For Immediate Release - March 09, 2010

Home Improvement Contractor Sentenced to Serve Four Years in House of Correction for Violating Home Improvement Contractor Law

LAWRENCE - Today, an Essex Superior Court judge ordered a North Andover man to serve four years in the House of Correction in connection with failing to construct sunrooms for over 20 homes that were ordered through his company. Superior Court Judge Maureen Hogan sentenced James Brien, age 60 , to four years in the Essex County House of Correction for violating the Home Improvement Contractor Statute (23 counts). Upon the completion of this sentence, Brien must also serve 10 years of probation. While on probation, Judge Hogan ordered that Brien pay $365,586 in restitution to the victims, submit full annual financial disclosures to the Department of Probation and inform the Department of Probation of any business venture he undertakes. On January 29, 2010, Judge Hogan found Brien guilty of these charges after a nine-day jury waived trial.

In February 2004, the Attorney General's Office began an investigation after receiving complaints from consumers claiming that Brien and his company, the now-defunct American Sunroom Co. Inc. (American Sunroom), failed to install sunrooms for their homes in accordance with contracts signed with the company. Brien was hired to perform residential contracting services for 23 customers and failed to do so. Investigators discovered that in many instances, Brien started the construction process for the sunrooms, but never finished the projects, accepting a total of over $450,000 from his customers in the process.

The Attorney General's Office filed a civil complaint against Brien in February 2004 in Suffolk Superior Court, and obtained a preliminary injunction against Brien that same month. On April 4, 2007, the Attorney General's Office obtained a $2 million civil judgment against Brien.

An Essex County Grand Jury returned indictments against Brien on June 21, 2006. He was arraigned in Essex Superior Court on July 6, 2006, where he entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Brien's jury-waived trial began on January 11, 2010, and continued for nine days. On January 29, 2010, Judge Hogan found Brien guilty of violating the state's home contractor law. After delivering her verdict, Judge Hogan revoked the defendant's bail until his sentencing today. Today, Brien was sentenced to serve four years in the House of Correction.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General David Andrews and Margret Cooke, both of Attorney General Coakley's Insurance and Unemployment Fraud Division (IUFD), and was investigated by Sallyann Nelligan of the IUFD, Paul Stewart, Director of Attorney General Coakley's Financial Investigations Division, and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office.