Worst Boston Contractors of 2012

Worst Boston Contractors of 2012

Red Apple Renovations | Andover, Mass.

Two weeks after paying Red Apple Renovations owner Chris Matey $16,800 for a bathroom remodel last May, Angie’s List member Jessica Tufts of Topsfield, Mass., says Matey told her the company was going out of business due to a major supplier pulling his line of credit. “At that point I knew he had taken the money and ran,” Tufts says of the money she paid him to make a bathroom handicapped-accessible for her daughter. Court records show Matey filed for bankruptcy in August, listing $1.7 million in unsecured debts, including $946,690 owed to 28 homeowners.

Chris Matey Red Apple Chris Matey (right) attends a bankruptcy hearing in October with his attorney, Jesse Redlener. (Photo by Mark Wilson)

Red Apple has a B rating on the List based on 17 reports, but the company took a sharp nose dive in 2012, earning four straight F reviews since April. Angie's List members allege Matey took their money, but left them with shoddy, incomplete or never-started projects. They also accuse him of failing to pay subcontractors, which resulted in liens being placed on their homes.

Greg Doyle, owner of Doyle Lumber, says he tried unsuccessfully to collect a $100,000 debt from Matey in April, then placed liens on the homes of about 20 of Matey’s former clients in an effort to recoup his losses. “[Matey] was a fantastic salesman and I had faith he would pay me back, but then came the mound of excuses,” Doyle says. “Losing that money hurts business; I had to do something.”

One of those former clients, Arlington, Mass., member Ian Pilarczyk, says he feels victimized twice — once by Matey, to whom he says he lost $35,000 because Matey left his project incomplete, then by Doyle Lumber. “We were screwed by Red Apple, then the suppliers,” says Pilarczyk, who filed a lawsuit against Matey in September in Middlesex County. Court records also show Matey faces a civil suit from Doyle Lumber for the $100,000 debt.

One consumer also filed a claim against the company with the state’s Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation, spokesman Matthew Kraunelis says. The office’s guaranty fund reimburses consumers up to $10,000 for uncollected civil judgments. A notice on the company’s profile alerts members that the company is out of business. Matey, whose contractor license is valid and up for renewal in 2013, state records show, did not return messages for comment.

Joel Salvatore | Framingham, Mass.

In June, a Norfolk Superior Court judge sentenced former bathroom remodeling salesman Joel Salvatore of Stoneham to two years in prison and six years of probation in connection with defrauding three homeowners of $17,600, according to the Massachusetts attorney general. Court documents show Salvatore, a former employee of Framingham-based Bay State Re-Bath, offered services to Bay State customers at a discounted rate and personally collected payments from them without ever doing the work, the AG says.

Salvatore, who has prior felony convictions in 1999 for federal mail and wire fraud for which he was ordered to pay $798,092 in restitution, is serving time in the Massachusetts Correctional Institution-Cedar Junction, state records show. Jennifer Bylo, owner of B-rated Bay State Re-Bath, says she terminated Salvatore after only four months when his work became inconsistent and he failed a federal background check. “He used my company to get access to my customers. "His actions were unfathomable,” she says. “Our reputation has suffered because of it.

Northeast Demolition and Removal | Middleboro, Mass.

Northeast Demolition and Removal owners Arthur and Laurajo Amaral faced a Feb. 4 trial date on charges that they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from five homeowners for materials and services never delivered, says Grant Woodman of the state attorney general’s office.

One of those homeowners, Coleen Standring of Waltham, Mass., says it’s about time the Amarals — also named a 2011 Worst Contractor in Boston — went to trial. “They deserve what’s coming to them,” she says, adding that despite winning a $569,000 default judgment against Northeast, she’s yet to see any money.

In September, federal court documents show a judge denied Arthur’s request to discharge his $2.1 million bankruptcy, saying Arthur made false statements under oath and hid property. The state revoked Arthur’s home improvement contractor license in 2011, state records show.

The Amarals did not return messages seeking comment.


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J. David Tholl

Subject: Reply to charles malia about "sleazy customers".

Since contractors tend to trade wholesale (mass-market) while customers tend to buy retail (one by one), sleazy contractors are far more likely to cause widespread financial harm than sleazy customers. But I take your point about disreputable customers.

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