The Bottom Line: Career Bad Contractor?
Updated: Wednesday, November 13 2013, 09:13 PM EST
MALTA -- He's a contractor accused of taking the money - but not doing the work.
That's what Malta neighbors Jim Day and Bill Thomas say about local contractor Robert Decker, Sr. The two hired him in June to repair the roofs on each of their homes.
They got the referral from a trusted source - a retired state trooper.
"[Decker] was gonna tear down the old roof and put everything up new - new plywood, the whole kit and caboodle," Thomas tells CBS 6's Dori Marlin.
Each signed a contract with Decker for about $7,600 apiece. Day paid $5,000 of that amount up front; Thomas about $5,300.
They say their checks were cashed real fast, but when it came to the work: "I would get the runaround," Thomas says, "calling 3-4 times before he would even call me back once."
Decker gave them proof of insurance, but because of the delay, Thomas says he called the insurance company - and learned that Decker's policy had been cancelled last year.
"I was like, 'Ohhh, here i go.' I knew I was in for a ride," he says.
The two filed complaints with the New York Attorney General's Office, and learned that that ride had been running in the area for years:
The AG's Office first arrested Decker for grand larceny in 1994, and a judge sentenced him to 2-4 years in prison.
In 2002, the AG took him to court again - filing a petition charging him with repeated fraud and deceptive conduct, among other charges.
That led to a settlement in 2004, when a judge issued a consent order against Decker permanently barring him from doing business - meaning technically, he's not even supposed to be operating as a contractor in the state.
But in 2005, CBS 6 was there as he was taken away in handcuffs in court - sentenced to six months in jail, for violating that order.
So now, all these years later, how is it possible that Decker is still out there and able to do this allegedly?
Dori took that question to the AG's Office.
"Even if you obtain a judgment barring him permanently from being in the business, there's nothing to actually prevent him from nonetheless going out there and offering work to consumers," says Assistant Attorney General Amy Schallop.
But is there anything to inform consumers of the fact that Decker's been barred?
"Is there any kind of statewide registry, let's say, where someone can look and say, 'Here's the name of a contractor who should not be practicing?'" Dori asked.
"There is no central registry," Schallop says. "You know it's not that easy to maintain an actual good current database that has all the information you might want."
So just how easy is it then for Decker to keep practicing? Dori placed phone calls to Decker, and visited his home to find out - but got no answer.
The AG's Office tells Dori, it has now filed one new charge against Decker - possession of a forged instrument.
That's for allegedly showing an insurance policy that wasn't valid in another case - similar to those of Thomas and Day.
It is a felony, carrying a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
The AG's Office also tells Dori, it's looking for more alleged victims to come forward. To file a formal complaint, [click here].