— 2 —
Table of Contents
Message from Attorney General James ........................................... 04
Funds Recovered for New York State ............................................... 05
Responding to COVID-19 ................................................................... 07
Protecting Consumers from COVID-19-Related Fraud ................................................. 8
Containing the Economic Fallout of COVID-19 ............................................................. 10
Protecting the Health and Safety of New Yorkers from COVID-19 ............................... 11
Housing Support During COVID-19 ................................................................................ 12
Fighting Back Against the Federal Government .............................. 14
Highlights from 2020 ........................................................................... 16
Holding Powerful Organizations Accountable ............................................................ 17
Taking on Big Tech ........................................................................................................... 21
Restoring Faith in Law Enforcement ............................................................................. 24
Standing up for New Yorkers ......................................................................................... 27
Safeguarding the Integrity of Our Elections ................................................................ 30
Preserving Reproductive Rights .................................................................................... 33
Leading the Fight to Protect Our Environment ........................................................... 38
Supporting Immigrant Communities ........................................................................... 42
Fighting for the LGBTQ+ Community ............................................................................ 45
Defending Workers ......................................................................................................... 48
Protecting Consumers .................................................................................................... 52
Expanding Access to Safe and Affordable Housing ................................................... 56
Combating Gun Violence .............................................................................................. 62
Tackling Financial Crimes and Fraudulent Schemes .................................................. 65
Protecting New Yorkers from Prescription Drug and Health Care Fraud ................. 68
Shutting Down Drug Trafficking Operations ................................................................ 71
Rooting Out Public Corruption ...................................................................................... 73
Protecting Our Students ................................................................................................ 76
Supporting Small Businesses ........................................................................................ 80
About the Attorney General's Office ................................................ 82
New York State Attorney General
This is an Interactive Report
To return to the Table of Contents, click the arrow on the bottom right corner of the page.
To jump to a section, click on the title in the Table of Contents to view that section.
Videos can be played or stopped by clicking directly on them.
The full text of articles can be viewed by clicking on the headlines.
As we close out 2020 and embark upon 2021, I want to express my deepest gratitude for the extraordinary sacrifices you have made and the remarkable resilience you have shown. 2020 was a year of great challenge, struggle, and pain. But it was also a year marked by hope and progress.
In the midst of the worst public health crisis of our lifetimes, during a year of racial unrest, economic distress, and political duress, one thing is clear: When New Yorkers come together in a spirit of equal opportunity, shared responsibility, and community, there is no obstacle or challenge we can’t overcome.
As we reflect on 2020, I wanted to share some of the work my office accomplished.
We took countless legal actions to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers and to ensure that no one used the pandemic to take advantage of our communities. We are now working to ensure that every New Yorker will have access to lifesaving vaccines, and that all our communities have the resources they need during this challenging time.
In 2020 we also saw the resurgence of another awful pandemic — the pandemic of systemic racism. I am so proud of how New Yorkers rose up in the thousands to confront this problem head-on. People of all races took to the streets and spoke with one voice to demand change. Our criminal justice system must be fixed and we are committed to doing the hard work to reform it. This includes an ongoing investigation we launched into the NYPD for its actions at protests this summer.
2020 was also a landmark year in our efforts to hold powerful companies and organizations accountable. We are leading historic and bipartisan lawsuits against Facebook and Google, two tech giants whose unchecked power represents an unprecedented threat to our privacy, our economy, and even our democracy. We filed a lawsuit to dissolve the National Rifle Association, a charitable organization that diverted millions of dollars away from its mission for personal use by senior leadership. We sued the Catholic Church for failing to protect children from sexual abuse by clergy. We took legal action to force the Trump Organization to comply with our investigation into its financial dealings. In short, we are making good on our commitment to enforce one set of rules for everyone. No matter how rich or powerful; no one is above the law.
We achieved major victories in our efforts to uphold the rule of law, and to protect New Yorkers from the Trump administration’s harmful and unlawful attacks. We successfully protected the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the United States Supreme Court. We won significant victories against the Trump administration to protect our environment, preserve access to reproductive care, support workers’ rights, and protect the right to vote.
I traveled in person and then virtually to every corner of the state to hear from New Yorkers about the issues impacting them. It is an honor to represent every resident of this great state, and I look forward to the time when we can come together again in person.
Despite all of the obstacles, we accomplished so much this year. New challenges and opportunities await us in 2021, and with them, a renewed hope for a better future.
— 4 —
for New York State
Additionally, Attorney General James distributed:
In 2020, Attorney General James collected over
$994 million on behalf of New York state, including:
in unpaid debts to the state
in restitution for New Yorkers
recovered for Medicaid
settlements and judgments
for nonprofit organizations
to the New York State General Fund
to affordable housing programs
— 6 —
For much of this year, our state, our country, and our world have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. When New York became one of the first hotspots, we were forced to shut down and adapt to a new normal. We have experienced tremendous devastation — more than 37,000 New Yorkers have lost their lives — and countless more families have been upended. New Yorkers have stepped up and contributed in myriad ways to support one another. Our frontline and essential workers heroically sprang into action to treat victims and support those in need. They have worked around the clock and without rest to save lives, stock grocery shelves, provide medication, deliver mail, packages, and food, and keep our public transportation running. Many of those heroes sacrificed their lives to protect the lives of people they didn’t even know.
The level of loss and devastation has been unfathomable and unprecedented. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, personal illness, the loss of a job, a small business, or financial instability, no New Yorker has been immune from the reaches of the virus.
Attorney General James acted immediately to protect and support New Yorkers across the board. From shutting down fraudulent sales of fake and dangerous COVID-19 cures, to stopping retailers from price gouging consumers for essential goods, to going after companies that forced employees to work in dangerous and unsafe conditions, to providing guidance on tenants’ rights and COVID-19 scams, the Attorney General’s Office mobilized and responded to protect New Yorkers on every front.
As COVID-19 swept through the country, predatory actors pushed a range of fraudulent products and services to take advantage of the crisis and cheat New Yorkers. The Attorney General’s Office received thousands of complaints about retailers illegally price gouging essential goods, and issued more than 1,900 cease and desist letters to businesses to immediately stop this predatory and illegal behavior. Attorney General James also stepped in to ensure that those struggling financially because of the pandemic were not further victimized.
— 8 —
Other actions to protect consumers:
» Attorney General James filed a lawsuit against Quality King Distributors, a wholesale
grocery distributor, for price gouging Lysol disinfectant products during the pandemic.
