April 17, 2013

Portland Handyman must repay ex-customers $236,500

A judge calls Daniel B. Tucci’s behavior ‘truly reprehensible.’

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — A judge has ordered a self-described handyman from Portland to repay $236,500 to 14 former customers who paid him for jobs large and small that he was neither licensed to perform nor capable of completing.

In an April 9 ruling, Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler found that Daniel B. Tucci, 54, violated Maine’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. During a four-day civil trial in January in Cumberland County Superior Court, a parade of former customers testified that Tucci misled them about his skills and often performed plumbing and electrical work without a license.

Tucci also targeted the elderly, overcharging them for tasks that ranged from mundane odd jobs to major renovations, according to the judge’s ruling. The most egregious case was for a home basement waterproofing and renovation job. It cost an elderly Cape Elizabeth couple $141,359, more than 10 times what a qualified tradesman charged to correct the shoddy work and perform the job correctly.

In other cases, Tucci would divide jobs into sections, have customers sign multiple contracts, and delay the work while he pressured them to give him more money, frequently taking payments upfront and then disappearing from the job site, according to testimony at the trial.

“Mr. Tucci’s behavior is truly reprehensible,” Attorney General Janet T. Mills said in a statement Tuesday announcing the court’s decision. “The State of Maine will not tolerate these kinds of shoddy business practices.”  The lawsuit was filed by the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office.

At the trial, Tucci testified that illness led him to employ unqualified day laborers instead of performing the work himself. Tucci said he hired workers from soup lines and some who had recently been released from jail. He called it the “David method,” an apparent biblical allusion to Christian charity.

In accordance with the ruling, Tucci has been barred from running a home-repair business and has been ordered to begin paying at least $250 per month for 10 years to make restitution. If he fails to comply with the payment plan, Tucci could face a $140,000 civil penalty, according to the ruling.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

mbyrne@pressherald.com

click image to enlarge

A parade of former customers testified that Daniel Tucci misled them about his skills and often performed unlicensed plumbing and electrical work.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

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