FURNITURE DEALER BOXED IN

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William Neumann, a Fair Haven furniture retailer who’s faced repeated allegations of failing to deliver thousands of dollars worth of paid-for goods, has agreed to be barred from doing business in New Jersey, today’s Star-Ledger reports.

Last week, consumer affairs regulators said they have reached a settlement with Neumann and his companies — for the second time in 2 1/2 years. The consent judgment bars his Fair Haven-based store and internet sites, doing business as The Cabbage Rose, Chelsea Manor Unlimited and Classic House Furniture, from operating in the state.

But it also includes a provision regulating any business Neumann, 61, might open in the future. If he starts another business in New Jersey in the next five years, he must notify the state and post a $500,000 bond for the first year of operation, according to the consent judgment.

“This isn’t a precedent but it doesn’t happen very often,” consumer affairs spokesman Jeff Lamm said Friday, noting Neumann’s history warranted the provision.

Consumer law experts also said such preventive measures aren’t commonplace, but can be effective when dealing with repeat offenders.

State officials have been pursuing Neumann and his companies since at least 2002, when consumer affairs regulators sued him for allegedly taking consumers’ money but failing to deliver their furniture. The state also accused him of repeatedly misrepresenting when merchandise would be delivered and selling items in a different condition than represented.

They reached a settlement in 2005, with Neumann and his companies agreeing to pay $27,618 to consumers and $75,000 in penalties. But in March 2007, consumer affairs again sued Neumann, alleging he failed to pay any of the earlier fines and continued deceptive practices.

The latest agreement, signed in February, calls for Neumann to pay $302,000 in restitution and $628,000 in penalties. But the state noted it is not aware of any assets Neumann has to satisfy the judgment, the Ledger reports.

Neumann’s legal woes aren’t over. He was indicted by a Monmouth County grand jury last October for bilking 81 customers out of more than $350,000 via sales of furniture that was never delivered.

Earlier media reports said Neumann lives in the Leonardo section of Middletown. The Cabbage Rose was formerly on River Road in Fair Haven.

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