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Keene area couple agrees to temporary injunction from running a construction business – NH Business Review

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Attorney General alleges Christopher and Caitlin Vittum were paid for home renovations they failed to provide

A local couple the N.H. Attorney General’s Office accuses of engaging in deceptive business practices agreed Monday, May 13, to a motion temporarily barring them from operating a construction business in the state.

In a March 22 civil complaint, the Attorney General’s Office alleges Christopher and Caitlin Vittum, who court documents indicate were last known to live in Jaffrey, contractually agreed to and were paid for home renovations they failed to provide. They are also facing separate criminal charges related to one of their businesses.

Representing themselves in Cheshire County Superior Court in Keene on Monday, the Vittums asked a few questions before agreeing to the preliminary injunction.

In the March 22 motion for the preliminary injunction, Assistant Attorney General Warren Cormack said it would bar the couple from owning or operating a construction business in the state and from “receiving, or soliciting, any advance payment for goods or services not yet rendered while conducting any trade or commerce” pending resolution of the civil proceedings. The Attorney General’s Office is seeking a permanent injunction, should it prevail in court, according to the complaint.

Christopher Vittum asked whether agreeing to the motion would “negate due process” or constitute an admission of guilt, and Judge Jacki Smith said it would not.

After the Vittums agreed to the preliminary injunction, Cormack presented the state’s offer of proof. He said the Attorney General’s Office had received 14 formal consumer complaints against the couple and their businesses, and reiterated many of the claims in the March complaint.

That document contends that the Vittums had not refunded any amount to any customer identified in the complaint, and “have repeatedly changed their business name and phone number in [an] attempt to evade detection.”

According to the complaint, the Vittums operated three companies: NEC Construction 603 LLC, a home construction business in Richmond; CRV Construction & Tiny Homes LLC, a home construction business in Walpole; and Utopia Construction and Designs, an unregistered business.

Cormack wrote that state courts use the “rascality test” to determine if business actions are unfair or deceptive, which is illegal under the N.H. Consumer Protection Act. According to the complaint, the test stems from a N.H. Supreme Court decision that found “[t]he objectionable conduct must attain a level of rascality that would raise an eyebrow of someone inured to the rough and tumble world of commerce.”

Among allegations in the complaint is that two people paid $12,800 for a basement remodel in January 2022 to Caitlin Vittum, who signed on behalf of NEC Construction 603. They also paid an additional $1,015 for lights and flooring, the complaint states.

“NEC workers performed some work on the project, providing and installing flooring, insulation and drywall,” and workers sprayed insulation that leaked and damaged flooring and a wall, Cormack wrote. “NEC workers regularly did not arrive at the job site after Mr. Vittum and/or Mrs. Vittum promised that they would. Mr. Vittum and Mrs. Vittum’s excuses for such absences included a court date, a hospital visit, food poisoning, and a need to organize tools in NEC’s truck.”

In early May, one of the alleged victims asked for money back, but Christopher Vittum refused to give materials or a refund, Cormack wrote. The company did not finish the project or issue a refund, he added. The document described 12 other alleged victims or incidents.

In court Monday, Cormack said the couple were served administrative subpoenas and “were aware of investigations into their conduct.” He also alerted Judge Smith to the pending criminal investigations, and she advised the Vittums of their constitutional right to remain silent.

The Vittums declined to comment on the case after the hearing.

Christopher Vittum’s two criminal cases involving theft by deception charges have a settlement conference scheduled for May 30 at 1 p.m. in Hillsborough County North Superior Court. Caitlin Vittum’s two criminal cases, also involving theft by deception charges, in that court have a settlement conference at the same time, and a June 11 dispositional conference for charges of issuing bad checks and theft by deception in Cheshire County is scheduled for June 11 at 9 a.m.

This article is being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org. 

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