Pa. Takes Furniture Store To Court After FOX 29 Investigates Report

Pennsylvania's attorney general is taking aim at a Philadelphia business.

Jeff Cole and FOX 29 Investigates dug deeper when customers first complained about this local furniture store.

Now, Attorney General Kathleen Kane says she's holding the company accountable. Her office says these business owners failed on what they promised.

It's a step toward justice for many customers who say they were ripped off, FOX 29's Karen Hepp reported from outside the business, which was still open Thursday night.

Willie McDonald's living room and dining room are empty. He and his wife scraped together nearly 3,000 hard-earned dollars for furniture they never got.

The West Philadelphia man feels cheated, taken advantage of and so overwhelmed it makes him emotional.

"It hurts. All I want is for my furniture or money back, that's all," McDonald said.

And that's exactly what the state attorney general wants. Dozens of victims, many of them elderly, tell FOX 29 Investigates the same story. They bought furniture from "Furniture Sir-Plus," which changed hands and became "King Furniture Warehouse," and they got nothing from either.

Now, both old and new owners are being sued by the state. The individual defendants are Daniel Roberts, of North 63rd Street in Philadelphia, Mark Finkelstein, of Buchanan Street in Lakewood, N.J., and Charles Lederman, of Meetinghouse Road in Elkins Park.

They're accused of three violations of the state's Consumer Protection Law.

Court documents say the store advertised in November a "liquidation" sale with "entire inventory up to 70% off" and that "everything must go!" And Furniture Sir-Plus collected a substantial sum from customers, some in the form of deposits on layaways. Others who paid in full were given delivery dates that in many cases weren't met.

Prosecutors say the store, facing cash-flow problems, closed its Roosevelt Boulevard and Tacony stores and moved all inventory to its Lancaster Avenue location but "failed to make reasonable efforts to notify customers."

And when King Furniture Warehouse took over in April, it for some time kept the same phone number, computer system for furniture orders (both new and prior consumers), furniture and employees, yet failed to deliver the furniture to certain former customers, the lawsuit alleges.

Read More: Attorney General's News Release

"The law in this case is pretty straightforward, unequivocal and clear," said Chief Deputy Attorney General Basil Merenda, director of the office's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "If they accepted money from consumers for furniture, they have to provide furniture or they have to provide refunds. If they don't have the furniture, they have to provide dollar-for-dollar refunds."

We wanted to ask the store's new owner about the state's lawsuit. Roberts was still working in the store - which is still very much open late Thursday afternoon - and said he's trying to make things right.

"We here at Furniture King, we're here to help the customer, whatever Sir-Plus messed up. That's the bottom line," Roberts said. "That's all I need to say."

"OK, so you're trying to make things right?" Hepp asked.

"We've been trying to make it right, long time. That's it, so, whatever they're trying to do, let them do what they do," Roberts answered.

The state is going to try to get all of the documents, find the people who are owed money here and try to figure this all out. A preliminary injunction has been filed, so the store has about 20 days to respond.

Maybe the store will be shut down, but at least some action has been taken on a grander scale, and people are hopeful that perhaps they can either get their money back or their furniture, Hepp reported.

Watch Video: FOX 29 Investigates' Original Report