Release date: 5/1/2019
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced a $15,000 settlement with defendants Stephen Lombardi, Amy Lombardi, and their Massachusetts-based debt collection company Goldberg & Donovan Inc. The judgment entered last week by Superior Court Judge Keith O. Gregory resolves allegations of illegal debt collection tactics toward homeowners in Castle Hayne that were part of a Hurricane Florence price gouging lawsuit.
“This out-of-state debt collector was not permitted to operate in our state, but still tried to take advantage of North Carolinians,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “My office will not abide price gougers or their conspirators who break laws designed to protect North Carolina consumers.”
In October, Goldberg & Donovan and the Lombardis were named as co-defendants in a price gouging lawsuit Attorney General Stein filed against two Ohio men doing tree removal work in North Carolina after Hurricane Florence. The lawsuit alleged that these men, operating as Scotts Tree Service, charged Castle Hayne homeowners an excessive amount for tree removal work and added inflated price figures to a statement of work only after a homeowner had signed it. The suit alleged that the tree company billed a household $14,500 for tree removal services without the homeowners agreeing to that price. Attorney General Stein was granted an interim relief order against the Scotts Tree Service defendants in December.
After the homeowners refused to pay the $14,500 invoice, Scotts Tree Service sent the invoice to Goldberg & Donovan, which did not have a permit to collect debts in North Carolina. The complaint further alleged that in attempting to collect the money from the homeowners, Goldberg & Donovan’s proprietors engaged in prohibited debt collection tactics that violated North Carolina’s Collection Agency Act, including pretending to be an attorney, harassing the homeowners, and making threats.
Attorney General Stein has brought seven price gouging lawsuits in the aftermath of Hurricanes Florence and Michael, which devastated North Carolina in 2018. This is the fourth price gouging lawsuit in which Attorney General Stein has obtained a judgment. In all, he has won nearly $500,000 in restitution, forbearance, penalties and fees ($240,006 in consumer restitution, $178,920.26 in money companies are barred from collecting from homeowners, and $76,000 in penalties and fees).
A copy of the consent judgment can be found here.
Additional background on this price gouging case:
- Attorney General Josh Stein Gets Interim Relief Against Hurricane Florence Price Gouger
- Attorney General Josh Stein Takes Legal Action Against Hurricane Florence Price Gougers
- Attorney General Josh Stein Gets Preliminary Injunction Against Hurricane Florence Price Gougers
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484