North Rockland home improvement contractor convicted of stealing thousands from customer
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe this week announced that Jerry Cioffi (DOB 02/21/69) of 27 Skyline Drive, Thiells, New York was convicted after a jury trial of:
One count of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class “D” Felony
Cioffi, a plumbing contractor who conducts his business under the company name of Cioffi Services, Inc., was found guilty of stealing $5,000 from a Nyack homeowner with whom he had contracted to construct a sewer connection from her home to a main sewer line. The corporation, located in Thiells, was also convicted of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree.
The arrest and conviction resulted from an investigation conducted by the Special Investigations Unit of the Office of the District Attorney and the Rockland County Department of Consumer Affairs. According to the charges, the victim contracted with Cioffi in April, 2010 to construct the sewer line. The customer gave the defendant a down payment of $5,000, which represented half of the $10,000 total cost of the project.
The defendant assured the victim that he would procure the applicable permits and complete the work on or about May 1, 2010. In reality, Cioffi applied for no permits and performed none of the work by the time the victim contacted the County Department of Consumer Protection in late September.
Cioffi walked away from the job and failed to provide an accounting or return of the victim’s money.
The defendant was prosecuted for Grand Larceny through application of the New York State Lien Law, which mandates that, upon acceptance of funds in connection with a contract for improvement of real property or home improvement, those funds become a trust, which can be used only to pay for costs incurred in the performance of that homeowner’s project. The use of that money for any other purpose is a larceny under the Lien Law. Further, the contractor must maintain separate ledgers for each job for which he has contracted.
By failing to provide an accounting of how the money had been used and by not returning the money upon the demand of the consumer, the contractor violated both the Penal Law and the Lien Law. The defendant’s trial began on October 5, 2011. Jurors deciding the case in the courtroom of Rockland County Court Judge William A. Kelly returned a verdict of guilty yesterday afternoon following two hours of deliberations. Cioffi remains free on bail pending sentencing on January 18, 2012. He faces a possible state prison sentence of up to seven years.