» Attorney General James stopped three Amazon sellers from price gouging hand sanitizer
during the pandemic and delivered tens of thousands of dollars back into the pockets
of New Yorkers who were defrauded.
» Attorney General James called on seven major cable and satellite television providers
in New York to provide financial relief for consumers by reducing or eliminating fees for live
sports programming, most of which was initially canceled due to the pandemic. A number
of these companies have already committed to refunding their customers for these fees,
and all are reviewing their policies.
» Attorney General James stopped a broker of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other
medical supplies from perpetrating repeated and widespread fraud during the pandemic.
The company fraudulently propositioned the state of New York, hospitals, and health care
systems with fake offers of PPE, which it did not possess and could not deliver.
Taking on Companies that Price Gouge Consumers
Attorney General James filed a lawsuit against Hillandale Farms, one of the country’s largest producers and wholesale distributors of eggs, for illegally gouging the prices of eggs during the pandemic. In March and April 2020, Hillandale raised prices on more than four million cartons of eggs sold to major grocery store chains, U.S. military facilities, and wholesale food distributors throughout the state, charging New York customers up to four times pre-pandemic prices. During those two months — the height of the pandemic in New York — Hillandale made an estimated $4 million by increasing the price of these eggs, which were often sold in grocery stores located in low-income communities. The lawsuit seeks restitution from Hillandale for those consumers who were forced to pay astronomically high prices for this essential food item.
— 9 —
Containing the Economic Fallout of COVID-19
— 10 —
The pandemic has exacerbated New York’s housing crisis as people struggle to pay mortgages or rents in the wake of widespread unemployment and increased financial stress. Attorney General James has taken action to help New Yorkers stay in their homes during these unprecedented times by disseminating guidance to law enforcement agencies on how to respond to and prevent evictions during the statewide eviction moratoriums, creating a dedicated eviction complaint form, and investigating these complaints across the state. Attorney General James also established the Tenant Legal Assistance Program to financially
support legal service providers that represent
tenants facing eviction.
Providing Funds for Homeowner Protection
Attorney General James delivered $20 million in grants to support New York homeowners struggling with foreclosure, as part of the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP). HOPP connects homeowners to free, qualified mortgage-assistance relief services across New York. These grants will help countless families avoid foreclosure and remain in their homes during these extremely uncertain and dangerous times.
Attorney General James also supported tenants with the creation of a new Tenant Legal Assistance Program and provided $742,000 to organizations to offer free legal assistance to tenants in Upstate New York and on Long Island facing eviction during the pandemic. Six organizations from across the state received funding to ensure New Yorkers have access to the legal representation they need to stay in their homes.
Housing Support During COVID-19
— 12 —
— 13 —
“While we battle this public health crisis, the last thing my office will do is add undue stress or saddle our neighbors with unnecessary financial burden.
I will continue to do everything in my power to help pick up our fellow New Yorkers and support our state’s economy.”
Other actions to protect homeowners and tenants:
» Attorney General James called on 35 of New York’s major mortgage servicers to provide
immediate and long-term relief to all New York homeowners experiencing hardship,
and reminded them of their responsibility to ensure that the pandemic does not cause
unnecessary foreclosures or lead to homelessness in New York.
» Attorney General James called on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development to take immediate action to protect senior citizens from homelessness
and recommended specific actions to ensure senior citizens with reverse mortgages
do not lose their homes to foreclosure as a result of the pandemic.
Keeping New Yorkers in Their Homes
Attorney General James and Governor Cuomo took action to stop New York City’s tax and water lien sale from occurring during the pandemic, which would have placed significant and unnecessary financial burdens on homeowners, especially in communities of color. Every year, the New York City Department of Finance holds a tax lien sale, in which the liens on properties for unpaid property taxes and water bills are sold off in an auction. The terms imposed by the tax lien sale on homeowners are dramatic and can quickly turn a relatively small tax lien into an overwhelming financial burden, eventually pushing homeowners into foreclosure. The buildings included in the sale every year are disproportionately located in communities of color.
— attorney general Letitia James
New Yorkers from the Trump Administration’s Harmful
— 15 —
— 17 —
Holding Powerful Organizations Accountable
Attorney General James has a wide range of regulatory and enforcement powers over organizations that are based in or do business in New York. Charitable organizations that are chartered in New York are required by law to register and file annual financial reports with the Attorney General’s Office and the assets of such an organization are legally required to be used in ways that serve the interests of its membership and advance the organization’s charitable mission. After years-long investigations, Attorney General James found that two major charitable organizations in New York failed to fulfill their missions. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and its senior leaders used their status and power for self-enrichment and the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo covered up credible claims about the sexual abuse of minors by priests.
Attorney General James also has the ability to investigate and, if warranted, bring action against companies that are found to be engaging in persistent fraudulent and deceptive activities. Following testimony from Donald Trump’s former lawyer that alleged financial impropriety, Attorney General James opened an investigation into the financial dealings of the Trump Organization. That investigation is still ongoing.
In New York, there is one set of laws that every individual and entity must be held accountable to, regardless of its size, influence, or wealth. Attorney General James will continue to use the full force of her office to ensure that no entity can evade these laws.
Stopping Self-Dealing and Fraud at the NRA
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is not only the largest and most influential pro-gun group in America, but one of the most powerful not-for-profits as well. The NRA raises millions of dollars each year from members and donors that are supposed to go toward charitable purposes. An investigation by Attorney General James found that the NRA’s influence grew so powerful that the group went unchecked for decades — giving top executives the ability to funnel millions out of the charity and into their own pockets. For years, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and his lieutenants skirted the law and raided NRA coffers to fund lavish lifestyles that included private jets, pricey vacations, expensive meals, and no-show contracts.
The NRA has been fraught with fraud and abuse from the top down, which is why Attorney General filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the organization in its entirety, while simultaneously seeking to recoup millions of dollars plundered from NRA bank accounts, and stopping those at the top from ever serving on the board of a New York charity again.
— 18 —
Investigating the Financial Dealings of the Trump Organization
In Attorney General James’ ongoing investigation into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings, she went to court and successfully forced the Trump Organization to comply with her office’s lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony. Attorney General James launched the investigation in 2019, after Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified before Congress that Trump’s annual financial statements inflated the values of Trump’s assets to obtain favorable terms for loans and insurance coverage, while also deflating the value of other assets to reduce real estate taxes. President Trump leaving office has no bearing on this investigation, and Attorney General James will continue to follow the facts and evidence wherever they may lead.
