Assistant Attorney General Jim Morrissey has been a champion of the “little guy” for more than 30 years, in private practice, and as a prosecutor in the State Attorney General’s office in Buffalo.
Morrissey has been considered a top consumer watchdog in Western New York, and just recently retired, after a 19 years of fighting for consumers in the state office–a responsibility he took very seriously.
“I realized I had the potential to do investigations of scam artists, and when people were scamming consumers, to actually do something about it.”
Among his many victories taking on scammers and getting millions of dollars in restitution for consumers, Morrissey said his proudest accomplishment was eradicating the old dilapidated Central Park Plaza on the East Side.
“There were stores that had been used for dogfighting, stripping poles, there were motorcycle gangs. Most of the buildings were infested with mold.”
But even before joining the Attorney General’s office, Jim co-founded the Western New York Law Center with Joe Kelemen, to take on the U.S. government in a housing discrimination case, resulting in more than $250 million in government aid to Buffalo to help low income renters find affordable housing.
Kelemen also credits Morrissey for the war he and other agencies have waged against unscrupulous debt collectors.
“If it is an illegal debt, if it is something that should not be paid because they basically are not responsible for it, and they do not have to pay it,” Kelemen said the victims of the abusive collectors can enjoy a better standard of life. “So I think a lot of people are really in Jim’s debt.”
New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also had high praise for his retiring, scam fighter, “He is the kind of person that makes us all really proud of the work we do in the Attorney General’s office. He is the ‘scourge of scammers’ in Western New York.”
But as the ever-modest hero in the white hat rides off into the sunset, Morrissey says it has all been a humbling experience, “It has been my privilege and honor to occupy that seat in the Buffalo office for the past 19 years.”
Morrissey’s plans for retirement? Continue to help people through the Volunteer Lawyers Project, and the Western New York Law Center.