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D.A.: Farmingdale Hardware Store Bilked LIPA of $40K

UPDATE: Store remains open: Owner Thomas Schuman accused of stealing cash by issuing fake rebate coupons.

The owner of a Farmingdale hardware store has been charged with stealing more than $40,000 from the Long Island Power Authority by submitting hundreds of fraudulent rebates for compact fluorescent light bulbs that didn’t exist and over-reporting advertising costs.

Thomas Schuman, 44, of St. James, was charged Thursday by D.A. investigators with two counts of grand larceny and seven counts of offering a false instrument for filing, said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted and is scheduled to be arraigned later Thursday in First District Court, Hempstead.

“Mr. Schuman used every trick he could think of to line his own pockets, even forcing employees to assist him in his scams,” Rice said. “He victimized every honest ratepayer on Long Island, and now he’ll have to face the consequences of his actions.”

An employee of the store who answered the phone said the store is still open for business, but that Schuman was not in Friday and not available for comment.

Schuman's lawyer, F. Scott Carrigan, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to Rice: from 2009 to 2011, Schuman, the owner of Four Star True Value Variety Store on Main Street in Farmingdale, participated in LIPA’s Compact Fluorescent Light coupon rebate program. The program allows stores to offer discounts on CFLs ranging from 50 cents to $3 per bulb. Buyers would fill out a rebate coupon for the stores to submit to LIPA, and LIPA would then reimburse the store, Rice said.

In December, 2011, LIPA conducted an audit and discovered that Four Star had submitted 923 fraudulent rebate coupons and was reimbursed $22,240. An investigation by the DA’s Office revealed that Schuman instructed his employees to fill out the vouchers by instructing cashiers to use the phone book to find people who lived in the area and fill out a voucher in his or her name, even though they didn’t purchase a CFL and may never have been a customer of his store. Schuman gave the cashiers a daily quota of vouchers to fill out.

In the first quarter of 2011, the investigation revealed that Four Star was submitting about five coupons on behalf of each phantom customer, and that it submitted 66 percent more rebate coupons than all Long Island Lowe’s store combined, Rice alleges.

Schuman stole an additional $19,200 from the utility as a participant in a LIPA-sponsored advertising program that reimbursed merchants that advertised the sale of CFLs. Schuman would advertise in the Long Island Pennysaver or Clipper magazine and then submit invoices that inflated advertising costs in order to be eligible for a higher rebate.

Assistant District Attorney Vickie Curran of the Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting the case for the DA’s Office.

