7 On Your Side

Chimney sweeps swept up in sting

Monday, August 06, 2012

They showed up to sweep chimneys, but wound up getting swept up in a sting instead.

"Mr. Lyons was subsequently charged with a misdemeanor count of conducting an unregistered home improvement business," Putnam County Sheriff's Department Captain William McNamara said.

He's talking about Christopher, a 31-year old employee of Empire Chimney Corp. Just 2 days after his arrest, another Empire employee, 28-year old Evan Roche, was busted in the same county for the same thing, only worse.

"He was additionally charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, and with 2 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the 4th degree deputies found him with a set of metal knuckles and an unregistered .22 pistol," McNamara said.

The sheriff says Roche and Chris Lyon both said they work for Lyon's older brother, Michael Lyon. Last summer, 7 On Your Side chased down Michael Lyon after senior Margo Hodson paid his other company, All Care Chimney, more than thousand for a repair job she said was bogus.

"I'm so furious with myself," she said back then.

Months later after our numerous calls Lyon finally paid Margo, but the story prompted a wave of other unhappy consumers with similar complaints.

After our investigation, a Middlesex County court banned Michael Lyon and All Care Chimney Corp. from doing business in New Jersey. He was charged with fraud and ordered to pay thousands in restitution to consumers for shoddy and bogus repairs. He plead not guilty.

Now more than a year later, law enforcement says a company under a different name owned by that very same Michael Lyon is guilty of doing illegal work again.

"Especially in the area of chimney repair work, because done incorrectly - leaks could be caused, which could lead to dangerous and deadly carbon monoxide leak into the home which could be fatal to the occupants," McNamara said.

We contacted Michael Lyon, who denied any connection to Empire Chimney Corp. until we pointed out he answered the phone number on the company invoice. Then he told us Empire was shut down and he didn't know about his employees arrests.

Both his brother and the other suspect have pled not guilty to the charges

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