A general contractor from Rockville Centre was sentenced Wednesday to 1½ to 4½ years in prison for bilking 11 homeowners in a home-renovation scam dating to 2009, prosecutors said.
Derrick Burrell, 49, of St. Marks Avenue, pleaded guilty July 6 to two counts of second-degree grand larceny and two counts of first-degree scheme to defraud before acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron.
“This contractor was a homeowner’s worst nightmare,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement after Kron handed down the sentence.
Burrell “took the hard-earned cash from people who wanted to update their homes, but instead of renovating their spaces, the defendant left a trail of unfinished projects. He knowingly defrauded his victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Burrell’s attorney, Jason Russo, said at the time of the plea: “Mr. Burrell just wanted to accept responsibility and make sure everyone was made whole.” Russo said that although there were no specific restitution amounts cited as part of the plea, he said arrangements had been made for contracted work to be completed or for compensation to be made to victims.
According to the complaint against Burrell, the Rockville Centre man “entered into contract with nearly a dozen Queens and Long Island residents” to do demolition, renovation and/or construction on their properties between February 2009 and July 2015, accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in payment — but never completed any of the agreed-upon jobs, Brown said. In some cases, Brown said, the work wasn’t even started.
In some of the instances, Brown said, Burrell solicited jobs under the name James Gray and in some cases as A Team Property Services. In one instance, Brown said in May, Burrell took more than $11,000 from a woman, 74, who was looking to have her kitchen demolished and rebuilt to be wheelchair accessible. After demolition, however, no other work was done.
“This case should serve as a warning to all consumers to be extremely cautious when hiring a home improvement contractor,” Brown said Wednesday.