New York Couple's Dream Home Allegedly Turns to Electric Nightmare

PHOTO: Millie Mendelson and her husband Hal (not pictured) say electric currents are all around their property giving them constant shocks.PlayABC
WATCH Electric Shocks Jolt Couple Inside New York Home

When Dr. Hal Mendelson bought his multi-million-dollar dream house 25 years ago, he said he never imagined that it would one day be a place that was unsafe for his grandkids, pets or anyone with a heart condition.

Dr. Mendelson, 76, and his wife Millie, 65, live in the affluent, picturesque country town of Pound Ridge in Westchester County, N.Y., north of New York City.

They say that stray voltage from a faulty electric substation next door made their pets crazy and frequently causes them to get shocked at the sink or in the shower.

"Twenty-five years ago, I bought the house the same day I saw it and fell in love," Hal Mendelson told

The house, which originally dates from 1760, features a pond, a pool, six acres of land and a cottage that Mendelson, a psychiatrist, used for his practice for many years until he says the electric problems made it dangerous for patients.

It shares a property line with a New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) power plant.

"About 15 years ago, we started feeling electrical currents in the pool, at the light," he said. "If you touched the light, you could feel like a buzz."

He said he thought it was an electric short in the light so he replaced it, but that did not solve the problem. At around the same time, he says the animals on the property -- including dogs and horses -- started "acting really nuts."

The couple's dog, Glory Be, reportedly started chewing the skin off her legs and the horses acted strangely. At one point, he says one of the horses fell over on Mendelson, causing him to break his leg.

A veterinarian suggested the horse might have a brain tumor, so Mendelson returned it to where he had purchased it. He says he called the place weeks later to check on the horse, and they told him there was nothing wrong with the animal.

The dog was eventually euthanized.

NYSEG agreed to pay for an electrical engineer to investigate the property, Mendelson said, and the engineer told them that stray voltage was coming off of the power lines and onto their land. Two devices that could block up to 30 volts of electricity were installed. Alarms on the blockers would sound when they sensed that the amount of electricity was approaching dangerous levels.

"Occasionally, the alarm would ring, but rarely, and we had no symptoms," he said. "A couple of years ago, we started getting shocks."

Mendelson said that he suffers from painful muscle spasms, including the twisting of the muscles in his fingers and toes. He said he also has episodes of vertigo.

His wife was suffering from most of the shocks, which he described as feeling "like a kickback." He said that the shocks are not enough to knock her to the ground, but are stronger than average static shocks that most people experience.

"She wears rubber shoes in the shower and rubber gloves at the sink," Mendelson said.

When the problem was at its worst, Mendelson said that the alarm was going off 50 to 60 times a day and neighbors began to complain. The blockers' alarm was lessened to a beep and then turned off altogether, he said.

"Recently, my wife was still getting shocked and I'm still getting muscle spasms," he said. "They turned it off altogether. We had no warning, no knowledge of when it would happen or how much [time] we've got to get out."

NYSEG did not respond to requests for comment from

The couple said they do not allow people with heart conditions or their young grandchildren to visit the house. They no longer have any pets.

Mendelson said he no longer uses his cottage as an office and has shut down his private practice. He now works upstate three days a week, employed as a psychiatrist by the state. He calls going to work "a relief" and said that he does not feel any of the muscle spasms or other symptoms when he is away from the house.

Soon, the couple will be moving to a new home in South Salem. Mendelson said that the top criteria for choosing the new house was that it was nowhere near a power plant.

Mendelson said that he is using all of his life savings to buy the new house and wants NYSEG to reimburse him for the cost of the house.

The Mendelsons said they filed a verified complaint and summons against NYSEG a few days ago. The company has 20 days to respond. The Mendelsons said they want to sue for personal injury, property damage and loss of value of the property.

"They've never admitted they have stray voltage on our property," he said. Though he feels some anger towards the power company, he said his main emotion is sadness.

"I'm more sad," he said. "I could almost cry. It was my baby, this house. I loved it. I still do."