Holloway was the owner of New Jersey Telephone of Caldwell. The three-employee family-owned business installed and serviced business communication systems.
After more than 20 years, Holloway sold the company in October 2012.
As part of the sales deal, he retained the right to any outstanding receivables — to collect on any customer bills that were unpaid before the sale of the company.
He and his wife still own a sister company, ANG Financial, which supplies leasing and rental equipment to customers of New Jersey Telephone.
As a small businessman, Holloway was accustomed to having occasional problem customers with delinquent or missing payments.
But he wasn’t expecting one of those problem customers to be U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-10th Dist.).
“(Payne’s office) contacted us to install a telephone system and wiring for the re-election headquarters in Newark,” Holloway said.
That was back in the summer of 2012.
“In August of 2012 we installed a Nortel ICS telephone system with seven telephone sets, a power pole, voice mail and conferencing,” Holloway said. “We also rewired the offices and hooked up his telephone lines from Verizon. There were many extra trips to add or make changes to the system.”
Holloway said the labor charges were billed by New Jersey Telephone, and the equipment installation and rental were billed by ANG Financial. There was also a buyout option for the office to purchase the equipment at the end of the rental period, Holloway said, but no one exercised the purchase option, nor did they notify the company to remove the equipment.
“They currently owe $2,710.55,” Holloway said in late May. “If they don’t buy out the system or return it, there will be another $435.00 billed on June 1, 2013, for system rental for the period July through September 2013.”
That brings the grand total to $3,145.55.
“We are willing to settle for $2,500 and they would keep the system,” Holloway said.
But the problem, he said, is that no one in Payne’s office is taking responsibility for paying the bill.
Bamboozled reviewed copies of invoices, contracts and other paperwork.
It seems Holloway is owed what he says he’s owed.
We also reviewed a long chain of e-mails between Holloway and various contacts in Payne’s office. There were promises of payment, requests among staffers for someone to take care of the bills, and so on.
Ultimately, Holloway said, nothing was done.
“The problem with Payne’s office is I spoke to four, five, six different people including one of their attorneys, and they refused to pay,” he said. “The attorney finally said, ‘Do what you have to do.ÂÂÂÂ ”
Rather than file a suit, Holloway contacted Bamboozled.
We left several messages for Payne’s spokespeople. After no one returned our calls, we gave the congressman a call on his cell phone.
Actually, several calls before we got through.
When the congressman answered, he said he was made aware of our inquiry two weeks ago.
“I have my people looking into it to see where and what this is,” he said.
We asked how long it might take. Payne said he didn’t know. We asked if we’re looking at weeks, or months, or what.
“I hope it’s not months,” he said. “We’re trying to get the information together.”
Bamboozled offered to show him copies of the invoices, contracts, the e-mail strings and other communications, but he said his office had all the paperwork.
That was Tuesday, giving Payne’s office four business days to respond with its version of events, and an update on where they think the debt stands, before publication.
Come on, congressman. Pay your bills, or, if they’re incorrect, dispute them. Don’t leave a longtime New Jersey businessman hanging.
SANDY SUMMIT UPDATE
People who say they are owed money by the sponsor of the cancelled “Superstorm Sandy Reconstruction Summit” may now go after him for his alleged debts.
A Florida judge denied William “Bill” Loiry’s request to discharge his debts in bankruptcy. That means the bankruptcy proceedings are over and the bankruptcy filing no longer provides him bankruptcy protection. More than 70 creditors were named in the filing, and they’re now free to pursue Loiry for the money they say he owes them.
Creditors include vendors who said they were hired by Loiry to help create “summits” in disaster areas, including those that were held after the several hurricanes and the BP oil spill.
None of those vendors are from New Jersey, where Loiry, a self-proclaimed “philanthropist/entrepreneur,” was booted out of the state late last year for alleged Consumer Fraud Act violations related to a planned “Superstorm Sandy Reconstruction Summit.”
The event was cancelled after questions by Bamboozled, and a lawsuit was filed by the Division of Consumer Affairs.
The state said violations included conducting business in the state under assumed names that were not registered, falsely implying that the sponsors were affiliated with or endorsed by federal, state or local government agencies, and misleading advertisements.
The state also asked that Loiry refund registration fees paid by consumers for the cancelled event.
We sent Loiry an e-mail to ask about the New Jersey refunds, but he didn’t respond.
But Loiry’s Washington D.C.-based attorney, Athan Tsimpedes, did.
“There hasn’t been one person who has asked for money returned,” Tsimpedes said.
He said refunds would have been granted if customers had asked, but he said it’s also possible that customers transferred their registrations to one of Loiry’s other events.
Yes, Loiry has planned more events. More on that in a moment.
First, we checked in with Consumer Affairs about the attorney’s claim that no one has asked for a refund.
“The State alleges that this defendant accepted payment for attendance at his New Jersey summit, including from an undercover investigator who paid $175 to register as an attendee,” said Eric Kanefsky, Director of Consumer Affairs. “The defendant then canceled his allegedly fraudulent summit after accepting payment, but has refused to provide refunds. An event planner acting in good faith should not have to wait for consumers to request refunds under such circumstances; they should be provided as a matter of course.”
The state couldn’t comment further, only to say the case is ongoing and there are no hearings scheduled at this time.
Loiry’s next event is the “Gulf Coast Restoration Summit,” scheduled for July 1 in New Orleans. It promises to feature “local, state, and national government, business, and nonprofit decision-makers,” just as the Sandy summit did.
In case you’re wondering, the cost for “attendees” and “non-profits/associations” is $375. Or you can pay $475 for VIP registration. Or you can register for the webcast for $200.
And those are the costs for early registration.
True supporters can kick it up a notch. You can pony up for a sponsorship: $1,000 for a contributing sponsorship, $3,000 for a supporting sponsorship, $7,500 for a gold sponsorship and a cool $10,000 for a platinum sponsorship.
Those with sponsorships still must pay the $375.
Government officials and the media can attend for free.
There’s also an “American Energy Security Summit” planned for D.C. from Aug. 5-7, where you can “meet the key federal energy decision-makers.” Registration is $895, or $995 for the VIP Registration. “Special registration” is only $375, but the website isn’t clear on what that means.
This one, too, can be attended for free by government officials and the media.
Bamboozled is busy on those days.