Pa. A.G. Obtains Nearly $15,000 in Restitution for Lehigh Valley Victims of Home Improvement Fraud

June 3, 2004

Pennsylvania Attorney General Jerry Pappert announced that his office has obtained nearly $15,000 in consumer restitution and more than $1,500 in civil penalties and costs resolving a legal action against an Allentown home improvement contractor accused of accepting consumers’ money for projects that he failed to complete or perform professionally.

Pappert said his Bureau of Consumer Protection has entered into a consent decree with Paul W. Coles Jr., doing business as Lehigh Valley Craftsman, 629 East Hamilton Street, Allentown. The consent decree ends a November 2003 lawsuit that was filed by the Bureau following an investigation into complaints from 10 Lehigh Valley consumers.

According to the lawsuit, the defendant entered into contracts with consumers to perform various home improvement projects including roofing, window or gutter repairs, siding installation and painting. Consumers paid the defendant between $100 and $6,600 to perform the work.

Investigators said homeowners filed complaints with Pappert’s Office after the defendant reportedly failed to either start, complete or perform the projects in a professional manner as agreed to under the terms of the contracts. Consumers said the defendant ignored their calls to complete the work and made no attempt to return their money.

“Many of the homeowners complained that the defendant cashed their checks and either failed to return to the site to start the work, left projects unfinished or performed shoddy work,” Pappert said. “Our action requires the contractor to payback the money he accepted from consumers and agree to comply with the Consumer Protection Law in the future.”

Under the terms of the consent decree, the defendant is required to:

* Pay nearly $15,000 to 10 consumers located in Lehigh and Northampton counties.

* Pay $1,500 in civil penalties and the Commonwealth’s investigation costs.

* Cease conducting business in violation of the Consumer Protection Law.

* Provide consumers with a “notice of cancellation” informing consumers of their right to cancel a contract within three business days.

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