Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Watertown Paving CompanyPosted: Updated:
The state Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against a Watertown paving company, claiming it defrauded homeowners.
The suit names Tri-State Paving and its principals, Richard Attenborough, III and Stevee Paige Castle-Lagerquist.
The suit alleges that they defrauded homeowners with a deceptive paving scheme and failed to comply with New York’s home improvement contractor laws.
Supreme Court Justice James McClusky has issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the company from conducting or soliciting any paving business while the lawsuit is pending.
The Attorney General alleges that Tri-State and Attenborough have a longstanding pattern of deceiving homeowners.
The AG says, in a classic bait-and-switch scheme, Attenborough or another Tri-State employee falsely told consumers that they have “leftover” paving material from a nearby job, and then offered to pave all or a portion of the homeowner’s driveway at a low price or with no price estimate at all.
Tri-State then performed substantially more work than what was agreed upon, the AG said.
According to the Attorney General, the work was often substandard, or created paving issues for the homeowner, requiring more work. Afterward, the company allegedly demanded payment of much more money than discussed or agreed-upon.
The Attorney General’s investigation started in the summer of 2016 after complaints were filed by homeowners in the north country.
Tri-State and Attenborough subsequently moved their operations to other regions, and it is alleged that they had been most recently deceiving homeowners in the greater Binghamton area.
Sworn statements from five alleged victims of Tri-State’s practices were submitted, together with records from multiple law enforcement agencies that have had contact with Attenborough for the same or similar conduct over a period of many years.
The AG sited a couple of incidents involving Tri-State: a homeowner agreed to have the company pave a four-foot section of his driveway, but Tri-State is alleged to have refused to provide a price quote. The company then proceeded to pave the entire driveway and demand payment of $9,200.
In another case, the company is alleged to have deceptively solicited a homeowner to pave a driveway at a cost of $3,000. While the homeowner was still talking to the Tri-State representative and refusing all work, employees had already begun paving the driveway without his knowledge or authorization. Tri-State refused to remove the material put down, and demanded payment.
In New York, home improvement contractors—such as paving companies—are required to use contracts for any job that costs the homeowner more than $500. The contract must be signed by both parties and contain: proposed starting and completion dates; a description of the work to be completed; materials to be provided; total cost of the contract; and include a notice to the consumer of their unconditional three-day right to cancel the contract without penalty, among other items.
The AG said Tri-State Paving compounded its illegal behavior by failing to use contracts in compliance with state law.
The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction against Tri-State, Attenborough, and Castle-Lagerquist, prohibiting them from operating as home improvement contractors in New York State, restitution for the homeowners they defrauded, and penalties and costs to the state. A hearing is scheduled for June 26, 2017.