Worst San Antonio Contractors of 2010
Timothy Carrillo Photo courtesy of Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
Definitive Custom Homes Inc. | San Antonio
World War II veteran Frank Kukral and his wife, Yumiko, planned to live out their retirement years in a new 2,700-square-foot home on the shores of Medina Lake. Instead, the Kukrals became embroiled in a legal battle with builder James Mikesell and his company, Definitive Custom Homes, regarding accusations that he poured the foundation and put up the frame, then walked away.
The Kukrals and their son, Robert, won a $104,000 civil judgment against Mikesell and his company in 2009 and now are listed as the victims in a criminal case against Mikesell filed by the Bexar County district attorney.
A grand jury indicted Mikesell in August 2009 on a first-degree felony charge of theft from the elderly, and his trial has been set for Dec. 7. A notice on his Angie's List profile alerts members to his felony arrest. Mikesell, once a rising star in the custom home industry, was named the 2007 winner of "Best Rural Home" by the Greater San Antonio Builders Association.
Michael Alisanski of San Antonio won a $471,000 civil judgment in 2008 against Definitive Custom Homes, but says he has been unable to collect any money. He hired Mikesell to build an $800,000, 4,500-square-foot home, but the work was shoddy and it cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. Mikesell and his attorney did not return calls.
5-H Remodeling/Hardin Builders | San Antonio
Susie Serrano of San Antonio doubts that her 82-year-old father, Manuel Gallardo, will ever get back the $19,000 he paid Scott Anthony Hardin to build an addition to his home. Her complaint led to Hardin's guilty plea to three second-degree felonies involving elderly victims, including her father.
In March, a judge sentenced Hardin, 46, who does business as 5-H Remodeling and Hardin Builders, to 10 years in prison, and ordered him to repay $140,032.50 to Gallardo and six other victims. A notice alerts members.
Her father's 800-square-foot addition included a handicapped-accessible shower and an expanded living area to make his life easier, Serrano says. Instead, she says Hardin demolished the back of the house, exposing it to the elements, then abandoned the job.
Bexar County Assistant District Attorney Shane Keyser says Hardin may have started out as a legitimate contractor, but he fell behind and started using new customers' down payments to pay for old jobs.
Upon sentencing, Hardin was sent to the Guadalupe County Jail to await trial in that county on one felony count of theft. Hardin's attorney, James Millan, says his client didn't set out to defraud people. "It's a perfect example of someone getting in too deep," he says.
Timothy Ralph Carrillo | San Antonio
With her husband dying of cancer, San Antonio resident Barbara Richter says she felt vulnerable when Timothy Ralph Carrillo came knocking with his pitch about new windows. The couple paid Carrillo $6,000 for windows they never received.
A judge found Carrillo, 48, guilty in October 2009 of defrauding the Richters and three other elderly victims of more than $26,000, according to court documents. A notice on Carrillo's profile alerts members to his felony convictions. Bexar County Assistant District Attorney Shane Keyser prosecuted the case under the state's elder fraud laws, which carry enhanced penalties.
In November 2009, a judge sentenced Carrillo to 25 years, and he remains in a Brazoria County prison. His attorney did not return calls. Richter Edwin died in April. Barbara says she received $3,000 in restitution from Carrillo's accomplice, Lizette Cervantes, who pleaded no contest to elder fraud in exchange for probation and repaying wronged customers a total of $6,000.
— by Matthew Brady