BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler and his Consumer Protection Division entered into a settlement on Tuesday resolving allegations against the developer of an unbuilt retirement community for veterans.
The settlement with John Infantino and his companies - Ft. Howard Senior Housing Associates LLC and Federal Development LLC - resolves allegations that deposits were withheld from prospective tenants after financing for the construction of a residential retirement community in southeast Baltimore County for military veterans was not obtained.
"The men and women who served their country deserve better than to have the promise of a rental agreement broken and their hard-earned money withheld," Gansler said. "Veterans victimized by this developer will get their money back and Maryland consumers can take comfort knowing that their rights are being protected."
Infantino's planned Bayside at Fort Howard for veterans and their spouses would have been located at 9600 North Point Road on property owned by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The site is the former home of the Fort Howard VA Medical Center. Groundbreaking for the site was planned in 2007, with rentals offered for lease shortly thereafter, with a completion date of 2012.
Veterans had to submit an application packet and $500 as a holder fee for a single applicant rental unit lease applications or $750 for a joint application. A second deposit of either $1,500 or $2,250 was then collected from tenants.
Infantino and his companies struggled to obtain regulatory approval and to secure financing, with the Department of Veterans Affairs withdrawing its involvement in 2009, halting the project. Refunds were then only provided to consumers who requested them or complained to regulators, which is a violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, Gansler alleged.
Additionally, Infantino and his companies were in violation of the Maryland Application Fee Law that requires certain disclosures on entail applications and provides limitations on how much of a deposit a landlord can retain, Gansler said.
Under the terms of the settlement, Infantino and his companies must pay restitution to all Bayside at Fort Howard Applicants who have not yet had their money returned. The defendants must also pay $2,500 to the Consumer Protection Division for costs and a $10,000 penalty that may be reduced to $5,000 if all of the terms of the settlement are met.