DA: Contractor Doctored Hempstead Town Mailings

A weekly look-in at news from around the Town of Hempstead.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced Tuesday that an Oceanside contractor has been charged after he doctored an official Town of Hempstead mailing to portray himself as uniquely authorized to expedite building permits and then mailed the letter to nearly 2,000 flood-ravaged homes in Oceanside.

Mark Rauch, 63, was arrested this morning by DA Investigators and charged with felony counts of forgery in the second degree and criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, Rice said. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

Rice said that on Nov. 26, the DA’s Office was contacted by Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilman Anthony Santino, who had heard numerous complaints from Oceanside residents about a letter they had received in the mail.

The letter bore a town seal and contained instructions on how to obtain building permits from the Town of Hempstead Building Department so that homeowners could repair damage to their homes caused by Hurricane Sandy, Rice said.

A similar letter had been hand-delivered to Oceanside residents by the Town before Thanksgiving, but this particular mailing also included the contact information for My Expediter LLC, a company owned and operated by Rauch, Rice said.

The doctored letter implied that Rauch’s expediting service, and its $499 price tag, was either necessary to obtain building permits or that it was approved by the Town to expedite the permit process. Neither is true, Rice said.

The investigation, conducted in conjunction with the United States Postal Inspection Service, revealed that Rauch spent approximately $275 to have the letters delivered to 1,903 Oceanside homes on or about Nov. 23. At the time of Rauch’s mailing, the Town of Hempstead had waived all building permit fees relating to home repair as a result of Sandy in Oceanside.

“Over the last few weeks, we have seen the strength of Nassau County in every home being repaired, ever donation being dropped off, and every community banding together to rebuild,” Rice said. “Unfortunately, there are also scam artists looking to capitalize on the devastation to make a quick buck. Thanks to the people of Oceanside, however, and the quick work of the Town of Hempstead, US Postal Inspection Service, and members of my office, this con man was caught immediately.”

Murray, Santino Propose Waiving of Penalties for Premature Withdrawals for Hurricane Repairs

Supervisor Kate Murray and Sr. Councilman Anthony Santino have proposed that federal legislation be passed waiving penalty fees for premature IRA withdrawal for homeowners seeking to make house repairs in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The officials also called upon federal representatives to strike down premature withdrawal penalties on other deferred payment investments such as 401K plans.

Although FEMA is administering reimbursements to pay for some damage expenses as well as administering the STEP Home Repair Program, homeowners and businesses may need to initially lay out money for the cost of necessary repairs. At the same time, many Americans have money invested in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and other deferred payment investments, however, penalties are imposed for premature withdrawal.

Under these dire circumstances, the town said residents need access to their capital, without penalty. For example, if a homeowner needed access to money for a new roof, they would pay a 10 percent penalty for withdrawing the needed funds from their IRA. And, that’s in addition to a $40 administrative fee penalty that is charged by some financial institutions.

Murray and Santino called upon U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Congressman Peter King and U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy to propose such legislation and to advocate on behalf of the thousands of families and businesses who are struggling to rebuild their homes and their lives.

Additionally, the town officials requested that federal legislators consider a measure that would implement five-year income averaging for income tax purposes. Such a measure would mitigate the income tax implications of a one-year spike in income associated with a large withdrawal from deferred payment plans that would be utilized for Sandy repairs.
BigIdeas December 10, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Isn't that a picture of Murray?
Robert Demarco December 10, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I heard that the letter had the TOH seal, not the picture.
Constance Roland December 10, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I find it irritating that liensed contractors "good standing" status cannot be checked online on Nassau County's website. Professions licensed by the state (medical, legal, etc.) are all subject to online verification, so there is absolutely no privacy argument to make. Instead, consumers are left to the business hour limitations of Nassau County government and are directed to call the county Office of Consumer Affairs to check the licensure of a given contractor. At this juncture, this is the only protection available, I've already written to Mangano, and invite you to do the same, so license checks can be had online by Nassau County residents at any time, during your investigations as to who to use for contractors. The county links are below: http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/OCA/Licensing/License/who.html For more information (516) 571-3871
Constance Roland December 10, 2012 at 10:03 PM
The following list shows the types of licenses of various home improvement contractors: Home Improvement is a broad term that includes, but is not limited to the following areas of work: •air conditioning & heating systems •carpentry work •ceramic tile & marble installers •cesspool builders & cleaners •chimney/fireplace builders, repairs, cleaners •doors, windows, awnings •dry wall contractors •fences and railings •fire escape stairs & ladders •floor installation & refinishing (including sub-floors) •garage builders •general contractors •insulation contractors •lawn irrigation contractors •masonry work •painting contractors •paving and driveway seal coating •power washers & sandblasters •reglazing/porcelain refinishing •retaining wall contractors •roofing contractors •sewer cleaners •siding installation •swimming pool (building, installing and maintenance) •tree surgery •vacuum cleaner central systems •waterproofing •well drilling As always, caveat emptor, or Buyer Beware.
Brent M. December 11, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Surprised KATE MURRAY wasnt getting her picture taken with the officer who put the cuffs on that Fool!!! Its a great photo op.. she must have been busy helping out Roosevelt School District.. YEAH RIGHT!!!


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