The New York State Attorney General recently uncovered 12 years of fraudulent billing practices from a local energy provider, robbing residents of over $1.7 million.
It was discovered that Bottini Fuel (BF) siphoned money from numerous overpayments and duplicate payments to fake accounts. Victims of the fraudulent practoces range from residential homes, to local government buildings and school districts. According to the attorney general, BF must now pay over $3.2 million in restitution fees.
“Bottini Fuel orchestrated a brazen scheme to defraud its customers for the benefit of the company and its owners,” said New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood in a recent press release. “This conduct was longstanding and harmed individual, business and government customers. We are grateful to the whistleblower who helped bring this illegal conduct to light and are pleased to be able to give back the money rightfully owed to Hudson Valley customers.”
The anonymous whistleblower, who blew the roof off the investigation, recieved $491,358 for their part in the investigation.
BF is a fuel company with seven different locations around the Hudson Valley Area, including an office in Ulster County. Ironically, the company’s website professes “When you’re a Bottini Fuel customer, you never have to look at your delivery ticket and wonder, ‘Am I getting a fair price?’ The answer is yes, every time!”
One of the local entities that was victimized by the fraud is the Rondout Valley School District. On Nov. 2, 2008, the school sent a request to BF for $83,043.99 for the previous year’s fuel credit.
Court documents obtained from the New York State Supreme Court reveals that BF pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge of falsifying business records in the second degree. The investigation revealed that BF had stolen $1,171,884.31 from homeowners and the private sector and an additionally $590,887.73 from government agencies from 2004 to 2016. BF must full repay these customers along with an additional $1.5 million for damages.
“BF systematically defrauded private customers and municipalities out of rebates they were due,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “Thanks to my partnership with Attorney General Underwood, millions are now being returned to the taxpayers. I will continue to work to safeguard the expenditure of public funds and partner with law enforcement to punish those who attempt to defraud the public.”
On BF’s Facebook homepage, the company issued a sincere apology to their inflicted customers and promised ethical service in the future.
“We accept full responsibility for the errors we made handling unreturned credit balances,” the post reads. “We have fully reimbursed the state for the money in question so it can be provided to affected people and we have taken steps to ensure this never happens again.”
BF customers are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s office at 212-416-8751 if they are concerned sbout whether they were impacted by the incident.