KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- A local contractor accused of not completing a $50,000 renovation job on a Victorian-style home is no longer facing a home improvement fraud charge.
The state dismissed the charge against Lee Dufresne, 42, of North Branch Street, on Aug. 19. Dufresne first appeared in court in April to deny the allegation.
According to Bennington Police, in 2012 a Bennington woman said she signed a contract with Dufresne in 2005 to do roof work and other improvements on her home. She said not all of it was completed, and in 2009 Dufresne began giving her reasons the work could not be done.
Dufresne said in an interview Monday that the accusation against him was not true. He said he knew the woman because he was living in the house in question, and when he told her the roof was leaking, they got into a conversation about renovation work, although he said she was the one to start the business offer.
According to Dufresne, the work was completed and the job was several years old by the time the woman brought the matter to police. He provided the Banner with screen captures of the home being listed for sale on a local realtor’s website. A description of the home reads, in part, "All new vinyl siding, replacement windows, new roof and updated electric, this home is ready to become your prized possession."
Neither image indicated when the listing was made or posted.
Dufresne said he did create a "to do" list for more work on the home, but this was a list of items that could be done, not what he agreed to do. He said there were other issues with the arrangement as well.
"The fact is, I’m not a dirt bag," he said.
"This is a case that should have more properly been brought in civil court," said Susan McManus, Dufresne’s attorney. "These cases are very challenging for the state to prove. In this particular matter, after reevaluating the evidence, the state did the right thing and dismissed the criminal charge."
Deputy State’s Attorney Alexander Burke, who prosecuted the case, said he could not comment on why the charge was dismissed.
According to the affidavit, Dufresne was issued a citation but never questioned by police.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.