Unlicensed contractor accused of taking $78,000 from area flood victim
BAKER - Deputies have arrested an unlicensed contractor accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars from a flood victim without completing repairs on her home.
According to the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office, 32-year-old Benjamin Cheek entered into a contract with the victim in August 2016 following area-wide flooding. The victim says Cheek idientified himself as licensed contractor with Platinum Roofing & Restoration.
The victim alleges she paid Cheek an initial payment of $5,000 and paid another $21,000 over the next month. She say repairs on her home in Baker began shortly afterward.
During the course of his repairs, the victim said Cheek would often go several days without showing up to do work on her home. The victim allegedly went on to pay Cheek $78,000 over the next several months, exceeding the initial estimate of $74,343.
The victim contacted authorities Monday, alleging that Cheek hadn't stopped by to do repairs since April 14, exceeding the 45-day limit mandated by law.
The victim showed deputies messages from Cheek providing several excuses for why he wasn't completing repairs on the home. The excuses ranged from Cheek's vehicle running out of gas to him being busy with multiple projects. Cheeks also told the victim he still didn't have enough funds to complete the repairs and requested even more money.
Authorities reviewed the evidence and soon contacted the Louisiana Board of Licensed Contractors. It was then deputies discovered that Cheeks was not a licensed contractor in Louisiana.
Cheeks was arrested and charged with misapplication of payments, residential contractor fraud, and contracting without authority.
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