A.G. Schneiderman Seeks Contempt Ruling Against Onondaga County Home Improvement Contractor Who Violated Court Order
released on October 27, 2017
found in newsletter: October 2017
SYRACUSE – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that he filed a motion for civil and criminal contempt of court against Jason Briere, a Syracuse home improvement contractor, for his continued operation of a home improvement contracting business in violation of a prior court order. The court order, filed in 2014, bans Briere from the home improvement contracting business until he posts a $25,000 bond with the Attorney General’s Office and complies with New York State Law.
Based on new consumer complaints, the Attorney General’s Office recently learned that Briere has allegedly reopened his home improvement contracting business under a new name – “Under Construction” – and has engaged in the very same deceptive practices prohibited by the Court’s 2014 order. However, Briere has not posted a bond with the Attorney General’s Office. If found to be in contempt of the court order, Briere could face permanent disbarment from the profession, penalties and jail time.
“My office has zero tolerance for crooked home improvement contractors who exploit New York homeowners for profit,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Those who violate court orders should take notice: my office is committed to aggressively prosecuting businesses that defraud New Yorkers, and we will hold them accountable for their unscrupulous actions. I urge anyone who has been defrauded to contact my office.”
In 2014, the Attorney General sued Briere, then doing business under his own name, as well as Enriched Homes and Construction and Onpointe Contracting. The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that Briere had repeatedly defrauded consumers by failing to: perform work or complete work after receiving payment, provide refunds for incomplete or defective work, respond to consumer complaints, provide consumers with a written home improvement contract that complied with state law, deposit consumer down payments in escrow accounts, and give consumers notice of their three day right to cancel.
Following the 2014 investigation, Onondaga County State Supreme Court Justice Hugh A. Gilbert issued a consent order barring Briere from operating a home improvement business unless he posted a $25,000 bond and complied with New York General Business Law, Lien Law and Personal Property law. Briere was also ordered to pay $22,768.11 in restitution and $7,000 in penalties and costs.
In this contempt proceeding against Briere, the Attorney General’s Office is seeking an order of civil and criminal contempt, with an award of civil penalties including restitution for at least one victim who paid Briere in full for a job he never completed. The victim also incurred damages because of Briere’s poor workmanship.
If Briere is found in contempt of Justice Gilbert’s order, the Court could permanently ban him from working as a home improvement contractor in New York; order that he pay civil penalties and criminal fines; and/or sentence him to up to six months in jail.
The criminal contempt charges are merely accusations and the respondent is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.
Consumers who believe they may have been defrauded by or have unresolved disputes with Jason Briere are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Syracuse Regional Office at 315-448-4848.
When planning to use a home improvement contractor, consumers should consider the following tips:
Determine exactly what you want done, then look for a qualified contractor
Shop around; get at least three estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services to be provided
Never agree to have work done on the spot, especially when potential contractors are marketing door-to-door
Ask for references: check with the Better Business Bureau, banks, suppliers and neighbors
Always contact any references provided to you
Insist on a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed
Do not pay unreasonable advance sums; negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of specific stages of the job
Never pay the full price up front
Remember that you have three days to cancel after signing a home improvement contract, but all cancellations must be in writing
Additional information on how to avoid home improvement scams can be found on the Attorney General’s Website.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Judith C. Malkin, with the assistance of Law Department Investigator Andrea Buttenschon and Consumer Frauds Representative Jean Ryan. The Syracuse Office is led by Assistant Attorney General in Charge Ed Thompson. The Syracuse Regional Office is part of the Division of Regional Offices, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Marty Mack.
Original Press Release