Attorney General Cuomo Secures Jail Time For Buffalo Area Contractor Who Defied Court Order

BUFFALO, N.Y. (May 6, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew Cuomo today announced that a Buffalo area man was sentenced to jail for defying a court order banning him from operating as a home improvement contractor.

Ronald Timmerman, 30, of Sowles Road in Hamburg, was sentenced May 5 to 90 days in jail after admitting contempt of court for three violations of a prior order banning him from operating in the home improvement business. 

“This man repeatedly took consumers’ money, did not perform the job and then deliberately violated court orders after he was told to shut down,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “My office is determined to do whatever it takes – including seeking jail time – to enforce court orders to stop dishonest home improvement contractors from taking advantage of consumers.”

On January 26, 2007, Attorney General Cuomo obtained a court order prohibiting Timmerman from operating a home improvement business after an investigation found that he repeatedly failed to complete work after requiring advance payments from consumers. Timmerman also failed to deposit the advance payments into a trust account, as required by law.  Under that court order, Timmerman was banned from operating as a home improvement contractor unless he paid $30,000 in restitution to consumers he defrauded.

Within a few weeks of the court order, the Attorney General’s office discovered Timmerman was soliciting and providing home improvement services – despite not paying any restitution to consumers – prompting the Attorney General’s office to seek contempt of court against Timmerman.

Timmerman admitted in New York State Supreme Court of Erie County yesterday that he provided home improvement services to three separate homeowners in Alden, Cheektowaga, and Hamburg in February and March 2007.

Buffalo area consumers who believe they may have been defrauded or have unresolved disputes with a home improvement contractor are urged to call the Attorney General’s Buffalo Regional Office at 716-853-8400.

When planning to use a home contractor, consumers should consider the following tips:

  • Never agree to have work done on the spot, especially when potential contractors are marketing door-to-door
  • Determine exactly what you want done, then look for a qualified contractor
  • Shop around; get at least three estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services to be provided
  • Ask for references: check with the Better Business Bureau; banks; suppliers; and neighbors. Always contact any references provided to you
  • Insist on a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed
  • Do not pay unreasonable advance sums; negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of specific stages of the job
  • Never pay the full price up front
  • Remember that you have three days to cancel after signing a home improvement contract, but all cancellations must be in writing

Additional information on how to avoid fraudulent home improvement contractors can be found on the Attorney General’s Website, www.ag.ny.gov/bureaus/consumer_frauds/tips/home_improvements.html.

In addition to legal actions, the Attorney General’s Office regularly mediates consumer complaints on a number of issues. The Attorney General’s Buffalo Regional Office mediated 96 consumer complaints against home improvement contractors last year, resulting in $69,385.79 in restitution to consumers. Statewide in 2007, the Attorney General’s Office mediated more than 900 complaints against contractors, resulting in restitution of more than $521,000 to consumers.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James M. Morrissey of the Buffalo Regional Office under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General In-Charge Russell Ippolito.


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