NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa and the Division of Consumer Affairs announced on Monday that the state has recovered $675,000 from a South Jersey businessman who allegedly defrauded consumers out of post-foreclosure funds.
Samuel E. Goodwin III allegedly misled homeowners and defrauded them out of funds they were entitled to after their homes went into foreclosure. The $675,000 check from Goodwin includes $330,000 to go toward 24 consumers he allegedly defrauded and will restore all of the surplus funds that were taken. The rest will pay civil penalties, attorneys' fees and court costs.
"We are now putting hundreds of thousands of dollars back into the hands of consumers who were aggressively solicited and swindled by Goodwin during a particularly vulnerable time in their lives - while dealing with the aftermath of losing their homes," Chiesa said.
In 2007, the division and Chiesa's office filed a complaint against Goodwin, alleging that he took part of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in surplus fees after consumers sold their homes at sheriff's sales for prices that more than covered the price of their mortgage and taxes.
Goodwin allegedly approached the consumers aggressively after the sheriff's sales and convinced them that the process of recovering surplus funds was complicated and required his assistance. He then allegedly set up agreements for a large portion of the funds.
Goodwin then allegedly prepared written documentation increasing the share he was to receive, charging homeowners 15 to 65 percent of the total surplus funds, taking as much as $54,000 from one consumer. Under the terms of the settlement, the full amounts will be restored to the consumers.
On June 30, the Superior Court granted the state's motion for summary judgment and found that Goodwin committed multiple violations of the Consumer Fraud Act. At that time, he was ordered to pay $225,000 in civil penalties, $122,320 in attorneys' fees, $329,198.08 in consumer restitution and $10,678.93 for the state's costs on the matter.
Goodwin appealed on Aug. 15, but the parties reached a settlement with the court on March 27. The settlement payment was not received until the state filed a motion seeking to compel Goodwin's compliance with the consent judgment.