PROVIDENCE, RI – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha has filed a consumer protection complaint against RI contractor Michael Bresette and its companies, BTTR LLC, HAM Inc., and is inviting individuals harmed by the companies to file complaints.
The attorney general is also asking Rhode Island residents to contact them by filing their own complaint with the office’s Consumer and Economic Justice Division. if they have been victims of unfair or deceptive practices by Bresette or its companies.
The state alleges the defendants violated the Rhode Island Deceptive Trade Practices Act by engaging in unfair and deceptive business practices targeting Rhode Island consumers. The court has issued an injunction barring the defendants from acquiring new customers and collecting money from existing customers, and also ordered the assets of both companies and Bresette to be frozen.
Court documents allege the defendants, who do not currently have valid contractor registrations, routinely turned up at the homes of at-risk Rhode Island consumers — often the elderly — after their homes were damaged by fire or flooding, and accordingly promised restoration or renovation services Neronha’s office.
After that, the state said, the defendants swabbed, failed to get the necessary permits, worked improperly, and pocketed money from homeowners or insurance proceeds. Homeowners were often 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 defendants if they attempted to withhold payment, RIAG’s office said.
The defendants were also the subject of previous administrative actions by the Department of Business Regulation (DBR), including the suspension of Mr. Bresette’s registration as contractors and an order that the defendants cease participating in work requiring registration. In 2020, DBR received nine complaints against the defendants. The state’s case alleges that the defendants ignored DBR’s suspension and order while continuing to exploit consumers. DBR also previously revoked Mr. Bresette’s license as an insurance adjuster.
Bressette also faces felony charges for failing to obtain worker’s compensation insurance for his employees, which was charged by the Attorney General. The case has been referred to the Attorney General by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Education and is currently pending in the Providence County Supreme Court.
“When contractors are ignoring the law and exploiting homeowners and endangering their safety, decisive action by this office is warranted,” Neronha said. “The steps we took last week under the Fraudulent Trade Practices Act effectively halted the operation of the defendant’s contractor business. Despite DBR’s best efforts, the defendants simply ignored administrative attempts by that agency to stop their alleged illegal conduct. Under our recently strengthened Consumer Protection Act, this office has been able to use its newly created statutory powers to institute legal proceedings that defendants cannot ignore to protect Rhode Island consumers.”
Neronha also recently used the bureau’s expanded powers under the Enhanced Deceptive Trading Practices Act to file lawsuits against auto dealerships accused of unfair consumer pricing practices and to stop a Certificate of Good Standing program targeting RI companies and target non-profit organizations.
“The Department of Business Regulation has received consumer complaints about the clients of these contractors. The department followed its statutes and took administrative action. When the Attorney General’s office reached out to the department, we appreciated the support and the opportunity to work cooperatively while 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.