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Bat man files lawsuit against DA candidate

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An Onondaga County man has filed a lawsuit against attorney and St. Lawrence County district attorney candidate Mary E. Rain for work he claims she refuses to pay for.

Al’s Critter Solutions owner Albert J. LaFrance filed a small claims judgment Tuesday in Ogdensburg City Court against Ms. Rain after he said he had removed bats from an apartment building she owns in Watertown.

Mr. LaFrance said he removed six to 12 bats and sealed future entrance and exit ways from Ms. Rain’s 441 Broadway Ave. E. rental property in the city. The bill totaled $1,890.

“I sent her a contract and she gave me a verbal OK on Aug. 14 as her tenants were having issues with bats getting into the home,” Mr. LaFrance said.

In a letter to City Court, Mr. LaFrance said he sent the original contract, with the total cost of work, to Ms. Rain Aug. 9. The work was completed Aug. 29, when he mailed her the final invoice.

“After pleading with her for several months, she mailed me a check for $300 stating the rest would follow,” Mr. LaFrance said.

He said he received that check Oct. 4 and never saw another cent to pay off the remaining $1,590.

“I’m semiretired and on disability. I cannot afford to lose $1,590, but nor can I afford to get into an extensive legal battle with a professional attorney,” Mr. LaFrance said.

After various attempts to reach Ms. Rain over a period of six months, Mr. LaFrance said he got his attorney, Maureen A. Perrin of Lafayette, involved.

A May 21 letter addressed to Ms. Rain from Ms. Perrin requested payment in full, noting that no complaints had been made of the work that was done and no objection to the bill was made.

But Ms. Rain said she had never signed a contract and didn’t agree to the work with knowledge of the total cost.

“I think it is a tactic on his part to get me to pay money that I’m not going to pay him for work he didn’t do.” Ms. Rain said. “He charged me almost $1,900 to take care of a bat issue at the apartment building in Watertown, and he is filing up here in Ogdensburg? Doesn’t that sound a little bit suspicious?”

In trying to find out where to file with small claims court, Mr. LaFrance said, he discovered Ms. Rain was running for St. Lawrence County district attorney and he thought voters should “strongly consider their vote.”

“If this woman, as an attorney, cannot be responsible enough to take care of her own obligations, then how can she be trustworthy enough to be a district attorney that makes decisions over the lives of others?” Mr. LaFrance said.

He said he tried to file in Watertown City Court but was told by the court that he needed to file in the town of Ms. Rain’s residence or business; a rental property was not considered a place of business.

“That’s not true,” Ms. Rain said. “Can you imagine if a contractor that worked for me down in New York City and they can only file it in Ogdensburg? He’s trying to get some political play out of it, which is all he is trying to do.”

Ms. Rain said the issue is in dispute and some agreement will have to be reached that doesn’t include her paying $1,900.

“And what he isn’t saying is that he doesn’t have a contract to that effect. He sent me a written contract and then he goes and does the work without an approval. I didn’t approve $1,900,” Ms. Rain said. “He’s using the paper to try to get money from me and I’m just not going to do it.”

There is a difference of opinion regarding Ms. Rain’s letter in response to Ms. Perrin. While Ms. Rain said she did respond, Mr. LaFrance said his attorney is still awaiting a response and on June 10, she advised him to take the matter to small claims court.

Mr. LaFrance contacted both the Appellate Division Committee on Professional Standards in Potsdam and St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole M. Duvé seeking assistance in the matter.

A letter from attorney Roger A. Linden advised Mr. LaFrance that his complaint must be forwarded to the Appellate Division in Albany to determine jurisdiction.

Additionally, Mr. LaFrance said, he was advised by the district attorney’s chief confidential investigator, Daniel Manor, that he take the matter to both small claims court and the newspapers.

The case will be brought before Ogdensburg City Court at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 9.

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