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Fulton Daily News

Maxson Wasn't Licensed To Sell Door-To-Door In City

By Gwen Bixby/Fulton Daily News
May 31, 2000

The City of Fulton, like other small Central New York cities, has a peddlers' and solicitors' law in its city ordinance that requires vendors to obtain a permit or at least register with the city clerk's office before doing business in the city.

But not many of the salespeople who should be registered with the city ever bother to do so, including the company that employed the suspect accused of murdering Diana Cooper last week.

"There is an ordinance that vendors must obtain a license from this office," said Deputy City Clerk Mary Earle. Matthew J. Maxson, the suspect in the murder of Diana Cooper, told police he had been working for about one week for Palmetto Marketing, Inc., selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door. "They did not get a license through this office," Earle said.

"The fee is $50 per day or $750 per year and there are exceptions," Earle continued. Basically, farmers who participate in the farmer's market and register with the chamber of commerce are not required to obtain a license. Also, veterans who register under the state's General Business Law are not required to obtain a vendor's license from the city. "And people selling door-to-door for not-for-profit organizations are exempt," Earle said.

If an out of state company wants to sell goods and services within the city, they are supposed to follow the same procedures but the city cannot require them to pay any fees based on the Interstate Commerce Laws, Earle added.

"A lot of these companies, when they come in from out of state, the wording is such that we can't charge them a fee," Earle said. "Their registration is more of a courtesy thing."

The City of Oswego has a similar law, said a spokesperson from the city clerk's office."Anyone who is selling, other than not-for-profits, has to obtain a permit to sell door-to-door," the spokesperson said. Other exceptions are the same as in Fulton: farmers participating in the farmers' market and veterans.

The major difference between Fulton and Oswego is the fee schedule. "If they will be using a vehicle, the permit fee is $1,000 per vehicle per year," the spokesperson said. "Each additional vehicle is also $1,000 per year. And if they don't use a vehicle, the fee is $1,000 per year per salesperson." Persons who operate a flea market within the City of Oswego are also required to obtain a vendor's permit and their fee is also $1,000 per year. "Individual vendors at the flea market may have to pay the operator a fee, but not the city," the spokesperson said.

The City of Oswego sold two vendor's permits in 1999. If residents have a problem with a licensed vendor, they may file a complaint with the City of Oswego Police Department, The spokesperson said. "The city clerk will review the complaint and can decide to revoke the vendor's permit."

"Our peddlers' and solicitors' law applies to anyone who will be selling goods or services on a public street, in a public place, door-to-door, or business-to-business," said David Tehan, assistant corporation counsel for the City of Auburn. The Auburn vendors' law has the same exemptions as the cities of Fulton and Oswego do for not-for-profits, farmers, and veterans. Auburn's law also exempts two specific products: newspapers and milk.

"Our license fee is $100 per year per peddler and $50 per year for each assistant peddler," Tehan added. "The licenses are obtained through the city manager's office. We have a list of prohibitions." As an example, Tehan said that vendors are not allowed to sell before 9 a.m. or after 7 p.m.

Residents can file complaints about a vendor and the city manager can revoke the vendor's license, Tehan said.

"We collected 25 vendor license fees in 1999," said Angie Davis, the administrative secretary in the city manager's office. "We've only revoked one. That was in 1998."

Tehan explained the process of enforcement if a vendor, who should be licensed and isn't, is reported selling in the City of Auburn. "I imagine code provides that they can be cited with an appearance ticket, which is a violation, not even a misdemeanor," Tehan said.

"We have different questions we ask," said Fulton's deputy city clerk. "We ask them what they're selling, when they're going to be doing it and where. They have to provide identification with their date of birth," she said.

"The completed application for a vendor's permit in the City of Fulton goes first to the police department and then to mayor's office for approval before the clerk's office issues the permit," Earle said.

"We sold maybe half a dozen last year," Earle noted. "I know Shannon's Hot Dogs gets one every year." Shannon's sells hot dogs out of a truck at Bullhead Point.

"I've never heard of the city having any problems with door-to-door salespeople," said City Attorney David Hawthorne. There are penalties in place for violating Fulton's peddlers' and solicitors' ordinance. "There is a fine of not more than $250 and/or imprisonment for not more than 15 days."

Mary Ann Brewer, who works as a clerk in the Fulton Police Department, said she filed a complaint in 1999 against Jeremy MacPeek, Maxson's coworker. MacPeek's statement to Fulton Police investigators led to Maxson's arrest.

"It gave me the creeps when I read that he was still out there," Brewer said. She didn't like MacPeek's sales techniques when he was in her home last year.

Who Was Maxson Working For?

Murder suspect Matthew J. Maxson, 18, of Lockport, NY, told Fulton Police investigators that he had been working for about one week for Palmetto Marketing, Incorporated. But company President Vincent Pitts said that is incorrect. "The only people who work for us are the people who work right here in this building," Pitts said Tuesday afternoon from his Pompano Beach, Florida office. "We do business with people who sell magazine and newspaper subscriptions but they don't work for us. You could sell subscriptions for The New York Times, but you wouldn't actually be working for The New York Times." Pitts said that neither Maxson nor his coworker, Jeremy MacPeek, have ever been employees of Palmetto Marketing. "We process magazine and subscription sales orders for various sales companies," Pitts said. "I believe Mr. Maxson worked for DeGeorge Sales, a Florida corporation. Our company has an agreement to process their magazine and subscription sales. They have a small volume, probably a couple hundred orders a week." At deadline, Fulton Daily News has been unable to locate DeGeorge Sales.
© 2002, dot Publishing, Inc.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

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