from the Judgment of Sentence January 16, 2015 In the Court
of Common Pleas of Bucks County Criminal Division at No(s):
BEFORE: PANELLA, SHOGAN, and PLATT, [*] JJ.
Succi, ("Appellant") appeals from the judgment of
sentence entered January 16, 2015, following his conviction
by a jury on December 12, 2014, of two counts of home
improvement fraud, twelve counts of deceptive or fraudulent
business practices, twelve counts of theft by deception and
one count of insurance fraud. We affirm.
trial court set forth the following factual history:
The testimony elicited over the lengthy trial established
that [Appellant] owned and operated a construction company
located in Yardley, Bucks County. Deborah Parker resided in a
single family home located in Doylestown, Bucks County. In
June of 2005, Mrs. Parker entered into a home improvement
contract with [Appellant]. Pursuant to that contract and an
addendum to the contract, [Appellant] agreed to make a number
of internal and external improvements to Mrs. Parker's
home. The project was to be completed in four weeks. Three
months after construction began, the project had still not
been completed. Due to [Appellant's] poor work, his
routine absences from the project and his repeated demands
for money in advance, Mrs. Parker contacted other contractors
who, after inspecting the property, advised her that the work
[Appellant] had done was so inferior, it would have to be
completely redone. [Appellant] ultimately abandoned the
project leaving asbestos and other debris littered around the
property. When he stopped work, major portions of the work
were incomplete and the work that had been completed was
substandard. After abandoning the project, [Appellant] placed
a mechanic's lien on Mrs. Parker's property. At the
time of trial in December of 2014, much of the original
project had still not been completed and the remaining
defective work had still not been repaired.
In August of 2005, about the same time [Appellant] abandoned
Mrs. Parker's project, [Appellant] contracted with
Richard Schulang to perform construction work on Mr.
Schulang's home in Jamison, Bucks County. Under the terms
of the contract, [Appellant] agreed to finish the basement of
the home which was to include framing, insulation, electric,
installation of a drop ceiling, construction of a cover for a
radon pipe with an access panel and construction of a
mechanical closet for $28, 500. He also agreed to enlarge an
existing deck on the home and replace the old decking with
composite wood for $6, 500. This project was supposed to be
completed within three weeks.
By February of 2006, after numerous delays in construction,
[Appellant] stopped work. At the time he abandoned the
project, much of the work had not been completed although he
had received all but $1, 250 of the contract price. In
addition, much of the work that had been completed was
substandard. The deck [Appellant] built could not pass
inspection and was torn down. The composite wood decking used
was improperly installed, voiding its warranty. In the
basement, the electrical work did not pass inspection. Many
of the outlet holes were too large and needed to be fixed. In
addition, various materials Mr. Schulang had paid for were
not delivered, including ground fault interrupters, door
handles, deck railings and tile. A permit Mr. Schulang had
paid for was never obtained. In May of 2006, [Appellant]
placed a mechanic's lien on Mr. Schulang's property.
In August of 2006, a few months after [Appellant] stopped
working on the Schulang project, [Appellant] contracted with
Brian Hahn to add a basement to Mr. Hahn's home in Lower
Makefield Township, Bucks County. Construction of the
basement entailed removal of the back deck, lifting the
structure, excavating the basement, laying a new foundation
and lowering the structure onto the new foundation.
[Appellant] agreed to perform the work for $45, 000.
Although Mr. Hahn had paid [Appellant] a total of $52, 600,
an amount in excess of the original contract,
[Appellant's] work was seriously deficient. [Appellant]
initially failed to obtain the necessary permits and work was
sporadic. The work site was scattered with debris. The
foundation was inadequate and in danger of collapse. Because
the house was not set on the foundation properly, the windows
in the home would not open, tiles popped, walls cracked,
kitchen cabinets pulled away from the walls and the floor
During a discussion of [Appellant's] demand for more
money and his failure to obtain the necessary inspections,
Mr. Hahn asked if he needed to "protect" himself.
[Appellant] responded, "If you go legal on me, I'll
bury you. I'll bury you financially." Mr. Hahn
thereafter contacted an attorney and removed [Appellant] from
the project. Eventually, Mr. Hahn was forced to expend over
$160, 000 to obtain the necessary permits and inspections and
to bring the project into conformity with the original
architectural plans and engineering specifications.