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Diana Hibbard LoCascio January 31, 2013 at 02:25 PM
This guy stole. Based on what others have posted, he shows a great lack of character or honor. I would not shop there again while under his ownership.
Emily Grant January 31, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Its easy. He hires people who need money and cant work on the books or they wont get the benefits they need. Bob is a elderly many who works there. He collects money from the state. He is a retired electrician. He barely lives on the money he collects. He got this job from this Schuman guy, gets paid off the books, gets payed way under minimum wage and works like a govt mule. And gets payed like one. He keeps a record of all that he works just incase of such a occasion where it might be needed. I know his employees. Most keep a vey good record of all that is done there. For the record they work there because the pickings are slim. Some are stuck there and one might even be his dark side lover. His wife is not the smartest girl in the world. Shuman and his wife are 2 alcholoics. the villiage knows this. Nutty knows this. They are trashed while they are talking to your kids at the job. Garbage is what we are dealing with. IRS WAKE UP>>>
Dennis January 31, 2013 at 03:51 PM
WATCH WHAT YOU POST, PEOPLE. First, you are outing the employees as well as the owner with your posts. If the s*#t hits the fan, looks like a lot of people can go down based on the alleged collusion on the part of employees. Second, stop the racist comments about the black girl that works there. (One was already deleted.)
Trina Greca January 31, 2013 at 08:25 PM
I was told how disgusting some of these posts were! Dennis, you are right that this situation has turned into a personal one attacking his wife and employees. It is disgusting. I have been a loyal local customer for years. I know the 3-4 employees that currently work for him have been there for years. If they were so mistreated or under paid they would never stay. The women are college students and very intellectual. I also know he is a new owner of the store for about a year. His wife came on board to help, she is a Nurse practitioner (yeah really dumb with that degree). The "Alcoholic" comment is so inappropriate. I shop the store a couple of times a week mostly on lunch breaks. I have never seen either of them remotely with any signs of alcohol. Wow, they support "The Nutty" a local business establishment on Main St. for lunch or dinner-that is so terrible? Amazing and so obvious how many of the comments are the same few people just bashing away-pathetic! What happened to "Innocent until proven guilty"? I do not condone illegal activity and it's obvious he will deal with the consequences. The attacking of his personal lifestyle, employees, wife and children should not be allowed. On top of that It makes these comments look as Dennis said "Jealous and envious". Stick to the Story at hand "LIPA Bilked". It would be a crime in it self if this Main St. Location closes because successful Main Street stores and restaurants help determine values of all our Farmingdale homes.
Robert Smith January 31, 2013 at 10:51 PM
I know of Tom Schuman and his family. What really needs to be made known and very clear to the public is that Tom has been estranged from his sisters for many years. They caught onto him and his wife a long time ago. Their businesses split up years ago and are owned and operated completely independently. They have no affiliation with Tom or his wife personally or in business. They are honest hardworking business people who would never be part of crooked business practices. I think he even screwed his sister in business. They run ligament businesses and work hard every day. They are nothing like Tom or his fake wife. It is unfair to smear the other businesses because Tom is a piece of sh**t. They are disgusted that Tom has disgraced the family and business name because of his greed. Unfortunately for them "you can pick your friends but not your family!"
laura greenfield January 31, 2013 at 11:24 PM
I am going to have to agree with Dennis here... There are 3 sides to every story. ...sounds like all we are hearing is the DA's side and some disgruntled employees....and quite possibly...some envious acquaintances??... thrilled to stir up some dirt. I personally would like to hear from the owner of this store and "Bob" (don't know if that is his real name)...let's keep his wife, boat, home and racism out of the comment thread
maximum9 February 01, 2013 at 01:05 AM
Dennis - on the newsday thread comments were made that he's a hero, a genius and should get the medal of honor. I assumed you saw these since you were so concerned with newsday carrying the story. Great example that sets for our teen children, i.e. stealing and cheating is okay if you do it against big corporate america or a quasi-gov't agency such as LIPA. Frankly, I am more dismayed with some of these commentors than I am with his actions. Whether it's venting or not. It sends the wrong message to our children who read this crap on the internet.
Kala McFinney February 01, 2013 at 04:20 PM
@Scott, they did come forward, they were interviewed by the DA before the arrest.
Dennis February 01, 2013 at 07:02 PM
Kala - Are these employees still working there? Because that has to be uncomfortable for both the employee and employer. Similar situation to the alleged "drunk dentist," where his staff reported on him.
Dennis February 01, 2013 at 07:49 PM
I love how the disgruntled commentators can't even agree among themselves about the employment situation at the Farmingdale Four Star True Value. (Speaking of which, I wonder what the True Value corporate office is going to do about this. I'm sure they have a right to intervene under a franchise agreement. Maybe an astute reporter will check this out.)
