to catch a contrator

‘He Gets Away With It Wherever He Goes.' Consumers Want Contractor Held Accountable

It has been a year since our “To Catch a Contractor” investigation, which exposed one person’s path of destruction across New England. While some victims say the stories helped them avoid losing more money, they also wonder if the contractor will ever be held accountable.

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Tim Reid walked around the unfinished shell of a pool in his East Bridgewater backyard and ticked off the list of problems with the abandoned project: gaping holes, uneven walls and crumbling concrete.

The pool project was supposed to be completed more than a year ago. But $36,000 later, it’s nowhere close to holding water.

Tim and his wife saved up the money as a therapy option for their son, Trenton, who has autism.

"The last straw was not being able to have the pool for our son’s 10th birthday," Mrs. Reid said. "That was heartbreaking."

The couple told us when they hired Steve Docchio of Xtreme Living Pools & Construction, the price was right and the online reviews seemed positive.

Other pool contractors were booking a full year later, but Docchio told them they’d be swimming by Memorial Day. They inked a contract for the $56,000 project with a completion date of May 2021.

At that point, there were no news stories.

Mr. Reid said early progress on the pool project quickly turned into a long summer of excuses.

"We were so excited when he showed up and started digging the hole," he recalled. "And then it was, 'Oh, I’ll have it done by the 4th of July. I’ll have it done by Labor Day. I’ll have it done by Halloween.'"

When November arrived, the Reids saw the “To Catch a Contractor” investigation and realized the guy they’d hired to build their pool had left a path of destruction across New England.

Instead of pools and other expensive outdoor projects, our reporting found Docchio had left a trail of gaping backyard holes and broken promises.

"I was just sick to my stomach. It hit me right in the gut," Mrs. Reid said when we first watched the broadcast. "Once you invest that much money, where do you go from there? There is no escape."

NBC10 Boston
Tim Reid and his wife

Mr. Reid continued communicating with Docchio, trying to play it cool and not mentioning that he’d seen the NBC10 investigation. He held out hope that some of the high-dollar equipment they’d paid for—like an automatic pool cover—would eventually arrive at their home.

Last March, the Reids thought they had an out when we reported the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation had permanently revoked Docchio’s home improvement contractor registration, meaning he could no longer legally oversee and complete their project.

However, Docchio wanted the Reids to sign an amended contract, under a new HIC registration his significant other applied for in March, according to state records.

The contract also stipulated an additional $5,000 payment just to return to the job site. The new completion date was the end of June, more than a year after the original completion date.

They refused to sign the new agreement. Demands for a partial refund were unsuccessful.

"It’s emotional and I try not to look at [the unfinished project]," said Mrs. Reid. "We are so thankful for you. If it wasn’t for your reporting, we would’ve never known."

In July, Mr. Reid went to the East Bridgewater Police Department to file a report against Docchio. However, he said an officer and his supervisor told him the situation with the contractor sounded like a civil matter, a frustration we’ve repeatedly heard from homeowners over the course of our investigation.

Court records we reviewed show Docchio has a stack of lawsuits and civil judgments against him, but homeowners we spoke to have not had any luck collecting money they are owed.

Without the involvement of police, Mr. Reid ended up filing his own application for a criminal complaint. A clerk magistrate hearing was held at Brockton District Court in August.

During the hearing, Docchio insisted the issue was civil in nature and said Reid was seizing on the recent media coverage.

"What I say is he’s grabbing onto the back of the train because he feels he could build a story when this is all civil," Docchio said.

Clerk magistrate hearings are typically closed, but NBC10 successfully argued to open it because of previous media coverage and public interest. Following the hearing, the clerk magistrate determined there was probable cause and the criminal complaint should go forward.

Docchio did not respond to our request for comment about the Reid’s project. He will be arraigned on a larceny charge later this month.

We contacted East Bridgewater police to ask about not investigating Reid’s case as a criminal matter.

After a review, Deputy Chief Michael Jenkins said it should have been handled differently. Jenkins said he addressed it as a learning opportunity for both the officer and his supervisor.

We also followed up with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to see if her office is investigating the growing list of consumer complaints. When the AG sat down with us last year, she reacted to our findings by calling them "outrageous and egregious." Healey said Docchio was the kind of person needs to be held accountable.

A spokesperson for Healey told us on Monday that the case remains on the AG’s radar.

"Our office is actively investigating this matter. We are doing everything in our power to pursue relief for consumers who were harmed," the spokesperson wrote.

The Reids are now trying to work with a new contractor to finally get their project completed.

For the parents, it’s not the lost savings that hurt the most. It’s explaining to their son why there is still no pool.

"Definitely the worst part is trying to tell your 10-year-old son," said Mr. Reid, getting choked up as he sat on the edge of the concrete shell next to his wife. "We can’t sue him. We can’t go to the police. He gets away with it wherever he goes."

NBC10 Boston
The Reid's 10-year-old son

"It’s embarrassing to admit we fell into the same trap," Mrs. Reid added.

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@nbcuni.com. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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