Division of Consumer Affairs and Division of Law Pursue Former South Jersey Paving Company to Arkansas, Succeed in Obtaining $177,000 in Consumer Restitution for South Jersey Residents
NEWARK – The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and Division of Law have succeeded in obtaining $177,000 in consumer restitution from Williams Asphalt Materials, LLC, a former paving company that had performed substandard work across southern New Jersey. To obtain these funds, the Division of Consumer Affairs and the Division of Law located the company’s principals, who had relocated to Arkansas after being charged in a civil action by New Jersey, and engaged in litigation in Arkansas over the proceeds of an auction of paving equipment.
In April 2010, the State sued Williams Asphalt Materials, LLC, which was also known as Williams Asphalt Paving, Williams Asphalt Paving & Excavating, Williams Paving & Excavating, Williams Paving, and/or Williams Paving Asphalt Contracting (collectively, “Williams Paving”), for allegedly violating the state’s Consumer Fraud Act and the Home Improvement Contractors’ Registration Act and related regulations. After the State’s Complaint was filed in State Superior Court in Mount Holly, it was amended to add six members of the Williams family as defendants: Henry R. Williams, Jr. [Father]; Henry R. Williams, Jr. [Son]; Bertha Williams; Saul T. Williams; Samuel Paul Williams; and Alexander W. Stanley. (Two of the defendants are both named Henry R. Williams, Jr., but are father and son.)
By that time, however, the defendants could not be located and apparently left New Jersey. The State obtained a default judgment of approximately $17 million in December 2011.
In March 2012, the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office alerted the Division of Law that defendant Henry R. Williams, Jr. [Father] was intending to voluntarily auction off his asphalt plant and paving equipment in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
At the request of the Division of Law, Arkansas Circuit Judge John Fogleman initially issued a temporary injunction on March 30, 2012, the night before the auction, freezing the proceeds of the auction, which was to be conducted on behalf of defendant Henry R. Williams, Jr. Later that night, to avoid the State's judgment, associates of the defendants attempted to remove the property that was to be auctioned. After they were arrested by Jonesboro police, the defendants changed the auction contract just hours before it was to take place, listing five new sellers who were not defendants to the State’s action, but are relatives or associates of defendant Henry R. Williams, Jr.
In April 2012, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Kant, of the Division of Law's Affirmative Civil Enforcement Group, traveled to Arkansas and made an application to prevent the turnover to the defendants of the cash generated by the auction in order to attempt to secure the funds for the $285,744 in restitution owed to New Jersey consumers. Judge Fogleman continued the freeze of the auction proceeds until the settlement being announced today, which will provide $152,000. DAG Kant previously obtained $25,000 through a settlement paid by defendant Alexander Stanley
“Our state borders do not stop us from going after those persons who attempt to rip off New Jersey consumers to enrich themselves,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “The long arm of the law knows no boundaries, as this case clearly illustrates, and others who think they can avoid justice by crossing state lines will find out just how wrong they are.”
Acting Attorney General Hoffman commended DAG Kant for his efforts in this case and he also thanked the Arkansas Office of the Attorney General for assisting DAG Kant in the Arkansas litigation.
The State’s action arose from complaints from New Jersey consumers that driveways costing thousands of dollars, that typically last a decade or more, began to crumble within months of being installed by Williams Paving. The company, which had business addresses in Millville, Cumberland County; Browns Mills, Burlington County; and Freehold, Monmouth County, typically generated business by having employees drive up to consumers’ homes, unsolicited, and state that they had just completed a paving job in the area and, because they had leftover paving material, could offer the consumer a discounted price on driveway paving.
The State alleged, among other things, that Williams Paving used illegal bait-and-switch pricing and misrepresented the quality and amount of materials to be used in paving projects. The contracts that consumers signed also lacked required information about a consumer’s right to cancel the contract and omitted project start and completion dates as required by law. Some projects were started without the permission of homeowners and without contracts being signed, in efforts to force consumers into hiring Williams Paving. The company also demanded final payments before projects were completed. When consumers attempted to contact Williams Paving for repair or warranty work, the company failed to respond “Consumers must perform their due diligence before hiring a home improvement contractor, which includes contacting the Division to make sure a contractor is registered and to inquire about any past actions or pending consumer complaints against a contractor,” said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “As we did in this case with Williams Paving, we are ready to investigate, take action against, and pursue alleged wrongdoers across state lines to obtain relief for victims of fraud.”
The Division of Consumer Affairs will be contacting the 75 consumers who filed complaints against Williams Paving as part of the process to distribute restitution.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an
online complaint with the State 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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