Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bucks DA: Contractor with 10 companies ripped off homeowners for $22K-plus

Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Bucks County authorities are looking for a New Jersey home improvement contractor who they say accepted more than $22,000 from three Bucks County homeowners for work that was shoddy or never completed.
The Bucks County District Attorney's Office is concerned that John Chmielinski, 46, of Trenton, may still be working as a contractor under one of 10 business names.
He is already facing trial in connection with another home improvement related fraud case in Falls where he allegedly was paid an $1,800 deposit toward repairing a roof last September, but never did any work, according to court documents. 
John Chmielinski
An arrest warrant was issued for him in the new case involving three homeowners earlier this month, charging him with 10 felonies, including receiving payment for services and failing to perform them and deceitful business practices.
Authorities also allege he ripped off homeowners in Croydon, Langhorne and Lower Makefield, and lied on state registration applications, another violation of the state home improvement contractor law.
None of his contractor businesses are registered with the state in his name or incorporated in Pennsylvania, according to Bucks County prosecutor Alan J. Garabedian, who is assigned the case.  
Two of the companies — All Weather Construction and John Chmielinski Jr. Construction — were registered with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office as required under the 2009 law, but the registrations are now expired, according to a probable cause affidavit. The listed owners were Chmielinski's wife, Annette, and son John, according to court documents. No criminal charges have been filed against the son or wife as of Tuesday, according to court records.
Authorities also allege that the registration applications for the companies contain false information involving addresses and insurance information. They said insurance coverage for both companies was canceled before the registrations were approved. Annette Chmielinski allegedly lied on her application about a prior bankruptcy claim and a civil judgment involving a home improvement project, an affidavit of probable cause notes.
Bucks County court records show that the elder John Chmielinski has two civil judgments against him from 2013 and 2011 totaling $20,745. He also used a home improvement contractor registration number assigned to a business owned by his brother, authorities said.
In 2009, Chmielinski was convicted in New Jersey of failing to register as a contractor, Garabedian said.
Chmielinski allegedly ripped off the Bucks County homeowners between 2011 and 2014. The homeowners collectively ended up paying more than $30,000 over what they paid Chmielinski to fix the work he did, according to court documents.
Dr. Gregory Galeone hired Chmielinski to replace the roof on his home in the 120 block of West Maple Avenue in Langhorne in April 2011. In the proposal, Chmielinski listed his company as “Johns CJC Roofing,” of Morrisville, according to the affidavit. He also provided a home improvement contractor registration number that was assigned to the company registered in his son’s name.
Chmielinski initially quoted the estimated project cost at $8,000 and required an initial deposit of $6,300. But he later upped the cost to $13,280, a violation of the contractor law, which requires re-negotiation for any changes in a project’s cost. The owner paid another $3,640.
A week later, Chmielinski requested another $1,640 for supplies, which Galeone said he paid.
In July, Chmielinski sent Galeone a letter claiming he was injured in a crash and couldn’t finish the job until March 2012.
But Chmielinski never finished the roof and he never returned any of the money, the affidavit alleges.
After Galeone hired a new contractor to finish the roof, he learned Chmielinski cut corners and only made it look as if he re-shingled the roof, authorities claim. The roof leaked, causing additional building damage, and another $27,620 out of the homeowner's pocket to fix, authorities allege.
In September 2012, Croydon homeowner Joseph Ehrenreich paid Chmielinski $1,400, including a $200 tip, to fix his chimney — work done under the company name John’s CJC Chimney and with his brother’s home improvement contractor number, according to court documents.
But shortly after the work was finished, Ehrenreich noticed a loud rattling when his heater was on. He was told by a repairman that the chimney insert was not properly installed and the re-seal was stuffed with newspapers, the affidavit said. The Bristol Township Fire Marshal later confirmed that no permits were issued for the project and newspaper stuffing is a fire hazard, the affidavit said.
After calling Chmielinski numerous times, Ehrenreich said the repairs to the chimney were never made and no money ever returned to him, authorities allege.
In May 2014, Lower Makefield residents Donna and Andrew Roppelt hired Chmielinski — operating as “Handymany Service T/A All Weather Construction” — to fix a chimney. But shortly after starting work, Chmielinski demanded more money, the affidavit notes.
The couple ended up paying Chmielinski $9,700 — four times more than the original quote, court records show. They eventually removed him from the project in July with the work “far from completion,” the affidavit alleges.
The couple continued to pay Chmielinski because they had a hole in their roof and needed the repairs done as fast as possible, the affidavit notes.
The couple was left to clean construction debris and abandoned equipment from their lawn and pay another two contractors $2,922 to close off the chimney and repair other damage, the affidavit said.

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