He made promises to make his customers’ homes better but instead left their homes and finances in shambles. A Lakewood contractor that News 5 has been investigating for months now faces a total of three felony theft charges, accused of bilking his customers out of tens and thousands of dollars.
Michael Delmonico, 42, has been indicted by a grand jury on two additional felony grand theft charges. Delmonico, the former owner and operator of Pro Code Construction, was already facing a felony grand theft charge out of Lakewood Municipal Court. He has pleaded not guilty.
According to court documents, the allegations against Delmonico stem from three past home renovation projects that Delmonico accepted money for but never performed the work. Customers’ down payments were never returned, according to court documents.
News 5 has been investigating Delmonico since February. He has left a trail of unfinished projects and unhappy customers dating back to early 2017.
Delmonico was also the subject of a civil lawsuit brought forth by Rocky River homeowners Pat and Lori Smith. The couple’s home was left in a state of disarray; wood-framed walls were left exposed, electrical lines were connected and an addition wasn’t properly secured to the existing structure. The cost of fixing the efforts, the Smiths said, has topped $100,000.
There were also cases in which Delmonico reportedly never started construction despite taking thousands of dollars.
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 so he could 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.
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 was not allowed to file for bankruptcy again until October 2018 because of a past bankruptcy filing.
After his arraignment on Friday morning, Delmonico was contrite but denied culpability.
“I never meant to do anything wrong. I just feel horrible. This has changed my whole life. And it’s something I wouldn’t want anybody to go through,” Delmonico said. “It’s just tragic. It’s tragic for me.”
But it’s really tragic for Delmonico’s alleged victims, many of whom lost more than $15,000 after he allegedly walked off the job site.
According to a Westlake police report, Timothy and Joyce Conway hired Pro Code Construction in September 2017 after using Home Advisor, a referral website that connects contractors and potential customers. After paying Delmonico more than $23,000 in two separate checks, construction on the kitchen remodel never started. When the Conways asked to have their money back, Delmonico reportedly told them to contact his bankruptcy attorney, according to the police report.
The Conways told News 5 on Friday afternoon that Delmonico pressured them into signing a contract quickly after receiving the estimate.
“[Delmonico] belongs in a place where all he does is make license plates,” Tim Conway said.
Delmonico repeatedly denied that he knowingly and intentionally deceived his customers out of their hard-earned money.
“I don’t have a record of this. I don’t. I would never take anything from anyone. Anyone that knows me, I wouldn’t take anything from anyone. Ever,” Delmonico said.
His former customers, however, would argue the exact opposite.
“I’ve never done anything intentionally. Ever,” Delmonico said. “Things just went wrong. It was just – it was just like any business. There’s ups and downs. And there’s a lot of downs.
Delmonico also added that his business’ death spiral began when he began taking out high interest or "hard money" loans. He said the interest payments soon became insurmountable. However, Delmonico’s victims allege he took their down payment money but never intended to perform the work. When asked why he didn’t refund his customers’ money, Delmonico refused to elaborate.
“That’s all I can say right now. Thank you,” Delmonico said as he went on the elevator.
No trial date has been set.
Despite facing criminal charges and a settled civil lawsuit, Pro Code Construction was still listed on Home Advisor until News 5 brought the issues to the website’s attention. The posting has since been removed and Pro Code’s offices in Lakewood have shut down.