Home Improvement Fraud: Tree Cutter Sells Wood Chipper & Chain Saws For Drugs

Makenzie J. Laverty

Police say a Bloomfield man was hired in August of 2020 by an Essex County couple to cut down two trees near a shed on their property.

But four months later the job still wasn’t done even though the couple had already paid the tree cutter in full $3,500.

Makenzie J. Laverty, 26, pleaded not guilty in Essex Superior Court Wednesday to a felony charge of home improvement fraud. Judge Michael J. Harris set bail at $2,000 and ordered Laverty to only be released to a court-approved curfew residence.

Investigators say drugs were definitely a factor.

“Laverty has not returned to complete the job because he sold his harness, climbing spikes and chainsaws for drugs,” wrote Essex County Deputy Sheriff Matthew Thomas in his report. “He also sold his wood chipper from which the majority of the money was used to purchase drugs.”

According to court documents, Maidstone residents Paul and Lisa Plourde told investigators they hired Laverty last summer to remove two “hazard trees” - including a rotting hemlock and a birch tree - located near their shed.

Laverty had been recommended to the Plourde’s by neighbors.

“Paul asked Laverty if he had taken down any trees in the condition of the hemlock tree,” wrote Deputy Thomas in his affidavit filed in support of the charge. ” Laverty told Paul that he had previously worked for Asplundh (tree service) where he had been given all of the hard jobs.”

But according to court documents, things did not go well after that.

“Paul showed me where Laverty had cut down part of a birch tree, had cut the top off a large hemlock tree and also limbed two other trees,” wrote Deputy Thomas. “There was brush laying around that Laverty was supposed to dispose of. Paul advised that when Laverty cut the top off a large hemlock tree, which was supposed to be removed completely, the top fell off and hit the roof of their shed.”

The Plourde’s told police that was the last time Laverty did any work on the project and that about one month after he received his first payment of $1500 Laverty arrived at their home and asked for the rest of the money before the job was completed “because he was in a bind,” according to the report.

Laverty is now being held in pre-trial detention at Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury.

If convicted of the charge Laverty faces a possible sentence of up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.


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