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Churches accuse contractor of taking money without doing work

August 17, 2018

STAMFORD — An upstate contractor accused of taking thousands of dollars in deposits from churches and skipping out on the work has vowed to make restitution.

“I’m going to credit them,” Marcus McClellan, owner of Trumbull Restoration in Plainville, said Friday.

But church leaders say they’ve heard McClellan’s promises before.

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Stamford has filed a complaint with police, accusing McClellan of stealing $7,400 from the historic downtown parish. Stamford police financial crimes Sgt. Sean Boeger said he is investigating the complaint.

Churches in Milford and Chicopee, Mass., have also accused McClellan of taking deposits and not completing the repairs.

St. John’s Junior Warden Sharon Guinta said she hired McClellan last August to complete a $30,000 repair to the 126-year-old church’s roof. Guinta said McClellan cashed the check for $7,423 nearly a year ago but has never done the work.

“We have been chasing this person for a year,” Guinta said.

Guinta said there were several leaks in the roof and tiles fell onto Grove Street.

“We called countless times. I e-mailed him and (text) messaged him,” she said.

Guinta said the church eventually hired another company after McClellan made excuses about personal issues and his crane not working.

When reached Friday, McClellan denied the accusations and said he would “credit” the church.

“That’s all I am going to say,” he said before hanging up.

According to the state Judicial Branch, McClellan, 44, was convicted of second-degree larceny in 2010 and was sentenced to 39 months in jail and five years special parole.

The pastor of a church in Chicopee, Mass., said his parish paid McClellan $10,000 for repairs that were supposed to be completed in May.

Rev. Ephraim Peters, of Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church, said he was an attorney for more than 30 years and has never experienced something like this.

“He is one of the best con men I have ever come across,” Peters said.

Peters said his parish hired McClellan and Trumbull Restorations to do about $20,000 worth of work that included gilding the church’s dome, restoring the front doors and “spiffing” the place up for the congregation’s 100th anniversary in May.

Peters said the parish signed a $21,500 contract with McClellan in January and wrote him a deposit check for $10,570.

Peters said McClellan promised to start the work in April, but blamed the cold weather and late-season snow for the delays and never completed the repairs.

”He said there was nothing to worry about, but I never heard from him again,” Peters said. ”We envisioned driving down the road to the 100th anniversary with everyone looking at the shiny new dome. It was heartbreaking.”

Peters said he plans to file a complaint with his local police department.

Rev. Christopher Files, of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Milford, said his parish is also out more than $5,000 for steeple renovations McClellan’s company was supposed to complete last year, according to an NBC Connecticut report.

jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com

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