BENNINGTON — The defendant in a string of home improvement fraud cases and convictions dating back to 2010 was arraigned again Monday on two new felony charges of home improvement fraud — plus a DUI — all while awaiting trial on two recent counts with different victims that could land him in jail for life.
Robert Billings, 50, is already facing a possible life sentence as a habitual offender under Vermont law if he is convicted on either of two cases from both August and October 2023. He was arraigned Monday on two felony counts of home improvement fraud — the same crime — dating back to October 2022 and again in February 2023. Those new charges, plus the ones he currently faces, total four pending cases of home improvement fraud. Billings was also charged Monday with a misdemeanor driving under the influence count from an incident earlier this month.
Billings has already been convicted in several felony home improvement fraud cases dating back to 2010, with the previous charges already carrying the habitual offender label. Both new felonies also carry a possible life sentence.
The new charges stem from an allegedly unfulfilled plumbing contract with a Winhall homeowner in October 2022. According to a police affidavit, Billings was hired to do a complete and extensive plumbing job at a residence in Winhall. Billings allegedly received a $6,000 deposit for the work, but, according to the homeowner, he “never showed up.” Billings eventually refunded $600 of the deposit, then cut off communication with the homeowner.
The second case involved a February 2023 contract with a homeowner in Bennington. Billings allegedly received a total of $11,000 from a Bennington woman for work around her residence. The work was never completed. Included in the affidavit was a list of checks written between January 2022 and July 2023 totaling $10,900.
On Oct. 4, Billings was allegedly operating a motor vehicle on a public highway when police pulled him over. Billings reportedly refused a breathalyzer test at the scene.
Billings has several felony convictions for home improvement fraud or loss on his criminal record here in Vermont, along with two failures to post bond. He also has eight failures to appear. Under Vermont law, a person convicted of three or more felonies can be charged as a habitual offender, allowing the possibility of a life sentence if further convicted.
A preliminary search online revealed an F-rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for a company called 4th Gen, a Bennington plumbing business associated with Billings’ name with the same listed address as on court records. Several complaints recite familiar circumstances, including up-front monies taken with no work done and none returned and work being cited that was not needed.
A court records search did not turn up any past cases of a home improvement contractor ever facing a life sentence on home improvement fraud charges here in Vermont. No further hearings are currently scheduled in the cases.
Billings was again released on conditions after his latest arrest — he must come to court when told to, give his attorney his address and phone number, he is to have no contact with the homeowner, and must not enter any contracts with homeowners.