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For Immediate Release
November 16, 2006
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CONSUMER PROTECTION DIVISION ORDERS BALTIMORE HOME BUILDERS TO PAY MORE THAN $1,960,897

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 $1,099,194.71 collected from consumers in the Baltimore area and pay penalties of $854,000. The Division found that Kimberly Zahrey, Walter Osbourne Ely, Jr. and their companies, JAE Developers, and JAE Homes, 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; violated the Home Builder Registration Act by acting as a home builder without being registered with the Division’s Home Builder Registration Unit; and violated the Consumer Protection Act by failing to build homes as promised.

The Division found that Zahrey, Ely, and their companies collected substantial advance payments from at least 25 consumers toward new homes, failed to protect those advance payments as required by Maryland law, failed to begin or complete construction of the homes, and failed to pay refunds to any of the consumers.

The order bars Zahrey, Ely, JAE Developers, and JAE Homes, 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, requires payment of restitution of the $1,099,194.71 they received from consumers for new homes that were never completed or built, payment of civil penalties in the amount of $854,000, and payment of costs in the amount of $7,702.86.

"Before paying any money, consumers need to protect the biggest investment of their lifetime by ensuring that their home is being built by a registered home builder and that any deposits they make are protected by an escrow account, bond or letter of credit," 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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