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Ex-State Rep. Mark Howland still owes restitution to wind customers

Six years after he was ordered to pay $638,000 in restitution, former state representative Mark Howland has paid less than a third of what he owes.

Howland entered into a consent decree with the Attorney General’s Office in 2008 after his company, WindTecho allegedly misled customers, put in wind power systems that were unsafe or failed to install them at all. With more than 160 identified customers, Howland was ordered to pay $638,000 in restitution.

Howland was offered the ability to pay a “reduced payment” of $488,000 if he paid full restitution within one year. He missed that deadline, and since then interest has kicked in on the payments.

That brings the total of what Howland must pay to $748,350.73, according to Attorney General spokesman Brad Puffer.

Of that sum, Howland has paid $172,541.

Howland, who now lives in Hawaii, did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

He is supposed to pay restitution in monthly installments based on his employment over time, Puffer said. So far, Howland’s monthly installments amount to $32,000 – the rest of the $172,541 comes from a payment Howland made at the time of the judgment and proceeds from the sale of land he owned in Lakeville.

“While our office has executed the sale of his former property and helped retrieve significant restitution to consumers, Mr. Howland is required to continue monthly payments in relation to any income he receives,” Puffer said in a statement. “We will continue to disburse funds to complainants as they become available.”

Lee Tripp of Westport said she paid $40,000 to Howland’s company, WindTechCo, for an 80-foot tall wind turbine that she never saw.

To date, she said she has received about one third of her money back.

“I do expect to see the rest of it, but I do not know the time frame,” she said Thursday.

She said conversations she has had with the Attorney General’s office lead her to believe that “they have had ups and downs in dealing with him.”

She also said Howland’s employment history has varied in recent years.

“I believe he has a new job now so they are anticipating we will get more money because of that,” she said.

Though Howland did not respond to request for comment for this story, he told The Standard-Times in 2007 that he believed he was the target of a witch hunt by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative – a quasi-state agency that preceded the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and issued him and his business a cease-and-desist order in 2007.

At the time, Howland said it was “because we refuse to become a general contractor or overall project coordinator.”