District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that an Oceanside contractor who sent doctored Town of Hempstead fliers to residents to advertise his business was arrested on Tuesday.
Mark Rauch, 63, was charged with felony counts of forgery in the second degree and criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
The deceptive mailing that Rauch allegedly sent out was a modified version of a Town of Hempstead mailing that was sent to residents before Thanksgiving, informing them what they could do to get town building permits to repair damage in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Rauch’s flier was altered to make it look like the town was endorsing his company — My Expediter, LLC — to handle building permit applications. Rauch’s service would have cost homeowners $499.
“Oceanside homeowners have been victimized twice in the wake of Hurricane Sandy,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray at a press conference the town held in Oceanside last week. “They were slammed by mother nature, and then by a business that attempted to deceive storm-battered homeowners into thinking that they needed to use this private company to process home renovation applications with Hempstead’s Building Department. I think this company is preying on victims, and that’s disgusting.”
Murray, along with Town Councilman Anthony Santino, referred the matter to the District Attorney’s office on Nov. 26.
The DA’s investigation revealed that Rauch had spent $275 to have his mailing sent to 1,903 Oceanside homes on or about Nov. 23.
Not only were the services of My Expediter, LLC unnecessary — residents can always apply for their own building permits — but the price was also excessive. In the wake of the storm, the Town of Hempstead waived all fees for building permits for in-kind reconstruction and replacement in homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The town also did away with a requirement that a variance be obtained to increase home foundation height and overall home height to comply with FEMA flood height guidelines. Of course, if homeowners wish to raise their homes, they can.