A man accused of trying to defraud New Jerseyans in the wake of Superstorm Sandy has lost his appeal of a case brought against him by the state’s attorney general in 2012.
William “Bill” Loiry, a self-proclaimed “philanthropist/entrepreneur,” has made a career of sponsoring for-profit reconstruction conferences in disaster areas.
After Sandy hit New Jersey, Loiry announced plans to hold the “Superstorm Sandy Reconstruction Summit” on Dec. 17, 2012.
The event promised to put attendees in contact with “local, state, and national government, business and nonprofit decision-makers.”
But Bamboozled investigated and learned that several high-profile speakers who Loiry said were invited to attend in fact never received invitations. Others — who we considered the kinds of “decision-makers” who would be involved in such an event — were also never invited.
The event was another in a long line of conferences sponsored by Loiry in disaster areas. He had previously held conferences after Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill and other catastrophes.
When New Jersey got wind of the conference, it investigated, too. And it filed suit, accusing Loiry of several Consumer Fraud Act violations, including falsely implying the sponsors were affiliated or endorsed by federal, state or local governments, misleading advertising and doing business under names that were not registered in the state.
Loiry cancelled the summit, but the court case continued.
The state won in January, 2015.
Loiry was ordered to pay $46,384.20, including $12,500 in restitution for 55 New Jersey consumers who paid registration and sponsorship fees, $10,000 in civil penalties, and the rest would cover the state’s attorney and investigative costs.
But Loiry vowed to fight.
“It should be indicated to the readers that Bill Loiry plans to pursue every avenue of appeal and reconsideration of this ruling,” said John Shoreman, Loiry’s attorney at the time. “He views it as an injustice. From his point of view, this case is far from over.”
It’s over now, unless Loiry tries to take it to the state Supreme Court.
Loiry’s current attorney didn’t respond to requests for comment.
In July, the state’s Superior Court Appellate Division sided with New Jersey.
The court agreed that Loiry violated the Consumer Fraud Act by using unregistered company names, and by using the presidential seal on his websites to misrepresent that his conferences were associated with the federal government.
“A reasonable person viewing defendant’s websites and his solicitations for the Summit would assume defendant was affiliated with the federal government, or the governments of New Jersey and New York,” the court said.
It also said Loiry promised that federal, state and government officials would be part of the conference program when no such guests were confirmed.
Steve Lee, the director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said the agency is pleased that the appellate court upheld the judgment against Loiry, whose actions Lee called “deceptive” and “misleading.”
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Loiry has not yet complied with the court’s order for payment, which includes restitution for the 55 New Jersey consumers who paid registration or sponsorship fees for this non-event,” Lee said. “The division will do everything in its legal power to secure the money owed by Mr. Loiry.”
We asked Loiry’s attorney about his client’s plan to pay, but the attorney didn’t respond.
We also gave a yell to Washington, D.C., which in 2013 filed its own suit against Loiry, claiming many of his conferences were not as advertised.
The complaint alleged Loiry made misrepresentations about conferences, failed to refund registrants’ conference fees or sponsorship fees when conferences were rescheduled or changed, and that he continued operating in D.C. after his business’ registration was revoked.
One event, the district said, was advertised as the “American Energy Security Summit” and the “American Energy Summit.” The event was postponed for months and not rescheduled, but Loiry had received and not refunded nearly $28,000 from hopeful attendees, it said.
In 2015, Loiry was permanently enjoined from operating in D.C. until his company was properly registered and the court-ordered fees and penalties were paid.
Those fees and penalties have not been paid to date, nor has Loiry registered his company, according to a spokesman for the district.
We also took a look around to see if any of Loiry’s many event websites were still up.
And indeed, he appears to still be in business.
A group linked to Loiry, United States Defense Leadership, will be holding several events in this year and into 2017 — but none are in New Jersey or Washington, D.C.
There’s the Army Contracting Summit in Texas in late August, the Air Force Small Business Contracting Summit in New Mexico in September, the Navy Small Business Contracting Summit in Florida in October, and in November, the Marine Corps Small Business Contracting Summit in California.
We checked in with the attorneys general of those states to see if they had complaints or if Loiry and his companies are registered in those locations.
There are no complaints in New Mexico, and Loiry and his companies are not registered there. That’s a violation of state law, according to the state’s Department of State.
In Florida, where vendors previously said Loiry didn’t pay for services they provided for conferences, there are no complaints, but Loiry and his companies are not registered.
“After reviewing the website we did not see that they are soliciting any funds, which may require them to register with our department,” a spokesman said.
Requests made to Texas and California were not answered in time for publication.
And we’ll let you know if Loiry ever pays up in New Jersey.
Staff researcher Vinessa Erminio contributed to this report.
Have you been Bamboozled? Reach Karin Price Mueller atBamboozled@NJAdvanceMedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. FindBamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Stay informed and sign up for NJMoneyHelp.com’s weekly e-newsletter.