Worst Atlanta Contractors of 2010
Southeastern Roofing & Restoration Inc. | Cumming, Ga.
Southeastern Roofing & Restoration owner John Steven Ervin, 42, facing bankruptcy and theft charges in three municipalities, blames his company's downfall on a former office manager's mismanagement of funds.
Ervin, who isn't required to be licensed, says problems came to his attention when his checks to supply companies started to bounce. "I'm not a criminal, I've never been in trouble at all in my life," he says. "I ran a great, great company, but the office manager didn't do his job. I feel terrible about this."
Sheriff's deputies arrested Ervin in August on nine counts of felony theft for accepting payments for services, but never delivering them to homeowners in Barrow County and the city of Roswell [Ga.], according to court documents.
In June, Ervin turned himself in to Forsyth County officials on two counts of felony theft in that county for a similar scam, says Penny Penn, district attorney for the Bell-Forsyth Judicial Circuit. The charges are pending grand jury review, she says.
Ashley Myers, a Cumming mother of three, says she gave Southeastern Roofing $2,500 in March to repair her storm-damaged, leaking roof. Despite repeated calls, she says no work was ever done. "In this economy, even though we all need money, I don't see why anybody would take advantage of people," she says. "He had no right to do that."
Southeastern Roofing filed bankruptcy in July, listing more than 34 creditors, according to court documents.
The Atlanta Better Business Bureau received 32 complaints about the company in the last three years, with 27 receiving no response. The company has a C grade on Angie's List, based on two reports. A notice on his Angie's List profile alerts members to his arrest on felony charges.
Ervin says he apologizes to his former customers. "I'm just trying to clear my name and go from there," he says.
Wilson Construction Services Co. | Lilburn, Ga.
A Cobb County grand jury re-indicted Steven L. Wilson, 61, owner of Wilson Construction Services Co. in July on felony charges of racketeering, writing a false statement and seven counts of theft by deception. Court documents allege Wilson submitted false reimbursement requests to several victims and his company did shoddy work.
Cobb County Assistant District Attorney John Butters says sheriff's deputies initially arrested Wilson on those charges in January 2009, but the judge handling the case resigned suddenly in August. A new judge has been appointed, Butters says, and he expects the case to go to trial early this year.
"It's just kind of housekeeping," Butters says of the new indictment. "I thought it'd be better to re-indict it and state the violations clearly." A notice alerts members to the indictment.
One of Wilson's alleged victims, Craig Aaron of Marietta [Ga.], says he hired the contractor for a $200,000 renovation to transform his ranch-style home into a plantation-style home, including a second-floor addition, a new foyer with columns and other items.
"Steve had bid a very low price, and he said he was really going to take care of us," Aaron says. "And I'll tell you, he took care of us, all right."
Wilson's bid stipulated the job would take 88 days. After nearly eight months, $250,000 in charges and the work barely halfway completed, Aaron says he terminated the deal.
"The guy was basically creating a billing machine," he says, adding that county officials told him it would take at least $340,000 to bring the house up to code, so he let the property go into foreclosure.
Former customers and suppliers also have won several civil judgments against Wilson in Gwinnett County.
A judge approved Wilson's petition for bankruptcy in 2009, but allowed Aaron's claim against Wilson to remain active pending the outcome of the criminal case.
A phone number listed for Wilson, who's released from jail on bond, is disconnected. His attorney, Al Johnson, did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Maximus Investment Group LLC | Atlanta
Dwayne A. Green, 35, owner of Maximus Investment Group, pleaded guilty in June to felony racketeering charges in DeKalb County for promising 35 homeowners that he could save their homes from foreclosure, but doing nothing, officials say.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew McCoyd says Green, who has no mortgage broker license, used foreclosure listings to find customers. "He is a truly despicable individual who preyed on people whose homes were in foreclosure," McCoyd says.
Jackie Mauldin of Atlanta says she paid Green $500 to negotiate a lower rate with her mortgage company. "He flat out lied," says Mauldin, who lost her home of 13 years.
In June, a judge sentenced Green to three years in jail and 17 years on probation. He must pay $50,000 in restitution and is barred from working in the mortgage, debt or foreclosure relief industry. A notice on his profile alerts members to his conviction.
Trinity Corp. | Marietta
Cobb County Sheriff's deputies arrested Boris Michael Surgent, 64, owner of Trinity Corp. and minister of Trinity Deliverance Church Ministries, in September on felony charges of racketeering, theft and unlicensed contracting, according to court documents.
Surgent, who has no mortgage broker license, allegedly stole fees in excess of $100,000 from more than 25 victims, falsely claiming he could save their homes, court documents show. He's also accused of violating a cease-and-desist order issued by the state.
Marilyn and Stanley Gilley of Atlanta say they paid Surgent $3,800 for services he never delivered. They retained their home by negotiating payments directly with the mortgage company. "He messed up our lives and preyed on us, using the Lord's name," she says.
Surgent also has civil and criminal judgments in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. At press time, Surgent remained in the Cobb County Jail on $200,000 bond. A notice on his profile alerts members to his felony arrest.
- by Nick McLain