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As part of his ongoing efforts to protect Missourians from home repair scams, Missouri Attorney General Koster today filed a lawsuit against a home-repair business for violating both Missouri’s Merchandising Practices and no-call laws.

Koster filed suit against All Seasons Contracting; its owner, Carol Richard; and its manager, Brandi Sampson.

Koster alleges that after a series of strong storms hit the St. Louis area in the spring of 2012, the defendants sent salesmen door-to-door offering homeowners free inspections and quotes for repairs, and offering to help homeowners file claims with their insurance companies.

The suit alleges the defendants took at least $37,000 as down payments from six homeowners, promising that work would begin within weeks.

The total amount, once all consumers are known, could be much more. A year later, the defendants have refused to begin any of the work or provide refunds to their victims. “Too often we see cases where home-repair businesses require up-front payments, and then fail to do the work,” Koster said. “We will continue to pursue these sham home-repair businesses to seek restitution for the customers they cheated and to protect future consumers from being victimized.”

The lawsuit also takes aim at All Seasons Contracting for allegedly making dozens of unlawful and unsolicited telemarketing calls to Missourians on the no-call list. Koster is seeking full restitution for all victims and an order from the court preventing the defendants from advertising or engaging in any home-repair services in the state of Missouri. Additionally, Koster is asking the court to impose a fine of up to $5,000 per unlawful telemarketing call made by the defendants.

Koster said consumers who contracted with All Seasons Contracting and have not received services as promised should contact his Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222 or file a complaint online at ago.mo.gov. Consumers should also file complaints against any other home repair business that has not provided promised services.

As part of National Consumer Protection Week, March 3-9, Attorney General Chris Koster warns consumers to beware of home repair and contractor-related scams, noting: Disreputable contractors often solicit work door-to-door or through telemarketing; These sham contractors often are not established in the area, but rather swoop in after a storm or other natural disaster;

T hese contractors offer to do work such as blacktopping driveways, installing lightning rods, painting, roofing and siding. Their work and materials are inferior. The cost of the job may rise considerably after the work is performed and the consumer may be intimidated into paying the increase;

As alleged in the All Seasons lawsuit, the contractor may not do the work at all. Attorney General Koster provides consumers with the following red flags and tips with regard to contractor fraud: Red flags · Contractors who appear uninvited at your doorstep or who call or email you out of the blue. · The contractor says he is doing work in your neighborhood and claims he has “extra material” left over. · The contractor pressures you to make a decision and sign a contract for the work immediately. · The contractor offers a “special deal” available “today only.” · The contractor points out a problem with your home that you never noticed yourself before. Some unscrupulous scam artist have been known to offer “free” inspections and then break something on purpose so they can be paid to “fix” the problem. · The contractor lacks identification, such as a permit from the city or county. Tips to prevent becoming a victim of contractor scams: · Get multiple estimates on any home-repair job before signing a contract. · Check out the contractor’s references and visit the site in the reference to check out the quality of the work. · Check for complaints with the Attorney General’s Office or the Better Business Bureau. · Never pay in full up-front, especially if cash is the only payment accepted. · Make sure the contractor is insured and bonded. · Document in writing the scope of the work to be done, the complete cost of the work, the time necessary to complete the job, and how payment will be handled.
Friday, 08 March 2013 09:47
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The Cardinals have signed right-handed hitter Allen Craig to a new 5-year deal through 2017 with a club option for 2018. The 27-year-old slugger is in third year with the Cardinals. Craig hit 22 home runs last season with 92 RBI. He's used primarily as a first baseman and outfielder.
Friday, 08 March 2013 09:48
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EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - A southwestern Illinois martial arts instructor is facing more federal felonies alleging that he sexually abused several students, including a 6-year-old. A federal grand jury in East St. Louis has returned a six-count indictment against 20-year-old Christopher Horton of Highland. He's now charged with five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor. Horton had faced just two federal sexual-exploitation counts, as well as nine state charges. Federal prosecutors say that between May of last year and last month in Madison and St. Clair counties, Horton video-recorded himself in sexual activity with three children. Horton taught at Three Tigers Martial Arts in Belleville and is jailed without bond. A message was left Friday with Horton's federal public defender, Thomas Gabel.
Friday, 08 March 2013 09:24
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KIRKSVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A hearing for a northeast Missouri man charged with killing and dismembering his neighbor was delayed when the defendant could not attend the proceeding. The hearing for 49-year-old Paul R. Potter of Kirksville was continued Thursday until April 12. Potter faces first-degree murder and other charges in the January death of 74-year-old Willis Edward Meredith. Prosecutors say Potter stabbed Meredith, dismembered his body and set fires to conceal the crime. He also allegedly threw the victim's arms at witnesses shortly before he was arrested. The Kirksville Daily Express reports (http://bit.ly/10gMZRF ) prosecutors wanted Potter to attend the hearing. But his attorney, Kevin Locke, said Potter was not in condition to make an unplanned appearance at the hearing and the judge agreed to continue it.
Friday, 08 March 2013 09:18
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Travelers will be able to fly Southwest Airlines out of Branson starting tomorrow.

