Worst Boston Contractors of 2010
American Sunroom Co. Inc. | North Andover, Mass.
Mary Fuller of Woburn [Mass.] never got the sunroom she ordered from American Sunroom - more than seven years ago. Instead, she says owner James Brien took her $17,438, removed her home's deck, but never replaced it with the promised sunroom.
In January, an Essex Superior Court judge convicted Brien, 61, of 22 misdemeanor counts of violating home improvement contractor laws by defrauding Fuller and dozens of other homeowners who provided down payments but received shoddy work or none at all, according to court documents.
Massachusetts attorney general spokesman Harry Pierre says the case involved 96 consumers, about half of whom applied for and received some reimbursement through the state's Home Improvement Guaranty Fund. Fuller received $10,000.
In March, a judge sentenced Brien to four years in jail and 10 years probation, and ordered him to pay $365,586 in restitution. "I'm still not over this and look at how many years it's been," Fuller says. "Something we were looking forward to turned into a nightmare."
Brien and his companies have a string of consumer complaints dating back nearly a decade, Pierre says. A 2005 civil judgment against Brien, American Sunroom and Associated Leisure Products, a swimming pool sales company Brien previously operated, prohibited him from "selling anything" in Massachusetts, Pierre says.
A judge also ordered him to pay $2 million in restitution, but the state only collected $13,000 because Brien declared bankruptcy in 2005 and hasn't done business since. The state revoked Brien's home improvement contractor registration.
He's lost 12 arbitration cases since 1997, and the guaranty fund has disbursed more than $215,000 to his victims, state records show. Brien is confined in the Essex County Correctional Facility. His attorney, Gerald LaFlamme, did not return messages.
Tyrex Construction & Remodeling | Marlborough, Mass.
Sudbury town building inspector Jim Kelly says Tyrex owner Mauricio Meyer's work on Mark Beer's $220,000 home addition included numerous violations. "There was a tree stump in a crawl space; I've never seen anything like it," Kelly says.
Meyer, 33, who wasn't registered as a home improvement contractor or licensed as a construction supervisor, falsified documents by using another contractor's credentials, according to a lawsuit filed in March by the attorney general. Kelly says Meyer also worked on multiple homes without proper permits.
A Suffolk Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order against Meyer in March, and the AG is seeking to permanently ban him from doing home improvement work. Tyrex landed in the Penalty Box in 2008 after a member complained of faulty laminate flooring. A notice on Tyrex's profile alerts members.
Meyer declined to say whether he was still in business or comment on the charges filed by the attorney general.
CommTank Inc. | Wakefield [Mass.]
Angie's List member Sean Hussey says he paid CommTank $15,000 to test and clean the soil after his oil tank burst, but the company later told him it lost the soil samples.
"I should have questioned it," says Hussey, who gave the company a D grade. Sixty other customers questioned the company's practices for overstating contamination, which led to a Department of Environmental Protection investigation, spokesman Joe Ferson says.
In July, company president Kevin Hoag, 43, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of attempted larceny. Hoag received three years probation and he must pay $60,000 in restitution. The company also must give customers a list of non-affiliated licensed site professionals who can determine remediation.
Hoag says his B-rated company didn't do anything improper and settled to avoid further legal costs.
— by Meranda Watling