Fonda roofer faces term in prison

ALBANY – A roofer from Fonda who stole thousands of dollars from homeowners by taking their money but failing to complete work on their homes faces a prison term of three to nine years, authorities said.

Robert Decker, 59, pleaded guilty before Judge Jerry J. Scarano in Saratoga County Court on Monday to third-degree grand larceny, a felony, first-degree scheme to defraud, a felony, first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, a felony, and petit larceny, a misdemeanor, according to a news release from the state attorney general’s office.

“Home repairs are costly and stressful to begin with, without the added worry that you may be taken advantage of in the process,” Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in the news release. “By holding dishonest and fraudulent contractors like Mr. Decker accountable, we are sending the message that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated.”

Decker is scheduled to be sentenced June 27 in Saratoga County Court and Montgomery County Court. According to the news release, Decker will serve three to nine years in prison and must pay up to $375,000 in restitution to homeowners he defrauded.

According to the news release, Decker admitted that from August 2011 to late 2013, he engaged in a scheme to defraud unsuspecting homeowners. Despite being prohibited from operating as a home-improvement contractor, Decker solicited customers throughout the Capital Region and Mohawk Valley, authorities said.

In order to obtain jobs, the news release said, Decker told his prospective customers his roofing company, A+ Rated Contracting, was fully insured.

The company, however, did not have coverage for roofing, authorities said.

After the contracts were signed and money was received, Decker left many jobs unfinished, and in some cases never did any work, authorities said.

According to the news release, Decker admitted that as part of his scheme, he stole $5,000 last summer from a Malta homeowner who had hired him to replace a roof. Decker never deposited the money into the required escrow account, did no work and refused to refund any of the money, authorities said.

Decker also admitted he stole nearly $1,000 from a Saratoga homeowner in 2012. He further admitted to filing false documents with Clifton Park, claiming his roofing company was exempt from having workers’ compensation coverage, the news release said.

In addition to his guilty plea, the release said, Decker previously pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court to second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, a felony, for providing a forged liability insurance certificate to a homeowner who had hired him to do roofing work, the news release said.

In 2003, following numerous complaints from homeowners, the attorney general’s office obtained a consent order that permanently prohibited Decker from operating as a home-improvement contractor in the state unless he filed a $100,000 performance bond with the attorney general, the news release said. Decker never filed such a bond.

“With this arrest, a roofer who took thousands of dollars from his victims will now have to pay,” state police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said in the news release. “No one is above the law in New York state. These dishonest business practices not only cost the victims, but also the public. This arrest should serve as a reminder that anyone taking advantage of others will be held accountable.”