Judge Cites Oneida County Home Improvement Contractor For Fraud

Attorney General Spitzer today praised a court order issued by an Oneida County judge against a home improvement contractor who repeatedly and persistently defrauded consumers.

Justice Norman I. Siegel of State Supreme Court in Oneida County granted all relief sought by Spitzer's office against Daniel G. Bragg of Vernon Center, who does business as Daniel G. Bragg Home Improvement Contracting, Dan's Home Improvements and All Phaze, Inc.

Specifically, the court ordered Bragg to pay full monetary restitution to all injured consumers, including at least $16,000 to nine individuals who have filed complaints with the Attorney General's office. In addition, the court ordered Bragg to pay over $16,000 in civil penalties for his numerous violations of the law.

Justice Siegal's order also bars Bragg from operating as a home improvement contractor unless he posts a $50,000 bond to guarantee his performance of any future work for which he is retained by consumers.

"Most home improvement contractors are dedicated professionals who do quality work. Unscrupulous and unprofessional contractors can give the entire industry a bad name and must be held accountable for their actions," Spitzer said.

Last April, Spitzer's office filed a lawsuit against Bragg and his various home repair businesses alleging that he engaged in fraud and deceptive practices. In addition, it was alleged that Bragg failed to comply with state consumer protection laws that require home improvement contracts to be in writing with a three-day right to cancel and consumer deposits to be held in separate escrow accounts.

Spitzer filed suit after consumers contacted his office complaining that they paid significant advance deposits for work that was never done. Others indicated that some work or materials were provided, but the project was never completed or the work was shoddy. All said that Bragg avoided their repeated attempts to contact him to reschedule appointments or obtain refunds.

The court order allows consumers who file bona fide complaints with the Attorney General's office within 180 days to be eligible for restitution. Individuals with a complaint should contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.

For tips about protecting oneself when hiring a home improvement contractor, consumers are encouraged to go to the Attorney General's website at www.ag.ny.gov.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General G. Lawrence Dillon under the supervision of Joel Marmelstein, Assistant Attorney General In Charge of the Utica Regional Office.

HOME IMPROVEMENT TIPS:

The Attorney General suggests that consumers follow these recommendations when dealing with home contractors:

  • Never agree to have work done on the spot, especially when potential contractors are door-to-door marketing; determine exactly what you want done, then seek out 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; and
  • Contact the Attorney General's office at (800) 771-7755 if you have any unresolved dispute with a home improvement contractor and are seeking assistance. For more information about consumer protection laws regarding home improvements, go to the Attorney General's web site at www.ag.ny.gov/bureaus/consumer_frauds/tips/tips.html

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