Pennsylvania's Attorney General's Office renewed its lawsuit against defunct collection agency Unicredit America Inc. and now hopes to hold former company president Michael J. Covatto and former vice president Anthony D. Covatto personally liable for violations of consumer protection laws.

An amended complaint filed late last week by Deputy Attorney General Leslie Grey in Erie County (Pa.) Court renews the claims filed in 2010 that Unicredit ran a fake courtroom and used intimidating and deceptive practices to get debtors to pay.

The complaint maintains that the men, who are half-brothers, directly participated in the firm's unfair practices and had the ability to stop them. They should be liable for damages, Grey states.

Last week, Michael Covatto invoked the Fifth Amendment at a creditors meeting in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, declining to answer questions about his direct involvement at Unicredit (see story).

In the attorney general's initial suit, Unicredit was named as a sole defendant. Anthony Covatto was added to the complaint in June but efforts to add Michael Covatto became difficult when he filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection, according to the Erie (Pa.) Times-News.

A ruling in November cleared the way for the state government to pursue Michael Covatto when it was decided his personal bankruptcy does not insulate him from the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

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