Attorney of contractor facing criminal charges for incomplete work claims he fell on hard times

John McDonald and his company, Brothers All Around, were hired to do work on a rental property in Donora. The owner says he wrote McDonald two checks for more than $40,000 and the work was never done.

“You can see he’s really done nothing,” Brian Sigel said. “Other than leave me with a big mess.”

Sigel bought a building in Donora with a plan to renovate it and turn it into apartments. He contracted John McDonald for the job.

“I checked his Google feedback,” Sigel said. “Everything was great. Anything that popped up that I had a question on, he had an answer for. That seemed legit.”

Sigel says that after a few months in, McDonald stopped calling him back.

“He told me everything you wanted to hear,” Sigel said. “We’re doing this. We’re doing that. But when I got to the property, I found out he did nothing other than tear a couple walls down and break some windows.”

Sigel filed a police report with the Donora Police Department, which charged McDonald with theft by deception. Coming out of his preliminary hearing, McDonald didn’t say anything, but his attorney Adam Yarussi told us his client wants to make things right.

“He’s alleging that 80% of the work was completed on the case, and he fell on a little hard times,” Yarussi said. “I think this is civil. It’s not a criminal case. I believe the Commonwealth’s witness is alleging that no work was done or minimal work was done, which we disagree with. As the case goes up to the Court of Common Pleas, we’ll definitely determine if we’re going to go to trial or pre-trial motions necessary to fight the case.”

Similar criminal charges have also been filed in Moon Township, Ohio Township and North Fayette.

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The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office is now involved and the Beaver County District Attorney is also reviewing a case.

“In a case like this, I think there was a Facebook post that went out,” Yarussi said. “Now, who saw that post to kind of join in and say ‘hey this happened to me. Did this happen to you?’ Then it’s easy to jump on and say ‘call your local police department, file the charges if you were dissatisfied.’ A lot of times with criminal cases, is if you do file criminal charges, it’s much easier to get back restitution. If you go through the civil process, it’s a lot harder because people have a chance to file bankruptcy. People have a chance, even if they get a judgement, they can’t collect on it if somebody doesn’t have those assets. A criminal way is a much faster way to get paid back.”

Sigel says he plans to push this as far as he can.

“My hope is to just get my money back,” Sigel said. “I mean, obviously, I don’t want him to do any work. I truly believe he needs to spend some time in jail. I hope he doesn’t just get a slap on the wrist because he’s going to keep doing this.”

Sigel and some of the other alleged victims plan to get together to discuss their cases in the coming weeks.

“He fell on hard times,” Yarussi said. “A lot of the employees that he had basically walked off the job. They were no longer working for him. He does want to make things right, but I believe this is truly civil. There’s a different forum to do this, but I do understand why they filed the way they did.”

Channel 11 contacted the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office and the Beaver County District Attorney’s Office for comment, but has not heard back.

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