Man paid as contractor is charged with fraud

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Pittsburgh police have charged a Penn Hills man who passed himself off as a licensed contractor with accepting thousands of dollars to improve two homes but not delivering on the terms of his contract.

Matthew Yost, 27, of Chester Road was charged last month with one felony count of deceptive or fraudulent business practices, Pittsburgh police said Monday.

He was arraigned, released on his own recognizance and faces a preliminary hearing Monday.

Mr. Yost is accused of entering into contracts with Beth Slagle, a Pittsburgh lawyer, and Randall Hoffmaster, who together flip or rent real estate.

In March, the pair sought Mr. Yost's help in renovating a house in the 5500 block of Camelia Street in Stanton Heights. They paid him $42,000 for his work.

"Yost represented himself as a reputable licensed contractor," a police affidavit states.

In fact, police said, Mr. Yost was not registered with the state attorney general's office, which has a registry of roughly 73,600 contractors in Pennsylvania that can be searched online.

Under state law contractors who do more than $5,000 in business annually must register with the state. Property owners who hire registered contractors have certain rights under the law; down payments are limited to $5,000, for instance, and all contracts must be in writing for work over $500.

In May, Ms. Slagle and Mr. Hoffmaster entered into another contract with Mr. Yost for a property in the 4300 block of Saline Street in Greenfield. The two paid three installments totaling $12,300 for work to be completed there.

Police said the business partners felt that Mr. Yost did little work and what he did was "very poor quality."

Detectives with the Hill District station said Mr. Yost spoke with them Nov. 4 and admitted to not abiding by his contracts. Mr. Yost said he owed the two property owners more than $20,000, according to the affidavit.

Police said Mr. Yost admitted to using "illegally purchased Percocet" every day for a few months while working on the properties but denied that the drug use contributed to his not completing the projects.

Ms. Slagle declined comment through her attorney.

Mr. Yost could not be reached for comment.


Jonathan D. Silver: jsilver@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1962 or on Twitter @jsilverpg.

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