NAUGATUCK — A home improvement contractor based in Suffolk County, N.Y., bilked a 73-year-old Grove Street woman out of more than $600 in June and put her life in danger, according to police.
Patrick Webb, 27, operating under the business name East Coast Home Improvements in Middle Island, N.Y., visited the house June 22 after the company called the woman soliciting chimney work, said Lt. Bryan Cammarata of the Naugatuck Police Department. The woman agreed to have the company clean her chimney for $50, she told police.
Webb came to the house and told the woman the ash box needed to be replaced, cement was missing from the bottom of the chimney and the flue and damper kit needed work, Cammarata said. Webb gave the woman a $1,200 estimate for additional work, and she agreed and wrote a $600 check as a deposit, Cammarata said.
Webb and another man who worked for him came back June 26, Cammarata said. They told the woman they had installed a long pipe and a 30-foot stainless steel lining system with connections for water heaters and other appliances, Cammarata said.
Webb gave the woman a new invoice and requested another $1,200 to continue the work, but the woman did not agree, Cammarata said. She reported the scam that day, Cammarata said.
Police contacted borough building inspector William Herzman, who said a stainless liner had been placed inside the existing clay liner, but it was installed incorrectly and was not capped properly. Herzman told police the existing liner had been in excellent shape and a new liner was unnecessary.
The work Webb performed led to improper venting in the house, which could have caused carbon monoxide poisoning, Cammarata said. Webb did not pull the necessary permit from the building department and the work he did was in violation of the state building code, Herzman told police.
Webb’s company has an active state home improvement contractor license, under East Coast Contracting Inc., but the license does not cover the type of work he was doing, Cammarata said. The woman had to hire another contractor to complete the appropriate repairs, he said.
East Coast Home Improvement is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, in part due to two complaints that the company failed to respond to, according to the organization’s records.
Police in Suffolk County, N.Y., arrested Webb on Tuesday and borough detectives transferred him to the Naugatuck Police Department. He was charged with willfully performing craftsman work without a license, larceny in the second degree with a victim older than 60, conspiracy at larceny in the second degree, reckless endangerment in the first degree and violating the state building code. He was held on a $25,000 bond and scheduled to appear Wednesday in Waterbury Superior Court.