PARSIPPANY – On Thursday, December 5, 2019, the Lake Parsippany Volunteer Fire Department, District 6 Parsippany-Troy Hills Volunteer Fire Department, District 1 Mount Tabor Volunteer Fire Department were dispatched to a house fire in Lake Parsippany at 125 Allentown Road. Additionally, the Boonton RIC team was dispatched with the Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Department, Parsippany Emergency Medical Services and Parsippany Rescue and Recovery. (Click here to read the original story).
It was the start of a three-year nightmare for the Elvin family.
The family lost all their belongings in the fire. The family stayed at the Hilton Hotel for the first few nights, then took up residence at the Residence Inn for a month, (now Sonesta ES Suites) 3 Gatehall Drive. Then our first house was rented for less than a year (about 10 months) and then the family moved into a house on Halsey Road, close to their house on Allentown Road. This allowed the children to attend the same schools and be close to their friends.
“At the time of the fire, my son was a senior at PHHS, my daughters were in grades 6 and 8. My son is now in college, my daughters will be in junior, and my youngest in freshman at PHHS,” said Lisa Elvin.
“It has been a long and arduous journey for my family. We have seen the best in people who have stood up and continue to stand up for us and the worst in people who have shown no empathy and taken advantage of our situation. “I am very proud of my children who have shown such strength, such kindness and such adaptability in the face of adversity. We are happy to finally be able to return home,” said said Elvin.
Last week, the Elvins were finally able to return to their home after numerous delays. 959 days from the day of the fire until the house is finished.
Yuliano Landscaping and its employees helped the Elvin family move their possessions from Halsey Road to their original home on Allentown Road.
Louis Yuliano, Jr., said, “As a longtime resident of Parsippany, my employees and I were happy to help with Elvin’s move. It’s been a long road for them. Many things have changed in their life. When we learned that their home was renovated and ready to move in, we stepped up and provided our employees and vehicles to facilitate their move. We are always happy to help our neighbors.
Neighbors helping their neighbors
Additionally, on December 7, 2019, Focus Parsippany, and its publisher Frank Cahill, contacted former Mayor Soriano and asked if we could use City Hall as a collection location. We asked Parsippany Focus readers to donate clothing and gift cards. The offer was overwhelming, that we had to stop collections. Lots of clothes were donated, that their temporary location at the hotel was filled with bags. Residents also donated gift cards to ShopRite, Walmart and other locations. Sons of Italy 2561 donated hundreds of dollars worth of Walmart gift cards to help the family buy clothes. (Click here to read the original story)
Frank Cahill said: ‘I was going back and forth to town hall daily to pick up clothes and items to bring to the Elvin family. The amount of donations was overwhelming. This is an example of Parsippany’s generosity. I also reached out to IHOP and hosted a “Dinner to Donate” to raise additional funds. Crunch Fitness hosted two group fitness classes to raise money for the family. It’s really “neighbors helping their neighbours”.
IHOP Parsippany hosted a “donation dinner” for the Elvin family and raised over $1,000.00. (Click here to read the original story)
Crunch Fitness held two group fitness classes at Parsippany High School to benefit the Elvin family. (Click here to read the original story)
Lisa said, “I would like to thank the people of Parsippany who support us. We really love this city, more than ever.
While the fire was still smoldering, contractors and public experts attempted to solicit business from Elvin at the site, she said. In the days that followed, she hired two.
Elvin is in a battle with two banks, her insurance company, the contractor’s estate, and the public adjuster she hired. She pays out of pocket for a new contractor to work on the house while she stays in a rental with her children – paying both rent and her mortgage – and the house is only 70% complete over 18 months after the fire, she said.
Elvin said he met with a representative from a public accounting firm the night of the fire. The company would help her manage insurance payments, contractors and other issues related to fixing her home, she said.
At first, everything seemed to be moving forward, but slowly, she says.
His insurance company, Plymouth Rock, distributed three checks to the public surveyor on January 14, 2020, documents show. The first, for over $32,000, required approval from Elvin and the public appraiser. The other two checks, for $90,000 and $99,000, were supposed to be endorsed by Elvin, the public adjuster, and Bank of America, Elvin’s mortgage company.
