A.G. Schneiderman Announces Court Order Against Hudson Valley Heating Oil Company That Defrauded Consumers
Champion Fuel and Service Corporation Failed To Deliver Heating Oil and Services to More Than 80 Consumers Who Pre-Paid Nearly $83,000
Court Orders Full Restitution for Victims and Permanently Stops Champion Fuel and Its Owner from Engaging In the Sale of Heating Oil and the Repair and Service of Oil Burners; Owner Ordered to Pay Over $176,000 in Damages and Restitution
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced a ruling issued by Supreme Court Justice Charles D. Wood in the Attorney General’s lawsuit against Champion Fuel and Service Corp. (“Champion”) and its owner David DeSilva Sr. The judge ordered the company and DeSilva Sr. to provide full restitution to consumers who were defrauded, to pay triple the amount of unpaid damages he owes from 30 Small Claims judgments, and to pay tax warrants filed by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The court also permanently enjoined Champion and DeSilva Sr. from engaging in the retail sale of home heating oil and the repair and service of oil burners. In total, the court ordered DeSilva Sr. to pay over $176,000 in damages and restitution to victims.
"When New Yorkers hire a home heating oil company, they need to know they’ll get the services they’ve paid for. 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,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleged that, beginning in April 2014, the Wappingers Falls-based 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 also named minority-owner Patrick Terminello and DeSilva Sr.'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 court ordered further proceedings to determine whether they should be held personally liable.
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. The company is no longer in business.
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. Justice Wood has ordered an accounting to establish a complete list of customers who did not receive heating oil and/or boiler repair services they had paid for, and to determine the full amount of restitution owed to them.
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 also actively involved. The lawsuit resulted in judgments against both companies, DeSilva Jr., and DeSilva Sr., which required them to pay $107,000 in restitution to consumers.
Consumers with complaints against Champion should file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. If you believe you are the victim of a cold-weather scam, you should contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Frauds Bureau by calling 1-800-771-7755 or filing a complaint online.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Sandra Giorno-Tocco with the assistance of Senior Consumer Fraud Representative John Katzenstein 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.