Pet owners who laid their beloved animals to rest in one of the largest New York State pet cemeteries in the Hudson Valley may be due restitution after it was deemed unlicensed for several years, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Thursday.
Schneiderman announced that he has secured a court order granting restitution for pet owners who were impacted by alleged fraudulent activity at the Abbingdon Hill Pet Cemetery and Crematory in Orange County after it operated without a proper license and continued to collect fees without providing proper services.
According to Schneiderman, Abbingdon Hill Pet Cemetery and Crematory, which opened in 1980 in Montgomery, lost its license to operate as a pet cemetery in November last year, though it continued to operate and conduct burials and cremations in violation of state law.
In March, Schneiderman said his office began to receive complaints from pet owners regarding the poor physical condition of the Abbington Hill Pet cemetery, and owners reported that they could not get in touch with management regarding the failure to provide them with services they had paid for in advance such as “burials, cremations, and perpetual care.”
Schneiderman said that Abbingdon Hill’s 15-acre space was seized by Orange County officials for failure to pay taxes and later auctioned off to a man who was unaware of its status as a former pet cemetery. Despite selling the property, the former owner continued to collect fees from pet owners as recently as February this year.
On March 26, 2018, the Attorney General’s Office was granted a temporary order enjoining the Abbingdon Hill Pet Cemetery and Crematory, Inc. from continuing to operate or remove funds from its bank accounts and authorizing the Attorney General’s office to seize all records and property of the corporation. This week, a permanent order granted judicial dissolution of the pet cemetery, directing restitution to pet owners, as well as civil penalties which will be repaid to the state.
Additionally, the court order states that the pet cemetery will be transferred and formed into a not-for-profit corporation at the same location after the new owner, Ahmad Reyaz, donated the property to the county.
According to Schneiderman, “this order ensures that pets can remain where they are and that the pet cemetery will continue to operate. Any remaining assets and property of the Abbingdon Hill Pet Cemetery and Crematory will be used to pay restitution to aggrieved pet owners and to serve the purposes of the new not-for-profit corporation.”
“Consumers should be able to trust that businesses will provide the services for which they’ve paid,” he said in a statement. “This court order secures relief to the consumers affected, while transferring the property to a new not-for-profit to ensure continuity for families with pets buried at the cemetery. My office is committed to protecting New Yorkers from deceptive business practices wherever they occur.”
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