LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE 28/WYOU 22 EYEWITNESS NEWS) — A Lycoming County contractor is facing charges after accepting payment for a renovation and never starting the project, police say.

On January 30, 2020, court papers say Forest Spitzfaden quoted the victim $61,400 to renovate their kitchen. A check of $30,700 was cashed by Spitzfaden, promising to start the project in August 2020. The start date was then pushed back to September, Spitzfaden cited delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, police say.

The victim tried to confirm the September date, but never received a response from Spitzfaden. In October 2020, the victim reached out to Spitzfaden, saying he was concerned he had not heard from him regarding the renovation project. Spitzfaden relayed that he would start the project no later than January 4, 2021, police say.

In December 2020, the victim reached out to Spitzfaden to schedule a conference to discuss the January 4 start date. Spitzfaden told the victim he was offshore fishing, and would get back to him. Police say Spitzfaden never returned the victim’s calls.

Police say the victim tried to reached Spitzfaden several more times between January 9 and February 22 to no avail.

On February 22, the victim sent a letter from an attorney to Spitzfaden demanding a return of $30,700 within 10 days. Spitzafaden told the victim on March 4, he would not be able to return the funds within 10 days, but could in 45 days. Spitzfaden never returned the funds, police say.

Court papers say Spitzfaden received $30,700 from the victim in January 2020 and never started any work in the approximately 1.5 years.

Spitzfaden is being charged with theft by deception, deceptive business practices and receiving advance payment for services but failing for perform.