Action 9

Grieving widow says contractor took advantage at her lowest point

ORLANDO, Fla. — A grieving widow said she turned over more than $100,000 of life insurance money following her husband’s death to a contractor who never finished the job.

“I am sad. I miss my husband. I am pathetic,” said Judgina Davison of Orange County.

In her time of grief, Davison feels she let the love of her life down.  Her husband Jeff passed away in June after an unexpected battle with cancer.  He was just 52 years old.

Shortly after he passed away, Davison was speaking with Dawud Bell Brown, a family friend of more than 20 years.

Davison told Action 9, “He caught me at the weakest, most vulnerable point.  It was my first holiday season of my adult life without my husband.”

She said Bell Brown took a keen interest when she mentioned the possibility of building an addition to her home that she could use for short term rentals.

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“He said, ‘I’ll do this faster than anyone else. I’ll do it under budget. You’re family, you can trust me,’” Davison recalled him saying.

She claims Bell Brown convinced her he was a licensed general contractor who could get better prices if she paid upfront.  So, she did.  She showed paperwork indicating she paid nearly $90,000 for her project and another $25,000 as a loan Bell Brown claimed he needed for another job.

“Everybody warned me to take it slow, be careful.  This man saw me. I was a mark,” she said.

Action 9 couldn’t find a contractor’s license for Dawud Bell Brown in state records.  Davison said talks between the two began to breakdown when she became suspicious of his qualifications, and they discussed remodeling her bathroom instead of building an addition to the home.

A new fence and pavers have been installed. Even though she isn’t thrilled with the quality of the work, she’s ok paying for them, but she wants the rest of her money back. 

Bell Brown has a criminal history that includes a guilty plea to writing a bad check in 2008 and making a no-contest plea to contracting without a license in 2022.  He was ordered to pay restitution to victims in both cases.

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Businesses Dawud Bell Brown is associated with have poor ratings with the Better Business Bureau.  Some of the complaints specifically name him as the person taking money, but not completing work.

Action also found he purchased a new $670,000 home less than a month after getting the final payments from Judgina Davison.

When the Action 9 crew stopped by to ask him about Davison’s money the garage doors that were open, closed and no one came out to answer questions.

Bell Brown later sent text messages to Consumer Investigator Jeff Deal that indicated he was working on an email response.

Judgina Davison just hopes he’ll have to answer for how he’s treated her at a time when she was so vulnerable.

Davison said, “I feel victimized and I feel like nobody cares.”

She has filed a complaint with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and said the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is now looking into it.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal,

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.