A New Jersey judge has ordered the seizure of a Bethpage chimney repairman's equipment, vehicles and bank accounts after prosecutors said he preyed on elderly and mentally disabled homeowners, charging high prices for dangerous and shoddy work.
Named in the court order are All Care Chimney, of 80 S. Fifth St., Bethpage, and its owner Michael Lyon, who were sued by the New Jersey attorney general's office, officials said Wednesday.
Lyon is accused of going door to door in New Jersey seeking out the elderly and infirm, pressuring them to pay thousands of dollars for unneeded repairs, and endangering their lives by causing damage that let poisonous gas seep into the homes, the lawsuit says.
"We are very pleased to be putting All Care Chimney out of business," Thomas R. Calcagni, the state's consumer affairs chief, said in the Wednesday news release.
Reached by telephone Wednesday, Lyon said he could not comment. “I wish I could, but my lawyer said I have to refer reporters to her,” he said. His lawyer, Ilena Alvarez, of Miami, Fla., did not immediately respond to a voicemail request for comment Wednesday.
Lyon has faced similar problems on Long Island and in New York state, public records show.
He has an "F" rating from the regional Better Business Bureau, and has lost his license to operate in Nassau County. Documents show several state tax warrants and civil judgments against him, totaling more than $50,000, in New York and New Jersey.
Operating under a different name, Total Care Chimney, Lyon has an outstanding New York Insurance Fund judgement against him for $33,444.
Lyon faces a Thursday deadline to hand over All Care Chimney's vehicles, and to list his other assets for a court-appointed receiver in New Jersey. If Lyon doesn't comply, prosecutors can seek a warrant to arrest him, said Judge Glenn Berman, of New Jersey Superior Court for Middlesex County.
Lyon's property may be sold and the proceeds paid to his victims, at the discretion of the New Jersey attorney general, the judge said.
Prosecutors said Lyon:
-- Pressured an 89-year-old man suffering from dementia, who let Lyon into his house and was pressured into paying $4,300 for a chimney liner.
-- Took advantage of a developmentally disabled 63-year-old man, charging him $4,800 for a liner, filling out one of the man's checks for that amount and getting him to sign it.
-- Persuaded an 84-year-old homeowner to pay the company $1,300 after she "allowed All Care Chimney's workers into her condominium, believing they were hired by her condominium association."
"We allege not just that these defendants performed substandard, incompetent and dangerous work, but that they pressured consumers who were elderly, disabled, and vulnerable into paying thousands of dollars for so-called ‘repairs' they did not need," the attorney general, Paula T. Dow, said in the news release.