CHARLESTON - West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has obtained summary judgment in a lawsuit filed in 2009 by his predecessor.
Kanawha Circuit Court Judge James Stucky ruled for the State on March 13 in a case against James Armstrong, a Florida man who allegedly used a web of for-profit companies to provide debt management services through shell companies.
"The type of service offered by debt-relief and credit counseling agencies typically is very beneficial to consumers who want to pay off their credit cards but may need a little more time to do so," Morrisey said.
"However, in this case, many West Virginia residents did not receive the services as promised. We will take firm action against businesses that take advantage of residents trying to do the right thing."
The ruling requires Armstrong pay a summary judgment of $126,085.22 for collecting excessive fees.
An affidavit from Angela B. White said Armstrong and Family Credit Counseling Corp. charged unlawful upfront fees of $95,737 and monthly service fees of $30,348.22 to state consumers.
The ruling also says FCCC transacted business in the state without first obtaining a certificate from the Secretary of State's Office.
FCCC did not dispute the allegations in the complaint or the White affidavit.
Longtime AG Darrell McGraw filed the lawsuit in May 2009, naming Debt Solutions Foundation Inc., Top Financial Sales & Marketing Inc., Consumer Financial Marketing Inc., Consumer Debt Management & Education Inc., JRA Property & Land Management LLC and Vegga Corporation in addition to FCCC and Armstrong.
The complaint sought to recoup all payments unlawfully taken from approximately 250 West Virginians who did business with Armstrong's company.