|John "Jack" Thayer Jr.|
Monday, July 14, 2014
Bristol Township contractors charged in $771K fraud case
Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014
One half of a Bristol Township father-son construction demolition business accused of ripping off eight homeowners and two businesses of more than $700,000 turned himself in to police Thursday.
The second man is expected to do the same Friday, authorities said.
John “Jack” Thayer Jr., 60, and Ryan Thayer, 28, both of Bristol Township, are charged with multiple counts of receiving advanced payments for services and failure to perform, theft and deceitful business practices.
Ryan Thayer is a former Bristol Township Zoning Hearing Board member.
The father and son operate Hammer Time Construction and Hammertime Demolition and Hauling, on Icepond Road. They accepted at least $771,165 for work that was never completed between March 2011 and April 2014 in Bensalem, Bristol Township, Falls and Lower Southampton, according to a probable cause affidavit.
At least half of the alleged victims say in court papers that Ryan Thayer showed up on the same night that homes were damaged or destroyed by fires or weather-related issues, offering his services for debris removal and reconstruction.
Many of the alleged victims are elderly, including 79-year-old Lower Southampton resident Bill Vogt.
Last August, Vogt’s Henry Avenue home was damaged after a tree fell and destroyed their roof and the walls in part of their second floor, according to Bucks County detectives. Once emergency crews left the scene, Ryan Thayer allegedly approached Vogt and offered to remove the tree and fix the house.
Vogt entered into a contract with Hammertime Demolition and Hauling, which estimated the cost at $30,000. To date, Vogt said he has paid Thayer $25,000 toward the project, which he said was abandoned in September.
Authorities said that Vogt has not seen nor heard from Thayer or Hammertime Demolition despite numerous attempts to contact them. No roofing materials were ever delivered either, they said.
“The only call that was ever answered or returned is when they reached a secretary for Hammertime (who) indicated Ryan Thayer to be in Wildwood, New Jersey, celebrating Irish Weekend,” authorities said in the affidavit.
The Vogts later learned that Thayer had applied only for a roofing and siding repair permit with Lower Southampton. A building permit was also required if any structural damage was present or framing work was to be completed, which was the case with the project.
He estimated he also put out another $12,500 so far for outside contractors.
“He had the good life with other people’s money,” Vogt alleged Thursday.
On the same night a fire destroyed Sharon Brown’s Rocky Pool Lane home in April 2012, Ryan Thayer appeared at the scene, she alleges. He claimed that he knew one of her nephews in high school, and offered to donate a Dumpster to her cleanup efforts, according to court documents.
The 61-year-old Bristol Township resident later contracted with John “Jack” Thayer Jr. to rebuild the home, according to authorities.
On the contract with the letterhead “Hammer Time Construction,” she was given an estimate of $202,274 with a 90-day completion deadline. She paid John Thayer Jr. or Hammer Time a total of $160,182, authorities say.
During construction, Brown said there were delays and failures to provide materials. A contractor arrived at the home and installed drywall, closing up the walls before necessary duct work for the HVAC system was installed, according to the affidavit.
No work has been done there since May 2013, though Hammer Time remains under contract with Brown. Materials have also gone missing from her home, she alleges.
When Brown and her nephew reached out to the father and son, John Thayer told them to stop calling his son as he “didn’t like to talk to customers,” according to the affidavit.
County detectives launched their investigation into the father-son team earlier this year after the Bucks County Office of Consumer Protection received numerous complaints about the Thayers during the last two years.
Consumer Protection Director Michael Bannon on Thursday said his office met with Ryan Thayer and tried to mediate some of the complaints, but was unsuccessful.
Since many of the alleged victims are elderly, Bannon took the case to the county’s Crimes Against Older Adults Task Force, which then brought it to the district attorney’s attention.
“I’ve been doing this job for a few years and the victims in this particular case have been hard to watch,” Bannon added. “It’s been really painful for the folks involved.”
John Thayer was arraigned Thursday before Falls District Judge Jan Vislosky and released on $75,000 unsecured bail. As part of his bail conditions, he is forbidden from entering into contracts under any company names listed in the charges against him as well as contacting victims.
Ryan Thayer is already awaiting a preliminary hearing before Vislosky for allegedly writing a bad check for nearly $3,000 to a concrete company earlier this year.
The younger Thayer was registered as the owner of Hammertime Demolition and Hauling, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Home Improvement Contractor registration records. His registration was listed as beginning in April 2010 and expiring May 30.
Hammertime Construction Inc. was also registered with the state, but that registration expired in July 2011 and has not been renewed, according to the AG website.