MANCHESTER — A city man allegedly masqueraded as a master electrician by using a former employee’s license number, creating a “public safety hazard, officials said.
“We would like to know if there are people out there that have had work done by him,” Louise Lavertu, executive director of the state Joint Board of Licensure and Certification, said Wednesday. “Our inspectors would like to know because it could be unsafe.”
Henry T. Pratte, 54, whose only Manchester address is a post office box, was arrested and charged with fraudulent use of a license, punishable by up to a year in jail or a $2,000 fine, police said.
Pratte was operating a new business called Dr. Home Service at 720 E. Industrial Drive, No. 14. Police said Pratte had a website depicting himself as a licensed master electrician in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts; he may also have done gas work.
People who used Pratte’s services are urged to call the state Electricians’ Board at 271-2219.
Lavertu confirmed that the license number of master electrician Raymond Sampson, 76, of Manchester remained on Pratte’s website Wednesday.
Manchester police said Pratte allegedly used Sampson’s number during the 1990s to bid on and complete jobs.
Pratte had earned a lower-level license as a journeyman but hasn’t held that license for more than a decade, according to Lavertu’s office. Lavertu said her agency became aware of the situation around the beginning of this year, when Sampson reported that Pratte was using his license number.
An electrician’s business needs someone with a master electrician’s license to operate.
Police Sgt. Brian O’Keefe said Pratte was arrested after a “long and arduous” investigation by Detective Robert Keating.
In 1994, Sampson met Pratte at the state licensing board office in Concord when Sampson was renewing his master electrician’s license. Pratte offered him a job at his company, Custom Design Electric. Sampson, who had been an electrician since 1975, said he worked for Pratte for one to two years.
Police said without Sampson’s knowledge, Pratte began using his master electrician number when bidding on and completing jobs. After a series of mishaps, Sampson left the company, telling Pratte not to use his master electrician card on any future jobs.
Sampson went a step further, writing letters to electrical inspectors in Manchester, Derry and Londonderry advising them Pratte did not have his permission to use his license number.
Years later, the New Hampshire Joint Board for Licensure and Certification called Sampson before it to answer for “shoddy” work done at a Laconia business. Sampson tried to convince the board he had not worked on the job and said someone else had fraudulently used his number.
It didn’t matter, police said. The board suspended Sampson’s license for nearly two years, requiring him to work as a journeyman for a company out of Massachusetts and costing him a considerable amount of money, according to police.