Worst Albuquerque Contractors of 2012
Superior Plumbing | Albuquerque, N.M.
On a referral from his concrete contractor, Angie’s List member Nicholas Dewey hired John Montano, owner of D-rated Superior Plumbing, to do plumbing work on the new bathroom he was adding in his Albuquerque, N.M., home. “He told me he wanted cash upfront so his ex-wife wouldn’t get the money,” Dewey says, conceding that he honored Montano’s request and gave him an initial $1,000.
The next day, Dewey says Montano showed up at his door claiming the money had been stolen out of his truck. “I gave him another $300 to get the job started,” Dewey says. “And I never saw him again. Never.” He says he joined Angie’s List as a result.
Dewey won a $1,700 court judgment in July against Montano, but doesn’t expect to receive the money anytime soon. “The [Bernalillo County] sheriff’s department is supposed to confiscate his equipment and sell it, but [Montano] transferred all of his belongings over to his girlfriend. What am I supposed to do? It seems like he’s getting away with it.”
Albuquerque, N.M., member Caryn Wagner says Montano did something similar to her, asking that she write an $1,800 check directly to him, instead of his company, for a deposit on a tankless water heater. He also told her he wanted to keep the money from his ex-wife. “That should’ve been a red flag,” Wagner says. “He said he’d be back the next day, but he never came, never called — I realized I had been scammed.”
Montano’s constantly ringing phone while on the job piqued the curiosity of Los Lunas, N.M., member Dan Nugent, who found Superior Plumbing in the Yellow Pages and hired him to install ductwork in his home. “He never answered it,” Nugent says. “That was a red flag for me.”
Montano’s failure to complete the ductwork landed him in the Penalty Box in September 2011 after he never responded to Nugent’s complaint. Nugent also won a $7,800 judgment against Montano in civil court, but says he’s yet to receive any payment. The New Mexico attorney general received two consumer complaints in the past year about Superior Plumbing. Interview requests to Montano went unanswered.
Vaughan Company Realtors | Albuquerque, N.M.
In September, a U.S. District Court judge sentenced Douglas Vaughan, CEO and president of Vaughan Company Realtors, to 12 years in prison for wire and mail fraud charges that involved a Ponzi scheme in which Vaughan fraudulently obtained more than $74 million from 600 investors, court records say. He also must pay nearly $75 million in restitution.
Attorney Bill Davis, who represents many of Vaughan’s victims, says they’re overwhelmingly distraught. “By far the saddest part is, those people who invested … also convinced their kids to invest with Vaughan,” Davis says. He warns consumers to avoid making an investment based solely on the reputation of an individual.
Per court documents, in 2005 Vaughan began accepting money on behalf of VCR, and led victims to believe that their investments were virtually risk-free because they were guaranteed by VCR. Instead, Vaughan used the funds to pay earlier investors and himself, and subsidize the operation of VCR. His attorneys didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time.
Brandon William Handyman & Remodeling | Albuquerque, N.M.
Member Bruce Mercer of Albuquerque, N.M., paid handyman William Brandon Thienes $1,000 to install a backsplash, but says he only received delays and shoddy work. “He smeared grout all over the wall outlets … and left a mess of tile dust in the house,” Mercer says.
Thienes, who also goes by Brandon William and Desperate Dad Handyman Services, started 2012 as a highly rated handyman. But in August, the company landed in the Penalty Box for not responding to Albuquerque member Robin Tawney’s F review, where he says he paid $113 but didn’t receive any work.
The B-rated company with 52 reviews racked up 11 F’s and four D’s in 2012 and landed in the Penalty Box twice. State and county records show Thienes was convicted of criminal trespassing in July and he doesn’t hold the required state contractor license. He couldn’t be reached for comment.