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SUSPENDED CONTRACTOR CHARGED WITH
STEALING OVER $38K, FAILING TO LIFT HOME
Oklahoma Man Took Money to Lift Sandy Damaged Home After State Suspension

mcpo shieldFREEHOLD, NJ - A suspended Oklahoma contractor is charged with stealing more than $38,000 after twice negotiating contracts with the homeowners of a Keanburg residence damaged by Superstorm Sandy after he failed to complete the lifting project, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Raymond H. DeSylva, 57, of Rosehill, Oklahoma, is charged with one count of third degree Theft by Deception and one count of fourth degree Failure to Register as a Home Improvement Contractor with the State of New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

An investigation by the Monmouth County Superstorm Sandy Fraud Task Force, including members of this Office and the state Division of Consumer Affairs, revealed that in March 2013, DeSylva, who was doing business in the state of New Jersey as Eco Earth Friendly Builders, negotiated a $44,852 contract with the owners of a Keansburg residence to lift their Roosevelt Avenue home. The contract provided for three installment payments connected to the work agreed upon in the contract. The first payment of $14,852 was due and paid when the contract was signed, and two subsequent payments of $14,852 were scheduled "due when the house is lifted" and "upon completion of the project."

On July 13, 2013, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs issued an Order of Summary Suspension for DeSylva and his Eco Earth Friendly Builders. Despite the suspension, DeSylva failed to inform the Roosevelt Avenue homeowners he was no longer authorized to engage in the making or selling of home improvements in the state of New Jersey, and while suspended entered into a second contractor with the homeowners to raise their home higher than initially contemplated in the original contract. The second contract provided for two payments of $24,026 in addition to the money paid as part of the first contract. On August 19, 2013, the Roosevelt Avenue homeowners remitted a check payable to Eco Earth Friendly Builders in the amount of $24,026, bring the total sum given to DeSylva and Eco Earth Friendly Builders to $38,878.

On Sept. 18, 2013, DeSylva was permanently barred by the state Division of Consumer Affairs from engaging in business as a home improvement contractor and relinquished his registration.

DeSylva never elevated the Roosevelt Avenue home as agreed upon, and has not returned to money given to him by the homeowners.

An arrest warrant was issued for DeSylva's arrest, and he was subsequently taken into custody last month by authorities in Grady County, Okla., where he waived extradition and was returned to New Jersey.

DeSylva is currently being held in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold Township, on $100,000 bail, as set by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley, J.S.C.

If convicted of Theft by Deception, DeSylva faces a sentence of three to five years in state prison.

If convicted of Failure to Register as a Home Improvement Contractor with the State of New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, he faces up to 18 months in state prison.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Andrew S. Fried, of the Office's Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Bureau. He is the coordinator of the Monmouth County Superstorm Sandy Fraud Task Force.