Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the filing of a lawsuit against an unlicensed Keizer construction contractor, who allegedly took money from consumers for fence construction and failed to complete and in some instances, even begin the work. Named in the suit filed in Marion County Circuit Court is Owen Paul Presutti, who did business as P & R Custom Fence and Deck in the Salem-Keizer area. Presutti appears to have left Oregon and fled to Nevada.
"This is our third year of relentlessly prosecuting unlicensed construction and landscape contractors in Oregon," Myers said. "Taking money from hardworking Oregonians and not providing the service will not be tolerated."
The lawsuit asks the courts for a permanent injunction against Presutti, barring him from ever working as a construction contractor in Oregon and to require him to provide restitution to two homeowners, to pay Justice $25,000 in civil penalties for each violation of the Unlawful Trade Practices Act and reasonable attorney fees.
Last week, Attorney General Myers filed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance in Marion County Circuit Court against Timothy Berkey of Salem, who is a licensed contractor doing business as Tim Berkey Construction. The AVC admits no law violation.
Justice investigators discovered that Berkey had taken money for pole barn construction from more than 14 consumers and performed little or no work. In addition, Berkey failed to pay material suppliers, which resulted in liens against the consumers' homes.
Following the investigation, Berkey agreed to pay restitution to the victims, who were not covered by his construction bond, and pay Justice $2,500 for its consumer protection and education fund. Berkey has, however, filed for protection under the bankruptcy statutes and therefore, Justice may not proceed on collection of the debt. However, if the bankruptcy is dismissed, at that time Justice could begin to actively collect on the debt.
Also, last week, a Department of Justice lawyer won a summary judgment on two of the claims in a lawsuit filed in April 2003 in Multnomah County Circuit Court against unlicensed contractor Lee Jerome Herold of Tigard, who does business as Lee's Hi-Tech Furniture.
The courts found that Herold, in failing to disclose that he was not licensed and bonded by the CCB when contracting work with consumers, violated the Unlawful Trade Practices Act and that in at least two separate instances, Herold operated as an unlicensed contractor, violating the CCB licensure and bonding statutes.
During the last few months, nine other contractors were involved in other court actions including:
Michael W. Varble of Florence, doing business as Driftwood Design Group, default judgment, civil penalties of $26,609, restitution of $2,000.
George H. Quillen III of Beaverton, default judgment, civil penalties of $28,064.90, restitution of $27,217.58.
Kevin Lynn Pierson of Milton-Freewater, default judgment, civil penalties of $29,200, restitution of $2,698.25.
Harry J. Kim of Beaverton, judgment/permanent injunction, no penalties, no restitution.
Monte Vandeventer of Vancouver, Washington, doing business as Rivercity Sealcoating (previously Cascade Locks), stipulated judgment, civil penalties of $2,200, restitution of $3,100.
Timothy J. Cook of Portland, doing business as TJC Properties, money judgment, civil penalties of $1,500.
Trevor Scott Welch of Winston, default judgment, penalties of $26,843, restitution of $4,433.
Dennis Norman Pratt of Medford, default judgment, civil penalties of $25,455.90.
Consumers wanting licensure and complaint information about construction and landscape contractors in Oregon may contact the Construction Contractors Board at (503) 378-4610 or online at www.ccb.state.or.us. Brochures on choosing a contractor are available on the CCB web site or by calling the CCB automated publications line at (503) 378-4621, ext. 4974.
General information on construction and landscape contractors and their complaint history with Justice may be obtained by calling the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org