August 14, 2018 01:34 PM
All the homeowners wanted were the projects they paid to be completed.
The residents live in Saint Michael, Maple Grove, Monticello, Albertville, Rogers, Otsego and Nowthen. They had big plans and healthy budgets for the improvements. Julie Marshall says she signed a contract with Rick Wooton and Crossroads Remodeling for more than $100,000.
"We had to hound him," she said.
Others say they are still waiting for construction to begin or end. Whether it was a new porch, deck or basement.
"People had projects started and when money was already invested, even though you don't believe this guy, part of you is like but I have to because he might come back," said Benjamin Anaya of Saint Michael.
Ryan Lindfors of Maple Grove has been keeping track.
"There are about 30 families affected by it so he's been at it a while," Lindfors said.
Beginning in 2017, the customers met Wooton, signed contractors and exchanged money, anywhere from $16,000 to more than $100,000. John LeBlanc and his partner live in Rogers and hired Wooton.
"If we paid 100 percent upfront, we would get this wonderful discount from him," LeBlanc said.
Dustan Petron of Rogers was one of Wooton's three business partners. The others listed on state records were Wooton's wife, Deb, Larson Wooton and Mike Sohre. Petron said he gave Wooton the benefit of the doubt until recently when he became suspicious.
"I did the math and there was quite a bit of money $500,000 in jobs with 12 of the homeowners," Petron said.
Petron eventually just quit. As a project manager, Petron claimed when he tried to order materials, increasingly suppliers said no because checks had bounced to them. 17 subcontractors maintain they haven't been paid and Petron said several of his own paychecks have bounced.
"Enough is enough," he said.
As time passed and construction delays mounted, little or no work was being done to their houses.
"It was a struggle the whole way through," Troy Knopik of Maple Grove said.
The angry homeowners got organized. They formed an online community to communicate with each other and met as a group in person. They also took action. They filed police reports with their towns and complaints with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, which oversees contractors.
Charlie Durenberger is the Head of Licensing.
"Just the name of Rick Wooton causes me a lot of concern because of our history with him and his well-known criminal history as well," he said.
State records show Wooton is a convicted felon and has been to jail and served time in prison for various financial crimes such as swindling, theft, fraud, assault, burglary and worthless checks.
The Department of L & I confirmed Wooton still owes the state $90,000 in fines for operating without a license for previous businesses. On Monday, Durenberger said he granted Crossroads Remodeling a license on the condition that Wooton would not have any supervisory or financial role with the company. He could work on a project site but have no administrative duties.
However, the group of homeowners claims he did just that.
"It's unfortunate, we work hard to get our stuff done and guys like this come and it's tough to deal with," said Andy Madson of Rogers.
On Monday, the attorney representing Crossroads Remodeling, LLC., Patrick O'Donnell issued the following statement:
"Crossroads Remodeling, LLC has at all times operated its business so as to best serve its customers and its community. Reported allegations of a former member have been investigated and found to be without merit material to customer work and business operations. Accountant review of business records and statements have shown no impropriety. The Company denies any claims of wrong doing, and will continue to endeavor to serve the best interests of its customers. "
Updated: August 14, 2018 01:34 PM
Created: August 13, 2018 09:44 PM
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