Licensing Board: Suspended contractor still taking jobs

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(WPRI) — The Target 12 Investigators and the state of Rhode Island have been trying to find contractor Eric Boisse for months. It wasn’t until Boisse saw himself in promotions for this report that he reached out to Target 12. He denies any wrongdoing in this case, but there’s a stack of evidence from the state that shows otherwise.

Target 12 first ran into Boisse at a public hearing at the Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board in 2011. That’s where a dispute between Boisse and a Burrillville homeowner got out of control.

The homeowner hired Boisse to build a garage, but later fired Boisse for what the homeowner called “shoddy workmanship.” When the homeowner tried to get his money back for building materials that were purchased, things got heated. Boisse entered the hearing room pointing at the homeowner and yelling, “I already shut my business down because of you, you [expletive]!” Boisse was then escorted out of the public hearing by a member of the Contractors’ Registration and Licensing board. On his way out, Boisse yelled, “This is why contractors go out of business, because of [expletives] like him!”

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On that day, the Board ruled against Boisse and suspended his registration as a contractor. But according to the state, Boisse was still taking jobs as a contractor years later, without a registration. Homeowner Jessica Derochers hired Boisse for one of those jobs in 2014.

“It was just one thing after another,” says Derochers of her experience with Boisse. “It’s just been a nightmare and it still isn’t finished,” she adds.

Derochers hired Boisse to update her bathroom. She tells Target 12 the work was shoddy, and improper plumbing caused her basement to flood. She even says Boisse returned a toilet that she purchased and kept the cash for himself.

“You trust him coming into your own home, he says he’s going to show up, never shows, never finishes the work,” Derochers  said. “It’s very depressing.”

Derochers documented everything and filed a complaint with the Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board. According to the case file we obtained, the Board again ruled against Boisse. The state found Boisse “performed negligent and improper work… conducted plumbing work without a plumber’s license… substantially violated the Rhode Island state building code…” and performed work “without a valid certificate of registration.”

The Board ruled that Boisse owes Derochers $2,750. But it’s been 10 months, and he still hasn’t paid up. Now the state wants to take him to court.

The Executive Director of the Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board, George Whalen, said locating Boisse to serve him a summons was difficult. “We still haven’t been able to find him, unfortunately,” Whalen said. He told Target 12 the state had been trying for months to locate Boisse.

Target 12 tried to track Boisse down too. We called the phone number listed in his case file several times and went to his address listed in those same documents. At the address listed in Woonsocket, we found Eric Boisse’s name on the mailbox. We found Boisse’s father at the address, but he told Target 12 he hadn’t seen his son in months.

When asked where Eric Boisse lives now, his father answered, “On the road. Working on the road.” When asked if Eric Boisse had an address, his father answered, “No. Nope.”

But that address is exactly where the state police found Eric Boisse a few days later, in the early morning hours of October 31st. They arrested Eric Boisse on a charge of obtaining money under false pretenses, in an unrelated case out of North Providence.

According to the police report, Boisse took a job in September of this year to “repair a roof and build a deck.” Boisse charged $1,500 for labor, and the homeowner agreed to pay for the materials. But according to the report, Boisse allegedly returned $415 of those materials and kept the cash.

Boisse is due in court on Nov. 10, and that means the Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board now knows exactly where to find him. Whalen told Target 12 he’s hopeful that means the state will finally be able to move forward with Derochers’ case.

Boisse didn’t want to speak on camera, but over the phone, he denied working as a contractor since his registration was suspended. The state has cited him several times for performing work without a registration. Boisse said he never made any money from Derochers and said he never entered into a contract with her. However, the state’s documentation shows otherwise. Lastly, Boisse says he had no idea the state was looking for him, despite being found by state police at the same address that the Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board was using to contact him.

Boisse’s suspended registration landed him on the state’s Contractor Watch List. He’s just one of hundreds of names listed.

“Some of them are real bad, unscrupulous contractors,” Whalen said.

The Board has just four investigators to keep an eye on all of them. We’ve learned each investigator has a case load of around 30 cases at any given time, “There’s quite a few cases that are currently open,” said Whalen. “We probably average two or three claims a day.”

So before you hire someone to work on your home, here are some things the state says you should keep in mind. First, check for a valid registration and insurance. “You’ve got to get references from people who’ve used the contractor,” Whalen said.

You can even call your city or town’s building officials to see if the contractor has worked in the community. Then, make sure you have a written contract. The state said the contract should include the following information:

  •  A clause stating the job will not commence until a permit (if required) has been obtained.
  • A list of materials to be used, such as; quality, quantity, weight, color, size or brand name.
  • Starting date and completion date.
  • Total price, scheduled disbursements, and whether there is any cancellation penalty.
  • Everything you feel is important to the job, such as specific materials, complete clean-up and removal of debris, and any special requests.
  • A notice of possible mechanic’s lien (contractors’, sub-contractors and material suppliers).
  • A 3 day right of cancellation, only if the contract is signed out of contractors’ place of business.
  • A list of what the contractor will and will not do.
  • Ask for a list of sub-contractors being used on the project, if any.

And before you make the final payment to your contractor, you should check to make sure subcontractors have been paid and that there are no liens on your property.