Retirement dreams turned into a nightmare for a couple who were just looking forward to a new kitchen.
When Stanley Stefanowich, of Westfield, MA, retired last year, he wanted to give his wife something special.
"One thing she wanted to do was re-do our kitchen, so we decided to start looking to see who could best do our kitchen,” Stefanowich said.
Through recommendations and research, they decided on Bellmont Kitchen and Bath in Enfield, owned by Jay Bellomo and Michael Monteforte.
"We looked at their website. We stopped in their office. Everything looked pretty nice so we thought we'd give them a chance and go with them,” Stefanowich said.
The couple signed a contract and gave a deposit of nearly $16,000. The work was supposed to start at the beginning of November, but Stan Stefanowich said nobody ever showed up.
"No calls. No calls at all. They weren't returning our calls. We left messages and then we knew something was up,” he said.
Feeling like there was nowhere to turn, the couple turned to the Eyewitness News I-Team, who learned that on Dec. 3, 2015, Bellmont Kitchen and Bath filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.
Just one week later, on Dec. 10, Bellomo’s wife Melissa registered a new construction business with the state called The Kitchen and Floor Store in Windsor.
The I-Team stopped by their house to ask some questions.
While no one came to the door at Michael Monteforte’s house when the I-Team showed up, whoever was inside, did call the cops.
The I-Team was able to confront Jay Bellomo at their new business in Windsor.
Bellomo said he didn’t realize what had happened with the Stefanowich couple, even though he was the owner of the company.
“To tell you the truth, I really mean I feel terrible, and I didn't know that's what happened,” he said.
He went on to admit that at least three families gave his company a deposit without receiving anything in return. He suggested they reach out to his attorney to be made whole.
"There's consumer protection laws and they'll get their money back and she has the forms to fill out,” Bellomo said.
However, there’s a big problem with that.
While there is a Home Improvement Guaranty Fund in the state of Connecticut that can reimburse a customer up to $15,000 per contract, it doesn’t apply to the Stefanowich’s case because they live in Massachusetts.
With thousands of dollars down the drain, the couple said they think Bellomo and Monteforte should be held accountable.
“I don’t know how he can sleep at night. That’s my answer and my wife’s answer…it’s awful,” Stan Stefanowich said.
Right now, the bankruptcy trustee is working on liquidating the dissolved company’s assets.
Anything recovered will be divided equally amongst the creditors, including the Stefanowichs.
At this point, it is unclear how much money the couple will receive, but the attorney for Bellomo and Monteforte said it is unlikely the figure will be anywhere close to $16,000.
On the bright side, the family did eventually get their dream kitchen, from a different company.
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