September 4, 2019
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced on Tuesday that a judgment was issued in a price-gouging lawsuit against Henderson County resident Nicholas Downey and his company, Action Tree Pros, Inc.
The judgment prohibits Downey from collecting any amounts for tree removal work done in North Carolina following Hurricane Florence. He’s also banned from conducting any future work in the state.
He’s being required to pay $2,500 in restitution and $11,000 in civil penalties.
“Our state’s price gouging statute is in effect right now as we brace for Hurricane Dorian,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Today’s judgment is a reminder that there will always be scammers who try to take advantage of people during or after a crisis, and my office will not tolerate it. We will hold accountable anyone who price gouges consumers.”
The case went to court in October 2018, after Hurricane Florence.
Attorney General Stein said Downey allegedly estimated $5,000 to do tree removal work on a Wilmington-area property but submitted a bill for $10,565 when the work was done.
The complaint also alleged that Downey ignored an order from the property manager not to work on any other properties she managed, but he allegedly ignored this and contracted to take down other trees at excessive prices – totaling over $93,000 for several tree removal jobs.