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N.J. Attorney General: 'Reconstruction Summit' Is False Advertising

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa has filed a lawsuit against the organizer of a planned post-Superstorm Sandy "reconstruction summit," claiming that the organizer has violated the state's Consumer Fraud Act and has created the false impression that the summit is somehow government-sanctioned.

Chiesa filed the suit late Friday against William S. Loiry, claiming Loiry was operating under the unregistered business names of United States Leadership Forum, NY/NJ Restoration Leadership, and Ultimate Events, LLC., and engaging in false advertising for an upcoming "Superstorm Sandy Reconstruction Summit" in Trenton.

"While individuals and businesses affected by Sandy are desperately seeking the means to rebuild and recover, we allege that William Loiry hatched a scheme to profit from those suffering in New Jersey," Chiesa said. "`We are sending a clear message to any and all out-of-state or homegrown con artists, of all stripes and varieties: New Jersey is not a state to mess with."

Loiry has addresses in Florida. Reached by email, he said he was shocked by the lawsuit, felt it "has no merit whatsoever," and plans to "vigorously fight it."

"I care about helping people and making the world better, which is why I do what I do," Loiry said. "Since 1996, more than 45,000 local, state, national, and international leaders have participated in my highly-regarded events, which are designed to help speed solutions for our most urgent problems."

On one of his own Web sites, Loiry promotes his many restoration summits – particularly for Gulf Coast residents who were victimized by hurricanes and the BP oil spill. For a summit on Hurricane Isaac, Loiry says on his Web site that the American Red Cross lauded his work.

But the suit claims Loiry has created the false impression his organization and summit is quasi-governmental, even alleging using a presidential seal and a quote from Barack Obama on one of his Web sites, according to court papers.

Chiesa said an investigation by New Jersey consumer fraud officials into Loiry's background showed about 20 outstanding legal actions against him, some of which relate to money owed from prior disaster summits, including in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina, according to court papers.

Records show Loiry filed personal bankruptcy in September 2011, but the filing was opposed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee on the grounds that Loiry had allegedly made one of more false oaths or accounts, Chiesa said.

Chiesa said Loiry already had collected registration fees of $175 per person from 30 people, and $1,000 per-business from two businesses for the New Jersey event.

The suit seeks to stop Loiry from holding the Dec. 17 Trenton summit and force him to return any money he's collected from registrants.

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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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