EMERSON, N.J. -- The embattled former owner of several closed Just Pups stores has agreed to permanently stop selling animals in New Jersey, authorities said Monday.
Vincent LoSacco, of Emerson, agreed to the terms to settle charges that his company misled customers about the health of the puppies sold, failed to reimburse consumers for animals that got sick or died, and committed dozens of other acts of consumer fraud.
Under a settlement with the state Division of Consumer Affairs, Just Pups is permanently prohibited from conducting business in New Jersey, while LoSacco is permanently barred from advertising or selling animals in the state in any capacity.
That includes as an owner, employee, consultant, or independent contractor at a pet store, kennel, or breeding establishment, either in a paid or unpaid position.
He also must pay $326,000 in penalties and other costs unless he meets all of the terms of the consent agreement with the state to the letter.
“We’re pleased to finally close the book on Vincent LoSacco’s long and troubled history of selling puppies in this state,” said Attorney General Christopher Porrino.
“By permanently banning him from New Jersey’s pet sales industry, we are not only protecting consumers from fraud," Porrino said. "We are shielding families from the heartache of unwittingly purchasing a sick puppy and then being forced to choose between paying costly vet fees or losing their pet.”
“Buying a puppy is an emotional investment as well a financial investment," said Steve Lee, director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. "We will not allow unscrupulous pet stores to deliberately deceive consumers in this very important purchase.”
In addition to permanently barring LoSacco and Just Pups from any further activity in New Jersey, the settlement requires him to pay a civil penalty of $290,000, $30,163 in restitution to consumers and $5,876 in reimbursement of investigative costs.
The $290,000 civil penalty will be suspended if the defendants meet the terms of the agreement, Porrino said.
The settlement resolves allegations contained in a complaint filed by state authorities last September that charges LoSacco and Just Pups with violating New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (CFA), Pet Purchase Protection Act (PPA) and Pet and Advertising Regulations.
The offenses included:
- Selling sick or defective animals to consumers from stores in East Brunswick, East Hanover, Emerson, and Paramus.
- Misrepresenting as healthy and selling dogs suffering from Kennel Cough, Parvo, Bronchitis, and Giardia.
- Failing to reimburse consumers for veterinary fees associated with the treatment of sick or defective dogs, even after receiving veterinary certifications that the animals had been unfit for sale.
- Failing to refund the purchase price plus sales tax of an animal that died due to congenital or hereditary cause, within six months of delivery to consumer.
- Misrepresenting that dogs are healthy when such was not the case.
- Failing to have an animal that was examined more than 14 days prior to purchase reexamined by a veterinarian within 72 hours of delivery, as required by law.
- Misrepresenting on the Just Pups website that Just Pups can prove that all of its puppies are free from adverse health symptoms, when such was not the case.
- Selling an animal within the State of New Jersey without a completed animal history and health certificate.
LoSacco had an extensive history of trouble in Bergen County -- including at his now-defunct Emerson and Paramus stores.
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