— 19 —
— 21 —
Taking on Big Tech
For too long, a few Big Tech companies in America have been able to amass incredible and unchecked power, influence, and wealth to the great detriment of everyday consumers. Using predatory tactics and vast troves of data and money, Facebook and Google have shut down competition, reduced choices for consumers, stifled innovation, and hampered privacy protections for millions of Americans. Our antitrust laws were created specifically to prevent such monopolies from using their power to harm competition and consumers. These types of efforts to dominate the market are as illegal as they are harmful. Attorney General James has taken unprecedented legal action to challenge Facebook and Google and stand up for the millions of consumers and small businesses that have been harmed by their illegal behavior.
“The lawsuits…represent the most meaningful attempts to check Big Tech’s power in two decades.”
“the most potent government action”
“The face of monopoly?
Two strong cases
— Editorial Board
— Editorial Board
— Kara Swisher
Holding the World’s Largest Social Networking Company Accountable
48 attorneys general,
led by New York, sued Facebook
— 22 —
Stopping One of the World’s Most Powerful Companies from Abusing its Power
— 23 —
— 24 —
Restoring Faith in Law Enforcement
This year, we were challenged by twin pandemics — COVID-19 and the long-standing inequalities that continue to divide us as a nation. At the same time, our police and our justice system have reached a tipping point of distrust. The deaths of Daniel Prude, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many other unarmed men and women of color at the hands of the police have rekindled a flame of outrage that has been smoldering for too long. With more cellphone, police camera, and video recordings, more people are awakening to a truth that many of us have known for a very long time: our laws are unequally enforced, often with tragic consequences. As a result, more and more New Yorkers have lost faith and trust in law enforcement.
Attorney General James has long been committed to bridging the divide between the police and the public and fighting for reforms to a broken system. This summer, she launched an investigation into the behavior of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) at racial justice protests. As part of this ongoing investigation, she held hours of public hearings about encounters between the NYPD and protesters, released preliminary findings, and recommended changes for substantive reform. The Attorney General’s Office has also launched numerous investigations into police involved civilian deaths to provide thorough and independent examinations of these events and to ensure transparency and accountability.
— 27 —
Standing up for New Yorkers
As the federal government neglected or directly attacked the fundamental legal rights of New Yorkers, Attorney General James has stood as the bulwark that families can count on to protect them. New Yorkers can trust that their right to be counted in a census, an essential tool for democracy and equal representation, or to take part in federal programs available to all American citizens will be safe under her watch.
Ensuring a Fair and Accurate Census
Every new yorker counts
Attorney General James committed every tool at her disposal to ensure a fair and complete census. In addition to blocking efforts to include a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, she held numerous outreach events to encourage diverse communities across the state to stand up and be counted.
— 28 —
— 30 —
Safeguarding the Integrity of Our Elections
Voting is a fundamental right in our democracy, and our democracy is strongest when every voice is heard. With a historic number of voters turning out for the 2020 elections during an unprecedented public health crisis, Attorney General James worked tirelessly to protect this most basic right. From bolstering the Attorney General’s Office’s Election Day Hotline to help with voter concerns and poll site problems, to issuing guidance about voter intimidation, to challenging the federal government’s attempts to slow down the delivery of mail-in ballots, to investigating potential instances of voter suppression, Attorney General James used every tool at her disposal to protect New Yorkers’ right to vote.
Fighting Against Efforts to Dismantle the U.S. Postal Service
Supporting New Yorkers’ Right to Vote
AG James and elected officials encourage
New Yorkers to vote early, October 2020
— 31 —
New Yorkers from Voter Intimidation or Harassment
— 32 —
The 2020 presidential election presented unique challenges for voters across New York. Ahead of the election, Attorney General James issued guidance to Boards of Elections and law enforcement entities across the state about how to handle potential voter intimidation or voter interference. The Attorney General’s Office also engaged in a voter education campaign in multiple languages to ensure that communities across the state knew their rights at the polls, how to report instances of harassment or intimidation, and the key dates for voting.
Preserving Reproductive Rights
Attorney General James has long been a fierce defender of the right to reproductive care. As the federal government and states across the nation have sought to limit access to reproductive health care and coverage, Attorney General James has fought back every step of the way to protect these critical rights. From blocking attempts to deny abortion procedures during the pandemic, to fighting back against increased costs of reproductive care, to challenging regressive and restrictive laws that deny access to abortion, to ensuring New Yorkers have access to the birth control and other contraceptive care they are entitled to, Attorney General James will continue to defend and preserve our most basic rights.
— 33 —
Protecting Abortion Access During COVID-19
Several states and even the federal government used the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdowns as an opportunity to limit or deny women’s constitutional right to abortion. Several states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas, tried to ban abortions during this time, claiming they were not necessary and essential health procedures. Attorney General James successfully challenged these baseless and harmful bans to preserve women’s ability to access abortion, a critical and time-sensitive procedure that, if delayed, can significantly impact their health and well-being.
At the federal level, Attorney General James took legal action against the federal government to allow women to access Mifepristone, the medication abortion prescription drug, via telehealth during the early months of the pandemic. The Trump administration refused to waive requirements that the drug be administered in an in-person setting, even though many people were unable or afraid to seek in-person care during the pandemic. Attorney General James led a coalition of 23 attorneys general in legal action to remove these barriers so that individuals can access the abortion pill in a safe and timely manner.
— 34 —
Safeguarding Roe v. Wade
Maintaining Affordable Abortion Care
— 35 —
Ensuring Access to Contraception
Protecting Health Care Clinics
— 36 —
Fighting for Funding for Reproductive Health Care
For decades, the federal Title X grant program has provided funds for family planning, preventive health services like breast and cervical cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment. These funds benefit millions of patients, many of whom are low-income or people of color. The Trump administration decimated this critical program by placing unlawful and unethical restrictions on what health care providers are allowed to say to their patients regarding pregnancy terminations. The consequences have been devastating, with many providers withdrawing from the program and leaving significant gaps in services. Attorney General James has been fighting against this so-called gag rule for over a year and continues to lead the effort. Most recently, she has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review its constitutionality in order to protect millions of women and families that have relied on this program for their health care for generations.
