Contractor hired in good faith had no license, but does now
BATON ROUGE - A contractor facing fraud charges in Baton Rouge has bonded out of jail. A homeowner who filed charges against Sargent Pitcher is worried he'll wreak havoc in another's home.
Rick Bueche says he hired Pitcher in good faith and had two criteria to meet.
"You have to be licensed and bonded," said Bueche. "He said he was and that he had 35 years experience."
Pitcher got to work right away, but now Bueche is calling what he did shoddy work.
"There's electrical wires hanging out of cabinets," he said.
While walking around his Baton Rouge duplex, he points to other problem areas. The drywall seals can be seen through paint and there are holes around electrical sockets. Other sockets have been covered up by drywall. Cabinets are blocking access to the air conditioning unit and Bueche says Pitcher charged him extra for materials.
"We had sheet rock donated to us by a church and he charged us for that," he said.
In total, Bueche says he paid Pitcher $52,000 to do the work at his home. Upon handing over the last check, the contractor stopped showing up to work. It wasn't until Bueche contacted the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors did he find out Pitcher was not licensed and hadn't been since 2011.
He filed a violation with the licensing board and an inspector visited his house to take photos of the work.
The board has no jurisdiction over criminal and civil matters so Pitcher was slapped with a fine.
"At that time he had the violation pending and since he had no prior violations with our board he qualified for what we call a field citation," said Administrative Compliance Director Leann Evans.
The board says Pitcher paid a $500 fine and got a home improvement registration, which does not require a test, only proof of insurance.
Bueche can't believe how easy it was for his contractor to continue work.
"He has a license, he can go to work, he's going to do this again," said Bueche.
Pitcher was arrested and charged with a felony count of residential contractor fraud. He was booked into parish prison Wednesday and has since bonded out.
Pitcher has violations with the licensing board for operating without a certificate of registration and engaging in mold remediation without possessing a mold remediation license.