LAWRENCE: Patio World owner charged with theft by deception (UPDATED)

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By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
LAWRENCE — Perry K. Arons, the owner of Patio World Home and Hearth on Brunswick Pike, has been charged with one count of theft by deception for failing to deliver patio furniture to a Skillman couple, according to Acting Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri.
Mr. Arons, 56, who lives in Naples, Florida, allegedly received payments totaling about $38,000 from the couple in March 2015 and July 2015. The patio furniture was never delivered, and the couple did not receive a refund, said spokeswoman Casey DeBlasio of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
But his attorney, Robert Lytle of the Lawrence-based law firm of Szaferman Lakind, said the allegation that the Skillman couple is “out” $38,000 “simply is not the case.” When Patio World could not fill the order immediately, the couple was provided with loaner furniture, he said. The couple is owed a marble-top patio table and an umbrella, he said.
Mr. Lytle said Patio World has been in business in Lawrence Township for approximately 30 years, and to suggest that the owner has engaged in criminal conduct is “ludicrous.” The business has weathered the ups and downs in the economy, while other businesses have folded, he said.
The Skillman couple is attempting to make a criminal case out of civil litigation, Mr. Lytle said. Going to the Prosecutor’s Office means the couple does not have to hire an attorney to represent them in a civil lawsuit. The Prosecutor’s Office will handle the case and do all the work, he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Arons turned himself in to authorities June 9 and was released, Ms. DeBlasio said. Theft by deception, which is a third-degree crime, carries a penalty of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The Mercer County Division of Consumer Affairs referred the issue to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, which launched an investigation that is ongoing. It is being conducted by Sgt. Natischa K. Clark of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office’s Economic Crime Unit and Lawrence police Detective Todd Caruso.
Anyone with information should contact the Economic Crime Unit at (609) 989-6365. 