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A.G. Schneiderman Announces Consent Order And Judgment Against Buffalo-Niagara Home Improvement Contractor For Violating Previous Court Order

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2018

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES CONSENT ORDER AND JUDGMENT AGAINST BUFFALO-NIAGARA HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR FOR VIOLATING PREVIOUS COURT ORDER

Contractor Robert B. Cooper, Banned By 2014 Court Order From Illegally Operating Home Contracting Business, Continued Operating Illegally Under New Name, “Robert’s Paving and Excavating”

Cooper Will Pay Nearly $14,000 In Restitution and $12,000 in Penalties and Fees

A.G. Offers Tips To Protect Homeowners From Fraud

BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a Consent Order and Judgment resolving his office’s lawsuit against contractor Robert B. Cooper, owner of “Robert’s Paving and Excavating,” for defrauding consumers and violating a previous court order.

Cooper, who previously did business as “Finger Lakes Asphalt,” was barred by a 2014 court order from the home contracting business until he complied with New York State Law. However, in November 2017, the Attorney General brought a case against Cooper after consumer complaints revealed that he continued to operate his paving business under a new name and in violation of the law. The Attorney General’s subsequent investigation found that Cooper and his business – “Robert’s Paving and Excavating” – performed shoddy work, utilized bait-and-switch pricing, failed to obtain consumer authorization before beginning work, and intimidated consumers to collect inflated payments.

Today’s court order was signed by Erie County Supreme Court Justice Diane Y. Devlin and prohibits Cooper from operating as a home improvement contractor for one year.  After his one-year ban expires, Cooper may resume work as a home improvement contractor only after he posts a $50,000 bond and fulfills all payment obligations under the order. The judgment also permanently bars Cooper from engaging in door-to-door sales and requires him to pay $13,700 in restitution, $10,000 in penalties, and $2,000 in costs.

“My office is committed to holding accountable home improvement contractors who violate the law,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We’re pleased that all consumers who have previously complained to my office about Robert Cooper will be receiving complete restitution. I urge defrauded homeowners to contact our office, and all New Yorkers to follow our tips before negotiating home improvement services.”

In 2014, the Attorney General sued Cooper and Finger Lakes Asphalt after an investigation revealed that Cooper had repeatedly defrauded consumers by failing to perform work or complete work after receiving payment, provide refunds for incomplete or defective work, provide consumers with a written home improvement contract that complied with state law, and give consumers notice of their three-day right to cancel.

Following the 2014 investigation, Broome County State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey A. Tait issued a consent order barring Cooper from operating a home improvement business unless he complied with New York General Business Law and Personal Property law. Cooper was also ordered to pay $8,150 in restitution and $3,000 in penalties and costs.

Consumers who believe they may have been recently defrauded by or have unresolved disputes with Robert B. Cooper, Jr. or his company, Robert’s Paving and Excavating, LLC, are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Buffalo Regional Office at 716-853-8400 by June 18, 2018.

When planning to use a home improvement contractor, consumers should consider the following tips:

  • Determine exactly what you want done, then look for 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.
  • Never agree to have work done on the spot, especially when potential contractors are marketing door-to-door.
  • 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,

Additional information on how to avoid home improvement scams can be found on the Attorney General’s website.

The Attorney General’s office would like to thank the Niagara County Sherriff’s Office for their assistance with this investigation.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Christopher L. Boyd, with the assistance of Senior Consumer Frauds Representative Karen Davis and Investigator Erica Law. The Buffalo Office is led by Assistant Attorney General in Charge Michael J. Russo. The Buffalo Regional Office is part of the Division of Regional Offices, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Marty Mack.