7 On Your Side: DSNY trashes young Bronx mom twice in case of mistaken ID

BRONX, New York City (WABC) -- Posting flyers and business cards on public property in New York City is illegal without a permit, and it's a pollution problem the Department of Sanitation takes seriously.

Agents head out and issue violations for each illegally posted piece of paper they find, and in 2015, 7 On Your Side helped a young woman from the Bronx who was hit with fines when a phone number on some business cards littering her neighborhood were traced back to her.

Now, it's time for round two.

Karen Matias has had a baby boy since we last saw her. He is almost 1, but she's still dealing with a 3-year-old problem. It's the same as when we first met the 32-year-old, who had been fined $1,600 by DSNY for littering after hundreds of illegally posted cards advertising rooms for rent were traced back to her through an old landline number she and her mom used to share a decade ago.

7 On Your Side got the case of mistaken identity cleared up, and DSNY officials said they cleared her name from their database. But now, she's been served again. And DSNY was back in person at her apartment with a new stack of summonses, hundreds of violations at $150 a pop for polluting with the same business cards. This time, the penalty was a whopping $7,800.
We called the number on the illegally posted cards asked the man who answered for his business address. Then, we paid him a visit. He admitted he's running the "Rooms for Rent" business, but he denied he posted the cards. He also told us he's never received a single violation from DSNY, and that he's never even been contacted, visited or sent a letter

In the meantime, Matias was again being ordered before a judge, since her old phone number is on the cards.
She said the judge dismissed her case after recalling 7 On Your Side's previous story. That was in February, but in April, she was blindsided again. This time, the city was threatening that a sheriff or marshal could seize assets and garnish her wages if she didn't pony up $3,003 in past-due fines within 15 days.

So once again, we asked DSNY why her name keeps getting trashed. Here is the full statement.

We sincerely apologize to Ms. Matias for any inconvenience these erroneous summonses have caused. We have withdrawn all summonses issued to Ms. Matias, and have alerted our Enforcement Unit, which will work to ensure that this error does not occur again. We have called Ms. Matias and have updated her on this. In addition, we are seeking to issue summonses to the individual or business responsible for these illegal postings.

Matias was relieved, and she said she was also issued two personal phone numbers for DSNY contacts in case she ever gets served or summonsed again.

"I'm so grateful to 7 On Your Side for coming to my rescue again," she said.

We just hope we don't see her again in another three years.


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