MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- On a morning in late June, Bonnie Baran says she had a knock on her door. It was 28 year old Brian Curylo. He was kind, sweet and friendly, said Baran, while he offered the 68 year old a deal on a driveway paving contract.
His company, Hot Top Paving, would pave her driveway at half the cost they usually charge. Curylo had extra material from a nearby job, Baran said.
Over the course of the next week, Curlyo would pave the driveway in sections and ask Baran for $21,050 over the course of four payments, which was paid by checks. Baran said during the paving, Curlyo brought her lunch and fruit baskets.
The 100 foot driveway should have cost between $3,000 and $4,500 to pave, according to contractors from two other local paving companies who looked at the driveway at News8’s request. Curylo charged seven times that amount.
“I’m just very disappointed that they would do something to this extent,” said Baran.
Baran’s daughter flew in from Florida to see the driveway to her childhood home ripped up and paved in pieces.
“The price is the most maddening thing,” said Mary Baran, Bonnies’ oldest daughter.
The Meriden police took a fraud report at the Baran home shortly after being contacted. And this is not the first time that Curylo has been in trouble with the law in connection with his contractor business.
Curylo has a long criminal record, including a March 2012 misdemeanor conviction of for lying on a paving contract. According to a New Britain Police report, Curylo wrote into the contract that permission was given to lay down more pavement than what was agreed upon with the homeowner. The report says Curylo also postdated the contract to circumvent a three day cancellation, according to police records.
In the state of Connecticut, in order to get a Home Improvement Contractor permit, you cannot be a convicted felon. The Department of Consumer Protection, the agency that grants or denies applications, does not do background checks unless someone reports a felony on their application. They rely on the applicant to self-report. On Curylo’s original 2009 home improvement contractor application, he indicated he had never been convicted of a felony.
According to Superior Court records, Curylo plead guilty in December 2004 to felony conspiracy to commit larceny. Police reports indicate that Curylo, then 18, was in possession of a stolen car. He was sentenced to serve 2 ½ years.
Curylo also has complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the State of Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection.
One of those complaints came from David and Francis Neff. According to their complaint, Curylo offered to do a free estimate of their driveway. The couple agreed, but instead, Curylo and his employee’s began spray painting and breaking up the concrete. When stopped, Curylo asked for $1,300. The Neff’s said they refused to pay and Curylo left, saying he would return later to fix the damage. Months later, the damage remains.
“It's just not right to me,” said David Neff from his still damaged driveway. “How can people do that to other people and get away with it?"
In November 2012, the City of New Britain fined “Hot Top Paving” for working without proper permits. According to the letter, Curylo did not tell the city when he was working at more than five addresses as required by code. He was fined $90 for each violation.
The state fined Curlyo, too. In December 2012, he signed an “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance.” In effect, Curylo told the state that he would play by the rules.
When asked about “Hot Top Pavings” record, Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Bill Rubenstein said he was not concerned about Curylo’s record.
“A handful of complaints over a few years are not alarming,” said Rubenstein.
The Department of Consumer Protection sees only complaints made to their office. Four of the complaints have been made to them. The state does not conduct background checks on contractor applicants or see fines from cities and towns.
“They're required to disclose whether they've had any felony convictions,” said Rubenstein. “There are times in which contractors lie about that."
Rubenstein estimates there are more than 26,000 home improvement contractors in the state.
“Our ability to monitor each and everyone each day is limited,” said Rubenstein.
Curlyo refused to answer questions about his business and the Baran’s driveway on several occasions. In a handwritten letter to the Baran’s, Curylo said his company had done a lot of work at the property.
“We would like to come to a reasonable agreement,” read the letter that was signed simply “Hot Top Paving”. “If not, we will have to take it to the next step.”
Despite his confidence in the system, Rubenstein admits there is room for improvement.
“We could do a better job of communicating,” said Rubenstein.
After filing a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection, a special investigator was sent to Baran’s home. A spokeswoman for the Department of Consumer Protection said that they are currently reviewing all of Hot Top’s complaints and filings.
“Not speaking to specifics, the Department will work with other agencies, including law enforcement where appropriate,” said spokeswoman Claudette Carveth in an email.
The Baran’s report that the Meriden Police have returned to take additional statements about their case, although no arrest warrants have been issued.
A contractor who assessed the driveway agreed to pave the Baran’s driveway, free of charge. Asking not to be identified, the contractor said the entire industry is affected when someone behaves like Hot Top Paving.
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