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For Immediate Release
February 5, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

BANKRUPT HOME BUILDER AGREES TO MAKE RESTITUTION TO CONSUMERS WHOSE HOMES WEREN'T COMPLETED

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has reached a settlement with the owners of a building company that went bankrupt before finishing the homes of several Maryland customers. The owners of Nanticoke Homes have agreed to return up to $216,879 to consumers affected.

"I am pleased that this settlement returns money to consumers who had to deal with the builder leaving their homes unfinished," Curran said. "We are committed to enforcing the laws that protect consumers when they buy homes."

In June 2002, the Division charged Nanticoke Homes, Inc., which built homes in its Delaware factory and sold them to consumers, and its principals, John Mervine, Sr., Peggy Mervine, John Mervine, Jr., William Mervine and Gregory Mervine, with violating Maryland's Consumer Protection Act and Custom Home Protection Act. The Division alleged that Nanticoke and the Mervines filed to place consumer deposits in escrow accounts as required by the Custom Home Protection Act and misrepresented Nanticoke's ability to complete homes.

Without admitting that they violated the law, Nanticoke and the Mervines agreed to pay $140,000 over 18 months to compensate Maryland consumers who paid other builders to complete homes that Nanticoke failed to complete after it filed for bankruptcy in March 2002. The Mervines also agreed to repay more than $76,000 in consumer deposits if those deposits are not paid through Nanticoke's bankrupcty estate.

Curran said that home builders are required to be registered with the Consumer Protection Division of his office. Consumers can check whether a home builder is registered by contacting the Home Builder Registration Unit at (410) 576-6573 or at www.oag.state.md.us/homebuilder.

Nanticoke and the Mervines agreed that they will not build homes in Maryland unless they first register with the Division as a home builder and they will comply with the requirement to protect consumer deposits through an escrow account, bond or letter of credit.

Maryland consumers who have not previously been contacted by the Division and who had to pay more than the contract price in order to complete a home that Nanticoke failed to complete should contact the Division at (410) 576-6561.

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