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North Huntingdon lighting business gets no new complaints

Rich Cholodofsky
| Friday, April 27, 2012, 6:24 a.m.

More than a month after a judge found that a North Huntingdon lighting shop violated consumer protection laws, the business is up and running with no apparent instances of new violations.

Nils Frederiksen, spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, said Thursday that no additional complaints have been lodged against Michael Free, owner of Electra Lighting shops in North Huntingdon and Monroeville.

"We are not aware of any new complaints, but if anyone has any problems they should let our office know immediately," Frederiksen said.

In September, Westmoreland County Judge Gary Caruso found Free was in violation of the state's consumer protection laws for accepting payment for merchandise that was never delivered.

Caruso ordered Free to pay a $2,100 fine and to refund more than $10,700 to 21 customers who claimed they did not receive merchandise they purchased from one of the two shops.

The judge restricted how Free can conduct business. Caruso enjoined Free from accepting deposits of more than 10 percent for any item costing more than $1,000 and 20 percent for items under that dollar value.

Frederiksen said he knows of no other situations in Pennsylvania where a civil court judge intervened and restricted a private business, but said those steps were necessary in this case.

"Electra stands alone. The kind of ongoing nature of the complaints and the legal situation that surrounded Electra were unique," Frederiksen said.

During three days of testimony in April and August, Free contended that customers had neglected to pick up purchased merchandise after it had been delivered to the shop.

In 2007, the Attorney General's Office filed a civil complaint against Free, saying he bilked as many as 53 customers over a five-year period. Cases involving 45 customers were resolved before the trial. Meanwhile, additional complaints against Free surfaced throughout this year.

"There have been no reports of new complaints or noncompliance since the court ruling," Frederiksen said.

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