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Munhall contractor is accused of fraud

| Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, 4:26 a.m.

A Munhall contractor faces new home improvement fraud charges as cases proceed against him in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

A hearing is scheduled Sept. 19 at 11 a.m. before Magisterial District Judge Douglas R. Weimer Jr. in North Huntingdon Township against Robert S. Sippos, 59, of Munhall, and Frank Cloyd Yeager, 32, of Export, on charges filed July 24 by township police.

Sippos faces two counts each of home improvement fraud and criminal conspiracy, and one count each of deceptive or fraudulent business practice and theft by deception.

Yeager is charged with deceptive business practices, falsely inducing an agreement for home improvement, and receiving advance payment for services he didn't perform.

According to a complaint filed July 24, Sippos and Yeager failed to complete contracted work at a house along Broadway in North Huntingdon's Westmoreland City area.

“The contract was prepared and written by Robert Sippos” on Sept. 25, 2011, for Yeager's Brighter Finish Construction, according to the complaint.

The home's 65-year-old owner “paid out $39,300 on a contracted project that was (supposed to cost) $38,000,” the complaint went on. “The job is nowhere near completion.”

Yeager is free on an unsecured bond of $25,000. His hearing was scheduled for Monday then continued until Sept. 19.

Sippos' attorney Joseph Paletta declined comment on the North Huntingdon case. He also is representing Sippos as the Munhall contractor faces civil action filed by the state attorney general's office and other cases in Pittsburgh and Greensburg.

Sippos faced felony counts of theft by unlawful taking, theft by failure to make required distribution of funds, receiving stolen property and deceptive business practices in a case filed in 2010 in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court.

According to court records, Sippos paid $9,200 of a required $11,250 in restitution. His next court date in that case is Sept. 14 in Greensburg.

Sippos faced five counts of theft by deception as well as single counts of access device fraud and deceptive business practices in a 2008 case in Allegheny County.

After charges were filed in that case on Oct. 25, 2011, he waived a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Richard D. Olasz Jr. in West Mifflin.

Sippos was scheduled to enter a plea in that case on Aug. 2 before Judge Edward J. Borkowski, who also is conducting the trial of two men in the shooting of Clairton police officer James Kuzak Jr.

That hearing was continued until Dec. 4 at 8:30 a.m.

On April 5, Attorney General Linda Kelly filed a civil action in Allegheny County against Sippos, who does business as R.S. Sippos Associates.

Kelly said her office's Bureau of Consumer Protection received seven consumer complaints against Sippos.

The action filed in Pittsburgh alleged that Sippos was an unregistered contractor who accepted down payments of 50 percent or more of the contract price and failed to complete the contracted work.

In at least one case, Kelly alleged that Sippos took a down payment from a customer then failed to perform any services identified in that customer's contract.

In at least one other case, Kelly alleged that Sippos accepted payment from a customer then failed to complete services as required in that customer's contract.

Kelly also alleged that at least one transaction ended up with work “in a manner inferior to or below the standards or specifications agreed to in the customer's contract.”

Deputy Attorney General M. Susan Ruffner sought to ban the Munhall resident's ownership or involvement in the home improvement business until all restitution, costs and penalties are paid.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967 or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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