Chester Resident: Middlefield Building Official Destroyed NJ Couple's Dream

Joseph M. Cohen, who is suing Middlefield building inspector Robert M. Meyers for fraud and unfair trade practices, says a New Jersey couple who hired Meyers to build a home in Durham filed a similar complaint with the state.


A Chester man who is suing Middlefield's top building official alleging that he stole more than $50,000 from him after agreeing to build his dream home said this week that he has uncovered more evidence that supports a lawsuit he filed nearly two years ago.

Joseph M. Cohen appeared before the town's Board of Selectmen on Monday evening where he briefly spoke about his pending lawsuit against Robert M. Meyers, a former general contractor who now serves as the town's building inspector.

Meyers, Cohen told selectmen, had been named in a 2006 complaint filed with the state's Department of Consumer Protection and the Office of the Chief State's Attorney. The complaint, according to records provided by Cohen, was filed by a New Jersey couple who hired Meyers to build their "dream home" in Durham.

"[It's] one of the most terrifying examples of how a builder who doesn't follow the law, who doesn't abide by decent business practices can use the court system, the Department of Consumer Protection even the state's attorneys office and to basically run people around in circles for years for tens and tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars and ultimately keep his image okay," Cohen said.

According to the documents, John J. and Sandy Christopher of Saddle River, New Jersey, accused Meyers of using "coercion" and "deceit" in the process of building a home at 23 Cheyenne Trail.

"We contracted with Mr. Meyers to construct our dream home in Durham and it has turned out to be a complete disaster," a July 2007 letter addressed to the state's Elder Abuse Bureau from John Christoper reads.

In the letter, Christopher accuses Meyers of taking shortcuts during construction of the home and pocketing the money himself. "The bottom line is we are not getting what we are paying for," Christopher wrote. "This entire fiasco has caused us great pain."

According to the documents, the couple claimed to have lost more than $60,000 to Meyers in addition to paying about $40,000 in legal fees. Less than a year after the complaint was filed Meyers sold the home to another couple and the state took no decisive action against Meyers, Cohen said.

Cohen, a former newspaper reporter, has appeared at at least a half-dozen board meetings since January alleging that no fewer than five other homeowners in Durham and East Haddam had been victimized by Meyers while he was a home builder.

Meyers, who now lives in East Haddam, was a self-employed general contractor when Cohen signed a contract with him in 2010 to build a home at 11 Kings Highway in Chester, a property Cohen purchased in 1999.

But soon after work at the property began the town halted construction over permitting, Cohen says. In his lawsuit, Cohen claims Meyers left the job and refused to work with town officials to remedy the situation.

Cohen further alleges that Meyers used the money he paid him to build the home to pay for various personal expenses, including a divorce lawyer, truck repairs and even his own home.

Meyers has filed a counterclaim accusing Cohen of libel and slander. 

"This is a matter that really needs to be litigated in a court system," Meyers' attorney, Jennifer Farrell, said at a recent board meeting. "A lot of what Mr. Cohen is alleging is really not for this forum."

Based on his accusations, Cohen has urged town officials to review Meyers' hiring. Selectmen however have not commented on Cohen's allegations or on whether they are reviewing Meyers' role as the town's building inspector.

A trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 24 in Middletown.

Related articles:

Middlefield Building Official Pays State Fine Following Complaint

Resident Will Air Complaints Against Middlefield's Building Official

Gag Order Issued in Suit Against Middlefield Official

William RENdar December 05, 2012 at 08:39 PM
I have known Mr.Cohen for 50 years and I can tell you that he is a man of integrity who has nothing to hide in his past. He spent two years thinking about building this home and wanted everything to go well and thought he had the right builder for the job. Two or more years of Mr Cohen's life has been taken from him over this fiasco
Michael Doyle December 05, 2012 at 08:59 PM
I fully agree with the opinion expressed by Mr. Bober. Mr. Cohen will have his day in court and until then the Board of Selectmen is not a proper forum to address a situation that occured before Mr. Meyer was hired as a Town employee. Unfortunately, too many people will now make asumpttions based upon unproven allegations. There are usually two sides to a story.
Scott Wheeler December 06, 2012 at 03:28 AM
the legal system states innocent until proven guilty, very simple phase that anyone should be able to comprehend.
Joe Cohen December 06, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Robert M. "Bob" Meyers already has publicly admitted under oath in court that he is guilty of a criminal violation of Connecticut law, having constructed a new home (24 Alger Road, East Haddam) while not being a registered/licensed New Home Contractor. In addition, Meyers has admitted he solicited construction business while not being licensed -- a violation of state law. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection has cited Meyers for failing to follow state laws and regulations aimed at protecting citizens from unscrupulous contractors -- and Meyers signed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance and was fined as a result. Meyers also was determined by the state NOT to be qualified to take the course to become a licensed Building Official; then given reconsideration and he took the course and failed the test (getting barely more than half the multiple choice answers correct). He took the test again and scraped by with a score in the 70s (out of 100). It appears Meyers lied on his application to the town of Middlefield, claiming he was a high school graduate, when the reality is he is a high school dropout. Meyers' friends may believe he is qualified to work as a public official for the town of Middlefield, but should the town be sued, good luck defending the decision to have hired and employed someone with his past.
Concerned December 10, 2012 at 04:06 PM
And this is the most important thing that happened at the BOS meeting? How about, per the minutes of the meeting, the fact the Mr. Bailey "claims" to have a letter addressed to our town treasurer Mrs Waff regarding the escrow account on Powder Ridge, and the distribution of funds. How is it that a letter addressed to our treasurer wound up in the hands of Mr Bailey? This is a federal violation of Federal Postal laws. Is there really a letter? What are Mssrs. Brayshaw & Bailey hiding? Usually at a Real Estate closing, the escrow funds are released the same day, and the escrow is emptied. Did Mr. Hayes not come to the table with the appropriate sums in hand? There is something fishy in Demark, in my opinion.


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