New Jersey AG sues landscaper over alleged fraud

By Bryan Cohen | May 7, 2014

NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced a lawsuit on Tuesday against a Monmouth County landscaping company that allegedly charged exorbitant prices for generators before and after Superstorm Sandy.

Stephen's Landscaping, doing business as Stephen's Garden Center, allegedly sold 133 generators to consumers at extremely high prices ranging from $800 to $1,550. The prices allegedly represented markups of between 82 percent and 155 percent. Stephen's Landscaping allegedly realized approximately $176,950 in retail sales for the generators.

Stephen's Landscaping also allegedly sold generators that had been recalled due to potential fire hazards occurring with the use of the generators and sold gasoline without being a licensed motor fuel retailer.

"Consumers scrambled to find generators, fuel, and other basic necessities during the chaotic days right before and after Sandy's landfall," Hoffman said. "This company allegedly took advantage by charging unconscionable prices - and even putting consumers at risk with the sale of generators that had been recalled due to fire hazards."

Stephen's Landscaping allegedly failed to produce certain documents as required by a subpoena served by Hoffman's Division of Consumer Affairs. The company allegedly failed to provide any documents related to the prices it paid suppliers for generators purchased and sold to consumers before the declaration of the Superstorm Sandy state of emergency.

Hoffman's lawsuit alleges the company violated New Jersey's Hazardous Products Regulations, Motor Fuel Tax Act and Consumer Fraud Act.

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