Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced that his Consumer Protection Division has issued a cease and desist order requiring a home builder and its principals to pay more than $365,763.85 in restitution for taking deposits and payments from consumers but failing to complete consumers’ homes. The builder’s registration is also being suspended immediately pending a proposed revocation.
The Division’s order found that Opportunity Investment Group Inc., 330 S. Fulton Avenue, Baltimore, and its principals Leon Coleman and Emma Coleman entered into contracts with consumers to construct homes in Prince George’s County, accepted partial payment from those consumers, and promised to begin construction. To date, however, Opportunity Investment Group Inc. has reportedly either failed to begin or complete construction on a number of homes and has not refunded any of the monies paid.
The Division alleges that Opportunity Investment Group Inc., Leon Coleman, and Emma Coleman violated Maryland’s New Homes Deposits Act by failing to place deposits and payments into an escrow account or having a surety bond to cover the deposits, and that they violated the Home Builder Registration Act and the Consumer Protection Act by failing to build the homes as promised.
” Under Maryland law, home builders must protect a customer’s deposit until the house is completed or they refund the deposit,” said Attorney General Curran. “Builders who fail to protect consumers’ money will be prosecuted.”
The Division’s cease and desist order immediately bars Opportunity Investment Group Inc., Leon Coleman and Emma Coleman from acting or offering to act as a home builder in the State of Maryland and requires them to refund the $365,763.85 they reportedly collected from four consumers and pay additional restitution to any other consumers who have been harmed by their unlawful practices.
At a hearing set for July 27, 2005, the Division will ask for an order requiring them to pay a $1,000 civil penalty for each violation and the costs of the investigation.
The Division also issued a notice suspending Opportunity Investment Group Inc.’s registration to build in the State of Maryland and proposed revocation to take effect in 30 days. Under Maryland law, all home builders must be registered with the Division’s Home Builder Registration Unit.
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