A.G. Schneiderman Sues Hudson Valley Heating Oil Company For Defrauding Consumers

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2017

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A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN SUES HUDSON VALLEY HEATING OIL COMPANY FOR DEFRAUDING CONSUMERS

Champion Fuel And Service Corporation Allegedly Failed To Deliver Heating Oil And Services To 83 Consumers Who Pre-Paid Nearly $83,000 

Schneiderman: Consumers Deserve Companies That Will Deliver On The Services They’ve Promised

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a lawsuit against Champion Fuel and Service Corp., its owners David DeSilva Sr. and Patrick Terminello, and Mr. DeSilva’s son, David DeSilva Jr., who managed the company. The suit, filed in State Supreme Court in White Plains, charges that the company engaged in persistent fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct in connection with the operation of the Wappingers Falls-based home heating oil business and seeks nearly $83,000 in restitution for over 80 consumers. The company is no longer in business.

"My office will aggressively pursue unscrupulous businesses that fail to provide the services consumers have paid for,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Consumers deserve companies that will deliver on the services they’ve promised, not ones that bilk them for their money.”

Beginning in April 2014, the complaint alleges that 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. Instead of filling customers' oil tanks, Champion either never delivered the heating oil or shorted customers and delivered the oil in amounts – sometimes as little as 20 gallons per delivery – which constituted only a small fraction of the oil the customers paid for. In addition, Champion completed only a portion of the oil-burner service work it was contracted to perform or none of it. 

As a result, Champion customers allegedly paid for more than $80,000 of heating oil and oil burner service that were never provided to them.

Today’s lawsuit was filed against Champion and its principals, Patrick Terminello and David DeSilva Sr. It also names DeSilva's son, David DeSilva Jr., who was intimately involved in the day-to-day operations of Champion and allegedly had knowledge of the illegal acts and practices described in the lawsuit and/or directed or participated in them. 

The lawsuit seeks restitution for all injured consumers and a court order permanently barring Champion, Terminello and the DeSilvas from operating a home heating oil business in New York State. The lawsuit also seeks an order enjoining Champion, Terminello and the DeSilvas from engaging in any future violations of consumer protection laws and an order directing them to provide a full accounting of monies received from consumers, all contracts and a complete list of customers.

Champion’s license to sell or distribute home heating oil was canceled by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance on January 22, 2015 for failure to file New York State tax returns and non-payment of state taxes.  

To date, the Office of the Attorney General, the State Police and the Better Business Bureau have received a total of 83 complaints against Champion. At least 30 consumers have sued Champion in Wappingers Falls Town Court to recover money owed to them, totaling over $30,000, due to the non-delivery of pre-paid home heating oil and oil burner service.  

In 2013, the Attorney General sued two Peekskill-based heating oil companies – Nu Way Fuel & Service Corporation and Nu Way Services of New York – for defrauding consumers. These companies were owned by DeSilva, Jr., though his father DeSilva Sr. was actively involved. The lawsuit resulted in judgments against both companies and the DeSilvas, which required them to pay $107,000 in restitution to consumers – of which only $49,000 has been paid. The DeSilvas were also barred from the heating oil business unless they posted a $200,000 performance bond. The DeSilvas sought to circumvent this requirement by making it appear that Terminello was the owner of Champion, and concealing ownership by either DeSilva. However, the Attorney General’s investigation revealed that Terminello owns only 15% of Champion, and that DeSilva, Sr. owns the remaining 85%.

Consumers with complaints against Champion Fuel and Service Corp. should file a complaint with the OAG. Complaint forms are available online here.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Sandra Giorno-Tocco with the assistance of Consumer Protection Representative John Katzenstein and Intern Scott Trivella, and Investigators Ralph Dorismond and Michael Christian under the supervision of Gary Brown, Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Westchester Regional Office, and Martin J. Mack, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs.