Flood victim claims he was taken by "God-fearing contractor"
LIVINGSTON PARISH- A man in Livingston Parish claims a contractor who promised to fix his home after taking nearly $32,000 in payments, took off with his money and didn't finish the work. Tonight, the Baton Rouge Police Department and Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office are both investigating.
Contractor Michael Tanner's business card says he owns Quality Construction. Tanner has a checkered past with arrests for felony theft, domestic violence, drugs and weapons.
James Travis said he hired Michael Tanner back in August. Since then, bank statements he was able to provide show FEMA gave him nearly $29,000 for repairs. The withdrawals that subsequently followed in the coming weeks went to Tanner, according to Travis. Altogether the payments totaled nearly $32,000.
"Going on good graces, the gentleman saying I'm a man of God," Travis said. "People, I know people in this situation being taken advantage of, I'm hear to help you, god this god that... I'm a god-fearing individual, blase' blah...and here we are today."
Travis is frustrated. His house is in shambles and is unlivable. Only the back portion of his home had sheetrock.
"I didn't give it to him all up front," Travis said. "This was a disbursement period. Since 8/23, x amount of dollars this day and x amount this day."
Recently, Travis said Tanner called him saying his subs quit, and he'd no longer be able to finish the work. When Travis tried to get a refund from Tanner, that's when Travis claims things got messy, and he had to go to police.
"I look at it like this, I would hope in good graces he would give me my money back," Travis said.
We went looking for Tanner at his home in Baton Rouge. A search of the State Contractor's Board website shows Michael Tanner does not show up as a licensed contractor in Louisiana. After feeling hoodwinked from a man who has plenty of run ins with the law, Travis says he's learned a valuable lesson about trust. He wants others not to fall for the same story he did from a man who knows how to talk.
"We've been praying a lot, relying on our close knit family and friends of the church to help us with this situation," Travis said.
I reached Tanner by phone today. The line quickly disconnected. Tanner called me back and said he couldn't discuss this case because it's a legal issue. Tanner added, if WBRZ called his phone or went by his house, he'd have us put in jail.