South Jersey Repair Firm Accused of $1.6M Superstorm Sandy Scam
The couple at the head of an Atlantic County-based home repair company who allegedly collected more than $1,600,000 in federal and state Superstorm relief funds from 23 homeowners and left their homes in the same damaged state, face charges filed by the New Jersey Attorney General's Office and Department of Consumer Affairs.
Werks Intended LLC, based in Somers Point and Northfield, doing business as McAllister Building Group, Lawrence "Tre" McAllister III, and Monica McCallister are accused of violating the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, Contractors' Registration Act, and regulations for contractor registration, home elevations, home improvement practices and general advertising, according to Attorney General Christopher Porrino's office.
The homeowners identified in the complaint received, and paid, money granted through the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) and Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) programs, authorities said. Funds are allocated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and issued through state agencies including DCA.
McAllister's firm allegedly took payments up front, and either left work undone, or never started it. Four home owners claim that they paid deposits and had no work one at all. Others cited substandard work, failure to complete corrective repairs, creation of additional damage, and no correction or compensation related to new damage.
Prosecutors contend that the McAllisters omitted start and end dates in contracts, or couched them in indecipherable terms; claimed to be waiting for permit approvals on applications that either were not filed, were flawed, or had been issued but not collected; failed to pay subcontractors and third-party vendors; and sought additional money from storm victims, allegedly threatening to stop work. One complainant allegedly paid a court fine for lapsed dumpster permits.
The complaint lists McAllister Building Group as having been established in North Carolina in November 2010, and registering in New Jersey with the North Carolina address in November 2012, opening in Linwood, moving to later to Somers Point and then Ocean City, ultimately filing for dissolution in North Carolina. The company address on its web site as of this day is in Northfield.
The complaint lists the alleged victims by name, but not by location.
DCA seeks restitution for all complainants, return of federal funds, and civil penalties, and also seeks a permanent injunction to bar McAllister Building Group from conducting business in New Jersey.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.
Source: NJ Attorney General's Office