Capital Region — State police are continuing to investigate three contractors – one from Amsterdam and another from Waterford – in connection with a million-dollar contractor fraud scheme in the area and are focusing on Fulton and Montgomery counties for potential victims, troopers said Thursday.
The scheme involved taking money for home improvements, but never doing the work or doing it improperly, authorities said.
People who think they may have been a victim from Schenectady, Saratoga or other area counties are also asked to contact investigators, officials said.
The state Attorney General’s Office earlier this month announced a 17-count indictment against the three men in Albany County, accusing them in a large-scale contractor fraud scheme against dozens of homeowners and businesses across upstate New York.
Charged in the scheme were Robert Decker, 66, of Amsterdam; Scott Driscoll, 44, of Waterford, and Robert Langlais, 67, of Cohoes. Decker is also known as Bob Dale.
One of the three, Decker, has a long history of similar allegations, the Attorney General’s Office said.
Troopers on Thursday specifically indicated that they had reason to believe the three had victims in Fulton and Montgomery counties that have yet to come forward. But they indicated other victims may be elsewhere, too.
People who believe they may have been victimized by the three are asked to contact the state police Financial Crimes Unit at 518-786-2192.
The investigation began in summer 2019 after numerous homeowners filed complaints with the state police and the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.
Decker and Driscoll are accused of operating a company called SJR Enterprises as a home improvement contracting company, officials said, citing the indictment. The two fraudulently obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars from dozens of upstate homeowners for home improvement work they never performed or failed to properly perform, officials said.
They also obtained nearly $100,000 in fraudulent loans and materials never paid for as promised, officials said.
The two then diverted the money for personal gain, including making nearly $400,000 in withdrawals and payments to themselves, The two allegedly used nearly $150,000 to pay personal and business debts and more than $50,000 in retail purchases through iTunes and Amazon and at numerous restaurants.
“Many of these victims invested their life savings so that they could improve their homes for themselves and their families, but instead of building newer and safer homes, all that these three defendants built was a house of lies,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “We won’t allow anyone to take advantage of and steal from innocent New Yorkers trying to build better lives for themselves.”
Several of the homeowners obtained substantial loans for the work never performed and some were left with uninhabitable homes, officials said.
Decker had previously been banned from operating as a home improvement contractor in the state, the Attorney General’s Office said. That order came in 2003 after numerous complaints from homeowners. The order required him to post a $100,000 bond to resume work, but he never did, officials said.
Decker and Driscoll each faceone count of second-degree grand larceny, 12 counts of third-degree grand larceny and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud in the Albany County case. Langlais faces a scheme to defraud count and a third-degree grand larceny count. Langlais and Driscoll also face three counts of first-degree falsifying business records. All charges are felonies.
The three were arraigned earlier this month in Albany County Court and released pending trial. Decker was released with electronic monitoring.