175. Enforcement by attorney general. 1. An action for violation of this article may be prosecuted by the attorney general, or his deputy, in the name of the people of the state, and in any such action, the attorney general or his deputy, shall exercise all the powers and perform all duties which the district attorney would otherwise be authorized to exercise or to perform therein.
2. In addition to any other action or proceeding authorized by law and any action or proceeding by the attorney general, the attorney general may bring an action or special proceeding in the supreme court, in the name and in behalf of the people of the state of New York, against a charitable organization and any other persons acting for it or in its behalf to enjoin such organization and/or persons from continuing the solicitation or collection of funds or property or engaging therein or doing any acts in furtherance thereof, and to cancel any registration statement previously filed with the attorney general pursuant to this article and for an order awarding restitution and damages, penalties and costs; and removing any director or other person responsible for the violation of this article; dissolving a corporation and other relief which the court may deem proper, whenever the attorney general shall have reason to believe that the charitable organization or other person:
(a) is violating or has violated any of the provisions of this article;
(b) has refused or failed, or any of its principal officers has refused or failed, after notice, to produce any records of such organizations;
(c) is employing or about to employ, or there is employed or about to be employed, in any solicitation or collection of funds or other property for such organization, any device, scheme or artifice to defraud or for obtaining money or property by means of a false pretense, representation or promise;
(d) has made a material false statement in an application, registration or statement required to be filed pursuant to this article;
(e) (i) has failed or is failing to apply the funds solicited from the public in a manner substantially consistent with its charitable purposes or solicitation or has engaged in repeated fraudulent or illegal activities, acts or conduct in connection with the solicitation for charitable purposes; (ii) or, in the case of a law enforcement support organization, has failed or is failing to apply the funds solicited from the public in a manner substantially consistent with the purposes of the solicitation or has engaged in repeated fraudulent or illegal activities, acts or conduct in connection with the solicitation for purposes of the law enforcement support organization;
(f) violates any order or determination made by the attorney general pursuant to the provisions of this article;
(g) has used or intends to use false or materially misleading advertising or promotional material in connection with any solicitation or with any commercial co-venture or fails to disclose the information required to be disclosed pursuant to section one hundred seventy-four-b of this article; or
(h) is a law enforcement support organization and is employing or about to employ, or there is employed or about to be employed, in any solicitation or collection of funds or other property for such organization, any device, scheme or artifice to defraud or for obtaining money or property by means of a false pretense, representation or promise which shall include, without limitation, making any of the following representations: (i) that professional fund raisers or solicitors are police officers or employees of any law enforcement agency, (ii) that funds collected will be used to aid widows and children of police officers slain in the line of duty or for any other charitable program unless the organization is actually engaged in such a program, (iii) that contributors will receive special benefits from police officers, and (iv) that contributions are tax deductible as a charitable contribution or as a business expense unless they so qualify under the applicable provisions of the internal revenue code.
In connection with such proposed action or proceeding the attorney general is authorized to take proof, issue subpoenas and administer oaths in the manner provided in the civil practice law and rules.
3. Upon a showing by the attorney general in an application for an injunction that any person engaged in solicitation has been convicted in this state or elsewhere of a felony or of a misdemeanor involving the misappropriation, misapplication or misuse of the money or property of another, and who has not, subsequent to such conviction, received executive pardon therefor or a certificate of relief from disabilities or a certificate of good conduct pursuant to article twenty-three of the correction law, the supreme court, after a hearing, may enjoin such person from engaging in any solicitation.
4. The attorney general may exercise the authority granted in this section against any charitable organization which operates under the guise or pretense of being an organization exempted by the provisions of section one hundred seventy-two-a of this article and is not in fact an organization entitled to such an exemption.
5. Whenever the attorney general shall have reason to believe that any professional fund-raiser, fund raising counsel, professional solicitor or commercial co-venturer is operating in violation of the provisions of this article, or has made any false statement in any application, registration or statement required to be filed pursuant to this article, or if any professional fund-raiser, fund raising counsel, or commercial co-venturer has refused or failed, after notice, to produce any records demanded of him, or there is employed or is about to be employed in any solicitation or collection of contributions for a charitable or religious organization any device, scheme or artifice to defraud or for obtaining money or property by means of any false pretense, representation or promise, in addition to any other action or proceeding authorized by law, he may bring in the supreme court an action or proceeding in the name, and on behalf, of the people of the state of New York against such professional fund-raiser, fund raising counsel, commercial co-venturer, professional solicitor, and any other person who has participated or is about to participate in such solicitation or collection by employing such device, scheme, artifice, false representation or promise, to enjoin such professional fund-raiser, fund raising counsel, commercial co-venturer, professional solicitor, or other person from continuing such solicitation or collection or engaging therein or doing any acts in furtherance thereof, or to cancel any registration statement previously filed with the attorney general.
6. Whenever the attorney general has determined to commence an action under this article, he may present to any justice of the supreme court, before beginning such action, an application in writing for an order directing the person or persons mentioned in the application to appear before the justice of the supreme court or referee designated in such order and answer such questions as may be put to them or to any of them, or to produce such papers, documents and books concerning the practices to which the action which he has determined to bring relates, and it shall be the duty of the justice of the supreme court to whom such application for the order is made to grant such application. The application for such order made by the attorney general may simply show upon his information and belief that the testimony of such person or persons is material and necessary. The provisions of the civil practice law and rules relating to an application for an order for the examination of witnesses before the commencement of an action and the method of proceeding on such examination, shall not apply except as herein prescribed. The order shall be granted by the justice of the supreme court to whom the application has been made with such preliminary injunction or stay as may appear to such justice to be proper and expedient and shall specify the time when and place where the witnesses are required to appear. The justice or referee may adjourn such examination from time to time and witnesses must attend accordingly. The testimony of each witness must be subscribed by him and all must be filed in the office of the clerk of the county in which such order for examination is filed. The order for such examination must be signed by the justice making it and service of a copy thereof with an endorsement by the attorney general signed by him or his deputy, to the effect that the person named therein is required to appear and be examined at the time and place and before the justice or referee specified in such endorsement, shall be sufficient notice for the attendance of witnesses. Such endorsement may contain a clause requiring such person to produce at such examination all books, papers and documents in his possession or under his control relating to the subject of such examination. The order shall be served upon the person named in the endorsement aforesaid by showing him the original order and delivering to and leaving with him at the same time a copy thereof, endorsed as above provided, and by paying or tendering to him the fee allowed by law to witnesses subpoenaed to attend trials of civil actions in any court of record in this state.
7. In addition to any other action authorized by law, the attorney general may bring an action or special proceeding in the supreme court to recover any civil penalties assessed by the attorney general.
8. Nothing contained in section one hundred seventy-seven of this article shall prevent, limit, restrict, impede or delay the attorney general from instituting, at any time, any action or proceeding authorized by the provisions of this article or any other appropriate law, as he may deem necessary.
Last modified: February 3, 2019