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Post date: February 26 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Secures Over $500,000 In Restitution And Title Certificates For Consumers Against Dominican Republic Real Estate Developer

The Consent Order And Judgment Permanently Prohibits The Respondents From Promoting, Advertising Or Otherwise Engaging In The Sale, Transfer Or Conveyance Of Residential Properties In The Dominican Republic To New York Consumers.

Schneiderman: This Office Will Vigorously Pursue Foreign Corporations That Engage In Unscrupulous Business Practices In New York State

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a settlement in his lawsuit against the Dominican real estate development company Consorcio Empresarial Emproy-Divisa, S.A; Danilo Diaz, the company’s president; Julio Balbuena, the company’s sales manager; Rivas Travel and Multiservice, Inc., a New York corporation; and David Rivas, the owner of Rivas Travel, for their involvement in the sale of residential properties at a development in the Dominican Republic known as Pueblo Bavaro. The Attorney General has secured $540,499.00 for consumers who paid a down payment or in full for a residence at Pueblo Bavaro but never received it, and title certificates for dozens of defrauded consumers. A Consent Order and Judgment signed by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Kenney requires financial restitution payments to new complainants who paid a down payment or in full for a residence but never received one within 30 days of the complaint being received by the development company, and title certificates to be provided within 60 days of the complaint being received. The Consent Order and Judgment also prohibits the respondents from promoting, advertising or engaging in the sale, transfer or conveyance of properties in Dominican Republic to New York consumers.

“This office will continue to investigate and prosecute businesses engaging in conduct that harms New Yorkers and their families—especially immigrant communities and those in need,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “New Yorkers must have confidence when interacting with foreign corporations that do business in this state. And those corporations that break laws and then leave the state or country will not escape our reach—we will come down on them with the full force of the law.”

Emproy-Divisa operated in New York from Rivas Travel located at 4321 Broadway, New York, NY, from at least 2005 through 2008, soliciting New York consumers with a focus on Washington Heights residents. Respondents also advertised Pueblo Bavaro on the Spanish language television station, Telemundo. Respondents systematically failed to provide title to consumers who purchased a residence at Pueblo Bavaro, or failed to provide a residence for consumers who signed a purchase agreement and paid a down payment and/or secured a mortgage.

“I commend Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for being responsive to the complaints of my constituents and investigating the conduct of Consorcio Empresarial Emproy-Divisa,” said State Senator Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan/Bronx). “The over $500,000 in restitution recovered by the Attorney General sends a clear message to foreign companies, if they attempt to scam New Yorkers they will be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions.”

"Bad actors taking advantage of our community, whether domestic or international, must be held accountable to the law," said New York City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez. "I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman's leadership in bringing relief to the many constituents defrauded by those responsible for this misconduct."

The Attorney General alleged violations of GBL sections 349 and 350, which prohibit deceptive conduct and false advertising, respectively. Moreover, the lawsuit alleged that Emproy Divisa conducted business in New York State without the required filing with the New York State Department of State of an application for authority in violation of New York’s Business Corporations Law sections 1301 and 1305. Additionally, several promised services such as security were not provided; several complainants found squatters residing in their residence or furniture, appliances and other items missing from their residence. Several complainants indicated that they were due rental payments.

Eighty-six complaints have been filed with the Attorney General’s office seeking financial restitution, title or both. Since the filing of the lawsuit in November, all 29 of the complainants who paid a down payment or paid in full but were never provided their residence have received a reimbursement of their payment, totaling $540,499.00 Forty consumers who never received title certificates have been provided their titles. The remaining 15 complainants who are owed title certificates must receive them within 60 days in accordance with the Consent Order and Judgment. The remaining 16 complainants who are owed title certificates must receive them within 60 days of the Court’s signing the Consent Order and Judgment.

“I am grateful to the Attorney General’s office for assisting me in finally getting my $30,000 investment in Pueblo Bavaro returned to me," said Maria Paulino, a Northern Manhattan resident. "I made the payment in 2008 and was promised a residence but never received it. I had been inquiring about my residence since 2009 and seeking a refund for my payment during the past several years. I didn’t think it would happen but I’m grateful to finally get it back.”

“I paid $22,500 for a residence at Pueblo Bavaro in 2007. I had a dream of a residence in the Dominican Republic and it turned into a nightmare. I never received my residence and I began to believe I’d never see my money again. I am very appreciative of the work of the Attorney General in securing the return of my payment.” Eddy Tejada, Northern Manhattan resident.

“I purchased my residence at Pueblo Bavaro in 2004 after seeing a promotional event at La Mirage Restaurant in Northern Manhattan. I tried contacting Emproy Divisa countless times to try to secure my title but was consistently given the run-around. I finally received my title ten years after signing a contract and paying for the apartment thanks to the intervention of the Attorney General,” said David Morfe, a New Jersey resident.

The Consent Order and Judgment permanently prohibits the Respondents from promoting, advertising or otherwise engaging in the sale, transfer or conveyance of residential properties in the Dominican Republic to New York consumers. The Consent Order and Judgment further provides a 30 day period for new additional complaints to be registered with the Attorney General’s office and requires financial restitution payments for new complainants to be made within 30 days and title certificates delivered within 60 days from the date the complaints are delivered by the Attorney General’s office to Emproy-Divisa.

David Rivas and his company Rivas Travel and Multiservices have collectively paid a $25,000.00 penalty and $2,000.00 in costs, and Emproy Divisa has also paid $25,000.00 in penalties and $2,000.00 in costs. If Emproy-Divisa fails to comply with any terms of the order, a $50,000.00 suspended penalty may default.

New complaints can be registered with the Attorney General’s Harlem Regional office located at 163 West 125th Street, Suite 1324, New York, New York 10027; consumers can call (212) 961-4475 for further information.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Roberto G. Lebron, former Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Harlem Regional Office Guy Mitchell, Consumer Fraud and Protection Bureau Chief Jane Azia and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Offices Martin Mack, with the assistance of bureau support staff. Investigator Edward Ortiz of the Attorney General’s Investigation Bureau also assisted in the investigation.