By Tim Harfmann
Greg Maugeri received a $4,000 fine for operating a food stand outside his home last month. “It was scary. The way they came up was almost like a SWAT team,” Maugeri said. “Six police officers and three health inspectors came onto my property and basically shut me down.”
It was part of his Christmas display. The Dyker Heights neighborhood is renowned for its decorations, drawing thousands of visitors each year.
It was the fourth year Maugeri opened the stand in his driveway. He said he never had a problem before and previously donated proceeds to Toys For Tots, but after he lost his stepfather to cancer last year, the Brooklyn businessman pledged $2,500 to the charity – Cookies For Kids’ Cancer. “Owning a bakery, it was easy to chime into the bakery, cookies idea. It was a great idea when it was hatched, and it got not to such a good idea when it opened,” said Maugeri.
He applied for a certificate from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, but the city’s Department of Health claimed that wasn’t enough and released a statement, reading in part, “Mr.Maugeri had a New York State certificate of taxing authority, which allows a holder to collect sales tax, but not to prepare, store, hold and serve food to the public.”
A parishioner of Saint Ephrem Church, Maugeri said he understood the real reason for the season, but raising money during Christmas was all for the cause. “Just like the Girl Scout cookies and the chocolate bars in Catholic school, we’re doing this for the good of children.”
Maugeri set up a GoFundMe page and still plans on donating to the charity. “We’re not going to leave anybody hanging or on the hook for anything. We’re going to come up with some of the money, or most of the money,” the homeowner said.
Maugeri will appear in court on January 25th to fight the fine. After his day in court, he plans on donating the money to Cookies For Kids’ Cancer.