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Home Improvement Contractor Indicted on Theft Charges
XENIA -- A Mount Gilead man has been indicted on theft charges after being accused of charging thousands of dollars for home repairs that were never completed.
According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Greene County Prosecutor Stephen K. Haller, James Urso operated companies under the names Help Point Restoration LLC and ZunCare Restoration LLC.
The indictment accused Urso of taking nearly $22,000 from four homeowners for roof replacement and other repairs but failed to perform the work, deliver the materials or provide a refund.
If convicted of three counts of theft and one count of theft from The elderly, Urso could face up to 4 1/2 years in prison and a $12,500 fine.
Consumers need to be cautious about home repair workers that will come knocking on their door this time of year, said Attorney General DeWine. The Ohio Attorney Generals Office will not tolerate contractors who take money for jobs and then disappear without ever doing the work.
In December 2012, the Ohio Attorney Generals Consumer Protection Section say they filed a civil lawsuit against Urso and his companies, Help Point Restoration LLC and ZunCare Restoration LLC, for violations of Ohios Consumer Sales Practices Act. Urso was ordered to pay $52,844.09 in consumer restitution and civil penalties to the state. To date, DeWine said, Urso has not paid any money toward restitution.
To avoid home improvement scams and unscrupulous contractors, Attorney General DeWine advises consumers to:
Check the reputation of a business before work begins. Ask for several references from prior customers and contact them to see if they were satisfied with the companys performance.
Research previous complaints with the Ohio Attorney Generals Office and the Better Business Bureau and consider performing a simple Internet search of the company.
Get multiple estimates. If expensive repairs are recommended during an inspection, do not feel pressured to act immediately. Consult with additional companies to obtain second and third opinions along with competitive estimates for the recommended work.
Receive a written, detailed contract. Make sure the contract includes all important details such as when the work will begin and end and who will be performing the work.
Remember that most door-to-door solicitation contracts must come with a 3-day right to cancel to allow you to reconsider the purchase. No work should commence until the cancellation period has expired.
Do not pay for an entire project up front. Consider paying one-third of the total cost as a down payment, one-third when half of the work is completed to your satisfaction, and the remaining third once the project is successfully completed.
If you suspect a scam or an unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney Generals Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-282-0515.
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