Tuesday April 9, 2013

BENNINGTON -- A local contractor was charged Monday with allegedly accepting more than $50,000 to restore a house but never completing the work.

Lee Dufresne, 42, of North Branch Street, pleaded not guilty to home improvement fraud. He was released on conditions that he attend future scheduled court hearings.

According to Bennington Police Detective Sgt. David S. Rowland, in 2012 he spoke to Joanne Hendee, of Bennington, who said she had entered into an agreement with Dufresne and his company, Yankee Ridge Builders, to do work on her house and paid him for it, but the work was hardly done.

She said the first contract was made in 2005 and called for a complete re-roof, custom siding, metal work, asbestos removal, repair or replace cupolas, demolish and restore adjacent barn, complete vinyl window package, and blown insulation in the home. The quoted price was $49,880. Dufresne was paid all but $380 in 2006, and in 2007 was paid $11,500.

There were other documents called "to do" lists, the last dated August 2010. Hendee said Dufresne signed it.

Hendee said the only part of the job that received work were the cupolas and they were only half done. She listed more than a dozen dates in 2009 when she contacted Dufresne and was given a promise or a reason he could not work.

Hendee told police she met Dufresne when her family was renting to him.


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They had some recent repair work done to the home and Dufresne said he could do it better and for cheaper. She said the original price discussed was $30,000 and the contract based on a handshake, but she got it in writing after receiving advice from others. She said she made the check out to Dufresne Company, which he took issue with and requested it be made out to him personally.

"The job went on and stopped many times with many excuses," Hendee wrote in a statement to police. "My parents aged and passed away without the job being completed. No problem. Again details discussed as well as completion date. Another proposal was made and signed. No results. Now stands a once beautiful Victorian home looking like a farmhouse not at all like the 120 year old diamond that she was. It got carved up by Mr. Dufresne of which he collected the money but never finished the job."

Rowland said he had spoken to two other customers of Yankee Ridge Builders who were not satisfied with work performed. He said Dufresne came to the Bennington Police Department and was given a citation without being asked any questions.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.