Judge Allen Baddour entered a judgment and permanent injunction against James Ware Kelley and his firm, Ware Investments LLC, ordering them to pay the refunds as well as $96,000 in civil penalties and $12,000 in court costs, according to a press release from N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office.
The firm is also barred from collecting security deposits in the future.
“Security deposits protect landlords from tenants, but they should give them back if the tenants haven’t done anything wrong,” Cooper said in the release.
Kelley said in an email that he believes Cooper is targeting him because of his work investigating mortgage fraud.
“It’s the most likely reason Roy Cooper is attacking me,” he said. “Protecting big corporations that are campaign contributors instead of representing citizens.”
It’s been widely speculated that Cooper will run for governor in 2016.
Noelle Talley, spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Justice, said the office cannot be sure how long it will take for tenants to receive the refunds, since Kelley filed for bankruptcy in Colorado in 2013.
“It’s tied up in bankruptcy court, so what our office will be doing next is going to bankruptcy court to try to collect on the judgment,” she said.