From The Gazette

St. Lazare

Bassendens and contractor part ways after dispute

Despite claims of fraud, it appears all the money raised to help St-Lazare’s Bassenden family build a new home has been accounted for.

The family has been living on a trailer in their yard after their home burned down in March, 2011. Allan Bassenden said he has been unable to rebuild the home because his insurance refused to honour his claim, saying he was illegally operating a car repair business on the premises.

Things appeared to be looking up for the Bassendens in recent weeks, as local businesses pitched in to demolish the old home, and help begin rebuilding a new one.

However, Bassenden is now in a dispute with the contractor who offered his services free of charge, saying he made off with about $1,000 of cash raised during a Dec. 17 fundraiser organized by the community.

Bassenden sent an email to local media outlets calling the contractor, Francis Charron, a fraud artist, saying he made off with all the money raised in donations.

However, Linda Foley, the comptroller of the company Tri-Tool Inc., which donated its services to demolish the house, said Bassenden’s claims appear to be false.

Now thrust into the position as third-party mediator, Foley said she met with Charron Monday and was able to account for all the donations, including gift cards, that were being held by Charron.

“Tri-Tool agreed to mediate between the two parties,” Foley said. “We met with Francis today and everything is kosher. Everything is on the up-and-up with Mr. Charron, as far as we can tell.”

Bassenden had claimed that Charron made off with about all of the $1,000 in donations. Foley said nearly all the money raised was spent on repairs to the concrete slab, which is to be the foundation of the new home. Charron and Bassenden worked on the foundation together, with a donation of tools from Tri-Tool. Foley said she is holding on to the remaining donations: gift cards to Home Depot and Home Hardware, and about $75 in cash.

Charron said he’ll no longer take part in helping rebuild the family home. He said he has donated the equivalent of about $10,000 in equipment and services. He also got an architect friend to draw sketches of the new home free of charge.

He said, however, he will encourage the community to continue to donate to the family, saying despite the personality conflict, he still feels the cause is just.

“The family can’t live in a trailer anymore; they need a house,” Charron said. “Whether the guy did mechanics in his garage is not the point. This family can’t live in a trailer.”

Foley said she too will no longer involve Tri-Tool with the project, saying the company has also donated about $10,000 in tools and time.

For his part, Bassenden said he fired Charron because he stole the money.

“He can’t account for the money, and things got so bad that we had to fire him.”

Bassenden said the rebuilding project will continue, and he has hired a new contractor.

jmagder@montrealgazette.com
Twitter: @OffIslandNews
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