New Jersey Puppy Mill Owner Charged With Consumer Fraud
In New Jersey, the owner of a pet store called Just Pups has been charged with consumer fraud by state officials. The man is also facing multiple counts of animal abuse and has had one of his stores closed down due to excessive health code violations.
NJ.com reports that Just Pups owner Vincent LoSacco, 50, and his brother Leonard LoSacco, 51, were accused of animal cruelty after police discovered 67 puppies in a van left in the cold behind their Paramus, New Jersey pet store. In addition to the animal cruelty charges, though, LoSacco has also been charged by the Attorney General and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs with multiple counts of consumer fraud.
The fraud charges stem from reports by at least 55 customers who were told that the puppies they bought from LoSacco’s four stores in New Jersey were healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations. However, when these customers learned that their puppies were sick and required veterinary care or died after being brought home, LoSacco refused to reimburse them or to take the sick puppies back.
In a statement acting Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said, "Vincent LoSacco’s alleged deceptive behavior caused his customers to suffer financially and emotionally as they sought expensive veterinary care for the sick puppies he sold them. This kind of consumer fraud has a devastating effect on pet lovers and will not be tolerated in our state."
The state’s complaint against LoSacco lists 32 violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, the Pet Protection Act, the Pet Regulations, and the Advertising Regulations. Some of the charges against him include:
- Failing to refund the purchase price of an animal that died of a congenital illness within six months of purchase
- Selling animals without proper health certificates
- Falsely advertising that all dogs were up-to-date on vaccinations
- Stating on the Just Pups website that all previous complaints against the business were made by a single person, when this was not the case
- Selling puppies infected with Parvo, Kennel Cough, Giardia, and Bronchitis
- Refusing to reimburse customers for veterinary fees for sick puppies
If found guilty, LoSacco could face up to $10,000 for each of these 32 counts. The state also seeks to ban LoSacco permanently from selling dogs in New Jersey, restitution for the defrauded consumers, civil penalties, and reimbursement of attorney’s fees and investigative costs.
In addition to the consumer fraud charges, CBS New York reports that LoSacco is also facing up to 400 counts of animal abuse and at least six health code violations for his Emerson store, which was closed last week when that town denied his application for a business license. Additional violations have also been filed for the Just Pups store in New Brunswick. Now, the only store of LoSacco’s left open, in East Hanover, will house some of the puppies taken out of closed stores. In East Hanover, there is no current law against puppy mills, though state legislators are debating a state-wide ban on puppy mill sales.
In most cases, consumer fraud results in financial suffering to victims. However, in this case, the emotional damage some of the customers of LoSacco suffered is severe and may add to the damages for which the state demands they be compensated. When innocent and trusting consumers are duped by greedy vendors or otherwise defrauded, an experienced consumer fraud lawyer can help them recover justice. To learn more about the ways a consumer fraud lawyer can help you, please contact us today to schedule a free and confidential legal consultation.