
The AG’s Office alleges that in March 2013, a “housing tester” used to uncover discriminatory practices for the Suffolk University Law School Housing Discrimination Testing Program, arrived outside the building, but because it does not have architectural access, the tester with a mobility impairment could not enter the premises. When a friend of the tester went inside and asked for assistance from a real estate agent, the agent allegedly declined to go outside and assist the tester. A.F. Doyle agreed to pay $2,500 in restitution to Suffolk University, implement new reasonable accommodation policies, and obtain training for its employees.
Both defendants have also been required to each pay the Commonwealth $2,500, which is suspended pending compliance with the settlements.
Under state law, it is illegal to discriminate against a housing applicant because he or she is disabled. It is also illegal to refuse to make reasonable modifications of existing premises, or to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, if such modifications or accommodations are necessary to afford an occupant with a disability the full enjoyment of the premises.
These matters were handled by Jonathan Miller and Bethany Brown, both of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division
For Immediate Release – October 28, 2013
AG Coakley Urges Supreme Court to Recognize Disparate Impact Claims Under Fair Housing Act
AG Highlights Enforcement Actions Against Mortgage Companies to Combat Discriminatory Lending Practices
BOSTON – Arguing that individuals and businesses involved in the renting or selling of homes and other real-estate transactions must be held accountable for the discriminatory effects of their policies and practices, Attorney General Martha Coakley has filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to recognize disparate impact claims under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). The brief was joined by 11 states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.
“Disparate impact claims are an important tool used to eliminate discrimination in the housing market, one of the primary principles of the Fair Housing Act,” AG Coakley said. “The Court has already recognized disparate impact claims under many civil rights statutes, and we urge the Court to do the same with the FHA.”
The brief was submitted in the case of Township of Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc., which is scheduled for argument on December 4, 2013.
The brief highlights the experience of Massachusetts and other states in pursuing disparate impact claims against banks and mortgage companies such as Option One, Countrywide, and Wells Fargo that made high-risk subprime home mortgage loans to distressed minority borrowers.
A disparate impact claim may be pursued when a policy that appears to be objective or neutral leads to results that disproportionately affect a protected group. For instance, the cases involving the subprime lenders challenged facially neutral policies that in actuality caused African-American and Hispanic borrowers to pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars more for their loans than comparable white borrowers.
The brief argues that allowing disparate impact claims as an enforcement tool used to root out various forms of discrimination is critical to maintaining equal access to housing.
The brief also states that “not all adverse housing outcomes, or all causes of residential segregation, can be remedied through litigation. But enforcement actions under the FHA and similar state laws are critical to combating discrimination and its pernicious effects. Disparate impact claims are needed to bridge the gap between the direct forms of discrimination provable through a disparate treatment framework, and more subtle forms of discrimination characterized by concealed or subconscious bias—all of which continue to operate in and shape housing markets.”
In January 2012, AG Coakley filed a similar brief with the U.S Supreme Court in the case of Magner v. Gallagher, which was ultimately dismissed before being heard.
The FHA was enacted in 1968, and amended in 1988. It protects individuals from discrimination in the sale and rental of housing as well as other housing-related transactions on the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, disability, religion, and familial status. The AG’s Office vigorously prosecutes violations of the FHA as well as the state’s housing discrimination law.
Assistant Attorneys General Genevieve Nadeau, Melissa Swindel, and Jonathan Miller, all of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division, assisted in the drafting of the AG’s Brief.
For Immediate Release – October 29, 2013
Worcester Business Owner Arraigned for Allegedly Illegally Removing Asbestos From Worcester Home
Some of the Asbestos-Containing Material was Allegedly Improperly Disposed of in Basement of the Home
WORCESTER — The owner of a Worcester plumbing and heating company has been arraigned in connection with the alleged improper removal and disposal of asbestos in a Worcester home, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. Some of the asbestos-containing material was allegedly improperly disposed of in the basement of the home.
Francis Scavone III, age 27, owner of Scavone Plumbing & Heating, was arraigned on Monday in Worcester Superior Court on charges of Violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act (5 counts) in connection with failing to file the required notification of asbestos removal with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), failing to follow the required procedures relative to removal of asbestos, and disposing a portion of the asbestos waste in an unpermitted location, namely the basement of the home.
At the arraignment, Scavone pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on personal recognizance, with the condition that he abstain from working on any job or project involving asbestos-containing material.
“We allege that this defendant is responsible for the improper removal and disposal of asbestos, a hazardous material, therefore putting the homeowner and workers at risk,” AG Coakley said. “Companies and individuals must adhere to strict guidelines relating to asbestos removal in order to prevent people from being exposed to this dangerous toxin.”
“Plumbing and heating contractors are well aware that asbestos is a known carcinogen because they encounter asbestos-containing materials routinely in their line of work,” MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell said. “The removal and disposal must be done by licensed and trained asbestos professionals in accordance with the regulations and with the required work practices to protect workers, the general public and the environment.”
The Environmental Crimes Strike Force began an investigation in December 2012, after the matter was referred by the Massachusetts Emergency Response Agency (MEMA) and initially inspected by investigators from the MassDEP’s Central Regional Office.
According to authorities, in November 2012, Scavone Plumbing & Heating began work to remove an old heating system from a residence in Worcester. Authorities allege that Scavone failed to notify MassDEP that the work would be disturbing asbestos when removing the boiler and did not follow the appropriate procedures to prevent asbestos emissions.
The Department of Labor Standards requires that the removal of asbestos be performed by a licensed contractor, and pursuant to MassDEP regulations, contractors must provide notification of when the removal will occur and follow certain methods and standards for the safe removal, storage, and disposal of the asbestos throughout the abatement process.
Authorities also allege employees of Scavone Plumbing & Heating who were performing the work were instructed to dispose of some of the asbestos-containing material in the crawl space of the basement of the home.
This action stems from an investigation by environmental analysts at MassDEP, Gregory Levins and Donald Heeley, and the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, and MassDEP Commissioner Kimmell. The Strike Force comprises prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP who investigate and prosecute crimes that harm or threaten the state’s water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.
A Worcester County Grand Jury returned indictments against Scavone on September 19. He was arraigned on Monday in Worcester Superior Court and is due back in court on December 5 for a pre-trial conference.
Members of the public who have information regarding a potential environmental crime are encouraged to contact the MassDEP Environmental Strike Force Hotline at 1-888-VIOLATE (846-5283) or the Attorney General’s Office at 617-727-2200.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Daniel Licata of AG Coakley’s Environmental Crimes Strike Force, with assistance from Environmental Police assigned to the AG’s Office, MassDEP and MEMA.