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
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
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
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