Local contractor charged with cheating customers

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Saturday, July 21, 2018
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Local contractor charged with cheating customers. Trish Hartman reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on July 20, 2018.

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. (WPVI) -- A local contractor has now been charged with cheating customers out of thousands of dollars.

Authorities say John Pratt failed to complete nine jobs, bilking customers out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Friday night we spoke with one of Pratt's alleged victims about the frustrations they went through and the money they lost.

Matthew Byrne of Collegeville said, "All the bricks that he did put on were just popping off as soon as it got cold out."

After a fire damaged their home in 2015, the Byrne family of Collegeville hired several contractors to repair their house. One of them was Pratt's Complete Home Renovations and Upgrades.

"Of course when we signed the contract he said "Two weeks. I'll be in and out in two weeks. I'll be totally done in two weeks. That's why I hired him," said Byrne.

But weeks stretched into months and the Byrnes say they were left with a stone facade that was falling apart and heat that didn't work.

"Even if I don't get my money back - as long as he's going to pay for what he did," said Byrne.

Authorities say in all, John Pratt of Oreland cheated victims out of more than $87,000 and left nine jobs unfinished.

Bucks Co. Deputy District Attorney A.J. Garabedian said, "It's alleged that he took money from homeowners for work that was contracted and then either took the money and didn't do any work or took the money, did some work and then failed to appear again."

We reached Pratt by phone for comment about the allegations of home improvement fraud, he said, "That's not what it is. It's not what it seems."

Authorities tell homeowners - check references and make sure a contractor's certificate of insurance is still good before hiring anyone.

"In Bucks County we have a great resource here - the Consumer Protection Agency. If you can call them and find out information and they will be able to provide you tips on what to do in looking for a contractor as well," said Garabedian.

Pratt is free on $500,000 unsecured bail.

Authorities believe there could be more victims out there.

If you think you might be one of them, you're asked to contact the Bucks County District Attorney's Office.


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