Bamboozled: A letter perfect ending to tale

Zach Fried finally has his varsity letter jacket.

We told you his story last spring, after his mom Abbe Fried got the runaround from Peter Baker, the proprietor of Cranford Corner.BB branding

On Oct. 25, 2010, she paid $160 to Baker when she placed an order for Zach’s varsity letter jacket, which he earned as a member of the Cranford High School swim team.

Months passed and the order wasn’t filled. Baker gave excuse after excuse, but the jacket never arrived.

The Frieds started hearing similar complaints from other students, and they worried their money would be gone.

Apparently, it was.

Baker was arrested on April 27 on charges of theft by deception and for writing bad checks, stemming from six customer complaints that he didn’t fill orders for which he took payment.

He’s now out of jail and in a pretrial intervention program (PTI), and he has to pay $5,624 in restitution, said a court spokeswoman.

If Baker successfully completes all the conditions of PTI, which includes 60 hours of community service, the original charges will be dismissed and there would be no record of a conviction. If not, the case would be returned to the court.

There’s other good news. After reading Bamboozled’s story about Zach Fried, Richard Shue of Collegemania, a Livingston screen printing, embroidery and custom design store, offered to give Zach a Cranford varsity jacket at no cost.

82911Zach will wear his jacket proudly as he starts his junior year this fall.

Thanks to Collegemania and Richard Shue for your good deed for this high school athlete.


Bamboozled received an e-mail from the U.S. Treasury Department after an official read last week’s column about a mortgage modification mess with Bank of America.

“Any homeowner who has concerns that their mortgage servicer is not following proper procedures under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) or believes their servicer is giving conflicting or confusing information, can escalate their case to the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673),” spokeswoman Andrea Risotto said in an e-mail.

The service allows homeowners to speak one-on-one about their case with a team of HUD-approved housing counselors who can help them resolve their case with their servicer.

“Any homeowner who feels overwhelmed or confused by their mortgage problems should seek assistance from a HUD-approved housing counselor for free,” she said.

Treasury also wanted readers to know about a free event for homeowners at the Meadowlands on Sept. 27. She said at least 17 of the largest mortgage servicers – including Bank of America – will be there to meet individually with customers to discuss HAMP and other options to avoid foreclosure. Also at the event, you can talk to local HUD-approved housing counseling agencies and officials from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, which administers NJ Homekeeper – a program for homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage as a result of unemployment. You can learn more about the program – which is funded by Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund, which was awarded to the states most impacted by unemployment and underemployment – at

Given the huge number of e-mails Bamboozled received about modification problems after the story ran, there sure is a need for help.

Thanks to Treasury for the tips.


There’s also a resolution to the insurance case of the Oliveri family of Franklin Park.

After a flood damaged their home – furniture, flooring, a ceiling and more – they were caught in insurance red tape. The family was covered by their own homeowners policy, and coverage under the condo association policy, too.

The homeowners policy said it couldn’t consider the claim until a claim had been made on the association policy first, but the condo association refused to file the claim.

The association’s attorney, Herbert Cutolo, at the time said that because the association had several large claims in recent years, they were worried the policy would be canceled if there was another claim. The association would then end up in a high risk pool with costlier insurance premiums.

But that didn’t matter much to the Oliveris. The family couldn’t afford to replace the carpeting, so their two young daughters – including one who has a medical condition that causes breathing problems – were living in, and playing in, dusty mid-construction-like conditions that exacerbated the breathing problems.

So the Oliveris were out of luck.

After Bamboozled’s story, something happened. We’re not sure what because Oliveri and his attorney aren’t allowed to talk about it.

“Unfortunately, all I can tell you is that the case has resolved itself,” said Oliveri’s attorney Timothy Wiss.

Bamboozled is willing to guess the homeowner came to some kind of an agreement with the association and its insurance company, and the damages have been fixed. At least, we hope so.


There’s not a lot of good news to report about rug store Einstein Moomjy, profiled by Bamboozled this summer.

We reported the complaints of customers who placed orders with deposits of hundreds or thousands of dollars and never received the merchandise.

Einstein Moomjy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week.

Court filings list a total of 38 employees, 26 of whom say they’re owed back wages, including company founder Walter Moomjy and his daughters, Andrea Moomjy and Claudia Moomjy. Court papers also say there are at least 18 lawsuits against the company.

During a bankruptcy filing, there’s an order in which creditors are paid. We wanted to know what would happen to the customers who placed orders.

“The customer deposits will be addressed shortly, either through alternative retailers or by other means,” said company bankruptcy attorney Daniel Stolz.

Andrea and Claudia Moomjy didn’t respond to e-mailed requests for comment.