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IN THE MATTER OF:
NORTHLAND GROUP, INC.
WHEREAS, the Banking Commissioner (“Commissioner”) is charged with the administration of Part XII of Chapter 669, Sections 36a-800 to 36a-812, inclusive, of the Connecticut General Statutes, “Consumer Collection Agencies”, and the regulations promulgated thereunder, Sections 36a-809-6 to 36a-809-17, inclusive, of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (“Regulations”);
WHEREAS, Northland Group is a Minnesota corporation that is currently licensed to act as a consumer collection agency in Connecticut from 7831 Glenroy Road, Suite 250, Edina, Minnesota, 1311 N. Highway 71, Willmar, Minnesota, and 108 Thomas Circle, Monticello, Minnesota;
WHEREAS, at certain times relevant hereto, Accounts Receivable Management, Inc. (“ARM”), was licensed to act as a consumer collection agency in Connecticut from 155 Mid Atlantic Parkway, Thorofare, New Jersey, and 312 Whittington Parkway, Suite 010, Louisville, Kentucky;
WHEREAS, Northland Group entered into discussions to acquire certain assets and rights of ARM (“Transaction”);
WHEREAS, Northland Group herein represents that it retained the law firm of Weinberg, Jacobs & Tolani, LLP (“Weinberg Law”), a law firm with extensive experience in collection industry matters and specializing in licensing and compliance matters, to review, analyze and conduct all necessary license notifications and licensing applications, if any, necessitated by the Transaction;
WHEREAS, on September 29, 2014, the Consumer Credit Division of the Department of Banking (“Division”) received a letter dated September 25, 2014, from Weinberg Law, which stated, in pertinent part, that “[t]his letter is to inform you that Northland Group will be opening two new branch locations this fall. . . . Over the coming weeks, we will be sending branch applications, fees, and other materials required under your state or city statute, as well as the exact date or dates of the opening of these two locations. If your jurisdiction only requires notice of branch openings, this letter will serve as that notification. In the meantime, if you require anything further, please contact our licensing specialist . . . ”;
WHEREAS, on October 27, 2014, the Division received a letter dated October 24, 2014, from Weinberg Law which stated, in pertinent part, that “[o]n behalf of Northland Group, Inc., a licensed collection agency within your jurisdiction, I’m pleased to enclose two Branch Office Applications for Consumer Collection Agency Licenses for two new location [sic] in Louisville, Kentucky, and Thorofare, New Jersey”. Such applications are currently pending;
WHEREAS, the Commissioner, through the Division, conducted an investigation pursuant to Section 36a-17 of the Connecticut General Statutes into the activities of Northland Group to determine if it had violated, was violating or was about to violate the provisions of the Connecticut General Statutes and Regulations within the jurisdiction of the Commissioner;
WHEREAS, as a result of such investigation, the Commissioner alleges that during the month of October 2014, Northland Group acted within this state as a consumer collection agency from 155 Mid Atlantic Parkway, Thorofare, New Jersey, and 312 Whittington Parkway, Suite 010, Louisville, Kentucky, without the requisite consumer collection agency licenses, in violation of Section 36a-801(a) of the then applicable Connecticut General Statutes;
WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 36a-801(a) of the then applicable Connecticut General Statutes, “[n]o person shall act within this state as a consumer collection agency unless such person has first obtained a consumer collection agency license for such person’s main office and each branch office where such person’s business is conducted”;
WHEREAS, the Commissioner believes that such allegation would support the initiation of enforcement proceedings against Northland Group, including proceedings to issue a cease and desist order against Northland Group pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended by Public Act 15-235, and Section 36a-52(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes, and impose a civil penalty of up to one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) per violation upon Northland Group pursuant to Section 36a-804(b) of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended, and Section 36a-50(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes;
WHEREAS, initiation of such enforcement proceedings would constitute a “contested case” within the meaning of Section 4-166(4) of the Connecticut General Statutes;
WHEREAS, Section 4-177(c) of the Connecticut General Statutes and Section 36a-1-55(a) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies provide that a contested case may be resolved by consent order, unless precluded by law;
WHEREAS, both the Commissioner and Northland Group acknowledge the possible consequences of formal administrative proceedings, and Northland Group voluntarily agrees to consent to the entry of the sanctions imposed below without admitting or denying the allegation set forth herein, and solely for the purpose of obviating the need for formal administrative proceedings concerning the allegation set forth herein;
WHEREAS, to date, the Commissioner has received no consumer complaints relating to Northland Group’s conduct of operations at the ARM sites, including any injury to a consumer, false or misleading representations, harassment or abuse, or unfair or deceptive practices;
WHEREAS, Northland Group specifically assures the Commissioner that the violation alleged herein shall not occur in the future;
AND WHEREAS, Northland Group, through its execution of this Consent Order, voluntarily agrees to waive its procedural rights, including a right to notice and an opportunity for a hearing as it pertains to the allegation set forth herein, and voluntarily waives its right to seek judicial review or otherwise challenge or contest the validity of this Consent Order.
CONSENT TO ENTRY OF SANCTIONS
WHEREAS, Northland Group, through its execution of this Consent Order, consents to the Commissioner’s entry of a Consent Order imposing the following sanctions:
|1.||No later than the date this Consent Order is executed by Northland Group, they shall remit to the Department of Banking by cashier’s check, certified check or money order made payable to “Treasurer, State of Connecticut”, the sum of Seven Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($7,500) as a civil penalty; and|
|2.||Northland Group shall immediately cease and desist from acting as consumer collection agency in Connecticut from any unlicensed location, in violation of Section 36a-801(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended by Public Act 15-235.|
NOW THEREFORE, the Commissioner enters the following:
|1.||The Sanctions set forth above be and are hereby entered;|
|2.||Upon issuance of this Consent Order by the Commissioner, this matter will be resolved and the Commissioner will not take any future enforcement action against Northland Group based upon the allegation contained herein; provided that issuance of this Consent Order is without prejudice to the right of the Commissioner to take enforcement action against Northland Group based upon a violation of this Consent Order or the matters underlying its entry, if the Commissioner determines that compliance with the terms herein is not being observed or if any representation made by Northland Group and reflected herein is subsequently discovered to be untrue;|
|3.||Nothing in the issuance of this Consent Order shall adversely affect the ability of Northland Group to apply for or obtain a license or renewal licenses under Part XII of Chapter 669, Sections 36a-800 to 36a-812, inclusive, of the Connecticut General Statutes provided that all statutory requirements have been met; and|
|4.||This Consent Order shall become final when issued.|
Issued at Hartford, Connecticut
this 28th day of September 2015. _______/s/_________
Jorge L. Perez
I, Lance T. Black, state on behalf of Northland Group, Inc., that I have read the foregoing Consent Order; that I know and fully understand its contents; that I am authorized to execute this Consent Order on behalf of Northland Group, Inc.; that Northland Group, Inc., agrees freely and without threat or coercion of any kind to comply with the sanctions entered and terms and conditions ordered herein; and that Northland Group, Inc., voluntarily agrees to enter into this Consent Order, expressly waiving the procedural rights set forth herein as to the matters described herein.
Name: Lance T. Black
Northland Group, Inc.
State of: Minnesota
County of: Hennepin
On this the 15th day of September 2015, before me, Jeffrey A. Olson, the undersigned officer, personally appeared Lance T. Black who acknowledged himself to be the President of Northland Group, Inc., a corporation, and that he as such President, being authorized so to do, executed the foregoing instrument for the purposes therein contained, by signing the name of the corporation by himself as President.
In witness whereof I hereunto set my hand.
Date Commission Expires: 1/30/20