(CINCINNATI)—A home-improvement scam prosecuted as a criminal offense led to a guilty plea by James Burchett of Amelia, Ohio, who was sentenced today in Hamilton County Court to 18 months in prison. Such scams were normally handled as civil matters, but Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has made it a priority to treat these cases as criminal when appropriate.
"We have added additional people and resources to aid in the investigation and prosecution of these consumer protection cases," said Attorney General DeWine. "Working with local prosecutors' offices and law enforcement, we want to send the message to scammers that Ohio is not a good place for them to do business."
Burchett pled guilty to two counts each of theft and theft from the elderly.
His crimes cost consumers $17,000 and included:
- Accepting almost $13,000 from an 87-year-old woman to install a fence. The job was partially done but the workmanship was shoddy.
- Taking more than $1,000 for a concrete porch installation. The job was not done.
Assistant Attorney General J. Bartley Cosgrove and Principal Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Blanton were appointed special Hamilton County prosecutors to present evidence to the county grand jury. Cosgrove also worked with a detective of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.
"This is a great example of how the Attorney General's Office can assist local law enforcement and county prosecutors to put these scammers behind bars," said Attorney General DeWine.
Consumers are reminded to:
- Deny any request to pay for services in full before work has begun
- Ask for a written contract that details the work to be done, the time the project will take and its full cost
- Never pay for such work in cash
Consumers can also call the Ohio Attorney General's Help Center at 1-800-282-0515, or visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
, to check complaints filed against businesses and file complaints.
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Mark Moretti: 614-466-3840