Corbett targets Pittsburgh-area home improvement companies

Nick Rees Sep. 25, 2008, 3:52am

Tom Corbett (R)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - The Pennsylvania attorney general is suing two Pittsburgh-area home improvement companies, accusing them of charging customers for more than $440,000 of unperformed work.

Attorney General Tom Corbett also alleges that Revitalization & Funding, Inc. and its owners, William and Karen Livorio, and Wayne Scholar, falsely claimed to be affiliated with government programs or that they were funded by government grants or loans.

Thirty-three consumers from Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Clearfield, Lawrence, Mercer and Westmoreland counties have contacted the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection over at least $286,000 in home improvement work that was not started by the Livorios.

Special injunctions prohibiting the Livorios and their company from advertising or selling home improvement or financing services in Pennsylvania were sought by the attorney general's office and approved by the court.

A freeze on all of the assets held by the Livorios and their company was also ordered by the court.

"Homeowner Guides," sent from the Livorios and their company, were mailed to consumers, making statements such as "You may be eligible for home repairs," and "Applications are being accepted."

The mailings carried what appeared to be official seals and crests for the Pittsburgh "Administrative Offices" and "Application Department" for Revitalization & Funding.

No affiliation with any government agency or program were held by the Livorios and their company. They also did not have special financing for consumers. The Livorios were also not licensed as mortgage brokers or authorized to accept financing applications from consumers.

A hearing will be held on September 29 before Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Robert P. Horgos to see if restrictions against the Livorios and their business should be extended.

A second lawsuit filed by Corbett's office alleges that Wayne Scholar, doing business as Western Pennsylvania Housing Alliance, either didn't start home improvement work and took money or performed the work in an unprofessional manner.

Customers in Beaver and Butler counties were taken for at least $156,000 by Scholar, the attorney general's office said.

Officials said Scholar also represented his business as a government-sponsored or government-related business able to provide "special funding" to consumers.

He is also accused of not having a required state license while operating as a mortgage broker, failing to include a state-required three day right to cancel in his consumer contracts and failing to register a fictitious business name with the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Scholar's advertisements and other documents allegedly include the "Keystone" symbol of Pennsylvania and said that Scholar was the "District Supervisor" for the Housing Alliance, despite the fact that, as the sole owner/operator of the business, there were no districts or supervisors.

Scholar is also alleged to have represented his business as either hired by or an agent for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the "State Housing Department."

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