On April 3, 2007, [Appellant] entered into an agreement with
Monica Cienuch and her husband, Adam, to rebuild the kitchen
in their home in Levittown, Bucks County. The agreement
called for [Appellant] to remove the existing sunroom, lay a
foundation, erect the framing for the kitchen and install
basic electric and plumbing. In May of 2007, [Appellant] and
the [Cienuches] agreed that [Appellant] would also finish the
interior of the kitchen. The entire project was to cost $36,
On May 16, 2007, [Appellant] notified Mrs. Cienuch that the
construction permits had been approved. On May 21, 2007,
demolition began. On May 24, 2007, Mrs. Cienuch was advised
that, although an application had been made, the permits had
not yet been obtained. Mrs. Cienuch took matters in her own
hands and was able to obtain the necessary permits on June 1,
Thereafter work proceeded sporadically and the [Cienuches]
soon began to observe problems. With regard to the
foundation, [Appellant] failed to deliver the foundation
material that had been agreed upon, using demolition debris
instead of high-quality stone. The foundation laid by
[Appellant] did not pass inspection. There were also
significant problems with the framing. Although they had
notified [Appellant] of the defective framing and [Appellant]
had assured them problems with the framing would be
corrected, the issues with regard to the framing remained
unaddressed. Despite having received $30, 500 of the total
contract price of $36, 000, [Appellant] had only completed
the foundation, framing and basic plumbing. The cabinets and
countertops that Mr. and Mrs. Cienuch had paid $7, 000 in
advance to [Appellant] were never ordered or delivered.
As a result of the issues regarding delays, materials and
inferior workmanship, the [Cienuches] retained an attorney,
terminated the contract and demanded a refund of $20, 000. In
response, [Appellant] stated that the [Cienuches] were
"welcome to go to court, " adding that he was going
to "lock [them] in the litigation for years." The
[Cienuches] thereafter retained a new contractor to repair
and complete the project. The additional cost for labor alone
was $24, 800.
In September of 2007, [Appellant] entered into an agreement
with Anthony Succi and his parents to build a special needs
home for Mr. Succi's son on the parents' property in
Philadelphia for $210, 000. During the project, the price
increased based on [Appellant's] representations that
additional money was needed to address unexpected problems.
Mr. Succi paid [Appellant] over $263, 900. The project was
thereafter shut down by the Philadelphia Department of
Licenses and Inspection for non-compliance and lack of
Succi described the status of the project at the time
[Appellant] was shut down as "a shell." He further
[Appellant] had constructed a foundation of concrete that was
out of level. It had a 7-foot basement that leaked at least a
foot of water at a minimum. It had a roof that was put on
that leaked profusely. It had windows partially put in. And
the whole outside was just pure plywood that started rotting
because of the weather and inside had two by four's.
Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections required
Mr. Succi to demolish the house for health and safety
reasons. Demolition cost Mr. Succi an additional $15, 000.
4, 2008, [Appellant] contracted with Stuart Abramson to build
an addition to Mr. Abramson's residence in Buckingham
Township, Bucks County. [Appellant] agreed to add a room,
enlarge the garage and another area of the house, construct a
patio and install stucco. The total cost of the project was
$142, 000. [Appellant] also agreed to a specific payment
schedule that was tied to the completion of specific items of
work. However, after construction commenced, [Appellant]
frequently requested money ahead of the payment schedule,
claiming that, without the money, he could not order
materials. By January of 2009, Mr. Abramson had paid
[Appellant] $120, 000. Mr. Abramson had paid for but did not
receive drywall, electric, the shingle roof, windows, stucco,
heating and air conditioning, a fireplace, hardwood flooring
and tile work.
January of 2009, the Township inspected the project and
issued a stop work order. Much of the work [Appellant] had
done needed to be removed due to code violations. Mr.
Abramson explained the resultant condition of the addition as
Now I was left with a bare frame. There was nothing inside.
No drywall, minimal insulation, concrete floors that were
poured incorrectly. They made me bring in a carpenter and
take down support structures from all the ceilings, because
they weren't to code.
Abramson paid other contractors $70, 000 to complete the
projects. [Appellant] did not reimburse Mr. Abramson for any
of the work not performed or materials not delivered.
