Crime

Philipsburg contractor sentenced to prison

A Philipsburg contractor convicted of theft was sentenced to state prison Tuesday in Clearfield County Court.

Brian T. Barton, 46, was found guilty of theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and home improvement fraud after a trial in February. The charges were filed after he failed to complete a home improvement project in Osceola Mills.

President Judge Fredric Ammerman sentenced Barton to a total of one to five years in state prison and ordered him to pay $70,000 in restitution.

When Barton’s attorney, Tami Fees, asked for a restitution hearing, Ammerman noted that he had previously dismissed a similar request from Barton’s former attorney, Brian Jones. Both Fees and Jones asked for consideration for the supplies and work he did complete on the home. The victim paid Barton a total of $70,000 to do the work on her home, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Testimony on the first day of the trial came from the victim, who entered into a home improvement contract with Barton Contracting and owner Barton that was signed Sept. 8, 2013, with work to be completed by May 2014 for a total cost of $90,000. The project was an addition to the current building of two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first level of the house, as well as an expansion to the kitchen.

A contractor testified that when he went through the home it had deficient wiring and problems with the water/sewer lines. The cost for him to install new wiring in the home and bring the water/sewer lines up to code was more than $14,000. The proposed cost to finish the project, which would include insulating the new structure, floor coverings, kitchen/bath cabinets, porch railing, exterior stairs and paint would be more than $60,000.

Former Decatur Township police Sgt. James Ward testified that when he spoke with Barton in December 2014, Barton explained he under bid the job and ran out of money to complete it. He had no plans to go back to finish the job. Barton said he was going to wait until she filed a civil case and he’d then file for bankruptcy, Ward said.

District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. said after the trial that the family still needs money to complete the project because the home is uninhabitable.

He credited the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act for making it easier to identify and prosecute these cases. He encouraged anyone contemplating hiring a contractor to go to the attorney general’s website to see if they are registered.

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