Thursday, December 28, 2006
Help Me Howard: Follow-up
If you watch Channel 7, you may have heard of Help Me Howard -- the people that thousands of people turn to each year to get their problems taken care of. So how successful are they? Well, let's bring in those guys right now.
WSVN -- As we roll through each day here at Help Me Howard, we are always looking ahead for new solutions to new problems we see every day.
Patrick Fraser: "The other day my boss said, 'Why don't you look back? Do an update on some of the people you met during the year.' And I said, 'Hey, boss, great idea.'"
Frank Fugy: "I would like to see the sign moved. Or, if they want it, good, just pay us the rent that is owed to us."
When Frank Fugy did a survey on his property, he discovered this Clear Channel billboard. This big billboard was on his land.
For months he called Clear Channel and for months they ignored him. Then he called Help Me Howard, and we got someone to listen.
Frank Fugy: "And the four checks that Patrick Fraser helped us get is phenomenal. It's a great Christmas."
Clear Channel agreed to pay one year's back rent and Frank agreed to rent them space for the sign for the next three years.
Frank Fugy: "It looks like it's about $8,300 and here is our signed contract we got, too."
Lisa Tullis did not want to cash in -- she just wanted to collect the child support checks her ex-husband was trying to send for their two boys.
Lisa Tullis: "I couldn't even afford to buy them school clothes when school started."
As it turns out, there was a bureaucratic snafu.
Lisa Tullis: "Well, after Help Me Howard got involved it was easy."
We get lucky once in a while -- within a week of Lisa's call to us, her child support checks started coming in.
Lisa Tullis: "It helped out wonderfully. I was able to get the kids things they need and able to buy them Christmas presents."
Kirk Lee is still waiting to get bailed out of a bad situation.
Kirk Lee: "I have always been the type of person if you bend over and help me I will do anything to help you."
Kirk bailed his friend Paul Robert Williams out of jail. Williams repaid him by jumping bond and going home to Jamaica. If he doesn't return, Kirk owes the bondsman $30,000.
Kirk Lee: "I don't deserve this. I just want to get out of this mess."
Since we spoke to Kirk he found Williams in Jamaica living the good life. Kirk told us the Broward State Attorney's Office needs to start the process to bring him back.
They told us they are trying. We will let you know if the bond jumper is brought back to face justice.
Luis Blanco could not run from the law. He was the Hialeah accountant who got Jose Rodriguez big tax refunds.
Jose Rodriguez: "I didn't bother to check it because I am paying him a fee to take care of this for me."
Turns out Blanco falsified 4,000 tax returns.
He pled guilty, and he is now a guest in one of Uncle Sam's fine hotels with a shower for 20 guys. That's nothing to dance about -- but this is:
This is Underpressure, a dance group that was having trouble collecting a $400 prize they won in an FIU competition.
Andre Hodge: "After trying and trying and having no luck, I know Help Me Howard always does what he can."
FIU promised us the money would be given to the group -- so far it has not been delivered.
But that is not the only follow up -- a movie producer was watching our story and wanted to talk to the group.
Andre Hodge: "And, we went down on Saturday and auditioned for the movie. The director liked it and gave the group the part for the movie."
Underpressure is headed to the big screen. (See, we're good for something.)
There are many more success stories: Remember Natanya? A contractor made a mistake and tore off her brand new roof. Then told her tough luck.
Natanya: "They told me they are not going to do anything for free and are not going to put a brand new roof on for me."
But after another contractor saw our story, he got three friends to chip in and they replaced Natanya's roof for free, as she put it. It shows that there are still some decent companies in South Florida.
Then there is Francisco Rodriguez, the man who was arrested for not paying child support for a child the mother says is not his. The DNA proves it is not his.
Francisco Rodriguez: "We want out of this. We want our lives back."
We asked attorney John Sorkin to represent them for free. They are waiting for their day in court to try and clear this up.
Tammy Moore: "Well, Channel 7, today is my grand opening."
Tammy could not wait for the day her salon was back in business.
Tammy Moore: "Everyday I want to cry. I want to cry."
In fact, she was crying after a car smashed through her salon. She had some insurance, but it did not cover a car blasting the salon apart.
Then Tammy had to call us because the driver's insurance company was taking its time deciding if they would pay and how much.
Tammy Moore: "With the help of Channel 7, Help Me Howard and Patrick Fraser and the legal crews this is what the result is."
The result is a newly outfitted salon thanks to the $20,000 we helped Tammy get: It's Tammy's Time in Lauderhill.
Tammy Moore: "I am extremely satisfied. Extremely, I am so happy to be home and to all my customers. I am back."
Patrick Fraser: "Could you tell Tammy was happy? Those are some of the successes -- memorable people, memorable stories."
Howard Finkelstein: "Not every story can be solved easily, but what we've learned over the years, the longer you wait to call us, the more difficult it is to find a solution."
Patrick Fraser: "That's the cue to put up the slate. Get in touch with us. We'll help you and throw in a bad pun. Hollering help and hearing no one? Don't let the year begin on a bad note. Follow up with us and sing happy new year."
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