Siding business owner accused of fraud
BAKER - Authorities accused a siding business owner Monday of swindling several elderly Baker residents out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Baker Police Chief Mike Knapps said his officers arrested 63-year-old Tanweer Bhatti, owner of Southern Siding Company, for fraud and theft of assets from aged persons.
Chief Knapps said Bhatti defrauded several hundreds of thousands of dollars from people living in Parkwood Terrace Subdivision. He said the victims were between the ages of 61-81, and all retirees or widowers.
"These fine citizens from Baker... they're out here using their hard-earned savings, and this man is taking advantage of [them]," Knapps said.
The Better Business Bureau revoked Southern Siding's accreditation in July. The organization said they received complaints from customers who said Southern Siding didn't do the work they were contracted for, and did not do the work in a timely manner. The BBB said Southern Siding responded to the organization, but didn't resolve issues with its customers.
The state Licensing Board for Contractors also pulled the business's license in July after Southern Siding pleaded "no contest" to charges of fraud and failing to perform their contracts in good faith.
Knapps said Bhatti also faces similar charges in St. John the Baptist Parish, and that the Attorney General's Office is investigating him for mortgage fraud.
And, it appears there could be more victims. After news broke about the scandal Monday, a man in Ascension Parish said he was a victim of the bad business practices, too.
"I feel played right now. I really feel bad right now because he took money from my family," Lloyd Bernard said. Bernard said he hired Bhatti to do renovations to the inside of his home and the work was never completed.
Bernard said Bhatti sold him with a sales pitch that never materialized.
"He gave a big old pitch about [how] he was going to modernize my whole house, my floors, my walls."