Man Pleads Guilty In Home-Repair Scam

CANTON, Ohio (AP) - A contractor who talked elderly homeowners into expensive, often unnecessary repairs pleaded guilty to 14 felony charges and will serve 10½ years in prison.

Andrew Kutscher, 37, of Akron, got a North Canton couple to spend more than $175,000 for work on a home valued at $117,000.

"The only thing I've got to say is, I'm glad he's going to jail. It's where he needs to be," said Charlene Gossett, a Canton resident who lost $5,000 to Kutscher.

Kutscher pleaded guilty Wednesday in Stark County Common Pleas Court to engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, 10 counts of theft from an elderly person or disabled adult and three counts of theft.

Three others, including Kutscher's brother, Harry, are serving time in prison for their roles in the scam.

Using names such as Secured Energy Systems, Weathershield and Ohio Windows, Kutscher's group would offer low repair estimates to build customer trust.

They then would push for more work by discovering additional problems, sometimes making them up. For instance, water was added to insulation in some homes to convince an owner his roof leaked.

Although the exact figure is not known, the scam netted more than $100,000 from homeowners in North Canton, Massillon, Jackson Township and Canton, said Jonathan Baumoel, assistant Stark County prosecutor.

Defense attorney Sam Ferruccio apologized for Kutscher. Ferruccio said Kutscher's push for cash was prompted by a divorce, stress and drug and alcohol use.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)