Worst Washington D.C. Contractors of 2012
D&M Construction/Comfortable Home Improvements | Brandywine, Md.
Russ and Pat Russell say they hired contractor Chris Manion for major renovations on their Port Tobacco, Md., home that added up to about $370,000. The Russells, both in their 60s, say Manion and his associates, who used various business names that included Comfortable Home Improvements and D&M Construction, failed to complete work ranging from enlarging the garage to adding a master bathroom. “He was coming up with lie after lie after lie and needing a check for whatever reason,” Pat says. She says Manion depleted the couple’s savings, their home remains unfinished and they’re delaying retirement to repair problems.
“ He was coming up with lie after lie after lie.”
Russ Russell says he went to police about the series of incomplete projects after learning Manion lacks a contractor’s license with the Maryland Home Improvement Commission. MHIC executive director Steven Smitson says 10 consumers filed complaints against Manion, which were recently turned over to the state attorney general. AG spokesman Alan Brody says his office also received five complaints against Comfortable Home Improvements, which is F-rated on Angie’s List. “They range from failing to deliver good service, billing for goods not received/requested and unsatisfactory workmanship,” Brody says.
Court records show Manion, who couldn’t be located for comment, currently faces criminal charges in multiple Maryland counties, including Charles County, where a jury trial was scheduled this month. A sheriff’s office investigation there led to 15 charges, including multiple counts of felony theft and misdemeanor acting as a contractor without a license and failure to perform contract, according to sheriff’s office spokeswoman Diane Richardson. “They really took advantage of a lot of folks here,” she says.
In June 2011, the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation revoked the contractor’s license of Comfortable Home Improvements as the result of a recovery fund claim against the business, according to DPOR spokeswoman Mary Broz Vaughan. DPOR records show the state contractor board paid the maximum claim of $20,000 to a homeowner who obtained a $55,000 judgment in Fairfax County for incomplete garage and porch renovations.
Tommy Edward Clack/Maryland Asphalt | Annapolis, Md.
Traveling paver Tommy Edward Clack is serving a two-year sentence in Anne Arundel County Jail after pleading guilty in March to acting as a contractor and selling home improvements without a license, charges brought by the Maryland attorney general, court records show. The AG also banned him from unlicensed work and ordered Clack, who operated under various personal and business names including C-rated Maryland Asphalt, to pay about $500,000 in consumer restitution, civil penalties and agency expenses, court records show. AG spokesman Alan Brody says he hasn’t paid anything or obtained a license yet.
A grand jury indicted Clack in September in Prince George’s County Circuit Court on charges of acting as a contractor without a license and related crimes, including theft and exploitation of a vulnerable adult, court records show.
records show. Clack, who previously appeared as a Worst Contractor in Raleigh, N.C., in 2009 and 2010, racked up complaints of overcharging for driveway paving services and related crimes in several states, according to court and AG records. In 2010, the N.C. AG banned Clack from operating there and in 2009, South Carolina’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation ordered Clack to stop operating there, according to AG and DLLR records.
In Maryland, the AG says he approached homeowners offering a deal to pave their driveway, but charged exorbitant fees. The Maryland Home Improvement Commission logged 27 complaints against Clack. Bob and Betty Flick of Gambrills, Md., are due $14,000 in restitution after they say Clack approached them in their yard and began paving before they agreed to the work or a price. Afterward, Betty Flick says he showed up with a $21,000 bill. “I thought I was going to faint,” she says, noting they bargained down to $15,000, which she says was too much for subpar work.
N.C. AG spokeswoman Noelle Talley says Clack was discovered operating in her state again in 2012 and found in contempt of court in April, but the state chose to delay prosecuting him until he’s released from jail. Clack couldn’t be reached for comment through his lawyer.
Dave’s Lawn Service | Hagerstown, Md.
Alexis Kerr of Ashburn, Va., says she felt rushed when David Lawson approached her home offering to aerate, seed and mow her lawn for the rest of the fall for $200. “That’s a great deal, which should have been my first tip-off,” Kerr says. She says she paid upfront and he mowed part of the lawn that day, but did a sloppy job. He returned a few days later, then never came back, she says. Kerr complained to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, which received 42 complaints on the company totaling $15,000 in services homeowners say he never delivered, says county spokeswoman Liz Mills.
In May, police arrested Lawson on charges out of Loudoun County including six counts of construction fraud — five of which were felonies — and one count of obtaining money by false pretenses after police say he collected money upfront for lawn service contracts he didn’t fulfill, court records show. Lawson, who was out on bail but has a review hearing this month, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Arkidus Home Protection | Miami, Fla.
When Vaibhav Jain’s A/C went out in June, he expected his home warranty with Arkidus to cover the repair. “I got the warranty to protect myself from these kinds of things,” the Fairfax, Va., Angie's List member says. He says company representatives told him several times a $1,400 check was in the mail, but in August he received an email from owner Reinaldo “Ray” Berges saying the company closed and would refund policies. Jain says his credit card refunded the charge for the policy, but he never received the check.
Arkidus landed in the Penalty Box 23 times in 2012.
Arkidus received 50 F and 5 D reviews since May, resulting in 23 Penalty Box cases from members in 12 states. They allege the business failed to provide services, didn’t respond to calls and emails and never provided promised refunds. Berges told Angie’s List Magazine the company closed and would refund policies. The Florida Department of Financial Services issued a consumer advisory in August. Attorney general offices in Maryland and Virginia each say they received two complaints against Arkidus in 2012.