The Investigators: Contractor Disaster - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

The Investigators: Contractor Disaster

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(WMC TV) - West Memphis police have arrested and charged a home repair worker for accepting thousands of dollars to do work he is not licensed to perform.

West Memphis Police Capt. Ken Mitchell confirmed the department arrested Daniel J. Foster on theft of property greater than $5,000. The charge involves $15,000 in insurance money he took from Phillip and Felicia Cobbs of West Memphis.

Last summer, an electrical fire nearly destroyed the Cobbs' home. After seeing Foster's purposely misspelled "Mak It Happen Home Care"-wrapped truck and his work at another job site, the couple signed a repair agreement with Foster in the amount of $64,303.01, according to the contract.

The couple's insurance company arranged payment installments of $15,000. When they paid Foster the first $15,000, they said he delivered a dumpster, showed some roof samples, an asbestos test - and left.

Then they said he wouldn't come back to the house.

That is when they did the background check that they should have done first.

"He wasn't even licensed to pull contracts," said Felicia Cobbs.

Jimmy Thomas, complaints investigator for the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board, confirmed the board has three active complaints against Foster, including the Cobbs.

"He does not have a license," said Thomas. "He does not have a license to do that type of work."

One of the other complainants, Barbara Toney of West Memphis, shared records indicating she had already paid Foster and sub-contractors more than $2,000 before Foster failed to complete his $19,500 contract to repair her home.

"I'm like, damn boy, you think you're going to take my money and don't do nothing?" Toney said.

She said that's exactly what Foster did. She ended up paying another contractor -- a state-licensed one -- an additional $7,000 to finish the job.

Foster said he has applied for a state contractor's license, but the complaints are holding it up.

He showed us a stack of permits he said the West Memphis City Clerk's Office issued him to perform residential repairs. But a check with the clerk's office revealed Foster carries an expired privilege license -- essentially a sub-contractor's license issued by Arkansas municipalities.

"They can do odd jobs like painting or sheet rock or stuff like that," said West Memphis Senior Deputy City Clerk Cindy Greenwood. "But they can't perform a job over $20,000."

"You know, I dropped the ball, as far as going ahead and getting other contractors," admitted Foster in an interview before his arrest. "It was never my intention (to take the Cobbs' $15,000) and not do the work.

"If I'm a crooked contractor, why would I run out with $15,000 and still be in the same city? It doesn't make sense to me (with a $64,000 contract)."

When we told him the Cobbs family could argue that $15,000 to do nothing appears to be a pretty good deal for him, he answered, "I mean, they can say that, but that was not my intent."

Foster is free on a $10,000 bond. A judge has scheduled to arraign him in Crittenden County Circuit Court Feb. 25.

Always clear a contractor's credentials with your state's contractors board:

* Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board

* Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors

* Mississippi State Board of Contractors

In Arkansas, contractors holding privilege licenses are limited to jobs under $20,000. They cannot perform jobs like demolition or full-scale disaster renovation.

Choose three to four licensed contractors with clean state disciplinary histories. Check their service histories with the Better Business Bureau, then get estimates before signing a contract.

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