DELAND, Fla. — A local woman claims a contractor collected thousands of dollars but never built her carport.
She was told her case was a civil matter, but Action 9 consumer investigator Todd Ulrich reports this customer didn’t give up until there were criminal charges.
“If you’re not going to build it, give me back my money.” Mary Pascale said she was fed up.
Eight weeks had passed after signing a contract with J.C.’s Building Sales in DeLand to build a carport at her home.
Pascale paid two deposits totaling nearly $4,000 to company owner Jimmy Collins. But she says nothing was built, there weren’t any permits pulled, and she wasn’t getting any answers from Collins.
“I would drive to his business, and he would be there, he just wasn’t answering his phone calls,” Pascale said.
She called the police to file a complaint and was told it was a civil matter and she had to resolve it on her own.
“It’s very frustrating when you know it’s a criminal matter, when there’s criminal intent,” Pascale said.
She would not be dismissed so easily. Pascale is a sheriff’s deputy in Seminole County.
“This contractor picked the wrong victim,” Ulrich said.
“Yes, he did. If he took the money not intending to deliver the product, then that’s an intent to defraud,” Pascale said.
She sent Volusia County Sheriff’s detectives documents showing Collins was not a distributor for the metal buildings he was selling.
Collins was arrested last month, charged with criminal fraud and grand theft.
In the arrest report, the detective included six other cases since 2010 where consumers claimed Collins took deposits for work he never did. Five of those were dismissed as civil matters. He was charged with grand theft in one case but adjudication was withheld.
Consumer attorney Jared Lee says too many times cases like Pascale’s are dismissed as civil matters. He recommends consumers stay determined to prove the contractor didn’t intend to do the job.
“Asking at a minimum for an information report to be created, the facts of what happened, is a starting point,” Lee said.
Collins told Ulrich he’s done nothing wrong, Pascale never canceled the job, and that he’s keeping the money as commission.
Pascale fears other customers also lost big deposits.
“A lot of times you’re not going to get justice, when you should be getting justice,” Pascale said.
Legal experts say to make the case the contractor never intended to do the job. Back that up with documents then file a complaint with law enforcement.