WEST PITTSTON — A preliminary arraignment that should have taken less than 5 minutes lasted about 30 minutes because a contractor charged with accepting payment and not finishing the work did not have a valid home address.
Lemire Stevenson Brown, 51, owner of Brown and Brown Home Repair, said he moved to Kresgeville, Monroe County, in October, but his driver’s license says he lives in Albrightsville. Brown claimed he lives on Victoria Court, then saying it was Victoria Road, but could not remember the house number.
Brown and his attorney, Mark Mack, Swoyersville police Officer Adam Christian and District Judge Joseph Carmody bickered over Brown’s actual residence for nearly 30 minutes. Even his vehicle registration and insurance cards list an Albrightsville address, despite Brown claiming he moved to Kresgeville eight months ago.
Brown’s address was an issue for bail.
Carmody set bail at $5,000. Brown was required to pay 10 percent, or $500, to be released. Mack contacted a bail bondsman that posted Brown’s bail, permitting his release.
Christian and Swoyersville Officer Michael Blessing charged Brown with failing to finish installing a new roof on a home on Noyes Avenue after accepting a $4,000 deposit from the homeowner. The roof was damaged during Hurricane Sandy last October. The contract was signed Nov. 23 with Brown giving the Albrightsville address.
Brown began the job in early December when he removed shingles and installed tar paper.
Police allege that is as far as Brown went with installing the new roof, which was expected to take three to four days.
The homeowner alleges she made numerous attempts to contact Brown. When she did, Brown pledged to be at the house on a certain date and failed to show, according to the criminal complaint.
Police spoke with Brown on May 31, advising him to finish installing the roof by June 8. Brown allegedly told police he should not have taken the roofing job because he was busy with other jobs, the complaint states.
Mack told Carmody that the dispute should be a civil lawsuit and not a criminal one. “I never seen this before in a criminal arena,” he said. “This is a civil matter; this is a civil contract matter.”
Police charged Brown with receiving payment for services and failing to perform, a relatively new law under the state’s Home Improvement Act.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled on June 27 before District Judge David Barilla in Swoyersville.