— 37 —
Leading the Fight to Protect Our Environment
— 38 —
The impacts of climate change have never been more severe or destructive than they were in 2020. Wildfires ravaged multiple states in the western part of the country, razing homes and destroying millions of acres of wildlife, creating dangerous air quality conditions for countless Americans, and claiming too many lives. The U.S. also experienced a record number of hurricanes, which forced families to evacuate their homes and destroyed communities. Despite these record-breaking natural disasters and the devastation they wrought across the country, the Trump administration continued to recklessly roll back key environmental protections. Attorney General James took more than 70 legal actions this year alone to stop these disastrous and relentless attacks on the environment to ensure that the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the communities that we live in are protected and remain safe for generations to come.
Defending the Right to Breathe Clean Air
Protecting Access to Clean Water
More than two-thirds of New Yorkers regularly breathe unhealthy air, yet the Trump administration continued to ignore the harmful impacts of air pollution on communities throughout the state and across the country. Attorney General James brought and won a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for continuing to ignore its legal responsibility under the Clean Air Act to control upwind sources of pollution that create dangerous smog in New York.
AG James has taken over 70 legal actions to fight dangerous rollbacks that threaten the health of our planet.
— 39 —
Defending Critical Environmental Review Standards
Continuing its efforts to roll back key environmental protections, the Trump administration took unprecedented action to limit the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal agencies to evaluate the environmental impact of major infrastructure projects. Attorney General James sued the federal government over this rule, which also limits public participation in the review process, robbing vulnerable communities of the opportunity to make their voices heard on actions that are likely to have adverse environmental and health impacts. Restricting the types of projects that undergo environmental review prior to their construction puts communities and the environment in significant danger.
Preserving National Clean Car Standards
Clean Car Standards save consumers money and help protect our planet from the devastating effects of climate change, yet, the EPA is attempting to roll back federal vehicle fuel efficiency and pollution emission standards. Attorney General James filed a lawsuit with a coalition of states to challenge the EPA’s significant weakening of these standards, which would result in significant costs for consumers and cause irreparable harm to the planet.
— 40 —
Pushing Back on Weakening of Critical Climate Change Protections
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases because it has the ability to trap heat at a far greater rate than carbon dioxide and other gases, accelerating the impacts of climate change. When the EPA attempted to eliminate controls on methane emissions from oil and gas facilities, Attorney General James filed a lawsuit with a coalition of states to stop this dangerous rollback. The lawsuit also challenged the EPA’s rollbacks of controls on other pollutants emitted from oil and gas operations, that threaten public health, particularly the health of children, older adults, and those suffering from chronic lung disease and asthma.
— 41 —
Blocking Deregulation Efforts During
The pandemic has impacted every area of American life, and the environment is no different. The EPA used the pandemic as cover to stop enforcing critical environmental laws and regulations, giving companies the green light to violate laws like the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Safe Drinking Water Acts during a public health crisis. Attorney General James led a coalition of attorneys general in suing the EPA over this rollback because this pandemic is not an excuse to allow corporations to freely pollute and endanger our communities and our planet. Now more than ever, it is essential to prioritize the health of our communities, and Attorney General James will not stop fighting for the health and safety of all Americans.
Supporting Immigrant Communities
— 42 —
America is a country of immigrants, our culture has been made richer by their contributions, and our economy made more prosperous by their hard work. Yet the Trump administration has continued its cruel crusade to deny immigrants the opportunity to seek a better life here - attempting to exclude immigrant populations from the census, denying immigrants basic access to health care, and even incarcerating children. Attorney General James has relentlessly challenged every discriminatory, inhumane, and unlawful attempt to endanger immigrant communities.
Attorney General James secured a major victory for immigrants and the rule of law when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration’s attempts to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program were unlawful and ordered the program to be resumed. DACA has allowed more than 700,000 undocumented young people who came to this country as children to live, study, and work in the U.S. without fear of arrest or deportation.
The Trump administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) refused to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s order to resume the program, and instead, continued to make interim changes to DACA. Attorney General James co-led a coalition of states in two subsequent lawsuits to challenge the Trump administration and DHS’s refusal to restore DACA, and in December, a judge ordered the DHS to fully restore DACA, including opening up the program to new applicants for the first time since 2017. In addition, DHS was ordered to restore protections to a two-year period instead of one year, and make Advanced Parole available to DACA recipients again without restrictions.
These collective decisions made clear that fairness, inclusion, and compassion matter and Attorney General James will never waver in her fight to protect our immigrant communities.
— 43 —
Preventing Unlawful Arrests by ICE at Our Courthouses
Challenging Unlawful Visa Restrictions
Attorney General Letitia James won a major lawsuit that prevents the Trump administration’s practice of making civil immigration arrests in and around state courthouses in a manner that interferes with the state’s administration of justice and endangers our immigrant communities. The presence of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers in and around our courthouses has disrupted and had a chilling effect on our ability to ensure that justice is served. By allowing federal agents to interfere with state and local cases, the Trump administration endangered the safety of every New Yorker, while targeting immigrants. The administration of justice and public safety are among the most important functions of the state, and Attorney General James will be relentless in their defense.
Attorney General James also led two coalitions in legal action to support the states of Washington and Massachusetts in their efforts to similarly halt arrests by ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in and around state courthouses.
Attorney General James took legal action to block the Trump administration from restricting the approval of visas and green cards to immigrants who would be likely to use government assistance programs in the future. These restrictions included onerous criteria such as requirements that immigrants provide proof of health insurance coverage within 30 days of arrival in the United States. Immigrants of all financial backgrounds are valuable to this country and Attorney General James has and will continue to fight for them.
— 44 —
Fighting for the LGBTQ+ Community
— 45 —
Attorney General James is a staunch ally of the LGBTQ+ community and has worked to safeguard the rights of people to express their gender identity and sexual orientation without fear of discrimination. From changing government policy regarding sex designation to challenging discrimination and intolerance at school, in the workplace, and at the doctor’s office, Attorney General James is committed to protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people to live with equal dignity and respect.
Ensuring Inclusive State Policies
Fighting Against Health Care Discrimination
The official documents of transgender New Yorkers will now reflect their gender identity. Attorney General James helped to change an outdated New York state policy that forced transgender individuals to wait until the age of 18 to change the sex designation on their birth certificate if they were born in the state. Minors will no longer have to wait until they are 18 to correct the sex listed on their New York birth certificate, and instead, can be recognized by the state for who they really are.
