An Oceanside company sent "deceptive mailing" featuring the Hempstead Town seal in an attempt to collect money for filing building permits from homeowners whose property was damaged or destroyed by superstorm Sandy, town officials said.
The mailings with a "copycat" town letterhead also altered an actual building department document to deceive homeowners into retaining the fee-based services of My Expediter LLC, based in Oceanside, Town Supervisor Kate Murray said.
"This business tactic is misleading to his Oceanside neighbors," Murray said at a news conference Tuesday in Oceanside. "Hempstead Town does not endorse or recommend this business or any other business."
The private company allegedly mailed a modified version of the building department flier that offered information about building requirements and filing instructions for storm-battered Oceanside residents. At the bottom was a listing of company services: permit application submission, an engineer or architect assessment, and "letter of workscope" for $499.
Building inspectors found out about the phony document on Saturday after speaking to a resident who brought it to their attention, Murray said. She pointed out the town has waived building permit fees for storm-related structural repairs.
Companies should not engage in deception because "there is enough work to go around for everybody," said David Ioli, 53, a lifetime resident of Oceanside who received the letter, adding he lost two cars, and his basement and garage were flooded.
Oceanside resident Mark Rauch's name, address, phone number and business email also appear on the allegedly deceitful flier under the title "Your Expediter." His company, incorporated in 2010, processes building permits for homeowners looking to rebuild or repair houses. Rauch did not respond to requests for comment.
"Knowing the guy I know, he didn't mean to do it," said Rauch's neighbor, Phillip Villhauer, 78, of Oceanside. "He's a good guy. He would never be deceptive."
Murray has requested the Nassau County district attorney's office investigate the mailings. She has also directed the building department not to accept applications from My Expediter until the matter is reviewed.
DA spokesman Chris Munzing said, "We received Supervisor Murray's letter and we will investigate."