A Dutchess County fuel-oil dealer is once again in the crosshairs of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, this time for failing to deliver heating oil and services to customers that paid tens of thousands of dollars to the company in advance.
Schneiderman announced that Champion Fuel and Service Corporation - which maintained an office in Wappingers Falls - and its owner, David DeSilva, Sr. - have been ordered by a judge to provide full restitution to more than 80 customers who pre-paid nearly $83,000.
Supreme Court Justice Charles Wood ruled that Champion and DeSilva must pay full restitution to the consumers, must pay triple the amount of unpaid damage he owes from 30 small claims judgments and must pay tax warrants filed by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
Champion is also banned from engaging in the retail sale of home heating oil and the repair of service of oil burners. In total, DeSilva will be paying more than $176,000 in damages.
According to Schneiderman’s lawsuit, beginning in April 2014, Champion received pre-payments for home heating oil and oil burner services that were supposed to be provided to consumers throughout the 2014-2015 heating season. However, instead of filling customers' oil tanks, Champion either never delivered the heating oil or shorted customers and delivered the oil in amounts that constituted only a small fraction of the oil the customers paid for – sometimes as little as 20 gallons per delivery. In addition, Champion either completed only a portion of the oil-burner service work it was contracted to perform or none of it.
As a result, Champion customers paid for more than $80,000 in heating oil and oil burner services that were never provided to them. The lawsuit further alleges that David DeSilva Jr., who oversees day-to-day operations at Champion was fully aware of the illegal actions or participated in them. Wood ruled that further proceedings will be necessitated to determine whether he will also be held liable.
"When New Yorkers hire a home heating oil company, they need to know they’ll get the services they’ve paid for,” Schneiderman said. “We’ll continue to hold companies accountable for the promises they make – and ensure that New Yorkers who pay for home heating fuel receive their full order in a timely and professional manner.”
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