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PREATE SAYS WILKES-BARRE CONTRACTOR OWES $66,670 TO CONSUMER

 PREATE SAYS WILKES-BARRE CONTRACTOR OWES $66,670 TO CONSUMER
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorney General Ernie Preate Jr.'s Bureau of Consumer Protection has filed a second suit against a Wilkes-Barre contractor, this one charging that the defendant was paid more than $66,000 in 1987 to build a house that has yet to be started.
 The suit filed Wednesday (Jan. 29) in Luzerne County Common Pleas Court identifies the defendant as Joseph J. Burns, who does business under the names "Landmark Construction" and "Four Seasons Construction" from his home at 557 Hazle St., Wilkes-Barre.
 Preate said the latest suit alleges that in January 1987 a consumer from Plains signed a sales agreement to pay Burns $68,750 for a lot in Bear Creek Township and the construction of a home on that lot.
 During early 1987, the suit alleges, the consumer paid $66,670 in advances at Burns' request.
 In May 1987, Burns allegedly sent a work crew headed by his brother- in-law to clear trees from the lot. But after clearing only a portion of the lot, the crew allegedly gave the consumer a bill for $1,400.
 The consumer paid the bill, but never saw the crew again, according to the suit, which alleges that the consumer ultimately paid a third party $2,000 to complete the tree removal.
 The suit alleges that Burns didn't tell the consumer that title to the lot was not settled at the time of the sale and that the defendant has been unable to get a building permit from the township because of a problem with the lot size.
 The suit alleges that despite repeated requests from the consumer, Burns has neither refunded any money nor started work on the home.
 "In addition, the building permit problem remains uncorrected," said Deputy Attorney General J.P. McGowan, attorney-in-charge of the Bureau of Consumer Protection's Scranton office.
 McGowan also said the consumer's health "has deteriorated since the time of the transaction to the point that it's no longer practical for him to continue with any building plans."
 The suit asks the court to order Burns to make full restitution to the consumer and pay civil penalties for violations of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.
 In July 1989 Preate's office filed suit in Luzerne County Court charging that Burns owned more than $20,000 to about a half dozen Luzerne County consumers for work and services he never provided.
 That case went to trial late last year and is scheduled to continue Feb. 24.
 Preate said the complaint that is the basis of the latest suit was received by his office following the filing of the original suit in 1989.
 -0- 1/30/92
 /CONTACT: Jack J. Lewis of the Office of Attorney General, 717-787-5211, or at home, 717-657-9840/ CO: Office of Attorney General ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


MK -- PH009 -- 5139 01/30/92 10:12 EST
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Date:Jan 30, 1992
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