Frederick County home furnishings sellers accused of deception | Crime & justice

The Maryland Office environment of the Lawyer Common has accused Frederick County furnishings sellers of misleading consumers with phony promises and shifting their company’s title to evade refunds.

But just one of the owners mentioned the allegations are misconstrued. “This is nothing far more than a failed small business,” Christopher Engel explained.

The Shopper Security Division of the lawyer general’s business office filed prices in opposition to Christopher Aaron Engel, his wife Karol Engel, Matthew R. Dihel, Urbana Custom Décor Restricted Liability Organization, Farmstead Tailor made Furnishings LLC, and MOCHA Furnishings Limited Liability Firm.

The folks and entities allegedly had roles in collecting cash from prospects to build customized household furniture and either unsuccessful to give the merchandise as promised or give refunds, according to a information release from the attorney general’s business office on Thursday.

The Engels and Dihel stand accused of “unfair or misleading trade practices” in violation of the Client Defense Act, a assertion of expenses claims.

The Engels’ alleged wrongdoing dates back again to late 2019 with the get started of Urbana Tailor made Décor, dependent in Frederick. Farmstead Custom made Home furnishings and MOCHA Furniture, detailed at the similar handle in Thurmont, were being other names made use of for effectively the very same enterprise above the training course of the plan, the statement of charges suggests.

The accused reportedly took deposits for customized items, produced excuses when items were being not delivered on time and often presented decreased high quality furnishings than promised, in accordance to the attorney general’s workplace. A preliminary injunction was filed May well 5 to stop the defendants from getting payment in progress for furniture, court files show.

The attorney general’s workplace did not answer to queries Thursday regarding the selection of alleged victims and quantity of funds reportedly owed by the defendants.

Proprietor said customers turned against him

In a cell phone interview Thursday afternoon, Engel said details offered by the attorney general’s business office experienced been “misconstrued.”

He said he desires to pay shoppers back.

The Woodsboro resident has served as “an operator and/or officer” of the 3 entities named in the scenario, in accordance to the statement of fees.

Engel mentioned some clients turned against him when they uncovered of his criminal background.

He pleaded responsible to wire fraud and was sentenced to 38 months in federal prison in 2014, on-line courtroom information show. He was purchased to pay out much more than $405,000 in restitution for defrauding people throughout the nation as a result of an financial investment firm scam, Pennsylvania news media outlet PennLive reported in 2014.

When home furniture clients discovered this, Engel claimed, some began to cancel orders and spread the phrase to other folks. He alleged that specified prospects required to “kill sales” because he is a felon.

Engel also pointed the finger at a former subcontractor that he reported worked with them under the Farmstead identify.

He declined to give the subcontractor’s comprehensive title.

“He promised us the entire world,” Christopher Engel claimed.

The subcontractor reportedly developed shoddy parts that broke and unsuccessful to develop them at the volume the Engels envisioned, in accordance to Christopher Engel. The Engels fired him, he stated.

Christopher Engel mentioned he preferred to refund not happy customers, but could not do so till he offered merchandise. The personal debt grew to a issue they could not afford to pay for to declare personal bankruptcy, he said.

The attorney general’s business office alleged that Christopher Engel strung customers along for months, earning excuses.

The allegations

The alleged deception commenced with Urbana Custom made Décor, which opened in the winter season of 2019, in accordance to the statement of costs.

The Engels reportedly took “sizeable deposits” from consumers and unsuccessful to provide the home furniture as promised, charging files mentioned. The legal professional general’s workplace claimed the Engels failed to problem asked for refunds.

Then the few started carrying out business below the identify Farmstead all-around February 2020. Christopher Engel informed the News-Write-up they desired to undertake a new name to increase with and appeal to extra shoppers. The attorney general’s office environment alleged the new name was an try to stay away from harmed shoppers.

Dihel, of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, reportedly arrived on board with the most current iteration of the corporation as a co-operator of MOCHA.

When previous shoppers came knocking, Christopher Engel reportedly advised them the “new” business had “new” possession and owed them nothing, the legal professional general’s launch mentioned, however he nonetheless owned and operated each and every of the providers associated.

An Ijamsville girl identified in court records reportedly paid out additional than $2,100 in deposits to the Engels for a tailor made table and credenza.

She consistently contacted Christopher Engel for updates, and he presented various excuses, court docket documents explained. When the woman acquired the table — 10 months later on — she said it did not mirror her buy.

By April 2021, Christopher Engel reportedly explained to the woman his corporation no more time existed and she would have to get hold of Matt Dihel at MOCHA to get the credenza. The female texted with Dihel for months in an work to comprehensive her buy, to no avail.

She took the Engels to smaller claims courtroom, in which she realized Christopher Engel experienced given her a untrue telephone amount and pretended to be Dihel, courtroom paperwork allege.

MOCHA’s web page, even now active Thursday afternoon, explained “Chris” as a person who relished restoring antique furniture as a hobby. The website called “Matt” a “master builder” with 25 a long time of working experience.

A Disney-themed kitchen desk was marketed at practically $3,000 on MOCHA’s website. A wine hutch with barn doors was mentioned at $2,450. A kitchen area island price tag $1,265.

“We are joyful to share our enthusiasm to deliver the splendor of wood home furnishings into your dwelling,” the web page read through.

Comply with Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller