N4t Investigators: Homeowner Loses Thousands to Unlicensed Contractor
By Matthew Schwartz, News 4 Tucson KVOA
TUCSON – Susan Via is a former federal prosecutor who researched people for a living. But she admittedly didn’t research the guy to whom she paid $5800 to construct a utility building and fencing for her horses. The resident of the far east side says the contractor was at her house for a few hours last month and never came back. “I felt embarrassed and I felt angry and cheated and upset,” Via told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.
Via says all the guy did was install six footings for the utility building, and they are not level. Then, she got a lot of excuses when she called him.”
I felt embarrased and I felt angry and cheated and upset. “He would call back and say, ‘I’ll be here tomorrow.’ Tomorrow would come, he didn’t show up.
Via says her contact with the contractor changed from getting excuses to being ignored. Only then did she go to the Arizona Registrar of Contractors’ website. She saw that the contractor, 48-year-old Harold Hill Clark III, was fined $2000 just last year, for contracting and advertising without a license. The agency confirmed to the News 4 Tucson Investigators that Clark is still not licensed.
“I was embarrassed because he said he was licensed when he came here,” Via said.
The state requires a license for any construction, home repair or remodeling job of over $1000. Via is still without the utility building for her horses and reached out to us because she said she wants to warn other homeowners.” I’m hoping that the more it’s publicized, the more people will be very wary about doing business with this crook.”
We have a lot of questions for Harold Clark. We left several messages on his cell phone that were not returned. And then, we found out why: Harold Clark has been in the Pima County Jail for the past few weeks.
He’s been jailed since Oct. 11. Court records show Clark was found guilty in August of Possessing and Distributing methamphetamines. He was arrested after violating probation by failing to submit to drug and alcohol tests and not reporting to the probation department. This isn’t the first time Clark’s been behind bars. Records show he has a lengthy rap sheet and did a year-long stint in prison for forgery.
“I know that we’ll never see all of this money back,” Via said. “He took $5800 from us. He and his girlfriend, Brandy Whaley.”
Via says she followed Clark’s instructions and made out three checks and gave us copies. One was made out to Brandy Whaley for $2400. We couldn’t find Whaley.
Susann Miller, a spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona said, “If it’s somebody you don’t know and you haven’t done any research on, you’re probably going to get taken advantage of.”
Susan Via said Clark’s availability and price, which she now realizes was a lowball offer, were why she hired him. She did ask him for references and called two of them. They gave Clark good reviews, but Via says those jobs were not done recently.
Via says she’s learned a lesson from this ordeal. “Hire a registered contractor,” she said.
Harold Hill Clark III probably won’t be doing any contracting work for a while. He’s being held without bond and will be sentenced next week on the drug charges. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison.