AG Announces Legal Action Against Home Improvement Contractors from Across PA

HARRISBURG ? Attorney General Tom Corbett announced legal actions against a series of home improvement contractors across Pennsylvania.

?Every year, homeowners across the state spend millions of dollars on home repair and home improvement projects,? Corbett said.? ?Unfortunately, some of those consumers fall victim to businesses that are allegedly more interested in taking money than they are in providing quality service.?

Corbett said consumer protection lawsuits have been filed against seven contractors accused of failing to start work, collecting excessive down-payments, not finishing projects, performing work in a shoddy manner, failing to pay refunds, not honoring warranties and other violations of the state?s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act.

?Complaints about home improvement projects ?gone bad? are typically one of the top reasons for consumers to contact the Attorney General?s Office and we work vigorously to investigate these complaints and prosecute violators,? Corbett said. ?Home improvement rip-offs impact every community across our state, taking money out of the pockets of homeowners and also victimizing the honest, hard-working businesses who could have performed the work.?

?Corbett said the lawsuits filed this week include:
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  • BCM Landscaping / BCM Hardscapes / Pro Walls and Patio, jointly operated by Wayne ?Butch? Kapalka and Joseph Kapalka, both of Tarentum, Allegheny County ? accused of failing to start work, performing work in a shoddy or unworkmanlike manner, using contracts that do not comply with the Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, failing to provide the required Notice of Cancellation for consumers, not registering as a home improvement contractor and failing to register a fictitious business name with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
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  • CHRC Contracting, Inc., owned and operated by Larry Harrison, Philadelphia ? accused of failing to perform work, collecting excessive down payments, failing to register as a home improvement contractor with the Attorney General?s Office and using contracts that do not include the required Notice of Cancellation for consumers.
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  • David Slaughter General Contractor, along with owner David Slaughter, Philadelphia ? accused of failing to start work, not completing contracted projects, using inferior materials, failing to register as a home improvement contractor and using contracts that do not include the required Notice of Cancellation for consumers.
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  • Empire Electrical, owned and operated by Scott J. Ohanian, Schnecksville, Lehigh County ? accused of failing to complete contracted work, accepting down payments without beginning projects, not obtaining necessary licenses and permits from municipalities and failing to provide the required Notice of Cancellation to consumers.
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  • James Gorman Roofing and Painting, owned and operated by James Gorman, Kutztown, Berks County ? accused of failing to complete work, performing work in a shoddy manner, not honoring warranties and failing to provide the required Notice of Cancellation.
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  • KAR Contracting, owned and operated by Keith Ruppel, Coopersburg, Lehigh County (formerly operating from Lansdale, Montgomery County) ? accused of failing to provide services in a workmanlike manner, not honoring warranties, failing to provide refunds, not registering a fictitious business name with the Pennsylvania Department of State and failing to register as a home improvement contractor.
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  • Mucci Construction / Mucci Concrete & Paving, along with owner James Mucci, Croydon, Bucks County (formerly operating from Morrisville, Bucks County) ? accused of failing to perform work, not obtaining required permits, collecting excessive down payments and failing to provide the required Notice of Cancellation for consumers.?

?The lawsuits we have filed this week against these businesses and their owners seek restitution for all consumers who have been harmed, along with fines and civil penalties of up to $1,000 per violation or up to $3,000 for each violation involving a senior citizen,? Corbett said.??

Corbett encouraged homeowners to contact the Attorney General?s Bureau of Consumer Protection if they have experienced problems with these businesses but have not yet filed formal complaints.??

Consumers can call the Attorney General?s toll-free Consumer Protection Hotline, at 1-800-441-2555, or visit the Attorney General?s Web site, at www.attorneygeneral.gov, to access online complaint forms (Click on the ?Complaints? button on the front page of the website and select the ?Consumer Complaint Form?).

In addition to the lawsuits filed this week, the Bureau of Consumer Protection has reached voluntary settlements with ten other home improvement businesses.? These contractors are accused of operating without properly registering with the Attorney General?s Office or using contracts that did not comply with state law.?

?The registration system for home improvement contractors is intended to provide consumers with clear information about the businesses they are dealing with, while also giving the Attorney General?s Office and law enforcement agencies the details needed to identify and locate business owners in the event of problems or complaints,? Corbett said. ?This law exists to protect consumers, contractors and communities, and it is important that everyone comply with the registration and contract requirements.??

The settlements, known as an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC), require these businesses to fully comply with all the terms of the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act and the state?s Consumer Protection Law, including all requirements related to registration, advertising and contracts.? Each of the AVC?s also includes civil penalties and costs of $1,250.?

The Attorney General?s Bureau of Consumer Protection has reached settlement agreements with the following home improvement contractors:?

  • Louis A. D?Albora, doing business as L.A. D?Albora Builders and Remodelers, of Erie.
  • Walter Dianese, doing business as Walter Dianese Masonry, of Hazleton.
  • Larry Gingerich, doing business as Gingerich Concrete, of Bedford.
  • John Maclay, Joseph Bennett and David Bayer, operating as Bennett & Bayer Inc. and doing business as The Flooring Emporium, of Erie.
  • Fred Moore, doing business as Moore?s Remodeling, of North East.
  • Paul Shesterenko, doing business as P & D International Inc. and Paul Shesterenko Plastering Services, of Edinboro.
  • Thomas A. Rabb, doing business as Classic Asphalt, of Pittsburgh.
  • David A. Thomas, doing business as Dave Thomas Handyman, of Altoona.
  • Robert J. Walker, owner and president of Walker?s Tree and Ground Services, Inc., of North East.
  • Richard G. Winston, owner and president of George Winston Co. Inc., of Erie.?

Corbett encouraged any consumer considering a home improvement project to verify that their contractor is properly registered with the Attorney General?s Office.??

?Since July of last year, when Pennsylvania?s new Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act went into effect, a total of 70,135 home improvement businesses across the state have registered with our office,? Corbett said.? ?Information about those contractors, including the ability to search for registered professionals in your community, is available in the ?Home Improvement? section of our website.??

Corbett also recommended that consumers review additional information about home improvement projects included on the Attorney General?s website, for details about consumer rights and tips for selecting contractors. The list of registered contractors and more information about the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act is available by clicking on the large blue ?Home Improvement? button, located on the front page of www.attorneygeneral.gov.?

Consumers who do not have Internet access can call the Attorney General?s toll-free Contractor Hotline, at 1-888-520-6680, to verify the registration status of a home improvement business.?

After checking a contractor?s registration, Corbett urged consumers to take additional steps to protect themselves from possible home improvement scams, including:

  • Getting estimates from several potential contractors.
  • Requesting references for recent work, and checking those references.
  • Asking other customers if they were happy with the work that was performed by a particular contractor, if there were any problems with the project and if they would hire that person again.
  • Avoiding high-pressure sales pitches, ?special offers? or deals on ?left over? materials.
  • Be wary of individuals who approach you with unsolicited offers or stories of ?just being in the neighborhood.??

Consumers encountering problems with contractors, or other businesses, are urged to file formal complaints with the Attorney General?s Bureau of Consumer Protection, either by calling the toll-free Consumer Protection Hotline, at 1-800-441-2555, or by using the online complaint forms available at www.attorneygeneral.gov (Click on the ?Complaints? button on the front page of the website and select the ?Consumer Complaint Form?).

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