Unbiased health care is a basic right, yet the Trump administration has taken steps to enable discrimination in health care by weakening certain provisions of the ACA. These provisions prohibit discrimination from health care providers and insurance companies based on characteristics like gender identity, pregnancy status, race, disability, and age. If these provisions are weakened, insurers will be allowed to vary benefits in ways that could specifically target people with HIV and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Attorney General James sued the Trump administration over this blatant attempt to chip away at the ACA and will continue to fight in this ongoing lawsuit to ensure health care remains a right for every American.
— 46 —
Protecting Workers from Discrimination
Defending the Rights of Transgender Students
Every employee deserves fair treatment at work, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ employees continue to face workplace discrimination or risk losing their jobs because of who they are or who they love. Attorney General James took legal action to protect workers from discrimination, and earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers cannot fire LGBTQ+ employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, a major victory and step forward for equal rights for all.
In 2015, a transgender student in Virginia named Gavin Grimm took legal action against his high school for not allowing him to use the bathroom that aligned with his gender identity. These kinds of discriminatory bathroom rules have proliferated across the country, denying transgender students and individuals the ability to use the bathroom of their choice. Attorney General James led a coalition of states in filing a brief to support Gavin’s case, arguing that discrimination against transgender individuals has no legal basis. This year, the U.S. Court of Appeals that was hearing the case determined that Gavin’s school board violated his constitutional rights. This decision is momentous and has enormous implications for the nearly 1.5 million people in the United States – including nearly 150,000 teenagers – who identify as transgender.
— 47 —
No worker should work full-time and still not make enough to feed their family. Unfortunately, many workers are barely getting by. Too many hard-working New Yorkers face harassment, wage theft, misclassification, and other forms of workplace exploitation. Attorney General James believes that everyone should get a fair shot. That is why she has worked tirelessly to defend workplace protections and hold businesses accountable that have stolen wages, cheated workers out of benefits, or maintained abusive work environments.
— 48 —
Zero Tolerance for Harassment in the Workplace
AG James and former employees of The Spotted Pig announce sexual harassment settlement, January 2020
Everyone deserves to work in an environment that is free of fear, abuse, intimidation and retaliation. Yet for years, Ken Friedman, the owner of The Spotted Pig, a high profile restaurant in New York City, sexually harassed, pressured, and retaliated against female staff members. When these employees reported this behavior, they were either dismissed or terminated. Following an investigation, Attorney General James secured $240,000 for 11 former employees who were victims of the harassment. Survivors of workplace harassment and discrimination are standing up and speaking out against injustices that have long been ignored, and Attorney General James will use every power of her office to support them and hold perpetrators accountable.
— 49 —
Zero Tolerance for Harassment in the Workplace
After an investigation into a Long Island-based construction company, known as Trade Off, Attorney General James discovered a pattern of severe sexual harassment and retaliation against workers who were primarily women of color. Female employees reported quid pro quo harassment by managers demanding sexual acts for pay and overtime opportunities, physical and verbal harassment by male employees, and instances of managers and other workers sending explicit photos and videos. When these same employees reported this behavior, Trade Off managers not only failed to take adequate action, but fired at least 12 workers in retaliation. Attorney General James secured $1.5 million in restitution for 18 former employees who experienced this workplace harassment and retaliation. In addition to the monetary compensation, Trade Off is now required to employ an outside monitor for three years, create a more complete sexual harassment policy, and report regularly to the Attorney General’s Office regarding its implementation of these policies. Attorney General James will not tolerate sexual harassment in any industry. She remains committed to seeking justice on behalf of workers.
“It’s important for me to be able to speak out and shine a light on the harassment that women in the construction industry encounter on a daily basis.
No one should be harassed and mistreated for trying to do their jobs. I thank Attorney General Letitia James and her team for understanding that, and for fighting hard to make a difference.”
— Jaleesa McCrimmon, a former employee of Trade Off
— 50 —
Standing up for Gig Workers
Online food delivery platforms typically classify delivery workers as “gig workers,” meaning they are independent contractors and not entitled to the same unemployment benefits as regular employees. Luis Vega, a former driver for Postmates, sought unemployment insurance benefits after he was terminated. When New York’s Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board sided with Vega, Postmates challenged the Board’s decision in court. After taking up the case, Attorney General James secured a huge victory for thousands of gig workers across New York when the courts ruled that Postmates delivery drivers are not independent contractors, and are eligible for the same unemployment benefits as other employees. Attorney General James is committed to fighting for the rights of all workers, and ensuring that every New Yorker receives the benefits they are entitled to.
Ensuring Workers are Paid Their Fair Share
Every New Yorker is entitled to a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. After a two-year investigation, Attorney General James secured back wages for employees at Brooklyn-based Cathay Express Transportation. Cathy failed to pay overtime to drivers and failed to pay workers the minimum wage in some instances. In addition to paying employees back their earned wages, Cathay Express Transportation’s payment practices will be monitored for a two-year period. Attorney General James will always fight to prevent workers from being exploited by unscrupulous employers, and make sure they receive the compensation they are owed.
— 51 —
— 52 —
Attorney General James has zero tolerance for illegal and unscrupulous tactics designed to steal data or cheat New Yorkers out of their hard-earned money. From requiring new security measures from one of the largest online video conferencing services, to cracking down on gyms that refused to suspend monthly fees even when their doors were closed, Attorney General James has fought to protect the safety and financial wellbeing of New Yorkers every step of the way.
Ensuring Security Protections
Holding Companies Accountable for Cyberattacks
— 53 —
Delivering Refunds to Western New Yorkers
In February, Western New York theme park Fantasy Island closed its doors without warning and without a plan to refund thousands of consumers who had already purchased season passes and other goods. Just two days after the announcement, Attorney General James took action, demanding that Fantasy Island’s owner provide refunds to consumers or face legal action. Attorney General James successfully delivered full refunds for all consumers who purchased season passes, meal plans, and associated goods and services for the 2020 season, totaling nearly $425,000.
Providing Financial Relief to Consumers
As the COVID-19 pandemic took a financial toll on New Yorkers, the New York Sports Club (NYSC) and Lucille Roberts gyms continued to charge monthly dues to members, despite the fact that all health clubs and gyms in the state were ordered to close. Attorney General James stepped in and sued to block NYSC and Lucille Roberts from continuing to take advantage of New Yorkers. She swiftly obtained a court order, barring both gyms from charging member dues for closed and inaccessible gyms, and prohibiting them from charging fees or penalties to members who had submitted cancellation requests.
