Worst Indianapolis Contractors of 2010
Marvin Boatright Funeral Services/Marvin's Funeral Service | Indianapolis
Former funeral director Marvin Boatright, 53, pleaded not guilty in June, following his arrest on 14 felony charges including racketeering, theft and forgery. The charges, based on a grand jury indictment, allege that Boatright falsified death certificates, stole funeral trust money and continued to do business after the state suspended his license.
At press time, a jury trial was scheduled for Jan. 24. Angie's List added a notice to Boatright's profile to alert members to his felony arrest.
According to state records, Indiana's Board of Funeral & Cemetery Service suspended Boatright's license in October 2007 after he failed to respond to attorney general subpoenas relating to license complaints that he failed to provide prepurchased monuments and cremated remains against a family's wishes.
The board concluded that Boatright "engaged in fraud or material deception" and that "he has become unfit to practice due to professional incompetence."
The board revoked his license a year later after it found he continued to display his suspended funeral director's license and signed a death certificate less than three weeks after the suspension order.
The criminal charges allege that Boatright continued to work without a funeral director's license into late 2008, including signing death certificates with another licensed funeral director's name.
Indianapolis resident Rosetta Dixon filed suit in July 2009 against Boatright after she says she paid him more than $5,000 toward a trust to ensure her family wouldn't have to bear the financial burden of her final services. But when she called to check on the fund, she learned the money had never been deposited in the trust account. "He took every cent of my money," she says.
Business numbers for Boatright are disconnected. At press time, Walter Bravard, his attorney, had not returned calls.
Loan Modification Consultants | Nationwide
Indianapolis resident Brady Huggins paid nearly $7,000 to New York-based Manhattan Mitigation Corp., which advertised guaranteed foreclosure and loan mitigation services. But, according to a lawsuit filed by the Indiana attorney general in October, the company never successfully performed any services or refunded Huggins' money.
"The only mitigation that really happened was mitigating the bank account of our consumers," says Indiana Deputy Attorney General David Miller. At press time, no one answered the company's phone.
The New York firm is just one example of numerous "loan modification" companies across the country that have scammed hundreds of Indiana homeowners facing foreclosure, including many in the Indianapolis metropolitan area, says Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
The companies told consumers they could lower their mortgage payments for a fee, but never delivered any services or refunds, according to the AG.
"These so-called 'foreclosure consultants' are taking advantage of those who are facing desperate financial hardship and scamming them out of thousands of dollars," Zoeller says. "This will not be tolerated in Indiana."
Zoeller's lawsuits accuse the companies of accepting advance fees from homeowners without meeting Indiana's new law requiring credit service firms to register a $25,000 surety bond with the state. No credit repair or loan modification company can do business here without the bond, says AG spokeswoman Molly Butters. At press time, no company had filed one.
Indiana law also prohibits credit service firms from accepting advance payments before services are rendered. In October, the Federal Trade Commission issued a new rule prohibiting all credit service firms from accepting advance payments.
Retired Columbus [Ind.] resident Wanda Cross says Safety Financial, a Florida-based company named in Zoeller's suits, scammed her out of $2,500. She had to declare bankruptcy, she says, and the mortgage company foreclosed her home of 10 years. "I worked hard all my life to get what I got," Cross says. "They didn't have the right to take it all away."
Safety Financial's phone numbers are disconnected.
Prestige Fence | Indianapolis
Joseph Watkins of Noblesville [Ind.] says Prestige Fence owner William Copley offered a low estimate for a new privacy fence, but the offer was too good to be true. "I gave him a check for $1,200 and never saw him again," Watkins says.
Watkins' complaint and similar ones from three other homeowners led Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller to file suit against Copley and the company in March, seeking civil penalties and restitution for consumers.
According to court records, Copley failed to appear at a final hearing and the AG won a default judgment ordering him to repay homeowners more than $4,500, and $22,000 in civil penalties.
Several Indiana homeowners have also won small claims judgments against Copley. A judge dismissed his petition for bankruptcy in June. Copley did not return messages seeking comment.
H & H Painting & Powerwashing | Indianapolis
Angie's List members Robert and Rosemary Meister of Indianapolis say they hired H & H Painting & Powerwashing to power wash and paint their home's exterior, but the work was delayed and incomplete, and the exterior paint began peeling within two weeks.
They pursued repairs under the company's five-year guarantee, but say the company's owner, Shane Hinderliter, never returned calls.
"I could handle the poor quality of the work," Robert says. "But if you give someone a five-year guarantee and they call you back, you should show up - that's what I find distasteful about it."
Despite having an overall B on the List based on reports starting in 2006, four members began reporting F-rated experiences after hiring H & H starting in late 2009. Three of those reports eventually earned the company a place in the Penalty Box, which led to a notice alerting members.
Hinderliter, who responded to Angie's List Magazine after this report was initially published, says issues stemmed from miscommunication or scheduling problems, and that he's still willing to address customers’ concerns. “H & H Painting and Powerwashing strives to make all its customers completely satisfied,” he says. “We stand behind our warranty and I’d be more than happy to come out and get these items fixed at no charge.”
Despite what they say has been a lack of communication, the Meisters say they’re open to the offer. “I’d be willing to talk to him. If he would repaint it and not charge us anything, we’d consider it,” Robert says.
— by Joshua Palmer