November 16, 2006
PROTECTION DIVISION ORDERS BALTIMORE HOME BUILDERS TO PAY MORE
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his
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.
order bars Zahrey, Ely, JAE Developers, and JAE Homes, Inc. from
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.
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.