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Before state acted on Coventry couple's deadbeat contractor complaint, 3 more were scammed

A Coventry couple that paid a contractor $60,000 for a job he spent 2½ years on but never finished filed a complaint eight months before the state finally suspended the contractors’ registration late last month.

During the time it took to pull the registration, three more people were scammed by the same contractor.


Pam Barbosa reached out to The Hummel Report after reading an investigation published earlier this month in The Providence Sunday Journal about another couple in town that was fleeced by Raymond Oliver, owner of T&R Construction. In that case, Oliver took a $21,000 deposit from Linda and Bob Walton in April for a $60,000 first-floor addition but never began the job.

The Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board received two more complaints over the summer and finally issued an emergency order suspending Oliver’s registration on Oct. 27. Pam and Edward Barbosa, who spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees trying to get Oliver to complete the work, filed a formal complaint with the contractors’ board Feb. 11, shortly after they’d had enough of his repeated broken promises.


“We felt awful,” Pam Barbosa said this week. “How could you ever remortgage your house to get another contractor to come in with the way our house looks?”


Barbosa wants to know why the board did not move more quickly to pull Oliver’s registration, noting that if it had, he might not have scammed other customers.


The state says the law required it to go through a process.


“At the time of the Barbosas' complaint, there were no other recent matters involving Mr. Oliver,” said Brian Hodge, a spokesman for the Department of Business Regulation, which oversees the contractors’ board. “As such, the board could not meet any of the statutory requirements to suspend or revoke a registration. It was not until the series of events that transpired after the Barbosas' complaint when the board was able to put together a case that warranted an immediate suspension and the pending revocation proceedings.”


That didn’t happen until complaints were filed by the Barbosas, the Waltons and two other homeowners who say they were scammed by Oliver. One of them, a widow, also contacted the Coventry police.


Barbosa said she and her husband have been living for nearly three years in a makeshift apartment in their basement because Oliver tore up the rest of the house, then would disappear for long periods of time.


They added that the work he did was inferior. The couple was able to hire a contractor who is the relative of a neighbor to finish the job, which should be done in the next several weeks.


Oliver appeared virtually before a hearing officer for the contractors’ board on Thursday, with the matter continued until December.


His attorney, Albert E. Medici Jr., was not immediately available for comment. 


“I pray for him and his family daily,” said  Barbosa. “But what we went through was hell. We were so stuck. Personally we refinanced our house to do this and somebody walks in and takes advantage of us like this.”

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