East Lyme father-son duo charged with doing unlicensed work
East Lyme — A father-son duo has been charged with botching the installation of a boiler they weren’t authorized to install, which in turn sent one resident to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.
The state Department of Consumer Protection investigated the case, although town police made the arrests.
In an affidavit, state Inspector Jack Korduner said Aaron A. Benoit, 39, and Gregory R. Benoit, 66, were hired to install a propane line to a stovetop, remove an oil boiler and install a propane boiler at 8 Elizabeth St. on March 7 last year.
Homeowner David Kenney, 63, paid $7,770 for the work.
Kenney told Korduner the propane line was installed under a permit Greg Benoit secured, but Aaron Benoit and three others did most of the work. While Greg Benoit is licensed to do plumbing work, Korduner said, Aaron Benoit is not.
Kenney said Aaron Benoit and the same crew later removed the oil boiler and installed the propane boiler. The Benoits never secured a permit to install the boiler, Korduner said. Kenney said Greg Benoit told him he didn’t need a permit for the work.
Korduner said neither Benoit relative was licensed to install the boiler.
After being operational for a week, the boiler on May 19 last year shut off and displayed an error code. It began working again after Kenney reset it. Kenney said he alerted the Benoits to the error but they never came to check on it.
On May 31, 2017, Kenney said he returned at noon to alarms sounding on each level of his house. He frantically took his two dogs outside and searched for a fire. When he realized it was the carbon monoxide alarm, he said he went to the basement and found the exhaust pipe on the new boiler out of its socket. He shut the boiler down and went outside.
Kenney, who felt dizzy and had a racing heart after the incident, called his wife, who called 911. Crews took him to the hospital, where he was treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Kenney told the inspector that Greg Benoit came a couple of days later and glued the pipe into the socket.
Kenney didn’t use the boiler much in the ensuing months but, on Nov. 11, 2017, the carbon monoxide alarm again went off about 5:30 in the morning. This time, Kenney quickly shut off the boiler and vacated the premises. He said his wife received treatment on scene but neither went to the hospital.
East Lyme Building Official Joe Smith instructed Kenney to hire a different company to do repairs. Smith then contacted the state Department of Consumer Protection.
In the affidavit, Kenney said the new company found a host of things wrong with the boiler’s installation, including that a natural gas to propane conversion kit had not been installed.
In February, Kenney said the reinstalled unit had been functioning without issue.
Police on June 1 charged Aaron Benoit of 53 Old Norwich Road, Quaker Hill, with three counts of performing occupational work without a license, two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree larceny by exploitation of the elderly.
Police on the same day charged Gregory Benoit of 34 Irvingdell Place with four counts of employing an unlicensed person to perform occupational work, two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree larceny by exploitation of the elderly and violation of state building code.
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