Friday, January 21, 2011

Revenge via false complaint

From Urbanite:

Hell hath no fury like a person using a public agency to torment a disliked relative or acquaintance.

Conscripting government workers to wage personal vendettas takes myriad forms: Women embittered by divorce settlements tell the IRS that an audit of their ex-husbands’ returns may prove fruitful.

Others make knowingly false allegations to law enforcement, or grouse to agencies mandated to investigate complaints.

While it’s impossible to determine how widespread the problem is, numbers from Administration for Children’s Services offer some hint of its potential scope. In 2009, no indication of abuse or neglect was found in 57.9 percent of the 59,249 investigations done by Administration for Children’s Services.

Most complaints are lodged by people with genuine concerns, said Michelle Conklin, a vice president of SSEU-Local 37, who worked as an ACS caseworker for 10 years. But phony reports are also called in by vindictive noncustodial parents and relatives, and by cranky neighbors seeking to punish parents whose children trespass or make noise, she said.

Agencies are in a Catch 22 when it comes to malicious complaints. “We really can’t not take things seriously. We’re required by law to investigate,” explained ACS spokesman Michael Fagan.

Falsely reporting an incident is a Class A misdemeanor, but neither Fagan nor the Manhattan DA could provide any numbers or information about people prosecuted for making false reports.

A spokesperson for NYC’s Independent Budget Office said no one had ever examined how much money was gobbled up investigating bogus complaints.

Let's not forget that this is also a valuable tool for elected officials to use against those who dare criticize them.


Anonymous said...

During the period of Jan 2009 through Oct 2009 there was a rash of ACS calls for families whose child (ren) attended IS25. I personally know of 6 families - all of which were unfounded - When such a rash of calls are placed in one location - should not someone have noticed? These calls have disrupted and destroyed families Numerous calls and letters were written to Albany, the Dept of Education, and anyone who would listen - but none did.

Anonymous said...

It happened to a friend of mine selling a home in Long Island. A buyer whose lowball offer was refused called in a false complaint of a leaking oil tank.

Since my friend was probably the only one in the area whose oil tank had been remediated years earlier, he had a soil engineer do a complete test and had it available to make sure the first false complaint was the last.

Anonymous said...

Should I call ACS on Bloomberg for slap our children in the faces for what he is doing with the Dept. of Ed?

Anonymous said...

abusing the gov't services for little real reason?

Sounds like when certain people use the ER for a headache or a band-aid.

Anonymous said...

Many people use anonymous complaints to even scores.

I had a friend who had a run-in with a corrupt sanitation official. After receiving ticket, after ticket and having them dismissed, he hit on the idea of creating a fake house number (addresses skip in his area) and affixing it to the door.

The sanit man was disciplined, not for abuse of power, but for all those uncollectible tickets.

Anonymous said...

My family faced more than 20 unfounded complaints filed with ACS by the US Coast Guard - they wanted us off the base because our three children were disabled and presented too much of a problem - seriously! The workers sent to investigate were very apologetic - but said they were under orders from Manhattan. I felt like we were vicitims of an Italian carting company: Fosella-Giuliani-Scoppetta, you know? And do you thing anyone followed up on the system abuse (Class A... yeah, right). Twenty plus complaints, pursued at taxpayer expense, because, among other things, the Command had an idea that if Coasties saw a kid in a wheelchair they would be disheartened, and think about being hurt in battle (they actually said that!)

And then there are the cases of investigations kicked off by D75 schools that want kids medicated against the parent's wishes...

Anonymous said...

The sanit man was disciplined, not for abuse of power, but for all those uncollectible tickets.
How did you find out that he was disciplined, and what the disposition was?

diane said...

This is the second time in less than 3 months that an anonymous complaint was given to the ACS against my family. I know where the allegations are coming from, the drug addict neighbor downstairs from me, but what can we do? We are innocent, and each case has been determined unfounded. But these unkind accusations made by the neighbor take away from serious cases. Can't something be done?