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Post date: April 5 2001

Western New York Home Builder Sentenced To Prison

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that an Erie County home contractor has been sentenced to jail time for defrauding sub-contractors and consumers out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Justice Michael L. D'Amico of Erie County State Supreme Court sentenced Brian Ellsworth, 37, president of Churchill Builders, Inc. and an officer of Patel Development, Inc. to up to four years imprisonment and required him to sign confessions of judgment of $350,000 representing his debts to sub-contractors throughout Western New York.

"Today's sentence sends a strong message to builders that misuse of customer monies may carry a heavy price," Spitzer said. "My office will aggressively pursue unscrupulous builders who fail to keep their promises to consumers and to the community."

Ellsworth pled guilty last October to one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E Felony, for his role in a scam undertaken between August 1998 and May 1999 in which he diverted funds given to him to build homes.

Spitzer's office began investigating after receiving numerous complaints from consumers and was able to determine that Ellsworth had diverted thousands of dollars belonging to his customers for his own personal purposes, such as country club fees, a Christmas party, a personal credit card bill, and expenses of a previous business.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James M. Morrissey of the Buffalo Regional Office. The Attorney General expressed his gratitude to the New York State Police for their assistance in the case.

Individuals with concerns about home contractors are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.