By Dave Rogers
AMESBURY — Homeowners have more than snow buildup on their roofs to worry about this winter.
Police said at least one Salisbury-based group of contractors took advantage of the situation Friday, when they charged a 78-year-old Amesbury man $4,800 for clearing his roof.
Lt. Jeffrey Worthen identified the trio as 47-year-old Kevin Snow Sr. and his sons, Kevin Snow Jr., 23, and George Snow, 20. Under the business name County Line Pavers, the Snows are well known to police across the region and country for allegedly overcharging customers, many of them elderly, for paving driveways and performing snow-related services.
Worthen said Kevin Jr. and George Snow drove by the man's Congress Street home Friday afternoon and offered to remove snow from his roof. The homeowner, whom police didn't identify, agreed to pay the Snow brothers $4,800 for the job.
After, the victim's daughter became suspicious and called police to report what she thought was an attempt to scam her father. According to the police report, Kevin Snow Sr. was also at the scene.
Detective David Pare contacted the Snows and informed them if they didn't return the money, police would pursue legal action against them.
"They returned the money and were given a more appropriate amount of money (around $250)," Worthen said.
No charges were filed against the Snows since they repaid the money, Worthen said.
The incident shares similarities with another that allegedly took place in Newburyport last month. City Marshal Thomas Howard said two contractors charged an 83-year-old Merrimac Street man $780 to plow his driveway. The contractors later agreed to give most of the money back after the victim spoke to police.
Worthen said the Snows typically drive around looking for customers and most times offer to do work for people without first settling on a price for their services. When the job is completed, the Snows then hand the unsuspecting customer a huge bill. Last summer, police in Danvers, Beverly, Plum Island and Salisbury received complaints about the Snows' business practices.
The family's sketchy reputation stretches all the way to California where Kevin Jr. and George Snow, along with a Connecticut man, were arrested in June 2009 following a yearlong investigation on charges of improper practices. According to California officials, the trio reached plea agreements on several felony fraud charges last July and agreed to pay $130,000 in fines.
In 2002, Amesbury police charged at least one of the Snows with larceny over $250 for a similar incident, Worthen said. The case was continued without finding for a year, and the accused Snow was sentenced to a year of probation, Worthen said.
Attempts to reach the Snows for comment yesterday were unsuccessful. A phone number for County Line Pavers was no longer in service, and no one was at the Snows' house on Main Street in Salisbury when a reporter knocked on the door yesterday afternoon.
In the Newburyport case last month, the victim and his wife were shoveling outside their home on Jan. 28 when two men in a full-sized dump truck with a Bobcat attached to a trailer asked if they wanted help, police said. At first, the couple thought the contractor offered to help them for free only to learn that wasn't the case, police said.
When the victim said he didn't have the money on him, police said the contractor offered to drive with him to a nearby bank to pick up the money, which he did.
After paying the contractors, the victim spoke to police, believing he might have been the victim of a scam. Police were able to find the contractors, who agreed to give most of the money back to the victim. No criminal charges were filed, according to police.
Worthen said residents should be wary of anyone stopping by and offering to remove snow or pave driveways. Before agreeing to do anything, residents should get the name of the contractor, settle on a price and then call police to check if the contractors are legitimate.
"If people notify the contractor that they're going to call the police first, that may scare off the contractor if he's not legitimate," Worthen said.