Attorney General Neronha takes action to protect consumers from Rhode Island contractor
PROVIDENCE, RI – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha today announced the Office has taken action against Michael Bresette, a Rhode Island contractor, and his companies, BTTR LLC, HAM Inc., alleging that he engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices targeted at Rhode Island consumers. The Attorney General is also asking Rhode Islanders to contact us if they think they have been of the victim of unfair or deceptive practices by Mr. Bresette or any of his companies.
Last week, the Attorney General filed a consumer protection complaint in Providence Superior Court against Defendants. The State alleges that Defendants violated the Rhode Island Deceptive Trade Practice Act by engaging in unfair and deceptive business practices targeting Rhode Island consumers. The Court has granted a Temporary Restraining Order prohibiting the defendants from engaging new customers and collecting from existing customers and also ordered the assets of both companies and Mr. Bresette be frozen. At the Attorney General’s request, the Deceptive Trade Practices Act was strengthened last year by the General Assembly.
As alleged in court documents, the Defendants, who do not currently have a valid contractor registration as required by law, routinely showed up at the homes of vulnerable Rhode Island consumers – often the elderly – after their homes had been damaged by fire or flooding and promised restoration or renovation services. Thereafter, the State alleges, the Defendants cut corners, failed to secure needed permits, performed improper work, and pocketed money from homeowners or insurance proceeds. Homeowners have often been left with incomplete, dangerous, or improper restoration and construction work in their home and then faced court action or a potential lien on their property from the Defendants if they attempted to withhold payment.
Defendants have also been subject to previous administrative action by the Department of Business Regulation (DBR), including the suspension of Mr. Bresette’s contractor registration and an order that Defendants cease engaging in any work that requires registration. In 2020, DBR received nine complaints against the Defendants. The State’s case alleges that Defendants ignored DBR’s suspension and order while they continued to prey on consumers. DBR has also previously revoked Mr. Bresette’s insurance adjuster license.
Mr. Bressette is also facing a felony charge of failing to secure workers compensation insurance for his employees, brought by the Attorney General. The case was referred to the Attorney General by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training and is currently pending in Providence County Superior Court.
As the Attorney General continues to pursue these matters against BTTR LLC, HAM Inc., and Mr. Bresette, consumers who think they may have been harmed by these Defendants’ practices are urged to file a complaint with the Office’s Consumer and Economic Justice Unit. Information from the public may help further the Office’s investigation into Defendants’ business practices and determine the full scope of consumer harm inflicted on Rhode Islanders. Any consumers who wish to provide information to the Attorney General are urged to provide a summary of their business dealings with Defendants and any documents they may have received from Defendants through the Office’s complaint form.
“When contractors ignore the law and prey on homeowners, endangering their safety, strong action by this Office is warranted,” said Attorney General Neronha. “The steps we took last week under Deceptive Trade Practices Act have effectively halted operation of the Defendants’ contactor business. Notwithstanding DBR’s best efforts, the Defendants had simply ignored that agency’s administrative attempts to stop their alleged unlawful conduct. Under our recently much strengthened consumer protection law, this Office has been able to use its newly provided statutory authority to bring court action that the Defendants cannot ignore, protecting Rhode Island consumers.”
Attorney General Neronha has also recently utilized the Office’s enhanced authority under the strengthened Deceptive Trade Practices Act to file lawsuits against auto dealerships alleging unfair consumer pricing practices, and to halt a “Certificate of Good Standing” scheme targeting RI businesses and non-profits.
“The Department of Business Regulation has been receiving consumer complaints concerning principals of these contractors. The Department followed its statutes and took administrative action. When the Office of the Attorney General approached the Department, we were glad for the assistance and the opportunity to work cooperatively as the Attorney General pursued additional remedies to protect consumers. We look forward to continuing to work with the Attorney General on this matter,” said Elizabeth Dwyer, Interim Director of the Department of Business Regulation.
Special Assistant Attorney General Stephen Provazza, Chief of the Consumer and Economic Justice Unit, is handling this matter on behalf of the Office of Attorney General. Special Assistant Attorney General Carole McLaughlin is handling the criminal prosecution of Mr. Bresette for failure to obtain workers compensation insurance.