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Post date: November 6 2003

Southern Tier Home Improvement Contractor Sued

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a lawsuit against a Broome County home improvement contractor who took money from consumers and failed to perform the required work.

The lawsuit was filed in State Supreme Court in Broome County against John E. Stratton and J.E.S. Building and Remodeling, which specializes in repairing and remodeling of residential and commercial properties.

"My office will continue to aggressively pursue unscrupulous home improvement contractors," Spitzer said. "This lawsuit sends a message to home repairmen that broken promises can result in law enforcement actions."

According to the lawsuit, J.E.S. Building and Remodeling has engaged in a variety of deceptive and illegal business practices including: failing to perform promised work; failing to complete projects; and failing to refund monies to customers whose projects were not begun or begun but not finished.

In addition, J.E.S. Building and Remodeling is accused of violating state consumer protection laws that require home improvement contractors to place deposits for projects in escrow accounts and mandates that contractors notify consumers where such deposits are located.

At least eight consumers have filed complaints with Spitzer’s office claiming they’ve lost thousands of dollars after paying J.E.S. Building and Remodeling a deposit in advance of a project. Instead of depositing the money in an escrow account in a New York-based financial institution, Stratton immediately cashed checks and absconded with the money. Some individuals have waited over a year for the start or completion of their project while others have had to pay other contractors to complete unfinished jobs.

In filing the lawsuit, Spitzer seeks a court order barring Stratton from operating a home repair business in New York State unless he posts a $100,000 performance bond. Also, the Attorney General’s office seeks an order enjoining Stratton and J.E.S. Building and Contracting from engaging in any future violations of consumer protection laws and an order directing Stratton to provide a full accounting of monies received from consumers, all contracts and a complete list of customers.

Spitzer also requests full monetary restitution for injured consumers, civil penalties for violations of the law and court costs.

To file a complaint against J.E.S. Building and Remodeling and John E. Stratton, individuals are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael Danaher of the Binghamton Regional Office.