The state agency that oversees home improvement contractors in Massachusetts has permanently revoked the registration of a business owner who was the focus of a series of reports from the NBC10 Boston Investigators.
Steve Docchio, owner of Xtreme Living Pools & Construction, received the revocation order from the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation last month. To date, he has not filed an appeal, according to an OCABR spokesperson.
As he awaited that decision, Docchio sat down with NBC10 Boston for an extensive interview, where he defended his track record and said customers share the blame for all the projects gone wrong.
“I’m here for the fight,” Docchio said. “I’m not going anywhere, so I’m going to fight every allegation right to the end.”
Our investigative series, “To Catch a Contractor,” uncovered a trail of destruction across Massachusetts.
We found many of the homeowners after searching through public records. Some took him to court and won six-figure civil judgments. Others pursued criminal cases.
The NBC10 Boston Investigators asked how Docchio could explain the list of angry customers.
“All of their storytelling is beyond the truth,” Docchio said. “Don’t get me wrong, there might be a couple of things they said that are truthful. This ain’t a pattern. A pattern is when you do it all the time. Listen, if it looks like a duck and acts like a duck, sometimes it’s not a duck because there is no water in here.”
No water was exactly the problem with so many homeowners who wanted pools and other projects, but were instead left with giant holes in their backyards and broken promises.
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Despite the criminal history and stack of lawsuits we uncovered in our investigation, OCABR said it did not have the statutory authority to take any action. The agency told us it needed a formal complaint to initiate a disciplinary hearing.
A handful of customers we interviewed willingly stepped forward and filed complaints. One of them was Greg Fly of Hanover.
Fly told us last year that he was out $47,000 after the contractor walked away from his home addition project in 2018 after pouring the foundation.
“It was sleepless nights. It was just eating at my wife and me,” Fly expressed.
The hearing officer with OCABR found Docchio had signed the contract with Fly and accepted payments while he was under a five-month suspension from a previous violation.
During the hearing, along with his interview with NBC10 Boston, Docchio blamed OCABR employees for giving him bad information about what was allowed during his suspension.
However, the hearing officer was not persuaded.
In the revocation order, she wrote: “Contractor’s claimed lack of knowledge of his wrongful conduct is not only unconvincing, but it is unjustified.”
Docchio is ordered to surrender his registration and is prohibited from operating as a home improvement contractor in Massachusetts. There were four other pending complaints against Docchio, according to OCABR.
As we previously reported, Docchio is already barred from working as a contractor in neighboring Rhode Island and Connecticut for violations in those states.
Details like that raised questions about the state’s oversight of contractors and caught the attention of lawmakers.
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During our interview, we repeatedly asked Docchio about the toll customers said the failed projects took on their families. Many homeowners described constant emotional and financial stress, and some broke down while recalling the experience.
However, Docchio said the homeowners also shared the blame for the unfinished projects and downplayed the impact of the backyard disaster scenes.
“I never did anything intentionally to hurt anybody,” Docchio said. “What people tell you doesn’t make it bad. You go into a restaurant and you don’t like the apple pie? That’s your opinion. I didn’t have an oxygen tank for somebody’s livelihood and didn’t deliver the oxygen tank. You’re talking about backyard living.”