October 15, 2003
DA Dillon, Commissioner Bogsted Announce Charges Against 20 Home Improvement Contractors
Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon and Nassau County Commissioner of Consumer Affairs Roger Bogsted today announced charges against 20 home improvement contractors for operating without a license.
"Once again, " said Dillon, "these unlicensed operators were tripped up by their own dishonesty. They failed to satisfactorily complete the work for which they were paid, often leaving homes in serious and sometimes dangerous disrepair. This led their victims to contact us, and our resulting investigations confirmed that none of these rip-off artists is licensed."
"Among the most egregious offenders," Dillon said, "were Glenn Zeigler, 44, doing business as Profile Incorporated, 2834 Michael Road, Wantagh, and Anthony Pitta, 50, doing business as Benchmark Builders, 1364 Estelle Court, Seaford.
" Zeigler was paid $53,850 of a total cost of $58,000 for major second floor renovations to a Wantagh home. The work was delayed several months, and thereafter done sporadically, so that over a year later it was still not completed. The homeowners had to pay their own electrician $2,700 for work that Zeigler was supposed to have done. Sub-contractors who had not been paid by Zeigler were threatening to put liens on the home. And the homeowners will now have to pay another $12,000 to other contractors to correct and complete work they paid Zeigler to do.
"Another Wantagh homeowner paid Zeigler $100,000 of the $129,000 total cost for a second floor addition. After starting the work just before Christmas 2002, the workers did not return until February - leaving only a tarpaulin covering the roof during the snowy winter months. Work was sporadic, and ultimately was never completed. What was done was substandard, with poor electrical work and plumbing that leaked. The homeowner has had to pay other contractors more than $100,000 to correct and complete the work for which Zeigler was paid.
"Pitta was paid a total of $176, 428 for a total renovation of the first floor of a Glen Cove home, an addition to the second floor including plumbing and electrical work, two backyard double decks and siding. The work was done sporadically and ultimately was never completed, so that the homeowner will have to pay an additional $60 - 70,000 to other contractors to finish the job.
"Pitta also took a total of more than $47,000 from a New Hyde Park homeowner for a two story extension, a new roof, siding and a new porch. The work was incomplete and poorly done, resulting in flooding to the backyard and basement, damage to electricity and to a screen door, damaged floor boards on the porch, and failure to install gutters or the siding. The homeowner had to pay another contractor $42,828 to complete the work and repair the damage left by Pitta.
"Four contractors," Dillon continued, "accepted deposits in the thousands of dollars, then never returned to even begin the work.
"Anthony Pully, 37, doing business as T N Sea Construction Corp., 325 S. Fulton Avenue, Lindenhurst, took $3,406 from a Merrick homeowner to install a boat lift, and never did so.
"Steven Dragoumanos, 54, doing business as Space Inventors, 2794 Laurel Avenue, Baldwin, took $1,000 from an Oceanside homeowner and $6,500 from a North Woodmere homeowner, then did no work for either customer.
"Thomas Parmiter, 47, doing business as W.T. Morris, Ltd., 2224-C Jackson Avenue, Seaford, took $6,500 to install a boat lift at a Baldwin harbor home, and never did so.
"Joseph Foster, 42, doing business as All-O-Matic Garage Doors and Home Improvements, 3 Crescent Street, Hewlett, took $2,000 to remove and replace walkways at a Woodmere home, and never returned."
"These charges underscore how imperative it is for homeowners to check on the legitimacy of contractors before hiring them -- and, especially, before paying them any money," said Bogsted. "I again urge homeowners to contact the Department of Consumer Affairs at (516) 571-2600 to check out any companies with whom you are considering doing business.
"I also urge the Nassau County Legislature to pass legislation that would allow us to confiscate the vehicles and tools used by unlicensed contractors," Bogsted added, "so that we may better prevent them from conducting their illegal business practices at the expense of Nassau County homeowners."
Others charged were:
John Engel, 47, 32 John Lane, Levittown. Engel took a $10,000 payment for an extension on a Levittown house, then did nothing beyond bringing in the machinery to dig the foundation.
