Contractor Robert B. Cooper, Banned By Court Order From Illegally Operating Home Contracting Business, Allegedly Continued Operating Illegally Under New Name, “Robert’s Paving And Excavating”
Consumer Complaints Suggest Contractor Is In Contempt of Court Order; Cooper Could Face Permanent Ban From Industry And Jail Time
A.G. Offers Tips To Protect Homeowners From Fraud
BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that he filed a lawsuit seeking relief for consumers defrauded by Robert B. Cooper, Jr. and his company, Robert’s Paving and Excavating, LLC, a Buffalo-Niagara area home improvement contracting business. Cooper, who previously did business as Finger Lakes Asphalt, received a court order in 2014 barring him from the home contracting business until he complied with New York State Law.
However, based on new consumer complaints, the Attorney General’s office recently learned that Cooper has continued to operate his paving business under a new name, and in violation of the law. Cooper and his business – “Robert’s Paving and Excavating” – performed shoddy work, utilized bait-and-switch pricing, failed to obtain consumer authorization before beginning work, and intimidated consumers to collect inflated payments. As a result, Attorney General Schneiderman is seeking to hold Cooper in civil and criminal contempt of court. If found to be in contempt, Cooper could face a permanent ban from acting as a home improvement contractor, penalties, and jail time.
“Homeowners are entitled to certain protections – and no contractor is above the law,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I urge defrauded homeowners to contact our office, and all New Yorkers to follow our tips before negotiating home improvement services.”
In 2014, the Attorney General sued Cooper and Finger Lakes Asphalt after an investigation revealed that Cooper had repeatedly defrauded consumers by failing to: perform work or complete work after receiving payment, provide refunds for incomplete or defective work, provide consumers with a written home improvement contract that complied with state law, and give consumers notice of their three-day right to cancel.
Following the 2014 investigation, Broome County State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey A. Tait issued a consent order barring Cooper from operating a home improvement business unless he complied with New York General Business Law and Personal Property law. Cooper was also ordered to pay $8,150 in restitution and $3,000 in penalties and costs.
In this new proceeding against Cooper, the Attorney General’s office is seeking to hold Cooper in civil and criminal contempt and award of civil penalties and restitution to victims. The Attorney General is also seeking relief against Cooper’s current business, Robert’s Paving and Excavating, LLC.
If Cooper is found in contempt of the Court’s order, the Court could permanently ban him from working as a home improvement contractor in New York; order that he pay civil penalties and criminal fines; and/or sentence him to up to six months in jail.
The contempt charges are merely accusations and the respondent is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.
Consumers who believe they may have been defrauded by or have unresolved disputes with Robert B. Cooper, Jr. or his company, Robert’s Paving and Excavating, LLC, are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Buffalo Regional Office at 716-853-8400.
When planning to use a home improvement contractor, consumers should consider the following tips:
- Determine exactly what you want done, then look for a qualified contractor
- Shop around; get at least three estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services to be provided
- Never agree to have work done on the spot, especially when potential contractors are marketing door-to-door
- Ask for references: check with the Better Business Bureau, banks, suppliers and neighbors
- Always contact any references provided to you
- Insist on a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed
- Do not pay unreasonable advance sums; negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of specific stages of the job
- Never pay the full price up front
- Remember that you have three days to cancel after signing a home improvement contract, but all cancellations must be in writing
Additional information on how to avoid home improvement scams can be found on the Attorney General’s website.
The Attorney General’s office would like to thank the Niagara County Sherriff’s Office for their assistance with this investigation.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Christopher L. Boyd, with the assistance of Senior Consumer Frauds Representative Karen Davis and Investigator Erica Law. The Buffalo Office is led by Assistant Attorney General in Charge Michael J. Russo. The Buffalo Regional Office is part of the Division of Regional Offices, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Marty Mack.