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Contractor Charged with Bilking Nine Victims of $87K

July 20, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Alan J. Garabedian, 215.348.6296, ajgarabedian@buckscounty.org

John Pratt
          John Pratt

A home improvement contractor from Montgomery County was charged today with cheating customers out of more than $87,000 by failing to complete nine jobs for which he had been paid.

John Pratt, 45, of Oreland, also is accused of writing seven bad checks for approximately $10,000 to seven material suppliers or service providers.

Pratt was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Regina Armitage of New Britain on nine felony counts each of home improvement fraud, deceptive or fraudulent business practices, theft by deception and receiving stolen property, as well as misdemeanor counts of theft by deception and bad checks.

Armitage set bail at $500,000 unsecured and scheduled a preliminary hearing for August 3.

The alleged thefts began in 2015, when the defendant’s business was known as Pratt’s Complete Home Renovations & Upgrades, LLC. Around April 2018, he began working under the name Handy Husband, LLC, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Pratt is accused of defrauding customers in two states, four counties and nine municipalities, in amounts ranging from $19,800 to $2,175. Most of the customers have had to spend additional money to complete the unfinished projects, the affidavit said.

According to the charges:

  • A man in Lower Merion, Montgomery County, paid Pratt $8,450 in April 2015 to improve and renovate a basement / recreation room. Pratt neither finished the project nor obtained township permits for it. The homeowner paid others $3,792 to correct and complete Pratt’s work.
  • A woman in Warminster, Bucks County, paid Pratt $18,400 for deck work, a French door, a kitchen window and permits in June 2015. Pratt failed to finish or stain the deck, install the kitchen window or provide a screen for the French door. The homeowner paid another contractor $500 to finish the deck, never received the window or screen, and said one of the checks she wrote Pratt had been altered so that it could be cashed sooner than she wished.

  • A couple in Collegeville, Montgomery County, paid Pratt $14,800 in September 2015 for a project at their fire-damaged house, including HVAC and exterior stone work. Pratt neither finished nor obtained permits for his work, and the homeowners paid other contractors $12,100 to finish or correct his work.

  • A former neighbor of Pratt’s in Philadelphia paid him $2,500 in March 2016 as a deposit for bathroom renovations. After Pratt cashed the check and repeatedly failed to start the project, the woman cancelled the contract but never received a refund.

     

  • A woman in Woolwich Township, Gloucester County, NJ, paid Pratt $3,000 in May 2016 toward installation of an air conditioning unit. Pratt cashed the check but never started the project. The woman stopped payment on the check and was sued by the check-cashing agency, which obtained a judgment against her and sought to freeze her bank accounts until it was paid. The woman said the episode left her unable to purchase a wheelchair for her handicapped child.

  • A woman in Horsham, Montgomery County, paid Pratt $6,900 in May 2016 toward a two-week renovation project that he failed to complete. The woman was left with broken windows and a persistent sewer odor in her basement, where Pratt had been cutting pipes.
  • A woman in Conshohocken, Montgomery County, paid Pratt $23,090.21 in August 2016 toward a project including a carport, installation of flooring and central air conditioning. The air conditioning unit failed, knocking out power to the woman’s children’s bedrooms for two weeks. And the unfinished flooring buckled and separated. The woman has paid other contractors $7,000 to complete the abandoned project.
  • A Hilltown Township, Bucks County, couple paid Pratt $2,175 toward replacement of an air handler, heat package and heat pump. Pratt cashed the deposit check in December 2016, never showed up to start the work, and failed to return the advance he was paid.
  • A Fort Washington, Montgomery County, woman paid $15,600 to Pratt and his painter in the fall of 2016 toward a project involving construction of a bathroom, mud room and other work. Pratt failed to finish the project, obtain township permits or return any money. The homeowner has since paid another contractor $12,900 to finish the work.

As part of his bail conditions, Armitage ordered Pratt to have no contact with any of the alleged victims, aside from efforts to repay them through his attorney, Joseph Malley of Media.

Armitage also ordered Pratt to not accept any new contracts in which he is the general or sub-contractor dealing directly with the customer. If he works for another home improvement company as a subcontracted employee, he will be required to provide the court with proof of his registration with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and a valid certificate of insurance.

The case was investigated by the Hilltown Township Police Department and the Bucks County Detectives, and has been assigned for prosecution to Deputy District Attorney Alan J. Garabedian.

Anyone else who believes he or she has been victimized by this defendant or his business is urged to contact Bucks County Detective Timothy Campbell at 215.340.8140 or Hilltown Township Police Officer James Browne at 215.453.6000, ext 282.

Each charge is an allegation subject to proof in court. The accused is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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