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The Maryland Attorney General’s Office has ordered an unregistered homebuilder from Bel Alton to pay more than $837,000 in restitution, penalties, damages and investigation costs after determining he failed to build two homes as agreed or reimburse the prospective buyers.

Antoine Alyiouse Knott, 42, signed contracts in 2007 to build two homes in Charles and Prince George’s counties despite not being registered as a homebuilder with the state as required by law, per an investigation by the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division.

The division found that Knott stopped work on the homes in 2008, failing to complete either. He also failed to reimburse either homeowner, pay subcontractors or resolve building code violations, according to a news release. In addition, he did not properly protect either homeowner’s deposits or payments by placing them in an escrow account or maintaining a surety bond or letter of credit, the release states.

Knott’s actions violated the state’s Home Builder Registration Act, Custom Home Protection Act and Consumer Protection Act, the release states.

The division issued a final order Thursday requiring Knott to pay $282,841.88 in restitution, $465,000 in penalties, $84,833.72 in economic damages and $4,348.56 to cover the cost of the investigation.

“Buying a home is the biggest investment of your life, so it’s important that you’re protected before any money changes hands,” Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) said in the release. “All home builders are required to be registered with our office and deposits must be guaranteed by an escrow account, bond or letter of credit.”

The order also bars Knott from acting as a homebuilder in the state unless he registers under division requirements.

Knott also was sentenced in September to an eight-year prison term, 22 years of suspended jail time and five years of supervised probation after pleading guilty the previous May to five counts of check fraud during the second half of 2008 and theft of more than $500 in March 2009.

Knott was indicted in April 2010 on charges stemming from allegations that between July and December 2008 he wrote 15 bad checks totaling nearly $34,400 for equipment and vehicle rentals, building supplies and construction work, according to court documents.

As part of his May 2011 plea, Knott agreed to pay nearly $46,900 in restitution to his various victims.

Gansler encouraged new and prospective homebuyers to check whether their builder is registered by contacting the Home Builder Registration Unit at 410-576-6573 or 877-259-4525, or by going to www.oag.state.md.us/homebuilder.

jnewman@somdnews.com