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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, May 13, 2010
Altamont couple bilked out of $28k
By Anne Hayden
GUILDERLAND A retired Altamont couple is out $28,000 after a kitchen contractor failed to use their money to order cabinets, according to their son.
Guilderland Police say the couple is just one among many to have paid David Morin for work that was never done. Morin is hospitalized, said his lawyer, Stephen Rockmacher; he could not be reached for comment.
Morin is known locally for his past work as a long-time entertainment director at the Altamont Fair, scouting local musical groups for perform.
Christopher Stelmaszyk told The Enterprise that his parents, Paul and Mariann Stelmaszyk, wrote a $28,000 check to Morin of DWM Kitchens. They wrote the check in September, to pay for cabinets, countertops, and a sink, and they just discovered last week that the money had not been used for any of those things, Stelmaszyk said.
The Stelmaszyks moved to Altamont from Syracuse four years ago to be closer to their grandchildren. Both retired teachers in their 60s, they bought a house and decided to renovate it to fit their lifestyle. The couple got recommendations for a kitchen contractor from their builder, Kenneth Fortuin, and from neighbors, many of whom had used Morin and been satisfied with his work, Stelmaszyk said. Fortuin could not be reached for comment.
Stelmaszyk said Morin told his parents that, if they paid for the kitchen in full, up front, they would be able to get a discount. Morin informed them that it would take several months to get their order completed, but said he would store their materials in a warehouse for them until they were ready for the installation.
Last week, Fortuin called the Stelmaszyks and said that Morin had been hospitalized. The couple became concerned that their cabinets might be stored in a warehouse somewhere, so they took their receipts and contacted Showplace Cabinetry, only to be told that their order had never been placed.
They contacted the Guilderland Police Department immediately, and found that others had reported similar complaints.
“I didn’t even have to say a name, I just said a contractor, and they knew exactly who I was talking about,” Stelmaszyk said; the police told him they had roughly 20 complaints about Morin, he said.
Investigator Charles Tanner of the Guilderland Police said he could not comment on the case, because the investigation was ongoing.
A close friend of Morin, whose name is being withheld by The Enterprise, said Morin’s problem with money was due to the recent downturn in the economy.
“He has been a businessman for over 35 years, and has thousands of happy customers,” the friend said. Morin wanted to refinance his house to pay his customers back, but found that he was unable to.
“He’s absolutely working on resolve,” said the friend.
Stelmaszyk said his parents will take Morin to civil court, but that it could cost them thousands of dollars to get their $28,000 back. He said he is concerned that Morin will either be sent to jail, or claim bankruptcy, at which point there might be no recourse for his parents, or the other victims.
“My parents worked hard for their whole lives, and they shouldn’t have had to think twice about spending their money on something nice for themselves. They can’t afford to lose $30,000,” Stelmaszyk said. He said his parents have been living without a kitchen since November, and can’t afford to pay for another one right away.
Due to the fact that his parents had heard of people who were happy with Morin’s work over the past 10 years, Stelmaszyk said something else must have gone wrong.
“It’s one of those things where you wonder if he was depressed, or if it had been discovered that he owed money to so many people and he got overwhelmed,” Stelmaszyk said. “I really feel like this is just a very tragic situation, that people have truly been victimized and there is very little recourse.”