— 54 —
Stopping Gyms from Unfairly Charging Consumers
Access to Safe and Affordable Housing
— 56 —
Every New Yorker deserves access to a safe and decent home, yet too many are denied this basic right. From standing up to landlords that violate our laws and put children in harm’s way, to providing millions of dollars to organizations to support and expand affordable housing, to cracking down on developers and unscrupulous actors that try to cheat the system and prey on tenants and homeowners, Attorney General James has worked across the board to protect and provide housing for all New Yorkers.
Protecting Children from the Dangers of Lead Paint Poisoning
AG James, elected officials, and tenants announce a lawsuit against Chestnut Holdings in the Bronx, February 2020
— 57 —
Providing Relief to Victims of Tenant Harassment
Attorney General James delivered more than $1 million in rent credits for harassed tenants and housing placements for 10 homeless families, after an investigation into Madison Realty Capital found that the company aided and abetted tenant harassment and other fraud by notorious landlord Raphael (Rafi) Toledano. With the financial backing of Madison Realty Capital, Toledano harassed tenants through coercive buyouts, executed illegal construction practices, and failed to provide tenants with utilities, repairs, and other necessary services. The investigation found that Madison Realty Capital knew or should have known about Toledano’s predatory history and that his proposed plans for aggressive buyouts and conversions of buildings were likely to result in tenant harassment. Attorney General James will continue to stand up for tenants by taking on predatory landlords and their unscrupulous financiers.
— 58 —
Funding Affordable Housing Initiatives
AG James awards the city of Albany with funds for affordable housing, January 2020
Attorney General James provided more than $8 million in grants as part of the Cities for Responsible Investment and Strategic Enforcement (Cities RISE) program, which supports affordable housing efforts throughout the state. The cities of Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, White Plains, Elmira, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Rochester, and Syracuse received grants of up to $1 million each to develop new strategic housing programs to revitalize their communities. The programs are specifically related to making housing code enforcement more effective and efficient in order to transform blighted, vacant, or poorly maintained properties and increase affordable housing stock.
10 cities across New York were awarded grants as part of the Cities RISE program.*
— 59 —
*Additional municipalities received funds for affordable housing as part of other AG programs.
Stopping Deed Theft
AG James and community leaders participate in a deed theft day of action in Brooklyn, January 2020
— 60 —
Deed theft has become a common tool of career criminals and unscrupulous real estate developers to illegally obtain real estate so they can sell it at a huge profit in high-demand housing markets.
This illegal scheme often targets people of color, the elderly, and other vulnerable homeowners and scams them into signing over the deeds to their homes to crooks and con artists. In an effort to combat this growing crime and protect homeowners, Attorney General James launched the “Protect Our Homes” initiative, a campaign
of coordinated prevention and enforcement actions to combat growing rates of deed theft in New York City and educate homeowners.
As part of the program, Attorney General James created an interagency task force with local district attorneys, the New York City Sheriff’s Office, legal service providers, and housing protection organizations to focus on deed theft, review complaints, and connect victims with legal representation.
Attorney General James also hosted a day of action in Brooklyn to educate homeowners about deed theft and other predatory housing scams. Deed theft is a heartless crime foisted on people who have worked all their lives to achieve a vital piece of the American Dream, only to have that dream become a nightmare. Attorney General James will continue to go after anyone who attempts to engage in these these predatory crimes.
Holding Developers Accountable for Cheating New Yorkers
Shutting Down Deceptive Mortgage Companies
The 421-a tax exemption provides a partial property tax exemption to real estate developers for building rent-stabilized housing. Under the law, developers that apply for and receive these tax benefits must register apartments as rent-stabilized and provide tenants with rent-stabilized leases, rights, and protections. Attorney General James took action against four real estate developers in Brooklyn and Queens for flouting the law, reaping enormous tax benefits, and still charging tenants market-rate rents. As a result of her action, Attorney General James secured refunds for the tenants who were illegally charged, and funds to support affordable housing efforts in New York City.
South Carolina-based real estate company Vision Property Management operated an illegal, deceptive, and unlicensed mortgage-lending business that targeted people with disabilities, the elderly, single parents, and other vulnerable residents in Central and Upstate New York. The company preyed on consumers who were eager to share in the American dream of homeownership, but could not qualify for conventional financing. Vision placed the burden of repairing and maintaining its homes on customers, while not disclosing the many dangerous, unhealthy, and unsafe conditions in those homes. While the company claimed its “unique” business model was a path to homeownership, in reality, consumers were trapped in high cost mortgages and often uninhabitable homes.
Attorney General James forced Vision to cease business in New York state, and as part of an agreement, Vision will pay over $3.75 million in consumer restitution, including cash payments of $600,000 that will be distributed to numerous New Yorkers who were victims of the company’s conduct. Many of these consumers have already received full title to the homes they worked so hard to purchase.
— 61 —
— 62 —
Gun violence is a public health emergency in New York and across the nation. Every loss of life and injury from gun violence is a devastating reminder of our shared responsibility to face this crisis head on and to support the communities that have suffered from its effects. Attorney General James is committed to catching criminals who traffic illegal weapons onto our streets, and to holding them accountable. She has taken legal action to prevent the spread and sale of incomplete weaponry pieces that could be easily assembled into illegal assault weapons and has intervened to prevent fraudulent certifications of firearm safety courses. She will continue to pursue every avenue available to reduce gun violence in New York.
Attorney General James’ Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF) took down two major gun trafficking rings that flooded Long Island and the Bronx with firearms and assault weapons. As part of “Operation
Silence of the Lamm,” Attorney General James charged four
individuals in a 125-count indictment for their alleged roles in a gun trafficking operation on Long Island that illegally sold 32 firearms, including assault weapons, 18 high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, and more than one thousand rounds of ammunition.
