Action News Troubleshooters: Contractor scams

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Troubleshooters: Contractor scams - Nydia Han reports during Action News at 12:30 p.m. on November 26, 2017. (WPVI)

Donna Catalano hired CML Construction LLC back in 2014 to renovate this rental property.

She says the owner, Donato Marcello Larotonda, left her with just a shell of a home after she paid him $47,000.

"He cut the circuit breakers, took the copper tubing, took marble out of the home, he damaged the staircase," said Catalano.

A lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General says Larotonda "never returned to do any additional work after tearing the house apart."

And neither CML Construction nor Larotonda's previous company, Mirage Construction, Inc., ever registered as a home improvement contractor.

The lawsuit also cites complaints from other consumers.

"We're here to go after them," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro . "We're here to hold them accountable. We're here to get restitution for people that are hurt."

Shapirol said his office is receiving a growing number of complaints against home improvement contractors- 2500 this year alone.

"We've placed a real priority on going after - you know protecting people from scams," said Shapiro . "And going after these contractors who aren't acting properly."

The Attorney General has taken action on 500 cases already this year, including the Larotonda filing and a lawsuit against Brian T. Magee, Jr., of Celtic Root Landscaping and Construction in Pottstown.

"They just left these homes in shambles," said Shapiro. "We're talking between these two contractors a couple hundred thousand dollars' worth of damage or worth of added cost."

CML Construction is now out of business, but Catalano is still hoping to get her money back.

"I'm hopeful," said Catalano. "I'm hopeful, but I am grateful to Attorney Josh Shapiro for filing this on behalf of me and many others."

Larotonda tells me he knows nothing about the AG lawsuit and denies the allegations made by the AG and Catalano.

About Catalano specifically, he also said, "I wanted to continue on and make it right... and she said, 'I'm moving onto someone else.'"

Brian T. Magee, Jr., did not return our call.

Click here for more home improvement contractor information for consumers.

If you've had an issue with a contractor, email the PA Attorney General at

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