Mass. AG announces contempt judgment
BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a contempt judgment and an order to pay $310,000 in civil penalties on Wednesday against the owner of two companies who allegedly ran a vacation club membership scheme.
Charles R. Caliri must also pay $430,000 to be held until a final judgment is entered in a lawsuit Coakley's office filed in July 2010. Caliri and other associates allegedly engaged in a deceptive and unfair vacation club sales scheme through Fantasia Travel Group of Methuen and Only Way 2 Go Travel of Plymouth, Caliri's former businesses.
Coakley's office initiated a contempt proceeding against Caliri in October in Suffolk Superior Court for allegedly violating the terms of a July 2010 temporary restraining order and a March 2011 preliminary injunction. The two orders prohibited Caliri from disposing of any assets, including bank account funds. Coakley's office alleged that Caliri withdrew $480,000 from four bank accounts in the form of treasurer's checks payable to himself one day after the restraining order was ordered.
"This was a blatant violation of court orders and we're very pleased that decisive action was taken to ensure that the defendant will be held accountable for those violations," Coakley said. "Our office is committed to pursuing this case and working to bring restitution to consumers."
Caliri also allegedly violated the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction by making a gentleman's agreement to sell his 34-foot yacht, making at least eight material omissions on financial disclosures he made to the state, including a failure to list multiple bank accounts he maintained and money he was holding, and engaging in a pattern of serial withdrawal and deposit of the $480,000 using cashier's checks payable to himself to conceal the existence of the funds from the state and to maintain exclusive control over them.
Caliri, as the owner of Fantasia Travel Group and Only Way 2 Go, in addition to multiple individuals associated with the businesses, allegedly used deceptive and unfair sales and marketing tactics to sell memberships for a vacation club called Outrigger Vacation Club. The club allegedly offered few, if any, of the promised benefits. The temporary restraining order obtained by Coakley's office shut down the two businesses.
According to complaints lodged by consumers to Coakley's office, none of the consumers received the gifts and prizes promised to them for attending sales pitches. The consumers allegedly left the Methuen and Plymouth sales presentation venues having spent as much as $8,500 for vacation club memberships that were essentially valueless when compared with travel arrangements they could make themselves by calling airlines, hotels and resorts directly or by using one of the major internet travel search engines. Coakley's office has received more than 335 complaints from consumers who were victimized by the alleged scheme.