Office of Consumer Protection Takes Legal Action Regarding Unscrupulous Contractors
The Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection filed criminal charges against three unscrupulous contractors on behalf of several groups of consumers who collectively lost thousands of dollars on cases dating back 10 years. The Montgomery County Office of the State’s Attorney prosecuted these cases and obtained restitution for the victims.
“Our office has the authority to issue civil citations for violations of Montgomery County’s Consumer Protection Law prohibiting unfair and deceptive trade practices,” said OCP Director Eric Friedman. “In addition, our investigators file Applications for Statement of Charges with court commissioners when we have evidence that a merchant has stolen money from consumers or has violated a law for which there is a criminal penalty.”
The cases included:
• Unlicensed home improvement contractor KAX LLC received $25,000 from a Rockville consumer to enlarge the basement of a single-family house. After digging a large trench in the consumer’s yard and tearing down parts of the existing fence, the contractor abandoned the job. The court sentenced KAX LLC salesperson Xiomara Lisseth Murillos to jail time (suspended), supervised probation, payment of a fine (suspended), and restitution to the homeowner.
• Unlicensed contractor M. S. Asphalt, also doing business as M. S. Construction, received a total of $7,800 in 2009 from three homeowners to install, repave and/or seal driveways for their single-family homes. A warrant was issued for Michael T. Smith’s arrest in 2009 when he failed to appear in District Court. In 2018, the merchant was apprehended on this open warrant and the case went to trial. The OCP investigator who initially filed the Application for Statement of Charges in 2009 had retired from OCP but returned to the case to provide testimony in Court for the prosecution. The District Court judge sentenced Smith to jail time (suspended), and ordered restitution to the homeowners.
• Licensed electrician Neal C. Goodman received a total of $12,000 from 20 homeowners in a townhouse community to replace multiple electric meters, which were dilapidated and constituted a serious safety hazard. Goodman failed to perform any work. OCP’s investigator coordinated efforts with the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services and filed the Application for Statement of Charges alleging theft. The District Court judge sentenced Goodman to jail time (suspended), probation, and ordered restitution to the consumers and payment of court costs. The DPS Board of Electrical Examiners revoked Goodman’s electrical license in Montgomery County.
OCP, the County’s consumer protection agency, licenses certain businesses including towing firms, investigates thousands of complaints each year involving automotive sales and repairs, new home purchases, home improvements, credit issues, retail sales, internet services and most other consumer transactions. OCP provides pre-purchase information to consumers, as well as speakers to the community on consumer issues.
Residents interested in learning about how to protect themselves, OCP provides consumer advice. To file a complaint about a contractor, call the OCP at 240-777-3636 or visit its website, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @Consumerwise.