WESTFIELD, NJ — Prosecutors have charged a Westfield based home contractor with stealing over $100,000 from a pair of clients, authorities said Friday.

Ralph A. Rapuano Jr., 37, is charged with second-degree theft by deception and second-degree theft by failure to make proper disposition of property received, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo said in a statement.

An investigation launched in May by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Special Prosecutions Unit found that a local couple had contracted with Rapuano to build a new home in Westfield for an agreed-upon price of $1.35 million, according to Assistant Prosecutor Melissa Spagnoli, who is prosecuting the case.

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Rapuano allegedly assured the couple that his business, Elegant Homes, was liquid and solvent, but those representations were proven to be false, Spagnoli said in the statement. The couple handed over a $135,000 down payment in October 2018, and within two days, Rapuano had allegedly spent the money on other projects, and no work was ever done on the victim couple’s new home, according to Spagnoli.

A phone message left with the number listed for Elegant Homes in Westfield and messages left with two phone numbers listed for Rapuano in Westfield were not immediately returned Friday.

Earlier this week, Rapuano was served through his attorney with a complaint-summons ordering him to appear in Superior Court or face a bench warrant for his arrest, authorities said.

Anyone with additional information about Rapuano’s activities is being urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Detective Dennis Donovan at 908-527-4558.

Convictions on second-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by terms of 5 to 10 years in state prison, authorities said.

Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh

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