Terry Harrigan, 50, doing business as Vision Home Improvement, 326 Lena Avenue, Freeport. Harrigan took a $25,000 payment from a Roosevelt homeowner toward the cost of a home extension and bathroom and kitchen renovations. He began the work but did not complete it, resulting in the homeowner having to pay another contractor $70,000 to complete the work.
William McFadden, 35, doing business as Emerald Isle Concrete, 326 Atlantic Avenue, Cedarhurst. McFadden accepted $5,000 from a Merrick homeowner for driveway and sidewalk work which was done poorly and incompletely, costing the homeowner an additional $9,200 to have it fixed by another contractor.
Frank Frodella, 38, doing business as Manicured Landscapes, 274 Rushmore Avenue, Carle Place. Frodella was paid $5,500 for a new driveway and patio and sidewalk work on a Westbury home. The driveway was never blacktopped and began to crack, and the homeowner's fence was damaged by the contractor's machinery. The homeowner was awarded $1,175 in Small Claims Court, which Frodella has not paid.
Frank T. Indovino, 30, doing business as Divino Masonry Tile Work, 734 Harrison Street, West Hempstead. Indovino was paid $7,000 by a Farmingdale homeowner for a new front walk, porch, driveway and stoop. All of the work was done poorly, and the homeowner had to pay another contractor $1,800 to complete work on the new porch.
Charles T. Gilbert, 31, doing business as C. Taylor Tile, 1429 Illinois Avenue, Bayshore. Gilbert received $12,500 for kitchen work on a New Hyde Park home. It was not completed, and the homeowner had to pay another contractor $700 to fix the problems.
Brian Hewson, 29, doing business as Brian-Larry Hewson, 48 Valley Road, Levittown. Hewson was paid $9,000 to put a new roof on a Roslyn Heights home, but after he finished, the new roof still leaked in the same places as the old one. He did not repair it.
Craig M. Stevens, 48, 2701 Falcon Avenue, Medford. Stevens was paid $1,500 to renovate a bedroom, closet and garage on a Carle Place home. He did not complete the work, leaving the bedroom undone and wires hanging from the open garage ceiling. The homeowner had to pay another contractor $2,000 to finish the job.
Donald Kaefer, 33, doing business as D & J Home Improvement, 2371 Elbert Avenue, Bellmore. Kaefer was paid $5,775 to put a new roof on a Wantagh home. He left the roof only partially completed, with a tarpaulin over it, during heavy rains, causing damage to ceilings windows and carpeting that cost the homeowner $425. Once the roof was completed, it still leaked, causing the homeowner to pay another contractor $350 to repair it. The homeowner was awarded $362.63 in Small Claims Court, which Kaefer has not paid.
Philip Grillo, 29, doing business as Absolute American Roofing and Siding, 141 N. Third Street, New Hyde Park. Grillo was paid $3,000 for a new roof by a New Hyde Park homeowner. He started but did not complete the job, leaving the roof in dangerous condition, and forcing the owner to pay $6,225 to another contractor to finish the job. The homeowner was awarded $3,000 in Smalls Claims Court, which Grillo has not paid.
Jonathan E. Wright, 48, doing business as Wright Contracting, 165 St. Mark's Avenue, Freeport. Wright was paid $29,143 for renovations in a Baldwin home. The work was done sporadically and incompletely, costing the homeowner more than $20,000 for another contractor.
Kenneth Cosentino, 34, doing business as East End Air Conditioning, 446 Bicycle Path, Port Jefferson. Cosentino was paid $20,250 by a Muttontown homeowner to install central air conditioning. He began the work but did not complete it, forcing the homeowner to pay $30,000 for another contractor to install the system.
Bart Bunting, 43, doing business as J & B Roofing, 2143 Pine Street, Baldwin. Bunting took $4,800 to put anew roof on a Baldwin home. The new roof leaked and he would not return to fix it. The homeowner has already paid another contractor $1,000 to fix the leak, but will also have to have the entire roof replaced, incurring even greater costs.
Robert Keeler, 39, doing business as Keeler Fence, 271 Storm Drive, Holtsville. Keeler, paid $5,500 by an East Rockaway homeowner to remove and replace a fence, installed only part of the fence. He subsequently refunded $2,000, but still owes the homeowner another $2,000.
All the defendants are charged with Operating a Home Improvement Business Without a License, a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison. The charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.