State Rep Mark Howland and Martha Coakley
Posted in the Boston Forum
#1 Oct 17, 2009
Wind turbine dealer misses restitution deadline
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var isoPubDate ='October 17, 2009'By BECKY W. EVANS
October 17, 2009 12:00 AM
Former state Rep. Mark Howland, owner of a Freetown-based wind turbine company that was shut down for misleading consumers, has failed to pay nearly $500,000 in restitution to the state Attorney General's Office.
A consent agreement reached last October set a deadline of Oct. 9, 2009, for Howland of WindTech-Co. to pay $488,000 in restitution. Howland notified the agency on Oct. 8 that he would not be making the payment, said Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Jill Butterworth.
According to the agreement, Howland now owes $638,000 in restitution. The Attorney General's Office has the right to foreclose on his property, although Howland's attorney has asked for additional time to market the property.
Howland lost his former Freetown home at 15 Mohawk Ave. to the bank weeks before it burned in a suspicious fire last November. He owns three parcels of undeveloped land, totaling some 26 acres, off Howland Road in Lakeville.
"The deadline for Mr. Howland to pay the restitution is past due and the Attorney General's Office intends to take whatever action is appropriate to obtain money for consumers entitled to restitution," said Butterworth.
Howland did not return phone calls and e-mail seeking comment Friday.
In March 2007, the Attorney General's Office filed a complaint in Bristol Superior Court and received an emergency court order to shut down WindTech-Co. and place a freeze on Howland's bank accounts.
Howland was accused of violating the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act by misleading consumers, making false and misleading representations in promoting the sale of wind turbines, failing to install turbines paid for by consumers and providing unsafe wind turbine installations. The Attorney General's Office identified more than 160 consumers, many in Southeastern Massachusetts, who were affected by the company's faulty wind turbines.
Under the consent agreement, Howland is prohibited from operating a business involved in the sale and installation of alternative energy systems, specifically wind turbine and hybrid wind turbine/photo-voltaic systems.
David Silvia of East Freetown said he purchased two defective wind turbines from Howland. He said he invested about $16,000 in the systems and has to date received about $1,200 in restitution from the Attorney General's Office.
Silvia said it was "kind of discouraging" to hear that Howland had failed to meet the deadline for the restitution payment.
"I was hoping the money would come through," he said. "I stretched myself pretty thin to do this. I thought it was the right thing for the environment."
After the defective turbines were removed from his property, Silvia purchased a larger turbine from another supplier. He said he has been mostly happy with that turbine and would like to install solar panels to further lessen his carbon footprint. To finance the project, however, he must wait until he receives full restitution
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