Contractors facing fraud charges, still working
GONZALES - Some Louisiana contractors are still open even after employees or company owners have been arrested for fraud. Their customers don't think that's right.
Mark and Deb Landry say they're angry because the company they've filed charges against is still up and running.
"TWG is still running around, in operation," said Deb Landry.
The owner of TWG Contractors, Michael Simmers faces fraud charges in Livingston and Ascension Parishes. He's currently awaiting arraignment in Ascension. The Landry's hired the company in September to repair their flood damaged home in Baton Rouge. The couple says they wrote checks for items that were never purchased and work that was not done.
"To be honest with you, I am seeing blood," said Deb. "They took $50,000 from us and now they're defrauding other people."
The Landry's called 2 On Your Side, wondering why companies under investigation, with violations and employees facing charges can continue to operate.
The Louisiana State Licensing Board of Contractors says just because a contractor is arrested, it does not suspend or revoke their license. The board must set a hearing and the person must appear before the board. It is their right to do so. The board says even if a license is suspended it doesn't mean the company must shut down. In a case like Matt Morris and Complete Construction, the board suspended his license internally due to the magnitude of what is happening. Morris was booked on more charges last week.
"We can't stop anybody from working," said Administrative Compliance Director Leann Evans.
The licensing board posts contractor monthly violations on its website, but it may take up to 60 days to post. The minutes from the board meetings have to first be approved by the board. The March minutes are set to be approved at the April meeting this week.
While the Landry's say they're victims, TWG Contractors is still licensed through the state. This does not sit well with the Landry's.
"When a company is fraudulent, they should pull their license immediately," said Deb.
The Attorney General's Office also tells WBRZ people have the right to due process.
"I understand their hearing isn't until July," said Mark Landry.
After putting their faith into a company to repair their home, Mark and Deb say they'll have trouble doing that again.
"Now a days you can't trust no one," said Deb.
After checking on some contractors WBRZ has previously done stories on who have run afoul of the law, the licensing board reports they're still in good standing.