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Handyman Violated Unfair Trade Practices Act
April 16, 2013
AUGUSTA – Attorney General Janet T. Mills has announced that self-professed “handyman” Daniel B. Tucci of Portland, Maine, has been found guilty of numerous violations of Maine’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. In a ruling by Cumberland Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler following a three-day trial, Tucci was ordered to provide more than a quarter of a million dollars in restitution to 14 different victims. Mr. Tucci is permanently barred from operating a handyman or home repair business in the future. If Mr. Tucci fails to make the restitution payments he will also have to pay $140,000 in civil penalties.
“Mr. Tucci’s behavior is truly reprehensible,” Attorney General Mills stated. “He lied about his qualifications. He took money from people and didn’t finish the job. The work he did do on people’s homes was shoddy. Then, when people complained, he harassed and threatened them, threatened to sue them, even calling their work place and berating them.”
Mr. Tucci targeted elderly people in particular and did business under a number of different names in York and Cumberland Counties: “Dan the Handyman,” “Tripol Handyman Services,” “The TrixiePolly Co.,” “TriDan,” “Tripol Construction,” and “T.P.D.F., LLC.”
“The State of Maine will not tolerate these kinds of shoddy business practices. I applaud the court’s decision in this case,” the Attorney General stated.
The Superior Court found that Mr. Tucci falsely advertised his services and qualifications, that he took advance payments and then failed to complete the work, that he provided shoddy and incomplete work and that he refused to correct the work he did or to refund the money paid. The Court also found that he threatened and intimidated customers.
The most egregious example of Mr. Tucci’s business dealings was that he took $80,000 in upfront payments from an elderly couple for a basement renovation; nearly all of the necessary work was left either incomplete or undone. After ending their relationship with Mr. Tucci, the couple was able to have the work corrected for just $14,000 by another contractor – a far cry from the $145,000, Mr. Tucci ultimately charged them.
The Court found that Mr. Tucci falsely advertised himself as a licensed home repair person and handyman. From 2004 to 2012 he advertised his services in York and Cumberland counties, implying that he was competent and licensed in several trades including electrical, masonry, plumbing and oil burner services. In fact, Mr. Tucci holds no professional licenses
Mr. Tucci also took advance payments for work and then failed to complete the work. At the trial, held from January 22 to 25, 2013 in Portland, the court heard from witnesses who testified that Mr. Tucci required payments of half the estimate up front and then was “painfully slow” to do the work. He would often use the delay to persuade homeowners that extra work was required.
When confronted about his shoddy, unworkmanlike or incomplete work, Mr. Tucci refused to give refunds and even threatened his customers. Mr. Tucci went so far as to contact the employer of one customer stating that they “were not fit for employment.” He bullied his customers, constantly telling them, “I know where you live. I will find you. No one does this to me.’”
Attorney General Mills commended Assistant Attorney General Linda Conti, Director of the Consumer Protection Division, and Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Silsby, who prosecuted the case.
No homeowner should be pressured to pay more than a third up front for any home repair job. Consumers should insist on a written contract and should check the references for anyone who offers to perform work on their home.
Maine Consumers who believe they may be the victim of an unfair trade practice can call the Maine Attorney General’s Office with questions.
Consumers can call the specifically dedicated line 1-800-436-2131 or 626-8849 Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. – noon and 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. In addition to the toll free phone number, consumers can contact the Consumer Protection Division by email at email@example.com and by regular mail by writing to: Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division, 6 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333. The Consumer Protection Division also has a lot of consumer information on the website – www.maine.gov/ag.
Daniel B. Tucci ordered to pay restitution of $236,500 to 14 victims, permanently barred from doing home repairs.