A Westfield-based home contractor has been criminally charged with stealing more than $100,000 from a pair of clients, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo announced Friday.
Ralph A. Rapuano, Jr., 37, is charged with second-degree theft by deception and second-degree theft by failure to make proper disposition of property received.
An investigation launched in May 2019 by the Special Prosecutions Unit of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office revealed that a local couple had contracted with the defendant to build a new home in Westfield for an agreed-upon price of $1.35 million, according to Unit Supervisor and Assistant Prosecutor Melissa Spagnoli, who is prosecuting the case.
Rapuano allegedly assured the couple that his business, Elegant Homes, was liquid and solvent, but those representations were proven to be false, Spagnoli said. The couple handed over a $135,000 down payment in October 2018, and within two days, Rapuano had allegedly spent the money on other projects, and no work was ever done on the victim couple’s new home.
Earlier this week, Rapuano was served through his attorney with a complaint-summons ordering him to appear in Superior Court or face a bench warrant for his arrest.
Anyone with additional information about Rapuano’s activities is being urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Detective Dennis Donovan at 908-527-4558.
Convictions on second-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by terms of 5 to 10 years in state prison.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.