Piano Delivery

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Harris County DA Investigation

Last fall an investigator from the Houston DA's office turned up on PianoWorld asking for more information from anyone who'd done business with Covington. I believe that a couple of folks from the forums there responded to his request. I spoke with him on the phone briefly and sent him copies of the documentation that I posted here and my phone log, etc.

Didn't hear any news for a while, but today I got a letter from the DA's office stating that they had identified more than twenty people who'd had bad dealings with Mr. Covington, and that they were eventually able to recover a total of almost $750,000 (!) in cash and pianos during the course of the investigation. Covington has also apparently told the office that he's going to close down The Piano Store.

So kudos to you, Mr. Phillips! Very glad to hear that all these folks got their money or pianos back; I could have wished for some additional penalty on top of restitution, but this is still a great outcome.

Text of the letter follows.

Kenneth Magidson
District Attorney
Harris County, Texas

May 5 2008

RE: Consumer Fraud Investigation #07-0686; Scott Convington, d/b/a The Piano Store, d/b/a The Piano Movers

Dear [xxxxxxxxx],

As you may already know, in late September 2007, the Consumer Fraud Division of the Harris County District Attorney's Office received a complaint from a consumer in reference to the business practices of Scott Covington, d/b/a The Piano Store. The complaint was assigned to Investigator Jim Phillips for investigation. Over the course of the next six months, Mr. Phillips worked diligently to investigate the initial complaint and identify additional consumers who lost money or pianos to Scott Covington.

During the early part of the investigation, Investigator Jim Phillips developed information that led to the execution of a search warrant on September 28, 2007 at 3701 Kirby Drive, Houston, Texas, a warehouse rented by Scott Covington, d/b/a The Piano Store. Items seized during the search warrant included: ledgers, journals, contracts, receipts, and computers. With the evidence gathered during that search warrant, Phillips was able to identify previously unknown consumers who had negative experiences with Mr. Covington.

After execution of the search warrant, the District Attorney's Office was contacted by Troy McKinney, a criminal defense attorney hired to represent Scott Covington. We later learned that David Disiere, a civil attorney, has also been hired to represent Covington in civil matters. Disiere was employed to contact consumers who had complaints about the business practices of Covington and was authorized to offer monetary compensation to make them whole.

Throughout Mr. Phillips investigation, as he identified complainants, many were reimbursed through Covington's civil attorney Disiere. A great number of these complainants, perhaps all, would not have received restitution had it not been for the extensive efforts of Jim Phillips. The investigation revealed over 20 complainants with various grievances against Scott Covington, d/b/a The Piano Store, d/b/a The Piano Movers. Each of these complainants was made whole by Covington. The total monetary restitution received by these complainants was nearly $600,000. That figure does not include over $40,000 in attorney's fees, which were also paid to a few of the complainants with the highest actual losses.

The grand total of monetary restitution, attorney's fees, and pianos received by consumers as a result of Mr. Phillips' investigation of Covington is nearly $750,000. As for your particular situation, I hope you are pleased with the restitution you have received as a result of this investigation.

While we had hoped to file criminal charges as a result of the evidence developed against Mr. Covington, at this point we have over 20 consumers, all who have been made whole. Admittedly, the fact that they have received restitution does not negate Mr. Covington's actions in dealing with customers of The Piano Store and The Piano Movers. Please understand: any jury empanelled to decide Mr. Covington's guilt on this matter would be made aware that all of the complainants have already received full restitution. Therefore, at present I do not believe that the State is in the best position to file criminal charges against Mr. Covington.

I hope that this letter has explained to your satisfaction the disposition of this investigation, which is now closed. All of the complainants identified during the investigation have been reimbursed in various ways. Mr. Covington is allegedly shutting down The Piano Store. Thank you for your cooperation during the investigation of Covington. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (713) 755-XXXX.


Valerie Turner
Assistant District Attorney
Consumer Fraud Division