September of 2008, while Mr. Abramson's project was still
underway, [Appellant] entered into a preliminary contract
with Andrew Spicer to build an addition to his home in
Pipersville, Bucks County. Once architectural plans were
completed, a final contract was executed in October of 2008.
Under the terms of the final contract, the total cost of the
project was $97, 000. Work was to be completed in about six
months. Pursuant to the final contract, Mr. Spicer paid
[Appellant] $21, 550 in deposits for materials and
[Appellant] began construction. By Thanksgiving, [Appellant]
had dug a hole for a foundation. By the end of November,
early December of 2008, work on the foundation had begun but
had not been completed. Thereafter, all work stopped until
March of 2009.
separate agreement, entered into at the end of 2008 or the
beginning of 2009, [Appellant] agreed to tile the kitchen
floor that was adjacent to the planned addition for a price
of $4, 500 or $5, 000. [Appellant] was paid and work
March of 2009, [Appellant] resumed work on the addition. At
that time the foundation was poured and framing was
completed. At this stage of the project, [Appellant] began to
demand payments ahead of the payment schedule. While Mr.
Spicer made at least one payment ahead of schedule, he began
to refuse to pay for work until that work was in fact
completed in accordance with the contract.
of 2009, the project was terminated by agreement. By that
time, Mr. Spicer had paid [Appellant] $67, 000 for work that
was incomplete, defective or not in built with the specified
material. Specifically, the architectural plans called for
large wooden beams, called "LVL" beams, to be used
in the framing. Although those beams were initially installed
by [Appellant], he later replaced them with scrap wood.
Numerous tiles installed by [Appellant] in the kitchen of Mr.
Spicer's home thereafter "popped" while others
cracked. Pieces of the old porcelain tile floor were dumped
in the backyard. [Appellant's] substandard work caused
the ceiling of Mr. Spicer's home to crack and the porches
to sink. The Spicers were unable to correct all of the
problems without demolishing the work and starting over. The
Spicers spent approximately $85, 000 to finish the project
"as best [they] could."
September of 2009, [Appellant] agreed to build an addition
onto the home of Jeffery and Anette Goldstein in Richboro,
Bucks County, for the use of Mrs. Goldstein's mother,
Erica Baratz, for $80, 000. [Appellant] agreed to demolish an
existing garage and bathroom and to construct a complete
residential structure with a brick patio.
construction, [Appellant] left a wall to the home open to the
outside, with only a tarp covering certain areas. Other
problems also arose. The project failed multiple inspections,
damage was caused to original property and [Appellant] began
to significantly deviate from the construction plans.
Although work initially began in a timely manner, the project
soon became months behind schedule and [Appellant] began to
continuously demand money from Mrs. Baratz. When Mrs.
Baratz exhausted her funds, [Appellant] told her to charge
the work to her credit cards. Ultimately, [Appellant]
received approximately $120, 000 from the Goldsteins and Mrs.
Baratz. When Mr. Goldstein voiced complaints, [Appellant]
warned him that he had "political power" and
threatened to make Mr. Goldstein's life
or August of 2010, [Appellant] walked off the job. At that
time, [Appellant] had completed only eighty percent of the
work outlined in the contract and had failed to order or
deliver items that had been paid for in advance, including
$5, 000 worth of cabinets and two fireplaces. [Appellant] did
not finish constructing the walls, used regular concrete
instead of brick on the patio and had installed inferior air
conditioning and heating units. The Goldsteins and Mrs.
Baratz were financially unable to complete the project. They
received estimates that the heating and air conditioning
alone would cost $15, 000 to $20, 000, an amount they could
not afford. They did expend an additional $5, 000 to complete
the necessary electrical and plumbing work and for a
January of 2010, [Appellant] agreed to build a home in
Margate, New Jersey for Larry Feinman, a resident of Holland,
Bucks County. Initially, due to their personal relationship,
[Appellant] and Mr. Feinman proceeded without a formal
contract. Mr. Feinman gave [Appellant] blueprints for
construction of a three-story home and [Appellant] agreed to
build the home for $425, 000. The price was later raised to
$470, 000. After the project ran behind schedule, Mr. Feinman