A Superior Court judge Tuesday ordered a Burlington County home improvement company and six defendants to pay more than $285,000 in restitution to defrauded customers and nearly $17 million in civil penalties, the Division of Consumer Affairs said.
Authorities said the defendants sold consumers contracts with Williams Asphalt Materials L.L.C., a paving company that also operated under similar names, performed shoddy work, and failed to honor warranties to repair cracked and crumbling driveways.
Some defendants were not registered as home improvement contractors with the Division of Consumer Affairs as required by state law.
Tuesday's court judgment - described by authorities as one of the toughest on a home-improvement contractor - prohibits the defendants from performing work in New Jersey until they register.
The companies also misrepresented the quality of materials and pricing, authorities said.
More than 100 customers in South Jersey, primarily in Burlington and Gloucester Counties, were victimized, an agency spokesman said.
Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Division of Consumer Affairs Director Thomas R. Calcagni filed the suit in April 2010 and later amended it to include additional defendants, including Bertha Williams and her husband, Henry R. Williams Jr., and his son, Henry R. Williams Jr.; along with Samuel Williams; Saul Williams, and Alexander Stanley.
Authorities said they did not know if all the defendants were related.
The defendants held various positions in the companies, which all used Bertha Williams' Browns Mills address and personal phone number, according to authorities.
They said Bertha Williams owned Williams Asphalt Materials, whose registration with the state expired Dec. 31, 2009. Her husband was the company's president and manager.
The company also owned an asphalt plant in Millville where equipment was stored.
Authorities said Bertha Williams also has addresses in Arkansas and Freehold, Monmouth County. Her husband has an address in Flanders, Morris County. Henry R. Williams Jr. has addresses in Swedesboro and Mullica Hill, authorities said. Attempts to reach the couple Tuesday evening were unsuccessful.
Samuel Williams has Monmouth County addresses in Howell and Freehold; Saul Williams has an address in Chaplin, Conn.; and Stanley has addresses in Freehold and Budd Lake, Morris County, authorities said.
The division opened its investigation in late 2006 after several consumer complaints. It wrapped up the inquiry in 2010.
The $16.8 million in civil penalties levied for the more than 1,600 violations of state consumer-fraud and home improvement contractor laws and regulations is "one of the larger civil penalties" for wrongdoing by a home improvement contractor, according to a division spokesman.
The defendants must also reimburse about $134,000 in legal and investigative expenses.