Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Contractor Faces False Pretenses Charges For Allegedly Pocketing Over $50K From Homeowner For Home Improvements, Then Blowing The Cash On Expenses Unrelated To Job, Leaving Premises In "Borderline Uninhabitable" Condition

In Webster, Massachusetts, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports:
  • A Leicester home improvement contractor is scheduled to return to court [] charges he collected seven weeks of payments totaling $55,000 from a local resident but came nowhere close to finishing the project.

    The contractor, Robert D. Smith, 42, [...], is scheduled to be in Dudley District Court on charges of larceny valued at more than $250 by false pretenses, and two counts of a home improvement contractor violation.

    Police Detective Sgt. James T. Hoover first met with the homeowner, Kimberly Platek, and Webster Building Inspector Theodore Tetreault III in June to report that Ms. Platek was the victim of a home improvement contractor who took more than $50,000 from her, and left her home in bad condition. The town was considering condemning the home, which is located on Tanner Road, because of its condition, the police report said.

    During the meeting, Ms. Platek provided a copy of a written contract dated Feb. 28, 2016. Mr. Smith, the owner of Good Ol' Boys Property Services, had agreed to remodel Ms. Platek's home.

    The three-page contract spelled out what work Mr. Smith and his company would perform for $30,000. The contract called for Mr. Smith to receive three payments of $10,000, each due at signing of the contract, another when demolition was completed and the third and final payment upon completion of the project.

    Mr. Smith took out a building permit for the project on March 14.

    Ms. Platek's canceled checks to the contractor were $10,000 each on Feb. 25, March 3, and March 16. She also paid $10,000 each on March 24 and April 1. She made payments of $2,500 each on April 6 and April 19, police said.

    The Aug. 5 police report said the work was not close to being finished and it described the status of the home as "borderline uninhabitable."

    Ms. Platek told police she continued to pay Mr. Smith whenever he asked for more money because she wanted her home finished, and Mr. Smith kept telling her he needed more money to cover unexpected costs.

    After Ms. Platek stopped giving Mr. Smith money in April, [she] alleged to police, Mr. Smith came around only occasionally to work on the home. Then he stopped coming altogether, and so she contacted the building inspector, who tried to help Ms. Platek by contacting Mr. Smith directly.

    During the next few weeks, Mr. Tetreault met with Mr. Smith at Ms. Platek's home and deadlines for work were agreed upon. When deadlines were not met, Mr. Tetreault contacted the office of the state Board of Building Regulations and Standards.

    Police said Mr. Smith again agreed to complete the project but never did.

    After meeting with Ms. Platek and Mr. Tetreault on June 28, police called Mr. Smith and left a voicemail. Mr. Smith called back the following day, and admitted he received $55,000 from Ms. Platek. He agreed that the project had not been completed.

    Mr. Smith told investigators he spent Ms. Platek's money on other things, and no longer had the money to complete her project.

    Mr. Smith told police if he was given a couple of weeks, he might be able to complete some of the project. The detective said he told Mr. Smith that he would file criminal charges if he did not follow through. Mr. Smith said he would contact Ms. Platek to make arrangement to finish the project.

    After the agreed upon time had elapsed, Ms. Platek told police that Mr. Smith had contacted her, but after several calls and him coming to her home, he hadn't completed any additional work. Police contacted Mr. Smith again on July 19, but he "had nothing but excuses" and stated that although he had taken Mrs. Platek's money, he just does not have the funds needed to finish her home. He asked for another week, to which the detective agreed.

    Mr. Smith was a licensed contractor at the time he entered into the contract with Mrs. Platek. A spokeswoman with the state Board of Building Regulations and Standards said the contractor's state license expired on April 30.

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