Manchester home improvement business accused of stealing thousands from clients

MANCHESTER, CT (WFSB) – A Manchester couple running a home improvement business is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from clients.

The state is now investigating — and charges have been filed.

Debra Kellie showed the I-Team around her Manchester home that was half-finished.

“Everything was supposed to be replaced in here,” said Kellie. “When the doors were on, we couldn’t open the washer or dryer because the room was too small.”

The man Kellie hired to do the work even left his own list behind, showing all the things that still need to be done.

“He did a really sloppy job,” said Kellie.

Kellie says she hired Jason Lapointe to do the work in December 2021.

She says Lapointe told her they didn’t need a contract, a work estimate would be enough. Kellie also showed the I-Team texts from Lapointe where he asked her for money to order supplies.

“We trusted him, we even went to his house to deliver the check to him,” said Kellie’s daughter Jennifer Kellie.

Lapointe was working under the company name ‘Carpentry by Jay’.

Kellie says Lapointe started working on her home in the spring of 2022. She says she stopped hearing from him a few months later.

What Kellie didn’t know was that Jason Lapointe himself was not registered with the state to do contractor work at all. He once had a contractor’s registration, but only for a year back in 2002, long before the work at Kellie’s place began.

In total, Kellie says she paid Lapointe more than $50,000.

“I’ve worked my entire life. I’ve been a single mom since 2000. That was my money that I had for my retirement, and now it’s gone.”

Kellie isn’t the only one who says she’s lost thousands.

“We have a number of complaints against Mr. Lapointe,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.

The attorney general’s office, the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) and local police are working together to investigate ‘Carpentry by Jay’.

Manchester police have confirmed they are actively investigating Kellie’s case.

A DCP spokesperson tells the I-Team that in total there were 6 complaints filed against ‘Carpentry by Jay’.

One of those complaints has already led to criminal charges in Coventry.

In Coventry, both Jason Lapoint and his wife Kathleen are charged with felony second degree larceny.

‘Carpentry by Jay’ was registered under Kathleen’s name. That registration expired at the end of March.

Court records requested by the I-Team revealed that in the Coventry case, a homeowner paid ‘Carpentry by Jay’ more than $18,000 to replace all of her windows in March 2022.

Investigators say the $18,000 check was chased, but the windows were never ordered.

Jason Lapointe is also facing a separate 2nd degree larceny charge for a case in Vernon. Court records say in that situation a homeowner paid ‘Carpentry by Jay’ $8000 to repair his roof. The homeowner says the work never happened.

“People need to be careful about their home improvement contractors,” said Tong.

Attorney General William Tong says people should do a few things before hiring a contractor.

  1. Get several bids for any job.
  2. Use the DCP website to make sure a contractor is registered and insured. A DCP spokesperson tells the I-Team the person actually doing the work needs to be a registered contractor. In Jason Lapointe’s case, his wife’s registration doesn’t count. Jason Lapoint is also charged with making or offering home improvements without registration in the Coventry Case. That’s a misdemeanor.
  3. Use the judicial branch’s website to see if a contractor has been sued in the past. If you search ‘Carpentry by Jay’ you’ll find a separate civil lawsuit in the Coventry case as well as three other lawsuits. In all 4 cases, the judge ordered ‘Carpentry by Jay’ to pay the plaintiffs.

Court records in the criminal case say Kathleen Lapointe told investigators the couple got into this situation “because of Covid and the rising costs of lumber and hiring issues.”

Both Kathleen and Jason Lapointe did not return the I-Teams calls or emails.

When the I-Team went to their home, nobody answered the door.

Kellie can’t get hold of them either.

“He’s just ignored me, ghosted me,” said Kellie.

Kellie isn’t expecting to get her money back, but she is hoping he is held accountable.

“I’m hoping because of me and all the other cases, that he gets some serious jail time,” said Kellie.

Both Kathleen and Jason Lapointe are scheduled to be back in court next month.

Registered contractors in Connecticut pay into what’s known as the Home Improvement Guarantee Fund.

A DCP spokesperson tells us they are still looking into whether any of the complaints will qualify for money from that fund.

It’s complicated because it isn’t clear if the business was properly paying into the fund since Lapointe himself wasn’t registered.