LIVINGSTON COUNTY – The alleged Livingston County victims of a massive regional contracting scam are banding together to make their cases heard and press criminal charges.
Five complaining witnesses watched in court Tuesday morning as contractor Kurt Kline, 46, was arraigned in county court on six counts of felony Grand Larceny in the Third Degree. These charges are in addition to three other counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and two counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree.
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“He’s a loser. I don’t know how else to say it,” said Barbara Kraus, a complaining witness in the case who paid Kline more than $100,000 for work that he never did or ordered materials for. “At first we were told that our matter was civil, not criminal, unless we could find other people that he had stolen from. Then I just happened to be looking up information on [Kline], and someone else’s name came up. More and more people keep coming forward, and it’s the same story over and over.”
The six new charges were originally brought in York Town Court in August 2015. Livingston County Assistant District Attorney Joshua Tonra said that the District Attorney’s Office is offering Kline 5 to 10 years in state prison, plus $190,000 of restitution owed to the alleged victims in Livingston County.
However, Tonra added that if Kline can produce $20,000 in up-front restitution, the sentence recommendation would be 4 to 8 years in prison.
In Livingston County, complaining witnesses have come forward against Kline from Caledonia, York, Geneseo, Conesus, and Piffard.
Kline recently pled guilty to similar charges based on similar incidents in Ontario County.
Kraus said that they thoroughly researched Kline before picking him to work on their house in the Town of Geneseo.
“It’s not like we didn’t do our homework,” said Kraus. “We saw his ad in the Pennysaver. We went and saw work that he had done on other people’s houses. He sat in our living room and was the nicest guy. We never saw it coming.”
Kraus said that she and her husband Jim hope that Kline is convicted and receives a harsh sentence as a message to fraudulent contractors.
“We keep hearing the same story,” said Kraus. “This has happened to a lot of people. We want to get the word out that there will be some punishment.”