Contractor pleads guilty to defrauding Queens homeowners

Contractor pleads guilty to defrauding Queens homeowners
By Philip Newman

A Long Island building contractor has entered a guilty plea to defrauding Queens and Long Island homeowners and leaving a trail of unfinished home improvement projects, the Queens district attorney said.

“The defendant has pleaded guilty to having defrauded homeowners out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by taking money for construction and renovation work without finishing much of the work,” said DA Richard Brown.

Brown identified the defendant as Derrick Burrell, 49, also known as James Gray, of Saint Marks Avenue in Rockville Centre, LI, who worked under the name “A Team Property Service.”

He said Burrell pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny and scheme to defraud before Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron, who said he would sentence Burrell to an indeterminate term of 1½ to 4½ years July 20.

The DA said Burrell entered into a contract with nearly a dozen Queens and Long Island residents between February 2009 and July 2015, accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments and leaving residents with unfinished or never-started projects.

“Consumers should be cautious when hiring improvement contractors,” Brown said

“Defective or incomplete home improvements are among the top consumer complaints to my office. Consumers should request and actually check with proper agencies to determine whether they are indeed licensed,” Brown said.

The district attorney said the fraudulent activity can take a heavy toll on the victims.

“In one instance,” Brown said, “a Queens homeowner who had been confined to a wheelchair had her kitchen completely demolished and for nearly a year was forced to prepare meals on a microwave or on a hotplate.”