Mass. company indicted for allegedly deceiving consumers
WOBURN, Mass. (Legal Newsline) - Indictments were handed down for a Wakefield oil tank installation and removal company, its president and treasurer on charges that customers were knowingly deceived and that the company's compliance with environmental laws was misrepresented.
Commonwealth Tank Incorporated was indicted by a Middlesex Grand Jury on two counts of larceny by false pretenses of a person over 60, one count of larceny by false pretenses, four counts of attempted larceny by false pretenses, and two counts of false and misleading advertisement.
Kevin Hoag, CommTank's president, was charged with one count of larceny by false pretenses, two counts of attempted larceny by false pretenses, and two counts of false and misleading advertisements. Christina Hoag, CommTank's treasurer, was charged with two counts of offering to practice engineering without being registered and two counts of untrue and misleading
The indictments follow a Massachusetts Environmental Crime Strike Force investigation into whether CommTank and Kevin Hoag utilized false pretenses to charge clients for excessive remediation work. Information received by the strike force showed that victims were provided with preliminary cost estimates that would be inflated by tens of thousands of dollars through the completion of unnecessary work or steps that were misrepresented to clients.
In many cases, the investigation found, consumers became suspicious of CommTank's work and hired licensed site professionals and other environmental consultants to review the sites. The investigation also found that the unnecessary and excessive work was justified under the false pretense that it was required by law.
The charges of false and misleading advertisement against the three defendants and the charges of offering to practice engineering without being registered against Christine Hoag are a result of Ms. Hoag's identification on the company's website as Senior Engineer/DEP Liaison. Hoag is alleged to not be licensed as an engineer under Massachusetts law and does not hold an Engineering in Training certificate.
CommTank has been the subject of previous administrative enforcement actions by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection over failure to report a secondary fuel release a remediation site, wetlands violations and violations of hazardous materials, waste management and asbestos regulations.