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Contractor in Danbury court on alleged chimney scamSubscribe to RSS feed

DANBURY, CT -- A contractor who investigators said hired unskilled labor for his chimney repair business, gave workers minimal training and turned them loose to prey on elderly homeowners made an appearance in state Superior Court here Wednesday.

Marc Anthony, 44, didn't enter a plea on an array of felony and misdemeanor counts, including larceny and attempted larceny, which were filed against him last month after an investigation by Danbury police and inspectors from the state Department of Consumer Protection.

Anthony is a co-owner of CT Builders LLC, a company based in Long Island. He was represented in court by attorney Kevin Black, of Wilton, a former assistant prosecutor in the Danbury State's Attorney's Office.

The investigation began in March after two of his employees were allegedly found to be installing chimney liners without obtaining building permits from the city and without having the state licenses required to perform the work.

Police said the employees -- Gary Roth, 20, of Farmingdale, N.Y., and Christopher Koharek, 19, of Levittown, N.Y., -- convinced a 94-year-old Danbury man and an 88-year-old city woman that their chimneys needed repairs costing from $1,600 to $2,000 because of the danger of fire and carbon monoxide leaks.

In both cases, the homeowners agreed to have the work done, but subsequent inspections revealed the liners had been installed improperly and were making the situation worse, police said.

The inspections also raised questions about whether the repairs had even been necessary, according to court documents.

Both Roth and Koharek told police they were being paid off the books and learned all they knew about chimney repairs from Anthony.

Roth said he got the job through Craigslist and had been working for the company for only a few weeks, while it was Koharek's first day on the job, police said.

Both told investigators they were to be paid bonuses based on the amount of work that customers agreed to have done.

Koharek was charged with two misdemeanor counts and was granted accelerated rehabilitation in July, but Roth faces both misdemeanor and felony counts, including second-degree larceny and attempted larceny.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges on Tuesday.

Anthony is also listed as the owner of Pro Safe Chimneys, a company that has previously been investigated by the Department of Consumer Protection for work that wasn't done properly, authorities said.

Anthony is due back in court Oct. 18, when he is expected to enter a plea on the charges.

Contact John Pirro at jpirro@newstimes.com or 203-731-3342. (source)