Southwest plans to offer one daily flight each to Chicago, Dallas and Houston.

Airport officials say Southwest will add a second daily flight to Chicago starting in June.
Friday, 08 March 2013 08:56
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CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri jury has convicted a man of playing a role in the 2011 killing of a man whose burned body was found near a trash bin in neighboring Illinois.

A St. Louis County jury deliberated about three hours Wednesday before finding 41-year-old Ernest Smith guilty of second-degree murder and armed criminal action. A co-defendant, 19-year-old Marquan Prete, has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial.

Authorities allege Smith lured 30-year-old Christopher Scott of Normandy to his house after suspecting him in a previous break-in. After an argument, investigators believe Prete tackled Scott and held him down before Smith shot him twice.

Scott's burned body was later found dumped in Madison, Ill.

Prete's attorney has acknowledged his client was present during the killing but says he took no part in it.
Friday, 08 March 2013 08:22
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WOOD RIVER, Ill. (AP) - Authorities in Wood River, Illinois say they've identified the body of a suspected heroin overdose victim as that of a 28-year-old man.

The (Alton) Telegraph reports that Kenneth Harris Jr.'s body was found Tuesday in a car parked in a bay of a car wash in Wood River.

Deputy Police Chief Mickey Sabolo says the investigation points to a heroin overdose as the cause of the man's death, and no foul play is suspected. Authorities say drug paraphernalia was found next to the victim, who Sabolo says appeared to have died alone.

An autopsy was conducted Tuesday, but results weren't released. Authorities are awaiting results of toxicology tests.
Friday, 08 March 2013 08:16
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A former metro-east police chief will spend 18-months on probation and lose his right to carry a badge after pleading guilty to official misconduct.

Former New Athens Chief Dallas Hill admitted taking an Apple iPod and iPad from the department's evidence locker for personal use.

St. Clair County Prosecutor Brandon Kelly says it's the kind of crime officials hate to see. "You never want to have to do anything like this. You never want to have to prosecute a police officer, because they're part of our team."

Though the 27-year-old Hill won't report to a probation officer, the felony conviction bars him from being a police officer and carrying a gun.
Friday, 08 March 2013 07:52
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Maplewood police are looking for the man who stole a pickup truck from the Maplewood Commons Shopping Center, and then assaulted the truck's owner when he tried to get it back.

Police say the victim had just finished shopping when he returned to his truck around noon Thursday to find someone driving off with it.

Maplewood Police Detective Matt Nibor says the truck's owner chased after him, jumping into the bed of the pickup. "The truck then started traveling at a high rate of speed down Hanley Road and then entered onto Highway 40 eastbound."

Detective Nibor says the victim broke out a window on the truck and the suspect pulled over. Then the suspect threw the victim out of the truck bed, beat him and left him along the roadside.

The victim is expected to recover.

Police are looking for the suspect and the stolen 1992 GMC Seirra with Missouri plates reading 1HN-375. The truck is maroon, with a darker maroon hood, white front fenders and a broken rear window.

The suspect is described as a light skin African American Male in his early 20s. He is about 5’7″ and weighs about 150 lbs. He was last seen wearing a black t-shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information call the Maplewood Police Department at 314-646-3621.
Friday, 08 March 2013 02:52
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Railroad officials say the man struck and killed by an Amtrak train in Pacific Wednesday night had been cutting across the tracks when the accident happened. Police say 20 year -old Zachary Brady was walking home from his job at a fast-food restaurant when Amtrak's Missouri River Runner train struck and killed him.

Police say this is the fourth serious accident along the Union Pacific line near the Fourth Street crossing in the last eight years -- two others were also fatal.

An Amtrak official told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that most accidents involving pedestrians could be avoided if people wouldn't trespass on railroad tracks. Trespasser fatalities have become the leading cause of railroad deaths.
Friday, 08 March 2013 02:29
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