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02/08/96 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. RICHARD A. HART

February 8, 1996

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
RICHARD A. HART, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Randolph County. No. 93-CF-130. Honorable Jerry D. Flynn, Judge, presiding.

The Honorable Justice Goldenhersh delivered the opinion of the court: Welch and Kuehn, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Goldenhersh

The Honorable Justice GOLDENHERSH delivered the opinion of the court:

After a bench trial in the circuit court of Randolph County, defendant, Richard A. Hart, was convicted of aggravated home repair fraud. 815 ILCS 515/3(a)(1) (West 1992). On appeal, defendant raises two issues: (1) whether a mobile home is a structure protected under the Home Repair Fraud Act (the Act) (815 ILCS 515/3(a)(1), 5(a) (West 1992)), and (2) whether defendant was proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

FACTS

Defendant, a self-employed construction worker who operated a business known as R & M Construction, entered into a written contract on September 20, 1993, with the victim, Gloria Abbey, age 65, and her husband to make repairs to their mobile home. Defendant and the victim were introduced by Thomas Chappell, a friend of the victim's for approximately 10 years. Defendant performed household repairs for Chappell and, upon completion of that job, inquired of Chappell whether he knew anyone who needed home repairs. As a result of this request, Chappell introduced defendant to the victim and her husband.

Defendant and the victim entered into a written contract which was written on paper bearing the heading "R & M Construction." Beneath this heading, the language "Insured and Licensed" appeared. Also in the heading appeared defendant's name, a telephone number, and an address. However, the telephone number and the address were scratched out. The contract specifically stated: "[Defendant] will tear out old counter top, old sink and faucet. Replace with new sink and faucet. Will repair hand rail by putting 4 x 4 concrete and replace top rails. Repair roof." The victim made a deposit of $800 to defendant at the time the contract was signed. $150 was due and owing upon completion of the work. The victim testified that the heading at the top of the contract which stated that defendant was licensed and insured was important to her. The victim explained that she preferred a contractor who was insured because if someone who was not insured fell off her roof she would have to pay.

Defendant ordered the countertops from Buchheit's, a local hardware store. According to the victim, the only work performed by defendant was to order the countertops, which required defendant to make a $100 deposit. When the countertops arrived, it was discovered that they were not cut correctly and did not fit the victim's kitchen. The victim also testified that sometime after the contract was signed, defendant told her he could not fix the roof unless she paid him an additional $35 in order to buy two cans of coating, which the victim refused to do.

On cross-examination, the victim testified concerning her mobile home. She stated that she was presently satisfied with the mobile home park where the home was now located, but if she did not like it, she could easily put wheels on her mobile home and have it moved elsewhere. The victim admitted that she was aware that there would be a delay in getting the countertops because they had been cut incorrectly. She also admitted that it was not defendant's fault the countertops did not fit.

Steven Saunders, an employee of Buchheit's, testified that the countertops ordered by the victim were delayed twice through no fault of defendant. He further testified that defendant worked with the store and the victim in an attempt to accommodate the victim.

The State introduced into evidence a certified copy from the Department of Regulation which explained that defendant's license to repair roofs was cancelled August 31, 1992, and that defendant's insurance expired on June 1, 1992.

Mary O'Guinn, defendant's fiancee, testified on behalf of defendant. She stated that she was present when the contract in question was signed and that the victim was made aware that defendant was neither insured nor licensed. O'Guinn testified that she and defendant met with the victim four times and called the victim seven times to explain the delays. She also explained that defendant wanted to do the repairs all at once rather than in a piecemeal fashion. O'Guinn testified that the victim knew that defendant ordered a sink because the victim saw the new sink at defendant's residence. O'Guinn testified that defendant was not able to do the job because he was in jail when the correct countertops arrived.

Defendant testified that he formed R & M Construction to perform roofing jobs and that a license was not necessary for all roofing jobs. Specifically, defendant believed that the job he was to perform for the victim, removing dents from her metal roof caused by someone walking on it, did not require a license. Defendant testified that he did not intend to mislead the victim concerning insurance or licensing and that he did all he could to perform the tasks he was hired to perform. Defendant explained that the kitchen countertops were delayed for more than 16 days from the date he placed the original order and that when they finally arrived they were cut improperly, causing a further delay. Defendant testified that when the correct countertops arrived, he was in jail and was unable to perform the contract. Defendant testified that he purchased all the necessary materials to complete the job. Defendant did not have the receipts for such purchases at trial. Defendant paid a $100 deposit on the countertops.

Leonard Gladson, chief of police at Steeleville, testified that the victim called him about the problem she was experiencing with defendant. Accordingly, Gladson called defendant, and defendant and he then went to the victim's home to discuss the situation. Gladson testified that it was obvious to him the countertops would not fit. ...


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