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For Immediate Release
September 29, 2006
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CONSUMER PROTECTION DIVISION ORDERS HOME BUILDERS TO PAY MORE THAN $1,622,677

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has issued a final order requiring a builder and its principals to refund payments of $1,107,249.47 collected from consumers in Prince George’s County and pay penalties of $509,000. The Division found that Leon Coleman, Emma Coleman and their company, Opportunity Investment Group, Inc. violated Maryland’s New Home Deposits Act by:

• Failing to place money paid by consumers into an escrow account or having a surety bond to cover the deposits,
• Violating the Home Builder Registration Act by acting as a home builder without being registered with the Division’s Home Builder Registration Unit,
• And violating the Consumer Protection Act by failing to build homes as promised.

The Division found that the Colemans and their company collected substantial advance payments from at least 11 consumers toward new homes, failed to protect those advance payments as required by Maryland law, failed to begin construction of the homes, and failed to pay refunds to any of the consumers.

The order bars the Colemans and Opportunity Investment Group, Inc. from acting as a home builder in the State of Maryland unless they meet requirements set by the Division in order to be registered as a home builder under Maryland’s Home Builder Registration Act. The order also requires payment of restitution of the $1,107,249.47 they received from consumers for new homes that were never built, payment of civil penalties in the amount of $509,000, and payment of costs in the amount of $6,428.06.

“For most of us the biggest investment of our lifetime is our home, and that investment must be protected. Home builders must play by the rules---or face the consequences,” said Attorney General Curran. Curran said that home builders are required to give consumers a pamphlet prepared by his office that discusses consumers’ rights under the law and steps consumers can take to protect themselves.

Consumers can check whether their builder is registered and how the builder protects deposit money by contacting the Home Builder Registration Unit at (410) 576-6573 in Baltimore or toll free at (877) 259-4525, or check whether a builder is registered on the Attorney General’s website: www.oag.state.md.us/homebuilder.

 

   

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