Attorney General James also charged five individuals as part of a 107-count indictment for their alleged roles in “Operation Iron Empire,” a gun trafficking operation that illegally sold firearms and heroin in the Bronx. As part of the investigation, Attorney General James recovered 16 firearms, including assault weapons, semi-automatic pistols, revolvers, 11 high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
AG James and members of law enforcement announce takedowns of illegal gun trafficking rings in New York City and on Long Island, February 2020
Taking Down Illegal Gun Rings
— 63 —
Financial Crimes and
— 65 —
Attorney General James has used the powers of her office to take on corporate greed and deliver justice to victims of financial fraud. From taking on sham investment funds, to tax evaders, to fraudulent brokers, she has taken countless actions against predatory actors who cheat our system. From Wall Street to Main Street, Attorney General James remains committed to finding and prosecuting the bad actors who rob New Yorkers and destabilize markets.
Attorney General James delivered a victory for 435 environmentally-conscious investors by stopping Kean Wind Turbines, Inc. and its owner from illegally profiting off of the sales of unregistered securities. Kean Stimm, the founder of the
company, used the sale of unregistered securities to subsidize
his lavish lifestyle. His illicit purchases included a penthouse
apartment, a personal aide, an opulent vacation, and even
a piano. Since 2013, Stimm had assured investors that the production of “the Newtonian Wind Turbine” was planned for “later this year” – and had made the same assurance year after year. The turbine was never produced, and investors have not received returns on their investments. After Attorney General James sued Stimm, a court ruled in her favor and ordered that Stimm stop serving as an officer or director of the company, suspended his voting control of the company, and ordered him to repay $300,000 in restitution and damages to those investors who were cheated.
Protecting the Hard-Earned Savings of Seniors
Securing Refunds for New Yorkers from Sham Investments
— 66 —
Cracking Down on Tax Evasion
Prosecuting Money Laundering Schemes
— 67 —
Protecting New Yorkers from Prescription Drug and Health Care Fraud
— 68 —
Attorney General James believes that health care is a basic right, not a luxury. She has taken on companies in New York that seek to undermine our system by cheating taxpayers, held health care executives to account for putting patients in harm’s way to turn a quick profit, and worked to make sure that patients have access to the critical medications they rely on.
Cracking Down on Greed to Ensure Affordable Prescription Drug Costs
Daraprim is a life-saving drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, a common parasitic infection that can cause serious consequences for those with HIV. For decades, it was cheap and accessible, but that changed when the drug was bought by Vyera Pharmaceuticals, a company led by now convicted felon Martin Shkreli and his partner, Kevin Mulleady. The pair raised the price of the drug by 4,000%. The cost of a single tablet went from $13.50 to $750 overnight, effectively depriving ill and vulnerable patients around the country of a life-saving drug. Attorney General James took Vyera to court for egregiously manipulating the market at the expense of patients. In the ongoing lawsuit, Attorney General James is fighting to end Vyera’s monopolistic conduct, to return stolen profits to victims of the illegal scheme, and to permanently ban Shkreli from ever working in the pharmaceutical industry again.
Holding Pharmaceutical Companies Accountable
— 69 —
Rooting Out Medicaid Fraud
Attorney General James secured $4 million from companies that were involved in an alleged fraudulent physical therapy scheme. Alex and Diana Klurfeld, and their companies Williamsburg Physical Therapy, P.C. and Euro Physical Therapy, P.C., employed non-licensed individuals to provide physical therapy services, putting patients at risk of physical harm. The Klurfelds then billed Medicaid, Medicare, the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act Program, and the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Program for those services, while fraudulently listing licensed therapists on the claims.
Tackling Price-Fixing of Critical Medication
Generic drugs are meant to provide consumers with reliable, cost-effective alternatives to brand name medications. Stemming from her ongoing investigations into the generic drug industry,
Attorney General James filed a complaint against 26 generic drug manufacturers and 10 individual executives who engaged in a price-fixing and bid-rigging scheme. This scheme unnecessarily and illegally raised prices for consumers on a number of medications used for pain relief, dermatological issues, and allergy relief, all for the purpose of lining the pockets of drug industry executives. Affordable medication is vital to ensuring the health of all Americans, and Attorney General James will never stop fighting to ensure everyone has access to the medications they need.
— 70 —
Shutting Down Drug Trafficking Operations
— 71 —
Attorney General James is committed to taking drugs off our streets and out of our communities. Over the past year, her office has taken down numerous trafficking rings and successfully prosecuted dozens of individuals who have flooded regions throughout the state with dangerous drugs. The safety of our communities will always be top priority, and Attorney General James will continue to go after individuals who put New Yorkers in harm’s way.
Dangerous Drugs off Our Streets
cities & counties
kg of cocaine,
324 gm of heroin and fentanyl,
75 gm of methamphetamine,
1,700 pills of oxycodone,
Broke up rings in
— 72 —
New York’s public servants have a responsibility to serve with transparency, integrity, and respect. Attorney General James has made it a priority to ensure that, in New York, those holding elected office and seeking public trust will always be held accountable for their misdeeds. Since 2011, the Attorney General and State Comptroller have worked together to fight corruption through their Joint Task Force on Public Integrity. They have brought charges against dozens of individuals implicated in public corruption schemes around the state – resulting in significant restitution to taxpayers.
— 73 —
Holding Public Officials Accountable for Illegal Activity
As Corporation Counsel, Lawrence Porcari was the top lawyer for the City of Mount Vernon, where he served under former Mayor Richard Thomas. In 2019, following an investigation conducted by Attorney General James, Thomas was convicted for stealing campaign funds for personal use and later lying about those funds in disclosure forms to the New York State Board of Elections. Attorney General James continued her pursuit of justice for the people of Mount Vernon and prosecuted Porcari for engaging in a scheme that defrauded the Mount Vernon Board of Water Supply of more than $300,000. The former Corporation Counsel misappropriated these funds to pay law firms for the personal defense of Mayor Thomas in criminal proceedings, as well as a public relations firm hired at the time of Thomas’ arrest. By using funds from the Board of Water Supply, which consist of money paid by customers for their use of water and whose use is limited to Board of Water Supply purposes, Porcari broke state and local law and violated public trust. Porcari was found guilty, and will serve time in prison.
— 74 —
Going After Those Who Steal Public Funds
When Michael Erber, who operated a nonprofit organization known as MAG-V, stole money that was intended to pay the rent of homeless New York City veterans, Attorney General James prosecuted him to the fullest extent of the law. MAG-V was an organization that recruited homeless veterans and those at risk of becoming homeless with promises of housing and job training. After an investigation, Attorney General James found that Erber pocketed federal funds he received to pay rent for homes for the veterans. She also found that Erber stole money directly from individual veterans who were being housed by MAG-V, including approximately $200,000 in lottery winnings from one veteran with disabilities. As a result, all of the veterans were evicted for non-payment of rent and were deprived access to desperately-needed shelter. Erber was found guilty and sentenced to up to 21 years in prison.
