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

The Maryland Office environment of the Attorney Normal has accused Frederick County furniture sellers of misleading clients with wrong guarantees and transforming their company’s title to evade refunds.

But just one of the owners reported the allegations are misconstrued. “This is absolutely nothing a lot more than a unsuccessful enterprise,” Christopher Engel said.

The Client Safety Division of the lawyer general’s office filed charges against Christopher Aaron Engel, his spouse Karol Engel, Matthew R. Dihel, Urbana Customized Décor Minimal Legal responsibility Business, Farmstead Custom Furnishings LLC, and MOCHA Home furnishings Minimal Legal responsibility Business.

The individuals and entities allegedly experienced roles in accumulating cash from consumers to create custom made furniture and possibly failed to deliver the solutions as promised or give refunds, in accordance to a information release from the legal professional general’s office environment on Thursday.

The Engels and Dihel stand accused of “unfair or misleading trade practices” in violation of the Consumer Security Act, a assertion of fees says.

The Engels’ alleged wrongdoing dates back again to late 2019 with the start of Urbana Customized Décor, based mostly in Frederick. Farmstead Tailor made Home furniture and MOCHA Home furniture, detailed at the similar tackle in Thurmont, have been other names applied for essentially the exact same enterprise above the course of the scheme, the statement of fees suggests.

The accused reportedly took deposits for custom made pieces, made excuses when items have been not sent on time and at times provided lower high-quality household furniture than promised, according to the legal professional general’s office. A preliminary injunction was submitted Could 5 to reduce the defendants from using payment in advance for furnishings, courtroom paperwork clearly show.

The lawyer general’s business did not reply to issues Thursday concerning the amount of alleged victims and quantity of money reportedly owed by the defendants.

Operator explained buyers turned towards him

In a cellphone job interview Thursday afternoon, Engel mentioned information and facts offered by the attorney general’s office had been “misconstrued.”

He explained he needs to pay shoppers again.

The Woodsboro resident has served as “an owner and/or officer” of the 3 entities named in the circumstance, according to the statement of prices.

Engel stated some customers turned in opposition to him when they realized of his felony record.

He pleaded responsible to wire fraud and was sentenced to 38 months in federal prison in 2014, on the net court documents indicate. He was ordered to fork out additional than $405,000 in restitution for defrauding persons across the nation via an financial commitment firm scam, Pennsylvania information media outlet PennLive described in 2014.

As soon as furnishings buyers discovered this, Engel said, some started to cancel orders and unfold the word to others. He alleged that specified buyers wanted to “kill sales” simply because he is a felon.

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

He declined to give the subcontractor’s comprehensive name.

“He promised us the planet,” Christopher Engel said.

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

Christopher Engel mentioned he desired to refund disappointed buyers, but could not do so right until he sold merchandise. The debt grew to a stage they could not find the money for to declare individual bankruptcy, he stated.

The legal professional general’s business alleged that Christopher Engel strung consumers together for months, producing excuses.

The allegations

The alleged deception started out with Urbana Customized Décor, which opened in the winter season of 2019, in accordance to the statement of prices.

The Engels reportedly took “sizeable deposits” from clients and failed to supply the household furniture as promised, charging paperwork explained. The lawyer general’s office explained the Engels failed to difficulty asked for refunds.

Then the couple commenced undertaking business enterprise beneath the title Farmstead all around February 2020. Christopher Engel advised the Information-Put up they wanted to undertake a new title to develop with and draw in more purchasers. The legal professional general’s business office alleged the new identify was an attempt to avoid 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 old prospects arrived knocking, Christopher Engel reportedly explained to them the “new” enterprise had “new” possession and owed them nothing at all, the attorney general’s release explained, while he however owned and operated every of the corporations involved.

An Ijamsville woman recognized in courtroom information reportedly compensated a lot more than $2,100 in deposits to the Engels for a customized table and credenza.

She repeatedly contacted Christopher Engel for updates, and he provided many excuses, courtroom documents said. When the woman received the table — 10 months later — she reported it did not reflect her buy.

By April 2021, Christopher Engel reportedly advised the woman his organization no more time existed and she would have to contact Matt Dihel at MOCHA to get the credenza. The girl texted with Dihel for months in an exertion to entire her purchase, to no avail.

She took the Engels to compact claims court, exactly where she discovered Christopher Engel had given her a bogus phone variety and pretended to be Dihel, court docket documents allege.

MOCHA’s internet site, continue to active Thursday afternoon, explained “Chris” as a individual who enjoyed restoring antique home furniture as a pastime. The site known as “Matt” a “master builder” with 25 many years of encounter.

A Disney-themed kitchen desk was marketed at nearly $3,000 on MOCHA’s web site. A wine hutch with barn doors was outlined at $2,450. A kitchen area island cost $1,265.

“We are satisfied to share our enthusiasm to deliver the splendor of wooden furniture into your household,” the web page read.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller