NEWPORT CITY – Eugene Menard Jr., 27, of Irasburg, pleaded not guilty in Orleans County Court Tuesday to a charge of home improvement fraud.
According to the complaint, the defendant met Shirley Donovan at a yard sale and discussed doing some carpentry work for her. At that time, Menard reportedly told Donovan that the work would cost $12 per hour and that he would begin after Labor Day.
Menard was supposed to start work Sept. 10 and reportedly asked Donovan for some money up front for materials and as a retainer, because he had been "burnt" in the past. Donovan wrote Menard a check for $1,657.95 for materials and $1,400 for labor. Menard said he would order the materials from Poulin Lumber, that the lumber would arrive the next day but the windows wouldn't be delivered for two weeks.
The complaint alleges that Menard had times when he either left the job early or didn't show up at all. At one point, Menard reportedly asked for more money, but Donovan declined to pay him more. After some discussion, Donovan gave Menard another $100.
After Menard failed to show up for work again, Donovan called Poulin Lumber, whose representative said only seven of the eight windows had been ordered. The employee also told Donovan the order was in Menard’s name and the store had to deliver the windows to him if he wanted them.
Menard told Donovan the lack of one window must have been a mistake and he would take care of it.
The next day, Frank Carbonneau, an employee at Poulin Lumber, told Donovan he knew a lot of "Menards" in the carpentry business, but none had the first name Eugene. Andy Starr, a store manager at Poulin Lumber, told Donovan that not all of the money went to the windows. He said the money was in an account under Menard’s name, Menard could use the money any way he wanted and did use some of it to purchase personal materials. Starr also told Donovan that there was a balance due on the windows Menard had ordered. Starr told Donovan to contact her bank for a copy of the cleared check so the company could transfer the windows into an account in her name. Representatives from Donovan’s bank and Poulin Lumber urged her to contact the state police.
Menard tried to pick up the windows on Sept. 27, but representatives from Poulin Lumber told him to contact Donovan. When contacted, Menard came up with more excuses about being sick and having family emergencies. Donovan told Menard she wanted a refund. Menard said he would return the money, but he had to collect it from his other jobs.
Shane Lantagne, from Poulin Lumber, went to Donovan’s house to measure for the windows. It was then Donovan learned Menard had measured the windows wrong and some of the work Menard did do was not done correctly.
Menard told police his vehicle broke down and he had no way to get to any job site. He also said he had agreed to return Donovan’s money but was unable to come up with the funds.