Western N.y. Contractors Face Criminal Charges
Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a father-and-son team of home improvement contractors working in western New York have been charged with stealing nearly $45,000 in down payments from ten customers and a sub-contractor.
Edward L. Kwiatkowski, 59, of Depew and John P. Kwiatkowski, 35, of Cheektowaga surrendered themselves this morning to investigators of the Attorney General and State Police officers. The pair operated Skyline Builders and Construction Inc. of Depew which advertised for home improvement jobs in local pennysaver newspapers throughout the region.
The two are charged in a 22-count indictment handed up by a Special Grand Jury in Erie County. Charges against the Kwiatkowskis include: Scheme to Defraud; multiple counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree; and Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, all felonies.
"These men systematically preyed on hard-working homeowners," said Spitzer. "They took down payments from trusting customers while having no intention of ever performing the contracted work. My office will vigorously prosecute this case, and others like it, in the interests of protecting unsuspecting homeowners from unscrupulous home improvement contractors."
The Kwiatkowskis victimized customers in Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Livingston and Allegany counties between September 1998 and March 2000. (See attached list) They contracted for jobs building pole barns, garages and roofs but rarely performed more than a few hundred dollars-worth of work on any one project and in many cases performed no work at all.
Spitzer will prosecute the Kwiatkowskis for their criminal acts and will seek restitution from them for their defrauded customers.
The Kwiatkowskis were arraigned today in Buffalo before Acting Supreme Court Justice Joseph McCarthy. They each pled not guilty and were each released on $3,000 bail.
New York's lien law requires that all funds received by a contractor from a customer must be placed in an escrow account for the contractor to hold in trust until the money is needed for labor or materials on the job for which they were paid. The Kwiatkowskis blatantly violated the law by treating customers' deposits as their own personal spending money. For example, the Kwiatkowskis spent thousands of dollars of customers' money for payments on their vacation cabin in Chautauqua County.
Consumers who believe they have been defrauded by the Kwiatkowskis are encouraged to file a complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Frauds office in Buffalo at 716-852-6276.
The felony charges against the Kwiatkowskis are allegations and they are presumed to be innocent.
If convicted, the Kwiatkowskis face up to four years in prison on the Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree charges and up to seven years in prison on the charges of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Dennis Rosen of the Attorney General's Buffalo Regional Office with investigative assistance by Peter Eiss of the Attorney General's Office and by State Police Investigator Daryl Harris.
|HOMETOWN OF DEFRAUDED CUSTOMER||AMOUNT STOLEN FROM CUSTOMER|
|Hamburg (Erie Co.)||$3,600|
|Clarence (Erie Co.)||$1,400|
|Hilton (Monroe Co.)||$8,385|
|Scottsville (Monroe Co.)||$7,150|
|Belmont (Allegany Co.)||$1,500|
|Leicester (Livingston Co.)||$3,000|
|LeRoy (Genesee Co.)||$5,000|
|Batavia (Genesee Co.)||$2,800|
|Batavia (Genesee Co.)||$3,400|
|Orchard Park (Erie Co.)||$5,000|
|Orchard Park (Erie Co.)||$2,495|