NBC 10 I-Team: New accusations made against RI contractor
A North Kingstown contractor already accused of forging thousands of dollars in insurance checks and walking off job sites faces a new claim that he left a job with money he didn’t earn.
Frank Martin was arrested a year ago by Rhode Island State Police following an NBC 10 I-Team investigation in late 2015.
Now, the NBC 10 I-Team has discovered, through court records, that the contractor is looking at a total of 17 charges, including forgery, larceny and counterfeiting in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Martin has pled not guilty to the pending charges, but a new allegation has surfaced from a South Kingstown homeowner.
Standing in his gutted kitchen below a jagged saw cut in the wall, James Pansarasa shakes his head.
“This is just completely unprofessional,” said Pansarasa, who hired Martin and his company, Burgess Environmental, in April to remove some asbestos and do some renovations at his home. “He had a very competitive offer, and so he said he could start the next day and he showed up, actually started doing the work.
But Pansarasa said the work slowed down and then stopped altogether.
“Not returning my texts, and then he stopped returning any of my phone calls or texts,” Pansarasa said.
The NBC 10 I-Team has heard similar complaints before.
"I just can't believe there are people that evil that would do something like that,” Irene Derosier said at her North Scituate home in 2015.
Derosier accused Martin of pocketing a $66,000 insurance check. The claim is mirrored in Massachusetts court documents, which allege Martin forged the bank's signature and cashed the check at a Brockton check cashing business. The then 81-year-old had to live in a trailer in her driveway until family could help finish the repairs.
Prosecutors in Massachusetts are charging Martin in connection with Derosier’s case.
But the complaints against Martin didn't end there.
"He basically left my house here in a mess that we've been living in for a year and half,” added Karen McCormick, whose repair job suddenly came to a halt in 2014. Her insurance company was allegedly out $34,000. In that case, Martin was charged with forging the bank's signature and taking the money.
At Angela Crawford's home in Narragansett, it was the same scenario.
"One leak from the basement turned into a leak in the bathroom, turned into a leak where he dug up every floor in the house,” Crawford told the NBC 10 I-Team.
Court documents allege Crawford's insurance company was on the hook for $38,000 and the repairs were incomplete.
The Rhode Island Contractor Registration and Licensing Board suspended Martin's contractor registration in November 2014 and filed charges against him for operating without the proper paperwork.
Under Rhode Island law, a contractor needs a valid registration to do home renovations. Back in South Kingstown, Pansarasa considers himself lucky.
“Two thousand dollars is probably what he's beaten me for, but I can't believe this guy is still out there,” he said.
The homeowner has hired another contractor to come in and fix the damages.
“I'm just afraid Frank is still out there. Who is the next person? Where is Frank Martin today? What job site is Frank Martin at? That's frightening. That's absolutely frightening,” added Pansarasa.
Court records indicate Martin’s 10 Rhode Island charges will be heard this month, and Massachusetts records show he's due there in September on seven additional charges.
Meanwhile, Pansarasa has filed a complaint with the state's contractor registration and licensing board, and another with Rhode Island State Police.
Martin’s attorney, Jim Howe, reached the NBC 10 I-Team via phone Thursday and said the latest incident is more of a misunderstanding, adding that his client is looking to make a refund payment to Pansarasa “relatively soon.”