A Pennsylvania court fined the owner of a home-furnishing business nearly $20,000 for defrauding customers, Attorney General Kathleen Kane said on Tuesday.
Michael Free, 63, owner of Electra Lighting and Electric Co., will pay about $4,878 to 11 customers and about $15,000 in state penalties and costs. Free also must cease operations and was prohibited from operating a similar business in the state.
Kane said the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection received 202 complaints against Free over the last 10 years. The complaints from customers alleged Free had taken deposits, but failed to deliver merchandise in a timely manner. Customers also accused Free of giving out deceptive information about deliveries and orders, and ignoring refund requests. The office had been able to obtain refunds for all other complaints other than the 11 receiving restitution.
The court order issued this week was due to a second contempt petition filed by Kane's office relating to a 2009 court order violated by Free. The 2009 order restricted the number of consumer deposits Free could accept and required him to follow certain procedures when telling customers when to expect delivery of merchandise.
Free also was ordered to refund customers who placed orders with his company, but had not received the merchandise to date.