BOSTON – A Foxborough real estate developer has been sued for allegedly taking more than $200,000 in advance payments for new, single-family homes in Sharon that were never provided, and refusing to return the deposits, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced in a press release Monday.
The AG’s Office has obtained a temporary restraining order in Suffolk Superior Court against Michael Intoccia of Foxborough, and his companies including Bella Estates Realty Trust, MTI Realty, and Intoccia Builders Corporation, prohibiting them from accepting future deposits for new homes unless the deposits are put into escrow, Coakley said.
The order also freezes assets sufficient enough to pay a possible court judgment, and requires the defendants to disclose records that might reveal the existence of other consumers who paid deposits but never received a new home, Coakley said.
“Buying a new house should be a happy milestone for a family,” AG Coakley said. “Instead, we allege this developer took advantage of homebuyers by taking thousands of dollars from them, failing to build the homes he promised to build, and in several cases, never returning the deposits.”
The lawsuit seeks more than $200,000 in restitution for five homebuyers who paid for homes in the Bella Estates development in Sharon. The AG’s Office is also seeking statutory penalties and a further injunction preventing the defendants from taking unsecured deposits.
According to the complaint, Intoccia operates a development business in Norfolk County through a network of companies that were involved in the planning, marketing, and construction of the Bella Estates development that was to consist of 29 single-family house lots. The defendants allegedly solicited buyers and took deposits of up to $55,300 per residence.
Intoccia and his companies also allegedly made false promises to promptly build homes when they knew that construction was prevented by permitting issues, and in some cases took multiple deposits for the same lot, Coakley said. Homebuyers suffered additional expenses for moving, temporary housing, appliances and fixtures for houses that were never built.
The defendants allegedly held consumers’ deposits long after the final deadlines for closing passed and in some cases more than two years after the deposit was paid, Coakley said. The complaint alleges that the defendants allowed many lots in Bella Estates to fall into foreclosure.
A hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction to extend the conditions of the temporary restraining order will be held on Tuesday.
This is not the first time Intoccia’s business conduct has been called into question. On Jan. 25, 2011, Intoccia’s lawyer, Robert Shelmerdine, appeared before Foxborough’s Board of Selectmen during a public hearing to determine whether or not to suspend or revoke Intoccia’s liquor license at Christina’s Grill and Function – now Demetri’s – for failure to pay real estate taxes and other debts on time to the town. Shelmerdine informed the board during the hearing that payment for interest fees, penalties, and taxes were paid in full prior to the start of the .
In 2009, a similar scenario occurred when Intoccia submitted a last-minute payment of overdue taxes to the town.
Two days after the Jan. 25, 2011 BOS meeting, Shelmerdine was again representing Intoccia, this time in front of the town’s Planning Board. Shelmerdine was reportedly verbally sparring with board members on whether or not the board had met its legal obligation to set a deadline for necessary work to be done at the Highlawn Farm subdivision site, owned by Intoccia, according to Patch's Courtney Jansson.
Board members discussed during the the outstanding conditions and problems accruing to the Highlawn Farm subdivision, which they explained had not been completed since the project ground to a halt.
Board member Gordon Greene stressed to Shelmerdine that the Board’s patience with Intoccia had come to an end and that construction of street lights, planting of trees, conveyance of open space to the town and removal of construction material off-site needed to be completed as soon as weather permitted in 2011.
More recently, Intoccia’s company, MJ Holdings, was involved in a tumultuous public hearing for the liquor license transfer from Intoccia, the manager of Christina’s license, to Nicholas Panagopoulos, the property’s landlord.
Read more about the issues involving the liquor license transfer here.
In addition to the liquor license “mess” involving Intoccia’s company, Foxborough Police Chief Edward O’Leary said the Foxborough businessman owed nearly $9,400 in cost of police detail during events at Christina’s. Panagopoulos paid what Intoccia’s company owed the town in police detail as well as $20,000 in water bills and $84,000 in meals tax liability.
Selectmen agreed to transfer Intoccia’s liquor license to Panagopoulos on Aug. 7 on three conditions.
Intoccia, according to Christina’s website, was co-owner of the function hall as well as Funway Café and started his career in 1988 when he launched Intoccia Construction Company. During his career he has created residential subdivision in Canton, Stoughton, Foxborough, Sharon, Westwood, Norwood, Easton, Norton, Raynham and Hingham. Intoccia, according to Christina’s website, is a partner in F1 Boston, an outdoor racing track.