(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — A longtime home-improvement contractor who deceived dozens of his customers and then repeatedly flouted a judge’s injunction has been held in civil contempt and ordered to stop operating his business immediately.
In addition, Neil Wolfe and his Hudson-based Neil Construction Company Inc. must turn over their assets for liquidation and eventual distribution to aggrieved consumers.
“Some people just don’t get it – he was already under injunction to stop this and just kept going,” Yost said. “Now he’s in contempt of court, and we’re taking away his company and its assets.”
The case originated in February 2021 when Yost’s office filed a complaint in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court against Wolfe and his company alleging multiple violations of Ohio’s consumer protection laws. Wolfe is the only individual associated with Neil Construction.
An investigation by Yost’s Consumer Protection Section found that Wolfe and Neil Construction would request down payments, then either perform no work, shoddy work or incomplete work on consumers’ home-improvement projects. The investigation also found that Wolfe failed to obtain permits, failed to register as a contractor, wrote unfair and one-sided contracts and stalled and evaded other legal obligations.
In October 2021, at the request of the Attorney General’s Office, Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Russo issued a preliminary injunction against Wolfe and his company and appointed a receiver to take charge of operations. The judge told Wolfe that if he continued to work, he was to do so only in accordance with the CSPA and with the approval of the receiver. Wolfe disregarded the order.
Instead, he began a substantial construction project in January 2022 for a Summit County couple without first obtaining the required permits. In a series of recorded conversations made by the Summit couple, Wolfe made a number of misrepresentations to them. Alarmed, the couple contacted the Attorney General’s office, which resulted in the filing of a motion for contempt in February.
At a hearing spanning several days in March, testimony and evidence, including the recorded consumer conversations, established that Wolfe was violating Ohio’s consumer protection laws in a number of ways.
In his civil contempt ruling, the judge noted that Wolfe repeatedly made material misrepresentations to his customers, flaunted the authority of the court and continues to believe that “nobody can shut down his company of 45 years.” The judge also noted Wolfe failed to turn over all bank accounts to the receiver as ordered.
Russo outlined several conditions that Wolfe must meet to avoid a fine and jail time, including doing the following by April 21, 2022:
- Ceasing all operations immediately
- Returning $69,000 to the Summit County couple
- Turning over to the receiver any outstanding cash and other assets held by Wolfe or his company
- Providing the receiver with information on all bank accounts, bonding, insurance, and titles to any personal property
The receiver will liquidate the assets and set up a claims process for Wolfe’s customers.
Russo said the next act of contempt would be a criminal offense resulting in a larger fine and more jail time.
If you believe you have been victimized by Wolfe or another unfair or deceptive business practice contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.