BATON ROUGE - A contractor arrested on fraud charges, also arrested in Livingston Parish Thursday, was booked in Ascension Parish Friday.
Michael Simmers was charged with residential contractor fraud and theft of assets from an aged or disabled person. He is being held at Ascension Parish Jail.
Simmers, the owner of TWG Contractors, was charged with contractor fraud Thursday in Livingston Parish. He was also charged with one count of residential contractor fraud on March 9.
Simmers was the focus of a 2 On Your Side report where homeowners said TWG Contractors were accepting payment and not completing work.
Deb and Mark Landry hired TWG Contractors in September. The company was referred to them by a family member. Putting their trust into the work, the Landry's handed over a $10,000 check to cover various tasks. The money was also meant to be used for buying cabinets, flooring, tile and countertops, but those items were never purchased. Most of the work was not completed and Deb Landry says she did some of it herself.
"You try to trust people, you try to do your research to make sure you're not getting ripped off," she said. "You live and learn."
After handing over their insurance money three separate times to TWG, they're out $50,000.
While the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors will not comment on a specific investigation, it does say it's received about 300 credible complaints since the August flood. Compliance Director Brad Hassert says he's read plenty of contracts that wave red flags.
"Some of the ones I have read I would have never signed," he said.
The complaints are about licensed and unlicensed contractors regarding potential over-charging, not doing the work they've been paid to do or abandoning a job.
Hassert says if you've already signed a contract and believe you're a victim of theft or fraud, consult an attorney and stop dealing with that contractor until the issues are resolved. He also suggests reading a contract in its entirety. Some contracts have less than standard language. The board for contractors is on the lookout for contracts that include strong powers of attorney granted to the contractor to be able to access funds without approvals from the homeowner.
Prior to signing a contract, read it in its entirety, including the fine print. The fine print can define dollar amounts and exit strategies for the contractor and the homeowner.