CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – A Chesapeake woman called 10 On Your Side for help because she feels she was taken advantage of by a local contractor, who has now been charged by police.
Mindy Brown says she paid “Coastal Towne Development” nearly $60,000 to do a major house renovation, but the work was never finished. Now police say the contractor has committed a crime.
“Maybe the job was just too big for him,“ Brown said.
Brown thought it would be great to have her 86-year-old handicapped mother move into her Chesapeake home — three generations of Brown women living under one roof.
“We would be supporting each other by being with each other,” Brown said. “We’re New Yorkers, we’re Jews, we laugh, but that’s not what we have.“
Brown hired Coastal Towne Development in April, expecting new rooms and bathrooms, handicapped accessible doors and a backyard deck. The project was estimated at $62,000, with most of the money coming from Brown’s mother’s social security checks.
“We saved a lot of money and decided this is it,” Brown said. “We are going to make the final chapter as great as it can be for mom.”
Work began, and over the next couple months Brown paid contractor Chris Cronin three installments of $15,000, then a payment of $10,000. Cronin then asked for another $5,000.
“We paid him 91 percent of the money, and there is so much more to do,“ Brown said.
But when Brown refused to pay the extra money, she said Cronin refused to finish what he started. The rooms are still unfinished. No deck was built. Her mother has not been able to move in.
Brown said Cronin told her he had a license with the state to do the work. Even his website said he had a license, but 10 On Your Side spoke with the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, which hands out the licenses. We’re told Cronin is not a licensed contractor. Brown called police, just days afterward Cronin’s website was changed to have no mention of a license at all.
“I want the job to be finished,” Brown told 10 On Your Side. “I want my mom to be able to walk out here [on a deck] and have a relationship with the world.“
10 On Your Side went looking for Cronin, but never found him. We did get a call from his fiance, Malanie McMath, who told us she owned Coastal Towne Development and Cronin was her employee. She agreed to sit down with us and tell us her side of the story, but then she backed out.
McMath did say after they started Brown’s project, they found rotted walls and termites, and that explains why they needed more money.
Cronin is facing four counts of obtaining money under false pretenses. Police are waiting for him to turn himself in.