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Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced today that John Calvert has been sentenced to 1 1/2 to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to defrauding homeowners out of more than $17,000 by telling them that they risked carbon monoxide poisoning unless they allowed him to make unnecessary, and poorly done, repairs to their chimneys.

Calvert, 46, of Plainview, pleaded guilty to Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree on March 15, 2007. He must also pay full restitution to the victims.

Rice said that between January 2004 and February 2006, Calvert, an employee at Hicksville-based Complete Chimney, Inc. improperly dealt with seven clients who had either agreed to a chimney cleaning through a sales call or had called the company directly. Calvert, after arriving at the home, would convince the homeowners that more substantial repairs were necessary or the homeowners could suffer carbon monoxide poisoning or have their chimneys fall over due to structural problems. Calvert was paid $17,177 by these seven clients for unnecessary work.

In addition to being unnecessary, the work Calvert performed often left the homeowners with more problems than they started with. In one case, a new homeowner was told that her chimney was crumbling, that carbon monoxide could be backing into the house, and that immediate repairs were necessary or the chimney could fall in a high wind. After $1,600 worth of repairs, the homeowner noticed fumes emanating from the chimney every time the heat was turned on because Calvert had incorrectly installed a chimney liner that was too small. The homeowner was without heat for one month.

In another instance, a woman with a 5-month old baby was told that carbon monoxide was entering her home and that $3,000 worth of repairs would correct the problem. After paying for the work, it was discovered that there was never any carbon monoxide leak and the repairs were not needed.

"Not only did Mr. Calvert steal from his victims, but he left them in need of more repairs, and in some cases, dangerously damaged homes," Rice said.

ADA Megan Gallagher of the DA's Government/Consumer Frauds Bureau is handling the case for the District Attorney's Office. The defendant is represented by Hank Jones, Esq.


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