Seattle - Legal victories scored by the Attorney General’s Office in two consumer-protection cases this week resulted in a total of $3.6 million in penalties and fees against the owner of a now-defunct computer company and an Everett-based distributor of unsolicited junk faxes, Attorney General Christine Gregoire said.
On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Rothstein granted summary judgment against Tri-Star Marketing of Everett and its owner, Dary G. Riedlinger. She ordered the defendants to pay nearly $2.1 million in damages, penalties and fees to the state.
Through unsolicited faxes to consumers around the country, Riedlinger and Tri-Star promoted a program called "Instant Millionaire." In violation of state and federal law, they charged between $225 and $775 to participate in the program.
Also Thursday, King County Superior Court Judge Larry Jordan granted a motion for a default judgment against Lynnwood-based Micoworkz.com, for violations of the state Consumer Protection Act. Jordan ordered Microworkz owner Rick Latman to pay $1.53 million in penalties.
The lawsuit against Micorowkz, filed in November 1999, accused the company and Latman of failing to deliver purchased computers, to honor warranties, to issue refunds and to honestly respond to consumer inquiries.
The Attorney General’s office has received more than 350 complaints against Microworkz, which has since gone out of business. Latman has also declared bankruptcy. The judgment against Latman is in civil penalties, which cannot be avoided through bankruptcy.
Penalty payments in the two cases will be placed in the state General Fund, and fees will be used to offset the state’s costs in the cases.