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Contractor charged with theft after allegedly failing to start remodel

Posted at 7:39 PM, May 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-12 10:34:30-04

A Lakewood contractor that has walked off the job sites of several projects across Northeast Ohio faces theft charges and is accused of accepting more than $18,000 for a down payment on a kitchen remodel that he never even started.

Michael Delmonico of Lakewood-based ProCode Construction was arrested on a warrant earlier this month. According to a Lakewood police report, in December 2017, Delmonico was paid by a homeowner to renovate the kitchen at the woman’s home on Franklin Avenue. The woman paid Delmonico up front in order to order materials for the renovation. By April 2018, nearly five months after the contract was signed, work on the kitchen had not even started, the report said.

Additionally, Delmonico filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and won’t be allowed to do so again until this fall.

According to the report, the homeowner demanded her money back from Delmonico but he refused, telling her that his company was filing for bankruptcy protection and that he would not be refunding her. The homeowner believes Delmonico took the money with no intentions of performing the work, the report states.

Delmonico pleaded not guilty.

As News 5 has reported, ProCode Construction and Delmonico have left a number of projects unfinished, repeatedly being fired by his clients for either untimely or unsatisfactory work.

RELATED: Contractor barred from Westlake after failing to properly register during botched project

Delmonico was hired in August 2016 to renovate and add onto the Rocky River home owned by Patrick and Lori Smith. Delmonico reportedly walked off the job and was fired by the Smiths about a year after the slow-moving project reached an impasse.

The work that was completed had roof leaks and tile falling off the walls. The home’s electric system still sometimes struggles to power the appliances. The siding has peeled off in some places and so have the soffit panels. The flooring is uneven and the living spaces are drafty.

The newly-constructed addition wasn’t actually affixed to the rest of the structure. The three-and-a-half-inch space between the two structures allowed water and snow to get inside. That moisture is believed to have caused a mold outbreak in the attic and walls. 

The Smiths filed suit against Delmonico and the carriers of his three insurance policies. After the civil suit seemingly dragged on and on, all parties reached a settlement late last month.

The settlement, while appreciated, hardly made a dent in the estimated $165,000 worth of repairs that need to be made, Smith said.

“When you have a guy that is really on point and comes professionally, ready to rock, you hire him,” Smith said. “But as you see things crumbling, you beat yourself up over it. I live with that every day.”

Many of ProCode’s former customers tell News 5 that they were introduced to the company and Delmonico through the website

Despite repeated issues with past customers, ProCode’s listing on the reviews site was active until Friday afternoon. The listing described ProCode as a "top-rated contractor" that performed elite service." Before the listing was removed, ProCode’s rating was listed as four-and-a-half stars with more than 40 reviews.

The validity of those reviews could not be independently verified by News 5.

Delmonico could not be reached on the phone for comment. His storefront on Madison Avenue was dark and no one came to the door. In an email, Delmonico appeared to lay blame on his subcontractors. 

“There's nothing I can say or do to stop this mess. I've taken bridge loan after bridge loan to survive and try to get through this situation and I just lost a ton of money on any job that was going on with all the subs involved on all those projects... I did a ton of jobs that were good and that's why I took loans out because I thought I would be able to recover.  My online presence was very good. I simply tried to do good work… I have nothing to my name and I feel horrible. I've been in business for a long time and I don't have an answer for what happen [sic] exept [sic] you can't trust any body to do good work. I'm forever saddened and I have to move on with my wife and 3 young children and figure out what's next in life besides construction."

No trial date has been set in Delmonico’s criminal case.