Chimney company faces fraud charges

Seven On Your Side
October 7, 2011 8:14:16 PM PDT
He tried to hide. He tried to run, but the business owner wound up where he couldn't escape Eyewitness News' camera.

"Many of the affected consumers were either elderly or persons with a disability," said Cathleen O'Donnell, New Jersey Assistant Attorney General.

How he ended up in front of the Judge this week? He restrained from doing business in New Jersey. It began with 7 On Your Side's story this past summer.

Margo Hodshon says she was fooled by Michael Lyon's Long Island based company, All Care Chimney. Hodshon alerted Eyewitness News after she claims two workmen from All Care convinced her mom, who lives alone to let them into her home to fix a dryer that wasn't broken, presenting her with a $1,300 bill and asking her to make the check out to cash.

After Eyewitness News tracked him down, he paid the money back, but our story warning consumer of All Care Chimney's M-O, sparked more than a dozen similar complaints.

"Through your broadcasting of the story consumers got in touch with us at the Division of Consumer Affairs, and that enabled us to take the action that we've taken," said Tom Calcagni, New Jersey Consumer Affairs Director.

Calcagni's office revoked All Care's license and filed lawsuit in Superior Court, the State Attorney General's office opened an investigation against Michael Lyon.

The case against All Care alleges multiple acts of fraud, such as unnecessary repairs and shoddy work.

"The result of all this are gases, exhaust and carbon monoxide leaking into consumer homes leaving consumer in a dangerous situation," O'Donnell said.

The state's demanding All Care's customer list to warn homeowners of the risks of potentially deadly problems.

One customer in the complaint is a World War II veteran, a B-26 Bomber Pilot, whose chimney blew up.

"The cap blew off, I had no idea there was nothing wrong with the work they had done," said Susan Crilley, the veteran's sister.

Here the $4,300 bill paid to All Care, all blarney according to the 91-years-old's sister. Her brother suffers from dementia, and she believes he could have died after being targeted for repairs he did not need.

"We lighted a fire, the room filled with smoke," she said.

They paid another company to fix All Care's work, work Michael Lyon stands behind.

"We're innocent of all the charges that have been brought forth," said Lyon.

Michael Lyon has been ordered to pay restitution to his customers named in the complaint and told Eyewitness News he plans to work with the AG's office and pay people back before his court appearance next month to answer the charges against his company.