SEATTLE – The Washington State Attorney General’s Office filed a court petition to prevent a New Jersey-based traveling salesman from promoting products – including a machine he claims can make a car engine run on pickle juice or cola.
The petition filed Feb. 10 in Spokane Superior Court accuses Dennis Lee of violating a 2002 court order when he made a presentation last week at the Seattle Public Library.
“Dennis Lee has repeatedly tried to defraud Washington consumers by promoting products that, in order to perform as he claims, would have to defy the laws of physics,” Attorney General Rob McKenna said. “He’s snubbed government regulators during his road shows and blatantly disregarded a court order that forbids him from selling items or business opportunities in Washington.”
During the Seattle presentation, Lee allegedly described products marketed by his company called Better World Alternatives. They include a detergent-free, magnetic laundry system; a type of paint that can substitute for home insulation; a drinkable insecticide; and a noiseless jackhammer.
The Attorney General’s Office served papers to Lee on Feb. 10 in Portland, Ore., where he was scheduled to make another sales presentation.
The Attorney General’s Office is asking for a $25,000 enhanced civil penalty and $2,000 for each violation of the state Consumer Protection Act.
The state is also asking that Lee be required to pay nearly $65,000 in penalties, costs and attorneys’ fees initially imposed in 2002. In that case, the Attorney General’s Office accused Lee, doing business as United Community Services of America, of violating laws while seeking investors for a “Sundance Generator” that he claimed could generate free or low-cost electricity.
Attorneys general in multiple states have gone to court to keep Lee from selling his products. Following is a summary of actions against him in Washington state:
October 1985: the Washington State Attorney General’s Office accused Lee, doing business as C.ON.S.E.R.V.E., of violating state and federal laws while promoting a “Solar Utility Network.” Lee agreed to a stipulated judgment that included a $25,000 suspended penalty plus $7,000 in costs and attorneys’ fees.
October 1999: The Department of Financial Institutions ordered Lee, Better World Technologies, United Community Services of America and other defendants to stop selling unregistered securities in Washington. The defendants were accused of seeking investors for a “perpetual motion machine” they claimed could generate free electricity.
November 2002: The Attorney General’s Office accused Lee, doing business as United Community Services of America, of violating laws while seeking investors for a “Sundance Generator” that he claimed could generate free or low-cost electricity. Lee was ordered to pay $6,000 in civil penalties and nearly $59,000 in costs and attorneys’ fees. He was also ordered to offer refunds to any investors. The order prohibits him from selling products, services or business opportunities to Washington residents until he has satisfied the judgment. The order also forbids him from making unsubstantiated scientific claims about the performance of products.
November 2004: After Lee failed to pay the 2002 fines, the state agreed to payment plan and a reduced fee of $25,000. He has made timely $500 monthly payments totaling $7,500.
February 2006: The state alleges that Lee violated the 2002 order when he gave a presentation Feb. 7 at the Seattle Public Library to an audience of about 40-50. Lee presented products and business opportunities purportedly associated with Better World Alternatives and Better World Technologies. The state is now asking that Lee be ordered to pay the entire amount imposed in 2002, instead of the reduced fine, as well as new penalties.
Media Contacts: Kristin Alexander, Public Information Officer, (206) 464-6432, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Zurlini, Assistant Attorney General, (509) 458-3538