Suffolk County, NY
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Added 6-7-1994 by L.L. No. 9-1994]
A. 
This Legislature hereby finds and determines that many individuals who solicit charitable contributions on behalf of corporations often do not disclose the percentage of the donation which they will retain.
B. 
This Legislature further finds and determines that many individuals may make charitable contributions thinking that the full amount of such contributions are, in fact, being passed on to the charitable organization on whose behalf the funds are being raised.
C. 
This Legislature further finds that many bogus organizations solicit funds from unsuspecting citizens by holding themselves out as legitimate local fire fighters or by falsely intimating that local volunteer fire departments will benefit from the donations which are, in fact, kept by these non-fire-fighting entrepreneurs.
D. 
Therefore, the purpose of this article is to impose a requirement that anyone soliciting for charitable contributions on behalf of a third party and retaining more than 20% of such donations filed with the Office of Citizen Affairs, disclose to the Office the percentage of the donation retained by such a solicitor, and that any fire-fighting-related solicitations be performed only by such groups that are licensed by the County.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION
Any benevolent, philanthropic, patriotic or eleemosynary person or one purporting to be such or law enforcement support organization as defined in § 171-a, Subdivision 11, of the New York Executive Law.
CONTRIBUTION
The promise or grant of any money or property of any kind or value, whether or not in combination with the sale of goods, services, entertainment or any other thing of value, including a grant or other financial assistance from any agency of government, except payments by members of any organization for membership fees, dues, fines or assessments, or for services rendered to individual members, if membership in such organization confers a bona fide right, privilege, professional standing, honor or other direct benefit, other than the right to vote, elect officers or hold offices.
DIRECTOR
The Director of the Suffolk County Office of Citizen Affairs.
OFFICE
The Suffolk County Office of Citizen Affairs.
PERSON
Any individual, organization, group, association, partnership, corporation or any combination of them.
A. 
Any person who, directly or indirectly:
(1) 
For compensation or other consideration, plans, manages, conducts, carries on or assists in connection with a charitable solicitation or individually solicits or who employs or otherwise engages on any basis another person to solicit in this state for or on behalf of any charitable organization or any other person, or who engages in the business of, or holds himself out to persons in this state as independently engaged in the business of, soliciting for such purpose;
(2) 
Solicits by telephone or door-to-door and advertises a sale, performance or event which will benefit a charitable organization; or
(3) 
Advertises a sale, performance or event which will benefit a charitable organization.
B. 
A bona fide officer, volunteer or employee of a charitable organization or fund-raising counsel shall not be deemed a professional fund-raiser.
PROFESSIONAL SOLICITOR
Any person who is employed or retained for compensation by a professional fund-raiser to solicit contributions for charitable purposes or for the purposes of any law enforcement support organization from persons in this state.
A. 
Any person, professional solicitor or professional fund-raiser who solicits contributions within the County of Suffolk on behalf of any third party for or on behalf of a charitable organization and retains more than 20% of the contribution shall file with the Office and disclose to the Office the following information:
(1) 
The charitable organization on whose behalf a contribution is being sought.
(2) 
Whether or not such person, professional solicitor or professional fund-raiser will be retaining a percentage of the donation as compensation for services rendered or for payment to any other parties.
(3) 
If such contribution is being retained, the precise percentage of the donation being so retained.
B. 
The Office shall make such information available to citizens upon request.
It shall be unlawful for any person, professional solicitor or professional fund-raiser to engage in the solicitation of contributions within the County of Suffolk for or on behalf of any fire department or fire-services support organization without first obtaining a license from the Office in accordance with the provisions of this article in the following circumstances:
A. 
If such person, solicitor or fund-raiser retains or intends to retain more than 20% of any amount so solicited; or
B. 
If such person, solicitor or fund-raiser is soliciting contributions for or on behalf of a fire-fighting organization located within the County of Suffolk regardless of the amount so solicited being retained by said person, solicitor or fund-raiser.
A. 
All applications for licenses shall be submitted in writing on forms furnished by the Office and shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable application fee in the amount set forth in the appropriate section of this article.
B. 
The license application shall be filed by an actual fund-raiser or solicitor of contributions for or on behalf of charitable organizations and shall be signed under oath. Where a corporation is an applicant or a participant in an application, the application shall be signed under oath by an officer of such corporation.
C. 
All applications shall include the residence address of the individual who subscribes his name to the application.
