A New Castle County Grand Jury has returned a 34-count indictment against a Middletown man for a series of charges related to his home improvement business. The indictment was announced today by the Delaware Department of Justice.

A New Castle County Grand Jury has returned a 34-count indictment against a Middletown man for a series of charges related to his home improvement business.

The indictment was announced today by the Delaware Department of Justice.

Mario Mareno, 50, faces one count of racketeering, one count of a crime against a vulnerable adult, 17 counts of theft, and 15 counts of home improvement fraud, according to the Department of Justice.

The First State Fugitive Task Force arrested Mareno in May 2016 on four outstanding warrants for home improvement fraud from the Delaware State Police, the New Castle County Police, and the Middletown Police Department.

The new indictment consolidated charges against Mareno from Kent and Sussex counties into a single case in New Castle County, and added the racketeering charge.

Mareno posted bail, and was arrested on a fugitive warrant in North Carolina last September. Mareno is being held at the Howard Young Correctional Institution on lack of $171,500 cash bail while awaiting another court appearance.

Mareno was conducting business under the company name of Tradesmen Services.

The Department of Justice said Mareno typically would solicit and correspond with victims on Facebook, text messaging, or email, and get the victims to make large up-front payments, allegedly to obtain required permits and purchase materials.

Then he didn't substantially complete the work. In some cases, victims said they have discovered that Mareno didn't obtain permits or purchase materials as represented.

Mareno allegedly gave victims excuses for why the work is not done, and repeatedly promised to refund up-front payments but never actually did so.

“Home improvement scams are one of the most common types of complaints made by consumers to our Consumer Fraud Hotline,” said Attorney General Matt Denn. “All Delawareans hiring a contractor for home improvement work need to be alert for scams, and help avoid them by doing homework before hiring a contractor. Contractors should always be bonded and maintain all required licenses for mechanical work. It’s also important for homeowners to follow up on references, talk to friends and neighbors about a contractor’s reputation, and never pay for the work in cash or up front.”

If consumers suspect they are a victim of home improvement fraud, they should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-220-5424.