Dennis February 01, 2013 at 07:49 PM
Okay, back to the commentators. First we have the "Ripped Off Vendor" who then morphs into a "ripped off vender." (What happened, did you forget your password and have to re-register?) Vender says the siblings "are all involved in each others business." But Robert Smith vehemently disagrees when he states, "What really needs to be made known and very clear to the public is that Tom has been estranged from his sisters for many years." Looking at the comments by John Smith (Robert's sibling, perhaps), he seems to know the owner's family well enough to track his vacations and cars, but he hasn't weighed in on the owner's siblings. Then there's Scott Hacker, another thread hijacker, who seems to have a window into the DA's mindset, but can't make up his own mind, when he projects that the owner will get off scot–free (pardon the pun) by paying back "100 percent of what was stolen with some extra fees to make all this go away." On the other hand, Scott cautions that what the owner "should be scared of is his employees who he screws talking. If the District Attorney made a deal on the table to his workers like they would not get in trouble and they could get back all the money they are entitled to that they never got payed, then he should be scared. ery scared." I guess the owner must be quite confused pondering whether to make this go away or if he might go away.
Dennis February 01, 2013 at 08:08 PM
More confusing commentators. Mary Curran, the elder woman, states that "there are many things that occur that the villiage does not talk about." That's odd, because Corrine Sanchez says, "All Farmingdale knows about all his employees off the books for years." So, I guess the whole village knows about this, but no one's talking. Speaking of which, looks like Corrine is talking out of both sides of her mouth. She opens up by saying, "I shop here enough." But then later she says, "If you shop here, you are letting him screw everyone!!" Oh, so we're the problem by patronizing the store, not her. Of course, keep in mind that this isn't actually Corrine talking. It's her friend, because she's "not using my real name but my friends account." Sure, throw your friend under the bus by posting under her name, not yours. Guess it's difficult to register your own account. Or maybe she just didn't want to have to remember a password and get confused like the vendor/vender.
Dennis February 01, 2013 at 08:13 PM
Note: The thread I was referring to has since been deleted by the moderators of this forum. I guess they, too, found the comment inappropriate.
Dennis February 01, 2013 at 08:33 PM
More confusing posts. Kala McKinney, which is not her name, said "I have a relative who used to fill these out at home after work without pay. Then the following day, Kala (still not her real name), contradicted herself when she stated that the owner would pay his employees "to fill out these coupons for an hour or two (think $10 for 2 hours of work)." Sometimes you don't even have to wait a day to contradict yourself. Take Gina Curran, for example. In one post, she starts off feeling empathy for the employees to when she states, "They are forbidden to talk. To much power for a man. That's why he hires people with problems and issues. He hires people that he can make cry and people that need the little money he pays them." In the very next sentence, she continues, "All of them helped him make money scamming the innocent over lipa should be punished."
Dennis February 01, 2013 at 09:13 PM
The disagreements aren't only limited to the owner's business practices. Sometimes it's as simple as where he resides. Ripped Off Vender has the owner living in "nessaquague." (Isn't that where the Loch Ness Monster lives?) George Orwell has him living down the road when he shouts, "THOMAS SCHUMAN YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO THE SAINT JAMES COMMUNITY." I guess the owner must've moved from nessaquague to SAINT JAMES. Probably 'cause he wanted to go from a town with all small letters to one with all CAPITAL LETTERS. Probably happened back in 1984.
Dennis February 01, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Sorry, I've lost count of how many different handles you've used to post here. Are you up to six or seven now?
Dennis February 01, 2013 at 10:28 PM
"They run ligament businesses..." Yeah, and I bet they charge an arm and a leg for their ligaments.
Dennis February 01, 2013 at 10:40 PM
The story is about invalid LIPA rebates being submitted by a store owner, as charged by the Nassau County District Attorney. Anything else stated herein is allegations and hearsay until such time as additional charges are brought forth, if they are ever brought forth. Based on the allegations being made, I find it incredible that they could have gone on for so long without being disclosed by the suffering employees, investigated by NYS Unemployment, glossed over by NYS Income Tax and the IRS, and aided by the business' accountant and insurance agent. For all these participants to have remained silent, stupid, or complicit just is unimaginable to me.
tom is guilty February 01, 2013 at 11:19 PM
How did he pay the ballons
Dick Rodgers February 01, 2013 at 11:28 PM
This place is drama filed only because people are giving them back what they do to others at the same time personal attacks or outing an alleged affair is not cool. Maybe she needed the money
maximum9 February 02, 2013 at 12:18 AM
Hey tom is guilty - your an imbecile just like the imbeciles that call him a hero and laud his actions because he ripped off LIPA. I hope you don't have a wife and kids that read your crap. Great example you set for our community.
Dennis February 02, 2013 at 03:01 AM