D. 
The Director may require the names and residence addresses of any employees or officers of the applicant, in addition to any other information which he or she many deem advisable and proper.
E. 
An individual applicant must be at least 18 years of age and of good character.
F. 
The Director shall investigate such applicant as to good character before he or she shall issue the applicant a license.
G. 
Applicants shall meet such further qualifications as may be prescribed by this section and any other appropriate section of this article.
H. 
The Office shall issue a license or temporary license to each applicant who has submitted satisfactory evidence of his qualifications and who has complied with all of the requirements of this article.
[Amended 12-18-1995 by L.L. No. 1-1996; 6-6-2000 by L.L. No. 11-2000; 11-30-2001 by L.L. No. 23-2001; 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
A. 
All licenses, except temporary licenses, shall be for periods of two years from the date of issuance thereof at the discretion of the Office and shall expire on the last day of the 24th month of such issuance. Subsequent renewals shall be for periods of two years. The initial application fee shall be $200. The fee for a charitable solicitation license shall be $200 per annum, and the biennial renewal fee shall be $400.
[Amended 8-5-2008 by L.L. No. 32-2008]
B. 
No license issued hereunder shall be assignable or transferable.
C. 
Failure to make application and pay the required annual fee for a license renewal prior to the expiration date of said license shall render the license null and void on the expiration date. Compliance with the provisions of this subsection shall entitle the licensee to the renewal of his or her license, provided that such license has not been suspended or revoked by the Director.
D. 
The death of an individual who holds a valid license issued pursuant to this article shall terminate such license.
E. 
A license issued in the name of an individual may be assigned or transferred for the remainder of the license period to a partnership, corporation or other entity, provided that the individual holding such license is a general partner of such partnership, the owner of not less than 25% of the outstanding voting shares of such corporation or the holder of not less than a twenty-five-percent interest in any other entity at the time of the assignment or transfer. The application for such transfer or assignment must be accompanied by evidence satisfactory to the Director that the above set forth requirements have been satisfied. No assignment or transfer shall become effective until proper endorsement evidencing said transfer or assignment has been made on the face of the license by the Director, and such license, so endorsed, has been returned to the assignee or transferee. All such endorsements shall be made by the payment of a fee of $25.
F. 
Each individual licensee shall, within seven business days after a change of control of ownership or of management, apply for the assignment or transfer of a license specified in Subsection E or such license shall terminate. Every other licensee shall, within seven business days after a change of control in ownership or management, notify the Office, in writing, of such change.
G. 
No licensee shall authorize or permit the use of his or her license by or on behalf of any other person.
H. 
Each licensee shall, within seven business days after a change of address, notify the Office in writing of such change.
I. 
A licensee who determines not to engage in the solicitation regulated herein may make application to the Office to inactivate temporarily his or her license issued pursuant to this section for a period not to exceed three years. The licensee will submit with the application for shelving said license a fee of $50 for each annual period of inactivity sought.
J. 
No applicant for a license or license renewal shall have any outstanding judgment for child support against him or her, or be in arrears in child-support payments as determined by official court records or official government records, at the time an application is filed for such license or license renewal. If an applicant has such a judgment against him or her, or is in such arrears, but is current in payments on a judicially approved, or Child Support Enforcement Bureau sanctioned, payment schedule to pay off or reduce such judgment or arrears, then such individual shall not be deemed ineligible for a license or license renewal on the grounds of such judgment or arrears. At least 30 days prior to the expiration of a license, the Office shall send a written notice to a licensee informing said licensee of his or her obligation to comply with the provisions of this section pertaining to compliance with child-support obligations. If necessary, a second written notice shall be sent by the Office to a licensee 60 days after the license has lapsed informing said licensee of his or her obligation to comply with the provisions of this section pertaining to compliance with the child-support obligations. In addition, the County Department of Social Services, through its Child Support Enforcement Bureau, shall notify all current noncustodial parents of the obligations contained herein.
A duplicate license may be issued for a license which has been lost, destroyed or mutilated, upon application therefor on a form prescribed by the Director and the payment of a fee of $25. Each such duplicate license shall have the word "duplicate" stamped across the face thereof and shall bear the same number as the one it replaces.
