RREM REBUILDING WOES

Builders Jonathan Price, left, and Scott Cowan work under a home in Tuckerton Beach in October 2013. Their company, Price Home Group, is being sued by the state, which alleges they took money for projects but failed to complete or start work. ‘The instances involving incomplete jobs are solely related to ordinary business issues that plague builders across the country — such as customer refusals, engineering issues, and state funding,’ said attorney Christopher Adams on behalf of the company.

The state Division of Consumer Affairs is suing an Ocean County home improvement contracting company for allegedly taking more than $1.1 million from Hurricane Sandy victims and failing to complete or start work.

The state alleges The Price Home Group, located in Manahawkin and run by Jonathan Price, of Manahawkin, and Scott Cowan, of Demarest, took payments up front to elevate or replace homes damaged by Sandy and then failed to start or finish the work in nine separate cases.

About $900,000 of the $1.1 million the company took was from federal funding, according to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office.

“Residents who trusted Jonathan Price and Scott Cowan to help them rebuild after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy were allegedly victimized again when these contractors took their money without delivering the work the residents paid for,” Acting Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said.

Attorney Christopher Adams, who represents Cowan and said he was speaking on behalf of The Price Home Group as well, called the Attorney General Office’s statements false.

“The instances involving incomplete jobs are solely related to ordinary business issues that plague builders across the country – such as customer refusals, engineering issues, and state funding,” he said in a statement. “The true reason the state has likely brought these complaints is to trigger insurance and funding issues for the homeowners still displaced.”

Price could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit alleges that violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, the Contractors’ Registration Act, failing to apply for permits, entering into contracts and then not completing or starting the work, and other allegations.

The DCA is demanding restitution, civil penalties and permanently barring Price and Cowan from owning or operating a home-improvement business in New Jersey.

“Dishonest contractors not only hinder Sandy-impacted families from rebuilding their homes, they also impede the state’s overall recovery effort,” DCA Commissioner Charles A. Richman said in a statement. “We thank the Division of Consumer Affairs for diligently investigating Sandy contractor fraud claims and taking legal action against contractors when warranted. This important work shows the state is rooting out deceptive contractors and helping Sandy survivors get their rebuilding projects back on track.”

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