Thursday, July 28, 2011
Carmel on the Case: Contracting Trouble
Our homes are our castles no matter how modest, but contracting trouble can turn them into dungeons. Tonight, investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero with this exclusive on one unlicensed contractor who has some very unhappy customers.
WSVN -- It was hard to tell if 45-year-old Jorge Ortiz was more upset about being arrested or being arrested on camera.
Det. Daniel Belyeu: "I'm placing you under arrest. Charges are grand theft, organized scheme to defraud and unlicensed contracting."
Detective Daniel Belyeu says the charges relate to more than $10,000 paid by three customers. He says they got nothing in return. On top of that, Ortiz does not have a contractor's license.
Det. Daniel Belyeu: "He has an ongoing pattern of conduct where he will take deposits from people. Do minimal work or no work at all, and use the money to go towards his next project. And it has a string then, subsequently of unhappy or uncompleted jobs and unhappy people."
In addition to the three victims connected to his arrest, Ortiz has other homeowners who have complained about his work or lack of it among them 82-year-old frances trinder.
Frances Trinder, Ortiz Customer: "I called him, oh yeah we'll be there, we'll be there right? Then all of a sudden I can't get him."
She says she paid Ortiz for a roof repair that left her with a roof that still leaks and rusting buckets of tar, but she did eventually get her money back. Ken Moskowitz was not as fortunate.
Ken Moskowitz, Ortiz Customer: "I filed a report with the Broward Sheriff's Office."
He says he paid Ortiz $4,000 for a bathroom renovation that never happened.
Ken Moskowitz, Ortiz Customer: "Came in, I guess it was maybe in one day. Demoed it, left the bathtub sitting in the bathroom and that was the last we heard from him."
Linda Miller says she's out more than $25,000 for a room addition that was never finished.
Linda Miller, Ortiz Customer: "Oh, that he could do everything. He was a licensed contractor is what he told me."
And she says there are problems with the work Ortiz did do when it rains water comes into the house from under a door, and since her husband has suffered a stroke, the construction issues are trouble on top of trouble.
Linda Miller, Ortiz Customer: "It's been really bad. It's hard, but I figure, you know."
On his way to be booked Ortiz wasn't talking.
Carmel Cafiero: "What do you have to say to the people who say they've been victimized by you?"
This isn't the first time he's been in trouble with the law. Ortiz is currently on probation for crimes relating to other construction projects.
Carmel Cafiero: "Since you are already on probation, are you concerned that you are going to end up in jail as a result of all this?"
And that's exactly what happened.
Bond Court Judge: "George, excuse me Jorge Ortiz."
Jorge Ortiz: "Good morning your honor."
Although his new charges carry bond, Ortiz wasn't eligible.
Bond Court Judge: "Then you got two violations of probation. No bond hold."
Carmel Cafiero: "So for the time being, Ortiz stays locked up. Plus ICE has placed a hold on him. He now has immigration issues to face along with the criminal charges."
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