A contract to solicit contributions entered into subsequent to the effective date of this article by a person who engages in the solicitation of funds by or on behalf of a charitable organization and who, on the date of the contract, does not possess a valid license to engage in such a solicitation shall be unenforceable by him or her and shall be voidable at the option of any other party to the contract. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to prevent any other party to the contract from enforcing its terms.
A. 
The Director shall have the power to impose a fine not to exceed $500 upon a licensee or to suspend or revoke a license or to deny an application for the renewal of a license for any one or more of the following causes:
(1) 
Fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or bribery in securing a license.
(2) 
The making of any false statement in an application for a license.
(3) 
Violation of any provision of this article, any other appropriate law or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder.
(4) 
Fraud, deceit or misrepresentation in securing any donation.
B. 
No license shall be suspended or revoked nor a fine imposed until after a hearing has first been held before the Director upon at least seven business days' notice to the licensee. Such notice shall be served either personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the licensee and shall state the date and place of the hearing as well as enumerate the grounds constituting the allegations against such licensee. The licensee may be represented by counsel and may produce witnesses in his or her own behalf. A verbatim record of the hearing shall be taken and preserved. For purposes of such hearing, the Director may administer oaths, take testimony, subpoena witnesses and compel the production of books, papers, records or other documents deemed pertinent to the subject of the hearing.
A. 
In addition to the powers and duties elsewhere prescribed in this article, the Director shall have the power to:
(1) 
Keep records of all licenses issued, suspended or revoked and all fines adjudged.
(2) 
Issue temporary licenses as may be necessary.
(3) 
Promulgate such rules and regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this article as may be necessary with respect to the form and content of applications for licenses; reception thereof; investigation of applicants and their qualifications; the conduct, including advertising, of fund-raisers or solicitors; and other matters incidental or appropriate to his or her powers and duties as prescribed by this article and for the proper administration and enforcement of the provisions of this article; and to amend or repeal any such rules and regulations.
(4) 
Require reasonable information of an applicant or licensee, including the production of books, papers, records and other documents.
B. 
No rule or regulation may be promulgated pursuant to Subsection A(3) herein unless a public hearing is first held by the Director. At least seven business days' prior notice of such public hearing shall be published in the official newspapers of the County. A copy of all rules and regulations promulgated and any amendments thereto shall be filed in the office of the Clerk of the County Legislature.
C. 
Whenever in this article the Director is empowered to or charged with the responsibility to do or perform any act, he or she may deputize, in writing, any officer or employee of the office to do or perform the act in his or her place and stead.
D. 
Disposition of moneys received. All fees received by this Office pursuant to the provisions of this article shall be remitted to the County Comptroller for deposit in the general fund of the County within 30 days after they are received.
[Amended 6-17-2014 by L.L. No. 32-2014]
The action of the Director in adjudging fines or suspending, revoking or refusing to issue or renew a license may be reviewed by a proceeding brought under and pursuant to Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules.
A. 
Any person who willfully violates § 563-62 of this article shall be guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $1,000 or one year's imprisonment, or both. Each such violation shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.
B. 
Any person who willfully violates § 563-62 of this article shall also be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000 for each violation. Each such violation shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.
A. 
The civil penalties prescribed by this article shall be recovered by an action or proceeding in any court of competent jurisdiction. All such actions or proceedings shall be brought on behalf of the County of Suffolk by the County Department of Law. In addition, the County Department of Law may institute any other action or proceeding in any court of competent jurisdiction that may be appropriate or necessary for the enforcement of the provisions of this article, including actions to secure permanent injunctions enjoining any acts or practices which constitute a violation of any provision of this article or rule, or regulations promulgated hereunder, or for such other relief as may be appropriate.
B. 
In any such action or proceeding, the County Department of Law may apply to any court of competent jurisdiction, or to a judge or justice thereof, for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction enjoining and restraining all persons from violating any provision of this article, compelling or mandating compliance with the provisions of this article or for such other relief as may be appropriate, until the hearing and determination of such action or proceeding and the entry of final judgment or order therein. The court, or judge or justice thereof, to whom such application is made is hereby authorized forthwith to make any or all of the orders above specified as may be required by such application, with or without notice, and to make such other and further orders or directions as may be necessary to render the same effectual. No undertaking shall be required as a condition to the granting or issuing of such order or by reason thereof.
The remedies and penalties provided for herein shall be in addition to any other remedies and penalties provided under any other provisions of law.
This article shall apply to solicitations made on or after July 1, 1994.