Stopping Illegal Campaign Fundraising
New York City offers public matching fund programs for candidates for public office, allowing candidates who rely on small donors to be financially competitive. Those who illegally take advantage of this matching funds program are taking advantage of hardworking New Yorkers who are supporting candidates for office. Attorney General James successfully prosecuted nonprofit executive Anna Mendez for helping former New York City Council candidate Albert Alvarez in such a scheme. Alvarez accepted straw donations that were funded by money stolen from Mendez’s nonprofit daycare center. Staff members at the daycare center, including Mendez, provided funds to other employees to make small dollar donations eligible for matching funds. Mendez was found guilty and sentenced to five years of probation.
— 75 —
Attorney General James has worked tirelessly over the last year to protect New York’s students from companies that seek to take advantage of them and jeopardize their health. From cracking down on retailers that illegally sell dangerous nicotine products, to going after companies that market usurious debt schemes, to stopping federal threats to deport more than a million international students at colleges and universities across New York — Attorney General James will always put students first.
— 76 —
Taking on Predatory Lenders to Deliver Student Debt Relief
Attorney General James, along with a coalition of states and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, secured $5 million in debt relief for former ITT Tech students in New York. ITT pressured and coerced its students to take out loans to cover their tuition, including threatening to expel them if they did not accept loan terms at usurious rates. Before Attorney General James took action, 80 percent of the students who took out these loans faced default. Attorney General James will always stand with students who face misleading and aggressive tactics from the educational institutions that they rely on.
For years, Transworld Systems, Inc., a student debt collector, engaged in aggressive, misleading, and unlawful debt collection practices involving thousands of student borrowers in New York. The company filed lawsuits to collect defaulted debts and obtain judgments against student borrowers at an alarming rate. The Attorney General’s Office found that the lawsuits brought against these borrowers often included inaccurate sworn affidavits and complaints with false information. After an investigation, Attorney General James secured $600,000 in penalties and restitution for New York borrowers. Additionally, the company agreed to make changes to their debt collection practices and provide enhanced training for their staff.
When a ring of student debt relief companies fraudulently claimed to be able to provide aid for student borrowers in New York state, Attorney General James took action. These companies, Debt Resolve, Inc., Student Loan Care, LLC, and Progress Advocates, cheated thousands of New York student loan borrowers out of millions of dollars by promising loan forgiveness that they could not deliver, claiming an affiliation with the government that they did not have, and charging upfront fees and extremely high interest rates that exceeded New York state’s usury cap. Concluding a lawsuit brought in 2018, Attorney General James secured hundreds of thousands of dollars for New York student borrowers.
— 77 —
to Minors, Online, and In Stores
Teen vaping has skyrocketed in recent years, and flavored products are a major cause of this increase. Candy and fruit flavored vaping products exist to reel teens into the dangerous habit of smoking, which is why New York banned them. When Attorney General James learned that these products were being illegally sold online and sold to minors, she took action and ordered three companies, Cloud X Vapes, HQD Tech USA, and PodVapes, to immediately cease these sales.
She didn’t stop there. To rein in the sales of these flavored vaping products in shops all across the state, she issued cease and desist letters to 47 retailers in Albany, Buffalo, Elmira, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown, and Hamilton, Nassau, Saratoga, and Warren Counties. These businesses skirted the law by selling nicotine products to underage buyers, selling illegal flavored vaping products, and selling flavored liquids for customers to create their own flavored vaping products. Many of these stores were located just steps from middle schools and high schools.
These actions are the latest in a series of measures Attorney General James has taken to tackle the ongoing youth nicotine epidemic and to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers.
— 78 —
Supporting International Students and Academic Institutions
Attorney General James sued the Trump administration for threatening to deport more than a million international students at colleges and universities across New York and the rest of the nation if they did not register for in-person classes on campus in the middle of the pandemic. The administration’s sudden reversal in policy was an attempt to use international students as an excuse to coerce schools into offering in-person instruction at the risk of jeopardizing the health of millions. Immediately after filing her lawsuit, the Trump administration rescinded this ill-conceived and harmful policy.
— 79 —
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. The bakeries, delis, hardware stores, restaurants, and other shops that enrich our lives and power our economy are the lifelong work of many New Yorkers, and serve as a lifeline to financial security for many families. It is unconscionable that modern-day loan sharks prey on hardworking business owners with fake loans, opaque contracts, and outright threats of violence. While small businesses may not always have the tools to protect themselves from unscrupulous actors, Attorney General James is determined to use every tool at her disposal to stop these illegal fraudsters.
— 80 —
Delivering Relief for Small Businesses
Stopping Predatory Lenders
In June, Attorney General James sued to stop a trio of loan companies, headed by a former drug trafficker, from issuing short term loans at astronomical interest rates, and terrorizing borrowers when they failed to pay. Jonathan Braun, who founded Richmond Capital Group LLC and other associated companies, collected $75 million in payments on over 1,900 illegal loans to small businesses, sometimes charging more than 1000 percent interest. Braun’s companies targeted small businesses that could not receive funding from traditional banks and misrepresented the amounts of money they would owe on loans. When debtors failed to make payments, Braun would insult them, threaten to physically harm them, or to kidnap their children. Attorney General James is fighting to claw back every penny these companies swindled out of the pockets of small business owners.
— 81 —
As head of the Department of Law, the Attorney General is both the “People’s Lawyer” and the state’s chief legal officer. The Attorney General serves as the guardian of the legal rights of the citizens of New York, its organizations, and its natural resources. Additionally, the Attorney General advises state agencies and defends actions and proceedings on behalf of the state.
The Attorney General’s Office serves all New Yorkers in numerous matters affecting their daily lives. The Office protects consumers and investors, oversees charitable institutions, ensures public health and the health of the environment, and safeguards civil rights and the rights of workers and businesses across the state.
The legal functions of the Attorney General’s Office are divided primarily into five major divisions: Appeals and Opinions, State Counsel, Criminal Justice, Economic Justice, and Social Justice.
The Attorney General’s Office has more than 1,700 employees located in 16 offices throughout the state.
(800) 788-9898 — TTD/TTYL
Office of the New York State Attorney General
Albany, NY 12224
— 83 —