Worst Portland Contractors of 2010
Northwest Home Source | Lake Oswego, Ore.
In June, a Clackamas County Circuit Court jury convicted Northwest Home Source owner Jimmy Ray Kelly Jr. - a 2009 National Worst Contractor - on felony racketeering charges, including theft by deception, and wire and bank fraud.
According to court documents, Kelly duped homeowners into signing bank documents to obtain home improvement loans for work he never started. In many cases, court records indicate, he vanished after receiving advance payments, leaving homeowners to pay for a total of more than $300,000 in loans.
A judge sentenced Kelly to three years in prison, and banned him from working as a contractor for 20 years.
Jane O'Brien of Damascus, Ore., says she paid Kelly $50,000 to build an addition to her photography studio, but he never did any work. She says she got $15,000 back from Kelly's surety bond, but filed a civil suit against him to recoup the rest. Her report is one of two Penalty Box cases against the company, both of which resulted in a notice to alert members.
The Oregon Construction Contractors Board revoked Kelly's license in 2005, and he still owes more than $275,000 in fines.
Kelly's incarcerated in the Mill Creek Correctional Facility, near Salem. His attorney, John Gutbezahl, says he's appealing Kelly's conviction.
PNW Auto LLC | Tigard, Ore.
A Marion County Circuit Court judge in May ordered PNW Auto owners Matt and Anousone Marlin to pay a maximum fine of $650,000 for 26 violations of the state's Unlawful Trade Practices Act. The Marlins deceived consumers, according to the judgment, by advertising and selling "totaled" vehicles as "never crashed" on Craigslist.
The judgment bans the Marlins from advertising and/or selling motor vehicles in Oregon, which resulted in a notice to alert members.
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger says Matt lost his license to operate another dealership, Marlin Motorworks in Beaverton, after pleading no contest to multiple counts of forging title documents in 2007. Despite an order to not apply for another dealer certificate for three years, Matt opened PNW Auto a few weeks later using his wife's name, and continued the misconduct, Kroger says.
Court documents indicate Anousone consulted with Matt on major decisions for the business, as well as online ads and purchasing.
Kevin Houghton of Seattle says he paid PNW Auto $5,000 for a motorcycle that he later learned had been wrecked twice. When Houghton tried to return it, he says Matt declined to take it or refund his money. He cautions others to avoid doing business with Matt or his companies. "Don't do it, you're going to get ripped off," Houghton says. "He's a criminal."
Neither the Marlins nor their attorney, Richard Franklin, returned calls.
Blue Ribbon Exteriors Inc. | Vancouver, Wash.
Angie's List member Nona Feldman says she paid Blue Ribbon Exteriors owner Justin Wicks more than $38,000 to install a patio cover and fencing, but both projects turned out so poorly that she's spent more than $20,000 to fix the mistakes. "He will never know or care how much this has hurt me financially and the stress it's caused," the Battle Ground resident says.
The company remains in the Penalty Box, based on Feldman's report, and a notice alerts members. Wicks also did business as Blue Ribbon Remodeling LLC.
Member Bill Wood of Salem says he hired Wicks for a $55,000 remodeling project that resulted in multiple problems. He advises anyone who's considering hiring Wicks to "shut the door, hit the delete key or toss the bid or business card into the trash." Wicks, who denies the complaints against him, says he did quality work in both cases.
Washington Secretary of State records indicate both businesses are dissolved. Wicks also faces more than $81,000 in civil judgments.
— by Nick McLain