Tim Reid sat in a Brockton courtroom and watched as the contractor he’d previously hired entered a not guilty plea to larceny.
Last month, we told you how Reid and his wife had hired Steven Docchio to install a pool and patio in their East Bridgewater backyard. The couple saved up for the project as a therapy option for their 10-year-old son, who has autism.
But $36,000 later, the pool—originally scheduled to be complete in May 2021—was still nowhere close to holding water.
“Definitely the worst part is trying to tell your 10-year-old son,” Reid told us as he became choked up with emotion while sitting next to the shell of a pool.
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
After seeing our investigation, Reid eventually went to police to file a report, but officers told him it was a civil matter. So the homeowner took matters into his own hands and successfully argued during a clerk magistrate hearing that the larceny criminal complaint should move forward.
Following his arraignment at Brockton District Court, Docchio was escorted from the courtroom in handcuffs and later posted bail. As he exited the courthouse, we tried to ask him about Reid’s case. Docchio remained silent and shoved a stack of papers into our camera lens.
That’s when Reid grew angry, confronting the contractor in the street and yelling, “Where’s my money, you scumbag?!”
Docchio told Reid he was calling the police and then retreated to a nearby parking garage. A 911 recording we obtained revealed Docchio did call police, but a department spokesperson told us he did not file a report.
Reid is just one of the many customers chasing the contractor for money.
A West Boylston homeowner also pursued criminal charges after he said Docchio abandoned his project after spending $68,000. That case is currently pending in Clinton District Court.
And imagine the shock a Brookline homeowner felt when she learned the contractor she and her husband had hired was permanently revoked by the State in the wake of our investigation.
The homeowner did not let Docchio know she’d seen our stories, instead recording him with his consent during several project meetings over Zoom with the general contractor, architect and other subcontractors.
She told us the hope was to eventually get some of the expensive equipment they’d already paid for, while also gathering evidence for authorities to show he was still working without the proper credentials.
In videos she shared with us, Docchio talked about obtaining a permit for the project (with a registration his wife applied for after his revocation, we learned) and asked when he could come to dig the hole. He repeatedly pushed back delivery deadlines for equipment and materials.
In one ironic moment, the contractor—notorious for breaking promises on completion dates—grew impatient with the project delays.
“It’s just frustrating,” Docchio said in the Zoom video. “I gotta go. I’m getting emotional. This is ridiculous.”
The Brookline homeowners hired a different contractor for the pool project and pursued civil action to freeze the bank accounts where they’d already wired Docchio $57,000.
But so far, there is no sign of the money. Inside Norfolk Superior Court, we watched as their attorney told a judge the accounts had a zero balance.
On the Cape, Tom Robbins also had to hire a new company to clean up the mess at the Dennis home he and his family members own together.
“Really what he did was leave rubble,” Robbins said.
After paying Docchio $63,000, Robbins went to the police after the contractor abandoned the project. In the report, a Dennis officer cited our reporting and recommended anyone involved in the case watch the “well-known ‘To Catch a Contractor’ series.”
Robbins recalled his reaction when he saw our stories for the first time.
“There’s a word I don’t want to use in public for that,” he said. “It was like, ‘Holy smokes!’”
That would be a diplomatic way of describing Robbins’ reaction after he submitted a consumer complaint to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who sat down with us to discuss our findings in our original investigation last November.
At the time, Healey called the details “egregious” and said her office would strive to hold the contractor accountable.
But months after that interview, Robbins—who lives outside the Philadelphia area—received a letter back from Healey’s office, letting him know the complaint would be better handled by the Pennsylvania Attorney General.
“I was pissed,” Robbins said. “My message to the AG is: Be like the philosopher of Foxborough and do your job.”
We took those concerns to Healey, the front-running gubernatorial candidate, during a press availability following a recent campaign event. According to a spokesperson, her office has now received more than 20 consumer complaints about Docchio.
“My office takes this very seriously,” Healey responded, when asked what her message would be to frustrated homeowners. “We are investigating and I’m not able to say more at this time. But my message to anyone out there who’s going to engage in the really despicable acts that this person in particular engaged in, is we will look to hold everyone accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
When asked why a case would take so long, Healey said, “It’s the nature of investigations. And I completely understand that whenever you’re a victim, it can’t move quickly enough.”
Based on the feedback we receive from our reporting over the past year, it’s clear victims are running low on patience.
“My goal is to put this individual in jail because that’s the only way to stop him,” Robbins said.