|NEWARK – Homeowners whose roofs, chimneys and gutters were intentionally damaged by representatives of home improvement contractors during inspections or repairs have received a total of $137,733.84 in restitution, under terms of an August settlement that resolved a lawsuit brought by the Office of the Attorney General and Division of Consumer Affairs on behalf of the consumers.
The Division of Consumer Affairs has mailed checks to 31 homeowners across New Jersey who were defrauded by representatives of AAA Reliable, Inc.; Old Reliable Construction, LLC; A Safeway Construction, Inc.; A Safeway Construction, LLC; and/or A Safeway Improvements, Inc. The State alleged that those businesses were owned and/or controlled by Sulejman Lita. Lita, 37, of North Haledon, Passaic County, paid the State $150,000 which was set aside for restitution to consumers, under terms of the July 2013 Final Consent Judgment settling the lawsuit filed against him by the State.
The State alleged that Lita and his North Jersey-based companies targeted senior citizens, offering free inspections and low-priced repairs for any problems that were found during inspections. In reality, the State alleged, workers damaged chimneys, roofs and gutters and then coerced consumers into paying for expensive repairs.
“Consumers are getting their hard-earned money back, which was our goal from the start of this legal process,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “Just as importantly, we banned Lita from working in the state’s home improvement industry for three years and permanently shut down his businesses.”
The restitution checks fully compensate consumers for the damages to their homes.
Lita is required to pay an additional $165,000 in penalties and costs to the State by August 15, 2015, under terms of the settlement agreement. An additional $300,000 civil penalty that was suspended will become payable if Lita violates the settlement terms or the State’s Consumer Fraud Act, Home Improvement Contractors’ Registration Act, or related regulations, through July 2016.
“We expect full compliance and any future violations committed by Lita will not go unpunished,” said Eric T. Kanefsky, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Consumer complaints against home improvement contractors consistently are among our largest complaint categories and we urge homeowners to perform their due diligence before signing a contract.”
The State’s lawsuit also included Liman Lita, 39, of North Haledon, who is Sulejman's cousin, and who also allegedly owned and/or controlled the five companies sued by the State. These companies have all been required to cease business, under terms of the settlement.
Deputy Attorney General/Section Chief Lorraine K. Rak and Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Kant, of the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group within the Division of Law, represented the State in the action. The Office of Consumer Protection within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation, with assistance from the Bergen County Consumer Affairs Office.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll-free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.
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