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Residents: City's 311 Call System Is Being Used For Harassment

Kissena Park

An elderly Queens woman claims she was violated by the city's 311 call system after being slapped with $400 in fines for a bogus complaint.

According to Gloria Galli, 83, of Kissena Park, the Department of Buildings recently knocked on her door, after receiving a 311 complaint claiming she had an illegal basement apartment.

When the inspector entered the home, the official did not find a basement apartment, however did find two violations in her home. So now, besides the fines, she is also being forced to pay a contractor $1,400 to bring her home into compliance with city codes.

"It's very, very disturbing," Galli told PIX 11 News. "On this block, everybody is friendly and we are like a big family."

In fact, Galli wasn't ratted out by neighbors -- she is apparently just one of thousands in and around the area being targeted in a barrage of 311 complaints.

Joe Amoroso, Zoning Chairman of the Kissena Park Civic Association, believes the calls are coming from a contractor who is looking to clean up.

"House by house, block by block ... people are being targeted," said Amoroso.

However, it is still unclear who is responsible because 311 calls are anonymous and the neighborhood is plagued with illegal basement apartments.

The buildings department can't decide whether a complaint is legitimate or fraudulent. By law, an inspector has to be sent to check it out.

The city says 311 calls have to remain anonymous so people aren't afraid of retribution when calling in quality of life complaints. City officials told PIX 11 News they are investigating a flurry of calls that may have been bogus and do promise to prosecute if it proves to be true.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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