Gloversville couple files civil rights complaint

A Gloversville couple who lost their home to a fire late last year filed a federal civil rights comp

A Gloversville couple who lost their home to a fire late last year filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging they encountered racial discrimination as they sought emergency help and a new home.

Leanue Davis is black, and Sandra Vasquez is Hispanic.

They claim the Fulton County Department of Social Services denied them emergency help after the fire and that they also encountered discrimination in dealing with the Robert Hoy Agency, an insurance agency, in Broadalbin and one of its agents, Antoinette Hallenbeck.

Davis, who drafted and filed the civil rights complaint himself, claims that Hallenbeck agreed to a rent-to-own deal for a house she owned at 14 Curtis St. but later balked, allegedly because of the plaintiffs’ races.

The claim states that on Nov. 30, Hallenbeck sold the couple an insurance policy for the home and on Dec. 1 arrived at the home to tell the couple the deal was off.

“I am sorry, it’s because of you people, and between you people and my marriage, you people got to go,” Davis quoted Hallenbeck as saying that day.

He said she continued to use the term “you people” and also repeatedly used a racial epithet outside the home in front of various people.

One of those people, neighbor Howard Hunter, provided a statement that accompanies the complaint in which he maintains Davis’ account is correct.

The suit also names Glove Cities Realty owner Michael Teetz, who accepted a $1,000 down payment for the home from the couple.

Teetz wasn’t available for comment Tuesday.

They are accused of violating the couple’s 14th Amendment right to due process, but Fred Guzielek, president of the Hoy Agency, said that’s not true.

“We vehemently deny the allegations,” he said Tuesday, although he declined further comment and to provide their version of the events of that day.

DSS Commissioner Sheryda Cooper didn’t respond to a message seeking comment for this story but the complaint states that a DSS staffer discriminated against Vasquez when, about a week after the Nov. 8 fire, she sought emergency assistance from DSS and was denied.

The claim states that Davis and Vasquez suffered severe emotional distress, shock and trauma, humiliation and racial discrimination.

The couple is demanding a jury trial in federal court and unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.

Categories: Schenectady County

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