hey lower case, You just don't get it. You out yourself each time by your use of "your" instead of "you're." You see, "you're" is the contraction for "you are." And every single time you use "your" instead, you make yourself known. Get it now? So posting under various names is not fooling anyone. So, I wonder what your wife and kids are going to think of your grammar. That's "grammar," as in English usage, not your female grandparent.
Dennis February 02, 2013 at 03:18 AM
to lower case and his (or her) numerous aliases and/or his disciples: For the record, I never said the owner was not guilty of the charges stated in the story. I have no idea if he's guilty or not of thse charges. That's not for me to decide. That will be up to a judge or jury, if the case ever gets that far. The only comment I made about his potential guilt was that it would be a shame if it was true. I say that, because the store is good for the neighborhood. And in his role as a storeowner - the only role I know him from - I found him to be personable and fair in his prices. That's it. As far as the other allegations with respect to his employment practices, my only problem with them is that they sound too grandiose to be true. Because logic dictates that they would have been uncovered now. And the fact that you color these allegations with personal attacks about the man's wealth, lifestyle, and family makes the allegations even less believable. Plus, there are so many instances of various people in total disagreement, it all makes it so unbelievable. That was the point of my barrage of posts earlier today. That, and my feeling the conversation here should only be about the charges that have been brought by the DA. Maybe this will appease you. Yes, it is possible that the employment practice allegations are true and have gone uncovered for so long. The Madoff scandal certainly proves that fraud can go on for a long time before it's uncovered.
maximum9 February 02, 2013 at 03:32 AM
Dennis - didn't know if you were referring to me, I saw in my last post I made the mistake with your. I kind of rushed through because I was annoyed at the comment made about his wife. She apparently (my guess) so far has not been implicated in this and I don't understand why people are attacking her. I agree with you that this thread has gotten idiotic and I was through posting until I saw your comment. I agree with you that it appears as if several commentors are posting under different usernames. I'm not one of them. Just wanted to set the record straight. Relax and enjoy the weekend.
Dennis February 02, 2013 at 03:52 AM
maximum9, Yes, I noted the typo, but realized that's all that it was. I can clearly see the difference between your posts and the others all the way back to your first post, just by your use of the word "audacity." And you were civil in your comments, you did not claim the employees were paid off the books, and your command of English usage was evident, Plus, you're a contractor, not a vender/vendor. I hadn't read the Newsday thread in awhile, so thanks for pointing that out. And I want to acknowledge you for the inspiration in my copying the wife and kids angle when I saw you use it to call out "tom is guilty" for the nasty comment about the wife.
Trina Greca February 02, 2013 at 02:46 PM
The comment from Robert Smith lead me to believe he/she knows the entire Schuman family very well. I do not know them well, but in December at the store's family & friend's event I was introduced to Tom's parents and one of his sisters. That makes your allegations "Tom has been estranged from his sisters for many years" a lie. I also know he just purchased the store about 1 year ago again making your comment "their businesses split up years ago" another lie. Now all I take from your story is that you are just a disgruntled commentator writing useless irrelevant comments to stir the pot.
Robert Smith February 02, 2013 at 03:29 PM
There are 3 sisters of which 2 are estranged from him for many years both personally and in business.
Jessica smalls February 05, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Drove past here today place looked closed did they shut down?
Trina Greca February 07, 2013 at 02:44 PM
No, I park my car in the back lot and have walked thru the store everyday and also shopped yesterday I bought a jug of ice melt. They are open for business.
Gino wagner February 07, 2013 at 09:26 PM
Through months of going in and out, you talk to people and you understand what they are going through. I know the elderly man there. I know his misery. I know he feels trapped working there. With little to no options, he has no alternative but to work here for what he calls slave salary. I feel bad for him. But he is loyal to his employer because in all honesty, where is a elderly man going to get a job doing anything these days? The young lady that works the counter is a wonderful sweet girl. The elderly women who works there also is a sweet women and if either of them were treated wrong they would not take that from this man. I think the boy who works there is Danny. He never has nothing good to say about his employer accept its a job and I will take what I can get these days. the other charges that are being brought up from lipa are at this point not true. You are innocent until proven guilty. I know a bit about this man who owns it. Truthfully I don't like him. ( I have my reasons) but they are my reasons and he is not guilty of anything yet. And for me to stick up for a man that I do not like, is saying something. Lets not take food out of his families mouth, at least until he is guilty. I am not saying that he is innocent by no means. Anyone who would call this a good thing is needs help. If he is innocent let this not affect him or his family and especially his business. If he is guilty then don't shop there anymore because he is a crook. IRS no to far.

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