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TN Attorney General: Process of protecting assets, helping Solar Titan customers can now begin

The state this week sought a restraining order against the firm in federal court.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With a federal restraining order in place, Solar Titan's assets can now be locked down and a receiver can proceed with trying to help customers who say they've lost money while doing business with the solar panel sales and installation company, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti told WBIR on Thursday.

The state hopes to "unwind some of the damage that's been done by this company," Skrmetti said.

"If we prevail in showing that bad conduct happened -- and certainly in the complaint there is a great deal of detail laying out bad conduct alleged to have happened -- then we'll work toward restitution," the general said in an interview in Nashville.

Skrmetti and his Kentucky counterpart, Daniel Cameron, this week sought appointment of a receiver and the temporary restraining order in federal court in the Eastern District of Tennessee. Judge Clifton Corker in Greeneville granted the order and named Richard Ray as receiver.

WBIR has been investigating complaints about Knoxville-based Solar Titan since last spring. Customers have said sales personnel misled them about the money they could save in utility bills by installing their solar panels; some also have said the company never finished installing the thousands of dollars of work they've already paid for.

Kentucky and Tennessee authorities have fielded dozens of consumer complaints over more than a year. They encourage those who have a gripe but still haven't lodged it to do so by contacting their respective offices.

Skrmetti told WBIR his office had looked at a number of solar companies, but "it seems like Solar Titan may be the worst behaved of all of them."

Receiver Ray will ensure the process of going through Solar Titan's assets is done in an above-board manner.

As WBIR reported last year, the company had leased space in an existing building off North Peters Road. They subsequently left that location. Managers told personnel late last year the future of the company was becoming increasingly grim.

Now it's posted this message on its website:

"Ideal Horizon Benefits LLC doing business as Solar Titan USA is currently under the control of the United States District Court of East Tennessee at Knoxville, TN. Richard Ray is the court appointed receiver with oversight responsibilities over the Company. He will provide regular updates to the Court as ordered and will provide public announcements via this website as directed by the Court. If you are a customer and wish to file a consumer complaint please go to the “Contact Us” tab of this site and inform us of your complaint.

 "If you have already filed a consumer complaint please go to the “Contact Us” tab of this site and inform us of the current status of your complaint. Richard Ray, Receiver will oversee, on behalf of the US District Court, the evaluation of complaints against this business, and present his recommended solution to the Court for approval."

Skrmetti said it appeared from his perspective that "...there was no expectation on the company's part, as far as we can tell, that any of this stuff was going to work. They were just trying to milk people for as much money as they could."

The attorney general said circumstances appeared so bad with Solar Titan that authorities decided they'd better move quickly.

The firm had several principals, one of whom has been previously been convicted of federal wire fraud in Nevada.

The general said he hoped the receivership process would recover as many assets as possible that could then be used to make consumers "as whole as possible."

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