Attorney General Cuomo Secures Guilty Plea From Home Improvement Contractor For Scamming Western New York Senior Out Of More Than $80,000
BUFFALO, N.Y. (November 7, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the guilty plea of a Western New York home improvement contractor who repeatedly pressured an 88-year-old widow into paying more than $80,000 for home improvements that were never done or done in a way described by outside experts as “grossly substandard.”
Bryan Boone, 47, of Kenmore Avenue in Kenmore, pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the third degree (class D felony) before Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski in State Supreme Court. He faces up to seven years in prison and was remanded to the Erie County Correctional Facility pending sentencing on February 10, 2009.
“Today's guilty plea sends a clear message that my office will not tolerate home improvement contractors scamming Buffalo-area residents out of their savings,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Taking advantage of New York's elderly and most vulnerable is unacceptable and my office will continue to aggressively pursue dishonest contractors across Western New York.”
According to court papers, in October 2007, Boone, doing business as Urban Residential Maintenance, contacted the victim by phone offering to make inexpensive repairs to her Cheektowaga home. She accepted and over the next seven months he made repeated requests for payments. Using fear and intimidation, Boone was able to convince the victim to write him a total of 70 checks for $82,158.
Law enforcement became aware of the matter when Boone went to a local bank and tried to cash the 71st check. When the teller initially declined to cash the check, Boone brought the victim to the bank while he waited outside. When the victim tried to cash the check the bank manager called the Cheektowaga Police Department, which then contacted the Attorney General’s office.
The homeowner told investigators: “When I would complain about how the work was progressing, he would sometimes get very angry and assure me the work was first-rate. As I felt intimidated, I always relented. Similarly, if I questioned a demand for payment, he would sometimes become angry and I would relent.”
All of the work Boone did was careless and incomplete. For example, instead of installing drain tile around the entire basement floor, which is one of the jobs Boone was paid to do, he did not touch an area that runs about nine-feet along the base of the front wall. As a result, water came onto the basement floor, which is what the drain installation was supposed to prevent. In the course of the drain job, Boone’s sloppy work also resulted in stones from fresh concrete adhering permanently to the floor.
Independent experts who reviewed Boone’s work at the request of the Attorney General’s office declared it to be grossly substandard and of little value to the homeowner. They estimated the cost of labor and materials to be between $11,000 and $13,000.
Besides shoddy and incomplete work, Boone also failed to meet the legal requirements for home repair work, including obtaining the proper permits, providing a written contract to the consumer, and depositing payments into a trust account.
Bryan Boone and his company, Urban Residential Maintenance, are listed on www.nyknowyourcontractor.com, the Attorney General’s Website that helps consumers avoid home improvement scams and dishonest contractors. The Website allows users to view substantiated complaints that have been filed with the Attorney General’s Office and read legal judgments against contractors. Consumers can search contractors by name, business name, region, or county. It also has links to state and local consumer agencies, information on how to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office against a home improvement contractor, and what you should do before hiring someone to work on your home.
Attorney General Cuomo strongly encourages all New Yorkers to visit www.nyknowyourcontractor.com before hiring a contractor for any home improvement or repair.
The Attorney General thanked the State Police and the Town of Cheektowaga Police Department for their help in the case.
The case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Dennis Rosen and Letizia Tagliafierro, under the supervision of Buffalo Regional Office Head Russell Ippolito and Deputy Bureau Chief Richard Ernst of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau. The investigation was conducted by Senior Investigator Peter Eiss, with the assistance of Town of Cheektowaga detectives Christopher Chojnacki and David Stevens, and Cheektowaga Building Inspector Richard Coburn.