Elvin said she never saw the three checks, but didn’t realize there was a problem because work was being done by Hometown Restoration of New Rochelle, NY, the contractor general hired by Elvin.
Then in October 2020, Thomas Keith, the owner of Hometown, passed away. Hometown’s subcontractors stopped being paid and work on the house ceased the following month, Elvin said.
It was then that Elvin realized something was wrong. She started following the paper trail.
A letter from the public appraiser’s office to Hometown dated Jan. 27, 2020, with the three checks attached, instructed Homestead to have the checks endorsed by Elvin and his mortgage company, documents show.
Elvin then received copies of the insurance checks that were deposited into Hometown’s account at Chase. She said someone else signed her name on the checks. It wasn’t her, she said.
Bank of America told Bamboozled that it also does not approve checks.
For months, Elvin has been trying to convince Chase, who accepted and cashed the checks, to return the money to Plymouth Rock or his bank, Citibank, based on emails and documents reviewed by Bamboozled.
She tried to convince Citibank to follow Chase and get Plymouth Rock to issue new checks and then fight the banks, but that didn’t work either.
And Hometown Restoration, the deceased entrepreneur’s company, has filed for bankruptcy.
“Where are the consumer protections?” said Elvine. “The sums must be returned to me by my insurance company and/or the banks involved in the transaction. These related parties are not held liable even if they have a fiduciary role.
She hired an attorney who, in addition to speaking to the parties on Elvin’s behalf, sent an investigation to the Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI).
“It appears that an investigation against the Adjuster public is also warranted,” DOBI said in a letter to Elvin’s attorney.
The attorney also contacted Travelers, the company holding the public adjuster’s bond, which is worth only $10,000, asking it to pay due to an alleged “breach of contract and failure to comply with the law on New Jersey Public Surveyor Licenses”.
This request is still ongoing.
No one wants to take responsibility, Elvin said, noting that in December 2020, after the contractor’s death, representatives from Plymouth Rock and contractors sent by Hometown agreed in a meeting that only about 27% of the paid work was completed.
“Without anyone doing the right thing, the only recourse we have is legal, which is taking time and my family wants to go home now,” Elvin said. “We can’t afford not to go home now.”
She asked Bamboozled for help.
Chase, the contractor’s depositing bank, essentially said it was too late, explaining that there was a 30-day deadline to report fraud, but it received the claim 11 months after filing.
“We contacted the other bank twice to see if there was anything we could do,” spokeswoman Briana Curran said. “Given the contractual deadline and the fact that we have not had a response from the other bank, we have refused the claim.”
But Elvin, and by extension Plymouth Rock and Citibank, were unaware that a fraud would have taken place until the contractor died and work stopped, long after the checks had been cashed.
Citibank said it had “engaged in discussions with relevant parties to provide the requested information”, noting that as a noncustodial bank it is “limited” in its ability to provide refunds.
Plymouth Rock, when asked if it would reimburse Elvin and then fight with the banks, said it had worked closely with Elvin, including extending its living expenses cover beyond the limit. of the one-year policy, and he said he was actively working with Citibank to “continue the ongoing investigation.”
Elvin was unhappy with this response, saying the company had not been proactive on his behalf. And, she said, living expense payments ended in June.
“The response we always get is, ‘The investigation is still ongoing,'” she said, calling the insurer “difficult, dismissive and insensitive”.
Elvin remains both frustrated and furious, and now she is considering restoring her hometown in bankruptcy court.
According to court documents covering Hometown’s claim in court, Elvin’s claim is sixth behind the IRS, the New York State Department of Labor, two credit cards and a car loan application, which gives a chance to get some kind of relief.
As of June 9, 2021, the company had cash worth $150,289, projected income of $896,176, and other funds that may come from the sale of trucks and other assets, according to documents.
A liquidation plan is expected to be established by the end of 2021, “with the court providing for distribution of funds to creditors in order of priority as set forth in the bankruptcy code,” said Hometown bankruptcy attorney Dawn Kirby. .
Angry but not defeated, Elvin had a lot to say about her situation.
“Losing your family home is traumatic. My three children, who are now teenagers, grew up in this house,” she said. “We lost everything we owned, including family heirlooms, keepsakes and many photos. These items can never be replaced.
“There is no understanding or empathy involved. It’s all business,” she said. “We are still not at home. We just want to go home.