DURYEA -- A contractor from Duryea is headed to trial for allegedly taking thousands from customers and never showing up to do the jobs he promised. The people claiming to be his victims want their money back.
Joseph Sekelsky tried to hide his face as he left a magistrate's office near Wilkes-Barre.
State police charged the contractor from Duryea with taking $5,200 from a woman who lives in a home in Bear Creek Township.
Court papers indicate Sekelsky promised to install a new furnace in December but never finished the job.
Marcy Smith says she's also a victim of Joe Sekelsky.
"He seemed like one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. He is as nice and as charming as they come," Smith said.
This February, water dripped from air conditioning vents at Smith's home in Wilkes-Barre. After she hired Sekelsky, she says he told her that the air conditioner was broken and the ducts were filled with mold. To be safe, she turned off the A/C.
"So I gave him money for the supplies which was $4,300."
Smith wanted a new system by spring for her terminally ill mother. For three months, she says Sekelsy texted her excuses for why the job wasn't getting done.
Then during a heatwave at the end of April with no air conditioning in the home, Smith's mother died.
"My mother was here for four days in sweltering heat as she died, and that's pretty terrible. He needs to be held accountable for that."
As for the air conditioning unit, an inspection showed there was nothing wrong with it. And no mold was found in the ventilation system.
Another contractor found a leaky roof was responsible for the dripping water.
As for Sekelsky, he's also facing charges in Pittston, where police accuse him of taking about $11,000 from the couple living there for a furnace he never installed.
Pittston police also charged Sekelsky with bouncing $8,700 worth of checks to a plumbing supply company.
"I think he should go to jail," Smith added.
Smith says jail may be the only way to stop Sekelsky from cheating other customers. His first trial is scheduled for early next month in Luzerne County court.