Attorney general files suits for companies accused of defrauding NWI residents
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent June 4, 2012 2:30PM
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller checks the view of the Brickie Bowl from one of his departments new offices inside Hobart's Police, Court and Community Complex. The Medicade Fraud Control Unit relocated to the hobart form Merrillville. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 4, 2012 7:40PM
HOBART — Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller Monday announced his office filed lawsuits against illegal foreclosure consultants, local car dealerships and a travel company, all of which defrauded Lake County residents, during a visit to new offices in the city’s police/court/community center.
“This is what we do on a daily basis,” Zoeller told a room full of city officials, local police officers and others.
Zoeller said the relocation from Merrillville to two offices in the renovated former Hobart Middle School allows the office to grow its presence in the region, expanding beyond just investigating Medicaid fraud to include consumer protection and community outreach, as well.
“One reason I’m so excited about this new partnership is it allows us to grow our presence in Lake County. We can give it more resources and attention,” Zoeller said.
He said four to six investigators will work from the office handling cases throughout the state.
Zoeller said lawsuits were filed against foreclosure consultants First Financial Link LLC and Josegan Inc., both based in Florida, which are accused to ripping off two Lake County residents for a total of $3,500.
Consumers paid between $1,500 and $2,000 in up-front fees before realizing no progress had been made on reducing their interest rates or monthly payments on their home loans.
Zoeller said the companies did not register a $25,000 surety bond with his office to conduct a foreclosure-consulting business as required. The state seeks an injunction, restitution and civil penalties.
Hometown Motors in Gary and its owner, John F. Petrassi, are accused of knowingly reporting inaccurate mileage and year of a used vehicle and not providing titles to those who purchased vehicles.
Luke’s Family Motors in Highland is accused of misrepresenting mileage of a used vehicle. Zoeller said the company also violated terms of an agreement with his office to return excessive document preparation fees to customers.
The state seeks restitution and civil penalties in both cases.
The last lawsuit was filed against The Vacation Store in Griffith and owner Tom Chocholek for failing to pay resorts for purchased accommodations. The state is seeking $7,659 in consumer restitution and civil penalties.
Zoeller also swore in a new deputy in his office, Roberta B. Hirsch, a graduate of Valparaiso University School of Law, and toured the facility.
Mayor Brian Snedecor said the attorney general’s office fits in with the vision he and the City Council had to fill the extra space in the former school building, which in addition to the city Police Department, City Court and Maria Reiner Senior Center, is occupied by the Gang Response Investigative Team and Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.