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Mechanicville Little League money loss: How to protect yourself

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On February 29th NEWS10 reported that the Mechanicville-Stillwater Little League baseball lost thousands of dollars after a contractor they hired for renovations declared bankruptcy. The contractor is also being investigated for victimizing other consumers. NEWS10 consulted experts on how consumers can avoid ending up in similar situations.

Enrollment got so high for the league that they needed an extra field. So, they paid James Butler, owner of Trust-a-Fence, a $5,700 down payment. To this day no fence has been built as the company filed for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

“Chapter 13 bankruptcy is effectively a way for someone who is in debt to be able to say, hey, ‘I need help, I can’t pay the debts that I have” explained attorney Ryan McCall of firm Tully Rinckey.

How likely the team is to get their money back?

“It’s very difficult to recoup any funds whenever someone declares Chapter 13 bankruptcy” McCall detailed.

Little League President Scott Mullen says his attorneys told him he may only recoup pennies on the dollar at best. McCall agreed, saying it can be a slow road to see that money.

“Typically you may be offered a payment plan and you may see installments begin may be free for five years down the road” McCall explained.

In a separate incident, Glenville police arrested and charged Butler with 3rd-degree grand larceny for allegedly accepting $7000 in cash from a customer for work materials that he never purchased. According to the Better Business Bureau, Trust-a-Fence is not accredited and has an ‘F’ rating by the agency, with 55 complaints spanning four years.

How can you protect yourself from becoming a victim?

“Never paying in full upfront. You should talk to a contractor about how you can split payments” explained Katarina Schmieder. “Always pay with a credit card…Most companies have protections in place. Should you run into a scam or fraud they can help you get your money back”, the Upstate NY Better Business Bureau Communications Director continued.

After our original story, aired last week, James Butler called NEWS10’s Zion Decoteau to say that he will “do right” and build the fence by “March 25th”. Scott Mullin’s reaction: “The fact of him trying to right himself in doing our fence for the little league..we are pleased to hear that…just not sure it will actually happen.”

Butler is set to appear in Glenville town court at a later date, for that unrelated grand larceny charge. He is also being investigated by multiple police agencies across the Capital Region for similar circumstances.

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