Worst Seattle Contractors of 2011
Home Curb Appeal | Covington, Wash.
While John Mulinski awaits trial in Seattle on 15 counts of felony theft, federal authorities say they believe he's moved his business to Montana.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, the 49-year-old owner of Covington-based Home Curb Appeal - who returns as a Seattle Worst Contractor for the second straight year - faces eight counts of federal wire fraud in Montana for accepting electronic transfers of cash from two homeowners for roofing repairs and other projects, but performing little to no work. He's accused of taking a total of more than $52,000, plus monies from a supplier and credit union.
Mulinski pleaded guilty to the federal charges in May. His sentencing was scheduled for Dec. 5 at press time, and he faces possible penalties of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
A hearing to determine his trial date on the theft charges in Washington's King County was set for Dec.14. Court documents say Mulinski allegedly failed to complete remodeling projects in Woodinville, Chelan and Bellevue and failed to pay subcontractors.
Doug Walsh of the Washington AG's office says Mulinski agreed to resolve 30 consumer complaints by paying a few thousand dollars in restitution, and nearly $13,000 to the state for its investigation costs. He also faces charges for contracting without a license in King County.
Sammamish member Lindy Yuen, who admits she didn't check the List before hiring Mulinksi, says getting him and his subcontractors to finish a roofing job was like pulling teeth. "I called him over and over," says Yuen, who gave the company a D grade. "He doesn't return your calls."
Home Curb Appeal, which the Washington AG says also operates as National Inspectors, has a D on Angie's List with four reports, including a Penalty Box case for doing shoddy work on a member's roof. A notice on the company's AL profile alerts members.
The Montana Department of Labor and Industry fined Mulinski $40,000, a penalty it claims is the largest imposed on a contractor for violating registration statutes, where he operated under the name Sunrise Quality Construction. Neither Mulinski nor his attorney returned calls.
Stephen Klos & Associates | Mercer Island, Wash.
Nineteen years after being banned by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from trading securities or associating with any investment company, financial planner Stephen Klos stands accused of bilking $3.5 million from 10 Seattle-area residents in what officials describe as a Ponzi scheme.
Court documents say Klos, 84, of Mercer Island, met the majority of his victims at church.
"People are more trusting of the people they sit in church with on Sunday," says Tyler Letey, the staff attorney with the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, who investigated the case. "He was using the new money he raised to pay back investors." The department also says Klos is not registered to sell securities in Washington.
He faces 29 counts of felony securities fraud, while his alleged accomplice, Robert A. Justice, 52, of Mercer Island, faces five counts of felony securities fraud, according to King County Superior Court documents. Both pleaded not guilty in April, but no trial dates have been set. A notice alerts members to the felony charges and his unlicensed status.
Grace Chumley of Sequim says she invested $40,000 with Klos, but only received a $2,000 return. She says she met Klos through a family friend, and stopped receiving returns shortly after investing.
"He told me if I invested with him, I'd get this return, but he never really said what he was doing with the money," she says. "His first excuse was that his bank account had been breached and that the bank was taking care of it, and then I didn't hear from him. He is the most debonair, persuasive man I've ever known."
Another couple, Clinton and LuElla Snow of Seattle, lost nearly $1.1 million, according to court documents.
Klos' 1992 SEC ban stemmed from accusations that he violated the Securities Act of 1933 "through material misstatements and omissions in the offer and sale of over $3 million in unregistered Fortune Group notes and bonds." Klos agreed to the decision without admitting or denying guilt, SEC documents say.
Klos has also lost 14 civil judgments since 1984, with damages totaling more than $270,000. Calls to Klos and Justice were not returned.
GO Enterprises | Tacoma, Wash.
Brian K. Olson, a contractor who uses various company names, completed a 60-day jail sentence in March after pleading guilty to two counts of felony theft, according to court records.
Tacoma resident Ebner Clinton hired Olson to remodel his home, only to have workers disappear after demolition, resulting in city fines totaling $15,000 for code violations, court documents say.
Olson was also named as a defendant in several other lawsuits. "This guy robbed Peter and Paul," says Christopher Keay, an attorney for Tacoma resident Donald Atkinson, who won a $23,000 judgment against Olson. Olson also filed for bankruptcy in 2008, listing nearly $1.1 million in liabilities.
The Department of Labor and Industries suspended his license in 2008, and court records say he continued to do landscaping. A notice alerts members to his unlicensed status.
Neither he nor his attorney could be reached for comment.
Mr. TV/Alltec Services | Gig Harbor, Wash.
Member George Madsen of Fox Island still needs his refrigerator and stove repaired, nine months after paying Alltec Services owner Vollan Solomon $332 to do it. "He's absolutely unreliable," says Madsen, who says he joined Angie's List as a result of his experience. "He didn't keep 10 repair dates in a three-week stretch."
Solomon, who also does business as Mr. TV, has an F on the List with three reports, including a Penalty Box case for failing to respond to a member's complaint for a refund. The BBB also gives the company an F. A notice on the company's AL profile alerts members to the Penalty Box case.
Consumers say repair times far exceed estimates. "Sometimes, it's difficult to get parts," Solomon told Angie's List Magazine. "Sometimes, it takes a long time to find them." He says Madsen is eligible for a refund, but Madsen says he wants no further dealings with Solomon.
Solomon also lost a landlord/tenant lawsuit for about $2,200 in 2003.
- by Adam Wire