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Post date: May 8 2014

A.G. Schneiderman Seeks Criminal Contempt Charges Against Fraudulent Western NY Contractor

George Anna Took Money From Consumers But Failed To Provide Services For Which He Was Paid

Schneiderman: Contractors Who Prey On Unsuspecting Consumers Will Be Prosecuted To The Fullest Extent

BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that he is seeking criminal contempt charges against George Anna, a Western New York home improvement contractor. In 2012, the Attorney General obtained a court order barring Anna from the home improvement business unless he first posted a $100,000 performance bond. Recently, Attorney General Schneiderman learned that Anna was again holding himself out as a home contractor, despite never having posted the bond.  

“Remodeling one’s home is a costly and stressful undertaking, and those looking to do so should not have to worry that they may be taken advantage of,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “By prosecuting fraudulent contractors like Mr. Anna to the fullest extent, we are sending the message that preying on unsuspecting consumers will not be tolerated.”

In the 2012 case, the Attorney General proved that, time and time again, Anna took money from consumers and failed to provide the home improvement services for which he had been paid. The most recent investigation showed that Anna again was taking money for home improvements, but not providing the services – the very conduct that led to the court order in the first place.            

The Attorney General’s investigation showed that in one case, Anna took $5,000 for the purchase of roofing materials, but never purchased them. In another case, Anna took more than $6,300 for a roofing job, but completed less than one-half of the work.  

The Attorney General is seeking criminal contempt on 16 counts, for which Anna could be imprisoned for 30 days and/or required to pay a $5,000 fine for each count.

Attorney General Schneiderman offers the following tips for consumers 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; and
  • Remember that you have three days to cancel after signing a home improvement contract, but all cancellations must be in writing.

Individuals with complaints against Anna should contact Attorney General Schneiderman’s consumer help line at (800) 771-7755, or his Buffalo Regional Office at (716) 853-8400.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James Morrissey and Karen Davis, Senior Consumer Fraud Representative in the Buffalo Regional Office, which is led by Michael Russo, Assistant Attorney General in Charge. The Buffalo Regional Office is a part of the Division of Regional Offices, led by Marty Mack, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Offices.