NEWARK – A father-and-son home improvement company in Point Pleasant bilked dozens of homeowners out of more than $1 million in federal superstorm Sandy relief aid, by taking money for work that was substandard, never performed or abandoned, a civil complaint filed by the state Consumer Affairs Division alleges.
Contractors Paul Zaidinski Sr. and Paul Zaidinski Jr. and their Point Pleasant-based company, Shore House Lifters, are alleged to have engaged in “unconscionable consumer practices’’ that included:
- Improperly disconnecting water and sewer lines.
- Improperly repairing a front staircase and spilling concrete on a back deck and driveway.
- Failing to complete home elevation projects, resulting in some homes failing inspections and preventing the consumers from moving back in.
- Abandoning home elevation projects while the homes were raised on temporary supports, which deprived consumers of access to their homes for lengthy time periods and required them to finish the work themselves or hire other contractors at additional expense.
- Failing to provide refunds required by law when consumers with certain Sandy relief funds cancel contracts for failure to start or complete work.
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The Division of Consumer Affairs received 51 complaints against Shore House Lifters. Of those, 45 were from consumers who lost a total of $1.12 million in federal relief funds, according to the civil complaint filed in Superior Court in Ocean County. There were six complaints from consumers who did not receive federal Sandy relief aid.
The Consumer Affairs Division also filed a complaint in Atlantic County against George Rex and his Pleasantville-based companies, Atlantic Coast House Lifting and George Rex Construction LLC. That complaint also alleges shoddy or incomplete work, causing six recipients of federal relief to lose $277,100.
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The civil complaints bring to seven the number of home improvement contractors charged by the Consumer Affairs Division with committing fraud on victims of Sandy, which ravaged the Shore area in October 2012.
“Long after the floodwaters have receded, we remain committed to holding accountable each and every contractor who financially exploited the victims of this catastrophic storm,” Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said in a news release announcing the complaints against the contracting companies.
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“With every civil action we file, we are reinforcing the message that we will not allow unscrupulous contractors to prey on New Jersey residents, especially those struggling in the wake of a natural disaster,” he said.
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The state is seeking restitution, fees and civil penalties from the contractors named in the complaints, and revocation of their contractor registrations. The state also is seeking to permanently bar the defendants from ever owning or operating home-improvement businesses in the state.
Kathleen Hopkins: 732-643-4202; Khopkins@app.com